Alcoholics Anonymous: Newcomer Guide

Alcoholics Anonymous: Newcomer Guide


Are you feeling confused after your first AA meeting, sent by the courts, your psychologist, or your employer, and unsure of what to expect? Or, perhaps, you’ve happened upon a meeting by chance and are left wondering, “What exactly is happening here?” This post is tailored for you!

The Nature of AA

AA, which has been functioning for over 80 years, may be considered the most successful mainstream “treatment” for alcoholism. Its longevity and popularity can be attributed to its effectiveness, enabling many people to attain and maintain sobriety. One distinct feature of AA’s success is its low cost, with a suggested donation of only $2 per meeting.

However, the downside of this low-cost, self-regulated system is that it can be chaotic and lacks formal supervision. AA meetings often have a mixed group of participants, creating a unique environment that combines elements of group therapy, self-help, and even religious undertones.

The Literature of AA

AA-approved literature can be overwhelming to newcomers due to the sheer volume of information available. With 14 books and 77 pamphlets, figuring out where to start can be challenging. Many members will suggest starting with “The Big Book,” but it has its complications and shortcomings, some of which stem from its largely unchanged content since first publication in 1939.

Four Key Insights for AA Newcomers

There are four critical aspects newcomers should know about AA:

  1. AA might not be for everyone, but it remains the most effective method to get sober, regardless of whether you’re a “heavy drinker” or a “binge drinker.”
  2. AA tends to attract a variety of self-professed, well-meaning individuals who consider themselves experts.
  3. The program leans heavily towards a spiritual perspective, including references to a higher power.
  4. Remarkable personal transformations can occur through AA, but it requires tolerance and patience to manage the program’s challenges.

Addressing the Challenges

The AA program, although not perfect, is arguably the best available option to treat alcoholism. It is important to navigate through the program’s shortcomings, such as the unsolicited advice from know-it-alls, the unavoidable God-talk, and the lack of structure. Despite these issues, many individuals have been able to attain sobriety and transform their lives through AA.


Despite its limitations, there is no denying that AA and the 12 Steps remain the most reliable and effective alternatives for treating alcoholism. Understanding this context will help you succeed in your journey through AA. Be patient, learn to manage the challenges, and remember that the program, while not perfect, has helped many individuals reclaim their lives from addiction

Discover more from Pause When Agitated – AA Wisdom

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