Questions and Answers
About Alcoholics Anonymous
Several million people have probably heard or read about Alcoholics Anonymous since
its beginnings in 1935. Some are relatively familiar with the program
of recovery from alcoholism that has helped more than 2,000,000 problem
drinkers. Others have only a vague impression that A.A. is some sort
of organization that somehow helps drunks stop drinking.
This pamphlet is designed for those who are interested in A.A. for themselves, for a friend
or relative, or simply because they wish to be better informed about
this unusual Fellowship. Included on the following pages are answers
to many of the specific questions that have been asked about A.A.
in the past. They add up to the story of a loosely knit society of
men and women who have one great interest in common: the desire to
stay sober themselves and to help other alcoholics who seek help for
their drinking problem.
The thousands of men and women who have come into A.A. in recent years are not
altruistic do-gooders. Their eagerness and willingness to help other alcoholics
may be termed enlightened self-interest. Members of A.A. appreciate that their
own sobriety is largely dependent on continuing contact with alcoholics.
After reading this pamphlet, you may have questions that do not seem to be
answered fully in this brief summary. A.A. groups in many metropolitan areas
have a central or intergroup office, listed in the telephone book under
"Alcoholics Anonymous." It can direct you to the nearest A.A. meeting,
where members will be glad to give you additional information. In smaller
communities, a single group may have a telephone listing. If there
is no A.A. group near you, feel free to write direct to Box 459, Grand
Central Station, New York, NY 10163. You can be sure that your anonymity
will be protected.
Alcoholism and Alcoholics
Not too long ago, alcoholism was viewed as a moral problem. Today, many regard
it primarily as a health problem. To each problem drinker, it will always remain an
intensely personal matter. Alcoholics who approach A.A. frequently ask questions that
apply to their own experience, their own fears, and their own hopes for a better
way of life.
- What is alcoholism?
There are many different ideas about what alcoholism really is.
The explanation that seems to make sense to most A.A. members is that
alcoholism is an illness, a progressive illness, which can never be cured
but which, like some other diseases, can be arrested. Going one step
further, many A.A.s feel that the illness represents the combination
of a physical sensitivity to alcohol and a mental obsession with
drinking, which, regardless of consequences, cannot be broken by
Before they are exposed to A.A., many alcoholics who are unable to stop
drinking think of themselves as morally weak or, possibly, mentally
unbalanced. The A.A. concept is that alcoholics are sick people who
can recover if they will follow a simple program that has proved successful
for more than one and a half million men and women.
Once alcoholism has set in, there is nothing morally wrong about being
ill. At this stage, free will is not involved, because the sufferer has lost the power
of choice over alcohol. The important thing is to face the facts of
one's illness and to take advantage of the help that is available.
There must also be a desire to get well. Experience shows that the
A.A. program will work for all alcoholics who are sincere in their
efforts to stop drinking; it usually will not work for those not absolutely
certain that they want to stop.
- How can I tell if I am really an alcoholic?
Only you can make that decision. Many who are now in A.A. have previously been told that
they were not alcoholics, that all they needed was more willpower,
a change of scenery, more rest, or a few new hobbies in order to straighten
out. These same people finally turned to A.A. because they felt, deep
down inside, that alcohol had them licked and that they were ready
to try anything that would free them from the compulsion to drink.
Some of these men and women went through terrifying experiences with alcohol before they were
ready to admit that alcohol was not for them. They became derelicts,
stole, lied, cheated, and even killed while they were drinking. They
took advantage of their employers and abused their families. They
were completely unreliable in their relations with others. They wasted
their material, mental, and spiritual assets.
Many others with far less
tragic records have turned to A.A., too. They have never been jailed
or hospitalized. Their too-heavy drinking may not have been noticed
by their closest relatives and friends. But they knew enough about
alcoholism as a progressive illness to scare them. They joined A.A.
before they had paid too heavy a price.
There is a saying in A.A.
that there is no such thing as being a little bit alcoholic. Either
you are, or you are not. And only the individual involved can say
whether or not alcohol has become an unmanageable problem.
- Can an alcoholic ever drink 'normally' again?
So far as can be determined,
no one who has become an alcoholic has ever ceased to be an alcoholic.
The mere fact of abstaining from alcohol for months or even years
has never qualified an alcoholic to drink "normally" or
socially. Once the individual has crossed the borderline from heavy
drinking to irresponsible alcoholic drinking, there seems to be no
retreat. Few alcoholics deliberately try to drink themselves into
trouble, but trouble seems to be the inevitable consequence of an
alcoholic's drinking. After quitting for a period, the alcoholic may
feel it is safe to try a few beers or a few glasses of light wine.
This can mislead the person into drinking only with meals. But it
is not too long before the alcoholic is back in the old pattern of
too-heavy drinking — in spite of all efforts to set limits for
only moderate, social drinking.
The answer, based on A.A.
experience, is that if you are an alcoholic, you will never be able
to control your drinking for any length of time. That leaves two paths
open: to let your drinking become worse and worse with all the damaging
results that follow, or to quit completely and to develop a new pattern
of sober, constructive living.
- Can't an A.A. member drink even beer?
There are, of course, no
musts in A.A., and no one checks up on members to determine whether
or not they are drinking anything. The answer to this question is
that if a person is an alcoholic, touching alcohol in any form cannot
be risked. Alcohol is alcohol whether it is found in a martini, a
Scotch and soda, a bourbon and branch water, a glass of champagne
— or a short beer. For the alcoholic, one drink of alcohol in
any form is likely to be too much, and twenty drinks are not enough.
To be sure of sobriety,
alcoholics simply have to stay away from alcohol, regardless of the
quantity, mixture, or concentration they may think they can control.
Obviously, few persons
are going to get drunk on one or two bottles of beer. The alcoholic
knows this as well as the next person. But alcoholics may convince
themselves that they are simply going to take two or three beers and
then quit for the day. Occasionally, they may actually follow this
program for a number of days or weeks, Eventually, they decide that
as long as they are drinking, they may as well "do a good job."
