Dougie K: Alcoholics Anonymous is here to help

The only requirement for membership of the AA is the desire to stop drinking. Picture: PA
The only requirement for membership of the AA is the desire to stop drinking. Picture: PA
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Fancy a drink? How much is too much? As we head into Alcohol Awareness Week, drinking is very much in the public eye. Every day, thousands of people across the UK are struggling with a real drink problem.

Being an alcoholic is never on anyone’s bucket list. However, alcohol is an equal opportunities destroyer, attacking people from all walks of life.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous, people turning up for their first meeting are not sleeping on park benches, are not homeless and are usually employed. Outwardly, they appear to have normal lives. They get up; they go to work; they come home, and they drink. Sometimes they drink at work, or maybe they have begun to hide their drinking. Mostly, they don’t think it’s a problem at all. They dismiss criticism of their behaviour. They may not be truthful about their levels of alcohol consumption.

Many feel unwell a lot of the time, a constant low hum of a hangover that gets louder now and again when they really hit the bottle. They don’t know what will happen when they pick up a drink. Sometimes they can control it; for some, it has already gone beyond any form of control.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been in the UK for over 70 years. AA meetings are available to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. No waiting lists, no referrals. There are meetings in nearly every town and city across the UK, every night of the week. Daytime meetings are available too. In the UK alone, there are about 4500 groups meeting weekly with an estimated membership of more than 40,000.

There are 81 meetings every week in Edinburgh and Midlothian.

Far from the preconceived idea of a problem drinker, these AA meetings include men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Using a twelve step programme and support of others who have stayed sober, they help drinkers stop and stay stopped. They provide support to live a happy life free from dependence on alcohol. Nobody gives their full name. It really is anonymous.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no fees: AA is fully self-supporting through member contributions. AA is not allied with any denomination, politics, organisation or institution,

AA has a national free helpline and a chat now facility. Callers are offered help by an AA volunteer who will share their experience on recovery and put them in touch with an AA member who may take them to their first meeting. Others find details of their local meetings from the AA website and come along on their own.

If drink is costing more than money then there is help available. The national free number is 0800 9177 650 There is more information at aa-edinburgh.org.uk

AA offer free talks and information for professionals, including health, education, prisons and employers. Contact us at pi.edinburgh@aamail.org

Dougie K is Public Information Liaison Officer at Alcoholics Anonymous Edinburgh & Midlothian