A long-term study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that, after eight years, people with alcoholism who were part of both inpatient treatment and an AA group had a better chance of staying sober for the first three years of study. By the end of the eight years, those who received both had a much higher rate of abstinence. The researchers at NIAAA concluded that regular attendance at AA meetings had a notable impact on the viability and longevity of recovery.
If you have said to yourself: “Yes, I'm one of those people who are powerless over alcohol. My life has become unmanageable. I can't stop drinking and I want help”, you have made a good start on Step One and discovered, as it says in the Big Book, “We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
It's interesting to read the comments, pro and con about AA and other 12 step programs. Much of which I agree with. What I did not see mentioned is that AA doesn't enter into this debate about how 'successful or effective' their program is; because they aren't selling or promoting anything. Period. AA offers a spiritually based program to help one find a connection with a higher power that many have found helpful in staying sober. Period. All this other chatter and debate is not what AA is about or even pretends to offer. This debate about the success of a program that is a voluntary offering of a chance to live sober is, frankly, ridiculous. It's truly a take it or leave it kind of deal. If the court orders you to go to AA and you feel you're rights are being violated then you might be better served taking that up with the court then blaming AA. There are three facts that are not legitimately debatable: 1) Many people have gone to AA, got sober and remain that way. 2) Many people have gone to AA and decided they didn't want to go back. 3) Addiction will kill some people who are afflicted regardless of the best efforts of the best of us.
Recovery is an interesting concept. It implies not only improvement, but potentially remission. The term describes a process as well as a destination. And the underlying premise of recovery is that of hope--hope that a person with a potentially fatal illness can avoid a catastrophic outcome. “Recovery activities” are not professional treatment, but can promote recovery just as professional treatment can. One of the most familiar “recovery activities” engaged in by persons with addiction is participation in the activities of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
The Steps start from a basic acceptance that we can control and change only ourselves and our own reactions to people and events. Twelve Step participants take ongoing inventory of themselves and honestly acknowledge the ways they have hurt themselves and others. When they are ready, they attempt to make amends to all persons they have harmed. Trust, acceptance, love, goodwill and forgiveness are key elements in a Twelve Step program just as they are important elements of any healthy relationship.
Not all alcohol abusers become full-blown alcoholics, but it is a big risk factor. Sometimes alcoholism develops suddenly in response to a stressful change, such as a breakup, retirement, or another loss. Other times, it gradually creeps up on you as your tolerance to alcohol increases. If you’re a binge drinker or you drink every day, the risks of developing alcoholism are greater.
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