AA Thailand & Alternatives to Stop Drinking

AA Thailand is part the international fellowship Alcoholics Anonymous consisting of men, women and non-binary gender who have suffered from alcohol dependency. It is a self-supporting, apolitical, multiracial and nonprofessional organisation which is available almost everywhere today. There are no restrictions when it comes to age, gender or educational requirements. All members are welcome and membership is open to anyone who has “the desire to stop drinking” (Alcoholics Anonymous Tradition Three)

Many people first learn of AA through a fellow member, friend, doctor or in more recent years many recovering alcoholics have been introduced to AA and the 12 steps of recovery via a 12 Step treatment centre.

AA members are encouraged to share their personal experiences and struggles with others who are also struggling with similar or the same problems, the aim is to give person-to-person support to one another. The AA programme is set forth in the 12 steps.  AA gives individuals a place to come together and share their experiences, recover from alcohol dependency and maintain sobriety.

AA as a group has become synonymous with the complex concepts of recovery and lasting sobriety and has been crucial in changing the conversation surrounding alcoholism and addiction since its inception in 1935. As the psychology and science of addiction evolves, the role of AA may have changed but is likely to always work as a cornerstone of many people’s aftercare efforts, if not their overall recovery journeys. Those attending AA make a commitment and join either voluntarily, as a continuation of therapy or through court-mandated rehabilitation.

AA was founded in 1935 by Dr.Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. in Akron, Ohio and was first introduced to Thailand in the 1970’s (1979 in Chiang Mai) and has grown from strength to strength with 40 meetings per week in Bangkok alone. This article aims to provide more information on our experience around some advantages & disadvantages, how to access AA meetings in Thailand as well alternatives to AA both in person and online.

*Disclaimer: Our Company Counselling Thailand have no direct affiliation to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or any other 12 step organisation and neither them to us in accordance with their traditions. If any representative from AA World Services wishes to contact us regarding any aspect of the content on our site please do so and we will be more than happy to discuss further. Our intention is not to breach any AA Traditions but to provide anyone looking for help with alcoholism or problem drinking free / donation-based services as a complementary or alternative resource to professional counselling services.

Benefits of Attending AA


Structured Environment: AA meetings are very structured and consist of a set timetable and meeting format facilitated by an AA member (group servant, chairperson, secretary) and may include readings taken from approved AA literature. You can find AA meetings in Thailand in all major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as some of the remote islands such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

  • Alcoholics Benefit From Listening to One Another’s Experiences : Individuals are able to address their issues in the open when other AA members voice their inner struggles, new members are thus able to drop their defences. This environment facilitates learning from one another. Also, peer learning and support provides a sense of solidarity and is proved to be effective when promoting long term recovery.


  • AA Can Help Reduce Relapse Rates : Many individuals routinely attending AA find a powerful motivation to avoid relapse. Members sometimes may not have family and friends to rely on if relapse becomes a legitimate threat and AA aims to fill this void and provides individuals with a powerful support group should the urge to relapse arise. 


  • AA Is Free / Donation Based: Not all individuals are able afford private alcohol rehab and the associated treatment costs and therefore, AA throws those wanting to stop drinking and recover from alcoholism possibly their only lifeline when seeking help.


  • AA Is Global : AA meetings are global and accessible to people all around the world, which means people are able to access groups while being anywhere in the world.

AA-Thailand-&-Alternatives-to-Stop-DrinkingDeterrents Of AA

  • Total Abstinence: In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), complete abstinence is not just a goal but a foundational principle. While it’s recognised that many individuals may initially struggle with sobriety and relapse can occur, AA emphasises the commitment to total abstinence of drinking. The organization’s third tradition underscores this core objective—to foster a desire to quit drinking altogether, rather than aiming for moderation or control. This uncompromising stance on abstinence reflects AA’s dedication to supporting individuals in their journey towards sustained recovery from alcohol addiction.


  • Members May Not Attend Voluntarily: People who have sometimes committed alcohol related offences such as drinking driving, they may attend AA in order to avoid being penalised, these people may not attend AA for the primary reason of recovering but rather to avoid other issues and therefore may distract the group due to lack of genuine motivation to participate.


