This question was asked by a newcomer in a recent meeting. Others said things such as “meeting makers make it” and “I have to go to meetings to stay sober.” Nice ideas but these are ways meetings can help us and not necessarily what meetings are for.
The primary purpose of an AA meeting is to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic that there is a solution to their drinking problem. We should convey that our best self-directed efforts to control our drinking are insufficient and we must tap into a power greater than ourselves for help. The twelve steps provide a path to achieving this solution.
I have attended thousands of meetings and more than a few have not touched upon this primary purpose at all. Of course there are a lot of different things said at any meeting and not everything is all about recovery. Regardless, by the time a meeting is over one should at least be left with some sense that they were at an AA meeting. I do not go back to meetings that totally ignore carrying the message of recovery and sobriety.
Going to meetings will not cure our alcoholism but can, for an alcoholic:
• be one of the ways we learn that working the steps will solve our drinking problem
• bring us together so that we can help and support each other
• provide a means for us to learn about our alcoholism
• show us that other people have the same problems we do
• provide a relaxing respite from our day and any attendant pressures or problems we may be facing
• teach us things about how to live sober by seeing both positive and negative examples of how others are trying to get sober and deal with their problems
• be a place to find a sponsor
This list can be made much longer but……one can work the steps without ever setting foot in an AA meeting (the original reason why the Big Book was written!) and get sober. The opposite, going to meetings but not working the steps, does not bring about the same result. Working the steps changes in our thinking, our actions, and our intentions in ways that will not happen if we just sit around talking about sobriety.
When I first started attending AA meetings I was frightened. Of everything and everybody, not just of AA. But I listened to what people said in meetings, and in some ways, how their words, actions, and deeds fit together. Drunks tend to not have their shit together, and it shows. Sober people stand out in a roomful of others that may want to be sober but have yet to work the steps.
I was convinced when I arrived that I was a drunk and that I was powerless to stop drinking on my own. Sober drunks told me they were once in the same situation. They said they worked the steps, developed a spiritual life, have been able to stay sober, and have left behind many of the problems they had when they were drinking. These were the people I wanted to be like. They seemed relatively happy, which was way different than how I felt. I did not have any more good ideas about how to take care of myself so I began to do what these people suggested. Get a sponsor to help me work the steps, keep going to meetings, change my playmates and playgrounds, and many other things.
Back then I knew nothing about trying to carry the AA message, I just needed to hear it. Today I feel it is important to talk at meetings about what alcoholism is, what it does to us, and how it is possible to escape the downward spiral of alcoholic drinking. This is, in part, what the AA responsibility statement conveys;
“I am responsible . . . When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”
People who had worked the steps and embodied this notion of being responsible were there at meetings when I arrived. Their willingness to carry the message to me saved my life.
A rare comment from the old version of this blog that was transferred to this current site……
Danny Schwarzhoff Says:
June 1st, 2006 at 5:04 pm
Someone told me not long ago that they were uncomfortable with the slogan “meeting makers make it.”
I am too, but only in-as-far-as it implies that meeting attendence is all I need to concern myself in order to stay sober. I love going to meetings today, whereas prior to recovering , I secretly watched the clock and eagerly anticipated the end of the meetings. I am at a point where I am no longer meeting dependent to stay sober, but God dependent instead.
I know that the groups are more than people gatherings. They are living, breathing spiritual entities where our message of hope can be announced to a sufferer of this disease My article in the September issue of Grapevine expounds more on this. If interested, feel free to read it in this groups FILES section found to the left on your screen.
I found it interesting that as life throws its curves and bumps in front of me, there is no longer the urge to “get to a meeting” to settle myself. I no longer get “squirrelly” if I miss a few days, or even a week of meetings. As far as I know, no one regularly characterizes me as a “serene” man. But certainly I do KNOW serenity, which is one of the hundreds of promises made to me by the authors or the Big Book provided I take other simple steps. (And in the case of “knowing serenity”, made my amends)
If to lack of a meeting began to once again affect my serenity, I’d have to take a real serious look at my spiritual condition. Being dependent upon meetings to keep my head on straight doesn’t sound like very much freedom to me.