Frequently Asked Questions about AA
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 AA frequently ask questions that apply to their own experience, their own fears, and their own hopes for a better life.
1. How Can I tell if I am really an Alcoholic?
2. Can an alcoholic ever drink 'normally" again?
3. Can't an AA member drink even beer?
4. I can stay sober quite a while between binges; how can I tell whether I need AA?
5. Others say I am not an alcoholic. But my drinking seems to be getting worse. Should I join AA?
6. Can a person achieve sobriety all alone by reading AA literature?
7. Won't everyone know I am an alcoholic if I come into AA?
8. How can I get along in business, where I have to make a lot of social contacts, if I don't drink?
9. Will AA work for the person who has really 'hit bottom'?
10. Do alcoholics who are already sober ever join AA?
11. Why is AA interested in problem drinkers?
The Fellowship of AA
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.
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 picture.
21. How does a person join AA?
22. What is an 'open' meeting?
23. What is a 'closed' meeting?
24. May I bring relatives or friends to an AA meeting?
25. How often do AA members have to attend meetings?
26. Do AAs have to attend meetings for the rest of their lives?
27. How will I be find the time for AA meetings, work with other alcoholics and other AA activities?
28. What else is sobriety for, you may ask but to lead a full, normal life, chunks of it at a time?
29. Can newcomers join AA outside their own community?
30. If I come into AA, won't I miss a lot of friends and a lot of fun?
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.
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.