AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a network of peer support groups based on the 12 steps founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob back in 1939, as laid out in the publication now affectionately known as the “Big Book.” There are countless free meetings all over the world and millions of people are active participants and credit AA with their sobriety.
Although 12-step based treatment and recovery programs are the most dominant in nature, there are other forms as well. Additionally, since not everyone who needs help has alcohol as their primary substance, there are other “Anonymous” groups available today, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, and many, many more.
One of the most important aspects of AA Meetings is the individual support that can be found in addition to the groups. New members are encouraged to find a Sponsor – a type of recovery mentor and role model who is available to help those new to recovery. Members who have achieved longer term sobriety are encouraged to become Sponsors themselves and to give back to the community that they received help from.
What are the 12 Steps?
The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
11. 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.
12. 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
What are the 12 Traditions of AA?
1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as
He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but
trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups
or A.A. as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the
alcoholic who still suffers.
6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any
related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and
prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside
8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our
service centers may employ special workers.
9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards
or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A.
name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we
need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us
to place principles before personalities.