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.
Starting a 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. The Hospital Liaison Officer and another member of the services committee should then make contact with the hospital/treatment centre so as to discuss the form of meeting to take place on their premises.
- National Health Service hospitals function through three departments – Medical, Nursing and Ensure that each is fully informed as problems can arise when AA has contacted a person who, though helpful and understanding, may not have the necessary authority to implement the decisions or arrangements
- Courtesy and experience tell us that we cannot occupy premises without the permission of the Administrator; that we cannot approach patients without the permission of the doctor in charge and we cannot enter a ward without the permission of the Nursing Officer/Charge Nurse/Ward Sister
The Responsibility of Treatment Centre Groups
Once a group is established, members may be invited to visit patients in their wards. We do not solicit members; rather this is an opportunity to share our experience, strength and hope. You might consider leaving literature or asking if the patient would like to attend a meeting of the group. Always ask if the staff on duty can make the necessary arrangements and gain their consent. It is helpful if one or two members take on the responsibility of visiting wards each week to carry out this task, remembering to be courteous to all staff and to thank them for allowing admittance to their premises.
- We may be required to register as a volunteer
- Abide by the rules of the hospital/treatment centre; we are only guests
- Limit yourself to carrying your own simple message of recovery
- Be willing to listen as well as talk
- Have a thorough knowledge of the Traditions and live by their spiritual foundation
- You will be known to be a member of AA by people in the hospital and your appearance, language, manner and conduct may influence their opinion of AA
- Always maintain a cheerful humility about the amateur status of We are not professionals
- Do not talk about medication, psychiatry or scientific theories on alcoholism
- Never interfere or comment on the treatment or drug regime of This is the sole responsibility of doctors
- Do not boast about Let results speak for themselves
- Finally, when taking responsibility for meetings in a professional centre it is necessary to keep in frequent, friendly contact with members of staff at the centre.
Regular reporting by intergroup and region Health Liaison Officers is a vital part of their role. This will keep the Fellowship aware of progress or problems. It will ensure that all areas of service work together, regardless of boundaries and service titles, to carry AA’s message to all Health Professionals and, more importantly, the alcoholic who still suffers. Consider responding flexibly to the needs of the professional community and, through regular service meetings/workshops, a plan for your area will emerge. Do not be afraid to ask for help or to contact members in similar service positions in other areas. The Health Sub-committee members are also available to support and sponsor members into the role of Health Liaison Officer. A resource pack is also available.
Remember your primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
This is not an exhaustive list of Health Liaison functions/duties.
Suggested Literature (available from GSO)
- AA Health Resource Pack
- AA as a Resource for the Medical Profession
- A Message for Professionals
- 44 Questions and Answers
- A Member’s Eye View of AA
- Speaking at non-AA meetings
- A brief guide to AA
- Who Me?
- For details of Confirmation of Attendance ‘Chits’ see Chapter 3.2 page 61