What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?
What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?
Founded in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is a group therapy organization centered around sobriety.1 Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, has religious roots and core values but doesn’t impose or restrict religious faith. There are millions of AA members worldwide, and the program is known for being the first treatment dedicated to alcoholism, especially in the group therapy sector.
AA was started by Dr. Bob Smith, also known as Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson, also known as Bill W. Both men were recovering alcoholics themselves. They quickly realized the best way to maintain their sobriety was to help others overcome alcohol dependence. Both men claimed to have had a spiritual awakening before meeting each other and that the awakening was the catalyst for their sobriety.1
Together they compiled “The Big Book,” which serves as a code of conduct, instruction manual, and resource for its members. In their later years, both founders stepped away from the face of the organization as they began to feel the spotlight was on them, which contradicts the anonymous nature of AA. Today, AA is the most well-known form of alcohol treatment.
What Is a Dual Diagnosis?
How Alcoholics Anonymous Works
Alcoholics Anonymous treatment uses group therapy to cultivate an open, honest, and judgment-free safe space.2 Members share their first name and then tell their story, express concerns about their alcoholism, and otherwise seek guidance from their peers. The meetings are typically run by a senior member of the organization who has maintained their sobriety for an extended period.
In sharing their life stressors and problems with drinking, people can talk about things that they may feel shame or embarrassment toward in their day-to-day lives. Additionally, being surrounded by people who have the same issues often yields more nuanced and practical advice.
Alcoholics Anonymous treatment is also known for its 12-Step recovery program.2 The 12-Steps are designed to lead people to accept, forgive, and move past their dependency. The 12-Steps of AA have no set time frame. And in times of cravings, a person can revisit the steps and core principles of AA.
Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous
The 12-Step Program Alcoholics Anonymous
What to Expect at a 12-Step Meeting
12-Step meetings have different focuses and can be split into four types.3
- Beginners: Beginner sessions are focused on newcomers to the group. The meeting is spent discussing what brought a person to AA and what they want from the program. It’s also the place to learn general information about AA and what it takes to maintain sobriety.3
- Discussion: An Alcoholics Anonymous group discussion meeting is led by a senior group member. The attendees choose from a list of objects revolving around AA core principles and teachings. This format helps members apply AA teachings to the woes and gain clarity for life’s challenges. These meetings are also beneficial for members that have experienced relapse and need to find their way to sobriety.3
- Speaker: Speaker meetings are centered around the experiences of pre-selected members. These members share what it was like when they were dependent on alcohol, what caused them to seek help, and how their lives changed. These meetings excel in fostering an open environment for new members to speak and learn from AA.3
- Big Book: Big Book meetings are centered around the 12-Steps. Each step is discussed at a rate of one to two steps per week. Gaining a deeper understanding of each of the individual steps gives a member a better chance of fulfilling the requirements of each one.3
Closed vs. Open Meetings
Open meetings are available for new members and anyone seeking help with their alcohol dependency. Observers seeking to gain more insight into the program can also attend open meetings.3
The Big Book was first written in 1939 and has undergone four editions, with the most recent being in 2001. The big book is a manual for AA members. It details the core principles and goes in-depth about Alcoholics Anonymous. Every member has a copy of The Big Book, and meeting leaders will reference it during discussions.
How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Help and Will It Be a Good Fit for You?
“How does Alcoholics Anonymous help?” is a common question for people that aren’t sure where to begin. If you or anyone you know is experiencing the signs of alcoholism, then AA may be the solution. Here are a few signs that mean it’s time to get help.
If You Decide to Stop Drinking
Has Your Drinking Caused Trouble at Home?
It’s challenging to maintain relationships when alcoholism is in the way. Alcohol consumption comes with an inevitable withdrawal period. During this time, the brain produces low amounts of serotonin, dopamine, and other mood-stabilizing chemicals.4 The result is irritability, depression, and aggression that can manifest as angry outbursts. These factors can strain relationships as a person becomes increasingly unreliable.4 Plus, emotional stress that comes from living with alcoholism impacts everyone in the household.
Have You Missed Days of Work Because of Drinking?
Do You Have Blackouts?
Blackouts happen because alcohol impairs the prefrontal cortex and prevents the brain from storing new memories.5 During a blackout, a person can’t control their actions, think logically, and have trouble breathing. It’s important to note that blacking out while drinking is not a regular occurrence. And experiencing them frequently is a sure sign of alcohol dependency. Blackouts can also cause law enforcement to get involved with public indecency charges, DUIs, public intoxication, and a slew of others.
Blackout drinking can also lead to hypoxia, a condition where the central nervous system is severely depressed and unable to process oxygen. This results in a person taking in air but being unable to breathe. Hypoxia can be fatal or lead to long-term brain damage.6
Have You Ever Felt That Your Life Would Be Better if You Didn’t Drink?
Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Treatments
What Alcoholics Anonymous Does Not Do
Furnish Initial Motivation for Alcoholics to Recover
Engage In or Sponsor Research
Keep Attendance Records or Case Histories
Engage in Education About Alcohol
Provide Domestic or Vocational Counseling
Assign Sponsors to Run Your Life
They are there for the times you need someone to talk with to prevent drinking. While sponsors are available 24/7 for extreme emergencies, they will have boundaries about when you can’t contact them. Under these guidelines, a student/teacher relationship is born that can last for years. Even members with years of sobriety under their belt have a sponsor.
