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Pros and Cons of Alcoholics Anonymous


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truthtraveler
Full Member


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 152
Location: new york

Post Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:48 pm

Pros and Cons of Alcoholics Anonymous    Reply with quote  

Pros and Cons of Alcoholics Anonymous

Pros

1) Decent rates of success with helping alcoholics stop drinking

2) Saves many lives as such

3) Offers friendship and fellowship to many alcoholics

4) Low-cost

5) Lots of good sayings and wisdom

6) Highly accessible and located worldwide

7) Clearly written literature

8) Much honesty expressed in meetings

Cons

1) Heavy social pressure to not explore full depths of one’s childhood – thus protecting parents, many of whom are AA members themselves

2) Conception of alcoholism as a disease – rather than as a symptom of unresolved childhood traumas, however mild

3) Grandiosity – and thus dissociation – valued highly

4) Failure to see how psychotropic medication is similar to alcohol

5) Moral inventory (the fourth step) valued more than emotional history of one’s own childhood

6) Limited view of emotional health and enlightenment

7) Cultish idealization of Bill W. and other founders and long-time members, and failure to put into perspective the depths of their remaining pathology

8) Heavy social pressure to neither criticize AA’s philosophy nor quit “the program” if something better is found

9) Failure to understand inherent emotional unhealthiness of mild alcohol use for “non-alcoholics”
  
Stu
Junior Member


Joined: 17 Oct 2004
Posts: 73
Location: Somerset, UK

Post Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:39 pm

   Reply with quote  

I believe that most of what you describe as cons are actually pros.

Allow me to explain.

AA (or NA GA etc) is a peer-led self-help programme, it is not a planned therapeutic intervention.

The power and success of the '12 Step' approach is its simplicity. By not delving into the wider, often subjective, reasons behind what one does, an individual can focus on what is for them the most important thing - in this case staying sober on a day by day basis.

If someone feels the need to look into their past in order to rationalise the present there are many treatment options and therapies that will help them do it.

However - and this is an often forgotten point - not everyone wants to re-waken issues from their past, and many people don't need to.
Michael Lank
Super Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2004
Posts: 5816
Location: Lewes, UK

Post Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:27 pm

   Reply with quote  

I was intrigued to read pro '1) Decent rates of success with helping alcoholics stop drinking'.

I read something recently said it was as low as 5-10%, though AA claim 'between 20-25%', which is not that great either! See also this article.


Last edited by Michael Lank on Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
truthtraveler
Full Member


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 152
Location: new york

Post Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:35 pm

   Reply with quote  

Thanks, Michael. Both excellent articles and well worth reading (though the second one – with its good links – proved rather long!).

quote:
Originally posted by Michael Lank
I was intrigued to read pro '1) Decent rates of success with helping alcoholics stop drinking'.

You hit a weakness in my “pro” list, and if I had it to write it over again, I’d switch it to the “cons.”

Thus: Con #10: Lousy (or questionable) rates of success with helping alcoholics stop drinking.

The deeper point this brings out is that certain people do not do well in AA. I know AA says that people who have a constitutional inability to be honest cannot stay sober, but I know that is not true. Many very dishonest people can stay sober quite happily – in AA. And I have seen many people who are intensely honest – far more so than the average AA member – fail in AA, perhaps because they were so honest.

Honesty can be dangerous in a dishonest environment…
truthtraveler
Full Member


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 152
Location: new york

Post Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:58 pm

   Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Stu
The power and success of the '12 Step' approach is its simplicity.

True – with those for whom it works. But the denial and dissociation inherent in the 12-step approach are a big part of its simplicity. Life can be a lot more complex and hellish looking truth straight in the eye…

quote:
Originally posted by Stu
By not delving into the wider, often subjective, reasons behind what one does, an individual can focus on what is for them the most important thing - in this case staying sober on a day by day basis.

Life is simpler for those who do not delve into deeper truth. By letting sleeping dogs lie some people can remain blissfully sober for longs periods of time. But heaven forbid the dogs wake up!

AA sobriety is so often tenuous – even for many people with years in the program, which they admit – because its members don’t resolve the deepest issues that drove them to drink in the first place.

quote:
Originally posted by Stu
If someone feels the need to look into their past in order to rationalise the present there are many treatment options and therapies that will help them do it.

