Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-Step-based group for those who suffer from the disease of substance abuse. It was developed in 1934 by two men who suffered from alcoholism and realized that, rather than a moral failing, alcoholism was a disease. Bill Wilson (Bill W.) and Dr. Bob Smith (Dr. Bob) found that, to keep sober, an alcoholic needed to search diligently within themselves and begin to be of service to others.
AA is still the most widely available 12-Step group, although there are others, including CA, or Cocaine Anonymous, NA, or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as groups for relatives and friends, including Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) and Alateen and Al-anon.
AA and NA groups are not substance abuse rehab programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide support for suffering alcoholics and addicts. These groups offer fellowship, not professional counseling. Group meetings take place for an hour, and encourage open, honest, encouraging discourse and an environment in which all those hoping to achieve sustained abstinence are able to recover.
12-Step support groups are recommended as an integral part of a person’s discharge plan following rehab. A person does not have to be diagnosed as an alcoholic or addict in order to receive and participate in the support of an AA group. Any person who feels there is a problem with a substance is welcome to attend.
AA groups offer an open setting that encourages people in recovery to help one another and join socially for meals and events. Participants find they also may receive support and direction for dealing with practical needs and challenges.
Finding a meeting: Check the Internet for local listings and schedules. If you have not been connected with a sponsor who can be your mentor and guide, you may find one in an AA group. This person’s recovery experience and empathy can help through the challenges of another’s recovery, while the sponsor gains the rewards of helping others to recover from addiction.