Alcoholics Anonymous and Bipolar Disorder
Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a very well-known 12-Step program for alcoholics. However, people with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, do not find as welcome a response as do people whose only problem is alcoholism. A.A. meetings usually consist of closed discussions, where anonymous members participate by offering their opinions and/or feelings on either the specific topic chosen or any topic threatening their sobriety. What happens when an A.A. member begins to talk about their alcoholism as it relates to their bipolar disorder, though? Unfortunately, in most meetings, they are told that this is an "outside issue," and that they must talk only about their alcoholism. Yet there are many people who suffer from both alcoholism and bipolar disorder and, if not allowed to discuss it in an A.A. meeting, where can they turn? Part of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is to get a "sponsor." A sponsor is a person who will help the member through the 12 steps of the program, to help them stay sober, and to help them deal with the issues surrounding their alcoholism. Hopefully, the member with bipolar can find a sponsor who is sensitive to the fact that the disorder is one of the issues that does, in fact, affect their sobriety. Some members of Alcoholics Anonymous who have bipolar disorder have been able to connect with others who also have the disorder and, although not allowed to discuss it openly at meetings, have been able to find solace in discussing it among themselves.