It’s built on Twelve Steps which, when they work (are worked), help an alcoholic stop drinking, stop fighting the obsession to drink, make a new start at life, and live following ancient principles of honesty and good works.
The organization of AA follows Twelve Traditions that make it run smoothly and protect is from things like politics, personalities and brand names. Members give voluntary, very small monetary donations and the overhead is kept to a minimum.
For me, the Steps would eventually enable me to live a life without alcohol. The people in the meetings helped me understand is and kept me company throughout. A crucial element of AA is one alcoholic helping another because some of us need to know, in the flesh, another person who has gone through this and who has succeeded. We need it in order to have enough faith to keep trying over long periods of time.
A vibrant and active AA community has, for me, fulfilled a social need and given me most of my friends. It’s where I spend most of my social leisure time and spending it there helps me stay away from alcohol. People share at a very deep level in AA, and most of what I’ve learned about people in general I’ve learned there. It makes me close to people in a way I can’t imagine I would have in any other setting. The topic at meetings is life and how we deal with life. Hearing things I disagree with helps, but with the Steps as a common framework, I agree with most of what’s said and I gain invaluable insight into my specific issues.
AA is a place where I see people who are unable to stop drinking despite horrible and worsening consequences, and where my presence as a sober member who once couldn’t get sober might help them live instead of die.
AA is the last thing in my life that I would give up, because if I gave it up before something else, I’d surely lose the something else anyway. I was that unable to cope and live life and I don’t feel at all bad about admitting that. That’s the admission that set me free.