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What Do Alcoholics Anonymous Members Look Like?

You probably have some assumptions about members of alcoholics anonymous. Many people think that AA is used primarily as an alternative to professional, structured treatment. You might be surprised to learn that the reality is very different.

You might also be interested in learning other pieces of information about who joins and attends AA. In many ways, learning about demographics allows us to compare ourselves to groups and figure out if we think we could fit in. As AA is all-inclusive, you are almost bound to fit in, but it’s still nice to get stats.

Further, learning about the general numbers can help you decide whether or not you should look for a niche chapter. Maybe you would be more comfortable 12 stepping with people who share your cultural background or religious leanings. If the general AA population doesn’t appeal, you know to look for a more specialized crowd.

But, don’t let this information stand in the way of your joining AA or seeking treatment. In general, you do need to shop around before you find a support group that fits your needs and your personality. Think of this post as a start to your research.

If you are considering substituting structured, professional treatment with AA, don’t. As you read through this, you will find that most AA members credit their rehab with their continued sobriety. AA is support group and serves a purpose in recovery, but it can’t replace rehab.

For help getting started with rehab, contact our helpline at 800-683-3270. You can get questions answered, find resources, and be directed to top-notch drug and alcohol treatment.

Alcoholic Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous Members

Most AA members attended professional rehab prior to joining.

AA has a long history that dates back to 1935, when a surgeon, Dr. Bob S, and a stockbroker, Bill W, met. Both were alcoholics. In the past, both men had been involved in the Oxford Group, a nonalcoholic fellowship with a focus on universal spiritual values. Bill got sober, Dr. Bob hadn’t succeeded.

When the pair met, Dr. Bob was immediately struck. He finally was facing a fellow alcoholic who had turned his addiction around. Bill was of the opinion that alcoholism was an illness of the mind, body, and emotions. Even though he was a doctor, Dr. Bob hadn’t thought about alcoholism as an illness. Bill’s ideas and help were the support Dr. Bob needed to get sober.

The duo immediately went to work with alcoholics at a local city hospital. Patients quickly achieved sobriety and groups began to sprout up.

In 1939, the initial textbook was published and in it were the core: the 12 steps we all know today. From this point on, the organization quickly grew. There more than 115,000 groups across the world, currently.

General Demographics

In 2014, Alcoholics Anonymous conducted a random survey of members form the United States and Canada. The general services office of the organization has conducted similar studies every three to four years since 1968. The goal is to keep members up-to-date on current trends in membership. Also, the group hopes it will educate health care providers and the general public and help bring the message to those who still battle alcoholism.

Academic studies of demographics have also been conducted.

What follows are some demographic percentages.

Gender

  • Men: 62 percent
  • Women: 38 percent

Race/ethnicity

  • White: 89 percent
  • Black: 4 percent
  • Latino/a: 3 percent
  • Other: 2 percent
  • Native American: 1 percent
  • Asian: 1 percent

Age

  • Under 21: 1 percent
  • 21 to 30: 11 percent
  • 31 to 40: 14 percent
  • 41 to 50: 21 percent
  • 51 to 60: 28 percent
  • 61 to 70: 18 percent
  • Over 70: 7 percent

Marital Status

  • Married/Life Partner: 41 percent
  • Single: 32 percent
  • Divorced: 21 percent
  • Other: 6 percent

Aftercare Programs that Don’t Follow the 12 Step Recovery Model

Alcoholics Anonymous and Treatment

Prior to this section, some numbers have been listed and they are interesting pieces of information, but it becomes even more interesting when you begin to consider the role that treatment and general healthcare play in AA membership.

Introduction to AA (these numbers add up to more than 100 percent because respondents were allowed to check more than one answer)

  • Through AA member: 32 percent
  • Treatment facility: 32 percent
  • Self-motivated: 30 percent
  • Family: 27 percent

Treatment was more likely to channel people into AA than family.

Before AA, 59 percent of the people who responded had received some form of treatment. Of those, 74 percent credit it with directing them to AA.

After coming to AA, 58 percent of members received some form of treatment. Of those, 84 percent say the treatment played an important role in their recovery.

Treatment is an important component of success in AA and you can’t replace it with AA alone. You need to seek treatment as well and we can help. Call 800-683-3270 to connect with a rehab program that will help you to succeed.

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