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Alcoholics Anonymous

Posted by Tony Mellor on Friday, November 27th, 2009

Hello there everyone!

I have come across this website whist browsing the internet and it has made me think about the way the American’s look at Alcoholics Anonymous.

This is how they explain it:

For the past 60 years, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been the most common and often the only form of care for alcohol and other substance use problems. Of the various mutual assistance groups, including Smart Recovery and Narcotics Anonymous, AA is by far the most widely available. AA meetings include frank, open, honest discussion about all aspects of dealing with recovery - both the pains experienced during periods of substance use and the positive experiences brought by recovery. AA charges no fees. Its meetings are not just for alcoholics - people with all substance use problems are welcome. Some meetings permit smoking, many do not. A volunteer makes coffee for the one-hour sessions, and a volunteer chair typically begins by telling his or her story of personal recovery and then opening the meeting. Individuals then raise their hands and ask to share either a problem they are having or a positive experience that their recovery has brought them. There is no criticism in AA, and nobody’s statements or issues are derided. All issues and comments are treated with respect and confidentiality.

Is AA treatment?
No. AA is simply a mutual help organization. Many of those who have entered into recovery have done so simply by attending AA meetings without formal treatment. Many others have used AA as a form of continuing care to keep them sober following formal treatment.

Is AA a religious group?
No. While spiritual (not religious) elements are part of many groups this is not universal. Many AA members believe that getting in touch with their spirituality is a key to their recovery - but not all share this view. There is no requirement for religious or even spiritual involvement in AA.

Is AA only for alcoholics?
No. AA is for anyone who has a substance use problem, regardless of diagnosis or level of severity and has an interest in attaining sobriety and remaining sober. Most of those who attend AA meetings have multiple substance use problems.

What are the 12 steps?
The 12 steps discussed in AA meetings and writings involve the steps suggested by the collective experience of those in recovery that lead to development of an honest, helping, forgiving lifestyle - the kind of life that is inconsistent with addiction.

Is there anything besides just talk?
Yes, most of those who attend AA meetings meet other recovering people and join them socially for coffee and meals and other social events. AA meetings also can lead to connections to jobs, affordable housing, good places to eat and so forth. In this way, AA meetings serve social and day-to-day needs for people in recovery and help them meet their everyday challenges.

Where can I find an AA meeting?
There is a posted AA directory on the Internet and local schedules are available in most treatment programs. Just about every town has one or more churches that dedicate a meeting room to AA meetings several times per day and per week.

Following on from this, is an American perspective on recovery:
Successful recovery from a chronic disease requires a lot of effort on the part of the patient. A person with a chronic illness should learn as much as possible about the condition and what they can do to help in their own recovery. Work with your providers to develop a recovery plan, and then stick to it. If medication is part of the treatment, take it as directed and don’t stop it before talking with your doctor. Be diligent about attending therapy or support group sessions. If you have friends or family members who are willing and able to help, let them know what they can do to help. Ultimately, your recovery is going to depend on the work you do with treatment professionals and your personal relationships.

12-step programs/spirituality - their role and value as a complement to treatment:
There is no question that people who regularly attend support group meetings and “work the program” are more likely to recover and less likely to relapse. Many people are able to recover through participation in 12-step and other mutual help groups alone. Others will require professional treatment, including medications, in addition to community support groups. Participating in support groups is not necessary for recovery to occur, but it helps. One advantage of support groups is that they are free, widely available and focused on recovery. When starting out, it helps to attend a variety of meetings before choosing the group or groups with which you are most comfortable, since each one is somewhat unique. If you do participate in a 12-step program, it works best if you have a sponsor, someone in successful recovery who is now helping others.
I would be really interested to find out what any of you think about the American’s take on alcoholics anonymous and recovery, and see whether you think we can adopt any of their philosophies to improve the service that is currently offered in the UK.

Over and out

Category: Tony's Blog

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