Alcoholics Anonymous AA Essay Research Paper Alcoholics

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Essay, Research Paper Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by a stockbroker named Bill, and a surgeon Dr. Bob who were both hopeless alcoholics. The two had

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Essay, Research Paper

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by a stockbroker named Bill,

and a surgeon Dr. Bob who were both hopeless alcoholics. The two had

initially both belonged to the Oxford Group, a nonalcoholic fellowship

headed by an Episcopal clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. Dr. Shoemaker

and an old friend Ebby together helped Bill to get sober. Bill was also

helped by working with other alcoholics. Dr. Bob however did not have

the same initial success, but when he finally met Bill, he told him what

he had learned from Dr. Silkworth; that alcoholism was a malady of mind,

emotions and body (Alcoholics Anonymous). Dr. Bob responded well to

these ides introduced by Bill, he soon got sober, and never drank again.

The two men began work with other alcoholics at the City Hospital in Akron,

Ohio, and one patient became sober right away. Together these men made up the

first group of A.A., and shortly thereafter groups formed in several different


Early in 1939, the Fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics

Anonymous. The text, written by Bill, explained A.A.’s philosophy and methods,

the core of which was the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery. The book was

also reinforced by case histories of some thirty recovered members. From this

point, A.A.’s development was rapid (Alcoholics Anonymous).

The heart of Alcoholics Anonymous is in The Twelve Steps, which is a program of

personal recovery. New members do not have to accept or follow them as a whole

until they are ready and willing. It takes time for an individual to come to

terms with their problem, and that by going to meetings and listening to A.A.

members they too may begin to heal. The one prerequisite for new members is

that they must stop drinking. Only then, can a new life, an alcohol-free life

can begin. The importance of anonymity is also stressed as part of the

Fellowship. A persons identity is not disclosed to outsiders.

The Preamble of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their

experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common

problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for

membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA

membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not

allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution; does

not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes.

Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve

sobriety (AA Forum).

There are no dues or fee for members of Alcoholics Anonymous. A hat is passed

at meetings for voluntary contributions used to offset the cost of rental for

meeting places, coffee, etc. Income is raised from the sale of books and

literature. An individual is allowed to, but not expected to contribute ,000 a

year. However, contributions are not accepted from non-members because the

group strives to be fully self-supporting.

In 1946, in the Fellowship’s international journal, the A.A. Grapevine, these

principles were reduced to writing by the founders and early members as the

Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. They were accepted and endorsed by

the membership as a whole at the International Convention of A.A., at Cleveland,

Ohio, in 1950 (Alcoholics Anonymous). These guidelines were created in order to

ensure the success of the group. They can help especially because of the

group’s informal structure.

Alcoholics Anonymous sets out to do three things:

1. A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking

problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic

coming to A.A. from any source.

2. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way

to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.

3. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings (AA Forum).

There are several different types of meetings. There are 2 types of open

meetings. One is open speaker meetings which are open to both alcoholics and

nonalcoholic. In this type of meetings the members of A.A. share their stories,

their problems with alcohol, what brought them there, and how their life has

modified since attending A.A. The other type of open meeting is discussion

meetings. A member discusses briefly their experiences with alcohol, and then

leads a discussion on recovery or another alcohol related problem brought up by

someone at the meeting. Closed discussion meetings are the same as open

discussion meetings, but are for alcoholics and prospective A.A. members/ people

who may have drinking problems only. There are also step meetings, which are

normally closed. At these meetings one of the Twelve Steps are discussed.

Alcoholics Anonymous has expanded its locations to include holding meetings in

both correctional, and treatment facilities. By doing this they are able to

extend help to people who are in need, but unable to go to meetings. Obviously

people in jail or prison cannot leave to attend regularly scheduled meetings.

Patients in treatment facilities are also helped by these meetings. They are in

treatment and recovering, but also are receiving counseling and/or therapy along

with being able to attend meetings. The Alcohol Safety Action Project

(A.S.A.P.) and Driving While Intoxicated (D.W.I.) may have Alcoholics Anonymous

members conducting informational meetings as part of their programs. These are

not regular A.A. group meetings, but informational meetings about A.A.

On November 11th I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with another student

from class. I had researched online various times, locations, and types of

meetings in Nassau County. The meeting was in a local church that I have driven

by many times. The meetings themselves were located in the basement of the

church. I thought that the meeting would be held in a big, open, spacious room

filled with people from what I may have seen an A.A. meeting looks like on

television or in movies.

However, I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the meetings held at this

particular location were in small, nursery school classrooms. I figured that I

would be able to sneak into the room, sit quietly, keep to myself, and go

unnoticed. This was not the case. When I first walked downstairs, I was

reading a bulletin board which listed the times, types, and room assignments for

the meetings to be held that night. I was only standing there a minute or two

reading and deciding which meeting to go into when a man came over and asked if

he could help me find a meeting. So much for going unnoticed.

