For some who are new to AA, the terminology can sound like a foreign language. To help you feel better prepared to attend a meeting, we've compiled a list of important and commonly used AA terms. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
AA Group: Set of meetings that happen on a recurring basis. Service Position to run the meeting from a member of the group.
Carry The Message: The primary purpose of AA is to help members stay sober and to have them, in turn, help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Big Book: The book of alcoholics anonymous, which describes the 12 step program and describes how one can recover from addiction.
12 Steps: The spiritual program
guided by the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.The purpose of the steps is to help individuals recover from compulsive, out-of-control behaviors and
restore manageability and order to their lives.
12 Traditions: General guidelines for healthy relationships between the group, members and other groups.
12 Concepts: Principles to help ensure that various elements of A.A.'s service structure remain responsive and responsible to those they serve.
Three Legacies: The Three Legacies of Alcoholics Anonymous are Recovery, Unity, and Service.
Anonymity: AA is totally anonymous, not only to protect individuals but also the organization. Members are not allowed to speak on behalf of AA to the media.
Fellowship: A term for the society or fraternity of AA.
Member: Based on the Third Tradition, the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Home Group: Meeting that an AA member attends on a weekly/recurring basis.
Sponsor: An AA member who serves as a mentor to a newcomer in the program. A sponsor typically helps a sponsee to work the 12 Steps, shares his or her personal experience, strength, and hope, and helps the sponsee stay on the recovery track.
Chair: Service position, filled by an AA member, that runs the meeting.
Preamble: The short description of AA that is often read out loud at the start of AA meetings.
Crosstalk: Crosstalk is giving advice, questioning, interrupting, or speaking directly to another person rather than to the group. It is prohibited at most meetings.
Service Position: Any position at a meeting that serves the greater group: chair, co-chair, secretary, greeter, treasurer, hospitality, etc. These positions are elected during the business meetings.
Secretary Break: Secretary makes any announcements pertinent to the meeting and proceeds with the 7th tradition.
7th tradition: Meetings are self-supportive and rely on donations from members to pay for expenses such as rent. A basket is usually passed around to collect money.
Anniversary: Members are asked to
share their sobriety milestones of 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, etc. up to 1 year and then 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc. This
usually happens during the secretary break.
Chips: Members receive coins to mark milestones such as 90 days or a year.
Burning Desire: Usually, at the end of the meeting, the chair asks if anyone has a burning desire to use or drink or harm themselves or others. This is also an opportunity for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to share, to share.
Clichés: Most AA meetings display a set of small posters with messages like: “First things first,” “Easy does it,” etc. These are often called clichés.
Keep Coming: A saying that members use to encourage
newcomers to keep coming back.
It Works If You Work It: A popular saying that members use to encourage members to be fully involved in the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions.
Getting the Most Out of Your First AA Meeting
If you have never attended a 12 Step meeting before, the idea of walking into a room full of strangers and sharing your story can be intimidating. To make your first meeting a bit easier, here are some tips from others in recovery.
What to Expect at Your First AA Meeting
Here's a fun fact: I was six years old when I went to my very first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.