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Alcoholics Anonymous: The Basics

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Posted: June 2, 2015

Many recovering alcoholics have found that Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA, has proven to be a strong support system in their road to recovery. After seeking treatment at various rehabs many are encouraged to attend AA meetings in an effort to help maintain lasting sobriety. AA is open to individuals from all walks of life regardless of race, age, creed, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status and its members are joined through one commonality- addiction to alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous is ran off of twelve basic principles, which are spiritual in nature. The overall notion is that living by these twelve principles, and adopting them as a way of life, will return the user to a life of happiness without the influence of alcohol. The twelve steps are spiritual in nature and usually operate around the belief in God or a higher spirit, but even the non-religious can make some use of the Alcoholics Anonymous steps and lifestyle. The support provided in these groups is key to many individual’s continued recovery.

Step one is admitting that one is powerless over alcohol, and that their life has become unmanageable. Admitting that one is powerless is essential to begin rebuilding the basic building blocks of your life. Step two is the belief that a power greater than yourself can restore one to sanity. This may be one of the harder steps to overcome because many either don’t believe in God, or have lost any faith of a higher power. Step three is making the decision to turn one’s life over to God. The first two steps are about acceptance whereas this third step is the first action step. Step four requires making a moral inventory of yourself. An individual has to become sure of themselves and their decision to refrain from the use of alcohol. Being secure with yourself means accepting yourself in entirety and striving to become a better human being. Step five is an extension of step four and it is admitting to God and yourself the exact nature of your wrongs. Putting your ego aside is vital while overcoming this step and leads directly into step six which is being entirely ready to let God remove the defects of your character. Allowing a higher power to aide in the removal of self-defeating behaviors is a major milestone of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Step seven takes the removal of character defects one step further and suggests that you ask God (in a humble manner) to remove any shortcomings you have been subject to. Step eight requires one to make a list of all the persons you may have harmed and strive to make amends to them all. By making this effort of righting previous wrongs one can start to forgive themselves and begin a fresh start at a happy and healthy life. Step nine outlines that amends must be made but that there is one exception –if making the direct amend would injure them. Remember these principles serve as stepping stones to aide in your recovery from the addiction of alcohol so anything that might hurt yourself or others is to be avoided. Step ten entails that throughout recovery one continues to take personal inventories of themselves and promptly admit and correct situations in which you have fallen short. Step eleven explains that throughout meditation and prayer one can remain conscious of their recovery goals and suggests asking God for the knowledge and power to continually carry it out. Step twelve is the reason Alcohol Anonymous remains a key factor in long term sobriety. Step twelve entails that having had this spiritual awakening and freedom from the abuse of alcohol it is pertinent to carry this message onto others and help others overcome the obstacles that you have now successfully reached. Step twelve wraps up by stating the importance of practicing these principles in daily affairs and continuing self-growth and abstinence from alcohol.

While taking the journey through these steps, AA uses chips to reward its members in an effort to show them how far they have come. The chips are given out in reference to how long the recovering addict has remained sober. The first chip is given after refraining from alcohol for 24 hours. Following the 24 hour chip, each month of sobriety warrants a new chip (each of a different color). The concept of these chips is that each represents concrete sign that is earned through sobriety and will serve as a reminder of the success of how far the recovering addict has come.

Overall AA has an impressive track record of success and the majority of recovering alcoholics find themselves attending AA meetings regularly that discuss these steps in depth and allow for a supportive community all suffering from the same thing. AA prides itself on the anonymity of it all, and takes a safe place approach meaning that whatever is spoken in these meetings remain confidential to only those in attendance. If you find yourself struggling to remain free from the grips of alcohol, AA may be a great place to turn to. There are locations all over the world that take part in these meetings and chances are there is a center near you. Some AA attendees may have been sober for years and other days, but all support each other in the road to remaining free from alcohol.

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