Types Of AA Meetings At Miracles Recovery Center

The mission of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is to provide support for those seeking to recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Oftentimes, addiction is accompanied by a mental health disorder as well, and AA can give you the support needed to overcome both. 

This support can take many forms but at the end of the day, AA, and 12-step meetings in general, have proven to be some of the most successful types of meetings used to help people recover from addiction, and maintain sobriety. In this article, we will outline some of the different types of AA groups and hopefully help you or your loved one decide which ones are right for you. 

types of aa meetings

The name “AA” (Alcoholics Anonymous) has become the go-to term for describing any addiction recovery meeting. However, it is important to note that AA is a unique kind of support group with many sub-categories under the Alcoholics Anonymous umbrella. These different meeting types (open, closed, in-person, virtual), are targeted to help individuals of all demographics who are suffering from various categories and levels of substance abuse.

Open Meetings Vs Closed Meetings

Privacy is one of the foundational principles of AA, and it is an expectation that nobody discusses any details about who attends or what is said. Although privacy is the expectation, there are still different types of meetings that provide more or less “exposure” and it may be easier for someone new to the recovery process to choose one or the other. AA meetings are free and open to anyone. The only expectation is a desire to recover. However, there are different guidelines based on whether the meeting is considered “open or closed”

Open Meetings

Anyone can come to an open meeting. Many participants will find comfort in inviting friends, family members, or co-workers into the recovery process with them. Open meetings are “open” to anyone who wants to learn more about the process, support a loved one, or come hear someone speak. Oftentimes, experts or community members will be brought in to speak at open meetings.

Closed Meetings

Closed meetings are NOT open to the general public, but are only open to a specific group of people who signed up ahead of time. Most recovery programs will have options for both open and closed meetings, and the content of the meeting may be identical, but the closed meeting provides slightly more anonymity. 

types of aa meetings

What Is A 12-Step Meeting?

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are the action steps developed by the original founders of AA. These were discovered through the trial and error of real recovery attempts in their lives and the lives of other alcoholics at the hospital they worked at in Akron, Ohio. 

These 12 Steps are considered the most important for maintaining sobriety in the first year, but they have been adapted and tweaked to be the bedrock of long-term recovery for millions of people. They can be repeated and returned to as needed to help maintain a lifetime of sobriety from many different addictions. 

Ultimately, the work of recovery is an individual undertaking, but step groups provide a support framework through which recovering addicts can find the support, friendship, and accountability needed to maintain the hard work of sobriety. 

Most people going through recovery using this method will find a sponsor (or mentor) who will be their go-to person in times of struggle, relapse, or temptation. These sponsors will coach addicts through the 12 step process and help them overcome the adversity of addiction. 

Most 12 step groups meet every week, focusing on one step a week. Meetings are filled with confessions of struggles, successes, and insights. 

The 12 Steps

With a few minor tweaks, the 12 steps are similar for any number of addictions. Replace alcohol in the steps below with whatever addiction someone may be struggling with-from cocaine, to gambling to everything in between. Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. We admit we are powerless over alcohol–that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Other Types Of AA Meetings

There are many different formats of AA meetings, of which the “12-step” is only one. You or your loved one needs to do some research as to which one may be most beneficial for you. Some of the most common types are:

Big Book Study Meetings

The “Big Book” is a nickname for Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism, written in 1939 by one of the founders of AA, Bill W. The Big Book goes through the history and founding principles of AA, as well as success stories, the 12  steps, and more. At Big Book meetings, participants will study the founding principles of AA and take part in discussions about recovery that center on parts of the book.  

Behavior-Based Meetings

Behavior-based meetings are 12-step-type meetings that are centered less around substance addiction and more around behavioral addictions, such as gambling, sex, or spending. These behaviors may go hand-in-hand with substance use, but can often be separate, thus making the topics inappropriate for a substance-based meeting. 

The 12-steps have proven to be effective in dealing with all types of addiction, and these special interest meetings allow people struggling with behavioral addictions to have the same support and accountability as a normal AA meeting. 

Beginners’ Meetings

AA does not mandate a full treatment program, but starting with a beginners’ meeting may make the transition to recovery easier for many individuals. Beginners’ meetings focus on the basic needs of the first stages of the recovery process and help you get acclimated with the AA process. This period is key for avoiding relapse and getting the foundational support needed to make it through recovery. Many beginners’ groups will complete a few of the 12 steps before sending someone off to a more robust treatment setting. 

Family Meetings

Drug and alcohol use has effects on many people beyond just the one struggling with addiction. This can include family members, spouses, coworkers, and friends. Family AA meetings provide structure for these various groups to receive support through the recovery process. 

These “AA sister meetings” can help friends and family understand addiction and the recovery process, and will help people learn how they can stop enabling addictive behavior while helping in the recovery process. 

Some of the various types of family meetings include:

  • Families Anonymous– Provides support for family members of those struggling with addiction
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics– Provides support for those traumatized by or still dealing with an alcoholic parent
  • Alateen-A subgroup for teenagers dealing with alcoholic parents or family members

Online Recovery Meetings

While online meetings have been an option for many years, the Covid-19 pandemic made them a primary way for people to stay connected without the comfort of in-person meetings. The technological advances of video chat and instant connection have allowed people to meet safely through the pandemic as well as without regard for distance or meeting space limitations. 

The Benefits Of Alcoholics Anonymous And 12-Step Recovery

There are many proven benefits to participating in a 12-step program or specifically in AA. While the anonymity of the process makes it difficult to gather information, it is a fact that AA, and group recovery in general, have helped millions of people overcome addiction. Some of the most common and easily observed benefits are listed below. 

Learning New Strategies For Overcoming Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous exists to teach recovering addicts tips, tricks, and coping strategies that will help them maintain sobriety. At most 12-step meetings, you will have the opportunity to listen to others in recovery as they share their story and what they have learned along the way. You can choose to share or not share as you see fit, but ultimately the goal is for everyone to achieve honesty and transparency with their peers. 

Connecting With Others

One of the hardest parts of any struggle is the feeling that you are in it alone. At AA, one of the main goals is to connect you with other, like-minded people who can help support you on this journey. This includes receiving a sponsor who has more than likely been through a successful recovery journey and will be with you every step of the way. 

A “No Judgment Zone”

The stigma associated with addiction can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming addiction. Many people are afraid to admit they have a problem (step 1) or seek help from others for fear of embarrassment, or alienating friends and family. AA is a place where everyone can be open about their struggle without fear of stigma or judgment. Sharing the darkest parts of the recovery journey with others who have lived similar experiences can be the key that unlocks successful long-term recovery. 

AA is one of the most successful ways to combat the long-term struggles of addiction. At Miracles Recovery Center, we have many tools that can assist you on your journey. Contact us today if you or your loved one need to be connected to potentially life-saving addiction treatment options!