I am a recovering alcoholic. I decided to look more into Alcoholics Anonymous in lieu of all the negative press they had received from a website I had frequented (reddit.com). I had wondered about the validity of the claims that AA may hurt more than it helps, and being involved with the AA community, I was concerned about what I may be a part of. As such, I have chosen to remain anonymous as I do not want this to come back to me in any way. My family has been involved with the twelve step program for a long time, and I do not wish for them to feel attacked.
The Research Collection
These past ten weeks have been a roller coaster of self-discovery. At the beginning I was hoping to get involved with Alcoholics Anonymous, and help spread hope to other people involved in my situation. One thing that bothered me throughout my involvement was the issue of member retention, and the supposedly high failure rate in the twelve step program. I eventually began to wonder, “what is the program’s actual success rate, and are there any alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous?”
Where my peers had found admirable causes to work towards, I found that my organization was steeped in controversy. It wasn’t until recently that I actually began working towards finding answers to my questions, and I can’t help but feel that I may have been wasting my time with my involvement in AA.
“Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes for alcohol dependence.” PubMed.gov. Cochrane Database Syst Rev., 19 Jul 2006. Web. 23 Nov 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16856072.
I had found this study through other articles that shows that AA’s ability to treat alcohol abuser’s as dubious at best. The study was conducted by the Agency of Public Health, and tested a large quantity of AA members to discern the success rate of “twelve step facilitation”. As I stated before, it was concluded that AA has not turned out adequate evidence verifying its usefulness as a recovery program.
Flanagin, Jake “The Surprising Failures of 12 Steps.” The Atlantic. N.P., 25 Mar 2014. Web. 23 Nov 2014. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-surprising-failures-of-12-steps/284616/.
The above article explains how AA came to be the authority on overcoming addiction despite its astoundingly low success rate of about 5-10% (or 31% according to AA). It explains that AA only came to be the preferred method of substance abuse treatment by our courts, thanks to its self-promotion in our government. It highlights the facts that AA has somehow seen itself on the same level as scientific methods of treatment despite it being a faith-based program.
It was up until this point that I had thought that AA came to be as an effort of humble men. How shocking it was to find out that the foundations of the organization were built on empty promises and unstable ground. In prior writings, I referenced AA as the source of alcoholic treatment, not knowing the extent of how truly useless the program appeared to be. It was at this point that I began searching for alternatives. What hope does an alcoholic have?
Glaser, Gabriel “A Different Path to Fighting Addiction.” The New York Times. N.P., 3 Jul 2014. Web. 23 Nov 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/nyregion/a-different-path-to-fighting-addiction.html.
The above article talks about an alternative to AA’s method of complete abstinence and spiritual servitude method of recovery. Carrie Wilkens, a founder of the Center for Motivation and Change, points out how what AA would label as “enabling behavior” could instead be redirected into a method of supportive recovery. Where AA recommends that loved ones retreat from someone suffering from alcoholism until he/she either dies or chooses to get better, the CRAFT method shows parents to teach responsible drinking and encouragement of mature behaviors in the alcoholic’s day-to-day life. It points out that statistics show that as many as 75% of alcohol abusers simply “mature out” of excessive drinking, and that those that don’t may have behavioral issues as well as a treatable dependency issue with the substance.
I had written two other papers that referenced the “Big Book” of AA, but I feel as if those writings are now utterly baseless. While I do have my progress and recovery from alcohol abuse, I do not know how much of my recovery I can attribute to AA. I feel lost and confused.
While I do truly believe that the members of AA have their hearts in the right place, I worry about the detrimental effects that may be inflicted upon our society by the spread of such misinformation as “if you don’t submit to our program, you will die”. I wonder how many suicides could have been prevented had AA not gained such a standing in our society. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The Public Writing