An Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group is a group of people who are recovering or are willing to recover from alcoholism. It is a type of group therapy for alcoholics. In most cases, it is combined with other methods in the treatment of alcoholism but can also be applied alone (Mueser, 2003). One of the reasons why various people attend AA group meetings is for support. AA groups are known to provide psychosocial support to alcoholics. When they meet in the groups, they get to know that they are not alone and that someone understands their predicament.
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Another reason for attending an AA group meeting is to avoid instances of relapsing. Many people think of AA groups as a means of overpowering any temptations to go back to drinking alcohol. Others attend to boost their self-esteem. Alcoholism is known to lower the self-esteem of the victims and thus being in a group of people with similar problems helps in regaining one’s self-esteem.
AA groups are also known to provide a safe environment for alcoholics to share their experiences with each other. The belief is that a problem shared is the same as a problem that is partly solved. Since AA groups are attended on a volunteer basis, the participants are always ready to talk about their experiences as alcoholics.
The primary objective of an AA group is to help alcoholics recover from alcoholism. This is achieved through therapy sessions under the guidance of a counselor. Another primary objective of AA groups is for the members to provide support to each other in the process of healing from alcoholism. The secondary objective of AA groups in the provision of psychosocial support to the group members and for them to help each other get integrated back into society. Those members who have fully recovered are the ones who help the recovering alcoholics by re-orienting them to a sober life. They do this through follow-up meetings and visits to the recovering alcoholics so as to ensure full recovery from the problem of alcoholism.
The role of individual members in an AA group is to share their experiences, stories, perceptions, and views about alcoholism. They do this voluntarily with a view of enlightening each other. Through sharing stories and experiences, they are able to acknowledge the fact that alcoholism is a life-threatening problem that must be solved. The members also have the role of participating in the discussions by asking questions or giving some insights about how best to avoid alcoholism.
The general topics of an AA group include the twelve steps of AA, the problems of alcoholism, diseases related to alcoholism, how to avoid alcoholism, and the benefits of living a sober life (Mueser, 2003). AA groups are primarily organized and moderated by recovering alcoholics who have passed through an AA group in their way to recovery from alcoholism. Recovered alcoholics are best placed to guide other alcoholics because they are beneficiaries of the AA groups. AA groups are usually disaggregated by sex or age. There may be groups of elderly women and men. There are also groups of young people as well as groups of old people (Makela, 1996).
The members of AA groups as mentioned earlier join the groups on a voluntary basis. This means that each member is free to choose which AA group to join. Members can also belong to more than one AA group. During the meetings, members share their experiences and any changes or improvement in their process of recovery. They are also empowered with life skills that enable them to stay busy at all times.
During the meetings, the members are also exposed to the word of God so as to provide spiritual nourishment. Other AA groups organize sports activities in which the members play various games such as football or netball. The games help the members realize that they can spend their free time in constructive activities instead of taking alcohol. When the members join the groups, they are requested to set their own goals and targets in the healing process. The counselors usually keep an eye on the progress of individual alcoholics through monitoring and evaluating their progress based on the goals and targets which they set. Those who show improvements are assigned some activities such as moderation, organization, and facilitation of the AA group meetings.
One of Yalom’s curative factors noted in AA groups is direct advice. This is because, during AA meetings, the members are advised on various issues like the dangers of alcoholism, how to avoid it, and the benefits of doing so. Another factor is that of altruism. This is because many AA groups are moderated by recovered alcoholics. They do this as a way of giving back to society.
The other factor is the development of socialization skills. This is because, during AA meetings, the members are trained on how to socialize with others. The reasoning behind this is that many people take alcohol so as to gain the courage to speak with other people. Socialization skills also enable alcoholics to avoid boredom which leads to loneliness and consequently to alcoholism.
Makela, K. (1996). Alcoholics anonymous as a mutual help movement: a study in eight societies. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Mueser, K.T. (2003). Integrated treatment for dual disorders: a guide to effective practice. New York: Guilford Press.