AA Frequently Asked Questions
What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
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 achieve sobriety.
An Open Meeting
Any member of the public can attend an Open Meeting. You do not have to be an alcoholic, nor have a drinking problem to attend an open meeting.
The Open Meeting has a chairperson, who conducts the progress of the meeting. Those who take part in the meeting have been chosen beforehand, so a newcomer need not feel intimidated.
Meetings in Hamilton generally begin with a moment of silence, followed by The Serenity Prayer. The chairperson or someone s/he has chosen then reads the Preamble What is AA, qualifies briefly as an alcoholic, notes the importance of anonymity, and may mention that AA is a spiritual, as distinct from a religious, program of recovery.
Someone then reads How it Works, someone else The Twelve Traditions. After some meeting business (announcements about upcoming events, handing out "chips" to mark milestones in early sobriety), one or more people tell their story, which usually takes about 30-45 minutes. Each group is autonomous and may order the events in any way the group's conscience sees fit. However, most open meetings generally last about an hour and a half, although attendees are encouraged to stick around, have coffee and talk to people for a while afterward.
Open meetings are a good place to get literature about AA, the city-wide list of meetings, and hard-cover publications such as "Alcoholics Anonymous" (The Big Book) and "12 Steps and 12 Traditions" (the "12 and 12").
A Closed Meeting
Closed meetings are exclusively for those who admit they are alcoholics; and for those who think they may have a drinking problem.
Closed meetings may take many forms. The most common are 12-Step discussion meetings where attendees discuss the Steps, ask questions, or share how they've used each Step in their daily lives and what results they got when they did. Many "Step discussion" meetings will have multiple rooms with a "Step 1-2-3" room appropriate for beginners; and another rotating step room. Many groups read each step before discussing it and it's often useful to have a copy of the book, "12 Steps and 12 Traditions," available from many open meeting library tables throughout the city.
Other closed meeting formats include "Open Topic" discussions, where attendees may discuss the Steps, or raise any topic they feel may affect their sobriety. Here, too, the meeting is a mixture of questions and sharing of experiences.
"Big Book Study" discussion meetings focus on the contents of the book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" from which the organization takes its name. Groups normally have additional copies of the Big Book for participants to use during the meeting.
Where can I find a meeting?
To find a meeting please click on this link.
A Brief History of Alcoholics Anonymous
||November 26, Bill Wilson born in East Dorset, Vermont
||January 24: Bill marries Lois Burnham
December 11: Bill's last drink. Released from his obsession, begins thinking about a movement of recovered alcoholics who would help others. Bill and Lois start attending Oxford Group meetings
||May: in Akron, Bill and Dr. Bob meet; June 10: Dr. Bob's last drink
||"Alcoholics Anonymous" -the Big Book- is published
||Bill and Lois make first cross-country tour of the groups
July: First International A.A. Convention. The Traditions are accepted. Nov. 16: Dr. Bob dies
July: at the St. Louis Convention, Bill gives A.A. its "formal release into maturity"
||January 24: Bill dies
AA and Alcoholism
AA is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of individual alcoholics who turn to the Fellowship for help. Alcoholics Anonymous does not engage in the fields of alcoholism research, medical or psychiatric treatment, education, or advocacy in any form, although members may participate in such activities as individuals.
The Fellowship has adopted a policy of "cooperation but not affiliation" with other organizations concerned with the problem of alcoholism.
Traditionally, Alcoholics Anonymous does not accept or seek financial support from outside sources, and members preserve personal anonymity in print and broadcast media and otherwise at the public level.
AA experience has always been made available freely to all who sought it - business people, spiritual leaders, civic groups, law enforcement officers, health and welfare personnel, educators, representatives of military establishments, institutional authorities, representatives of organized labour, and many others. But A.A. never endorses, supports, becomes affiliated with, or expresses an opinion on the programs of others in the field of alcoholism, since such actions would be beyond the scope of the Fellowship's primary purpose.
In the United States and Canada, AA's relations with professional groups, agencies, facilities, and individuals involved with the problems of alcoholism are handled by the trustees' Committee on Cooperation with the Professional Community. Mutual understanding and cooperation between AA members and others who work with alcoholics are the concerns of this standing committee of the General Service Board.
If you'd like more information on AA for a school project or you'd like to arrange to have an AA member speak to your organization, our Public Information Committee will be glad to help. We also have a local Cooperation with the Professional Community Committee that will be glad to help if you're a member of the professional community seeking information.
The 12 Steps (How it Works)
For information on How it Works or The 12 Steps please click on this link.
The 12 Traditions
Information on The 12 Traditions can be found here.