FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

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 AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA 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.

What are “open” and “closed” meeting?

A closed meeting is limited to members of the local A.A. group, or visiting members from other groups. The purpose of the closed meeting is to give members an opportunity to discuss particular phases of their alcoholic problem that can be understood best only by other alcoholics.

An open meeting of A.A. is a group meeting that any member of the community, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, may attend. The only obligation is that of not disclosing the names of A.A. members outside the meeting.

I am worried about someone else’s drinking?

I you are not an alcoholic but are worried about someone else’s drinking, we encourage you to visit the Al-Anon web site for information about programs and meetings. The Georgia Al-Alon website is located at http://www.ga-al-anon.org.

What is Singleness of Purpose?

AA’s Singleness of Purpose is a principle derived from the Fifth Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” Other groups replace the word alcoholic with the identifying characteristic of their fellowship, or otherwise rephrase it to have a similar meaning. For instance, in Narcotics Anonymous that member would be an addict. The principle is based on the philosophy that those that share common physical cravings and mental obsessions can best understand and help those that are struggling with their specific addictions.

Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson wrote in the February 1958 AA Grapevine that

“We cannot give AA membership to non-alcoholic narcotics-addicts. But like anyone else, they should be able to attend certain open AA meetings, provided, of course, that the groups themselves are willing. AA members who are so inclined should be encouraged to band together in groups to deal with sedative and drug problems. But they ought to refrain from calling themselves AA groups. There seems to be no reason why several AAs cannot join, if they wish, with a group of straight addicts to solve the alcohol and the drug problem together. But, obviously, such a “dual purpose” group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title. Neither should its “straight addict” contingent be led to believe that they have become AA members by reason of such an association. Certainly there is every good reason for interested AAs to join with “outside” groups, working on the narcotic problem, provided the Traditions of anonymity and of “no endorsements” are respected.”

—Bill W., AA Grapevine

What is Group Conscience?

From “The AA Group … Where It All Begins” (p. 34-35):

The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group membership and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of view, and the practice of AA principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind.

On sensitive issues, the group works slowly — discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view emerges. Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at a decision. The result rests on more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ count — precisely because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience. The term ‘informed group conscience’ implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes.