Dual Member Timeline
Dual Members and Al Anon Service Policy Timeline
“Because of the unique nature of both programs, Al Anon/Alateen members who are also AA members do not hold office beyond the group level, as these positions could lead to membership in the World Service Conference (WSC). The need to focus on the Al Anon program, and the possibility of a conflict of interest at assembly and world service levels, led the WSC to its decision not to seat Al Anon/Alateen members who are also members of AA. For these reasons AA members do not serve as group representatives (GRs), district representatives (DRs), area coordinators, newsletter editors, delegates and/or any of their alternates, nor do they sit on the WSO in-town or standing committees, whose chairpersons can be Conference members.” (1998-2000 Al Anon/Alateen Service Manual, pp. 63-64)
1967 “…those registered at the Al Anon World Service Office must be considered Al Anon Family Groups and only non-alcoholics should aspire to hold office in them…” (Report of meeting between Al Anon and AA re: Al Anon’s “Guidelines for Separation of AA and Al Anon”)
1970 Policy rewording “AAs who are Al Anon members can hold office, with the exception of the office of GR” revised to read: ‘It is preferable that AA members not hold office in an Al Anon group, and definitely not the office of GR.’” (1970 WSC Summary, p.7)
1976 Policy rewording “Al Anon/Alateen members who are also members of AA are eligible to hold office within the Al Anon/Alateen groups. Because of the unique nature of the Al Anon/Alateen and AA programs, AA members may not serve as Al Anon/Alateen group representatives (GR), district representatives (DR) or delegates. The need to focus at all times on the Al Anon/Alateen interpretation of the program would of necessity bring about a conflict of interest at assembly and world service levels.” (Policy Committee Minutes 3/26/76)
1977 – Policy Committee asks the Conference Admissions Committee whether it would seat an AFG/AA member as delegate if elected by an area structure. The Conference Admissions Committee unanimously voted no. (1977 WSC Summary, p.28)
1978 – Policy rewording “Because of the unique nature of the Al Anon/Alateen and AA programs our group experience has shown that on the service level it is wise for Al Anon/Alateen members who are not also AA, to serve in the following categories: Al Anon/Alateen group representatives (GR), District Representatives (DR), Delegates, Alternate Delegates and WSO in-Town committee members. The need to focus at all times and retain emphasis on the Al Anon/Alateen interpretation of the program would of necessity bring about a conflict of interest at Assembly and World Service levels.” (Policy Committee Minutes 10/23/78)
1979 – Lois Remembers published. “We sent a memorandum to AA asking permission to use its Twelve Steps in our fellowship. AA agreed unofficially, but its members felt strongly that we should be a separate society and not a subsidiary of Alcoholics Anonymous and not include ‘AA’ in our name. In addition, Bill felt AAs should hold no office in our structure. He often said ‘Keep us drunks out of it.’” (p. 176)
1980 – Policy rewording The Policy Committee voted unanimously to amend the policy: “MEMBERSHIP, item c., as follows: “Dual Membership in Al Anon and AA Al Anon/Alateen members who are also members of AA are eligible to hold office within the Al Anon/Alateen groups. AAs who also belong to Al Anon may serve as the sponsor of Alateen groups by virtue of their Al Anon membership, instead of being limited to co-sponsorship. All these are vital services at the group level. Emphasis should be placed on the Al Anon/Alateen interpretation of the program at all times. Because of the unique nature of the Al Anon/ Alateen and AA programs our group experience has shown that on the world service level it is not wise for Al Anon/Alateen members, who are also AA members to serve in the following categories: Al Anon/ Alateen group representatives (GR), district representatives (DR), delegates, alternate delegates and WSO in-town committee members. The need to focus at all times and retain emphasis on the Al Anon/Alateen interpretation of the program would of necessity bring about a conflict of interest at assembly and world service levels.” (Policy Committee Minutes 1/21/80; approved by 1980 WSC)
1981 – WSC approves Policy Committee question and answer sheet on “Cooperation Between Al Anon and AA.” These were published later in the guideline “Cooperation Between Al Anon and AA” (G-3) to which the question and answer to “What offices can Al Anon/AA members hold” was added. (1981 WSC Summary, pp. 26-27, 48)
1983 – WSC approves Policy Committee revision that the WSO cannot register any group that is solely for dual AFG/AA members because they do not qualify to have a group representative. (1983 WSC Summary, p.48)
1984 – Handbook revised as follows: “The election of the DR and alternate DR, from among the new and re- elected GRs, neither of whom are members of AA…” and “The Committee asks the GRs who have the right to vote to elect a delegate, who is not also a member of AA…” (1984 WSC Summary, p.47)
1985 – Long Range Study Panel reviews results of Questionnaire on Dual Membership and Service at the area level sent to 71 past Conference members; 43 responded. 35 believe the policy on dual membership should remain as it is; 6 believe the time has come to change the policy; 2 believe the policy should be changed in the future. (LRSP Minutes 11/18/85)
1987 – Handbook revision under Area World Service Committee: “An Al Anon/Alateen member, who is not a member of AA, is eligible to serve as area coordinator…” (1987 WSC Summary, pp.34, 53)
1991 – WSC denies “request that the Policy Committee reconsider interpretation of the policy.” (21 yes; 76 no) (1991 WSC Summary, pp.19, 23, 47)
1994 WSC denies a motion to eliminate restrictions to service. (21 yes; 77 no) (1994 WSC Summary, pp.17-18, 47)
1996 – WSC denies motions “to declare a three-year moratorium on any Conference action/discussion regarding dual membership:” (52 yes; 42 no); and to request “the Policy Committee and fellowship reflect and consider what is best for Al Anon in accordance with our Traditions:” (56 yes; 38 no) (1996 WSC Summary, p.56)
Also discussed at Policy Committee meetings and WSC Workshops in ‘76, ‘81, ‘84, ‘86, ‘89, ‘92, ‘93, ‘98, ‘99; no changes suggested.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can an alcoholic not in A.A. serve as GR?
Yes, any member, who is not also a member of A.A., may serve as GR.
2. Can a member of A.A. serve as a District Chairperson?
The policy states that dual members cannot serve in positions that could lead to membership at the WSC.
3. Can A.A. members have voice and vote on matters at a district meeting?
Many districts hold open meetings for all interested members, who would attend with voice and without vote. Only Group Representatives vote at district meetings.
4. What will happen if a group decides to elect a GR who is a dual member?
The Assembly could choose not to seat the GR.
5. What offices can Al‑Anon/A.A. members hold?
These dual members are, by virtue of their Al‑Anon membership, eligible to hold office in their Al‑Anon or Alateen group; this is service at the group level. Because of the unique natures of the Al‑Anon and A.A. fellowships, experience has shown that service positions beyond the group level, such as Group Representative (GR), should not be filled by Al‑Anon/A.A. members. The need to focus at all times on the Al‑Anon interpretation of the program could produce a conflict of interest at Assembly and world service levels. (Guideline G-3)
6. Why are members of other Twelve Step programs allowed to serve above the group level, but not A.A. members?
Al‑Anon has a special relationship with A.A. that it doesn’t have with other Twelve Step programs. For example, Al‑Anon Traditions only mention A.A., not any other program.
7. What is some of the rationale given for the dual member policy?
Discussions over many years at World Service Conferences refer to: the uniqueness of each program; a possible conflict of interest; a need to retain the Al‑Anon perspective; to avoid dilution of the Al‑Anon program; the primary purpose of each program is different; and that the member could be eligible to serve at both Al‑Anon and A.A. Conferences.