These are often referred to as the 3 A’s, and tend to be essentially one of the slogans or sayings that are widely used in Al-Anon meetings.
Whilst sayings like this may be the preserve of certain 12-step fellowships such as Al-Anon, the significance and importance of these sayings reaches far beyond one fellowship or one meeting.
The value of this slogan of Awareness, Acceptance and Action is that it puts in very simple terms the process that people go through in terms of acceptance of an individual’s alcoholism or other addiction, and the process of recovery that follows it.
Awareness that an individual has a problem with alcohol can come quickly or slowly to the family and friends of that individual, whereas the individual themselves is most likely to take a lot longer to acknowledge that they have a problem.
For the family and friends of an alcoholic this presents real problems in terms of a quandary as to how they accept it and what they do about it.
The awareness that there is a problem with the individual can also lead them to understand that there is a broader problem within the family and that they are affected by the individual’s alcoholism whether they like it or not.
Awareness of a problem does not necessarily bring acceptance of it.
Awareness, Acceptance and Action
People can become aware of an individual’s alcoholism or other problems and simply refuse to acknowledge that it is true. Acceptance of a problem is often seen as self-defeating or surrendering to a truth that people do not like.
It is often a much healthier way forward to understand that acceptance simply means an acknowledgement of the reality of the situation, whether the individual likes it or not. An individual can accept a situation as being reality, without liking it or in some way wishing it was different but realising that it’s not.
This sense of acceptance of a problem in another individual, be it alcoholism or something else, inevitably brings forward the possibility of action of doing something about it.
What that action is, or what the individual chooses to do can vary quite widely, but the sense that they have some degree of control over the situation once they have accepted it, means to have choices that they did not have before.
Action can also mean no action in terms of not doing anything. So long as not doing something is a conscious choice it is as valid in its own right as doing something.
Anyone dealing with active alcoholism is going to face hard choices and difficult decisions, and the fear of making the right or wrong decision often only enhances the difficulty of these choices.
The way forward with any really difficult decision is to bring it back to the nature of the process, and to realise the enormity of the environment within which the individual is trying to move forward.