August 18, 2018

AA Doesn’t Work For Most People & Should Not Be The Default Option!

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Maybe there is another way?

craig beck quit drinking 550Let me open this by saying I do not have any problem with what AA does. For the people who ‘get it’ then it’s amazing.

This whole post is about the freedom to choose the path to sobriety that best serves you. Any sort of restriction on choice, in any area of life, is a bad thing.

In the UK at the moment we are seeing a huge rise of venom and nastiness over the Brexit position. Half the country is furious that their choice to remain a part of Europe is being taken away from them.

The other half are terrified of their choice to leave will be somehow stolen back from them.

The poison spewing out of the United Kingdom at the moment is clear to see on social media.

The freedom to choose is everything

I get a lot of negative comments from AA members, they seem on the whole to be very upset that anyone should dare to deal with a drinking problem without using their 12 step program.

There seems to be an almost cultist level of anger bubbling under the surface.

Don’t you dare do anything different than what worked for me etc.

Back when I had my drinking problems I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and I hated it. Actually, it made me drink even more than before.

Why? because I listened to all the terrible stories of alcoholic abuse and concluded that my drinking habit wasn’t so bad after all.

Yet, it was still killing me and making my life a misery.

It’s old, it’s free but for the most part, it just doesn’t work:

  • AA starts with the premise that you are broken and you always will be (cheerful right?).
  • You are told you are so pathetic that you can’t hope to fix your problem. You have to give it to God (the obvious problems for non-believers starts right there).
  • You must give yourself a label and announce yourself with it. Seriously, this really gets me angry!
  • Getting addicted to a highly addictive substance should not be seen as something that only happens to weakwilled and broken individuals. It should be seen as the entirely logical conclusion to your actions.

The biggest issue I have is that somehow AA has become the default solution to problem drinking. It is the yardstick by which all other sobriety programs are created and judged.

There is a ‘But’ and it’s a HUGE ‘but’!

Alcoholics Anonymous has a long-term success rate of 8%. Or putting it another way, if you go to AA looking for help with your drinking you have a 92% chance of coming away disappointed (and still a drinker).

We wouldn’t expect (or tolerate) such poor results from any other investment of our time or money.

If you had any other health problem and your doctor’s first and best solution had a 92% chance of failure, you would find another doctor, wouldn’t you?

There is a place for AA

Now, I am not saying that Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step program doesn’t have its place. AA has saved millions of lives over the years and that can never be understated. What I don’t understand the anger and aggression that flows from its members at any suggestion that somebody might choose a different path.

For the 8% who are now sober, it was exactly the correct choice. For the other 92% perhaps, just perhaps there was a better way?

But why does Alcoholics Anonymous have such a low success rate?

Alcoholics Anonymous1. AA’s method is totally willpower driven.

Alcoholic’s anonymous uses pure willpower at its core. Of course, you could argue it’s not just willpower because you have enlisted God’s help too, but that’s a debate for another day. Willpower is a conscious tool deployed against a subconscious problem.

The problem is the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the part of your mind responsible for willpower.

The unavoidable truth is most of the AA participants revert to problem drinking. When they do this, they very often go back to drinking alcohol ad libitum.

The National Institute on Alcoholic Abuse and Alcohol addiction have said that “alcohol addiction isn’t really what it used to be,” that the majority of people cut down alcohol consumption without heading to treatment.

That is, that the majority of recovery now takes place outside the walls of AA.

2. Where are the results?

The objective of Alcoholic Anonymous and similar approaches aim to get individuals 100% clean. Considering that AA began in 1935 and that it is still not been shown to be effective is starting to be a bit unnerving.

This is not my opinion, this is pure fact.

If AA is so great at fixing alcohol addiction problems, surely after 75 years we would see problem drinking numbers coming down, right? But that is far from the present day reality. If anything, we can only see the very tip of the alcoholism iceberg.

The success of AA is more one of marketing than therapy!

3. Bullying

People are bullied into attending a twelve step program, either by family or by the court system. The AA movement is led by real hard-core enthusiasts who strongly believe what benefited them MUST benefit everybody.

There are countless men and women who strongly claim that its Twelve-step program saved their lives. Obviously, these individuals are predisposed to “suggest” that other people comply with their single reality route.

However, it must be made clear that the majority, perhaps even a substantial majority, of individuals who enlist in the program do not prosper in it.

