This is how to get the most out of your AA meetings so you can heal, grow, and get the support that you need.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers a means for individuals struggling with alcohol abuse to connect with others and obtain support throughout the recovery process. During the meetings, participants share their stories, talk about recovery, and ask for help in overcoming challenges they are experiencing.
The interactions provide numerous therapeutic benefits, as those who have achieved sobriety and maintained it for a period of time use their stories to inspire those just starting on this journey. This sharing motivates them to continue taking part in the meetings, and those who are only starting on this path gain hope from the successes that are shared.
Alcoholics often find something bothers them but they can’t put what they are feeling into words. Sharing with others helps to clarify these feelings and provide the addict with insight as to what is going on in his head.
In addition, hearing the stories of others often triggers a response in the listener, and this may likewise help to clarify what the addict is feeling. This is only one of the many reasons Harris House encourages clients to take part in meetings during the recovery process and do so as often as possible.
With regular attendance at AA meetings, alcoholics become accountable for their actions. It’s hard to slip into denial or live with delusions regarding the addiction when confronted by other group members at these meetings.
Talking about the problem and telling your story allows others to make suggestions or offer advice. They know what you are going through and maybe of help because they have already been there. These suggestions often significantly help those who are struggling to stay on track with regard to their sobriety.
Focusing on the Positive
Setbacks in the recovery process occur. Relapses can and do happen, and alcoholics often express negativity during the recovery process. When these feelings become overwhelming, sharing with the group becomes of great help.
They may be able to see positives the addict is overlooking or find other ways to help him get back on track. When choosing AA meetings to attend, look for one that manages to find the right balance between positive and negative stories, as this helps with the recovery process of those attending.
Addicts often backslide and need to recognize this. A relapse doesn’t mean the addict should simply give up and go back to drinking. However, sharing at AA meetings helps to reduce the risk of a relapse as it provides the addict with a way to release their emotions and thoughts.
Anger and resentment decrease when they can share in this way, which is of great importance, as both resentment and anger can trigger cravings for a drink. The interaction with others helps to prevent this from happening. In the event a relapse does occur, meeting participants can help get the alcoholic back on the right track, and there won’t be any judgment from those helping in this process.
People who attend Alcoholics Anonymous become part of a group. One thing many addicts find difficult to do is to stay away from friends who may contribute to the problem. For example, a man may drink when he is with his poker buddies or a woman might have a glass of wine with friends at lunch.
Overcoming the addiction requires they find new friends to reduce the temptation to have a drink. These friends may be found at an AA meeting as you have similar goals.
Spending time with others who attend these meetings minimizes the risk of someone having a drink and offering you one too. You are there to encourage each other when temptation does strike.
However, take care as this same individual may have a relapse and try to take you along. Then it is your turn to step up and help them get back on the right track rather than falling off the wagon. New friendships often arise at these meetings and these relationships could last a lifetime.
Release Stress and Tension
Alcoholics who take part in AA meetings say doing so helps to release stress and tension. Being candid and honest in these meetings tend to be easy, as everyone present understands the struggles the addict is facing because they’ve encountered many similar ones of their own. This provides the addict with an outlet for those personal stories which may be inappropriate for family and friends to hear or simply too difficult to talk about with someone who hasn’t been there before.
The alcoholic knows others taking part in the meeting will be able to grasp the situation and how it affected the addict, due to their own personal experiences with alcohol and things they did while under the influence of this substance.
People often express concern over confidentiality when it comes to sharing at AA meetings. Keep in mind that one of the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous is that what participants see and hear at a meeting stays at the meeting when it ends. Nevertheless, participants cannot control the actions of others once they leave, and information discussed in a meeting may be shared with others. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often.
If this is a concern, speak generally rather than giving specifics about a situation or event. This ensures personal information isn’t dispersed without the original speaker’s permission and doesn’t lead to an embarrassing situation. Talk privately with your sponsor and share more details, if needed, as the sponsor is someone that the alcoholic has come to trust and respect.
Don’t discount the importance of sharing at AA meetings. While participants get a lot out of listening to the stories of others, sharing offers several benefits as well. Don’t be embarrassed by your story, either. Others taking part in the meetings have been in similar situations and possibly worse.
Keep this in mind and take a full part in each meeting you attend. When you do so, you find the recovery process becomes much easier, as you pick up on methods and techniques that help you as you move forward with life, one that is no longer dictated by your addiction to alcohol but by those things you love and truly enjoy.