Frequently asked questions

This page is intended to provide basic information on Alcoholics Anonymous. We have tried to answer the questions most frequently in the minds of people who are new to A.A. - the questions in our minds when we first approached the fellowship.

Am I an alcoholic?

If you repeatedly drink more than you intend or want to, if you get into trouble, or if you have memory lapses when you drink, you may be an alcoholic. It's a matter of whether your drinking is stopping you from leading the sort of life you want to lead. If you want to control your drinking but can't, then alcoholism is a definite possibility. But as far as A.A. is concerned, whether you're an alcoholic is for you to decide. It's not up to anyone in A.A. to tell you whether you are or not.

What can I do if I am worried about my drinking?

We would recommend you come to an A.A. meeting or at least contact someone in A.A. and talk them about your problem.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

We are a Fellowship of men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking and have found ourselves in various kinds of trouble as a result of drinking. We attempt-most of us successfully-to create a satisfying way of life without alcohol. For this we find we need the help and support of other alcoholics in A.A..

If I go to an A.A. meeting, does that commit me to anything?

No. A.A. does not keep membership files or attendance records. You do not have to reveal anything about yourself. No one will bother you if you don't want to come back.

What happens if I meet people I know?

They will be there for the same reason you are. A.A. does not disclose your identity even to outsiders or even others inside our fellowship. You retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is one of the reasons we call ourselves Alcoholics Anonymous.

What happens at an A.A. meeting?

An A.A. meeting may take one of several forms, but at any meeting you will find alcoholics talking about what drinking did to their lives and personalities, what actions they took to help themselves, and how they are living their lives today.

How does going to a meeting help me with my drinking problem?

We in A.A. know what it is like to be addicted to alcohol and to be unable to keep promises made to others and ourselves that we will stop drinking. We are not professional therapists. Our only qualification for helping others to recover from alcoholism is that we have stopped drinking ourselves. We have the ability to help problem drinkers because we are living proof that recovery is possible - we've done it.

Why do A.A.s keep going to meetings after they are cured?

We in A.A. believe there is no such thing as a cure for alcoholism. We can never return to normal drinking, and our ability to stay away from alcohol depends on maintaining our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This we can achieve by going to meetings regularly and putting into practice what we learn there. In addition, we find it helps us to stay sober if we help other alcoholics.

How do I join A.A.?

You are an A.A. member if and when you say you are. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking (and many of us were not very wholehearted about that when we first approached A.A.).

How much does A.A. membership cost?

There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership. An A.A. group will usually have a collection during the meeting to cover expenses, such as rent, coffee etc. Members are free to contribute as much or as little as they wish.

Is A.A. a religious organization?

No. Nor is it affiliated with any religious or other organization.

There's a lot of talk about God, though, isn't there?

The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual will power, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the A.A. group, still others don't believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief.

Can I bring a family member or friend to an A.A. meeting?

Family members or close friends are welcome at "open" A.A. meetings. Discuss this with your local contact.

What advice do you give new members?

In our experience, the people who recover in A.A. are those who:
  • attend A.A. meetings regularly
  • seek out the people in A.A. they like who have successfully stayed sober for some time
  • put into practice the simple principles of the A.A. program of recovery
  • stay away from the first drink one day at a time.

Is there more literature available about A.A.?

Yes, there are many books and pamphlets about A.A. Nearly all A.A. meetings have them available. Usually, pamphlets are given away free and books are sold at a modest cost.

Reprinted with permission of A.A. World Services Inc.
Alcoholics Anonymous at Lakeside