Sponsors and sponsees participate in activities that lead to spiritual growth. Experiences in the program are often shared by outgoing members with incoming members. This rotation of experience is often considered to have a great spiritual reward.[30] These may include practices such as literature discussion and study, meditation, and writing. Completing the program usually implies competency to guide newcomers which is often encouraged.[31] Sponsees typically do their Fifth Step, review their moral inventory written as part of the Fourth Step, with their sponsor. The Fifth Step, as well as the Ninth Step, have been compared to confession and penitence.[32] Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, noted such practices produce intrinsic modifications in the person—exonerating, redeeming and purifying them; relieves them of their burden of wrong, liberating them and promising salvation.[32][33]
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Stanton Peele argued that some AA groups apply the disease model to all problem drinkers, whether or not they are "full-blown" alcoholics.[90] Along with Nancy Shute, Peele has advocated that besides AA, other options should be readily available to those problem drinkers who are able to manage their drinking with the right treatment.[91] The Big Book says "moderate drinkers" and "a certain type of hard drinker" are able to stop or moderate their drinking. The Big Book suggests no program for these drinkers, but instead seeks to help drinkers without "power of choice in drink."[92]
During Step 8, people commonly resort to writing lists again, and this step is about forgiveness. Often, two lists are formed during this step: The first is a list of those who the person needs to forgive and the second is a list of those from whom they need to seek forgiveness. There will likely be crossover people on both lists. Individuals are encouraged to be honest and write down names of anyone who elicits strong emotions like resentment, shame, guilt, anger, fear, etc.

Benzodiazepines, while useful in the management of acute alcohol withdrawal, if used long-term can cause a worse outcome in alcoholism. Alcoholics on chronic benzodiazepines have a lower rate of achieving abstinence from alcohol than those not taking benzodiazepines. This class of drugs is commonly prescribed to alcoholics for insomnia or anxiety management.[139] Initiating prescriptions of benzodiazepines or sedative-hypnotics in individuals in recovery has a high rate of relapse with one author reporting more than a quarter of people relapsed after being prescribed sedative-hypnotics. Those who are long-term users of benzodiazepines should not be withdrawn rapidly, as severe anxiety and panic may develop, which are known risk factors for relapse into alcohol abuse. Taper regimes of 6–12 months have been found to be the most successful, with reduced intensity of withdrawal.[140][141]
Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor. Sometimes alcoholism develops suddenly in response to a stressful change, such as a breakup, retirement, or another loss. Other times, it gradually creeps up on you as your tolerance to alcohol increases. If you’re a binge drinker or you drink every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are greater.
Wilson took this to heart, coming up with additional points to safeguard the integrity and future of his group. To that effect, he wrote that every individual AA group should decline outside contributions and ought to be able to fully support itself. Alcoholics Anonymous was never to be a professional organization; “the only requirement for AA membership,” he wrote, “is a desire to stop drinking.” Above all, groups had to prize anonymity; Wilson wrote that it is “the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,” and that the sacrifice of identity would help members “place principles before personalities.”
The effects of alcoholism are far reaching. Alcohol affects every body system, causing a wide range of health problems. Problems include poor nutrition, memory disorders, difficulty with balance and walking, liver disease (including cirrhosis and hepatitis), high blood pressure, muscle weakness (including the heart), heart rhythm disturbances, anemia, clotting disorders, decreased immunity to infections, gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation, acute and chronic problems with the pancreas, low blood sugar, high blood fat content, interference with reproductive fertility, increased risk of cancer of the liver, esophagus, and breast, weakened bones, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression. About 20% of adults admitted to the hospital (for any reason) are alcohol dependent. Men are more than twice as likely to be alcohol dependent than women, and smokers who are alcohol dependent are much more likely to develop serious or fatal health problems associated with alcoholism.

A long-term study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that, after eight years, people with alcoholism who were part of both inpatient treatment and an AA group had a better chance of staying sober for the first three years of study. By the end of the eight years, those who received both had a much higher rate of abstinence. The researchers at NIAAA concluded that regular attendance at AA meetings had a notable impact on the viability and longevity of recovery.

