Alcoholics Anonymous began in 1935 when Bill W., a once successful stockbroker whose career and life were devastated by alcoholism, was searching for a way to maintain his own sobriety. After six months without a drink, Bill W. reached out to still-suffering alcoholic Dr. Bob S. The date of Dr. Bob’s last drink, June 10, 1935, marks the founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A.A. is a fellowship of men and women who have drinking problems. It exists in over 180 countries worldwide, and has an estimated over two million active members. Since 1935, millions have recovered from alcoholism through the practice of A.A. principles.
The A.A. Book
The book Alcoholics Anonymous — commonly known as the Big Book — is A.A.’s main text. First published in April 1939, the Big Book presents the A.A. program of individual recovery as well as personal stories of struggle and recovery by A.A. members spanning the Fellowship’s history.
How to get the Big Book
If you do not have a copy of the Big Book, we encourage you to pick one up. There are several ways to get a copy:
What Does A.A. Do?
or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source.
2. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
3. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings.
a. Open speaker meetings — open to alcoholics and nonalcoholics. (Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way
to learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A. members “tell their stories.”
They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of
b. Open discussion meetings — one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion
on A.A. recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. (Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone
who may have a drinking problem.)
c. Closed discussion meetings — conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only.
d. Step meetings (usually closed) — discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.
e. A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.
f. A.A. members may be asked to conduct the informational meetings about A.A. as a part of A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety
Action Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A.
What A.A. Does Not Do
1. Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover.
2. Solicit members.
3. Engage in or sponsor research.
4. Keep attendance records or case histories.
5. Join “councils” of social agencies (although A.A. members, groups and service offices frequently cooperate with them).
6. Follow up or try to control its members.
7. Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses.
8. Provide detox or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment.
9. Offer religious services or host/sponsor retreats.
10. Engage in education about alcohol.
11. Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services.
12. Provide domestic or vocational counseling.
13. Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources.
14. Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.