Alcoholics anonymous meetings are meant to provide support in a group setting for those who drink excessively and are trying to stop. At alcoholics anonymous meetings, individuals often share their stories, to which others can relate. Occasionally, family members, close friends, or loved ones join alcoholics anonymous meetings to listen and share support. Those who attend for the first time will typically introduce themselves and share their experience if they wish to, or they may simply listen to others speak. Alcoholics anonymous meetings may be designated for various groups of individuals, such as all male or all female, or mixed.
The goal of alcoholics anonymous meetings is to find effective ways to conquer alcoholism and regain control of one's life. Some meetings are designated for discussion only. This means the participants will speak about experiences, share their fears and weaknesses as well as hope for conquering their problem. This type of meeting is also a forum for newcomers to join the group and introduce themselves to established members. Discussion groups are typically guided by a discussion group leader.
Leaders also have designated tasks in alcoholics anonymous meetings. They may determine and set an allotted time for each discussion topic, which may be five minutes or less. Alternately, a free period may be allowed, during which anyone may contribute to the topic, or simply listen.
Other than discussion groups, there are meetings that involve lessons and study. Study books may involve lessons or question-and-answer segments. Additionally, sharing perspectives on such reading material may be encouraged.
Alcoholics anonymous meetings are often held in churches or clubhouses. In some cases, a large room or designated space may be rented for these meetings. To cover the cost of rent, materials, and other expenses for these meetings, collections may be taken. In most cases, alcoholics anonymous meetings are set for a particular start and end time. Scheduled times and dates of the meetings will be posted in advance.
It is common practice for individuals who attend these meetings to use their first names only, in respect to privacy. To ensure one's privacy, individuals may attend meetings in towns that are not local. There is no official attendance record that will be kept, so there is no pressure to attend every meeting.
Support meetings held in a church may begin with a short prayer. Quite often, the alcoholics anonymous meeting will begin with all members reciting the Lord's Prayer while standing. The designated chairperson may make announcements or comments before the meeting begins.