Monday, April 26, 2010

Christian Shocker: God-Based AA Program Harms Alcoholics

Did you know that the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step program, which has God as the foundation of its program, doesn't work? Not only doesn't it work, but many scientific studies have shown pretty clearly that it does more harm than good! What's more, it appears that the religious component of the AA program is the culprit.

I was quite frankly shocked when I heard this. While I'm not religious, I have always admired AA members for their dedication and selfless efforts to help one another. I've had close friends and family members who were alcoholics, and wished they could find the strength to acknowledge their disease and go to AA for help.

But no more. After reading this damning article, which refers to dozens of scientific studies including several sponsored by AA board members and advocates, I now see AA for what it is: another faith-based folly that continues because of faith, not reason. In study after study, scientists, sociologists and doctors find that AA is worse that getting no help at all.

And it's pretty clear why. Look at the first three of the famous twelve steps:
  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.
In other words, "I'm not good enough, I'm a failure." That leads to a "victim" mentality where the alcoholic doesn't take responsibility for his/her own actions – they're told that they aren't capable of handling their own problems. So when they "fall off the wagon," they fall hard. They often resort to binge drinking. After all, they're powerless (or so they are told by AA) to control their drinking. It becomes an excuse to continue their alcoholism.

Here is just one of the examples cited by "A. Orange" in Effectiveness of the Twelve Step Program. In San Diego County, 301 people arrested for public drunkenness were randomly assigned by the courts to one of three programs:
  1. Control group that got no treatment
  2. Sent to a professional alcoholism medical clinic
  3. Sent to Alcoholics Anonymous
After a year, guess what?
In every category, the people who got no treatment at all fared better than the people who got A.A. "treatment". Based on the records of re-arrests, only 31% of the A.A.-treated clients were deemed successful, while 44% of the "untreated" clients were successful. Clearly, Alcoholics Anonymous "treatment" had a detrimental effect. That means that A.A. had a success rate of less than zero. Not only was A.A.-based treatment a waste of time and money; A.A. was actually making it harder for people to get sober and stay sober.
That's shocking enough, isn't it? But what's even worse in my eyes is that the people who run AA have known this for years. It's another example where faith trumps reason. AA has turned into a religion, and people keep believing in spite of clear, compelling evidence that AA doesn't work, that it actually harms people and delays their possible recovery.

One of my biggest criticisms of Christianity and religion in general is that it takes away personal responsibility for our accomplishments and takes away blame for our failures. You're not good enough, you're a sinner, you're a bad person. It's a lesson that is drilled into Christians from an early age.

And when someone with the terrible disease of alcoholism comes to AA this message is reinforced: You're a failure. And not surprisingly the alcoholics agree and continue to fail.

But lest anyone think I condemn everything about AA, I don't. The one aspect of their program that I believe is exceptional is that of the "buddy system" where new members are assigned a sponsor to help them in time of need – someone to talk to, someone to be a friend, provide encouragement, share stories, and help them when they have trouble. I believe that whatever successes AA can claim are due the the dedication and tireless efforts of the volunteer sponsors. That is a life-affirming, positive way to help someone in the grips of alcohol or drugs. Many addicts have no social support, no family and no friends. A sponsor can make all the difference in the world. Sponsors, all of whom are former addicts themselves, work selflessly and tirelessly, often for years or decades providing that helping hand and support that helps addicts get and stay on the path to recovery.

Update: I forgot to mention: Thanks to Eric Hass who made a comment in this blog that made me look into this issue.


  1. Oh brother. What a crock of crap this is! I don't even know where to begin. For starters, you can't say that AA is a waste of time "and money" because it costs nothing (okay, maybe $2 per meeting for the coffee). Second, you are citing a study in which alcoholics were forced into the program. I would assume that any 12-step program would be far less effective for those who are there against their will than for those who choose to join voluntarily. This is a waste of time to try to explain to you. goodbye.

  2. It is a case of religion. I went to a few AA meetings and was unable to accept a "higher power". AA is more of a church than a cure, IMO

  3. Well, first of all AA is free. There are no money requirement.

    Secondly, most folks who get "assigned" to some meeting because of a DUII don't want to stop. Nothing os going to make a person stop if they don't want to, unless you lock them up, and even that doesn't work since you can still brew booze in prison.

    And thirdly, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable." This is the important part... their is a chemical in teh brain of alcholics, THIQ, and also in herion addicts. People who produce this can not stop drinking once they start... like others can. So, powerless over alcohol means just that... don;t start or you'll not be able to stop.

    But... none of this matters unless the person wants to stop drinking. If that is all someone thinks about, then there are lots of places to go now to try and kick it.

    And where were those folks with no treatment after 10 years? 20?

    For folks who's brain chemistry is screwed up, drinking is a killer. And woth out some suppoert, mostly from other folks who drank, it's almost impossible to stay off the stuff--even with help, even with someone to call at midnight when you are headed to the bar; not drinking can be the hardest thing in the world.

    1. ^^I couldn't have said it better myself!!! I was just reading through all this and thought, this person is actually serious. Most people that talk like this about AA really have little to no idea what AA is all about. I have been an alcoholic for ten years and the only way I have been able to get & STAY sober is through the book of Alcoholics Anonymous!

  4. "This is a waste of time to try to explain to you. goodbye." anonymous

    In other words "I have no substantial response to the numerous scientific studies which show that A.A. attendance has little positive effect on alcoholics' behaviors so I will run away after having a little snit questioning the money involved."

    The true cost is the lives wasted by A.A. members sitting around sniveling about their "disease" rather then working on changing their behavior.

    1. This post shows me that you have no idea what AA is or does! It is all about accepting responsability and changing behavior.

  5. "many scientific studies have shown pretty clearly that it does more harm than good!" Why haven't you cited the studies then? This article is such a piece of emotional crap based on nothing but opinion of someone who doesn't know the first thing about A.A. For one thing, AA is a spiritual program, not a religious one. It doesn't cost anything to join and you are free to leave whenever you want. People in AA get their power back by learning that a life run on self-will alone can only lead to unhappiness, something most "normal" people will never learn in this lifetime. AA has kept millions of people sober and living useful, productive, happy lives. The author of this article is an idiot. I can't believe Raw Story reprinted this shit.

  6. Total lies. Go to an AA speaker's meeting sometime in a big city. You'll meet scores of people who have sobered up 10, 20, 30 years or more through AA.

  7. But anybody can see the source here and realize instantly that this is a lie. The militant atheists, however, will find another false reason for self-congratulation.

  8. I went to the A. Orange article and retrieved the list of studies it cites (below). At some point, I will look at each of them to learn what their conclusions are and to evaluate their methodology. The one study cited in the above essay notes that "Alcoholics were sent to AA." I would not expect a very high rate of recovery.

    In any case, AA does not claim to help people stop drinking -- it does claim to help them find a way of live that will allow them to stay stopped. I noted that the claim made for the group of studies below is that people refrained from drinking for more than a year. One year would not be considered a very long period of sobriety in AA.

    I think that if AA helps people stay sober, whether the recovery rate is 1%, 5%, 10%, or higher, it is a wonderful thing for those people to have been relieved of the burden of active drinking. In my view, the writer fails to take into account the positive effects for those people AA does help.

    10. Imber, S., Schultz, E., Funderburk, F., Allen, R. and Flamer, R. The Fate of the Untreated Alcoholic. J. Nerv and Ment. Dis., 1976, 162:238-247.
    11. Cahalan, D., Cisin, I. H. and Crossley, H. M. American Drinking Practices: A National Survey of Drinking Behavior and Attitudes. New Brunswick, Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies, 1974.
    203. Kissin, B., Platz, A. and Su, W. H. Social and Psychological Factors in the Treatment of Chronic Alcoholics. J. Psychiat. Res., 1970, 8:13-27.
    235. Bailey, M. B. and Stewart, S. Normal Drinking by Persons Reporting Previous Problem Drinking. Quart. J. Stud. Alc., 1967, 28:305-315.
    236. Kendall, R. E. and Staton, M. C. The Fate of Untreated Alcoholics. Quart. J. Stud. Alc., 1966, 27:30-41.
    238. Lemere, F. What Happens to Alcoholics. Amer. J. Psychiat., 1953, 109:674-675.
    268. Cahalan, D. Problem Drinkers: A National Survey, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1970.
    269. Goodwin, W. W., Crane, J. B., and Guze, S. B. Felons Who Drink: An Eight-Year Follow-up. Quart. J. Stud. Alc., 1971, 32:136-147.

  9. I think it's a mistake to conflate "we admitted we were powerless over alcohol" with "I'm not good enough, I'm a failure." That's a very large stretch to equate them.

    Although I have my own quarrels with Christianity, particularly the homogenized, Americanized version, I think you're mistaken in saying it discourages personal responsibility. The notion of personal responsibility is core--in fact, one is berated for not "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps."

    And, in the study you cited, with the mandated AA attendance...perhaps it would be more accurate to say that in a population of people arrested for public drunkenness, those who received involuntary treatment fared worse than those who had no treatment at all. It's the 'lead a horse to water' metaphor.

  10. I attended AA for a year and found it extremely valuable. The biggest help is hearing the stories of everone, all who are in some different stages of this problem. By listening carefully you become fully convinced where you are going and the enevitability of the process if you don't quit. You also learn that all these other people just like you with similar life problem did in fact quit and are living meaningful life. This is reconfirmed at every meeting until you get it. And you can't get it any other place up front and gritty. Myself I just looked at the higher power stuff to mean there were certain iron clad rules of the universe for living that if violated brought grief. Many of the other steps are also valuable like making amends to those you have hurt as well as learning to help others and forgive yourself. It is easy to say science shows otherwise but lets see the studies, how they were done, who did them and so forth. This article proves absolutely nonthing. How do we know any of it is true. Without pulishing the actual data an article like this will itself hurt people based on my personal experience.

