About AA

“If you want to keep drinking, that’s your business. But if you want to stop… A.A. can help.”

There are many different kinds of A.A. meetings. Some include a talk by a sober member, recounting his or her personal experiences about what life was like while drinking, what happened to get them to A.A., and what life is like in sobriety. We call this sharing our “Experience, Strength and Hope.” Other kinds of meetings include reading and/or discussion of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. 

A.A. is not a religious organization, although some meetings happen to take place in churches. Some are in community centers, clubs, hospitals, or even outdoors. With over 30 meetings per week in Schuylkill and Southern Northumberland County there are many options to choose from. Try several kinds to see what what works for you.

A.A. Preamble

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people 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 nor 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 are the 12 Steps?

A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.

  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 from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 59-60, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

What are the 12 Traditions?

A.A.’s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the fellowship itself. They outline the means by which A.A. maintains its unity and relates itself to the world about it, the way it lives and grows.

  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 nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees 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.

Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 562, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

FAQ’s about A.A.

What can I expect at A.A.?

If a judge, school or employer has suggested you attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, they may believe there is evidence that you have a drinking problem. If you have an attendance card to be signed, most A.A. meeting secretaries will be happy to do so. Take a look at a current meeting directory. You’ll see the days, times, and places A.A. meetings are held. Meetings marked with an (O) are open meetings — meaning anyone can attend — while those marked with a (C) are closed meetings — only for people who have a desire to stop drinking.

Do I have to give my name?

When you go to an A.A. meeting you don’t have to give your name. Some groups will invite newcomers to introduce themselves by their first name only. At some meetings a sign-in sheet may be circulated for the chairperson to use during the meeting — no one has to sign it. All participation in A.A. meetings is voluntary.

Will I have to speak?

It’s not necessary to explain why you’re there. If you’re called on and prefer to remain silent, just say, “I’ll pass.” Anyone is free to simply sit and listen at meetings.

What about anonymity?

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of A.A.’s Traditions. Please respect this custom and treat in confidence who you see and what you hear. Likewise, you can count on others to respect your anonymity.

Is A.A. religious?

Most A.A. members have a program based upon a personal belief in a Higher Power; Alcoholics Anonymous has no religious affiliation. What you believe is up to you. Many meetings begin and end with the Serenity Prayer. Participation is optional.

What does it cost?

There are no dues or fees to attend A.A. Most members freely place money in the basket that goes around in order to pay for the group’s expenses, such as rent, coffee and literature, but there is no obligation.

Can I go to an A.A. meeting drunk?

Yes, people who have been drinking sometimes attend A.A. meetings. They are welcome to attend, but they may be asked not to speak while intoxicated, but to listen instead.

Am I an alcoholic?

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic. It’s a decision that each drinker has to make for themselves. But if, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. And A.A. can help!

What is a home group?

Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group that they call their “home group.” This is the group where they accept service responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the home group has remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship.

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor is essentially an alcoholic who has made some progress in the A.A. recovery program and shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A. We urge you to not delay in asking someone to be your sponsor. Alcoholics recovered in A.A. want to share what they have learned with other alcoholics. We know from experience that our own sobriety is greatly strengthened when we share the solution.

What is the Big Book?

Published in 1939 under the title “Alcoholics Anonymous,” the Big Book is the basic textbook outlining the program of action for recovery from alcoholism through Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition to describing the disease of alcoholism and the spiritual steps toward recovery, the Big Book contains dozens of personal stories from people who have recovered from alcoholism using the A.A. program.