The Irrationality of the Atlantic’s Piece on AA

The Irrationality of the Atlantic's Piece on AA

Having read Gabrielle Glaser’s book, Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control, as well as a number of other articles by Glaser, I knew what to expect from her article in the April 2015 issue of the Atlantic, “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous.” A vocal critic of AA, Glaser’s newest article focuses heavily on medication and/or moderation as the solution to alcoholism, or alcohol abuse disorders, the clinical term for alcoholism.

Unfortunately, Glaser’s valid points about the need for more alternatives to AA are overshadowed by her critique of Alcoholics Anonymous as “just as damaging and dangerous” as drinking for those who don’t find success with AA. In a March 26th interview with NPR about the Atlantic piece, Glaser goes so far as to tie AA to a specific tragedy, saying, “Someone sent me an email this morning about a younger brother who committed suicide last night with the [AA] Big Book and a glass of Scotch next to his bed.” Her insinuation that AA is to blame for addicts who don’t recover from their addiction demonstrates a woeful lack of understanding about both Alcoholics Anonymous and the disease of addiction.

One of Glaser’s assertions — that alternatives to 12-step recovery programs should be more readily available to people who need or want them — is accurate and an important observation. As a recovering alcoholic who credits 12-step programs for my sobriety, I absolutely agree. Simply put, what works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else. Addiction is a dangerous and deadly disease, so whatever helps someone overcome it is a good thing. In fact, one of AA’s many slogans could apply to any form of addiction treatment: “If it works, work it.”

The Irrationality of the Atlantic’s Piece on AAUnfortunately, Glaser does too much cherry-picking when discussing the program. She bases a number of assertions on the notion that AA believes that it is the only way to recover from alcoholism; in fact, what the Big Book says on the subject is this: “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.” AA might not endorse other programs, but anyone is, of course, welcome to try methods other than the 12 steps. Glaser’s email response from the administrative headquarters of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “AA neither endorses nor opposes other approaches and we cooperate widely with the medical community.” Immediately after noting this in the Atlantic article, though, she asserts that this isn’t the organization’s true stance on the subject: “Many in AA and the rehab industry insist the 12 steps are the only answer.”

There are people in AA who believe that the 12 steps are the only answer to alcoholism; I’ve met some of them. As Glaser concedes, AA works for “many people” and I consider myself to be among those who have stayed sober as a direct result of 12-step meetings. I believe AA is a great program, but an imperfect one. There are legitimate criticisms to be made against it but, for the most part, they are not the claims that Glaser makes in this article. There’s nothing in the organization’s literature that disparages or discourages other forms of treatment for addiction. Like psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, PsyD, who was interviewed along with Glaser on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” I know many people in AA who also seek psychotherapy and alternative forms of treatment as part of their efforts to maintain sobriety. AA can, and often does, coexist with other support groups and treatments for addiction. When Dr. Ludwig notes this, though, Glaser dismisses addicts seeking multiple forms of treatment as something that mostly happens “in New York [City], where psychotherapy is accepted.” That’s a thin rebuttal at best. The Atlantic article also doesn’t include interviews with anyone currently in or affiliated with AA who believes the 12 steps are the only way to get sober.

A Case Against AA

Glaser’s critique of Alcoholics Anonymous is four-fold:

  • There are not enough alternatives to AA and too little awareness of the AA alternatives that do exist.
  • The benefits of AA are not scientifically proven.
  • AA is not run by trained professionals.
  • The rehab industry should not be using the 12 steps as part of their treatment program, as they are not scientifically proven.

Glaser has a point with her first criticism. People for whom AA doesn’t work too often feel as though there aren’t other options to which they can turn. Add to that the criminal justice system’s common practice of sentencing people with drug and alcohol charges to attend AA, primarily because it’s the best-known recovery program. Both factors have worked to create an over-reliance on the 12 steps as the first, and often the only, approach to finding lasting sobriety.

Blaming AA for either of these scenarios, however, simply isn’t logical. As the organization clearly states, it doesn’t endorse or oppose any other program or treatment. To do so would be irresponsible, as AA can only offer guidance about AA. One of Glaser’s points of contention is that it is not run by trained professionals. In the same NPR interview, Glaser says, “AA doesn’t refer anybody out. It doesn’t tell anybody that AA is not for them. It’s very unlike other professional organizations which refer people to second opinions.” When would it be appropriate for a support group to tell someone that the group “isn’t for them”? AA specifically states that “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” If an individual has that desire, they will always be welcomed. Isn’t that something that should be celebrated?