People going through mild withdrawal are monitored to make sure that more severe symptoms do not develop. Medications usually are unnecessary. Treatment of a patient suffering more severe effects of withdrawal may require sedative medications to relieve the discomfort of withdrawal and to avoid the potentially life-threatening complications of high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and seizures. Benzodiazepine drugs may be helpful in those patients experiencing hallucinations. If the patient vomits for an extended period, fluids may need to be given through a vein (intravenously, IV). Thiamine (a vitamin) is often included in the fluids, because thiamine levels are often very low in alcohol-dependent patients, and deficiency of thiamine is responsible for the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

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Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). SMART Recovery is a network of support groups that advocate the use of scientific research in addiction recovery. SMART Recovery supports the use of prescription medications and behavioral therapies in the treatment of substance abuse. Since scientific knowledge is constantly evolving, the SMART Recovery program is also constantly evolving. The organization has face-to-face meetings across the United States and daily online meetings.
The program’s emphasis on negative feelings of powerlessness and guilt. Continuing in that train of thought, while the idea behind the 12 Steps may have been revolutionary at the time, for many they can feel outdated and even counterproductive. The 12-Step program demands that those in it break themselves down to be built back up, focusing on the notion that you are incapable of taking responsibility not just for your alcoholism but for yourself as well, that there is something wrong with you, and instilling what can feel more like shame than motivation.
My Treatment Lender is the only recovery-based lending company in the country. We provide loans to people who are in need of behavioral health, substance abuse and/or eating disorder treatment. We can help clients cover the cost of co-pays, high deductibles, or their entire stay. We believe that people don't have to suffer from mental health issues, alcoholism, drug addiction or eating disorders. There is a solution. By providing loans for treatment, we hope to be able to give people who want to recover the best chance possible.
Mike, I applaud you for this excellent treatise supporting the relevance of 12-Step recovery in modern addiction treatment.  Upon careful study, the goal is to achieve "A A" = autonomy and agency.  That this method is unwaveringly spelled out, is freely and widely available, requires no Prior Auth or co-pay, has no drug-drug interactions or side effects and enjoys a success rate commensurate with all other offerings is compelling.  For some validated evidence of things that work in recovery (including 12-Step) I invite you to visit our (RRI) website.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 15 million American adults misuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. In the United States, nearly 20% of patients treated in general medical practices report drinking at levels considered "risky" or "hazardous." According to NIAAA, less than 10% of patients with alcohol use disorder receive treatment.
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During Step 8, people commonly resort to writing lists again, and this step is about forgiveness. Often, two lists are formed during this step: The first is a list of those who the person needs to forgive and the second is a list of those from whom they need to seek forgiveness. There will likely be crossover people on both lists. Individuals are encouraged to be honest and write down names of anyone who elicits strong emotions like resentment, shame, guilt, anger, fear, etc.
Severe acute withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens and seizures rarely occur after 1-week post cessation of alcohol. The acute withdrawal phase can be defined as lasting between one and three weeks. In the period of 3–6 weeks following cessation increased anxiety, depression, as well as sleep disturbance, is common;[65] fatigue and tension can persist for up to 5 weeks as part of the post-acute withdrawal syndrome; about a quarter of alcoholics experience anxiety and depression for up to 2 years. These post-acute withdrawal symptoms have also been demonstrated in animal models of alcohol dependence and withdrawal.[66] A kindling effect also occurs in alcoholics whereby each subsequent withdrawal syndrome is more severe than the previous withdrawal episode; this is due to neuroadaptations which occur as a result of periods of abstinence followed by re-exposure to alcohol. Individuals who have had multiple withdrawal episodes are more likely to develop seizures and experience more severe anxiety during withdrawal from alcohol than alcohol-dependent individuals without a history of past alcohol withdrawal episodes. The kindling effect leads to persistent functional changes in brain neural circuits as well as to gene expression.[67] Kindling also results in the intensification of psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.[65] There are decision tools and questionnaires which help guide physicians in evaluating alcohol withdrawal. For example, the CIWA-Ar objectifies alcohol withdrawal symptoms in order to guide therapy decisions which allows for an efficient interview while at the same time retaining clinical usefulness, validity, and reliability, ensuring proper care for withdrawal patients, who can be in danger of death.[68]

