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What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-Step recovery program for those who struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous attend regular support group meetings where they can share their experiences and follow the 12 Steps of the program meant to help achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous

What Does Alcoholics Anonymous Do?

The main qualities of Alcoholics Anonymous programs include:

  • Allow members to share their experiences with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem
  • Creates a supportive community for all members
  • Offer person-to-person sponsorship as a form of support and guidance
  • Sponsors help new members work through the 12 Steps

What Does Alcoholics Anonymous Not Do?

Alcoholics Anonymous programs do not partake in the following: 1

  • Accept any money for its services
  • Follow up or try to control members
  • Keep attendance records or case histories
  • Provide housing, money, food, clothing, jobs, or any other welfare or social services
  • Provide letters of reference to employers, parole boards, social agencies, lawyers, court officials, etc.
  • Provide progress reports
  • Provide recovery for addictions other than alcohol
  • Solicit members

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Below includes common signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder. If you or someone you know displays any of the following symptoms, attending AA meetings or going to a treatment center can be a great step toward recovery.

Inability to Reduce Drinking

One of the biggest signs of alcohol use disorder is the inability to stop drinking. For those who can’t stop drinking on their own, there are many resources available that can help—no one has to go through addiction and recovery alone. Having a positive support system from a support group like AA or through a treatment center can help make the journey to sobriety easier.

Spending a Lot of Time Drinking, Hungover, or Sick

If someone is spending large amounts of time drinking, hungover, or constantly feeling sick, it may signify they are struggling with an alcohol problem. Having an alcohol dependence can often make it feel like one can’t function normally without drinking.

Drinking More or For Longer Periods of Time Than Intended

If someone begins drinking and feels like they can’t control how much they drink or how much time they spend drinking, it may be a sign of alcohol use disorder. The services provided at Alcoholics Anonymous can help uncontrollable consumption of alcohol with Alcoholics Anonymous services.

Constantly Thinking About Alcohol and Wanting to Drink

Preoccupation with drinking or wanting to drink all the time is a big indicator of alcohol use disorder. When facing difficulty quitting or ignoring cravings for alcohol, attending Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings can help.

Continuing to Drink Despite the Negative Consequences

Continuing to drink despite negative consequences is another sign of alcohol use disorder. Alcoholics Anonymous services may be able to help someone struggling to recognize the negative consequences alcohol is having on their life and get back on the right track.

Having to Drink More to Get the Same Effects

It is possible to build a tolerance to alcohol, creating the need to drink larger amounts to get the same effects. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can negatively affect one’s health and well-being over time.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous Effective?

Alcoholics Anonymous is effective as it has helped millions of people recover from alcohol use disorder. One of the main reasons for the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous is the social or group aspects of it. Group meetings present a unique dynamic that enables growth, wherein members support one another and create accountability among AA members to stay consistent and not miss meetings. People are able to learn from one another’s experiences, grow alongside others struggling with similar problems, and create bonds that provide stamina on their healing journey.

How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous works by members going through the 12 Steps to get sober and maintain sobriety long term. Members are encouraged to attend AA meetings regularly and connect with others. One of the parts of AA is getting a sponsor, who is usually someone who has been sober for a longer time and will help provide guidance while working through each step.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are: 2

  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 all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

Different Types of Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

There are various types of AA meetings meant to offer different experiences and provide options depending on personal preference. The type of AA meetings available in each area may vary. 3

Speaker Meetings

Speaker meetings involve one or two people sharing their stories in greater detail for a longer period of time. After the main speakers have finished, the meeting may or may not be opened up for others to share.

Step Meetings

Step meetings are intended to go through each of the 12 Steps in detail. For example, meetings may involve reading or studying AA-approved literature and discussing it with the group.

Big Book Study Meetings

Big Book study meetings are where members study and discuss the “Big Book,” the book that the founders of the program published in 1939.

Gender-Specific Meetings

Gender-specific meetings may also be available. These are meetings that would be all men or all women and are meant to facilitate different discussions or levels of bonding between members.

AA Meetings for Non-Alcoholics

There are meetings available for non-alcoholics who have been affected by alcohol use disorder through a family member or loved one. The most common is called Al-Anon Family Groups, and their purpose is for those who are either worried about or have been affected by a family member or loved one who struggles with alcoholism. Al-Anon meetings help members discuss their experiences, learn, and support one another.

What To Expect from An Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting?

AA members try to be as supportive as possible of newcomers, so anyone should feel welcomed and encouraged to return. Attendees will share their experiences in an accepting environment, but no one is obligated to speak up. The aim is for the meetings to be as comfortable and safe as possible. 4

When attending an AA meeting, you should expect the following:

  • Overwhelming Hugs and Phone Numbers: New members attending meetings are commonly met with support and may receive lots of hugs and phone numbers from other people at the meeting if they ever need anyone to talk to.
  • Dark Humor: When AA members share at meetings, there may be some dark humor involved in the stories that are told. This is meant to ease the mood and make others feel more open to sharing whatever is on their minds.
  • Raw Intimacy: Stories told at AA meetings may also be very intimate and open about past experiences with alcohol abuse. AA members are encouraged to share these stories since it helps with recovery. Sharing at AA meetings can be very therapeutic in many ways.
Alcoholics Anonymous

Learn More About Recovery With Great Oaks Recovery Center

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. Great Oaks offers several evidence-based services that are proven to be effective for treating addiction. The friendly and educated staff at Great Oaks provides each client with around-the-clock support to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

Residential Care at Great Oaks

For anyone looking for alcohol addiction treatment, residential care at Great Oaks may be a good option. Residential care will allow the client to stay at the treatment center for a duration of time while they work through a recovery program. Great Oaks takes an integrated approach to treatment, so following a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous may be integrated as part of the overall treatment program.

Continuing Care at Great Oaks

Great Oaks also provides continued care to anyone who completes a treatment program. Some form of aftercare may be recommended, such as a 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous program. Attending AA meetings or other support groups after treatment will help with continued recovery and maintaining sobriety long-term.

Contact Us to Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about how Great Oaks can help, contact us at
(877) 977-3268.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.