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AA. Is It a Cult? A Religion?

No AA is not a cult or a religion. Many AA meetings have an overtly Christian Religious tone. This frightened me away. Being an atheist myself (I won’t get into my attempts to pray-the-gay-away as a youngster) I personally had a lot of anger and resentment towards any religious dogma during my active addiction and during early sobriety. For me AA has offered a twofold solution . 1. The fellowship. AA is a mutual support group. 2. The 12 Steps. The Program.

AA has many distinctive words and phrases commonly used by it’s adherents. This can give us the air of being cultish, exclusive. I am going to outline a few which I have encountered, as well as their approximate definitions. I had challenges with much of this, especially during early sobriety. Please don’t be alarmed when you hear anything different sounding, although I attempt to moderate my own speech to take into account the newcomer…you will undoubtedly hear the following. Please don’t ever hesitate to ask us any questions you may have.

Open Meeting: The opposite of a closed meeting. This meeting format is open to alcoholics and their families and to anyone interested in solving a personal drinking problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem

Closed Meeting: This meeting type is limited to alcoholics and those who think or know they have a problem with drinking and “have a desire to stop drinking.”

Program: The program is an optional part of the AA fellowship. The suggested program is a 12 step program of recovery. The AA fellowship is very frequently referred to as a ‘program’, by members. As these steps are merely a suggestion, they are entirely optional.

Fellowship: 1. friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. Mutual support.

Big Book: Alcoholics Anonymous is the actual book title. This book is NOT the bible (as I first thought). This book was written in 1939, making it very old fashioned and offensive to many of us. It is an interesting historical read, with much of value between the lines, but absolutely not essential to achieving sobriety.

Sponsor: Again this is stressed in more traditional AA circles. ‘an alcoholic who has made some progress in recovery shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through AA.’ Speaking from a personal perspective, I resisted getting a sponsor for a couple of years, currently I do have one and I couldn’t be happier. This individual helps to keep me grounded and frequently calls me on my BS. An excellent sounding board.

The Rooms: A personal favourite. This simply refers to the rooms where AA meetings are held. You are likely to encounter this one frequently.

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