Are you drinking too much? We can help ...
If you'd like to speak with someone right now, please call the AA helpline (10am - 10pm every day) on 1300 22 22 22. All the helpline volunteers are sober alcoholics, and they understand what you're going through! They can answer your questions, or help you find a meeting. You don't have to identify as an alcoholic to call us, only have the desire to stop drinking. Here are some questions which might help you decide if you have a problem with drinking.
If you're wanting help for a friend or family member, you might like to contact AlAnon, which is a 12 step group for supporting friends and families of alcoholics.
What to expect at a meeting
For most of us, going to our first meeting was pretty scary, and we weren't sure what to expect. We were mostly delighted to find that people were friendly, helpful and non-judgmental, and most importantly, spoke "our" language.
There are different types of meetings - some study the Big Book, or the twelve steps or twelve traditions, some are topic meetings (a different topic each week), still others are "ID" meetings where people just tell their story - how it was, what happened, and how it is now, and in doing so, share their experience, strength and hope. It's worth trying a few different ones to find one that the right "fit" for you.
The format of most meetings is fairly standard. There will be one or two people hosting the meeting - the chairperson and the secretary. There's no hierarchy here ... anyone with enough sobriety can do a period of time leading meetings. The secretary will introduce themselves, and give a brief introduction to the meeting. Then there may be a reading, and then the chairperson will choose people to share on whatever the topic is. The chosen person then speaks for about 5-10 minutes. There is an important rule in AA that we allow each person to speak uninterrupted. Meetings usually finish with "passing the basket" (each person contributes whatever they like, to cover the costs of the venue, tea and coffee, and the general running of AA), and then everyone stands, holds hands and cites the Serenity Prayer. That can feel a bit weird at first, but it's kinda lovely when you get used to it.
All meetings are different - if you don't like your first meeting, try a few more before deciding it's not for you. Some are more serious than others (mine is, quite frankly, hilarious!), some are very Higher-Power focused and others have a lot of agnostics or atheists. It's not a religious program, but it is a spiritual one - you'll learn what that difference is.
It's good to arrive a little early - there's almost always tea and coffee and biccies to be had, and usually someone to greet newcomers and make them feel welcome. Let someone know you're new, and they'll most likely introduce you around. They'll probably also give you a "newcomers kit" with some brochures, with space for people to write their phone numbers for if you're struggling between meetings.
Early on, we were advised in meetings to listen for the similarities, not the differences, because underneath, our stories are all pretty much the same - we drank, we got to the point we couldn't stop, and life got ugly. Listen for how the other people in the meeting found a way out of this desperate situation, into happy and meaningful lives today.