It's Time We Challenged Alcoholics Anonymous

Columnist: New books are right to question its reputation as the only solution

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 11, 2014 5:45 PM CST

(Newser) – A slew of new books is challenging the 75-year "hegemony" of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Maia Szalavitz at Pacific Standard thinks it's about time. Over the decades, it's become nearly an accepted truth in this country that AA is the one and only path to sobriety. And sure, the 12-step program that demands participants surrender to a "higher power" is the right path for some, but it is most definitely not the right path for everyone. "For what other medical condition does 90 percent of the treatment consist of meetings and prayer?" asks Szalavitz.

Indeed, one of the problems with AA's "non-medical and moralistic" approach "is that addiction continues to be seen by many people as a moral failing rather than a disease." Another? One of the biggest studies of recovery found that the vast majority of addicts kick their habit "without any treatment—professional or self-help—regardless of whether the drug involved is alcohol, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, or cigarettes," writes Szalavitz. That's something our booming rehab culture isn't eager to spread around. Click for the full column, which includes a list of the recent books taking on AA.

  (Shutterstock)
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