Alcoholics Anonymous at a Glance.

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Hello everyone

This is an article about Alcoholics Anonymous A.A., which was published in the Institute of Counselling’s Journal ‘The Living Document’.

I hope you enjoy.


Most individuals have heard of A.A. It is committed to supporting recovering alcoholics.

In the following article we provide some information on A.A.: its policies, its principles, its practices and key philosophy.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a voluntary, world-wide 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 fees for A.A. membership.

A.A. members say that they are alcoholics today, even when they have not had a drink for many years. They do not say that they are ‘cured’. Instead, A.A. members believe that once people have lost their ability to control their drinking, they can never be sure of drinking safely again. That is, they can never become ‘former alcoholics’ or ‘ex-alcoholics’. However, they can become sober or recovered alcoholics.

How A.A. Members Maintain Sobriety

Alcoholics Anonymous is a programme of total abstinence where members stay away from one drink, one day at a time.

Sobriety is maintained through (i) sharing experience, strength and hope at group meetings and (ii) by working through The Twelve Steps of A.A.

These steps are summarised as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than our-selves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. We 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 practise these principles in all our affairs.

Who can Attend A.A. Meetings?

There are two types of A.A. meetings: (i) open meetings and (ii) closed meetings

Anyone may attend open meetings. Here, speakers tell of how they drank, how they discovered A.A. and how the programme has helped them personally.

Closed meetings are for alcoholics only. These are group discussions where any members can share, ask questions or offer suggestions to their fellow members.

Current Membership

It is estimated that, at present, there are more than 114,000 A.A. groups and over 2,000,000 members in 180 countries.

What A.A. Does Not Do?

A.A. does not:

(i)     Keep membership records or case histories.

(ii)      Engage in, or support, research.

(iii)      Join councils or social agencies (although A.A. members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them).

(iv)    Follow up on, or try to control, its members.

(v)      Make medical or psychiatric prognoses, dispense medicines, provide psychiatric advise, provide drying-out or nursing services.

(vi)         Conduct or provide religious services.

(vii)     Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money or other welfare or social services.

(viii)        Offer counselling to its members or their families.

For more information on A.A., please visit

I hope you found this article valuable.

Comments or questions can be posted in the comments section below.

I am also happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this article.

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Best Wishes


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