Alcoholics Anonymous: How Does It Work?

A free treatment program, A.A. helps members achieve and maintain sobriety

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The Beauty of A.A. © Getty Images

When alcohol consumption begins causing problems at work, school, home, as well as socially, financially, and perhaps even legally, it becomes dangerous. If you or a loved one is consuming alcohol to excess, you may be wondering about the well-known 12-step program called Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and if it might be an effective method to achieve sobriety.  

A.A. has helped millions of people since it was founded in 1935.

It is designed to help participants find and maintain abstinence from alcohol, often with the help of a sponsor who TK. It is free to become a member, and meetings are often held in public spaces such as schools or churches. The only requirement to join A.A. is a desire to quit drinking. The program emphasizes a higher power, which each member is free to define in their own way. The first step of the program is admitting that you are powerless over your alcohol use and that your life has become unmanageable. From this point, A.A. espouses, recovery can begin.  

By working the principles of the 12 steps into all parts of their lives, many A.A. members find they can develop the tools and attitudes they need to remain sober. While the program has a long track record of helping alcoholics transition to sobriety, some people may also need the professional assistance of a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional.

 

Lisa's Story: The Beauty of A.A.

I believe I have remained sober because the 12 steps helped me to live with myself, but I have to agree that they did not get me sober. In fact, by the time I entered treatment I had been "dry" for about six weeks. They admitted me under a depression diagnosis because health insurance argued that I didn't need treatment to stop drinking.

But you are right, I had already surrendered. I had been whipped, left a path of destruction in my wake, and had no earthly idea how to pull myself together.

'Good Healthy Living'

For me that has been the beauty of A.A. The steps really are suggestions in good healthy living. Once sober, I realized that people I knew who had reasonably manageable lives practiced similar approaches to their lives, yet they had never been exposed to a 12-step program.

I was pretty clueless about what constituted good mental health, but I knew that I was not the product of a healthy household. My introduction to the 12 Steps marked the first time that life had ever made sense so I could begin to live with myself.

Did Not Have to DO Those Things

And the 12 Traditions, once I was over the idea that they were merely A.A.'s rules and regulations, taught me something about living with others. But that may be another discussion.

Point is, the person I was would have continued to drink, would have continued to get in her own way, would have fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole. The 12 Steps helped me to become someone who did not have to do all those things anymore.

-- Lisa

Find an A.A. Meeting

If you are struggling trying to maintain long-time sobriety, you might want to try an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and learn more about how the 12 steps work. You can find a meeting in your area, or participate in an online meeting.

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