Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-professional, self-supporting, multi-national fellowship of men and women who share a common problem: their powerlessness over alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron of Ohio. The primary purpose of AA is to help others alcoholics stay sober and help those struggling with addiction to achieve sobriety. It is estimated that there are currently over two million members of AA with an active presence in over 170 countries.
The only requirement to be in AA is the desire to stop drinking. There are no membership fees or dues however at each meeting, members will pass around a basket and are asked to contribute as much or as little as they can. Most members contribute $1.00. Because AA is completely self-funded, every bit of donation counts. AA is not affiliated with any political or religious group nor is it endorsed by any group(s). AA believes in attraction rather than promotion. AA is completely voluntary; no one is forced to go to AA but anyone who thinks that they have a problem with alcohol is welcome with open arms. AA meetings are typically held in public spaces such as churches, schools, banquet halls, etc. There are open meetings in which anyone can attend and then there are closed meetings, which are for alcoholics. During each meeting, there will be someone who guides the meeting from beginning to end. He or she is in charge of welcoming the group with an introduction, which includes the preamble, the 12 steps and then the 12 traditions. The next ten minutes, the leader will share their story. After this, each member can raise his or her hand and share whatever they’d like so long as it applies to AA. Each AA meeting closes with “The Promises” or “ A Vision for You” which are contained in The Big Book as well as a prayer of the leaders choice.
In AA, many members follow a 12-step program, which was designed to help alcoholics stay sober and live a more peaceful, spiritually in-tune life. Many people get turned off by the whole idea of God and His involvement in the 12 steps. AA is non-denominational and does not identify with any religion. In AA and in the 12-step program, it is important to note that ones higher power comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.
Since 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has offered alcoholics a safe and welcoming place to come and share their story. AA is a place where others can bond over a common problem and work tirelessly to help each other stay sober. Most alcoholics truly believe that if it weren’t for AA, they would not be able to stay sober. AA has saved countless lives, reunited millions of families, and given lasting hope to people who were utterly hopeless.