I can be good about meeting commitments so this could be a good motivator for me.

I gave it a unique tag in case I keep it going and anyone wants to filter it.



Alcoholics Anonymous, or the phrase 12 Step which broadly refers to all of the freely-available, group-based recovery programs that model themselves on its method, is the most popular, influential and widely known form of treatment for addictions of all forms and even social and emotional dysfunction, albeit to a much smaller degree in the forms it takes to aid with issues other than substance abuse. In terms of public consciousness, it is likely the first potential solution anyone facing an addiction or the family member of such a person will think of as a means to deal with what can be a deadly problem. Despite the fact that, and many members will argue this point, it is a fundamentally religious organization that relies heavily on prayer, spiritual belief in a higher power, repentance and confession, AA has entrenched itself in a healthcare industry that treats addiction medically yet continues to rely on the methods of an offshoot of an obscure, fringe Christian movement from the early twentieth century.

AA deserves much credit for the good it has done. It has inarguably saved millions of lives. It has helped to shift public opinion on substance abuse from that of a moral failing to an issue that can be dealt with in a manner other than callous disregard for behavior that is inexplicable to those who have never been in the grip of an obsession more powerful than bonds of love or the will to live. I do not wish to write a polemic against AA and I will attempt to hold some of my opinions to myself but I am going to write about a more than 18 month long experience with it. But I cannot overstate that I am only trying to educate people unfamiliar with the reality of Alcoholics Anonymous with the on the ground experience of placing your life in the hands of a loosely organized network of similarly afflicted persons. In no one do I want to discourage anyone from going to AA because what works or doesn’t for me is not gospel and could save the life of someone else with different experiences and beliefs than mine when entering the rooms of AA. I just do not feel that I can completely divorce some of my issues and critiques from what is fundamentally only my experience but I will try to be as even handed as possible and insert my personal opinions only instances where I serious flaws in the program or recurrent behavior from members which I find dangerously detrimental to the well being of many people.

At its core, AA is a well-meaning program and I have seen first hand the radical changes it can create in certain individuals. But, as I will explain later, it is also just a loose affiliation of people guided by a book and, as with all things created and administered by humans, personal experience can vary widely for reasons as wide ranging as serendipitously having your first encounter be with a toxic group to your own timid personality or it simply not being a fit for your philosophy or core ethics. In the end what matters is that people who no longer wish to drink, or shoot dope or masturbate 18 times a day have a way that works for them, no matter what it is. But I am of the belief that there is no single answer to problems of human affairs and it is best to be well educated about the course to take before attempting to solve a problem. Especially one as complex as addiction.


    ...it is best to be well educated about the course to take before attempting to solve a problem. Especially one as complex as addiction.

Isn't part of the problem of treatment that many people only seek it when ordered to do so by the courts? And the courts, lacking other options, just send people there as a matter of policy? (I don't know any facts and figures on that point--just know a number of people who were court ordered into 12 steps.) It seems like that system doesn't really allow for one to educate oneself very well before making a choice.

posted by tacocat: 322 days ago