Kitchener-Waterloo Alcoholics Anonymous

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact Alcoholics Anonymous?

In Kitchener-Waterloo you can contact the A.A. answering service by calling 519-742-6183. You will be contacted by a volunteer A.A. member who will answer your questions about A.A. and help you get to an A.A. meeting should you wish to attend. For questions about AA in the public and professional communities you can reach out

You can also fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

Another method is to simply show up at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Just click on the day of the menu to the right to help you decide or check the meetings tab.

How can I determine if I am an Alcoholic?

When A.A. members state they are alcoholics, they have come to this conclusion for themselves. If you have concerns about your drinking, you might want to refer to our booklet “Is A.A. for You ?”, which asks questions that are helpful in making your own assessment. Attendance at A.A. meetings will also help you to understand your drinking better. There, A.A. members will share their experiences with you and encourage you to take an honest look at what part alcohol plays in your life. Alcoholics usually identify quite readily with the experiences of other alcoholics, whereas non-alcoholics will not.

How can I join A.A, and what will I be required to do?

A.A. has a tradition which states: “the only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking” Usually what happens is that the prospective member attends a few meetings, decides he/she wishes to join, and then chooses a particular meeting as a “home group”. Any type of participation in an A.A. meeting is purely voluntary… members are not required to do anything, although active participation in the group is encouraged as part of the individual’s recovery.

Are there many women in A.A?

There have been increasing numbers of women members, especially in recent years. Women now account for about one-third of today’s membership. There is lots of support in the K-W area for women by women sponsors.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous a religious organization or a temperance movement?

No, A.A. is a recovery program based on spiritual principles, but it’s membership includes people of many faiths, as well as agnostics and atheists. A.A. is not involved in any sort of temperance movement. In fact, A.A. has no opinion on outside issues such as whether other people should drink. Its members simply know that they themselves cannot handle alcohol safely.

I have a spouse, relative, friend who is an active alcoholic. How can I help?

The above question more often comes in the form “how can I get my spouse to wise up and quit drinking ?”. Since alcoholics are people who have an illness in which they have lost the ability to control their drinking, you are not likely to be able to control it for them. However, acquiring knowledge about alcoholism, A.A. etc., will allow you to communicate more effectively with the alcoholic when the opportunity arises. You might want to try one or more of the following ideas: Offer to help the alcoholic get in touch with A.A., explaining that this will entail no obligation to become a member. Offer to attend a few A.A. open meetings with the alcoholic, for informational reasons. Explain to individuals that only they themselves know whether they are really alcoholics and suggest a talk with someone from A.A. to help clarify the problem. Talk to the alcoholic always in terms of suggestion, avoiding threats or duress. Rationalization and denial are a frustrating aspect of the disease of alcoholism. Recovery from active alcoholism depends strongly upon the alcoholic coming to his/her own decision about the desire for help. Become acquainted with A.A. literature, particularly the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which is generally accepted as A.A.’s basic text, and is available for purchase at most local groups. A.A. does not focus on the non-alcoholic, but there is an entirely separate fellowship known as the Alanon Family Groups that is composed of adults and teens whose lives are or have been affected by another person’s drinking. Alanon has an answering service in the K-W area (519-742-6921).

How Does the A.A. Program and Meetings Work? Who can Attend?

A.A.members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source.

The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings. a) Open Speaker Meetings: Open to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. Here A.A. members “tell their stories”.

They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of A.A. b) Open Discussion Meetings: Open to alcoholics and non-alcoholics. One member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on some aspect of A.A., recovery, or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. (Open meetings can provide interested family members or friends an opportunity to learn more about what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do. They often come with the A.A. member as support.) c) Closed Discussion Meetings: These are for alcoholics or prospective A.A.’s only. They are conducted in much the same manner as Open Discussion meetings.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous a religious organization or a temperance movement?

No, A.A. is a recovery program based on spiritual principles, but it’s membership includes people of many faiths, as well as agnostics and atheists. A.A. is not involved in any sort of temperance movement. In fact, A.A. has no opinion on outside issues such as whether other people should drink. Its members simply know that they themselves cannot handle alcohol safely.

What types of meetings does A.A. sponsor?

There are two basic types of meetings… Speaker and Discussion. Either type can be Open or Closed.

Speaker meetings consist mainly of a main speaker that usually reviews his or her past drinking experiences that led to their arrival at A.A., followed by his or her interpretation of the recovery program and how they apply it to their life. Participation is limited to the speaker who is a volunteer (speaking at A.A. meetings is not a requirement of membership).

Open discussion meetings are “round-table” discussions pertaining to some aspect of sobriety or the A.A. recovery program. Participation is voluntary. Members share their experience with each other. Open meetings are open to the public. Spouses often accompany their alcoholic mates to these meetings. Interested parties are also welcome to attend, particularly those whose work involves contact with alcoholics.

Closed meetings are restricted to A.A. members only (anyone who has a desire to stop drinking may consider themselves to be a member if they so choose).

As a general rule speaker meetings are open and discussion meetings are closed, although there are several open discussion groups in the area. Events such as conventions or roundups are weekend or one-day gatherings that provide a series of speakers and panelists. Such events are open to the public. Note that unlike regular A.A. meetings there is usually a registration fee involved to cover the expenses involved with the event.

Am I too young to be an Alcoholic?

Of the total membership of Alcoholics Anonymous, roughly 2% are young people under the age of 21, and another 9% are ages 21 through 30. These individuals have recognized that they are unable to drink normally and have sought the A.A. recovery program. Th help clarify the situation for yourself, check out some of the pamphlets at the A.A. Worldwide website, including “Message to Teenagers”.

What are the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The 12 Steps are principles based on actual recovery experiences of early members. They provide not just a means of staying dry, but also a suggested program for living.

Frequently visited pages.

FAQ Page

Are you wondering if you’re an alcoholic? Visit our FAQ page.

Bridging the Gap

Are you leaving a treatment centre and want to be in touch with a member of AA? Visit our Bridging the Gap page.

No Longer Alone

To find in person and online meetings, please visit the Meetings page.

A.A. Preamble

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with
any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does
not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor
opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and
help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.


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