A Brief Overview of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international fellowship of people who once had a drinking addiction.

Alcoholics Anonymous is nonprofessional and self supporting, doesn’t have a religious denomination, includes all races, and is nonpolitical.

Membership at Alcoholics Anonymous is open to anyone who wants to deal with a drinking problem or addiction. (Most materials and resources in this section are presented in a non-substance specific way.)

Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Information

“AA Style” Programs

AA is based on The Big Book, which includes the Twelve Steps of it’s foundation. A group is started by a voluntary chair person who usually has some sober time away from their addiction. Meetings open up on a subject with information for the group to discuss and usually have time set adise for other topics.

The Alcoholics Anonymous system is designed to bring hope to those seeking rehabilitation.

There are specific meetings called ‘Step Meetings’ which study The Big Book or other materials depending on the specific substance the meeting is designed for. At times there are ‘speaker meetings’ which offer stories of hope from those who have completed similar rehabilitation.

The AA system is not professional and does not make assessments or diagnosis. The groups are open to free will attendance. Sometimes people are ordered to attend by a court requiring the chairperson to sign verifying meeting attendance. This is the only case where a member of the group is identified outside the group itself.

The Twelve Steps were written by Bill Wilson, but he did not take credit for them and they were fully developed by experienced rehabilitation professionals.

  • The First Step deals with the fact the addict admits his/her life has become powerless over the addiction and has become unmanageable.
  • The Second and Third Steps have to do with believing there is a greater power, which could give the person more than human strength. Then a decision is made to turn one’s life over to that power, often called a Higher Power. (People are allowed to choose the name for the power they are most comfortable with.) The idea is that a person’s self will is not enough to bring about full recovery.
  • The Fourth and Fifth Steps have to do with honestly looking at the effects the addiction has had on the addicts life and others, then admitting the nature of the wrong stemming from the addiction.
  • The Sixth and Seventh Steps have to do with being humble and asking God to remove defects of character and overcome shortcomings.
  • The Eighth Step is about making a list of others harmed by the addiction and making amends the best as is possible.
  • The Last Four Steps have more to do with a spiritual journey and eventually include service work and going out of one’s way to reach the those still suffering.

A brief test you can take yourself to personally decide if you are powerless over an addiction:

  • Make a list of three ways addiction has put yourself or others in danger.
  • Name three ways you have lost self respect due to your addiction.
  • Do your family and friends complain about your behavior, list three ways.
  • Have you tried and failed to control your addiction.
  • List honestly, from your own wisdom, five ways, which your life has become out of control due to powerlessness over your addiction.

Alcoholics Anonymous programs offer and encourage each participant seek and obtain a sponsor who is like a mentor through the Step Work. This is someone who can lend a confidential ear. All meetings end with, “What you hear here, stays here.” Reports on, or mention of, the stories or relapses talked about at meetings is forbidden. Identifying anyone met at a meeting is also not allowed. That is why the programs are called Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous ®, The Big Book ®, and A.A. ® are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. N.A. ® is a registered trademark of NA World Services, Inc. C.A. ® is a registered trademark of Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.

This site is in no way endorsed by or affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., NA World Services, Inc., or Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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