  11. NA, AA they are all the same, worthless. No one quits that doesn't want to quit. I was sent through a program that incorporated NA into it and I "faked it till I made it" (yes that was the feeling throughout the program). I witnessed people replacing their addiction to controlled substances for an addiction to pseudo religious nonsense. I wont deny that for some the program was enough, but for myself (and others) self-will is all I ever needed.

  12. I second Lori's comment of 4/26 at 4:18pm. I succeeded in stopping smoking using N.A. (exact same program but for nicotine) after 18 years of failing at innumerable stop smoking programs, all of which relied on will, understanding the problem and the effects and reason--the wrong approach for me, and, I'm sure, many others. The texts we read at meetings (the same week after week) deliberately never mention "God", and it was explained to me right at the start that it was entirely up to me to decide what "Higher Power" including the Higher Power being the group itself that met once a week (and that is how I viewed it for myself.) It is unlikely to work unless it is voluntary and on-going, so citing studies about people who were forced in, and then not continuing to attend meetings is pointless. The meetings help you when you fall, and falling is acknowledged as possible, if not likely, without constant attention to it (which the meetings help provide.) N.A. members--and I'm sure A.A. members too--talk about their problems because they've denied them so long. What sounds like snivelling to "Jaycubed" (4:14pm)--ie. someone on the outside--is anything but. And that talking and communication with fellow addicts IS working on changing behavior, besides other things taught, discussed, encouraged, etc at the meetings and between meetings by fellow participants. The article's "facts" are, as a previous commenter wrote, useless as they look only at people who are required to do the program, and a finite result is expected, when N.A. and A.A. people acknowledge from the start that the program is never finished; it is one day at a time, one minute at a time... It does the opposite of what the writer suggests--instead of making people think they are powerless, it causes them to feel what power they actually have, as it did with me. IE. We may be powerless over the chemical effect on our bodies and brains (factually true), but we find power in working together, in acknowledging what we can and cannot do. We find this power not because anyone says so, but because we experience it for ourselves. I have to say that N.A. is one of the 3 most important good choices I have made as an adult, not only because it helped me stop smoking, but because of HOW it helped me stop.

  13. let us not forget the the good old "Hail Mary"

  14. This article shows such a fundamental misunderstanding of the principles behind 12-step recovery, it's hard to know where to start debunking it.
    Actually, it's simple. Please attend (rather than be forced into) some 12-step meetings and talk to some of the millions of people whose lives have been saved, or just vastly improved, in the decades since AA was founded.
    12-step recovery isn't Christian (though it has some ideas Jesus would recognize, as would the Buddha); it's not religious; it's spiritual, but the boundaries of that spirituality are self-determined. "Take what you like and leave the rest." I know someone whose "higher power" was Cary Grant. Whatever works for you.
    As for the author's citing "studies": Anyone who reads the news is fed "studies" that prove things that fly in the face of common sense and experience. Many other studies are published with a secret agenda--the FDA and the MSM often cooperate with or fail to debunk these coverups and obfuscations.
    Find out for yourself. And think about this: If 12-step recovery didn't work, would it be growing, and so popular, after 70 years?

  15. In AA for 17 years and happy to be sober and able to help some others. The God crap is so tiring I can't believe it,however, the comaraderie is excellent and staying sober this way is good for the lucky 1-3% for which it really does work.

  16. Those of you claiming that involuntary attendance negates the scientific data completely missed the point (or didn't read the article). People convicted of public drunkenness were randomly assigned to THREE plans, two of them involving forced participation. AA was the worst.

    And that was just ONE of the studies cited by the article's author "A. Orange." Study after study, they all find the same thing: AA on average is WORSE than no treatment at all. Read the full article, as I did, and follow some of the links, as I did. Keep an open mind.

    And those of you relying on anecdotal stories, more power to you - I'm glad AA worked for you. But that's not science. Science is the art of not fooling yourself, of studying things without preconceived notions and predetermined outcomes.

    AA does work for some. But study after study shows that, on average, people who attend AA have a WORSE chance of recovery than people who don't. Don't mistake a story for a proof, or a wish for an outcome.

    Keep an open mind, and re-read the article in full. Even if you support the goals of AA (and I hope you do), it should make you think.

  17. AA is a cafeteria-style program. If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, go to AA and take from it what you need. If "faith in a higher power" is too much for you, bag it and work on other facets of the 12-step program. Nobody in AA is going to shove God down your throat. Addictions are powerful, and addicts need all the support they can get to get clean and stay clean. So-called "experts" who knock AA are despicable and malicious bastards who are usually pimping their own "treatment" modalities or trying to sell some shitty books or extending their overlong academic careers by copping yet another government grant because they're too chickenshit and lame to cope with the real world on the cruel streets. AA may not be perfect (what the fuck is?) but at the moment it's the best hope that struggling addicts have and disparaging it is the swinish behavior of a stone sociopath.

  18. Anon - calling me a "militant atheist" is a classic: Insult the author rather than addressing the issue.

    One of the cool things about science is that it doesn't matter who the scientist is. The facts speak for themselves. If a born-again evangelical Christian did a well-designed scientific study that demonstrated the effectiveness of AA, I would totally respect that.

    But the fact is that several Christians have done exactly that (as discussed in the article), and discovered that AA doesn't work. So the question is, why doesn't AA adopt a new paradigm?

    The only reason I can think of is that people are using faith, not reason, about AA's effectiveness. They're ignoring the facts because they don't want to believe them. Or else they resort to insulting anyone who brings the facts to their attention, and hope the facts will disappear.

  19. I didn't care for the relgious aspect of AA myself. I had to go after getting a dui. I thought they had some good people there that knew all the tricks people play on themselves with denial and that was good. Mostly I was bothered about how so many people made recovery their life, and never seemed to move on. It was kind of sad being around them.

  20. bajajazz - instead of expecting an addict to pick from the "cafeteria" menu, why not take a hard look at the program itself and figure out which parts work and which parts don't?

    Why is someone who brings bad news a "despicable and malicious bastard"? The social scientists who ran the studies were, in several cases, people who were trying to prove AA worked! They were NOT trying to malign AA. But the science speaks for itself, and the facts are clear.

    All I'm doing is reporting it, and adding my opinion (which I'm happy to discuss). Arguing that the facts are wrong isn't productive. Nor is it useful to insult someone who reports the facts.

  21. The upsetting thing about AA is that they are trying to stop but they feel they have to be saved and accepted by God in order to quit. As an atheist I believe that these people should have a stable group around them that helps them find themselves and promote their identity through concrete means rather than spiritual. One can only better himself through cognitive growth; spirituality only gives them an excuse later for their inability to quit. I say this because my father was in AA for a while, among other anonymous groups, and he may have quit for now (I'm not sure I haven't talked to him in months) but he still has the psychological effects that caused him to start such as anxiety, paranoia, and depression that could not be treated in AA. Since he has been to AA he now feels that God has saved him and though it might be a great placebo the fact is that Doctors and stable people around him are needed in order for him to recover. Programs with doctors and other highly trained people should be more readily available for these people because it is such a big problem in the world right now; chances are you know of or are related to one of them.

  22. I agree with Craig. The whole point of science and statistics is that it filters out the bias of opinions. Furthermore, random assignment is used to avoid any selection bias. It is unwise to comment on any statistical study without basic knowledge of research design and analysis.

    However, as with any experimental study the discussion section involves interpretation of why individuals in the AA program recovered less than the other two programs. The author suggests it's the major themes of "less responsibility" embedded in the twelve steps.

    More importantly this study shows the ineffectiveness of AA and why other treatment programs are superior. Why would you eat cereal with a fork when the alternative tool of a spoon is more effective?

  23. I agree with you to a point. The group can be the higher power, there is not pressure to find religion of any kind and you will not find very many religious people at meetings, in my experience. At least not the annoying fundamentalist kind. I am a Buddhist/agnostic and I found most in AA to be tolerant, kind and forgiving! Not at all like the so-called Christians in the public eye.

  24. Apparently I got linked by (welcome, readers!), and they crafted a somewhat misleading headline. I hope everyone realizes that it wasn't a "study" nor was it recent.

  25. A number of you have criticized the article saying, "AA worked for me," but the striking thing about these comments is that most of you cite the community support as a critical factor. I hope you all read my last paragraph, which I'll repeat in part: "The one aspect of their program that I believe is exceptional is that of the "buddy system" where new members are assigned a sponsor to help them in time of need – someone to talk to, someone to be a friend, provide encouragement, share stories, and help them when they have trouble. I believe that whatever successes AA can claim are due the the dedication and tireless efforts of the volunteer sponsors."

  26. I would point out here that those criticizing the methodology of the study are forgetting that a blind (e.g. court-ordered) sample is necessary in this instance. Why? Because if you're going voluntarily, you're likely a) a believer, and/or b) emotionally ready to quit. Noncompliance samples are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of each treatment option on its merits, when implemented upon a randomized cross-section of subjects.

    I'm sure that AA has worked well for many people, but all the same, it's telling that there's an inverse correlation in blind samples between the religious component of AA and long-term success. I myself beat a 7-year smoking habit without the use of religion, and I find that the necessity in AA of swallowing religion as a part of one's treatment to be a weakening position.