Court-mandated attendance at meetings is a controversial outcome of AA’s popularity and success. However, the organization is open and free to anyone who wants to come and this openness would be sacrificed if the organization were to bar people who’d been ordered by the justice system to attend. The onus here is on the courts to come up with better sentencing alternatives.

Glaser’s second and third claims show a lack of understanding of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Big Book refers to AA as a “spiritual program” or, if you prefer, a support group. Membership doesn’t exclude an addict from receiving treatment elsewhere; many of the people I know who are members also seek alternative treatments like psychotherapy. The organization’s literature explicitly states, “AA is in competition with no one. Our ability to help other alcoholics is not based on scientific or professional expertise. As [members], we are limited to sharing our own firsthand knowledge of the suffering of an alcoholic, and of recovery.” Meetings are free to attend, though members can contribute a dollar or two at the meeting to help pay for rent for the room, coffee and literature, if they desire.

If Glaser is taking aim at Alcoholics Anonymous now because she believes Obamacare will somehow financially benefit AA (the Affordable Care Act, which largely went into effect in 2014, now requires coverage of mental health and substance abuse services, including counseling), she is simply incorrect. If she is asserting that expensive rehabs shouldn’t rely so heavily on the 12 steps because it is not a scientifically proven methodology, then a more appropriate target would be those centers, not AA, which has no financial interest in treatment centers adopting or not adopting a 12-step approach.

Glaser raises important questions about the clinical and educational qualifications necessary to become an “addiction counselor” (there are literally dozens of titles and credentials in the addiction field, along with varying requirements across U.S. states). There’s no question the addiction treatment industry could benefit from standardizing the qualifications and credentials required for various jobs, but deciding and regulating this is clearly outside of AA’s scope.

The Idea of Moderation

AA was founded on the premise of one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic and it has maintained this central tenet for over 80 years. Regardless of how Glaser believes AA should operate, nearly every statement made about the organization in the Atlantic piece is directly contradicted by AA literature (print and/or online and widely available) or simply has little or nothing to do with it.

Glaser focuses much of the article on ways in which people with mild to moderate alcohol use disorders can continue to drink moderately. In discussing the use of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist drug that weakens the craving for alcohol, Glaser notes that in Finland people are encouraged to take the drug when they drink, so they will drink less. In the U.S., when naltrexone is prescribed, Glaser laments, doctors instruct their patients to abstain from alcohol.

Personally, I support pretty much anything that helps loosen addiction’s grip. If that can be achieved through the use of drugs like naltrexone, great. But Glaser’s perception that all or most people struggling with addiction can continue to use the substance to which they are addicted is at best odd, and at worst frightening. She writes:

“[For someone with an alcohol use disorder, the] prospect of never taking another sip is daunting, to say the least. It comes with social costs and may even be worse for one’s health than moderate drinking: research has found that having a drink or two a day could reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, and diabetes.”

I had to read these lines several times to take in their meaning. Is Glaser asserting that the “social costs” — by which I believe she means feeling left out of work and social events where people are drinking — of abstaining from alcohol could be worse for someone struggling with an alcohol problem than not drinking at all? If so, this statement signifies a lack of understanding about how devastating addiction can be and offers a disheartening commentary on the cultural value placed on alcohol. This is not a moral stance, but instead comes from the deep empathy I feel for those who are struggling to control their drinking and especially for anyone who could believe that a life without alcohol would be worse than lingering in the purgatory of a mild to moderate substance abuse disorder.

While drinking while taking naltrexone does conflict with AA’s belief that abstinence from alcohol is essential to recovery, the implication that the organization disapproves of all medication is patently false. On “All In with Chris Hayes,” Glaser says she’s heard from “hundreds of people” telling her that someone in AA (typically their sponsor) encouraged them to stop taking medication of some kind. While it’s unfortunate that anyone (within AA or not) would offer such advice, it’s important to understand that giving medical advice of any kind is not traditionally part of AA, as Glaser suggests, but in fact a deviation from strict guidelines. AA’s literature specifically states, “We are not doctors; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified physician.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous backs this up. Any large, decentralized organization will, of course, have members who go their own way and either fail to follow protocol or are simply unaware of it; there’s little question that AA is no exception to this phenomenon. But it’s irresponsible to claim that those who deviate from guidelines are representative. Doing so is akin to holding the followers of an entire religion responsible for the acts of extremist groups.

