Alcoholics Anonymous is well-known as an organization for people who want to stop drinking. At the same time, there are some points about A.A. that may be unclear to the general public and even to professionals working to help problem drinkers.
Founded in the United States in 1935, when one alcoholic discovered he could stay sober by helping another alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous now has more than two million members in some 180 countries.
A.A.’s sole purpose is helping people recover from the disease of alcoholism, and it has no affiliation with any other group or organization. Members anywhere in the world can come together to form an A.A. group, of which there are an estimated 106,000 worldwide.
Among other facts about Alcoholics Anonymous are:
Membership is free
A.A. groups usually pass a basket around at meetings to cover the cost of renting the meeting room and for other incidental expenses, such as coffee.
A.A. is not a religious organization;
it is not allied with any religious organization, and requires no religious belief as a condition of membership. Members include Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, and atheists.
A.A. does no recruiting.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no other requirements to be met, no initiation fees to be paid, and no forms to be filled out. It is completely up to anyone considering joining A.A. to determine if they have a problem with alcohol and whether they will deal with it in Alcoholics Anonymous. A person becomes a member of A.A. simply by deciding they want to be a member.
A.A. groups are autonomous and run by the members themselves.
A.A. is not a temperance society.
Members acknowledge their inability to drink safely but have nothing to say about the drinking of others. It is a principle of A.A. that it has no opinion on what are termed outside issues.
A.A. is not affiliated with any hospital or rehab, or any other such facility.
No professional services of any kind are offered or performed under A.A. sponsorship.
A.A. meetings take several forms,
but at any meeting there will be alcoholics talking about how drinking affected their lives and what life as a sober member of A.A. is like.
Anonymity is respected.
Newcomers can turn to A.A. with the assurance that their attendance at meetings will be kept private.
“Open” Meetings of A.A.
are meetings which anyone may attend to observe how A.A. works. “Closed” meetings are reserved for those with a drinking problem.
Information on how to find local A.A. meetings can be found in telephone directories and at numerous Internet sites, including www.aa.org.
From; About AA; A newsletter for professionals, Spring 2007.