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The 12 Steps are designed to not only be read – but to be applied in our daily lives. The 12 Step approach to recovery 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.


More informally than not, AA's membership has helped popularize the disease concept of alcoholism, though AA officially has had no part in the development of such postulates which had appeared as early as the late eighteenth century.[58] Though AA initially avoided the term "disease", in 1973 conference-approved literature categorically stated that "we had the disease of alcoholism."[59][better source needed] Regardless of official positions, from AA's inception most members have believed alcoholism to be a disease.[60]
Chemically, alcohol tends to decrease the chemical activity of substances that affect the nervous system, to inhibit behavior (gamma aminobutyric acid, also called GABA signaling) and increase the activity of pleasure-seeking processes (glutamate). That can result in people being less inhibited in their words and actions and more likely to engage in immediately pleasurable activities even if they are unsafe. Even light drinkers can experience shrinking of parts of the brain. Intoxication with alcohol can be characterized by slurred speech, clumsiness, sleepiness, headaches, distorted senses, lapses in memory, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
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:

The term is also used by outlets like Salon and New York Magazine, which suggest that the time has come for Alcoholics Anonymous to be decoupled from mainstream alcoholism recovery. The point is made by Mia Szalavitz, a recovering addict and now an addiction researcher and author, who wrote a book about how developments in neuroscience and psychology might render AA obsolete. Szalavitz takes issue with the AA concept of “hitting rock bottom,” the moment when a person experiences a personal loss (e.g., a DUI, eviction, divorce, firing, etc.) as a sign that the addiction has become too damaging to ignore. This expectation, writes Szalavitz, is “harsh and humiliating,” in the sense that help is withheld until the person crosses a tragic Rubicon. But so deeply does it run in the DNA of Alcoholics Anonymous that it has influenced how any 12-Step methodology treats addiction therapy. This, says Szalavitz, has made the treatment community on the whole “embrace a totally false, harmful view of what addiction is.”
AA is a spiritual organization that calls for people to believe in a higher power and to accept God as they understand him to be. God, or a higher power, can come in many forms and does not have to be taken in the traditional sense. What Step 2 calls for is faith that a higher power exists and that this power is necessary to restore sanity. For those who don’t believe in God per se, this higher power can represent any number of other things, like the stark reality that recreational drug use is unrealistic.
Fact: You don’t have to be homeless and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down jobs, get through school, and provide for their families. Some are even able to excel. But just because you’re a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself or others in danger. Over time, the effects will catch up with you.
Jump up ^ Morse, RM; Flavin, DK (August 1992). "The definition of alcoholism. The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to Study the Definition and Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alcoholism". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 268 (8): 1012–4. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080086030. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 1501306.
Based on combined data from SAMHSA's 2004–2005 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health, the rate of past-year alcohol dependence or abuse among persons aged 12 or older varied by level of alcohol use: 44.7% of past month heavy drinkers, 18.5% binge drinkers, 3.8% past month non-binge drinkers, and 1.3% of those who did not drink alcohol in the past month met the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year. Males had higher rates than females for all measures of drinking in the past month: any alcohol use (57.5% vs. 45%), binge drinking (30.8% vs. 15.1%), and heavy alcohol use (10.5% vs. 3.3%), and males were twice as likely as females to have met the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year (10.5% vs. 5.1%).[83]
During alcoholism treatment, therapy teams provide lessons on relapse prevention. These lessons are designed to help people spot the people, places, and things that can drive them to return to drinking. With the help of these lessons, people can learn to both avoid and/or handle their triggers so they won’t pick up an alcoholic beverage when they’re under stress.
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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As dependence increases, individuals are more likely to experience health and social consequences. The consumption of alcohol in moderation has health benefits for some (e.g. it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in older people). On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption, especially when it is caused by alcohol dependence, is associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems. These include:
Most experts believe that a research-based, residential treatment program that is customized to an individual’s needs is the most effective method to achieve and maintain recovery. Whether this program includes 12-Step aspects, is based on the 12-Step concept, or is an alternative to this original model of addiction treatment, it’s important that care is customized to the individual. Working with an addiction treatment professional is a good way to find the treatment modality that is appropriate for each person, leading to the best path to recovery.
There are many clues which can lead a doctor to suspect a patient is alcohol dependent, and will not usually require a physical examination. For example, a doctor may suspect alcohol dependence if a patient often asks for a medical certificate for time off work, has a mental health problem (e.g. depression) or physical conditions associated with alcohol consumption (especially liver cirrhosis). In such cases, a good doctor will ask the patient questions about their alcohol consumption patterns, or ask them to complete a questionnaire about alcohol, to assess whether or not their alcohol consumption is presenting a health risk.

Just as there is no one test for screening or diagnosing alcoholism, there is not one single therapy or medication that definitively treats alcoholism in all those affected. Like many chronic diseases, alcohol dependence is not an easy condition to resolve, and many people will relapse into drinking several times before gaining lasting sobriety. Some of the damage done to the liver and to other organs while drinking may resolve, while some may be permanent. Patients and their doctors will need to work together over the years to maintain sobriety and to address any complications that arise from alcohol damage.

