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.
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]
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.
Naltrexone is a competitive antagonist for opioid receptors, effectively blocking the effects of endorphins and opioids. Naltrexone is used to decrease cravings for alcohol and encourage abstinence. Alcohol causes the body to release endorphins, which in turn release dopamine and activate the reward pathways; hence in the body reduces the pleasurable effects from consuming alcohol.[136] Evidence supports a reduced risk of relapse among alcohol-dependent persons and a decrease in excessive drinking.[135] Nalmefene also appears effective and works in a similar manner.[135]
Like individual groups, the GSO is self-supporting. AA receives proceeds from books and literature that constitute more than 50% of the income for its General Service Office.[30] In keeping with AA's Seventh Tradition, the Central Office is fully self-supporting through the sale of literature and related products, and through the voluntary donations of AA members and groups. It does not accept donations from people or organizations outside of AA.
Five stages of alcohol and substance abuse disorders have been identified. The first stage is described as having access to alcohol rather than use of alcohol. In that stage, minimizing the risk factors that make a person more vulnerable to using alcohol are an issue. The second stage of alcohol use ranges from experimentation or occasional use to regular weekly use of alcohol. This or any of the more severe stages of alcoholism may involve binge drinking. The third stage is characterized by individuals further increasing the frequency of alcohol use and/or using the substance on a regular basis. This stage may also include either buying or stealing to get alcohol. In the fourth stage of alcohol use, users have established regular alcohol consumption, have become preoccupied with getting intoxicated ("high") and have developed problems in their social, educational, vocational, or family life as a result of using the substance. The final and most serious fifth stage of alcohol use is defined by the person only feeling normal when they are using alcohol. During this stage, risk-taking behaviors like stealing, engaging in physical fights, or driving while intoxicated increase, and they become most vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts.
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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.
There are no dues or fees for members of AA. Prohibitive cost can be a major hurdle when it comes to sticking with a treatment program. Even if it’s working, someone might drop out if it becomes too expensive for them to stay with it. While a group might do a collection to cover expenses like rent or refreshments, there is no mandatory cost required to join AA.
Alcohol use is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States (after smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity). According to a 2018 report from the WHO, in 2016 the harmful use of alcohol resulted in about 3 million deaths, or 5.3% of all deaths around the world, with most of these occurring among men. [1, 2] The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink. [3]
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Alcoholics Anonymous is a self-help recovery organization that is made up of support groups for people who are committed to beating alcoholism. AA first introduced, and still uses, the 12 steps of recovery, which have been in use in the United States and Canada for the last 60 years. This alcohol recovery program encourages its members to reach out to a higher power to help people overcome their addictions. With more than 56,500 AA support groups and alcohol addiction recovery programs throughout the United States, most communities have at least one AA support group. Support group meetings may be open or closed. Open meetings allow the attendance of both the substance abuser and his or her family members. Closed meetings only allow the attendance of the substance abuser. Members are expected to attend meetings regularly and encouraged to seek out a sponsor who has managed to successfully maintain sobriety.
While Wilson and Smith credited their sobriety to working with alcoholics under the auspices of the Oxford Group, a Group associate pastor sermonized against Wilson and his alcoholic Groupers for forming a "secret, ashamed sub-group" engaged in "divergent works".[19] By 1937, Wilson separated from the Oxford Group. AA Historian Ernest Kurtz described the split:[19]

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Choosing to seek help for an alcohol addiction is one of the biggest decisions you will face. There are different forms of treatment available based on frequency and severity of alcohol abuse. Recovering from alcohol addiction is a process that continues long after rehab. It takes commitment to practice and apply the techniques you learn in rehab, counseling, support groups and other types of therapy.
To start with, getting sober and drug-free requires the desire and determination to get clean, and having both of these is crucial. If you’re looking for help for a loved one or a friend, know that they’ll need to be “on board" with the idea of recovery if they are going to have a solid chance of getting clean. If they have not yet recognized their own problem, an addiction intervention may be necessary. During the beginning phases of recovery, an alcohol and drug detox is always necessary to remove any unwanted chemicals from the body, followed by intensive addiction recovery therapy. The latter may take 28-90 days (sometimes more), but completing the program provides all the tools needed to stay substance-free. It is highly beneficial for those leaving rehab to join a recovery support group and even consider spending time in a recovery home.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
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.
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Are you ready for some alarming information? A study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2006 included the analysis of 43,000 people. The researchers determined that waiting until age 21 to drink places the average person at a 9% chance of developing alcoholism. However, start drinking at age 14 or sooner, (which plenty of kids do), and that shoots up to a 47% chance. “In general, each additional year earlier than 21 that a respondent began to drink, the greater the odds that he or she would develop alcohol dependence at some point in life,” says the study.

