This paper will be divided into two sections; the first part will summarize an open Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, explore the contents of the meeting and list the key speakers. In addition to the format of the A.A meeting, the second part of this paper will discuss AA concepts, identify the 12-steps of A.A, explain the purpose of the 12-steps and describe each of the following and its role in A.A: a) Closed meeting; b) Open
meeting; c) Steps; d) Sponsor; and e) Home-group.
Part One: AA Meeting
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings (A.A) consists of groups of people that are seeking help for a common drinking problem. The open group is a non-biased, non-professional, self- supporting, non-political group made up of both men and women who admit that they are powerless against alcohol. Anyone can join an open A.A meeting, despite gender, age, religious or cultural preference. The meeting discussed in this paper, started at 7pm and ended at 8pm. The location was Area 16: 145 1st St. in Macon, Ga. 31204 on 1/20/2014.
The meeting was an open meeting with one guest speaker who was a regular member of the group. The guest speaker opened the meeting, stating “Hi my name is Daniel Santos, I am 29 years old and I am an alcoholic”, the group replied, “Hi Daniel”. He then, said that he wanted to open the meeting with the serenity prayer. Everyone in the meeting bowed their head, and repeated the prayer with the speaker. After Daniel finished the prayer, he asked if there was anyone in the group that wanted to share any stories that might have happened in the past month. There were a few people that raised their hands to speak; a total of about 3 speakers besides the guest speaker shared their stories. It was noted that all speakers shared a similar story. For example, one gentleman speaker named Timothy shared that he relapsed during the holidays and failed to mention it to his wife. He finally worked up the courage to tell his wife what happened, and how disappointed he was in himself that he broke a 7 month sobriety to celebrate New Year’s the “right way”, instead of going into the New Year sober, he felt he had to start all over again. He was devastated.
A woman named Christina shared a similar story, she had been clean and sober for about 3 months before New Year’s arrived, and she broke her sobriety as well. She also entered the New Year with a new challenge to get clean and sober. Both people shared very similar stories which built immediate rapport. No one was left alone, or felt indifferent, judged or wrong. The speaker shared his views on the holidays, and reminded the group of how important it was to get with their sponsors on or around the holidays. He stated “Addicts are especially vulnerable around this time, and need extra external support”.
Part Two: Discuss AA Concepts
The main concepts of the A.A program consist of the 12-steps, sponsorship, open and closed meetings and home groups. The main purpose of the 12-steps is to help people become free from addictive or dysfunctional behavior, to give them hope and guidance for living a stable and serene life. The Board of Alcoholics Anonymous lists the 12-steps are as follows:
- Step1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
- · Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
- Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
- Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
- Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
- Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
- Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted
- Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
- Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs (A.A.W.S. Board, 2011.
The purpose of all A.A meetings are to share experiences that give each other hope and strength which may help solve common problems and recover from alcoholism. There are both open and closed meetings. Closed meetings are for A.A members only who seek to recover from their drinking problem. Open meetings are available to anyone that is interested in attending; this may include non-alcoholics, reporters, researchers and other observers.
Sponsors in A.A are defined as an alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program who continuously shares his or her experience with another individual who is attempting to maintain sobriety through A.A on a regular basis. Although each sponsor is different, each will serve similar purposes based with similar responsibilities, activities and obligations to maintain a healthy sponsor/sponsee relationship. By sharing themselves with one another, they all work to help one another stay clean and sober day by day (Clarence, 1944).
Traditionally, many A.A members have found it helpful to belong to a Home Group. In this group, A.A members accept various responsibilities, build and sustain friendships. The purpose of the Home Group is to establish a strong bond between A.A members and the fellowship.