Does ‘Working It’ Work?

Glaser recognizes that it’s virtually impossible to clinically study success rates among those who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because they are, of course, anonymous and no records are kept of who attends. Still, she quotes Lance Dodes, MD, author of The Sober Truth and Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, who says that AA’s success rate hovers somewhere around 5% to 8%. One study does not a scientific proof make, of course. A recently published book, If You Work It, It Works!: The Science Behind 12-Step Recovery, by Joseph Nowinski, PhD, cites a number of studies that point to the effectiveness of 12-step programs, as does a recent article in New York magazine that directly refutes Glaser’s claims.

Given the way AA is structured, it probably won’t ever be possible to quantify in scientific terms the organization’s success rate. What’s more, there will likely always be different ideas about what constitutes “success,” or sobriety. The sole purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to support people who want to get sober. That’s it. For many people, it simply won’t work as the only source of recovery. But it has saved the lives of many, many people.

In reading the Atlantic piece I wished that Glaser had spent more space focusing on alternatives to AA and trying to increase the public’s knowledge about other programs, like LifeRing and SMART Recovery®. The story might then have been more useful to those who are struggling with a substance use disorder for whom AA is not an option or did not work. Instead, she spends the bulk of the article, and much of her career, denigrating a program that, by her own admission, has helped so many people break free from the tormented, destructive life that is active addiction — a program that gives so many the support they need to live happy, productive and healthy lives.

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19 Responses to The Irrationality of the Atlantic’s Piece on AA

  1. David Roche April 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Great article! Well reasoned, moderate, factually based. The only thing I would add: “Follow the money!” I find that most of those who take off on AA are those who make money by providing other forms of treatment. Which of course they are entitled to do. But still… I prefer the level of disclosure and frankness that MacBride offers.

  2. Jim L. April 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    One common misperception hung around AA’s neck is the success rate of 5 to 8%. I’ve quoted that myself in the past (most of us have).

    But 5-8% of who? That’s the question that is never examined credibly.

    5-8% of those who are constitutionally capable of being honest with themselves? 5-8% of those who “thoroughly follow this path”? Nope. 5-8% of all who walk through the door – including all of the people who are sentenced to attend by a judge or recommended they attend by their lawyer (to present a good showing for the judge). Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed this path… I’ve never seen one.

    In other words, the studies never look at that which is required for success – they can’t, because we’re anonymous.

    Great post – I was a little harsher toward Gabby on my blog. She seems like the definition of “hack” to me.

  3. steve k April 4, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Intelligent and well written article. The monopoly of 12 Step recovery in the States warrants criticism as aknowledged in the article but this isn’t the case everywhere as here in the UK statutory services are not bias towards AA and service users are more likely to be referred to an alternative form of treatment. Until recently in this country alcohol and drug services have been to a degree anti 12 Step groups.

  4. Donna DiGi April 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you for your intelligent rebuttal to the hit piece against AA. Being a professional counselor, I was required to attend university for 60 units of addiction coursework as well as complete 3000 hours of internship. I must complete 60 CEUS for each renewal period.
    I urge my clients to join whatever peer support group to which they can relate…the point being someone dependent upon alcohol/drugs cannot obtain recovery in isolation, using the same mind that kept them sick and in denial. One needs the support of others who walk a similar path. Whether it be AA, Buddhism, Smart Recovery…whatever, it matters not. AA has tremendous success as it is readily available anywhere in the world and the path of recovery through spirituality creates a population of productive, honest and responsible people. It is spiritual … Not religious ..

  5. Bill Stewart April 5, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    A friend of mine who spent some time in a mental hospital told me that many of the people there had bipolar depression, and would self-medicate with alcohol or sometimes drugs if they were off their meds. Statistics say that a large percentage of alcoholics are doing the same, with or without psychiatric care, and if they address their underlying problems with anti-depressants or other appropriate medication, they’re much less likely to feel the need to be drunk all the time, and can start to cope with their other life issues.

    AA doesn’t address this, so it’s much less successful than it could be.

