Note to the Individual Who Wants to Get Sober 

If you feel scared, we've been there, too, and understand. You are not alone. In very early sobriety, many of us found it helpful to attend a wide variety of AA meetings, especially Beginners' meetings, and to carry a Meeting Schedule at all times. There are many helpful tips about staying sober in a little AA book titled Living Sober. It's also been our experience to deploy antidotes to "HALT", an acronym that stands for Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. These circumstances tend to make the alcoholic  vulnerable to drinking. Please also remember that "If you don't take that first drink, you can't get drunk." The main text of Alcoholics Anonymous describes "How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism." This book is available in over 60 languages. It is also available on tape or in braille at

For Anyone New or Anyone Referring People to A.A.

The primary purpose of A.A. is to carry its message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help. Almost every alcoholism treatment tries to help the alcoholic maintain sobriety. Regardless of the road we follow, we all head for the same destination, recovery of the alcoholic person. Together, we can do what none of us could accomplish alone. We can serve as a source of personal experience and be an ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.

Singleness of Purpose and Problems Other Than Alcohol

Some professionals refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A. meetings, but only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings.

A renowned psychiatrist, who served as a nonalcoholic trustee of the A.A. General Service Board, made the following statement: “Singleness of purpose is essential to the effective treatment of alcoholism. The reason for such exaggerated focus is to overcome denial. The denial associated with alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful and affects the patient, helper, and the community. Unless alcoholism is kept relentlessly in the foreground, other issues will usurp everybody’s attention.”

What Does A.A. Do?

A.A. 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 A.A. from any source.

The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.  This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings.

Open speaker meetings — open to alcoholics and nonalcoholics. (Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way to learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A. members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Open discussion meetings — one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on A.A. recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. (Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone who may have a drinking problem.)
Closed discussion meetings — conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only.
Step meetings (usually closed) — discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.

A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.

A.A. members may be asked to conduct the informational meetings about A.A. as a part of 

A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety Action Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings.

What A.A. Does Not Do

  • 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, 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-A.A. sources
  • Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.

Recovery, Unity, Service - View AA's Legacy of Service

These are the Three Legacies given to the whole membership of A.A. by its founders and their fellow oldtimers. When this heritage was announced, at the St. Louis Convention in 1955, celebrating A.A.’s 20th birthday, Doctor Bob was already gone. But Bill W. spoke for him and the other pioneers, as well as for himself, in turning over to all of us the responsibility for A.A.’s continuation and growth.