How to Help the Alcoholic

The alcoholic is a sick person suffering from a disease for which there is no known cure — that is, no cure in the sense that he or she will ever be able to drink moderately, like a non-alcoholic, for any sustained period. Because it is an illness — a physical compulsion combined with a mental obsession to drink — the alcoholic must learn to stay away from alcohol completely to lead a normal life.

Alcoholism is a health problem — a physical and emotional disease — rather than a question of too little willpower or of moral weakness. Just as there is no point blaming the victim of diabetes for a lack of willpower in becoming ill, it is useless to charge the problem drinker with responsibility for the illness or to regard such drinking as a vice.

In many communities, loved ones of A.A. members (and of those who need A.A.) meet regularly to exchange experiences and viewpoints on the problems of alcoholism. They are part of what is known as Al-Anon Family Groups. Among these are Alateen groups, for teenagers who have alcoholic parents. Al-Anon is not affiliated with A.A., but its contribution to increased understanding of the A.A. recovery program has been substantial. They believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery

You can help the alcoholic in your life in the following ways:

a. By offering to help the sick alcoholic get in touch with A.A. through the telephone listing or other means available, explaining that this will entail no obligation to become a member. Give them local A.A. and Al-Anon phone numbers.

b. By offering to attend A.A. open meetings with the alcoholic for informational reasons. They are welcome.

c. By explaining to individuals that only they themselves know whether they are really alcoholics and suggesting a talk with someone from A.A. to help clarify the problem.

d. By talking to the sick alcoholic always in terms of suggestion, avoiding threats or duress, since the decision must and can be made only by the alcoholics themselves.

e. By acquiring a better personal understanding of A.A. through attending some A.A. open meetings and reading A.A. literature, including the book Alcoholics Anonymous. It can be explained that the Big Book is generally accepted as A.A.’s basic text, first published in 1939, issued in a second edition in 1955, a third in 1976, and a fourth edition in 2001, and is available for purchase at most local groups.

f. By passing the book and other A.A. literature along to the sick alcoholic, as interesting and worthwhile reading matter.

g. By using their influence in the community to help other non-alcoholics toward a better comprehension of the problems and needs of the alcoholic and of the help that is available in A.A.

h. By calling A.A. any time they can be of help.


The simple truth is that no one can force the A.A. program on anyone else. However, if the drinker you care about hesitates to go for needed help, you can take some action to assist in recovery. You can develop a good and, if possible, firsthand understanding of the A.A. program, so that when the alcoholic is ready, you will be in the best position to help. You can also inform yourself by writing or phoning A.A. or Al-Anon Family Groups.

Contact Al-Anon


For the Family
Is There an Alcoholic in Your Life?

If someone you love has a drinking problem, this booklet will provide you with facts about a simple program of recovery. Through its help, millions of people who once drank too much are now living comfortable and productive lives without alcohol.  read more ...

What AA Is & Isn't?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to stay sober. They offer the same help to anyone who has a drinking problem and wants to do something about it. Since they are all alcoholics themselves, they know what the illness feels like - and they have learned how to recover from it in AA.  read more ...


Al-Anon Family Groups offer understanding, help and support to the families of problem drinkers. We are a fellowship of relatives and friends who share our experience, strength and hope in order to solve common problems. We believe that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution; does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions, plus the sale of our Conference-approved literature.

Meetings are free, anonymous and confidential. Our primary purpose is to help families of problem drinkers.  Contact or 0861 252 666 

For Professionals working with Alcoholics


A.A. Wants to Work With You

A.A. has a long history of cooperating but not affiliating with outside organizations and being available to provide A.A. meetings or information about A.A. upon request. A.A. communicates with professionals such as: doctors or other health care professionals, members of the clergy, law enforcement or court officials, educators, social workers, alcoholism counselors, therapists, or others who deal with problem drinkers in the course of their work.

Cooperation with the professional community is an objective of A.A., and has been since our beginnings. We are always seeking to strengthen and expand our communication with you, and we welcome your comments and suggestions. They help us to work more effectively with you in achieving our common purpose: to help the alcoholic who still suffers.

