Learn about the common responsibilities, types of commitments, and importance of each Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) service position for recovery.
There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a 12-step meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous, and the people who make those meetings happen don’t get paid an hourly wage to do so. They are volunteers, and people who are fully aware of the benefits of attending them. They are people in recovery from substance abuse themselves and believe that alcoholics and addicts are best suited to help other addicts.
To better understand why certain people volunteer their free time to help other addicts, there is a phrase that is commonly said at AA meetings and is “you have to give it away to keep it.” Acts of service not only help the people getting help to stay sober, but they also help the person doing the service stay sober too. They do it to give back to the place where they found healing and new life, and to support the people that encouraged them to not give up on recovery and keep coming back, and to keep the cycle going for the newcomer.
Conversation with Lloyd, Secretary of an AA Group
Let’s talk to someone who has had a service position, and see what they have to say.
Name: Lloyd P.
Position held: Secretary of an AA group
Length of service: 6-month commitment
How did you get the position? “My sponsor suggested that I get a service position so when I was nominated, I accepted.”
What were the AA group secretary responsibilities? “I chose the chairperson and would set up the meeting by putting reading material out on the table, brewed the coffee, and read the 7th tradition. The 7th tradition states that the group is self-supported and the money given goes to pay for coffee, rent, and materials at the meeting. I also collected, counted, and sealed the 7th tradition money for the treasurer.”
How did you select a chairperson for the meetings? “I tried to ask a different person each time. Some meetings prefer that the chairperson have a certain amount of clean time, but I also tried to pick the newest person in the room because when I was a newcomer and I started sharing in the meetings it got me out of my comfort zone. I also preferred selecting people who were celebrating milestones, so they could share their experience and journey with the group.”
Why did you choose to do a service position? “My sponsor told me I should do it, and to hold me accountable.” (It is common for a sponsor to ask their sponsee to acquire a service position.)
What did you get out of doing it? “It gave me confidence at the AA meetings to build my support group and help me to get to know everyone in the group better.”
Would you take on a service position again? “Yes, I enjoyed doing it.”
Service positions are beneficial to all aspects of 12-step meetings and to their participants, and in (AA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) they follow the same basic structure. Service commitments are generally appointed for 6 months at a time, although people may hold a position for longer if they are willing and able to do so. Generally, group tasks are rotated and passed around for everyone to have a chance to serve.
One way you can help serve when attending a meeting is by chairing. It’s up to the person how to chair the meeting and as long as they follow the guidelines, the floor is theirs. Usually, people will either try and pick something from the daily reflection, or a passage from the Big Book, and then they will tell their story of how it started, what happened, and what it’s like now in their life, with the goal of sending renewed strength and hope to the people fresh in recovery that a better life is possible for them too.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Service Positions
Here are some more service positions available. The positions and their duties may vary based on the group’s preferences.
Treasurer: 2 + years of sobriety preferred. They make sure the basket is passed around honoring the 7th tradition and are responsible for accounting.
Chip Person: They pass out tokens and hugs to people celebrating clean time in the meeting.
Greeter: They greet the people coming into the meeting with hellos and handshakes.
Literature/Grapevine Rep: They provide information and AA literature to people attending the meeting.
Phone list person: They send around phone lists for men and women who attend the meetings to write their name and contact info on which can be given to people who are struggling or want to expand their support group.
Butt Grabber: They go around after the meeting to pick up all the trash left behind.
Activities Coordinator: They help with special events.
General Service Representative (G.S.R.): They attend district meetings and area assemblies. They are also the mail contact with their district committee and area committee members, and the General Service Office and are listed in the AA directories as contacts for their groups.
Intergroup: They serve to partner the different groups in the AA community.
Public Information Rep (P.I.): They serve by carrying the message of recovery from alcoholism to the still-suffering alcoholic by informing the general public about the AA program.
Hospitals and Institutions Rep (H & I): They serve by bringing Narcotics Anonymous meetings into places like jails, and institutions.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from, but you don’t have to be an officer to be of service. All you need to do is show up and offer. For instance, you can set up chairs for the meeting and take them down or help clean up afterward. Additionally, you can prepare refreshments or purchase literature to be given to people who can’t afford it. If none of those speak to you, there is always sponsorship. As stated earlier, there is no one better to help an alcoholic or addict than another alcoholic or addict.
OTR Can Help You Find the Right Service Position
If you would like more information on service positions in AA, you can learn more by visiting the Alcoholic Anonymous website or Oregon Trail Recovery can help you find the right one in-person or remotely. Please contact us and we will assist you with anything that you need. We are here for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.