Anonymous (AA) - special focus on service personnel and veterans
Within the armed services, alcoholism can have a
negative impact on unit readiness and morale. AA may be able to help if there
is such a problem in your organisation or among others you may know. Alcoholism
can strike anywhere regardless of profession, rank, age, or background. This
information is as relevant to service families as to the serving personnel
The purpose of this section is to introduce AA to
professionals within the armed services or MOD who may encounter problem
drinkers during the course of their work, and to present how AA might be able
to help. You may be a commanding officer, a chaplain, a medical officer, a
counsellor, or a welfare worker - or may simply have observed a drinking problem
in a friend or colleague. Whatever your relationship to the problem drinker,
this information may help.
This information applies equally to:
- Public sector organisations, including NHS
England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, other NHS entities, public health
departments within local authorities, the Ministry of Defence, and other public
sector agencies concerned with the health and welfare of veterans and their
Other charities providing services to veterans
and their families as part of a broader remit.
For information about accessing meetings or about AA in general, please see the banner at the top of the page.. Some
additional information about AA specifically for members of the armed services:
- AA is a global organisation with meetings in
scores of countries, meaning that, wherever an individual is stationed, there
may well be an AA presence;
on occasion there are groups that meet 'inside
the wire', but groups typically meet in the local community;
there is a network of AA members who live in
remote areas where there is no local group to attend, who have their own
newsletter entitled Loners International;
anonymity - as AA's name suggests - is a prized
tradition of the fellowship, and this is no less true for serving personnel;
there are many established AA members who are
current or former service personnel, and current or former service do not
present a barrier to entry; we are also able to put newcomers in touch with
We are aware that there are many other structures and
agencies - both within the armed services and in the local community - that assist
problem drinkers. We are not in competition with any such groups; we merely
offer a resource that has been invaluable to us as ex-problem drinkers. AA
groups tend to meet in the evenings (although early morning, lunchtime, and
afternoon meetings are held in certain locations), and AA attendance does not
preclude participation in any other programmes aimed at assisting the problem
How AA can further assist
(1) Written materials
- Existing AA pamphlets
and fliers aimed at (a) professionals
who encounter or help alcoholics and (b)
problem drinkers interested in the possibility that AA may be able to help
them. The latter category includes general materials aimed at any problem
drinkers and materials tailored for problem drinkers who are service personnel
or veterans. These materials are available for distribution in hard copy.
New materials in soft
copy that are more easily distributable. These can be drawn up based on
existing materials and can be tailored to the needs of the organisation through
which they are being distributed or based on the specific target audience.
- Armed Services Liaison
Officers ('ASLOs') able to present to professionals to explain what AA can
offer and how problem drinkers can access AA.
In areas where there are
no local ASLOs in role, Public Information/Health Liaison Officers equally
equipped to provide the above service.
by ASLOs to hold informal AA meetings in facilities or settings where problem
drinkers are seeking help (either on an inpatient or an outpatient/drop-in
basis), to hold brief, informal presentations, or to talk one-to-one to problem
(experienced AA members practising the '12th step' of AA's 12-step programme,
which is to attempt to carry AA's message of recovery to alcoholics). These
individuals can introduce problem drinkers to AA and ensure they are given a
How professionals can
access this help
Call the General Service Office on 01904 644026 or email firstname.lastname@example.org requesting the assistance of your nearest
Armed Services Liaison Officer.
How individual problem
drinkers can access AA
- Attending an AA meeting
can be a good way of identifying whether AA might be able to help. Many
meetings are open to visitors or those who have not yet committed to AA but
would like to find out more about it for themselves.
This website offers
instant access to up-to-date details of AA meetings nationally (and
English-speaking meetings in continental Europe). Anyone wishing to attend a
meeting may simply look up a location and attend. Whilst this suits some
people, we generally find it more effective for an individual’s first encounter
with AA to be a little more structured.
The individual can call
the main telephone number 0800 9177 650 or email the main email address email@example.com to discuss
his or her problem with another alcoholic. Based on this conversation, the
individual can be provided with details of local AA meetings over the phone
and/or by post. For many, this provides a sufficient introduction.
AA also offers a 12th-stepping
service (see above). This can be accessed through the telephone number or email
address given above. Typically, this will be offered during the first contact.
A '12th-step call' is where a couple of established AA members visit
or meet the problem drinker and take him or her to their first AA meeting. 12th-steppers
can introduce the individual to local AA members, explain how AA works, answer
questions, address reservations or fears, and often provide longer-term
experience and counsel.
AA has a 12th-stepping
service specifically for the armed services. This service uses a database of
established AA members who also have armed services experience. We have found
that similar biographical experience can help to overcome apparent obstacles to
joining AA. Many problem drinkers believe that some complicating aspect of
their personal histories will mean AA will not work because, as they see it,
they are ‘different’. A talk with someone whose experiences closely mirror
their own can reduce or overcome entirely this sense of difference.
This service can be
accessed as follows: it can be requested directly from the telephone or email
service by asking for a 12th-step call from someone on the ‘armed
services 12th-steppers list’; it can also be requested through the
local armed services liaison officer, who will have a copy of the database,
too. There is a good chance that the volunteer answering the phone will offer
this spontaneously, but if the caller knows the service is available, this can
help where the volunteer is not aware of this relatively new service.
more information about accessing meetings or about AA in general, please see
the banner at the top of the page.