4. God and government do not mix

alcohol killsI know, AA members are very vocal about how ‘alcoholic anonymous’ is not religious. It doesn’t matter how you want to word it, religion or spirituality. It is still an area that the Government and law courts should not be involved in.

Judges in the States will order you to attend AA, nobody should be compelled to have a metaphysical transformation. There should be a choice and AA supporters should resist the urge to shout down anyone who proposes an alternative.

With so many people putting off dealing with their drinking, how they get help should not be the focus!

5. Where is the choice?

There is no single stop drinking course that effectively changes the majority of people the majority of the time. Because AA and the 12 steps are employed in over 95 percent of American therapy programs, we must offer more options to AA.

It’s a crazy situation. The whole world has got together and agreed the best way to put out a fire is throw a bucket of gasoline over it (because it’s wet).

If Alcoholic’s Anonymous has such a lowly success rate, why on earth would we design the vast majority of the alternatives therapies around the same principle?

There is an alternative

Advocates of AA are very critical of my approach to stopping drinking. They often seem most offended that it’s not free.

The implication being that it’s fine to pay for the problem but paying for the cure is a disgrace.

Alcohol made my life miserable and nearly killed me. Now I earn my living helping other people escape the same misery and to the 50,000 people I have helped, I am a life saver… but I still have the pay the electric bill.

free quit drinking webinarHelping people to quit drinking and rescue their lives is my job. I would argue there are worse things I could be doing to earn a living but that is a different conversation.

If you want results…

If you are ready to try a different approach to quitting drinking. Click here for more information on the Stop Drinking Expert online (and live Bootcamp) programs.

If not, go to AA and maybe you’ll be one of the lucky 8%.

 

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.

Craig Beck

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  1. A long term aa attendee, I recently find meetings laughably moronic and have cut my attendance to 1 per week. Professional medical help has solved many of my problems related to my alcholism that i experienced in my twenties!

  2. A quit drinking coach? sounds like a wanna be aa sponsor but cant abide by a decent set of guides or rules most of this is made up there are no legitimate numbers to support what is being stated but I would agree there is more than one way and this rant defeats what it is trying to say it is just aa bashing from someone who probably was rejected due to a compacity to be honest…. very entertaining but harmful to addicts

  3. I attended one AA meeting recently for the first time, I was immediately turned off and disappointed with their overzealous religious approach. It got to the point that God was the main theme, not helping people stop drinking. I went through 12 years of catholic school, I left that crap behind a long time ago. While I don’t legally have to attend, my employer is vehemently encouraging it, so now I am just going through the motions, but am doing it on my own with the help of my physician. Hey, if it works for you great, just not any interest to me.

  4. I 100% agree with you. Attending the AA made me believe my drinking was not bad and I indulged even more. Also that I am innately flawed according to its members seriously pissed me off! it is very cliquey and if you disagree with them they get very defensive. Its success rate is pathetic to say the least & in my opinion its basically a place for losers to seek out other losers

  5. I recently acquired a copy of the book, 'Alcoholics Anonymous.' which is available to the public. The Medical View on A.A. contained in Appendix III by Dr. G. Kirby Collier, psychiatrist, reads as follows: "I have felt that A.A. is a group unto themselves and their best results can be had under their own guidance, as a result of their philosophy. Any therapeutic or philosophic procedure which can prove a recovery rate of 50% to 60% must merit our consideration." From the Foreword to First Edition as printed in 1939: When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself as "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous." Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped. From the Foreword to Second Edition: 'Upon therapy for the alcoholic himself, we surely have no monopoly.' As a general reader I consider that to be trusted with what these A.A. people have had to say with the awareness that their program, designed by and for alcoholics and who have offered it to anyone interested in their Way of Life, is a great privilege that cannot be bought. To my great embarrassment and shame, I have often given an opinion referring to, 'Most people,' without any attempt to ask them either for their experience or their permission to represent them. I write this post with the awareness that the authors of the Twelve Steps stated that the Program DEMANDS rigorous honesty. Further investigations into A.A. have uncovered a few simple words, 'And then we came to A.A. and A.A. said, 'Just try not to drink today. If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.'' I cannot deny that is true. Nor can I claim that simple message was not given for free. To accept the responsibly of offering trust, as your company has informed me it will, reminds me of a saying used in places where there are camels, trees and Arabs, 'Trust in God but tie your camel to a tree.' Oh, and the book also says, 'Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!' When God kicks ass, His aim is good! Experience.. Thank you, Craig. If you're not drunk and you're trying to help drunks not to drink you're doing something better than drinking!

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