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.

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Feb 19, 2014 6:22 PM CST
“Just keep coming back, it works if you work it” That’s the answer that a newcomer gets if he’s unsure of the whole AA program and wants more information. What the Hell kind of an answer is that? What the Hell is IT? Just keep coming back and “more will be revealed”. Really? That’s like your girlfriend saying “I’ll tell you tomorrow” if you ask her if she has any STD’s before the first time you have sex! Or when you ask the salesperson at an auto dealer whether it’s a 4 or 6 cylinder and he say’s “we’ll send you the specs 2 weeks after we close the deal!” Shouldn’t a “recovery program” be transparent and explain to you their methodologies and goals before you become emotionally invested and “surrender” to their ideologies. Not in AA because if they told you the real deal before you were indoctrinated into their cultish religion, those damn church basements would be EMPTY! So no, they just rope you in with their “keep coming back” mantra and very subtly brainwash you with the “preamble”, “how it works” and the collective head bobbing by the sheeple that have already been converted into Stepford wives like zombies. These cult-like tactics are just so WRONG and manipulative that they should be against the law. But they have their out because everything in the AA program are merely “suggestions” That’s downright BILLSHIT! Am I wrong or am I missing something here? Rolf Ankermann
Feb 19, 2014 5:50 PM CST
Concentrating EVERY day of your life on NOT drinking is NOT a solution. Alcohol still controls your life, just changes from drinking to not drinking. Personal accountability, personal responsibility and commitment works much better for most than a quasi-cult founded by a drug using, failure that was a crooked, adulterer who proposed LSD as a cure for alcoholism.
Feb 15, 2014 9:26 PM CST
I'd go to AA if they served beer.