Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is AA?

The following is the definition of A.A. appearing in the Fellowship's basic literature and cited frequently at meetings of A.A. groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; (from aa.org/what-is-aa)

Resources on the Alcoholics Anonymous website:

AA Preamble

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.

© A.A. Grapevine, Inc.; reprinted with permission.

AA can also be defined as:

An informal society of more than 2,000,000 recovering alcoholics in the United States, Canada, and other countries. These men and women meet in local groups, which range in size from a handful in some localities to many hundreds in larger communities. Currently, women make up 35 percent of the total membership. Only you can decide whether you want to give A.A. a try — whether you think it can help you. We who are in A.A. came because we finally gave up trying to control our drinking. We still hated to admit that we could never drink safely. Then we heard from other A.A. members that we were sick. (We thought so for years!) We found out that many people suffered from the same feelings of guilt and loneliness and hopelessness that we did. We found out that we had these feelings because we had the disease of alcoholism. We decided to try and face up to what alcohol had done to us.

Looking to attend a meeting?

Our first suggestion when looking to attend a meeting is to call our office at 202-966-9115 and speak with volunteers who are available 24 hours a day. They can help you find a meeting near you or answer questions about AA.

Other frequently asked questions:

I've never been to an AA meeting - where do I begin?

Head to any open meeting and introduce yourself! (find meetings here)

Volunteers at the WAIA office are available at 202-966-9115 to answer questions about the program or how to attend your first meeting.

We may even be able to find you an AA member who who you can talk to beforehand and meet you at the meeting.

Newcomer (AKA Beginner) meetings are listed here.

How do I become an AA member?

Our third tradition states:

"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking"

Simply attend a meeting, speak with other members and decide for yourself if it's right for you.

Whats the difference between open and closed meetings?

Meetings listed as "Open" are open to anyone looking to find out more about the program. Attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking.

These statements are often read at the beginning of open and closed meetings:  "Singleness of Purpose" card.

How do I find a meeting?

The website has several ways to search for meetings in the DC Metro area:

Find meetings near me now - this link requests your location from your computer or phone and displays a map of upcoming meetings near your location. (Locations are not stored or recorded)

Find meetings near a location - this link allows you to type a location in the search box - like a zip-code, landmark, neighborhood or exact address - and it will display upcoming meetings near that location.

Find meetings everywhere - this link displays a list of upcoming meetings in the DC Metro area. Use the drop-down menus at the top to filter.

Volunteers at the WAIA office are available at 202-966-9115 to help you find a meeting and may even be able to find you a member who who you can talk to beforehand and meet you at the meeting.

Do I need to be an alcoholic to attend a meeting?

Meetings listed as "Open" are open to anyone looking to find out more about the program. Attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking.

I'm a nurse/med student looking to observe a meeting.

That's Terrific! find any open meeting and show up.

Some meetings ask newcomers to introduce themselves, you are welcome to say "Hello, I'm (first name here) a nurse/med student observing, thank you for having me"

See our other FAQ about meeting procedures and feel free to call the office with other questions.

How do I know if a meeting is still active?

WAIA strives to keep our meeting list current and rarely is a meeting listed which is not active.

If you do attend a meeting which appears to no longer be active, please call our office and we can help you find another nearby: 202-966-9115.

Can WAIA confirm a meeting is still active for me?

Unfortunately, no. There are too many meetings happening in the area for WAIA to contact one in advance.

If you do attend a meeting which appears to no longer be active, please call our office and we can help you find another nearby: 202-966-9115.

What do I do if I get to a location where the website says a meeting is happening but I can't find it?

Often the entrance to a meeting is on the side or rear of the building. 

If you see someone go into the building, you can ask if they are a "Friend of Bill" and they may be able to show you where it is.

If you do attend a meeting which appears to no longer be active, please call our office and we can help you find another nearby: 202-966-9115.

Does WAIA have information on other fellowships such as NA?

WAIA supports the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous only. 

AA world services provides this pamphlet for problems other than alcohol.

You can also try: Chesapeake & Potomac Region of Narcotics Anonymous www.cprna.org for NA meetings in the DC area.

Other fellowships have their own websites also.

Can I get a ride to a meeting?

If you have a particular issue with transportation or just don't want to walk in alone please do call our office and we may be able to find someone in your area to meet you at a meeting, a local coffee shop or arrange transportation. 202-966-9115

Can I get an attendance form at a meeting?

No, attendance forms come from the agency requiring them. If you need something signed for verification that you attended a meeting please bring it up to someone at the end of the meeting.

All groups are independent and may have their own policies/procedures around attendance forms.

How is AA Funded? Am I required to contribute?

There are no dues or fees for AA membership.

Our 7th Tradition states:

"Every AA Group ought to be self supporting, declining outside contributions"

This means that individual AA groups ask for contributions towards the expenses required to run the meetings. (ie. cover the cost of rent, coffee, literature, etc.) 

Groups are encouraged to contribute donations beyond what is required to run their meetings (after a prudent reserve is established) to the local, regional and national AA organizations which in turn use the contributions to support AA activities.

While AA requires this support to keep the fellowship going - only those who feel they are financially able to should contribute.

Our literature and policies strictly state that no individual is ever under any obligation to contribute. "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking."

Volunteers at the WAIA office are available at 202-966-9115 to answer questions about the program or how to attend your first meeting.

Frequently asked questions about WAIA:

What is WAIA?

The Washington Area Intergroup Association is a service board of representatives from the groups in the Washington Area, including Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, MD, as well as Washington, DC. Its purpose is service work — to help the groups carry the message on an area-wide basis. Just a few examples are: answering the A.A. telephones, publishing the Where & When, taking meetings to hospitals and institutions, and sponsoring various area events.

How is WAIA Organized?

There are officers and an executive committee elected for one year terms, but most major issues are voted on by the full intergroup. Some of the Intergroup service work is done by its various committees, and some is done at its Central Office. WAIA asks each group to elect a representative to serve on the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors meets at 8:00 PM on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, except August. The Board elects an Executive Committee which responds to member and group concerns, making recommendations to the board.

The Board currently meets at:

The Church In Bethesda
5033 Wilson Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814

Resources

What is the Central Office?

This is the place where volunteers answer the A.A. phones 12 hours a day (night calls are re-routed to the homes of Night Watch volunteers). This is also where A.A. literature is sold, and the Where and When and the area newsletter are published. The office also serves as a clearinghouse for information on area activities.

Phone calls from Central Office come from the number 202-966-9782 please put this number in your phone in addition to the main number if you have signed up for 12th step service so you know it's the office calling!

What are the WAIA committees?

The Committees of WAIA are organized to carry out the duties of the organization such as office, outreach, hospitals and institutions (H&I) activities.

A partial list of committees with pages on the site are:

What is the difference between AA and WAIA?

The 9th tradition states:

"AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.."

AA has a service structure of districts, areas, and regions for groups to provide their input to AA World Services on issues which affect AA as a whole.

Intergroups (or central offices as they are called in some places) exist outside of the AA service structure to support groups within their locality with services such as manning phone lines, maintaining websites, keeping directories of local meetings and  other activities.

How can I support WAIA?

Thank you for your interest!

Most importantly, AA is a self-supported organization. Therefore we require all who contribute to be members of the AA fellowship.

Monetary contributions can be sent online: WAIA Online Contribution or by check through the mail using this form or in cash by  visiting the office.

If you would like to volunteer please call our office at 202-966-9115.

WAIA will be adding more content to this section soon. In the meantime if you have questions about the program please call the WAIA office at 202-966-9115 or visit the AA General Services Office website: www.aa.org.