Safety Card to be available

Standard

A Safety Card containing the following
will soon be available from GSO

Suggested Statement on Safety*

“Our group endeavors to provide a safe meeting place for all attendees and encourages each person here to contribute to fostering a secure and welcoming environment in which our meetings can take place.

“As our Traditions remind us, the formation and operation of an AA group resides with the group conscience. Therefore, it is our individual and collective responsibility to maintain the welfare of the group, and we request that members and others refrain from any behavior which might compromise another person’s safety. Also, please take the precautions you feel are necessary to ensure your own personal safety, for example, walking to your car in a group after a meeting.

“If a situation should arise where someone feels their safety is in jeopardy, or the situation breaches the law, the individuals involved should take appropriate action. Calling the proper authorities does not go against any AA Traditions and is recommended when someone may have broken the law or endangered the safety of another person.

“The Tradition of Anonymity is not a shield to conceal wrongdoing and AA membership does not grant immunity from applicable laws.”

— Service Material from the General Service Office

*To be read at each meeting if so desired.

Note: Beyond the immediate plans for a Yellow Card, there could be poster and/or wall hanging sizes available.

Safety and A.A.: Our Common Welfare

Standard

Safety and A.A.: Our Common Welfare

Safety is an important issue within A.A. — one that all groups and members can address to develop workable solutions and help keep our meetings safe based on the fundamental principles of the Fellowship.

Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes frst. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

Tradition One (Long Form)

A.A. groups are spiritual entities made up of alcoholics who gather for the sole purpose of staying sober and helping other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Yet, we are not immune to the difficulties that affect the rest of humanity.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a microcosm of the larger society within which we exist. Problems found in the outside world can also make their way into the rooms of A.A. As we strive to share in a spirit of trust, both at meetings and individually with sponsors and friends, it is reasonable for each member to expect a meaningful level of safety. Those attending A.A. meetings derive a beneft by providing a safe environment in which alcoholics can focus on gaining and maintaining sobriety. The group can then fulfll its primary purpose — to carry the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers. For this reason, groups and members discuss the topic of safety.

Autonomy and Group Action

Because A.A., as such, ought never be organized, as indicated in Tradition Nine, it is individual members and groups who ensure that all members feel as safe as possible in A.A.

There is no government within A.A. and no central authority, legal or otherwise, to control or direct the behavior of A.A. members. As embodied in the Fourth Tradition, the formation and operation of an A.A. Group resides with the group conscience of its members. A.A. groups and service entities such as areas, districts, inter-group/central offices are autonomous.

Recognizing that safety is an issue of importance to its members, many groups have taken actions to keep distractions and disruptions to a minimum within the context of the group.

A.A. Membership

A.A. membership has never been contingent on any set of behavioral or moral standards — beyond those founded on common sense, courtesy, and the timeless values of kindness, tolerance and love.

A.A.’s Third Tradition states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. This brings an openness that helps to defne our character as a diverse Fellowship; yet it also requires us to be mindful of our group and individual safety.

Some people, however, come into A.A. without an understanding of the type of behavior that is appropriate in meetings or in the company of other members. A person can be sober in A.A., yet still not understand what is acceptable.

Dealing with Disruptions

While most groups operate with a healthy balance of spontaneity and structure, there are a number of situations that can threaten group unity and challenge the safety of the group and its members. Often this can center on disruptive individuals, those who are confrontational, aggressive, or those who are simply unwilling to put the needs of the group frst. Such behavior can hijack the focus of a meeting and frighten members, new and old.

Some groups have developed plans for addressing disruptive behavior and have established procedures through their group conscience to ensure that the group’s welfare is protected. In many cases, disruptive behavior is pre-empted by having the chairperson state the expectations for behavior in the meeting.

Some groups include in their opening announcements that illegal and disruptive behavior is not tolerated. Still other groups have asked disruptive members to leave the meeting. Additionally, groups and members always have the option to call the appropriate authorities if disruptive behavior continues or anyone’s safety is at risk.

