When you decide that you want to get sober and find addiction treatment, you may feel alone, isolated, and lost. Many active alcoholics and addicts have been so caught up in their disease, that they lose relationships with family and friends, which makes navigating the world sober lonely and terrifying. But there are programs and groups whose main purpose is to help people find recovery from their addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of these groups, and with meetings and places of fellowship in every country in the world, they are the largest network of recovering alcoholics and addicts whose main purpose is to help the alcoholic and addict who still suffers.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping addicts and alcoholics find recovery and stay sober since 1935 when founder Bill Wilson sat at his kitchen table with Dr. Bob Smith, another alcoholic, and they talked about their experience with drinking and getting sober. They had both experienced a spiritual awakening and been able to quit drinking by following a set of guidelines that promoted principles like living in the day, rigorous honesty, and unselfishness. That was the first AA meeting and the method by which they found sobriety soon became the Twelve Steps.
The Program of Recovery: The Twelve Steps
Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith used their experience of having a spiritual awakening, and took the principles that they found worked to gain sobriety and wrote out what has become “The Twelve Steps.” These steps are the foundation of the program of recovery that Alcoholics Anonymous strives to bring to those who suffer from addiction. They are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives were manageable
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
- Became entirely ready to have him remove all these defects of character
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
- Made a list of all persons we had wronged and became willing to make amends to them all
- Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out
- After having a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
It’s important to note that these steps are “suggestions.” There are no rules in AA, and it’s suggested that when you go through the steps that you should do it together with another alcoholic who has been through them before.
Fellowship Meetings: You Are Not Alone
While Alcoholics Anonymous follows a program of recovery called The Twelve Steps, there is a second, but no less important part to it – meetings. AA meetings are where groups of alcoholics and addicts come together and form a fellowship. People here talk about what happened when they were drinking or using, how they were able to get sober, and how their lives have changed. By sharing their experience, strength, and hope with each other, these people are able to help one another move towards recovery.
There are many different AA meetings – open, closed, men only, women only, speaker meetings, discussion meetings, and even literature meetings, where members will read a passage from a piece of AA literature, and discuss how it is relevant to their lives and experiences. Meetings are where newcomers can go and find a group of people who know exactly what it feels like to start getting sober, and who have also found a solution to their addiction. They help each other through tough times, by sharing their experience. But more than that, it’s a safe place for a newly sober alcoholic or addict to go and find other like-minded people who know what it’s like.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a program and fellowship for any alcoholic or addict who wants to get sober. It has worked for people since 1935, and it keeps saving lives. Most importantly, when we decide to get sober, AA provides a safe space for us, with people who understand what you’re going through. Addiction and alcoholism is a dark, lonely road. But by working a program of recovery and attending fellowship through Alcoholics Anonymous, you don’t have to be alone anymore.