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Reasons to Keep Going to AA

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April 29, 2022
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Reasons to Keep Going to AA

Alcoholics Anonymous and other types of recovery groups can be a tremendous help to those of us who have become addicted to alcohol or drugs. I have personally seen the support and dedication such groups offer, and know they are tools to use not only in the beginning stages of recovery but throughout the journey. It can be easy to think of AA as just something to check off your list as you move forward with your recovery, but AA can be a crucial component as you heal from dependency.

Those in Alcoholics Anonymous support groups benefit from having many dedicated members who attend regularly and support others on their path to recovery. What makes this type of group unique is that they have all been where you are. They are people who struggle with dependency themselves. Many have even come to a place where they can begin to help others, something that has been my driving force over the past few decades.

What Are the Benefits of AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous programs across the country have shown to be extremely helpful [1]Ferri, M., Amato, L., & Davoli, M. (2006). Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12‐step programmes for alcohol dependence. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (3). Retrieved April 2022, from … Continue reading in promoting long-term recovery and rehabilitation from alcohol addiction and other alcohol-related problems. So, the main benefit of AA is that it is effective at helping people recover from alcoholism and other dependencies.

The chance to gather with a group of people who all have similar experiences but the same goal in mind helps everyone grow closer. Alcoholics Anonymous support groups are proven to help prevent relapse for recovering alcoholics as well as provide them with valuable connections that help them feel supported and avoid falling back into old habits.

At Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you are not only being supported by a group of people with similar experiences and issues as you, but you are also able to help in the recovery of others. Just like they are there to support you, you are there to support them. I am here to tell you that those who work hard and dedicate themselves to helping the other members of the group overcome their addiction find that their own recovery is much more sustainable. This is especially true in the long term.

Beyond a network of support from people who understand exactly what you’re going through, AA is the first choice for most people in recovery. Further benefits of engaging with this kind of group dynamic include:

  • No obligation to come, stay, or return
  • All meetings are free ( some meetings ask for a donation of $1)
  • You are in control of when you go and where you go
  • No one in AA will intrude on your life
  • You can maintain anonymity
  • It’s open to anyone

What Is the Point of an AA Meeting?

Alcohol and drug dependency are both made worse by loneliness and depression. [2]Kaskutas LA (2009). Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: faith meets science. J Addict Dis, 28(2), 145-57. Retrieved April 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19340677/ Being able to gather in groups where members support and understand each other helps many overcome the sense of loneliness that many feel when they first start on their recovery journey.

I’ve seen how effectively the shared experience and constant support of a group with the same goal helps overcome the cycle of self-destructive thinking that comes with alcoholism and addiction. Having the responsibility of being a part of a group that supports and helps one another with the hardships that come dependency helps everyone, including yourself.

How Often Should You Go to AA?

There is no defined number of times one needs to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to get value out of the program. It is up to the individual to decide how many they feel they need to go to, and this can depend on how much they get involved in each meeting. Depending on your needs, you may need to go weekly or every day.

No matter how often you decide you should go, Alcoholics Anonymous groups can help you overcome your dependency. [3]Ye Y, Kaskutas L (2009). Using propensity scores to adjust for selection bias when assessing the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous in observational studies. Drug Alcohol Depend, 104(1-2), 56-64. … Continue reading I have found that those who attend often develop deep and meaningful relationships that not only help them during struggle but stay with them their whole life. The closer you get to a group, the more able they are able to help you and you, eventually, can help them.

Keep in mind that when you are a part of an Alcoholics Anonymous support group, you have a responsibility to the group to attend regularly and make sure that you offer your support to everyone in the group. During these meetings, you will find yourself lending a hand to help everyone overcome their addiction. You might be the one to make a difference between someone in your group recovering or relapsing from their old addiction and the destructive habits associated with it.

What Does “Keep Coming Back” Mean in AA?

Keep Coming Back
To AA, “keep coming back” simply means that your AA group is here for you, and the most important part of finding success is attending meetings in the first place. Then, it is important to keep coming back to AA meetings even if you relapse or fall back into your drinking habits. Recovering from an alcohol addiction is extremely difficult, and relapses happen.

In fact, over 30% [4]Khantzian, E. J., & Mack, J. E. (1994). How AA works and why it’s important for clinicians to understand. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 11(2), 77-92. … Continue reading of recovering alcoholics relapse within their first year of recovery. Fortunately, this number decreases by up to 10% per year of sobriety. During these critical times in your recovery, having a group of supportive people who understand what you’re going through is crucial.

The longer you stick with the conviction to recover from your addiction, the more likely you will be able to overcome your dependency. [5]Marsden, J. (n.d.) (2022). Attendance at Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, frequency of attendance and substance use outcomes after residential treatment for drug dependence: a … Continue reading Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, even when you relapse, means you will receive the support you need to get into the right rhythm for success and be able to recover completely.

Many people in Alcoholics Anonymous groups have experienced a relapse and are ready and willing to welcome you back to the group with open arms, to help you back on the road to recovery. Always keep a positive attitude and expect to keep getting better.

How Do I Know When to Come Back?