So they increase their consumption of beer or wine. Or they switch
to hard liquor. And again, they are back where they started.
- I can stay sober quite a while between binges; how can I tell whether I need A.A.?
Most A.A.s will say that
it's how you drink, not how often, that determines whether or not
you are an alcoholic. Many problem drinkers can go weeks, months,
and occasionally years between their bouts with liquor. During their
periods of sobriety, they may not give alcohol a second thought. Without
mental or emotional effort, they are able to take it or leave it alone,
and they prefer to leave it alone.
Then, for some unaccountable
reason, or for no reason at all, they go off on a first-class binge.
They neglect job, family, and other civic and social responsibilities.
The spree may last a single night, or it may be prolonged for days
or weeks. When it is over, the drinker is usually weak and remorseful,
determined never to let it happen again. But it does happen again.
This type of "periodic"
drinking is baffling, not only to those around the drinker, but also
to the person still drinking. He or she cannot understand why there
should be so little interest in alcohol during the periods between
binges, or so little control over it once the drinking starts.
The periodic drinker may
or may not be an alcoholic. But if drinking has become unmanageable
and if the periods between binges are becoming shorter, chances are
the time has come to face up to the problem. If the person is ready
to admit to being an alcoholic, then the first step has been taken
toward the continuing sobriety enjoyed by thousands upon thousands
- Others say I am not an alcoholic. But my drinking seems to be getting worse.
Should I join A.A.?
Many members of A.A., during
their drinking days, were assured by relatives, friends, and doctors
that they were not alcoholics. The alcoholic usually adds to the problem
by an unwillingness to realistically face the facts of drinking. By
not being completely honest, the problem drinker makes it difficult
for a doctor to provide any help. The amazing thing, in fact, is that
so many doctors have been able to penetrate the typical problem drinker's
deceptions and diagnose the problem correctly.
It cannot be emphasized
too often that the important decision — am I an alcoholic? —
has to be made by the drinker. Only he or she — not the doctor,
the family, or friends — can make it. But once it is made, half
the battle for sobriety is won. If the question is left to others
to decide, the alcoholic may be dragging out needlessly the dangers
and misery of uncontrollable drinking.
- Can a person achieve sobriety all alone by reading A.A. literature?
A few people have stopped
drinking after reading Alcoholics Anonymous, the A.A. "Big Book,"
which sets forth the basic principles of the recovery program. But
nearly all of those who were in a position to do so promptly sought
out other alcoholics with whom to share their experience and sobriety.
The A.A. program works
best for the individual when it is recognized and accepted as a program
involving other people. Working with other alcoholics in the local
A.A. group, problem drinkers seem to learn more about their problem
and how to handle it. The find themselves surrounded by others who
share their past experiences, their present problems, and their hopes.
They shed the feelings of loneliness that may have been an important
factor in their compulsion to drink.
- Won't everyone know I am an alcoholic if I come into A.A.?
Anonymity is and always
has been the basis of the A.A. program. Most members, after they have
been in A.A. awhile, have no particular objection if the word gets
around that they have joined a fellowship that enables them to stay
sober. Traditionally, A.A.s never disclose their association with
the movement in print, on the air, or through any other public media.
And no one has the right to break the anonymity of another member.
This means that the newcomer
can turn to A.A. with the assurance that no newfound friends will
violate confidences relating to his or her drinking problem. The older
members of the group appreciate how the newcomer feels. They can remember
their own fears about being identified publicly with what seems to
be a terrifying word - "alcoholic."
Once in A.A., newcomers
may be slightly amused at those past worries about its becoming generally
known that they have stopped drinking. When alcoholics drink, news
of their escapades travels with remarkable speed. Most alcoholics
have made names for themselves as full-fledged drunks by the time
they turn to A.A. Their drinking, with rare exceptions, is not likely
to be a well-kept secret. Under these circumstances, it would be unusual
indeed if the good news of the alcoholic's continuing sobriety did
not also cause comment.
Whatever the circumstances,
no disclosure of the newcomer's, affiliation with A.A. can rightfully
be made by anyone but the newcomer, and then only in such a way that
the Fellowship will not be harmed.
- How can I get along in business, where I have to make a lot of social contacts, if I don't drink?
Social drinking has become
an accepted part of business enterprise in many fields these days.
Many contacts with customers and prospective customers are timed to
coincide with occasions when cocktails, highballs, or cordials seem
the appropriate order of the day or night. Many now in A.A. would
be the first to concede that they had often transacted important business
in bars, cocktail lounges, or hotel rooms or even during parties in
It is surprising, however,
how much of the world's work is accomplished without the benefit of
alcohol. It is equally surprising to many alcoholics to discover how
many recognized leaders in business, industry, professional life,
and the arts have attained success without dependence on alcohol.
In fact, many who are now
sober in A.A. admit that they used "business contacts" as
one of several excuses for drinking. Now that they no longer drink,
they find that they can actually accomplish more than they used to.
Sobriety has proved no hindrance to their ability to win friends and
influence people who might contribute to their economic success.
This does not mean that
all A.A.s suddenly avoid their friends or business associates who
drink. If a friend wants a cocktail or two before lunch, the A.A.
will usually take a soft drink, coffee, or one of the popular juices.
If the A.A. is invited to a cocktail party being given for business
reasons, there will generally be no hesitation about attending. The
alcoholic knows from experience that most of the other guests are
concerned with their own drinks, and are not likely to care particularly
what anyone else happens to be drinking.
While beginning to take
pride in the quality and quantity of work on the job, the newcomer
to A.A. is likely to find that the payoff in most lines of business
is still based on performance. This was not always apparent in the
drinking days. The alcoholic may then have been convinced that charm,
ingenuity, and conviviality were the chief keys to business success.
While these qualities are undoubtedly helpful to the person who drinks
in a controlled manner, they are not enough for the alcoholic, if
only because the latter, while drinking, is inclined to assign to
them far more importance than they deserve.
- Will A.A. work for the person who has really 'hit bottom'?
