Maybe there is another way?
Let 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?
1. 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!
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
I 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.
Helping 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%.