Alcoholics Anonymous

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  September 26 ,
| 4 Sources

Alcoholics anonymous (AA) is a self-help group for alcoholics. It is called alcoholics anonymous because group members are supposed to be anonymous.

They use first names only, and are not supposed to share any information about group members or information discussed in group sessions outside of meetings. Some meetings are “open meetings,” meaning that anyone may attend, but others are “closed meetings,” meaning that only alcoholics are invited.

Alcoholics anonymous is a self-help group, meaning that it is run by alcoholics for alcoholics. It is never run by professionals. A group member who has been attending for a while usually gives a talk, then the meeting is opened up for general discussion. There are other self-help groups for alcoholics, but alcoholics anonymous is by far the most popular.

Alcoholics in the beginning stages of recovery are often advised to attend “90 meetings in 90 days.” This may be in addition to other treatment services.

While alcoholics anonymous is an excellent program, it is often only one component of a successful treatment program. To find out the level of care you need, you should be assessed by a professional. Remember, AA is a self-help group, and should not take the place of professional care.

How Alcoholic Anonymous Can Help

AA meetings can help in many ways:

  1. Alcoholics anonymous can be a vital link to sobriety for some people. The supportive atmosphere and the feeling of camaraderie and working towards sobriety in a group with other alcoholics can be very helpful, especially when combined with professional treatment and counseling.
  2.  Alcoholics anonymous helps people deal with alcohol abuse on a daily basis. There are more than 60,000 AA groups worldwide, so there is likely one near you that you can attend at any time of day or night that suits your schedule, allowing recovering alcoholics to get support from others whenever they may need it most.
  3.  Meeting with others who have been through what you havebeen through can be very helpful. People with alcohol abuse problems might feel isolated or alone, but attending AA groups can help people realize that they are not the only ones going through their struggles and dealing with life's problems as a result of alcohol abuse.
  4.  It provides a program for new members to follow in order to achieve long-term sobriety , which means working the 12 steps of recovery outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous, following all suggestions made by sponsors who have successfully completed the 12 steps, studying literature provided by Alcoholics Anonymous on alcoholism and learning to live each day without using alcohol by making use of tools provided within Alcoholics Anonymous literature.
  5.  It teaches members how to solve problems constructively instead of turning to alcohol.
  6.  Alcoholics anonymous can help save lives, as it provides services that allow members to call another member of the group for a ride home or a place to stay if necessary.
  7.  Many people find support from other recovering alcoholics as they try to navigate their way through recovery and build a new life without an alcohol problem controlling their thoughts and actions
  8.  Members have been able to support each other throughout difficult times by offering comfort and encouragement from those who have been there before.

Attending a Meeting

If you’ve never been to an alcoholics anonymous meeting, you may feel a little nervous about going. That’s only natural. Here’s what to expect if you go.

At the beginning of the meeting, people will go around the room and introduce themselves. They will say, “Hi, I’m Susie, and I’m an alcoholic.” Remember, the group is anonymous, so only first names are used.

After introductions, someone will read the 12 steps. Alcoholics anonymous is based on 12 steps, which, when followed, lead to an addiction-free lifestyle. The 12 steps are at the heart of the alcoholics anonymous program.

Next, someone usually gives a talk. This is a member of AA, generally someone who has been a member for some length of time. The talk is often about one of the 12 steps and how he or she has applied it to his or her life.

After the talk, the meeting will be opened up for discussion. Members can talk about how the talk related to their own lives. AA meetings are unique because members seldom give advice, but simply listen to each other. It may feel odd at first, but it may also be the first time many people have felt that other people have really listened to them.

At some meetings, no one gives a talk, and the meeting is simply a discussion among members. Members may talk about anything they like. They often share their stories with one another. It can be both surprising and comforting to find you are not alone in your experiences.

No one is pressured to talk at meetings. You are free to just listen to others talk. However, in time you will probably feel comfortable sharing some of your own story. The more you put into the group, the more you will get out of it.


Finding an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

There are alcoholics anonymous meetings throughout the U.S., in any large city and in most rural areas as well. There are meetings in many other countries, as well.

Meetings are held at various times of the day.If you live near a large city, chances are you are never far from a meeting.

Are You Looking for Other Alcoholism Treatment Options?

If you think that AA isn't enough to help you, there are many other alcoholism treatments and programs available. Contact a treatment provider today to know more.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More about alcoholics anonomous on our main 12 step program of AA page

Alcoholism home page