Meeting attendance is a bit of a tricky topic. And there is not a one size fits all answer for everyone. What we do know for sure, however, is that attending as many meetings as possible early on is a good plan. Many sponsors and alcoholics with long time sobriety will strongly recommend doing a “90 in 90,” which means 90 meetings in 90 days. To some this may seem extreme. And, yes, it does require a commitment. But, bear in mind that you’ve most likely been making it to drinking on a daily basis. So, think of the time you’ve spent there. So, laying a solid foundation of both the principles of recovery and a network of other sober people that you can lean on for support is crucial to establish early on.
As you progress in your recovery, you will see differing patterns of attendance from the various members of your group. From the old timer who is there every day, to the guy who only starts showing up around his anniversary every year so he can get his chip on anniversary night and have it not seem like that’s the only meeting of the year he attends. You may also start to notice that meeting attendance is not necessarily the biggest determinant of quality sobriety or well-being. It is more often than not the quality of one’s program rather than the quantity of either meetings, days, months, or years that are important. Again, this is why it is important to have a trusted group of support people who know you and can help you make adjustments when needed.
Another important thing to consider when thinking about meeting attendance is that it might be better to be a regular at one meeting less frequently than to attend random meetings regularly but not really have a home group. Accountability is an important component to the program of AA as is having a group of people that see your face on a regular basis and can inquire if something seems “up”.
Regular meeting attendance can also be viewed through the lens of an insurance policy. You never know when you might need it, so it’s better to have. You could be going along well for a while having attended meetings for a while and feel like you’re doing fine. And then, boom, out of nowhere something happens and throws you off the beam and you feel like a newcomer again. This is when it’s important to get reconnected as soon as possible and also consider increasing your meeting attendance to more than usual.
A good rule of thumb is, when in doubt, go to more meetings. It’s really not worth taking a chance with your sobriety to start skimping on meeting attendance and thinking you’re going to be ok. Most of us have found a route that is manageable and regular for us. But that can take some time. So, if you’re new, jump in and go to as many meetings as you can. Meet some great new sober people. Get connected. Do service. And start taking advantage of all the great gifts that a sober life has to offer you.
Remember, you’re never going to do things perfectly. And there is no magic number. You will find as many different opinions as you find people in AA. Early on, more meetings is better than less meetings. At all times, being honest with yourself and your sponsor is crucial to determining what is the right fit for you.