Alcoholics Anonymous is an international community of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It’s unprofessional, self-sustaining, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or educational requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their alcohol problem.
Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA as it is commonly known, has been around since it was founded in 1935 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio. The expansion of the program from a meeting between two alcoholics on June 10, 1935 received a boost with the publication of the book. Anonymous alcoholics, known as The Big Book, and a 1941 article in the Saturday evening post about the group.If youIf you
The rich history of the early days of the creation of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement has been recorded by archivist Mitchell K. in a number of articles available online.If youIf you
Who can take part?
Alcoholism and drug addiction are often referred to as “substance abuse” or “chemical addiction”. Therefore, alcoholics and non-alcoholics are sometimes introduced to AA and encouraged to attend AA sessions.
Anyone can take part in open AA meetings. An open session is public, while a closed session is reserved for members only.
Only those with a drinking problem are allowed to attend closed sessions or become AA members. People with problems other than alcoholism are only eligible for AA membership if they also have an alcohol problem.If youAccording to AA traditions, the only qualification for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
What AA does
AA members share their experiences with anyone seeking help with an alcohol problem. They offer personal service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic who comes to AA from any source. The AA program outlined in the Twelve Steps is an opportunity for alcoholics to lead satisfactory, alcohol-free lives. This program is discussed at AA group meetings.If youIf you
People who have never attended an AA meeting may have misconceptions about how they work based on depictions they may have seen in movies or on television.
Open AA meetings that anyone can attend are typically “speaker meetings” where an AA member shares their story – how it was, what happened, and what it is now. However, most AA meetings are closed members-only meetings.
A typical AA meeting is a thematic discussion meeting. The person chairing the meeting selects a topic and members take turns sharing their experiences on the topic. Some AA meetings are set up for a specific purpose, such as B. 12-step study groups or beginners’ meetings to teach newcomers the basics of the program.
There are several studies that have shown that people who have participated in mutual support groups are more likely to remain abstinent than those who have tried to quit “alone”.
There are several studies that show that people looking for professional treatment or advice for their alcohol problems get better results when they combine participation in AA with their outpatient or inpatient treatment program.
A new study published in the Cochrane Library found that AA and 12-step groups can lead to higher rates of continuous abstinence over months and years compared to treatment approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy.If youIf you
Is AA for you?
Faith-based programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are clearly not for everyone. Although millions of people claim they have made permanent recovery at AA, the spiritual aspect of the program can be a stumbling block for some looking to quit drinking.
Can AA Help You? The only way to find out is to try it out for yourself and see if the help and support of others struggling with the same problem will help you stay sober. AA has no fees or charges, so it doesn’t cost you anything to attend a meeting. The effects of AA can best be seen when a correct “dose” is given, typically 90 sessions in 90 days. Attempting a few meetings is not an appropriate test.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
How to find a meeting
Alcoholics Anonymous is usually listed in the white pages of most local phone books. Call your local number for information about meetings in your area. Headquarters, intergroup or answering machine numbers around the world are available on the AA World Services website. There are also many online meetings.
A word from Verywell
It’s also important to note that the effectiveness of a meeting depends on finding a meeting that works for you. There are many different types of meetings for different demographics. For example, an intercity group of AA members who are largely homeless is unlikely to help a young mother with alcohol problems.
You really have nothing to lose if you try.