Must one attend meetings forever?

By Zarina Macha

When we come into AA, we are broken; emotionally, physically, spiritually. Suddenly, these doors open, filled with possibilities, and people welcome you with open arms. Things you once suspected about yourself but never addressed are thrust to the surface. We will do anything to change how we are, and there is much love, humility, and openness in the rooms.

With this foundation, it’s difficult to stand up and speak out against things you dislike within the institution of AA. At its core, the twelve-step-program is a wonderful gift to humanity. It brings people together and has helped millions recover from assorted addictions.

And yet, as time goes on, attendance feels like a chore; something I do out of personal obligation. Even a few meetings per month feels like too much. I think to myself when do I say enough is enough? Does it ever cross anyone’s mind, that one day, we may be well enough to get on with our lives, and not depend so much on the meetings anymore? Surely if one feels well enough to no longer frequent meetings, that should be viewed as positive progression.

My alcoholic drinking lasted about sixteen months, and it wasn’t even a straight sixteen months – I tried to stop multiple times by myself. Where drinking was horrific, and sobriety is wonderful, similar feelings have arisen. Tentativeness, uncertainty; unsure if I should be doing this or if this is right for me. Many who come into AA were drinking excessively for years, and never once stopped to question it. Hence upon entering AA, that attitude flips and AA becomes the positive alternative to drinking.

Now that my two years of sobriety have surpassed my drinking, it seems logical that I no longer need meetings as much as I did. The philosophy of AA and all its teachings will never leave me, but AA as an institution can feel overbearing. The intensity of the meetings has caused me great anxiety and distress for some time. But due to the love and care within the rooms, I feel a sad guilt over admitting this like I’m letting down people who have aided me.

Like a religious group, AA is warm and welcoming, but it also presents itself as the enveloping solution to addiction. Ironically, the Big Book states that AA doesn’t have a monopoly on recovery, and yet many in AA view the twelve steps as the solution to much of life’s problems.

When struggling with a severe depressive episode earlier this year, I was advised to attend more meetings, even though frequenting them was making me unhappy. (Shortly after, I chose to only attend secular and SMART meetings.) Hearing the same dialogues repeated in the rooms has become tiresome and no longer beneficial to me. These include constant identification with forms of ‘madness’ and bringing everything back to having an ‘alcoholic mind.’

Praying, writing gratitude lists and talking to newcomers are positive actions, but they’re not the solution to everything and certainly not a way to solve depression (I believe that when someone is struggling with mental illness, telling them to ‘pray’ is harmful advice). I found external activities (e.g. joining a board game social group) that are fun to do, along with increasing my medication and decreasing my meeting attendance.

For some, AA can hold an influence akin to born-again Christianity. The danger with this is that it clouds alternative thinking. Alternative literature other than the Big Book; alternative support groups like SMART Recovery and LifeRing, alternative ways of finding joy rather than going to more meetings and viewing the steps as the utmost solution to happiness and freedom. Some AA’s welcome and encourage this; others see it as getting in the way of the twelve-step philosophy.

The steps are a tool. AA is a tool. For many, it becomes their lifeline and that is fine. In fact, that is wonderful. But the minute one pushes their life philosophy onto someone else and chides them for thinking differently, the entire point of recovery is missed.

If someone decides that they are happy to attend meetings for a few months or years and then stops, what’s wrong with that? Maybe that is healthy for them. If one feels like they’re no longer benefiting from meetings and happy to stop going, why not let them be?

When I first started AA, I made it clear to my sponsor that I didn’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life. Luckily, my sponsor is wonderful and has always appreciated my honesty. The principles of the program and the love will never leave me. But frequenting meetings is now causing me great emotional damage and anxiety.

There is a lot of fear in the rooms. Everybody fears relapse, and with good reason. Addiction is not a joke. This illness kills people. And those who have been in far longer than me have seen people leave, never to return sober, and they don’t want the same thing to happen to me.

