How do People get to Alcoholics Anonymous

Stages of Affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous


Stage of Affiliation Locus of Affiliation
Pre-contemplation No motivation to affiliate with Alcoholics Anonymous No motivation to affiliate with Alcoholics Anonymous
Contemplation: Seeks help from others Person begins to find their condition intolerable and seeks information from AA. Person begins to find their condition intolerable and seeks help from friends or healthcare workers; or
Significant-other Contemplation: by other people or social institutions Other people find the persons behavior intolerable and/or indicative of illness and seek help from AA and/or Al-Anon. Healthcare worker assertively intervenes with person to facilitate awareness
Employer, Law courts, police, friends and/or family assertively intervene to facilitate awareness 

Contemplation: Facilitated awareness  Person’s self-assessment of their condition is facilitated by attending an AA meeting. Or; Persons self-assessment of their condition is facilitated by healthcare worker; and/or


Person’s self-assessment of their condition is facilitated by peer sufferer (‘Twelfth Step’ call). Person is introduced by others to an AA member who tells of their experience, strength and hope in recovery (‘Twelfth Step’ work).


– Honest rejection of assessment; and/ or


– Denial; and/or


– Lack of understanding: and/or Person rejects facilitated self-assessment or assertive assessment by others.


– Co-morbidity masking assessment; and/or


Person may seek an alternative model of treatment


Affiliation: Following identification with current members; or mandated attendance Person begins regular attendance at meetings and other recovery activities Same as ‘Direct AA Affiliation’


Person joins a ‘home group’ (85% of AA members have a Home group).


Person accepts the problem and takes on an identity as a recovering alcoholic (50% of current AA members did so from first meeting).


Person begins to understand and ’share’ his or her story of alcoholism.


Person has a sponsor (77% of AA members have a sponsor) and rigorously works the program.


Misaffiliation Person may only partially participate in AA activities, practice only some of the Program or partially complete some of the Steps. Same as ‘Direct AA Affiliation’
Affiliation-mandated Person may affiliate initially with aloof or resentful attitudes, but will often affiliate freely after awhile Facilitated in a bipartisan agreement by employer, law courts, family, medical advice, other healthcare worker or alcoholism treatment centre
Supra-affiliation (With people, social groups and institutions supportive of a sober lifestyle – outside of AA) Maintain AA affiliation and develop or re-establish social networks outside of AA Person may seek help for problems other than alcohol (64% of AA members do so).
Person may continue contact with originating Twelve Step Facilitator or treatment centre
Altruistic affiliation: Helping others, while continuing to recover Person may act as a sponsor, answering ‘Twelfth Step’ calls and offering support to others. Person may become involved with healthcare workers in ‘carrying the message’ of recovery to others.
Person may act as a group or Fellowship-wide administrator
Disaffiliation Person stops going to meetings and recovery activities and/or
Person stops working the program and/or
Person stops seeing AA Sponsor
Re-affiliation (Often occurs following a life crisis) A person begins going to meetings again and/or Person may contact original Twelve Step Facilitator or a new facilitator; otherwise – same as ‘Direct AA Affiliation’
Person begins working the program again and/or
Person re-contacts sponsor or affiliates with a new sponsor

After, Kurtz, Linda Farris, Self-help and Support Groups: A Handbook for Practitioners. Sage Publications Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA, 1997, P 68.

Alcoholics Anonymous 2001 Membership Survey, Alcoholics Anonymous (2002, 4th Edition) AAWS Inc,
New York.
McLatchie BH,

Lomp KG. (1988) Alcoholics anonymous affiliation and treatment outcome among a clinical sample of problem drinkers. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1988; 14(3):309-24.  

Professionally designed training for Twelve Step Facilitation at



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s