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12-Step Programs Versus Alternatives

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 I am grateful that AA has worked for me and at this point millions of others.  There may well be other methods that work.  A pill or some time on a couch may work for some.  That seems a lovely, easier way.  

 I do wish this article spent less time critiquing AA and more in the exploration of these other methods.  

 There is a good reason why so many detox centers have meetings and recommend attending AA after discharge. 






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Guest Rachel Gia

I am sorry if I did not read the whole article and I don't really know where in the Big Book or any of the literature that it says AA is the only way to stay sober.

I think the reason a lot of people in AA stay in AA and like it , is that it is fun and their lives are changed in more ways than just being sober.

Like I said. I did not read the whole article because at the beginning it says that AA is a faith based method of staying sober "Its faith-based 12-step program"  which is misleading from the start.

AA worked for me and continues to work for me and as most members would say , if it was just about staying sober they would not still be there or attending meetings. I think they would also say that AA is not for everyone.

AA's own statistics say that as well, since only a very small percentage stay sober but to my mind that says more about the seductive power of alcohol than the ineffectiveness  of the program.

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Guest Rachel Gia

I will however agree with the article that AA is completely ineffective in regards to being able to drink 'that one glass of wine with dinner'.

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Timber Wolf

Hi everyone,

There are a number of programs that claim to successfully treat alcoholism/addiction. Some work better than others over all. Each one may have individuals it works best for.


The author here makes a critical misjudgment. She looks at the over all success rate as opposed to the individual success. When at a treatment center, we were told, "If you want recovery bad enough that you are willing to do "whatever it takes", you will recover." This is true regardless of what program you use. If you are hoping that recovery will be administered to you like an antibiotic, you will be disappointed by whichever program you choose. There is no magic anti-addiction pill. There are no magic wands. Long term recovery requires first and foremost a willingness to do whatever you have to do to achieve it, and a desire to recover. "Whatever it takes" will differ from one person to the next. It is up to each individual if they want recovery badly enough that they are willing to do what it takes to achieve it, regardless of which program or method they choose. Recovery is up to the individual, not the program. The program is there to help the individual sufferer to recover, not to do it for them. This is so for every  recovery program. Anyone who promises to give you easy recovery is lying to you. As mentioned above, there are no anti-addiction or anti-alcoholism pills that can recover for you. It is up to you. The programs that are out there are there to help you do it, not do it for you.


About this article specifically, it is rather disturbing. The author, rather than spending a lot of time building up her own method, spends the bulk of her time and effort trying to debunk AA. It seems as if she has a personal vendetta against AA. I think this article should be taken with a definite grain of salt. The author stands to gain monetarily from raising doubt about AA. She is selling a book on her recovery method, and she could easily view AA as her biggest competitor. I give a lot more credence to someone who can actually talk about their own program or method rather than try to tear down someone elses instead.


The assertion that AA is not an affective program is very inaccurate. Their are so many alcoholics who have achieved years and decades of long term recovery in AA. It is not the only recovery program out their. If another program or method has helped you achieve long term recovery, that's great! You've chosen the best program for you. But don't dismiss a program because someone wants to sell a book.


Lots of love,

Timber Wolf🐾

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1 hour ago, Timber Wolf said:

The assertion that AA is not an effective program is very inaccurate.


The author plays a numbers game here.  It is true that once a Court Card that requires a certain number of AA meetings to keep out of jail  has been filled up, we will not see the person again in the majority of cases.  A few may stay, and a block of those who do not stay, will come back on subsequent cards of that nature.  The number who come in with personal desire though are smaller.  It is the personal commitment to sobriety that matters and even in AA there are those like myself who are not hardliners on the program and who do not follow it "religiously".  In my groups. people know I do not work it ideally, and yet I share the goals and the friendship and above all else the opportunities for sharing the freedom that sobriety brings without criticism.  Some of that sharing takes place outside of AA and in places you would not first think of for people to gain and practice the joy of freedom from chemicals or processes.  A person who goes through a program of any sort thinks they are finished and goes back into a solo life will be back to a program in their future if they do not kill themselves first.  Those who keep the program for the benefit of other people in their lives, and who are with people are doing that program right.  

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The part about understanding why you drink made sense to me. 


I was in a SMART chatroom the other day and someone there was struggling with self-harm, which she described as her addiction. I self-harmed for 30 odd years but it never occurred to me to think of it as an addiction. It got me thinking of other substances I've successfully quit in the past and the difference between then, where I did it fairly easily and now, where I'm failing dismally. The pertinent differences are things in my life, not the substances. 


There are many ways to skin a cat.



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Regn self harm does certainly have an addictive aspect.  It seems that the knowing why we do something like self harm by inflicting exterior pain or by drinking.  Either can become something that takes over our lives.  When i was drinking i did ponder why i drinking.  Sometimes it was to celebrate some times it was to punish myself or seemingly to punish others.  There always seemed a reason.  If i could fix that i would stop.  Some i know have moved from place to place trying to stop.  Some have gone to doctors and phycologists trying to fix problems that would make it possible to quit.

For me the first step of the AA program says enough.  "I admitted i was powerless over alcohol......" .   For me that, not the reasons why, has been the most important part of finally accepting that i had to use the tools given to me in order to quit.

I will always remain powerless over alcohol(or substances).  Fortunately i have been given a path to sobriety.  I pray i will stay on it and remember how powerless i am.





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Timber Wolf

I've found that the things happening in my life are justifications to use drugs. Things will always happen in life, both good and bad. We can't stop that. But  admitting to myself that I'm powerless over my addiction allowed me to accept that I needed someone else's way, that my way did not work. It also helped me acknowledge that my addiction was a disease of my mind and that using drugs/alcohol (alcohol is a drug, period) is just a symptom of my disease. It doesn't matter which substance I use, because addiction is a disease of the mind. This knowledge gives me something I can treat and recover from. I we had cancer and it was giving us pain, by treating the pain we are treating the symptom, and the cancer remains. But if we treat the cancer, then the problem itself is treated, and we can recover. It's the same with addiction. If we treat the symptom of drug use, the addiction remains. If we treat the justification, another justification will always come along. But if we treat the disease of addiction, we can recover, because we are treating the problem at its source.


This  why limited or controlled use doesn't work for very long, or changing the substance we are using is ineffective. Because it's the disease in our mind that is causing us problems, not the drugs themselves. The disease of addiction is what drives us to use drugs, act super impulsively, crave escapes, etc...


Lots of love,

Timber Wolf🐾

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Well said TW

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