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Alcoholics Anonymous at 75

Friday, August 06, 2010

On Alcoholics Anonymous' 75th anniversary, contributing editor at Wired magazine Brendan Koerner investigates why and how AA's 12-step process to kick addiction seems to work for some people.

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Brendan Koerner
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Comments [10]

Shepherd Raimi from New York, NY

AA has achieved something unique in human history - the organization is set up so that no one can make money from AA nor can anyone establish a power base. Bill Wilson knew himself well enough to know how to build into AA safeguards against the avaricious and power seekers. There have been attempts to create idealistic enterprises in the past, but none have lasted as long as 75 years.

Aug. 15 2010 06:30 PM
ZZ

AA is a great way to STAY sober AFTER you've already made the decision that you can't drink anymore. But temper your expectations if you walk in off the street and are still drinking. AA members are not professional therapists and the movement is loosely structured. It's not a substitute for rehab, professional counseling, or a physician's care.

That being said, if you can't afford any of those things, AA is a HECK of a lot better than nothing.

Aug. 06 2010 11:07 PM
vicky from Brewster, NY

Thank you so much for having this topic discussion! I was sad to hear the domination of the negative comments by one of the callers. I have been sober and drug free 23 years due to AA . Recently I have started to work in the substance abuse field as a credentialed counselor. It has been shown by empirical studies that treatment PLUS AA increases a patients statistical probability of becoming & staying sober.

The 3rd tradition of AA is the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to stop drinking. Those that don't want to stop will always find a way to discredit AA.

Aug. 06 2010 06:08 PM
Kathy P.

I have been a member of AA for nearly 14 years and I believe that this organization is a panacea for those of us unable to stop drinking on our own. It's true that it really works for those who will do anything to be relieved of the obsession to drink. Dr. Silkworth worked with the founders and they put the pieces of the alcoholic puzzle together (mental, physical and spiritual). I was taken aback by the "peeves" of certain callers - specifically, the person who was turned off to AA because a sponsor told him that he shouldn't take antidepressants. However, the Big Book (AA's guide) clearly states that people should follow the medical advice of their doctor's etc....It's a shame that these sponsors didn't read that particular chapter. Another caller said that he stopped because his doctor told him to. The Big Book also describes various types of drinkers and that caller is, perhaps, not a true alcoholic. As for Red and Blue state comment--those issues are dealt with in the traditions - where the founders provided certain structures to prevent "exclusion" - i.e. - All who have a desire to "stop drinking" are welcome. Any substance abuse program suggests that you be "substance free" so that should give plenty of welcome space to addicts in AA since they would also not be drinking. There will always be people in the program who are ignorant and annoying, but as the old saying goes..."You can't say anything wrong to a person who wants to get sober and you can't say anything right to those who are not yet ready." It has saved many of us years of misery and intimely deaths--however it works-if we work it!

Aug. 06 2010 04:14 PM
Skip L. from Central NJ

Been a sober member of AA for 31 years. It saved my life, but now I suspect it needs to grow with the times and change a bit..?

There's something new (in NJ at least) called "Oxford Houses", where alcoholics and addicts live together in specially rented houses and support each other in recovery, and it appears to be working out very well. Residents of these houses are required to attend substance abuse meetings, stay sober, work, and pay their fair share for rent and food. Anyone who relapses is required to leave immediately.

But in these residences the percentage of "pure" alcoholic members are only 28%, while those members addicted to both alcohol and other drugs are 78%!
I believe this is a strong indication that some conservative AA areas where old time members insist one should "speak ONLY about alcohol" may become harmful to AA eventually, as younger alcoholics and addicts will seek recovery elsewhere (perhaps in NA?) where they can speak more openly about their illnesses!

I suspect something like a group called "Addicts Anonymous" will have to be created eventually if AA is going to survive, and not just exist with diminishing numbers of aging "pure" alcoholics. Already, in my area of NJ, I have seen most AA groups shrink drastically in size during the ongoing years....

Meantime tho I'm still very glad AA (and NA) are around, as IMO there's really nothing else that's been found that works as well for alcoholics and addicts!
Skip L.

Aug. 06 2010 11:43 AM
Kelly from Brooklyn

I have been clean and sober for nearly 10 years, and I credit AA with the success of my changed life. I am NOT religious, but I adore the deeper message of spirituality and community, which is, for me, the most important aspect of the 12-step group focus. I am not alone, and there are places I can go to remember that fact. AA is an extremely valuable, unique, accessible, and completely voluntary community. The statistics may be low for long-term success, because alcoholism is a horrible, progressive, and destructive disease.....but I cannot imagine how much worse the world would be without it. I feel fortunate to have discovered AA, and I believe I would be dead (or worse) without it.

Aug. 06 2010 11:07 AM
victoria Pringle

AA has saved my life. im 24 and i've been sober for 1 year. aa is not religious. does NOT kick you out if you're on anit-depressents. the caller that called who said he ran away from AA is not an alcholic. if you can stop drinking when your doctors tells you to, obviously you don't need AA

Aug. 06 2010 11:03 AM
anonyme

Thanks for segment - will listen to whole thing when it's up later. I benefitted from years of 12-step meetings and got the distinct impression that there's a "vibe massage" - sit there and listen to people sharing an intention to heal - it lifts you all up together, to say nohting of the support available when you are not in a meeting.

Aug. 06 2010 11:02 AM
The Truth from Becky

Caller, "religiousity" is that a word???

Aug. 06 2010 10:53 AM
Liam M. from Brooklyn

I've been a member for nearly twenty years and have attended meetings all over the world. I go several times a week and I was at the convention in San Antonio. I've never heard of blue meetings or red meetings. The very notion is antithetical to everything I know and have experienced in A.A.

Aug. 06 2010 08:44 AM

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