The phenomenon of gaining sobriety through membership in Alcoholics Anonymous

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Samuel, Tom A
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2007
This project is devoted to explaining the phenomenon of gaining sobriety through membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. While there are many ways in which a person can achieve freedom from an alcohol addiction, by far the predominant tool in North American society is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Historically the alcoholism treatment system and AA developed simultaneous and symbiotically. In other parts of the world AA came later, and is being viewed suspiciously by some, antagonistically by others and cooperatively by many. AA is growing exponentially in Europe and Asia and continues to grow significantly in North America. AA would not be what it is today without the alcoholism treatment industry, and the alcoholism treatment industry would not be the same without AA's influence. This study uses four sources to provide a partial exposition of the how and why AA works for some, but not for others: (1) the alcoholism literature, (2) the story of Tom, an alcoholic who gained sobriety primarily through treatment resources maintained it through work as an addictions counsellor, (3) the story of Bill whose initial sobriety came from both treatment resources and AA, and (4) the story of Bob whose initial sobriety came from intense immersion in AA. The three stories provide a rich source for reflection on the process of achieving sobriety, supplemented by the author's comments. The results of the study indicate a number of common features: (1) a life centered on alcohol, (2) a later awareness of drinking patterns other than their own. (3) feelings of uniqueness and aloneness. (4) loss of control, over both life and alcohol use, (5) the tendency to exaggerate drinking experiences in an effort to fit into AA, (6) a basic knowledge of organized religion, (7) the influence of friendship both before and after sobriety, and (8) the significance of helping others. The study notes that there are specific general areas common to most members who choose to maintain AA affiliation for life: (1) spirituality, (2) affiliation, and (3) a program of living. The intriguing question is whether cultural universals of AA will emerge as world wide AA continues to grow and is researched.
ix, 137 leaves ; 29 cm.
Alcoholics Anonymous , Alcoholism , Alcoholics -- Rehabilitation