A popular saying in AA is, “For a meeting all you need is a resentment and a coffee pot.” You don’t even need the coffee pot. AA is informal and organized only by the members themselves.

It’s as simple as two people sharing.

Each AA group is fully self-supporting and self-organized, with decisions made based on group conscience. Many of the English Buenos Aires AA meetings are set up with the following format:

Set-up

The room is unlocked by a member or it may already be unlocked. If needed, chairs are set up around a table or in a formation where people can sit and talk to each other. Prior to the meeting, someone will have already volunteered to chair/secretary. In the Corrientes and Living Sober groups, the literature and table tents with quotes are put on the table.

Script

Hi my name is _____, I’m an alcoholic. Welcome to the ____ meeting of the ___ group.

Before we start the meeting, please make sure your cell phones are turned off or put to silent.

This is a [closed] meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, which means if you have a desire to stop drinking you are welcome to stay. There are OPEN meetings for non-AA visitors Tuesday evenings, Women’s meeting on Fridays, and Saturday at noon.

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.

Now let us have a moment of silence to remember why we are here.

Are there any newcomers or anyone coming back with less than 30 days of sobriety? Or anyone counting 90 days of sobriety and would like to share their count? If so, please tell us your name so we may get to know you.

Is anyone visiting from out of town? If so, please tell us your name and the place you’re visiting from.

Are there any AA related announcements? If anyone has a birthday this month, we celebrate birthdays on the last Friday of the month with cake and a token. We also recognize 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9 months with a token. Please let the chairperson know if you would like to receive a token and who will be presenting it.

Now, I have asked ____ to read "How It Works."

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

[Some meetings include]: Now, I have asked ____ to read "The 12 Traditions."

Short Version

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

We ask that there be no cross talk. Please do not offer direct advice or talk to other members, you may speak to the group as a whole or to the chairperson.

In this meeting we _____.

[Reading or Speaker]

The meeting is now open for participation on what we’ve heard/read or anything else related to recovery/alcoholism.

[Members share]

Now we will practice the 7th tradition, which states every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. [A basket is passed for members to donate pesos, this is completely voluntary as there are no dues or fees].

Remember, anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

I have asked _____ to read [closing reading].

I have asked _____ to lead us in the Serenity Prayer.

Serenity Prayer

God,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Keep coming back, it works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it!

Selection of Closing Readings

A Vision For You

Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you until then.

Reprinted with permission from AA General Service Office, appears on page 164 of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic security will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Reprinted with permission from AA General Service Office, appears on pages 83-84 of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

There is a Solution

Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

Reprinted with permission from AA General Service Office, on page 25 of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous.

Keys of the Kingdom

 The last fifteen years of my life have been rich and meaningful. I have had my share of problems, heartaches and disappointments, because that is life, but also I have known a great deal of joy, and a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom. I have a wealth of friends and, with my A.A. friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and new-found faith and hope. And, as the years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing a mutual trust, understanding and love—without strings, without obligation—we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.

There is no more “aloneness,” with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.

Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.

Reprinted with permission from AA General Service Office, on page 311 of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous.