There’s Nothing Wrong with You If AA Doesn’t Work

AA Doesn't Work

AA Doesn’t Work For Most People… But That’s Okay

While alcohol is the one specific problem for many — with excessive drinking causing over 80,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone, there is not one specific solution that fits everyone that has a problem with alcohol.

Yet, Alcoholics Anonymous has been touted as the only solution in the mainstream treatment and recovery world for a long time now. And if AA doesn’t work for you because it’s just not a fit and can’t solve your alcohol problem, you’re made to feel like you’re a hopeless case.

But that’s not true and you’re not alone!

The 12 steps of AA don’t work for many people, but that’s okay – no one approach can work for everyone.

Some people will have success with the Stop Drinking Expert and not Alcoholics Anonymous and vice versa. What we must stop doing is insisting there is only one true way to deal with problem drinking.

But what’s wrong with AA and how do I find what will work for me, you ask?

To help you find your answers, let’s take a look at AA and other types of alcohol treatment programs. Keep reading to see why AA doesn’t work for everyone and what could work for you instead. Then, get started on a new path to relief from alcohol problems and the joyful, sober life you deserve.

Why AA Doesn’t Work for Everyone

Before we hit on all the reasons, AA doesn’t work for most people, let’s give it a quick high five. Why? Because AA has helped millions around the world get sober, stay sober, and live a sober life. So, yes, it’s saved lives and does work for some.

But it also doesn’t work for most. So worry not! American Addiction Centers state that 92 percent of the people that try AA find it isn’t a viable treatment solution to get them to stop abusing alcohol and stay sober.

And for those that get started in AA, approximately 40 percent stop the program after a year. In the publication Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches, 48 methods of treatment were listed and AA ranked 38th.

So, let’s go a bit deeper into the issues with the 12-step model for treating alcohol abuse issues and reasons why it might not work for you that has nothing to do with you.

Read: It’s SO not about you if AA doesn’t work for you.

The Dogma of AA Is Too Rigid

AA follows the “The Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous which is entitled Alcoholics Anonymous. This book comes after AA was founded in 1935 by Bill W., a stockbroker from New, and Dr. Bob S., a surgeon from Akron, and the 12 Steps were created.

In The Big Book is a section called “How It Works.” And in there it states:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves…They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”

This is that part that makes you feel like something is wrong with you if it doesn’t work. But knowing that other methods work makes this sound unrealistic.

It’s like if you had a bacterial infection and one type of antibiotic didn’t work and the doctor told you that you were naturally incapable of being cured of that bacterial strain rather than trying other antibiotics until you found a treatment that worked!

It Started Before There Were Other Medical Advances

AA was started in Akron, Ohio, in 1935. At the time, little was known about addiction to alcohol and how alcohol affects the brain. AA was one of the only things out there and it was free. And it was better than doing nothing.

But today, science, research, and trial and error have given us other options, including:

  • Talk therapy
  • Medications like nalmefene and Antabuse
  • Custom treatment online and apps for continued monitoring
  • Cognitive behavior therapy methods
  • Combinations of all of these

Therapists, workshops, and bootcamps like ours help to convey the different options to get you on track and keep you there and sober.

alcohol brain chemistry

It’s Based On Tenets for People With Severe Alcohol Addiction Issues Only

AA was started by and for people that were far along the line to alcohol dependence. They had been drinking for years and couldn’t stop.

And if they did stop, one drink would send them back to drinking. They were completely physically and emotionally dependent.

It worked for some of those people, but today, there are people that abuse alcohol in different degrees that want to stop. So alcohol abuse exists on a spectrum. In fact, only one in 10 people that abuse alcohol is an “alcoholic” and physically dependent on alcohol.

Because of its origins, the AA program is built on the tenet of complete abstinence from alcohol. This works for some but doesn’t make sense for everyone. And if it doesn’t make sense to you, you’re likely not going to be able to lean in with full conviction.

Especially when you find out that there are other treatment options where people are able to drink in moderation.

It’s Based on Willpower

In AA, you turn your will and power over to a higher power. This is a form of using willpower. And sheer willpower doesn’t work to stop drinking because it’s a conscious action, while there is a deeper subconscious problem that’s the culprit.

Underneath the surface, you believe that you need alcohol to be happy or maybe even just to get through the day. So instead of conscious actions and choices, a new belief system on a deeper level is needed. 

The God Factor

Getting sober in AA is based on leaning into a higher power for help. They call this a “god of your understanding,” so it’s not a religious program adhering to a particular faith or doctrine.

But they do use the G-word. And if you are an atheist or don’t like religion and can’t get past it, you’re going to be turned off instantly.

And if you’re turned off instantly, how are you going to walk the challenging road to recovery with trust with people and a program based on something you can’t deal with?

That’s what happens to a lot of people — they can’t deal with the spiritual aspect of the program so they just can’t trust it or the people there and can’t lean to get the help they need.

aa is not for everyone

AA is not for everyone

The AA Way or the Highway

The people in AA believe that it’s their way, the AA way, or the highway, and they can get up in your face about it.

