Alcoholism is a condition that is characterized by an uncontrollable need to consume alcohol despite the several consequences of doing so. Approximately 1 in 8 Americans is considered an alcoholic, making this disease one of the most common in the country. Unfortunately, alcoholism is a deadly disease when left untreated. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that each year, roughly 95,000 Americans die from alcoholism related causes. This makes alcoholism the third most common cause of preventable death in the country. Thankfully, the principles of AA and other elements related to this particular form of self-help have contributed to saving the lives of thousands of individuals who may have otherwise lost their battle to alcoholism.
What is AA?
AA is short for Alcoholics Anonymous, an “international fellowship” that brings alcoholics together for the purpose of obtaining and maintaining sobriety. AA laid its roots down in 1935, when a New York City stockbroker named Bill W. began hosting meetings in an effort to develop deep spiritual connections with others who struggled with alcoholism. These meetings quickly grew in popularity and have now become what we know as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics Anonymous follows a set of 12-Steps designed to help recovering alcoholics make thorough, spiritual changes in their lives that promote sobriety and healthy living. While the word “spiritual” is used a number of times when describing AA, this is a non-denominational organization and encourages participants to identify their higher power as a being of their choosing. Alongside these 12-Steps are the principles, or virtues, of AA. When combined with the 12-Steps and one’s belief in a higher power, these principles help guide individuals towards the spiritual awakening they are striving to achieve in their sobriety.
Principles of AA and the 12-Steps
Each of the 12-Steps is accompanied by a principle of AA that reflects the goal of that step. Members are not just asked to learn about the 12-Steps and principles of AA, but to put them into motion and actually live them. Focusing on both the step and the principle allows individuals to fully incorporate each step/principle into their lives.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” The first step focuses on encouraging participants to acknowledge that they do not have control over their alcoholism. This accompanying principle is honesty, which is required in order to complete this step effectively.
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Establishing roots in the idea that there is a higher power leads participants to one of the most important principles of AA: hope. Hope gives these individuals the courage to continue working towards their goal of sobriety.
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” With surrender serving as the third principle, it is only right that the third step is focused on surrendering oneself over to a higher power.
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” This means that members of AA evaluate their own morals and how or if they have been living up to them. The fourth principle of courage supports the overall goal of truly dissecting oneself, even if that means facing some ugly truths.
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the nature of our wrongs.” Speaking one’s wrongs into existence takes great integrity, which serves as the 5th principle of AA.
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Again, the term “God” refers to one’s higher power as they understand it. The accompanying principle, willingness, highlights the action that members of AA take to help them overcome the negative aspects about themselves in regards to alcoholism.
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” Humility, which is one of the most powerful of all principles of AA, is connected to this step. Learning how to be humble enough to not only identify one’s shortcomings, but to ask for them to be removed from their character requires significant humility.
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.” Love, the principle that is paired with the 8th step, is highlighted here because it forces an individual to acknowledge how their behaviors have harmed others and begin making good on helping to heal those wounds.
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.” Responsibility, the principle of AA that is connected to the ninth step, is a principle that individuals strive to incorporate into their character, especially as they begin making amends to those they have harmed.
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” Easily one of the most important principles of AA, discipline pairs with the tenth step. Remaining disciplined in each of the steps allows individuals to maintain their recovery.
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we underwood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Awareness, the accompanying principle, helps to shine a light on the eleventh principle. By continually working on improving oneself, individuals can maintain the sense of awareness needed to keep from drinking alcohol again.
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” The overarching goal of AA is to engage in service to others. Whether by listening to others or sharing with them, service is one of the most important principles of AA, as it helps to continually bring the program to others in need.
Why is AA Effective?
AA has proven to be highly effective for the vast majority of people who participate in it. It remains easily one of the most effective approaches to addiction recovery, particularly because of how it connects people with similar experiences to one another. The fellowship that develops in AA is often what keeps members motivated to continue to achieve success as well as hold themselves and others in their group accountable in their sobriety. Additionally, AA is located all over the world, allowing for people to drop into a meeting no matter where they live or where they travel to. The worldwide support that is provided through AA is felt in everyone who attends meetings.
Getting Help with Alcohol Addiction with AA in St. Augustine
The principles of AA are only words unless you apply them to the 12-Steps. If you are struggling with alcoholism and are ready to get help, reach out to Pearl Of The Sea Retreat right now. Call us to speak with one of our compassionate admissions specialists or visit our website to learn more about us by clicking here.
You do not need to go through this alone. Reach out to us right now to get on the road to recovery.