79 Percent
Of members have a sponsor or a fellow member who provides individual support.

67 Percent
Of people who attend at least 27 weeks of AA meetings during their first year of treatment remained abstinent at the 16-year follow up.

74 Percent
Of members reported that AA was an important part of their recovery.


1. The alcoholics anonymous (AA) 12-step recovery program is a free treatment program for people suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction.

2. AA welcomes people of all faiths, even atheists and agnostics, even though the program takes a spiritual approach to treatment. It is not affiliated with any religious or political group.

3. AA programs participants follow a set of recovery steps to achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol.

4. Meetings are often held in public spaces such as churches or schools. Some meetings are open to anyone who wants to attend while others are only for alcoholics or prospective aa members.

5. The only requirement to join AA is a desire to stop drinking.


In the 12-step alcoholics anonymous (AA) program, former alcoholics support one another throughout their recovery journey while maintaining their sobriety. Aa was created to help those struggling with a drinking problem get sober, with the support of their peers, through daily meetings and discussions about addiction. The premise of aa is that alcoholism is an illness that can be managed, but not controlled.

It can be uncomfortable to go to an AA meeting for the first time, but remember, everyone at aa knows what you’re going through. At your first aa meeting, you will be welcomed into the group. You’ll be encouraged, but not required to participate in the discussion. Attendees may share stories and include commentary about their journey of sobriety.


There are three different formats that an aa meeting can follow..

  • Speaker meetings – AA members share their experiences with alcohol abuse, how they found the program, and about their recovery through the program. This type of meeting focuses more on sharing and listening than interaction.
  • Discussion meetings – one member speaks briefly about their own struggles with alcohol then leads a discussion about recovery with aa and any drinking-related issue that another person brings up. This type of meeting is much more interactive than a speaker meeting.
  • Step meetings – everyone discusses one of the AA 12 steps.

Closed vs. open AA meetings

There are two main types of AA meetings in terms of who can attend: “open” and “closed.”

  • Open meetings mean that anyone is welcome: both alcoholics and non-alcoholics, such as family members and loved ones who are supporting someone in recovery.
  • Closed meetings are only for alcoholics or prospective AA members.


A sponsor is an AA member who has made progress in the recovery process and their experience in the program on a one-on-one basis with another AA member who is working towards sobriety. Sponsors can offer personal support outside of AA meetings.

Religion and AA

You don’t need to be religious to participate in AA. The 12 steps reference god or a “higher power” – but acknowledge that people conceptualize a higher power in different ways. The higher power refers to the forces that are beyond our control.

Although AA welcomes people of all religions, including atheists, nonreligious people may find themselves more comfortable in a secular 12-step alcoholics support group or a non-12-step addiction recovery program.




The 12 steps of AA are:

  1. 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    11. 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.

To find a local AA meeting, contact your local AA office.