Whether your drinking alcohol has cost you a job, a relationship, your health or your freedom, an Alcoholics Anonymous session can be extremely helpful. The meetings will help you stay away from alcohol one drink at a time, one day at a time. At the sessions, you'll hear both sad and inspirational stories and you'll learn coping mechanisms. It helps more than you think to air your thoughts and feelings, especially with a group of strangers who won't judge you or hold anything against you. At AA meetings, you'll find a strong support system of peers all struggling with the same dilemma, which is recovery from alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous was started based on the premise that the alcoholism "disease" can be cured by acknowledging powerlessness over alcohol consumption and accepting help from a higher power. AA claims that it has no single denomination and that they simply refer to a "higher power" as being God, Allah, Buddha, Fate, etc. The idea that there is some higher purpose to life can help many recovering alcoholics out of their life slump. The group is run entirely by alcoholics and recovered alcoholics, with rotating members in various leadership roles. Many people find a sense of purpose by helping others, which is also a focal point of the group. You may be wondering, "How effective is Alcoholics Anonymous?" Generally speaking, the real determining factor is your own determination. If you really want to start over and live a healthy life, free from alcohol addiction, then you likely will. However, those who attend AA meetings by mandate generally relapse within the year. Various studies have been done to determine the overall effectiveness of AA, with mixed results. Early studies in the 1960s found that those who attended meetings actually partied more afterwards. By contrast, a 1998 NIAA study and a 2001 Department of Veteran Affairs study both found that the best addiction treatment is AA. In the latter study, 45% of the men who went through a 12-step AA program were abstinent after 1 year, compared to 36% of those receiving cognitive/behavioral therapy. Of course, AA is not for everyone. For instance, staunch atheists aren't likely to embrace any treatment model with religious overtones. According to the Alcoholics Anonymous website, there are four types of drinkers in need of their assistance: The first type includes those who are binge drinking daily or weekly and are spending a lot of money on booze but feel there's no problem. The second type are those who are experimenting with "control mechanisms," like switching to wine only or drinking to cure a morning hangover. The third type includes those who have lost friends, jobs and relationships and have digressed into a constant state of self-pity and powerlessness. The last type is comprised of those who seem beyond help.