Alcoholics Anonymous or AA: FAQ’s

What is AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international organization of recovering alcoholics that offers emotional support through self-help groups and a model of abstinence for people recovering from alcohol dependence, using a 12-step approach. The AA Preamble states that “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; AA is self supporting through contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. The primary purpose of AA is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” (A.A. Grapevine, Inc.). Although it is the most common, AA is not the only 12-step intervention available there are other 12-step approaches (labeled Twelve Step Facilitation (TSF)).

How Does A.A. Help?

Because AA believes that addictions are a disease, AA is an abstinence based program. It subscribes to the philosophy that “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”, and therefore the only “cure” is total abstinence. AA also relies on a spiritual foundation through belief in a “higher power”.

Through the example and friendship of the recovered alcoholics in A.A., new members are encouraged to stay away from a drink “one day at a time,” as everyone in A.A. does. Instead of “swearing off forever” or worrying about whether they will be sober tomorrow, people in A.A. concentrate on not drinking right now – sometimes “minute by minute”, or “hour by hour” or “just for today”.

A.A.’s “Twelve Steps” to recovery is the road map out of confused and distorted thinking. These Steps suggest ideas and actions that can guide people towards more peaceful lives.

Beginners are encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days in order to be in touch with other members, find fellowship, support and to learn about recovery.

What is an A.A. Meeting?

There are generally two types of A.A. meetings – open meetings and closed meetings.

At “open meetings,” speakers tell their stories about their recovery and how A.A.helped them. Open meetings allow members to bring relatives or friends, and usually anyone interested in A.A.

“Closed meetings” are for alcoholics only. In these meetings there tends to be more disclosure about personal problems. Any members who want to may speak up, to ask questions or to share their thoughts may speak. Often other members will share parts of their stories and how they have handled problems similar to that being discussed. There is often a discussion of the Twelve Steps and how one or more of the steps may apply.

To find an AA meeting in Memphis, TN, go to local A.A. meeting directory usually indicates whether a meeting is an open or closed A.A. meeting.

Fortunately, there is now an Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. Our programs provide services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. Some people need to abstain from alcohol and drugs completely. Others do not want to abstain, but are willing to reduce the amount and frequency of their use. We do not believe that one size fits all. AA will work for some people and a moderation or harm reduction approach works better for others. We tailor our program your needs. If you or a loved one is showing signs of alcohol or drug abuse, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery. Substance abuse treatment can be highly successful. Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.


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