Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) started as a small support group for people struggling with alcohol use disorder in 1935. It was founded by two men from Akron, Ohio, who were looking for a way to achieve a life free from the shackles of alcohol addiction. They later came up with the 12-step program that outlines the key principles of how someone with a drinking problem can live a healthy and satisfying life without alcohol.

What started as a meeting between two individuals has now become an international fellowship of more than 2 million people from 180 countries. While members assert the effectiveness of the 12 steps in the AA program of recovery, mental health professionals are sometimes doubtful how a support group run by laypeople like AA can do a better job helping people with alcohol use disorder.

Nonetheless, it is important to point out that a recent comprehensive analysis conducted by Stanford School of Medicine researchers found that AA is the most effective path to sobriety. The team evaluated 35 high-quality studies on AA and concluded that the program is significantly better than other interventions in achieving abstinence.

These positive findings should encourage anyone struggling with alcohol addiction to join AA meetings or do rehab now in Miami, FL. If you or someone you love intends to recover from alcohol use disorder and achieve long-term sobriety, know that becoming a member of AA can help in the following ways:

AA Can Provide You with a Support Network Consisting of Individuals Experiencing Similar Challenges

One of the most effective strategies to control your alcohol cravings is by surrounding yourself with people who do not drink or are making an effort to no longer drink. Although it sounds simple enough, the truth is it can be tough to meet new friends who understand your situation and know how to socialize without alcohol.

After months, years, or decades of alcohol dependency, your inner circle is most likely composed of heavy drinkers. How else can you find a support network that will keep you away from former drinking buddies and from the temptation of starting the addiction cycle all over again?

One of the best things about joining AA is the opportunity to connect with people who are going through the same struggles and have the same goals as you. You will be surrounded by recovering alcoholics who are sober or trying to be sober whenever you attend a meeting. You can make new friends and share stories with people who can empathize with what you are going through.

As you listen to other people’s testimonies, you will realize that you are not alone in your problems and that long-term abstinence is possible. Essentially, the group allows you to meet like-minded individuals who can assist you in your recovery journey.

Attending AA Meetings Can Help Boost Your Ability to Cope with the Struggles of Recovery

Just because you decided to turn your life around does not mean that everything will go smoothly. Sadly, you have no choice but to confront the consequences of your addiction. From the loss of a job and financial troubles to a failing marriage and broken relationships, you must deal with all of them head-on.

Facing life’s struggles can be overwhelming and stressful. And while drowning your troubles away seems tempting, you must find other means to cope with them if you want to tread the path to sobriety successfully. While reading books and articles on healthy coping mechanisms may help, they will not fully capture what you feel. Does the author know how tough it is to resist a drink when your heart is heavy?

What you need is advice and emotional support from people who used to struggle with alcohol addiction. And you can find all of them in AA. When you go to AA meetings and listen to the stories of recovering individuals, you will learn how to resist a drink when someone offers it to you, how to deal with stressful life events without turning to alcohol, and how to cope with the stigma of addiction, among other things.

The AA Structure Can Give You a Sense of Purpose

Whether you realize it or not, it is easy to fall prey to alcohol addiction if you live mindlessly. If you do not feel the need to contribute or live for something, drinking becomes more tempting. That is why one of the most critical aspects of recovery is finding meaning and a sense of purpose—something that AA can provide.

AA members help one another. A sponsor will be assigned to you the moment you join. Your sponsor is the one person you can turn to and trust. They will ensure that you attend meetings, they will make way for you to meet other alcoholics, and they will be with you every step of the way.

After some time, you may also find yourself working with newcomers who are still struggling. Beyond helping another person in their journey of recovery, you will also be helping yourself in the process. Keep in mind that being in service to others can make your life more meaningful. You will wake-up in the morning with a renewed sense of purpose since someone depends on you. As such, the relationship will also motivate you to advance in your recovery journey.

These are just some of the ways attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can help you achieve long-term sobriety. Ultimately, the program works because it is based on social interaction. Members go through similar struggles, and they receive and give emotional support to one another. After all, isn’t it helpful to be with people who are working towards the same goal as you?

Article by Sandra Collins

A writer by profession, Sandra has written extensively on the subjects of health, medicine, and life sciences. Her work has been published across many news and information websites and publications. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, surfing, and traveling across the contiguous US states. She dreams of retiring in Montpellier in France someday.