How Long Are AA Meetings?

May 2, 2023

There are many questions about AA meetings and one of the most commonly asked is, “How long are Aa meetings?”

The length of an AA meeting is often determined by the type of meeting. Typically, open (OS) or closed (CS) discussion meetings feature speakers who share their personal stories of addiction and recovery.

The AA Preamble

The AA Preamble is a two-paragraph creed that outlines the core principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is read at the beginning of most AA meetings.

The Preamble is a vital part of the AA program and can help you stay sober. It provides new members with a basic understanding of what AA is about, while also reminding long-time members why they come to group meetings.

The Preamble also communicates that AA is open to anyone who wants to stop drinking. This is a core principle of the organization, which aims to ensure that all people struggling with addiction can find a place in the fellowship.

The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer is one of the most familiar parts of Alcoholics Anonymous, and it’s a great way to reaffirm the spirituality behind the 12-step program. It’s also a reminder to find peace and acceptance of everything in life, including the things that are out of your control.

It’s often credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, who was a theologian and professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. However, it’s also been attributed to many other religious figures and ancient sages from Egypt to India.

The abridged version of the Serenity Prayer is used in AA meetings and is also printed on cards that alcoholics can carry in their wallets. It’s a daily reminder of the need for acceptance and courage.

The AA Literature

Most meetings will start with an introduction to AA literature, usually the Big Book. This is followed by a discussion of the literature, with people encouraged to share their own experiences and how AA has helped them.

A discussion meeting can range from very solution-oriented to "anything goes." Typically, a leader will read a bit of literature from a specific section or topic, and then open up the meeting for general discussion.

The Sharing Period

The sharing period is an important component of any AA meeting. Whether it is in-person, online or over the phone, members are encouraged to share their stories of recovery and inspiration with the group.

The sharing period can last anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the format used. Often there is a timekeeper who will notify you when your turn is up. During this time you should be prepared to tell your story in three or four sentences.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (also known as Our Father, Pater Noster or Latin Oratio Dominica) is a model for Christian prayer. It is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:9-13.

Unlike many other prayers in the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer is incredibly short. Take it out of the context of a sermon and read it in its entirety, and you’ll see that most of what is said takes up about three minutes.

The Closing

The closing prayer is one of the most important parts of any meeting. Whether you choose to say the prayer yourself or leave it up to the group, it is an opportunity to thank God for his love and support.

The closing prayer may be a combination of the AA preamble, the Serenity Prayer and/or a reading from the Big Book. Many groups also make use of a moment of silence or recite the A.A. Responsibility Statement or a similar text.


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