Q: How long has ACA been around?
A:This Wikipedia article says it best: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adult_Children_of_Alcoholics
Q: What are the 12-Steps?
A: A twelve-step program is a set of spiritual principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction and compulsion.
Q: Is ACA a cult?
A: The definition of a cult is: A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. ACA is a 12 Step organization loosely modeled after the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a spiritual program with no leaders, only service workers. We believe in empowering the individual through healthy relationships and tools that we learn in program. To qualify as a cult, there must be a leader, usually a charismatic individual. In 12-step groups that are operating in accordance with the model, there are no leaders at all. There are only volunteers who serve the needs of the group for a set period of time.
Q: Why haven’t I heard of ACA before?
A: 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.
Q: Does it cost money (meeting cost, dues) to belong to ACA?
A: 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.
Q: Where is there a meeting?
Q: Is there someone I can call before the meeting?
A: Yes, generally there will be a contact name and number for the specific meeting that you are interested in.
Q: What is a typical meeting like? What happens there?
A: 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. If you would like to see what a Basic Meeting Format looks like click here for a pdf document that explains it.
Q: When they pass the money donation basket around do I have to donate?
A: No, you do not have to donate at all. Donations are used to run various ACA Services and support groups.
Q: Do I have to speak during a meeting? I’m not a big talker.
A: 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.
Q: The people at the meeting act kinda weird. What’s up with that?
A: ACA Meetings are highly scripted to make sure that the message is delivered to every member of the group and it is consistent. So,that’s why it feels weird/mechanical. Week after week we read the same information over and over. Repetition is what will re-wire your mind to have healthier thoughts and have you make healthier decisions.
Q: Why is their so much repetition in ACA?
A: By having a structured environment we are able to get the message across as well as internalize the spiritual message. We believe that our Adult Child thinking has made us just survive life. By repeating healthy statements we are retraining our minds to think more healthfully, therefore we will start acting more healthfully.
Q: Why do you say its a spiritual program instead of a religious program?
A: 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.
Q: Do I have to believe in God to be a member?
A: 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…
Q: Why does ACA meet at churches?
A: 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.
Q: How do meetings help me to get better?
A: 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.
Q: How do I know I am getting better?
A: Some changes to you 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.
Q: How long does it take to get better?
A: 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.
Q: ACA is for the chronic disease and Alcoholics Anonymous is for acute disease. What does that mean?
A: Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) is for people who realize that their lives are not working for them. They 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.
Q: How do I be of service?
A: In most ACA Meetings we have a Secretary, a phone list person, a GSR (General Service Representative) etc. The positions last for 6 Months. At that time there will be elections. You can volunteer for these positions. After being at a meeting for awhile you will be made aware of other ways of being of service to ACA at regional and national levels.
Q: What are the different ACA Service Positions at meetings and what do they do?
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
a. Is the link between the ACA group and ACA as a whole
b. Attends the local ACA Intergroup or Voting Entity service meetings
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.
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
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
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 Greater:
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
Q: What types of meetings are there?
A: There many different types of meetings. We recommend that you check out a couple before you settle into one specific meeting.There are meetings that meet in churches, schools, outside, in city parks. Some meetings are coed, some male only and some are 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.
Q: What is a sponsor what does a good sponsor supposed to do?
A: Your recovery is dependent upon going to meetings, working the 12 Steps, being of service, and getting a sponsor. A Sponsor is a person who shares his or her experience, strength, and hope with you as you learn your way around recovery. Sponsors often help provide structure and guidance during the early fog of recovery, and offer advice on how to have healthier relationships. Sponsors are not your parents, they don’t give you a place to sleep, and they don’t lend you money.
Q: Do I have to go to meetings, work the steps, get a sponsor, and be of service to get better?
A: 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.
Q: What are ACA Retreats like?
A: If you want to kick-start your program or that you feel that you have plateaued in your program going to a retreat will help you tremendously. Going to a retreat is like going to a meeting on steroids. There are a lot more people there and a lot of activities to check out. Some retreats could be in the mountains and you feel like you are camping while others could be at a hotel and it will have a convention like atmosphere. We encourage you to go to retreats and retreat organizers are always looking for people to be of service in volunteering. There will be flyers about retreats on the literature table at meetings or announced by your GSR.