I agree, and I shun these treatment options and therapies…

But if someone feels compelled to look into their past NOT to rationalize their present but to find truth and to grieve and resolve their deepest wounds, then they have the potential to find the true meaning of sobriety. (And from what I’ve seen, there are few treatment options and therapies that can help them much with this quest.)

quote:
Originally posted by Stu
However - and this is an often forgotten point - not everyone wants to re-waken issues from their past, and many people don't need to.

I agree that not everyone wants to re-awaken issues from their past, and if you believe the goal of life is simply to stay sober one day at a time, then you’re right, many people don’t need to.

But the deepest goal of life is to know truth, and manifest it! A person blocked from his past can never do this.
Greenteeth
New Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 7

Post Thu Feb 17, 2005 11:40 am

   Reply with quote  

An interesting post, of which I think I would like to join in. I just want to point out that I am not an alchohlic, in fact I very rarely drink at all, and never have done. But things became apparent recently when I realised that I was a child of an alchoholic parent. I found these two articles, both lengthy I am afraid, but very interesting

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Peabody2.html
http://www.health.org/govpubs/ph318/

My point here really is that if it works for some people then it must be a good thing, others have to try and try and search to find their cure, and some may never find it. I myself am addicted to cigarettes and sugar(the white death), and I know and acknowledge my addictions and have to work round them, delving into my past is my way to work with it, but from my experience, resolving childhood traumas connected to addictions of any form may not necessarily solve the problem and I would say that the quote of

"But the deepest goal of life is to know truth, and manifest it! A person blocked from his past can never do this."

is not a be all and end all. There are many traumas that are hard to access, and in some cased can never be accessed fully. The trauma of birth is an example of this, so too is embryonic trauma. Trying to get people to remember their "white water rafting" journey of the embryo toward the womb and then attatchment to the wall of the womb, is not necessarily that practical.

If the flex for your hedge trimmer gets tangled up, how many people really want to go into how it got tangled, and how many people will take the same route to untangle it! but I can assure you that most people will untangle it if they want to cut their hedge.

I spose I am just trying to say that sometimes to go through those traumas may be retraumatising itself, and actually work out worse. It is not everyone's time to reach the goal of truth, and there are other options which can help someone lead a good and healthy life again.

I think the most important thing is to give some space and some freedom of expression to anyone trying to deal with their problems in an honest and genuine way. Wisdom will always come through in the end.
truthtraveler
Full Member


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 152
Location: new york

Post Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:01 pm

   Reply with quote  

Hi Greenteeth,

Interesting articles. Thanks.

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
My point here really is that if it works for some people then it must be a good thing,

But at what cost? Since writing the original post of this thread, I have been thinking more about my “pro #2” on the list, which said that because AA has decent rates of success, it “saves many lives as such.”

What I’m thinking more now is that although it helps stabilize lives in that it helps some people become sober from alcohol, it really just drops them off on a plateau that isn’t emotionally sober to the depths, so thus doesn’t “save them” all that much.

Your first article talked about substituting “self-destructive habits … with good habits,” ie. AA. I think relatively speaking going to AA can be better than drinking, but by no means is AA an absolutely ”good habit” – for the reasons I list as cons. It can actually be a habit that reinforces a lot of pathological behavior.

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
…but from my experience, resolving childhood traumas connected to addictions of any form may not necessarily solve the problem…

I disagree here. If a person resolves his childhood traumas he will lose his need for addiction. But I think your next point is well taken, namely, that it is very difficult for most people to make much headway in resolving their early traumas…

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
There are many traumas that are hard to access, and in some cases can never be accessed fully. The trauma of birth is an example of this, so too is embryonic trauma. Trying to get people to remember their "white water rafting" journey of the embryo toward the womb and then attatchment to the wall of the womb, is not necessarily that practical.

But by no means should this stop us from attempting to access our deeper selves and resolve those traumas that are at our fingertips. I have seen many people who try to access and resolve their deepest traumas and make little headway because they miss the far more obvious traumas that occurred later in their lives – and may still presently be occurring. It’s like trying to drain a overflowing bathtub with a tiny hose…when you haven’t yet turned off the faucet still filling the tub.

