Who Benefits from Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings?
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the longest standing alcohol recovery support groups. It began in the 1930s as a religious organization helping each other and gradually grew into the multinational organization it is today. They have been helping people recover from alcohol issues for over 75 years according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Four main groups of people benefit from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. These four main groups are the alcoholics themselves, other alcoholics, their friends and family, and the community they live in. The benefits to each of these groups of individuals are well documented.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous Based On?
Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the use of 12 steps to recovery. These 12 steps form the foundation of all Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Each of the 12 steps have benefits of their own. The 12 steps are:
- Admit that you are powerless and have a problem with alcohol,
- Believe in a higher power that can restore sanity to your life,
- Decide to turn your life over to the higher power,
- Inventory yourself and knowing the wrongs that you have committed,
- Admit to the higher power, yourself, and one other person the wrongs you have committed,
- Become ready to have god remove these wrongs and the defects that caused them,
- Ask god to help you remove your shortcomings and defects,
- Make a list of the wrongs you have committed and the people you harmed,
- Make amends to those people as long as doing so does not hurt them further,
- Continue to strive to take responsibility for your actions and admit any wrongdoing,
- Meditate and pray, trying to get closer to the higher power,
- Have an awakening because of these steps and help others to do the same.
It is said that the process of completing these 12 steps is cathartic. It teaches the alcoholic how to live without drinking. Just the process of completing them is considered a benefit of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
How you benefit from Alcoholics Anonymous
Most people agree that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are beneficial for a variety of reasons. A few of the commonly quoted reasons are:
- Interaction – it is a place where alcoholics can interact with each other.
- Sharing – by sharing stories it helps alcoholics to not feel all alone.
- Learning – they teach each other new ways to deal with the consequences of alcoholism.
- Mutual support – you benefit from the support and commiseration of others.
Since its beginnings, Alcoholics Anonymous has been about recovering alcoholics helping those who are still drinking find the path to sobriety. This philosophy is often mutually beneficial for both the person who is sober and the person who is trying to become sober.
How other alcoholics benefit
Alcoholics benefiting each other is nothing new. By joining Alcoholics Anonymous, you actually benefit other alcoholics. At first this seems counterintuitive, but when you think about it, the organization works by sharing information and having access to people that you can relate to. By joining and just being there, you create the same circumstances that benefit you for others.
Your story and experiences might help someone who is struggling with their own issues. By sharing your information with them, you could be helping them onto the path of sobriety.
If you decide to stay with the organization, you have the opportunity to become a sponsor. This means you help other alcoholics by being there for them, encouraging them, and supporting them when they need it.
You could also become a speaker or a group leader. By continuing the traditions of the organization, you make sure the organization continues to help other alcoholics.
How your friends and family benefit
Your friends and family benefit from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because they help you become a sober person. According to an article titled Living With an Alcoholic, published in the National Library of Medicine, there are a number of issues that arise in living with an alcoholic. These include:
- Verbal conflicts and arguing, which are a common side effect of the defensiveness that comes with a drinking problem,
- Physical violence, which is a far too common problem in relationships with alcoholics, especially against spouses and children,
- Psychological and emotional damage to everyone around the alcoholic,
- Increased chance of children developing a substance abuse problems in the future,
- Confusion of marital and work rolls when someone has to pick up the slack for the alcoholic,
- Lack of communication, and
- Problems coping with adversity of all types, and in every situation.
There is also evidence that children are especially susceptible to psychological and emotional problems, even if they are not directly involved with the alcoholic. Using a program like Alcoholics Anonymous to get sober greatly lessens the effects of your alcoholism on others.
Steps eight and nine of the twelve-step program require that you make a list of those your alcoholism has hurt, and do your best to make amends. Not only does this help you to heal from your alcohol problems, but allows you to mend broken relationships with friends, family members, children, and co-workers.
How your community benefits
Alcohol abuse has a number of negative effects on the communities that it takes place in. These effects are far reaching and affect all members of any given community. Some of these effects are:
- Traffic accidents caused by intoxication from alcohol abuse- more than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
- Violent crime- more than half of rapes are perpetrated by persons under the influence of alcohol, alcoholics are thirty times more likely to commit suicide, and three times more likely to commit assault, murder, or abuse a significant other or child.
- Increased healthcare costs- medical treatment for alcohol related issues is estimated to cost over one-hundred billion dollars this year, and fetal alcohol syndrome continues to be a major contributor to poor health in newborns.
This is not a complete list, by any means. However, it serves to illustrate just how much of an impact alcohol abuse has on the community. Treatment from the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can help reduce the effects of alcohol abuse on the alcoholic attending the meetings, other alcoholics, their friends and family, and improve the overall health of the community.