To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is non-professional, self-supporting, non-denominational, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
A.A. has no central authority, minimal organization, and a handful of Traditions instead of laws. A.A. is shaped by the collective voice of its local groups and their representatives to the General Service Conference, which works toward unanimity on matters vital to the Fellowship. Each group functions independently, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
A.A.'s essential group work is done by alcoholics who are themselves recovering in the Fellowship, and each of us is entitled to do our A.A. service in the way we think best within the spirit of the Traditions. This means that we function as a democracy, with all plans for group action approved by the majority voice. No single individual is appointed to act for the group or for Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole.
Each group is as unique as a thumbprint, and approaches to carrying the message of sobriety vary not just from group to group but from region to region. Acting autonomously, each group charts its own course. The better informed the members, the stronger and more cohesive the group and the greater the assurance that when a newcomer reaches out for help, the hand of A.A. always will be there.