Many people who have alcoholism and their family members find that participating in support groups is an essential part of coping with the disease, preventing or dealing with relapses, and staying sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help group of people recovering from alcoholism. AA offers a sober peer group as an effective model for achieving total abstinence. The AA program is built around 12 steps, which are straightforward suggestions for people who choose to lead sober lives. As guides to recovery, the 12 steps help those with alcoholism to accept their powerlessness over alcohol. They stress the necessity for honesty about the past and present.
Recovery in AA is based on accepting the unique experience of each person. Through listening and sharing stories, people who have problem drinking or are dependent on alcohol learn they aren’t alone. There are no fees for membership or requirements for following the 12 steps — only a willingness to try to remain sober.
Al-Anon is designed for people who are affected by someone else’s alcoholism. In sharing their stories, they gain a greater understanding of how the disease affects the entire family. Al-Anon accepts the 12 steps of AA as the principles by which participants are to conduct their lives. It also emphasizes the need to learn detachment and forgiveness. In many communities, Alateen groups also are available for teenage children of those with alcoholism.
Your doctor or counselor can refer you to an AA group or other local support group. These groups are also commonly listed in the phone book, in the local newspaper and on the Web.