Alcoholics Anonymous

Focus is given to the purpose, leadership, membership, decision making process and the general functioning of the group. The main reason for formation of Alcoholics Anonymous group was to rescue members from abuse of alcohol and similar substances (Mckellar, Stewart Humphreys, 2003). Although the group was started in Ohio in 1935, it has grown to all other US states and beyond (Mckellar et al., 2003). As the name suggests, one of the principles of AA is that its membership should always remain a secret (Mckellar et al., 2003). Apparently, the main purpose of this principle is to shield members from public ridicule that can easily compromise rehabilitation process. The AA has been very effective in helping people abandon alcoholism (Moos Moos, 2006). According to Moos and Moos (2006), the group does not use scientific therapies but rather members come together to help each other deal with the problem of alcohol and drug abuse. In this regard, new entrants are linked to already recovered members for assistance. As noted by Moos and Moos (2006), in addition to helping members to quit unhealthy drinking habits, AA also creates conducive environment to enable them cope with their new life. Some psychologists have suggested that AA can become more effective if scientific medication is incorporated in the group’s traditional methods of fighting alcoholism (Moos Moos, 2006). The functioning of AA group is based on a program of twelve steps that start with entry of addicts and end with exit of fully recovered individuals who are ready to assist other alcoholics (Sharma Branscum, 2010). According to Sharma Branscum (2010), there are twelve traditions used as the constitution of the group. The traditions guide members on how to relate with each another. Some of the most embraced values include group unity, fear of God and self-support (Sharma Branscum, 2010). Since the group is open to any person willing to fight addiction, there is no minimum or maximum membership requirement (Sharma Branscum, 2010). The meeting attended by the author was held on Saturday evening in a four walled room. The timing of the meeting was designed to avoid inconveniencing members as most people are free during Saturday evenings (Harrison, Price, Gavin Florey, 2002). In addition, Harrison et al. noted that meeting at the time when most people are free ensures that members are occupied and won’t find time to engage in unhealthy drinking (2002). The seating arrangement was similar to a learning classroom where learners sit in rows facing one side. Unlike most meetings where group officials sit in front, there appeared to be no distinction between leaders and other members in the AA meeting. This arrangement was designed to discourage any feeling of authority by perceived leaders. It is believed that a sense of equality among members encourages free flow of information within the group. In this regard, the group did not have official leaders. Whenever there is a meeting, any member can volunteer to lead the group through the process (Moos Moos, 2006). As Moos and Moos notes, the volunteer is only a coordinator rather than a leader (2006). Decisions are made through deliberations of the entire group. However, decisions that only affect certain individuals are made by such individuals but other