The Alcoholic and Narcotics Anonymous are groups that were formed in the 1930’s and 1950’s respectively to address the issues of alcoholism and drug abuse in the society. The groups are based on the guidance of the Twelve Steps to assist the alcoholics and drug addicts recover and live a better life. Currently, the groups have many members all over the world showing the success of the group’s activities. It was founded by men who were willing to face opposition and challenges for what they believed would help people all over the world and create a better society with people in control of their lives.
Alcoholic anonymous is an international group that was founded in 1935 to help alcoholics to stay sober or achieve sobrierity. It was founded in 1935 by two men called Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Ohio. The two were members of the Oxford Group, which was a non-denomination Christian group that practiced the disciplines of self-examination, confessing their wrongs, making amends, prayer and carrying their message of religion to others. Bill Wilson worked on Wall Street as a successful stockbroker however he was losing his career due to alcoholicism at only at 39 years of age. He felt hopeless till a friend called Ebby introduced him to the group. He was sceptical of the religious group however while undergoing treatment at the Towns Hospital, he underwent a spiritual experience that made him join the group. He stopped drinking. Later, Bill was able to help Dr. Smith, a surgeon to stop drinking. It was formed by non-protestants.
In 1936, the first female member, Florence Rankin joined the group. She was also the first non-protestant member to join the group. Now, AA is a group that has spread throughout the world. Its members come from diverse cultures, beliefs and values. In 1937, there was a split of the AA and Oxford group after an associate pastor criticized Wilson for forming a secret group that engaged in divergent works. The group operates using a twelve step program that assists in spiritual and character development. These twelve steps were introduced in 1937. The name Alcoholic Anonymous came from the from the original title of their guide book which was Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism. The book has a second part that contains the personal stories of the people who have recovered from alcoholic by going through the program.
The book stipulates that the individual should admit that he or she is powerless over alcohol and needs help from a higher power to overcome. The individuals are to seek guidance from the higher power through prayer and meditation. A person is required to take a moral inventory considering such defects as resentment and be ready for a positive change in character (Jennings, 1993, pg 5). Once someone has been helped, they have to remember to help others.
In 1946, the group experienced a lot of disagreements among the members as it grew. The disagreements were mainly over governance, purpose of the group and finances. Wilson introduced the twelve traditions. These traditions outlined AA as a non-hierarchical and non-coercive group whose only intent was to help alcoholics achieve sobrierity. The members of the alcoholic anonymous group are expected to stay anonymous or out of the public media and help alcoholics to recover and stay sober. The traditions of the group also expect the members to avoid controversies. The AA meetings are therapy sessions run by recovered alcoholics (Blumberg, 1977). There are two types of meetings, closed and open. In the closed meetings, it is only the alcoholics with a desire to stop drinking who attend while the open meetings are for anyone. Members tell their stories and the people then study the AA literature. The group has been successful all over the world in helping alcoholics practice abstinence or refrain from alcohol (Reinhold, 1991)
This is a group that has adopted the twelve steps and twelve traditions of the Alcoholic Anonymous group (Miller, Vandome & McBrewster, 2009, pg 13).Wilson wanted a separate group that would assist drug addicts stop abusing drugs. The group was formed in 1953 by Wilson and another man known as Jimmy Kinnon in Carlifornia. They were also given permission to use the AA literature as long as the group had a different name. The group’s beginning was not very strong. Members did not strictly adhere to the AA twelve steps. The group was accepting money from outside entities while others were adding a lot of religion to the meeting. In 1960, Kinnon revived the group and it started to grow. Soon the group spread to countries in Europe and more and more members joined the group. There was an issue with using the AA literature and the members wanted a book specifically for NA, with their members telling their life history. The first official NA literature was published in 1979.
The meetings are similar to the AA meetings. The members choose their leaders, the secretary and the treasurer. Members are expected to pay any fees nor does the group depend on money from outside entities. The group is self-sufficient, working with the voluntary contributions of its members. The individuals who join should have a desire to “stop using”. The role of the group is to help addicts stay “clean”. Addiction is described as a progressive disease that affects an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual life. The disease can however be arrested by adhering to the NA twelve steps program.
The two groups have succeeded till they have annual conferences where members meet in large numbers and celebrate their achievements. They have continued on well even as they face diverse challenges yearly which they overcome. Many people have been helped by the group as evidenced by their books which highlight the personal stories of recovered alcoholics and drug addicts.
Blumberg, L. (1977) The Ideology of a Therapeutic Social Movement: Alcoholics
Anonymous. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 38: 2122–2142
Jennings, J. (1996) The Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. US: Hazelden Foundation.
Miller, F.,Vandome, A. & McBrewster, J(2009). Narcotics Anonymous. Beau Bassin:
VDM Publishing house.
Reinhold. M. (1991). Abstinence among members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 8(1), 113-121.