Resources and Help

On this page, you will find links to people and resources that can help the suffering alcoholic make a start to a lasting personal recovery. Alcoholics helping alcoholics and where to find the help. Starting with the phone number above which will quickly connect you to another alcoholic who has found recovery in our fellowship.

 

AA is a worldwide movement with about three million members. So if you are visiting our site with an alcohol problem don't think for one minute that you are alone and that your position is hopeless. There are millions of us who have found recovery and a happy and fulfilled life in AA. You have nothing to lose by trying the program that has worked for us and in our many meetings around Somerset and elsewhere, you will have the evidence of recovery in front of you. It is not a theory. It works.

 

Alcoholism also has a profound impact on families and they invariably need help too.
Al-Anon UK is our sister organisation which provides help and support for alcohol affected families and partners. Their number is 020 7403 0888

 

About Alcoholism

What we have learned about alcoholism

While there is no formal "A.A. definition" of alcoholism, the majority of our members agree that, for most of us, it could be described as a physical compulsion, coupled with a mental obsession. What we mean is that we had a distinct physical desire to consume alcohol beyond our capacity to control it, in defiance of all rules of common sense. We not only had an abnormal craving for alcohol but we frequently yielded to it at the worst possible times. We did not know when (or how) to stop drinking. Often we did not seem to have sense enough to know when not to begin.

As alcoholics, we have learned the hard way that willpower alone, however strong in other respects, was not enough to keep us sober. We have tried going on the wagon for specific periods. We have taken solemn pledges. We have switched brands and beverages. We have tried drinking at only certain hours. But none of our plans worked. We always wound up, sooner or later, getting drunk when we not only wanted to stay sober and had every rational incentive to do so.

 

We have gone through stages of dark despair when we were sure that something was wrong with us mentally. We came to hate ourselves for wasting the talents with which we were endowed and for the trouble we were causing our families and others. Frequently, we indulged in self-pity and proclaimed that nothing could ever help us. We can smile at those recollections now but at the time they were grim unpleasant experiences.

 

Today we are willing to accept the idea that, as far as we are concerned, alcoholism is an illness; a progressive illness that can never be "cured" but which, like some other illnesses, can be arrested. We agree that there is nothing shameful about having an illness, provided we face the problem honestly and try to do something about it. We are perfectly willing to admit that we are allergic to alcohol and that it is simply common sense to stay away from the source of the allergy.

 

We understand now, that once a person has crossed the invisible line from heavy drinking to compulsive alcoholic drinking, they will always remain alcoholic. So far as we know, there can never be any turning back to "normal" social drinking. "Once an alcoholic - always an alcoholic" is a simple fact we have to live with.

 

We have also learned that there are few alternatives for the alcoholic. If they continue to drink, their problem will become progressively worse. They seem assuredly on the path to the gutter, to hospitals, to jails or other institutions, or to an early grave. The only alternative is to stop drinking completely and to abstain from even the smallest quantity of alcohol in any form. If they are willing to follow this course and to take advantage of the help available to them, a whole new life can Open up for the alcoholic.

A Message for Young People

 

How to tell when drinking is becoming a problem

 

ALCOHOLISM

 

Alcoholism is a rough word to deal with, yet nobody is too young (or too old) to have trouble with booze. That's because alcoholism is an illness. It can hit anyone; young, old, rich, poor. black, white and it doesn't matter how long you've been drinking or what you've been drinking. It's what drinking does to you that counts. To help you decide whether you might have a problem with your own drinking, we've prepared these 12 questions. The answers are nobody's business but your own. If you can answer yes to any one of these questions, maybe it's time you took a serious look at what your drinking might be doing to you. If you do need help or if you'd just like to talk to someone about your drinking, call us on 0800 917 7650 or help@aamail.org

 

Click here to find a meeting in Somerset near you

 

A Simple 12-Question Quiz Designed To Help You Decide

  • Do you drink because you have problems? To face up to stressful situations?
  • Do you drink when you get mad at other people, your friends or parents?
  • Do you often prefer to drink alone, rather than with others?
  • Are you starting to get low marks? Are you skiving off work?
  • Do you ever try to stop or drink less - and fail?
  • Have you begun to drink in the morning, before school or work?
  • Do you gulp your drinks as if to satisfy a great thirst?
  • Do you ever have loss of memory due to your drinking?
  • Do you avoid being honest with others about your drinking?
  • Do you ever get into trouble when you are drinking?
  • Do you often get drunk when you drink, even when you do not mean to?
  • Do you think you're big to be able to hold your drink?

