Should I attend AA Retreats?
The main goal of an AA retreat is to provide a retreat for individuals who seek spiritual growth in an alcohol and drug-free recovery-based environment. A retreat creates a special time for rest, soul-searching and simplicity. It’s also a time-out from daily activities that may have stressed you out as well as a chance to connect and get the support of other AA members. There are also other AA retreat experiences, including spiritual retreats offered by religious institutions, and silent retreats which are packed with experiential activities.
If you look at AA retreat flyers, you can see that they use words from AA, like sharing of “experiences, strength and hope”. But, Alcoholics Anonymous does not sponsor AA retreats. That’s because it would go against the traditions of being a self-help support group that does not ask money from its members, except for voluntary contributions. You cannot find guidelines for retreats at the AA website, though they have one for AA conventions and AA conferences. There can be AA and NA meetings during the retreat, though they are not affiliated with 12 steps programs.
Some AA retreats offers activities like hiking, swimming, playing basketball, chess and more. Others focus on prayer, meditation and spiritual discussion. There also may be silence sessions where you can go for a walk and explore the surrounding area.
AA meetings during retreats help you focus on the twelve step recovery process and the principles behind the twelve steps and traditions so you will better understand them. It can be both a workshop and a meeting that focus on your recovery. The activities often carry AA’s message of hope and strength for recovering alcoholics.
Retreats are also good opportunities to build a support group for your recovery. If loved ones left you because they cannot put up with your drinking problems anymore, you can find support from former alcoholics who successfully achieved sobriety who will help you work the AA principles.
If you want to reconnect with yourself through prayer and contemplation, a retreat is a good opportunity to do so. It’s better to remove yourself from a situation (work, home, etc.) that stresses you out so you can see things in a different perspective. That means, having time off for yourself where the normal day to day activities won’t get in your way. You can walk around in a relaxing environment, spend time alone reading, praying or simply doing nothing. People won’t bother you and you can empty your mind, forget your worries and recharge yourself.
In a nutshell, retreats focused on the twelve steps can be very useful, as it will help to hear the experiences of former alcoholics and to really discuss how you can apply the AA steps and traditions in your life.