Topics for AA Meetings

by Mike Gonyea

The Alcoholics Anonymous group chairperson is responsible for choosing discussion topics for a given meeting. As an experienced AA member well-versed in the group's literature, he knows that all meetings deal with topics related to the Big Book. Some groups discuss one chapter each week. Others read from it weekly and discuss each chapter as they go along.

The 12 Steps

The 12 Steps detailed in the Big Book are the logical process by which an alcoholic finds and maintains sobriety and ultimately becomes a recovering alcoholic. It is an accepted fact within the organization that following this program without deviation can help an alcoholic maintain sobriety. These steps work only when they are fully embraced. Trying to cut corners or "pick and choose" will lead to failure. Rumor has it that one member, upon being asked which of the 12 steps was most important, turned it back on his questioner by asking which is the most important of the 12 spokes in a wheel.

The 12 Traditions

The 12 Traditions are inexorably linked to the 12 steps. They contain the spiritual principles that underlie the 12 Steps. Their purpose is to help recovering alcoholics to incorporate them into their daily lives. They are designed to promote people often lacking self-confidence and self-esteem.

As Bill Sees It

At the same time, the AA meeting chairperson knows that there are topics not directly addressed in the Book that are relevant to recovering alcoholics. As Bill Sees contains the selected writings of William Griffith Wilson -- also known as Bill W -- the co-founder of AA. His writings touch nearly every aspect of AA’s way of life. Always profoundly heartfelt and sometimes humorous, their emphasis on individual meditation can be a provocative stimulant for group discussion.

Living Sober

AA's Living Sober booklet -- an essential piece of AA literature for all recovering alcoholics -- is a practical look at how members live and stay sober one day at a time. Rather than focusing on the process of how to achieve sobriety, its emphasis is on how to maintain it.

Beginning Members

Those new to AA, of which there are many, can be understandably hesitant when it comes to participating in discussions about the Big Book. There are, however, topics relevant to everyone but particularly for people just getting started. They include how to avoid the "One Drink One Day at a Time" mindset; discussions on the latest disease theories of alcoholism as they pertain to brain chemistry and such staples as how the 12 steps and the 12 traditions work. The role AA literature plays in supporting the group's credo of providing service to others can also provide ample fodder for discussion.

About the Author

Mike Gonyea served as an account manager and strategic planner at a Detroit advertising agency for 20 years. He has covered automotive finance, state and local government and interfaith issues for publications and websites including “The Detroit News,” American Thinker and A Common Word.

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