Q: What is fellowship?
A: Fellowship starts when the official meeting has ended. It’s an informal meeting after the meeting. Usually, it will take place in a more relaxed environment like a restaurant. At fellowship, new comers can ask questions of the old timers or members can talk about a specific event that happened in their lives.
Q: Why do people talk about anonymity and why is it so important?
A: Anonymity is used to protect people from public knowledge. You should practice it at all times. Always give only your first name and first initial of your last name. Also, if you add your email address to the phone list at a meeting make sure the email account does not have your full name as part of the address. You are not to share what you have learned at the meeting. This is to protect others from public embarrassment and worse and make the environment safe for people to discuss their issues.
Q: What is a 13th Stepper?
A: Its when a more experienced member of a 12-Step Program attempts to take advantage/prey upon a new comer by taking financial, emotional, or sexual advantage of a new person. Its about power. Where someone is gaining power over someone who is weaker, and it can endanger both individuals in regards to their sobriety. This has nothing to do with gender. All sexes and gender preferences can be predators. 13th Steppers can be detrimental to a ACA Meeting. Some ACA Meetings have come close to being destroyed by a 13th Stepper.
Q: What are some examples of 13th Stepping?
1. Bob and Jack arrive early before a meeting and start setting up meeting equipment. Bob knows that Jack is recently unemployed and having financial issues, because Jack shared this problem during previous meeting’s shares. Jack asks Bob for 20 Dollars to help pay for gas. Bob should not lend Jack the money because this will not help Jack with facing his financial problems and getting recovery. Also, if Jack doesn’t pay Bob back the 20 Dollars then there could be the issue of resentment. This could also impact the meeting as a whole.
2. Sally just joined her first ACA Group. She has been with the group a couple of weeks and Frank, an old-timer, is giving her inappropriate looks and making inappropriate comments regarding her choice in clothing. Sally doesn’t feel safe and is thinking about leaving the group because of this.
3. Meridith has been in ACA for two years and John has just joined the meeting. John puts his contact information on the meeting phone list. After the meeting, Meridith sees John’s contact information and decides to text John telling him that she is happy to see his progress and wants to “assist him” whenever he needs help. John texts back and politely declines. Meridith then calls John and asks the same thing. John gets concerned and tells Meridith again he does not want her help and asks her politely to not call him again. Meridith then emails John and apologies that she didn’t mean anything by it and asks again. John feels harassed and doesn’t know what to do and stops coming to meetings.
4. Suzy and Wendy have become fast friends at meetings. However, Suzy has been asking Wendy for favors and becoming emotionally needy with Wendy. This impacts Wendy’s life and emotional sobriety. Wendy likes Suzy, but Wendy does not want to come to meetings anymore because Suzy will be there and will emotionally lean on her.
Q: I feel that someone is trying to take advantage of me (13th Stepping) what do I do about it?
A: Your safety and security is paramount at ACA Meetings. If you don’t feel safe to be vulnerable and secure how can you share and get recovery? At the same time we don’t want you to leave and not get better. We recommend that you share your concern/s with at least two other group members at the same time before or after a meeting as soon as possible. They can be of the same sex or either sex and you should feel comfortable sharing this issue with them. By sharing your concerns immediate action can be taken to resolve the issue. All group members are responsible for group safety and order.
Q: We have a 13 Stepper in our group. What do we as a group, do about it?
1. Do not act alone when dealing with a 13th Stepper.
2. Two or more group members can ask the disruptive person to leave the meeting and return when he or she is willing to work on recovery. Ask the person to get a sponsor or consider getting a sponsor
3. If the problem persists, ask the person to take a one or two week break from the meeting.
4. If the person is disruptive and will not leave the meeting, escort him or her from the meeting if the person is non-violent. Escorting is done by a group of meeting members instead of one member acting alone.
5. If the disruptive person becomes violent or threatening, shut down the meeting immediately and have all members depart for the common welfare.
6. Call the police if there is a clear and present danger to lives, health, or property.
Q: Someone is not a 13th Stepper, but they are a disruptive influence at our meeting. What can we do about it?