But consider this; people who attend AA for a few years, get sober, and then go back out and drink, do so out of choice. They drink again because they want to drink again. If you wanted to stay sober (assuming you had a solid foundation in the steps and had been sober for some time), you would. You would take the necessary actions that come when feeling the desire to drink. And most crucially, you would make sure that you were not in a position where drinking felt like an option.

Getting sober isn’t simply about not drinking, it’s about taking care of ourselves and our lives. If you are surrounded by people who love you; have a good doctor, exercise often and eat well, and do things that you enjoy, then it is far less likely you will return to drink. But if you stop taking care of yourself, falling to self-destructive habits feels easier. (And let’s not forget how boring, pointless and depressing alcoholic drinking is; there’s no joy or value to it. I’m far happier and more relaxed without the booze, not to mention better company.)

Thus, I wonder if frequent attendance after lengthy sobriety is insisted out of fear rather than self-care. While support groups are a much healthier alternative to drinking, I don’t want to be overly dependent on anything; not AA, alcohol, relationships or chocolate. I want balance and moderation in every aspect of my life because that is the antithesis to my addictive behaviours. I don’t want to replace one addiction with another, even if the latter is ‘healthier.’

When you’re bombarded with repeated messages about how important it is to do something, how integral, and it has done you a world of good, taking a step back and seeing the negative parts is tough. This doesn’t mean I’ll never set foot in a meeting again, it’s just where I’m at right now. I shouldn’t feel guilty or like I’m ‘betraying’ the fellowship just because I want to move away from meetings.

If people in the fellowship make you feel like you’re not doing recovery ‘right’ because you don’t go to meetings, don’t pray and don’t believe in a Higher Power, the best thing is to create distance from them and find people who will accept you as you are. But it’s tough, especially in the beginning, because we need this to get well.

And remember; going to lots of meetings initially gives one the choice of no longer having to go to meetings later. If you do it right at first, after that may you choose whether to continue. But please don’t suffer in silence; no one should have to feel alone in recovery or say and do things out of fear rather than want.


Zarina Macha is a musician, author and blogger from London. She started attending AA at the age of nineteen in late 2016, after worrying that drinking would ruin her musical and literary aspirations. She studied Songwriting and Creative Artistry at university in Guildford while embarking on the journey of the twelve-step recovery program. She currently lives in London and occasionally attends secular AA meetings.

She identifies as an agnostic atheist, or secular humanist, and supports the addition of more literature aimed at non-believers to be brought into AA, especially to help young people struggling with the patriarchal and theological aspects of the Big Book.

She has published four books; two poetry volumes and two books of contemporary young-adult fiction that deal with mental illness, domestic abuse and teenage struggles. More information about her can be found on her website (https://www.zarinamacha.co.uk/) and her blog (https://www.zarinamachablog.co.uk).


29 Responses

  1. Debra says:

    👍👍Great post.

  2. Larry G. says:

    Great job Zarina. I can really identify with your experience and thoughts regarding conventional 12 step recovery. In my own thinking i separate recovery knowledge from recovery culture. Many of us that have struggled with addiction often reflect all or nothing tendencies and it can really infect the cultural norms of the group. Here’s a quote from Sartre’s novel Nausea “i am alone in the midst of these happy reasonable voices. All these creatures spend their time explaining and realizing happily that they agree with with each other. In heavens name why is it so important to think the same things all together”. Yep, for me that sums up aa pretty darn well. And for me and me only what began as a joyful and liberating experience also turn into our oppressor and jailer. Ive met many that got sober in the rooms and then make periodic appearances to pick up a chip and stay sober, fine, and dandy. I just take what i need and leave the rest!!!

  3. Harry says:

    I’m an atheist in AA (in Brighton in the UK so not far from you Zarina!) and I’ve been going to meetings and stayed sober for nearly 10 years. I’m lucky in that in our area we have a load of meetings so if I find one is too much for me on the god front I can go to another. I go to 3 a week as a minimum.