GENERAL DISCLAIMER Recovery.org is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in providing medical or health advice. The information provided through Recovery.org is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health problem or disease. It is not meant to be a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem you should consult your health care provider. All Recovery.org authors, editors, producers, and contributors shall have no liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage, or adverse consequence alleged to have happened directly or indirectly as a consequence of material on this website or any linked to content or providers referred to.
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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship[1] whose stated purpose is to enable its members to "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety."[1][2][3] It was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. With other early members, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith developed AA's Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA's initial Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help the fellowship be stable and unified while disengaged from "outside issues" and influences.
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Prevention of alcoholism may be attempted by regulating and limiting the sale of alcohol, taxing alcohol to increase its cost, and providing inexpensive treatment.[17] Treatment may take several steps.[7] Due to medical problems that can occur during withdrawal, alcohol detoxification should be carefully controlled.[7] One common method involves the use of benzodiazepine medications, such as diazepam.[7] These can be either given while admitted to a health care institution or occasionally while a person remains in the community with close supervision.[7] Mental illness or other addictions may complicate treatment.[18] After detoxification, support such as group therapy or support groups are used to help keep a person from returning to drinking.[6][19] One commonly used form of support is the group Alcoholics Anonymous.[20] The medications acamprosate, disulfiram or naltrexone may also be used to help prevent further drinking.[8]
n the continued extreme dependence on excessive amounts of alcohol, accompanied by a cumulative pattern of deviant behaviors. The most frequent consequences are chronic gastritis, central nervous system depression, and cirrhosis of the liver, each of which can compromise the delivery of dental care. Oral cancer and increased levels of periodontal disease are also risks.
Successful long-term recovery is more likely with longer involvement in the treatment process. Wyoming Recovery offers weekly continuing care sessions for the months after completion of residential or Intensive Outpatient levels of care. In these groups, graduates address various issues of sober living in the real world setting, helping to reduce the risk of relapse.
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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.
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]

Alcoholism is appropriately considered a disease rather than a weakness of character or chosen pattern of bad behavior. It is the third most common mental illness, affecting more than 14 million people in the United States. Other facts and statistics about alcohol dependence include its pattern of afflicting about 4% of women and 10% of men. It costs more than $200 billion per year in lower productivity, early death, and costs for treatment. Worldwide, alcohol is thought to contribute to more than 200 illnesses and injuries, like liver disease, heart disease, and neurological problems. Alcohol-related deaths number more than 3 million per year, nearly 6% of all deaths worldwide. For adults between 20-40 years of age, that percentage rises to about 25% of deaths due to alcohol.
Beyond the directory, Addiction Recovery Now also provides support in the form of a 24-hour hotline for answering all your questions about recovery. Our agents are compassionate, professional, and dedicated to serving you, not the rehabilitation centers.The agents at Addiction Recovery Now are well-educated in the industry and are waiting to put your mind at ease.
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]

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.


Alcohol intoxication results as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration is, the more impaired you become. Alcohol intoxication causes behavior problems and mental changes. These may include inappropriate behavior, unstable moods, impaired judgment, slurred speech, impaired attention or memory, and poor coordination. You can also have periods called "blackouts," where you don't remember events. Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.
Misuse, problem use, abuse, and heavy use of alcohol refer to improper use of alcohol, which may cause physical, social, or moral harm to the drinker.[91] The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines "moderate use" as no more than two alcoholic beverages a day for men and no more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women.[92] Some drinkers may drink more than 600 ml of alcohol per day during a heavy drinking period.[93] The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as the amount of alcohol leading to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08, which, for most adults, would be reached by consuming five drinks for men or four for women over a two-hour period. According to the NIAAA, men may be at risk for alcohol-related problems if their alcohol consumption exceeds 14 standard drinks per week or 4 drinks per day, and women may be at risk if they have more than 7 standard drinks per week or 3 drinks per day. It defines a standard drink as one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.[94] Despite this risk, a 2014 report in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that only 10% of either "heavy drinkers" or "binge drinkers" defined according to the above criteria also met the criteria for alcohol dependence, while only 1.3% of non-binge drinkers met the criteria. An inference drawn from this study is that evidence-based policy strategies and clinical preventive services may effectively reduce binge drinking without requiring addiction treatment in most cases.[95]

Bayside Marin is a premiere center for healing that offers cutting-edge, compassionate care in a private, luxurious setting. Renowned the world over for helping individuals overcome addictions, Bayside Marin offers holistic, individualized treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health conditions. For more information please call (866) 258-3454.


Studies suggest that certain individuals are more likely to become alcoholics. People with a history of alcoholism in their family have an increased chance of becoming alcoholics. People who start drinking at an early age are also at a greater risk of developing alcoholic tendencies than those who begin drinking later in life. Men are more prone to become alcoholics, but women are much more likely to develop harmful medical effects that are linked to drinking such as liver disease.
"I discovered how good relationships get better and how unhealthy relationships get exposed when you work your program," said Cathy. "I've been friends with Hannah for years, but we had been partying friends. So when I entered recovery, we were really careful around each other. Then we began talking—really talking. Now our friendship is deeper and more honest. Recovery has been good for both of us."
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.
While admitting that the oft-cited success rate of 5 percent “isn’t great,” Dr. Drew Pinsky, a celebrity doctor and addiction medicine specialist argued that “the fact it, [Alcoholics Anonymous] does work when people do it,” saying the real success rate is as high as 12 percent. The American Society of Addiction Medicine speculated that approximately 10 percent of the people who become part of a 12-Step program enjoy long-term success in their recovery. In 2014, AA self-reported that 27 percent of the 6,000 members who participated in an internal study were sober for less than a year; 24 percent retained their sobriety for up to five years, and 13 percent lasted for as long as a decade. Fourteen percent of the study’s participants stayed sober between 10 and 20 years, and 22 percent reported remaining sober for more than two decades.
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