Group Safety and Unity

Situations that groups have addressed through their group conscience include, sexual harassment or stalking; threats of violence; bullying; financial coercion; racial or lifestyle intolerance; pressuring A.A. members into a particular point of view or belief relating to medical treatments and/or medications, politics, religion, or other outside issues. In addition, there may be other behaviors that go on outside of typical meeting times that may affect whether someone feels safe to return to the group.

Some groups have their own guidelines or procedures to help keep the meeting safe. A.A. members can speak to those who are acting inappropriately. Situations can be discussed at business meetings to come to a group conscience about how to handle a situation. As a last resort, the disruptive member may be asked to stop attending the meeting for a specifc period of time. Groups that take this drastic action do it in order to preserve the common welfare of the group and to maintain A.A. unity.

In any situation, if a person’s safety is in jeopardy, or the situation breaches the law, the individuals involved can take appropriate action to ensure their safety. Calling the proper authorities does not go against any A.A. Traditions. Anonymity is not a cloak protecting criminal or inappropriate behavior.

Inappropriate or predatory behavior, such as unwanted sexual attention or targeting vulnerable members can be especially troublesome. These behaviors may go on outside of typical meeting times. While A.A. members can be caring and supportive to those affected, we are not professionals trained to handle such situations. Law enforcement or other professional help may be necessary.

Victims of inappropriate behavior, harassment or predators can let the group know about such situations, often through a sponsor or trusted friend. This way the group is informed, and members can help address the situation and curtail further problems. Group discussion should be focused on creating an environment where all alcoholics can fnd and maintain sobriety.

A.A. and the Law

Common sense and experience suggest that A.A. membership does not grant immunity from local regulations and being at an A.A. meeting does not put anyone beyond the jurisdiction of law enforcement officers. As individuals, A.A. members are also “citizens of the world,” and as citizens we are not above the law.

Through the group conscience process, many groups have established guidelines regarding when it may be appropriate to call authorities and handle a given situation within the legal system. No A.A. group has to tolerate illegal behavior and any activity within an A.A. meeting is subject to the same laws that apply outside the meeting. The nature of illegal acts that groups have faced include violence, embezzlement, theft of property, drug sales at a meeting, and more.

Emergencies

Injuries, accidents, fres, etc., sometimes do occur during meetings. To accommodate these situations, groups can also develop plans and procedures, often in consultation with their landlord or local authorities. Addressing an emergency situation is more important than continuing the meeting, and members should not hesitate to call emergency personnel in critical situations.

Keeping the Focus on Our Primary Purpose

It is hoped that our common suffering as alcoholics and our common solution in A.A. would transcend most issues and curtail negative behaviors. As noted in the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, “Love and tolerance of others is our code.”

Safety, however, is important to the functioning of the group. By maintaining order and safety in meetings, the group as a whole will beneft and members will be able to focus on recovery from alcoholism and a life of sobriety.

Ultimately, the experience of how these situations are handled can be as varied as our Fellowship. Good judgment and common sense, informed by the Twelve Traditions, seem to provide the best guide.

What Can Groups and Members Do?

Groups and members can discuss the topic of safety, to raise awareness in the Fellowship and seek through sponsorship, workshops and meetings, to create as safe an environment as possible for the newcomer, and other members or potential members. This can be the subject of sharing among groups at the district or area level.

Here are some helpful suggestions and reminders:

  • Talk about issues of safety before they arise.
  • Safety is something each member attending an A.A. meeting can be mindful of.
  • Communicate clearly what A.A. is and what it is not.
  • Sponsorship plays an important role and sponsors can be helpful in pointing out warning signs or unhealthy situations to sponsees and newcomers.
  • A.A. members who are concerned about the words or actions of a sponsor or other member, may fnd it helpful to speak to someone they trust, their A.A. group, or a professional, as needed.
  • Include Safety and the A.A. Meeting Environment as topics for a group inventory.
  • Consider developing group guidelines and procedures on safety. Recommend that no one walk to a car alone but be accompanied by a trusted fellow or travel in a group.
  • In all discussions about safety, keep the focus on our primary purpose, our common welfare, and place principles before personalities.

