Introduction

Welcome to ACA. Adult Children of alcoholics is a 12-Step, 12-Tradition program of women and men who grew up in alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional homes. We meet with each other in a mutually respectful, safe environment and acknowledge our common experiences. We discover how childhood affected us in the past and influences us in the present. The Problem We take positive action. By practicing the 12 Steps, focusing on The Solution, and accepting a loving Higher Power of our understanding, we find freedom from the past and a way to improve our lives today.

Why We First Came to ACA

Our lives didn’t work; they had become unmanageable. We exhausted all the methods we thought were supposed to have made us happy, healthy, and successful. In trying to reach our desired ends, we exhausted our resources. We often lost our creativity, our flexibility, and our sense of humor. No matter what we did, the results no longer gave us the thrill, the joy, the sense of power, or the feeling of elation they once did. We were at a dead-end. Continuing the same existence was no longer an option. Nevertheless, we couldn’t quite abandon the notion that if we knew just one more thing about how the world worked…

So we tried one more time. With little to win, nothing to lose, we came to our first meeting.

Why We Keep Coming Back

In ACA we come to understand how our childhood experiences affect our behavior and choices today. We learn how our behavior affects others, and we learn that we can change it. Gradually, from an adult perspective, we reexamine our life decisions. This is the first step in reparenting. Ultimately we become happier, stronger, more capable, and more able to take on a proactive role. We learn to be more respectful of ourselves. The quality of our lives improves as we learn to define and communicate our boundaries and insist that they be honored.

How We Work a Program of Recovery

Individuals recover at their own pace. We, however, have learned by experience that those ACA members who make the greatest gains in the shortest amount of time are using the tools of recovery.

Briefly, we…

  • go to meetings and call other program people to discuss recovery issues
  • read about the ACA experiences of others and write about our own
  • use and incorporate information about methods and techniques of recovery
  • define and enforce our boundaries
  • build a personal support network

Our main focus in ACA is to re-parent ourselves, which includes reexamining our former life choices from an emotionally mature perspective. We work a Spiritual program by…

  • using the Steps
  • identifying, evaluating, and removing old parenting instructions from our minds
  • selecting those past parental instructions that are healthy and useful to our lives today, and discarding those that are not
  • discovering the impact and power of the Inner Child in our recovery
  • attending meetings that focus on issues we need to work on
  • giving service in ACA
  • working with a sponsor

What We Do Not Do at Meetings

We do not…

  • engage in cross-talk
  • criticize
  • comment on what others say
  • offer advice
  • distract others from the person speaking by word, whisper, gesture, noise, or movement
  • violate the anonymity of others
  • repeat what is said in meetings (in any context)
  • Act out (inappropriately)

What We Do in ACA Meetings

Going to meetings and listening to others who talk about their own experiences, strengths, and hopes often helps us in our own recovery. Sharing at meetings helps us to focus, define and clarify our problems. Sometimes we vent our anger or feel our feelings. Talking out loud about our action plan to change our lives helps us to resolve some problems. At times we report our progress or share how well our current plan is working. We often use meetings as a reality check on our overall program, comparing adult life before program to current life in program.

Membership

The only requirement for membership is a desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.

Literature Policy

Many 12-Step programs require that only literature published within the program be available at meetings. The ACA program, from the outset, has held that valuable information exists outside the program. We do suggest that outside literature should be in keeping with the ACA 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Our program also suggests that such literature be kept separate from group conscience approved ACA literature. For more information on the ACA WSO literature policy, refer to the brochure entitled, Literature Policy.

Contributions are Voluntary

No dues or fees are required for membership; we are fully self-supporting through our own contributions. We give our 7th Tradition donations at the meetings as we can afford to, an acknowledgment of the benefits our program gives us.

At the meeting level, our contributions are used to keep the doors open (pay the rent, buy the coffee, make the literature available . . . ), at the Regional level, to keep the lines of communication open between the various Intergroups and World Service, and at the World Service level so people can find meetings. Each member has a responsibility to keep ACA operational by ensuring their meeting supports their Intergroup, Region, and World Service Organization.

Affiliation

ACA is an independent 12-Step, 12-Tradition program. We are not affiliated with any other 12-Step organization. We do, however, cooperate with other 12-Step, 12-Tradition programs.

We are not allied with any sect, denomination, organization, institution, political, or law enforcement groups. We do not engage in any controversy, and we neither endorse nor oppose any causes.

A Personal Invitation

This is your personal invitation to come to ACA and to keep coming back. Your presence in meetings helps us in our recovery. We know that this program works for us. We have yet to see anyone fail who honestly works the program. This is our path to sanity, our program to serenity. We invite you to participate. ACA works!

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