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What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship founded in 1939 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both of which were recovering alcoholics. It is a non-professional, self-supporting and non-political initiative. Its membership is open to everyone regardless of their religion, race, age and gender. The only condition is the will to recover from alcoholism. The primary goal of AA is to help alcoholics recover, stay sober and help other alcoholics recover. The 12 steps of AA were developed by its founders to guide the alcoholics towards recovery.

12 traditions were subsequently introduced to the help the members stay focused and unified against alcoholism. Ever since its start, it has helped millions of alcoholics recover. Even though it is often regarded as unscientific, recovering alcoholics have admitted its usefulness.

Currently, the fellowship has more than 2 million members residing worldwide. In United States alone, there are more than 50,000 Alcoholics Anonymous fellowships. According to an Alcoholics Anonymous survey conducted in 2014, about 27% members were sober for less than a year, 24% for 1-5 years, 13% for 5-10 years, 14% for 10-20 years and 22% for more than 20 years.

What to expect at your first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting?

Deciding to become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous can be difficult. Many questions arise in the mind of newcomers. Will the meeting be held in a shady church basement? Will I have to share everything with complete strangers? Will the experience be helpful?

 

The truth is, attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is completely safe. The other members can be extremely supportive and helpful, especially towards new members. They know how you feel and how to make you feel comfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making the bold decision of recovering can be physically and mentally challenging. All the members there have been through the same as you have been. You are not required to discuss your problems during the first meeting if you do not feel comfortable enough. You can simply hear other members talk.

 

As the time passes and you attend more meetings, you feel more comfortable and gradually start opening up. There is a great scope to learn from the experience of recovered alcoholics. You can also seek advice for your existing issues arising during the recovery process.

 

The members of fellowship are supposed to follow the same 12 steps developed by the founders.

Types of Meetings:

The time of meeting is pre-decided and usually, each meeting lasts for about 90 minutes. Online meetings are also offered.

  • Closed Meetings:

Closed meetings are only meant for recovering alcoholics who are the members of AA.

  • Open Meetings:

During open meetings, you are allowed to bring your spouse, family members or friends who are non-alcoholics. Generally, all the meetings are closed unless mentioned otherwise.

The type of meeting you want to attend depends entirely on you. Some people prefer privacy and want to keep their alcoholism separate from the rest of their life while the others may find additional support of their friends and family immensely helpful.

 

  • Online Meetings:

During online meetings, the members interact through electronic devices rather than coming together in a physical place. Online meetings can be both open and closed.

Types of Meetings:

The steps are the basic guidelines that help the alcoholics recover. Even though they are given in a sequence, you are not necessarily required to follow the sequence. Any step can be revisited if there is a need.

These steps require you to admit that you have a problem and you have no control over it with a subsequent decision of amending the damage you have caused to yourself and others.

Arguments against Alcoholics Anonymous:

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most trusted support group for recovering alcoholics. However, arguments against it are heard from time to time because it fails to provide any scientific bases. But the truth is, it has helped millions of people, including the non-religious ones, around the globe to recover from alcoholism. Different treatments work for different people and it is important to find the one that works for you.

Excuses to avoid Alcoholics Anonymous:

People suffering from alcoholism and alcohol use disorders often tend to come up with excuses to avoid a meeting. The reason behind it can be the discomfort associated with the idea. Stepping out of your home and attending a meeting might not seem like a very good idea at first but you will only know about whether it works or not after attending the meetings.

Alcoholism is a life-threatening disease. It is important to do whatever is necessary to recover before it is too late.