What to Expect From Your First AA Meeting


Globally, there are over 2 million people who gather in various settings to help each other stay sober.

That is to say, you're not alone.

The 12-step program has been around for almost 100 years. In fact, the first AA meeting took place in 1935, three years before Alcoholics Anonymous became the official name of the organization. AA was publicly founded in 1938 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, two men who struggled with alcoholism themselves.

Together, Bill and Dr. Smith wrote "the Big Book," in which they set in place the famous 12 steps. Since its publication, those 12 steps have transformed, improved, and saved countless lives. 

Going to your first AA meeting may seem terrifying, but the reality is way less intimidating than you imagine. That being said, it can be helpful to know what you're walking into.

Keep reading for a breakdown of what to expect at your first AA meeting.

"Hi, My Name Is..."

If you've watched TV, you probably know these well-known words by heart: "Hi my name is... and I'm an alcoholic." 

Like a lot of people, you might think that if you go to an AA meeting, you'll have to stand up in a room full of strangers and tell them all about your problems with alcohol. 

That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it will probably look a little bit more like this. . .

"I'm Only Here to Listen Today"

Show up at a community center in your neighborhood and there are probably people milling around a coffee maker, chatting with each other, and laughing. Outside in the parking lot are a few smokers. 

You're going to be nervous, but that's okay.

No one is going to make you say anything. No one is going to force you to stand up and tell a room of strangers all your secrets. You don't have to say a single word to anyone. 

If you want to, practice saying, "I'm only here to listen today." You probably won't have to say it, but it's nice to have a plan. 

First AA Meeting? Grab a Pamphlet On Your Way Out for More

Congratulations! You've made it through your first AA meeting. 

You sat and listened to stories from all kinds of people; maybe you even saw yourself in some of those stories. You'll at least walk away with an understanding of how sobriety can change your life

Perhaps you've made up your mind to keep coming back, or maybe you're not quite ready. Regardless, find the pamphlets and grab a schedule of local meetings. This is great to keep on-hand for the future.

AA Will Always Be There for You

There will always be a meeting, and you will always be welcome. You don't have to wonder about that—just show up and you'll be accepted with open arms.

If you have any more questions about AA, the steps, or what that metal coin they handed you on your way out means, check out some of our recovery resources!