Let’s start with a quick history lesson about the development of the 12 steps. Back in the 1930’s, a man named Bill Wilson was on a journey toward sobriety, in and out of medical hospitals, but unable to stay sober. During his final (and successful) hospital stay in 1934, Wilson reportedly experienced a spiritual awakening, and dedicated his life moving forward to helping other alcoholics stay sober. From his personal experience, Wilson came to believe that a brief hospital stay was not enough for many alcoholics. Through his early sobriety, Wilson found that, each time he was tempted to drink, he could only move past the craving after talking to another alcoholic. During one of these cravings, Wilson connected with Dr. Bob Smith. Dr. Bob was an alcoholic who, like Wilson, was having trouble staying sober. Through this connection, Dr. Bob was able to stop drinking and ultimately he joined Wilson in the adventure of helping other alcoholics stay sober. As I have mentioned, Wilson and Dr. Bob found that a spiritual awakening involving surrender to and connection with a higher power, along with a fellowship or community of alcoholics, was the key to maintaining sobriety. And from this finding, Alcoholics Anonymous was born. Over the next 4 years, the 12-steps were adapted from an existing program, the Oxford Group, and the first 100 members of AA helped write the Big Book.
Today, AA is an accessible, free, mutual-help group for those who have a desire to stop drinking or using, and the Big Book is still the guide for the 12 steps. Since 1935, AA has grown exponentially, helping millions of people all over the world. In the Charlotte area alone, there are about 300 meetings each week. Other 12-step groups, including Narcotics Anonymous for those who have a desire to stop using drugs, as well as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon for loved ones of those with alcoholism/addiction, have been created as well.
And this leads us to the reasons why we require AA. Research has found that 12-step meeting attendance is one of the most successful, evidence-based treatment tools in the substance abuse field. Furthermore, research suggests that the combination of a formalized treatment program and 12-step meeting attendance produces the best rates of success. Due to its accessibility and lack of cost, AA and other 12-step programs are available to all alcoholics and addicts in recovery, far beyond the length of treatment. AA provides a community of people who can understand and support the journey of sobriety like nobody else. Al Anon provides this same thing for family members and loved ones of addicts and alcoholics. For this reason, we ask family members to attend meetings as well. The chances of successful recovery increase significantly for those who commit to a 12-step program and continue their involvement long after they have completed treatment. Here at Dilworth Center, we look at treatment as a launching pad into recovery, and AA as the long-term solution.
For more information on AA in Charlotte, visit http://www.charlotteaa.org/meetingschedule.cfm.