Alcohol addiction is a physical disease, mental illness, and emotional struggle, and seeking help is often the most challenging part of recovery. Sometimes the fear of failure or the unknown can make people reject the idea of sobriety completely.
The good news is that there are many options for recovery out there, and a life free from addiction is possible. Alongside treatment and therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous can be the best form of support for those hoping to embark on the recovery journey.
By committing to Alcoholics Anonymous, success, happiness, and gratitude are values that can be achieved during the twelve-step recovery process.
What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is one of the oldest programs for modern-day addiction recovery – its roots date back to 1935. Based on the 12-step philosophy, AA is a simple, well-known method that has proved effective for thousands of individuals in helping them to fight the battle of addiction and come through the other side. Meetings are open to everyone of every faith – don’t let the fact that meetings close with the Serenity Prayer confuse you. There has never been a time organized religion played a central role in being sober through the 12-steps.
Some of the main principles of AA are acceptance, hope, faith, and courage. The idea is based on the concept that everybody has physical, mental, and spiritual components. When an addiction arises, alcohol interrupts all three of these areas.
The 12-step program centers around principles, such as:
- Accepting that an individual is living with a problem out of their control.
- A fundamental belief that a higher power, such as God, can aid recovery.
- Reflecting upon past actions which have had negative consequences and making amends
- Taking responsibility for one’s actions.
- Learning new coping mechanisms and attitudes which can support healthier living.
- Giving back to the community by supporting others who are struggling.
What Are the Benefits of AA Meetings?
Incorporating AA meetings into recovery programs offers people a supportive and understanding environment to grow. For many people, attending AA meetings will be the first time they have felt accepted and understood in their addiction. For some people, this can be the catalyst for long-term recovery.
In addition to the above, integrating the 12-step philosophy into treatment, or combining treatment programs with 12-step meetings, can help individuals accept and care for themselves and others without judgment or shame. This safe environment enables individuals to create a strong foundation for their recovery.
The Importance of AA Meetings
Alcohol addiction is the most common addiction in the US, with recent research highlighting that 14.5 million people aged 12 or older had an alcohol addiction. Recovering from this disease takes more than detoxing or refraining from drinking. There is a long journey of recovery which often involves setbacks and significant challenges of tackling the urge to drink.
Staying committed to the goal of lifelong sobriety after treatment has finished can be aided by joining an AA community. The 12-step method is the underpinning of AA meetings which guides individuals to seek mental, physical, and spiritual awakening.
Due to the success of AA in treating alcohol addictions in the United States, the 12-step program is now used worldwide to address a wide range of addictions to substances and behaviors, including drugs and gambling. There are also fellowships for family members affected by alcoholism and addiction.
What Topics Are Covered?
Most people will have their own idea of what AA meetings are like. However, these assumptions can sometimes be based on unhelpful stereotypes or stigmas. It’s common for people to believe that they will need to stand up in front of the group and tell their personal stories. But this is not the reality in AA meetings. It’s a simple program – contempt prior to investigation often is a barrier to recovery.
During AA meetings, the atmosphere is one of safety and security where those in recovery are welcome to share their personal experiences of addiction if they feel inclined to. If they do not feel ready to, they can listen to others. The lack of judgment present in the room can encourage people to feel comfortable in sharing, and often individuals express how similar other peoples’ stories are to their own.
It is also a common misconception that in order to join Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a person must be religious. However, people tend to realize that organized religion is not key to the 12-steps. Instead, sharing the space with others who have been through similar situations can be highly comforting and allow people to be open and trusting in a way they have not been for a long time.
A typical way for AA meetings to begin is by reading the Serenity Prayer or the 12-steps before the meeting diverges into an open discussion on a particular topic.
These topics range from meeting to meeting, but some examples include:
- Gratitude – Gratitude has long been used as an AA meeting topic as it is one of the fundamental pillars of recovery. In the AA calendar, November is considered gratitude month, so it will typically feature as a meeting topic at this time of year.
- Discussion meetings – These meetings will have a set topic picked at random that people will discuss, or will focus around a specific chapter of the Big Book
- One day at a time – This meeting topic is regularly brought up for new members in the group, though it doesn’t only serve the beginners. Long-term members can genuinely benefit from resetting this notion. It’s natural for those in the initial stages of recovery to feel overwhelmed at how to stay sober. So the term “one day at a time” is used to remind those in recovery that taking one day at a time is key to managing the challenges of recovery.
- Triggers – To fully recover and live free from addiction, it’s crucial to know what triggers lead people to drink. Moreover, it is essential to know what to do and how to act when triggers appear. Most AA meetings discuss how people face their triggers with the aid of the program.
- Maintaining sobriety – The primary purpose of those living the AA method is to stay sober and help others in recovery achieve a state of sobriety. This meeting topic may include ways in which the AA method can support people in remaining sober and how they can contribute to others overcoming their alcoholism.
Alcoholics Anonymous Traditions
The Twelve Traditions are guidelines that can strengthen relations between the groups, the members, and the international community. The traditions address several areas, including purpose, communication, finance, and expectations.
The traditions were published in 1946 and referred to as “Twelve Points to Assure Our Future.” You can find them in short and long forms.
What Is Spiritual Awakening?
Defining a spiritual awakening is not straightforward for every person. However, there are some clear indicators that those in recovery are experiencing a personal and spiritual transformation. Some of these indicators include:
- A change in attitude – At the beginning of the recovery journey, it is normal to feel consumed by emotions such as anger, resistance, and fear. However, when a spiritual awakening is encountered, it is easier to accept mistakes, take advice, and support others.
- A change in personality – Accepting one’s emotions, feeling worthy of respect, and recognizing good qualities are signs that someone in recovery is moving forward to a healthier place in their life.
- An improved outlook – Changing perspective on oneself and embracing qualities is a clear sign that someone is experiencing a shift in their attitude. Through newfound self-respect, resentment and jealousy reduce, and joy replaces any negative feelings associated with addiction.
- Feeling able to share and feel emotions – During addiction, some people find it very difficult to admit their feelings or emotions to themselves, let alone those around them. In sobriety, they discover the power of expressing and showing their emotions in a productive and beneficial way.
- Overall increased health and happiness – Numbness, depression, and anxiety are often felt during addiction. Those in recovery often express feeling an intense feeling of being alive in the world.
Joining an AA meeting can be an incredible step in the direction of recovery. Reach out today to find your local group, not only to find sobriety and avoid drinking but also to find a caring, supportive, and understanding community.