Anonymity is a core
value of AA. A specific member can tell anyone else they
are a member of AA, but they shouldn't tell anyone else
they know is in AA. If one does so, it's called "breaking
This is the same reason
when a member introduces themselves as, for example, "Hi,
I'm Mary, I'm an alcoholic." People are not encouraged
to use their last names. One for anonymity, but also to
strength the bonds of being common group members meeting
for a common cause.
It is fine if someone
doesn't care who knows they are in AA, but they don't
have the right to make that decision for others.
Remember, being an
"alcoholic" can carry a heavy stigma with it.
One can be unfairly judged by this label. The good news
is the AA member in good standing is doing something about
their alcoholism, but this doesn't mean outside people
your "experience, strength and hope."
AA is not treatment.
Members are merely asked to come to a meeting and share
what it's like for them in recovery. For instance, if
a person is having a specific job problem, other members
aren't there to give specific advice that person's situation,
but rather share their experiences with job issues as
a recovering person. The bottom line is if the person
works the AA program, their situation will get better.
the common denominator, addiction.
If you go to an AA
meeting, you may be struck by all the different types
of people are in attendance. You may ask yourself how
does such a diverse group of people able to meet for an
hour and get along so well. It's the common denominator
of having a common cause and following a program outside
of themselves to guide them.
AA members also will
lose their feelings of being terminally unique. By sharing
with others, listening to others, they realize everyone
has a story, everyone has had problems, they are no better
or worse, but there is a solution for everyone.
Types of Meetings
Open: anyone can attend.
Closed: need to identify oneself
as an alcoholic or have a drinking problem" during
Speaker: "What is was it like. How I got sober. What's
it like today."
Big Book: members take turns reading parts of a chapter
of the Big Book, then discuss chapter in terms of their
Step Meeting: members take turns reading the 12X12 Book
(Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions), then discuss in
terms of their experience.
At first, someone may be encouraged to try
various meetings for the experience, but there comes a
time when the new member needs to settle down and make
a commitment. In this case, it's choosing a "home
If one just floats around from one AA meeting
to another, it's easy to hide and not get the attention
one needs to be receiving. A home group
keeps a list of names and phone numbers of its members.
If a member missing a few consecutive meetings, home group
members will notice and follow up to see if everything
is alright. Accountability. Responsibility. All positive
traits for someone wanting to remain sober.
Think about it. If someone just shows up,
attends a meeting, they are already helping someone else
just by being there. This is how AA works.
The person who is leading
a meeting isn't the leader of AA, or more important than
any other group member. They are just a group member providing
service. They are in charge of facilitating that particular
meeting, that's all. Another level of service.
Some meetings have the
same chairperson for a month, some ask before a meeting
who would like to lead the meeting. There is a folder
which contains a list of what happens, when, during the
meeting, plus copies of the readings for the meeting.
Does someone have to chair
if asked? No. Remember, it's all on a volunteer basis.
At the same an indication of how sober a person is becoming
is how much they are willing to participate in AA activities.
"When the hand reaches out."
There is no better way to get to know group
members, feel part of a group than doing things for the
group. Prepare the coffee before the meeting, come early
to meetings to greet people. Hold a position in a group
like treasurer, literature provider, etc.
One's problems always become less when doing
How it Works
Rarely have we seen a person
fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do
not recover are people who will not completely give themselves
to this simple program, usually men and women who are
constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.
There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they
seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable
of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands
rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.
There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and
mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they
have the capacity to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to
be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you
have decided you want what we have and are willing to
go to any length to get it- then you are ready to take
At some of these we balked.
We thought we could find an easier softer way. But we
could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we
beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.
Some of have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the
result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol- cunning, baffling,
powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there
is One who has all power- that one is God. May you find
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning
point. We asked His protection and care with complete
Here are the steps we took,
which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our
lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves
could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over
to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a fearless and thorough moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human
being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings 8. Made
a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing
to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible,
except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were
wrong promptly admitted it.
11. 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.
12. 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 or affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, "What
an order I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged.
No one among us has been able to maintain anything like
perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints.
The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual
lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress.
We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic,
and out personal adventures before and after make clear
three personal ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our
(c) That God could and would if He were sought
The AA Promises
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,
we will be amazed before we are half way through.
1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door
3. We will comprehend the word serenity.
4. We will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will
see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest
in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity
will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations
which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us
what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are
being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes
slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
White: a desire to stop drinking.
Red: 3 Months.
Yellow: 6 Months.
Green: 9 Months.
Blue: A year or multiple years.
AA acknowledges that recovery
is a process of events. One doesn't just stop drinking
and they are "cured". The also acknowledge that
the first year of sobriety can be the most difficult to
achieve, so chips representing incremental times of sobriety
are awarded at meetings. It is important to note that
a member not only does a member pick up a chip for themselves,
but also to let others know in the program, especially
new comers, that the program is working for them.
Knowing that the first three
months of not taking a drink is especially difficult,
it is also suggested that a new member attend 90 meetings
in their first 90 days. It will all become a lot clear,
quicker. Much quicker.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Post Meeting: meeting
after the meeting
Many group members will go someplace
after a meeting for coffee, a bite to eat, a time to socialize
and have fun. If one doesn't have any fun while getting
sober, make new friends, it lessens their chances to remain
This is also a good time for
a one on one time between members who were both at the
meeting. For instance, meet ones sponsor at a meeting,
then go out afterwards to talk more specifically.