For anyone new coming and anyone referring people to A.A.
This information is both for people who may have a drinking problem and for those in contact with people who have, or are suspected of having, a problem. This page tells what to expect from Alcoholics Anonymous. It describes what A.A. is, what A.A. does, and what A.A. does not do.
» Learn more about the different types of meetings you can attend.
- A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or "sponsorship" to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source.
- The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. Also see the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Promises.
- This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings.
- Open speaker meetings - open to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. (Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way to learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A. members "tell their stories." They describe their experiences with alcohol. how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Open discussion meetings - one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on A.A. recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. (Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone who may have a drinking problem.)
- Closed discussion meetings - conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only.
- Step meetings (usually closed) - discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.
- A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.
- Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover
- Solicit members
- Engage in or sponsor research
- Keep attendance records or case histories
- Join "councils" of social agencies
- Follow up or try to control its members
- Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses
- Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment
- Offer religious services
- Engage in education about alcohol
- Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services
- Provide domestic or vocational counseling
- Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources
- Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials
We cannot discriminate against any prospective A.A. member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency.
Although the strength of our program lies in the voluntary nature of membership in A.A., many of us first attended meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by inner discomfort. But continual exposure to A.A. educated us to the true nature of the illness... Who made the referral to A.A. is not what A.A. is interested in. It is the problem drinker who is our concern... We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.Proof of Attendance at Meetings
Sometimes a referral source asks for proof of attendance at A.A. meetings.
Groups cooperate in different ways. There is no set procedure. The nature and extent of any group's involvement in this process is entirely up to the individual group.
Some groups, with the consent of the prospective member, have an A.A. member acknowledge attendance on a slip that has been furnished by the referral source. The referred person is responsible for returning the proof of attendance.
This proof of attendance at meetings is not part of A.A. procedure. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign court slips. In some areas the attendees report on themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking A.A. members' anonymity.
To learn more, please choose an option below that best describes who you are:
We encourage you to see if AA is for you:
- Read Is There an Alcoholic in Your Life? - This pamphlet explains the A.A. program as it affects anyone close to an alcoholic-spouse, family member, friend.
- Contact Al-Anon Headquarters.
- Watch this introductory video on how Al-Anon helps.
- Contact Al-Anon/Alateen of Cleveland.
- Read more how A.A. members can help professionals.
- If you are in Northeast Ohio you can contact specific committees, including: Members of the clergy, medical professions, legal professions, Correctional Facilities, Treatment Facilities, and general inquiries.
- If you are anywhere outside Northeast Ohio and are a health care professional, correctional or treatment facility professional, media/news professional, employee assistance professional, educator, member of the clergy, counselor, social worker or student contact our General Service Office and they will direct your inquiry accordingly.