How do I know if I'm an alcoholic?
We recognize that alcoholism is self-diagnosed. It isn’t based on how much you drink or how often you drink. It is about how alcohol affects your life. No one in AA can tell you if you are an alcoholic, only you can decide. If you cannot control your drinking, even though you have tried or desired to, then you may be an alcoholic.
These questions have been suggested by the General Service Office in NY as helpful for people who are concerned about their drinking. If you want to find out more, please come to a meeting, contact someone in AA, or check out resources freely available online.
I don't know if AA is for me, can I try it out?
Yes. The only requirement for Alcoholics Anonymous is a desire to stop drinking. Many in our ranks came into the meetings not having admitted we were alcoholics. There are many things that bring us into AA, the common thread is that drinking is a problem in our lives, a common saying is, “I didn’t arrive in the room on the wings of victory.”
How do I join AA?
You are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous when you decide that you are. It is entirely your choice. The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. Attend a meeting whenever you want, you are always welcome.
Is AA expensive?
No. There are no dues or fees for AA membership. It costs nothing to be a member of AA.
What's with all this "God" talk?
AA is non-religious and not affiliated with any religious organization or any other organization of any kind. The word “god” is in AA literature and spoken about in meetings, but God is simply a higher power as you understand a higher power. We recognize that alone we cannot stop our drinking, but with help (a power greater than ourselves) it is possible. Some people believe their higher power is the God as defined in an organized religion. Other people believe their higher power is Alcoholics Anonymous. AA members have all kinds of beliefs and non-beliefs about religion. AA is for everyone, you don’t have to believe in anything and no one can tell you to believe or not believe.
Will I be the only person of my age or gender?
Maybe. Maybe not. English speaking meetings in Buenos Aires can be small, particularly in the winter, there is no telling who could be at the meeting. AA is for everyone and AA rooms are filled with people of all kinds of intersecting identities. In some places, there are meetings that target specific subgroups of people. In Buenos Aires, we have one meeting a day for everyone, there are a couple days a week where two meetings are held. There really are all kinds of people, alcoholism does not discriminate.
Being the only English speaking AA meetings in town, we see a vibrant array of diverse people come through the doors. Young, old, man, woman, trans, straight, gay, bi, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, religious, atheist, doctors, malpractice lawyers, students, teachers, activists, veterans…we come from all walks of life to the rooms for a single purpose: to relieve our alcoholism.
I'm not a felon/homeless/divorced/hospitalized/etc, I can't be a real alcoholic.
AA abides by the philosophy that alcoholism is self-diagnosed, anyone can be a “real” alcoholic. People come into AA during all stages of life. Some have been to rehab multiple times and have had stints of homelessness, but many people come into AA while they still have a good job and their family life is intact. AA is for anyone who wants to quit drinking.
How often are there meetings in Buenos Aires?
There are meetings scheduled everyday. Check the meetings page for details.
Where are the meetings?
There are three locations for meetings. Check the meetings page for full details.
How do I get around the city?
We’ve put together maps and descriptions for the different meetings on the meetings page. You can get to a meeting with public transportation, a taxi, Uber, remises, a bike, or by walking.
Are the meetings entirely in English?
Yes. Some members are fluent in Spanish, but the meetings are held entirely in English. Everyone is welcome, regardless of language abilities.
How do I get into the Corrientes church?
Enter through the left gate of the church. Press the buzzer and either the door will be unlocked immediately or someone may speak to you through the intercom. If they do, say what you’re there for, it can be as short and sweet as saying “Ah, Ah” (AA) or “Para un grupo” (for a group). They’ll know you’re there for the meeting if you tell them the same things in English.
How do I get into the Recoleta church?
Enter through the right door, tell the woman behind the glass that you are there for AA. She will buzz you in.
What happens at AA meetings?
Meetings are often focused around a subject, either a member sharing their story or a reading from AA literature, then attendees will share about anything related to alcoholism or recovery.
Will people give me advice in the meetings?
We ask that there be no cross-talk. No one should be providing direct advice or comments to other members during the meeting. You can share whatever it is you need to share and no one will interrupt you or provide you with direct advice or directions on what to do.
Can I arrive late?
Yes. Many of us feel that it is better to arrive late to a meeting than to not go at all.
Can I bring my friend or family member to a meeting?
Friends and family members are welcome to attend OPEN meetings. There are OPEN English speaking meetings in Buenos Aires on Tuesday evenings at 7pm, Saturday at 12 (noon), and the Friday Women’s meeting is also an open meeting.
Will I be put on the spot and forced to talk?
