A remarkable effect can take place in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when an individual struggling with a drinking problem asks for help, and someone is there to share with them that AA may be a solution. For some AA members, their journey of sobriety began at “open” AA meetings, which can be attended by any member of the community, alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Open meetings have long been a vital source of information for anyone who wants to learn more about the AA Fellowship.
A typical open meeting will have a “leader” and other speakers. The leader opens the meeting, introduces each speaker, then closes the meeting after sharing and discussion. Usually, speakers share some drinking experiences that led them to join AA. More importantly, they talk about how their life has changed because of the AA Fellowship and the Twelve Steps.
There is an acronym that is often heard in A.A. meetings that spells out the word TEAM – TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE (TEAM). This acronym aptly reflects AA’s philosophy regarding service work. Teamwork is essential to AA. As stated on page 561 in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, “We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.” This philosophy is also echoed in AA’s 12th Step where it says, “…we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.” We also see this idea of service reflected in this quote from the Big Book, “Practical experience shows nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics” (Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 89).
Alcoholics Anonymous began with service work. Co-founder of AA, Bill W., only a few months sober, was stricken with a powerful urge to drink. Suddenly this thought occurred to him: “You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you!” (Questions and Answers on Sponsorship, pg. 7) It was this thought and subsequent action that led Bill to meeting Dr. Bob. This chance meeting born out of a desire to not drink became the foundational moment in the birth of AA.
So, what does this idea of service have to do with “open” AA meetings? What better place to find a person with whom to work than someone who is looking for a solution to their drinking problem. Quoting again from the pamphlet Questions and Answers on Sponsorship we find this on pg. 8, “We know from experience that our own sobriety is greatly strengthened when we give it away.”
If you or someone you know is looking for a solution to their drinking problem, you can find a list of “open” AA meetings by visiting www.aa.org. If you are looking for a great way to enhance your sobriety, find a newcomer with whom to work at an “open meeting”.