  • AA Relays Religious Undertones: Those who identify themselves as atheist or agnostic might struggle to adapt to the religious atmosphere that comes with AA. Although AA defines itself as a spiritual programme the word God is mentioned approximately 140 times in the AA Big Book and 173 times in the AA 12Steps and 12 Traditions book which can be off-putting for some people. If this is a detternt for you, you are not alone and we encourage you to read chapter 4 of the AA big Book – We Agnostics 


  • Time Consuming: Although a valuable resource to maintain sobriety some may struggle to with time constraints, as many AA groups suggest newcomers attend ’90 meetings in 90 days’ In addition to this it is suggested AA members get a sponsor, work the 12 Steps and commit to service work which although can be very rewarding for many it does require time commitment. 


How to Access AA Meetings in Thailand


AA Thailand has its own website in English that offers a full list of AA meetings across Thailand.

Their website also includes full meetings list for AA meetings in Thai Language

For those living in remote areas or are unable to attend face to face meetings there are many AA meetings online.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Thailand may be one of the most sought after or popular support groups with daily AA meetings in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket.


Alternatives to AA in Thialand 

While AA is known to be rather effective when maintaining sobriety for individuals who take part, this is by no means the only means available for stopping drinking. Not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of total abstinence suggested by 12 step programmes and / or the religious / spiritual aspects of it. Substance use and abuse is a personal problem and many people often seek other methods such as.


  • SMART Recovery : SMART Recovery is an abstinence-based organisation for individuals with addictive tendencies. The self-empowering mutual support meetings offered are designed to focus on techniques which help you transform your life from one which is self-destructive to a constructive and satisfying one.

(Updated 3rd March 2024. There are currently no SMART recovery meetings in Thailand however SMART recovery meetings can be accessed online)

  • Alcohol Counselling: Substance Abuse is more than a dependence on alcohol or drugs, which leaves people at high risk for relapses. Many psychological and social factors can be extreme triggers when it comes to relapse. Alcohol counselling aims to help curb mental cravings and in some cases, obsessions and also manage the obstacles of life without relying on substances to do so. Counselling is seen as a mainstay for many individuals. Therapy provided by us can also help treat other issues such as anxiety and depression which often come hand-in-hand and play a major role in substance abuse.


Alcohol and Drug Rehabs:

Although AA is an extremely valuable resource for help and support with alcoholism there are instances where professional help may be necessary, particularly if alcohol detox is required. There are at least 10 licensed alcohol and drug rehabs in Thailand which include:

Thai government rehabs Definitely non luxury but low cost. Geared towards Thai nationals, English language amongst medical staff and fellow patients is likely to be extremely limited. There are usually very strict policies around electronics. Government facilities are more like a hospital type setting with minimal psychoeducation and counselling and more focused on alcohol detox. Some however do encourage their patients to attend AA meetings or allow local AA groups to facilitate AA meetings on the premises.

Private Alcohol Rehabs

We work on a consultancy basis for many reputable rehabs and specialise in pre rehab support and post rehab aftercare. Rehabs in Thailand are significantly cheaper than those in the West and many see the immense value of the 12 steps and include elements of the 12 steps in their treatment programme along with regular AA meetings both on-site and off-site.


More information about Thai alcohol rehabs can be found by visiting our dedicated page Alcohol Rehabs in Thailand which will be able to provide the most updated information for both government and private options.


Individual Alcohol Recovery Programme: A tailored intensive stop drinking programme created by Counselling Thailand’s main director Brett Thornton who has both professional and personal experience recovering from alcoholism with over 12 years of continuous sobriety. The programme comprises psychoeducation, counselling, CBT, relapse prevention, recovery planning and much more. This can be facilitated in person or online. Due to the amount of work involved availability is limited. In addition to telephone assessment clients will be interviewed to ascertain their commitment.  

Get More Information

For more information or if you have any questioning related to stopping drinking and finding the best means of support we encourage you to book a free initial consultation call.