Alcoholics Anonymous or AA as it is commonly referred to as, is an informal meeting society that allows alcoholics and recovering alcoholics to gather in an unbiased setting. The meetings provide a place where they can be themselves without trying to hide or be ashamed that they have a drinking problem. The meetings are also a place where they can learn how to abstain from alcohol in the future as well as learn how to go through the twelve step program to stay sober.
The twelve step program helps new members to understand that they have a problem that is fixable and will not judge them on their drinking behavior. The first step allows the new member to admit that they are defenseless over alcohol and have become unable to manage their lives. Step two asks them to let a higher Power restore their sanity, which leads to the third step of letting God into their life. The fourth step gives new members a chance to search their personal morals. The fifth step asks them to admit to God and others that they have a problem. Step six is when the new member is ready to give their shortcomings to God, leading to the seventh step which asks them to allow God to remove all their personal shortcomings. Steps eight and nine require the new member to make a list of all the people that they have wronged in the past and to try and make amends with each of them. Step ten allows the new member to get into better contact with God through prayer and/or meditation. Step eleven comes after the member has had a spiritual awakening, and encourages them to help other alcoholics with these same guidelines. The twelfth, and final step of the program, encourages them to practice all of these steps in their everyday life, not just in abstaining from alcohol.
The meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous can vary from place to place. But most try to follow somewhat of a similar guideline. All the meetings are free to attend and are open to anybody, unless it is specifically stated as being closed, and then it is just intended for members and new members. In order for the meetings to remain free, a small donation is asked of each member to cover the refreshments that are provided at each meeting and for any publications that are provided. Some meetings are started with a round of socializing, so that everyone can become comfortable and at others they are started with a short prayer. Announcements and celebrations of sobriety anniversaries are encouraged, as each day is a big step in abstaining from alcohol. Talking is encouraged and other members are not allowed to interrupt. Special speakers may provide information on topics that are useful to the members. The meetings are generally finished with another prayer. Some variances in meetings may include the chairperson going over steps of the twelve-step program in great detail.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a free, unbiased meeting place for those with drinking problems to meet and get help without fear of being reprimanded or belittled. It provides a twelve-step program to help its members allow God into their lives and let Him help to make their burden easier to bear and deal with. The meetings are free and provide a chance for members to socialize with others in the same predicament without feeling shamed.