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Area 75
Alcoholics Anonymous in Southern Wisconsin

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?


Alcoholics Anonymous is a voluntary, worldwide fellowship of men and women from all walks of life who meet together to attain and maintain sobriety. The only requirement for membership is a desire to strop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership.

(Reprinted from: A.A. at a Glance, P-1, with permission of A.A. World Services Inc.)

How Does A.A. Help the Alcoholic?

Through the example and friendship of the recovered alcoholics in A.A., new members are encouraged to stay away from a drink "one day at a time," as everyone in A.A. does. Instead of "swearing off forever" or worrying about whether they will be sober tomorrow, people in A.A. concentrate on not drinking right now - today.

By keeping alcohol out of their systems, newcomers take care of one part of their illness - their bodies have a chance to get well. There is another part. If they are going to stay sober, they need healthy minds and healthy emotions, too. So they begin to straighten out their confused thinking and unhappy feelings by following A.A.'s "Twelve Steps" to recovery. These Steps suggest ideas and actions that can guide alcoholics toward happy and useful lives.

To be in touch with other members and to learn about recovery, new members go to A.A. meetings regularly.

(Reprinted from: A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, P-42, copyright 1972, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

What is an A.A. Meeting?

There are generally two types of A.A. meetings - open meetings and closed meetings.

At "open meetings," speakers tell how they drank, how they came to A.A., and how its program of recovery has helped them. Members may bring relatives or friends, and usually anyone interested in A.A. is also welcome to attend "open meetings."

"Closed meetings" are for alcoholics only. These are group discussions, and any members who want to may speak up, to ask questions and to share their thoughts with fellow members. At "closed meetings," members can get help with personal problems in staying sober and in everyday living. Some other members can explain how they have already handled the same problems - often by using one or more of the Twelve Steps.

The local A.A. meeting directory usually indicates whether a meeting is an open or closed A.A. meeting.

(Reprinted from: A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, P-42, copyright 1972, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World services, Inc.)

Why is A.A. "Anonymous"?

Over the years, anonymity has proved one of the greatest gifts that A.A. offers the suffering alcoholic. Without it, many would never attend their first meeting. Although the stigma has lessened to some degree, most newcomers still find admission of their alcoholism so painful that it is possible only in a protected environment. Anonymity is essential for this atmosphere of trust and openness.

Anonymity serves two different yet equally vital functions. First, at the personal level, anonymity provides protection for all members from identification as alcoholics, a safeguard often of special importance to newcomers. Secondly, at the level of press, radio, TV, and films, anonymity stresses the equality in the Fellowship of all members by putting the brake on those who might otherwise exploit their A.A. affiliation to achieve recognition, power, or personal gain.

(Reprinted from: Understanding Anonymity, P-47, copyright 1981, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

Who Runs A.A.?

A.A. has no real government. Each group or meeting is free to work out its own customs and ways of holding meetings, as long as it does not hurt other groups or A.A. as a whole. An A.A. group or meeting may have officers but these officers do not give orders to anybody. Their job is to see that the A.A. group runs smoothly.

But the individual group is not cut off from the rest of A.A. Just as A.A. members help each other, so do A.A. groups. Three of the means they use to exchange help are the following:

  1. Groups in the same area may set up a central office or "intergroup" office.
  2. Groups everywhere share their experiences by writing to the A.A. General Service Office, in New York City.
  3. Groups in the U.S. and Canada choose  representatives to go to the A.A. General Service Conference, held once a year. All these A.A. offices and the representatives at the Conference make suggestions, based on the experiences of many different A.A. groups. But they do not make rules or issue commands to any groups or members.

(Reprinted from: A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, P-42, copyright 1972, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

What Can Families of Alcoholics Do?

A.A. is just for alcoholics, but two other fellowships can help their relatives. One is Al-Anon Family Groups. The other is Alateen, for teenagers who have alcoholic parents.

(Reprinted from: A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, P-42, copyright 1972, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

What A.A. Does Not Do

  1. A.A. does not run membership drives to try to argue alcoholics into joining. A.A. is for alcoholics who want to get sober.
  2. A.A. does not check up on its members to see that they don't drink. It helps alcoholics to help themselves.
  3. A.A. is not a religious organization. All members are free to decide on their own personal ideas about the meaning of life.
  4. A.A. is not a medical organization, does not give out medicines or psychiatric advice.
  5. A.A. does not run hospitals, wards, or sanitariums or provide nursing services.
  6. A.A. is not connected with any other organization. But A.A. does cooperate with organizations that fight alcoholism. Some members work for such organizations - but on their own - not as representatives of A.A.
  7. A.A. does not accept money from sources outside A.A., either private or government.

(Reprinted from: A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, P-42, copyright 1972, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.)

Where to Get More Information About A.A.

This Web Site includes telephone numbers for local A.A. central offices, intergroups, hotlines, and answering services located in southern Wisconsin, Area 75.

This Web Site is also linked to the A.A. General Service Office's Web Site: 
www.alcoholics-anonymous.org

You may also call or write to the A.A. General Service Office at the following:

General Service Office 
Box 459, Grand Central Station 
New York, NY 10163 
(212) 870-3400
(212) 870-3003 (fax)

Local central offices sell A.A. pamphlets, tapes and other literature at a nominal fee. A catalog listing A.A. Conference - Approved Literature and Other Service Material is available upon request to:

A.A. World Services
Box 459, Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163 
(212) 870-3312

The A.A. Grapevine ( a monthly magazine) or La Vina, the A.A. magazine printed in Spanish on a bi-monthly basis, may be obtained from a local A.A. central office or by contacting:

The Grapevine Box 
1980 Grand Central Station 
New York, NY 10163 
(212) 870-3400
(212) 870-3301(fax)
www.aagrapevine.org

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The purpose of this Web Site is to help the still suffering alcoholic by carrying the message of recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous.

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