A Resource for the Helping Professional

Professionals who work with alcoholics share a common purpose with Alcoholics Anonymous: to help the alcoholic stop drinking and lead a healthy, productive life.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a nonprofit, self-supporting, entirely independent fellowship— “not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.” Yet A.A. is in a position to serve as a resource to you through its policy of “cooperation but not affiliation” with the professional community.

We can serve as a source of personal experience with alcoholism as an ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.

How the Program Works

A.A.’s primary purpose, as stated in our Preamble, is: “. . . to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”

The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. Members share their experiences in recovery from alcoholism on a one-to-one basis, and introduce the newcomer to A.A.’s Twelve Steps of personal recovery and its Twelve Traditions that sustain the Fellowship itself.

Meetings. At the heart of the program are its meetings, which are conducted autonomously by A.A. groups in cities and towns throughout the world. Anyone may attend open meetings of A.A. These usually consist of talks by one or more speakers who share impressions of their past illness and their present recovery in A.A. Some open meetings — to which helping professionals, the media and others are invited — are held for the specific purpose of informing the nonalcoholic (and possibly alcoholic) public about A.A. Closed meetings are for alcoholics only.

Alcoholics recovering in A.A. generally attend several meetings each week.

Anonymity. Anonymity helps the Fellowship to govern itself by principles rather than personalities; by attraction rather than promotion. We openly share our program of recovery, but not the names of the individuals in it.

What A.A. Does NOT Do

A.A. does not: 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, social agencies, employers, etc.

Referrals From Judicial, Health Care, or other Professionals

Today numerous A.A. members come to us from judicial, health care, or other professionals. Some arrive voluntarily, others do not.

A.A. does not discriminate against any prospective member. Who made the referral to A.A. is not what interests us — it is the problem drinker who elicits our concern.

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.

Singleness of Purpose and Problems Other Than Alcohol

Some professionals refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as ‘substance abuse’ or ‘chemical dependency.’ Nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A. meetings, but only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings.

A.A. Members and Medications

A.A. does not provide medical advice; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified health care professional. The suggestions provided in the pamphlet “The A.A. Member—Medications and Other Drugs” may help A.A. members minimize the risk of relapse.




AA Video For Healthcare Professionals

AA Video for Human Resources Professionals

To contact A.A., please Click HERE.

For the Media
Friendly support and cooperation from the media has made it possible for Alcoholics Anonymous to carry its message of hope in South Africa and around the world. We know that A.A. would not have reached many thousands of men and women without this assistance.

Alcoholics Anonymous

A Note of Thanks - A Request for Continued Cooperation

From time to time we write our public media friends to thank them for helping us observe our long-standing tradition of anonymity for members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

First, let us express our deep gratitude to you. From the beginning of A.A. in 1935, its members have recognized that word-of-mouth is not sufficient by itself to carry the program's message of hope and recovery to the many people still suffering from alcoholism. The public media has been a vital part of this effort, and today we estimate that there are more than 2 million successfully recovering members of Alcoholics Anonymous in more than 180 countries.

Second, we respectfully request that you continue to cooperate with us in maintaining the anonymity of A.A. members. The principle of anonymity is a basic tenet of our fellowship. Those who are reluctant to seek our help may overcome their fear if they are confident that their anonymity will be respected. In addition, and perhaps less understood, our tradition of anonymity acts as a restraint on A.A. members, reminding us that we are a program of principles, not personalities, and that no individual A.A. member may presume to act as a spokesman or leader of our fellowship. If an A.A member is identified in the media, we ask that you please use first names only (e.g., Bob S. or Alice F.) and that you not use photographs or electronic images in which members’ faces may be recognized.

Again, we thank you for your continued cooperation. Those who wish to know more about our fellowship are welcome to visit the “For the Media” section of Our fellowship does not comment on matters of public controversy, but we are happy to provide information about A.A. to anyone who seeks it.


Public Information Committee
of Alcoholics Anonymous