Group Membership in Alcoholics Anonymous

Group Membership in Alcoholics Anonymous


Alcoholism is a condition of chronic illness. It is characterized by uncontrolled levels of alcohol intake that affects the mental or physical health of a user, their family, and work responsibilities. It is a disease that has claimed or plagued many members of the society. Many young people and adults are giving in to alcohol dependency than ever before. Due to this, it is has become difficult to manage and even cure it. At least 1 in every 20 adults in the United States is an alcoholic or an abuser (Kaskutas, 2009). However, not all genders are given attention when it comes to addressing this matter even though the disease seems to be an equal opportunity. In fact, many people think that men are highly prone to alcohol than women. Well, society is changing and women of today have welcomed alcohol consumption even to levels far higher than those of men. The lack of concern about what men and women desire has resulted in a number of women joining recovery options that do not effectively address their issues (Kaskutas, 2009). The question here would be, how do men and women behave and what are their experiences during the whole recovery process? It is a journey, for certain and serious decisions should be made by an abuser to stick to pacts and rules made not just to oneself but also to these systems. This study will give in details how addiction process to recovery is done and what goes on until a person feels he/she has quit the behavior.

Such a recovery system or better yet Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A) is a group of women and men who come together to share their drinking issues, how it has affected their lives and their willingness to abstain. They hold on to some hope, and as one, it gives them strength to solve this common issue and even extend their help to other people in the society who may not want to join because they feel ashamed (Kaskutas, 2009). Achieving sobriety is the ultimate goal, and it only takes a desire do the same for one to join such a group. The research question posed above is clearly important because it would be vital to determine how the A.A is helpful in driving the disease away. Additionally, the study aims at revealing how the groups achieve their purpose. Such groups have no higher authority, every member has equal rights and can propose any amendments to stated rules anytime they deem necessary. The reason for the A.A is because these alcoholics believe that for them to recover; they must be in a group. It does spark hope since one learns that it’s not just him/her but a great number of people facing a similar problem. Moreover, a sponsor is usually awarded to every member to track their abstinence process.


The study focused on an A.A group in Kentucky. The research began after conducting extensive interviews and observation of the locals to find out some of these recovery centers. I received help also from the local authority that provided addresses of some of the prominent A.A meetings in Kentucky. Letters were sent out to the secretary of one of the groups asking for members consent to participate in the study. Questionnaires and a letter detailing its reason were to be given to the group and asked if they had interest. Respondents were then requested to submit completed questionnaires which had open and closed questions. The research aimed at finding out their opinions of the success rate of the A.A. They were asked when they joined the A.A, their last alcohol drink, and if attending on a regular basis.

During the first day of the field study, I took notes while keenly following the discussions and personal confessions and anticipating any gendered conversations as it progressed. I was hoping to gain a personal relationship with the participants even after the questionnaire session to get in depth and up close interaction with them. The session triggered a number of questions that would help in concluding the research in a satisfactory manner. Which best approach should be used? Will the participants feel that they have assisted in a meaningful study after it? Or is there a limit to their willingness to come out and express their thoughts? To achieve a better insight into this would involve asking questions based on perception and actual information. This would reveal the extent in which the participants are willing to disclose information and determine accuracy. The two questionnaires one on perception and the other on attained success would be given out in two phases. One would be a week after the other for all the 54 participants. Finally, after the three weeks field study and all data has been collected, the comparison would be done for all the questionnaires including those of the sponsors.

Additionally, the questionnaire addressed the 12-stepping method which is a core pillar of the A.A which entailed same-sex individuals who desire to abstain from drinking meeting. It was prudent to attend some of these meetings and see how the individuals connected. There would be shared stories about how their lives changed after starting to drink alcohol, thinking about recovery and how they learned about A.A. The research also engaged the participants throughout the three weeks to rate their conformability levels with the 12-stepping and if it somehow made then want to try it all over again. Going around after breaks, I would ask each one to honestly give their views on what they heard, deem, or want as a successful A.A member. The prime aspects that featured in the data analysis would be based on honesty levels, attendance, sobriety, and helping others. In cases which the responses did not match any of the above categories, and then they would be coded as absent. Still, there was the collected information about their perception of success as an A.A member and the different questionnaires that are self-reported.

There are other categories in which to group the participants that were explored including marital status, age, parenting or not, and gender. They are just but ways to make easier the understanding of these findings and assist in quick analysis. The strength of the findings from the study would prove that my time at the community was productive. Also, if the analysis answers the research question mentioned at the beginning, then it warrants a conclusion that states that the study was successful. Out of the 54 participants, an average of them have been attending the meetings. Since the gatherings were done two times in a week, they viewed themselves as regular and successful transformers. Regarding the questionnaires, 48 out of 54 mentioned that they had experienced actual success and the others just perceived.

To ensure a successful study, some ethical standards should be put in place. Firstly, anonymity has always been a concern in any ethnography design work, and in this research, I will strive to keep my sources confidential. To get a compelling story about my research and the findings, it would be adamant to consider the privacy of the participants. Most of them do not like being exposed as this may result in stigma or some of them even committing murders out of bitterness. Another ethical challenge that usually hinders the progress of research would be the accuracy of the information published. Sometimes the public may not receive some allegations turned confirmed in a good manner. According to Kaskutas (2009), some individuals may not believe the information they receive. In relation to this study, it would mean changing some of the names of the participants and even their areas of residence. Another ethical principle to comply with is ensuring that the final report complies with the non-bias rule. Ethnography work entails looking at a person’s life in a close manner while finding out every detail of a specific topic. I believe the study is important and the findings should be presented in a precise and realistic way.


There were some few weaknesses in the report. Lack of organizational time in the A.A group meeting affected the research because, despite the questionnaires, a lot more information would have been obtained from follow-ups. The challenge here would be the risk of over-generalizing of the findings to cover whole Kentucky which might not be the case because of the uncertainty that lies from the representativeness of the other A.As. Assessing whether success membership exists was the hurdle here. This was because considering abstinence as the sole reason for success would not be sufficient in terms of sensitivity.

The strengths of the study include a high response rate which catered for the people who did not want to participate. Such increased the validity rates of the data collected. Furthermore, self-reports given by the participants warrant the findings reliable and lack and bias. Still, if you were to go by the sociodemographic features of the members who chose to attend, then it counts as a source of interest and beats the self-selection bias feature. The age, gender balance, and marital status of the sample used could still be compared to the one held by the Alcoholics Anonymous.

This type of research design is effective than the quantitative research design because of the accurate and reliable data collected from an up-close interaction with participants. Mingling with the sample allows for easier identification of the solution and probably raises other questions that would not be revealed with other research designs.

A quantitative method that would be used is the probability method that incorporates the Chi-square tests. Integration of the quantitative and qualitative methods of research in this study allows for easier comparison and appreciating any contradictions. However, in this report, it would be difficult to use both because of the complexities associated with evaluations. Moreover, the study would best succeed if the approach used is recommended since it was based on a personal relationship with participants to understand their view towards their progress at the Alcoholics Anonymous. However, the Chi-square tests would determine the skewness of the responses based on length of membership, willingness to 12-step, meeting attendance, and last time to drink. For instance, the test would show if those eager to start the 12-step were significantly related to the group membership length.


The use of sociodemographic characteristics in relation to the questions gave the report better viability and would stir further studies on the topic. The subjects had an opportunity to report their various behaviors in determining reasons for success in the A.A group membership.



Kaskutas, L. A. (2009). Alcoholics Anonymous effectiveness: Faith meets science. Journal of addictive diseases, 28(2), 145-157.

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