When Can I Stop Going to AA Meetings?


There are two main reasons why a person would want to stop going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. One is that they feel cured of their alcoholic addiction; they’ve reached a stable point in their recovery journey and feel that they’ve sufficiently soaked in the lessons and wisdom that AA has to offer. The other might be the opposite situation where the peer-based program isn’t resonating with them. In either case, let’s talk about quitting AA: how to figure out if it’s the right call for you, how to go about it, and how to continue your sobriety journey without the organization.

When can I stop going to AA meetings?

One of the greatest features of Alcoholics Anonymous is how easy it is to customize your experience, including, where—and if—you attend. Since AA doesn’t require any sort of formal membership or commitment, you can stop going to meetings whenever you want (unless it’s court-ordered of course).

There’s nothing to be ashamed of

A reason why some might not think it’s okay to do is that the organization itself has a sharp stance on the idea of quitting AA. On page 174 of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book, it says:

“Unless each AA member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to spiritual principles.”

This gives the impression that quitting AA meetings is something you’re never allowed to do or would guarantee a relapse. However, the operative phrase in this passage is “follows to the best of his ability”. Imagine if you were taking a cooking course halfway through. Do you think that you’d have all the knowledge you need to become a successful chef? Probably not. 

This is essentially the ethos of AA. If you’ve learned the basic principles and made it habitual to implement them in your daily life, then Alcoholics Anonymous has done what it set out to do. If you quit going to meetings before you’ve fully absorbed the 12 Steps, you may not have the perspective or mindset that gives you the best odds of achieving (or maintaining) sobriety.

How to quit AA meetings (and break the news to your group)

Unless you hold a committee position in your Alcoholics Anonymous group, you don’t have any obligation to the other members of the group itself. Once again, you could technically just leave and never return without saying a word to anyone. However, if you’ve been going to the same group for months or years, you’ve likely formed bonds with other attendees, and disappearing could cause them to worry. Here are some steps to take when preparing to break the news to them. 

  1. Decide who you want to tell

Whether you’re switching to a different AA group or quitting the organization altogether, you don’t need to announce your decision to leave or notify any of the group members. However, for the people you are closest to, such as your sponsor, you’ll likely want to let them know before just disappearing. If you want to notify those on the group committee as a courtesy you can, but there’s absolutely no obligation to do so. 

  1. Have a response ready for any naysayers

If you do plan on telling anyone about your decision to leave, it can be helpful to have a polite but firm response ready for those who might try to convince you to stay. It’s your decision how forthcoming you are with the reason why. If you’re worried about alienating a friend, you can phrase it as that you’re taking a break from meetings but want to keep in touch.  

  1. Ask for your information to be removed from any lists

If AA is no longer going to be a part of your life, you may want to ask to have your phone number and email address removed from any correspondence lists. In addition to eliminating outreach about events or other going-ons that are no longer relevant to you, you won’t have to worry about people contacting you trying to get you to return.

  1. Have another support system in place

This isn’t something you need to disclose to others, but have some sort of support network in place. Alcoholics Anonymous offers a supportive, nonjudgemental community and structure, both of which are highly important in addiction recovery. Make sure you still have the social security net even if you no longer attend meetings. 

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