What Does AA Do?

  • 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.
  • The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
  • This program is discussed at A.A. 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-A.A. sources.
  • Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, Social agencies, employers, etc.

Types of Meetings

Open meetings (O)

Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way to learn what A.A. is, what is does, and what it does not do.

Closed meetings (C)

Attendance at a closed meeting is reserved for those who have a desire to stop drinking (alcoholics).

Speaker meetings (S)

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 Alcoholics Anonymous.

Discussion meetings (D)

A Discussion meeting may be Open (O) or Closed (C). During 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.

Step meetings (usually closed) - ST

During Step Meetings, one of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is discussed.

Corrections and Institutions meetings

A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.

Other Meetings

A.A. members may be asked to conduct 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 OR other alcohol awareness initiatives. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings.

Literature

A.A. Conference-approved literature is available in French and Spanish. For additional copies of this paper, or for a literature catalog please write or call the General Service Office.

The A.A. 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 A.A. It is a useful introduction and ongoing link to A.A.'s diverse fellowship and wealth of recovery experience. The Spanish-language magazine La Vina, is published bimonthly.

For Grapevine information or to order a subscription to either the AA Grapevine or La Vina: (212) 870-3404; fax (212) 870-3301; Web site: www.aagrapevine.org

Members From Court Programs and Treatment Facilities:

In recent 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 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 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' anonymity.

Conclusion

The primary purpose of A.A. 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.

A.A. World Services, Inc.,
Box 459, Grand Central Station,
New York, NY10163
Tel. (212) 870-3400.
www.aa.org