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What is AA?

AA & Alcoholism

AA is concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of individual alcoholics who turn to the Fellowship for help. Alcoholics Anonymous does not engage in the fields of alcoholism research, medical or psychiatric treatment, education, or advocacy in any form, although members may participate in such activities as individuals.
The Fellowship has adopted a policy of "cooperation but not affiliation" with other organizations concerned with the problem of alcoholism.  Traditionally, Alcoholics Anonymous does not accept or seek financial support from outside sources, and members preserve personal anonymity in print and broadcast media and otherwise at the public level.

AA experience has always been made available freely to all who sought it - business people, spiritual leaders, civic groups, law enforcement officers, health and welfare personnel, educators, representatives of military establishments, institutional authorities, representatives of organized labour, and many others. But AA never endorses, supports, becomes affiliated with, or expresses an opinion on the programs of others in the field of alcoholism, since such actions would be beyond the scope of the Fellowship's primary purpose. In Great Britain AA’s relations with professional bodies, agencies, facilities and individuals involved with the problems of alcoholism are handled by members elected as officers by Groups, intergroups and regional assemblies. These officers are supported by committees of The General Service Board and assisted by staff of The General Service Office.

The Importance of Anonymity

Traditionally, AA members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the "public" level: press, radio, television, films and the new media technologies such as the Internet.

In the early days of AA, when more stigma was attached to the term "alcoholic" than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified - and publicised - was easy to understand. As the Fellowship of AA grew, the positive values of anonymity soon became apparent.

First, we know from experience that many problem drinkers might hesitate to turn to AA for help if they thought their problem might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with complete assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship.  Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us - that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.

While each member of AA is free to make his or her own interpretations of AA tradition, no individual is ever recognised as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself. AA is indebted to all media for their assistance in strengthening the Tradition of anonymity over the years. From time to time, the General Service Office contacts all major media in the United States and Canada, describing the Tradition and asking for cooperation in its observance.

An AA member may, for various reasons, "break anonymity" deliberately at the public level. Since this is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole obviously has no control over such deviations from tradition. It is clear, however, that such individuals do not have the approval of the overwhelming majority of members.