    Just saying, hate all you want, but the methodology and numbers are solid.

  27. As an alcoholic who attended thousands of AA meetings over many years, I have to say you really are unaware. First, a belief in god is not necessary, you can make a table your higher power if you choose, it just that you are not it. Your article is quite disingenuous. I have many friends of long standing, all are sober and have been for a very long time. I would be dead if I had not quit drinking, I would not have any children like I do, I would not have had anything but death. So, personally I truly think your ignorance and lack of wisdom in writing this can do more harm than good. And, just to clarify, I am not affiliated with any religion nor do I believe in any organized representation of spiritual endeavors. I think you have serious issues you can't address in yourself, and you just let fly your ignorance.

    1. Come on, we all know that the contention that "you can use a doorknob/table as a Higher Power" is disingenuous at best. The 12 Steps fall flat unless a God capable of granting wishes is involved.

      We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
      Came to believe that a table could restore us to sanity.
      Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a table as we understood Him.
      Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
      Admitted to a table, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
      Were entirely ready to have a table remove all these defects of character.
      Humbly asked a table to remove our shortcomings.
      Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
      Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
      Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
      Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a table, praying only for knowledge of the table's will for us and the power to carry that out.
      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.

      Some people even say you can use "the fellowship" as your HP. If you're turning your life and your will over to the care of a "Group Of Drunks"...well, that sounds an awful lot like a cult.

  28. higher power is not religion, it is spirituality. I find it interesting that their are some people who quit their drug of choice because it is damaging their lives and then they must attend weekly meetings or else take the chance of picking up their drug of choice and damaging their lives again. If this works though, power to them. Just like religion doesn't make a person Holy, AA doesn't make a person sober but both may help them to strive to be a better person or a sober person.

  29. "What sounds like snivelling to "Jaycubed" (4:14pm)--ie. someone on the outside--is anything but." Tom

    Rather presumptious aren't you? My experience with A.A. includes 35 odd years with an alcoholic father belonging to A.A., several years of Alanon, and 25 odd years treating alcoholics as a psychiatric nurse, including many years of group facilitation, including substance abuse groups.

    There are better ways to find "support" than with A.A. or N.A. They are True Believers, as evidenced by many of the posts here. Don't expect True Believers of any kind to be able to accept evidence that contradicts their True Beliefs.

  30. Burnie,

    In counterpoint, some AA users are ready to put aside the religious aspect, even if they don't buy it, for the reasons you mention. And that's perfectly valid. I wouldn't be able to do it, but that's just me. All the same, though, Craig has a point in that "acknowledging oneself as helpless" sets a DANGEROUS external locus, one that appears consistent with the correlations in recidivism that the study highlights.

    It's easy to take this study personally--pick a reason. Critique of spirituality, critique of conquest over addiction. Obviously, for every generalization there are gonna be a dozen counterexamples. Still, the numbers point out a sobering trend. And that's what I think people are willfully ignoring here.

    Spin the significance all one wants: the numbers are stone-cold, and again, their methodology appears consistent.

  31. If you have a problem with quitting drinking or using drugs and you have tried everything else, AA is there for YOU. If you haven't tried everything else, by all means give it a go. If you can quit on your own or with another program, our hats are off to you. But, if all else fails, AA is the last house on the block. When AA began it was pretty much the only house on the block. And it's been around over sixty years and helped millions of people.

    And no, you are not required to believe in God. My sponsor is one of many atheists in AA, and he's been sober 25 years. You get to choose your own higher power and call it whatever you like. If can't or won't believe that there's a power greater than your self, you'll still be welcome.

    It is true, that many of us will drink or use again at some point. If we're lucky we're able to quit again before drugs or alcohol kills us. I smoked a joint on my 28th day of sobriety, so I guess I'm a statistical failure, but I've been clean and sober almost four years since then. Make of that what you will.

  32. This is the second "AA debunking" article I've read recently, the first being an entry over at The Skeptic's Dictionary. Both left me irritated.

    It is very important to remember that data collected on issues of chemical dependency is largely self-reported. By ADDICTS. I take claims from those involved in studying this topic with a massive grain of salt, regardless of their angle. I realize that the data that forms the core of the article was more scientifically gathered than most, but as many people have pointed out, the options were court-ordered. Anyone with an addiction history knows how unlikely success is in those cases. AA's poor showing in this context could very well be more closely related to just how distasteful/stigmatized that option is to many addicts, especially when forced. Take it from a guy who used to laugh at the "losers" smoking outside the local AA meeting as he went to the bank to cash a check he literally couldn't endorse because his hands were shaking so horribly.

    Which brings up another reason these sorts of articles are annoying, even insulting, to people who have benefited from 12-step recovery: The smug assertion that such programs "don't work", when the reader knows quite well that they HAVE worked. As in, for THEM. The author makes a grave error in the comments when he holds his holy data up as proof while dismissing various comments as "anecdotal". Dude, they aren't anecdotal accounts, they're PERSONAL ones. Take your own advice and actually read them.

    AA is what it is. For some that absolutely means a place for them to wallow in a victim mentality & avoid personal responsibility. For others it is an invaluable tool to do just the opposite. For me it was the latter, after a decade of struggling on my own with only my pride & my will as disastrous "allies". After roughly 4 years of regular meeting attendance I came to the decision that there were other things I wanted to spend my free time doing, so I did. But I have a firm foundation of how to live a responsible life now, thanks to the teachers I met in AA, & I know it will always be there for me if I need it.

    Bottom line, arguing that AA is a scam, or just ineffective is about as worthwhile an endeavor as the Science vs. God debate. Neither side has "proof" acceptable to the other, & likely neither will. It's a waste of time that not only makes the attacker look like an ass, but could very well dissuade a suffering person from something that might possibly help them stop suffering. & to my mind, that goes beyond irritating towards irresponsible.

  33. Milo, admitting we are powerless over alcohol means admitting that we have a compulsive behavior that we are unable to stop on our own. For many of us this is the literal truth. Not accepting that fact leads us to repeatedly try controlled drinking, which eventually gets out of control. Only by accepting that we can't control our drinking are we able to let it go completely.

    It's like admitting we are powerless over aging. We can may be able to control to some extent, but sooner or later time takes it's toll. And the sooner we can accept that fact, the sooner we'll be able to live life on life's terms.

  34. Hm. What is telling about the responses is the typical "attack the messenger" and name calling. Craig wrote an article based upon somebody else's research- not his, yet, many of the responses attack him as if he did the research. Further, none of the pro AA responses cite statistics to support their case- stats which I would love to see as a counter to the stats Craig cited,and I am sure there are some that support AA somewhere. Name calling just sabotages your case and credibility.
    Having been to a number of AA meetings and known and number of AA people, form my observation, they seem to swap an addiction to booze for ones with nicotine and coffee- They seem to drink huge amounts of coffee at their meetings. But, from what I saw, it does work for the majority of alkies. I did not like the God part, especially when it conflicted with the "What Christ taught" part. I will say that contrary to what Craig says, they begin with victimhood, then use a buddy system / higher power to stabilize and break the addiction, then move to taking responsibility.

  35. You promote the science of the article - but the article is not a peer reviewed scientific piece. It is a rant, like much of what is above. And much of it is slanted, like the assertion that AA suggests people leave their spouses, or that AA claims to be the only treatment that works. Neither is true.

    There is a good book that covers the neuro-science of addiction, and has a fair minded chapter on the efficacy of AA - the Chemical Carousel -

    Check it and quit the rant.

  36. you fail to take into account that scientist are human and are not infallible, scientists own beliefs (and yes scientist have beliefs too) tend to cloud there research and often times then not scientist post there research results before all the facts are in.. yeah the method for which AA goes about helping alcoholics may not always work and may harm some peoples recovery... but the fact is that it does work for some people.. it did for my mother, the thing is no matter what method an addict may use for recovery the addict has to want the recovery and if they don't they will use ANY excuse possible to make it fail including allowing themselves to believe they are not worthy of the recovery.

  37. What you cite as fact is actually the indications of scientific studies (the citations for which you omit). It would also appear that you may not have read beyond the first 3 steps of AA, since those steps require not only a thorough personal inventory of the wrongs one has done to others, but also the making of direct amends to those others for those wrongs. Treatment facilities which cost more than $30,000 a month will tell you that they do not have a cure for addiction, but that the best results of overcoming addiction have been in AA. In AA, your God may be a rock or any other thing or concept, and AA does not take up a collection for that God. What your article tells us, really is this, "One of my biggest criticisms of Christianity and religion in general is . . . " You have a problem with religion so horrible, you see religions where there are none.

  38. Maybe A. Orange was comparing data with A.N. Apple.

    Attended AA for 5 years. Sober for 30.

  39. hmmm. someone with an agenda. how novel. maybe stop blaming your upbringing

    You can't measure spirituality in rational terms, just like you can't measure the depth of feeling you have for your partner. and yeah, relationships cause more pain than not being in them at all, and most of the ones in our lives will end poorly, but that doesn't take away the benefits when one goes right.

  40. Just trading one addiction for another, if you ask me. Instead of having to have a drink every day, they have to go to a meeting instead.

  41. Just a few comments for the "To be considered" column.
    A) The meettings in AA aren't the program. The STEPS are the program. The meetting are for people to share their experience they are having... the "Changes" comming about... from their "Experience" with the steps.

    B) You don't change you. You DO the STEPS and the steps change you.

