Telephone Hotline Committee

Mission

The primary purpose of the Atlanta Area Intergroup Telephone Committee (the Hotline) is to ensure that an alcoholic who has found a solution to the problem of alcoholism will be there whenever any one of the 5.7 million people in the 18-county Metro Atlanta area calls AA for help after hours.

Operation

There is a single AA phone number for the entire 18-County Metro Atlanta area: 404-525-3178. It rings in the Central Office during business hours and then at our hotline answering service.

  • We cover the hotline calls with a Primary and Secondary/Backup volunteer over 50 shifts (100 shifts total).  Shifts are every other week — e.g., every other Saturday from 3-6 p.m.
  • Weekdays have 3 shifts: 4:30-6:30 p.m., 6:30-9:30, and 9:30 to midnight. Weekend and holiday shifts are every 3 hours, from 9 a.m. to midnight.
  • Shifts run year-round, regardless of holidays, vacations, or high water.

Curious what a call to the Hotline sounds like?  Click here to listen to a sample.

Responsibilities

Volunteers undertake at least a year of service. Shift-holders are always responsible for covering their shifts, either in person or by finding substitutes from hotline shift colleagues or the approved substitute list.

The Job

It’s one alcoholic helping another, or sometimes answering questions from a family member or member of the public.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are needed for hotline service?
You need at least one year’s sobriety, a sponsor, and a home group. (It would also be helpful to have voicemail, email, and ready access to internet meeting-finder sites.)

How do I sign up?
Sign up online (preferred), or call the Central Office (404-525-3178) during office hours (Mon – Fri, 9am to 4:30pm), and tell them you want to volunteer.  In either case, expect a few questions about your qualifications and what shifts you are available for, as well as a short phone interview. They will also want to talk with your sponsor.

Do I have to go somewhere to answer hotline calls?
No. We use an answering service that patches callers to the phone you use for the hotline, so you can do this from any place that has suitable telephone reception, privacy for confidential calls, and space to set out the things you need to have handy.

Can I do this from parties or restaurants or wherever?
Think about this from the viewpoint of a despairing soul who has just gotten up the nerve to call AA, or visualize having to look through papers to find a suicide hotline or emergency detox number, and you’ll likely find the right answer.

Do callers see my phone number?
No. Only the answering service number.

What kind of calls come in?
All kinds. The most common seek help in finding meetings. Some callers ask for help with a drinking problem or just want to talk. Others are family members of alcoholics who want to know if AA can help. Sometimes, a caller wants to argue about the effectiveness of AA.

Will I be AA’s Atlanta area spokesperson?
No. You will be an alcoholic who has gotten sober through AA and is using that experience to help others. (But remember that their experience with you will affect their view of AA.)

Do I have to talk to drunks?
Well, yes. But you don’t have to pander to or argue with them. Try to be pleasant and respectful, but, if they seem hopelessly inebriated, suggest that they will be better served by getting a night’s sleep, and calling back in the morning.

How do shift assignments work?
You tell us the shifts you are available for. If they’re full, you go on the “Waiting for Shifts” list. When an opening occurs, we use the list to select the person who has waited the longest for it.

Should I just pick one shift that I could fill and then wait for it to become vacant?
You can. But, if you want to maximize your chances of getting a quick shift assignment, identify all the times that you are available to cover, e.g., “Any weekday after 6,” “Any time on weekends,” or “any 4:30-6:30 shift.” But make sure that you are in fact able and willing to take on each of the shifts included in your availability description.

What are the busiest times for calls?
The busiest shifts are afternoon and early evening shifts. The slowest are the late-night shifts, which average well under one call. Other shifts average between 2 and 3 calls.

Where do I go for training?
When I asked this question, the answer was “If you have a year of sobriety, a sponsor, and a home group, you are trained.” The Hotline exists to put one alcoholic in a position to talk with another. That’s the way the program works. And that’s the way the Hotline works.

How Can I Serve?

Glad you asked!  View the list of service opportunities, or sign up for the Hotline!

Something Else?

For further information about Hotline service, call the Central Office at 404-525-3178, or complete the form below.