Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1935 by two recovering alcoholics, Bill W (William Griffith Wilson) and Dr. Bob (Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith). They were the first to put forward the idea that alcoholism was a treatable disease to a national audience. They also wrote the “Big Book” that is the cornerstone for Alcoholics Anonymous.
The twelve steps outlined in the Big Book are now famous:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
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.
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, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
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.
While many of these twelve steps have religious overtones, remember that this was written in a time when religion, specifically Christian religion, permeated American society much more than it does today. Today, Alcoholics Anonymous realizes that many people are either not practicing their religion, they’re atheistic, or they may practice a non-Christian religion.
AA doesn’t care what you decide the “Power greater than ourselves” isjust that you realize you are not alone.
At any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting there are people at every stage of recovery, from Day 1 to people with decades and decades of sobriety. Most Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are for members onlythat’s one way they help create a safe, Anonymous environment. But there are also occasional “open meetings”, where members may bring spouses, relatives or friends. People will speak about the AA process, how they discovered it, and how it has affected them.
In the more traditional “closed” meetings, it’s alcoholics only. This is a chance for the alcoholic to ask for help, ask sometimes pointed questions, but also to get answers. You may think you’re the only one who’s had a particular problem, but you’ll find someone else has conquered that before, and is willing to show you how.
The only requirement to join Alcoholics Anonymous is a desire to stop drinking. AA is a non-profit organization that does not have membership dues or fees. At most meetings a basket is passed around to help offset the cost of meeting treats, coffee, or hall rental. Contributions are gratefully accepted but not expected. You contribute what you can, when you can.
For many people looking to kick the alcohol habit, Alcoholics Anonymous is the supportive lifeline they need to take that first step back into sobriety.