AA's program extends beyond abstaining from alcohol.[33] Its goal is to effect enough change in the alcoholic's thinking "to bring about recovery from alcoholism"[34] through "an entire psychic change," or spiritual awakening.[35] A spiritual awakening is meant to be achieved by taking the Twelve Steps,[36] and sobriety is furthered by volunteering for AA[37] and regular AA meeting attendance[38] or contact with AA members.[36] Members are encouraged to find an experienced fellow alcoholic, called a sponsor, to help them understand and follow the AA program. The sponsor should preferably have experience of all twelve of the steps, be the same sex as the sponsored person, and refrain from imposing personal views on the sponsored person.[37] Following the helper therapy principle, sponsors in AA may benefit from their relationship with their charges, as "helping behaviors" correlate with increased abstinence and lower probabilities of binge drinking.[39]

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The program is available for patients who are otherwise healthy; specifically, specifically, those who do not have acute or significant heart disease, insulin dependent diabetes that is well controlled with an A1C at or above 7, sleep apnea not controlled or a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 42, as individuals with these conditions are best suited recovering in a hospital setting.
In 1939, High Watch Farm in Kent, Connecticut was founded by Bill Wilson and Marty Mann. Sister Francis who owned the farm tried to gift the spiritual retreat for alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous, however citing the sixth tradition Bill W. turned down the gift but agreed to have a separate non-profit board run the facility composed of AA members. Bill Wilson and Marty Mann served on the High Watch board of directors for many years. High Watch was the first and therefore the oldest 12 step based treatment center in the world still operating today.
In 1939, High Watch Farm in Kent, Connecticut was founded by Bill Wilson and Marty Mann. Sister Francis who owned the farm tried to gift the spiritual retreat for alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous, however citing the sixth tradition Bill W. turned down the gift but agreed to have a separate non-profit board run the facility composed of AA members. Bill Wilson and Marty Mann served on the High Watch board of directors for many years. High Watch was the first and therefore the oldest 12 step based treatment center in the world still operating today.
In order to effectively recover from an addiction, professional help in the field of substance abuse is only part of the equation. Often times, recovering individuals additionally need the support of others who are also recovering from addiction. This is where support groups can provide a critical element needed to bring success to an individual's recovery process.
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.
AA meetings do not exclude other alcoholics, though some meetings cater to specific demographics such as gender, profession, age, sexual orientation,[44][45] or culture.[46][47] Meetings in the United States are held in a variety of languages including Armenian, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.[48][45] While AA has pamphlets that suggest meeting formats,[49][50] groups have the autonomy to hold and conduct meetings as they wish "except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole".[4] Different cultures affect ritual aspects of meetings, but around the world "many particularities of the AA meeting format can be observed at almost any AA gathering".[51]
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.
Twelve-Step Recovery addresses the psychology of the person with addiction as well as the individual’s spirituality--his/her values, his/her connectedness to others, and his/her willingness to engage with others and humbly ask for help. The process of change in Twelve-Step Recovery starts with an acceptance that when friends or loved ones point out that things are amiss in one’s life, they are likely correct, and things have likely become unmanageable. And while taking personal responsibility and accepting accountability for one’s actions are considered key steps, Twelve-Step Recovery outlines that excessive self-reliance and the firm stance that “I can get myself out of this,” and “I know what to do about this,” will be roadblocks to recovery from addiction. “Getting out of oneself” and recognizing that one doesn’t have all the answers, and humbly asking for help from another human being—from a health professional or from a lay person—are behaviors and behavioral styles that are promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous and related “Twelve-Step” programs of peer support.
Women develop long-term complications of alcohol dependence more rapidly than do men. Additionally, women have a higher mortality rate from alcoholism than men.[35] Examples of long-term complications include brain, heart, and liver damage[36] and an increased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, heavy drinking over time has been found to have a negative effect on reproductive functioning in women. This results in reproductive dysfunction such as anovulation, decreased ovarian mass, problems or irregularity of the menstrual cycle, and early menopause.[35] Alcoholic ketoacidosis can occur in individuals who chronically abuse alcohol and have a recent history of binge drinking.[37][38] The amount of alcohol that can be biologically processed and its effects differ between sexes. Equal dosages of alcohol consumed by men and women generally result in women having higher blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), since women generally have a higher percentage of body fat and therefore a lower volume of distribution for alcohol than men, and because the stomachs of men tend to metabolize alcohol more quickly.[39]
Added fat and scar tissue on the liver due to excessive alcohol consumption can lead to all sorts of problems, but most often either cirrhosis or alcohol-induced hepatitis. Liver failure among those who drink heavily for many years is likely. Pancreatitis, or the consistent inflammation of the pancreas, can also cause damage to the body, including high blood sugar leading to diabetes.

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The twelve steps of the program are listed above and on the steps page in generic form. Other groups who have adopted the 12 steps to address their own particular addictive or dysfunctional behavior have similar ideas, usually with only minor variations. These steps are meant to be worked sequentially as a process of getting rid of addictive behaviors and should result in a growth in freedom and happiness, as outlined in the Promises. The general governing approach for A.A. groups was originally laid out in the Twelve Traditions, and they remain the guiding principles for most 12 step groups today.

In most parts of the world, alcohol is legal for adults to both purchase and consume. As a result, beverages that contain alcohol are available almost everywhere, and clearly, many adults partake. Since use is so common, it might seem hard to determine who is drinking alcohol in an appropriate manner and who is drinking in a manner that could lead to alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Experts suggest there are key signs to look for.


The mental obsession is described as the cognitive processes that causes the individual to repeat the compulsive behavior after some period of abstinence, either knowing that the result will be an inability to stop or operating under the delusion that the result will be different. The description in the First Step of the life of the alcoholic or addict as "unmanageable" refers to the lack of choice that the mind of the addict or alcoholic affords concerning whether to drink or use again.[20]
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