The record shows that A.A.
will work for almost anyone who really wants to stop drinking, no
matter what the person's economic or social background may be. A.A.
today includes among its members many who have been on skid row, in
jails, and in other public institutions.
The down-and-outer is at
no disadvantage in coming to A.A. His or her basic problem, the thing
that has made life unmanageable, is identical with the central problem
of every other member of A.A. The worth of a member in A.A. is not
judged on the basis of the clothes worn, the handling of language,
or the size (or existence) of the bank balance. The only thing that
counts in A.A. is whether or not the newcomer really wants to stop
drinking. If the desire is there, the person will be welcomed. Chances
are, the most rugged drinking story the new member could tell will
be topped by an amazing number of people in the group, with similar
backgrounds and experiences.
- Do alcoholics who are already sober ever join A.A.?
Most men and women turn
to A.A. when they hit the low point in their drinking careers. But
this is not always the case. A number of persons have joined the Fellowship
long after they have had what they hoped was their last drink. One
person, recognizing that alcohol could not be controlled, had been
dry for six or seven years before becoming a member. Self-enforced
sobriety had not been a happy experience. Rising tension and a series
of upsets over minor problems of daily living were about to lead to
further experiments with alcohol, when a friend suggested that A.A.
should be investigated. Since then, this person has been a member
for many years, and says there is no comparison between the happy
sobriety of today and the self-pitying sobriety of yesterday.
Others report similar experiences.
While they know that it is possible to stay grimly sober for considerable
periods of time, they say that it is much easier for them to enjoy
and strengthen their sobriety when they meet and work with other alcoholics
in A.A. Like most members of the human race, they see little point
in deliberately doing things the hard way. Given the choice of sobriety
with or without A.A., they deliberately choose A.A.
- Why is A.A. interested in problem drinkers?
Members of A.A. have a
selfish interest in offering a helping hand to other alcoholics who
have not yet achieved sobriety. First, they know from experience that
this type of activity, usually referred to as "Twelfth Step work,"
helps them to stay sober. Their lives now have a great and compelling
interest. Very likely, reminders of their own previous experience
with alcohol help them to avoid the overconfidence that could lead
to a relapse. Whatever the explanation, A.A.s who give freely of their
time and effort to help other alcoholics seldom have trouble preserving
their own sobriety.
A.A.s are anxious to help
problem drinkers for a second reason: It gives them an opportunity
to square their debt to those who helped them. It is the only practical
way in which the individual's debt to A.A. can ever be repaid. The
A.A. member knows that sobriety cannot be bought and that there is
no long-term lease on it. The A.A. does know, however, that a new
way of life without alcohol may be had simply for the asking, if it
is honestly wanted and willingly shared with those who follow.
Traditionally, A.A. never
"recruits" members, never urges that anyone should become
a member, and never solicits or accepts outside funds.
The Fellowship of A.A.
If the newcomer is satisfied
that he or she is an alcoholic and that A.A. may be able to help,
then a number of specific questions about the nature, structure, and
history of the movement itself usually come up. Here are some of the
most common ones.
- What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
There are two practical ways to describe A.A. The first is the
familiar description of purposes and objectives that appears earlier:
is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength
and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem
and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for
membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees
for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization
or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither
endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober
and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."
The "common problem"
is alcoholism. The men and women who consider themselves members of
A.A. are, and always will be, alcoholics, even though they may have
other addictions. They have finally recognized that they are no longer
able to handle alcohol in any form; they now stay away from it completely.
The important thing is that they do not try to deal with the problem
single-handedly. They bring the problem out into the open with other
alcoholics. This sharing of "experience, strength and hope"
seems to be the key element that makes it possible for them to live
without alcohol and, in most cases, without even wanting to drink.
The second way to describe
Alcoholics Anonymous is to outline the structure of the Society. Numerically,
A.A. consists of more than 2,000,000 men and women, in 150 countries.
These people meet in local groups that range in size from a handful
of ex-drinkers in some localities to many hundreds in larger communities.
In the populous metropolitan
areas, there may be scores of neighborhood groups, each holding its
own regular meetings. Many A.A. meetings are open to the public; some
groups also hold "closed meetings," where members are encouraged
to discuss problems that might not be fully appreciated by nonalcoholics.
The local group is the
core of the A.A. Fellowship. Its open meetings welcome alcoholics
and their families in an atmosphere of friendliness and helpfulness.
There are now more than 97,000 groups throughout the world, including
hundreds in hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.
- How did A.A. get started?
Alcoholics Anonymous had
its beginnings in Akron in 1935 when a New Yorker on business there
and successfully sober for the first time in years sought out another
alcoholic. During his few months of sobriety, the New Yorker had noticed
that his desire to drink lessened when he tried to help other drunks
to get sober. In Akron, he was directed to a local doctor with a drinking
problem. Working together, the businessman and the doctor found that
their ability to stay sober seemed closely related to the amount of
help and encouragement they were able to give other alcoholics.
For four years, the new
movement, nameless and without any organization or descriptive literature,
grew slowly. Groups were established in Akron, New York, Cleveland,
and a few other centers.
In 1939, with the publication of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, from
which the Fellowship derived its name, and as the result of the help
of a number of non-alcoholic friends, the Society began to attract national
and international attention.
A service office was opened
in New York City to handle the thousands of inquiries and requests
for literature that pour in each year.
- Are there any rules in A.A.?
The absence of rules, regulations,
or musts is one of the unique features of A.A. as a local group and
as a worldwide fellowship. There are no bylaws that say a member has
to attend a certain number of meetings within a given period.
Understandably, most groups
have an unwritten tradition that anyone who is still drinking, and
boisterous enough to disturb a meeting, may be asked to leave; the
same person will be welcomed back at any time when not likely to disrupt
a meeting. Meanwhile, members of the group will do their best to help
bring sobriety to the person if there is a sincere desire to stop
- What does membership in A.A. cost?
Membership in A.A. involves
no financial obligations of any kind. The A.A. program of recovery
from alcoholism is available to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking,
whether he or she is flat broke or the possessor of millions.
