No one said recovery was easy, and if you’re addicted to alcohol and looking for a new way to beat the bottle, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) might just be a part of your solution. For over 85 years now, AA has helped millions of people stay sober with the support of a fellowship involving working the 12 Steps and later sponsoring others in their own journey from addiction to sobriety.
But what is it that makes AA so special? How does it help people get sober and stay sober when other solutions have failed them? In this article we’ll explore exactly how – from its roots in 1935 up until today – and why many alcoholics turn to AA for help with finding lasting sobriety.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous: AA and Its History
Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as AA, is an organization that provides support to people who struggle with alcohol addiction. It was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both of whom were recovering alcoholics themselves. Their vision was to create a space where individuals could come together to share their experiences, strength, and hope with one another.
The central principle of AA is the belief that alcoholism is a disease and that abstinence from alcohol is the only way to overcome it. Today, AA has grown to become an international community with millions of members worldwide. Despite criticism and controversy over the years, AA remains a valuable resource for individuals seeking to recover from alcohol addiction.
Why Fellowship is a Key to Sobriety in AA
Fellowship is not just a word, it’s a lifeline for those in recovery. It’s that sense of camaraderie and community that gives people the strength and support they need to stay sober. In fact, research has shown that people who have a strong support system in recovery are more likely to succeed in maintaining their sobriety. But fellowship is more than just a group of people who don’t drink or use drugs.
These are people who understand the struggles of addiction, and who offer a listening ear, a helping hand, and a shoulder to cry on when things get tough. Through fellowship, people in recovery can begin to rebuild their lives and create new, positive relationships that help them stay the course. Fellowship is key because it helps people to see that they are not alone, and that together, we can do what we cannot do alone.
The AA Programs is the 12 Steps, Not Just the Meetings
Working the 12 Steps is a journey towards recovery that many have found to be life-changing. Each step is designed to deal with a particular aspect of addiction and help the individual address it head-on. From admitting powerlessness over substances to making amends, each step serves a unique purpose in the recovery process.
By walking through these steps with a supportive community, people find guidance, accountability, and a way forward in their sober journey. While not everyone may follow the 12 Steps, those who do attest to the transformative power of the process. It takes courage, honesty, and vulnerability to work through the steps, but the rewards of lasting sobriety are worth it.
Why Do People Work the Steps in AA?
The truth is working the 12 Steps is difficult. It can definitely uncomfortable, even upsetting at times. It entails a lot of soul search, writing and intimate conversation with a sponsor. So why have tens, if not hundreds of millions of people done it? Because they got a return on their investment. That’s the bottom line. When people say “AA didn’t work for me” 9 times out of 10 it seems it’s a person who only attended meetings. Meetings are helpful, but they are not the entirety of the AA program.
The framework or skeleton of the program is the 12 Steps. Without working them (yes, all 12) you have an incomplete recovery without the profound, cathartic change that comes from the stepwork. That is not to say that AA is for everyone. Some people find success in recovery in other ways and that’s great. The point is that, if you choose to try the AA way, be prepared to do the deal. You cannot expect the results if you don’t do the work. It’s that simple. The same is true of any AA alternative, like Rational Recovery or SMART Recovery.
Sponsorship and Service
Sobriety is a journey that nobody has to take alone. Sponsoring someone else in their sobriety journey not only helps them, but it can also provide even more benefits for your own journey. It’s no secret that helping others can give us a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and this is especially true in the realm of sobriety. By taking on the role of a sponsor, you get the opportunity to share your own experiences and lessons learned, which can reinforce your own commitment to sobriety.
Additionally, you may find that the act of sponsoring someone else helps you stay accountable to your own sobriety goals, as you become a role model for someone else in need. Ultimately, sponsoring someone else in their journey can be a powerful way to deepen your own connection to sobriety and build a supportive community around you.
Sobriety Begins With Decision and Action
You’ve no doubt heard the old saying about a journey of 1000 miles beginning with one step. When you look at sobriety as a whole, or the idea of abstaining from alcohol and drugs forever, it can seem impossible. Overwhelming.
The truth is that every person who began a life in recovery felt that same way. It makes no difference if they have 10, 20, 30 years or more in recovery today. Their journey began just the way yours will. With a single decision to get help and the action of reaching out for it. Why not take that action right now?