Helpful Resources for A.A. Members and Groups

  • Box 459 October 2010 edition, articles on “Disruptive Members at A.A. Meetings” and “A.A. and the Law” (available on the newsletters page at www.aa.org).
  • A report from the 62nd General Service Conference Workshop: “Safety in A.A. Our Common Welfare.*
  • Final Report of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Group Safety of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, U.S. and Canada.*
  • A.A. pamphlet, “Questions & Answers on Sponsorship.
  • A.A. pamphlet, “The A.A. Group… Where it All Begins.
  • Contact your District Committee Member or Area Delegate for local shared experience.

*Available upon request by contacting G.S.O.

 

Download at District 11 Website or www.aa.org

 

Call for Submissions…

Standard

In response to the 2016 General Service Conference recommendation that the pamphlet “Young People and A.A.” be revised to “better reflect the experiences of young people in A.A. today,” the trustees’ literature committee is seeking current sharing from young people in A.A.

Please encourage young members in your area to write their personal stories for possible inclusion in the revised pamphlet “Young People and A.A.” Stories should reflect “In a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.”

Manuscripts should be 500-800 words, double spaced, in 12-point typeface. The words “Young People and A.A.” should appear on the top of the first page of the manuscript. The author’s complete name, address and email/telephone information should be included with the submission.

Submissions can be emailed to: Literature@aa.org with “Young People and A.A.” inserted in the subject line of the message. Alternatively, submissions can be mailed to: Literature Coordinator, General Service Office, Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163. The deadline for all submissions is December 30, 2016.

The anonymity of all authors will be observed, whether or not his or her story is selected for publication.

Thank you for your participation in this process.

FAQs About A.A. Literature…

Standard

A.A. members read a lot, drawing hope, help and inspiration from the wide range of A.A. material published by A.A.W.S. and the Grapevine. However, a question that has popped up frequently from some of the Fellowship’s more eagle-eyed readers concerns the book As Bill Sees It, and the many quotes contained within it:

  1. Why are some of the quotes in As Bill Sees It different from their original sources, and why were Bill’s words changed?
  2. As he did with so many things in A.A., Bill anticipated the concerns this might raise, adding the following information in the book’s Foreword: “This volume includes several hundred excerpts from our literature, touching nearly every aspect of A.A.’s way of life.” He then notes the sources of most of the material from which the book’s content was chosen, principally the Big Book, Twelve and Twelve, and Grapevine, and explains “Because the quotations used were lifted out of their original context, it has been necessary in the interest of clarity to edit, and sometimes to rewrite, a number of them.”

So, for all the A.A. readers out there who have been wondering who had the gall to change Bill’s writing, it was Bill himself !

Excerpt from Box 459, Spring 2016

A Native Community Sobers Up

Standard

The following is from the latest Box 459.

What it was like: In the early 1970s, the Shuswap community of Alkali Lake in north-central British Columbia was devastated by alcoholism. By their own admission, the devastation touched 100 percent of their native community — the impact felt by children, parents, husbands and wives.

A once hard-working people now lived in a village strewn with the refuse of alcoholism: broken-down cars, untended houses, windows covered with cardboard, furniture broken and dirty, and the pervasive spirit of sadness presiding over it all like a cloud.

As far back as the elders can remember there was no use of alcohol on the reserve before 1940. But just before World War II, a general store was set up at Alkali Lake by a European immigrant to the area who gradually introduced alcohol into the community as a means of “softening people up” during the negotiation process for the furs that community members brought to the store to trade.

At first, only a few families were affected, but once alcohol entered the community system, a gradual deterioration of the health and well-being of the people followed. Compounding this problem, a whole generation of Alkali Lake young people was sent off to residential schools, where, while they were provided with educational opportunities, were separated from their parents, families and native customs — force-fed a set of European values and told over and over that their own cultural foundations were inferior, “primitive,” even sinful. And adding to the growing alienation and despair was the introduction of widespread physical and sexual abuse — extending by some estimates to nearly 90 percent of the youth population of Alkali Lake.

And so, across three decades, this native community of some four hundred people had become a waking nightmare for most of its members.

