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AA Preamble
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. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses or opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Reprinted with permission of The AA Grapevine, Inc.  
What Is AA?

What is A. A.? Alcoholics Anonymous is a voluntary, worldwide fellowship of men and women from all walks of life who meet together to attain and maintain sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A. A. membership.

Current Membership It is estimated as of 1 January 2011 that there are approximately 107,976 groups and more than 2,057,672 members in 150 countries.

Relations with Outside Agencies The Fellowship has adopted a policy of “Cooperation but not Affiliation” with other organizations concerned with the problem of alcoholism. We have no opinion on issues outside A.A. and neither endorse nor oppose any causes.

How A.A. Is Supported Over the years, Alcoholics Anonymous has affirmed and strengthened a tradition of being fully self-supporting and of neither seeking nor accepting contributions from nonmembers.

How A.A. Members Maintain Sobriety A.A. is a program of total abstinence. Members simply stay away from one drink, one day at a time. Sobriety is maintained through sharing experience, strength, and hope at group meetings and through the suggested Twelve Steps for recovery from alcoholism.

Why Alcoholics Anonymous is “Anonymous” Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of A.A. It disciplines the Fellowship to govern itself by principles rather than personalities. We are a society of peers. We strive to make known our program of recovery, not individuals who participate in the program. Anonymity in the public media is assurance to all A.A.’s, especially the newcomers, that their A.A. membership will not be disclosed.

Anyone May Attend A.A. Open Meetings Anyone may attend open meetings of A.A. Closed meetings are for alcoholics only (including anyone trying to determine if they are alcoholic and/or stop drinking and stay stopped.) People who do not meet the criteria for attending closed meetings can attend open meetings as observers.

How A.A. Started A.A. was started in 1935 by a New York stockbroker and an Ohio surgeon (both now deceased), who had been “hopeless” drunks. They founded A.A. in an effort to help others who suffered from the disease of alcoholism and to stay sober themselves. A.A. grew with the formation of autonomous groups, first in the United States and then around the world. How You Can

Find A.A. In Your Town Look for “Alcoholics Anonymous” in any telephone directory. In most urban areas, a central A.A. office, or “intergroup,” staffed mainly by volunteer A.A.s, will be happy to answer your questions and/or put you in touch with those who can.

What A.A. Does Not Do A.A. does not: Keep membership records or case histories…engage in or support research…join “Councils” or social agencies (although A.A. members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them)…follow up or try to control its members…make medical or psychiatric prognoses or dispense medicines or psychiatric advice…provide drying-out or nursing services or sanitariums…offer religious services…provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or other welfare or social services…provide domestic or vocational counseling…provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.

Reprinted with permission, A.A. World Services Inc.

These pages are not endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Alcoholics Anonymous®, A.A.®, Box 4-5-9, and The Big Book® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. The Grapevine® and AA Grapevine® are registered trademarks of the AA Grapevine, Inc.

Staying Sober

Staying sober

How, then, do we manage to stay sober in such an informal, loosely knit fellowship? The answer is that, once having achieved sobriety, we try to preserve it by observing and following the successful experience of those who have preceded us in A.A. Their experience provides certain “tools” and guides which we are free to accept or reject, as we may choose. Because our sobriety is the most important thing in our lives today, we think it wise to follow the patterns suggested by those who have already demonstrated that the A.A. recovery program really works.

The 24-hour plan

For example, we take no pledges, we don’t say that we will “never” drink again. Instead, we try to follow what we in A.A. call the “24-hour plan.” We concentrate on keeping sober just the current twenty-four hours. We simply try to get through one day at a time without a drink. If we feel the urge for a drink, we neither yield nor resist. We merely put off taking that particular drink until tomorrow.

We try to keep our thinking honest and realistic where alcohol is concerned. If we are tempted to drink — and the temptation usually fades after the first few months in A.A. — we ask ourselves whether the particular drink we have in mind would be worth all the consequences we have experienced from drinking in the past. We bear in mind that we are perfectly free to get drunk, if we want to, that the choice between drinking and not drinking is entirely up to us. Most important of all, we try to face up to the fact that, no matter how long we may have been dry, we will always be alcoholics — and alcoholics, as far as we know, can never again drink socially or normally.

We follow the experience of the successful “oldtimers” in another respect. We usually keep coming regularly to meetings of the local A.A. group with which we have become affiliated. There is no rule which makes such attendance compulsory. Nor can we always explain why we seem to get a lift out of hearing the personal stories and interpretations of other members. Most of us, however, feel that attendance at meetings and other informal contacts with fellow A.A.s are important factors in the maintenance of our sobriety.

Reprinted with permission, A.A. World Services Inc.

These pages are not endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Alcoholics Anonymous®, A.A.®, Box 4-5-9, and The Big Book® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. The Grapevine® and AA Grapevine® are registered trademarks of the AA Grapevine, Inc.

Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Early in our association with A.A. we heard about the “Twelve Steps” of recovery from alcoholism. We learned that these Steps represented an attempt by the first members to record their own progress from uncontrolled drinking to sobriety. We discovered that a key factor in this progress seemed to be humility, coupled with reliance upon a Power greater than ourselves. While some members prefer to call this Power “God,” we were told that this was purely a matter of personal interpretation; we could conceive of the Power in any terms we thought fit. Since alcohol had obviously been a power greater than ourselves during our drinking days, we had to admit that perhaps we could not run the whole show ourselves and that it made sense to turn elsewhere for help. As we have grown in A.A., our concept of a greater Power has usually become more mature. But it has always been our personal concept; no one has forced it upon us. Finally, we noted from the Twelfth Step and from the experience of older members, that work with other alcoholics who turned to A.A. for help was an effective way of strengthening our own sobriety. Whenever possible, we tried to do our share, always keeping in mind that the other person was the only one who could determine whether or not he or she was an alcoholic. 