Is Alcoholics Anonymous Effective?
The short answer is yes. AA has been proven to be one of the most effective treatments for alcohol dependency. It has a higher success rate than standalone therapy, prescription medicine, and more. What draws people into the program is their individual want to overcome dependency. But what keeps them there is the shared belief that no one can overcome the illness alone. It’s worth mentioning that the organization also has groups dedicated to other substance abuse such as cocaine, heroin, etc. As long as the end goal is sobriety from dependency, AA is a good option.
Through tried and proven use of group therapy, support systems, Alcoholics Anonymous intervention, and rules, the organization helps millions reach and maintain sober living. If you’re looking for an AA meeting, reach out to your local clinics or google “Alcoholics Anonymous, where to find nearby” for local results. You can also use us as a resource for overcoming dependency. Like AA, Alta Centers is dedicated to your recovery and employs a team of experts to better the odds.
The Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous
Learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous treatment and its multitude of benefits. There are no Alcoholics Anonymous requirements. There are no annual dues or monthly fees for AA. This opens the organization up to people who don’t have funds for AA meetings. It also prevents any misconceptions towards the goals of Alcoholics Anonymous.
There is No Obligation to Join
People can attend meetings sporadically until they feel comfortable committing to their recovery. No one will keep track of their attendance. A person can come and observe how AA meetings work, the culture of AA, and more without any pressure to become a member.
You Can Go to Any Meeting in Any Location
You don’t have to worry about transferring between AA chapters. There’s no internal restriction between meetings. This allows you to attend AA after moving, on vacation, or whatever the reason.
It Creates a Network of Support
The biggest benefit of a group therapy atmosphere like AA is the support system. A person gains a support system that understands their troubles personally. Plus, it helps people relearn how to make healthy relationships.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the few resources available to anyone suffering from alcohol dependency. The program shows no signs of slowing down, and more and more chapters pop up worldwide to help those in need. The long history of AA and its high effectiveness make it the best option for people looking for recovery. If you want information about your local AA chapter, reach out to us and learn more.
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What is an Intervention?
In a situation involving substance use disorder, planning an intervention may be the best, and safest, option to help someone who is living with an addiction. So, what does intervention mean? An intervention is a strategically planned process of confronting the person who is living with addiction about the consequences of their actions while simultaneously encouraging them to accept help and treatment for their addiction.1
The key feature of an intercession is that while it can be an immensely helpful option in convincing a person that they should seek treatment, it should not be done solely by friends and family members. Without the aid of a specialist, or someone who is equally trained in the process of interventions, an intervention may do more harm than good.
An intervention specialist is someone that has been professionally trained in helping people break free from their addictions. They can help a person without judgment, emotions, or blame to understand how their actions are negatively impacting themselves and those that they care about.
When performed properly, without judgment or pressure, and with the aid of a qualified intercession specialist, 80-90% of substance use interventions are successful in convincing the patient to seek help.
Treatment is more effective the earlier that it begins for an alcohol or drug abuse disorder. As with any other health condition, early intervention and treatment can prevent more significant problems further on in life.
Unfortunately, in many cases, an alcohol addiction intervention or a drug abuse intercession does not take place until most other options have been exhausted. It can be difficult for those struggling with a substance use disorder to realize or admit that they need help.
It often takes a life-altering event, such as a divorce, loss of employment, or a housing crisis for a person to be willing to seek treatment. Because early
alcohol and drug intercession can be so beneficial, first responders must be able to recognize the symptoms of substance abuse.3
What is a Nursing Intervention?
Nursing interventions are often the first time a patient will experience care for their disorder. It takes place when someone enters a care facility such as a clinic or hospital for a condition that may or may not be caused or exacerbated by their substance use disorder.
After initial evaluation and stabilization, a nurse will take action to help their patient by suggesting healthy physical or emotional coping mechanisms for a patient that wants to quit using the substance that they are addicted to. The nurse will also be able to offer education and information to the patient about other treatment facilities or care providers that can help them on their road to recovery.
A Further Look at Interventions
Nearly 50% of adults in America regularly drink alcohol, and it is believed that as many as 25% of those Americans have an alcohol addiction, most commonly in the form of binge drinking. In many situations, once a person with an alcohol use disorder realizes the way that alcohol is negatively impacting their life, they can reduce the amount that they drink, or even quit entirely, without outside assistance.
However, some people that have an alcohol use disorder are unable to see how their addiction is negatively affecting them. In this situation, an alcohol use intercession can be extremely beneficial. Some of the benefits of interventions include:
A Further Look at Interventions
Over nineteen million adults struggle with a drug abuse disorder and of those, nearly 74% also struggle with a co-existing alcohol abuse disorder. Drug abuse and addiction can be a much harder disorder to recover from than alcohol addiction, particularly due to the high rate of co-use that most people with a substance use disorder experience.
In many cases, suddenly stopping the use of an illicit substance can be just as harmful, if not more so than using the substance itself. The side effects and withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience when they decide to stop using a substance can be severe and at times life-threatening.
Luckily, substance use is a highly treatable disorder and several medications can help a person wean off of illicit substances in a safe, sustained, and monitored manner. A drug abuse intervention can help someone realize that they have options and that they can recover safely and healthily.
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