If you are new to Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like to welcome you. Most of us were shy and full of questions when we first came to Alcoholics Anonymous. We understand your fears and hope that this information will help in answering some of your questions, or tell you where to find the answers.

There are many terms and phrases used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Many times we sit quietly and are afraid to ask what they mean. The first thing we want to impress upon you is to ask questions. Members of the fellowship are usually more than willing to answer any questions.

We use the book Alcoholics Anonymous as a basic text and guide. In there, you will find "precisely how we have recovered" "from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body." We refer to this text as "the Big Book." This book, as well as other A.A. literature, is sold at a nominal price at many groups, at clubs, or at the Intergroup Association Bookstore. Many of the phrases used in meetings are in this book. It is suggested that you get this book.

There are A.A. meetings all over the city, state, country and world. As an A.A. member you may attend any meeting you wish. In Houston we have the Intergroup Association, Inc., a central office created by the A.A. groups in this area. The staff at Intergroup can usually answer any questions you might have. Intergroup publishes a meeting directory with a schedule of meetings, times and locations. The directory is generally available at most groups, clubs, and at the Intergroup Bookstore. You many also find all of the schedules on this website from the home page. If you don't feel comfortable at one group, go to another. There are plenty from which to choose. We have over 2400 meetings a week in the greater Houston area.

A word about meetings -you have nothing to fear about meetings. People who go to meeting are people who have a desire to stop drinking. Get to the meeting early. Generally members of A.A. are there making coffee, setting up the room, displaying the literature, and sharing. Stay after the meeting to continue to talk and share. Ask for telephone numbers at every meeting you attend.

There are two types of meetings:

Open A.A. Meeting – Meetings are open to all. While primarily for the benefit of alcoholics, and people having a desire to stop drinking, other interested parties may attend as observers.

Closed A.A. Meeting – Meetings for members of the Fellowship and those having a desire to stop drinking ONLY.


Style of meetings:

  • Discussion meeting

A discussion meeting is a general round-the-table discussion. Someone chairs the meeting and sometimes someone else leads the meeting. In many meetings the chairperson will read the preamble, followed by the Serenity Prayer, and will ask if anyone present is attending their very first A.A. meeting. You may raise your hand at that point and give your first name if you so desire. This is not mandatory. Another member may read from the Big Rook on "How It Works. The leader usually picks a topic that relates to alcoholism and anyone who wishes may talk on that topic. Usually the person speaking is not interrupted. We each share our own experience on the topic and don’t address what someone else says. Anyone who wishes may attend this meeting, and spouses or loved ones often attend as observers.


  • Speaker's meeting

At a speaker meeting, a speaker tells their story, usually following a format of:

1. What life was like when they drank
2. What happened to make them stop drinking
3. What sobriety means to their life now.


  • Big Book Study

  A Big Book meeting is specifically designed to help us to improve our understanding of the book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" and the study is taken from the literature. It is an especially good meeting for members new to the program.


  • Step Study

A Step Study meeting would concentrate on studying the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the core of the program. Members of A.A. find these steps to be the solution to the disease of alcoholism.


Another term you will frequently hear is “Sponsor”. This is a person you select who will answer your questions about Alcoholics Anonymous and guide you through the Steps. Often times a sponsor becomes a friend. Make sure that your chosen Sponsor knows the program well and can set an example for you. It is not only good for you to ask someone, but it is also good for them. We like to be helpful.  Also, as you grow in the program, we believe that you cannot keep what you don't give away. It is in helping others that we help ourselves.

Members of A.A. participate in many activities, such as conventions, seminars, dances, beach parties, cook outs, and just about any other kind of social function you can think of. These activities are usually posted on bulletin boards of clubs or at the Intergroup office.

If you go to enough A.A, meetings you are sure to hear the phrases "Don't drink," "Read the Big Book," "Go to meetings" and "Get a sponsor." We hope this pamphlet will assist you in understanding how you can do these things if you choose.

As our book says, "We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you --until then."


For further information contact:

  • Intergroup Association, Inc. 713-686-6300. This is the A.A. telephone number for further information on Alcoholics Anonymous, literature and A A. meetings.
  • Al-Anon 713-683-7227. (for spouses and children affected by the family disease of alcoholism).
  • Houston Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse 713-942-4100. (free literature and counseling).





(revised March 2012)