Newcomer Welcome & FAQ
Welcome to AA
Hi, we are happy that you have shown up at our meeting. All of us were new to AA and didn’t have any idea what AA was about, but we wanted to change our lives. We have managed to maintain sobriety for a certain period of time, and one of the important commitments is to try to do everything we can to help other alcoholics, like you, to get sober and to stay sober. But the decision to get sober and the desire to seek sobriety must come from within you. This is an entirely voluntary program. We will share with you our experience, strength and hope, and tell you about some of the things that have helped us stay sober. We will offer suggestions that you are free to accept or reject. We know that life can be difficult and that you may feel alone at times in your struggles. But trust that companionship and support are always available to you within this fellowship.
Many of us have learned to rely on a God of our understanding to help us through difficult times. This does not have to be the God that someone else tried to tell you about. It need not be an external God but instead, it could be an entity or force that you can sense within you and relate to, and you can appeal to for guidance and strength. Even if you entirely reject such an entity, or it does not make sense to you, you can consider the collective well-wishes and wisdom in these rooms as a “higher power” that can guide you to sobriety and sanity. The “Big Book” of AA is the best explanation of Alcoholics Anonymous as seen through the eyes of the founders. There are many wonderful perspectives there that you may relate to and identify with. Many of us have worked the 12 Steps described in this book as a path to a spiritual awakening— whatever that means—and we encourage you to examine these and do them to the best of your ability.
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions and free links to literature.
How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?
There are 42 personal stories in the AA primary book Alcoholics Anonymous (referred to fondly as the Big Book). Feel free to skip the beginning texts and go right to the stories in the back. You might just find yourself in there! Here is a free link to the Big Book.
The AA “Who Me” pamphlet has a good description of alcoholism and AA and a short questionnaire. You can click on the link here and answer the questions and diagnose yourself.
How do I find meetings?
View this group's list of online secular meetings worldwide. A spreadsheet of secular worldwide meetings is available here.
Visit the Online Intergroup of AA to browse a list of all types of traditional and secular online meetings. Their directory features 1,000+ online AA meetings worldwide; featuring various formats such as video, telephone conferences, email or chat and in many languages.
Ask someone at an in-person meeting for a paper copy of a meeting guide
Contact your local AA Office to request a paper copy of your local meeting guide. Click here for a list of offices located throughout the United States and Canada.
Do I have to let other people to know I’m having trouble with alcohol?
No, the decision to reveal any difficulties you may be having with substance abuse is yours and yours alone.
Do I need to quit drinking completely?
You are welcome in AA whether you quit drinking or not. However, recovery from alcoholism is always preceded by abstinence from alcohol.
How do I deal with the urge to drink?
You don’t have to deal with that alone. We suggest you call one of us so you don’t get back in the ring with the champ alone. We will help you. In addition, you can find AA meetings 24/7 on zoom. Meetings help dispel urges, too. Online meetings schedules are provided in this packet. Finally, we have a buddy system, called NCR. A sober member of AA will try to help you overcome drinking urges.
The AA book “Living Sober” has lots of tips for combating urges. Here is a free link to the book.
For a list of secular meetings around the world, take a look at our calendar page.
What is the NCR program and will an NCR help me?
You can ask for assistance from a Newcomer Representative (NCR). The NCR is like a "pre-sponsor": a sober member of AA who will help you find answers to any questions you might have about AA. They will also be someone you can contact for help staying sober and for companionship. It’s a buddy system, not necessarily a sponsor, just someone you can turn to for help. Involvement is completely voluntary, you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to but it might really help you. NCR is kind of a gap sponsor. You have no commitment. They can help you along until you identify someone to be your sponsor.
How do I contact the NCR for help?
You can text anyone in the meeting with (NCR) appearing after their name. Or you can send us an email and we will have someone contact you. You can contact the NCR here.
Do I have to identify myself and say I am an alcoholic when they ask for newcomers in meetings?
No, you don’t ever have to say anything in meetings if you don’t want to. However, people ask that question so they can offer help to new people. You can always just contact the NCR program for help in lieu of publicly identifying yourself.
Do I need to believe in God to be in AA?
No, some people have established beliefs but those beliefs aren’t necessary or sufficient with respect to achieving and maintaining sobriety. Religious beliefs are not necessary whatsoever.
Here is a link to the AA pamphlet The God Word. There are many stories of people who stayed sober without a traditional religious belief.
You can also listen to our Higher Palooza speaker recordings. Higher Palooza is an event created to address the common misconception that AA is a Christian organization. Although there are people in AA who are Christians, there are many who are not. AA is NOT A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION! These speakers have navigated AA for many years without professing to or adopting any concepts of any Higher Power they don’t believe. We have recorded these 20-minute talks to augment your understanding that AA is not, or is it affiliated with, any religious organization, be it denominational or so-called non-denominational. These talks affirm that an alcoholic can get sober, stay sober, and have a happy, productive life while holding onto their own beliefs, or none at all.
Why do I need to go to meetings?
Most alcoholics fail completely with achieving and maintaining sobriety by themselves. We found that we need help. Meetings have been developed to provide that help. More than that, many alcoholics are lonely people. You will find healthy companionship in AA meetings
What is an AA sponsor and how do I find one?
A sponsor is someone who has achieved sobriety and is willing to share what worked for them with you. They can be a mentor. Some groups will assign sponsors. Most groups encourage people to listen to prospective sponsors when they comment and just ask the person who seems to make the most sense to help you. You can discontinue a sponsor relationship if it’s not working and ask another person that you feel is better suited for you.
Here is a link to the AA Pamphlet that describes sponsors.
I am suicidal.
If you feel that you are going to hurt yourself, call 911 or the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741. If you do not live in the United States, the number for your country's crisis line might be found here. We are happy you are here. Please contact someone today. Please don’t leave without letting somebody know you might need help, but you don’t ever have to comment publicly.