Menu Close

How to Determine if AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is Right for You

Early in your walk of sobriety, it’s important to surround yourself with healthy choices, supportive people, and new activities that positively impact the new you. Because you will be overcoming the negative impact that alcohol and alcoholism has had in your life, it’s critical that you determine the best course of action for you.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

According to their website, for more than 75 years “Alcoholics Anonymous {has served as} an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, functional alcoholic treatment, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.” What this means is that through a series of regular, planned meetings, you and others who also struggle to leave the trappings of alcoholism behind can offer a supportive ear and encouragement. It is not a professional counseling session nor is it therapy. Instead, people who attend AA meetings are encouraged to approach the sessions as a time of strengthening and regrouping.

Consider the Do’s and Don’ts of AA When Deciding if It’s Right for You

Understanding the do’s and don’ts of AA will help you to determine if it is the right place for you or not. Here are just a few points to consider:

  • Keeping it Confidential: From the beginning, Alcoholics Anonymous has been just as its name suggests: anonymous. Members are not tracked through attendance or other records. In fact, last names aren’t even used during the meetings and confidentiality is strongly required. If you choose to attend a meeting, you must be prepared to agree to the basic fundamental premises that make AA a safe place for everyone who comes. This increases comfort levels in the hopes that progress in sobriety can be made
  • Educational: In keeping with their stance that they are not a place of professional counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous does not provide educational information to any of its participants. If you are looking for a place to better understand the science of alcoholism or to know the legal ramifications of your situation, AA is not the place to look for that information.
  • No Solicitation: This isn’t a country club, or an exclusive group to join by invitation only. There is no soliciting for people to come and be a part of a meeting, and there is no opportunity to use the group as a place to solicit business or financial assistance. Again, the primary purpose of AA is to allow people who struggle with alcohol abuse to share their thoughts from others whose experience is similar.
  • The Twelve Steps: There are 12 steps that are central to each meeting, giving the participants a focal point and an opportunity to encourage not just each other but themselves to make better choices. The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous encourage recognition of powerlessness over alcohol, a decision to allow God to work in their lives, an inventory of themselves and removal of shortcomings and character defects. Because these 12 steps are so central to what AA stands for, if you don’t agree with any of them then this may not be the organization for you.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (as posted on their website)

  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. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.