They say that recognizing you have a problem with alcohol is the first step in the recovery process. It is also likely one of the hardest parts, if not the hardest. As many recovering alcoholics would probably tell you, getting yourself to that first AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting is a challenging stride, but a worthwhile one. It is possibly the fear of the unknown and of other people's perceived judgement that creates the hurdle in people's minds, but taking the mystery out of AA meetings may make them feel less imposing.[AD:foo]
The reality is that AA members are all coming from relatively the same starting place. The groups are open to all people who want to work on their sobriety, without discrimination or judgement. It is important to note that there are both open and closed meetings available. Non-alcoholics are free to attend open meetings, whereas, closed meetings are for alcoholics only.
There are various types of meetings open to AA members (and sometimes non-alcoholics). Speaker meetings, which are open to everyone, involve members sharing their stories of struggle and their experiences with the AA program. Discussion meetings entail one member sharing his/her story and then leading a discussion with other attendees about alcohol related problems. These discussion meetings can be open to everyone or open to alcoholics only. There are also step meetings, which are usually open only to AA members to discuss the Twelve Steps of the AA program.