A: Use the same process as discussed for a 13th Stepper.
Q: How do I start a brand new meeting?
A: Client on this link and this will take you to a website that will give you all the information you need.
Q: What is the difference between an open and a closed meeting?
A: An open meeting: This type of meeting opens with the facilitator or a member of the group suggesting a specific topic, i.e., the Steps, setting boundaries, sponsorship, etc. The facilitator will usually begin the sharing. Closed Meeting: This type of meeting is closed unless you are a specific gender or profession. For example, all women’s ACA Meetings are closed to men and vice versa. Some ACA Meetings are only for people who work in the health care or legal profession.
Q: What is a Speaker Meeting?
A: This type of meeting features a personal story of recovery shared by one individual. Speakers share their personal experience, strength, and hope in the program. The meeting may or may not include open sharing after the speaker, depending on the length of story shared.
Q: Are there other 12 Step Groups out there?
A: Since the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous there have been other spin-off 12-Step Groups that deal with specific addictions or challenges that one can encounter in life. For example, Codependants Anonymous (CoDA), Alanon, Narcanon, Debtors Anonymous etc..
You can Google them in order to learn more about them or see if they are in your area. We recommend that you investigate them too and see if you identify with their programs.
Q: Is there a centralized place in Los Angeles where I can learn about other 12 Step Groups?
A: Yes there is! It’s called the Share Center. It is at 6666 Green Valley Circle in Culver City. It is open to everyone and has meetings of different groups through out the day. They also have free literature and other events related to the 12 Step Experience. You can learn more by going to their website.
Q: What is a double winner?
A: A double winner is someone who identifies with more than one 12-Step Program and is actively working more than one program at a time.
Q: How do I know that ACA is for me?
A: 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.
Q: How many meetings must I go to before I feel better or notice changes?
A: The recommend amount before you should make a decision is 6 Meetings in a row. After 6 Meetings you should know if ACA is for you and can help you.
Q: What kinds of people are at meetings?
A: People from all walks of life come to our meetings. They can be doctors, lawyers, students, home-makers, etc. Codependency can affect all people.
Q: I can’t get a baby sitter. Can I bring my child to a meeting if they can be quiet?
A: 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.
Q: Can I bring my service animal to a meeting?
A: Yes. All Service Animals are welcome at meetings.
Q: Is being a member of ACA hard or easy?
A: It is both. Coming to a meeting is easy, working the 12-Steps is easy. What is hard is the emotions that you have frozen inside you or traumatic experiences in your past will re-surface during your shares and working the 12-Steps. You will need to face them head on. One has to be brave and have some tenacity in order to get better.
Q: What is the Serenity Prayer and its meaning?
A: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. This prayer has special meaning to those who are often “looking for peace” at a time of turmoil, despair, or uncertainty in their lives. This prayer has become closely associated with 12 Step programs, offering strength and calm in pursuit of a more stable life.
Q: What coping tools will I learn in ACA?
Regularly attending ACA meetings
Writing/journaling your feelings and experiences
Using the phone list to reach out to others
Sponsorship of new members
Daily prayer & meditation
Studying the ACA books and literature
Having fun, playing, & relaxing
Family of origin work
Using gentleness, humor, love, & respect with ourselves and others
ACA service work
Fellowship with other ACA Members.
Q: What is rock bottom and why would I be there?
A: Rock Bottom can be a life event that is dramatic or it can be quite subtle. For example, out of the blue your partner files for divorce or you get fired from your job for the third time in a row or may be you realize that life just doesn’t work for you no matter how hard you work at it. Or you finally realize that your life is not yours, but is part of someone else s. It is a realization that there has to be something better out there.
Q: Why is shopping around to different meetings a good idea?
A: 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.
Q: What other 12 Step Support Groups are out there and why should I check them out too?
A: There are about 30 different 12-Step Groups out in the world today. The issues that they deal with are from Alcoholism to Sex Addiction. For example, you may identify with ACA, but while you work the program you realize that you have emotional issues with money too. There are 12-Step Groups that treat this issue.
Q: What are frozen feelings?
A: 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 need to not run away from you feelings, but instead face them bravely.
Q: There is something I want to add or take away from our meetings to make it better. What do I do?
