Moscow Authorities willing to work with AA



In Russia today there are 345 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups, of which 60 are in Moscow and the Moscow Region. In Moscow one group has 230,000 members, while one in New York State has 12,000. These statistics were provided at a press conference given by the head of the Moscow AA groups – in accordance with the rules of AA, he was anonymous. Two other members, Anton and Anna, took part, along with psychologist M Bulygina, the head of the medical programme of the charitable organisation “No to alcoholism and drug addiction” (NAN), S Polyatykin, a representative of the Moscow City Council department for public order, Roman Zaitsev, and a priest, Alexander Borisov. The members of AA described how they had tackled their addiction, and the professionals set out their views of the method used. M. Bulygina said the twelve steps method used is part of a number of modern types of psychotherapy and allows the professional worker to set up individual therapy plans for addicts. This is used not only for alcoholics but for other forms of addiction. The psychologist explained that the fact that this therapy is used universally testifies to its effectiveness, as does the principle whereby the addict is given more and more responsibility.  The important thing is that the treatment can be quick – psychoanalysis does not necessarily work for someone addicted to alcohol. S. Polyatykin said that another plus of the AA method is that it creates a therapeutic subculture, which is supported by the addict’s inner “moral” resources. While the doctor or psychologist has responsibility for a number of addicts, limiting the level of help he can provide, the representative of NAN said that one of AA’s achievements in Russia was that it established contact with a number of religious faiths. For a long time the Russian Orthodox Church did not approve of the twelve steps method, accusing AA of proselytising Protestantism. Now, as A Borisov explained, there are several AA groups at the church in Stoleshnikov Lane in Moscow, and their members do not have to be Orthodox believers. The city authorities also value the work of AA. Roman Zaitsev said that the deputy head of the Moscow Mayor’s department, V Shushkin, had recommended that the method be used in all Moscow districts.  The head of the Moscow AA groups, Alexei, explained that the method would first be explained to the police, so that they can suggest to alcoholics on their beat that they join AA. And on 22-23 August, AA planned to have an open day for anyone who wanted to attend on the occasion of its 20th meeting. Details of the programme were placed on the website:

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