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
I spose I am just trying to say that sometimes to go through those traumas may be retraumatising itself, and actually work out worse. It is not everyone's time to reach the goal of truth, and there are other options which can help someone lead a good and healthy life again.

Reaching truth is a process. I don’t see it as all or nothing. I have seen that some people find a good measure of truth in AA, but this doesn’t mean “the program” isn’t still laden with heavy denial and distortion.

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
I think the most important thing is to give some space and some freedom of expression to anyone trying to deal with their problems in an honest and genuine way.

The problem is, AA so often blocks this freedom of expression for the most honest people.

Try this not uncommon AA quote: “We’re here to talk about alcohol, not feelings!”
Greenteeth
New Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 7

Post Sat Feb 19, 2005 2:11 am

   Reply with quote  

Interesting response, I hear what you say with interest, and my only response to them really is that AA is the first step on a long journey, and that some people revel in it as I do with my issues, I want to deal with them all, because it is a fascinating experience to me, but some people don't want to and it really is up to them to do what they can.

In my opinion, alchoholics and addicts of all sort only have a duty to sort them selves out when they are affecting other people detrimentally. Otherwise it is purely their journey, and they have to find that initial spark to want to clean up on their own. That is their right as human beings, to make mistakes and learn from them.

Kind regards
truthtraveler
Full Member


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 152
Location: new york

Post Sat Feb 19, 2005 7:56 pm

   Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
…AA is the first step on a long journey…

Hi Greenteeth. I appreciate the dialogue.

I think few people actually view it this way. Most who make their homes in AA view it as the last step on their journey. To them – and to the AA program – AA is viewed as a complete program of recovery for alcoholics.

And I believe that most people who come to AA and quit or drop out don’t use AA as a stepping stone forward on their journey either. Mostly they just fall out the bottom – or simply view leave viewing AA as dangerous or useless.

I myself question the validity of viewing something as flawed as AA as the first step on a healthy journey…though I do believe that simply getting sober, whether it’s in AA or elsewhere, can be very valuable as that first step…

quote:
Originally posted by Greenteeth
In my opinion, alchoholics and addicts of all sort only have a duty to sort them selves out when they are affecting other people detrimentally.

Agreed. And isn’t this true of all people – not only addicts? I believe that we all affect others in detrimental ways until we fully resolve the depths of our emotional issues – that is, until we become fully enlightened.

I feel we all have a duty to become enlightened…and I don’t see AA bringing people here…
Greenteeth
New Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 7

Post Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:59 am

   Reply with quote  

I do not have a lot of information about AA to draw on, and so y view can look a little naiive, and if what you say is true about most people looking at it as a be all and end all, then no of course it is not going to work, in fact it might even instill a sense of "I am dealing with my problems so it must be your fault", and that is a shame.

as for:


quote:
Agreed. And isn’t this true of all people – not only addicts? I believe that we all affect others in detrimental ways until we fully resolve the depths of our emotional issues – that is, until we become fully enlightened.


I disagree with you on this score, because the world is its own perfect place, not ours. So we have to stand up for what is right and wrong in our own ways, be it fronting up to the bully, or quietly building our own personal boundaries to let others know when we are crossing the line. I think it is Human nature to take and take. As a result it is up to us as individuals to say "Ok, you can have an inch, but don't try to take a mile off me because that is unacceptable, and I won't put up with that behaviour".

We have to take responsibility for our own emotions, and that means owning our emotions, and not giving away that responsibility to others.

Kind regards
Nesi
Junior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 59
Location: Lancaster, CA

Post Sun Feb 20, 2005 11:22 pm

a reply to the pros and cons of AA    Reply with quote  

I would just like to add another dimension to this discussion. First of all the AA program was developed in the 1930's. for the sole purpose of treating alcoholism. Certainly back then society was not faced with the rampant complexities of the whole array of addictive issues we all deal with today. Back then thier success rate was 75%!!!!!!! Another reason it was so successful back then is the true alcoholic having absolutely reached his bottom of being able to function in society had no where else to go. They came in the doors, desperate and willing to do anything to escape the despair they were experiencing.

