Whether or not you've struggled with an addiction of your own, chances are that you've heard about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is considered to be the grandfather of all group support groups for people recovering from addictions. It's been around for a long time, it’s been studied for its effectiveness, and it continues to help people overcome their addictions.
People who have struggled with addiction often report that AA or any of the other meetings are one of the most effective methods of staying sober. What is it about these support meetings that makes them so effective, though? That's the question that we aim to answer today.
What is AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous is a group support group for recovering addicts. These groups enable recovering addicts to open up and share information, advice, and stories about their experiences in an effort to help each other overcome and beat their addictions.
The groups are not a part of an actual organization, but AA has a website online that has information about the organization and the way meetings are generally run. Each individual AA meeting is run by its own person, and may have different rules or regulations than other AA meetings.
Alcoholics Anonymous groups are known as chapters, and there are different chapters in different locales. The website for AA might give suggestions about how to run a new group, but these rules are not always set in stone and do not reflect the actual goings-on at all the AA meetings in the world.
Who Needs AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous and the other support groups are helpful because addicts often lack the necessary social supports to actually overcome their addiction. Addiction is a very difficult thing to overcome, and it’s especially difficult to overcome on your own. Unfortunately, it’s really hard for a lot of addicts to find social supports because drugs and drug users have a very harsh stigma surrounding them.
Because of the stigma that surrounds drugs and drug users, most addicts aren't able to openly communicate about their addiction. This creates a number of barriers in seeking treatment.
They may not be open to their families, for fear of being rejected or losing privileges. This means that they may not have the financial means necessary to seek help for their addiction.
They may not be open and honest with their friends about their addiction. This will make it much more difficult for someone to actually understand where they stand with their addiction and how severe it is. If a drug addict can't express themselves, they often end up living a life of deception that prevents them from fully understanding their addiction and deciding when they need help.
Drug addicts usually have to keep their addictions hidden from work and school, which can make it difficult for them to attend their studies or their work on a consistent basis.
Do I need AA?
Not everybody needs to go to AA when they struggle with alcohol addiction. However, a lot of rehab facilities will recommend that somebody attends AA as part of an aftercare plan, to help them avoid relapsing and prevent falling back into behaviors that could lead them to relapse.
If you have struggled with alcoholism, and you have tried to quit before and have relapsed, you might need to go to AA. A lot of alcoholics have reported that they relapsed continually, no matter how many methods of rehabilitation they tried. They report that the group environment gives them a purpose and a sense of belonging that encourages them to abstain from alcohol.
Having a group of caring, loving people who are willing to help walk you through your recovery is one of the best ways for you to overcome an addiction. No longer will the problem rest on your shoulders alone - you will have other people counting on you and urging you towards recovery.
This is helpful for another reason - you have people depending on you. If you relapse, you won't only be disappointing yourself, but you'll be disappointing a group of people who have your best intentions at heart and want you to do good for yourself.
What happens at AA?
There are many group supports and they all follow a very similar formula. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin and Cocaine Anonymous, and the majority of group supports that are related to addiction tend to have an itinerary as followed.
Meetings are often facilitated by a group leader, though this leader doesn't actually have a different status than anyone else in the group. They may be the individual who organized the support group, or the person who owns the building that the group is hosted in.