What happened: In 1972, after years of drunkenness and despair, one woman hit bottom and vowed to stop drinking. Inspired by her daughter’s refusal to come home with her until she sobered up, Phyllis put down the drink and reached out to Father Ed, an Oblate Brother and alcoholism counselor from nearby Williams Lake who had been trying to convince Alkali Lake people to come to an AA. meeting for several years. A few days later, Phyllis’ husband, Andy, also quit drinking and they soon began holding AA. meetings in their house with Father Ed. As far as they knew Andy and Phyllis were the only two non-drinking people in the entire community.

A year later, Andy and Phyllis were still sober, celebrating their anniversary with a cake provided by Father Ed, and slowly, over the next seven years, a handful of people stopped drinking and began working with Phyllis and Andy to restore some measure of health to the people of Alkali Lake. In a sure sign that even through their alcoholism and addictions the people of the community wanted something better for themselves, they elected Andy as Chief of the reserve in 1972, shortly after he stopped drinking.

Using his newfound influence, Andy began to set the village on a course toward sobriety — expelling the bootleggers who had attached themselves to the community and encouraging people to seek treatment. One of the first steps taken by the newly elected Chief was to set up weekly alcohol awareness meetings. These gatherings were run by Alcohol and Drug Program staff from nearby Williams Lake, and consisted of presentations, discussions, films and tapes about the nature and impact of alcoholism on individual and family well-being. These regular meetings were later reorganized into an AA. group on the reserve, which was run entirely by the AA. members of Alkali Lake.

By the end of 1973 there were less than a dozen sober people in Alkali Lake. Then, in 1974, some 35 people went to treatment. A turning point had been reached. By the end of 1975, 40 percent of the community was sober. The process was by no means easy, but by 1979, 98 percent of Alkali Lake people completely abstained from the use of alcohol.

Critical to the community’s recovery was the reintroduc-tion of traditional Native culture, and a deliberate effort was made to revive traditional Native forms of spirituality and healing. Because much of the community’s own cultural resources had been lost during the dark years, traditional teachers from other communities were asked to come to Alkali Lake in order to help the people rediscover their indigenous identity and spirituality. Through this process, the use of the sacred pipe and sweat lodge was reintroduced, and these cultural resources became powerful instruments helping many Alkali Lake people find their way back to sobriety and a path of wellness.

The community’s story of recovery soon became a model for other tribal communities overcome by alcoholism, and in 1986 the people of Alkali Lake told their story to the world in a film titled The Honor of All: The Story of Alkali Lake, which details the community’s devastation, its downfall, and ultimate transformation.

A.A. meetings, adapted to fit the community’s reality, were a critical rallying point for many people, providing a therapeutic as well as a spiritual outlet. And such cultural activities as sweat-lodge ceremonies, powwows, and healing circle meetings became commonplace. For others, involvement in church-based activities, rodeo, or outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing and horseback riding were important. A recreation center was opened, a hockey rink was developed, a summer baseball league was organized, and many alcohol-free parties, dances and social gatherings were held, all to provide people with healthy environments that would support their recovery processes.

What it is like now: The story of Alkali Lake is not a fairy tale in which everyone lives happily ever after, as the impact of alcoholism, alienation and abuse reverberates still. As one member of the Serenity Group — the A.A. group that meets on the reserve — shared recently, “I was taken away at five years old, me and my sister. And given to a white couple. The father was mean. They shaved off our hair, and I had a lot of anger at my mom and dad because it felt like they gave us away. So I used alcohol to ease my pain.

“I went to treatment in 1988, in Victoria, British Columbia. The first two weeks I didn’t go to the A.A. meetings, but after that I tried it. I thought A.A. was for old people.

“But slowly I began to talk about some of the things that were going on in my life — the anger, the fear, the spiritual stuff.

“For me, I had been abused when I was young and I began to work through it in A.A. with the Steps. And as a result, I have more spirituality today; I’m a better father to my children today.”

So, recovery is still taking place in Alkali Lake — for oldtimers and newcomers alike.

