The label "Alcoholics Anonymous" evokes a certain stigma that most people new to sobriety are not comfortable with. The idea of going to a meeting where someone might see you is uncomfortable in early sobriety. Even admitting that you're an alcoholic can take time to get used to.
Alcoholics Anonymous is Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is intended to be just that - anonymous. Group members are on a first name basis and the atmosphere is generally friendly, warm and casual. You'll often hear members say that the most important person at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is the newcomer and for this reason, newcomers are strongly encouraged to introduce themselves so other members can offer support. Individuals share topics at a group level that are relevant to staying sober and they rely on each other for support to do so. What is shared at meetings is understood to stay at meetings and the anonymity of group members is strongly enforced. Discussion of other group members and their problems is discouraged.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers Support
While there are many critics of Alcoholics Anonymous, the program has offered the most successful form of recovery from alcoholism. It offers a social model program of change through the use of role models and peer support. New members secure "sponsors" who are other members with time in sobriety that help them work through the 12-steps upon which the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous were founded.
Members are encouraged to share at 12-step meetings but are also free to just sit and listen to others talk about their experiences with alcohol and how they stay sober through even the most difficult life experiences. This can be especially beneficial to a new person in sobriety who may struggle with how to handle a relationship break-up, loss of a loved one or major life transition without picking up a drink. Members are encouraged to get phone lists and call each other for support.
Alcoholics Anonymous is World-wide
One of the biggest benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it's available world-wide. This can be extremely helpful to those individuals who travel frequently and find that they need the support of a sober support network around them. The meetings will likely be different but the format of meetings is familiar. Wherever you attend Alcoholics Anonymous, it offers a safe harbor in the storm of emotions that can hit at any time but especially to those new in sobriety. For more information, please visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website.