    For me I go because I love them – I like being among people with heads as wild and unruly as mine. And I want to give back to new people, Especially I want to show that god and religion are not essential to recovery for some of us. My higher power is nature and the universe and I feel connected to all that. I love secular AA podcasts and articles and I sponsor someone who is an atheist and is just starting out with it all.

    The one thing that I’ve learned over my years in AA is that we each have our own path to recovery and those people who are overly controlling about how others do it are usually just insecure in their own recovery. None of us have all the answers!

  4. Roger says:

    Living a good life – and helping others – is not restricted to attending AA – or any other – meetings. In sobriety our focus should in no way be restricted to helping newcomers and so we are not allowed to stop attending meetings. We correctly know there will be others there to help those new to recovery and any one of us should indeed be able and encouraged to move on and live and grow in whatever life will be best for us – and the others with whom we are connected – even if it doesn’t involve regularly attending one or two meetings a week. There are many paths to recovery, folks. It isn’t restricted to meetings, although I personally love my secular AA meetings. That is a reality that should not be put to one side.

    • Roger says:

      I like this too! It was shared today on the AA Beyond Belief Facebook Page:

      Larry K: There is a lifetime of benefits from attending / participating in meetings. Meetings shouldn’t impede living however, and they can do that if they become too central to your life that you exclude all other living.

      Dale K: Exactly, I got sober so I could have a well balanced life not an AA life.

  5. Dan L says:

    Thanks for the essay Zarina.

    Our stated goal is “progress not perfection”. Progress may entail letting meetings lapse or letting meetings lapse could stop progress. I do not know. My journey has not been long but I have already passed through a few stages and I have no doubt there will be a few more. The sense of progress is real and it is a big part of my sobriety. Things change however and I may not go to so many meetings at some point.

    I genuinely enjoy the meeting process but I definitely do not like ritual or prayers or dogma or doctrine. I know enough to know that I know little and I certainly do not know what another has to do to get sober. Neither do I know what others need. I am a proponent for “90 in 90” for a number of pedagogical reasons but for crissake not the same meeting 90 times in a row!

    I do not care much for our literature – the hokey old religion of our founders is full of bullshit – but it was meetings that got me sober and keep me sober. I have no idea what the next phase is for me but I would be sad if it did not involve a lot of different meetings.

  6. Mike B says:

    Lovely article, thanks. I identify as on the graduate path, I was able to recognise I’d lost all desire to drink after three years, stuck around for another three to give back at least as much as I’d been given time-wise. I hadn’t intended to move on but recognised I was leaving meetings feeling far less happy than I’d been on arrival.

    Having accepted the need to take a break from meetings I sought guidance online on how to stop going to meetings and stay sober, but found almost nothing useful other than Jon Stewart’s blog and the podcasts he links to from there, which along with this site gave me the confidence to at least give it a go.

    I had been filled with stories of relapses after stopping going to meetings, and heard of members I’d known personally who picked up and in a couple of cases died and I didn’t want to be like them, thanks very much.

    I remain vigilant, follow twelve step principles in so far as they accord with my atheist beliefs, I remain close to several friends who still attend meetings and leave the door open. I also read and reflect upon the posts here as my weekly meeting equivalent.

    This article is most welcome and would have given me assurance when I was experiencing the same feelings, the same fears. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Michael H says:

    Hello Chris,

    Perhaps it is time to start an agnostic/atheist meeting in your neighborhood? Maybe others feel the same way about the religious mythology, but are intimidated by the “book thumpers”.

  8. Here’s the view from my backyard:

    First, thanks Zarina, like you, I came to AA a teenager and I had bigger plans for life than becoming AA meeting-dependent. It’s a great article and it’s a topic people seem conflicted about bringing up.

