New to AA? Then the following information should be helpful
Alcoholism is the continued use of alcohol even when that use causes harm. An alcoholic is often in the grip of a powerful craving, a need for a drink that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. It is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. No one chooses to suffer from a disease and alcoholism is no exception.
But you can get better. If you have tried to control your drinking but cannot, or your drinking habits are adversely affecting your quality of life, we are here to help you. We can show you that taking some simple steps can help loosen the grip that alcohol has on your life. The first step is to reach out and ask for help. This can be done by attending an AA meeting. If you are unsure or have questions, call the Lansing Central Office at 517-377-1444. Making that call will put you in touch with an AA member that can answer your questions and point you in the right direction. People often say that AA is a simple program if you just follow some basic suggestions - attend AA meetings, get informed, find a sponsor, and work the 12 steps with your sponsor. Through AA you will find a caring and supportive community of people who want to calm your fears and help you on your journey to a new, sober, better way of life.
Your first step is reaching out for help, you can do this by calling:
You will find when you go to AA meetings that they are both diverse and welcoming. Some meetings are led by a sober member of AA who recounts his or her personal experiences about what life was like as an active alcoholic, what brought them to AA, and what life is like in sobriety. We call this sharing our “Experience, Strength and Hope.” Other meetings focus on reading portions of Alcoholics Anonymous (the basic text of AA), discussing the 12 steps, or other sobriety topics.
The people that attend AA meetings are also very diverse. Alcoholism affects people of many different ages, races, and walks of life – and they all attend AA meetings. Sometimes people are put off that meetings are held in churches – don’t let that deter you. AA is not a religious organization. Meetings occur in many different places - churches, community centers, Alano Clubs, and hospitals to name a few. You don’t need to be a member of a particular faith to attend an AA meeting or be welcomed into the AA community. And remember that with almost 400 meetings occurring every week in the Lansing area, there are plenty to choose from. Try several and find ones that work for you.
When you attend an AA meeting you will find friendly, helpful people in a safe environment. The people there sincerely want to help you get well. You won’t have to give your name or speak if you don’t want to. The only requirement to attend an AA meeting is a desire to not drink for today. Meetings are a fellowship of loving and helpful people that are available to support you in your recovery. Don’t be afraid – take that first step. We will be there to help you along the way.
AA Orientation Meeting
Specially designed for persons new to AA in the Lansing area. This hour-long meeting starts at:
7:00pm - Wednesday Nights at the Lansing Central AA office
Topics covered: what AA is (and what it is not), a brief history of the AA program, and how to get started on the road to recovery in AA. No matter how you get here, all are welcome to attend. Friends and family members of a possible alcoholic are also welcome! If you have any questions about the orientation meeting or any other meeting - please don't hesitate to call us at 517-377-1444. If you wish to attend another meeting in the area please click here to search a list of available meetings.
New to AA FAQ
Here is a list of frequently asked questions specifically designed to help new members of AA
Q: I am not an alcoholic but have been sentenced by the Courts to attend AA meetings. What meetings should I attend?
A: If you have a desire not to drink, you may attend any closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Those who do not have a desire to stop drinking should attend an open meeting of AA. Court slips may be signed at closed or open meetings depending upon the group's decision about signing slips. Groups are not required to sign court slips but most do, in cooperation with your needs.
Q: How do I prove my attendance at AA meetings if this is part of my sentence?
A: Persons court-ordered to attend AA often track their attendance by submitting a sheet that is signed by the chairperson during the meeting. The probation department typically provides these sheets. When the donation basket is passed during the meeting, place your sheet in the basket and it will be signed and returned at the end of the meeting.
Q: What is the difference between open and closed meetings?
A: Closed meetings are for persons who have a desire not to drink. Therefore, the only requirement to attend a closed meeting of AA is a desire not to drink. Open meetings are for persons who do not have a desire to stop drinking and anyone else with an interest in AA (students, professionals, friends and family of an alcoholic, etc).
Q: Are there any requirements to attend closed meetings?
A: The only requirement to attend a closed meeting is a desire not to drink.
Q: I noticed that many meetings are in churches. Do I need to belong to that church or believe in God to attend an AA meeting?
A: AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. Meetings are held in churches but the church serves only as a location. The church is not associated with AA (or AA with the church) - the AA group pays rent to use the space. Meetings occur in many different places: churches, community centers, Alano Clubs, and hospitals to name a few. You do NOT need to be a member of a church or religion to participate and be welcomed by the AA community.
Q: If I attend a meeting am I required to speak?
A: No. Sharing helps you and allows others to get to know a bit about you - but it is not required. Many people attending their first AA meeting give their first name and if they desire not to speak, say "pass".
Q: What happens at a meeting?
