Navigating AA Meetings

A Common Saying: No Bad AA Meetings

In the circles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there is a common cliché that you might have heard: “There is no such thing as a bad AA meeting.” However, if we take a closer look, it becomes evident that not all meetings are created equal. Indeed, there can be, and are, bad meetings.

The Distinguishing Factors: Good vs. Bad Meetings

The distinction between a good and bad meeting lies primarily in the content shared and the honesty and relatability of the speakers.

What Makes a Good Meeting?

Good AA meetings focus on either the common problem of alcoholism or the common solution offered through the spirituality and action required by the steps. The participants share in an engaging and sincere manner, allowing others to identify with their experiences. The majority of AA meetings succeed in achieving this, making them productive platforms for mutual support and recovery.

What Makes a Bad Meeting?

On the other hand, bad meetings neither adequately address the problem of alcoholism nor propose solutions based on AA’s principles. Instead, they often veer off into discussions about other issues, failing to offer constructive solutions. While these meetings might be entertaining, and at times, candid, they can also be largely self-centered, unfocused, and dull. These meetings often resemble unmediated group therapy sessions rather than AA gatherings, hence the term “Oprah meetings.”

While such meetings can provide a space for general venting and self-improvement discussions, they do not serve those seeking a solution to alcoholism effectively. While these types of meetings are relatively rare, they do exist.

Striving for Greatness in Meetings

Great AA meetings successfully connect the common problem with the common solution, with honesty and hope. They are marked by genuine and engaging sharing that feels immediate and personal. Attendees leave these meetings feeling motivated to try harder, to stay the course, and feeling part of a larger supportive community.

To anyone navigating the landscape of AA, it’s worth noting that with some discretion, you can find great meetings in your area. Embrace the journey, learn from each meeting, and seek those spaces that truly support your path to recovery.


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