Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the first 12-step program established and many other support groups have branched off from AA using this model. AA is an organization that unites people who have struggled with alcohol dependency, providing strength and faith in one another to overcome addiction. Its mission is to “stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety” without judgment or segregation. AA founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith developed the 12 steps based on concepts from Carl Jung’s theories as influenced by Eastern philosophy, and from spiritual values such as those rooted in the principles of the Oxford Group.
Non-12-step support groups provide a secular alternative to the 12-step programs and may be more comfortable for those not wanting to place such an emphasis on a higher power for recovery. Non-12-step groups sometimes involve fewer group sharing scenarios—which can provide some relief for those individuals who aren't as comfortable sharing sensitive personal information in group settings. Below are a few examples of non-12-step programs:
Though it can feel as if you are hiding a unique or embarrassing problem, the fact is that families across the country are experiencing the exact same thing you are. You are not alone with the disease, and you will not be alone as you seek the treatment necessary to begin to heal and start a new life in recovery. Alcohol.org is available to provide education and support all along the way.
Alcohol use disorder (which includes a level that's sometimes called alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.
Alcoholism is characterised by an increased tolerance to alcohol–which means that an individual can consume more alcohol–and physical dependence on alcohol, which makes it hard for an individual to control their consumption. The physical dependency caused by alcohol can lead to an affected individual having a very strong urge to drink alcohol. These characteristics play a role decreasing an alcoholic's ability to stop drinking. Alcoholism can have adverse effects on mental health, causing psychiatric disorders and increasing the risk of suicide. A depressed mood is a common symptom of heavy alcohol drinkers.
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.
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.
In professional and research contexts, the term "alcoholism" sometimes encompasses both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, and sometimes is considered equivalent to alcohol dependence. Talbot (1989) observes that alcoholism in the classical disease model follows a progressive course: if a person continues to drink, their condition will worsen. This will lead to harmful consequences in their life, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Johnson (1980) explores the emotional progression of the addict’s response to alcohol. He looks at this in four phases. The first two are considered "normal" drinking and the last two are viewed as "typical" alcoholic drinking. Johnson's four phases consist of:
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Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure, mental confusion, coma, body fluid accumulation, and frequent infections.
In 1941, interviews on American radio and favorable articles in US magazines, including a piece by Jack Alexander in The Saturday Evening Post, led to increased book sales and membership. By 1946, as the growing fellowship quarreled over structure, purpose, and authority, as well as finances and publicity, Wilson began to form and promote what became known as AA's "Twelve Traditions," which are guidelines for an altruistic, unaffiliated, non-coercive, and non-hierarchical structure that limited AA's purpose to only helping alcoholics on a non-professional level while shunning publicity. Eventually he gained formal adoption and inclusion of the Twelve Traditions in all future editions of the Big Book. At the 1955 conference in St. Louis, Missouri, Wilson relinquished stewardship of AA to the General Service Conference, as AA grew to millions of members internationally.
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Another variation comes from the fact that some people are uncomfortable with the specific, religious aspects of the 12-Step program. As stated above, and as evident by the steps themselves, the 12-Step model originated from a Christian point of view. Those who are not Christian have modified the steps to refer to their specific religious or spiritual practice as a way to connect more with the structure of the 12-Step program. In addition, a number of non-religious 12-Step groups have modified the steps to fit a secular model that can help those who are agnostic or atheist practice the program without feeling forced to adhere to a religion they don’t believe in.
Morgan and his colleagues used data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, xamining the gender-specific prevalence of Axis I (clinical disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, social phobia) and Axis II (personality disorders such as paranoia, antisocial and borderline personality) disorders in 40,374 respondents (23,006 males, 17,368 females) with and without a history of paternal or maternal alcoholism.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) : Alabama • Alaska • American Samoa • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Federated States of Micronesia • Florida • Georgia • Guam • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Marshall Islands • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Northern Mariana Islands • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Tribal Areas • Utah • Vermont • Virgin Islands • Virginia • Washington • Washington DC • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming
The twelve Step programs are well known for their use in recovering from addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.
