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.
AA is an informal society of more than 2 million recovering alcoholics throughout the world. In Australia, there are about 18,000 members. They meet in over 1,900 local meetings spread around the country. Meetings range in size from a handful in some localities to a hundred or more in larger communities.
AA is nonprofessional – it doesn't have clinics, doctors, counsellors or psychologists. All members are themselves recovering from alcoholism. There is no central authority controlling how AA groups operate. It is up to the members of each group to decide what they do. However, the AA program of recovery has proved to be so successful that almost every group follows it in very similar ways.
AA is not a religious organisation nor is it affiliated with any religious body. It welcomes members of all religions, agnostics and atheists alike. You don't have to sign up or achieve anything to be a member. You're a member of a group if you choose to be. You can come and go as you please. No one is "in charge" of a group. We work through the offer of help and suggestion only. No one can tell you what you should or shouldn't do.
AA works through members telling their stories of what we used to be like, what happened and what we are like now. The AA program, known as The Twelve Steps, provides a framework for self-examination and a road to recovery, free of alcohol.
What AA does not do
AA does not:
- 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, hospitalisation, drugs, or any medical or 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 counselling
- Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-AA sources
- Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
Singleness of purpose and problems other than alcohol
Alcoholism and drug addiction are often referred to as "substance abuse" or "chemical dependency." Alcoholics and nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to AA and encouraged to attend AA meetings. 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 in the US for heroin addicts and for several years a trustee on the US 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 Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition programs for the nonalcoholic addict by using AA methods.