What Makes a "Good" AA Meeting?
Preface: This post is filled with opinion. With that being said, if you read something that differs from what the Big Book or your Sponsor has told you, we are wrong.
2 Words. Literature-Based.
Open Discussion meetings have killed more alcoholics than alcohol.
"When he's done he'll put the plug in the jug"
"If she's serious about recovery she'll be able to stop"
"My wake up call was when my son was born. That was my last drink"
These statements are harmless unless you are talking to a real alcoholic. The Big Book says, "But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge." All of us were able to see the facts long before we were able to accept the reality. When we hear or say things like "When he/she's had enough, they'll be done" it fails to recognize the reality of the situation which for many of us was hopelessness and despair.
This is the general problem with Open Discussion meetings. They aren't rooted in recovery and are rife with opinions - some of which come from non-alcoholics (yes, it's shocking but not every person in AA/NA/CA is an addict or alcoholic.)
By staying in the literature, mainly the Big Book and 12 Steps and 12 Traditions as the topic source for the meeting, it acts as guardrails for the conversation. This is especially important for newcomers. The Big Book says, "the message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight" and we tend to agree. Our personal problems would fall under the category of what the book calls "frothy emotional appeal." The bottom line? What kind of message does the group want to give?
Don't misinterpret this to mean that you SHOULDN'T talk about your problems. You absolutely should. That is what the fellowship is for. Inventory. Our sponsor. But in the meetings we have but one primary purpose - to help the alcoholic and addict that still suffers. Our ideals must be grounded in a power greater than ourselves.