LEBANON AREA ANSWERING SERVICE GUIDELINES
Thank you for volunteering for the Lebanon AA telephone answering service. Please keep in mind that you are probably the first contact with AA the caller may have. Also remember that not all calls are from the alcoholic; often family or friends will call. Remember too that when an active alcoholic calls asking for help or information they are often not sober. Treat them with kindness and respect; we have all been in their position one-way one another.
ANONIMITY: Since the phone number is only for the phone service, our personal anonymity is guarded. It is advisable to give the caller only your first name. If the caller is concerned, you can explain how AA protects personal anonymity. Under no circumstances will the caller be given a phone number from the 12thstep volunteer list.
WHAT WE DO: The phone service uses our experience, strength, and hope to provide information on alcoholism and how & where to find meetings. We do not provide counseling services, alcohol, drug, marriage, legal, or otherwise. If a caller wants to attend a meeting without assistance, please give them the time and location of the most convenient meeting. If this does not fit the caller’s needs please try to accommodate them. Having a printed meeting list handy helps with this. Like many of us the caller may be anxious about attending a meeting. Ask them if they would like some one to contact them then meet them at a meeting. That is where the 12thstep list comes in. Find out where the caller lives and what their number is so someone who lives close to them can contact them. Then tell them that some one who can meet them at a meeting will contact them. If they don’t want to give us that information, there is little we can do other that point them to a meeting. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES GIVE THEM YOUR, OR A VOLUNTEER’S NUMBER OR INFORMATION.
12THSTEP VOULENTEERS: The phone volunteer has limits on their ability to help a caller. Their back-up and source of assistance are 12thstep volunteers. Every group should have men and women who can be contacted to reach out to the sick and suffering alcoholics. We need to remember how we felt when going to our first meetings: afraid, embarrassed, and alone. We need to be empathetic and offer help. This is why the names and numbers need to be made available to the phone volunteers. MEN WITH MEN AND WOMEN WITH WOMEN!
ANSWERING THE PHONE: Please answer the phone with “Lebanon area Alcoholics Anonymous, how can I help you?” or something similar. At this point the caller can say almost anything.
They may be drunk or severely hung-over; please be kind, tolerant, and understanding
They may be a spouse, parent, friend, or child wanting you to cure their loved one.
They may be looking for a different 12-step program.
They also may be from a jail, rehab, or outside agency.
- If an alcoholic calls:
- Provide information on alcoholism and/or how & where to find meetings. See WHAT WE DO above.
- If they are looking for a detox or rehab, refer to the list of resources below.
- If they are distressed or suicidal tell them to call 911 or the crisis hot line: 717-274-3363. In extreme crisis you must use judgment to determine if you should call 911 yourself. Be prepared to explain how you got the information.
- If someone is looking for transportation to a meeting,again go to the 12thstep list and explain the situation. Although we are not a taxi service, we may often be able to give those in need a ride to a meeting.
- If a friend or loved one calls:
- Again, be understanding, the caller is probably desperate for some one to fix their alcoholic.
- Try to give them information on the disease of alcoholism and where to find more information: (AA website: Lebanon paaa.org)
- Tell them about Al-Anon Family Groups; this is the best support for the families and friends of those affected by the disease of alcoholism. Tell them where to get info: (pa-al-anon.org)
- Calls may come in from rehabs or jails seeking contact persons. Get the info from the patient/inmate. Take these requests to the district meeting on the third Thursday or give it to your GSR for delivery.
- If an outside agency calls, remember we don’t give out information. Get their contact info and pass it to the DCM so the appropriate committee can address the inquiry.
MISSED CALLS: Don’t be alarmed if you miss a call; the phone has voicemail. Check for messages by pressing and holding the #1 key. Enter the pin and listen to any messages. Once you get it, just call back as soon as possible. Then treat the caller as stated above.
PERSONAL USE: Please don’t. There is limited time on the phone. AA’s 7thtradition funds are paying for the phone.
- Share your experience, strength, and hope with the callers, not advice and opinions.
- Maintain volunteer’s anonymity; don’t give out names or numbers.
- We are not medical professionals and don’t have opinions on psychiatry or medications.
- We are not councilors.
- We give information on alcoholism and meetings.
- Use the 12thstep list; men with men and women with women.
RESOURCES: These are just a few of our local contacts. The caller can always call 911 or go to the emergency room for immediate assistance.
- Lebanon Area AA website – lebanonpaaa.org
- Leb. Co. Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Crisis Intervention 717-274-3363
- New Perspectives of White Deer Run 717-270-3900
- PA Counseling Services, 624 Cumberland Street, Lebanon 717-450-5666
- Gaudenzia – Harrisburg 717-233-3424
- Another Chance Counseling, 756 Cumberland St #3, Lebanon, 717-507-1386
- Lebanon Area Al-Anon website – pa-al-anon.org or 1-88-4Al-Anon.
- NA – narcotics.com or 1-800-407-7195
- GA – gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671
- OA – oa.org or 717-805-7832
- Mental Health issues – mentalhealth.gov or 1-800-273-8255