  6. Caleb A April 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    The only people who seem to have something negative to say about 12 Step Fellowships, are people who don’t take the time to properly explore what they’re about, or people who represent some other approach or modality of treatment. There must be a large amount of annoyance around the fact that the one program that has the most success in dealing with addiction is not run by medical or psychiatric professionals, and the programs or approaches that are have such little quality or success. Those of us who have been in recovery for many years learned through hard knocks that addicts of our type do not respond to most conventional approaches. In Narcotics Anonymous one of the preambles says: “Many of us ended up in jail, or sought help through medicine, religion, and psychiatry. None of these methods was sufficient for us. Our disease always resurfaced or continued to progress until in desperation, we sought help from each other in Narcotics Anonymous.” Firstly, anyone who thinks an addict can moderate, does not understand the biological manifestation of addiction. There is no going back to controlled using of mind and mood altering substances with the craving, compulsion and brain reward an addict experiences. Any attempts at moderation only last temporarily, and end in a bigger blow up. I would love to see a some cases of addicts who went back to controlled using and were successful for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Secondly, anyone who suggests medication can be a long term solution for addiction, seems to miss the fact that using drugs or alcohol is not an addicts problem. The problem with the addict is that they use chemicals (or other behavioural addictions) to COPE WITH LIFE. So to give up one chemical to switch to another “legitimately prescribed” chemical to cope with life, is NOT going to last. The problem here is that the only solution medical and psychiatric professionals seem to be able to offer at this stage, is chemical. And if they were to admit the effectiveness of abstinence based 12 Step programs, well, they would be out of a job in the Addiction Profession. What those of us who actually follow ALL the suggestions in 12 Step programs have found, are the tools we need to cope with life and find peace and happiness WITHOUT the use of any chemicals. The reason the success rate is low overall, is that most addicts would rather find an EASIER softer way to deal with life. Taking a pill is easier than taking responsibility. I myself have been in recovery for over 10 years. When i got clean psychiatrists had me on 5 different medications with 4 different diagnoses through my life other than addiction. The only solution they could offer me were more drugs to treat my “co-occurring disorders”. I have been free of all meds and drugs for ten years and still use the 12 Steps to deal with life successfully. Today I AM a qualified addiction professional with two international addiction accreditations and i can say that the majority of professionals who have been given the task and trust to treat addiction, are the ones causing the damage, not 12 Step Fellowships.

    • Doatie August 14, 2015 at 2:10 am #

      You claim anyone who comes down on AA is wrong, by coming down own people who think there are other ways to recovery, themselves.

      “There must be a large amount of annoyance around the fact that the one program that has the most success in dealing with addiction is not run by medical or psychiatric professionals, and the programs or approaches that are have such little quality or success.”

      Where is proof for the second half of your sentence? There are other approaches, with proven results, and just because you don’t want to acknowledge does not mean they aren’t there.

      “Firstly, anyone who thinks an addict can moderate, does not understand the biological manifestation of addiction. There is no going back to controlled using of mind and mood altering substances with the craving, compulsion and brain reward an addict experiences. Any attempts at moderation only last temporarily, and end in a bigger blow up. I would love to see a some cases of addicts who went back to controlled using and were successful for the REST OF THEIR LIVES.”

      Again, conjecture. No addicts are 100% alike in regards to how severe their addictions are. Again, there are programs out there – Rational Recovery – for instance that can help some (not all addicts) with moderation, in a successful manner. Also, you can’t tell me they are not people, in Alcoholics Anonymous, who relapse or drop out of the program all the time or who don’t follow the program for “THE REST OF THEIR LIVES” either. You can’t say moderation management doesn’t work, while touting how great AA is, with out acknowledging possible ways that AA can fail or hurt addicts as well. For every success story there are failures – with both kinds of treatments.

      “Secondly, anyone who suggests medication can be a long term solution for addiction, seems to miss the fact that using drugs or alcohol is not an addicts problem. The problem with the addict is that they use chemicals (or other behavioural addictions) to COPE WITH LIFE. So to give up one chemical to switch to another “legitimately prescribed” chemical to cope with life, is NOT going to last. The problem here is that the only solution medical and psychiatric professionals seem to be able to offer at this stage, is chemical.

      Who is saying medication has to be a “long term solution for addiction?” – certainly not every doctor you talk to. It’s blatantly wrong to state that medicine cannot help some addicts, while again avoiding the the testing, research, and data proving that it can help some addicts. There are medicine options out there, for heroin addicts, for example Naltrexone and Methadone, which can help some addicts with cravings and help them control or end addictions. Licensed professionals, doctors, and the like are going to be able to offer help and expertise that simply cannot always come from AA. There are behavioral/counseling techniques, that help, as well.

