A History of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Purpose of the 12 Steps

It is the mutual aid fellowship which has risen from humble beginnings to help people across the globe conquer alcohol addiction. They can show you how to turn your life around and say goodbye to dependency, through their renowned twelve step programme. This is why over two million people in the world turn to Alcoholics Anonymous to help them deal with their problems.

If you are ready to take up the fight against alcoholism, AA can show you that you are not alone. They can offer you a haven where you can speak to other men and women who feel they have lost control of their alcohol consumption. They feel alcohol addiction has taken over their lives and have come to AA to find an escape. However, AA believes that by meeting with other alcoholics and discussing your problems on a regular basis, you could get to the very heart of your addiction. This could lead to the breakthrough which could help you break away from dependency and live a clean life, free from alcoholism.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that 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 to 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 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 first big step in entering recovery is recognising you have a problem with alcohol.  If you have accepted you may have an issue with alcoholism and wish to stop drinking, then that is half the battle. You have already made a huge leap forward by deciding to attend AA in the first place.

Now you can benefit from the empathy and support which has been at the centre of the care Alcoholics Anonymous has provided since its very inception. AA has championed the belief you can overcome any obstacle, or addiction, by talking about your issues with people who have experienced them for themselves. This goes back to when the organisation was first created back in the 1930s.

Alcoholics Anonymous was originally an offshoot of the Oxford Group, a non-secular organisation endorsing religious beliefs which had risen to prominence in Europe and the USA in the early 1900s. Established by a man named Frank Buchman, a Christian missionary from the States who advocated the notion of giving one’s life to God, a concept which would prove to be a defining feature of AA’s lauded 12-step program.

In the early thirties, a man known as Rowland H, from Rhode Island, received treatment for his alcoholism by the Oxford Group, having been referred there by the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung from Switzerland, often called one of the fathers of psychotherapy. Jung believed the key to his recovery lay in Rowland H opening himself up spiritually or experiencing a conversion. It is said Rowland finally ceased consuming alcohol when he read about Frank Buchman and the organisation he founded, the Oxford Group.

A body which believes in paying forward, asking members to help others with alcoholism by bringing them into the fold. Rowland brought a man called Ebby Thacher, or Ebby T into the Oxford Group, to help him stop drinking. Thacher, in turn, sought to bring in another friend, who would turn out to be a pivotal figure in the evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill Wilson’s struggle with alcoholism

William Griffith Wilson, who would come to be known as Bill W. However, when Thacher originally approached Wilson in autumn of 1934, he was not open to the idea of attending the Oxford Group, being a long-term alcoholic who believed he was beyond all hope. In December of that year, he received treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan for alcohol addiction, having previously attending Oxford Group meetings at Calvary Rescue Mission. It was during his stay in Towns, that, with the guidance and support of the Oxford Group, led William Griffith Wilson to experience something of a spiritual awakening which he felt helped him overcome depression and stop drinking. Many feel the spiritual encounter may have been a by-product of drugs he may have taken in the course of his treatment. However, in the end, Bill W did indeed conquer his alcoholism and resolve himself to aid other sufferers.

Wilson and Smith

It was during a business trip to Ohio in the American Midwest at the beginning of 1935 when Bill W almost strayed. However, a local Minister put him in touch with a woman named Henrietta Seiberling, who worked with an Oxford Group in the area, who were trying to assist an alcoholic called Dr Bob Smith, or Dr Bob. This is the meeting which many believe laid the foundations of what was to be the AA the world knows today.

It seemed Bill W had found a kindred spirit with Dr Bob. Especially after he shared his experiences of addiction and related his belief that you can achieve and maintain sobriety following a spiritual encounter, as well as sharing your problems with someone who has lived through it themselves. Dr Bob had the distinction of being the first person who was freed from alcohol addiction with the assistance of William Griffith Wilson, also known as Bill W.

These two men’s lives had been torn apart by alcohol abuse, but together they co-founded the organisation, which has helped millions of people around the world conquer their alcohol dependency and is still going strong today.

alcoholics anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous today

Since those days, AA has grown and changed a lot.  Membership has increased due to treatment centres bringing their patients as well as court-assigned attendance. The AA still advises against all alcohol consumption and focuses on moral character and personal change.  But today members are usually encouraged to find their own higher being that can help with their sobriety.
The Twelve Steps are a notable part of AA, walking an individual through the process of being sober for life.  Part of that journey still consists of helping other members.  Members that have been sober for a while may sponsor a newer individual.  These people are paired up and can help each other when they are feeling like quitting.  The moral support that occurs at AA is one of its most useful tools.

Alternatives to AA, such as other 12-step programs, are SMART Recovery or Celebrate Recovery UK, 

Resources

Addiction Links

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/What-is-AA

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/AA-Traditions

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/AA-Meetings/Find-a-Meeting

FAQs

Alcohol faq

There Is No Rehab Centre Near Me, What Should I Do?
Whilst location is an important factor for all of us, please understand, that recovery from addiction is a journey, and a commitment and the initial foundations should not be compromised. This means seeking advice to find the best rehab centre and therapeutic program that fits you (or your loved one) personally.
I Can’t Afford Private Residential Treatment. What Should I Do?
Contact your own GP and accurately & honestly explain to him or her your addiction problems and express your desire for help and treatment. Your GP should activate your local ADAT Addictions team who will offer you whatever NHS/Social and treatment routes are available. You should also attend AA or NA recovery groups for support and guidance.
How Long Is The Average Residential Stay in Rehab?
Residential stays vary from between 7-28 days depending on the specifics of your circumstances and historical usage. e.g. An average alcohol detox may last 7 days, with a further 2-3 weeks in the therapeutic program to resolve the psycho-social and behavioural aspects of addiction. As above, most experience the best outcomes and lasting long term sobriety following a minimum 28 day residential stay
What medication is used for alcohol addiction?
Medication can include replacement drugs such as lorazepam or phenobarbital, which are administered in tapering doses to help with alcohol withdrawals. Drugs such as Naltrexone, Disulfiram or Acamprosate can help prevent a return to alcohol use.

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