Scared to go to your first AA Meeting: How do AA Meetings work in Canada?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a group of people supporting each other towards recovery from alcoholism and its effects. AA focuses on abstinence, but taking prescription medication is permitted. There are groups all over the world and there are many AA meetings held in Canada.

These groups aren’t affiliated with any particular political entity or religion, but they implement a spiritually inclined yet still universally applicable 12-step program.

Here’s a summary of the 12 steps:

  • Admission of powerlessness over alcohol and how it takes away your control over life
  • Recognition of a greater power that can restore you to wellness
  • Deciding to place your life in the hands of this greater power
  • Examining your morality with honesty and fearlessness
  • Admission of faults, either to God or another person
  • Readiness to have God correct these faults in one’s character
  • Finally asking God to rid of one’s wrongs
  • Listing the people one has harmed and deciding to reconcile with them
  • Directly making amends with these people whenever possible, except if it would do more injury to them or others
  • Pledging to keep examining one’s self while promptly admitting the wrongs the moment one realizes them
  • Seeking to communicate with God through prayer and meditation, asking Him to reveal His will and to give one the power to act on it
  • Carrying the message of spiritual awakening to other alcoholics while applying these principles in one’s everyday life

What to expect in AA meetings

The core of each assembly is anonymity. No one is required to give their name or label themselves as “alcoholics.” This means that nobody is singled out or identified, allowing a more comfortable space in recovery. The organization welcomes everyone regardless of gender, age, or race.

The meetings take place in easily accessible venues with parking spaces like churches or schools, sometimes even correctional facilities or treatment centers.

There are 3 types of assemblies: Speaker, Discussion, and Step.

Speaker meetings focus on AA members sharing their experiences of alcoholism and their path to recovery. Discussion meetings are more interactive as members exchange their thoughts on rehabilitation or any other drinking-related topic. Step meetings are focused on discourse regarding the 12-step program.

AA meetings can either be Open or Closed. Open meetings accommodate alcoholics and non-alcoholics. Speaker and Discussion meetings fall under this category while Step meetings are Closed. These are more close-knit gatherings exclusive to alcoholics and those who express interest in joining AA.

In Canada, they have several offices in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory. Their “A.A. Near You” webpage shows a more detailed listing for each of these areas (you can also find AA offices hear you here, and more alcohol recovery related websites here).

Suffering from alcoholism can be a source of shame and embarrassment; so if you need support but find it uncomfortable to be among other people at the moment, you can ease into it through online support groups and phone meetings. When you feel that you’re ready, you may simply attend open AA meetings because no one is required to speak until they volunteer.

It may be difficult at first, but hearing inspiring stories in an environment of compassionate belongingness can be life-changing.

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