AA meetings are "quasi-ritualized therapeutic sessions run by and for, alcoholics". They are usually informal and often feature discussions. Local AA directories list a variety of weekly meetings. Those listed as "closed" are available to those with a self professed "desire to stop drinking," which cannot be challenged by another member on any grounds. "Open" meetings are available to anyone (nonalcoholics can attend as observers). At speaker meetings, one or two members tell their stories, while discussion meetings allocate the most time for general discussion. Some meetings are devoted to studying and discussing the AA literature.
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Alcohol dependence is a legitimate health problem. Health professionals can provide advice, support and in some cases medication to help reduce alcohol dependence. You may feel embarrassed talking to a doctor about drinking too much, but remember that doctors and other health workers are there to help fix health problems, not to judge or berate their patients. A good doctor will encourage their patients to drink in moderation or perhaps abstain for periods of time, not make their patients feel guilty or bad for drinking drink too much alcohol.
Problem drinking in women is much less common than it is in men, and the typical onset of problem drinking in females occurs later than in males. However, progression is more rapid, and females usually enter treatment earlier than males. Women more commonly combine alcohol with prescription drugs of abuse than do males. Women living with substance-abusing men are at high risk.
Alcoholism is common, serious, and expensive. Physicians encounter alcohol-related cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal bleeding, as well as intoxication and alcohol addiction, on a daily basis. Alcoholism is also associated with many cancers. Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis are also important causes of chronic disability as well as dementia. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a leading cause of mental retardation. In addition, accidents (especially automobile), depression, dementia, suicide, and homicide are important consequences of alcoholism.
"Learning basic Twelve Step philosophy and language can open the lines of communication," continued Cathy. "Once you understand some Twelve Step principles, concepts such as powerlessness, spiritual awakening, higher power and making amends, they will seem less like cult mantras and more like the simple guides they are intended to be." A Twelve Step program is one that adapts the Twelve Steps of AA to fit the particular needs of a mutual-help group. Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, Gamblers Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, and Adult Children of Alcoholics are examples of groups with a Twelve Step foundation.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Narcotics Anonymous is an organization that adapted the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous. Just like AA, NA emphasizes a spiritual connection to a higher power. The program is targeted towards men and women for whom drugs have become a major problem. These people come together regularly in support group meetings and help one another to maintain abstinence as they recover from their addictions.
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Below are the statistically significant relative risks from a study by the American Cancer Society for men and women who consume 4 or more drinks daily. A drink is defined as one 12-oz beer, one 4- to 5-oz glass of wine, or one mixed drink containing 1.5 oz of spirits (80 proof). The relative risk for the noted maladies with consumption of 4 or more drinks daily is as follows:
As is true with virtually any mental health diagnosis, there is no one test that definitively indicates that someone has an alcohol-use disorder. Screening tools, including online or other tests may help identify individuals who are at risk for having a drinking problem. Therefore, health care professionals diagnose alcohol abuse or dependence by gathering comprehensive medical, family, and mental health information. The practitioner will also either perform a physical examination or request that the individual's primary care doctor perform one. The medical examination will usually include lab tests to evaluate the person's general health and to explore whether or not the individual has a medical condition that might have mental health symptoms.
The 12-step approach to rehabilitation treatment is embraced throughout the world, so it’s always easy to find support where you are or wherever you go. Accordingly, we advise patients to keep in contact with ‘sober supports’ they make during treatment at one of our locations. We also encourage them to continue attending 12-step groups on a regular basis after discharge. Being able to discuss mistakes or relapses, as needed, in a supportive environment helps to keep patients accountable for their actions.
The personal nature of the behavioral issues that lead to seeking help in twelve-step fellowships results in a strong relationship between sponsee and sponsor. As the relationship is based on spiritual principles, it is unique and not generally characterized as "friendship". Fundamentally, the sponsor has the single purpose of helping the sponsee recover from the behavioral problem that brought the sufferer into twelve-step work, which reflexively helps the sponsor recover.