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Helpline 0800 917 7650 

This leaflet is intended to help people approaching Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for the first time. In it we have tried to answer the questions most frequently in the minds of newcomers - the questions which were in our minds when we approached the Fellowship. 

Am I an alcoholic? If you repeatedly drink more than you intend or want to, or if you get into trouble when you drink, you may be an alcoholic. Only you can decide. No one in AA will tell you whether you are or not. 

What can I do if I am worried about my drinking? Seek help - Alcoholics Anonymous can help. 

What is Alcoholics Anonymous? We are a fellowship of men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking and have found ourselves in various sorts of trouble as a result of drink. We attempt, most of us successfully, to create a satisfactory way of life without alcohol. For this we need the help and support of other alcoholics in AA. 

If I go to an AA meeting, does that commit me to anything? No. AA keeps no membership files, or attendance records. You need disclose nothing about yourself. No one will bother you if you don't want to come back. 

What happens if I meet people I know in AA? They will be there for the same reason as you. They will not reveal your identity to outsiders. At AA you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is one of the reasons we call ourselves Alcoholics Anonymous. 

What happens at an AA meeting? An AA meeting may take one of several forms, but at any meeting you will find alcoholics talking about what drink did to their lives and personalities; what action they took to deal with this and how they are living their lives today. 

How can this help me with my drink problem? We in AA know what it is like to be addicted to alcohol, and to be unable to keep promises made to others and ourselves that we will stop drinking. We are not professional therapists; our only qualification for helping others to recover from alcoholism is that we have recovered ourselves, but problem drinkers coming to us know that recovery is possible because they see people who have done it. 

Why do you keep on going to meetings after you are cured? We in the Fellowship of AA believe there is no such thing as a cure for alcoholism. We can never return to normal drinking and our ability to stay away from alcohol depends on maintaining our physical, mental and spiritual health. This we can achieve by going to meetings regularly and putting into practice what we learn there. In addition, we find it helps us to stay sober if we help other alcoholics. 

How do I join AA? You are an AA member if and when you say so. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking, and many of us were not very wholehearted about that when we first 

approached AA. 

How much does AA membership cost? 

There are no dues or fees for AA membership. An AA group will usually have a collection during the meeting to cover running expenses, such as rent, coffee, etc, and to this all members are free to contribute as much or as little as they wish. 

Is AA a religious organisation? No. Nor is it allied to any religious organisation. 

There's a lot of talk about God, though, isn't there? The majority of AA members believe that we have found the solution to our drink problem not through individual willpower, but through a Power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the collective therapy of AA, still others refuse to believe in it at all. There is room in AA for people of all shades of belief and non-belief. 

Can I bring my family to an AA meeting? Family members or close friends are welcome at 'open' AA meetings - discuss this with your local contact. 

What advice do you give to new members? In our experience the people who recover in AA are those who: 1 stay away from the first drink 

attend AA meetings regularly seek out the people in AA who have successfully stayed sober 

for some time 4 try to put into practice the AA Programme of recovery 


How can I contact AA? Look for Alcoholics Anonymous in your local telephone directory; in many places a local AA number is also included in the useful numbers section. These telephones are manned by volunteers who will be happy to answer your questions or put you in touch with those who can. If there is no AA telephone service close to you, write or phone the General Service Office for Great Britain at the address opposite. Remember that alcoholism is a progressive illness. Take it seriously, even if you feel you are at an early stage of the illness. Alcoholism is a killer disease. If you are an alcoholic and if you continue to drink, in time you will get worse. 

Some other AA pamphlets Here is a list of other AA publications which will be helpful to you: 

Is AA for you? How it works Now that you've stopped: 15 Points 

Young people in AA AA for the woman Letter to a woman alcoholic Problems other than alcohol Do you think you're different? A member's eye view 

General Service Office AA., P.O. Box 1, 10 Toft Green, York, Y01 7NJ 



Approved by The AA General Service Conference in Great Britain 

General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited 1979. 

Registered Charity No 226745 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission 

of the publisher 


Helpline 0800 917 7650 

General Service Office, P.O. Box 1,10 Toft Green, York YO1 7NJ 

Tel (01904) 644026 






Helpline 0800 917 7650 

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self supporting through our own contributions. 

AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober, and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. 

Copyright 1947 by the AA Grapevine 

Who Me? 

