A.A. Preamble

The Preamble was composed by an editor of the Grapevine and introduced in the June 1947 issue. It is read at almost every AA meeting, function and convention.


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.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”
Service Material from the General Service Office
Copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.


THE PREAMBLE was introduced in the June 1947 issue of the AA Grapevine magazine. It was written by the then-editor, who borrowed much of the phrasing from the Foreword to the original edition of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

In those early years, the Grapevine had just begun to circulate among non-alcoholics, and the Preamble was intended primarily to describe for them what AA is and is not. It is still often used for public information purposes. As time passed, it began appearing in all Conference-approved publications, and many AA groups now use it to open meetings.

The original version differed in two ways from the familiar form we all know: 1) It stated that “the only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking,” and 2) it contained only the very brief statement “AA has no dues or fees.”

People often ask why the word “honest” was deleted. At the 1958 General Service Conference, a delegate asked about the words “honest desire to stop drinking,” suggesting that since “honest” does not appear in the Third Tradition, it might be deleted from the Preamble. In discussion, most Conference members felt that as AA had matured, it had become almost impossible to determine what constitutes an honest desire to stop drinking, and also that some who might be interested in the program could be confused by the phrase. Thus, as part of the evolution of AA, the phrase had been dropped from common usage. The midsummer 1958 meeting of the General Service Board of Trustees ratified the deletion, and since then the Preamble has read simply “a desire to stop drinking.”

At the same time, the phrase “AA has no dues or fees” was clarified to read as it presently does: “There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.” The current version of the Preamble appears on page one of every issue of the Grapevine.


Although the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is not religious, the Serenity Prayer has come to be a simple way to remind alcoholics of the AA way of life.


“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.”