Most local groups "pass the hat" at meetings to defray the
cost of renting a meeting place and other meeting expenses, including
coffee, sandwiches, cakes, or whatever else may be served. In a large
majority of the groups, part of the money thus collected is voluntarily
contributed to A.A.'s national and international services. These group
funds are used exclusively for services designed to help new and
established groups and to spread the word of the A.A. recovery program
to "the many alcoholics who still don't know."
The important consideration
is that membership in A.A. is in no way contingent upon financial
support of the Fellowship. Many A.A. groups have, in fact, placed
strict limitations on the amount that can be contributed by any member.
A.A. is entirely self-supporting, and no outside contributions are
- Who runs A.A.?
A.A. has no officers or
executives who wield power or authority over the Fellowship. There
is no "government" in A.A. It is obvious, however, that
even in an informal organization, certain jobs have to be done. In
the local group, for example, someone has to arrange for a suitable
meeting place; meetings have to be scheduled and programmed; provision
has to be made for serving the coffee and snacks that contribute so
much to the informal comradeship of A.A. gatherings; many groups also
consider it wise to assign to someone the responsibility of keeping
in touch with the national and international development of A.A.
When a local group is first
formed, self-appointed workers may take over responsibility for these
tasks, acting informally as servants of the group. As soon as possible,
however, these responsibilities are, by election, rotated to others
in the group for limited periods of service. A typical A.A. group
may have a chairperson, a secretary, a program committee, a food committee,
a treasurer, and a general service representative who acts for the
group at regional or area meetings. Newcomers who have a reasonable
period of sobriety behind them are urged to take part in handling
At the national and international
levels, there are also specific jobs to be done. Literature has to
be written, printed, and distributed to groups and individuals who
ask for it. Inquiries from both new and established groups have to
be answered. Individual requests for information about A.A. and its
program of recovery from alcoholism have to be filled. Assistance
and information have to be provided for doctors, members of the clergy,
business people, and directors of institutions. Sound public relations
must be established and maintained in dealing with press, radio, television,
motion pictures, and other communications media.
To provide for the sound
growth of A.A., early members of the Society, together with nonalcoholic
friends, established a custodial board - now known as the General
Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. The board serves as the custodian
of A.A. Traditions and overall service, and it assumes responsibility
for the service standards of A.A.'s General Service Office at New
The link between the board
and the A.A. groups of the U.S. and Canada is the A.A. General Service
Conference. The Conference, comprising about 92 delegates from A.A.
areas, the 21 trustees on the board, General Service Office staff
members, and others, meets for several days each year. The Conference
is exclusively a consultative service agency. It has no authority
to regulate or govern the Fellowship.
Thus the answer to "Who
runs A.A.?" is that the Society is a uniquely democratic movement,
with no central government and only a minimum of formal organization.
- Is A.A. a religious society?
A.A. is not a religious
society, since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition
of membership. Although it has been endorsed and approved by many
religious leaders, it is not allied with any organization or sect.
Included in its membership are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, members
of other major religious bodies, agnostics, and atheists.
The A.A. program of recovery
from alcoholism is undeniably based on acceptance of certain spiritual
values. The individual member is free to interpret those values as
he or she thinks best, or not to think about them at all.
Most members, before turning
to A.A., had already admitted that they could not control their drinking.
Alcohol had become a power greater than themselves, and it had been
accepted on those terms. A.A. suggests that to achieve and maintain
sobriety, alcoholics need to accept and depend upon another Power
recognized as greater than themselves. Some alcoholics choose to consider
the A.A. group itself as the power greater than themselves; for many
others, this Power is God — as they, individually, understand
Him; still others rely upon entirely different concepts of a Higher
Some alcoholics, when they
first turn to A.A., have definite reservations about accepting any
concept of a Power greater than themselves. Experience shows that,
if they will keep an open mind on the subject and keep coming to A.A.
meetings, they are not likely to have too difficult a time in working
out an acceptable solution to this distinctly personal problem.
- Is A.A. a temperance movement?
No. A.A. has no relation
to temperance movements. A.A. "neither endorses nor opposes any
causes." This phrase, from the widely accepted outline of the
purpose of the Society, naturally applies to the question of so-called
temperance movements. The alcoholic who has become sober and is attempting
to follow the A.A. recovery program has an attitude toward alcohol
that might be likened to the attitude of a hayfever sufferer toward
While many A.A.s appreciate
that alcohol may be all right for most people, they know it to be
poison for them. The average A.A. has no desire to deprive anyone
of something that, properly handled, is a source of pleasure. The
A.A. merely acknowledges being personally unable to handle the stuff.
- Are there many women alcoholics in A.A.?
The number of women who
are finding help in A.A. for their drinking problem increases daily.
Approximately one-third of present-day members are women; among newcomers,
the proportion has been rising steadily. Like the men in the Fellowship,
they represent every conceivable social background and pattern of
The general feeling seems
to be that a woman alcoholic faces special problems. Because society
has tended to apply different standards to the behavior of women,
some women may feel that a greater stigma is attached to their uncontrolled
use of alcohol.
A.A. makes no distinctions
of this type. Whatever her age, social standing, financial status,
or education, the woman alcoholic, like her male counterpart, can
find understanding and help in A.A. Within the local group setup,
women A.A.s play the same significant roles that men do.
- Are there many young people in A.A.?
One of the most heartening
trends in the growth of A.A. is the fact that more and more young
men and women are being attracted to the program before their problem
drinking results in complete disaster. Now that the progressive nature
of alcoholism is better appreciated, these young people recognize
that, if one is an alcoholic, the best time to arrest the illness
is in its early stages.
In the first days of the
movement, it was commonly thought that the only logical candidates
for A.A. were those men and women who had lost their jobs, had hit
skid row, had completely disrupted their family fives, or had otherwise
isolated themselves from normal social relationships over a period
Today, many of the young
people turning to A.A. are in their twenties. Some are still in their
teens. The majority of them still have jobs and families. Many have
never been jailed or committed to institutions. But they have seen
the handwriting on the wall. They recognize that they are alcoholics,
and they see no point in letting alcoholism run its inevitable disastrous
course with them.