      “And if they were to admit the effectiveness of abstinence based 12 Step programs, well, they would be out of a job in the Addiction Profession.”

      The effectiveness of AA, cannot even be proven by AA members, themselves. Anecdotal evidence and subjective reasoning don’t automatically trump statistics and testable data. And if AA is as successful as you presume, there would be no one studying addictions, no medicinal options (etc.) – but there are people doing just that. What does that tell you? It tells me AA doesn’t work for everybody.

      “What those of us who actually follow ALL the suggestions in 12 Step programs have found, are the tools we need to cope with life and find peace and happiness WITHOUT the use of any chemicals. The reason the success rate is low overall, is that most addicts would rather find an EASIER softer way to deal with life.”

      So, only the people who actually follow the 12 steps (and for what amount of time exactly?) should be treated as successful? This is one of my qualms with some people in AA. If someone drinks or drops out of the program, it is simply written off to a “moment of weakness” or because that person “didn’t follow the steps.” How about the flip side of that? Maybe AA didn’t work for them, because something was wrong with their program and it couldn’t give them entirely what they needed?

      “Taking a pill is easier than taking responsibility.”

      I’m going to go ahead and call pure BS on this quip. You’re not doctor. You don’t get to act all high and mighty over someone who may need medication, over someone who may not need it. This is the equivalent of telling someone with another medical disorder – severe depression – that they don’t (necessarily) need medication for their issues and they should just “take responsibility” for their medical condition.

      “I myself have been in recovery for over 10 years. When i got clean psychiatrists had me on 5 different medications with 4 different diagnoses through my life other than addiction. The only solution they could offer me were more drugs to treat my “co-occurring disorders”. I have been free of all meds and drugs for ten years and still use the 12 Steps to deal with life successfully. ”

      I’m happy for you, but this is all anecdotal evidence. It does nothing to “prove” that AA is superior to other options.

      “Today I AM a qualified addiction professional with two international addiction accreditations and i can say that the majority of professionals who have been given the task and trust to treat addiction, are the ones causing the damage, not 12 Step Fellowships.”

      Again, these are subjective arguments. How can you – a qualified addiction counselor – claim you know more than the “majority of professionals” because the 12 steps worked for you?” You can’t. Where is your proof for this statement? I have a MS in Counseling Psychology and have worked in the field of addiction (in one way or another) my whole career. That doesn’t mean I’m going to say “one way is the only way,” even if the steps helped me at some point in my life. I’m not also going to say that AA doesn’t work for SOME people, because it does work. I have nothing against AA, if it helps people accomplish what they want to accomplish, but I’m surely not going to disregard the medical and scientific advancements made in the field of addiction study, either.

      • Doatie August 14, 2015 at 2:23 am #

        I should point out that Naltrexone is not for heroin addiction, My mistake.

        • David July 14, 2016 at 8:54 am #

          Good comment, Doatie.

  7. Susie M. April 10, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Bill Stewart, AA can’t address co-occurring mental illnesses, and it would be terrifically irresponsible of it to try to do so, since it’s not composed of mental health professionals, but simply of recovering alcoholics with a variety of issues and personal experiences. People don’t seem to get this — it’s not a hierarchical organization run by authorities, it’s a fellowship of peers. What it does is to recommend repeatedly in multiple pieces of program literature (the Big Book, pamphlets, etc.) that people who need outside help should get it. Which rather undermines Glaser’s claim that it doesn’t “refer people” — it absolutely does, it just doesn’t refer them out, because there’s no need for it to do so, as they can get outside help and remain A.A. members.

  8. ruth April 12, 2015 at 2:26 am #

    Great piece – Thanks, Kate. Anne M. Fletcher’s “Sober for Good” explores first hand success stories/options outside of AA without bashing the program. Worth a look.

  9. Bruce L May 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Great article and interesting comments as well. I’ve been a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor for 16+ years. I’ve been exposed to numerous Treatment modalities and watched the programs switch their emphases over the years to popular themes like CBT. What the so-called experts don’t seem to recognize is that AA is the oldest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of them all. In AA people learn how to change their “stinkin’ thinkin” for a new way of thinking which leads to new behavior/actions. While I’ve always told my clients that they’re free to try whatever works for them, I’ve also RESPONSIBLY reminded them that the 12-Step programs have the most successful outcomes and they should at minimum try them out. I know for me, after almost 19 years of continuous sobriety, AA is the real deal.I believe Kate got this completely right.

