History of A.A.’s Public Information Outreach

The first Public Information committee in A.A. was formed by A.A.’s General Service Board in 1956. 

Public Information Work and Why A.A.s Do It?

Public Information (PI) in Alcoholics Anonymous means carrying the message of recovery to the still-suffering alcoholic by informing the general public about the A.A. program.  We carry the message by getting in touch with the media, schools, industry, and other organizations, which can report on the nature and purpose of A.A. and what it can do for alcoholics.

When A.A.’s General Service Board formed the first PI committee the following statement of “A.A.’s movement-wide public information policy” was written and approved by the General Service Conference: In all public relations, A.A.’s sole objective is to help the still suffering alcoholic.  Always mindful of the importance of personal anonymity, we believe this can be done by making known to him [or her] and to those who may be interested in his [or her] problems, our own experience as individuals and as a Fellowship in learning to live without alcohol.  We believe that our experience should be made available freely to all who express sincere interest.  We believe further that all efforts in this field should always reflect our gratitude for the gift of sobriety and our awareness that many outside A.A. are equally concerned with the serious problem of alcoholism.

As A.A.’s co-founder, Bill W. wrote: “Public Information takes many forms – the simply sign outside a meeting place that says “A.A. meeting tonight;” listings in local phone directories; distribution of A.A. literature; and radio and television shows using sophisticated media techniques.  Whatever the form, it comes down to ‘one drunk carrying the message to another drunk,’ whether through personal contact or through the use of third parties and the media.”

History of A.A.’s Cooperation with the Professional Community

Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC) came into being as a distinct entity in 1970 when the trustees’ committee was formed as an outgrowth of the Public Information Committee.  In 1971, the Conference CPC Committee was established.  Today, many local communities, areas, and regions consider CPC an activity separate from public information, treatment, or corrections work.  In some places, though, there is overlap.  (Note: Within Area 51, CPC overlaps with Public Information (PI), but is separate from work with correctional facilities.) 

Cooperation with the Professional Community Work and Why A.A.’s Do It

 “Our [A.A.’s] Twelfth Step – carrying the message – is the basic service that the A.A. Fellowship gives; this is our principal aim and the main reason for our existence.  Therefore, A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society for alcoholics in action.  We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither, and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.” (Source:  The A.A. Service Manual, “A.A.’s Legacy of Service” )

Members of CPC committees inform professionals and future professionals about A.A. – what we are, where we are, what we can do, and what we cannot do.  They attempt to establish better communication between A.A.s and professionals, and to find simple, effective ways of cooperating without affiliating.

Cooperating with nonalcoholic professionals is an effective way to carry the message to the sick alcoholic.  Such people often meet the alcoholic in places where A.A. is not present.  Through professionals, alcoholics may be reached who might otherwise never find the program, or they may be reached sooner with the help of informed non-A.A.s.
A professional can be a family doctor or other healthcare professional, a member of the clergy, a law enforcement or court official, an educator, a social worker, an alcoholism or other counselor, or anyone who deals with problem drinkers in the course of their work.  Many of these people often encounter the suffering alcoholic, and in spite of public awareness, many of them simply don’t know what to do with a drunk.

CPC work can begin when individual A.A.s reveal their membership to their doctors or drop a quiet word in the ear of a pastor, priest, or rabbi that an A.A. member is available to the congregation.  Groups participate in CPC by welcoming professionals and future professionals to open meetings.  Committees on the area or local level actively seek ways to make contact with professional people and set up programs to increase knowledge and understanding of Alcoholics Anonymous.  CPC workers understand the importance of, and work within, the guidance of the A.A. Traditions. (See the FAQs section for information on the A.A. Twelve Traditions.)

Cooperation with professionals – like everything else in A.A. – is based on personal contact. What a local committee decides to do will be dictated by local needs and experience.  A look at our history shows clearly that cooperation with professionals has been an integral part of the Fellowship since our beginnings.  A.A. might never have gotten off the ground, or progress would have been much slower, without the help of nonalcoholic professionals.

History of PI/CPC