In a closed AA meeting, the only people who may attend are those who are recovering addicts (or those interested in learning more about overcoming their addiction). Open meetings allow the attendance of friends, spouses and family members. Whether you decide to go to a closed or open meeting depends exclusively on what you’re comfortable with. Some people would rather keep their recovery separate from the rest of their life. Others thrive on the support that loved ones can provide during meetings.
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Alcohol abuse, now included in the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, is a disease. While many have described this disorder as dipsomania, the latter term more accurately describes the intense craving that can be a symptom of alcohol use disorder. A maladaptive pattern of drinking alcohol that results in negative work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social effects on a person's life characterizes the disorder. The individual who abuses this substance tends to continue to use it despite such consequences. Effects of alcohol use disorder on families can include increased domestic abuse/domestic violence. The effects that parental alcoholism can have on children can be significantly detrimental in other ways as well. For example, the sons and daughters of alcoholics seem to be at higher risk for experiencing feelings that are more negative, stress, and alienation as well as aggression. There are a multitude of negative psychological effects of alcohol use disorder, including depression and antisocial behaviors.
According to information derived from the United States National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Study released in 2006, about 8% of American adults are dependent on alcohol (estimates range from 5-10%). About 34% of adult Americans do not use alcohol at all. Another 44% are occasional or non-dependent users. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (smoking and obesity rank first and second) and is responsible for about 85,000 deaths annually, about half from injury and half from disease. Alcoholism is involved in about 30% of homicides and 22% of suicides. It is the cause of about 20% of fatal motor vehicle accidents and is a contributing factor in between one-third and one-half of all vehicular accidents. Alcoholism costs the United States about $185 billion annually in costs related to violence, traffic accidents, lost work productivity, and direct medical expenses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that at least 6.6 million children under age 18 live in households with at least one alcoholic parent and that before age 18 about 25% of children are exposed to family alcohol dependency or alcohol abuse.
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.
A condition characterised by a pathologic pattern of alcohol use causing a serious impairment in social or occupational functioning; also defined by the Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence & the American Society of Addiction Medicine as a “primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterised by … distortions in thinking, most notably denial.” A simpler, operational definition is persistent drinking that interferes with the person’s health, legal position, interpersonal relationships, or means of livelihood. Alcoholism is characterised by the regular intake of ≥75 g/day of alcohol.
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.
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. 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.