 

Did you answer Yes four times or more? If so, you are probably in trouble with alcohol.

 

You can call us in complete confidence on  0800 917 7650 or help@aamail.org

 

Click here to find a meeting in Somerset near you

 

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 AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.

 

AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • Am I an alcoholic?

If you repeatedly drink more than you intend or want to, or if you get into trouble when you drink you may be an alcoholic

.
Only you can decide. No one in A.A. will tell you whether you are or not.

 

What can I do if I am worried about my drinking?


Seek help. Alcoholics Anonymous can help

.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
We are a Fellowship of men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking and have found ourselves in various sorts of trouble as a result of drink. We attempt - most of us successfully - to create a satisfactory way of life without alcohol. For this, we find we need the help and support of other alcoholics in A.A.

 

  • If I go to an A.A. meeting, does that commit me to anything?

No. A.A. keeps no membership files or attendance records. You need to disclose nothing about yourself. No one will bother you if you don’t want to come back.

* What happens if I meet people I know in A.A?
They will be there for the same reason you are there. They will not disclose your identity to outsiders. At A.A. you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is one of the reasons we call ourselves Alcoholics Anonymous.

 

  • What happens at an A.A. meeting?

An A.A. meeting may take one of several forms, but at any meeting, you will find alcoholics talking about what drink did to their lives and personalities, what actions they took to deal with this, and how they are living their lives today.

 

  • How can this help me with my drink problem?

We in A.A. know what it is like to be addicted to alcohol and to be unable to keep promises made to others and ourselves that we will stop drinking. We are not professional therapists. Our only qualification for helping others to recover from alcoholism is that we have recovered ourselves. Problem drinkers coming to us know that recovery is possible because they see people who have done it.

 

  • Why do A.A.s keep on going to meetings after they are cured?

We in the fellowship of A.A. believe there is no such thing as a cure for alcoholism. We can never return to normal drinking, and our ability to stay away from alcohol depends on maintaining our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This we can achieve by going to meetings regularly and putting into practice what we learn there. In addition, we find it helps us to stay sober if we help other alcoholics.

 

  • How do I join A.A.?

You are an A.A. member if and when you say so. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking, and many of us were not very wholehearted about that when we first approached A.A.

 

  • How much does A.A. membership cost?

There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership. An A.A. group will usually have a collection during the meeting to cover running expenses, such as rent, coffee, etc., and to this, all members are free to contribute as much or as little as they wish.

 

  • Is A.A. a religious organisation?

No. Nor is it allied to any religious organisation.

 

  • There’s a lot of talk about God, though, isn’t there?

The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual willpower, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the collective therapy of A.A, still, others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and non-belief.

 

  • Can I bring my family to an A.A. meeting?

Family members or close friends are welcome at 'Open', A.A. meetings. Discuss this with your local contact.

 

  • What advice do you give new members?

In our experience, the people who recover in A.A. are those who:
(1) stay away from the first drink;
(2) attend A.A. meetings regularly;
(3) seek out the people in A.A. who have successfully stayed sober for some time;
(4) try to put into practice the A.A. program of recovery.

 

  • How can I contact A.A.?

You can call us in complete confidence on  0800 917 7650 or help@aamail.org

 

Click here to find a meeting in Somerset near you

 

Remember that alcoholism is a progressive illness. Take it seriously, even if you think you are at an early stage of the illness. Alcoholism is a killer disease. If you are an alcoholic and if you continue to drink, in time you will get worse.

Historical Data

 

The Birth of A.A., its Growth and the Start of A.A. in Great Britain

 

A.A. had its beginnings in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics.

 

Prior to that time, Bill and Dr. Bob had each been in contact with the Oxford Group, a mostly non-alcoholic fellowship that emphasized universal spiritual values in daily living. In that period, the Oxford Groups in America were headed by the noted Episcopal clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. Under this spiritual influence, and with the help of an old-time friend, Ebby T., Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these had actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob's Oxford Group membership at Akron had not helped him enough to achieve sobriety.

 

When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Though a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill's convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of A.A. had been struck.

