What Does A.A. 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.

What Does A.A. not do?
  • Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover
  • Solicit members
  • Engage in or sponsor research
  • Keep attendance records or case histories
  • Follow up or try to control its member
  • Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses
  • Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment
  • Offer religious services or host/sponsor retreats
  • 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.
Am I an alcoholic?

Alcoholics Anonymous can’t tell you whether you are or not; you have to decide that for yourself. If you repeatedly drink more than you intend or want to, or if you get into trouble when you drink, you may be.

These 12 Questions might help you decide – click here.

What will my first meeting be like?

There is nothing to fear about meetings. People who go simply have a desire to stop drinking. They come from all walks of life and are all ages. You will most likely find people there you can relate to and feel comfortable with.

Get to the meeting early and stay after the meeting to continue to talk and share. People will offer you their phone numbers. That means they sincerely want to help you and you shouldn’t feel afraid to reach out.

What happens if I see someone I know in an AA meeting?

They will be there for the same reason you are there. They will not disclose your identity to outsiders. At A.A. you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is one of the reasons we call ourselves Alcoholics Anonymous.

Is there a cost for the meeting?

There is no cost to attend Alcoholic Anonymous. We are fully self-supporting through our own contributions. There will be a basket or bag passed at the end of the meeting and most members throw in a couple of dollars to help cover expenses.

How long is the meeting?

Meetings typically last one hour. Most meetings/groups open the doors 15 to 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting. It is suggested that you arrive early to participate in fellowship with other members.

May I bring relatives or friends to an A.A. meeting?

In most places, anyone interested in A.A., whether a member or not, is welcome at ‘open’ meetings of A.A. groups, but not ‘closed’ meetings. Closed meetings are limited to people who are seeking help for their own drinking problem. Newcomers, in particular, are invited to bring wives, husbands, or friends to open meetings. The Meetings list indicates whether meetings are open or closed.

What is an 'open' meeting?

An open meeting of A.A. is a group meeting that any member of the community, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, may attend. The only obligation is that of not disclosing the names of A.A. members outside the meeting. A typical open meeting will usually have a chairperson and other speakers. The chairperson opens and closes the meeting and introduces each speaker. Each person who speaks will generally share some individual drinking experiences that led to joining A.A. The speaker may also give his or her interpretation of the recovery program and suggest what sobriety has meant personally. All views expressed are purely personal since all members of A.A. speak only for themselves. Many open meetings conclude with a social period during which coffee, soft drinks, and cakes or cookies are served.

What is a ‘closed' meeting?

A closed meeting is for A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and have a desire to stop drinking. Closed meetings give members an opportunity to discuss particular phases of their alcoholic problem that can be understood best only by other alcoholics. The closed meetings are of particular value to the newcomer, since they provide an opportunity to benefit from the experience of members with more long-term sobriety.

How often do I go to A.A. meetings?

A.A. members don’t have to attend any set number of meetings in a given period. It is purely a matter of individual preference and need. Some members attend a meeting nearly every day, others commit to attend at least one meeting every week, regularly. Many know from experience that if they do not come to meetings and work the Twelve Step programme, they may get drunk whereas if they are regular in attendance, they seem to have little trouble staying sober.

Newcomers particularly seem to benefit from going to a large number of meetings, especially during their first weeks and months. By multiplying their opportunities to meet and hear other A.A.s whose drinking experience parallels their own, they strengthen their own understanding of the program and what it can give them. Nearly all alcoholics, at one time or another, have tried to stay sober on their own. For most, the experience has not been particularly enjoyable — or successful. An important line in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous reads, ‘Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.’ That usually involves going to as many meetings as possible.

I have a loved one who has a drinking problem. How can I help them?
Al-Anon Family Groups offers help and hope to the friends and family of Alcoholics. For local meetings call 0508 425 2666