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Alcoholism is one of the most misunderstood and serious issues in the world today. Officially recognized as an illness in 1956 by the American Medical Association, alcoholism ruins lives and robs individuals of their dignity, loved ones, and their lives. There are more than 3 million new cases of alcoholism reported every year, with the average age getting younger and younger. Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents and other accidental deaths and is also the leading cause of treatment center admissions. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse is an awful thing to live with, but we do not have to let it ruin our lives today.
Alcoholics have been recovering together in Alcoholics Anonymous for over 70 years. Alcoholics Anonymous was first started in 1935 in Akron, Ohio and has since grown into a world wide recovery network for struggling and recovering alcoholics everywhere. AA is comprised entirely of recovering alcoholics who strive to form a network of sobriety for alcoholics to get and stay sober. Alcoholics Anonymous formulated the 12 step model recovery that has gone on to inspire other like-minded groups and save countless lives over the years.
There are AA meetings running every day of the year all across Long Island, even on holidays like Christmas and New Years Day. There are a wide variety of meeting formats that cover a broad range of recovery and alcoholism related topics such as discussion on the nature of alcoholism, sharing and relating to each others struggles and how the recovering alcoholic persevered, and how to live a fulfilling and sober life free of alcohol. There are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at a variety of locations and times throughout Long Island so there is never a meeting too far away. The widespread availability for anybody living with alcoholism to be able to find a meeting is one of the greatest strengths of the fellowship.
Alcoholics Anonymous is centered around the sense of unity that forms between recovering alcoholics. The idea being that recovering alcoholics are able to empathize with each other in comparison to other methods of treating alcoholism. Recovering alcoholics share their accomplishments and their challenges and learn to live life on life’s terms as a responsible and productive member of society. In essence, Alcoholics Anonymous is both a program of recovery and a peer-based support network that work together.
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The touchstone of Alcoholics Anonymous is to help recovering alcoholics learn to live by spiritual principles. Through the working of steps, many members come to identify with a “higher power” which helps guide them in their recovery. For many, this comes through religion, however this is not a requirement for recovery. Many alcoholics with many years sober identify the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous as their higher power. Through this process, alcoholics learn to live a life based around serving and living for others and not by living only for themselves.
There are no requirements for AA membership. Alcoholics Anonymous is completely free to attend and be a part of. Donations are accepted but are not required. There are also no restrictions on membership based on societal factors, meaning that anyone is allowed join regardless of their race, ethnicity, religious or political affiliations, sexual orientation or sexually identity, economic status, etc. Anybody who is living with the disease of alcoholism or simply just believes he or she may have a problem with drinking is welcome to join and attend meetings.
While it certainly is not required, it is highly recommended that members participate in service of some kind. Service is the cornerstone of AA and is the heartbeat of the program. AA is completely self-supporting and does not accept outside contributions. This means Alcoholics Anonymous does not have “employees” and meetings are financed entirely on donations from members. This means that anyone working in AA is working on their own accord. Any money that is collected in meetings goes directly to anything that may be needed to run the meeting such as paying rent and buying meeting supplies. Service can be anything from sponsoring a new member or just making the coffee for the meeting. Services helps to keep AA members participating in their own recovery, to keep groups up and running, and also to keep outside groups or organizations from interfering with the AA message of recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous has proven itself to be one of the longest lasting and most effective institutions for combating alcoholism and is recognized the world over. It is the original and largest 12 step organization and continues to grow daily as more alcoholics get sober. It’s reputation as a mode of recovery insures that it will have a long-lasting presence in the field of recovery and alcoholism for years to come.
For more information about Alcoholics Anonymous or to find the meetings closest to you, visit www.aa.org for a complete meeting list, both on Long Island and world wide.