I agree with Jann B.'s earlier comments that the resistance of some AA members to pharmacological assistance has helped to create the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine. In fact, resistance by active alcoholics to psychological assisstance - mostly by withholding the true nature of their addiction -  was addressed in AA's original publication in 1939 of the text Alcoholilcs Anonymous. It acknowledged that the alcoholic him/herself was in part responsible for the skepticism many professionals felt when treating alcoholics. However, AA literature also is quite clear (in the text and via subsequent pamphlets) about the importance of seeking outside help and being open-minded to the advice of a helping professional.

That said, I believe the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine is largely a result of AA's non-scientific approach. The nature of addiction and subsequent recovery through 12 Step work is not easily measurable or definable. Academia can measure length of sobriety and certain facts, but is not able to tell us why this occurs...at least not in a quantitative way.  As a result, tends to avoid embracing 12 Step recovery because they cannot define it measurable scientific methods.

Fortunately to the suffering alchoholic who desires escape from the hell of alchoholism, 12 Step recovery doesn't necessitate understanding the process, it requires doing the process.

The transformation to permanent sobriety results from taking action, not from taking thought. Study and debate it all you want, but his pragmatic approach continues to save lives, as it did mine, 31 years ago.

A member who accepts a service position or an organizing role is a "trusted servant" with terms rotating and limited, typically lasting three months to two years and determined by group vote and the nature of the position. Each group is a self-governing entity with AA World Services acting only in an advisory capacity. AA is served entirely by alcoholics, except for seven "nonalcoholic friends of the fellowship" of the 21-member AA Board of Trustees.[25]

For many, beer, wine, and spirits conjure up thoughts of social gatherings and tipsy fun. But alcohol, a depressant, is also associated with damaging behavior and the emotional pain and physical ruin of addiction. Experts debate the benefits and risks of drinking and passionately argue over whether moderation or abstinence is the best option for alcoholics.

While consuming alcohol is, by definition, necessary to develop alcoholism, the use of alcohol by itself does not predict the development of alcoholism. The quantity, frequency, and regularity of alcohol consumption required to develop alcoholism varies greatly from person to person. People's response to alcohol may be affected by their size, age, general state of health, and by the medications they are taking. In some, fewer drinks can still cause health problems. Since there is no known "safe" alcohol level for pregnant women, the Surgeon General advises women who are, or are planning to be, pregnant to abstain from drinking.
We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.[63]

Each person will have their own idea of who or what the higher power is to them, and in Step 3, individuals are asked to turn their lives over to this power for healing purposes. Steps 1 and 2 are all about reflection, learning that alcohol (or drugs) is a driving force in life and that a higher power is needed to recover and remain sober. With Step 3, individuals are called to action and to a willingness to change moving forward.
Alcohol addiction is a gradual process that occurs within the human brain. When alcohol is consumed, it alters the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, mainly gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, and dopamine. GABA monitors and controls a person's impulsivity, and frequently drinking copious amounts of alcohol alters this chemical's production, often making people more impulsive and less aware of what they are doing. Dopamine is one of the chemicals in the brain that, when released, causes pleasurable feelings like happiness, joy, or even euphoria. As more and more alcohol is consumed on a frequent basis, the brain begins to grow accustomed to this chemical imbalance. If an alcoholic tries to stop drinking, then the brain is deprived of the alcohol's effect, which results in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, shaking, tremors, or even hallucination.

Women For Sobriety: Founded in 1975 for the purpose of creating a recovery program that was explicitly geared towards women, the goal of Women For Sobriety is not to be anti-male but to address the specific psychological needs that many women have during recovery. WFS operates under the belief that many women are already struggling with low self-esteem or shame that has been culturally instilled in them and don’t need more of it from their recovery program. Instead of the 12 Steps, WFS’s treatment program is based around the 13 Affirmations that point toward positive goals rather than admitting negative faults, such as “Happiness is a habit I am developing,” “Enthusiasm is my daily exercise,” and “I am responsible for myself and for my actions.”


