A.A.’s Single Purpose
Tradition Five: Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
The purpose of all A.A. group meetings, as the Preamble states, is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Toward this end, A.A. groups have both open and closed meetings.
Closed meetings are for AA members only, or for those who have a drinking problem or “have a desire to stop drinking.”
Open meetings are available to anyone interested in the Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism. Non-alcoholics may attend open meetings as observers. The only obligation is that of not disclosing the names of AA members outside the meeting.
At both types of meetings, the A.A. chairperson may request that participants confine their discussion to matters pertaining to recovery from alcoholism. Whether open or closed, A.A. group meetings are conducted by A.A. members who determine the format of their meetings.
Tradition Four: Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole. So, predictably, each meeting held by our thousands of groups has its own imprint.
The most common kinds of A.A. meetings are:
Discussion. Whether closed or open, an A.A. member serving as “leader” or “chair” opens the meeting, using that group’s format and selects a topic for discussion.
Speaker. One or more members selected beforehand “share,” as described in the Big Book, telling what they were like, what happened and what they are like now.
Step, Tradition or Big Book. Because the Twelve Steps are the foundation of personal recovery in A.A., many groups devote one or more meetings a week to the study of each Step in rotation; some discuss two or three Steps at a time. These same formats may be applied to group meetings on the Big Book or the Twelve Traditions. Many groups make it a practice to read aloud pertinent material from the Big book or Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions at the beginning of the meeting.
In addition to the meetings described above, groups also hold the following kinds of meetings:
Business. Some groups schedule special sessions throughout the year, apart from regular meetings, for reports from group officers to discuss group affairs and obtain group guidance.
Group Inventory. These are meetings at which members work towards how well the group is fulfilling its primary purpose.
Service. These are general information meetings about service; they may also function as a forum for delegate reports or other communications.