How Millions of Alcoholics and Addicts Found a New Freedom and Happiness
No matter what you’ve heard or read about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-Step programs if it was negative or doubting it was not accurate. As a person who has been in AA for 35 years, I should know. AA’s program has saved countless numbers people and their families. I have seen it firsthand, and that includes myself.
- It is a beautiful program of transformation.
Alcoholics Anonymous readily accepts the young, old, tired, hungry, rich, poor, sick, homeless, mentally unbalanced without judgement of any kind. Anyone and everyone who steps through there doors no matter what shape, size or ethnicity. Nor matter where they’re from or what they’ve done in their past.
AA does not ask any of its members to do anything. The only requirement for membership is a simple desire to stay sober, that’s it. There are dues or fees. AA is self-supporting through the voluntary contributions of its members. Any additional money is passed on to the local AA office or the General Service Office in New York.
AA’s founders were very wise people. They intentionally structured AA in such a way that it avoids conflicts and controversy by having but one primary purpose:
For its members to stay sober and help others to do the same.
- You may not heard of AA’s 12 Traditions. These twelve principles were created to try and keep AA from getting into any kind of difficulty that might hurt or even destroy it. They are an essential part of why functions so well.
It has no opinion on any outside issues. It asks its members not to publicize or use the media to promote it. It intentionally wants to stay out of the public eye, not because it has anything to hide, but because recovering alcoholics know their sobriety is taken a one day at a time basis and any one of them could relapse, thereby negatively casting AA. Perhaps you have heard of the “12-Steps.” They were designed to allow every alcoholic to start by being a practicing alcoholic and walk a rigorous path of surrender, soul-searching, making amends to the people they had harmed, as well as practicing prayer and meditation to have a spiritual awakening as the result. The 12 steps allow a person to “clean up the wreckage of their past” and start living on a solid format for living life clean and sober.
Alcoholism is medically classified as a fatal disease. By arduously working each of the 12 Steps, in order, a person with this destructive and debilitating disease to put it in remission, permanently as long as they continue to stay close to AA and practice these life-enhancing principles of honesty, responsibility, service, and others.
Alcoholics Anonymous began in 1935 when Bill Wilson (Bill W.) decided to make a phone call rather than go into the hotel bar. He was in the lobby of the Mayflower hotel in Akron. The operator connected Bill to an alcoholic she knew in town by the name of Dr. Bob Smith and they agreed to meet. Bill Wilson, who had been sober for a while shared his story of being an alcoholic with Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith was spellbound as he listened to Bill. They came to realize that was something very powerful and therapeutic that takes place when one alcoholic talks to another alcoholic trying to be of help. There is a lot more to the story. The point is Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the concept of one alcoholic helping another. It helps both of them stay sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous gladly accepts any person, who has reached a “bottom” to walk the 12 Steps and begin living a new format of living. AA allows each individual who walks into their first AA meeting the freedom to do their program any way they want, as long it does not hurt anyone else or be disruptive.
AA asks nothing in return. There is no hidden agenda or unexpected events, contracts, or contrivances. It all seems too good to be true, but it isn’t. The transformations that happen are based on a person’s Higher Power of their understanding.
AA is a Spiritual fellowship of men and women. It is not a religious organization or cult.
Today, there are well over 20 million people around the world in recovery from drug or alcohol misuse. The most amazing thing is it does not require any money from any of its members. The only requirement for membership is the desire to be abstinent. By far, the most successful method, ever conceived, is the twelve steps, created by Alcoholics Anonymous. It has and is helping millions to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of body and mind.
Let’s look at some facts;
- About 10% of American adults who are at least 18 years old say they are in recovery from an alcohol or drug abuse issue.
- An estimated 22 million Americans are in recovery from opioid and other addictions.
- A study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that about 4 percent of Americans met the criteria for drug use disorder in the past year and about 10 percent have had drug use disorder at some time in their lives.
- According to the CDC, in 2019, 65.8 million U.S. adults reported past-month binge drinking and 35.8 million reported illicit drug use, 20.4 million met diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder during the past year.
These statistics are for alcohol and drug abuse. Now let’s consider other self-destructive behaviors.
Among people aged 12 or older in 2020,
- 20.7% (or about 57.3 million people) reported using tobacco products or vaping nicotine in the past 30 days.
- 15.0% (or about 41.4 million people) reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days.
- 3.8% (or about 10.4 million people) reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days.
- source: 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
Drug addiction defined
Someone who may be addicted begins to suffer negative consequences as a result of their behavior. What started as fun and pleasurable gradually turns into compulsion and obsession. Their lives begin to unravel. Alcohol or drug use may lead to being arrested for a DUI or losing their job. Or, their closest relationships start to fall apart. Eventually, unless the problem is addressed, these people continue to lose more of the valuable things in their lives. Without dealing directly with it, eventually serious, sometimes devastating outcomes are inevitable.
- Prisons and insane asylums are full of good people who, unfortunately, ignored the warning signs that there was a significant problem.
A person begins to suffer and has lost their freedom. They have become “imprisoned” by using drugs or alcohol.
- There is a way to get out of this form of “imprisonment” and find lasting freedom.
- It starts with the sincere desire to change. Without the person’s full cooperation and willingness, this process will not work.
Where to Start
If you are not familiar with the twelve-step approach, start by going to a meeting. Whether you have heard or read things about it, try and keep an open mind.
- These links connect to good places to begin a recovery process.
|Non 12-Step Recovery||SMART Recovery|
|Family & Friends of Addicts||Nar-Anon|
|Adult Children of Alcoholics||ACOA|
Need more help?
- If you need further assistance, use the contact form here.
Today, millions of Americans are in a successful recovery. Recovery is in the process of actively abstaining from all mind and mood-altering chemicals, including alcohol.
It starts with a person’s willingness to admit they have a problem. Recovery is a process. Joining a support group is the best way. It can be either a 12-step or a non-12-step-based organization.
- Recovery is active participation in an appropriate program of like-minded people.
Most drug or alcohol abusers live in a condition known as denial. Meaning they deny to themselves and others there is a problem. Without the addict’s full cooperation, no lasting success can occur.
Recovery is considered a process, or journey, not a destination. It starts with admitting the problem and then learning a new way to live without needing or wanting it anymore. Thanks to a few medical pioneers drug and alcohol abuse were reclassified. It can treated as a medical and metal condition.
No known cure
There is no known cure. However, putting it and keeping it in remission is the only known way to successfully overcome it. Some people can stop without actively participating in a program, but they are rare and are always at risk of relapsing.