Since then some of the reasons that have diluted the fellowship and the results it produces are: As the alcoholic and addict increasingly became a menace to society. the courts, probabtion an paroll officers, treatment facilities, child and family services, domestic violence agencies, anger management, and a whole slew of people have used AA and NA as a glorfied baby sitter. No longer were people willing to walk in the door from thier own admission of needing help....they were forced to as a consequence to get thier children back, thier license back or thier freedom from the legal system back, or to comply with corporate management to get their job back ect. A whole basket full of reasons other than desperation. their effort of willingness was only matched to the goal that they wished to obtain or regain. Many of these people were not fighting for thier lives. they were only in the meetings to do thier time and move on. It changed the whole reason people were showing up.

Also as the treament centers began to boom, they started sending thier clients with grave emotional disorders, dual diagnosis patients, people with violent backgrounds, AA and NA became a catchall for a program only designed to deal with Alcoholism. When the fellowship became overwhelmed with the lack of understanding these issues....instead of admitting it and becoming humble....and pointing these people in the right direction. this new dimension of recovery started to change the fellowship. Now you have members bringing in treatment concepts that work great with qualified therapists and counselors....but do not work well with a bunch of recovering drunks. Our society has changed drastically since the 30's and the fellowship of recovery has not caught up. Old traditional ways have not evolved to meet the needs of increasingly new members

I can speak from my own experience in the area of recovery that addresses both the pro's and cons. I have been in the revolving door of treatment and 12step groups for over 17 years now. My four previous attempts to get clean lasted about 6 months before I would relapse. I will forever be grateful for AA and NA to have opened the door of healing for me.....however once I stood in the hallway of self.....There were many other doors that the program of recovery did not give me tools to open. each time I got clean I learned something new about myself and it became a journey of self discovery. Each time I relapsed......i learned even more about the reaasons why what simply worked for others did not work for me.

I discovered that there was a much deeper problem to be addressed other than alcoholism and addiction. At the core of my disease is emotional woundedness, unhealthy coping skills, toxic shame and guilt, sexual childhood abuse, codependency, and faulty beleif systems that were the major part of my childhood programming. It wasn't until I became willing to go back to the beginning of the damage and begin to heal through it....that recovery started working for me. I had to seek additional therapy to address these issues with qualified professionals....not just well meaning members of alcohics anonymous. This time when i did my fourth step....I began the time line at the age of 5 years old.....not only with a 12 step sponsor but also in conjunction with a therapist who understands the program. by integrating the emotional healing along with cognitive therapy, beahvioral therapy and the spiritual aspects and principals designed in the program i am finally getting the results of peace of mind and a healthy sense of self. Healing from childhood woundedness is what made all the differnece in my recovery this time around.

Without redesigning a healthy foundation of self ...the 12 step program is little more than a bandaid on a much deeper festering wound. I had to become willing to go back to the beginning of the problem and re-create, redesign and reparent myself back into the solution and begin from there.

The program could only take me so far....and where it left me off...I began my own search for self improvement, personal development, and another pathway to healing. I did not just want to treat my drug related issues....I wanted freedom from the bondage of self....and some people need more help than the program can give them.

I have also experienced the "cultish" attitude in the fellowship. In some ways I believe it promotes an unhealthy dependency on the fellowship itself. it is as if it is trading one dependency from drugs for another on the 12 step way of life. For some this is a god send.....for others who are not satisfied with settleing for "this is as good as it gets" and are capable of furthering thier development and self discovery....the fellowship promotes limitation and will even use fear of relapse as a tool to keep a person in the nice neat little box....that they are so comfortable with. I think that AA and NA is grandious in promoting that their way is the only way to recover. and in fact can even be dangerous to the individual who needs a level of healing that it cannot admit it fails to provide.

Moving beyond the fellowship and into other areas has created a healthy senseof independence and self trust for me.

I still use the fellowship for a place to belong, relate, maintenance my recovery and help others. and practice the spiritual principals in all my affairs


but I also still use therapy for cognitive, emotional, and behavior self management when the rest of the world does not make sense to me

by combining the two i have gotten the ongoing results I have been searching for.

