Alcohol use disorder is one of the most prevalent forms of addiction in the United States, affecting around 14.4 million adults. While around 83% of adults drink, 25% binge drink on a regular basis and 5.8% show signs of an addiction to alcohol.
For those who use and abuse alcohol in damaging ways, getting clean can be a key part of enjoying a happy, healthy life. There are many ways to do this, from residential rehabilitation to 12-step programs. For many, the most common first step is Alcoholics Anonymous. Founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1935, AA has helped millions of people around the world.
However, starting in AA isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many people are nervous, worried or even scared about facing addiction head-on. Regardless, AA can be the right fit for many people living with an addiction to alcohol. If you’ve found yourself asking “Is AA for me?” these 10 questions can help you decide whether you need AA.
Is your relationship with alcohol no longer healthy?
Alcohol can be an enjoyable recreational substance for those who use it responsibly. Unfortunately, for some, drinking alcohol often leads to an out-of-control spiral, dominating every facet of life.
If any of the following points describes you, you may have an alcohol use disorder that could benefit from seeking help:
- An inability to keep up with responsibilities at work, school or home due to drinking
- Regular romantic and platonic relationship problems due to drinking
- Legal problems like DUIs from drinking to excess
- A reliance on alcohol to relax, have fun or sleep
- Drinking alone regularly or at inappropriate times of day, like first thing in the morning
- Getting drunk when you don’t mean to
- Hiding alcohol use from others or making excuses for drinking
Do you recognize that you have been unable to manage your life on your own?
If you have tried to cut back on drinking or stop drinking on your own and have thus far been unable to, your problem may no longer be under your control. It’s hard to admit this because no one wants to accept that they have a true problem that requires intervention, but if this question has an honest “yes” answer, AA might be a good fit.
Would you benefit from hearing how other people overcame problems similar to your own?
Alcoholics Anonymous is all about community. In a standard meeting, you have a chance to share your story while listening to others in the same position. For some people, hearing similar stories can solidify a sense of shared experiences. Knowing that you’re not the only one struggling with cravings, problematic behavior or lost friends and relationships can help remind you that you’re not alone. Further, seeing others’ successes can foster a belief that recovery is indeed possible.
Do you like the support of others?
Some people like to work through their problems alone or in a one-on-one setting, but others benefit from hearing words of encouragement. Finding the confidence to tell your story and hear others tell you they understand or have been in your shoes can be comforting. The other members of an AA group will celebrate your successes and reassure that your slip-ups are a part of the process.
Do you need someone to hold you accountable?
When an addiction spirals too far out of control, it’s not always easy to be accountable to yourself. You may be able to hide your drinking from your friends or family, but in a confidential space dedicated to being open and honest, you will have to air your dirty laundry. Some living with an alcohol use disorder find that the idea of admitting relapse or poor behavior to others can be a deterrent from negative choices, leading them to make better decisions when faced with alcohol.
Do you wish to remain anonymous in discussing your struggles?
The nature of Alcoholics Anonymous implies anonymity. There is no roster at meetings, and participants are not required to reveal their full names, occupations, addresses or any other identifying information. This can make it a little easier to open up and be honest about past and present struggles and levels the playing field for all participants. For this reason, some struggling addicts find the AA environment to be more comfortable than a standard therapy session.
Do you like the idea of having a global community at your side?
Alcoholics Anonymous may have started in Ohio, but in the last 85 years, the concept has spread across the United States and around the world. AA exists in 180 countries worldwide, ensuring you have access wherever you are. From going on vacation to relocating to another state, there is always an AA meeting waiting for you. Some AA meetings even take place virtually, ensuring access anywhere, anytime, no matter what.
Are you prepared to make amends?
A big part of AA involves making amends with those you have hurt over the course of your addiction. While not always a pleasant process, working to restore relationships is a critical part of recovery. One of the AA steps involves personally making amends with those who have been wronged through the course of addiction. This provides the foundation for healing troubled bonds with loved ones and, overall, a brighter future.
Could progressive step structure help you slowly work through the challenges of recovery?
Trying to process the demands of recovery can be very hard. The road can be long, and seeing the end when just getting started is an overwhelming prospect. However, AA makes it easier to process. With concrete steps to be achieved in succession, approaching recovery becomes a lot easier to handle. For those who need direction, this can be an important benefit of AA.
Do you truly want to succeed in overcoming addiction?
No one can approach recovery in the right mindset if they don’t truly want to do it of their own accord. As such, going into a program like AA isn’t likely to work if you aren’t committed. Like any other form of rehabilitation, if your heart isn’t in it, you won’t succeed. Before starting AA, be sure you are really ready to overcome addiction.
If you are considering AA, the best way to get started is to attend a local meeting. AA is open to all, and there is no need to sign up or register before attending. During your first meeting, you may be permitted to sit back and listen without participating if this makes you more comfortable.
AA isn’t for everyone, but despite the occasional bad press, it can be a very effective program. If you are considering recovery, AA might be the right way to approach overcoming your addiction.