FAQs (How it works…)

  • Q: Do I have to sign up or register to attend AA meetings?

    A: Just show up. If you have a drinking problem, you are welcome to attend any meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous held anywhere in the world! You don’t need to have a doctor’s note, court order, or bring a drinking resume with you. In order to attend an AA meeting all you have to do is show up.
  • Q: How much does it cost?

    A: There are no dues or fees for AA membership or attendance at meetings. However, usually at the end of meetings, a collection basket is passed for AA members to have an opportunity to contribute towards the expenses of the group (e.g. room rent, coffee, literature supplies, etc). No one, not even AA members, is obliged to contribute.
  • Q: Is AA a religious organization?

    A: No. AA is not allied or affiliated with any religious organization.
  • Q: I’m not sure if I’m an alcoholic. How can I tell?

    A: Take the 20 Questions test here. And/or take the 12 Question test here. Answer them as honestly as you can. If you are still unconvinced, you are welcome to attend any AA meeting to see if you identify with us.
  • Q: I’m not an alcoholic, but I’d like to know more about AA. Can I attend a meeting?

    A: You are welcome to any AA meeting listed as an “OPEN” format. Open meetings are noted as such in the online meeting directory here.
  • Q: What if I see someone I know at an AA meeting?

    A: They will be there for the same reason you are. They will not disclose your identity to outsiders. At AA you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is why it is called Alcoholics ANONYMOUS.
  • Q: If I go to an AA meeting, does that commit me to anything?

    A: AA does not keep membership files or attendance records. You don’t have to reveal anything about yourself. No one will bother you if you choose to not come back.
  • Q: How do I become a member of AA?

    A: You are a member if and when you SAY you are a member. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking… and many of us were not even very sure of that when we first approached AA!
  • Q: I have a friend who drinks too much. What can I do to help them stop?

    A: Very little. Until an alcoholic wants to stop drinking, not much can be done to help them. However, as soon as they express a desire to stop drinking, you could give them the contact info for AA and suggest they call us. In the meantime, we urge the relatives and friends of problem drinkers to contact Al-Anon for further information and assistance.

How it works…

If you’d like to attend an AA meeting for the first time, to find out if AA is for you, here’s what to do:

Choose a meeting time and location

  • Online: The most current listing for all Calgary and area AA meetings is found here.
  • By phone: Call us at 403-777-1212, day or night, and a sober member of AA will be happy to recommend a first-time meeting close to where you live. If you wish, you can be connected with another member of AA who lives in your area and who can either meet you at the meeting or pick you up and take you there. You don’t need to go alone if you don’t want to! Remember… our phone lines do NOT use call display, so your anonymity is completely protected.

Just show up!

Meetings start promptly at the time specified and generally last one hour. We suggest for your first meeting to arrive a little bit early (five minutes). Sometimes there might be people gathered outside. If you are unsure if you have the right place, just ask one of them if this is where the AA meeting is. If it is, then you could tell them this is your first meeting and ask them what to do.They will be happy to help you out. Inside the meeting room, there will be people milling about, setting up coffee and putting out literature. Help yourself to a coffee and find a seat.

What happens during an AA meeting:

In Calgary, meetings generally begin with a moment of silence, followed by a few short readings. The chairperson (a volunteer) might ask if there are any “newcomers” in the room for their first, second or third AA meeting, and if so would they care to identify themselves with their first name only. This is NOT done to point you out or embarrass you. It’s done because as a newcomer you will get the support you need. An envelope of information called a Newcomer Package will be given to you at the end of the meeting (if the group has them on hand), which contains a few pamphlets about AA plus the 40-page Calgary & Southern Alberta meeting directory. This envelope is passed around the room before being given to you, and members will put their name and phone number on the back of the envelope. If you have questions after you get home, please call any of the people who gave you their phone number. You will not be “intruding”… we WANT to help.

You do not have to talk

AA meetings can take one of several forms (Step discussion, Topic discussion, Speaker, etc.). Definitions of the more basic formats can be found here, but at any AA meeting you will find alcoholics talking about what drinking did to their lives and personalities, what actions they took to help themselves, and how they are living their lives today. The chairperson might ask if you wish to speak, but you do not have to say anything if you don’t want to. You can simply say “pass”.

Passing the basket…

AA meetings require no dues or fees from its members, but we do have expenses for room rent, coffee and literature. Usually at the close of a meeting, a basket will be passed around to allow the members the opportunity to contribute to the support of their meeting or group. This is for members only. As a newcomer to AA, please consider yourself our guest.