“It’s been almost 10 months since I sobered up and I take in almost three meetings a week,” says Henry J., one of the newcomers to the group. “For quite some time when I was drinking I was pretty wrapped up in my own world. I knew there was sobriety around Alkali Lake, but I was apart from it, dealing with my own problems, not thinking about anybody else.

“But sobriety has really benefited me, especially with my family, and now everything seems to be falling into place. Without meetings, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Says Freddy J., one of the group’s oldtimers, about the sobriety that began to develop in Alkali Lake, “I was about the tenth person to have it. Andy and Phyllis are still around and some of the original members are still hanging in.

“We started slow, and in about 1983 things started moving pretty fast, and in the time between ’72 and ’83 our community went from 100 percent drinking to 90 percent sober. But sobriety and healing didn’t go hand-in-hand, the healing came after the sobriety — healing from grief. We lost quite a few members of our community to alcoholism, and we saw a lot of devastation and death coming in all forms: murder, suicide, fire, infants dying, elders dying, and I guess somehow, through a miracle of a higher power, people started going to alcohol treatment and then from there it became stronger and many individuals, once exposed to the healing, began to work on themselves.

“The group is still growing today, with young people coming in,” says Freddy. “We’re still here.”

The group also hosts the Esk’etemc A.A. Roundup that happens each July. “This coming July will be our 40th anniversary,” notes Ken J., another of the group’s old-timers, “and we have a New Year’s Day celebration that this year was our 41st.”

The Roundup regularly attracts people from all over the globe. “Some come ahead of time just to help out and some don’t even want to leave,” says Ken. “This year we had close to 600 people, some from as far away as Atlanta, and a couple of years ago we had some people from Japan. Last year we had a lady from Russia.”

Trish L., a past delegate from the BC/Yukon Area, and a recent visitor to the Roundup adds, “From the sobriety birthday meeting where local milestones over the past year are celebrated, to the call-up meetings, to the beautiful dinner — pride in the success of the individuals and of the success of the community absolutely shines through.

“This year there was a group of interns from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver there to observe as part of their addiction training — a great Cooperation With the Professional Community connection that has been forged over the years. Everywhere I looked, there was pride and joy. It was remarkable and humbling.”

Monica M., another attendee of many roundups at Alkali Lake, was working in the area when the film The Honor of All made its debut in 1986. “I had the privilege of attending the premiere showing of the film,” she says, because of the work she was doing with a nearby school district.

“The evening was a profound experience of hope and honesty. They held a community feast. There were so many people they had two showings, filling the school gym each time. Then the film. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place when it was done. I will never forget the acknowledgments they gave to the individuals who had supported the development of A.A. in the community. The evening ended with a friendship dance. Everyone shook the hand of everyone there. What a feeling of unity, of common purpose! I was early in my sobriety. What an impact it had on me; if they could do it, then just maybe I could, too.

“Shortly after, I moved away from Williams Lake, but have gone back six times to attend the Esk’etemc Roundup. Camping together adds a wonderful dimension, particularly of unity and love of life. It’s so encouraging to see the children playing, comfortable with the A.A. setting. The spirit of joy, family, community, and outreach is evident.

“The Esk’etemc members are generous in explaining their culture. One year, I was privileged to participate in a sweat with a group of women. The leader introduced us to the connection they have with their ancestors, the universe, the spirit of everyone present.”

“A.A. has been a really big part of my life, my sobriety and my healing,” says Irene J., a longtime member of the Serenity Group. “Over the last 38 years, A.A. has really stabilized me, where I know I can come here and get the support I need.

“What I’ve learned is that sobriety doesn’t bring automatic happiness. There are bumps and challenges along the way. We had three suicides within our family and had to look at things like sexual abuse and incest, which were really difficult at times. But I was able to use the Steps and deal with a lot of it.

“I also really believe in having a higher power or something greater than myself, ’cause I know I’m not that great. And I believe in using some of our traditional ceremonies along with A.A. When you think back to our history, long before contact with other cultures, when there were stresses, our people had successful ways of dealing with them. So what we’ve been doing is looking at how we can use those similar methods today.

