At the most basic level, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a large network of small groups who use the 12 steps as a guide to overcome alcoholism and live sober, happy lives.
There seems to be a lot of mystery around what Alcoholics Anonymous is, what it isn’t, and how AA works.
While movies, books, and other media portray the fellowship and the steps with a hint of skepticism mixed with mystery, AA and the way it works is more simple and (some would say) dull than people outside of AA would believe.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who gather at informal meetings and follow certain principles that are designed to help people live sober without the need to use alcohol or drugs. According to the AA Information page:
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
It was founded in 1935 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Cleveland, Ohio. It began slowly with the two men who, after they got sober themselves, went to a local hospital and began helping a third man get and stay sober. Since then, Alcoholics Anonymous has grown to a global movement where one member of AA helps another person achieve sobriety.
Today, many drug rehabs and alcohol treatment centers require their patients to attend AA meetings regularly and are encouraged to find a sponsor.
There are two ways to think about AA – How it works for an individual, and how it works as a group. For the individual, AA works through the 12 Steps. Similarly, the individual groups and meetings follow the 12 Traditions. Together, these two sets of guiding principles have ensured that AA remains completely unaffiliated and effective as a means to treat and overcome alcohol addiction.
When someone wants to quit drinking and decides to check out an AA meeting for the first time, they’re sure to be slightly confused and unsure of what to expect. Meetings vary group by group, but the majority of them will have a few things in common.
There will be a secretary (someone who "runs" the meeting), a leader (who begins the sharing), and then the rest of the attendees. AA meetings typically either last for an hour or an hour and a half. There are some readings, and then people take turns sharing their experience, strength, and hope. Afterward, some people talk, some go get food. Others stay and clean up and still more talk about how to stay sober and live meaningful lives.
It’s really that simple. It’s so simple, that a journalist in 1941 couldn’t believe that Alcoholics Anonymous was as simple and altruistic as it claims to be. And it remains the same ever since.
To be a member of AA, all that is required is that a person suffers from alcoholism - it's one of the traditions (which will be detailed below). However, most members also go through the 12 steps, which are used to recover from the disease of mind and body.
Just as the 12 Steps help keep the individual sober, the 12 Traditions are designed to keep the group healthy.
If you need help finding AA meetings or other recovery resources in San Diego county the team at Genesis Recovery can help. At Genesis Recovery, we believe participation in a 12-Step Program is imperative for permanent recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Our established alliances with the 12-Step fellowships throughout our county expand the pool of experience, strength and hope to countless others who can relate to the struggles you are facing and on the same path to permanent sobriety. Call our offices for more information.