AA Jargon Buster
When you start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings you may be at first bewildered by some jargon used and think you need to learn a new language! Here is an explanation of some of the main phrases used. If you want an explanation of any further phrases or acronyms please email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be included.
First of all what is AA?
Everyone at AA is a recovering alcoholic. We're not a cult. We're not religious. You can say as much or as little as you like.
We help each other stay sober a day at a time by sharing our experience, our strength and our hope with each other and working a 12 step programme as best we can.
Closed meeting - This meeting is restricted to those who have a desire to stop drinking.
Open meeting - This meeting is open to anyone to attend. This may include family members, health professionals and anyone who has an interest in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Please note a request can be made to make a closed meeting open on a particular instance. This is decided on at the time by agreement with those members present.
The Programme - The AA programme of recovery which is a 12 step suggested programme of action in order to help the alcoholic's recovery from alcoholism
The Steps - 12 steps of recovery which are a plan of action to help the alcoholic's recovery from alcoholism. For more info see here http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/The-12-Steps-of-AA
The Traditions - the 12 traditions of AA are AA principles that are suggested so that AA will continue to follow its primary purpose to spread the word to the suffering alcoholic. For more info see here http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/AA-Traditions
HP - this means Higher Power. Higher power means a power greater than yourself that can be found and connected with to restore the alcoholic to sanity
John Barleycorn - alcohol
LIF - love in fellowship, a way some AA members sign off letters/texts
Intergroup - a group that meets (in Tyne and Northumbria every 2 months) to deal with regional issues such as public information, prison service, the website, phone service and so on. Please see http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/members/Regional-&-Local-Websites-(new)/North-East-Region/Tyne-&-Northumbria-Intergroup/Tyne-and-Northumbria-Intergroup-Info-Section
GSR - group service representative who is a representative from each AA meeting 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 office and so on
Region - a group that meetings with representatives from intergroups in a region to discuss matters effecting AA within the region
Prudent reserve - an amount of money that is kept aside in an AA meeting or in Intergroup to cover rent/tea and coffee usually for the next month. The remainder is sent to Intergroup.
GSO - General service office which is the central office for AA in England. It is based in York.
The Big Book - the 'textbook' of AA which outlines the problem, the solution and stories from members
The 12 and 12 - a book that explains the AA steps in more detail
Sponsor - someone who can help another member go through the steps and suggest ways for them to maintain sobriety
Sponsee - the AA member the sponsor helps
God as I understand Him - this means God can be a members own conception of a Higher Power, this can be a religious God or an idea of Mother Nature/fate or any other Higher Power the individual may choose. The fellowship of AA can even be an individual's higher power
Slip - a relapse, when someone drinks alcohol after a period of sobriety
Dry drunk - a person who is not drinking alcohol but is not trying to change through the AA programme and is therefore still likely to be displaying some of the same behaviours as when they were drinking
Spiritual awakening - the personality change that takes place in order to bring about recovery from alcoholism
12 step work - going to try to help a suffering alcoholic through a visit, phone call, prison service, sponsorship and so on
Phone service - answering the AA helpline and talking to someone who has a problem with alcohol
Doing service - taking part in a meeting for example doing the chair, share, literature, making tea and coffee, putting away the chairs etc
Chair - the member who leads the AA meeting for a time usually a month, and asks another member to come and share their experience, strength and hope
Share - the member who shares their experience, strength and hope in a meeting, tells their story
Secretary - the member who opens the meeting room, takes group conscience and other tasks for a period of time usually a year
Group conscience - a meeting about an AA meeting that takes place usually once a month and discusses issues relating to the meeting for example the 'pot', the format of the meeting, who will chair next month and so on. In it members may also vote regarding matters that have arisen at intergroup
The pot - the collection of money taken that covers rent of a meeting room, tea coffee etc. the remainder is sent to Intergroup. Intergroup use this on public information, prison service costs, phone service costs etc. intergroup then send any left money to GSO to be used for AA purposes for example improving the website, literature etc
Tradition 7 - money collected AA members to cover the costs of the meeting and help the Fellowship to perform it's Primary Purpose (to help to Alcoholic who still suffers)
Self-supporting - An AA Group that covers it's own costs through the contribution of it's member's, this can also include having all of it's Group Officer positions filled