Their need for recovery
is just as compelling as that of the older men and women who had no
opportunity to turn to A.A. in their youth. Once they are in A.A.,
the young people and the oldsters are rarely conscious of their age
differentials. In A.A., both groups start a new life from the same
milestone - their last drink.
The local group meeting
is the center and heart of the A.A. Fellowship. It is, in many ways,
a unique type of gathering and one that is likely to seem strange
to the newcomer. The questions and answers that follow suggest how
the A.A. meeting functions and how the newcomer fits into the group
- How does a person join A.A.?
No one "joins"
A.A. in the usual sense of the term. No application for membership
has to be filled out. In fact, many groups do not even keep membership
records. There are no initiation fees, no dues, no assessments of
Most people become associated
with A.A. simply by attending the meetings of a particular local group.
Their introduction to A.A. may have come about in one of several ways.
Having come to the point in their drinking where they sincerely wanted
to stop, they may have gotten in touch with A.A. voluntarily. They
may have called the local A.A. office fisted in the phone book, or
they may have written to the General Service Office, Box 459, Grand
Central Station, New York, NY 10163.
Others may have been guided to a local A.A. group by a friend, relative,
doctor, or spiritual adviser.
Usually, a newcomer to
A.A. has had an opportunity to talk to one or more local members before
attending the first meeting. This provides an opportunity to learn
how A.A. has helped these people. The beginner gets facts about alcoholism
and A.A. that help to determine whether he or she is honestly prepared
to give up alcohol. The only requirement for membership is a desire
to stop drinking.
There are no membership
drives in A.A. If, after attending several meetings, the newcomer
decides A.A. is not for him or for her, no one will urge continuation
in the association. There may be suggestions about keeping an open
mind on the subject, but no one in A.A. will try to make up newcomers'
minds for them. Only the alcoholic concerned can answer the question
"Do I need Alcoholics Anonymous?"
- What is an 'open' meeting?
An open meeting of A.A.
is a group meeting that any member of the community, alcoholic or
non-alcoholic, 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 "leader" and other speakers. The leader
opens and closes the meeting and introduces each speaker. With rare
exceptions, the speakers at an open meeting are A.A. members. Each,
in turn, may review 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.
Most 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 limited
to members of the local A.A. group, or visiting members from other
groups. The purpose of the closed meeting is to give members an opportunity
to discuss particular phases of their alcoholic problem that can be
understood best only by other alcoholics.
These meetings are usually
conducted with maximum informality, and all members are encouraged
to participate in the discussions. The closed meetings are of particular
value to the newcomer, since they provide an opportunity to ask questions
that may trouble a beginner, and to get the benefit of "older"
members' experience with the recovery program.
- 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*. Newcomers, in particular, are invited to bring wives,
husbands, or friends to these meetings, since their understanding
of the recovery program may be an important factor in helping the
alcoholic to achieve and maintain sobriety. Many wives and husbands
attend as frequently as their spouses and take an active part in the
social activities of the local group.
(It will be recalled that "closed" meetings are traditionally limited to alcoholics.)
* Consult the group for local custom.
- How often do A.A. members have to attend meetings?
Abraham Lincoln was once
asked how long a man's legs should be. The classic answer was: "Long
enough to reach the ground."
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. Most members arrange to
attend at least one meeting a week. They feel that is enough to satisfy
their personal need for contact with the program through a local group.
Others attend a meeting nearly every night, in areas where such opportunities
are available. Still others may go for relatively long periods without
The friendly injunction
"Keep coming to meetings," so frequently heard by the newcomer,
is based on the experience of the great majority of A.A.s, who find
that the quality of their sobriety suffers when they stay away from
meetings for too long. Many know from experience that if they do not
come to meetings, they may get drunk and that if they are regular
in attendance, they seem to have no trouble staying sober.
seem to benefit from exposure to a relatively large number of meetings
(or other A.A. contacts) during their first weeks and months in a
group. By multiplying their opportunities to meet and hear other A.A.s
whose drinking experience parallels their own, they seem to be able
to strengthen their own understanding of the program and what it can
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. So long as attendance at meetings helps the alcoholic
to maintain sobriety, and to have fun at the same time, it seems to
be good sense to be guided by the experience of those who "keep
coming to meetings."
* Consult the group for local custom.
- Do A.A.s have to attend meetings for the rest of their lives?
Not necessarily, but — as one member has suggested — "Most of us want to, and
some of us may need to."
Most alcoholics don't like
to be told that they have to do anything for any extended period of
time. At first glance, the prospect of having to attend A.A. meetings
for all the years of the foreseeable future may seem a heavy load.
The answer, again, is that
no one has to do anything in A.A. There is always a choice between
doing and not doing a thing — including the crucial choice of
whether or not to seek sobriety through A.A.
The primary reason an alcoholic
has for attending meetings of an A.A. group is to get help in staying
sober today — not tomorrow or next week or ten years from now.
Today, the immediate present, is the only period in fife that the
A.A. can do something about. A.A.s do not worry about tomorrow, or
about "the rest of their lives." The important thing for
them is to maintain their sobriety now. They will take care of the
future when it arrives.
So the A.A. who wants to
do everything possible to insure sobriety today will probably keep
going to meetings. But attendance will always be on the basis of taking
care of present sobriety. As long as the approach to A.A. is on this
basis, no activity, including attendance at meetings, can ever resemble
a long-term obligation.
- How will I be able to find the time for A.A. meetings, work with
other alcoholics, and other A.A. activities?
During our drinking days,
most of us somehow managed to minimize the importance of time when
there was alcohol to be consumed. Yet the newcomer to A.A. is occasionally
dismayed to learn that sobriety will make some demands on time, too.
If the beginner is a typical alcoholic, there will be an urge to make
up "lost time" in a hurry — to work diligently at
a job, to indulge in the pleasures of a homelife too long neglected,
to devote time to church or civic affairs. What else is sobriety for,
the new member may ask, but to lead a full, normal life, great chunks
of it at a time?
