Alcoholism ranks high among American public health problems. The chaplain is called upon
frequently to deal with problems related to alcohol use and abuse. Chaplains should be aware of the fact
that heavy drinking is not alcoholism as a symptom of mental instability and as a disease. The decision
to counsel an alcoholic or to make a referral will remain with the individual chaplain's. Generally, it is
wiser to refer an alcoholic to a psychologist or psychiatrist and to a local chapter of the Alcoholics
Alcoholics Anonymous has no officers, no by-laws and no official rules beyond the desire to
meet the needs of those who seek help. It has a national headquarters, but no centralized authority.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Incorporated, Headquarters (468 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016) provides
general information, services local chapters, fosters new chapters and distributes standard AA literature
and the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. It conducts public relations matters of a national and
international nature. Those who need and desire help to recover from problem drinking may become
members and participate in the program provided by AA.
Alcoholics Anonymous groups are so widespread that there will probably be a group wherever a
chaplain is stationed. AA success in solving the problem of the alcoholic has been so consistent that the
chaplain will want to become acquainted with the chapter near his station and place it on his list of
referral agencies. Listings can be obtained by consulting a telephone directory, local clergy, physicians,
or welfare agencies.
Membership involves no financial obligations. Local groups may solicit contributions only from
their own members.
The group funds are used to:
(1) Assist local groups or help to establish new ones.
(2) Provide publicity designed to bring the message of the AA recovery program directly to
Eligibility for assistance. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop
drinking. The AA technique includes the following: