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  • Can You Go To AA Meetings If You’ve Been Drinking?

    Can You Go To AA Meetings If You've Been Drinking?

    Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide 12-step support system. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. If you have been drinking the day of, most AA groups will welcome you with open arms. 

    However, AA does not provide detox or hospitalization. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. If you or a loved one is alcohol-dependent, you may need a medical detox before attending AA meetings. 

    What To Expect If You Attend An AA Meeting Intoxicated

    Maintaining abstinence from alcohol is a challenging and complex process. For people who attend AA or want to try a 12-step program, this may mean attending meetings under the influence. Fortunately, AA welcomes new members whether they are drunk, high, or sober. 

    However, individual AA groups may have their own traditions regarding attending meetings under the influence. 

    Here is what you may encounter if you attend an AA meeting after drinking:

    • you may be asked to have 24 hours of sobriety before speaking or sharing
    • you may be asked to leave if you are rambunctious or disturb the meeting
    • if you are too intoxicated to attend a meeting, AA members may bring the meeting to you
    • you will be welcomed back to the meeting at any time

    How AA Meetings Work

    Anyone is welcome at open meetings but only people with a desire to stop drinking are asked to attend closed meetings. 

    If it is your first time at a meeting, you and a family member may want to try an open meeting. Bringing someone familiar along to a new environment can help you and also help them understand the process of recovery through AA. 

    AA meetings allow members to share experiences with their drinking problems and recovery efforts. Meetings are an environment to connect with sober people who can be a positive influence and guide you through the 12-step process. 

    Most meetings select a chairperson to lead the meeting. At the start of the meeting, the chairperson may ask if it is anyone’s first meeting. To benefit new members, they announce that the primary purpose of AA is to maintain sobriety and help others to achieve sobriety. 

    Common AA meeting formats include:

    Speaker Meetings

    AA members discuss their experiences with alcohol and how AA has benefited their recovery. Selected speakers discuss what they were like while drinking, their experiences, and what their life is like in sobriety. 

    Discussion Meetings

    A speaker will discuss their experience then lead a discussion with the rest of the group. Topics are usually related to AA literature. 

    Possible discussion topics include:

    • character defects
    • fear
    • higher power
    • resentments
    • willingness

    Step Meetings

    The twelve steps are the foundation for the AA program of recovery. During a step meeting, group members may read material related to the step and follow up with a discussion. 

    Sponsorship & Sobriety

    Sponsorship, or helping others through the 12-steps, is what helps AA members maintain sobriety. 

    Although other members can be a positive support system, AA is not a professional treatment. AA sponsors can only help you stay sober within the limits of their own experiences. They do not provide mental health or medical services. 

    Alcohol Withdrawal & Detox

    One of the foundations of the AA program is the Alcoholics Anonymous book, known by members as “the Big Book”. It includes how to recover and personal stories of self-identified problem drinkers. 

    The AA text expresses the importance of hospitalization if you have been drinking heavily. Not only can alcohol withdrawal be dangerous, it can also cloud your mind. Detox can help you safely through alcohol withdrawal. 

    After the alcohol is out of your system, you are more likely to accept support from a 12-step program and professional treatment. Many treatment facilities support AA and host meetings throughout the rehab process. 

    AA Meetings Near You

    If you struggle with an alcohol problem, Ark Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs. 

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Alcoholics Anonymous - Frequently Asked Questions About AA
    Alcoholics Anonymous - Questions And Answers On Sponsorship
    Alcoholics Anonymous - The Big Book - The Doctor's Opinion
    Alcoholics Anonymous - What Is AA?

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on May 25, 2022
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