Despite those who try to thwart Alcoholics Anonymous’s credibility in helping people stay sober, the fellowship has remained strong for more than 80 years. Its critics say it lacks evidence-based research, yet thousands upon thousands of people continue to attest to the positive experiences AA has brought into their lives.
Even without backing through research, there are many obvious benefits you can reap from AA. If you’re currently attending meetings and are not sure how you should approach the backlash, here are 7 reasons why you should keep coming and not be ashamed of it one bit.
1. It is a great place to meet like-minded people.
If you’re looking to recover your life, you’re not going to find like-minded people in your old hangout locations. If you hang out in the bars, you’re apt to start drinking again. Staying at home and isolating yourself, however, can get very lonely or boring and can lead you to want to imbibe.
AA is a great place to visit as often as you’d like throughout the week and meet people who are trying to stay dry and get their lives in order. This is the biggest benefit of AA. You’ll also get to meet those who’ve successfully recovered their lives and are willing to sponsor or mentor others. At the end of the day, there’s no denying that having such a solid network of support, one where you feel accepted and loved, can play a huge role on your recovery success.
2. It promotes more than alcohol abstinence.
AA’s program is built upon total abstinence as its primary goal. However, it doesn’t just stop there. Based on the assumption that simply putting down the drink does not ensure future happiness, AA takes you deeper. Giving up alcohol doesn’t tackle the reasons why you started abusing it in the first place, so AA takes you through the 12 Steps to get you digging to the roots. This way, its attendees can both grow and heal from the inside out. If you’re looking for a rehab center guided by the same principles, here's our list of 12-Step inspired programs nearby.
3. It can help you tackle boredom in recovery.
People who are used to spending much of their time drinking often find themselves bored during sobriety. It’s difficult to decide how to spend their time as many of their previous activities involved partying. Attending AA and meeting a friend or two who you hang out with outside of meetings can help you pass the time. This has saved a good many recovering alcoholics from going back to drinking.
4. It gives you an outlet to share your frustrations.
While you can express your frustrations or concerns on your next counseling appointment, many cities have AA meetings that are accessible every day of the week. So if you feel like drinking right at this very second, know that there’s likely an AA meeting nearby that can provide you with the instant support and feedback you need to make it through another day. If you’re already in AA, you may also have a sponsor who’s just a phone call away. Having people who are ready to listen can certainly help when you’re dealing with troubling emotions that you just need to get out.
5. It is run by people who want to give back.
The sponsorship philosophy in AA is based on people giving back. You don’t have to pay a sponsor to be your mentor and/or friend. They simply sponsor you because it’s the way AA works. You give back the support you’ve been given to help yourself and another person at the same time. You can find sponsors in AA that sponsor a handful of people because they want to help them in their recovery journey. Even sponsors have sponsors, so people are connected at all levels. To give back like that takes time, patience, and courage, which is something to be proud of.
6. It provides various opportunities for service.
Many people admit that they feel happiest when they help others. AA meetings give you an opportunity to offer your time and effort for a cause. You can start by getting to the meetings early to help set up and make coffee. Greet people who come and extend light and unconditional love. If you’ve been in recovery for a while, offer to sponsor newcomers. There may also be opportunities for you to take meetings into prisons or other facilities. If you’re curious about all the volunteer opportunities available, simply ask those who are running the meetings.
7. It encourages honesty.
When you go through the 12 Steps of AA, you are encouraged to be truthful to yourself and others. Many alcoholics walk through AA’s doors having lied to themselves and others for many years. AA gives them a chance to start digging to find out who they really are first. The 12 Steps offers a way to learn how to take off the blinders, peel back the layers and find the path towards self-love. This, out of all its benefits, is one of the biggest assets of AA’s 12 Step recovery model.
Granted, these are but a few of the many reasons you shouldn’t be ashamed of being part of AA. It may not work for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all. While there are a variety of other methods to recover from addiction, you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep in mind that AA has had incredible results for many people over the years, one success story after another.