Those who have never attended a 12-step meeting have some misconceptions about how the meetings actually work.
Different meetings have different ways of doing things, but for the most part, they run the same. In some meetings, people are randomly called on to share; the thinking being, that it prevents the same people from constantly sharing overriding the more shy, quieter people.
In other meetings, there may be discussions where the topic is random and others are derived by “a burning desire” that one of the members may have to share. Speakers meetings are just as they say where a speaker is chosen to speak about their experience, strength and hope in regards to their recovery.
Regardless of a meeting’s “platform” the main thing is the non-imposing feeling that happens once you first start first attending meetings. No one bombards you with his or her religious slogans, no one pesters you to hold hands and pray, no one cares if you sit in the back or sat in the front, drink coffee or don’t drink coffee, helped clean up or ran off before the meeting ended.
There is no set rules other then those of common respect which may include – Try to be on time. No smoking. No cross talk during shares.
The decision to introduce yourself as an alcoholic and to accept your first chip will eventually happen. After attending meetings before long, people when begin to learn your name. You will find it is a safe place to build a supportive network of like-minded people on the same path to recovery.
One common practice is that when you do introduce yourself to the group as a newcomer and an alcoholic, you will receive a “meeting schedule” book with the names and numbers of people who you can call if you feel the need to drink and need help. People who put their number on this book do so because they really do want to help. It isn’t required of anyone to do so but it keeps with the tradition of AA, that when an alcoholic calls for help, the helping hand of AA will be there.