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New To A.A.?

About Alcoholics Anonymous

Only You Can Decide

“If you seem to be having trouble with your drinking, or if your drinking has reached the point where it worries you a bit, you may be interested in knowing something about Alcoholics Anonymous and the A.A. program of recovery from alcoholism.  After reading this brief outline: “This is A.A.” you may decide that A.A. has nothing to offer you.  Should this be the case, we suggest only that you keep an open mind on the subject.  Consider your drinking carefully in the light of what you may learn from these pages.  Determine, for yourself , whether or not alcohol has truly become a problem for you.  And remember that you will always be most welcome to join the hundreds of thousands of men and women in A.A. who have put their drinking problems behind them and now lead “normal” lives of constructive, day-by-day sobriety”.

“Remember that alcoholism is a progressive disease.  Take it seriously, even if you feel you are only in the early stages of the illness.  ALCOHOLISM KILLS PEOPLE.  If you are an alcoholic, and if you continue to drink, in time you will get worse”.

“A.A. does not promise to solve your life’s problems.  But we can show you how we are learning to live without drinking ‘one day at a time’.  We stay away from that ‘first drink’.  If there is no first one, there cannot be a tenth one.  And when we got rid of alcohol, we found that life became much more manageable”.

A.A. 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 nor opposes any causes.

Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety”.

Declaration of Unity

“This we owe to A.A.’s future:

To place our common welfare first;

To keep our fellowship united.

For on A.A. unity depend our lives, and the lives of those to come”.

Responsibility Declaration

“When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there, and for that I am responsible”.

Statement by Bill W. (Co-Founder of A.A.)

“Sobriety:  Freedom from alcohol through the teaching and practice of the 12 steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group”.

Above reprinted with permission of The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc

How It Works (an exerpt from the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”)

 Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thouroughly followed our path.  Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.  There are such unfortunates, they are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.  They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.  Their chances are less than average.  There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.  If you have decided you want what we have, and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.  At some of these we balked.  We thought we could find an easier, softer way.  But we could not.  With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.  Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas, and the results were nil until we let go absolutely. Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful!  Without help it is too much for us.  But there is one who has all power!  That one is God. May you find Him now. Half measures availed us nothing.  We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
  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.
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order!  I can’t go through with it.”  Do not be discouraged.  No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles.  We are not saints.  The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  The principles we have set down are guides to progress.  We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
  • (a)  That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives;
  • (b)  That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism;
  • (c) That God could and would, if He were sought.

Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

A.A.’s Twelve Traditions

  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 it’s 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 outisde 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 orgainized; 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 anonimity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonimity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

The A.A. Group

A.A. works primarily through local groups and each group is independent from one another.  These groups meet at specific locations and times in a friendly get together for the purpose of discussing the problems of alcoholism and how to overcome these problems.  These meetings provide fellowship, friendship and understanding.  A.A. groups meet in the greater Jacksonville area each day of the week (over 600 meetings weekly) at various times throughout the day.  Meetings normally last for 1 hour.  There are no dues or fees involved, but groups will normally pass the “7th Tradition” basket during the meeting for donations to help pay for rent, utilities and miscellaneous expenses.  Group  membership requires no formal application.  Just as we are members of A.A. when we say we are, so are we members of a group if we say we are.  No one is going to ask you to speak during the meeting unless you want to, and in fact listening is encouraged, especially during early recovery.  Do not be afraid to speak up if you have any questions about the A.A. program of recovery.  Remember that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcohol.  For a list of all AA meetings in the greater Jacksonville area click the ‘AA Meeting Search’ tab on the left.

Open and Closed Meetings

Open meetings are just that…open to anyone who wants to quit drinking or those with questions about the A.A. program of recovery.  Family and friends can attend open meetings along with the actual or potential alcoholic providing they come to listen.  Closed meetings are for alcoholics only.  If you think you have a problem with alcohol you are welcome to attend closed meetings.

AA Sponsorship

“What does AA mean by sponsorship?  To join some organizations, you must have a sponsor – a person who vouches for you, presents you as being suitable for membership.  This is definately not the case with A.A.  Anyone who has a desire to stop drinking is welcome to join us!

In A.A., sponsor and sponsored meet as equals.  Essentially, the process of sponsorship is this: An alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A.

When we first attend A.A. meetings, we may feel confused and sick and apprehensive.  Although people at meetings respond to our questions willingly, that alone isn’t enough. Many other questions occur to us between meetings; we find that we need constant, close support as we begin learning how to ‘live sober’.

So we select an A.A. member with whom we can feel comfortable, someone with whom we can talk freely and confidentially, and we ask that person to be our sponsor.

Whether you are a newcomer who is hesitant about ‘bothering’ anyone, or a member who has been around for some time trying to go it alone, sponsorship is yours for the asking.  We urge you Do not delay.   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 give it away!”

For more information on sponsorship, the A.A. World Services pamphlet “Questions & Answers On Sponsorship” may be of help: Questions & Answers On Sponsorship

Reprinted with permission of AA World Services, Inc.

A.A. IS NOT:

  – A.A. is not a religious movement

  – A.A. is not a temperance movement

  – A.A. is not a social organization

  – A.A. is not an educational agency

  – A.A. is not a “cure all”

  – A.A. is not an employment agency

A.A. DOES NOT:

   – A.A. does not solicit or accept funds from outside sources

  – A.A. does not run hospitals, rest homes, club houses or outside enterprises

  – A.A. does not prescribe treatment for alcoholics

  – A.A. does not pay for treatment for alcoholics

For more information on A.A., this link to the pamphlet “A Newcomer Asks” on the A.A. World Services web site may be helpful:  “A Newcomer Asks…”

Another pamphlet which may be of help is “This is A.A. – An Introduction to the A.A. Recovery Program” on the A.A. World Services web site : “This is A.A.”

The A.A. World Services pamphlet  Is AA For You has 12 questions you can ask yourself to help you to decide if alcohol has become a problem in your life.  Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem.

The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their their common problems.  This link will take you to the local Al-Anon web site:  Al-Anon   Their phone number is 904-350-0600.