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Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is an organization that provides peer support to people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and those who struggle with alcohol abuse. A.A. meetings take place in-person and online. They are held in the United States and around the world.
Meetings are free to attend and individual members support the organization without any outside funding.
A.A.’s goal is to promote sober living through its message.
A.A. membership is anonymous and open to anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity, or ability, as long as that person is willing to abstain from drinking alcohol. Meetings are held in public places, usually schools, churches, or other community related facilities, and are sometimes open to people who are not members or people with AUD.
Despite not being affiliated with any political or religious group, A.A. is based on a spiritual foundation that includes acknowledgment of a higher power. This might be a loving God or anything else the member chooses.
Meetings are part of the A.A.12-step recovery program practiced by members in their everyday lives.
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The Alcoholics Anonymous program is a 12-step program. These 12 steps are listed in the Big Book and are based on 12 traditions designed to help members with recovery. A.A.’s 12-steps include:
People with AUD struggle to face their alcohol problem. Acknowledging they cannot stop on their own is the first step toward recovery.
Recovery requires looking toward something bigger than oneself. Members are free to observe whatever higher power they choose.
This is the conscious choice to hand control over to a higher power.
This is an honest self-assessment used to find areas of regret, embarrassment, guilt, or anger.
This involves acknowledging and admitting to another person their poor behavior in the past, often in writing. Many people in A.A. share the self-assessment from step four with their sponsor.
This step involves admitting it is time to have the higher power remove the wrongs from Step 4.
Like step 6, this step involves asking for intervention from one’s higher power to deal with shortcomings.
A.A. members compile a list of loved ones and others who were hurt by them no matter how big or small. Harms range from dishonesty to problems of money or stealing to buy alcohol to hurting someone’s feelings and more.
This step requires the A.A. member to deal with the list compiled in step 8. This could range from a face-to-face apology to a written apology or simply leaving the person alone if that’s what would cause the least harm.
This step is the continuation of self-monitoring for any detrimental behaviors and facing up to them immediately.
In this step, A.A. members commit to a spiritual practice that might include Bible reading, meditation, or something else. The spiritual aim of A.A. is to ensure members look to a higher power to maintain sobriety.
In this step, members of A.A. share their messages with others who might benefit.
In addition to the 12 steps, the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous are based on the 12 Traditions. A.A.'s Twelve Traditions are as follows:
The Twelve Traditions of A.A. were written by Bill Wilson or Bill W, a co-founder of A.A. Each A.A. tradition was published one at a time in the AA Grapevine in the late 1940s. The Twelve Traditions we read now are in their "short form," rather than the long form they were originally published in.
Bill believed it was important for the organization to preserve the unity and singleness of purpose.
After receiving many letters from people attending A.A. meetings around the country, he wrote the article asking about anonymity, autonomy, endorsements, and more. Bill believed the people writing to him were excited to have found a program but concerned about some of the issues that had arisen as A.A. grew.
A.A. has helped many people with AUD and other addictions maintain sobriety. The twelve steps and twelve traditions offer an easy way for people to get through each day when sobriety is challenging.
The benefits of the 12 traditions include:
A.A. members focus on the present day. They don’t promise to stop drinking forever, they just commit to getting through the day without alcohol. That’s the only commitment required for an A.A. membership.
A.A. brings people with similar challenges and goals together to discuss their situation and reinforce their mutual desire to abstain from alcohol.
The program offers a framework that is customizable to a person’s individual goals, challenges, and coping strategies.
As a reputable organization, A.A.is a tool used by the courts to prevent overburdening of the docket and give judges a reasonable next step to give those charged with crimes related to alcohol.
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