I have seen many different events that can cause a recovering alcoholic to fall back into addictive behavior. Triggers for relapse aren’t always what you expect. Common ones include:

  • Continuing to associate with friends who still use alcohol frequently.
  • Visiting areas where you previously bought alcohol.
  • Traumatic events, like deaths, losing your job, or breaking up with a significant other.

Problems also arise when you sit and think about your drinking days, because you may want to remember the good times you had and not the problems that came from it.

Keep in mind, too, that recovery isn’t easy, and the early days can be emotionally taxing. Irritability or aggressiveness can occur during recovery, so when you start to feel this way, consider meeting with your AA group. Someone there will not only have ideas to help you mitigate the difficulty of the current situation, but more than that, they know you. People who go to AA groups together know each other in a way few others can. Find the kind of help that works for you from people who understand your challenges and how to help you.

Understand What AA Doesn’t Do

While AA and such groups can be extremely beneficial to those recovering from dependency, it’s important to understand what this group isn’t when it comes to issues involving addiction. [6]Alcoholics Anonymous (2022). What AA Does Not Do. (n.d.). Alcohólicos Anónimos. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from … Continue reading For all the work AA does, the organization’s job is not to convince people to recover. While it’s important to find yourself the right group dynamic when you can, you shouldn’t expect AA to:

  • Convince or initiate initial motivation to recover
  • Solicit any members
  • Sponsor or engage in research
  • Accept money for its services
  • Keep any records regarding attendance
  • Control members or follow up
  • Diagnose any mental or psychological issue
  • Offer recovery services like medical treatment or places to dry out
  • Conduct religious services
  • Educate anyone about alcohol
  • Provide living necessities like food, clothing, or money
  • Give letters of support to parole boards, social agencies, employers, etc.

As you can see from this list, AA is there for your emotional wellbeing, but it is not an organization to get you back on your feet. What has made this group dynamic so successful for so long is that it knows how to be supportive without interfering. It also lives out the belief that no one is an island; as one person recovers, they become a source of guidance for the next person who needs it. And, in my experience, we all need help sometimes.

Why AA Can Help You Avoid Relapse

Many problems arise when you stop attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which can cause you to feel lonely and depressed without even consciously realizing it. Having this support group can help you in immeasurable ways. If you feel yourself falling back into your old behaviors, routines, and habits, connect back with your AA group. If you haven’t found a group, then consider looking for one today.

Returning to AA

To help avoid falling back into your dependency, you need to know that Alcoholics Anonymous groups are always welcoming and forgiving. No matter how ashamed you may feel, many people in your group have experienced nearly the same exact thing and are ready and willing to provide support.

I have seen that being able to return to a group that supports you, no matter how many times you may have failed to resist relapsing, can help give you the confidence and the motivation to make that relapse the last one.

Build a Path That Works for You

In my experience, few tools are more powerful for addiction recovery than groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. They not only help you examine yourself, but they give you agency to help others. And if AA isn’t exactly your thing, there are other dependency groups that are less religiously-focused or leverage other types of mindfulness.

  • LifeRing. This is a secular group that offers a network of people working on abstinence from alcohol and drugs.
  • Women for Sobriety (WFS). Though it doesn’t exclude women, AA groups are often predominantly men. Recovery for women is its own unique journey, and WFS understands this.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). SOS is a network of organizations that offer non-religious support groups for those in recovery.

Stay on Your Road to Recovery with AA

Stay on Your Road to Recovery with AA

Having people who are willing to welcome you even if you fail to stay on the path to recovery can help you rise back up. AA and other such groups have a positive outlook that can help you overcome your dependency and help you through what led you to it in the first place. Whether you are new to recovery or have been on this journey for years, consider the power of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups.

Stay Strong,

Jim

References

References
1 Ferri, M., Amato, L., & Davoli, M. (2006). Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12‐step programmes for alcohol dependence. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (3). Retrieved April 2022, from https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005032.pub2/abstract
2 Kaskutas LA (2009). Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: faith meets science. J Addict Dis, 28(2), 145-57. Retrieved April 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19340677/
3 Ye Y, Kaskutas L (2009). Using propensity scores to adjust for selection bias when assessing the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous in observational studies. Drug Alcohol Depend, 104(1-2), 56-64. Retrieved April, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19457623/
4 Khantzian, E. J., & Mack, J. E. (1994). How AA works and why it’s important for clinicians to understand. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 11(2), 77-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/0740-5472(94)90021-3
5 Marsden, J. (n.d.) (2022). Attendance at Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, frequency of attendance and substance use outcomes after residential treatment for drug dependence: a 5-year follow-up study. PubMed. Retrieved April 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18028521/
6 Alcoholics Anonymous (2022). What AA Does Not Do. (n.d.). Alcohólicos Anónimos. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from http://www.alcoholicos-anonimos.org/v_portal/informacion/informacionver.asp?cod=527&te=258&idage=564&vap=0
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James Haggerty
JAMES HAGGERTY

Welcome to my ongoing journey… Join me as we continue our path to sobriety and balance. Thanks for reading. Stay strong.

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