Glossary of Terms  Submit or Update a Meeting Listing


#1 – I don’t know what meeting to go to or where to start looking. What should I do?

All AA meetings are open to anyone with a desire to stop drinking. You simply have to show up—there are no requirements, expectations, dues, fees, or other rules. If you don’t know where to start, we say: just try some!

If you want more specific answers or directions, AA members are waiting to help you find what you’re looking for, 24/7! Just give the LACOAA Hotline a call: (323)-936-4343 

#2 – Do I have to believe in god or a higher power to be in AA or attend an AA meeting? 


#3 – Who is welcome in AA meetings? (Am I not allowed to attend certain meetings?)

ALL MEETINGS IN THE DIRECTORY ARE OPEN TO ALL ALCOHOLICS! The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking, and an alcoholic should never be turned away from an AA meeting that is publicly listed.

Some meetings were created to provide a safe place for alcoholics who share certain immutable* characteristics and will tend to focus on that specific demographic’s experiences with alcoholism (for example: women’s meetings, men’s meetings, young people’s meetings, people of color meetings, or LGBTQ+ meetings). This is not to exclude certain people from meetings, but to inform fellows of the type of meeting they have chosen to attend.

If you still aren’t sure or have other questions about this, call our Hotline! (323)-936-4343

*Immutable characteristics are qualities that are an innate part of a person that they do not have control over—like alcoholism—and that have a large impact on their experiences.

#4 – A category that I’m looking for isn’t listed. What do I do?

The LACOAA Directory seeks to help fellow alcoholics easily find meetings that fit their needs. To include every possible category would make searching for a meeting overwhelming, so we have limited the categories based on the needs and demographics of our fellowship in LA (but note that these categories have evolved over time!).

If you believe the Directory is missing an important category and would like to submit one for consideration, please email and let us know.

Note: The Online Directory’s search feature will pick up any words included in a Meeting Name, so you can still search for certain categories that aren’t listed.

#5 – What is a “closed meeting”? Are they invite-only? 

Closed meetings are only for AA members. Closed meetings provide an environment for members to be surrounded only by others who have experienced similar situations and struggles, and are often more comfortable settings for newcomers and prospective AAs.

As a member is anyone who attends a meeting who has a desire to stop drinking, you’re a member of AA if you say you are—you don’t need an invitation or any other qualification to attend a closed meeting.

#6 – What is an “open meeting”? 

Open meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism. Non-alcoholics may attend open meetings as observers; the only obligation is that all meeting attendees preserve the anonymity of AA members.

#7 – If I go to a discussion or tag participation meeting, do I have to share?

No! You aren’t required to do or say anything during an AA meeting. While you are encouraged to share at meetings, you do not have to, even if you are called on. If people don’t wish to speak, they may say something like: “I’m just listening today” or “I’ll pass to . . .”

#8 – How can I get proof of my attendance at a meeting?

Providing proof of attendance (like signing court cards) at meetings is not officially part of AA, but many meetings do so. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign proof of attendance. (Many groups will make a “court card” announcement. You can also ask a meeting representative to sign the card for you.) 

#9 – Do I need a membership for club meetings? (What even are club meetings?) 

No! There is no special membership requirement to attend a meeting at a club; they are just like any other AA meeting, so you are always welcome to attend!

Clubs are specific locations that host many meetings. You can usually find meetings and fellowship throughout the day at a club location. 

#10 – Do I need to be religious to attend a meeting in a place of worship (like a church)?

No! AA is not affiliated with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution. You don’t have to practice a religion to go to a meeting in a church, and you don’t have to buy coffee and pastries if you go to a meeting in a café.

#11 – What is an Atheist/Agnostic meeting?

Atheist/Agnostic AA meetings will not include any religious prayers (like the Lord’s Prayer). You can still attend these meetings if you believe in God or a Higher Power. 

#12 – I identify as non-binary. Are there particular meetings where I might find people who similarly identify?

Yes! Many non-binary meetings will use the tags “LGBTQ+” or “Transgender” for their meeting type, and then include non-binary in the description. 

Note: Using an umbrella term (at least for now) for meeting types allows these tags to be reflected in the Meeting Guide App, which has a specific set of meeting types that is designated through GSO. . Some meetings might have “non-binary” in their title, so you could search by keyword for those meetings; some LGBTQ+ or Transgender meetings might also specify further they are non-binary meetings on their meeting listing page, so check there too!  

#13 – What is the smoking policy in AA meetings?

There is generally no smoking allowed during any indoor or outdoor in-person AA meetings, but each group will announce its own specific guidelines about where smoking is or is not permitted as determined by the meeting location.

For virtual meetings, any etiquette-related rules are decided and communicated at the group level.

#14 – What does the term “outside affiliation” mean in Directory Guideline 5?

The term “outside affiliation” comes from Tradition 6. The short-form of Tradition 6 states: “An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” A group’s primary purpose is defined in Tradition 5: “Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” Thus, as the long-form of Tradition 6 states, “an AA group should never go into business” and should “bind itself to no one.” 