    I don’t know, maybe 1/2 the good friends I have from AA don’t go to AA anymore. I would say, anecdotally, no more of them go back to drinking than the people I see in regular AA contact. I even see some return to drinking without the fire and brimstone that we are warned about. Now, I’ve seen it go bad, including ugly death and 17 or more years of progressive, escalating addiction that is frustratingly challenging to come back from. These are the images that stick in my mind, of course – friends from AA Young People’s back in the 80s or 90s who left AA mad or bored, went out to blow off steam for a lost weekend and years later have a meth-habit, rotting teeth, cirrhosis or HIV and an inability to gather 90 days of continuous sobriety again. These are the stories that we’re warned about. I sometimes say, “I know I have another drunk in me – do I have another recovery in me?”

    That said, I had my careering years; I had my child-rearing years, months would pass when there was no time for a meeting if I wanted one, some years of my continuous sobriety I might have only gotten to three or four meetings a year. I wasn’t – or didn’t feel – at risk and I wasn’t mad at AA.

    I’m also part of the larger recovery community; I’m not informed by 12-Step only culture. I know people online and in person who don’t do the AA-thing. If you’re in LifeRing or Dharma Recovery you couldn’t do 90 in 90 if you wanted to. There are also a few studies and I hope there will be more, about what researchers call “AA careers.” Careers refers to their trajectory over five years, depending on levels of AA engagement. Of course meeting attendance is only one form of AA engagement; do they believe and/or behave differently that pre-AA? Another factor is the environment that the “drifting away” member lives in. Does their partner drink, is the sober AA (or ex-AA) around alcohol or other drugs. Also, some studies are only people who have been to treatment – then AA – so the AA only outcome rates may be different.

    Here are the results from one study Alcoholics Anonymous Careers: Patterns of AA Involvement Five Years after Treatment Entry (2005 Kaskutas et al). This is one of many measurements and finding from the study:

    “Thus by the five-year follow-up interview, three-fourths of the medium AA group and about 80% in the high AA group reported abstinence compared to three-fifths of the declining AA group and only about two-fifths of the low group.”

    So in this finding not all of the people who stay very engaged with AA stay sober and not all of the people who drift away relapse. But 4 out of 5 regular attendees stayed sober, while 2 out of 5 who drifted away stay sober.

    Hoffmann-2003 put us into four career trajectories: Insider, Relapser, Graduate and Tourist.

    Each is measured in the degree of AA social world and non-AA social world. Insiders have a higher degree of AA social world over time. Relapsers go over and under the mean indefinitely. Graduates stay on the insider track for a few years and drift into the more non-AA social world side of the graph. The “tourist” does 90-in-90, goes to conferences, buys the books, gets a sponsor, but one-year to three-year they got what they came for and leave AA – at least from the point of view of who they hang out with; they may still “practice the AA program.” For my oldie eyes, five years isn’t long enough for real results but who’s going to fund a study for 25 years?

    In some ways, graduates may be AA’s “real successes” because they go back to their neglected life better than ever. Incidentally, the insider – if you read the whole report – is broken down into i) rank and file member, ii) elder states(persons), iii) bleeding deacons and iv) circuit-speakers. In 2003 there wasn’t a blogosphere category to put us in, yet. Not all insiders have identical involvement or dependence on getting their primary social and emotional reinforcement within the AA circle.

  9. Bobby Freaken Beach says:

    I think AA has become something of a club for old people, for the most part. AA’s own membership surveys confirm that. Were I a younger person, I’d probably be digging for reasons to not come. It’s cool that in the modern world, there are increasing options for recovery support groups, including secular AA meetings.

    Anyone who wants to stop coming is 100% free to do that. I’ve never heard of AA members going to the home of those who’ve stopped coming, and dragging them back. Those who encourage folks to “keep coming back,” do so with the best of intentions. Most people who return from relapse tell us freely that the start of their slide came with decrease or cessation of meeting attendance. It’s also true that some folks stop coming and are fine.

