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What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?



Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/22/2023

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a group of people who work together to solve their alcoholism problem. These groups meet at various locations across the country and are made up of people from all different backgrounds and cultures. There are no requirements for age Alcoholics Anonymous and anybody who wants to speak about their struggle with alcoholism or their urges to drink is welcome to attend meetings.

What Does Alcoholics Anonymous Mean?

Alcoholics Anonymous means a few things but the most important meaning behind Alcoholics Anonymous is that it’s a place for people to come together and discuss their problems with alcohol. There is also an anonymous component to the organization that allows people to be discreet about attending meetings, joining groups, and sharing information. For some people, this makes it easier to join than rehab centers, therapy programs, and other alcoholism treatment alternatives.

How Many Locations Does Alcoholics Anonymous Have?

Alcoholics Anonymous continues to grow at a rapid pace and has a presence in 180 nations across the world. Alcoholics Anonymous also has around 123,000 A.A. meeting locations across the 180 countries it’s present in. These numbers make Alcoholics Anonymous one of the most popular and well-known addiction groups and one of the best treatment methods for alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous also has splinter groups that have stemmed from the same ideology. For example, there are variations of A.A. like Narcotics Anonymous, which is a similar organization but for narcotics.

How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous members follow the 12 steps to maintain sobriety. When groups of Alcoholics Anonymous members meet they speak about the tenets provided within the 12-step process and philosophy. Each step is important and helps people remain sober. When the 12 steps are practiced as a lifestyle choice it helps prevent people from falling back into addiction.

What are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are spiritual principles for people to follow on their journey of alcoholism recovery. That said, the 12 steps are followed by many non-spiritual people because of how great the teachings are.

The 12 steps of A.A. are listed below:

  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. Decided 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. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of 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.

Each part of the 12-step process is essential for Alcoholics Anonymous to function properly.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous Based on the Bible?

Alcoholics Anonymous is not based on the Bible directly but it is based on the teachings of religion and the Bible. These teachings are of the Christian faith and teach people about God, redemption, and how people can overcome the uncertainty in their lives. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced back to the Oxford Group, which was an evangelical group that operated in the early 1900s.

Who Can Join Alcoholics Anonymous?

Anyone can join Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no education requirement, age requirement, gender requirement, or career requirement. People of all backgrounds can join regardless of their social class, criminal history, gender, or background. This is what makes Alcoholics Anonymous one of the most popular treatment options around the world.

Do You Have to Be Religious to go to AA?

No, you don’t have to be religious to go to A.A. meetings. In fact, you don’t need to be religious to join the group either. While the teachings date back to religious beliefs founded in the early 20th century and within the Bible, many non-religious people also find the 12-step process helpful.

What Does AA Not Do?

While A.A. is a well-rounded group that helps people from all walks of life, there are things the group doesn’t do. These things typically include providing medical treatment, counseling, and housing.

These are the things A.A. does not do:

  • Actively recruit people
  • Keep records of membership history or case records
  • Control its attendees
  • Make medical decisions for its members
  • Provide hospitalization, drugs, and other treatments
  • Provide a home, food, or shelter
  • Engage in controversy about alcohol –not anti-alcohol
  • Accept financial resources
  • Provide letters of reference
  • Partner with social agencies
  • Offer religious services

While A.A. does many things, it prefers to stay out of personal matters.

What are the Meeting Types of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous has two primary meeting types, which are open and closed meetings. These meetings then have branches within them that people can choose from. Open meetings are meetings that allow doctors, medical professionals, and others to attend. When it comes to open meetings, anyone can attend. This includes family members, friends, and people who might want to join A.A. On the other hand, closed meetings are reserved for members of A.A. and not open to the public.

The meeting types within open meetings and closed meetings are listed below:

  • Beginners meetings
  • 12-step meetings
  • Big book study meetings
  • Demographic-specific meetings
  • Substance-specific meetings (NA)
  • Behavior-based meetings
  • Online meetings
  • Family meetings
  • Alcoholics Anonymous family groups
  • Families Anonymous
  • Adult children of Alcoholics
  • Alateen

These meeting types are designed to reach a broad ground of people and to be as inclusive as possible within the A.A. framework.

Are There Online Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings?

Yes, there are online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The organization has created many online support groups to reach people who are unable to make it to in-person meetings. The Covid-19 pandemic also helped A.A. focus more resources on online meetings, which has made them high quality. Moreover, people can choose between several online meeting options.

How to Find and Attend Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

Finding and attending Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings can be done by using Alcoholics Anonymous’ AA meeting finder. This is a tool that helps people find meeting locations in their state and it helps people determine which type of meeting they’re going to attend. People can also find these meetings online and there are many virtual groups available.

What is the Phone Number of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous has phone numbers for each of its meeting locations, which means the phone number varies based on your location. That said, Alcoholics Anonymous also has a hotline that anyone can call. This number is designed to help people learn more about alcoholism or to provide guidance for those who need it.

The Alcoholics Anonymous hotline phone number is 800-839-1686.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Cost Money?

Alcoholics Anonymous does not cost any money. There is no membership fee or payments that need to be made. This makes Alcoholics Anonymous one of the most affordable alcoholism resources available because of its free support. Still, Alcoholics Anonymous does have ways to collect money from members. These come in the way of collection boxes and donation boxes. Members are not forced to make donations but it is encouraged for the services that A.A. provides. Therefore, A.A. costs as much as an individual wants it to.

What is the Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is effective and according to research from Stanford University Alcoholics Anonymous helps more people remain sober than therapy. The researchers concluded that this is caused by the aftercare methods of Alcoholics Anonymous and the use of a sponsor to hold members accountable. To arrive at this conclusion Kieth Humphries (PhD) examined 35 studies including more than 10,000 people. So, this is not just anecdotal evidence either.

What are the Resources that Alcoholics Anonymous Provide?

Alcoholics Anonymous provides many resources for people who need help with addiction. The organization uses literature, meeting group applications, media libraries, public service announcement downloads, audio files, newsletters, meeting finders, and more. The organization is even transparent about what the press claims and shares it with people who visit the website.

Alcoholics Anonymous also provides people with resources they can benefit from in person. These include attending meetings, working with a sponsor, having a platform to share your story, and even teachings from the Bible. When it comes to resources, A.A. provides a ton.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Have an App?

Yes, Alcoholics Anonymous has an app. The app is called Meeting Guide and is the only official app created by the A.A. organization. The app is available on all operating systems and is designed to help people find Alcoholics Anonymous near them. That said, there are also other apps available that can be used as a companion to A.A. meetings and teachings. For example, the AA Big Book is an app that has the entire book of how A.A. was created and its story.