Alcoholism is known to be one of the oldest problems in the world. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption results in death relatively early in life, and 5.1 percent of the global disease and injury is attributable to alcohol.
If you seem to be experiencing some troubles with your drinking or that your drinking reaches the point where it concerns you or affects the people around you, you may be interested to know about Alcoholics Anonymous and their approach to recovery.
What Is Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)?
Alcoholics Anonymous, or more commonly referred to as “A.A.,” is a global fellowship of people who experience drinking problems. A.A. is a nonprofessional, multiracial, self-supporting, apolitical organization that can be found almost anywhere in the world. While membership is open to anyone regardless of their age or educational background, all members are solely required to possess one thing: the desire to stop drinking.
Rather than being run by a leadership team, A.A. is handled by former alcoholics with a desire to help others. A.A. continues to grow worldwide with more than 100,000 groups and over 2 million members. As per a 2014 A.A. membership survey, 27 percent of the A.A. members have become sober in less than a year.
History of A.A.
Founded in 1935 by fellow recovering addicts Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio, Alcoholics Anonymous started as a community-based fellowship that aimed to encourage sobriety among recovering alcoholics. The fellowship was originally founded on the principles of a Christian-based self-help group known as the Oxford Group.
After traveling to Akron, Ohio, Wilson met Dr. Robert Smith, who was having a difficult time staying sober. Dr. Smith worked with Wilson for 30 days until he successfully gave up drinking on June 10, 1935. The same date marks the official anniversary date of A.A. worldwide.
After receiving criticisms for their practices adhering to the Oxford Group, the duo broke away from it and initiated A.A. Although they’ve kept some aspects of the Oxford Group like facilitating informal gatherings and following a series of steps to recovery, they changed their program to come up with a new approach that focuses on spiritual principles in helping alcoholics recover from addiction without affiliating itself with religion. With the addition of the 12 A.A. steps, the organization is currently recognized as a world-renowned support group for millions of people worldwide.
What Happens During an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting?
Attending an A.A. meeting can be daunting, especially if you are a new member. Meetings encourage participants to go outside their comfort zone and share their struggles in a room full of strangers who have the same problems.
Fortunately, the whole group is considered a safe space, as each A.A. participant can genuinely empathize with what you feel. Alcoholics Anonymous cultivates a unique sense of community that revolves around understanding recovering addicts and helping them cope with their challenges throughout the journey.
At the start of each meeting, each attendee will be welcomed, and the topic of discussion will be introduced. Individuals are encouraged to open up about how their addiction has affected them and their loved ones. They may choose to share their stories, add to what other attendees say, or give advice to others. The entire scenario paves the way for people to gain new perspectives and make friends with new people.
Given that all members — especially new ones — may not feel comfortable sharing intimate details during their first visit, A.A. believes that everyone can find healing and therapy with open and honest communication in the long run.
A Note on Closed vs. Open Meetings
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings occur either as a closed or open A.A. meeting. During a closed A.A. meeting, recovering addicts — or those who want to learn more about overcoming their addiction — are the only ones who may attend the meeting. On the other hand, open meetings permit the presence of friends, spouses, and family members.
Closed meetings protect privacy, while open meetings promote connection and support with social relationships. Deciding which route to take depends exclusively on what you are more comfortable with.
The Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
Each member of the A.A. group is advised to read the “bible” of the organization — the Big Book. This book contains recovery resources and inspirational stories that can aid you in your journey towards long-term sobriety. Along with this, the Big Book also includes the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps and 12 traditions.
A.A.’s 12 Steps
The 12 Steps is a group of principles that are spiritual in nature. This discusses how to prevent triggers and recover from alcoholism. When applied as a way of life, these steps can eliminate the obsession to drink and allow a recovering addict to gain clarity to pursue a sober life.
Often, these steps are introduced in an inpatient setting and are applied during aftercare recovery programs. They are relevant to a lot of situations — good or bad.
A.A.’s 12 Traditions
The 12 traditions explain the life revolving around the Fellowship itself. It serves as the organization’s foundation. The traditions present the means by which Alcoholics Anonymous maintains its unity, as well as how it lives, grows, and relates to the world. Thanks to these traditions, members are able to maintain A.A. as a safe space to impart their experiences and acquire support for their alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Take Your Life Back
Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous offer lasting recovery from alcohol and substance abuse.
A.A. serves as a formidable aftercare program for our HHRC graduates. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Haven House Recovery Center approaches addiction from a spiritual perspective. To learn more about our Christ-centered approach to alcohol and drug addiction in our recovery center near Clarksville, contact us today!