AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is a worldwide fellowship of men and women, self supporting (free of charge), that allows anyone to walk through the doors or attend a meeting that has a desire to stop drinking.
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AA, short for alcoholics anonymous, is a welcoming community of those trying to live sober. Alcoholics Anonymous is centered around going to meetings, reading the Big Book and doing the 12 steps. There is no right or wrong way to work the AA program. Those that obtain long periods of sobriety typically have the following in common:
- Attend AA meetings weekly (at least two meetings per/week)
- Have a Sponsor (the primary role of a sponsor is to take you, the sponsee, through the big book and the 12 steps)
- Found a home group (a meeting that you consistently attend every week at least once)
- Have a service commitment (setting up chairs, making coffee, greeting fellows at the door, etc.)
The trick is to get in “the middle” of AA and by doing so, you’re less likely to fall back into your old patterns, which is almost always related to some form of isolation. AA keeps you connected with other alcoholics and keeps one out of their own head.
There are no dues or fees. The only requirement for “membership” is the desire to stop drinking. Membership is obtained just by showing up to a meeting. AA is self supporting through member contributions. If you have the means, giving a small donation is recommended at each meeting – as it helps toward paying for rent, literature and daily expenses.
- What you see and hear at AA meetings should stay at meetings. This is because AA is an anonymous program for everyone, including celebrities.
The primary purpose of AA is to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. AA does not teach us how to quit drinking but rather teaches us how to live sober and stay sober on a daily basis. AA does not recruit nor impose its beliefs on anyone. It’s a program of attraction and welcomes anyone who has a desire to stop drinking.
We are united by our common problem with alcohol and together we somehow are able to to abstain from drinking by losing our compulsion to drink. A compulsion that once dominated every aspect of our lives. Alcoholics Anonymous has worked for thousands of people worldwide and continues to work for every newcomer that sincerely tries to work the program. People from all walks of life come to find AA. Some are well into their lives and badly beaten by alcohol’s wrath before finding AA; and others, the fortunate ones, find AA early in life and save themselves from the unmanageability of alcohol.
For most that are alcoholic, alcoholism could accurately be described as a mental obsession with alcohol and a compulsive desire to drink (often at the worst possible of times that baffle common sense). It’s an illness that can’t be cured but can be arrested. Alcoholism is an abnormal craving to drink with no regard for ones health or dignity and most often not knowing when or how to quit.
The biggest crux to alcoholism is that will power alone cannot prevent an alcoholic from drinking. Methods have been tried, promises have been made, but eventually the alcoholic will break towards the bottle against his or her own will power. For the alcoholic, one drink is way too many and one hundred drinks is not enough.
If you are wondering whether or not you are an alcoholic, here are some telltale signs:
- When getting drunk was not your intention
- No longer having fun drinking as you did previously
- Your hangovers (withdrawals) last for over 2+ days
Alcoholics who are forced to stay sober or go cold turkey without the support of a fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous do not enjoy their sobriety and find themselves looking forward to a time when they can drink again. There is a term for this type of sober person – a dry drunk. They tend to be constantly irritable and difficult to be around.
When joining AA, we come to realize that today is the only thing that matters. There comes a sense of relief and a freedom from the grips of drinking. By practicing the 12 steps, we learn to forget about yesterday and not worry about tomorrow. We rearrange our thinking to focus only on the 24 hours ahead.
Those that bring an open-mind and a willingness to Alcoholics Anonymous tend to have the most success. Thinking you will never drink again is a thought pattern to be avoided. AA teaches us to focus on being sober for the next 24 hours and for everyday to wake up with that mentality. There are now millions of people around the world in over 180 countries that are part of the fellowship. You can still go on vacation, anywhere around the world and still be connected.
What doesn’t work
- Just going to meetings, sitting in the back and being the first to leave.
- Not doing the 12 steps with a sponsor.
- Not giving back (getting a sponsee to share your knowledge).