Alcoholics Anonymous Is Not Addiction Treatment

Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatmentThere’s a tendency for some people to confuse AA with addiction treatment. Often we’ll ask someone if they’ve had addiction treatment before and the person will say they attended a few “classes”. When we ask what type of classes, they describe AA meetings. Nowadays, judges will often mandate that DUI violators attend AA, so it gets mixed up in the attendee’s head what is AA, what is connected with the court and what is addiction treatment. Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatment, and AA is not affiliated with the courts.

AA is a support group and their only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Anyone, though, can attend AA, because no one will be asked at the door if they have a desire to stop drinking. It’s really left up to the individual when and if they attend. The person attending AA can say something in a meeting or not. No one has to give anyone any information in a AA meeting. I suggest googling AA to get a better understanding. Below is AA’s Preamble:



Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are selfsupporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. Reprinted with permission

Addiction treatment is something else entirely. Treatment facilities are licensed by the state and under state and federal regulations. Addiction treatment covers a wide array of issues and doesn’t necessarily adhere to AA except in broad recovery principles. In treatment, physicians are involved and medical issues are considered. There are assessments and formal treatment plans developed in addiction treatment, and there’s a cost to treatment, although some facilities are state funded and the cost is not covered by the individual in treatment. In AA, the people in the meetings are in recovery themselves — in addiction treatment there are paid licensed professionals who work with the clients.

This is not to say that everyone with an addiction problem must go through treatment and receive professional assistance. Many alcoholics go straight into AA and stay sober long term. It’s just that they’re two separate things that shouldn’t be confused with one another. When clients come to treatment, the treatment facility will often recommend AA for long term support. So, even though Alcoholics Anonymous is not addiction treatment, we all work together when possible to help those in need reaching out for help.


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