A code of AA is ‘love and tolerance’ and it means to treat others as you would want to be treated. Love and tolerance start with loving yourself, loving other people, and accepting a person as he or she is. Love and tolerance allow you to understand you can love someone without having to like everything about them. The person in the AA program must develop patience, love, tolerance, and an understanding of other people despite their differences.
Love and tolerance promote open-mindedness and freedom from judging others and their opinions. Love and tolerance help you to love yourself and forgive yourself. Self-esteem and confidence will begin to improve when you learn to love yourself first. When you love yourself first, loving others becomes a lot easier. Loving yourself promotes happiness, which positively contributes to your recovery progress.
It is important to be tolerant of other people. Learn to tolerate people from different backgrounds, beliefs, or political views. Everyone has his or her own perspective on everything, and tolerance will encourage patience. With tolerance, you can understand that mistakes, imperfections, and shortcomings of others will bother you less. People are living with their own struggles just like you.
When you learn to listen and not judge, you will see the beauty of the world. When you work through the program, you must learn tolerance. Learn to let go of things you cannot change, such as people. It is an ongoing process. The ‘love and tolerance’ code of AA comes from living life one day at a time, putting yourself at God’s disposal, and having the ability to do anything and anywhere to help another alcoholic. “Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol” (Alcoholics Anonymous).
With tolerance, you will not judge who to save and not to save. Do not rely on your limited perceptions and vision to see. There will be people you do not like, and some people will not like you. Love and tolerance teach you to respect yourself and others, not just at meetings, but also throughout your life.
About Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a widely known organization dedicated to helping members who struggle with alcoholism. AA hosts both open and closed meetings. Anyone may attend an open meeting, but closed meetings are intended for members only. This provides a safe place for those wanting help to connect with others who share similar experiences. The only requirement to join is a desire to stop drinking.
Alcoholics Anonymous uses the 12 steps to guide members through the recovery process. They often use the “Big Book” and other literature to help members take responsibility for changing their own lives and supporting those around them. Although the process can have spiritual undertones, it does not require a person to commit themselves to a religion as it is not a religious organization. Instead, references to God and other religious elements can be used to represent another form of spirituality that best fits the individual needs of the person.
How Alcoholics Anonymous Works
Open AA meetings usually involve a speaker sharing their experiences and journey. The speaker is usually a member of AA and it is designed to help provide a bit of insight to prospective members. Closed sessions, however, tend to focus on specific topics. The person leading the meeting will choose a topic and members will take turns sharing stories related to that. For those who have never attended a closed session, there are occasions where meetings are held to specifically teach new members about the twelve steps and how the program works.
Early on in the program, members are encouraged to attend as much as possible because the risk of relapse is much higher in early recovery. They are also urged to find a sponsor early on in order to help them manage difficult aspects of recovery. A sponsor is typically someone who has been sober for a long period of time and can provide guidance, advice, and support. A sponsor models the behaviors members aspire to achieve and helps those in need make the changes necessary to support sobriety.
The Impact of AA Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous is particularly impactful because of the relationships it builds among members. It provides members with a safe place to connect with others who share similar experiences. Through meetings, they are able to find new social activities that they can substitute for drinking, find new ways to cope with stressors, and develop meaningful relationships with people who are in similar situations. This reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness that often contribute to relapse. Through discussion and exploration, they are able to educate themselves on the nature of addiction and discard any negative thoughts or feelings perpetuated by stereotypes and other mediums.
AA is also effective in bringing people from diverse backgrounds together over a shared difficulty. People from all walks of life suffer with alcoholism and recovery from it can be difficult alone. AA meetings provide a safe place for members to interact with others, learn from one another, and develop supportive relationships with others who can relate to their experiences. Because their primary focus is on treating alcoholism, there are no barriers that prevent people of different ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds from coming together to work through addiction. The ongoing support found in these meetings is vital to success and helps bridge connections that may not have been formed otherwise.
AA meetings should not take the place of addiction treatment, but they serve as an excellent resource for those looking to manage their recovery long-term. Engagement in a support group helps many maintain sobriety long-term and many studies suggest that a combination of treatment and support programs tend to yield the best treatment results.
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