Is Alcoholics Anonymous Right for Me?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a peer-support 12-step program for people who have problems with alcohol.1, 2 While attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings isn’t the same as attending treatment, it can offer benefits that extend beyond detox, rehab, and therapy and it can prolong the effects of these forms of treatment.1 Participation in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is commonly encouraged as part of an aftercare plan when treatment is completed. 1
Alcoholics Anonymous started in 1935 and has grown immensely.3 The first meeting had just 2 members. While it is difficult to gather specific data because of anonymity, it’s estimated that there were more than 1.3 million members and 64,526 AA groups across the United States in 2019.3,4. Nevada Alcoholics Anonymous is broken down into 3 areas, serving southern Nevada, northern Nevada, and Pahrump and surrounding areas.5
This article will help you learn more about:
- What Alcoholics Anonymous is.
- How Alcoholics Anonymous works.
- Ways to find Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and alcohol support groups for family members.
- How it differs from alcohol rehab.
- How to access both forms of treatment.
When Should I Go to Alcoholics Anonymous?
Alcoholics Anonymous welcomes anyone who has a desire to address a problem with alcohol. No one is turned away, no matter where they are in their recovery journey.2 (paragraph 1), 7 (p2) When alcohol starts to get in the way of your ability to function, many people decide that it is time to make a change, and start to attend meetings.7 (p5)
Alcohol is a physically addictive substance, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening.1 (p25), 6 (p54, 63) Withdrawal symptoms can rapidly progress in severity, so detox is the best way to stop drinking safety.1 (p25), 6 (p54, 63)
Post-detox, AA has been shown to be effective at supporting recovery efforts.1 Attending meetings several times a week can help build on the foundation of what was gained in detox and treatment. 1
If you’ve chosen to attend inpatient treatment, the facility may host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on-site or arrange outings so that you can attend in the community.1 Outpatient facilities frequently encourage participants to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while still in treatment to provide additional support, develop a sober support group outside of treatment, and encourage healthy habits that will continue after treatment is completed.1
A major principle of Alcoholics Anonymous is offering support to others who need help addressing their drinking issues.7 Thus, attendance at AA meetings is encouraged even after you stop drinking and are able to function normally.
The 12 Steps of Recovery in AA
The foundation of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is the 12 Steps.2 These steps help you address the root cause of alcoholism and as serve a path to lasting sobriety.2 Someone who has more experience in the program, known as a sponsor, will guide you through the process at your own pace. They are there to answer questions, offer feedback, and support you.
The 12 Steps build on concepts of surrender, acceptance, self-awareness, humility, responsibility, outreach, and service to others. They are considered to be ongoing throughout your recovery and never truly completed. According to the Alcoholics Anonymous website, they are:8
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We 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.
- 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.
Is Alcoholics Anonymous Religious?
The Alcoholics Anonymous program grew out of the Oxford Group, a religious Christian movement in the early 1900s.3,9 Some of the 12 Steps were drawn directly from the Oxford Group’s philosophy and principles, with a few additions made to further refine the program for better results.9
AA explicitly states that they aren’t affiliated with any specific religious group. People from all backgrounds are welcome, regardless of religion or lack of belief in religion.7 However, the program utilizes certain concepts that are rooted in religion, including a belief in a Power (often referred to as God) as well as prayer, meditation, spiritual awakening, and a form of confession.7 ,8 So while AA doesn’t focus strictly on Christian beliefs,7 the program does maintain a spiritual focus.
People who are uncomfortable with the word “God” can create their own concept of a higher power.7, 10 There are also secular alcohol support groups that make no mention of any religious or spiritual concepts. Some of them include:
- Women for Sobriety, a women-only program designed to foster recovery from alcohol and drug use by focusing on self-acceptance and personal growth.11
- SMART Recovery, which utilizes a science-based approach to address alcohol and substance use and guide recovery.12
- LifeRing Secular Recovery, which encourages sobriety through peer support and concepts drawn from therapeutic techniques.13
You can click the links above for more information, or search for “alcohol support groups near me” to see what groups are available in your area.
Alcoholics Anonymous Near Me
Alcoholics Anonymous groups hold meetings across the country. More meetings are usually found in high-population areas than in rural and sparsely populated areas. You can find one closest to you by clicking here. A state-by-state listing of the different Alcoholics Anonymous groups will show the days, times, locations, and information on the meetings in your area. There are also online meetings, which you can access here. Online meetings can be helpful if you can’t attend a meeting in person for any reason.
If you live in Las Vegas and southern Nevada, you can find a nearby meeting here. Those in northern Nevada will find a meeting list here. If you live in Beatty, Furnace Creek, Pahrump, Sandy Valley, or Tecopa, you can find a meeting list here. Additionally, the local Alcoholics Anonymous hotline can help you find a meeting and answer any questions you may have.
Support Groups for Families of Alcoholics
Alcoholism affects more than just the person who drinks. If someone in your life has a drinking problem, you may need help addressing your own feelings about alcoholism. Numerous support groups are available to help friends and family learn how to set healthy boundaries and support a loved one’s journey to sobriety. Some of these include:
- Al-Anon. An off-shoot of Alcoholics Anonymous and based on similar 12-Step principles, this is a group for family members and loved ones of someone who has a problem with alcohol. 14 People can attend whether their loved one has stopped drinking, is still drinking, or is even aware that they have a problem with alcohol.14 You can find Al-Anon meetings here.
- Alateen. Alateen is similar to Al-Anon and geared toward young people.14 This program allows teenagers who have been affected by someone else’s alcohol use to connect with others of a similar age. They share their experiences, give and receive support, and work through the 12 Steps.14 You can find Alateen meetings here.
- SMART Recovery Family and Friends. This support group builds off the foundation of the SMART Recovery program. Evidence-based therapeutic techniques are used to help people learn how to effectively support a loved one who is dealing with an alcohol use disorder.15 Meetings are held in person and are also offered online, and you can find more information here.
There are other options as well. Treatment centers commonly offer support groups for spouses and family members of someone who is or has been in treatment at that facility. Local recovery organizations in the area may have support groups for families of people with alcohol problems. Finally, support groups may be offered through a religious organization with which you are affiliated.
How to Get Help for Alcohol Addiction
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is one of the foremost providers of alcohol and substance abuse treatment in the country.16 With facilities in Las Vegas and across the U.S., AAC makes it easy to receive high-quality treatment no matter where you are.16, 17 All facilities offer specialized support groups, including 12-step meetings and virtual support groups.18 For more information about how American Addiction Centers can help you with an alcohol problem, call our free, confidential helpline 24/7 at 702-800-2682.
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