Information for newcomers to AA…


If you are new to Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like to welcome you. Most of us were shy and full of questions when we first came to Alcoholics Anonymous. “What am I doing here?” We understand your fears and hope that this information will help in answering some of your questions, or tell you how to get other questions answered.

There are many terms and phrases used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Many times we sit quietly and are afraid to ask what they mean. We don’t know how to get to a meeting or what they do in a meeting. The first thing we wa

nt to impress upon you is to ask questions. There are no dumb questions. Members of the fellowship are usually more than willing to answer any questions, but remember you might be talking to someone as new as you are to A.A.

We use the book Alcoholics Anonymous as a basic text to show other alcoholics “precisely how we have recovered” “from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.” (Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous, p, xiii, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

We refer to this text as “the Big Book.” This book, as well as other A.A. literature, is sold at a nominal price at the Greater Baton Rouge AA Central Office. Many of the phrases used in meetings are in this book. It is suggested that you get this book. (There is also the booklet Living Sober that is full of helps and suggestions for anyone new to the program.)

How do we stop drinking? We simply “put the plug in the jug”; members stay away from drinking, one day at a time. Total abstinence is necessary to work the A.A. program. This may seem impossible, but remember you are not doing this by yourself, others have done it, so you can too.

There are A.A. meetings all over the city, state, country and world. As an A.A. member you may attend any meeting you wish. Here in Baton Rouge we have the Greater Baton Rouge AA Central Office, Inc.,created by the A.A. groups in this area. The staff at Central Office can usually answer any questions you might have. Central Office publishes a schedule of meetings, times and locations; these schedules are generally available at most groups, and are sold at the Central Office. If you don’t feel comfortable at one group, go to another. There are plenty from which to choose.

A word about meetings -you have nothing to fear about meetings. People who go to meeting are people who have a desire to stop drinking. Go to the meeting early; generally members of A.A. are there making coffee, setting up the room and the display of literature, and sharing. Stay after the meeting to continue to talk and share. Ask for telephone numbers at every meeting you attend.

There are several types of AA meetings.

  • Open Meeting
    Anyone who wishes to may attend this meeting, and spouses or loved ones often attend.
  • Closed Meeting
    Thus is the same as the open meeting with the exception that only people with a desire to stop drinking, or people who think they may have problem with drinking, may attend.
  • Discussion Meeting
    Discussion meetings can be either “Open” or “Closed”, as described below. This is a general round-the-table discussion. Someone chairs the meeting. The chairperson will open the meeting asking all to join in saying the Serenity Prayer. Next members will read the AA preamble and other passages from AA literature. The chairperson will ask if anyone present is attending their very first A.A. meeting. You may raise your hand at that point and give your first name if you so desire, but this is not mandatory. The leader usually picks a topic that relates to alcoholism and anyone who wishes may talk on that topic. Usually the person speaking is not interrupted.
  • Speaker Meeting
    A speaker tells his or her story for the entire meeting, usually following a format of:
    1.    What life was like when he or she drank
    2.    What happened to make them stop drinking
    3.    What sobriety means to their life now
  • Step Study
    This meeting would concentrate on studying the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the core of the program. This is a good meeting for members who are new to the program. Many of the members of A.A. find these steps to be the solution to the disease of alcoholism.
  • Big Book Study
    This meeting is specifically designed to help us to improve our understanding of the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous”. This is another good meeting for members who are new to the program.
  • Tradition Study
    This meeting would concentrate on studying the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, which are meant to safeguard the program from outside influeneces and preserve its original intent.

What is a Sponsor?

Usually this is a person you select who will answer your questions about Alcoholics Anonymous. We sponsor each other. Often times a sponsor becomes a friend. Look around and ask someone you can relate to. Make sure they have some sobriety yet are not as new to the program as you are. It is not only good for you to ask someone, but it is also good for them. We like to be helpful. Too, as you learn in the program, you cannot keep what you don’t give away. It is in helping others that we help ourselves.

Some Parting Thoughts…

Members of A.A. participate in many activities, such as conventions, seminars, dances, cook outs, and just about any other kind of social function you can think of, These activities are usually posted on bulletin boards of clubs or at the Central Office.

If you go to enough A.A, meetings you are sure to hear the phrases, “Don’t drink,” “Read the Big Book,” “Go to meetings” and “Get a sponsor.” We hope this information will assist you in understanding how you can do these things if you choose.

“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you –until then.” (Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 164 with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

For further information contact:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.