Not all drinkers are alcoholics. Many people can drink normally and have a normal life. Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to offer these drinkers. For them, alcohol is not a problem. 

This message is for those of us who do have a problem with alcohol and crave it even though it is hurting us badly..... and that's just the start. 

No alcoholic starts as a down-and-out. It is our drinking and what it makes us do that in time may lose us our homes, families and jobs. Accidents, jail sentences, hospital admissions, suicides and murders are often linked to alcoholic drinking. We know because we are alcoholics. 

WE KNOW what it is like to give up drink, and then wait in agony for the off-licence or the pub to open. 

WE KNOW what it is like to spend money that we haven't got; to be driven to steal; to hide drink around the house; to wake up not knowing where we have been or what we have done, or knowing only too well. 

WE TOO have felt those terrible feelings of loneliness, despair, depression, shame and self-hatred that this illness brings. 

Those of us who have tried to control our drinking have found that we cannot. We behave much like other people while we stay away from drink, but if we take any alcohol at all it is difficult or impossible for us to stop. 

We have lost control of our drinking. 

Alcoholism means that when we drink we want more of the very thing that hurts us and makes us ill and lonely. By drinking more we make things worse and worse. We can lose everything; our family, friends, home and job, and we don't really know why we are doing it, just that we want alcohol. This is why an alcoholic can't be a social drinker and just have one or two. 

Many of us found it hard to understand that for us it was the first drink that did the damage. We argued that we never got drunk on one drink; it was the fourth, or the eighth, or the sixteenth, which was the culprit that did the damage. If only we had just had one or two we would have been all right. 

The fact was that we could not stop at one or two. Once we had taken the first drink, our power of choice had gone. Even if, occasionally, we managed to control our drinking, that very control made us think that - next day or next week or next month - we could handle alcohol. We can't. It is the first drink that destroys our power of choice. No matter how small, or how innocent or tempting the first drink seems we stay away from it - a day at a time. 

One of the unhappiest people in the world is the chronic alcoholic who really wants to enjoy life as he or she once did, 

but who can't picture life without alcohol. He is obsessed by the idea that one day he will be able to control it and live a normal life. As members of AA, we believe that alcoholism is a deadly illness. Many men and women who suffer from it find it hard to believe this. Alcoholics have to deal with people who see them as just useless and bad. 

THROUGH COMING TO THE FELLOWSHIP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS we found out how to stop drinking, and how to stay stopped. We have found that life without alcohol is not just OK, but that we can enjoy it. We were able to start to get better as soon as we stopped fighting the idea that we were alcoholics. 

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself - 

When you drink, do you have little control over the amount you take? 

When you honestly want to stop drinking, do you find you cannot? 

If these are true for you, there's a good chance that you are alcoholic and have lost control over your drinking. 

BUT if you can say that you are an alcoholic there is hope for you. 

Today it may seem like the end of the world to you, but there are thousands of people in AA who can state that knowing and accepting that they were powerless over alcohol was not an end, but a beginning; the beginning of their recovery and the start of a new, useful and rewarding life. 

AA has a simple programme that works. It is a down-to-earth programme designed BY and FOR alcoholics. If you honestly want to stop drinking above all else and are fully willing to follow this programme without qualification, you can have sobriety. 


This does not mean signing up, or paying money. You just come along to an AA meeting, where you will find people who have been through the same sort of things as you. Get to lots of AA meetings. That way you will hear different members telling their stories. Among them you will find people like you - people you feel understand you. 

Our ability to stay away from that first drink depends on us taking care of mental and spiritual health. Staying sober goes on all the time. We have found our only sure - and enjoyable - course is to stay close to AA. That way we don't go back to our old destructive ways of thinking and behaviour and we share our experience with the newcomer. 

At first some of us thought this was obsessive. Once we were sober we wanted to spend more time with our loved ones, to get ahead with careers, or hobbies. 

Older, wiser members urged us to put our sobriety first. They pointed out that, in time, we would each find the balance that 

was right for us. Without sobriety, the future held nothing but destruction of ourselves and everything around us; with sobriety, the world could once more open up for us. 

Maybe you are still not sure you are an alcoholic. 

In which case, a few meetings may help you to decide. All we ask is that you bring with you an open mind. 

Why not give the AA programme a try? 

We did, and it has worked for us. 


