About Intergroup

Portugal Unity Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Fellowship in Action

The purpose of our Intergroup is to provide the infrastructure and resources so the fellowship can carry out its 12-Step work. The Intergroup is directly responsible to the English Speaking Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship in Portugal.
Following is some of what the Intergroup does to support A.A. service work:

Intergroup Volunteers

Intergroup Volunteers are an integral part of Alcoholics Anonymous. They are representative of A.A. and may be the first impression callers and visitors have of the Portugal Intergroup and A.A. as a whole.

The Intergroup also provides the basic resources so that volunteers serving on our various committees can carry the message. Besides utilizing the list of A.A. members who answer 12-Step calls, the Intergroup interfaces with other service position contacts to help insure we are carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to the best of our ability. Another example is answering the phone for our Public Information committee (PI/CPC) so that A.A. members can be available to hand out literature, speak, and otherwise educate the general public and professionals such as doctors, attorneys, nurses and counselors on A.A. and its 12-Step program of recovery.

Please contact Intergroup to learn more about being an Intergroup Volunteer.

Carrying The Message

Intergroup is also responsible for updating and producing directories of all the A.A. meetings in Portugal. In order to produce the directories and answer the many questions we get about meetings in Portugal. The Unity Intergroup maintains a complete database of all the meetings in the area. The printed meeting directory is produced at least every three months and is distributed through Intergroup. There is also an online version of the meeting directly that is updated on an ongoing basis. The online meeting directory is generally considered to be the most up to date meeting information available.

The Intergroup provides instructions on how to obtain A.A. literature requested by A.A. members and Groups. It serves Groups, clubs and treatment facilities throughout Portugal. It has access to conference approved literature and the Grapevine, the international journal of A.A.

In short, the Intergroup provides a focal point for selfless volunteers who make the message available to all those who seek it. Your Intergroup makes these things possible. It is here to serve the fellowship and your support is key to its success.

Tradition Eight

“Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

English Speaking A.A. Groups in Portugal formed the Intergroup to carry out necessary A.A. functions that no single Group could perform.

Portugal A.A. History

A.A. BRIEF HISTORY IN PORTUGAL

The origins of A.A. in Portugal are not well known, as the first members did not leave any written reports or testimonies about that period.

Alcoholics Anonymous appears to have been introduced to Portugal by an Englishman residing in Lisbon who had come into contact with A.A. during a detox in his country of origin. Back in Portugal, he transmitted the message of recovery to an old friend “of the glasses”, the architect Guilherme S., to whom he told how he had met A.A. and how he had stopped drinking. Guili, as the architect was known, also stopped drinking, and the two began to meet regularly, sometimes at the home of one, then at the home of the other. They immediately started helping other alcoholics, which led to the dissemination, albeit on a small scale, of the A.A. recovery program in Portugal.

Although in an incipient way, A.A. had already taken root mainly in Lisbon. However, in an attempt to describe the origins of A.A. in Portugal in a structured way, the archives of the New York General Service Office (GSO) were consulted, which produced the following results in terms of registered groups.

1956

In 1956, the total number of A.A. members registered with the New York GSO was known to be two.

1957-1972

From 1957 to 1972 the records refer to English-speaking A.A. groups of 2 to 12 members, distributed between Lisbon and the Base of Lajes (Azores).

1972

From 1972 to 1977, groups registered with ESG in New York have to do exclusively with lonely members and with the group then called “Grupo Internacional de Lisboa” of Corpo Santo.

In fact, in 1972, an Englishman named Reg W. came to Portugal, coming from Brazil, who started having regular A.A. meetings in the Corpo Santo room in Lisbon. It is believed that this was the first official A.A. group in our country and that it was named Grupo Internacional de Lisboa. Reg was thus the true founder of the Corpo Santo group, although he was practically a loner for many years.

1975

In 1975 a member of A.A., of North American nationality called Ed L. came to Portugal, having immediately started to spread the message of A.A. in hospitals (namely in the Casa de Saúde do Telhal), along with voluntary associations and some doctors. Through Dr. Aires Gameiro, Priest Psychologist at Casa de Saúde do Telhal, he started there to hold meetings for the inmates. Thus, the first Portuguese-speaking A.A. members began to appear, although none of them achieved sobriety. The meetings were conducted in English, Ed being careful to translate into Portuguese.

1978

In 1978, Ed passed the message of A.A. to a Portuguese, Jorge L., who stopped drinking and started to accompany him on visits to Telhal. Then the first Portuguese A.A. began to appear in the international group of Corpo Santo.

In October 1978, Alcoholics Anonymous from Lisbon attended the VII Congress of Social Psychiatry with a literature and information board on AA, with four members of A.A. present. There, Ed L. gave his testimony about the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program.

Shortly after the aforementioned congress, Norman, another lone member residing in Porto, founded in 1978 with Argentil S. the A.A. group from Porto. Meanwhile, Ed L left Portugal, and he was the one who sowed the seed that made A.A. germinate nationally.

Meanwhile, in Portimão, in the Algarve, there was already an English-speaking A.A. group, registered for the first time in 1977 at GSO in New York, which tried unsuccessfully to take the A.A. message to southern Portuguese alcoholics.

