Alcoholics Anonymous in Bali

Alcoholics Anonymous in Bali

Alcohol AnonymousOur rehab utilises the principles of a 12 step recovery process, and as such we encourage clients to attend 12 step meetings such as those held in Sanur, in Seminyak and in Ubud.  Bali Alcoholics Anonymous meetings began in the 1990’s and the core Bali AA fellowship is now a strong community supporting both expats and visitors to Bali who want to attend meetings and connect with other alcoholics and addicts at all stages of their recovery journey.

We welcome people visiting or holidaying in Bali to step out of their hotel or villa and come along to one of our meetings.   For those staying on the Kuta / Legian / Seminyak / Petitenget side of the island, the Seminyak meeting is probably the closest practical meeting.   For those over on the eastern side in Denpasar, Renon or Sanur, the Sanur meeting is the closest.   There are also Narcotics Anonymous meetings held on the island but addicts are very welcome at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings also – as the 12 step recovery process supports recovery from more than just alcohol.   For those further up north or around the Gianyar area, the Ubud meeting in Cafe Wahyu is going to be the best fit.   Checkout the Bali AA meeting page for more details regarding schedule and location of meetings.   We’d love to see you there!

Below we’ve republished a bit of a backgrounder for those who are not familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous and what its all about.

Who is Alcoholics Anonymous?

AA MeetingAlcoholics Anonymous are are group of men and women who discovered and admitted that we could not control the way we drink. We have learned that we, in relation to alcohol, must avoid it in both our lives, and those of our loved ones.

The many groups of AA members located in thousands of areas worldwide, are part of an international association without formal rules, and which exists in 150 countries. We have only one single objective; to remain sober ourselves and help those who ask for our help to reach sobriety.

We are not reformers and we are not associated with any other groups, or causes or religious denominations.

Our goal is not to convert the whole world to a sober one.

We do not recruit new members but instead welcome those who want to join us.  We do not impose any of our experience of problem drinking but we share it willingly when it is requested of us.

Our association is made up of men and women of all ages and backgrounds social, economic and cultural groups. Some among us have been drinking for many years before becoming aware that we were helpless in the face of alcohol. Others have had enough chances to recognise earlier in their lives or in their drinking career they were unable to control their way of drinking.

Alcoholism has not led to the same consequences for all. Some of us had become shadows of our former selves before we asked for help from Alcoholics Anonymous. Others had lost family, property, or self-respect.

In several cities, some had joined the ranks of the tramps and the homeless. Still others had innumerable stays in hospitals or prisons. We had committed serious crimes against our society, our families, our employers and ourselves.

There are some of us who have never experienced prison or hospitalisation. Our alcoholism has caused us to lose neither employment, nor family. But we finally came to understand that alcohol disturbed the normal course of our lives.

When we discovered that we could not live without alcohol, in turn, we sought help from AA.

All major religions are represented in our Movement and many religious leaders encouraged our growth. There are even some members who are atheists or agnostics. In order to join Alcoholics Anonymous, is not necessary to belong to a religion or to believe in a particular doctrine.

A common problem unites us, alcohol.

It is by bringing us together to speak and to help other alcoholics, that we succeed in remaining sober and to lose the impulse to drink, that once dominated our lives. We do not believe we have the only answer to the problem of alcoholism. We know that the AA program has had a positive impact on us, and with very few exceptions, we see the same results in the new members who embrace honesty, and honestly want to stop drinking.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we learned many things about alcoholism and about ourselves. We always try to keep these facts in our minds because it seems that they are the key to our sobriety. For us, sobriety must always come first.

What we learned about alcoholism

Alcohol AnonymousThe first thing we learned about alcoholism is that it is one of the problems which has long been experienced by humanity.  Despite this, it is only recently that we were able to start to benefit from new developments related to this issue. For their part, doctors know more about alcoholism than their predecessors of barely two generations ago.

They began to identify and analyse the problem in depth. Although AA has no “definition” of alcoholism, most agree that for us, alcoholism is a physical addiction coupled with a mental obsession. In other words, we had a physical need marked by the consumption of alcohol beyond of our ability to master it, defying all rules of common sense. Not only do we have an abnormal need for alcohol, but we succumb to it on the worst occasions. We did not know when (or how) to stop. Often, we did not seem to understand when it was necessary to avoid it.

