Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 70 years in Scotland

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Leaflets aimed to make people consider their drink consumption

2018 marks 70 years of Alcoholics Anonymous helping people overcome their dependency in Scotland. To honour this anniversary, MSP Monica Lennon is sponsoring an event tomorrow evening at the Scottish Parliament.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Scotland has changed the lives of thousands of alcoholics who have bravely battled their addiction and have continued to lead a sober life. AA provides free drop-in group meetings all across Scotland, which are non-compulsory, and members are not required to disclose their identity.

At the event, AA members will share their personal experience with alcoholism and their journey to sobriety with the guidance of AA. One such member, Martin B, will be part of the presentation at the Parliament tomorrow. He previously represented AA by helping to curate an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow that showcased the history of AA as a service in Scotland. 

Martin said of AA’s impact in Scotland, “It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened for many, many people. There are nearly 1000 groups in Scotland and you can go to AA seven days a week.”

Throughout the years, AA has worked to ensure that alcoholism is recognised as a mental illness. Martin said,

“The idea that the alcoholic is the person with the raincoat and bottle has long been superseded by the fact that any social class in Scotland is affected by alcoholism. Its helped people from all factions of life.”

Martin has been a member of the AA for 28 years, and believes AA will carry on its essential support for alcoholics and their recovery. He said, “AA will continue to grow, there are younger and younger people coming to AA now which is a real blessing, so they don’t have to go down the road I went down.”

Central to the presentation at the event will be remembering pioneer Sir Philip Dundas. He is credited for establishing Alcoholics Anonymous in 1948 after becoming familiar with the group in America; he then travelled across Scotland setting up meetings. The first meeting was held by Dundas in a church in Perth and was attended by six men.

The 12-step programme is still an integral part of AA’s recovery programme for its members. ‘The Big Book’ details these 12 steps was first published in 1938 and has since sold more than 35 million copies and been translated into 68 different languages.

Although the AA in Scotland has external partnerships with the Scottish Health and Prison Services, they are financially independent and refrain from being affiliated with any outside organisations.

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Man drinking in the street – alcoholics often suffer alone

 

The Scottish government has said that the general consumption of alcohol has seen a gradual decrease of 9% since 2009, however levels are still of concern. The latest figures for 2016/17 show there has been a 33% reduction of alcohol-related deaths since 2003. However, a fifth more alcohol is purchased per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.

Alcoholics Anonymous say there is an increased number of young people attending meetings. They aim to introduce AA meetings at every university within the UK in order to reduce the number of people suffering with alcoholism throughout their lives.

By Rachel Lee

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