What is A.A.?

The primary purpose of A.A. is to carry our message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help. Together, we can do what none of us could accomplish alone; through our mutual experience we can provide ongoing support for each other.

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.

A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”

- A.A. Preamble


Who can attend an A.A. meeting?

Anyone can attend an open A.A. meeting. If you attend a meeting, you will notice that most of us identify ourselves by our first name, and the fact that we are alcoholics. If you are not an alcoholic, or not sure, feel free to identify yourself as a visitor. We encourage you to introduce yourself to a few folks before or after the meeting. We believe you will find that any A.A. member will be happy to answer any questions, no matter how simple, or how personal or difficult. We stay sober by sharing our experience.

Anyone with a desire to stop drinking can attend a closed A.A. meeting. There are no dues or fees for A.A. meetings, and anonymity is a practice and a tradition in A.A.. If you are looking for help with your drinking we strongly urge you to talk to someone at the meeting.

How to find an A.A. Meeting

We are an anonymous bunch, but you can find A.A. meetings all over Oregon, and often at a variety of times and locations to suit any schedule. Check out the Find A Meeting page for more information.

If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking

You may want to contact Al-anon. They are a 12-step organization for family and friends of Alcoholics. Al-Anon has a website at Al-Anon.org. We find it does little good to try to push or drag a problem drinker into A.A. – they have to want it for themselves.

What does A.A. do?

A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings.

Open speaker meetings-open to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. (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 A.A. 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.)

Closed discussion meetings-conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only. Step meetings (usually closed)-discussion of one of the Twelve Steps. A.A. members may also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities. A.A. members may be asked to conduct informational meetings about A.A. in schools, hospitals, and other public forums. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings. (See Public Information Committee).

What does A.A. not do?
  • Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover
  • Solicit members
  • Engage in or sponsor research
  • Keep attendance records or case histories
  • Join “councils” of social agencies
  • Follow up or try to control its members
  • Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses
  • Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric Treatment Facilities Facilities
  • Offer religious services
  • Engage in education about alcohol
  • Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services
  • Provide domestic or vocational counseling
  • Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources
  • Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.


How A.A. is (NOT) organized?


Tradition Nine states, “A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.” See the Oregon Area Guidelines in English or Spanish for detailed information.

Oregon Area 58

Areas such as Oregon Area 58, are typically state or province-wide service bodies made up of GSRs, DCMs, Area Officers, and Service Committees. Oregon Area 58 holds assemblies in the form of quarterly business meetings in various parts of the state, and does not maintain fixed facilities. We coordinate and help educate A.A. members in providing recovery resources. A delegate is elected who participates in the General Service Conference.

U.S. and Canada

A General Service Conference, consisting of 93 delegates from A.A. areas in the United States and Canada, and trustees, A.A.W.S. and Grapevine directors, and staff from the General Service Office and the Grapevine in New York, meets once a year and provides a link between the groups throughout the U.S. and Canada and the trustees who serve as custodians of A.A. tradition and interpreters of policies affecting the Fellowship as a whole. Visit the Documents page for links to the General Service Office and Grapevine office.

A.A. worldwide services, directed by A.A. World Services, Inc., are centered in the General Service Office in New York City, where 84 workers keep in touch with local groups, with A.A. groups in Treatment Facilities Facilities and correctional facilities, with members and groups overseas, and with the thousands of “outsiders” who turn to A.A. each year for information on the recovery program. A.A. Conference-approved literature is prepared, published, and distributed through this office.


A similar structure is replicated in many countries or regions around the world.

Some content sourced from “What is A.A.” ©Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. used with permission.