AA Meeting Topics

An Alcoholics Anonymous Guide for the Newcomer

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most known groups available to people in recovery from substance use disorders and their family members. For many people, attending an AA meeting for the first time is a brave step toward sobriety.

Studies show that support groups are beneficial in helping people stay sober, among other benefits. Still, it can be nerve-wracking to attend without knowing what to expect.

Learning about the types of AA meetings and standard meeting topics can help you feel more confident. This page will address what you need to know about attending AA for the first time and meeting topics you may encounter in AA.

Keep reading to learn more about AA meeting topics, their role at Icarus Behavioral Health as part of offerings that also include SMART Recovery, and much more!

What Can I Expect in AA Meetings?

What Can I Expect in AA Meetings

There are two main types of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings: open and closed.

Open meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’s path to recovery. This includes both people with alcoholism and those without it who wish to learn and observe. Essentially, anyone can show up to an open meeting. Closed meetings are reserved for AA members or those with a drinking problem who want to recover.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can take place online or in person. Online meetings involve the same content and structure as in-person meetings do. If you meet online, you’ll join via video chat. In-person meetings may occur at churches, community centers, office buildings, and other spaces. While it is common to feel overwhelmed by the thought of attending your first meeting, newcomers are welcomed graciously.

Identifying as an Alcoholic: Not Important for Beginners

Just like in media depictions, many AA meetings in Santa Fe, or anywhere else for that matter, start with introductions. You don’t need to share anything you aren’t comfortable with. While some say, “I’m ___, and I’m an alcoholic,” many people simply introduce themselves by their first name. You’ll introduce yourself at every meeting you attend.

Don’t worry if you don’t know about the program, spirituality, sponsorship, or any of the slogans you hear, people will explain them to you gradually when the time is right.

Most AA meetings end with the Serenity Prayer or a moment of silence. However, you don’t have to be religious to attend AA. While spiritual awakening can be a part of the process for many people, each member gets to choose for themselves.

There are also four main types of meeting formats you’ll find in AA.

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Meeting Formats

Each meeting format used in AA has a marked purpose. The type of meeting you attend may influence what to expect. Here are the four main types of AA meetings you’ll come across.

  • Beginners: Beginner’s meetings are exactly what they sound like. While a beginner’s meeting can follow a discussion format or focus on the twelve steps, they are designed to welcome new members. Typically, a beginner’s meeting is led by someone who has been sober and involved in AA long-term.
  • Discussion: Discussion meetings may focus on assorted topics, some of which are derived from literature. Like beginner’s meetings, discussion meetings are led by a group member. Rigorous honesty is valued, though some topics are off-limits.
  • Speaker: In speaker meetings, AA meeting attendees listen to pre-determined members talk about their personal stories and journey to sobriety, including where they started and how they got to where they are now in overcoming addiction. Typically, these are “open” meetings.
  • Step, tradition, or big book: Many groups devote one or more meetings per week to studying each of the twelve steps (some discuss two or three steps at a time). Alternatively, a group may follow this format but focus on Big Book or the Twelve Traditions. Some groups regularly read aloud from the Big Book or Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to start each meeting.

What are Common AA Meeting Topics?

Common AA Meeting Topics

The primary purpose of any AA meeting topic is to aid members in maintaining sobriety. AA is meant to be a warm, welcoming environment for all. Attendees avoid controversial topics but may discuss various matters. For example, how to pass the time and have fun sober, navigating things you cannot control in recovery (such as physical disease, mental illness outside of alcoholism, or economic insecurity), and sharing wisdom with one another. AA meeting topics often fit into one of the following four categories.

The Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps are common AA meeting topics because they are a famous part of twelve-step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Each individual step makes a great topic, and focusing on them one by one gives AA meeting attendees a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the steps.

The Twelve Traditions

Like the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions are a famous part of AA. Sometimes, members focus on one tradition per week in AA meetings until they’ve moved through all twelve. For example, a group may discuss “Tradition Eight” one week and “Tradition Nine” the next. That way, members have a chance to discuss each tradition comprehensively.

AA Slogans

AA slogans are often used as an AA meeting topic to inspire discussion. Examples include “live and let live,” “one day at a time,” “HALT” (which serves as a reminder to check in with oneself during hard moments and reflect on if they’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired), progress (not perfection) progression promises, or “living life on life’s terms.”


Various pieces of literature can serve as AA meeting topics. However, all literature must be approved to ensure that it aligns with AA principles. Not all AA literature is conference-approved. Group leaders will confirm that books are appropriate and conference-approved before using them as meeting prompts.

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Getting Help for Substance Abuse: The Role of Supports

Support settings like AA and NA meetings offer can be an excellent addition to a person’s aftercare plan. However, many people need a higher level of care at some point in their recovery from alcohol use disorder. Here are the main forms of substance use disorder treatment we offer.

Inpatient Treatment

Our inpatient alcohol rehab treatment programs provide an immersive experience that lets you focus on your healing process. Inpatient treatment can be helpful in changing routines and the development of new coping skills. In inpatient treatment at Icarus Behavioral Health, you’ll live on-site for the duration of your program. The luxury amenities at our facilities make it a comfortable space to stay. You’ll engage in a combination of individual and group therapy, recreation, and other treatments or activities relevant to your needs during the day.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows you to live off-site while receiving comprehensive treatment throughout the week. Multiple levels of outpatient care are available at Icarus Behavioral Health to provide you with the flexibility and support you need.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) at Icarus Behavioral Health provide the most intensive level of outpatient care. While in PHP, clients engage in group therapy, individual therapy, and other applicable treatments most days on any given week for the duration of their program but sleep at home.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are more flexible and require a lower time commitment, but the treatment activities you’ll engage in are similar to those seen in PHP. It is common for clients to move down to IOP after inpatient treatment for continued support.

Get Many Options for Support Under the Wings of Icarus  

If you’re ready to get help for alcohol addiction, we can help. Icarus Behavioral Health has programs for those seeking help with alcohol and drug abuse and separate or co-occurring mental illness. Our top-rated addiction treatment center in New Mexico offers multiple levels of care and accepts most major insurance companies.

To get in touch, call our warm and welcoming Admissions team for a confidential consultation today!

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FAQs on the Meeting Topics of Alcoholics Anonymous

What are some good topics for an AA meeting?

The Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, personal stories, and pieces of literature are all common meeting topic suggestions for AA. Sometimes, groups will focus on one or several steps or traditions at a time if they intend to go over steps and traditions.

In this instance, you may spend the meeting gaining a greater understanding of the step or tradition and, potentially, share how you understand or relate to it.

What are the topics of Step 8?

Step Eight is about making amends to those who have been harmed by your alcohol use. Family members, partners, or friends are just some examples of the people and relationships you may focus on.

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