    C)So it should come as no surprise, that people who visit AA "Meettings" or are sent by the courts to look at their drinking problems... it's no supprise that they come away with the wrong impression. They come seeking INFORMATION. They get some. But what they don't get is the EXPERIENCE of doing the steps.

    D) So AA isn't informational. It isn't just a buddy system. And it's not about "Will Power".

    E) If you went to meettings and found them to be "Religious", then they weren't really AA. Some religious people or groups try to make them into hybred versions of both. But thats not AA.
    As someone said. AA is Spiritual not religious. If sitting by a pond with a fishing poll puts you into a state of spiritual well being. Reflective and searching. Then thats all you need for a higher power.

    One last point. The recurring notion that we replace a drink addiction with a meetting addiction is not a new impression some people get. I think it's more of an excuse for why some quit going.
    But the truth is this.

    With and addiction you start out taking the booze or drug as a choice. Because you want to. Then it's takes control of your life and you take it because you have to. NO choice.

    With meetting most of us start oput going because we have to to stay alive or free. As we find peace and hope and a life worth living... we go because we want to! By choice! The sequence and driving factors are actually the reverse of the notion that it's just addiction replacement.

    But whatever works is the thing to do. If riding a donkey naked through Times Square gets you past the cravings for the drug, then I say ride baby RIDE!!!
    I have 17 yrs of uninterupted sobriet and after being released from treatment waiting for the cab to pick me up. I knew withing minutes that it was me vs the bars and without outside help... the bars and the boozes and the hell that goes with it, were definatly going to win. So I got to AA and the rest is history.

    I only with the best to anyone who needs help. If you can do it alone, I say lucky you. But for this drunk... alone was a sure death. And maybe not just my own. Peace.

  42. AA saved my life and the lives of thousands of other hopeless alcoholic which is more than I can say for this blog!

  43. I came here from Rawstory...As a sober member of a 12-step program for over 17 years, I have to say that it has worked for me and many others. There have also been many who did not stay sober or clean through a 12-step program. I was not sent by a judge because I was hopeless and could not stop on my own.

    AA isn't for everyone, that is something I have heard since the day I came into the rooms. It's not for those who need it but those who want it. Someone else may have already posted these same comments.

    As the previous Anon has posted, I could not stop on my own. I too had huge issues with the "God" concept initially but was able to connect to a spirituality that I was trying to find through drugs and alcohol.

    People will do a study to either prove their own theory, to disprove a theory they dislike or to promote some new technique they are trying to sell to the masses. AA talks about "science may one day accomplish this [sobriety]..." and when that day comes, if it is here now, I would recommend it to those who wish to take it. I have something that works for me and don't desire to fix something that ain't broke!

    I wont shoot the messenger but to say that " the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step program, which has God as the foundation of its program, doesn't work" is a false statement. It does work for the millions who enjoy continuous sobriety throughout the world. A factual statement would be 'doesn't work for some'

    May the Goddess, God or Flying Spaghetti Monster extend joy and peace to all.

  44. Alkies are weak people and should just drink themselves to death. They can't seem to handle everyday life anyway.

  45. There is no God speak at AA. It's all about getting to know your own personal spiritual side and being aware of a Higher Power within yourself. Once in a while an AA meeting can accomplish that. Once a drunk discovers that, sometimes it is easier to get and stay sober. So why would the author want to knock something like that? Organized religion has nothing to do with AA, except for lending out their church halls or basements. It's one of the few things the church and society can come together on these days, so just be thankful your life is not so out of control that you don't need a meeting. Some days the only thing a drunk has to turn to is an AA meeting. Back off from AA and let them continue to help in the way that they know how.

    There was a time in my life when AA was my lifeline and I will never forget the comfort I found in those church halls and basements. AA does help. I'm living proof.

  46. What I find interesting is not much mention of the rest of the steps. Own up to your actions, spill the dirt, make amends. Pretty humbling stuff when it's actually done. Screw-up and own up, to the person you hurt is something that is humiliating enough that the thought of having to do that again stops a lot of tempting actions, very quickly. I grew up in those rooms, alcoholic (sober) parent, one always active and no babysitter. Here's a news-flash, you don't have to be an alcoholic for those steps to have a positive impact on day to day life. Doing more than dancing (1,2,3,1,2,3) means, for me at least, going to sleep knowing there's no "dirt" for someone to find through my daily actions. I still hit open meetings now and again when my attitude needs a tune-up. Funny how I am the only one in the family without dozens of DUIs and trips (aka "in trouble" vacations) to rehab. While I'm still surrounded by those 123 poor-powerless me dancers, but I can attest that it does work IF you work ALL of it. A geneticist would probably say I am an alcoholic thanks to all the DNA, but those steps have kept my life so fulfilled by applying them to everything stressful, that's the DNA hasn't gotten the chance to blossom.

    For those about enlighten me to the wonders of Al-anon, been there done that. Wonderful program for the family members new to all of it, I often recommend it. I just like the AA rooms better for myself as it's what I have known since I was four or five. Is it right for everyone? Of course not, I have seen many achieve sobriety by addiction switching to exercise and such. Just let it work for those who CHOOSE to work it!

  47. This article is written by a non-alcoholic - AA has no religion? Of the people that go to AA and don't want stop drinking, 3 to 5% get sober. For alcoholics who want to stop drinking - AA is a 100% cure. 15 years in recovery and grateful for AA.

  48. James states, "But the science speaks for itself, and the facts are clear," but he made no effort to find any studies other than those cited by A. Orange.

    I've read material from the A. Orange site before. The author(s) posts some interesting material, but for whatever reason, the agenda is to discredit 12-step programs. It's like getting all your news from Fox or from MSNBC. You will NEVER hear from sources which undermine A. Orange's agenda, nor will A. Orange admit such sources exist.

    If one uses EBSCO Host or Google Scholar to search for peer reviewed studies on the efficacy of 12-step programs, one will find plenty of peer-reviewed studies which show these programs DO work. It's just a matter of not being lazy.

    A lot of the misconceptions that one must be religious in order to benefit from a 12-step program might be cleared up by the story, "Atheists Recover Too" on page 274 at

    A Grateful Member of Narcotics Anonymous

  49. I too went to meetings for about 5 years and I have been sober now for 28 years and I do not believe in a patriarchal god, in fact I feel that going to religous private schools actually was one of many influences that led me to alcohol in the first place. AA worked for me and many others who don't buy into religion but do find a spirituality in AA that eluded us in organized religion.

  50. To all of you who are now sober, I say congratulations, with great sincerity. And I hope you'll read this blog that I wrote a while back.

    You guys faced one of the toughest challenges anyone can face, and you succeeded. Take credit for it!

    And I can't say much more to those of you who continue to use stories of your own success to "prove" that AA works. What about the 75% or so who DON'T make it? Doesn't it make sense to try new approaches?

    It's not that AA is bad, clearly it works for some. But why not make it BETTER? If it helped you, don't you wish the same for your fellow humans in need? What if the program could be changed in a way that would help even more people? Why are you so adamant that it can't be improved?

    If AA is truly interested in helping everyone, why not have TWO programs, one for those of you who are religious, and another separate twelve-step program for atheists, agnostics, or even religious people who are disenchanted for various reasons and don't want to hear any more about a "higher power"? Why is the "higher power" idea so important to AA?

    None of AA's defenders in this debate have proposed anything to help those for whom AA hasn't worked. Instead of defending the current AA, let's hear some ideas from AA's defenders on how to make it even better. If you really believe in AA, you should be excited and enthusiastic about criticism and new ideas.

    1. they do theres alternative steps. your are correct aa doesnt work you have to work for it! Replacing the word GOD with GOOD

  51. Interesting article...

    I would certainly agree with one of the major premises in the article, the part about the "religious aspect" of the AA program harming alcoholics. Properly done, there is no religious aspect to the program. However, I live in an area that is highly conservative, and has a high proportion of fundamentalist religious fervor (and that gets dragged into the rooms). I have seen people come into meetings and literally take them over, subtly, on behalf of a particular church. I have had members who were religious themselves try to push their religion on newcomers and oldtimers alike. And then there is the case of Glenn Beck, who has outed himself as a member, to (I believe) the detriment of the program. He has a hyper religious approach to his own life and politics, and pushes it with a missionary zeal. None of those approaches have any respect for the AA steps and traditions, which state that we have no opinion on outside issues, and mention a "higher power of our own understanding". What's more, they tend to chase people who could use AA out of the rooms, which is precisely why they are discouraged. I am a Gay, Pagan, Liberal who has 13 years sober and clean (AA & NA), and I have to say I have felt intimidated by people like this sometimes, especially those who claim by virtue of being an oldtimer, to speak for the fellowship in this regard. They do not. The steps and traditions speak for themselves, especially if taken in the context of the stated aims of Bill W. and Bob S. They wanted something that would not require any religious affiliation of any kind, because drunks hate being told what to think or believe. Also, it was hoped that this would be helpful to people of many different religious backgrounds, or none at all.

    There is a book called,"AA Comes Of Age" that might be interesting to anyone wanting to understand what AA is and what it claims to do (or not). From a philosophical and spiritual point of view I find it fascinating. It is perhaps the best description I have found of who the founders of AA were, and what they hoped to accomplish.

    Finally, I should say I find practicing the program to be a spiritual experience for me, not a religious one. Spiritual experiences simply cannot be quantified. I have respect for science, and it definitely has its place in the world (I say this as a long time reader of PZ Meyers). But being able to quantify something does not necessarily mean you "see it", if you get my drift. It is easy to diagram, for instance, Giant Steps by John Coltrane, but that goes nowhere in explaining why I like it or how hearing it makes me feel inside. Science isn't everything.

