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What Happens at the AA Central Office?

by Will Long

December 23, 2022
a building

What Happens at AA’s Central Office?

Established as a more effective way to manage Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) branches regionally, the central office/intergroup method of organization enables the 12-step group to continue expanding rapidly as it continues its century-old mission to save lives from alcoholism. The intergroup association in Middle Tennessee, as an example, is a partnership between AA groups in the region, reflecting the idea that each AA group is a partnership of individuals. The founding principle behind the establishment of central offices can be found in traditions eight and nine of AA:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  2. AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

The Middle Tennessee Central Office (MTCOAA) is the central office that oversees the Middle Tennessee region. AA central offices like MTCOAA are home to several governing committees that manage smaller, more local branches of AA around the region. These committees manage publicity, finances, and resources that are distributed as needed. MTCOAA and committees operate within the by-laws adopted starting in 1979 and the Intergroup Committee.

The Middle Tennessee Central Office’s opening statement in their by-laws, laying out the purpose of the Central Office, reads as follows:

“The purpose of the Association shall be to aid the groups in their purpose of carrying the AA message to the alcoholic who still suffers. An Intergroup Central Office, referred to as the Middle Tennessee Central Office, shall be maintained, supervised, and supported by the groups and/or the individual AA members to carry out certain functions common to all groups — functions which are best handled by a centralized office. The Central Office may function as a clearinghouse for the circulation and exchange of information among all the AA groups in Middle Tennessee.”

What is the Intergroup Committee and How Does It Manage the Central Office?

The Intergroup Committee is the governing committee consisting of representatives from local AA chapters that determine the “group conscience,” which is a term referring to decisions arrived at through group decision-making that positively affect the mission of AA. Intergroup Committee members express their home group’s viewpoint before the committee at all monthly meetings. Individual local groups are not required to financially support the Central Office to send a voting committee member.

Every year, there’s an annual meeting in October where the Intergroup Committee elects “a chairperson, secretary, treasurer, chairpersons for the PI, CPC, Corrections and Treatment Facilities Committee, and five zone representatives.” Each of these officers, including the Central Office manager, make up the Intergroup Steering Committee that has an executive say in how the Central Office acts as the parent organization. Central Office managers are hired by the steering committee and must have four years of sobriety as a member of AA. The Intergroup Committee continually monitors and outlines the activities and operations of the Central Office through majority vote and formal resolutions.

Activities of the Central Office

In Middle Tennessee, the Central Office carries out a variety of activities. These include:

  • Providing information to local AA members
  • Maintaining a “12th Step Calling List” for those seeking help
  • Purchase and distribute AA literature to programs and chapters
  • Maintain a centralized meeting list for reference
  • Publish and distribute The Messenger, the Middle Tennessee Central Office’s newsletter
  • Provide logistical support for events and coordination between local/regional groups and the national organization

MTCOAA also maintains a publicly accessible archival location, where they present local AA history to those interested in learning more about the organization and its story. The Area 64 Tennessee State Archive is located in Murfreesboro, TN.

Learn More

AA does not endorse Landmark Recovery, as AA states in the Big Book that “we surely have no monopoly” on treatment for an alcohol use disorder and that the organization is to stay as neutral and focused on the end goal or recovery as possible. However, Landmark Recovery is broadly supportive of the 12-step method and assists those in need of recovery as much as possible. We’re both on a mission to save lives and help those who need treatment find treatment, however it’s needed. If you want to speak with an admissions specialist at Landmark Recovery about how we can help those suffering from addiction, call us at 888-448-0302 today. MTCOAA can be reached at 615-831-1050 for more information on AA and the regional central office in Middle Tennessee.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.