 

Both men immediately set to work with alcoholics at Akron's City Hospital, where one patient quickly achieved complete sobriety. Though the name Alcoholics Anonymous had not yet been coined, these three men actually made up the nucleus of the first A.A. group. In the fall of 1935, the second group of alcoholics slowly took shape in New York. A third appeared at Cleveland in 1939. It had taken over four years to produce 100 sober alcoholics in the three founding groups.

 

Early in 1939, the Fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous. The text, written by Bill, explained A.A.'s philosophy and methods, the core of which was the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery. The book was also reinforced by case histories of some thirty recovered members. From this point, A.A.'s development was rapid.

 

Also in 1939, the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried a series of articles about A.A., supported by warm editorials. The Cleveland group of only twenty members was deluged by countless pleas for help. Alcoholics sober only a few weeks were set to work on brand-new cases. This was a new departure, and the results were fantastic. A few months later, Cleveland's membership had expanded to 500. For the first time, it was shown that sobriety could be mass-produced.

 

Meanwhile, in New York, Dr. Bob and Bill had in 1938 organized an over-all trusteeship for the budding Fellowship. Friends of John D. Rockefeller Jr. became board members alongside a contingent of A.A.s. This board was named The Alcoholic Foundation. However, all efforts to raise large amounts of money failed, because Mr. Rockefeller had wisely concluded that great sums might spoil the infant society. Nevertheless, the foundation managed to Open a tiny office in New York to handle inquiries and to distribute the A.A. book - an enterprise which, by the way, had been mostly financed by the A.A.s themselves.

 

The book and the new office were quickly put to use. An article about A.A. was carried by Liberty magazine in the fall of 1939, resulting in some 800 urgent calls for help. In 1940, Mr. Rockefeller gave a dinner for many of his prominent New York friends to publicize A.A. This brought yet another flood of pleas. Each inquiry received a personal letter and a small pamphlet. Attention was also drawn to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which soon moved into brisk circulation. Aided by mail from New York, and by A.A. travellers from already-established centres, many new groups came alive. At the year's end, the membership stood at 2,000.

 

Then, in March 1941, the Saturday Evening Post featured an excellent article about A.A., and the response was enormous. By the close of that year, the membership had jumped to 6,000, and the number of groups multiplied in proportion. Spreading across the U.S. and Canada, the Fellowship mushroomed.

 

By 1950, 100,000 recovered alcoholics could be found worldwide. Spectacular though this was, the period 1940-1950 was nonetheless one of great uncertainty. The crucial question was whether all those mercurial alcoholics could live and work together in groups. Could they hold together and function effectively? This was the unsolved problem. Corresponding with thousands of groups about their problems became a chief occupation of the New York headquarters.

 

By 1946, however, it had already become possible to draw sound conclusions about the kinds of attitude, practice and function that would best suit A.A.'s purpose. Those principles, which had emerged from strenuous group experience, were codified by Bill in what is today the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. By 1950, the earlier chaos had largely disappeared. A successful formula for A.A. unity and functioning had been achieved and put into practice. (See The Structure of A.A. General Service in U.S./Canada.)

 

During this hectic ten-year period, Dr. Bob devoted himself to the question of hospital care for alcoholics, and to their indoctrination with A.A. principles. Large numbers of alcoholics flocked to Akron to receive hospital care at St. Thomas, a Catholic hospital. Dr. Bob became a member of its staff. Subsequently, he and the remarkable Sister M. Ignatia, also of the staff, cared for and brought A.A. to some 5,000 sufferers. After Dr. Bob's death in 1950, Sister Ignatia continued to work at Cleveland's Charity Hospital, where she was assisted by the local groups and where 10,000 more sufferers first found A.A. This set a fine example of hospitalisation wherein A.A. could cooperate with both medicine and religion.

 

In this same year of 1950, A.A. held its first International Convention at Cleveland. There, Dr. Bob made his last appearance and keyed his final talk to the need of keeping A.A. simple. Together with all present, he saw the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous enthusiastically adopted for the permanent use of the A.A. Fellowship throughout the world. (He died on November 16, 1950.)

 

The following year witnessed still another significant event. The New York office had greatly expanded its activities, and these now consisted of public relations, advice to new groups, services to hospitals, prisons, Loners, and Internationalists, and cooperation with other agencies in the alcoholism field. The headquarters was also publishing "standard" A.A. books and pamphlets, and it supervised their translation into other tongues. Our international magazine, the A.A. Grapevine, had achieved a large circulation. These and many other activities had become indispensable for A.A. as a whole.

