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AA Jargon Buster


When you start attending Alcoholics Anonymous you may be at first bewildered by some of the jargon people use and think you need to learn a new language! Here is an explanation of some of the things you'll here. If you are still baffled by something you have heard and require clarification of its meaning, please email wrigsecretary@aa-email.org.uk .

First of all, what is AA?

Everyone at AA is a recovering alcoholic. We're not a cult. We're not religious. When and if you attend, you can say as much or as little as you like.

Over a period of time, when we work the AA 12 step program, attend regular meetings, speak to and help other alcoholics, we find our problems with alcohol simply disappear.

A closed meeting - a meeting restricted to those who have a desire to stop drinking.

An open meeting - a meeting open to anyone who wishes to attend. This may include family members, healthcare professionals and anyone who has an interest in Alcoholics Anonymous. Please note a request can be made to open a closed meeting by asking the members who are attending on the day.

The Programme - a suggested program of recovery from alcoholism consisting of 12 steps.

The Steps - 12 steps of recovery which are a plan of action that if followed, bring about recovery from alcoholism.

For more info see http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/The-12-Steps-of-AA

The Traditions - the 12 traditions of AA are guiding principles that ensure AA survives and is able to carry the AA message to future generations of suffering alcoholics.

For more info see http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/AA-Traditions

John Barleycorn - alcohol

LIF (love in fellowship) - a way some AA members sign off letters and texts.

Intergroup - a group that meets every three months to deal with matters including public information, the prison service, the website and the phone service within a specific localised area.

GSR (Group Service Representative) - a representative from each AA group that attends intergroup on behalf of their meeting.

Intergroup officer - a member who holds a position at intergroup such as public information officer, electronic communications officer, treasurer, armed services officer and so on....

Region - a group consisting of regional representatives. Region identifies and discusses matters that affect AA within that region.

Prudent reserve - an amount of money that is kept aside in an AA group or in intergroup to cover one month's expenses for things such as rent, tea and coffee. The remainder is sent to intergroup.

GSO (General Service Office) - the central office for AA in England. It is based in York.

ODAAT - "one day at a time". AA members try to live one day at a time by working the AA 12 step program. By focusing on what is to be done today and not being concerned about what is happening tomorrow, next week or a year from now, the alcoholic is best able to handle and cope with life challenges in manageable "chunks".

A chip - a round metal token given to celebrate a length of continuous sobriety. Chips are produced for all time periods. For example 24 hours, a week, a month, three months, a year, 10 years, 30 years.

The Big Book - the “textbook” of AA which outlines the alcoholic problem; the solution including the 12 step program of recovery and some stories from members.

The 12 and 12 - a book that discusses the AA 12 step program and the 12 Traditions from the perspective of a co-founding member of AA.

A sponsor - a member of AA that helps guide someone through the 12 step program of recovery. You choose your own sponsor as and when you feel ready to proceed with your recovery. There are no expectations of you in AA!

A sponsee - the AA member a sponsor helps.

HP - an abbreviation for "Higher Power". Higher Power is a Power greater than yourself. The 12 step program of recovery connects the alcoholic sufferer to their HP which then relieves their alcoholic problem.

God as I understand Him - this means your conception of God or a Higher Power. You may may choose to understand God as a religious God or more commonly, as something resembling the following: an idea of Mother Nature, the Spirit of the Universe, Fate or any other conception of a Power greater than yourself.

A Slip - this means a relapse when someone has drunk alcohol after a period of not drinking alcohol.

A dry drunk - a person who is not drinking alcohol, however, has not yet decided to progress in their recovery by working the suggested AA 12 step programme. This person is likely to be still experiencing much of the discomfort and problems they were experiencing while drinking.

A spiritual awakening - the result of working the suggested 12 step program of recovery. It is a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.

12 step work - carrying the message of recovery to the still suffering alcoholic.

Service - helping other alcoholics.

Phone service - answering the AA helpline and talking to someone who has a problem with alcohol.

The chair - the AA member of a group that leads the AA meeting for a time - usually a month - and asks another member to come and share their experience, strength and hope.

The sharer - the AA member who shares their experience, strength and hope (their story) in a meeting.

The secretary - the group member who opens the meeting room, co-ordinates group conscience and performs other tasks for a time period of usually a year.

Self-supporting - AA is an organisation run by its members and supported by voluntary contributions collected from its members.

Tradition 7 - the tradition that money will be collected at each meeting to cover the costs of that meeting. Tradition 7 is an optional, voluntary contribution made by each member.

The pot - the collection of money consisting of only voluntary contributions that covers the rent for the room where the meeting is held, refreshments and any other running expenses of that group. The remaining money is sent to Intergroup. Intergroup use this money for public information, prison service costs, phone service costs and any other important service expenses. Intergroup then sends any surplus funds to GSO to be used for AA purposes such as improving the website and producing literature.

A home-group - an AA group that a member chooses to become their home-group. It may be regarded as a "family-unit” where home-group members support/encourage each other and perform service relating to the running of that group.

A group conscience - a conscience meeting (distinct form an AA meeting) held by home-group members to discuss things relating to how they run their meeting. For example the “pot”, the format of the meeting, who will chair next month and so on…. During group conscience, members may also vote regarding matters that have been discussed at intergroup. Any AA members including those who are not home-group members can attend a group conscience.

A belly-button birthday - someone's actual birthday (the day they were born) rather than their sobriety birthday.

LAST UPDATED 27 AUGUST 2015