As alcoholics, we learned from that the force of the will, even if powerful in other respects, was not enough not to keep us sober. We tried not to drink for certain periods. We have made solemn promises. We changed to other kinds of drink. We tried to drink only at certain hours. But none of these means succeeded. Sooner or late later, contrary to logic, we would finish always by ending up drunk us despite our firm intention to remain sober. We went through moments of deep despair, being convinced we were suffering from a mental disturbance.

We have come to hate how we have squandered the talents that we possessed and caused so much trouble to our family and those around us. More than one time, we have poured ourselves into self-pity by asserting that nothing could ever save us. These memories make us smile today, but at the time they were sad experiences.

Alcoholism, a disease

Today, we readily admit that alcoholism is a disease, a progressive disease which is “incurable”, but the course of it can be stopped, as is the case other diseases. We recognise that there is nothing wrong with admitting we are sick, provided we honestly look at our problem in trying to remedy it. We are totally willing to recognise that we are allergic to alcohol and that logic itself dictates that we keep it away from us, and keep ourselves away from the source of our allergy.

We now understand that after crossing the dividing line between excessive drinking and compulsive drinking, one always remains an alcoholic. In all as we know, it is impossible to become a “normal” drinker again. “Alcoholic one day, alcoholic always “, is the reality with which we must live. We have also learned that there are few choices for alcoholics. If they continue to drink, their problem will gradually worsen; and surely, they will embark on the road to hospital, prison or other places of isolation, until premature death. Their only alternative is to stop drinking completely, to abstain from the smallest quantity of alcohol in any form whatsoever. If they agree to follow this course of action and enjoy the help that is within their reach, a new life can be afforded them.

There have been moments in our drinking careers where we were persuaded that for our way of drinking, it was enough for us to to stop after the second, fifth or any other glass that we had determined. It is only gradually that we came to understand that it was neither the fifth, nor the tenth or the twentieth glass which intoxicated us, but the first! That one was responsible for all the others. The first glass was the one that threw us on the carousel. The first glass was the one that caused the reactive chain of alcoholic behaviour, which led us to drink uncontrollably. Alcoholics Anonymous has one way of saying this: “For an alcoholic, one glass is too much, a thousand, it is not enough ”

At the time of our active alcoholism, many of us have learned that forced sobriety was generally not an experience that is very nice. Some have been able, on occasion, to remain abstinent for a few days, a few weeks, even a few years. But this sobriety did not bring us satisfaction. We felt like we were martyrs. We became irritable and at work as at home, it was hard to be around us. We lived in the expectation of the day when we could drink again.

Now that we are members of the AA, we consider sobriety a gift. It gives us a pleasant sensation of deliverance – a sense of being free from desire to drink. Since we know that we will never be able to take alcohol again normally, we commit, today, to live fully without alcohol. We can not do anything to change yesterday. Tomorrow in in the future. Today is the only day that should be the focus of our vigil. We know from experience that even the “worst” drunkards can live twenty-four hours without drinking. They may have to postpone the next drink until the next hour, or even the next minute, but they realise that it is possible to delay it by a certain time. The first time we heard about Alcoholics Anonymous, it seemed to us miraculous that heavy drinkers have been able to find and maintain the quality of sobriety spoken of, by members.

Some of us were inclined to believe that our way of drinking was different, that our experience was not “serious” compared to others, that the Movement could succeed for others, but not for us. Others, who had not yet been seriously affected by their way of drinking, claimed that AA was really for drunks but, as for them, they could probably solve their problem by their own means.

Our experience in Alcoholics Anonymous has taught us two important things. First, we all have the same problem.  Whether we are carpenters, labourers or holding a management position important to society. Secondly, we now know that recovery is successful in almost all alcoholics who really want to recover, regardless of their background or how they drank.

We have made a decision

AA GroupAll of us, who are now part of the movement of AA, had to make a decision before we felt safe in this new alcohol-free lifestyle program. We had to look at ourselves objectively and our way of drinking in all honesty. We had to admit that we were powerless before alcohol. For some, this effort has been the most difficult of their lives. We did not know much about alcoholism. We had our own notion of the word “Alcoholic”. We though him to be one of the tramps or irrecoverable elements of society. We thought they had a lack of will and a weakness of character. Some of us have resisted before admitting that we were alcoholics. Others have only partially admitted it.