 

Nevertheless, these vital services were still in the hands of an isolated board of trustees, whose only link to the Fellowship had been Bill and Dr Bob. As the co-founders had foreseen years earlier, it became absolutely necessary to link A.A.'s world trusteeship (now the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous) with the Fellowship that it served. Delegates from all states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada were forthwith called in. Thus composed, this body for world service first met in 1951. Despite earlier misgivings, the gathering was a great success. For the first time, the remote trusteeship became directly accountable to A.A. as a whole. The A.A. General Service Conference had been created, and A.A.'s over-all functioning was thereby assured for the future.

 

A second International Convention was held in St. Louis in 1955 to celebrate the Fellowship's 20th anniversary. The General Service Conference had by then completely proved its worth. Here, on behalf of A.A.'s old-timers, Bill turned the future care and custody of A.A. over to the Conference and its trustees. At this moment, the Fellowship went on its own; A.A. had come of age.

 

Had it not been for A.A.'s early friends, Alcoholics Anonymous might never have come into being. And without its host of well-wishers who has since given of their time and effort - particularly those friends of medicine, religion, and world communications - A.A. could never have grown and prospered. The Fellowship here records its constant gratitude.

It was on January 24, 1971, that Bill, a victim of pneumonia, died in Miami Beach, Florida, where - seven months earlier - he had delivered at the 35th Anniversary International Convention what proved to be his last words to fellow A.A.s: "God bless you and Alcoholics Anonymous forever."

 

Since then, A.A. has become truly global, and this has revealed that A.A.'s way of life can today transcend most barriers of race, creed and language. A World Service Meeting started in 1969, has been held biennially since 1972. It's locations alternate between New York and overseas. It has met in London, England; Helsinki, Finland; San Juan del Rio, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Munich, Germany and Cartagena, Colombia.

 

The Start of AA in Great Britain

The venue for AA's first meeting in Great Britain was pretty classy London's Dorchester Hotel. Grace O, an American AA, visiting London had been asked by GSO in New York to contact several people in Britain who wanted information about AA. Amongst them were Chris B, probably the first person in England to use AA to attain sobriety, 'Canadian' Bob B, an American serviceman Sergeant Vernon W, and Norman R-W, who was still drinking. The meeting was held in Room 202 of the hotel at 8 p.m. on Monday 31st March 1947. Others attending the meeting were Tony F, an Irish airman, Flash W, an American and Pat G, a female member from California whom Grace had met on the voyage.

 

In the same way that early American meetings had been held in members' homes meetings were held in Canadian Bob's house in Mortlake Road, Kew Gardens as well as in cafés.

 

Progress was slow at first but when Canadian Bob visited new members Alan and wife Winnie in Bolton he informed them that they were the Bolton Group. In November 1948 the Group held its first meeting at the Millgate Hotel, Manchester.

 

When Canadian Bob introduced Bill H to sobriety in AA our service structure expanded with Bill's office in the London Fruit Exchange providing the fellowship with a postal address (BM/AAL London WC1) and a contact number (Bishopgate 9657) available Monday to Friday.

By January 1949 meetings in London were being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 Chandos Street and membership had passed the magic 100.

 

In 1952 AA began to lease 11 Redcliffe Gardens with the Central Committee managing it as the Central Service Office. In 1970 it became the General Service Office under the management of the General Service Board. When GSO relocated to Stonebow House in York in 1986 the London Regional Telephone office remained at Redcliffe Gardens until January 1999 when it moved into the Regional Service Office (London) at Jacob House and Redcliffe Gardens passed out of AA history.

 

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the Oxford Groups had an instrumental role in AA beginnings as they had in America. The wife of Philip D, an active alcoholic, attended an Oxford Group in Scotland and heard about the Groups' role in the start of AA. Philip visited America in 1948 and attended meetings before returning to Scotland and carrying the message. Forbes C got involved and meetings began in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1949.

 

Cathedral Road, Cardiff was the location of the first AA meeting in Wales. The meeting took place on Friday 13th April 1951 with five attendees.

 

(Information collated from AA archives with particular reliance on Share Magazine: Alcoholics Anonymous in Great Britain The first fifty years 1947 to 1997: March 1997)