AA and Healthcare in the Community

  1. Healthcare Professionals
  2. Making Contact
  3. Meeting a Healthcare Professional
  4. Hospital/Treatment Centre Meetings
  5. Starting a Hospital/Treatment Centre Group
  6. The Responsibility of Hospital/Treatment Centre Groups
  7. Additional Hints
  8. Communication

The purpose of this guidance, in conjunction with the AA Health Resource Pack, is to assistHealth Liaison Of cers (HLOs) to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic throughco-operation with professional healthcare workers.

Intergroups and regions are responsible for the appointment of an HLO who ideally should work as a member of the local AA combined services or other appropriate committee. The HLO establishes contact and maintains communication with healthcare professionals, and reports back to intergroup and/or region.

6:1 Healthcare Professionals
By this we mean doctors, nurses, GPs and others whose remit includes contact with the active alcoholic. It should also include hospital and treatment centre administrators/ managers. We may also be required to talk to student health care professionals. Do not be surprised if professionals do not use the word alcoholic, and instead refer to “problem drinker”, “alcohol dependent” and “alcohol abuse” or “misuse”.
6:2 Making Contact
It may be useful together with the Public Information Officer and/or combined servicescommittee to map the healthcare professionals, hospitals, treatment centres and other healthcare providers within your area. From this information an action plan for making contact can be developed. It is important for a list of existing contacts and hospital groups to be included with your map, as their experience will be a valuable asset in developing new contacts. Teamwork is the key for this to work effectively. It is also helpful to have a list of AA members who can help give talks and send out information.

As with other external services, contact by letter or e-mail asking for an appointment is the first step with perhaps a follow up telephone call.

6:3 Meeting a Healthcare Professional

Professional workers tend to have a clear understanding of their areas of responsibility but few will understand ours. Initially our role might be that of providing information as to what AA can and cannot do, always remembering that as a Fellowship we are committed to remaining non-professional. Our approach is based on our ability as recovering alcoholics to work effectively with the still suffering alcoholic. When co-operating with professionals we should always adhere to our Traditions.

It is suggested that we:

6:4 Hospital/Treatment Centre Meetings
There are two forms of meeting suitable for these premises. First there is the regular AA group meeting, run according to guidance outlined in the Structure Handbook chapter ‘The Group’ section 1, using the hospital/treatment centre as a venue. These meetings welcome patients being treated for alcoholism, and should be subject to Tradition Seven. Second there is the AA sponsored meeting held for in-patients. The outside sponsors attend these meetings, regularly bringing in outside speakers. These meetings are not open to AA in general nor listed in AA’s Where to Find. This second type may not be self-supporting so it may be necessary to provide refreshments and AA literature. In-patients undergo treatment for relatively short periods so the continuation of the meeting depends heavily on the outside sponsors. It is usual for these meetings to be open to allow health professionals to attend.

6:5 Starting a Hospital/Treatment Centre Group

Discuss the idea at intergroup, region and combined services meetings to establish the need and the support of local members. Experience suggests that a minimum of four AA members are required who are committed to support the group for at least one year. TheHospital Liaison Of cer and another member of the services committee should then makecontact with the hospital/treatment centre so as to discuss the form of meeting to take place on their premises.