Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that was started in the late 1930’s. It is designed to assist individuals who struggle with the addiction of alcohol, as well as their partners, relatives, friends, and others who are affected by the addiction.If you have a drinking problem, and are reading this, chances are that you have come to know and understand that alcoholism can affect every area of your life.
In AA literature you will read ‘You may be experiencing difficulties with your career, your relationships, your social life, your finances, and maybe even your spiritual life. If you have the desire to eliminate the need for alcohol from your life, you do not have to struggle alone, Alcoholic Anonymous will provide the support, motivation, encouragement, and resources needed to overcome your addiction’.
Alcoholism As Defined by Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholism is a devastating illness that integrates itself into every area of the sufferer’s life. This organization believes that the addict has little, to absolutely no control, from the illness. The body and the mind of the sufferer are not properly balanced, or healthy.
It is believed that as a person continues to drink, their tolerance level to the alcohol increases, which means that they must consistently increase the amount that they consume in order to experience the same effects as they have in the past.
In addition to this, it is not uncommon for the sufferer to experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- The addict will feel as if their confidence level is heightened. Individuals who lack self-esteem and the ability to properly interact with others often resort to drinking in order to gain the confidence that is required to do this.
- Being dishonest about if, when, and how much alcohol is consumed is another symptom of the illness.
- Many individuals who are addicted to alcohol will start to perform poorly at work, in social activities, personal relationships, and other areas of their life.
The Benefits of Becoming a Member of Alcoholic Anonymous
This program does not force unrealistic expectations upon the members. As a matter of fact, it encourages members to take things “one day at a time”. There are twelve steps that each member is encouraged to participate in. It is believed that if the alcoholic follows these steps, they will successfully recover from the illness that has burdened them, and the life that they live.
The Down Side to Being an Alcoholic Anonymous Member
My opinion (and experience) of AA is that it serves a useful purpose for the first 90 days. After this time I always suggest that the newly recovering alcoholic uses the meetings sparingly. I do this because alcoholics anonymous does not promote growth and personal development.
They take the view that all goal setting and ambition is a bad thing due to their belief that the recovering alcoholic must be sheltered from experiencing the disappointment of not achieving a goal or ambition.
Well I’m sorry but life is full of disappointments and letting people stand still for fear of them not being able to cope with life’s future knocks is just not realistic.
People in recovery need to be given coping strategies not a bucket of sand to bury their head in!
Another of the distinct disadvantages to the program is the concept behind “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”. Many find this disheartening because they work so hard to achieve recovery, and then, even when they have not had a drink in years, they are still referred to as an “alcoholic”.
Many individuals also have a hard time with the “religious” aspect of the fellowship program offered by this program.
Many members have an issue with the concept of a “relapse” being an important part of the recovery process. To some, it almost seems like “permission” to drink again, and to come back over and over again.
Last but not least, the success of Alcoholics Anonymous is difficult to assess for the reason that membership is of course anonymous. Many professionals believe however that the failure rate is very high when measured over a three year period. Without a full program of recovery in place outside of AA, a long term success rate of less than 5% is widely accepted as realistic (unless you ask AA members of course who will claim they are the only system that works!)
AA is an effective program in the very early stages. We have heard success stories for years about individuals who were beaten down by alcoholism but then recovered and have gone on for years and years without a drink. The numbers for this sort of recovery using AA alone are small but they do exist.
As we can see there are a few “negative” aspects to the program. However if you are an alcoholic, or know an alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous may be a consideration in order to cope and overcome the obstacles that you, or your loved ones, face but keep your mind open to other solutions.
If you’re not ready to visit an AA meeting then there are some alcoholic anonymous chat rooms available on the net.