A.A., however, is not something
that can be taken like a pill. The experience of those who have been
successful in the recovery program is worth considering. Almost without
exception, the men and women who find their sobriety most satisfying
are those who attend meetings regularly, never hesitate to work with
other alcoholics seeking help, and take more than a casual interest
in the other activities of their groups. They are men and women who
recall realistically and honestly the aimless hours spent in bars,
the days lost from work, the decreased efficiency, and the remorse
that accompanied hangovers on the morning after.
Balanced against such memories
as these, the few hours spent in underwriting and strengthening their
sobriety add up to a small price indeed
- Can newcomers join A.A. outside their own community?
This question is sometimes
raised by persons who seem to have perfectly valid reasons for not
wanting to risk identification as alcoholics by any of their neighbors.
They may, for example, have employers who are totally unfamiliar with
the A.A. program and potentially hostile to anyone who admits the
existence of a drinking problem. They may wish desperately to be associated
with A.A. as a means of gaining and maintaining sobriety. But they
may hesitate to turn to a group in their own community.
The answer to the question
is that a person is free to join an A.A. group anywhere he or she
may choose. Obviously, it is more convenient to join the nearest group.
It may also be the most straightforward approach to the individual's
problem. The person who turns to A.A. for help is usually, but not
always, pretty well identified as a drunk. Inevitably, the good news
of this person's sobriety is bound to spread, too. Few employers or
neighbors are likely to resent the source of their worker's or friend's
continued sobriety, whether it centers in a local A.A. group or one
located fifty miles away.
Few people these days are
fired from their jobs or ostracized socially because they are sober.
If the experience of many thousands of A.A.s is a reliable guide,
the best approach for the newcomer is to seek help in the nearest
group before beginning to worry about the reactions of others.
- If I come into A.A., won't I miss a lot of friends and a lot of fun?
The best answer to this
is the experience of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who
have already come into A.A. In general, their attitude is that they
did not enjoy real friendships or real fun until they joined A.A.
Their point of view on both has changed.
Many alcoholics discover
that their best friends are delighted to see them face up to the fact
that they cannot handle alcohol. No one wants to see a friend continue
Naturally, it is important to distinguish between friendships and
casual barroom acquaintanceships. The alcoholic is likely to have
many acquaintances whose conviviality may be missed for a while. But
their place will be taken by the hundreds of A.A.s the newcomer will
meet - men and women who offer understanding acceptance, and help
in sustaining sobriety at all times.
Few members of A.A. would
trade the fun that comes with sobriety for what seemed to be fun while
they were drinking.
The Recovery Program
Upon attending only a few
meetings, the newcomer is sure to hear references to such things as
"the Twelve Steps, "the Twelve Traditions, " "slips,
" "the Big Book, and other expressions characteristic of
A.A. The following Paragraphs describe these factors and suggest why
they are mentioned frequently by A.A. speakers.
- What are the 'Twelve Steps'?
The "Twelve Steps"
are the core of the A.A. program of personal recovery from alcoholism.
They are not abstract theories; they are based on the trial-and-error
experience of early members of A.A. They describe the attitudes and
activities that these early members believe were important in helping
them to achieve sobriety. Acceptance of the "Twelve Steps"
is not mandatory in any sense.
Experience suggests, however,
that members who make an earnest effort to follow these Steps and
to apply them in daily living seem to get far more out of A.A. than
do those members who seem to regard the Steps casually. It has been
said that it is virtually impossible to follow all the Steps literally,
day in and day out. While this may be true, in the sense that the
Twelve Steps represent an approach to living that is totally new for
most alcoholics, many A.A. members feel that the Steps are a practical
necessity if they are to maintain their sobriety.
Here is the text of the
Twelve Steps, which first appeared in Alcoholics Anonymous, the A.A.
book of experience:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
- What are the 'Twelve Traditions'?
The "Twelve Traditions"
of A.A. are suggested principles to insure the survival and growth
of the thousands of groups that make up the Fellowship. They are based
on the experience of the groups themselves during the critical early
years of the movement.
The Traditions are important
to both oldtimers and newcomers as reminders of the true foundations
of A.A. as a society of men and women whose primary concern is to
maintain their own sobriety and help others to achieve sobriety:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
- For our group purpose there is one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
- What are 'slips'?
Occasionally a man or women
who has been sober through A.A. will get drunk. In A.A. a relapse
of this type is commonly known as a "slip." It may occur
during the first few weeks or months of sobriety or after the alcoholic
has been dry a number of years.
Nearly all A.A.s who have
been through this experience say that slips can be traced to specific
causes. They deliberately forgot that they had admitted they were
alcoholics and got overconfident about their ability to handle alcohol.
Or they stayed away from A.A. meetings or from informal association
with other A.A.s. Or they let themselves become too involved with
business or social affairs to remember the importance of being sober.
Or they let themselves become tired and were caught with their mental
and emotional defenses down.
In other words, most "slips" don't just happen.
- Does A.A. have a basic 'textbook'?
The Fellowship has four books that are generally accepted as "textbooks." The first
is Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as "the Big Book," originally
published in 1939, revised in 1955 and 1976. It records the personal
stories of 42 representative problem drinkers who achieved stable
sobriety for the first time through A.A. It also records the suggested
steps and principles that early members believed were responsible
for their ability to overcome the compulsion to drink.
The second book is Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, published in 1953. It is an interpretation,
by Bill W., a co-founder, of the principles that have thus far assured
the continuing survival of individuals and groups within A.A.
A third book, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, published in 1957, is a brief history of the
first two decades of the Fellowship.
The fourth is As Bill Sees (formerly titled The A.A. Way of Life,
a reader by Bill). This is a selection of Bill W.'s writings.
These books may be purchased
through local A.A. groups or ordered direct from Alcoholics Anonymous,
Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163.
- What is 'the 24-hour program'?
"The 24-hour program"
is a phrase used to describe a basic A.A. approach to the problem
of staying sober. A.A.s never swear off alcohol for life, never take
pledges committing themselves not to take a drink "tomorrow."
