Alcoholics Anonymous is a group of men and women who get together to talk about their experiences, courage, and hope in an attempt to fix their shared issue and help others recover from alcoholism.
The only criterion for joining is an incentive to stop drinking. A.A. membership has no dues or fees; we support ourselves through our own resources. A.A. is not affiliated with any sect, church, politics, organization, or institution; it does not seek to participate in the debate; it does not support or oppose any ideas. The main goal is to stay sober while also assisting other alcoholics.
Why is Alcoholics Anonymous so successful?
I think it is important first to define exactly what we mean by “success.” In A.A., success means those who recover from alcoholism. There are two basic reasons for the high rate of recovery found among A.A.’s:
• Alcoholics Anonymous members enter into a new relationship with a Power greater than themselves that enables them to remain sober;
• Through sponsorship and attendance at meetings, A.A.s spread the message of recovery to other alcoholics.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The majority of A.A. members who achieve sobriety do so by first coming into contact with the program (either directly or indirectly) while they are experiencing a crisis related to their alcoholism. It is then that they are introduced to the program’s basic message: Alcoholics can achieve and maintain sobriety through reliance upon a Power greater than themselves.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which describe this relationship with a Power greater than oneself, are essential to understanding A.A.’s success as well as its limitations. The Twelve Steps are here used as a program of recovery from alcoholism. Taken as a whole, they lead us on a journey of self-discovery, a pilgrimage in which we submit ourselves to a rigorous moral and spiritual discipline designed to help us become aware of the reality and power of God. The emphasis on submitting oneself to something greater than one’s self is an essential element of A.A.’s success.
Sponsorship and attendance at meetings.
Alcoholics who have been sober for a period of time in A.A. are encouraged to sponsor newcomers. The hope is that by sharing their experience, strength, and hope with another alcoholic, the newcomer will be able to achieve sobriety. The process of sponsorship involves three stages:
• The First Stage is that of “attraction.” Here the prospect expresses an interest in A.A. and a desire for help. The sponsor provides information about A.A., discusses his or her own drinking history, and gives a “brief,” or summary, of A.A.’s program;
• The Second Stage is that of “persuasion.” If the prospect decides he or she wants to become sober, the next step involves actually working the program. Approval for this comes from another A.A. member who has been sober for a longer period of time. This person is called a “twelve-step sponsor,” and in this stage the newcomer decides upon his or her own twelve-step sponsor;
• The Third Stage is that of “completion.” In this final stage, the recovering alcoholic has achieved sobriety and is encouraged to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
We see here that one of A.A.’s key strategies for promoting sobriety is the sponsorship process. The idea behind the sponsorship is “identification with the cured.” That is to say, if someone who was formerly alcoholic can identify with another alcoholic, he or she can help him or her achieve sobriety by relating his or her own experience and suggesting a course of action: the Twelve Steps. Thus within A.A., identification with the cured is used as an instrument for curing.
Alcoholics Anonymous members hold meetings; some of these are “Speakers’ Meetings,” while others are “Discussion Meetings.” A Speaker’s Meeting consists of a member telling his or her story of alcoholism and recovery. Discussion Meetings, on the other hand, offer the opportunity for members to discuss problems they are having with alcohol or their lives in general. The advantage of Speaker’s Meetings is that they provide a source of hope: if a recovered alcoholic can quit drinking through A.A., then so can I. The advantage of Discussion Meetings, on the other hand, is that they are designed to help members solve problems they are having with alcohol or life in general.
Alcoholics Anonymous, by encouraging identification with the cured and promoting a spiritual program of recovery designed to help members achieve sobriety through reliance upon God, has succeeded in helping many alcoholics achieve and maintain abstinence. If you are interested, call us today at 302-842-2390 and get started.