What Is Alcoholics Anonymous All About?

Recently, I heard someone say, “AA is nothing but a cult.”

Honestly, I had similar reservations when I went to my first meeting. Several AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) fellows introduced themselves prior to the start of that session and after a bit, I asked, “Is this like—you know, like a cult?”

AA—A Fellowship

One woman laughed politely and responded, “Not at all. You may come and go as you wish. Each group is anonymous and we do not have a leader. A man named Bill Wilson became sober in 1934 and he voluntarily began this program.”

Someone else added, “Millions of women and men have joined AA. There are no dues or fees, but we do ask that you chip in for coffee and cake! We have Twelve Steps that guide us to sobriety and Twelve Traditions that keep us on track. You are not the first person to have this concern, but you will soon see that we are alcoholics all, that we support each other and that it is not our wish to indoctrinate others. The program and the fellowship are all that we are about.”

Then, my very first meeting began. Guided by a volunteer chairperson with several sober years, I introduced myself, “I am Katie and I think I’m an alcoholic.”

The group responded as one, saying enthusiastically, “Welcome Katie!”

Interestingly, I felt comfortable right away and I never questioned the ‘cult’ issue again.

A lesson I learned from AA

AA has taught me a lot over the years, and one lesson stands out among the others: giving is much better than receiving. I learned this important lesson by becoming a sponsor.

When you first join a group, you’re encouraged to connect with a sober alcoholic that you can share with and receive feedback from. I have my own sponsor, and currently guide 3 female ‘sponsees.’

The blessings of being an AA sponsor

I love my ‘sponsees.’

One girl never ends our chat without saying that I am important to her. Another includes me in her family gatherings and I now feel as if I’m a part of that group. I feel as if being of service to these fine gals has become paramount to my sobriety, and to my own self-esteem.

Giving rather than taking is a wonderful feeling—we all can use the occasional pat on the back.

These ancient words certainly ring true for me: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” –Matthew 10:8

The core of AA

Alcoholics Anonymous is a unique program, and exists for a simple reason: one alcoholic helping another.

Together, as a fellowship, we progress to wellness.


Author: Katie H. is a writer, recovering addict, and mother based in Connecticut.