They believe that everyone fits into this one-size-fits-all be-all and end-all. And they think that if you don’t fit, that you’re just not getting it or not trying hard enough. And so they push their beliefs on you.

And they push hard and can’t hear you. Not because they want to be mean or hurt you or bully you, even though it can feel like bullying! They do it because they think it’ll help you.

But this pushing just pushes so many people away.

Often, people that enter AA just want to belong but don’t feel like they do. This just sends them off feeling worse than before, which often then leads back to more drinking and that dreaded feeling of loneliness. Once again the true issues underneath are not being dealt with.

It’s Not Set Up to Deal With Underlying Issues

Those that have issues with alcohol tend to have underlying issues that surface once the alcohol isn’t there. This is because they were using alcohol to cope with the hidden problems, which are generally negative emotional states.

For example, if someone is depressed or has anxiety and it’s treated with medication, research shows that drinking to cope can be reduced.

AA is not set up to deal with these underlying psychological issues. The steps are done with peers rather than therapists. AA members often end up seeking outside help for these issues and finding solutions there.

And other programs are designed specifically to help you break free from the psychological anchor that ties you to alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Once the ties are broken, there is freedom from alcohol and the desire to drink to cope.

Stop Drinking Expert Website

Stop Drinking Expert Website

Other Options to Recovery That Work

So, since we know AA isn’t the be-all and end-all for most, let’s take a look at what can work for you.

Before we dive in, just remember that it’s fine if AA isn’t your solution! Even if it worked for you for a bit and then stopped. Or if it never worked at all.

Just get into action trying other options that sound good. And pat yourself on the back that you made it this far — it means you’re already in action and taking the bulls by the horns by choosing sobriety.

You’re using your free will! You’re embracing your freedom to choose your path to sobriety rather than being forced to swallow the AA pill deemed by Big Book thumpers as the only solution.

A Quick Rundown of What’s Out There

While I tout my method because that’s what works for me and has worked for so many others, let’s just take a peek at other options. Most of these methods, including ours, have come about over time as solutions for those that can’t get or stay sober through AA.

Scientific discovery has played it’s part, as we mentioned earlier. And with these new findings, we’re even starting to speak of alcohol-use issues in different terms.

In fact, “alcohol-use disorder” is the new official term used by the American Psychiatric Association in their diagnostic manual DSM-5. Out the window are the terms “alcoholism” and even “alcohol abuse.” This comes with that realization that alcohol-use issues fall on a spectrum.

This terminology opens the door for treatments for all kinds of people that want to get rid of their alcohol-use issues. This is great since only about 15 percent of people have the severe dependency that AA set out to treat.

It’s important to note that these other methods that we mention here are mostly for treatment after initial detox unless you’re a moderate drinker and it’s easy for you to stop drinking for some days without withdrawal symptoms. Be sure to get medical supervision for initial detox if you need it!

antabuse side effects

Antabuse (disulfiram)

Meds and Motivation

The handbook we mentioned earlier, The Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches, that ranked AA at 38 among 48 ways to treat alcohol issues, says the top treatment approaches are short-term care by medical professionals, motivation by counselors that inspires change, and a craving-reducing drug.

It also reminds us that both medical and other therapies can be quite successful in helping some people become normal drinkers if they want. In other words, they drink in moderation rather than abusing alcohol in a hard-core way.

An example of a drug that helps people drink in moderation is naltrexone. It was developed in Finland by an American neuroscientist named John David Sinclair.

Based on the theory that if you drink a lot of alcohol, your body releases endorphins so you crave it, even when abstinent. You take the drug before drinking and it makes the opiate synapses less effective so you don’t want to overdrink. The results are positive but you do always have to take the drug.

The Stop Drinking Approach We Love

I developed this method to quit drinking. It worked for me and has worked for 50,000 others and counting.

In short, we tackle the conditioning under the surface that tells you alcohol is the answer to your problems. You gain understanding as to why you’re drinking so much. Then with this informed foundation, you change your conditioning using neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy, field therapy, and time-line therapy.

By the end, if you’re like me, you won’t even be interested in alcohol because you’ll know it doesn’t solve your problems like you’ve been conditioned to believe. That belief is a lie and you’ll see it clear as day!

And with that clarity comes the relief you so want from this hold alcohol has on you. And you’ll be able to live that happy and joy-filled life you deserve.

Take a look at my book and webinar and also check into the Quit Drinking Bootcamps that are a great jump start or way to solidify the approach. Plus, I do private individualized options around the world.

This quit-drinking solution can save your life too! You’re not alone in this!

AA Doesn't Work

AA Doesn’t Work

A New Path to Recovery for You

Now that you know that AA doesn’t work for everyone because there’s no one-recovery-solution-fits-all treatment program, you can breathe again and let some of that hopefulness come back in. It’s not your fault and there is another road to sobriety and recovery just for you!

And there are plenty of people to help — like us!

To start, you can give a call or shoot over an email if you have any questions. And sign up for our free webinar to get a taste of our program. It works for people all over the world and you can be the next. Just by taking action you’re already on a roll to creating a better life, full of joy and freedom again.

Click here for more information on the Stop Drinking Expert approach.

Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert

About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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