Alcoholics Anonymous has become quite a buzz in the recovery world. The group-like nature of the meetings, the team bonding, and the anonymity all seem to be talked about often. Some treatment programs swear by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similarly structured 12 Step recovery programs. Others question the power the program has to inspire addicts to live sober and healthy. While there are statistics on the success rates of AA meetings, is there a right answer to whether or not it is effective? That’s for you to decide. We’re here to guide you into a better understanding of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
What Sets Alcoholics Anonymous Apart
Before we talk about this treatment program, let’s talk about why Alcoholics Anonymous is so popular. It has been used as alcoholism treatment for decades and seems to be the first thing anyone thinks of when they make the choice to recover and stay sober. It has saved many people from falling back into alcohol abuse and because of that, word has gotten out.
The program started in a small town in Ohio by a man named Bill Wilson and has been largely affiliated with Christianity. Many people in the world have stopped drinking and continue to stay sober due to the team bond and moral inventory of this program. But, others have had a harder time with their abstinence from alcohol. There are many treatment options that are less popular. While this one is very known, there is no right answer to the big question we all want to ask. Does AA work? It’s popular, but it really depends on the person.
All Treatment Programs are Unique
Substance abuse and addiction can be treated in a variety of ways. There are different programs for drug addiction than there are for alcoholism. There are different programs for abuse treatment than there are for addiction. The main thing to remember when thinking about the effectiveness of AA meetings is that all treatment programs are unique.
Two treatment centers in the same city could offer the 12 Step Program as a treatment option in their rehab center. While they will probably follow the basic guidelines of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, there are going to be differences in how they go through each step. The sponsors will be different people, the location will be different and the general environment of the treatment center itself will be different.
There is more to addiction recovery than just the kind of therapy you choose. Alcohol and drug addiction require you to tap into your personal needs very deeply. You’ll be attending behavioral therapy, you’ll be feeling the withdrawal symptoms of a heavy drinker and you’ll want to seek medical attention while you’re getting this help. Untreated individuals do not always realize that treatment programs have steps, they’re not just one activity being done over and over again. Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only step in a 12 Step Recovery, and AA meetings are not the only addiction treatment option. Each treatment program is designed carefully to take away stress on the mental health of those in recovery.
When assessing the effectiveness of the 12 Step Program, it is important to understand that all rehab centers are unique and what may work in one place may not work at another. One treatment center may have alcoholism treatment perfected to a tee and streamlined to benefit their patients. Another treatment center may be more holistic and less focused on alcoholism treatment. Rather than asking if AA works, the question should be if the process of AA is carried out in an effective way by the treatment center you are looking for.
Substance Abuse is Personal
There are general things that could be true in the lives of all alcoholics. A pattern that can be seen is that addiction starts with alcohol abuse and spirals into a more serious problem. The substance abuse perhaps caused a wedge between you and some loved ones. But, substance abuse and addiction problems are still so personal.
Alcoholism comes from the dependence of someone’s mind and body on substance abuse. It can be seen as a mental illness because it takes over the addict’s thoughts to make room for the desire to drink. That being said, alcoholics each have become addicted to drinking for a different reason. They also have stopped drinking for a different reason that is their own reason, personal to them.
No two people are identical and no two recoveries are identical, so it’s important to think individually when contemplating your participation in Alcoholics Anonymous. Some people love the structure of the 12 Step Program and the guidance of a counselor. Other people feel overwhelmed and not emotionally connected with the tenets of the program. That is why it is not safe to say that AA meetings don’t work. They work for some people and fall short for others. Each person is different and receives recovery help in their own way.
Alcoholics Anonymous Has Lasted Decades
This traditional method of recovery is about to turn 83 years old. It started as a book and later became an official program after the book became popular. There is a huge foundation of religious faith in the program that is supposed to be used to relieve addicts of mental illness and self-pity.
Since AA meetings have been used in substance abuse treatment for almost 100 years, it’s safe to say that it works for some people. The meetings are open to anyone who wants to live sober. It’s kind of like its own form of behavioral therapy because attendees get the habit of going and talking about their choices. This is beneficial for reducing drinking urges if the attendees feel the faith that is so heavily rooted in the cause.
The whole idea of this traditional way of abstinence from the alcohol comes from religion. That is why it works for some and it does not for others.
The Success Rates Aren’t What You Think
Per Scientific American, 40 percent of people do not return to AA meetings after the first one. Farther, ten percent of people have remained sober after their time using the steps. If you think about how long the program has existed alongside addiction medicine, you’d think the success rate would be higher. Lots of people find themselves uncomfortable talking about alcohol and drug addiction so candidly with people they’ve only met a few times. It’s not that they don’t want to stop drinking, they just don’t feel open to treating their alcoholism as a moral failing in front of a bunch of strangers. That’s understandable.
Out of many treatment options, Alcoholics Anonymous is the most talked about. It is recreated in pop culture and has been adapted to be used with other substance abuse treatment. Why are we seeing such a high dropout rate? Is the presence of social media making it harder to adjust to anonymity? It simply is due to the fact that not everyone is so comfortable with the twelve steps and what they ask for? Is it the connection to Christianity? Some are not religious and some just like to recovery within the confines of their own personal story.
Alcoholism Treatment Continues to Thrive
Whether or not Alcoholics Anonymous is for you is completely dependent on who you are. If the nature of your addiction is severe, there are treatment options that will help you have a smart and successful recovery. If you’re religious, you may love the 12 Step Program and see it through with a ton of success. If you’re not big on faith-based treatment, there are other options that include special attention to dual diagnosis and a holistic perspective.
There are treatment options that cater to the needs of whoever needs them. That is the beauty of substance abuse treatment. The moral inventory of the 12 Step Program is not for everyone. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, that just means you need to backtrack and look into the different treatment options you have. Alcoholism treatment can be successful for you if you allow yourself to look into the kinds of substance abuse help you need. It is important that you think about the program that you can learn the most from.
More information about other kinds of alcoholism treatment can be found here.