FAQs

How long has ACA been around?


This Wikipedia article says it best: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adult_Children_of_Alcoholic




What is a 12 step program?


A twelve-step program is a set of spiritual principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion.




Why haven’t I heard of ACA before?


ACA believes in the concept of attraction rather than promotion. Attraction means we share how the program works for us and how it can work for others. We attract when we convey that ACA is friendly and inviting to all. Attraction is drawing others to us by reflecting positive qualities. On the other hand, promotion is selling the program to others.That we don’t do. ACA does not believe in advertising. That’s why most people don’t know about it. One hears about ACA by word of mouth or from their doctor or therapist. Some people stumble upon ACA while researching their emotional symptoms on the Internet. ACA is a worldwide 12-Step organization it is quite small. Most people know each other or know of each other. It pays to be respectful of everyone.




Does it cost money (meeting cost, dues) to belong to ACA?


No, you do not have to pay a dime to come to meetings. We do ask for a donation though, but don’t feel obligated to contribute any monies to us. We do not have membership dues or meetings costs that you have to contribute to.




How do I find a meeting?


There are many meetings in the National Capital Area. Use the page find a meeting to locate one.




Is there someone I can call before the meeting?


Yes, generally there will be a contact name and number for the specific meeting that you are interested in when you use find a meeting.




What is a typical meeting like? What happens there?


Most meetings have between five and twenty-five people, and last one hour or one-and-a-half hours. Someone may welcome you to the group. Most meetings follow a format; the leader will read from it and ask volunteers to read different items. The Sample Meeting Format Document is an example of an ACA meeting.




When they pass the donation basket around do I have to donate? What is the money used for?


No, you do not have to donate at all. ACA is a non profit organization so donations cover expenses such as rent.




Do I have to speak during a meeting? I’m not a big talker.


No. You do not have to speak at all during a meeting. Some members have been part of a ACA Meeting Group and have not spoken for over a year! They just weren’t ready. However, part of the ACA 12 Step Process is sharing your challenges, strengths and hopes. Everyone learns from each other.




Why is their so much repetition in ACA?


By having a structured environment we are striving to internalize the spiritual message. We believe that our Adult Child thinking has led us to simply survive life. By repeating healthy statements we are retraining our minds to think in a more healthy manner, which is part of the process of learning to act in a manner that supports our self care.




Why do you say its a spiritual program instead of a religious program?


Religion can be defined as “belief in God or Gods to be worshiped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc. Spirituality is something that is found deep within oneself. It is your way of loving, accepting and relating to the world and people around you.




Do I have to believe in God to be a member?


No, to be part of ACA you do not have to believe in God. However, you do need to believe in a Higher Power (HP). A Higher Power can be anything at all that the member believes is adequate. Some examples are: Nature, the Cosmic Consciousness, Existential Freedom, Kermit the Frog, Science, Buddha, etc…




Why does ACA often meet at churches?


Meetings can be held anywhere, but frequently they take place in public buildings such as churches or schools—accessible locations that usually have plenty of parking.




How do meetings help me to get better?


There is some controversy regarding the recovery rate within 12-Step Groups. Some experts say it doesn’t work at all while others say it does work. One of the current theories is that by sharing one’s truth, strength, and hope to others one is re-wiring their mind to start thinking more clearly and healthfully. But, its really up to you if you think it is worth your time and energy. There have been millions of people who have benefited from 12-Step Programs. They have happier and have fuller lives because of it.




How do I know I am getting better?


Some changes will be subtle while others will be more profound. You will start to think more positively and see how and why you act as you currently do. The program is designed to make you more aware of your life. When you become more aware you start changing how you interact with the world and the people around you. We recommend you journal your feelings and experiences so you can record your progress.




How long does it take to get better?


In ACA and other 12 Step Programs people will progress at their own pace. Some people will start feeling the effects of the changes within weeks, while others may take months, or even a year or two. Some changes will be subtle while others may be a thunderclap to your psyche. We recommend that you journal your experiences so you can see where you started and where you are now in the program.




ACA is for the chronic disease and Alcoholics Anonymous is for acute disease. What does that mean?


Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) is for people who realize that their lives are not working for them.Some are in dead end jobs or dead end relationships, and they feel lost and broken. They are able to get through life, but it never seems to get better for them. Alcoholics Anonymous is for people who have trouble with alcohol and their lives have been devastated by it.




How can I be of service?


In most ACA Meetings there are multiple service positions such as secretary, treasurer, phone list coordinator, literature coordinator, etc. The positions may last for 6 Months to a year. Additionally, there is often a rotating meeting chair, the person who leads the meeting. Meeting chairs may lead the meeting for a single meeting or a month, depending on the group. After being at a meeting for awhile you will be made aware of other ways of being of service to ACA intergroup and the ACA World Service Organization.




What are the different ACA Service Positions at meetings and what do they do?