With the departure of Ed L., Jorge L continued to visit the Casa de Saúde do Telhal and to share his recovery experience with the inmates, a work that was always supported by Dr. Aires Gameiro and Dr. Pistachini Galvão. The first spoke of the A.A. Twelve Step program in group sessions and encouraged patients to read A.A. literature.

1979

In June 1979, the A.A. group of Corpo Santo was officially created with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that took place on Mondays and Thursdays at 9 pm.

In November 1979, at the First Ibero-American A.A. Meeting, Brazil decided to sponsor the movement in Portugal, sending calls for the following meetings (in 1981 and 1983 respectively) to two companions from Portugal and maintaining correspondence with them. This support essentially took the form of sending free literature to open new groups with the exemption of paying postage on literature orders made from Portugal.

In 1984, the A.A. group of Corpo Santo took on new life with the accession of new members brought by family members or on the recommendation of doctors friends of A.A., including Dr. Leitão de Barros, psychologists Dr. Aires Gameiro and Dr.a Margarida Cordo and, since 1985/86, Dr. Joaquim M. Carrilho.

1989

In 1989, the first rudimentary A.A. Service structure was created in Portugal, integrating the then groups in Lisbon and the surrounding area. The integration of these groups in a common structure through the then Intergroup representatives aimed to ensure basic A.A. services, namely those of literature, telephone, hospitals and little else. One of the first concerns was the translation into

European Portuguese AA. Literature approved in conference, since many A.A.’s have difficulty in identifying with certain Brazilian expressions. It was immediately apparent that the basis for recovery had to be based on the A.A. recovery program as described in the literature, and therefore the basic leaflets and, subsequently, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as Blue Book, which was translated and published for the first time in Portugal in 1994.

The experience of the Lisbon Intergroup created the clear awareness that the service structure, however basic, had to be extended to the remaining groups in the north of Portugal, under the risk that the Lisbon groups would take decisions by A.A. jointly at the national level.

1990-1995

The idea of bringing together and sharing the experiences of all A.A. in Portugal paved the way, in 1992, for the First National A.A. Convention, under the motto “Unity to Grow”, which for the first time, counted on the participation of members of the groups then existing in the country. Shortly thereafter, in 1993, the Northern Intergroup was created, similar to that of Lisbon. After the experiences of the Lisbon and Porto Intergroups, the first four A.A. conventions in Portugal (two in the Lisbon district and two in the North) and some meetings and service forums that strengthened the common unity, as well as the sharing of experiences among all, the groups of Alcoholics Anonymous in Portugal decided to create an Assembly of Representatives, which functioned in 1994 and 1995.

Meanwhile, Alcoholics Anonymous from Portugal were formally invited to participate in the European Service Meeting, although they did not yet have the means of self-sufficiency. Two European delegates from Portugal became regular members of the European Service Meeting from 1989 onwards, despite the fact that two AA members had already participated in 1981 in the I European Service Meeting, although without continuity. At the same time, two A.A. members from Portugal were invited by Alcoholics Anonymous from Spain to regularly participate as observers at their General Services Conference, which contributed greatly to opening perspectives in terms of what would soon be the Services structure A.A. in Portugal. This contact also gave rise to our formal request for sponsorship to Spain.

1995

In October 1995 and with the sponsorship of Alcoholics Anonymous from Spain, the Assembly of Representatives decided to become a General Services Assembly, thus beginning to have a common and permanent structure of General Services for Alcoholics Anonymous in Portugal, adopting a first Regulation and instituting the General Services Council.

Convinced of the benefits of the full institutionalization of such a structure of general services in the light of and respecting the A.A. Traditions, as well as matured by their own experience and strengthened by the example followed in other countries, the General Service Representatives of the 45 groups of Alcoholics Anonymous existing in Portugal, meeting in an Assembly in Colares on October 5, 1997, decided to institute the Conference of General Services of Alcoholics Anonymous of Portugal, thus proceeding to the definitive legalization of the structure that serves the A.A. Community in Portugal, which is guided by the general principles contained in the Constitutive Charter of the General Services Conference on Alcoholics Anonymous of Portugal.

1999

From the 30th of April to the 2nd of May 1999, the First Conference of General Services of Alcoholics Anonymous of Portugal took place in Colares, under the motto “Servir Unidos para Crescer”. This Conference recommended that the National A.A. Day be celebrated on the 19th of March (date when, in 1994, all the groups from Portugal met for the first time in a Service Meeting).

Notes:

This history is credited to the the efforts of Alcoólicos Anónimos  Portugual, Esitório de Servicos Gerais, Fevereiro 2017.

  1. Groups of Amora, Amadora, Amoreiras, Corpo Santo and Santa Isabel.
  2. Term used in A.A. slang in Portugal, because the cover of the 1st Portuguese edition was blue. The Anglo-Saxon term is Big Book.
  3. Integrating the groups of Braga, Ermesinde, Famalicão, Matosinhos, Porto, Póvoa de Varzim and Valadares.