What is AA

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.

AA is an informal society of more than 2 million recovering alcoholics throughout the world. In South Africa, there are about 5,000 members. They meet in over 400 local meetings spread around the country. Meetings range in size from a handful in some localities to a hundred or more in larger communities.

AA is nonprofessional – it doesn’t have clinics, doctors, counsellors or psychologists. All members are themselves recovering from alcoholism. There is no central authority controlling how AA groups operate. It is up to the members of each group to decide what they do. However, the AA program of recovery has proved to be so successful that almost every group follows it in very similar ways.

AA is not a religious organisation nor is it affiliated with any religious body. It welcomes members of all religions, agnostics and atheists alike. You don’t have to sign up or achieve anything to be a member. You’re a member of a group if you choose to be. You can come and go as you please. No one is “in charge” of a group. We work through the offer of help and suggestion only. No one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

AA works through members telling their stories of what we used to be like, what happened and what we are like now. The AA program, known as The Twelve Steps, provides a framework for self-examination and a road to recovery, free of alcohol.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions from people new to AA

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 AA is concerned whether you’re an alcoholic is for you to decide. It’s not up to anyone in AA to tell you whether you are or not. 

We would recommend you come to an AA meeting or at least contact someone in AA 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 AA. 

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

No. AA 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. AA 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 AA meeting?

An AA 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 AA 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 AAs keep going to meetings after they are cured?

We in AA 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 AA?

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

How much does AA membership cost?

There are no dues or fees for AA membership. An AA 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 AA 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 AA members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual willpower, 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 AA group, still others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in AA for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief.

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

Family members or close friends are welcome at “open” AA meetings.

What advice do you give new members?

In our experience, the people who recover in AA are those who:

  • attend AA meetings regularly
  • seek out the people in AA they like who have successfully stayed sober for some time
  • put into practice the simple principles of AA’s program of recovery
  • stay away from the first drink one day at a time.

How can I contact AA?

Look for Alcoholics Anonymous in your local telephone directory. These telephones are answered by AA volunteers who will be happy to answer your questions, or put you in touch with those who can. 

Is there more Literature available about AA ?

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

Are you an Alcoholic?

This test was prepared by John Hopkins University Hospital for use in determining whether or not a person is suffering from alcoholism. Ask yourself the following questions, and answer them as HONESTLY as possible.

 

YES NO
1. Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
2. Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
3. Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
4. Is drinking affecting your reputation?
5. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
6 Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
7. Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
8. Does your drinking make you careless of your Family’s welfare?
9. Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
10. Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
11 Do you want a drink the next morning?
12. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
13. Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
14. Is drinking jeopardising your job or business?
15. Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?
16 Do you drink alone?
17. Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
18. Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
19. Do you drink to build up self-confidence?
20. Have you ever been to hospital or an institution on account of drinking?

If you have answered YES to any one of the questions, there is a definite warning you MAY be an alcoholic. If you have answered YES to any two, CHANCES ARE that you are an alcoholic. If you have answered YES to three or more, YOU ARE DEFINITELY AN ALCOHOLIC.

 

Answer the questions in South African Languages 

HERE

Is AA For You?

Only you can decide whether you want to give AA a try —
whether you think it can help you.

We who are in A.A. came because we finally gave up trying to control our drinking. We still hated to admit that we could never drink safely. Then we heard from other A.A. members that we were sick. (We thought so for years!) We found out that many people suffered from the same feelings of guilt and loneliness and hopelessness that we did. We found out that we had these feelings because we had the disease of alcoholism.

We decided to try and face up to what alcohol had done to us. Here are some of the questions we tried to answer honestly. If we answered YES to four or more questions, we were in deep trouble with our drinking. See how you do. Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem.

Answer YES or NO to the following questions.

   
YES    NO
1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: "Just try not to drink today." (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)
2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking-- stop telling you what to do?
In A.A. we do not tell anyone to do anything. We just talk about our own drinking, the trouble we got into, and how we stopped. We will be glad to help you, if you want us to.
3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
We tried all kinds of ways. We made our drinks weak. Or just drank beer. Or we did not drink cocktails. Or only drank on weekends. You name it, we tried it. But if we drank anything with alcohol in it, we usually got drunk eventually.
4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking? This is a pretty sure sign that you are not drinking "socially."
5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
At one time or another, most of us have wondered why we were not like most people, who really can take it or leave it.
6 Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
Be honest! Doctors say that if you have a problem with alcohol and keep on drinking, it will get worse -- never better. Eventually, you will die, or end up in an institution for the rest of your life. The only hope is to stop drinking.
7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
Before we came into A.A., most of us said that it was the people or problems at home that made us drink. We could not see that our drinking just made everything worse. It never solved problems anywhere or anytime.
8. Do you ever try to get "extra" drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
Most of us used to have a "few" before we started out if we thought it was going to be that kind of party. And if drinks were not served fast enough, we would go some place else to get more.
9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to?
Many of us kidded ourselves into thinking that we drank because we wanted to. After we came into A.A., we found out that once we started to drink, we couldn't stop.
10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
Many of us admit now that we "called in sick" lots of times when the truth was that we were hung-over or on a drunk.
11 Do you have "blackouts"?
A "blackout" is when we have been drinking hours or days which we cannot remember. When we came to A.A., we found out that this is a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking.
12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
Many of us started to drink because drinking made life seem better, at least for a while. By the time we got into A.A., we felt trapped. We were drinking to live and living to drink. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  

The 12 Steps
  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. Made a decision 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. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all 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.