The AA Programme of Recovery is summarised in the suggested Twelve Steps. These are set out in the book ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (The 'Big Book?), which was written and based on the experience of the first hundred AAs to get sober in America. 



We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 


Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 


Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 


12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we 

tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

You may see the point of these steps straight away 

On the other hand, they may seem completely alien to you, full of talk of God and wrongdoing. When we speak of God or spiritual awakening, we are not giving you a new theology or trying to put a new light or explanation on your own belief. 

In AA there are as many different religious beliefs and interpretations as there are members. You only need to come to believe that a power greater than yourself exists and is much more capable of running your daily life than you have shown yourself to be; for some that power is the AA group, or the Fellowship as a whole. 

A programme for living 

If you are an alcoholic, sobriety is the most important thing in your life without exception. You may believe your job, or your home life, or one of many other things come first. But consider, if you do not get sober and stay sober, the chances are you won't have a job, a family, sanity or even life. If you are convinced that everything in life depends on your sobriety, you have much more chance of getting sober and staying sober. If you put other things first you are only hurting your chances. 

In order to live without alcohol, most of us find that we have to live comfortably with ourselves, our conscience, and with the world. The Twelve Steps help us to do so. They help us to sort out our attitudes in areas which may always have been difficult for us - relationships with other people perhaps, or our attitude to class, money or responsibility. They help us get rid of guilt about the past and anxiety about the future. 

ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE - Are you an alcoholic? 

To answer this question ask yourself the following questions and answer them as honestly as you can. 

1. Is drinking making your home life unhappy? 2. Does your drinking make you careless of 

your family's welfare? 3. Do you drink because you are shy with 

other people? 4. Is drinking affecting your reputation? 5. Do you drink to escape from worries 

or trouble? 6. Do you drink alone? 7. Have you lost time from work due to 

drinking? 8. Has your ambition decreased since drinking? 9. Has your efficiency decreased since 

drinking? 10. Is drinking jeopardising your job or 

business? 11. Have you ever felt remorse after drinking? 12. Are you in financial difficulties as a 

result of drinking? 

wo ??????????? 


13. Do you turn to or seek an inferior 

environment when drinking? 14. Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily? 15. Does drinking cause you to have difficulty 

in sleeping? 16. Do you want a drink the next morning? 17. Do you drink to build up your 

self-confidence? 18. Have you ever had a complete loss of 

memory as a result of drinking? 19. Has your doctor ever treated you for 

drinking? 20. Have you ever been in hospital or prison 

because of drinking? 

What's your score? If you have answered YES to any one of the questions, there is a definite warning that you may be an alcoholic. 

If you have answered YES to any two, the chances are that you are an alcoholic. 

If you have answered YES to three or more, you are almost certainly an alcoholic. 

Why do we say this? Only because the experience of hundreds of thousands of recovering alcoholics has taught us some basic truths about our symptoms - and about ourselves. 




Approved by The AA General Service Conference in Great Britain 

General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous 

(Great Britain) Limited 1979. Registered Charity Nos. 226745: SC038023 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, stored in a retrievable system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior 

permission of the publisher. 

AA General Service Office P.O. Box 1 

10 Toft Green, York YO1 7NJ Telephone No. (01904) 644026 www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk Helpline 0800 917 7650 






Helpline 0800 917 7650 

Is AA for you? 

Only you can decide whether you want to give AA a try - whether you think it can help you. We who are in AA came because we finally gave up trying to control our drinking. We still hated to admit that we could never drink safely. Then we heard from other AA members that we are sick. (We thought so for years!) We found out that many people suffered from the same feelings of guilt and loneliness and hopelessness that we did. We found out that we had these feelings because we were sick with alcoholism. We decided to try to face up to what alcohol had done to us. Here are some of the questions we tried to answer honestly. If we answered YES to four or more questions, we were in deep trouble with our drinking. See how you do. Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem. 

YES NO 1 Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a 

week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days? Most of us in AA made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to AA, and AA said: 'Just try not to drink today.' (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.) Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking - stop telling you what to do? In AA we do not tell anyone to do anything. We just talk about our own drinking, the trouble we got into, and how we stopped. We will be glad to help you, if you want us to. 

