WHAT IS ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (AA)?
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
WHO STARTED AA AND WHEN?
It was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson (stockbroker) and Dr. Bob Smith (surgeon) in Akron, Ohio. With other early members, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith developed AA’s Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA’s initial Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help the fellowship be stable and unified while disengaged from “outside issues” and influences.
IS IT A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION?
AA is NOT a religious organization, does not endorse or promote religion. Members are encouraged to practice spirituality and believe in a power greater than them. This includes but is not limited to any and all world religions or none. One can be agnostic and still practice the 12 Steps. In fact, the Big Book has a chapter titled, “We Agnostics.”
WHAT DOES AA DO?
Provide meeting where 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 AA. The program, set forth in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions are the official publications outlining the program.
WHAT DOES AA NOT DO?
Solicit members, engage in or sponsor research, keep attendance records or case histories, join “councils” of social agencies (although AA members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them), follow up or try to control its members, make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses, provide detox 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-AA sources, provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
WHO CAN JOIN AA?
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. So anyone who thinks they may have a drinking problem can join AA and attend meetings.
The primary purpose of AA is to carry its message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help.
For more information about AA, please visit www.AA.org.