No approach has benefited so many people with alcohol use disorder as effectively as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is an international fellowship of people who want to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees. The program operates on the basis of the “Twelve Steps,” which offers problem drinkers a new way of living without alcohol. Members of the fellowship typically work with a sponsor—a fellow member who is abstaining from alcohol use—who offers guidance and support. AA operates within a spiritual context but is not affiliated with any specific ideology or religious doctrine. However, alternative organizations, such as LifeRing Recovery (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), exist for those seeking a more secular approach.
AA helps its members in other ways as well. It provides a place where people recovering can socialize away from alcohol and with friends who do not drink and who are always available for support when the urge to start drinking again becomes strong. In meetings, people with alcohol use disorder hear other people relate—to the entire group—how they are struggling every day to avoid taking a drink. By providing a means to help others, AA builds self-esteem and confidence formerly found only in drinking alcohol. Most metropolitan areas have many AA meetings available day and night, 7 days a week. People with alcohol use disorder are encouraged to try several different meetings and to attend those at which they feel most comfortable.