    For those holding resentment toward AA, it’s probably best to find another freaken path.

  10. Steve b says:

    Good article. I don’t recall reading one like this before. In my experience, people in AA warn that those who leave are doomed to drink again. I’ve never seen any statistics on this, and I doubt whether this is true. I’ve got long term sobriety, and I go to meetings maybe 2 or 3 times a month. I have no other involvement – no sponsor, sponsee, phone calls, etc. I usually go to meetings only if I’m feeling lonely, and don’t seem to get much of value from attending.

  11. Martin T says:

    At 2 years sober I thought I was an authority on recovery (cringe-worthy at 34 yrs), sponsored about 10 people, worked as a counselor at the treatment center I had attended, and talked a good show at meetings. But, to use the old analogy, I could completely describe the nomenclature of the Titanic and what song the band was playing, but could not keep it from sinking. In other words, the disease is/was still there and requires continuous attention, known as recovery (that’s why it’s called “Alcohol-ism” rather than “Alcohol-wasm”). Drugs and alcohol abuse were symptomatic of deeper issues that had developed from birth, many of which would never be resolved, but could be addressed and put in context through the broader perspective of 12 Step Fellowship, sponsorship and outside therapy (feel free to add a Higher Power, I do, even tho’ it’s not Christian).

    Depression, narcissism, low self-esteem and alienation still persist. The “road to happy destiny” is a long and, at times, treacherous path, one that I, nor many others with this disease could navigate by themselves, any more than one could wish themselves better from cancer. The disease is still out to kill us and it’s very patient. Sometimes the more clever we are, the more at risk we are. A little fear is a good thing, if that’s what it takes to overcome our natural inclination towards arrogance, especially when conjoined with ignorance.

    There’s a reason that the Traditions caution us toward anonymity at the level of press, radio and film, lest we become mockable examples of 12 Step failures. Social media, including this blog, is a gray area.

  12. Diane I says:

    I can identify with much that has already been said. I have 42 years of continuous sobriety and after many years I stopped going to AA meetings because of the God talk and dogma. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt very solid in my sobriety and had no desire to drink but I knew where to go if I did. Three and a half years ago I discovered a secular group, We Agnostics in Hamilton, Ontario. It was definitely a breath of fresh air!! I still attend on a fairly regular basis although at times I still do need a break. I like to go for the fellowship, to hear something that helps me and hopefully to help others.

  13. Bob K says:

    People who see the issue in terms of “needing meetings,” and “not needing meetings” have somewhat missed the point, and definitely failed to move to the next level. That’s a bit like talking about “needing” to volunteer at the Food Bank.

    “Why is Mary here helping? Her obligation from the Probation Office ended in April!!”

    According to the AA literature, alcoholics tend to have an excessive focus on self. One of the delightful paths away from that state comes with helping other alcoholics to surmount their difficulties. Most AA members with strong recovery go to meetings not from need or fear, but from the sincere desire to help others. A second draw is to the community of my fellows. If I don’t like them, and they don’t like me, fellowship won’t have much attraction.

    Going to meetings out of need, and stopping when the need isn’t felt, sounds a lot like self-centered thinking. Of course, people with mental health issues should get professional help for that. I see that as a separate issue.

  14. Vince P says:

    Where does service fit into this conversation?

  15. Pat N. says:

    Well-written and thoughtful article, Zarina, and I’m delighted you’ve found sobriety. I’m glad AA was there to help you along the way.

    Right off the bat, I can think of two friends, members of the same musical group, who got sober in AA years ago but no longer need it in their lives. No way to tell how many other folks I know did the same, but the topic hasn’t come up, and it’s not my business. By contrast, I’m almost 40 years sober, and almost always go to the same two meetings a week. If I’m out of town, I’ll try to hit a meeting or two. (I’ve attended many meetings in the UK and 3 other countries, including secular AA meetings in East London and Chelmsford).

