Alcoholics Anonymous Controversial Discussion Topics

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held worldwide every day. If you are leading an A.A. meeting and looking for a topic, the Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting Topics article is for you. This article will discuss controversial issues we do not discuss in AA meetings. However, you can discuss these topics with your recovery friends and sponsors outside AA meetings.

controversial AA alcoholics anonymous topics

Alcoholics Anonymous is known as a successful way to recover from alcoholism. The twelve steps offer a way for alcoholics to make a big change in their lives. The feeling of uselessness slips away. Following the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous, AA meeting attendees meet weekly in AA groups, study pages of the Big Book, and talk about topics of discussion. There are discussion meetings, open meetings, closed meetings, speaker meetings, and birthday celebration meetings. You can find AA at community centers, treatment facilities, churches, and other public buildings.

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. has its headquarters in New York City.

Controversial AA Meeting Topics

Mental Health: I am not noting any medical statistics to back up this claim, but many people in AA who have the disease of alcoholism may also have a mental illness. Alcohol addiction usually is a way to deal with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many other mental illnesses that may develop in childhood and as teenagers. Talking about our mental illnesses, especially as a meeting topic, is not okay. We can share this privately with our friends, family, and sponsors.

Medication in Sobriety: After achieving sobriety, individuals with a history of alcoholism may experience a recurrence of underlying mental health issues. In such cases, our physician may recommend medication to address these issues. Some AA members may discourage the use of medication for mental problems. This advice can be deadly to those with bipolar disorder and depression. It is of utmost importance that AA members understand it is okay to take medication for any mental problems they are dealing with. This does not affect recovery. We do not discuss talking about this at the group level in any AA meeting. We can share privately with our friends, family, and sponsors. Or we can keep it private. This is not a topic to discuss at an AA meeting.

Talking About Drugs in AA Meetings: Some alcoholics are addicted to multiple substances. When we are in our AA meetings, we stick to talking about our alcohol abuse and leave our drug abuse at the door. We have other meetings available to talk about our drug addiction.

AA is the Only Way: An article from Vox, Why some people swear by Alcoholics Anonymous — and others despise it, discusses the AA program. One quote from Gerald Zigler, a 44-year-old in Montana, said, “There’s a lot of good people in AA, and there’s a lot of support there, there’s a lot of compassion there,” Zeigler said. “I just find it so bizarre that it’s treated as the option for everybody.”  I have heard many times that AA may not work, so try other recovery programs if it does not work for you. They say to attend three AA meetings before deciding if AA suits you.

Outside Issues: Those with a drinking problem can display strong opinions on politics, religion, local law, etc. Our recovery journey while attending meetings does not need to include hearing about these topics. We are there to be together and support one another. It is not appropriate to discuss external matters during an AA meeting.

Family Member(s): We sometimes have issues with our family, but we cannot discuss this at meetings or bring up family members as topics at meetings. We can go to Al-Anon and discuss our family members. Al-Anon is a wonderful, 12-step program for family members of alcoholics. 

Public Controversy: AA has twelve traditions, which I’ve listed below. Tradition 10 states that we do not have opinions on outside issues. As a topic in an AA meeting, we do not discuss any public controversy such as abortion, religion, politics, local laws, etc. 

Other Support Groups: We do not mention other support groups in AA meetings. This can be anything from any substance use disorder to any physical disease to any treatment program.

Dating​Being single in sobriety can be challenging if you enjoy being in a relationship. We do not consider this a topic when leading an AA meeting. We can speak with our friends about this on our own time.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An AA meeting is a time for alcoholics to gather and support each other. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking. A group meeting is like cognitive behavioral therapy. However, this is not a meeting topic.

Treatment Programs: Some come to AA for the first time after treatment. We may have a spiritual experience during treatment and want to talk about this when leading a meeting. Instead of the topic of treatment programs, the topic of spiritual experience would work.

Before leading your next AA meeting, pray to your Higher Power and think about your personal stories, including your first meeting. You can say the 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.

If you’ve worked the 12 steps, you’ve had a spiritual awakening and will be able to help the newcomer pick an appropriate topic.

AA Twelve Traditions Long Form
1. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority–a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.

3. Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

4. With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups

 ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the Trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

5. Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose–that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside A.A.- and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.

7. The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals, or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise. Then too, we view with much concern those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we may otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12th Step" work is never to be paid for.

9. Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Service Committee. They are the custodians of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our A.A. General Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principle newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.

10. No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues–particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.

11. Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.

12. And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.