By the time they turned to A.A. for help, they had discovered that,
no matter how sincere they may have been in promising themselves to
abstain from alcohol "in the future," somehow they forgot
the pledge and got drunk. The compulsion to drink proved more powerful
than the best intentions not to drink.
The A.A. member recognizes
that the biggest problem is to stay sober now! The current 24 hours
is the only period the A.A. can do anything about as far as drinking
is concerned. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow never comes. "But today,"
the A.A. says, "today, I will not take a drink. I may be tempted
to take a drink tomorrow - and perhaps I will. But tomorrow is something
to worry about when it comes. My big problem is not to take a drink
during this 24 hours.
Along with the 24-hour
program, A.A. emphasizes the importance of three slogans that have
probably been heard many times by the newcomer before joining A.A.
These slogans are: "Easy Does It," "Live and Let Live,"
and "First Things First." By making these slogans a basic
part of the attitude toward problems of daily living, the average
A.A. is usually helped substantially in the attempt to live successfully
- What is the A.A. Grapevine?
The Grapevine is a monthly
pocket-size magazine published for members and friends who seek further
sharing of A.A. experience. The only international journal of the
Society, the Grapevine is edited by a staff made up entirely of A.A.s.
Single copies of the magazine are usually available each month at meetings of
local groups, but most readers prefer to receive their copies on a regular
Click here for subscription information.
- Why doesn't A.A. seem to work for some people?
The answer is that A.A.
will work only for those who admit that they are alcoholics, who honestly
want to stop drinking — and who are able to keep those facts
uppermost in their minds at all times.
A.A. usually will not work
for the man or woman who has reservations about whether or not he
or she is an alcoholic, or who clings to the hope of being able to
drink normally again.
Most medical authorities
say no one who is an alcoholic can ever drink normally again. The
alcoholic must admit and accept this cardinal fact. Coupled with this
admission and acceptance must be the desire to stop drinking.
After they have been sober
a while in A.A., some people tend to forget that they are alcoholics,
with all that this diagnosis implies. Their sobriety makes them overconfident,
and they decide to experiment with alcohol again. The results of such
experiments are, for the alcoholic, completely predictable. Their
drinking invariably becomes progressively worse.
A.A. has but one primary purpose, although it may indirectly be responsible for other benefits.
The following are questions that are occasionally asked by newcomers
to the Fellowship.
- Will A.A. help me financially?
Many alcoholics, by the
time they turn to A.A. for help with their drinking problems, have
also accumulated substantial financial problems. Not unnaturally,
some may cherish the hope that A.A. may in some way be able to help
them with more pressing financial obligations.
Very early in A.A. experience
as a society, it was discovered that money or the lack of it had nothing
to do with the newcomer's ability to achieve sobriety and work his
or her way out of the many problems that had been complicated by excessive
use of alcohol.
The absence of money —
even with a heavy burden of debts — seemed to prove no hindrance
to the alcoholic who honestly and sincerely wanted to face up to the
realities of a life without alcohol. Once the big problem of alcohol
had been cleared away, the other problems, including those related
to finances, seemed to work out, too. Some A.A.s have made sensational
financial comebacks in relatively brief periods. For others, the road
has been hard and long. The basic answer to this question is that
A.A. exists for just one purpose, and that purpose is in no way related
to material prosperity or the lack thereof.
There is nothing to prevent
any member of a group from staking a newcomer to a meal, a suit of
clothes, or even a cash loan. That is a matter for individual decision
and discretion. It would, however, be misleading if an alcoholic gets
the impression that A.A. is any sort of moneyed charity organization.
- Will A.A. help me straighten out my family troubles?
Alcohol is frequently a
complicating factor in family life, magnifying petty irritations,
exposing character defects, and contributing to financial problems.
Many men and women, by the time they turn to A.A., have managed to
make a complete mess of their family lives.
Some newcomers to A.A.,
suddenly aware of their own contributions to chaos, are eager and
enthusiastic about making amends and resuming normal patterns of living
with those closest to them. Others, with or without cause, continue
to feel bitter resentments toward their families.
Almost without exception,
newcomers who are sincere in their approach to the A.A. recovery program
are successful in mending broken family lives. The bonds that reunite
the honest alcoholic with family members are often stronger than ever
before. Sometimes, of course, irreparable damage has been done, and
a totally new approach to family life has to be developed. But generally,
the story is one with a happy ending.
Experience suggests that
the alcoholic who comes to A.A. solely to keep peace in the family,
and not because of an honest desire to stop drinking, may have difficulty
achieving sobriety. The sincere desire for sobriety should come first.
Once sober, the alcoholic will find that many of the other problems
of daily living can be approached realistically and with very good
chance of success.
- Does A.A. operate hospitals or rest homes for alcoholics?
There are no "A.A. rest homes or hospitals." Traditionally, no professional services
or facilities are ever offered or performed under A.A. sponsorship.
By adhering to the tradition of avoiding services that others are
prepared to render, A.A. thus avoids any possible misunderstanding
of its primary purpose, which is to help alcoholics searching for
a way of life without alcohol.
In some areas, service
committees made up of individual A.A. members have made arrangements
with local hospitals for the admission of alcoholics who are sponsored
by A.A.s as individuals, not as representatives of the Fellowship
as a whole.
In other areas, individual
A.A.s or groups of A.A.s have established rest homes that cater primarily
to newcomers to the recovery program. Because of their special understanding
of problems confronting the alcoholic, the owners or managers of these
homes are often able to help the newcomer during the first crucial
period of sobriety. But these homes have no connection with A.A. beyond
the fact that they may be operated by persons who achieved their own
sobriety through A.A. As a movement, A.A. is never affiliated with
business enterprises of any description.
- Does A.A. sponsor any social activity for members?
Most A.A.s are sociable
people, a factor that may have been partially responsible for their
becoming alcoholics in the first place. As a consequence, meetings
of local A.A. groups tend to be lively affairs.
A.A. as a fellowship has
never developed any formal program of social activities for members,
since the sole purpose of the movement is to help alcoholics get sober.
