Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc.
Reprinted with permission
What is AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on June 10, 1935, when a newly sober stockbroker had a long conversation with a not-so-sober physician. It was thus discovered that one alcoholic working with another alcoholic was part of the solution to a lasting sobriety. The 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous sprang from the initial meeting of those two alcoholics, and today it is a worldwide organization that helps alcoholics recover from the disease of alcoholism.
The organization took its name from a book that was written in 1939. It was co-authored by the first 100+ sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous, however the main writing of the book is attributed to the first two sober members, Bill W. and Dr. Bob.
The AA program is not a religion. AA is a spiritual program of action. AA is all-inclusive, never exclusive, so if you have a problem with alcohol you are welcome to attend any meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous anywhere in the world.
SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE
Some professionals refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Non-alcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to AA and encouraged to attend AA meetings. Anyone may attend open AA meetings, but only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings. A renowned psychiatrist, who served as a nonalcoholic trustee of the AA General Service Board, made the following statement: “Singleness of purpose is essential to the effective treatment of alcoholism. The reason for such exaggerated focus is to overcome denial. The denial associated with alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful and affects the patient, helper, and the community. Unless alcoholism is kept relentlessly in the foreground, other issues will usurp everybody’s attention.”
WHAT AA DOES
AA members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to AA from any source.
The AA program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
This program is discussed at AA group meetings:
- Open speaker meetings – open to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. (Attendance at an open AA meeting is the best way to learn what AA is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, AA members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to AA, and how their lives have changed as a result of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Open discussion meetings – leading a discussion on AA recovery or any or any other problem related to alcoholism. (Closed meetings are for AAs or anyone who may have a drinking problem.)
- Closed discussion meetings – conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective AAs only. Step meetings (usually closed) – discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.
- AA members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.
- AA members may be asked to conduct informational meetings about AA through the Public Information committee or the Cooperation with the Professional Community committee. These meetings about AA are not regular AA group meetings.
WHAT AA DOESN'T DO
- Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover
- Solicit members
- Engage in or sponsor research
- Keep attendance records or case histories
- Join “councils” of social agencies
- Follow up or try to control its members
- Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses
- Provide detox or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment
- Offer religious services or host/sponsor retreats.
- Engage in education about alcohol
- Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services
- Provide domestic or vocational counseling
- Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-AA sources
- Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
COURT PROGRAMS AND TREATMENT FACILITIES
In recent years, AA groups have welcomed many new members from court programs and treatment facilities. Some have come to AA voluntarily; others, under a degree of pressure. In our pamphlet “How AA Members Cooperate,” the following appears:
We cannot discriminate against any prospective AA member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency. Although the strength of our program lies in the voluntary nature of membership in AA, many of us first attended meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by inner discomfort. But continual exposure to AA educated us to the true nature of the illness. Who made the referral to AA is not what AA is interested in. It is the problem drinker who is our concern. We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.
Sometimes, courts ask for proof of attendance at AA meetings. Some groups, with the consent of the prospective member, have the AA group secretary sign or initial a slip that has been furnished by the court together with a self-addressed court envelope. The referred person supplies identificationand mails the slip back to the court as proof of attendance. Other groups cooperate in different ways. There is no set procedure. The nature and extent of any group’s involvement in this process is entirely up to the individual group. This proof of attendance at meetings is not part of AA’s procedure. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign court slips. In some areas the attendees report on themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking AA members’ anonymity.
AA Conference-approved literature is available in 60+ languages. For a list of these or for a literature catalog please write or call AA World Services (web link below). The AA Grapevine, a monthly international journal – also known as “our meeting in print” – features many interesting stories about recovery from alcoholism written primarily by members of AA. It is a useful introduction and ongoing link to AA’s diverse fellowship and wealth of recovery experience. The Spanish-language magazine La Viña, is published bimonthly. For Grapevine information or to order a subscription to either:
AA Grapevine or La Viña:
(212) 870 – 3404
The primary purpose of AA is to carry its message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help. Almost every alcoholism treatment tries to help the alcoholic maintain sobriety. Regardless of the road we follow, we all head for the same destination, recovery of the alcoholic person. Together, we can do what none of us could accomplish alone. We can serve as a source of personal experience and be an ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.
AA World Services, Inc.,
Box 459, Grand Central Station,
New York, NY 10163
Tel. (212) 870-3400
About AA Calgary
The first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Calgary was held on October 17, 1945. Today, an average of 125 groups host an average of 300 AA meetings PER WEEK within the Calgary area. Meetings begin as early as 7:00am and occur throughout the day and evening. There are even midnight meetings in some areas of the city.
“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” What is the purpose of anonymity in Alcoholics Anonymous? Why is it often referred to as the greatest single protection the Fellowship has to assure its continued existence and growth? If we look at the history of A.A., from its beginning in 1935 until now, it is clear that anonymity serves two different yet equally vital functions: At the personal level, anonymity provides protection for all members from identification as alcoholics, a safeguard often of special importance to newcomers.
- At the public level of press, radio, TV, films and other media technologies such as the Internet, anonymity stresses the equality in the Fellowship of all members by putting the brake on those who might otherwise exploit their A.A. affiliation to achieve recognition, power, or personal gain.
- When using digital media, A.A. members are responsible for their own anonymity and that of others. When we post, text, or blog, we should assume that we are publishing at the public level. When we break our anonymity in these forums, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others.
The word “anonymous” in our name is meant to provide as much privacy as an individual may desire regarding membership in A.A