Immediately, I found myself speechless (that does not happen very often). I did

not think it was appropriate to say that I am not an alcoholic, nor do I have a

problem with alcohol because I was surrounded by either alcoholics or friends

and family members of alcoholics. I also thought that he might think that I was

just in denial. I was flustered, and the other student that I was with seemed

equally so because she was doing the talking for both of us and was having

trouble choosing her words . It was not appropriate either for us to say that I

was there to observe for a school project.

The man was polite and had introduced himself. He said that he helped to run

the meetings here and at another location on Long Island. He also asked if this

was our first meetings, I think because we both looked lost and somewhat

confused about how to go about choosing a meeting. So we both said yes, and he

suggested a few options for meetings about to begin. There were meetings that

were both open and closed, step, for women, and for beginners to name a few.

We told him we were interested in an open meeting. he asked us if we were

students, and we said yes. Then, a very astute observation, he politely asked

if this was research for a class. A minor sigh of relief, I did not feel like I

was posing or intruding so much anymore.

We decided to attend an open meeting that was for women only. The meeting

started, and a women stood up and introduced herself. She stated her name and

that was an alcoholic, but had been sober for a little over a year. Recently,

she said she has had a strained relationship with he teenage son. They have a

good relationship, but he knows how to lay guilt trips. Before she was sober

her sons got their way all the time, and did as they pleased. He is becoming

more independent and at 16, and getting a drivers license. She has set

boundaries, but he does not readily accept this. It is also difficult she

realizes that he mother he knew growing up is a different (sober) person now.

Another women in the group has a boy the same age, and she said they have spoken

about their similar problems, and it is good to know she is not the only one

going through this growing process. She realizes that this is a difficult time

for her son too because her own mother was not there for her. Being a member of

Alcoholics Anonymous helped her to understand that her mother was a sick woman,

who was dependent on amphetamine. She has forgiven herself for feeling like she

did about her mother, and they have a relationship not. They are not close, but

understand each other.

It seemed that this women has benefited greatly from attending A.A. meetings.

She was able to stop drinking, and attend meetings where she can discuss her

drinking and related problems. The difficulty of staying sober, everyday

occurrences in life, or specific child related problems can be related by other

members in meetings. She has also been able to repair the relationship with her

mother who was also an addict. It seems like these meetings really do help

people in their everyday battle to stay sober. It is a support system that they

might not able to stay sober without. About 2,000,00 people consider

themselves members of Alcoholics Anonymous according to a member survey in 1999

(AA Forum).

A 1999 study confirms that weekly participation a 12-Step program, like

Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous helps people in recovery to

maintain their abstinence for up to two years after completing substance abuse

treatment. “Results indicated that 12-Step attendance was associated with lower

drug and alcohol use (Fiorentine).” The people in the study who continued

attending 12-Step programs were much less likely to have used drugs or alcohol

than were subjects who dropped out. The author of the study concluded that

“weekly or more frequent attendance at 12-Step programs may be effective in

maintaining long-term drug and alcohol abstinence. Treatment providers should

encourage and assist their clients in 12-Step participation (Fiorentine).”

Because A.A. meetings are now held in treatment centers patients can now begin

attending A.A. meetings while they are still in treatment.

A Brown university study conducted research about “how actively the patient is

“working” the program; the extent to which he or she is incorporating A.A.

concepts into daily living; and the degree of attendance and participation in

A.A. (AA/Brown University).” According to this study, by researching A.A.

procedure variables it will “help clinicians and researchers investigate why

A.A. works for some patients and not others, and may be able to help develop

individualized treatment goals (AA/Brown University).” Although there may be

some hesitance at first, I believe that it is a logical conclusion that a

person who is an active participant in a meeting, and shares their story will

be better helped that a person who does not.

The Journal of Studies on Alcohol conducted an extensive eight year study.

Their key finding was that “individuals who seek and obtain help for a drinking

problem show better drinking-related outcomes over 8 years than do those who do

not seek and receive help (Timko et al).” 54% of the studies participants

maintained abstinence. However, only 26% of untreated individuals did so.

There were two important findings regarding help for problem drinking among help

seekers “Informal treatment alone was at least as effective as formal treatment

alone and, in the long term, there were no differential outcomes between types

of help (Timko et al.).”

Works Cited & Consulted

Alcoholics Anonymous. 1 December 2001 Alcoholics Anonymous .

AA Forum Group. 1 December 2001. AA Forum Group. .

Alcoholics Anonymous. Psychometric instruments help measure AA process

variable. The Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application, v 20

I 1(January 2001): 3.

Allen, JP. Measuring treatment process variables in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, v 18 (2000): 227-230.

Fiorentine, R. 12- Step programs help maintain abstinence. The Brown

University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application, v18 i9 (September 1999):


Timko, Christine., et al. Long-Term Outcomes of Alcohol Use Disorders: Comparing

Untreated Individuals with Those in Alcoholics Anonymous and Formal Treatment.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, v 61 I 4 (July

2000): 529.