  52. One reason AAs aren't enthusiastic about criticism and changing AA is that AA is a simple program that has worked for decades for those who work it, many of whom were hopeless. As stated earlier, AA is the LAST resort for most of us.

    Many have tried to improve AA and started alternate programs such as Rational Recover and SAGE. We wish them well. Since these alternatives do exist, why should AA change? AA is the alternative to the alternatives.

    Another reason we are not enthusiastic is that most of the criticism (at least in this discussion) is coming from people who have never known the incomprehensible demoralization many AAs have experienced. Nor do they understand the program.

    Having never been an alcoholic and never worked the steps (I presume), what makes you think you understand the problem of alcoholism or the program of AA well enough to criticize it?

  53. Glenn Beck outed himself as a member of AA? What an ego!

    Tradition 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities

  54. Hi Craig,

    First I admire your taking the time with responses and further questions when seeming under attack. First there is a step encouraging those working the program to help those who ask for it. The asking is the key. Ever hear a saying about leading a horse to water? Same thing.

    Second millions of people have tried to get their alcoholics sober. Millions of those family members slowly go insane trying to help. Alcoholism destroys way more than the lives of those in the grip of addiction. I have seen far too many friends and family members of alcoholics (and addicts) become far more irrational and unpredictable than the alcoholic they are trying to save, houses, money, jobs, gone, gone, gone. All trying to get someone sober.

    That's why AAs aren't hauling drunks off the streets to save them. far too much to loose personally. If someone asks for help there is always a ready hand reaching out to guide the way.

    You have very reasonable arguments. I disagree about it being religious, I call it more of a strict code of ethics. Getting people's Egos out of the way is the big part of those first steps.

    Drug companies have been asking the same questions for at least a couple of generations, too much money to be made off a "cure". I wonder how they would answer all your (reasonable) questions?

  55. Hi Craig,

    A couple of things. If you don't want to be attacked as a messenger, and you want to be seen as a reporter, you might want to change your headline and lead-in paragraph to something less biased and opinionated.

    You make a lot of uninformed assumptions based on a limited amount of study/experience. AA does work, it doesn't require a belief in God (I don't have one, and lots of other AAs don't either), and we're all for *whatever* works for you. We only know what works for us.

    A. Orange, aka Agent Orange, has a dedicated beef with AA and expends a lot of energy trying to turn others away from AA, so please consider the source.

    There are other programs which attempt to modify the principles of AA. A friend of mine attends one, and while she is somewhat sober, she has confessed that she is envious of the greater success I've had in achieving sobriety. She has a problem with step one which she has been unable to overcome.

    What I believe to be true is that a) you have to either want to get sober for yourself(not for the court or family or anyone else) or be desperate enough to admit you can't quit by yourself to succeed in AA, b)you have to work the steps, and, having done so, gain an understanding of the steps that can't be gotten by just reading them, and c)you have to be capable of a certain level of self-honesty. Many people who come to AA are not ready or willing to take a hard look at their lives and their addiction and tell themselves the truth.

    I think you wrote this with the best of intentions. But AA doesn't harm alcoholics. Alcoholics harm alcoholics.

  56. What pure Horse shit, where did you find this crap!

    #1 There are no "AA Board members", because there are no AA leaders only "members".
    #2 The highest position you can reach in AA is sober .
    #3 In AA, there are no records kept by anyone regarding who stays sober and who doesn't. I've been sober for 35 years.
    It's called Alcoholics "Anonymous" !
    #4 As a practicing Stanford "know it all dimwit" , you failed to ( at least ) read the "Big Book" of AA.
    Taking responsibility for your own actions has always been the key to a better life & sobriety.
    What you also don't known Craig, is that the12 steps of AA has changed the lives of millions of people.
    Narcotics Anonymous, Over eaters Anonymous, Depression Anonymous......etc etc.

    PS I 'm shocked that you would believe any of your own poorly written baloney when such positive results are all around you.

    1. Someone forgot to tell AAWS and the General Services Board that there's no such thing as "board members."

  57. Furthermore, there are procedures for making changes to AA, but they are incredibly slow and deliberative by design.

  58. A.A. works if you work it. I've been clean and sober for 6 years. I go to 2 meetings a month. A.A. built the foundation of my life and I work at building the rest of my life useing an A.A. blueprint. One reason we stick around is to help others. Sobriety was a gift given freely to me and I enjoy helping others and give them what was given me.

  59. Craig, I couldn't agree with you more, and have known about these studies for AA for quite some time. To all the people who say that "AA works if you work it" Well duh! So does quitting cold turkey. But real hard facts show that people are more likely to "work" quitting cold turkey than AA.

    When I was convicted of DUI, I had to either take 20 classes at $20 a piece, which consist mainly of them making us watch Hollywood movies or spouting nonsense "facts" like: There is more crime in areas with more liquor stores (hint, Correlation != causation) and 20 meetings of AA or take 30 of those junk science classes at $20 a piece.

    It amazes and angers me that the government doesn't check the facts and the science behind the programs they implement before they force people into it. AA is just like Christianity. AA works because AA says it works. God is real because the bible says he is real. I understand that I committed a crime. I understand that I should be punished. But those punishments should be based on facts, not dogma.

    I ended up choosing to pay the extra $200 because AA flies to strongly in the face of my own religious beliefs. I am not an atheist, but a follower of the pre-Christian european faith. Craig, you will likely think me just as wacko as the Christians, but I belief that gods want us to be strong and independent and would look down on us if we came begging to them saying that we are not capable of doing something without their help. It is not their job to live our life for us, it is not their job to take care of every little problem. We are expected to be strong enough of character to do these things for ourselves. Not ALL religions take away personal responsibility. For some religions, it a very fundamental expectation.

  60. Thanks to everyone for your comments. You might enjoy (or disagree with!) <a href=">today's follow-up</a>.

  61. I am going to help you with an analogy here:

    Let is say that I need to change the spark plugs on my car.

    What tool do I need? (I hope this analogy is simple enough for you.)

    Will you agree that I need a suitable spark plug wrench? I hope so.

    Now... let's do a scientific study.

    One group of people who need to change their spark plugs was given a rake.

    Another group another group was given a hammer.

    A third group was given AA (by force).


    All groups failed miserably and perhaps AA failed worst of all.

    Oh my God! AA is terrible and it does not change people's spark plugs! Good lord, I thought it was a GOOD program!! What!! Call the media! Sue the bastards.

    Guess what James: AA never promised to change your spark plugs for you.

    James is red in the face. Apoplectic with rage and embarrassment. "You smug AA turd! The science is not about the AA tool being used to change spark plugs. It is about AA being used to get people sober. Asshole. Learn to read. You are a dummy."

    No, James. You learn to read. Right before we read the steps at almost EVERY meeting you might attend we read these words from page 58 of our primary text:

    "If you have decided you want what we have [sobriety] and are wiling to go to any length top get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps."

    After we read this we read Twelve Steps. Not three -- you unscientific (remembers training in the cult where he practice restraint of pen and keyboard).

    Your... what you call science... is completely un-applicable to AA (our program). All of your science is based on "forced" attendance which is the opposite of willingness mentioned in the sentence I quoted to you.

    You see... your so-called scientists are viewing AA as a tool. This takes us back to my analogy. And indeed it is a tool. But it is only a tool for the willing.

    The courts use AA as a hammer the the scientists see it as a hammer.

    It is not us who do not understand the science.

    It is the scientists who do not understand what we are doing.

    If I had it my way I would tell the courts to stop sending those drunk drivers to us.

    Drunk drivers get sent to AA.

    True alcoholics show up voluntarily after we have proved to ourselves that we are alcoholic.

    After that many of us go on to get get PhDs and Masters degrees and generally become excellent members of society.

    Here is a statistic: AA works for 100% of true alcoholics that display willingness a they work all twelve of our steps.

    James, I know you cannot understand that but it is the truth. And about the spiritual side of this program: many atheists are walking around today with 20+ year chips in their pockets. My 11 year chip is in my wallet.

    AA saved my life. You can believe whatever you want about this program but do not confuse the articles you read about this program in scientific journals with actual science. It is not because it is beginning with the wrong assumptions about what it is supposed to be studying.

    Listen, James. I've got a life to live and I have spent far too much time in this weird little eddy. I don't know you but I am guessing you are some kind of blogger? I'm guessing that you read articles and then blindly regurgitate whatever they say because they told you it was science. That's a neat hobby. But when you poke your nose into AA, the best strategy is to read our primary text called Alcoholics Anonymous, and then visit about thirty meetings in thirty days. If you are not an alcoholic, it can't hurt. And if you are an alcoholic, you might just catch a thing we call sobriety.

  62. Proudheathen - I don't look down on your heathen faith, quite the contrary. I respect faith. What I look down on is irrationality, people who believe things that can't possibly be true, and people who ignore facts that contradict what they hope is true. My atheism is in the literal "without god" sense -- I look at the universe, and don't see a need for anything supernatural to explain it. Others see it differently, and I respect that too. You sound like your pretty well grounded in the facts. We're all on a spiritual journey of one sort or another, and in spite of not sharing core beliefs, we can still journey together, learn from each other, and respect each other.