    You are spot on when you refer to overt or covert pressure by some members to commit your recovering self to perpetual involvement with AA. That’s a “should”, and it’s as wrong as any other, in my opinion. My experience with AA in the UK is that even the nonsecular meetings and persons are far less apt to be religious and doctrinaire about anything than in many corners of the U.S.A.

    So why do I still go to meetings after all those years? I’m certainly not afraid of relapse at this point.

    1. Most of my best friends are there, and I like seeing them regularly, in or out of meetings.

    2. I’m very clear on the horror, heartaches, and helplessness of my last months of addiction to alcohol. And someone was there to show me a way out. I want to do that for others.

    3. I’ve never attended any kind of group in my life which had the degree of deliberate honesty that you find in almost any AA meeting. Even the fundamentalists are obviously trying to do the best they can to stay sober and carry the message, and not B.S. about their own lives and feelings. I love that atmosphere.

    4. Nor have I been in any other group that practices acceptance of others as deliberately and warmly as AA.

    5. At 85, I seem to always be the oldest geezer there, and I find the same joy in seeing others recover that I found in watching my own kids achieve worthwhile things. It’s not my achievement, it’s theirs, but these younger AA folks are among my loved ones and @ I’m glad to see them happy.

    Thanks again for your stimulating essay, and good luck in your varied activities.

  16. Chris G. says:

    What a wonderful article! Zarina has hit just about every point I have pondered or felt over the past few years of decreasing meeting attendance. With 10 years of sobriety right around the corner, I go to hardly any meetings at all.

    I do miss the society of the fellowship, sometimes very much. But local meetings in my small town are simply overwhelmed by actual religion, or the religion-like dogmatism of the BB thumpers. As the need for meetings to prop up sobriety decreased, at about year 5, the dissonance of all this faith-based approach caused increasing anxiety. Discovering the agnostic AA movement at about that time was a breath of fresh air.

    I go to agnostic meetings when I can, and wish I could do so more often. But I have come to realize that, on the whole, AA has done its work, and not going to meetings is no longer going to threaten my sobriety. Once upon a time, it was any meeting, no matter how distasteful the thumping and praying, was better than none… but now I am in control of my life, sobriety is a solid part of it, and I can simply choose. That is nice.

  17. Steve K says:

    I’m not aware of it stating anywhere in AA literature that we have to attend meetings for life… we are free to come and go as we please. I know people who have stopped attending meetings and have stayed sober long term. ‘Each to their own’. For others it can lead to relapse. I attend AA meetings because I want to, not because I have to or fear of relapse. I enjoy the sober friendships and the opportunity to help others. I also like a lot of the values that the fellowship encourages and I practice a non-theistic spirituality, influenced by Taoism. Are AA members making you feel guilty/ashamed about not attending meetings, or is it your own interpretation of the literature, etc? I wouldn’t pressure anyone to attend meetings who didn’t want to go to them and neither would many of my friends if you are doing ok without them. A sponsee of mine has recently decided to stop attending meetings and my response to him was that he’s welcome to call me whether he attends meetings or not.

  18. Bruce says:

    I’m an atheist artist-musician, sober for 26 years. Like the writer I’ve “burned out” on AA dogma and meetings over the years. However, I still attend with regularity. Here’s why.

    I was ready to walk out the firs AA meeting I attended. After the Lord’s Prayer, and a few people had spoken, I was convinced there was nothing there for me. As I was putting my coat to leave another speaker announced himself as: “My names Jim M, and to my agnostic way of thinking…” He got my immediate attention, I took my coat off and sat back down… and listened. Had he not been there, and had he not freely announced himself as atheist-agnostic, I would likely be dead today. So… While I may have to look harder these days to find personal gratification at meetings, I go to look for the newcomer like me, I announce myself as a non-believer that’s been sober successfully for a long time.

