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Alcoholics Anonymous - Community of Belonging

Essay by   •  July 7, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,948 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,265 Views

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History

Alcoholics Anonymous was established in the town of Akron, Ohio in 1935. This community was founded by Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith, who were both suffering from alcoholism. As time progressed, thousands of individuals who were alcoholics began to follow the methods of Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith in order to stay sober. As of 1939, Alcoholics Anonymous became official because of the publication of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". More currently, as of January 1, 2006, an estimated 180 countries are now holding Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, reaching over two million members worldwide. Canada and the United States recognize over 60,000 Alcoholics Anonymous groups, with approximately 1.25 million members to date (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). According to Sharma and Branscum (2010), the reason and purpose behind establishing Alcoholics Anonymous was to create a community where alcoholics could stay sober and try to enlighten other alcoholics to gain a positive perspective on sobriety. As well, there is no funding for Alcoholics Anonymous, however, charitable contributions from existing members is appreciated (p. 3).

Demographic Composition

There are many different countries that foster the community of Alcoholics Anonymous, which makes a difference in the demographics associated with the program. Differences in individuals who are members of Alcoholics Anonymous can include a person's age, ethnicity, religious values, gender, marital status, and occupation, as well as many other factors that could come into play. For example, Caucasian individuals take the highest percentage of memberships, which is allocated to be 85.1 percent. Whereas, Native Americans have the lowest percentage of individuals enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous groups, at 1.6 percent (AAGrapevine, 2008, AA Membership, p. 32). This illustrates a remarkable difference in the types of ethnicities that are involved in the community of Alcoholics Anonymous. Another statistic shown from AAGrapevine (2008) is that two thirds of the members are men, and one third of the members are women (p. 32). I think this suggests that men are either more likely to become an alcoholic, or are more willing to pursue a lifestyle of sobriety by using the Alcoholics Anonymous program. When referring to the age of the members, the highest age bracket is between the ages of 41 through 50, sitting at a percentage of 28.5, and the lowest age bracket belongs to the members who are below the age of 21, at 2.3 percent (AAGrapevine, 2008, AA Membership, p. 32). The demographics of Alcoholics Anonymous members shows myself that, although there is a distinct difference between the types of members backgrounds, there are statistics that show the probability of a certain age, gender, and race, being Caucasian men in their forties, are more prone to alcoholism, or becoming a member of a community that promotes sobriety.

Total Abstinence

Total abstinence from alcohol plays an important part in the sobriety aspect of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The meaning of total abstinence is to completely refrain from the consumption of alcohol and to emerge one's self in a lifestyle without drinking (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). I believe the Alcoholics Anonymous program attendance is beneficial to the state of abstinence. For instance, according to Kaskutas (2009), there is an emphasis on the amount of meetings attended to the level of abstinence an individual can hold. Kaskutas also states that nearly 70 percent of people stay sober by going to meetings on a weekly basis, in comparison to an estimated 20 percent that choose not to attend meetings (p. 149). These statistics demonstrate the significance that attending meetings on a regular basis, once or twice a week, is important for continuing on a path of total abstinence. Furthermore, this study states that, "the general population found that individuals with lifetime alcohol dependence who went to 12- step meetings but did not have formal treatment were more likely to be abstinent than those who did nothing," (Kaskutas, 2004, p. 150). The study has successfully shown the relationship between the commitment of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the heightened level of sobriety and complete abstinence from alcohol.

Religion and Spirituality

The ideas of religion and spirituality have been commonly linked together and thought of as similar rituals of quests for higher power. Religion incorporates formal code of beliefs that are needed and ceremonies that are exercised by specific groups of people (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). Some of these groups may include Catholicism, Hinduism, and Muslim. Spirituality is a privatized, individual experience of seeking the higher power, to which individuals go beyond, and include recognition of worldly certainties (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). The most significant difference between religion and personal spirituality is the aspect of the individual. Religious experiences are mainly focused on group dynamics and the reliance of other individuals emerged in that collection, whereas the spirituality component refers to the experiences of the individual only. In an article related to alcohol recovery and spirituality, the author clearly states that Alcoholics Anonymous supports and promotes God or a higher faith, as well as the use of prayer and self reflection (Kelly, 2011, p. 455). It goes on to explain that making use of the recovery process involves finding and expanding a spiritual mindset through the program (Kelly, 2011, p. 455). There is an impact on the spirituality role in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, which is signified by gaining that spiritual understanding through the process. According to the data presented from Kelly (2011), spirituality and religion is positively linked to the percentage of day's abstinent (p. 458). It makes me see that within the confines of the community, spirituality benefits sobriety levels of its members.

Twelve Steps

A large part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is the presence and recognition of the twelve steps. The twelve steps were comprised for spiritual and open minded guidance to a lifestyle of consistent recovery and acceptance (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). The twelve steps involve admitting the problem with alcohol to one's self, while tapping into a spiritual side to sustain a belief in power beyond ourselves (Class Lecture Notes, May 22, 2011). In fact, five of the twelve steps reference God playing a part in the recovery process. By examining these twelve steps, I see clearly that there is an obvious reliance on a higher power to assist an individual through

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