“When we look at the sweat-lodge ceremony, it has a lot of components that can assist us. Number one is safety — when we go into the sweat lodge there’s safety. There’s also security. There’s trust. Whatever is said and done stays in there. And there’s the freedom where I can say whatever I want, talk about whatever I want, and I’ll still be accepted when I leave there. It’s similar to A.A., where we all have that same feeling of hopelessness and helplessness and we are together in it.

“And after dealing with all those demons — all those skeletons in my closet, I’ve come to see it’s not that bad after all. There’s nothing I can do to go back and change the things that have happened in my life, but I can change how I see it and how I deal with it today. The power that I have is what I can do today.”

And so it goes, in Alkali Lake — and in the A.A. world beyond.

 

To download latest issue of the quarterly A.A. GSO newsletter, click here.

2016 GSC Preliminary Agenda Items

Standard

Note: These are preliminary. In February the Final Agenda Items and the corresponding Background Information (anywhere from 400 to 600 PDF pages) CD will be published. As in years past, the Background CD will be broken down by topics to email-able sizes for those that want a head start on presenting to groups.

2016 General Service Conference Committees Preliminary Agenda Items

Below are the preliminary agenda items for the 66th General Service Conference committees as of November 3, 2015. During the February meetings of the trustees’ committees, additional items received by the December 15th deadline may be assigned to appropriate Conference committees. Please keep in mind that this is a preliminary list and agenda items may be added or subject to change by the trustees’ committees at the February board weekend.

I. Agenda

II. Archives

  • Explore ways to encourage groups to write or update their histories.
  • Review the Archives workbook.

III. Cooperation with the Professional Community

  • Review contents of C.P.C. Kit and Workbook.
  • Consider retiring the pamphlet “Three Talks to Medical Societies by Bill W.”

IV. Corrections

  • Review contents of Corrections Kit and Workbook.

V. Finance

VI. Grapevine

  • Review Audio Strategy status update.
  • Consider list of suggested Grapevine book topics for 2017 or later.
  • Review Grapevine Workbook.

VII. International Conventions/Regional Forums

  • Discuss ways to encourage interest in Regional Forums and attract first-time attendees.

VIII. Literature

  • Consider the development of a plain language version of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Review a report on the lack of corresponding pagination between Conference-approved digital and print books.

IX. Policy/Admissions

  • Review report from the trustees’ Committee on the General Service Conference regarding Conference observers from other fellowships.
  • Consider request that all Conference members be sent the same background
    material, with the exception of digital media and works in progress.
  • Review dates for the 2019 General Service Conference.

X. Public Information

  • Review contents of P .1. Kit and Workbook.

XI. Report and Charter

  • The AA Service Manual, 2016-2017 Edition:
  1. Review list of editorial updates.
  2. Consider draft text for a new section on “Local Forums” to be added to Chapter 9.
  3. Review report on alternative publishing schedules.
  • Consider removing “Endnote #4” of Concept XII on page 73 of Twelve Concepts for World Service.
  • Discuss AA Directories (Canada, Eastern U.S., Western U.S., and International).
  • Discuss General Service Conference Final Report.
  1. Review report from the Publishing Department on the feasibility of producing a large print format.

XII. Treatment/Special Needs—Accessibilities

  • Consider removing “Special Needs” from the committee name, Cooperation with the Professional Community/Treatment/Special Needs—Accessibilities and throughout their Composition, Scope and Procedure.
  • Review contents of Treatment Committee Kit and Workbook.
  • Review contents of Special Needs-Accessibilities Kit and Workbook.

XIII. Trustees

  • Review resumes of candidates for:
  1. West Central trustee
  2. Western Canada trustee
  • Review slates of trustees and officers of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Review slate of directors of AA World Services, Inc.
  • Review slate of directors of AA Grapevine, Inc.

XIV. International Conventions/Regional Forums

  • Discuss ways to encourage interest in Regional Forums and attract first-time attendees.

To download, click here.

