Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step Programs

  • Shannon Cooper-SadloAffiliated withSaint Louis University Email author 
  • , Jessica L. ChouAffiliated withQueen of Peace Center




Over 17 million individuals suffer from alcohol dependence or abuse, and millions more exhibit risky behaviors that have the potential to become an addiction ( In response to this public health problem, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)* was created “… to carry the message of recovery to the person with alcoholism who is seeking help in achieving sobriety,” (Barnett 2003, p. 469). Since inception in 1935, AA supports individuals and their families in the recovery process through a 12-step program. Often times, various systems of a person’s life are disrupted by alcohol use including social networks (friends, family, coworkers). Through AA a person can begin their journey to recovery and rebuilding their life.


Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest 12-step program and has more than 114,000 groups worldwide and a membership of two million individuals in the USA and Canada (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services 2012). Groups are often held at churches, community ...

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