  63. "Here is a statistic: AA works for 100% of true alcoholics that display willingness a they work all twelve of our steps. I know you cannot understand that but it is the truth."
    posted by the most recent "anonymous"

    Your "statistic" is revealing of your arrogant disregard for truthfulness. If/when an alcoholic relapses, he fails to be a "true" A.A. follower because he relapsed: how convenient and how disingenuous. In simple terms, your "statistic" is a self-serving lie.

    If "it" was truth, rather than your fervently held Belief, "it" would be understandable to anyone because of the evidence to support "it". The only evidence presented here in support are the anecdotal accounts of True Believers in A.A.

    I would also suspect that there are links on a pro-A.A. site to this post directing fellow True Believers here to try and rebut the damning scientific evidence presented.

    The many posts by Believers presented on this blog provide substantial evidence that A.A. is a rather typical Faith-Based Religion.

  64. Let's call me Andy. I am the anonymous poster who wrote the following:

    "Here is a statistic: AA works for 100% of true alcoholics that display willingness as they work all twelve of our steps."

    I will not take offense that you have told me that I disregard honesty and called me a self serving liar.

    I will however not be able to resist stating that your adhominem attacks show that it is actually you who have no evidence to back up your position.

    You write:
    "If "it" was truth, rather than your fervently held Belief, "it" would be understandable to anyone because of the evidence to support "it"."

    My evidence that AA is 100% effective with real alcoholics who willingly work our 12 Steps?

    Try well over two million recovered alcoholics world wide.

    How's that for evidence?

    Will you trot out some statistic that 10 Million have visited us? I hope so. I hope it is closer to 50 Million.

    The fact that we have helped well over 2 million alcoholics get out of the gutter is evidence enough for... um... most people.

    Do you remember how scientists colluded with big business in the early part of the 20th century to move an entire culture away from breastfeeding and toward Nestle's "Formula?"

    Remember that? They had scientific proof that the FORMULA was a better source of nutrition for infants. People with faith in science disregarded natural breast feeding by the millions! It became socially unacceptable to breast feed throughout the 50s and 60s! Almost no one did it.

    Remember in the '90s how article after article came out with evidence that bottle feeding leads to cognitive and immune-system deficits when compared to breastfeeding?

    Have faith in science. I have faith in the 2 Million AAs who haven't had a drink in decades.

    1. Your logic here appears to be circular in nature. "If the drunk gets sober while working the Steps, then the Steps work. If the drunk doesn't get sober while working the Steps, they didn't work the Steps correctly, thus the Steps work."

  65. Dear "Let's call me Andy"'

    Your willful ignorance continues. Your "evidence" hasn't changed or improved: anecdotes by True Believers are not quantitative evidence.

    The self serving lie comment refers to your personal willingness to make the argument that 100% success means that if you fail you are no longer counted.

    I have little need to continue to cite the volumes of scientific literature debunking A.A.'s claims in my posts. Links are posted in the body of this specific thread. At the top of the page. If you actually bothered to read it & click on the links.

    Your attempt to equate scientific reports regarding A.A.'s effectiveness derived from various statistical studies to the questionable roles of scientists employed by Nestle during the commercialization of breast feeding in the 50s & 60s is also disingenuous. There was not a consensus among scientists & nutritionists at the time regarding a preference, many preferred healthy mothers to breast feed for the health of both the mother & infant. There was a substantial advertising campaign aimed at pediatricians and family doctors, using selected scientific studies, to convince doctors to convince mothers to use formula. It was capitalism at work rather than science.

    As you point out unwittingly in your attempted digression, it was the result of continued scientific inquiry that exposed both the bad science and the bad capitalism behind the Nestle campaign. Science self-corrects its errors.

    I have no Faith in science. I don't need Faith. What science gives is evidence. Science tests itself with reality.

    A.A. fails the test of science.

    A.A. passes the test of True Believers because evidence that contradicts the Belief is ignored & discarded.

    P.S. I did not call you a liar, I said you are repeating a self-serving lie. I do not know if you are lying or merely foolishly repeating your group's self-serving nonsense. Perhaps you so cognitively impaired you cannot see the absurdity in your "100% effective" claim.

  66. OOPS,

    Perhaps you (are) so cognitively impaired you cannot see the absurdity in your "100% effective" claim.

    I must not be a good pirate.

    I forgot to "ARE".

  67. Dear Andy, I know someone who did all 12 steps willingly and failed. That makes you wrong, it doesn't work 100% of the time. Can we be reasonable in this debate again?

  68. as an active drunk who intensely dislikes the aa ideology, but gets a strong anti-drinking urge from meetings (and stayed sober +1yr after 30+yrs drinking & etc),god has shit to do w/it!!
    It's the groupthink and a system of discipline and endless repetition that keep those who embrace aa "sober". often this leads to a mindlessness i see as worse EVEN than drinking... psychology, or the thing called "behaviorism" quickly drove me back u kno ware... i don't expect perfection...any hints?

  69. I learned years ago that any addiction can and will be replaced by another addiction any day of the week. Why? Because anything can become an addiction..including religion.

    Symptoms of addiction
    The Rev. Leo Booth has compiled a list of symptoms that can be associated with a religious addiction. They include:

    Religious convictions are stated as black and white.

    Isolation from people who do not share the same beliefs.

    Think of the world and flesh as inherently evil.

    Obsessive about praying, going to church, reading the Bible, attending crusades, watching television evangelists, sending money to missions.

    Excessive fasting.

    Hearing messages from God.

    Judging others, often angry and violent toward "heathens."

    Brainwashing - attempt to persuade family and significant friends to their way of thinking.

    Compulsively talking about God, religion or quoting from Scripture.

    Conflict of ideology with hospitals and schools.

    Discourage thinking for oneself, doubting or questioning.

    Sexuality seen as dirty or bad.

    Cannot accept criticism.

    Suffer tension, stress, often develop physical illnesses, such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

    Often stare, go into trances.

    Erratic personality changes.

  70. "I witnessed people replacing their addiction to controlled substances for an addiction to pseudo religious nonsense."


  71. Drug rehab orange county enhances the delivery of recovery to affected individuals addicted to different prohibited substances. These institutions provide individuals with wider and greater options for treatment making the recovery faster, more possible and attainable.

  72. A.A. is worse than church. The memetic viruses you catch there are somehow even more creepy and vile just because everyone who comes there is 100% broken, unlike church where average healthy people go just to look for answers.

  73. The problem with the author's thesis is that he bases it on facts not in evidence. Today's A.A. is not based on God. It is not a Christian fellowship. And hordes of statements and writings assert you don't have to believe anything at all to be in A.A. If, therefore, present day A.A. fails, it certainly has little to do with God who is called a "light bulb," "Something," "not-god," a chair, Gertrude, and Santa Claus. That may be the jargon that is filling the mouths and rooms of the uninformed. It is not what the early A.A. Christian Fellowship believed. Thus if someone wants to know why Christians still in A.A. are able to get well by relying on God, he needs to know that those Christians believe in God, participate in A.A., and tolerate the nonsense gods and idolatry just as they would tolerate it in the Boy Scouts, the Army, the Rotary Club, or a sewing society. Either you are loving and tolerant, or you'll devote yourself to blaming your faults and failures on others. See

  74. A.A. Yesterday and Today: Thank you for posting my previous comment. I hasten to suggest that, because of his distaste for Christianity and religion, the author does a disservice in his characterization of what A.A. is, what its successes are, and where God fits into the picture yesteryear and today. There were successful Christian movements and people that were curing drunks long before A.A. Examples are the evangelists like Moody, Gough, Sunday. Also the rescue missions which included the successes of McAuley and Hadley. The Salvation Army. The YMCA lay workers of the 1800's in Vermont. The ideas of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. And these all contributed the winning ideas to A.A.'s cofounders Dr. Bob and Bill W. as youngsters in Vermont years before A.A. began. See and Moreover, since the early A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935 derived its simple program largely from the foregoing movements, it achieved a documented success rate among those seemingly hopeless alcoholics who really tried. That success rate was measured in 1937 and amounted to 75% See But in 1939, these principles were intentionally dumped before the Big Book went to press. Idolatry oozed itself into fellowship chatter and ideas. God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible were obliterated by many as recovery factors.
    The abysmal success rate today has nothing to do with the foregoing roots. Many have attributed it to court-ordered attendance, to treatment center compulsion, to the opening of A.A. to atheists, agnostics, and those of many different religious affiliations, and certainly to the fact that most AAs today simply do not know the ingredients of early Christian A.A. that produced the original successes. See When Early AAs Were Cured and Why

  75. Dick B. -- you seem convinced that my lack of Christian faith make me an unqualified critic. Perhaps you could explain that.

    More importantly, you're falling into the disappointing habit of citing opinion rather than science. Statements like "many have attributed it to..." are more or less irrelevant.

    My critique is not of Christian programs. My criticism is for people who continue to advocate a program that has been PROVED to not work in its current form. Their support for the current AA is nothing more than faith, with no roots in fact.

    If a Christian program is available that works, why isn't it well known?

    By the way, you should never say something like, "it achieved a documented success rate among those seemingly hopeless alcoholics who really tried." That's pure baloney, nothing more than a circular proof. The people who didn't "really try" are the ones who need the most help. You can't claim a high success rate by throwing out all of your failures.

  76. Bless you Craig, you did make me laugh! I'm 10+ years sober - with joy in my life (for the 1st time)and a freedom from the torment of alcoholism - totally because AA's Program does work. (And nothing else would)
    It's obvious to most of us who were chronic alcoholics and are well today that you know nothing about either our 'disease' or the '12 step solution'. Does it make you feel big to criticise and tell lies about good GOD- stuff? People like me wouldn't be alive nevermind happy today, without AA and the 'God-thing' - and I know I'm a lot happier than you are if you believe the rubbish you're printing!

