Alcohol addiction is a serious affliction that affects millions of people. It can severely impede performance at work, cause serious issues in relationships, and interfere with life goal achievement. Unsurprisingly, many people have attempted to curtail their addiction on their own. Some succeed, but most end up having to seek outside assistance of some kind to fully make progress. While there are numerous programs and organizations out there designed to tackle this specific issue, by far the most common one is Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA for short.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an alcoholism treatment group estimated to have around 2 million members. It was initially conceived by two alcoholics in the 1930s who wanted to help others overcome their addiction. Many of the tenets of the group can be found in a manual of sorts called the “Big Book.” In addition to the Big Book, there is the inclusion of the well-known 12-step program to addiction recovery. While the 12 steps cover a wide range of subjects, they generally address the following themes:
- Addiction is not something that truly can be controlled
- Making amends for past wrongdoings
- Assist others in their pursuit of living a sober lifestyle
How Does AA Work?
AA is primarily a support network of individuals who assist each other in avoiding the pitfalls of alcohol addiction through offering emotional support, advice, and lessons learned through life experience. AA typically takes the form of group meeting where attendance is supposed to be completely anonymous, to avoid many of the problems associated with people being open about their addiction struggles. It’s common for members to take on “mentor-mentee” relationships where more senior members of the support group offer very in-depth guidance to a specific individual. These relationships not only serve to offer specialized care to people with unique circumstances that feed into their addiction, but it also provides an expectation that they will try their hardest. The overall structure of the entire AA program is geared toward addressing the fundamental reasons why people end up falling into a cycle of alcohol addiction, usually problems relating to members’ personal character. The general idea being that addiction is ultimately spurned by a character deficit, whether that happens to be feelings of inadequacy, shame, or something else.
However, despite how common the AA program is, the question still remains as to whether it’s effective overall. Much of this question is difficult to answer due to the anonymous nature of the program, which makes collecting reliable data an exceptionally difficult task. Numbers from the organization’s public outreach arm seem to suggest it garners very favorable results, with 50% of long-term members becoming and staying sober, with a smaller contingent of people relapsing, but getting back on the wagon eventually. Although it seems promising, independent studies would suggest the methods used by AA aren’t all that effective, with around 10% of participants actually remaining sober in perpetuity. This lack of certainty is further worsened by imprecise definitions. What constitutes a “success” is highly subjective and many individuals are likely to fluctuate between periods of sobriety and alcohol abuse. A lot of the program’s shortcomings can be traced back to its founding. The procedures employed during AA are not based on scientifically proven methods; instead, they were based on what two anonymous individuals believed was the root cause of alcohol addiction. While there is a certain logic behind AA’s structure, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily effective.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that needs to be resolved for countless people to move on to living the happiest, most fulfilling life possible. Alcoholics Anonymous is one potential way that can be accomplished. It possesses many elements that would certainly help with fighting addiction, such as providing emotional support, extending opportunities to face personal demons, and allowing for relationship-building.
That being said, there is significant reason to believe that AA is not an incredibly effective program. If you or someone you know is in dire need of addiction counseling and you want to get everything right the first time, then don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss possible treatment options. We’ll provide information on the safest and most effective avenues of alcohol addiction recovery. Call us now at 833-364-0736.