Alcoholics Anonymous Newcomer Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


  • Q: Do I have to sign up or register to attend AA meetings?
 A: Just show up. If you have a drinking problem, you are welcome to attend any meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous held anywhere in the world! You don’t need to have a doctor’s note, court order, or bring a drinking resume with you. In order to attend an AA meeting all you have to do is show up.

  • Q: How much does it cost?
 A: There are no dues or fees for AA membership or attendance at meetings. However, we are fully self-supporting through our own contributions  and a collection basket is passed for AA members to have an opportunity to make a voluntary contribute towards the expenses of the group (e.g. room rent, coffee, literature supplies, etc). No one, not even AA members, is obliged to contribute.

  • Q: Is AA a religious organization?
 A: No. AA is not allied or affiliated with any religious organization.

  • Q: I’m not sure if I’m an alcoholic. How can I tell?
 A: Take the '20 Questions test here'. Answer them as honestly as you can. If you are still unconvinced, you are welcome to attend any AA meeting to see if you identify with us.

  • Q: I’m not an alcoholic, but I’d like to know more about AA. Can I attend a meeting?
 A: You are welcome to any AA meeting listed as an “OPEN” format. Any meeting online or in our directory is open, unless it is designated as closed. In our directory the closed meetings will have a [C] next to the name of the meeting. Online closed meetings information is indicated when click on the meeting name.

  • Q: What if I see someone I know at an AA meeting?
 A: They will be there for the same reason you are. They will not disclose your identity to outsiders. At AA you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is why it is called Alcoholics ANONYMOUS.

  • Q: If I go to an AA meeting, does that commit me to anything?
 A: AA does not keep membership files or attendance records. You don’t have to reveal anything about yourself. No one will bother you if you choose to not come back.

  • Q: How do I become a member of AA?
 A: You are a member if and when you SAY you are a member. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking… and many of us were not even very sure of that when we first approached AA!

Myths and Facts about alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Myth:I can stop drinking anytime I want to.
Fact:Maybe you can; more likely, you can’t. Either way, it’s just an excuse to keep drinking. The truth is, you don’t want to stop. Telling yourself you can quit makes you feel in control, despite all evidence to the contrary and no matter the damage it’s causing.
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Myth:My drinking is my problem. I’m the one it hurts, so no one has the right to tell me to stop.
Fact:It’s true that the decision to quit drinking is up to you. But you are deceiving yourself if you think that your drinking hurts no one else but you. Alcoholism affects everyone around you—especially the people closest to you. Your problem is their problem.
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Myth:I don’t drink every day OR I only drink wine or beer, so I can’t be an alcoholic.
Fact:Alcoholism is NOT defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. It’s the EFFECTS of your drinking that define a problem. If your drinking is causing problems in your home or work life, you have a drinking problem—whether you drink daily or only on the weekends, down shots of tequila or stick to wine, drink three bottles of beers a day or three bottles of whiskey.
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Myth:I’m not an alcoholic because I have a job and I’m doing okay.
Fact:You don’t have to be homeless and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down jobs, get through school, and provide for their families. Some are even able to excel. But just because you’re a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself or others in danger. Over time, the effects will catch up with you.
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Myth:Drinking is not a “real” addiction like drug abuse.
Fact:Alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is every bit as damaging as drug addiction. Alcohol addiction 'causes changes in the body and brain', and long-term alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on your health, your career, and your relationships. Alcoholics go through physical withdrawal when they stop drinking, just like drug users experience when they quit. - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Myths and Facts about drug abuse and addiction
Myth:Overcoming addiction is simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want.
Fact:Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.
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Myth:Using drugs like opioid painkillers are safe since they’re so commonly prescribed by doctors.
Fact:For example purpose only, short-term medical use of opioid painkillers can help to manage severe pain after an accident or surgery. However, regular or longer-term use of opioids can lead to addiction. Misuse of these drugs or taking someone else’s medication can have dangerous—even deadly—consequences.
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Myth:Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Fact:Most experts agree that addiction is a disease that affects the brain, but that doesn’t mean anyone is helpless. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.
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Myth:Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better.
Fact:Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process—and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Don’t wait to intervene until the addict has lost everything.
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Myth:You can’t force someone into treatment; they have to want help.
Fact:Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.
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Myth:Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point trying again.
Fact:Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that sobriety is a lost cause. Rather, it’s a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.

Suggested Resources

Some Typical Misconceptions

 Here is a list of things that A.A. IS NOT and  DOES NOT...

  • IS NOT a religious movement
  • IS NOT a temperance movement
  • IS NOT a social service organization (it has no paid social workers or professional field workers)
  • IS NOT an educational agency
  • IS NOT a cure or "cure-all"
  • IS NOT an employment agency
  • DOES NOT solicit or accept funds from outside sources; voluntary contributions from members and groups support A.A. services
  • DOES NOT run hospitals, rest homes, clubhouses, or any outside enterprises
  • DOES NOT prescribe treatment for alcoholics
  • DOES NOT pay for treatment of alcoholics

The sole purpose of A.A. is to help the alcoholic who wants to stop drinking and stay stopped.

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