    • Doatie August 14, 2015 at 2:17 am #

      AA is not CBT. You can spin it all you want, but there is more to CBT than changing “stinking thinking.” AA is a self-help group. I’m not knocking AA, I know it works for some people. And because it has worked for you, does not mean it will work for everybody. That’s anecdotal evidence.

  10. EdinParma May 17, 2015 at 2:07 am #

    Why is it that everyone who was once an addict has become a drug addiction counselor? They just must love listening to their own story. I would never belong to a 12-step program. If i wanted to sit around and listen to people’s lives and their problems, I wouldn’t go to 12-steps. I would become a therapist and charge them $175 an hour for my time.

    These therapists who push their beliefs and 12-steps on people should be turned over to their respective professional licensing authorities. I am so sick of these lunatic therapists who also belong to these programs using their credentials to push their beliefs on others. If you can’t keep objective and professional then go away.

    AA stinks and I will do everything in my power to scare people away from them and the therapists who support them. They ruined my life.

  11. Jim June 3, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I have experience with AA. Exactly because there is no organization to it – you never know what you will find in a meeting. It just depends on who shows up and what they happen to think is the way to ‘work the program’. The claim that the 12 steps enable you to change your ‘thinking’ is pretty weak. Your life should change if you have a serious drinking problem and stop, but to put it down to the required spiritual experience or the oft-repeated slogans ‘turn it over’ without some kind of evidence ( and not just arguing from authority due to X years of sobriety ).

    AA can be cultish, you really have to buy in to the whole concept, and it requires religious faith. Like it or not – it is all about god. The program is OK, but for me the meetings soon became much the same as going to mass once a week. Ten commandments instead of 12 steps.

    As far as Naltrexone, I use it. My drinking was always about binges. A sudden decision to escape by getting blotto. No jail, no accidents, no job problems, no financial ruin – just an occasional bad habit that is really not good for you and could get out of control. Naltrexone works awesome for me. I take it daily when I get up and am still quite sane, and then if I start to feel badly, I have a tool against the impulsive decision. I won’t drink because I know the alcohol won’t do it for me any more. Is it easier and softer than AA ( always implying there is no other way.. ) Who cares? It works. IMHO, it should be the FIRST thing tried. Pick up a 12 step program if you think it will help – but give people a tool to help them stop as soon as possible.

  12. Katie June 15, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Hey Jim,
    I’m so glad you found something that works for you. This disease is too insidious to point at ANYTHING that has worked for someone and say, “no that shouldn’t be a thing.” One of the great things about this website is that we can come here and share what has helped us, be it AA, naltrexone, or something else. IMHO, the Atlantic article focused too much on making unprovable claims about AA instead of focusing on the array of alternative options that are out there. Congratulations on your sobriety!
    ~Katie

  13. John October 13, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Most people in twelve step fellowships believe their approach is the only way and they share this view in meetings , the twelve step were created from the Oxford groups original 6 step program , an evangelical Christian group , bill expanded it and carried over its religious dogma , insisting that only God can solve alcoholics problems , the higher power bit was the result of Jim b, one of the original members , also an atheist , if it wasn’t for him than the twelve steps would be a lot more religious, they still are religious, just read we agnostics , it’s insulting to people who don’t want to believe in some God , but aa’s big book can never be modified, because it’s a religious group , and it’s big book is sacred , I would I courage people to stay away from aa and it’s outdated philosophy, I personally don’t want anything to do with an organization that crosses to delist agnostic meetings simply because they choose autonomously in their groups to read secular recovery material , because so far aa at the highest level has refused to publish any literature for the agnostic and atheist , because only a spiritual experience can relieve people of their alcoholism, or so that’s what new people are told in meetings , down with AA !!

  14. John October 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Please read this noncence to know what AA is really about : “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
    This is read at the beginning of every single meeting of AA , it’s insulting , and sends the message to newcomers who are vulnerable and desperate that if the program doesn’t seem to be working for them then there must be something wrong with them as people , it disgusting and implies that AA is the only way , AA is a cult , I personally don’t want anything to do with this organization, I have found an alternative path to my own recovery , a path that encourages one to find the strength within , I’m not diseased and not unconstitutionally incapable of being honest , I’m just not interested in being told I need a god in my life in order to find a better life

    • David July 14, 2016 at 8:56 am #

      Correct!

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