Perhaps you have heard the cliché, “there is no such thing as a bad AA meeting.”
There are bad meetings.
What is the difference between a good and bad meeting?
Good meetings share either the common problem (alcoholism) or common solution (the spirituality/action required by the steps). People/speakers share about the problem or the solution in an interesting and honest way others can identify with. The majority of meetings routinely do this.
Bad meetings share neither the common problem nor common solution. People share problems other than alcohol and offer no real solution to them. Solutions presented are not the ones outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.
These meetings occur because the problems and solutions at their best are entertaining, interesting, and even honest. Unfortunately, most times they are largely self-centered, unfocused, and dull. Bad meetings feel more like un-mediated group therapy than AA. “Oprah meetings” are fun. Characterized by topical whining and self-improvement solutions these meetings are not AA. To anyone seeking a solution to alcoholism these are bad meetings. Fortunately, these meetings are rare, but, they do occur.
Great meetings connect the common problem with the common solution that is honest, hopeful, and delivered with a unique and personal style that seems genuine and immediate. These are meetings where AA’s leave motivated to try harder and to stay the course while feeling part of a larger community.
Fortunately, if one looks around and employs some discretion most can find great meetings in their area.