Alcoholics Anonymous… Without alcohol, the party is even more crazy!
Between the stars who no longer hide from being part of the movement and the number of groups around the world, which comprise of more than 2 million members in more than 150 countries, AA represents the largest self-help group in the world.
Today, we aim to shed light on the history and fundamentals of this brotherhood, while respecting the story of its origins.
Since its creation, the A.A. fellowship has represented the extremely popular concept of group therapy, and is a testament to the interdisciplinary nature of health and wellness.
How did this organization of volunteers based on mutual help come into being?
The birth of AA as they tell it: The birth of AA dates back to 1935, in Akron, Ohio. It resulted from the meeting of William Griffith Wilson, (Bill Wilson), a former great Wall Street financier, with a great surgeon from Akron, Doctor Bob Smith. Both had been irrecoverable alcoholics in the past, and the magic of AA is based on the experience of Bill and Bob, the two founders of the movement, where the fundamental principles are based on the story of a sober alcoholic who speaks to another alcoholic.
Who are Alcoholics Anonymous
Anonymity is the basis of AA traditions. Thus, all its members are equal.
With a definition translated into several languages and included in the introduction at the start of each meeting, the framework is set here. No one commands, everyone is free to express themselves, as long as they talk about their alcohol problem or their recovery. Controversial subjects are banned and thus, any polemic or useless debates are avoided.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences, strengths and hopes with each other, in an effort to solve their common problems and help other alcoholics recover. A desire to stop drinking is the only requirement for membership in A.A. AA does not require membership fees or entrance fees, they are financed by their own contributions. AA is not associated with any sect, religious denomination or politics, or any organization or institution; they do not wish to engage in any controversy; they neither endorse nor oppose any cause. Their primary goal is to stay sober and help other alcoholics get sober.
The principle of meetings: Talking about alcohol to free yourself from it
Attendance at meetings is essential for the recovery of the members. Each member is invited to participate on a regular basis. It is there that they acquire the philosophy of the movement and meet other members. The approach proposed to members of the “fellowship” of Alcoholics Anonymous is a twelve-step program of recovery.
In order to remain sober and thus resist the consumption of alcohol, A.A. offers a new “way of life” to the member and insists on this point. This is summarized by the complete cessation of consumption, called total abstinence, and regular attendance at meetings is strongly suggested. The work of the twelve-step program, brought together in the book of AA known as “The Big-Book,” invites each member to work on their program. This is done at everyone's own pace and the importance of learning to live one day at a time (what the members call “24 hours”) is essential. To accompany the member in his approach, he or she is invited to choose a sponsor, preferably, one who has been a sober member for several years. It is strongly suggested to the new member to take a sponsor who has the same sex as they do, in order to prevent games of seduction from interfering in the help which is given. Another feature of the A.A. way of life is the invitation to every member to do "service" in the Fellowship. The new member is quickly encouraged to engage in the movement according to his abilities.
Are there any members who won’t make it?
It is rare that someone who has fully committed to the same path as we have, fail in the task. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not fully submit to this simple program. They are usually men and women who are naturally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. It's not their fault, they seem to be born that way. Their nature does not allow them to understand and lead a way of life that requires putting rigorous honesty into practice. Their chances of succeeding are below average. There are also those who suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders; but many of them recover if they are able to be honest. “Excerpt from our AA method”
A spiritual, not a religious vision
Here's one of the most controversial aspects of AA...spirituality!
The movement has its roots in the American evangelical revival and in an elitist European Christian movement of the 1920s and 1930s, the Oxford Group.
It was encouraged by the writings of the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, to promote the spiritual aspect of recovery. Jung established that medicine was powerless and only a spiritual experience could relieve him.
However, some recognize the importance of spirituality in the recovery process and the value of Jung's work for the integration of spirituality and human health.
While some researchers and physicians view the A.A. movement as a cultural revolution, others who are more critical, question the underlying foundations of this philosophy; not very surprisingly, since the results are there to be seen…
In 1951, Alcoholics Anonymous - not being associated with any sect, religious or political denomination, with any organization or establishment - received the Lasker Prize and in 2002, the highest distinction awarded by the National Academy of Medicine in France: the Vermeil medal.
We will end this article with the history of the Serenity Prayer.
Even if the origin for some is a little obscure, From Marcus Aurèlius to St Francis of Assisi, this prayer now accompanies all the groups in the world and not only that: Cognitive Therapy protocols based on mindfulness, as well addiction therapists use it as a tool. Whatever the case, it will remain part of of AA history which, according to the archives of AA world documents, was composed by an American pastor in the 1930s. In the book, The AA Movement Comes of Age, Bill recounts that early in 1942, A.A.'s first national secretary, Ruth Hock, showed him and others an obituary in the New York Herald Tribune, in their small, cluttered New York office, which ended like this:
“My God, give me the serenity to accept
The things I can't change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Talking about alcohol to liberate oneself from it, is AA's slogan, but isn't the real question: IS AA FOR YOU?
For more information, visit the AA website: https://www.aa.org/