YES NO 3 Have you ever switched from one kind of drink 0 

to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk? We tried all kinds of ways. We made our drinks weak. Or just drank beer. Or we did not drink cocktails. Or only drank on weekends. You name it, we tried it. But if we drank anything with alcohol in it, we usually got drunk eventually. Have you had a drink in the morning during the past year? Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking? This is a pretty sure sign that you are not 

drinking 'socially'. 5 Do you envy people who can drink without 

getting into trouble? At one time or another, most of us have wondered why we were not like most people, who really can 

take it or leave it. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year? Be honest! Doctors say that if you have a problem with alcohol and keep on drinking, it will get worse - never better. Eventually you will die, or end up in an institution for the rest of your life. 

The only hope is to stop drinking. 7 Has your drinking caused trouble at home? O N 

Before we came into AA, most of us said that it was the people or problems at home that made us drink. We could not see that our drinking just made everything worse. It never solved problems 


YES NO 8 Do you ever try to get 'extra' drinks at a party 

because you do not get enough? Most of us used to have a few' before we started out if we thought that it was going to be 'that' kind of party. And if drinks were not served fast enough, we would go some place else to get more. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don't mean to? Many of us kidded ourselves into thinking that we drank because we wanted to. After we came to AA we found out that once we started to drink, we 

couldn't stop. 10 Have you missed days of work because of N N 

drinking? Many of us admit now that we called in sick' lots of times when the truth was that we were hung 

over or on a drunk. 11 Do you have "blackouts"? 

A blackout is when there are drinking hours or days we cannot remember. When we came into AA we found that this is a pretty sure sign of 

alcoholic drinking. 12 Have you ever felt that your life would be 

better if you did not drink? Many of us started to drink because drinking made life seem better, at least for a while. By the time we got into AA we felt trapped. We were drinking to live and living to drink. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

AA does not promise to solve your life's problems. But we can show you how we are learning to live without booze 'one day at a time. We stay away from that 'first drink'. If there is no first one, there cannot be a tenth one. And when we got rid of booze, we found that life became much more manageable. 

What's your score? 

Did you answer YES four times or more? If so, you are probably in trouble with alcohol. Why do we say this? Because thousands of people in AA have said so for many years. They found out the truth about themselves - the hard way. But again, only you can decide whether you think AA is for you. Try to keep an open mind on the subject. If the answer is YES, we will be glad to show you how we stopped drinking ourselves. Just call us. Look for Alcoholics Anonymous in your local telephone directory - often in the 'useful numbers' section. If there is no AA service close to you, write or phone the General Service Office for Great Britain at this address: 

AA General Service Office P.O. Box 1 10 Toft Green, York YO1 7NJ 

Helpline: 0800 917 7650 www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk 




This is AA General Service Conference-approved literature 

1973 AA World Services Inc. 

Reprinted with permission by General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) 

Registered Charity No. 226745 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or 

transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the publisher. 

I am responsible... when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible. 

A.A. General Service Office, P.O. Box 1, 10 Toft Green, York YO1 7NJ Tel (01904) 644026 



15 Points 




Helpline 0800 917 7650 

Now that you have stopped drinking, your main problem is not to start again. Here are a few practical tips, based on the experience of others, that should help make this easier for 


1. Try to understand that you have a choice - between unhappy drunken drinking and a happy, sober life by staying away from the first drink, one day at a time. 

2. Try to be really grateful that: 

you have been fortunate to discover what was wrong before it was too late. So much can be yours for so small a price you can swap just one drink for all the happiness sobriety gives you AA exists, and you found out about it in time you now know you are not a bad or wicked person but you have been in the grip of a compulsion 

3. Try to eat healthily and regularly. You will feel less 

likely to want a drink on a full stomach. 

? accept that you will experience, perhaps for a long 

time, the nagging craving for a drink: this may simply be due to the body's demand for liquid and/or sugar, which is often very strong. So drink plenty - provided it's not alcoholic. Fruit juices with glucose, tea or coffee with plenty of sugar will best satisfy your body's need accept, too, that you may feel - the sudden impulse just to take a drink - the craving, not for a drink as such, but for the 

soothing glow and warmth a drink or two once gave you 

4. Easy does it. Alcoholics tend to try and do too much too 

quickly. One day at a time, remember that the times when you don't want a drink are the times when you can build up the strength not to take one when you do want it. 