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Over 6% of the Australian population meet the criteria for having alcohol consumption disorders, either alcohol dependence or intoxication disorder. Alcohol dependence is the most common disorder, occurring in about 4.1% of Australians. A greater proportion of men (6.1%) suffer from alcohol dependence than women (2.3%). 18–24 years olds (of whom 9.3% meet the criteria for alcohol dependence) are the age group most likely to be alcohol dependent in Australia. There is a higher rate of alcohol consumption disorders amongst Indigenous Australians, compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
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Serious social problems arise from alcoholism; these dilemmas are caused by the pathological changes in the brain and the intoxicating effects of alcohol.[40][55] Alcohol abuse is associated with an increased risk of committing criminal offences, including child abuse, domestic violence, rape, burglary and assault.[56] Alcoholism is associated with loss of employment,[57] which can lead to financial problems. Drinking at inappropriate times and behavior caused by reduced judgment can lead to legal consequences, such as criminal charges for drunk driving[58] or public disorder, or civil penalties for tortious behavior, and may lead to a criminal sentence. An alcoholic's behavior and mental impairment while drunk can profoundly affect those surrounding him and lead to isolation from family and friends. This isolation can lead to marital conflict and divorce, or contribute to domestic violence. Alcoholism can also lead to child neglect, with subsequent lasting damage to the emotional development of the alcoholic's children.[59] For this reason, children of alcoholic parents can develop a number of emotional problems. For example, they can become afraid of their parents, because of their unstable mood behaviors. In addition, they can develop considerable amount of shame over their inadequacy to liberate their parents from alcoholism. As a result of this failure, they develop wretched self-images, which can lead to depression.[60]

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Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). SMART Recovery is a network of support groups that advocate the use of scientific research in addiction recovery. SMART Recovery supports the use of prescription medications and behavioral therapies in the treatment of substance abuse. Since scientific knowledge is constantly evolving, the SMART Recovery program is also constantly evolving. The organization has face-to-face meetings across the United States and daily online meetings.
Jump up ^ "HEALTH AND ETHICS POLICIES OF THE AMA HOUSE OF DELEGATES" (PDF). June 2008. p. 33. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. H-30.997 Dual Disease Classification of Alcoholism: The AMA reaffirms its policy endorsing the dual classification of alcoholism under both the psychiatric and medical sections of the International Classification of Diseases. (Res. 22, I-79; Reaffirmed: CLRPD Rep. B, I-89; Reaffirmed: CLRPD Rep. B, I-90; Reaffirmed by CSA Rep. 14, A-97; Reaffirmed: CSAPH Rep. 3, A-07)
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can affect all aspects of your life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, affecting virtually every organ in your body, including your brain. Problem drinking can also damage your emotional stability, finances, career, and your ability to build and sustain satisfying relationships. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can also have an impact on your family, friends and the people you work with.
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Among older patients with alcoholism, from one third to one half develop alcoholism after age 60 years. This group is harder to recognize. A population-based study found that problem drinking (>3 drinks/d) was observed in 9% of older men and in 2% of older women. Alcohol levels are higher in elderly patients for a given amount of alcohol consumed than in younger patients.
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Alcoholics Anonymous is the largest of all the twelve-step programs (from which all other twelve-steps programs are derived), followed by Narcotics Anonymous; the majority of twelve-step members are recovering from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. The majority of twelve-step programs, however, address illnesses other than substance addiction. For example, the third-largest twelve-step program, Al-Anon, assists family members and friends of people who have alcoholism and other addictions. About twenty percent of twelve-step programs are for substance addiction recovery, the other eighty percent address a variety of problems from debt to depression.[36] It would be an error to assume the effectiveness of twelve-step methods at treating problems in one domain translates to all or to another domain,[37] therefore readers are directed to relevant sections in each group's article.
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