    And then the “practical magic” of AA happens… newcomers see options… conversations start… and… I feel better too! While AA is flawed, it’s still a positive force in my life that I will try and improve for others, in my own small way. Thank you for the interesting article.

    • John says:

      Bingo Bruce. I go to maybe two a week and identify myself as a free range free thinker with an unsuspected inner resource I call my better power. Abstinence is my foundation being there to support the non drinking lifestyle and the few that are not ok with all the GOD talk, etc. I have 22 + years of abstinence and the AA program under my belt for the first 17 years I was the fake it till ya make it guy however I became successful in the business world while not drinking for those 17 years. Left the AA program for 4 years, did some binge drinking, made an ass out of myself a few times, and felt embarrassed, ashamed and guilty of who I had become again. Returned to the program with some real world experience of where drinking can take a guy like me and some new found HONESTY about my disbelief of HIM aka GOD. I no longer keep quiet about being an atheist / agnostic. Some people think I have horns growing out of my head while others embrace it like I do. I have found inner peace for today and that’s all that matters. Cheers.

  19. Maureen says:

    This is quite interesting. When I got sober, I committed to meetings for a year, and decided on 4/week. After about 7 months, I became increasingly uncomfortable. My psychologist felt that the fourth step in particular was the opposite of what we were achieving. I eliminated the more dogmatic and religious meetings, staying with the two on the beach (healing in itself). I added the Refuge Recovery meeting, and am comfortable with that plan right now. I know I’m not an AA lifer, but the fellowship is important right now, as is connecting with old friends that may be light drinkers.

  20. John B. says:

    A little blurb frequently posted on AA Agnostica goes something like this: there are about as many versions of 12 Step recovery as there are alcoholics. After 35 plus years of continuous sobriety I’m certain that is true. We are free to choose our own path. If it is working keep on doing it. If it quits working, choose another path. John B.

  21. John L says:

    There comes a point where meetings are more about Fellowship than about staying away from the First Drink, which by then should be completely internalized, a part of one’s self. A friend, who died at the age of 80, had 40 years of AA sobriety; he went to only a handful of meetings in an entire year, just to check in. Another friend, who died at the age of 90, had 50 years of sobriety; for decades he went to the same meeting once a week — at that meeting almost everybody knew each other and, although they were always ready to help a newcomer, they mostly just talked to each other, about anything and everything. For myself, for decades I have gone to one or two meetings a week, although I have at times gone for months without a meeting. When I lived in Provincetown, I went to two meetings every week; my home group was a closed men’s meeting, which I still attend once or twice a year. I now live in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and attend about one meeting a week, rotating among three or four different groups. If I’m depressed or anxious, I always feel better after a meeting. Don’t know why, but I always do.

  22. John S says:

    No, it’s not necessary to attend meetings indefinitely. In fact, most people only attend for a period of time as they feel necessary. I think those who stay around for decades is fewer than one may imagine.

    I’ve known scores of people who went to AA meetings for six months, a year, two years and then stopped attending. These people it turns out were sober, happy individuals. The have their community and their families and have been returned to a normal, everyday life free of addiction.

    AA is intended to be a support group. We aren’t there to treat each other, but we are there to support one another in a common desire to stop drinking. For many people that support is only needed during the time of initial crisis.

    I’ve been sober for 31 years and I still attend meetings at my home group, We Agnostics. I sometimes take a break as I have recently. When meetings grate on my nerves, as they do from time to time, I take a break. Then when I go back, I’m happy to see people.

    I think the socialization of the meetings is still helpful to me and I care enough about AA as a whole to want to be there. However, I am pretty good at knowing when enough is enough.

    Thanks for the interesting article.

  23. Sherril W says:

    I’ve been sober 31 years, after 7 years of in and out. I went through a period of about 10 years where I rarely went to meetings after moving to a new town. In a period of severe depression, I decided I needed that connection, and found a meeting I liked, took a commitment. I have to admit it has helped a great deal. I feel whole when I am with my fellow alkies.

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