In some areas, members, entirely on their own individual responsibility,
have opened clubrooms or other facilities for members of the local
group. These clubs are traditionally independent of A.A., and great
care is usually taken to avoid direct identification with the movement.
Even where no club exists,
it is not uncommon for local groups to arrange anniversary dinners,
picnics, parties on New Year's Eve and other special occasions, and
similar affairs. In some large cities, A.A.s meet regularly for lunch
and sponsor informal get-togethers over weekends.
- What do medical authorities think of A.A.?
Also see pamphlet: A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care Professional
From its earliest days,
A.A. has enjoyed the friendship and support of doctors who were familiar
with its program of recovery from alcoholism. Doctors, perhaps better
than any other group, are in a position to appreciate how unreliable
other approaches to the problem of alcoholism have been in the past.
A.A. has never been advanced as the only answer to the problem, but
the A.A. recovery program has worked so often, after other methods
have failed, that doctors today are frequently the most outspoken
boosters for the program in their communities.
Some measure of the medical
profession's atti tude toward A.A. was suggested in 1951 when the
American Public Health Association named Alcoholics Anonymous as one
of the recipients of the famed Lasker Awards in "formal recognition
of A.A.'s success in treating alcoholism as an illness and in blotting
out its social stigma."
A.A. is still new (or unknown) in some communities, and not all doctors
are familiar with the recovery program. But here are excerpts from
comments on A.A. by leading medical authorities:
In 1967, the American Medical
Association stated that membership in A.A. was still the most effective
means of treating alcoholism and quoted Dr. Ruth Fox, an eminent authority
on alcoholism and then medical director of the National Council on
"With its thousands of groups and its 300,000 recovered
alcoholics [now upwards of 2,000,000], A.A. has undoubtedly reached
more cases than all the rest of us together. For patients who can
and will accept it, A.A. may be the only form of therapy needed."
"I have the utmost respect for the work A.A. is doing, for its spirit,
for its essential philosophy of mutual helpfulness. I lose no opportunity
to express my endorsement publicly and privately where it is of any concern."
Karl Menninger, M.D.
"Perhaps the most effective treatment in the rehabilitation of
the alcoholic is a philosophy of living which is compatible with the
individual and his family, an absorbing faith in himself which comes
only after he has learned to understand himself, and a close association
with others whose experiences parallel his own. The physician's cooperation
with Alcoholics Anonymous is one way of obtaining these things for
Marvin A. Block, M.D. member of the
American Medical Association's Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
- What do religious leaders think of A.A.?
Also see pamphlet: Members of the Clergy ask about Alcoholics Anonymous
Probably no lay movement
of modem times has been more richly endowed than A.A. with the support
of the clergy of all the great faiths. Like the doctors, mankind's
spiritual advisers have long been troubled by the problem of alcoholism.
Many of these advisers have heard honest people make sincere pledges
to abstain from alcohol they could not control - only to see them
break those pledges within hours, days, or weeks. Sympathy, understanding,
and appeals to conscience have been of little avail to the clergy
in their attempts to help the alcoholic.
Thus it is perhaps not
surprising that A.A. - although it offers a way of life rather than
a way of formal religion - should be embraced so warmly by representatives
of many different denominations. Here is how some of them have referred
to A.A. in the past:
The Directors Bulletin, a Jesuit periodical published at St. Louis, Mo.
"Father Dowling of The Queen's Work staff had exceptional opportunity to observe the Alcoholics Anonymous movement.
He found that the
keystone of the A.A. therapy includes self-denial, humility, charity,
good example, and opportunities for a new pattern of social recreation.
All denominations are represented in the movement. Readers can be
assured that no article or book on the movement is one-tenth as convincing
as is personal contact with an individual or group of A.A.s whose
personalities and homes and businesses have been transformed from
chaos into sound achievement."
The Living Church (Episcopal)
"Basis of the technique
of Alcoholics Anonymous is the truly Christian principle that a man
cannot help himself except by helping others. The A.A. plan is described
by the members themselves as 'self-insurance.' This self-insurance
has resulted in the restoration of physical, mental, and spiritual
health and self-respect to hundreds of men and women who would be
hopelessly down-and-out without its unique but effective therapy."
- Who is responsible for the publicity about A.A.?
The A.A. tradition of public
relations has always been keyed to attraction rather than promotion.
A.A. never seeks publicity but always cooperates fully with responsible
representatives of press, radio, television, motion pictures, and
other media that seek information about the recovery program.
At national and international
levels, news of A.A. is made available by the Public Information Committee
of the General Service Board. Local committees have also been organized,
to provide the media with facts about A.A. as a resource for alcoholics
in their communities.
A.A. is deeply grateful
to all its friends who have been responsible for the recognition accorded
the movement. It is also deeply aware of the fact that the anonymity
of members, upon which the program is so dependent, has been respected
so faithfully by all media.
It should also be noted
that within A.A., at A.A. meetings and among themselves, A.A. members
are not anonymous.
A New Way of Life
A way of life cannot truly
be described; it must be lived. Descriptive literature that relies
upon broad, inspirational generalities is bound to leave many questions
unanswered and many readers not fully satisfied that they have come
upon the thing they need and seek. At the other extreme, a catalog
of the mechanics and details of a program for living can portray only
part of the value of such a program.
A.A. is a program for a
new way of life without alcohol, a program that is working successfully
for hundreds of thousands of men and women who approach it and apply
it with honesty and sincerity. It is working throughout the world
and for men and women in all stations and walks of life.
Perhaps this pamphlet has
answered the main questions, spoken and unspoken, that you may have
concerning A.A. Perhaps there are other questions that can be answered,
as those in this pamphlet have been, solely on the basis of A.A. experience
with the problem of alcoholism. If you have such questions, feel free
to get in touch with an A.A. group in or near your community. Or write
to General Service Office, Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York,
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS® is a fellowship of men and women who share
their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may
solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
• The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through
our own contributions.
• A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics,
organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy;
neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
• Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to
Copyright © by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.;
reprinted with permission