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What is Alcoholics Anonymous? - Definition, Meetings & Steps

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Alcoholism is a dangerous addiction that requires support and effort for a chance at recovery. Read this lesson to learn about the program that provides assistance to recovering alcoholics so that they may successfully manage the challenges of addiction.

What Is Alcoholism?

Jane is a successful lawyer who works very hard to please her clients. Her saying has always been, 'Work hard, play hard' and she enjoys going out to celebrate her accomplishments with colleagues. Over the past few years, Jane has changed her lifestyle to going out every night after work for drinks, even with nothing to celebrate. She has been coming into work late after partying all night, and her work isn't as good as it used to be. Last Sunday, she was charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) after driving home from a lunch date with her friends. Her colleagues are concerned, and they hold a meeting to talk to her about her changes in behavior and performance. They suspect that Jane may be dealing with alcoholism.

Alcoholism is the dangerous addiction to the substance alcohol. Addiction, or dependency, is more than simply enjoying a particular thing or activity. Addiction occurs when the item or activity impacts daily life to the point where it interferes with work, responsibilities, and overall health.

Alcohol is most often consumed in wine, beer, and liquor, but can also be ingested through cough medicine, cleaning agents, and other dangerous and harmful substances. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism may build a tolerance to the substance, meaning that they require more and more alcohol to get the same effect as someone who does not drink. Unfortunately, alcoholism can lead to the body's physical and chemical dependency as the addiction progresses.

Alcoholics Anonymous

When Jane's colleagues confront her on their suspicions and concerns for her well-being, Jane is overwhelmed. It is difficult for her to accept, but she confides to the group that she has been scared to ask for help to make the changes necessary to help get her life back on track.

This is when her colleagues tell Jane about the Alcoholics Anonymous program. They explain that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is a confidential group that exists to provide support to people trying to overcome their battle with alcohol addiction. This organization provides group support, a system of accountability, as well as a Twelve Step Program designed to help people like Jane work through their struggles and maintain a healthy physical, psychological, and social lifestyle.

Jane is worried about the changes she must make, but is excited to get started in the program. Her colleagues took the liberty of contacting a local AA group to provide Jane with a schedule of group meetings to attend.

The AA Program

Jane arrives to her first meeting and picks up a brochure about the history of the AA Program. She learns that AA was first started in 1935 with the primary goal to help alcoholics achieve sobriety, the act of abstaining from alcohol. She finds that the brochure also outlines several integral aspects of the program designed to help its participants achieve sober lifestyles.

The Twelve Steps

A list of items designed to reset the individual struggling with alcoholism, the Twelve Steps guides the person on a journey towards spiritual and mental recovery from their addiction. The Steps begin with the admission that life has become unmanageable as a result of alcohol, and continues with assignments like:

  • Creating a moral inventory of wrong-doings committed as a result of alcohol
  • Confiding in God and another person about the nature of the wrong-doings
  • Making a list of all people hurt as a result of addiction and then apologizing to them
  • Developing a relationship with God or a higher power to establish spiritual accountability

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