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Inside Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide, non-profit organization for people suffering from alcoholism. It is based on the “big book”, and a 12 step process. It was founded 75 years ago by Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith in Akron Ohio. As it grew in size and popularity from over 100 members in 1939 to over 2 million members worldwide. Some people consider it to be a “cult”.

It is a fellowship of men and women supporting each other in their quest for sobriety. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for being a member. It is not a sect or cult. It does not have any opinions on outside issues. Their primary purpose is for their members to stay sober, and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

  • It has been very effective in in helping millions of alcoholics find long-term sobriety.
  • No other program or treatment has ever had this much success with overcoming alcoholism.

It is a fellowship of both women and men who share their experience, hope and strength with one another.

The fellowship’s goal is to solve a common alcohol problem by help each other recover. The sole concern of it  is personal recovery as well as continues sobriety of the individuals that turn to the fellowship to seek help. Members are always asked to be careful to preserve anonymity at the public level.

People join with assurance that their identities will never be disclosed to people outside the fellowship. It involves a 12 step program of character and spiritual development. Membership is “free” Members are asked to donate to help with expenses, but is optional. One of things that has kept it out of controversy is that is not affiliated with any other organization.

12 Steps

The 12-Steps are the core of its recovery modality. They are designed to help members learn how to live a clean and sober lifestyle. They ask the person to gradually grow spiritually. The 12-Steps were based on the original “Oxford Group”, the predecessor organization.

The12 Steps:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe a power, greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying
    only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Big Book

The Big Book is the “textbook” of AA. It includes stories of how many women and men have recovered from alcoholism. It was written by Bill Wilson and other members of the early fellowship. It is referred to as the big book because of how thick it was when it was published in 1939. It was published by the co-founders of AA. It also contains the 12 steps and they are explained. The goal of the book is to help the reader understand the disease of alcoholism, work the 12 steps, and ultimately find a higher power, a power bigger than they are to help them to solve their alcohol problem.


AA meetings are very informal and this makes newcomers feel welcome. No appointment, fee or sign in is required to attend a meeting. There are no obligations from members or intrusive questions asked. The meeting consists of different members telling their stories but if one is not comfortable talking they can decline. There are ID meetings where members meet to tell their stories and steps meetings where they discuss the 12 step program in details. Members respect each other’s privacy and anonymity. There is no demand that you come back for the meetings and you can go to as many meetings and as often as you wish.


Many use these meetings as a supplement for the more traditional types of meeting they attend. With the traditional meetings there can be geographical and scheduling conflicts. With the online meetings the bond of fellowship is strengthened through a wider geographical reach offered by the internet while the traditional meetings the experience, strength and hope of others in similar situations can be one’s lifeline to sobriety.


Online meetings – US

Online meetings in Europe


Online meetings come in a variety of formats such as email meetings, real time chats and meetings using applications such as Skype. Some of the meetings target a certain group and they are available in a number of languages. Many of them have regular schedules but others post whenever they have a burning desire to share. Online meetings are supplements for face to face meetings but are not meant to substitute them.


  • Number of Groups: 59,565
  • Estimated Membership: 1,296,037


  • Number of Groups: 5,129
  • Estimated Membership: 712,949


  • Number of Groups: 115,358
  • Estimated Membership: 2,138,421


It was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith on June 10, 1935. It is a non-profit organization. It is credited with creating the “12-Step” model of recovery. The 12 Steps are a process of spiritual development, starting with admitting powerlessness over alcohol and that the alcoholic’s life had become unmanageable. The name is derived from its first book, informally called

  • “The Big Book”, was originally titled Alcoholics Anonymous. The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism.

It began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. It was an outcome of a meeting between the two founders, Bill W. and Dr. Rob S. They had both been in contact with Oxford Groups that is a nonalcoholic fellowship that usually emphasize on universal spiritual values in one’s daily living. Bill had attained sobriety and maintained it by helping other alcoholics while Dr. Bob had not achieved sobriety yet. When the two met Bill had an effect on Dr. Bob, he emphasized that alcoholism was a malady on one’s body, emotions and mind. With Bill’s convincing ideas Dr. Bob got sober and never drunk again. The two started working with other alcoholics and Alcoholics anonymous was born.

  • The first name given was “The Way Out”


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