Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is an international fellowship, helping to provide support to those suffering from alcohol addiction. Anyone looking to get help for their drinking problem can join the fellowship, which is renowned for being self-supporting, apolitical and open to all races and backgrounds. It has helped people all over the world to fight their addiction to alcohol, and has even sparked similar movements for the treatment of other addictions.
Discover more about Alcoholic Anonymous and how this simple movement helps save lives.
A brief history of AA
Alcoholics Anonymous was first formed in 1935 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio, growing in popularity once the book Alcoholics Anonymous (a.k.a. The Big Book) was published in 1939. It was set up with ‘Twelve Traditions’ to guide the group, providing guidance and stability, forming the ‘12 steps’ that are familiar to us today. The aim is that members provide support to each other to help them overcome their drinking addictions, and members remain anonymous outside the meeting. As of December 2020, there are more than 2 million members of AA worldwide.
Who can join Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous is open to anyone who has a drinking problem. While members might have other addictions in addition to drinking, a desire to stop drinking is the key requirement for joining.
There are local AA groups all over the world that can easily be found online, helping you find a group near to where you live. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many groups have been formed online to allow continued group support while members are unable to meet in person.
How it works
There are different formats to AA meetings that can be topic-based, or focused on the 12-step program. There are also meetings designed for beginners, and open meetings where anyone can attend to find out more about AA.
Most meetings will be based around a topic proposed by the group leader. Members then take it in turns to share their experiences related to the topic. This helps provide an outlet for members to share their stories, while also receiving support from fellow members.
At meetings, members can be set up with a sponsor, someone who has been through the program successfully and can provide support and advice as needed to help keep a member on track.
How effective is AA?
There have been several studies into the effectiveness of AA. According to a Harvard Gazette article, some of the reasons why AA is so effective is that it is a consistent program that helps develop behavioral changes, including changes to members’ social networks that introduce them to other abstinent individuals, and developing confidence within certain social situations.
While Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t for everyone, the structured program and support provided can help those with an alcohol addiction find a solid path to recovery. With millions of people helped over the world, AA is an option worth exploring if you or someone you know is suffering a drinking problem.