The popular 12 Step meeting Alcoholics Anonymous may be a support group you’re thinking about attending. Good for you. Many thousands of men and women have attended and found it to be a good fit for them, helping them get and stay sober. Many people lead busy lives, so wondering how long are AA meetings is not an uncommon question. The fact that you are interested in attending and making time for meetings in your schedule shows that you want to stay sober.
If you’ve never been to an AA meeting,or other 12 step group meetings, you may have some questions about what they’re like. Perhaps you wonder how long the meetings last, about how many people show up, what happens during the meeting, and so on. One of the most common questions people ask is how long are AA meetings?
You might also have some anxiety about attending your first meeting. Just so you know, most people are at least a little anxious about attending their first AA meeting, so you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.
When you know a bit more about the ins and outs of AA meetings, you’ll most likely feel less anxiety.
How Long Are AA Meetings?
Most AA meetings last one hour. Some may go over or under that hour depending on what type of meeting it is. For example, a speaker meeting is a meeting where a key speaker shares their story about recovering from alcoholism. Sometimes the meeting may run over a few minutes, but most facilitators are sure that meetings don’t run over too much. Since the length of AA meetings is usually a concern to many leading busy lives, the group leader tries to make sure that meetings are finished at an hour every time.
Usually, before the meeting, you’ll see some people visiting with each other, and others may be making some coffee, setting out AA literature, or doing other things in preparation for the meeting. For those concerned with how long are AA meetings, it can be frustrating because at times people are chatty and it takes time to get settled.
There’s a facilitator of the meeting who let’s everyone know that the meeting is starting. A good facilitator will let people laugh and enjoy company but also will speak up when it is time for the meeting to start. Since so many people are busy, and how long are AA meetings is a common question, the facilitator will want to start and end on time. It is important to remember that those in recovery often seek connection, friendship and laughter, this is healthy. A good facilitator will take a few minutes extra to let people laugh and enjoy their company but will try to start no later than 5 minutes late.
Then, for about ten minutes various AA literature is read out loud. This literature includes the 12 Steps of AA, the 12 Traditions of AA. Some meetings have the words of the day, and these words can help facilitate a topic to give people a focal point when starting to share.
After the literature is read, the meeting is opened up for individuals to share their experiences, strength, and hope. Those that are having a strong urge to drink are encouraged to share with the group so they can be encouraged. Although no direct advice is to be offered (known as crosstalk), sharing experiences and inspiration are welcomed.
How Long Are AA Meetings? Closing the Group
Once the hour is just about up, the person leading the group will take some time to ask if anyone is celebrating a sobriety anniversary. Or, they’ll ask if there’s anyone who wants to pick up a “white chip”, meaning they have a desire to stop drinking. As a newcomer, you’re welcome to raise your hand and go get a white chip to commemorate your “sober date”, or the day you decided to quit drinking. The group will usually close with the serenity prayer, although it is not mandatory to participate in this.
How Long Are AA Meetings? After Closing
You will notice, like before the meeting, there will be people who stick around after the meeting to chat, help clean up and sometimes even go for a bite to eat or to get a coffee. Sometimes people will talk about something that was in the meeting and how it related to them personally, others will stick around after the meeting to catch up with each other. If you are wondering how long are AA meetings, you may be busy and have to leave right after the meeting. You should not feel ashamed about this. As you become more familiar with the people you are meeting with and the meeting list for the week, you will be able to stick around before or after. You might even become a sponsor and help someone who is new to recovery.