Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-profit organization that is open to anyone who with an addiction to alcohol. Members describe themselves as alcoholics trying to stay sober, helping other alcoholics become sober. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson in 1935. Together Wilson and Smith developed the 12-step program that exists to this day.
The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are based on spiritual awareness and developing character. The Twelve Traditions followed by members of the organization, which accompany the Twelve Steps, were introduced in 1946. It was recommended that all members and groups associated with the organization remain anonymous to the public, media, and even other AA members. Participants are to volunteer first names only when attending any Alcoholics Anonymous events or meetings.
All Alcoholics Anonymous groups are self-funded, supported only by donations and volunteers. The guidelines followed by members at meetings and other functions are defined by the “Big Book,” which was originally published by Smith and Wilson in 1939 by the title, “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Recovered from Alcoholism.”
The Big Book is more than 400 pages, describing the personal stories or men who conquered their addictions to alcohol through the workings of the theories provided by Alcoholics Anonymous. Over 30 million copies have been sold, and in 2011, it made Time magazine’s 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923 list.
Though Alcoholics Anonymous is non-denominational, a great amount of the program on based on spirituality to help people battle alcohol addiction and win. Individuals are encouraged to look to their “higher power” for guidance and strength when in search of sobriety. Spirituality is the central aspect of the program that many dedicated members claim to be the basis of maintaining sobriety. The Twelve Steps are largely spirituality-based, coupled with development of life-changing characteristics.
Alcoholics Anonymous members following the Twelve Steps are said to be “working the program.” To “work the program,” members strive to accomplish the goals that the Twelve Steps demand, either literally or spiritually. To truly work the Alcoholics Anonymous steps, individuals enlist a sponsor to help guide them.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Higher Power)
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Alcoholics Anonymous – A Way of Living Life
Committed members of Alcoholics Anonymous and alcohol treatment centres look at the Twelve Steps as a way of living life. If one can live honestly by the steps, one will have the power to remain sober. A sponsor is an intricate aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous. The entire program is based on alcoholics helping other alcoholics.
A sponsor is one who has “worked his program” and lives morally by the Twelve Steps and what they represent. Sponsors serve as mentors in the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship. They assist newly sober individuals understand the principals and workings of the program. Sponsors are meant to help keep at-risk alcoholics on the wagon and attending meetings.
Meetings are made up of groups of individuals who want to remain sober. They come together for support and to share their stories. Speaker Meetings consist of one or two individuals telling the story of their alcoholic life and how Alcoholics Anonymous saved, or continues to save, their lives. These are meant to encourage other alcoholics to keep on track with the program and remain in sobriety through the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
Meetings are available all over the world, in almost every city and town. There are daily and weekly meetings available in numerous locations just about everywhere. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are open to anyone with the desire to get, or remain, sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Rehabs
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), "the 12 Steps is the most effective treatment for alcoholism". Many rehabs work on the principles of AA's 12 Steps.
The recovery program at Hope Trust is also based on the 12 Steps. It is further complimented by competent psychiatric and medical back up. Moreover, there is Yoga, meditation and modern psychological inputs.
Most of the counsellors at Hope Trust are also members of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have "travelled the road", been there and done that. Therefore they have invaluable insight into addiction and empathy for the addict. They are like "sponsors" for those in recovery at the facility.