Like I said without the program of AA to address the surface symptom I would have never traveled the journey to regaining my authentic self. I use to be a fragmented individual pulled in a thousand different directions promoted by outside validation. believing in every way that my life was a mistake....the ultimate victim. Now I am an emotionally capable individual, responsibile for my acitons, behavior, choices, decisions, and perfectly able to become all that I can be. The only thing I am powerless over is when I put a drink or drug in my body...I cannot control the outcome. in every other aspect of my life.....I have the power of choice back in my life. And today I choose not to drink or drug, and I choose to become the best person I am capable of being. I treat myself with respect, I respect others and also respect their own choices in finding their own pathway to travel the road of what all of us call life.

Life is a classroom and we are all students....just because someone has a different level of understanding does not mean they are failing the course.

Just my two cents worth....

Have a great day on your journey

Nesi
Nesi
Junior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 59
Location: Lancaster, CA

Post Mon Feb 21, 2005 3:12 am

   Reply with quote  

sorry I forgot to mention that I now have 3 years clean and sober and have made long lasting behavioral changes.
Greenteeth
New Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2005
Posts: 7

Post Mon Feb 21, 2005 10:06 pm

   Reply with quote  

Nice one Nesi, you have a lot of insight, I look forward to finding my own wisdom. I think we all have our cross to bear, and to me that is what inspires us as a human race, not necessarily what we are capable of, but what drives us to harness that creative space and lead a life that can work for us, and for me it is acknowledging my darker side, and keeping it in check.
jurplesman
Super Member


Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Posts: 14148
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:05 am

   Reply with quote  

I don't belive that a faith-based treatment program like AA, with such a low succes rate deserves so much attention. It is pity to see governements pushing this organisation as an alternative to a proper scientifically based treatment programs. I believe this trend is due to the inablity of and the neglect by prefessional counsellers to learn about the biochemical aspects of addiction. They are being bypassed in favour of a cultish organisation as a cheap alternative to proper scientific treatment.

Please read:

http://radar.smh.com.au/archives/2005/01/now_that_the_pa.html
Nesi
Junior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 59
Location: Lancaster, CA

Post Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:41 am

   Reply with quote  

Most people cannot afford the kind of treatment you are talking about...especially those with no health insurance......and especailly when the kind of scientifically based treatment did not exist until the recent 20 past years. Heavens how did so many people recover for soooo long with out scientific understanding back then. as a matter of fact....The only treatment for the alcoholic back then was institutions period and the only alternative to that was AA.

there is something to be said for integrating the two. I have had the pleasure of doing it both ways. A treatment center my father paid 16 thousand dollars for 30 days back when i was 26 years old....and the more recent county funded kind for free that I attended over 3 years ago...... 6mo inpatient/ 6 mo out. I can tell you that the most expensive scientific one did not work.

I had the best result by integrating the two kinds of treatment together....and continue to. Most people seek some kind a spiritual connection to "something" to explain and understand thier own existence. I dont find any spiritual comfort in just intellect alone....intelligence, understanding. rationalization, justification, and proof....cannot fill the empty hole left in my spiritual soul. Try to scientifically treat that.

Why do we all insist on treating the problem instead of eliminating what we know to be harmful to begin with?

the 12 step programs promote the soluiton.....just don't drink or use drugs no matter what......and then there wont be a need for treatment. And most of these people try to raise thier children to live in the solution also....by spiritual principals and healthy coping skills that don't require the need to escape and run from problems.

But ultimatley you hit the nail right on the head.....


quote:
It is pity to see governements pushing this organisation as an alternative to a proper scientifically based treatment programs.


There is no funding for it. Only recently are they starting to tally financial results. (2003 results in CA) It cost 46 thousand dollars to house an inmate for 1 year in the prison system for drug related crimes.....It cost 36 thousand for 1 year in a rehabilitation tretment facility. The result for your tax dollars spent in prison is 8 out of every 10 inmates will return to what it familiar. Tax dollars spent in treatment are 6 out of 10 will go on to live functional healthy lives...and at the very least stay out of the legal system......these are only recent statistics.

Why not provide these treatment concepts to youngsters in free community programs or better yet in schools so we eliminate the problem before one exists. But instead our government is not only cutting the budget for education....it is also budgeting in funding for building for prisons. Go figure......

Prevention is alwasy better than treatment.

Once again thanks for listening.

Nesi
  

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