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Using “I” statements reduces accusation and lets you be an active participant in the discussion. It may be helpful to bring up a specific concern. You may mention when alcohol caused an unwanted effect, such as violent behavior or economic problems. Rather than saying, “You’re an alcoholic — you need to get help now,” you can say, “I love you and you’re very important to me. I’m concerned about how much you’re drinking, and it may be harming your health.”
Stereotypes of alcoholics are often found in fiction and popular culture. The "town drunk" is a stock character in Western popular culture. Stereotypes of drunkenness may be based on racism or xenophobia, as in the fictional depiction of the Irish as heavy drinkers.[171] Studies by social psychologists Stivers and Greeley attempt to document the perceived prevalence of high alcohol consumption amongst the Irish in America.[172] Alcohol consumption is relatively similar between many European cultures, the United States, and Australia. In Asian countries that have a high gross domestic product, there is heightened drinking compared to other Asian countries, but it is nowhere near as high as it is in other countries like the United States. It is also inversely seen, with countries that have very low gross domestic product showing high alcohol consumption.[173] In a study done on Korean immigrants in Canada, they reported alcohol was even an integral part of their meal, and is the only time solo drinking should occur. They also believe alcohol is necessary at any social event as it helps conversations start.[174]
In keeping with AA's Eighth Tradition, the Central Office employs special workers who are compensated financially for their services, but their services do not include traditional "12th Step" work of working with alcoholics in need.[31] All 12th Step calls that come to the Central Office are handed to sober AA members who have volunteered to handle these calls. It also maintains service centers, which coordinate activities such as printing literature, responding to public inquiries, and organizing conferences. Other International General Service Offices (Australia, Costa Rica, Russia, etc.) are independent of AA World Services in New York.[32]
Thank you for letting Los Angles Central Office serve and support you. LACO maintains this website and publishes both the online and print meeting directories, and it is the information hub for AA in the Los Angeles area. At Central Office volunteers are of service 365 days a year answering the phones and sharing experience, strength and hope. Let us know how we can help your group carry the message.

Because Alcoholics Anonymous was exclusive to people who struggled with alcohol addiction, a vast array of other programs were formed to aid and support those in recovery from other addictive disorders. These include the following groups: ACA –Adult Children of Alcoholics Al-Anon/Alateen (for friends and families of alcoholics) CA –Cocaine Anonymous CLA –Clutterers Anonymous CMA –Crystal Meth Anonymous Co-Anon (for friends and family of addicts) CoDA –Co-Dependents Anonymous (for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and develop functional and healthy relationships) COSA (an auxiliary group of Sex Addicts Anonymous) COSLAA –CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous DA –Debtors Anonymous EA –Emotions Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness FA –Families Anonymous, for relatives and friends of addicts FA –Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous FAA –Food Addicts Anonymous GA –Gamblers Anonymous Gam-Anon/Gam-A-Teen (for friends and family members of problem gamblers) HA –Heroin Anonymous MA –Marijuana Anonymous NA –Narcotics Anonymous N/A –Neurotics Anonymous (for recovery from mental and emotional illness) Nar-Anon (for friends and family members of addicts) NicA –Nicotine Anonymous OA –Overeaters Anonymous OLGA –Online Gamers Anonymous PA –Pills Anonymous (for recovery from prescription pill addiction) SA –Sexaholics Anonymous SA –Smokers Anonymous SAA –Sex Addicts Anonymous SCA –Sexual Compulsives Anonymous SIA –Survivors of Incest Anonymous SLAA –Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous SRA –Sexual Recovery Anonymous UA –Underearners Anonymous WA –Workaholics Anonymous
When it comes to maintaining long-term sobriety outside of a rehabilitation treatment program, the oldest and probably most well-known organization is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Founded in 1935, AA and its 12-Step Program has been the go-to for treating alcoholism for decades, with many addiction treatment centers incorporating at least some version of the 12 Steps in their own treatment therapies.
If someone in your family is living with an active alcohol use disorder, you and your family are not alone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that more than 15 million Americans over the age of 18 were living with an alcohol use disorder and about 623,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 were struggling as well.
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Issues with retention and completion rates. Despite how ingrained the 12-Step program is as the standard for alcoholism recovery, the hard numbers tell a different story. According to several studies, the 12-Step Program has been found to be effective for about 20 percent of those that try it, with the other 80 percent usually stopping after just one month. At any given time, only five percent of those still attending AA has been there for a year.
Alcohol abuse and dependence, now both included under the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, is a disease characterized by the sufferer having a pattern of drinking excessively despite the negative effects of alcohol on the individual's work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social life. It may involve a destructive pattern of alcohol use that includes a number of symptoms, including tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, using more alcohol and/or for a longer time than planned, and trouble reducing its use.
Auxiliary groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, for friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts, respectively, are part of a response to treating addiction as a disease that is enabled by family systems.[4] Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA) addresses the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) addresses compulsions related to relationships, referred to as codependency.
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