A: There are many different types of meetings. Some have a specific focus - like reading Alcoholics Anonymous (also referred to as the "Big Book") - our basic textbook on how to recover. Some meetings discuss one of the twelve steps and/or traditions. There are also speaker meetings where a sober member of AA recounts his or her personal experience: what it was like, what happened, and where they are at now. Other meeting are created for specified segments of the recovery community: young people in AA, men's meetings, women's meetings, and gay and lesbian meetings are a few examples.
Q: What if I see someone I know at an AA meeting?
A: Personal anonymity is a founding principle of our program. When attending an AA meeting, sober alcoholics practice the saying - "whoever you see here, whatever you say here, let it stay here". Outside of meetings we don't speak about who we saw or what we heard. We are not anonymous to each other, but it is important to respect every alcoholic's right to remain anonymous.
Q: Are there any requirements for attending AA?
A: The only requirement to attend a closed meeting of AA is a desire not to drink. Anyone with an interest in AA may attend an open meeting.
Q: Are there different types of meetings?
A: Yes. Here is listing of a few different types of meetings that are found in the Lansing area:
(B) Beginners Meetings - Topics of discussion are suited to new arrivals in AA and typically address the basics of the AA program.
(C) Closed - A closed meeting is for AA members and those persons that have a desire not to drink.
(O) Open Meeting - Open meetings are available to anyone with an interest in AA including students, professionals, friends and family.
(OS) Open Speaker - A meeting in which an AA member shares his/her experience with alcoholism and recovery through the AA program.
There are many different types of AA meetings - the above list highlights only a few examples. Click here for a full listing of types of meetings in the Lansing area.
Q: How do I find a meeting?
A: There are over 400 meetings a week in the Lansing area (Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties). An online meeting search can be found here. If you have any problems, please call the Lansing Central Office at 517-377-1444 for help. The Lansing Central Office also publishes a printed meeting directory for the Lansing/tri-county area that can be purchased for $1.
Q: I am already a member of a specific religion or practice a spirituality path. Will I be asked to change that?
A: No. AA is not a religious program. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. The principles of AA are guides to progress; we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Q: I'm an atheist or agnostic. Can this program work for me?
A: Yes, this program can work for you. While there is direct mention of a “god” in meetings and literature, please keep in mind that this is a “god or higher power of your understanding”. For some, that understanding favors an atheist or agnostic form of expression.
Q: Can I be kicked out of AA?
A: No. Disruptive or abusive persons may be asked to leave a meeting, but you cannot be kicked out or expelled from the AA program.
Q: Are there any fees for attending meetings?
A: There are no dues or fees for AA membership. We are self supporting through our own contributions. This means that AA supports itself solely on the contributions of its members. During a meeting, a basket is passed and people attending the meeting have the choice to donate if they wish. A typical donation is one to five dollars. Donations are used to pay the meeting rent, support the local AA service center and also support the AA service structure. Meetings generally keep a prudent reserve and donate the rest to carry the message of AA.
Q: When is the next meeting?
A: Click here to find a meeting. With over 400 meetings a week in the Lansing area there's a good chance one is happening right now, close to you.
Q: If AA is not a religious program, why are meetings held at churches?
A: A church may serve as an available location for an AA meeting to take place. An AA group that meets in a church has no direct affiliation with the church beyond a formal agreement that allows the meeting to take place. Most AA groups pay rent to use the space in which a meeting is held - this includes churches.
Q: What is an Alano Club?
A: An Alano Club is a privately-owned building that is dedicated to hosting AA and other types of recovery meetings. There are 3 Alano clubs in the Lansing area:
- The East Club (Click here to access directions)
The West Club (Click here to access directions)
The South Club (Click here to access directions)
Q: Can I bring someone with me to a meeting?
A: Of course - it is okay to bring a friend or family member to a meeting for moral support. We would ask that you and your guest select an open meeting of AA. An open meeting (by its very definition) is open to friends, family, and people who have a general interest in the AA program of recovery. Please see the online directory to find an open AA meeting in your area.
Q: How do I start the steps?
A: If you feel ready to start your step work, it is suggested that you work the steps under the direction of a sponsor.
Q: What is a sponsor?
A: A sponsor is a sober member of AA who has already worked the 12 steps of recovery and is now available to help others in the step work process. Selecting a sponsor is a unique and individualized experience but a good starting point would be to attend meetings and listen for a member of AA that has a message of recovery and a personality style that you can identify and feel comfortable with. A sponsor will most likely lead you through the step work process that is outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (also referred to as "the Big Book") - the basic text of the AA program.
Q: Do I need to identify myself as an alcoholic to be welcomed in an AA meeting?
A: You will never be forced to identify yourself as an alcoholic at an AA meeting. This is a personal decision for you to make if and when it feels applicable.