What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women 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.
An Open Meeting.

Any member of the public can attend an Open Meeting. You do not have to be an alcoholic, nor have a drinking problem to attend an open meeting.

The Open Meeting has a chairperson, who conducts the progress of the meeting. Those who take part in the meeting have been chosen beforehand, so a newcomer need not feel intimidated.

Meetings generally begin with a moment of silence, followed by The Serenity Prayer. The chairperson or someone s/he has chosen then reads What is AA, qualifies briefly as an alcoholic, notes the importance of anonymity, and may mention that AA is a spiritual, as distinct from a religious, program of recovery.

Someone then reads How it Works, someone else The Twelve Traditions. Some groups may add additional readings such as The Promises. After some meeting business (the secretary’s announcements, handing out of chips to mark milestones in early sobriety), one or more people tell their story, which usually takes about 10-30 minutes. Each group is autonomous and may order the events in any way the group’s conscience sees fit. However, most open meetings generally last about an hour, although attendees are encouraged to stick around, have coffee and talk to people for a while afterward.

Open meetings are a good place to get literature about AA, including the Beginner’s Pamphlet containing the famous “20 Questions,” other AA pamphlets, the city-wide list of meetings, and hard-cover publications such as “Alcoholics Anonymous” (The Big Book) and “12 Steps and 12 Traditions” (the “12 ‘n’ 12″)

Where can I find a meeting?
A Closed Meeting

Closed meetings are exclusively for those who admit they are alcoholics; and for those who think they may have a drinking problem.

Closed meetings may take many forms. The most common are 12-Step discussion meetings where attendees discuss the Steps, ask questions, or share how they’ve used each Step in their daily lives and what results they got when they did. Many “Step discussion” meetings will have multiple rooms with a “Step 1-2-3″ room appropriate for beginners; and another rotating step room. Many groups read each step before discussing it and it’s often useful to have a copy of the book, “12 Steps and 12 Traditions,” available from many open meeting library tables throughout the city.

Other closed meeting formats include “Open Topic” discussions, where attendees may discuss the Steps, or raise any topic they feel may affect their sobriety. Here, too, the meeting is a mixture of questions and sharing of experiences.

“Big Book Study” discussion meetings focus on the contents of the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” from which the organization takes its name. It’s useful to bring a dictionary to these meetings as well as a copy of the Big Book so you can read along.

Where can I find a meeting?
A Brief History of Alcoholics Anonymous
1895 November 26, Bill Wilson born in East Dorset, Vermont
1918 January 24: Bill marries Lois Burnham
1934 December 11: Bill’s last drink. Released from his obsession, begins thinking about a movement of recovered alcoholics who would help others. Bill and Lois start attending Oxford Group meetings
1935 May: in Akron, Bill and Dr. Bob meet; June 10: Dr. Bob’s last drink
1939 “Alcoholics Anonymous” -the Big Book- is published
1943 Bill and Lois make first cross-country tour of the groups
1950 July: First International A.A. Convention . The Traditions are accepted. Nov. 16: Dr. Bob dies
1955 July: at the St. Louis Convention, Bill gives A.A. its “formal release into maturity”
1971 January 24: Bill dies

AA and Alcoholism

AA is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of individual alcoholics who turn to the Fellowship for help. Alcoholics Anonymous does not engage in the fields of alcoholism research, medical or psychiatric treatment, education, or advocacy in any form, although members may participate in such activities as individuals.

The Fellowship has adopted a policy of “cooperation but not affiliation” with other organizations concerned with the problem of alcoholism.

Traditionally, Alcoholics Anonymous does not accept or seek financial support from outside sources, and members preserve personal anonymity in print and broadcast media and otherwise at the public level.

AA experience has always been made available freely to all who sought it – business people, spiritual leaders, civic groups, law enforcement officers, health and welfare personnel, educators, representatives of military establishments, institutional authorities, representatives of organized labor, and many others. But A.A. never endorses, supports, becomes affiliated with, or expresses an opinion on the programs of others in the field of alcoholism, since such actions would be beyond the scope of the Fellowship’s primary purpose.

In the United States, AA’s relations with professional groups, agencies, facilities, and individuals involved with the problems of alcoholism are handled by the Standing Committee and Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC). Mutual understanding and cooperation between AA members and others who work with alcoholics are the concerns of this standing committee of the General Service Board.