Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization. It helps a person in understanding how one’s beliefs and behaviors can lead to addiction. While working through the steps, there comes a deeper understanding of spirituality, connectedness and openness to request for help when one requires it. This post is about the international institution which believes in helping people tackle this deadly addiction.
The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-step recovery program for people suffering from alcohol abuse and addiction. Here, people abide by a set of recovery steps to achieve and sustain abstinence from alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by two men struggling with alcoholism—Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. The 12-step model of AA has evolved into one that is applied to a variety of addictions and behavioral health issues, including:
Alcoholics Anonymous is open to all people regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Meetings can be conducted anywhere, but, they are often held in public spaces, like coffee shops. Some meetings are open to anyone who wants to attend, while others are only for alcoholics or prospective AA members. From its earliest days, AA has promised personal anonymity to all who attend its meetings. Although the stigma has reduced to some degree, most newcomers are still hesitant about their confession of their alcoholism and hence, it is only possible in a protected environment. Anonymity is vital for this atmosphere of trust and openness. There is a network of support within the rooms of AA, and it allows the members to continue to grow and learn from the “experiences, strength, and hope” of others.
Recovery is a lifelong process. Many people find that AA gives them stability and helps keep them sober, especially when life gets stressful. The 12 steps of AA are as follows:
1. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Many alcoholics have a difficult time admitting that they cannot control their alcohol use. Once they acknowledge that they are unable to stop on their own, the recovery process can begin.
2. “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
AA believes that people with an alcohol addiction need to look to something greater than themselves to recover. Those working the steps are free to choose whatever higher power works for them.
3. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
The alcoholic consciously decides to turn themselves over to whatever or whomever they believe their higher power to be.
4. “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
The key is to identify any areas of past regret, embarrassment, guilt or anger.
5. “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
This step involves admitting to past poor behavior.
6. “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
The alcoholic admits that they are ready to have their higher power remove the wrongs they listed in Step 4.
7. “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
The recovering alcoholic is not strong enough to eliminate the defects on their own, so they require their higher power to do so.
8. “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Alcoholics write down all of the people they have wronged through their alcoholism.
9. “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Making amends could include writing a letter to a person or sitting down face to face with them.
10. “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
This involves a commitment to monitor yourself for any behaviors that may be detrimental to yourself or others and to confess when you are wrong.
11. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
This requires you to commit to some kind of spiritual practice: anything from prayer to meditation.
12. “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
This step encourages members to help others in their recovery.
AA has more than 2 million members and 115,000 groups around the world. There are a number of AA groups in India. Becoming a member is free. The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking.
Puja Roy is a health psychologist and is currently working as a counselor at the Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata. You can follow her here.