The basic unit of recovery in All Addicts Anonymous is the group. As it says in How to Get Going on the All Addicts Anonymous Way of Life, the basic text of AAA:
“You cannot recover alone. It is a deadly mistake to think that you can. In our times God has chosen to speak to addicts through brother and sister addicts who are ahead of them on the road to freedom. These are the people who can show you how to recover. Find them. Learn from them. Work with them. If you cannot locate an AAA group in your area, do what the pioneers in this field did: dig up a couple of people who are also looking for recovery, and start your own group.”
The following questions and answers are intended to provide the basic information you need to start your own group. For additional help, and AAA literature, get in touch with the Upstate Group of All Addicts Anonymous. The Upstate Group of All Addicts Anonymous is the general service headquarters of AAA. Call (888) 4-AAA-GROUP, or write the Upstate Group of All Addicts Anonymous, P.O. Box 500, Hankins, NY 12741.
What is an AAA group?
In simplest terms, an AAA group is any two or more addicts gathered together for recovery who choose to call themselves an AAA group. Four other basic points about AAA groups —
- There are no dues or fees for group membership — voluntary contributions only;
- Each AAA group conducts its internal affairs as it wishes — it being merely asked not to do anything that might injure All Addicts Anonymous as a whole;
- The better informed the members are about the principles of recovery — the Four Absolutes, Twelve Steps, and Ten Points — the stronger the group will be;
- Experience has proven that most of us cannot recover except as working members of an active group.
How do you become an AAA group member?
Group membership requires no formal application. Just as we are members of All Addicts Anonymous if we say we are, so are we members of a group if we say we are — and we keep coming back.
What kinds of meetings do AAA groups hold?
1. Discussion meetings.
An AAA member serving as leader opens the meeting and selects a topic for discussion. A few specific topic suggestions would include: one or more of the Four Absolutes, Twelve Steps, and Ten Points; one of the non-Step principles such as Easy Does It, Live and Let Live, One Day at a Time; or one of the big recovery-killers such as Resentment, Fear, or Self-Will.
2. Speaker meetings.
One or more members selected beforehand give their recovery stories, telling what they were like, what happened, and what they are like now. Most groups prefer that members who speak have a minimum period of 90 days of continuous abstinence.
3. Beginners’ meetings.
Led by an experienced group member, these are typically question-and-answer sessions to help newcomers.
4. Business meetings.
Some groups schedule special sessions throughout the year, apart from regular meetings, to hear reports from group officers and to discuss group affairs. Group officers usually are elected at such meetings.
The AAA home group
All AAA members are welcome at all groups. But most members find it essential to belong to one group which they call their “home group.” This is the group where they attend meetings most frequently, where they accept responsibilities, and where they sustain working Program friendships. The very core of AAA strength abides in the home group. Once isolated by their addictions, they find in the home group a solid, continuing support system, friends, and, very often, a sponsor (that is, an experienced Program friend who can give them practical guidance in working with the Four Absolutes, Twelve Steps, and Ten Points).
Suggested AAA meeting procedures
The chairman opens the meeting with a few words of welcome. Some groups also have a reading from the book How to Get Going on the All Addicts Anonymous Way of Life, frequently a portion of Chapter 3: Beginning Your Recovery: What to Hang to. Meetings close with members reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
There are no dues or fees for membership in AAA, but we do have expenses so groups generally “pass the hat” in order to cover expenses such as rent, literature, and refreshments. Members are free to contribute whatever they wish.
How to start a new AAA group
Establishing an AAA group takes only 1) the need for one as expressed by two or more addicts; 2) a meeting place; and 3) AAA literature.
Once the group is off to a good start, it would be helpful to announce its presence to the Upstate Group of AAA in Hankins, NY, which can provide advice and moral support, and supply AAA literature.
In order for a group to keep going, all kinds of jobs must be done. It is through the combined efforts and ongoing commitment of group members that:
- A meeting place is provided and maintained.
- Programs are arranged for the meetings.
- Contributions are collected, and properly allocated and spent.
- AAA literature is kept on hand.
- Refreshments are often available.
- Addicts in the area learn that All Addicts Anonymous is available and how to find it.
- Calls for help are answered.
- Group problems are aired and resolved.
- Continuing contact is sustained with the rest of All Addicts Anonymous.
The following offices are established by most groups in order to serve the group in its inner workings and in the community at large.
Chairman: Group chairmen serve for a specified period of time, usually six months. Experience suggests that they should have been abstinent at least a year, and ideally, they have held other group offices first.
The chairman coordinates activities with their group officers — and with those members who assume the responsibility for literature, hospitality, refreshments, programming individual meetings within the group, and other vital functions.
Secretary: Like chairmen, secretaries need to be experienced, responsible group members. For groups that have no chairmen, they may perform the tasks associated with that position. Unless other officers or committees are in the picture, the secretary generally is expected to:
- Announce and/or mail information about important AAA activities and events.
- Maintain and update a strictly confidential file of names, addresses, and telephone numbers of group members; and know which ones are available for Twelfth-Step calls.
- Keep a record of members’ anniversaries, if the group so chooses.
- Accept and assign calls for Twelfth-Step help.
Treasurer: AAA groups are self-supporting through their members’ voluntary contributions. Passing the hat at meetings usually covers the group’s monetary needs. No one is obliged to contribute, but most people do. Group funds are ordinarily earmarked for such services as rent, AAA literature, and refreshments.
Treasurers maintain their group’s financial records (usually in a ledger book) and keep the members informed about how much money is taken in and how it is spent.
How can newcomers be reached and helped?
In order for addicts to be helped by AAA they need to know AAA exists and where to find it. So it is a good idea for groups to communicate their meeting place and time to the general public.
A typical newspaper notice should give the group’s location, phone, mail address and time of open meeting.
Some groups keep lists of members available to do Twelfth-Step work. Groups may have hospitality committees to make sure no new member, visitor, or inquiring prospect goes unwelcomed.
Sponsors usually take the responsibility for helping newcomers find their way in AAA.
What AAA does not do —
- Recruit members.
- Keep membership records or case histories.
- Take medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses.
- Provide hospitalization, drugs, or medical or psychiatric treatment.
- Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or other such services.
- Provide domestic or vocational counseling.
- Engage in research.
- Affiliate with social agencies.
- Provide letters of reference to parole boards, attorneys, court officials, schools, businesses, social agencies, or any other organization or institution.
AAA and the addiction “field”
All Addicts Anonymous is a fellowship of addicts who help each other to stay abstinent and who offer to share their recovery experience freely with others who may have an addiction problem. AAA members are distinctive in their acceptance of a suggested program of Four Absolutes, Twelve Steps, and Ten Points, designed for personal recovery from addiction.
AAA is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continuing abstinence of individual addicts who turn to the fellowship for help. AAA does not engage in the field of addiction research, counseling, or education — or in medical or psychiatric treatment in any form.
AAA and the other Anonymous Fellowships
All Addicts Anonymous is simply old-fashioned AA, as adapted for all addicts and all addictions. The recovery Program of All Addicts Anonymous is based on the Twelve Steps of the original Program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Recovered addicts are working together all over the country in the various Anonymous Fellowships – including AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), AAA (All Addicts Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous), GA (Gamblers Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), PA (Pills Anonymous), SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), and more.