Can I Go to AA without Going to Treatment?

In the cover of darkness, alcoholics face loneliness like few others.  With racing minds and thoughts that linger on troubles conceived in drunkenness, lost souls cry out for help.  Two o’clock in the morning is not generally the time for an intake appointment at a rehabilitation facility.

It is, however, the time when desperate calls are made to Alcoholics Anonymous volunteers across the country.  One alcoholic reaching out to another in drunken despair can be a beautiful place for recovery to begin.

For help finding a rehab center or 12 step program near you, call us at  800-781-0748 (Who Answers?) .

How to Find a Meeting

AA meetings are available worldwide.  Living in an information age, finding a meeting is only a phone call or click away.  Local intergroups set up hotlines to take calls from people looking for meetings or information about recovery.  Visiting AA’s website here is a great place to start.

Are There Any Special Requirements to Attend Meetings?

AA’s third tradition states, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  If you have a desire to stop drinking, you are welcome to attend any AA meeting.  There are two general classifications of meetings:  open and closed.  If you are not convinced of your own alcoholism, or are interested in attending to learn more for yourself or a family member, AA offers open meetings.  All are welcome at open meetings.

Are There Any Meetings for Special Groups within AA?

Can I Go to AA

You can attend ladies only meetings if that is where you’re most comfortable.

Local districts publish meeting lists or booklets for the area.  Usually a key is located in the meeting list to show specialty meetings.  Some common symbols or codes denoting different types of meetings are shown below:

  • ♀- Ladies Only Meeting
  • ♂- Men Only Meeting
  • O- Open Meeting
  • C- Closed Meeting
  • CD- Closed Discussion
  • BB- Big Book Study
  • S- Speaker
  • SS- Step Study
  • B- Beginners Meeting

I Have a Court Date Coming Up.  Should I Go to AA?

Often alcoholics are struggling with legal issues.  Whether awaiting trial for a DUI, disorderly conduct or other infraction, beginning meetings is a good idea.  Sometimes judges will order attendance of AA meetings as a part of a person’s sentence.  In these instances, attendees bring a piece of paper to the meeting to be signed.  At the end of each meeting, the chairman or other representative will sign the slip and return it to prove meeting attendance to the judge.  Being able to show the judge a record of prior meeting attendance can help in sentencing decisions.

Don’t People Usually Get Better Recovery Results if They Attend Treatment First?

Recovery options vary from person to person.  Just as a doctor would not necessarily prescribe the same treatment or dosages of medication for someone suffering from cancer, recovery from alcoholism is an individual journey, as well.  In 2014, AA surveyed approximately 6,000 members to gain an overview of information about membership.  According to this survey approximately 32% of patients were referred to AA from a treatment facility.  This means 68% of members began attending AA through some other means.

Is It Better to Attend AA with Treatment or Go to Rehab First?

Whether to attend meetings before treatment, gain introduction in rehab or even attend meetings after seeking formal alcohol counseling is an entirely personal decision.  However, seeking help from people who have experience in recovery can make navigating this important decision easier.  Highly competent addiction counselors are available to suggest in-patient or out-patient programs.  Also, members of AA are more than happy to meet and share their own experiences, which may add insight into whether professional intervention is necessary or recommended.  Whichever the choice, sobriety is worth the effort.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-781-0748 (Who Answers?)  to find a 12 step meeting in your area. 

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Alcoholics Anonymous (2014). 2014 membership survey. Retrieved on December 28, 2016 from:

Alcoholics Anonymous (2016). Welcome to Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved on December 28, 2016 from:

Kaskutas, L. (2009). Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: Faith meets science. Journal of Addictive Diseases. 28(2): 145-157.

South Mississippi AA Intergroup (2016). 2nd bi-annual meetings schedule of alcoholics anonymous. Retrieved on December 28, 2016 from:

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Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: ARK Behavioral Health, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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