In most cases this is an occasion of extreme shame, dread and despair. The majority of individuals going to AA for the first time are doing so reluctantly, either because they have promised someone else to go or because they have been directed to attend by a judge, an employer, a therapist or an addictions treatment program.
Even first timers who "go on their own" are usually in an intensely ambivalent and negative state. Nobody wishes to need the help that is provided by AA, and as a result virtually everyone attending their first meeting wishes that they were someplace else doing something else.
It is an act of great courage to walk into an AA meeting for the first time. Many people with severe drinking problems simply lack the courage to take this first step under any circumstances. They commonly hide their fear by critical, often cynical remarks about AA and the people who do have the courage to attend. They may indulge themselves with elaborate philosophical, scientific and even political rationalizations for why they will never attend a single AA meeting.
But at bottom they are simply too afraid to walk through the door. Still worse: they are unable or unwilling to be honest with themselves and others about their real feelings and hence continue to cloak their fear behind irrelevant and insincere theoretical objections.
The obvious and best solution to the problem of the normal anxiety and discomfort that are associated with attending one’s first AA meeting is to go to the meeting with someone who knows the ropes. If no friend or acquaintance who happens to be an AA member is available, contact can always be arranged by calling the local AA Office and asking to talk to a volunteer. Although many people avail themselves of such measures to reduce the stress of their first AA meeting, many others find such preliminaries too frightening and therefore do not follow them.
Although there is a great deal of information about AA available on the web and in traditional print, there is surprisingly little to be found that deals with the practical concerns and fears of the individual who is attending or thinking of attending a meeting for the first time. The result is sometimes a kind of "culture shock" which takes place when the newcomer attends and is temporarily overwhelmed by the newness and strangeness of the experience. Even worse, people who seriously consider attending an AA meeting may decide not to do so because of the natural human fear of the unknown.
Look up AA in your local phone book and talk to someone privately, or.
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