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 andnonprofessional 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)
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.
Advantages 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.
Disadvantages Of AA
- 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.
- 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 due to Covid-19 restrictions there are many AA meetings online.
AA in Thailand Alternatives- Bangkok, Chiang Mai and 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, Phuket.. While AA is known to be rather effective when maintaining sobriety for individuals who take part, this is by no means the only support group available. Not everyone feels comfortable with the 12 step programme and the religious / spiritual aspects of it. Substance use and abuse is a personal problem and many people with often seek professional counselling from trained therapists experienced in alcohol counselling.
- 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.
(There are currently no SMART recovery meetings in Thailand updated 3rd March 2021 however facilitator led CBT group therapy in Thailand can be accessed online)
CBT Group Therapy: Online group therapy in Thailand is facilitated by trained therapists. Group therapy or group counselling as it is also called can be both complementary to and also provide a lower cost alternative to individual counselling.
- Alcohol Counselling: Substance Abuse is more than a dependence on alcohol or drugs, which leaves people at high risks for relapses. Many psychological and social factors can be extreme triggers when it comes to relapse. Therapy aims to help curb the intense withdrawals and cravings and also manage the obstacles of life without relying on substances to do so. Counselling is seen as a mainstay of treatment 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 Rehab: Despite many closing their doors either temporarily or permanently following travel restrictions as a result of Covid-19 however anyone looking for alcohol rehabs in Thailand can still access these.
- Thai government rehabs. Definitely non luxury but low cost. Although these will accept foreign patients these tend to be more focused towards Thai nationals. These facilities offer less psychoeducation and more focused on alcohol detox and although many do encourage their patients to attend AA meetings or allow local AA groups to facilitate AA meetings on the premises.
More information about Thai alcohol rehabs can be found by contacting the Thai Ministry of Public Health who will be able to provide information.
- Private Rehab: Although independent we work on a consultancy basis for many of the local rehabs in Chiang Mai and specialise in post rehab aftercare. Rehabs in Thailand are significantly cheaper than those in the west. Please contact us for more information on current alcohol rehab options available.
Individual Alcohol Recovery Programme: A tailored intensive stop drinking programme comprising psychoeducation, counselling, CBT, hypnotherapy, 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.
Finding the most suitable and affordable alcohol treatment in Thailand starts with educating yourself of what’s out there. Our team at Counselling Thailand are available to speak with you about your unique treatment options and support systems at any time of the day.