#15 – What does the term “outside issues” mean in Directory Guideline 6?

The term “outside issues” comes from Tradition 10. The short-form of Tradition 10 states: “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” While the long-form of Tradition 10 states that these outside issues include controversial issues like “politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion,” this same principle can be applied to “all the affairs” of individual members within the fellowship. For example, no AA member should have an opinion about medication prescribed to you by a doctor. At the group and individual level, AA should be focused on its primary purpose: to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Note: It is important to note that sharing about an “outside issue” is different from expressing an opinion about an “outside issue;” you are not prohibited from sharing about outside issues if they are impacting your recovery from alcoholism.

#16 – Does the LACOAA Directory list meetings for people who also suffer from another addiction?

The LACOAA Directory lists AA meetings only, and these meetings will focus solely on recovery from alcoholism. However, you do not have to be only an alcoholic to attend an AA meeting! Many of our fellows are in other programs in addition to AA and/or have other addictions, but find relief in the AA program. 

The pamphlet Problems Other Than Alcohol addresses this question in more detail: “We have to confine our membership to alcoholics, and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don’t stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.”

There are many recovery programs beyond AA that are modeled after AA’s twelve steps, and we encourage you to pursue the options that make sense for your individual needs. 

#17 – How can I find the password for the virtual meeting I want to attend?

You can find the password on the meeting listing page! If the virtual meeting has a password that is incorrect or not available but needed, you can click “submit an issue” on the listings page (located underneath the map). 

#18 – I’m having trouble attending a specific virtual meeting because of an issue with the meeting link or password.

Go to the listing page of the meeting you’re trying to attend and click on the “Submit issue” link. An email will open up—let us know what problem you’re having and someone will get back to you as soon as possible with a solution.   

#19 – How do I report a meeting that I can’t enter? 

Click on the “Submit issue” link on the meeting’s listing page. If you need more support, email us at

#20 – My question isn’t listed here. What should I do? Can someone help me?

Yes! If you want to talk to someone or have a question that you want to be answered right now, call us at the LACOAA Hotline! (323)-936-4343


#1 – How can I get a new meeting listed in the Directory? 

Submit an online Meeting Information Form. Your meeting should comply with LACOAA’s Guidelines for listing meetings. 

If you’re submitting a Meeting Information Form, please consider the following: 

  1. Use all designated “types” that apply to your meeting; 
  2. If your meeting “type” is not listed in the Meeting Form, include the keywords that describe your meeting type in your Meeting Name (the Online Directory’s search feature will pick up words included in Meeting Names);
  3. When filling out In-Person Meeting details, include any notes about how to find your meeting room easily. Examples: meeting room is on the second floor; use building’s side entrance and meeting room will be through first door on the left. 
  4. For In-Person meetings, please include parking directives. Examples: on-site parking lot; recommended to arrive 10 minutes early to find street parking.

#2 – How do I update my meeting’s listing? 

Open your meeting’s existing listing page. Click on the “Request update” link, which is located just below the map. Fill in the form, and your listing will be tended to within ~24 hours of your update. 

Note: If your listing was listed as an “In Person” meeting before the pandemic and you have not submitted a “Request Update” form to let us know you are now active again, you MUST search “On Hiatus” to find it. 

#3 – What happens after I submit a meeting update? 

Meeting updates are reviewed daily. Depending on when you submitted your form, expect LACOAA to publish the changes in about 24 hours. 

#4 – What happens after I submit a new meeting to be listed in the Directory?

Every new meeting will be verified by a LACOAA volunteer to make sure the submitted information is accurate and that the meeting follows the LACOAA Guidelines. If you have any questions, please email for more information. 

#5 – Why do you need contact information for a meeting?

The contact information you provide is confidential. LACOAA will only use the email and/or phone number you provide if we have an issue with your listing, or for official LACOAA communication. We will never share this information publicly in the directory, or share it with anyone. 

#6 – Why do we have to update our meeting information?

This is to ensure that your meeting is still active and that fellows are able to find it. 

If there is a problem with your listing or if LACOAA needs to get in touch with your meeting, it is important that we have the current contact of someone who is active with the meeting. (Please make sure your meeting location, time, and any other relevant information are kept up to date; when you change secretaries, be sure to have them update your listing using the Request Update form on your listing’s page). 

#7 – Do I have to select a “Region” when I fill out a meeting information form? 

Yes, as the “Region” selection allows fellows to search their communities for the fellowship that is nearby. Whether you are online or in person, these details will also help your group be involved at the Central Service level in making sure your group’s voice is heard at the Central Service Committee. 

#8 – What information do I need to provide to list a Virtual meeting?

Please fill in the web address, meeting ID, dial-in number, and passcode (if applicable). 

It is important to include all of this information so that individuals without computers can access the meeting. In particular, the dial-in number helps members access the call-in portion of a web-based meeting and is for accessibility, so those who do not have computers can join. (Please do not put your personal phone number here.)