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Old 10-23-2009, 12:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Making.First.AA.Meeting.a.Positive.Experience


Hi SR Community-

As I have been seeing a few posts from newcomers about a very bad first AA meeting experience, I am interested in hearing from experienced AA'ers about how we can help newcomers to have the best experience possible.

I'm not an AA evangelist, but rather just hate to see others have a bad experience with something that has been so helpful to me.

I came up with a few items and would appreciate other comments from SR folks:

How to make your first AA Meeting Experience a positive one ...

1. Start with a smaller meeting - usually a big book discussion or newcomers meetings in the evening will have a smaller group and this will likely be less intimidating. (Speaker meetings are often larger, lunch time meetings are often quick in-and-out -- so probably not the best first meeting)

2. Have reasonable expectations - an AA meeting is not a professionally run meeting, but rather just a bunch of Alcoholics meeting together with a meeting agenda (this is done on purpose you will learn). Don't expect to get the answer to all your questions in the first meeting. Just go with an open mind and if you can learn one small thing, then view this as a success.

3. Don't feel that you have to agree with everything said - many people get turned off by what one person says only to learn later that this person annoyed everyone else as well. Look for things you can identify with and don't try to compare yourself to others.

4. Go a few minutes early and introduce yourself to the meeting secretary - this is the person who is running the meeting and they will be willing to speak to you and can help be your guide. Remember, AA doesn't try to promote itself to you, it wants you to be attracted to AA, so people will sometimes not bother you out of respect.

5. Speak up - I know it is hard when you enter a new group to speak, but you could say something as simple as "Hi, I am new, and I would like some help." You will be surprised how much positive feedback you get.

6. If one meeting doesn't work, go find another - there are so many different types of meeting, each with their own group personality, that you will find one that you like. Just keep trying.

I'm sure there is more good advice -- so please post.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm totally a newbie but ill still chime in.

1. Smiling at someone will more than likely provoke them to introduce themselves to you.

2. When they ask for newcomers, raise your hand, say I'm (leslie in my case) and I'm an alcoholic (and/or addict)

3. Don't scram out of the door when the meeting is over (as I used to), go get some literature and linger a bit.

All the best
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Old 10-24-2009, 03:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi me,

I fully concur with all of the above. L'm often appalled at what I hear others have experienced in a place that has been nothing but welcoming and life-saving for me.

This might sound contradictory to some of the above but what worked for me initially was something somewhat different. At first I went to meetings where no one would know me. I would slip in, listen intently, and then slip out.

I didn't want attention, didn't want conversation, didn't want religion - I just wanted the madness to stop. I'm introverted by nature and was scared to talk with anyone. I brought magazines or books to read during breaks, kept to myself, but really listened.

Eventually - slowly - my walls came down, but I had to ease into it. I went to all sorts of meetings and continue to do so today. I'm so glad I stuck it out.

Thanks for the great thread.

Mike
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