What To Expect At a 12 Step Meeting


One of the hardest steps someone interested in recovery can take is admitting that they need help. Our mind purposefully tries to use this fear to keep us firmly rooted in our addictions. This article is specifically designed to battle one of those fears: “I don’t know what a meeting would even be like” “It probably isn’t for me” “I don’t want to be mauled by people trying to helpful”. We’re going to detail exactly what you should expect at a 12 step meeting.

Are 12 Step Programs Religious In Nature

This isn’t an easy question to answer actually in general no. However, most people tend to feel that a religious leaning is a helpful aid in recovery.

While we are on the subject, 12 step programs are not cults either.

You have to accept a power that is higher than yourself but there is nothing that says that higher power needs to be a deity it could be an ideal (the love of my child) or anything else that you perceive as being a higher power than yourself.

How Are Meetings Structured?

Most 12 Step programs use the same basic structure that AA pioneered.


The group leader (commonly known as a “Chairperson”) offers a welcome to everyone. They remind everyone for the purpose of the meeting.


The chairperson will then ask if there is anyone who is at their first meeting and you’ll be asked to introduce yourself by your first name only.


At this point, the chairperson reads the preamble from the AA book (or the NA book, etc)—this sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.

Reading “How It Works”

As a group (you can just listen if you prefer) everyone goes around reading a paragraph from the “How It Works” section of the AA book.

Reading: “12 Traditions”

This is the second traditional reading of 12 step programs. These are the traditions and foundational assumptions upon which recovery is built.

Attendants Share

This is where people can share their stories (under 5 minutes)


This is when the donation box is passed around, the final reading occurs, and then AA related announcements.

Final Prayer

The meeting ends with standing, holding hands, and saying the ‘Serenity Prayer’.

Now that you know what to expect at your first AA meeting, that’s one more excuse you’re mind can no longer use.

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