Everything you need to know about AA meetings

What happens in an AA meeting?

Admitting that you need to get professional support for your addiction is an important first step. But what happens during recovery?

We understand how daunting it can be to think about group therapy and 12-step meetings – facing others and sharing your experiences with strangers.

As a result, we bring you the truths about what happens in an AA meeting, so that you know what to expect. 

What is the AA?

 AA is all about the personal recovery of addiction and sustained sobriety of individuals who turn to the Fellowship for help and support through their addiction.

AA experience is free to all who seek support – from business leaders to mothers, to educators, to spiritual leaders – the AA accepts everyone.

By following a 12-step structure, the AA have helped millions globally face and recover from their alcoholism.

Learn more about the AA’s media.

Find a local meeting

  • If you are in recovery, then the easiest way to find a local AA meeting is to search for your local meeting.
  • Another option is to call the AA helpline on 0800 9177 650. The helpline will put you in touch with someone in your local area who can discuss the AA with you, and what to expect in a meeting.
  • They might even accompany you to the meeting and discuss with you after the session.
  • If you are attending AA meetings as part of your residential rehab programme, then they will escort you to a local meeting near your rehab hospital.
  • You will also receive group therapy sessions as part of your inpatient rehab programme.

AA meetings during COVID-19


AA meetings are still ongoing during the Coronavirus pandemic, and they are based online.

Support is still available despite restrictions and will return to normal once lockdown eases.

Learn more here.

What are the ’12 steps’?

The 12-steps are essentially the key values and rules of meetings, and the key steps towards long-term sobriety.

 The 12 steps are:

  1. Honesty Recovery often begins with overcoming denial and accepting your illness.
  2. Faith Believe in a higher power. This can be anything, as long as it gives you faith.
  3. Surrender Believe in a higher power that is not yourself.
  4. Soul Searching – Recovery is a process not an event. It takes time and dedication
  5. Integrity – Integrity provides a perfect platform for self-growth
  6. Acceptance – Accepting what you are, and be willing to move on from that past self
  7. Humility – Being humble and trusting in your chosen higher power
  8. Willingness – Be willing to make amends with those around you
  9. Forgiveness – Forgive yourself, and make the effort to allow others to forgive you
  10. Maintenance – Keep going to maintain your progress in recovery
  11. Making contactConsider the wider picture of your life plans
  12. Service – Maintain a service to the 12-steps for prolonged recovery

The AA meetings will help you to be honest with yourself about your history of addiction, and to stay sober one day at a time.  More about the 12 steps of the AA.

12-step meetings are an important part of residential addiction recovery treatment. See more.

What happens in an AA meeting?

The meeting may begin with some readings from a blue-covered book known as The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This will contain the 12-steps and a comprehensive guide to addiction and recovery.

Meetings tend to last around an hour. There are also speakers who attend AA meetings to share their experiences of recovery and sobriety to share strength and hope with the meeting’s participants.

Then, a discussion is opened in the room. Anyone is welcome to share what is going on in their life.

There may be a session theme, or you may have a general discussion, as long as the topics relate to issues or stories about alcohol or sobriety.

See an example structure of an AA meeting. Download the PDF here.

You may be nervous about attending your first meeting

  • You may be very sceptical or nervous about your first AA meeting.
  • Most newcomers tend to sit at the back to draw as little attention to themselves as possible.
  • If you want to make yourself known, then the session leader can talk with you and make you feel welcome.
  • If you are nervous, or even unwilling during your first meeting, then there is one thing that can reassure you.

AA is a large community which is diverse – participants come from all walks of life – but there are two things that connect you all, your struggle with addiction, and your desire to recover.

Starting a new AA programme?