  77. I was involved with the Alcoholics Anonymous cult for years. I was told that I would fail without them... That I should make AA itself my higher power... That my thinking was all screwed up, so I should let the group think for me.

    None of this ever helped me to stop drinking.

    It wasn't until I abandoned the "powerless" doctrine that I was finally to walk away from the booze.

    AA taught me how to hate myself. They nearly drove me to suicide.

    My advice to anyone trying to quit drinking is... Find another way... Avoid the cult of AA!

    1. I agree. I was also in AA for some years, and now I'm so happy to be from their nonsense. AA did help, but I know now that it was the friends I made there that I could hang out with and not drink that helped. Not some doctrine from the 30's that morphed out of the church.

      AA exploits people when they are at their lowest, and this vulnerability allows the doctrine to be driven in deep. You can see this in some of the vicious comments here. People struggling with addiction need more options. AA needs to be called on its BS. Too many people are struggling, only to be fed a bunch of religious-cult nonsense when they need sanity more then ever. Good luck to ya

  78. Four out of five people who like AA... really like AA? What does that prove?

  79. A lot of opinion in this subject appears to be backed up by 'statistics' well how about this statistic.
    Approx 10% of road accidents are caused by people who are drunk at the wheel of a car which means that 90% of accidents are caused by people who are sober.
    The statistics dictate therefore you are much better of drunk than sober whilst driving.
    That make sense?...Of course not.

  80. Dont drink for a day. Did it? good job! now continue without for 2 days,then try 5,and 10,14,21,then continue on your spree..stop drinking for 30 days, 1 month. Can you do 60 days? 90? 6 months without an alcoholic drink of any kind. Let me know how many times you invoked the Lords name....

  81. Not all 'science' agrees: "Survey data indicate that active involvement in support groups significantly improves one's chances of remaining clean and sober, regardless of the group in which one participates."

    I'm an atheist myself, but to pick a few studies that agree and suggest that all science on that topic agrees is just bad journalism.

  82. 23 years sober--thanks to the power of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is clear that you know nothing.

  83. what a bunch of cinical fools whoever wrote that statement about it doesnt work, i know everyone is entitled to an opinion but it does work. I myself today is 14yrs sober and i work at a treatment centre and i see that it works for people. Its not forced down there throwts its all suggestions and helping people come to terms with there pain and misery that they have been threw and the harm they have caused. lets not forget many addicts have been abused physically, mentally and sexually by loved ones parents etc and that also involves raped not only woman but men thats why they drink and use drugs to block it out.

  84. Have you even BEEN to an AA meeting? Have you gone to the bloke who shared he's been sober 10 years and told him you found a webpage explaining his sobriety is impossible?

    I feel someone who is not alcoholic should really keep their nose out of AA because I agree with both Mr. Orange and Jaycubed that from the outside our Fellowship makes no sense whatsoever. But the fundamental truth is that, beyond anything else, people who couldn't get sober and put in the yards no longer suffer from the peculiar mental twist that causes them to pick up the first drink.
    Is it a Higher Power, mutual support, the Rock Bottom, the fairy fucking dust of Mickey Mouse? I don't know, I don't care, I just know I haven't sat in a corner in my own vomit for 4 years and that's good enough for me. I haven't been bashed by any cops, haven't pissed my pants, haven't lied to anyone, haven't cheated on my missus, haven't lain in a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of my nose or had to attend court to hear, AGAIN, what I did while I was on the turps in FOUR YEARS

    And that's good enough for me
    Best of luck to you all

    1. Lack of education and common sense is what made you into a weak minded drunkard.

  85. "One of my biggest criticisms of Christianity and religion in general is that it takes away personal responsibility for our accomplishments and takes away blame for our failures. You're not good enough, you're a sinner, you're a bad person. It's a lesson that is drilled into Christians from an early age."

    It is false teaching that Christians are taught that they are "not good enough," or "you're a bad person." If you read the bible that is completely contrary to the message. The message is the things we do are bad, not the person. If that is what is being taught it is an error on the person doing the teaching.

  86. JDonalds - I've read the Bible and studied Christian theology thoroughly. You are simply mistaken. The core belief of Christianity, the very thing that makes redemption necessary, is the doctrine of original sin. We're born in sin, and without redemption we're going to suffer in eternity.

    I don't know what could be more plain than that.

  87. Author of this blog can go ahead and write the Ego-Centric self-seekers guide to denial of one's true self. There is no way you studied theology THOROUGHLY or if you did, you did not UNDERSTAND it. AA is a Spiritual Program and Claims no religious that is two strikes...not understanding AA...(which many unfortunately do not, which might be why it does not always work. No one is a saint as they say, and even saints have periods of depression). Original sin is not a 'literal doctrine' , all that means is that man, by his nature, is not fully connected and aware within of God. This is the same as all the great gurus such as Buddha around the world. He sougth Truth..and the way to it. On the otherhand, Jesus said, "I Am the Way, The Truth, and The Life"..which requires understanding of what each of those words means, which means, here is a hint, starting all over again and find a better teacher of theology.

    1. Theology has not as a matter of fact had a very distinguished record in promoting the study of other than the christian religion. Because you see if you know in the first place that you have the one true religion. There really is no point in studying any other one and you can very quickly find reasons for showing them to be inferior, because that was a foregone conclution. They had to be. Because if for example you get in to discussions as to wether Buddah was a more profound and spiritual character than jesus christ. You arrive at your decision on the basis of a scale of values which are ofcourse christian. And in this sense the judge and the advocate are the same. Now as you know I'm not being very fair and kind to modern theology. But there is this strange persistance of insisting that our group is the best group. And I feel that there is in this something peculiarly irreligious, and furthermore it exibits a very strange lack of faith. Because I believe that there is a strong distinction between faith on the one hand and belief on the other. That belief is as a matter of fact, quite contrary to faith, because belief is really wishing. Its from the anglo saxon root lief "to wish" and belief stated say in the creed is a fervant hope that the universe will turn out to be thus and so. And in this sense therefore belief preculdes the possibility of faith, because faith is openess to truth, to reality, what ever it may turn out to be. "I want to know the truth" that is the attitude of faith. And therefore to use ideas about the universe and about god as something to hang on to. In the spirit of rock of ages cleft for thee, and there is something very rigid about a rock. If you cant swim you bound to dround.

  88. I was in AA for 4 years and I am angry about the religious, irrational nature of AA and its tight grip on addiction treatment. The free, county run treatment was very effective for getting me away from the people I was with and providing a way to 'reset' my life. After treatment I went to a halfway house for a year, and kept going to AA meetings for 3 years. I'm still very angry that AA exploited my problem for it's religious (oh, I forgot, it's called spiritual when you meet in a basement instead of a church)agenda. I got clean because of help from other people, friends I found in the program, and from my own damn willpower. But I needed help to take reset where I was living, who I was hanging with, etc.

    I didn't need to have AA chomping at the bit, ready from the first day I stepped foot into treatment, to begin proselytizing. Trust me guys, I grew up going to church in a religious family AND I went to AA for 4 years. There are very, very similar things. AA, I believe, is even more dogmatic. There is very little scrutiny on AA even though addiction and alcoholism are vast problems in our world.

    I hope so much that a rational approach - an approach that adapts to what works instead of adhering to rules laid down in the 1930's - will come along. So many people suffer from addiction only to be thrown into the irrational world of AA.

    Thanks for bringing this to light. I am rightfully angry because when I made the choice to give everything I had and accept the help of others, AA came along and told me that I couldn't trust my thinking.

    In order to get clean, you must have determination coupled with support by others. AA confuses things so much with all the God talk. It confuses so have no idea how difficult it is to make sense out of AA when you are getting clean. I know this is a long post, but I want to let people who haven't been to AA know that AA is extremely rigid and dogmatic, it preys on people who are at their weakest time, and, as the studies show, it harms more that it helps. I wish that when I was in AA I had been told that I could go to a therapist who actually followed the scientific method. It was only after leaving AA that I found out that therapy was much more effective in handling the anxiety that was the major cause of my drinking - not some pseudoscientific/moralist 'disease' concept.

    One final thing: all those concepts you hear like "disease" and "spirituality" coming from AA, they sound very gentle and progressive when you read a short piece about AA in the news or something, but once you actually get there, these concepts take on very rigid meanings and function to create a kind of cult-like language. I wrote this comment on the other AA article on this blog, but I hoped other people would see it in this comment section.

  89. I am a recovered alcoholic..I have been sober for more than 30 years using AA and its have given your readers a disservice in my opinion. I hope someone struggling with this disease does not take this article as true and neglect to go to a meeting..I personally know hundreds of alcoholics that have stayed sober with AA for many years.. Your article misrepresents AA..period..

  90. I'm not an alcoholic, but I've been in a relationship with someone who had the AA experience and camaraderie change his life thirteen years ago. At my first meeting, I realized I'd never known what the 12-Steps actually were. It was a humbling experience. Culturally, we sometimes assume we know a thing and understand it completely just because we can pronounce its name or have come across expert opinions on the matter. . . The breakdown of the first three steps here is one interpretation taken out of context. There are 9 more steps that reveal a program that calls a person out of ego-centric identity, into a sense of responsibility for self and other (one step requires that you take an account of all your actions and persons you have harmed and make amends!) -- the author's conclusion that "I'm not good enough I'm a failure" would be the effect of the first three steps strikes me as the way he sees it, esp. given his position on a "higher power". . .

