"...Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed the path that the program suggests..." So says Chapter 5 of the Big Book, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves."
How it works might be summarised as Honesty, Open mindedness and Willingness. No two meetings are ever the same. They may be broadly similar, as they tend to follow a similar format, but a meeting is as individual as the people that make it.
Meetings are the backbones of a great many individuals' recovery journeys. In them, those who have decided to abstain from substances, or behaviours, access the support of those with a common purpose, and this is the not-so-secret key to 12 Step Fellowships. By sharing their experience, strength and hope, members hope to help themselves, and others, giving back to the fellowship what they have received.
At the heart of many meetings are several key readings, taken from approved literature, that has been translated worldwide, and which preserves the integrity of the program as it has been passed down through communities for nearly a century.
In between readings, a member may share with the group their experiences, both before and in recovery, providing something with which others attending the meeting might be able to identify with, or might hope to emulate in their own lives. The idea is that someone might bring to life the message of the program, and in so doing be of service to the group.
"Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now..." Hearing someone's first ever chair is a very great privilege. Seeing someone arrive in the rooms, and work a program of recovery with the help of a sponsor (usually someone who has been around a-while, and who voluntarily agrees to guide someone else through the program), is as real reminder as you can get that we do recover. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, and often we cannot notice the changes in ourselves as clearly as we see them in other people. That's why we get better, together.