A: At the beginning of every month there will be a ACA Group Business meeting. This is where you can make a “motion” to change the format. The motion will be discussed and voted on.
Q: What are some of the pitfalls in program?
A: Some of the pitfalls in program that we see are that people will come to meetings, but will not get a sponsor, will not work the 12-Steps, and will not be of service. They think they are getting better, but they are stagnant in their spiritual development. We believe that everyone needs to go through our program at their own pace, however one must be constantly challenging oneself in order to get better. To get the most out of our program one must go to meetings consistently, work with a sponsor, work the 12 -Steps, and be of service. Each component of our program is designed in some way for you to become a better more spiritual person.
Q: What do we talk about in a meeting?
A: We talk about our experience, strength and hope. Some people will talk about how their codependency made them hit rock bottom, while other individuals will talk about their challenges with friends/co-workers/ and family members and how they are trying to get better.
Q: Is ACA considered to be therapy?
A: Adult Children of Alcoholics is not therapy. If you have a therapist or you are going to group therapy please continue to do so. Adult Children of Alcoholics is in addition to these other professional treatments.
Q: I met someone in program that I am interested in dating. Should I do it?
A: In short, no! ACA is not a dating service. It will get in the way of your emotional sobriety. We have seen people try to date in program and it has lead to disastrous results. Yes, it is true that all the men in ACA are handsome and all the women are beautiful, but it is still best to not date.
Q: What are the different types of boundaries?
A: Physical Boundaries: They pertain to your personal space, privacy, and your body. Do you give a handshake or a hug – to whom and when?
Mental Boundaries: They apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions. Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid to that opinion?
Emotional Boundaries: They involve separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. It’s like an imaginary line that separates you and others. Healthy Emotional Boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings, problems and taking other people's comments personally.
Spiritual Boundaries: They relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with God or a higher power.
Q: What is a normie?
A: A normal person. A person who does not have a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mood disorders, PTSD, depression or any similar mental disability. “Normie” is a reference to those who are a part of the mainstream culture.
Q: Is it alright to curse during a meeting?
A: There is some controversy surrounding this issue. Some people believe that this type of talk should be spoken outside of the meeting. In their childhood their parents would curse and cause them today to trigger when they hear a curse word. While some other people believe that cursing is one of the ways one is able to express oneself truly and emotionally. Generally, the choices are to vote on it using the group conscious or the person who does not want to listen to curse words can leave for another meeting. This is an exercise in boundaries and freedom of choice.
Q: What does it mean to “trigger”?
A: A trigger is an experience that causes someone to recall a previous traumatic memory. The trigger itself doesn’t have to be frightening or traumatic. Triggers are related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition in which sufferers often cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms or of a repressed memory.
Q: What is the “group conscience”?
A: Group conscience is the spiritual means by which we invite a loving God to influence our decisions. Conscience is essentially a spiritual faculty. It is our innate sense of right and wrong, an internal compass that each of us may consult in our personal reflections about the best course to take. A collective conscience provides us with the spiritual guidance we need for making service decisions.
Q: What is cross talk?
A: In our meetings, 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
Making “you” and “we” statements
Minimizing another person’s feeling or experiences
Body movements such as nodding one’s head or other gestures
Verbal sounds / noises
Referring to someone present by name
Q: What is Black and White Thinking?
A: It is also called Splitting. It is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a defense mechanism that someone learns while in a dysfunctional environment
Q: What is a “Home Group,” and why might I want one?
A: 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.
Q: What is controlling behavior and some examples of controlling behavior?
A: Controlling people are people who have to be in control of their environment, and who in particular like to control other people. These people have codependency issues meaning that they rely on their ability to control you in order to feel safe confident and secure, but in doing so they unfortunately end up often making you feel like you have lost your autonomy, making you lose your independence, making you feel under their thumb as well as ruining your self-esteem.
Signs of controlling behavior:
1. They start being overly attentive to you, but then they taper off their attentions.
2. They will try to isolate you from others.
3. They like to put you down.
4. They get frustrated with your questions.
5. They lie.
6. They will try to change you.
7. They like to criticize others.
8. They won’t take no for an answer.
9. They are jealous.