We were also guided by the experience of the many A.A.s who have given new meaning to three time-worn sayings or slogans. “First Things First” is one of the slogans, reminding us that, much as we would like to try, we cannot do everything at once, that we have to remember the prior importance of sobriety in any attempt to rebuild our lives. “Easy Does It” is another old slogan with new meaning for alcoholics who are frequently guilty of working too feverishly at whatever they are doing. Experience shows that alcoholics should, and can, learn to pace themselves. “Live and Let Live” is the third slogan, a recurring suggestion that alcoholics, no matter how many years of sobriety they have, cannot afford to let themselves become intolerant of others.

A.A. books and pamphlets are also helpful. Soon after we came into A.A., most of us had an opportunity to read Alcoholics Anonymous, A.A.’s book of experience in which early members first recorded their stories and the principles which they believed had helped them to recover. Many members, sober for years, continue to refer to this and to four other books for insight and inspiration.

Because A.A. is essentially a way of life, few of us have ever been able to describe with complete accuracy just how the various elements in the recovery program contribute to our present sobriety. We do not all interpret or live the A.A. program in exactly the same way. We can all testify, however, that A.A. works for us when many other ventures into sobriety have failed. Many members who have been sober for years say that they simply accepted the program “on faith” and do not yet fully understand how A.A. works for them. Meanwhile, they keep trying to pass their faith along to others who still understand all too well the disastrous way in which alcohol works against the alcoholic.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

  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 searching and fearless 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 of character.
  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 our affairs.

Reprinted with permission, A.A. World Services Inc. These pages are not endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Alcoholics Anonymous®, A.A.®, Box 4-5-9, and The Big Book® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. The Grapevine® and AA Grapevine® are registered trademarks of the AA Grapevine, Inc.

Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

1.) Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

2.) For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

3.) The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

4.) Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

5.) Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6.) An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7.) Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8.) Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9.) A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committee directly responsible to those they serve.

10.) Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11.) Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

12.) Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.         These pages are not endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Alcoholics Anonymous®, A.A.®, Box 4-5-9, and The Big Book® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.  The Grapevine® and AA Grapevine® are registered trademarks of the AA Grapevine, Inc.  

Twelve Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous
1.) The final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.

2.) When, in 1955, the A.A. groups confirmed the permanent charter for their General Service Conference, they thereby delegated to the Conference complete authority for the active maintenance of our world services and thereby made the Conference – excepting for any change in the Twelve Traditions or in Article 12 of the Conference Charter – the actual voice and the effective conscience for our whole Society.

3.) As a traditional means of creating and maintaining a clearly defined working relation between the groups, the Conference, the A.A. General Service Board and its several service corporations, staffs, committees and executives, and of thus insuring their effective leadership, it is here suggested that we endow each of these elements of world service with a traditional “Right of Decision”.

4.) Throughout our Conference structure, we ought to maintain at all responsible levels a traditional “Right of Participation”, taking care that each classification or group of our world servants shall be allowed a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.

5.) Throughout our world service structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, thus assuring us that minority opinion will be heard and that petitions for the redress of personal grievances will be carefully considered.

6.) On behalf of A.A. as a whole, our General Service Conference has the principal responsibility for the maintenance of our world services, and it traditionally has the final decision respecting large matters of general policy and finance. But the Conference also recognizes that the chief initiative and the active responsibility in most of these matters should be exercised primarily by the Trustee members of the Conference when they act among themselves as the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.

7.) The Conference recognizes that the Charter and the Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments: that the Trustees are thereby fully empowered to manage and conduct all of the world service affairs of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is further understood that the Conference Charter itself is not a legal document: that it relies instead upon the force of tradition and the power of the A.A. purse for its final effectiveness.

8.) The Trustees of the General Service Board act in two primary capacities: (a) With respect to the larger matters of over-all policy and finance, they are the principal planners and administrators. They and their primary committees directly manage these affairs. (b) But with respect to our separately incorporated and constantly active services, the relation of the Trustees is mainly that of full stock ownership and of custodial oversight which they exercise through their ability to elect all directors of these entities.

9.) Good service leaders, together with sound and appropriate methods of choosing them, are at all levels indispensable for our future functioning and safety. The primary world service leadership once exercised by the founders of A.A. must necessarily be assumed by the Trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.

10.) Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority – the scope of such authority to be always well defined whether by tradition, by resolution, by specific job description or by appropriate charters and bylaws.

11.) While the Trustees hold final responsibility for A.A.’s world service administration, they should always have the assistance of the best possible standing committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Therefore the composition of these underlying committees and service boards, the personal qualifications of their members, the manner of their induction into service, the systems of their rotation, the way in which they are related to each other, the special rights and duties of our executives, staffs, and consultants, together with a proper basis for the financial compensation of these special workers, will always be matters for serious care and concern.

12.) General Warranties of the Conference: in all its proceedings, the General Service Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. Tradition, taking great care that the conference never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve, be its prudent financial principal; that none of the Conference Members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any others; that all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that no Conference action ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy; that, though the Conference may act for the service of Alcoholics Anonymous, it shall never perform any acts of government; and that, like the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in thought and action.

    These pages are not endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.