No. No one has to do anything you do not have to do. No one has to tell anyone their name, no one has to talk, no one has to say why they are in a meeting, no one will expect you to do anything. No one will tell anyone you were there. Alcoholics Anonymous is entirely voluntary.
The Buenos Aires English speaking meetings vary in size, but tend to be quite small. Someone may greet you, or ask you about yourself. But no one expects you to reply and you can choose to give as much or as little information as you want. You can leave whenever you want and you don’t have to speak to anyone unless you want to. If the meeting facilitator asks you if you would like to share, which may happen in a very small meeting, a simple shake of the head or just averting eye contact is enough to wave them off to the next person.
Are AA meetings depressing?
Meetings are focused on honesty. Honesty can be painful, but it can also be absolutely hilarious. Newcomers are often surprised at how much laughter happens in meetings. Some things that make other people cringe, might make the AA room burst out in laughter. Fellow alcoholics have been there and can relate.
Why do are sobriety anniversaries called birthdays?
Sobriety milestones are something to celebrate. Many members consider their AA birthday to be more significant than their “belly button birthday.” In the Buenos Aires English speaking meetings, we celebrate birthdays on the last Friday of the month with cake and a token. We also recognize 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9 month milestones with a token.
What is a sponsor?
A sponsor is someone who usually has more experience in AA than the sponsee. A sponsor is an additional method of support. Many sponsors will tell sponsees to call them at any time of the day or night.
Do I have to get a sponsor?
No. It is entirely up to you. Many people find the one-on-one sponsor-sponsee relationship to be an important part of their recovery.
How do I choose a sponsor?
There are no hard and fast rules for picking an AA sponsor. Some sponsor and sponsees are polar opposites while others have a lot in common. It is important to choose a sponsor who you can talk openly with, because you need to able to trust your sponsor as you unburden yourself and let go of resentments. Considering sexual orientation and gender identity can be helpful when choosing a sponsor, this is because many AAs have noticed a strong romantic or sexual attraction to anyone who pays them attention early in sobriety, and it can be a problem if that interferes with the important therapeutic aspect of sponsorship.
How do I get a sponsor?
Ask. If you don’t know who to ask, ask people in the meetings and maybe someone can suggest some possible sponsors.
Can I switch sponsors?
Yes. As you move through your recovery, and as your sponsor moves through their recovery, you may get to a point that the relationship no longer serves the same purpose it once did.
Where can I find more information on sponsorship?
The General Service Office has an informative pamphlet on sponsorship, read it here.
Is AA a cult?
No. AA is not organized beyond local groups, and everything is entirely voluntary. AA does not keep records of attendance or record membership details. Your decision to attend or to not attend is up to you, and only you. We have found AA is most effective when individuals come to the fellowship on their own accord. Alcoholics Anonymous does not recruit members, it works through attraction, not promotion. There are no leaders or positions of power, only volunteer service roles that exist solely to serve the rest of the group. To find out more about the traditions that maintain the singleness of purpose in Alcoholics Anonymous, read the Twelve Traditions.
If AA isn't religious, why all the talk about spirituality?
AA is not a religious organization and is not affiliated with any religion or other organization or belief system. God is mentioned in a lot of the literature, but this is not defined as a universal specific entity. God is a placeholder term for “a higher power” or a “god of your understanding.” In the most simple terms, it is a recognition that we could not find a solution to our alcohol problem on our own. People in meetings often talk about how they define their own higher power even though they are atheist. Other people speak about how they are a part of an organized religion, but had a spiritual change when they found sobriety. And even others will talk about how their understanding of a higher power is constantly changing, even after decades of sobriety. There are no rules, there are no requirements, the one thing everyone has in common is a desire to stop drinking.
Do alcoholics have to hit bottom before they can recover?
A popular AA saying is, “There are no high bottoms, only tall people.” Hitting bottom is the point at which a person has had enough. That rock bottom is different for everyone. It is a myth that an individual has to lose everything before they can get better. Another common saying is, “We took the elevator down, when we decide to get off we have to take the stairs to get back up.”
Does AA cure alcoholism?
For people in AA, “It’s alcoholism, not alcohol-wasm.” Even when you take the alcohol away there is still the “ism” and that “ism” requires a daily program for reprieve. Many AAs consider themselves to be in recovery as they are never cured of the disease. AA is a support group and participating in the fellowship can provide a support system to help people avoid drinking. People continue participating in AA because it helps them live a happier and more serene life in sobriety. AA does not claim to cure alcoholism and does not substitute for medical treatment.
Are alcoholics bad people?
No, alcoholism is not a moral failing. It is a disease that requires management to keep it in check.