General Service in Alcoholics Anonymous


General Service in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation and unity of A.A. groups and members worldwide. It encompasses various levels of service, from local groups to the General Service Office (GSO) in New York, all working together to carry the message of recovery to those who need it.


Key Functions of General Service

Coordination and Communication:

  • Facilitating Communication: General Service helps maintain open lines of communication between A.A. groups, districts, areas, and the General Service Office. This ensures that information, experiences, and updates flow smoothly across all levels of A.A.
  • General Service Representatives (GSRs): Elected by their home groups, GSRs act as a vital link between the group and A.A. as a whole. They attend district and area meetings to share their group’s conscience and bring back information.

Supporting A.A. Groups:

  • Group Services: General Service provides support and resources to A.A. groups, helping them function effectively. This includes literature, guidelines, and workshops.
  • Service Committees: Various committees (e.g., Public Information, Cooperation with the Professional Community, Corrections) work on specific projects to help groups reach out to the community and special populations.

Maintaining Unity:

  • Group Conscience: General Service promotes unity by ensuring that decisions affecting A.A. as a whole are made based on the collective conscience of its members. This democratic process ensures that every voice is heard and respected.
  • Conference Structure: The annual General Service Conference brings together delegates from all areas to discuss and vote on important matters, ensuring that A.A. remains unified and aligned with its primary purpose.

Carrying the Message:

  • Outreach and Public Information: General Service works on spreading the message of A.A. to those who still suffer from alcoholism. This includes maintaining a public presence through websites, literature, and public service announcements.
  • 12-Step Work: Service work is a crucial part of the 12th Step, where members carry the message to those in need. General Service helps organize and facilitate these efforts.

Administration and Support:

  • General Service Office (GSO): Located in New York, the GSO handles administrative tasks, publishes literature, and provides support to A.A. groups worldwide. It also manages the A.A. website and archives.
  • Financial Oversight: General Service ensures that funds contributed by A.A. members are used effectively and transparently, supporting the fellowship’s activities and services.


Importance of General Service

  • Ensuring Continuity: By maintaining a well-structured service system, General Service ensures the continuity and growth of A.A., making sure the message of recovery is always available.
  • Enhancing Cooperation: It fosters cooperation among groups, districts, and areas, strengthening the overall fellowship.
  • Supporting Tradition: General Service upholds A.A.’s Traditions, ensuring that the fellowship remains focused on its primary purpose—helping alcoholics achieve sobriety.


General Service is the backbone of A.A., providing essential support and coordination that allows the fellowship to thrive and continue its mission. By understanding and participating in General Service, A.A. members can contribute to the ongoing success and unity of Alcoholics Anonymous.