Frequently asked questions
Is AA confidential?
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions. Any information you share with AA is treated in a totally confidential manner.
Is it religious?
Alcoholics Anonymous has only one requirement for membership and that is the desire to stop drinking. There is room in AA for people of all shades of belief and non-belief.
We have seen many people come to AA and refuse to accept our help because they become angry or upset when others talk of their beliefs. If you are unable to accept that others have a belief that you don’t, you will find it very difficult to come to terms with. If on the other hand you can be tolerant of other peoples’ right to believe in whatever they want to, you will find others tolerant of your rights to believe whatever you choose.
Let’s make no bones about it; the 12 step programme that members follow has its origins in a Christian group. As a consequence you will see God mentioned quite often. Many members believe in a god, and we have members that come from and practice all sorts of religions; but also many are atheist or agnostic, so don’t be put off.
Because it is a spiritual programme (not religious) those who believe in some form of divinity often find it useful to incorporate the programme into their religious practices and vice versa. This is their choice, there is absolutely no requirement. What we all have in common is that the programme helps us find an inner strength that we were previously unaware of, where we differ is attributing the source.
Whatever you do, please don’t let someone else’s religious beliefs prevent you from finding the solution that is available to you through Alcoholics Anonymous.
Is it a cult?
AA members are not forced to attend meetings, they are free to leave at any time and the programme of recovery is simply a list of suggestions which while many do chose to follow, also many chose to go their own way about it. The majority of members quite happily fit the culture of AA into their normal life and belief systems.
Must you be able to talk in groups and confess that you are an alcoholic?
Nobody is forced or pressured to speak at an AA meeting or to declare themselves to be alcoholic. Newcomers benefit most from listening to the experience of speakers and will have the opportunity to speak to members on a one to one basis if they choose.
What is the 12 Step Programme?
It is a series of steps taken by the alcoholic which assist them to achieve and maintain sobriety. They include acceptance of the fact that they are alcoholic, learning to trust and rely on something outside of themselves for help, acknowledgement of and making amends for past behaviour, changing present behaviour and passing the help received on to other alcoholics.
The 12 Steps of AA
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
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.
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.
Can people attend counseling at a treatment centre and attend AA?
AA members can and do attend counselling at treatment centres. Many people have come to AA through treatment centres and attend aftercare there. This continuity is useful in the recovery process.