“The Man on the Web”

Standard

Online Intergroup of A.A. Nears 20-Year Anniversary

“Today’s counterpart to the ‘man on the bed’ is the trembling, sick alcoholic in cyberspace,” writes Dennis M. of the Bronx, N.Y. in a Grapevine article titled AA in Cyberspace. “And we see a good number of them looking for help for the first time. We see them coming back from slips; we see them finding A.A. at a time and a place where we can feel their desperation and share our hope, just as we do in f2f (face-to-face) meetings.”

Excited about today’s expanding ability to reach out to suffering alcoholics, A.A. members around the world continue finding new ways to carry A.A.’s message of hope.

One helpful development in this effort has been the growth of the Online Intergroup of A.A. (O.I.A.A.), an organization nearing its 20th anniversary. First formed to help unify the growing number of online meetings that began to mushroom in the late 1980s, many starting as bulletin board meetings and email groups, the O.I.A.A. was legally incorporated in 1996, giving online groups a forum for exchanging information and ideas and for helping one another carry the message of A.A. online.

Online meetings come in a variety of formats: real-time chat, email meetings, telephone chats, audio-visual meetings using video streaming applications, message boards/forums, and discussion board meetings. Some are targeted toward specific groups: women, military, deaf/hard-of-hearing, and there are meetings available in a number of languages. Many have regular schedules, and some are “catch-as-catch-can,” with members posting when there is time and a burning desire.

Many A.A. members use the online medium to supplement their f2f meetings or vice-versa, depending on each member’s own situation, and most online groups encourage attendance at f2f meetings. There are many A.A.s, however, who cannot attend f2f meetings (geographically-isolated members, members with physical disabilities, members living in a foreign country, members in the military or at sea, older A.A.s, shift workers, parents with young children) and online A.A. may be the best or only resource available to allow these members to participate fully in the A.A. Fellowship.

One of O.I.A.A.’s chief services is an online meeting directory posting an up-to-date list of online A.A. groups on its website (www.aa-intergroup.org). On average, the directory lists about 170 groups. It also directs an estimated 22,600 online visitors a month from more than 100 countries to meetings held in 14 languages and to meetings with formats that make A.A. accessible to people with vision, speech, or hearing problems. A little more than half of O.I.A.A.’s visitors access their information on mobile devices (phones or tablets), with others using desktop computers. O.I.A.A.’s directory does not include every A.A. group in cyberspace, however — only those that choose to be listed and subscribe to the Twelve Traditions of A.A.

Keenly aware that “personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity,” as the First Tradition says, O.I.A.A. also encourages communication among online groups as well as with local intergroups, areas, G.S.O., and other A.A. service bodies. This is done chiefly through the work of its committees. In addition to a Twelfth Step Committee, which is comprised of approximately 40 members worldwide, speaking multiple languages and fielding between 350-400 requests for help per month, O.I.A.A. has formed committees for: Public Information, Cooperation With the Professional Community, Unity and G.S.O. liaison, Conventions, Finance, Policy and Admissions, and World Wide Web — all of which are described on O.I.A.A.’s website.

O.I.A.A.’s governing body, the Intergroup Assembly, is made up of an Intergroup Representative and alternate from each registered group, plus its committee chairs, their alternates, and five officers: a chair and co-chair, treasurer, historian, and secretary. With the lessons learned over nearly 20 years working together, they strive to practice the principles of A.A. in all web affairs, so that the hand of A.A. will always be there in cyberspace as well.

From the Holiday issue of  Box 459, the quarterly “News and Notes from the General Service Office of A.A.®”
To download the PDF version, click here.

2014 Membership Survey available…

Standard

In 2014 more than 6,000 A.A. members from the U.S. and Canada participated in a random survey of the membership. Such studies have been conducted every three to four years since 1968 by the General Service Office.

Alcoholics Anonymous conducts this survey to keep members informed on current trends in membership characteristics. The survey also provides information about A.A. to the professional community and to the general public as part of A.A.’s purpose to carry our message to those who still suffer from alcoholism.

Download from AA here.

Or download from District 11

Some highlights are:

Composition of Members; Men at 62%, Women at 38%
Average Age is 50
86% have Home Groups
Members attend an average of 2.5 meetings a week
Length of Sobriety, How you got sober, How you were introduced to AA,  Occupations: Figures are included.