Not all groups have the same positions. This list includes typical positions that may be available in an ACA group. Secretary: a. Sets up the meeting room as needed for the meeting b. Secures and maintains the meeting room, according to group conscience and facility guidelines c. Runs any regularly scheduled business meetings d. Acts as group’s liaison to the meeting facility e. Passes on information to the new secretary at the end of their term Intergroup representative: a. Is the link between the ACA group and ACA as a whole b. Attends the monthly ACA Intergroup meeting in person or by conference call c Carries the group conscience to the local ACA Intergroup and then reports to the group on the outcomes d. Notifies the group of any local or ACA updates, announcements, and flyers. Phone List Coordinator: a. Makes sure that the phone/contact list is up to date b. Makes sure that meeting members are aware of this list for outreach calls c. Passes on information to the new phone list person at the end of their term Chip Coordinator: a. Gives (metal coins) chips to new members who show up for meetings b. Passes on information to the new chip person at the end of their term Literature Coordinator: a. Puts ACA-endorsed literature out at the meeting b. Keeps track pf group literature supplies and reorders as needed c. Obtains funds from the group treasurer to restock literature d. Passes on information to the new literature person at the end of their term New Comer Greeter: a. They great any new comers to the meeting b. They show the new comer where to go c. They answer questions of the new comer d. Passes on information to the next new comer greeter at the end of their term




What types of meetings are there?


There many different types of meetings. We recommend that you check out a couple before you settle into one specific meeting. Some meetings are coed, while others are male or female only. Some meetings read from the ACA Book while others journal together then talk about their experiences. Some meetings have a speaker who discusses their strength and hope in our program.




Do I have to go to meetings, work the steps, get a sponsor, and be of service to get better?


In short, yes you do. In order to get the most and best out of the program it is highly recommended that you go to meetings on a regular basis, get a sponsor, work the 12 Steps, and be of service. The best and fastest success is to take advantage of everything the program has to offer you. We have noticed in the past if one takes advantage of only one part of the program people do not get better, they get “stuck”. They may have lots of experience and know what to do, but haven’t moved forward with their spiritual recovery.




Why do people talk about anonymity and why is it so important?


Anonymity is used to protect people from public knowledge. We practice it at all times. We do not disclose information about another member or their shares. This is to make the environment safe for people to discuss their issues. This allows everyone to make their own choice regarding whether or not they want to disclose information about their membership in the program to others.




How do I know that ACA is for me?


That is really up to you. Do you identify with the Laundry List? Do you understand and/or identify with the shares made by others in a meeting? Does your gut tell you that, Holy Cow! this is me? If so, then you are where you belong.




I can’t get a baby sitter. Can I bring my child to a meeting if they can be quiet?


No. The meetings are for adults only. At our meetings adult subjects are discussed and strong emotions are expressed. We feel that having child at a meeting will be a disruptive influence and people may not be fully able to express themselves in front of a child. We feel it best that you come to the meeting when you have a sitter.




Why is shopping around to different meetings a good idea?


If you identify with the ACA Characteristics, but the current meeting/people/location/day/time/program type just doesn’t feel right to you. We recommend that seek out another group in which you feel safe to share yourself with others.




What are frozen feelings?


Frozen feelings are feelings that you were not safe to feel as a child. For example, a child may be told by their parents to “stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about,” or maybe a child had to be an adult before his or her time. These things cause damage to the heart of a child, even though the child can’t let anyone know this. When a child has to keep a smile on his or her face to protect the heart of his or her mother, to keep her from feeling guilty for not being able to attend to his/her emotional needs, that child becomes damaged. The program of ACA is designed to help release those frozen feelings. You may feel feelings that you have never felt before or revisit feelings that you forgot you had. This will make strong impact on you and change you, but it will be for the better. You will learn to not run away from you feelings, but instead face them bravely.




There is something I want to add or take away from our meetings to make it better. What do I do?


Groups either have regularly scheduled (eg. monthly) group conscience/business meetings or one can be called for by any member of the group. This is where you can make a motion to change the format. The motion will be discussed and voted on.




What is cross talk?


In our meetings we don't cross talk. We speak about our own experience, and we listen without comment to what others share. We work toward taking responsibility for our own lives, rather than giving advice to others. This is why cross talk is strongly discouraged during our meetings. Cross-talk guidelines help keep our meetings a safe place. Examples of cross-talk may include, but are not limited to: Giving unsolicited feedback Advising Answering Making “you” and “we” statements Interrogating Debating Criticizing Controlling Dominating Minimizing another person’s feeling or experiences Physical contact/touch Body movements such as nodding one’s head or other gestures Verbal sounds / noises Referring to someone present by name




What is a “Home Group,” and why might I want one?


While having a “home group” does not afford us any special rights or privileges at the meeting, many of us find that having a particular meeting where we focus our participation and service work is helpful to our recovery. ACA is about building and maintaining healthy relationships and those relationships can develop most easily among people we see frequently. ACA is a community, and this is most evident at the meeting level. Because of this, many of us choose to identify a home group, which we attend regularly.









Frequently Asked Questions

(adapted from SoCal ACA FAQs)