Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide communal support community with the avowed rationale of empowering its associates to “stay abstemious and help other alcoholics achieve abstinence.” AA is an informal, self-sufficient, and apolitical organization. The only condition/requirement to become a member of AA is a desire of becoming sober.
AA was established in Akron, Ohio; during the year 1935, when Bill Wilson, an alcoholic, spoke with Bob Smith, another alcoholic; about a possible way to give up alcohol addiction, given the nature of alcoholism.
In 1939, a book named: “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism” was written. The name of the organization: Alcoholics Anonymous; has been derived from the title of this book.
Ever since, the number of members of Alcoholics Anonymous has increased multifold across the globe. These members hail from varied ethnicities, including those conventional cultures which have been resistant to change in ideologies.
The book is now renowned as: “The Big Book”. Popularly referred to as “The Big Book” (its first 164 pages having remained intact since 1939), it emphasizes on a 12-step program, according to which the members must come to terms with the fact that they are helpless when it comes to dealing with their addiction to alcohol and that they need assistance from a “superior power”. By means of prayer, they seek inner strength to remove all flaws from their respective personalities; make amends to strained relationships; and help other alcoholics pull through.
The book’s second half: “Personal Stories” is comprised of Alcoholics Anonymous’ members’ chronicles, which relate to the challenges they came across while giving up alcohol and how they eventually became fully abstinent and sober.
Initiated in 1946, The Twelve Traditions aimed at helping the AA camaraderie become steady and united while remaining detached from external problems, influences and authorities.
In accordance with the Traditions, the members of AA are supposed to remain anonymous before the civic media, selflessly lend a hand to other alcoholics struggling with addiction and steer clear of associations with other firms/businesses/corporations/institutions. As per these traditions, the members are not supposed to be part of hierarchies which make use of force and discrimination.
Following are the 12 Steps as mentioned in the AA Big Book:
AA meetings are seemingly-sanctified, healing sessions, which are conducted by alcoholics and are meant for alcoholics. These meetings, more often than not, are casual and feature discussion of experiences with collection of voluntary donations being undertaken during the meetings.
Weekly AA meetings may be classified into: “Closed”,“Open”, ”Speaker/Gratitude”,”Big Book” and “12-Step” meetings.
Local AA directories’ listed “Closed” meetings have been made available to those who have avowed to stop drinking. This claim cannot be questioned by another member under any circumstances or for any reason whatsoever.
“Open” meetings have been made available to all, i.e., even non-alcoholics can attend these meetings as observers.
At “Speaker“/”Gratitude” meetings, member(s) from the AA group of a neighboring town/district/city share her/his/their experiences pertinent to abstinence from alcohol use.
At “Big Book” meetings, members of the group present, take turns to read passages from the Big Book; which is followed by discussing how they relate to what they have read and sharing relevant experiences.
At “12-Steps” meetings, the members of the group usually split into sub-groups depending on which phase/stage of the 12-step program they are presently at. They are then motivated to progress towards the next stage/step of the 12-step-program
In addition to these common meeting types, there are other kinds of discussion meetings too, which assign more time to general discussion and experience sharing.
A relationship between a higher attendance of Alcoholic Anonymous meetings which emphasize on prayer/meditation/spirituality and a reduction in the regularity and intensity of alcohol use has been established. The study which was conducted long back; also established that AA was effective at helping agnostics and atheists in becoming sober too. The authors concluded that though spirituality has been a significant means of behavioral metamorphosis for many alcoholics, it is not the only one.