Alcoholics Anonymous Criticism
AA Member: It’s dangerous to give people choices!
As a recovering alcoholic, I know of nothing else other than AA that has worked for me long term, and believe me, I have tried everything and have the financial means to try everything. I would have spent over $100K on psychologists, psychiatrists, medical professionals, most of whom ended up concluding AA and complete abstinence was the only solution. Those who believed I could control my drinking nearly killed me with ferocious insane benders being the only result. If the benders didn’t kill me, facing up to the aftermath nearly did.
You pursue a very dangerous path to suggest complete abstinence is not the only solution for chronic alcoholics/ addicts.
You can write me off as ‘another AA zealot”. However, I am a very successful businessman, am highly educated, have a wide variety of friends, but am very firm in the belief that AA works for alcohol addicts if used correctly.
Is there a lot of ingrained sickness within AA? – alas yes. Is AA perfect? – far from it. Is there a viable alternative – NO…..
Satisfied AA member
Dear satisfied AA member,
I’m glad that AA and abstinence work for you.
We find that when people exercise informed choice, they’re much more steadfast in pursuing their selected path. WE DON’T CHOOSE ANYONE’S GOALS FOR THEM, because the research shows that people inevitably react against solutions that are imposed on them. This is why — as the data also shows — AA has such a poor track record. We at LPP are perfectly content to allow people — we encourage most of them — to pursue abstinence as their best course of action. Does AA show the same flexibility when it encounters people who can succeed — or even do better — at reducing their drinking than abstaining?
Research I review in the LPP readings shows that about one in ten alcoholics go to AA or a 12-step program. Of those, perhaps one in ten (actually, the figure is lower) remain with the program. This means that fewer than 1 in 100 people come to AA and succeed at it! If you disagree, what is your figure? I think you’ll agree that AA “saves” only a small minority of alcoholics. That this percentage is so low with a program that is available everywhere is quite shocking, don’t you find? Yet, this is to be expected since AA insists that its way is the only way — that if you don’t follow their commandments, you are not “working the program” and there is something extra wrong with you (along with your drinking). Who needs that added burden?
And you’re a person who proves our point! You say that you consulted numerous psychologists, psychiatrists, and medical professionals, “most of whom ended up concluding AA and complete abstinence was the only solution.” You then seemingly disregarded their advice for many years. Why did you consult so many professionals and then ignore them? And what was it about AA that scared you off for so long? Don’t you think they might repackage the 12-step approach to lower the barriers that you and so many other alcoholics and addicts face in finding suitable help?
We practice an approach, called motivational interviewing, that allows people like you to reach sound conclusions for themselves. If you would have consulted with us, you might well have achieved your resolution of your alcoholism much more rapidly, and saved a lot of money and suffering. Based on your description of your alcoholic career, it seems we couldn’t have been worse than what you actually experienced, could we? In fact, we are much, much better than what you found out there. I’m sorry that we weren’t available to you when you needed us.