    The way I see it AA frames the human condition in terms of the alcoholic's experience. We all like to believe we are in control of our lives, careers, and families. This is a supremely troubling premise in the light of our failures and then just normal things like life-changing sickness, accidents, loss of a loved one. . .To not become victims of life -- can actually come out of a world-view that abandons the notion of having all the answers. In any case, this comment is getting too long. I wanted to start a AA program for non alcoholics called yAy yAy -- I'd go. I'd like to have more meaningful community in my life. Thanks.

  91. To all of you who have written over the last few months with positive stories about AA's successes ... I congratulate you and your friends and loved ones for whom AA was the right choice. But you missed the whole point of the article. AA isn't right for everyone. In fact, it's the wrong choice for many or most people. Careful scientific studies prove this. For every wonderful story of someone helped by AA, there are far more stories of failures.

    Don't be misled by anecdotal stories. One recovery doesn't prove anything. A careful comparison of AA with other methods proves clearly that AA is worse than nothing. It's not only a failure, it actually causes more harm than good. That, sadly, is the real truth.

    1. It's not only a failure, it actually causes more harm than good. That, sadly, is the real truth.

      I concur.

  92. AA is in NO WAY founded in the Christian Faith. Bill Wilson was a con man till the day he died. He died addicted to nicotine as well as asking for whiskey on his death bed. The 12 steps were fashioned out of so-called meetings he had with dead spirits. Christians have no place in AA. Your reports are correct. AA DOES NOT WORK!

    1. Bill Wilson was a member of a Christian cult called "The Oxford Group." Bill liked to bring the drunks to the cult meetings, and finally the cult told him to stop trashing up the place with the nasty drunks, so he created AA.

  93. Hey craig,this is my experience,went to aa for years and it was fine when all I did was whine about my problems at group level,never stayed sober for more than 9 months and was relieved whe I started drinking again,had sponsors who never heped me with the 12 steps,next I'm 36 years old,6 months sober,a guy approaches me and long story short,I take the 12 steps in less than 30 days and he pushes me into sponsoring other peopleand I basically had the best 5 years of my life....the problem in aa is the misinformation in the meetings themselves,sponsors who clearly wanna be helpful but refuse to help the new guy with the program right away,the fellowship is now the program,not the 12 steps,it's ass backwards....I would go to meetings and simply share my experience and people sober for years who sat on their fat asses helping no one just continually bashed me,god forbid someone actually study aa history and see what early aa members actually did and try to emulate you're right,aa doesn't work for most people because they're not even offered the program,i'veread the orange papers,I'm openminded,the only people who could truly understand what I'm saying are people who got on the aa program the way I did...some folks can just go to meetings and say sober,I. Couldn't,the aa program really does work but aa has become a shell of the former thing it was...only 2 million members???

  94. Thanks to AA i have been sober for almost three years. Prior to that, i tried to get sober multiple times using my own will-power, resulting in nothing but failure. I relapsed several times in my attempts and through some type of divine intervention i found myself living in a sober living house. This is where i was introduced to the concept of AA and its program. I can identify with Craig, i did not believe in this program nor had faith in anything (especially in something that cant be seen). However, once i hit my rock bottom (got fired from my job, lost my family, unable to see my new born son) i decided to take a leap of faith since nothing was going my way. Because of this program, i was able to rebuild all of the relationships that i ruined in the wake of self-destruction(some work in progress) and now i am free from the mental obsessions of drugs and alcohol. Through all the chaos i was able to have a spiritual experience and build a relationship with god. This program is based on honesty, trusting god and helping others. Without this program, i will go back to my old ways. Godspeed.

  95. dude no one recovered because they were forced into getting help you are not going to stay sober if you are not somewhat willing to stop. yes i to have mixed feelings on AA and the 12 steps but telling someone it does more harm then good that's fucked up!

  96. If we have a problem with drinking, what other solution is there that can transform you from a shaking mess that needs to drink every day into someone who has completely lost the desire to drink? Its not easy to give up drinking on your own and to stay sober. Pretty soon you will convince yourself that a drink is rather appealing, youll have one, and that will led you back to more and more drinking - if you are a real alcoholic. The big book talks about finding a power greater than yourself. It also says that you will find that power inside of you. It calls it an unsuspected inner resource. So really, according to the big book, the power greater than yourself resides within you. this is what real AA teaches us. Tap into the inner resource and listen to it instead of the ego that keeps us drinking. You really dont understand it do you? Maybe you've had a rough deal with life and you cant get out. I feel compassion for you. And remember, each to their own. Be careful what you say, it may come back and bite you in the bum. In summary, to me, I relate the AA program to buddhism. it encourages you to find your own way through spiritual investigation.

  97. What a load of sad people,AA works for me regardless of my beliefs,nothing else did and I am not a stupid person.Wish some of you sceptics could hear the laughter in the rooms like I do and I am no lolnger alone.Dont knock what you don't understand

    1. As with so many others who defend AA in these comments, you missed the point. What's right for you may not be right for others. In fact, more often than not, AA is NOT the right choice. Congratulations on your success, but don't think that because AA worked for you that it is the best solution for everyone.

    2. True Craig.
      Sharing a possible resource:


      was once hopelessly addicted to

      alcohol and drugs. Aggressively hating

      God, his life mirrored a runaway

      freight train. But entering a treatment

      center in 1995 saw the beginning of

      continuous sobriety/recovery through

      Alcoholics Anonymous. With genuine

      zeal, he shared this newfound A.A.

      philosophy, telling his “story” at

      meetings, treatment centers, and

      CCA (jail), meanwhile participating

      in over 1,900 A.A. meetings, starting

      new outreaches, and even managing a

      halfway house.

      Equally, as the fringe areas of his life

      were righting themselves, his alcohol/

      drug addiction also seemed finally

      under control. Yet he still had an

      eternal situation—before the God of

      the Bible—that had never been dealt

      with. In 2004, something profound

      occurred that changed his entire

      world view. Now his passion is telling

      the sequel to his story.

      Blessings, David

      F/book page:

      New Book:

      1 Cross 1 Way Ministries

      P.O. Box 187

      Ashland City, Tn. 37015


  98. My father was an atheist. He was forced to go to AA. The god part killed him. He wouldn't say it and he hated any reference to it.

  99. I all I got to say to this person that wrote this is "your an idiot". And no I am not going to buy your idiotic book either. My Bible was free. So was the A.A. book. And both these books helped me recover.

    1. Gee, for a "free program" that gives away "free books," AA *sure* does bring in a lot of money, and they sure do hold an awful lot of assets!

      If YOU'RE going to call someone an idiot, perhaps you should learn the difference between "you're" and "your." Otherwise you just look like a Steppist fool.

      Keep coming back.

    2. Why do people claim that AA has "saved millions," when they know damn well that they can't prove that claim? Remember, AA doesn't keep records, and the plural of "anecdote" isn't "data."

  100. As a person who has been addicted to alcohol for a very long time and has recently gotten into sobriety -- I would have to say that no one seems to have gotten recovery right. I don't know if anybody ever will.

    I wont bother wasting time on addressing whether its a disease or not. I have been told to my face 'Well, life is hard enough as it is, and if you're just too stupid to understand that drinking yourself into oblivion is a bad choice, then..' And I am glad that those people have no idea about this addiction thing. This obsessive compulsive self-destructive nature that seems to be in many addicts I have come across. As far as I have encountered however, intelligence doesn't seem to be a quality most of them lack.

    I've seen many studies, and the results are utterly abysmal in my opinion. Most people who go down the addiction route are going to rip themselves to pieces. Those who have the capacity to correct themselves are going to do so -- but only if they have the capacity to do so. There is no test currently available which can identify someone who will be able to at least correct for short periods of time and someone who is going to kill themselves. The best course of action I see is for the person to assume they can get better, and to get involved in some kind of recovery program -- bounce off of other people who have the same affliction, try some new things. Try some different programs if the options are there. Try to do what you can to get yourself out of the cycle of destruction.

    Does AA have faults? You bet. But so do all of the other programs which have studies in them. No studies that I have seen are demonstrating great success rates (85% reduction in recidivism for example -- its not there). I see between no verifiable benefit to marginal, to approaching 50%.. (Which 50% is not impressive to me. 50% of the time we convict a criminal, the other 50% of the time.. Oh well!) In AA I have found a bunch of people who have the same problem I have, and many of them share the same desire. They are sick people who are trying to get well. That is the true guiding principle of the whole thing, to me. A lot of other stuff gets said at meetings. Some people might be at a point where being influenced by the group is going to be a negative thing overall -- Many, however will be able to garner something from it. Even if that something is 'Wow all these people are crazy.' At least for an hour you weren't sitting at a bar stool with a loaded shotgun in your mouth.

    In the end, these are people's lives we are talking about. Recovery programs etc are still, as far as I am concerned, in their infancy. I hope in the future there will be better methods of addressing it, but for now, these are the options we have. Do it yourself, get into a AA recovery program or secular sobriety or whatever, use what medical help you can to assist you to get out of the addiction cycle, a detox facility, or possibly some experimental ibogaine treatment. Or some kind of mixture of the above.

    Go, get out there, get involved, get out of the cycle if you can. People want to say life is too short -- for the practicing addict, life is never short enough. It is not about what Fred said in a meeting, or how your parents made you feel when you were little. This is your life, and if you have the capacity to live without suffering all the time, and the hope to have some kind of peace and happiness while you are here, go for it.


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

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