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Who’s Going to AA? Inquiring Minds Want to Know

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” AA Preamble

Founded in 1935, an era that was much more segregated than today, AA’s first thirty years or so involved very few minorities. Since the group was created – and eventually spread – by a specific demographic, it comes as no surprise to learn that a majority of its modern members still fit that bill.

Creating the AA Member Profile

Demographics of AA members are challenging to obtain, thanks to the anonymous nature of the program. Since personal details are not gathered by each individual group, statistics gathered must be based on voluntary surveys.

The most recent membership data was gathered from 6,000 AA members who participated in a random survey. A quick look at the results helps to fill in the details and create our picture of the typical Alcoholics Anonymous member. Unfortunately, it turns out this fellowship of men and women is not very diverse:

  • 89 percent of all AA attendees are white.
  • Over one-fourth of the members are between the ages of 51 and 60.
  • Another one-fifth of all members are between the ages of 41 and 50.
  • Women are statistically underrepresented, making up only 38 percent of the AA population.
  • 32 percent of all modern AA members are introduced to the program by a friend.
  • 12 percent of AA’s modern members are introduced to the program by our judicial system, meaning court orders and correctional facility programs bring them into the fold.
  • Though controversial, judges continue sentencing offenders to court-mandated 12-Step programs.

Here’s a look at some additional traits and characteristics shared by today’s AA members:

What do AA Members do for a Living?

The majority of AA members (19 percent) are retirees. This probably makes sense, based on the fact that such a large percentage are pushing 60. The second largest statistical group (11 percent) have occupations that fall in the “self-employed” and “other” categories. Following close behind, another 10 percent identify themselves as managers, while 8 percent are unemployed.

How Many Days do Members Have?

Over one-fifth of AA members have been sober for over two decades. This group represents the third largest in the survey. Beating them out is another 24 percent who have 1-5 years of sobriety under their belts, and 27 percent who have been sober less than one year. These percentages are all fairly close, suggesting a wide spread of experience among AA members when it comes to sobriety.

Are They Wearing Rings?

Many of them are not. Only 41 percent of members are married. 21 percent are divorced. These statistics are not too surprising, as they are not far off from marriage statistics for the total population. As of 2011, 48 percent of Americans and 46 percent of Canadians were married.

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