Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is non-professional, self-supporting, nondenominational, 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. Read the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts on our Three Legacies page. AA’s website is at aa.org.
What Does AA Do?
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 various AA 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 AA.
- Open discussion meetings – One member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on AA recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. Closed meetings are for AA’s or anyone who may have a drinking problem.
- Closed discussion meetings – Conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective AA’s 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 the informational meetings about AA as a part of A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety Action Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about AA are not regular AA group meetings.
What Does AA Not 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 drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment
- Offer religious services
- 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
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