Most, however, were relieved to learn that alcoholism was a disease. We recognised that it was quite natural to treat an evil which threatened to destroy us. We have stopped wanting to lure others, and ourselves, in persisting in believing that we could control alcohol, while everything proved opposite.

We were assured from the beginning that no one could not tell us that we were alcoholics. Neither a doctor or a minister of religion, nor a husband or a woman could not force this admission upon us. It had to rely on the facts known only to us. Even if our friends could understand the nature of our problem, we were the only ones who could say with certainty if we were no longer able to control our way of drinking.

We often asked this question:

“How do I know if I am really alcoholic?”

We were told that there was no precise and absolute rule to diagnose alcoholism. We have learned, however, that there were revealing symptoms. If we were intoxicated while we had all the reasons to remain abstinent, if we consume more and more alcohol, if we did not experience as much pleasure in  drinking as we did before, these indices, we were told, could be symptoms of alcoholism. In the way we reviewed our experiences as drinkers and their consequences, all have been able to detect factors – new ones, that allowed us to discover the truth about ourselves.

It is absolutely natural that a life without alcohol may have seemed difficult. We would be boring when around friends, or worse, evangelists and viewed as somewhat disturbed. We discovered however many others were like us, except that they had the power to understand our problem and sympathise without making judgment.

We then asked ourselves what should be done to remain sober, how much would it cost us to belong to Alcoholics Anonymous locally and globally. We soon learned that there was no cost to join AA, that no one is required to conform to rules – they are asked to participate voluntarily. We also learned that in Alcoholics Anonymous there is no membership fee or entrance fee; a collection is made at meetings to pay for the rental of meeting rooms, refreshments and publications. But again, this form of contribution is not a condition of membership.

We soon realised that the movement of AA is satisfied with a minimum of structure and that nobody gives orders. The organisation of meetings is left to leaders of groups who regularly give up their place to other members. This system of “rotation” is very popular among AA.


SoberHow is it possible to remain abstinent in an association with little or no structure governing it? The answer is simple: once sober, we try to stay so by following the steps of our predecessors and taking advantage of the their fruitful experiences. Thus, these pioneers made available to us some “tools” and suggestions that we are free to accept or reject. Since sobriety is now the important thing in our lives, we believe that it is wise to follow the beaten path of those who demonstrated that the recovery strategy of AA is really effective.

The 24-hour principle

Let’s take an example. We do not make promises; we do not say “we will not drink ever again “. We are trying to conform to what we commonly call the principle of twenty-four hours. We strive to remain sober for the next 24 hours only. We are simply trying to live one day at a time without drinking. Yes we feel an urgent need to drink, but we do not give in, or resist the urge. We let ourselves merely reject this temptation until the next day.

Where alcohol is at stake, we try to take an honest and realistic form of thought. If we are tempted to drink after the first few months in Alcoholics Anonymous, we reflect on whether to succumb to this temptation is going to be worth revisiting all the problems we experienced at the time we were drinking. We do not forget that we are perfectly free to get drunk if we want to, and the choice of drinking or not drinking belongs to us alone.

In as far as we know, an alcoholic can never drink normally.

In another respect, we follow in the footsteps of “Old” members. We go most often to meetings of our home group. Nothing obliges us to this regularly. We can not always explain why the testimony of members and their life experienced seem to captivate us. Nevertheless, we almost all believe that attendance at meetings and contact with other members of AA greatly contribute to keeping us sober.

The Twelve Steps

AA 12 StepsSoon after our joining AA, we heard about the Twelve Steps to Recovery of alcoholism. We learned that these Steps are the result of the efforts of the Members to document the transformation of themselves from immoderate drinkers to being sober. We found that the first step of this approach seemed to be humility together with a confidence in a higher power than ourselves. While some members prefer to call it “God”, we said that it was strictly a question of personal interpretation; we could choose the form of higher power which suits us best. Since alcohol was clearly a power superior to our own will when we were drinking, we were forced to admit that it was perhaps impossible for us to steer our ship without help and that it was logical to seek help elsewhere. As we have made progress in Alcoholics Anonymous, our idea of a higher power has transformed. But it was still of our own design; no one has imposed it on us.

Finally, in analysing the Twelfth Step and the experience of older members, we have found that dedication to other alcoholics who sought help from AA was an effective way to strengthen our own sobriety. Whenever possible, we tried to do our part, not forgetting never that the other person was the only one who could say whether he or she was an alcoholic.

