(freedom from alcohol)
through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps,
is the sole purpose of an AA group.
Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed.
by Bill W. — A.A. Grapevine, February, 1958

AA meetings…
A difference of format, purpose, and value.
Original source of article below:

Originally, AA meetings consisted of several AAs meeting in a member’s home, oftentimes in the company of their mates (there was no Al-anon yet). The meetings had two purposes:

• One was to show newcomers (alcoholics and their spouses) that others who suffered from alcoholism had taken the Steps to recovery and they had actually recovered from an otherwise chronic, progressive, and fatal disease.

• The other purpose of the meeting was to exchange information and ideas that would help members of the group help newcomers.
In time, some groups grew too large to meet in somebody’s living room or parlor; the Akron group moved into a local schoolroom.
Around 1940, the First Edition of the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous was available, newspapers and national magazines published articles about the “new cure,” AAs 12-Step Program of Recovery, and thousands of newcomers overwhelmed the fledgling fellowship; AA meetings became a means of organizing teams of AAs to help the newcomers take all the steps in less than a month. New men found themselves 12-stepping others immediately after attending their first AA meeting — they were in a car with other AAs on their way to help a drunk after the meeting. Read Clarence Snyder’s story.

Fifteen years later, a series of essays written by Bill W. were published in the “Twelve and Twelve” — intended to clarify AA doctrine, some people found it easier to read the essays than the Basic 164-page text preceded by the critically-important “Doctor’s Opinion.” As a result, newcomers to AA began to missed some very important points that other AAs assumed everyone knew. After the mid-50’s, AA’s legendary 75% recovery rate began to decline. by 1965, it was down to 50%.

Almost fifteen years after the “12&12” hit the street, the Grapevine Magazine published an article advocating “discussion meetings.” Discussion of the contents of the Big Book was a worthy goal, but somehow, the message was distorted. As a result, discussions ranged widely; they were not focused on the doctrine developed by the co-founders of AA, the First 100, or the people they sponsored. As Bill feared, without clear, concise, written instructions, “The Message” began to change as it was passed from member to member by word of mouth.

About that time, the health care industry began developing “treatment” and “treatment centers” to help alcoholics and drug addicts recover from their various afflictions. Their multi-disciplinary approach attempted to fix all of their patients’ physical, mental, and emotional problems. Until then, AA had focused solely on overcoming the “spiritual malady,” thereby causing a profound psychic change that revolutionized the alcoholic’s thinking and behavior. By 1980, only one-third of the newcomers flocking to now-popular AA recovered and stayed active in the fellowship.

With the passage of time and a reduction of focus on the Basic Text, AA’s central office last reported that fewer than 5% of newcomers to AA recovered and remained active in the fellowship. Treatment centers experienced similar poor success rates, patients who relapsed repeatedly, returning to out-patient and residential treatment three, five, or more times before they recovered permanently – if they ever recovered. AA groups experienced the same phenomenon as they put more emphasis on discussion meetings and focused less and less on twelfth-step work (after all, the courts and the treatment centers were now dealing with the still-suffering alcoholic and almost certainly, they referred all the newcomers to AA sooner or later).

By the year 2000, sixty years after a highly-effective solution became popular, the Fellowship of AA has become ineffective. (note)
Few AA meetings focus on the Basic Text or the Twelve-Step Program of recovery so clearly expressed in the Big Book. Open Discussion meetings, attended by large numbers of people who have not studied the Basic Text, tend to create forums for wide-ranging discussions that have little in common with the 12-Step program of AA. Many of them seem identical to the “group therapy” meetings held in treatment centers where virtually everything except overcoming the spiritual malady is discussed.

The Fellowship of AA has become ineffective… (??)

This statement may raise the blood pressure of the AA member that does indeed love the ‘AA Fellowship’ and finds comfort in the rooms of AA.

The ‘Program of Recovery’ spelled out in detail in the first 164 pages, doctor’s opinion and the forwards is proven to be effective. That is the ‘Program of Recovery’ not the ‘Fellowship of AA’.

The point being made by this statement appears to be that the ‘Fellowship of AA’ is not an effective treatment for the spiritual malody effecting the true alcoholic.

Which brings us to the format of ‘Solution Based Meetings’ as a method of sharing a message of hope to the newcomer and those trying to find a way out.

“Sobriety–the freedom from alcohol–through the teaching and practice of the twelve steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group.” Bill W., The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., February 1958
(Affirmed as a guiding principle of A.A. and approved by the A.A. General Service Conference in 1969, 1970 and 1972.)

The Twelve Steps are designed to free the individual through spiritual awakening – not to enslave him to a fellowship that “Just doesn’t drink”. When folks, especially those sober for a while – come to AA meetings to “Become a part of” so that “Together we can do it” or “So I can get MY LIFE BACK” they are circumventing the sole purpose of the AA group – recreating a NEW purpose which was never intended by the co-founders.

Of what good is it for a newcomer that is a real alcoholic to “feel like I belong” or to gain “friends I never had before” or to have “a place to go” instead of bar if he is not learning how we got back to God so God could remove the obsession to drink forever?

Certainly one would have to agree that there is a great deal of power in any AA meeting. Also the ‘Fellowship of AA’ is a tremendous tool for the ‘recovered alcoholic’ to find a newcomer to help. It is certainly not the goal of to denigrate the ‘Fellowship of AA’ with the visible publication that includes the statement: ‘The Fellowship of AA has become ineffective’….

The article is published on our site and the source is revealed. It is our hope that this page clarifies our feelings about that statement.

While you are thinking though, here is more to consider:
“Why We Should Study the Big Book?” download full PDF: Click Here
“What Happened?” download full PDF: Click Here

‘’ is dedicated to providing internet exposure for FL Big Book based meetings that focus on the ‘Solution’ found in the first 164 pages of the basic text. This site does not represent the views of Alcoholics Anonymous, the AA General Service Office, AA World Services, The AA Grapevine, any central office, AA group or meeting. For information about AA and AA meetings or literature, please reference the official AA (GSO) Web Site or check other resources online or in your phone book.