5.Have a plan for each day, a plan where you live that day without taking a drink, regardless of what may upset you or how hard the old urge for a drink may hit you. You may not be able to carry it out but do your best - don't just muddle through. Never sit gazing into space with your mind a complete blank. 

Do something, anything positive: 

go for a walk 

? take a bath 

do a bit of gardening 

clean your shoes 

? make a phone call 

? send an e-mail 

? go to a meeting 

6. Don't for a split second allow yourself to think: 'It's just 

not fair! Isn't it a pity that I can't take a drink like so-called normal people?' Remember, resentment is the number one offender and losing your temper is a luxury you can't afford. It could be that the other person could be right, so be tolerant and avoid emotional disturbance. 

7. Don't think about or talk about any real or imagined 

pleasure you once got from drinking. 

8. Don't allow yourself to think a drink or two would make 

some bad situation better, or at least easier to live with. There is no problem which a drink will not make bigger, so keep all yours down to their true size by staying sober. 

9. First things first. Try to get a clear idea of your priorities. 

You may believe your job, or your home life, or one of many other things come first. But always remember - sobriety is without exception the most important thing in your life. If you do not get sober, and stay sober, chances are you won't have a job, your family, your sanity or even your life: if you are convinced that everything in life depends on your sobriety, you are much more likely to get sober and stay sober. 

10.Try to put your situation in perspective. Many people 

have worse problems than you. 

Think how happy they would be if their problems could be solved just by not taking one drink today. Think how fortunate you are to have so simple and small a problem. 

11 Try to enjoy being sober. Think all the time: 

? how good it is to be free of shame and guilt 

? how good it is to be free of the consequences of a 

drunk just ended, or of a coming drunk you have never 

before been able to prevent 

? how good it is to be free of what people have been 

thinking and whispering about you, and of their 

mingled pity and contempt 

? how good it is to be free of fear 

? how good it is to eat and sleep normally, and to wake 

up glad you are alive; glad you were sober yesterday, 

and glad you have the privilege of staying sober today how good it feels to be able to face whatever life may dish out, with peace of mind, self-respect, and full possession of all your faculties 

12. Link in your mind these two ideas: 

? a drink was the single cause of all the misery, shame 

and fear you have ever known 

? a drink would destroy your newfound happiness, and 

take from you your self-respect and peace of mind 

13. Seek out ways to help other alcoholics - and remember 

the first way to help others is to stay sober yourself. 

14. Don't forget that when you're feeling down, your 

resistance to a drink is low. If you feel troubled and confused, the phone is your surest link with AA help. There is much comfort in a true and understanding friend standing by. The person you contact may need your call as much as you do. So never hesitate to ring at any time. And remember, in times of difficulty when you can't get the help, the Serenity Prayer said to your God as you understand Him will bring you sufficient confidence to cope. He is always available. 

15. Take comfort from others in AA who have found 

sobriety. Their example and their experience can give you hope that in time, you too will no longer need to 




Approved by The AA General Service Conference in Great Britain 

General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited 

Registered Charity No 226745 & SCO38023 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the 


Helpline 0800 917 7650 www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk 

General Service Office, P.O. Box 1,10 Toft Green, York YO1 7NJ 

Tel (01904) 644026 



"Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the 

level of press, radio, and films." 

TRADITION TWELVE "Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities." 




Copyright 1971 by A.A. World Services Inc. 

reprinted with permission by General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) 

Registered Charity No. 226745 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or transmitted in any form or by any 

means without the prior permission of the publisher 

AA General Service Office, P.O. BOX I, 10 Toft Green, York Y01 7NJ Telephone: 01904-644026 

Helpline: 0800 917 7650 www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk 


source of help which might reveal his identity. 

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous make a point of carrying the message about their own recovery in AA on a person-to-person basis - but never disclose the membership of others. In this way, they may serve as examples of recovery and thus stimulate active alcoholics to seek help. 

2 Past events indicate that those 

alcoholics who seek public recognition as AA members may drink again. 

3 Public attention and publicity 

for individual members of AA would invite self-serving competition and conflict over differing personal views. 

In public media, however - such as TV, radio, films and the press - AA Traditions urge members to maintain strict anonymity, for three reasons: 

Anonymity in public media guards the unity of AA members and preserves the attraction of the program for the millions who still need help. 

1 We have learned from our 

own experience that the active alcoholic will shun any