What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is a” fellowship of men and woman who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism”. This is taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous was established in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. These men were two “hopeless” alcoholics who discovered a way to stay sober by following 12 basic steps. Dr. Bob’s wife Anne was a devout Christian who helped them write the 12 steps through reading her Bible. It is an anonymous program and does not affiliate itself with any advertising or donations from anyone. It is self supporting through what each member feels able to give at each meeting. Usually a basket is passed around during a meeting and generally a dollar is given by each person. Alcoholics Anonymous has supported itself this way since its beginning in 1935. It is a spiritual fellowship; however it suggests that each member discover their own “higher power” which they may chose to call God if they wish. Many members have a hard time with the concept of God so it is suggested that they use meetings as a higher power. The basic premise is to believe that there is something greater than they are to help achieve sobriety.

Generally there is a chairperson who runs the meeting. The chairperson is elected by the members of the meeting and usually the meetings run for an hour. The Serenity Prayer is spoken at the start of each meeting. The prayer is about finding the courage to change the things you can and accepting what you can’t change. There are different formats such as a speaker meeting where one person will share their story of the struggle with alcoholism and how they became sober. There are step meetings to study each of the 12 steps which give a person ways to live a sober, decent life. Some meetings take a chapter of the Big Book and then discuss their thoughts on it. The Big Book is about the start of Alcoholics Anonymous and stories of men and woman who achieved sobriety. AA offers a variety of reading materials and some meetings use those books as a meeting idea. You are not required to say anything at these meetings, but eventually most people will begin to feel comfortable talking in the group.

Alcoholics Anonymous strongly suggests that each member find a “sponsor” A sponsor is a mentor who is someone you can talk to and will help you go through the 12 steps. If you ever feel like picking up a drink, calling your sponsor is paramount to staying sober. Usually men are sponsors to men and women to women.

Alcoholics Anonymous has had great success with keeping people sober if each person is willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober. In the beginning of sobriety AA suggests that people do 90 meetings in 90 days which sounds impossible but really cements the AA experience. Walking into your first meeting can be difficult; however people are friendly and really care about your sobriety. Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that you will get out of it what you put into it.

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