FOR ANYONE NEW COMING TO A.A.
FOR ANYONE NEW COMING TO A.A.
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. This page however, what to expect from Alcoholics Anonymous.
It describes what AA is …. what AA does ……. and what AA does not do.
What is AA ?
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, 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.
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 AA group meetings.
Open Speaker meetings are 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 speakers 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 are where 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 members or anyone who may have a drinking problem
Closed Discussion meetings are conducted just as open discussion meetings are, but for alcoholics or or prospective AA’s only.
Step Meetings (usually closed) are 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.
MEMBERS from COURT PROGRAMS and TREATMENT FACILITIES
In the last years, AA groups have welcomed many new members from court programs and treatment facilities. Some have come to AA voluntarily; others, under a degree of pressure. In our pamphlet “How AA Members Cooperate”, the following appears:
We cannot discriminate against any prospective AA member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, Or other agency.
Although the strength of our program lies in the voluntary nature of membership in AA, many of us first attended meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by inner discomfort. But continual exposure to AA educated us to the true nature of the illness …… Who made the referral to AA is not what AA 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 AA meetings.
Some groups, with the consent of the prospective member, have the 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 AA’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 to themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking AA member’s anonymity.
THE NON-ALCOHOLIC ADDICT
Many treatment centers today combine alcoholism and drug addiction under “substance abuse” or “chemical dependence”. Patients (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are introduced to AA and encouraged to attend A meetings when they leave. As stated earlier, anyone may attend open AA meetings. But only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings or become AA members. People with problems other than alcoholism are eligible for AA membership only if they have a drinking problem.
Dr. Vincent Dole, a pioneer in methadone treatment for heroin addicts and for several years a trustee on the General Service Board of AA made the following statement: “The source of strength in AA is its single mindedness. The mission of AA is to help alcoholics. AA 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 AA experience with those who would like to develop TwelveStep/Twelve Tradition programs for the non-alcoholic addict by using AA methods.
WHAT AA DOES 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/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
The primary purpose of AA 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 a ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.