AA books and brochures are also precious help. Shortly after joining the Movement, most of us have read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, the book of Alcoholics Anonymous which relates the experience of the members and where their testimonies are recorded and the principles which appeared to be the basis of their recovery. Many members, although they have been abstinent for years, continue to consult this book as well as than several others, to find answers and inspiration. The AA movement publishes also a monthly international magazine called AA Grapevine. It is aimed both at new members and the older ones.

The movement of Alcoholics Anonymous is essentially a way of life, few of us succeeded in describing in a very precise manner how the various elements of the recovery strategy contributed to our current sobriety. We do not all have the same interpretation of the program and we do not practice it in the same way. However, we can all testify that the movement of AA helps keep us sober while several other methods have failed. Many members who have been sober for several years say they have simply accepted the program ” in complete confidence”. In the meantime, they are trying to build their confidence in others who understand only too well the ravages that alcohol exerts on the alcoholic.

Will AA succeed with everyone?

We believe that the Recovery Strategy of alcoholism proposed by the Alcoholics Anonymous acts positively on almost all those who have the desire to stop drinking. It can even succeed among those who believe they have been directed to AA despite them. Many members have come here for the first time as a result of work or problems in their life or in society. For some, only much later after these problems became very serious – have they taken their own decision to come along to meetings.

We have seen alcoholics trialing visits to meetings or spending time around the Movement before “adopting ” the program. We have seen other make efforts to observe the proven principles that have contributed to sobriety of more than two million members; usually, the semblance of effort is not sufficient.

Regardless of the condition of the alcoholic, AA provides an exit from the prison of alcoholism.

When we approached AA, many members were struggling with serious problems related to money, family, their work or their own personality.

We soon discovered that the heart of all these problems were alcohol. Once under control, we were able to solve the others. It was not always easy but once sober, we were able to deal with them much more efficiently than when we were drinking.

‘A new dimension’

There was a time when many of us believed that only alcohol could us help endure life. We could not imagine life without alcohol. Today, with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, we do not have the impression been deprived of anything. On the contrary, we have been liberated and a new dimension has been added to our lives. We have new friends, new goals and new attitudes. After years of despair and frustration, many of us have had the impression that they are really starting to live for the first time. We feel joy to share our new life with those who suffer alcoholism and who are looking for a way to  glimpse the light through the darkness.

Alcoholism is one of the health problems which is the most serious in America. It is estimated that millions of men and women continue to suffer without reason for this progressive disease.

As AA members, we all take opportunities to tell everyone who asks for our help about how we stopped the course of this disease. We know that nothing we can say will have a positive effect until the alcoholic is ready to begin, and accept as we have that “alcohol has conquered me; I need help “.


  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Steps of AA


  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centres may employ special workers.
  9. A., as such, ought never be organised; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
The 12 Traditions of AA

More about Bali Locations for AA Meetings:

“Just for Today” Building
Jalan Drupadi II no. 80 Seminyak
(next to Warung Kita)

This meeting is held at the south end of Jalan Drupadi.   You may reach it via Jalan Camplung Tanduk (used to be called Jalan Dyana Pura).  From Jalan Legian, head down Camplung Tanduk and when you reach the Marriot Courtyard Seminyak, turn right onto Drupadi (next to the Marriot).   Head up Drupadi until the road swings around to the right and just a little further up – not far from Wacko burger, the Just For Today Building may be located on the right side.

Cafe Wahyu
Jl. Dewa Sita, Ubud
two doors down from Pondok Library on the football field

Cafe Wayhu is the regular location for Ubud Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Located close to the soccer pitch in central Ubud (near the corner of Jalan Monkey Foreest and Jalan Dewi Sita) there is a pathway that encircles the pitch.
You will find Cafe Wayhu about half way along this path.

Putih Pino Cafe
Jalan Karang Sari no.1 Sanur
Phone: (0361) 288771

Not far from the large round about where Jalan Danau Poso reaches the beach, Putih Pino is located near the corner of the next intersection (if you head toward Hardy’s) and just a short distance from the main street.  Located on Jalan Karang Sari. (the side street of that intersection), the meeting is held in a room above the main cafe. There are stairs to the left of the downstairs cafe area.

Note: check Bali’s Alcoholics Anonymous meetings page for the latest locations details in case meeting locations have changed.