The Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I attended was on Wednesday July 15th 2015. It was held at Get It Together 8:00am 393 W. Warner Rd #105 & 106 Chandler, AZ 85225. The meeting was assigned an open meeting designation with the format being a discussion group. Other formats include Big Book study, newcomers, candlelight, meditation, literature study, closed and gender specific meetings. Closed meetings are for A. A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking”. Open meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism.
Nonalcoholics may attend open meetings as observers. People who attend meetings are free to attend at any location internationally. Home group is a meeting that the AA member attends regularly and calls home. The morning meeting opened with an introduction from the person who volunteers to be the chairman of the meeting. Chairing a meeting is voluntary and is looked upon as an excellent way for a member to serve the fellowship. The chairman announced that the meeting would be opened with the Serenity Prayer and asked members to pray for the addicts still suffering.
The Serenity Prayer is one that is most well known and associated with AA meetings. It reads, “Lord, grant the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. ” Two other prayers practiced among the fellowship, but not included in the meeting I attended are the 3rd Step prayer and the 7th Step prayer. The prayer’s read as follows: Third Step prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always. ” Seventh Step prayer: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. ” The chairman then proceeded to ask pre-selected members in attendance to do a reading.
The speakers read, “The Promises”, “How it works”, and the “Twelve Steps. ” AA’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. ‘ The Twelve Steps are the basis of the AA program of recovery. Step 1 is admitting powerlessness over addiction, living a life that has been unmanageable and coming to the acceptance that higher power can end the addiction.
Other steps include taking a moral inventory and discussing character defects with another member or sponsor, asking God to remove character defects, seeking a spiritual awakening and relationship with God and carrying the message of sobriety to other alcoholics. The 12-Step program is a mechanism to stay sober, to keep relapse triggers at bay instead of turning to chemicals to cope with negative emotions (www. addictscience. com). The Chairman asked if there was anyone here for their first AA meeting and asked the person to identify themselves by first name only, which is customary at all meetings.
The Chairman asked if there were any out of town visitors and announced that chips were to be given out at this meeting to celebrate sobriety dates. Anyone within their first 24 hours of sobriety was given a chip and the sobriety dates from there increased to 3 months, 9 months, 1 years and 1 year or more. When a person came forward they announced themselves to the group by saying, “I am an alcoholic” and the group then says, “Hello”. The chairman asked if there was anyone in their first 24 hours of sobriety who needed a sponsor and if there were any members who would volunteer to be a sponsor.
A sponsor is another individual in the fellowship who takes you through each of the 12 steps and serves as a guide, friend and confidant (Krentzman et al. , 2010). Next, announcements of upcoming fellowship activities and opportunities for volunteer service were read and the fellowship was invited to share any AA announcements if they had any. What is known as the 7th tradition was then explained to the group. The 7th tradition states that all fellowships should be self-supporting and a collection box would be passed for members to place monetary donations.
The money collected is used for renting the meeting space, paying bills, providing free literature to members and having a kitchen supplied with coffee and refreshments. Other AA Recovery literature can be found at the meetings for purchase. The primary book of study and reference for the entire program is what is known as the Big Book. The Big Book contains the 12 steps that are at the core of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, as well as stories about alcoholics who have been through the recovery process.
The section with personal stories can be particularly helpful to recovering alcoholics as they can read about others who have struggled with the disease of alcoholism and effectively recovered (www. recovery. org). The Chairman then read a passage from the Big Book concerning the first step and gave his reflections on the passage as a means to start the discussion. The discussion centered around the concept of acceptance and how that related to Step One’s declaration of coming to understand ones powerlessness over addiction.
One at a time members of the fellowship spoke and shared details of how they understood acceptance in their recovery. Some members spoke of the harmful things they had done while addicted and how their coming to the fellowship gave them the courage to accept their problems. Another man discussed the relief and positive changes that have occurred in his life since he began working the steps with his sponsor. One member stressed to any newcomers in the meeting that there are some meetings where the message may not connect with them, but to “keep coming back and listen openly for the one thing someone may say that makes an impact”.
The chairman began closing the meeting by asking if there was anyone else who had a “burning desire” to share and if there was anyone with a special problem to please see the chairman after the meeting. The chairman then reminded the fellowship of the confidentiality pledge they take when attending meetings, before inviting the group to stand in a circle, grasp hands and recite the Lord’s Prayer. Following the group prayer, the members joined hands and said the phrase, “Keep coming back, it’ll work if you work it and it won’t if you don’t and you’re worth