This information is both for people who may
have a drinking problem and for those in
contact with people who have, or are
suspected of having, a problem. Most of the
information is available in more detail in
literature published by A.A. World Services,
Inc. A list of recommended pamphlets and
Guidelines is given on the other side of
this sheet. This tells what to expect from
Alcoholics Anonymous. It describes what A.A.
is, what A.A. does, and what A.A. does
WHAT IS A.A.?
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international
fellowship of men and women who have had a
drinking problem. It is nonprofessional,
multiracial, apolitical, and available
almost everywhere. There are no age or
education requirements. Membership is open
to anyone who wants to do something about
his or her drinking problem.
WHAT DOES A.A. DO?
1. A.A. 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 A.A. from any source.
2. The A.A. program, set forth in our
Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to
develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
3. This program is discussed at A.A.
a. Open speaker meetings—open to
alcoholics and nonalcoholics. (Attendance at
an open A.A. meeting is the best way to
learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what
it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A.
members “tell their stories.” They describe
their experiences with alcohol, how they
came to A.A., and how their lives have
changed as a result of A.A.
b. Open discussion meetings—one
member speaks briefly about his or her
drinking experience, and then leads a
discussion on A.A. recovery or any
drinking-related problem anyone brings up.
Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone
who may have a drinking problem.)
c. Closed discussion
meetings—conducted just as open discussions
are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s
d. Step meetings (usually
closed)—discussion of one of the Twelve
e. A.A. members also take meetings
into correctional and treatment facilities.
f. A.A. members may be asked to
conduct the informational meetings about A.A.
as a part of A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety Action
Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While
Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about
A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings.
MEMBERS FROM COURT PROGRAMS AND TREATMENT
In the last years, A.A. groups have welcomed
many new members from court programs and
treatment facilities. Some have come to A.A.
voluntarily; others, under a degree of
pressure. In our pamphlet “How A.A. Members
Cooperate,” the following appears:
We cannot discriminate against any
prospective A.A. 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 A.A., many of us first
attended meetings because we were forced
to, either by someone else or by inner
discomfort. But continual exposure to
A.A. educated us to the true nature of
the illness.... Who made the referral to
A.A. is not what A.A. 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.
PROOF OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
Sometimes, courts ask for proof of
attendance at A.A. meetings.
Some groups, with the consent of the
prospective member, have the A.A. 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 identification and mails the
slip back to the court as proof of
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
This proof of attendance at meetings is
not part of A.A.’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 A.A. members’
SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE AND PROBLEMS OTHER
Alcoholism and drug addiction are often
referred to as “substance abuse” or
“chemical dependency.” Alcoholics and
nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes
introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend
A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A.
meetings. But only those with a drinking
problem may attend closed meetings or become
A.A. members. People with problems other
than alcoholism are eligible for A.A.
membership only if they have a
Dr. Vincent Dole, a pioneer in methadone
treatment for heroin addicts and for several
years a trustee on the General Service Board
of A.A., made the following statement: “The
source of strength in A.A. is its
single-mindedness. The mission of A.A. is to
help alcoholics. A.A. limits what it is
demanding of itself and its associates, and
its success lies in its limited target. To
believe that the process that is successful
in one line guarantees success for another
would be a very serious mistake.”
Consequently, we welcome the opportunity to
share A.A. experience with those who would
like to develop Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition
programs for the nonalcoholic addict by
using A.A. methods.
WHAT A.A. DOES NOT DO
A.A. does not:
1. Furnish initial motivation for
alcoholics to recover
2. Solicit members
3. Engage in or sponsor research
4. Keep attendance records or case
5. Join “councils” of social
6. Follow up or try to control its
7. Make medical or psychological
diagnoses or prognoses
8. Provide drying-out or nursing
services, hospitalization, drugs, or any
medical or psychiatric treatment
9. Offer religious services
10. Engage in education about
11. Provide housing, food, clothing,
jobs, money, or any other welfare or social
12. Provide domestic or vocational
13. Accept any money for its
services, or any contributions from non-A.A.
14. Provide letters of reference to
parole boards, lawyers, court officials,
social agencies, employers, etc.
The primary purpose of A.A. is to carry our
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.
RECOMMENDED MATERIAL AVAILABLE FROM A.A.
WORLD SERVICES, INC.
”A Member’s-Eye View of Alcoholics
“How A.A. Members Cooperate”
“If You Are a Professional, A.A. Wants to
Work With You”
“Problems Other Than Alcohol”
“Let’s Be Friendly With Our Friends”
“Is A.A. For You?”
“A.A. in Treatment Facilities”
“Is There An Alcoholic in the Workplace?”
“A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care
For A.A. Members Employed in the Alcoholism
Cooperation With the Professional Community
Cooperating With Court, A.S.A.P., and
Conference-approved Literature and Other
A.A. Literature and Audiovisual Material For
Alcoholics Anonymous—An Inside View
Young People and A.A.
Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous
A.A.—Rap with Us
It Sure Beats Sitting in a Cell
Your A.A. General Service Office, The
Grapevine and the General Service Structure
Carrying the Message Behind These Walls
Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous
(American Sign Language)
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
(American Sign Language)