Doctors And Health Professionals Information
Our Primary purpose is to help the still suffering Alcoholic by promoting Alcoholics Anonymous as a practical and cost-effective resource in combating alcohol dependency.
Notably, we draw attention to the ‘A Doctor’s Opinion’ paper from Dr Jacqueline Chang which states clearly from a scientific and professional viewpoint the AA principles of recovery from alcohol addiction.
Applying the golden rule of ‘one alcoholic talking to another’, AA is a fellowship of men and women who provide ongoing support for each other and sanctuary for those still suffering from active alcohol addiction.
There are more than 90 meetings across Bristol so most people can find a meeting which suits them.
Engaging in an AA programme can provide much more than just support for not drinking; members find positive ways of dealing with life problems thus avoiding traps which could lead them back into drinking.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, but many meetings are “open” to professionals, family members, friends, and interested parties. Both open and closed meetings are available throughout Bristol. See attached list.
A common misconception is that AA is a religion, which it is not, but specific secular groups exist and can be a good starting point for some people. There are also a Women’s, Young Persons’ and LGBT groups. Please see the attached list and contact us at the address below.
With thanks, Graham S and Louise K
(Health Liaison Officers for Bristol North AA Intergroup).
Alcoholics Anonymous Health with N.I.C.E guidelines
A Doctor’s Opinion
This article is based on a transcript of Dr Jacqueline Chang’s paper given to the National Workshop for Health Liaison in York. Dr Chang is a GP and Addictions Specialist and was a Non-alcoholic Trustee of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The principles of the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”) are scientific and closely follow all the helping therapies which lead people to emotional well-being.
The focus of the programme is spiritual.
Referral to AA is cost effective.
Research has failed to identify any source of help which is even close to AA regarding effectiveness in helping people to achieve long-term sobriety.
The Scientific Principles of AA and Emotional Well-being.
The AA programme teaches us ultimately to change our alcoholic way of thinking and feeling. As it is easier to change our actions than change our thoughts and feelings, AA starts by helping us to change our behaviour. People are asked to go to meetings, read the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, talk to others (these are all behaviours) and gradually alcoholic patterns of thinking and feeling change also. This type of behavioural change is the basis of many therapies.
AA proposes living “One Day at a Time”. It is emotionally healthy to live in the day … in the here and now.
- No point in saying “If only …?” – The past is gone.
- Equally, no point in saying “What if …?” – We can’t control the future.
- Professional therapists teach people to live in the present.
AA encourages members to share their experience, strength and hope with other members. It is emotionally healthy to accept our past experiences, however painful, as past events and move on to a richer, more fulfilling future.
Step 1 of the AA programme is “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable”. It is emotionally healthy to surrender and accept things over which we have no control.
“Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference” is the Serenity Prayer used at every AA meeting. It is emotionally healthy to prioritise problems. The Serenity Prayer is the most significant exercise in prioritisation.
It is emotionally healthy to:
- Accept that we cannot change a situation, but we can change the way we react to it
- Be honest with ourselves and with others, also to be open and willing to change, to experiment, to encounter new situations
- Accept ourselves as we are
- Recognise our environment and interact with it as it is, not as we wish it would be
- Associate or be in contact with other human beings
- Be altruistic – to help others without question or expectation
- Anticipate – to plan for future discomfort or crises
- Be able temporarily to suppress painful feelings or conflict and to think or work on it later when it is more manageable
This is the function of the AA Step programme.
Humour and fun are emotionally healthy. Recovery is not gloom and doom. AA is full of humour.
2. The Spiritual Programme
The AA programme is uniquely spiritual but NOT religious – Spirituality and religion are different.
It is helpful to use Dr Robert Lefever’s definition of spirituality to understand and to explain the difference:
What is spirituality?
- A continuing sense of peace and hope and love.
- Recognition that there is more to life than practical day-to-day matters – These are important but not totally
- A sense of trust that one can learn from experience, however bitter and hurtful, and place it in perspective as a past event from which one can progress to create a richer, more fulfilling future.
- A sense of commonality with other human beings
- An awareness of “God” or Higher Power of some kind, as each may understand Him, (perhaps “the AA group” or the “creative spirit human spirit within all people”) can give one more understanding and tranquillity than one can gain for one’s self in isolation and that this source of help is dependable
Addiction seems to be about the loss of spiritual values:
- Loss of belief in self and others
- Loss of trust in self and others
- Loss of hope in a better future
- Loss of the ability to function in loving relationships
Belief, trust, hope and love are the great spiritual values. They are restored to people who work the programme of AA. The programme is, therefore, a spiritual programme.
[25%] of male hospital admissions are alcohol-related.
Health spending on alcohol-related problems is conservatively estimated to be more than [5%] of the total UK health budget – It is probably much higher than this.
Excessive alcohol consumption is a common cause of high blood pressure, strokes and obesity.
[30%] of all cancers are linked to alcohol.
Alcohol is a factor in [20%] of road deaths, [25%] of drownings, [40%] death in fires.
Over [a million] hospital admissions each year are due to alcohol-related mental health issues
[About 66%] of all domestic abuse and suicide attempts are linked with excessive drinking.
Maybe AA can help some of these people and help reduce the costs.
AA meetings are widely available throughout the country.
Each AA Meeting is held Weekly, at the same Venue, Day and Time.
There is no cost to the medical profession or the UK tax payer and no monetary cost to the alcoholic – Although the cost is high to the alcoholic who almost loses his / her life before getting to AA.
Research Short-Term Abstinence
There is plenty of research which shows that AA is effective in the short term. There is also lots of research which shows other things are effective in stopping drinking. These include therapies and counselling; substitution of other drugs like Valium; also use of Antabuse.
Other drugs have become available which are used to suppress cravings, such as Naltrexone and Acamprosate – They are not in the same category as Valium.
However, long-term sobriety is a different matter – There is no research anywhere which says that anything is superior to AA in helping people to achieve long-term sobriety.
It makes good sense to introduce AA to alcoholic patients at an early stage and to use AA in combination with other forms of treatment such as counselling and the anti-craving drugs.
The National Helpline for Alcoholics Anonymous is 0800 917 7650
The Bristol Helpline for Alcoholics Anonymous is 0117 926 5520