We get letters….

Some people criticize us and/or unsubscribe to this newsletter because they object to us putting 12 step programs and AA down and tell us we should just stand on our own merits instead.  We agree.

However, there really are 2 messages we are sending most weeks. One is that AA works for only a tiny minority of the people who try it and shouldn’t be crammed down everybody’s throat as the “only way,” nor should it be sold as treatment when it is available for free at a church near you.

The other message is that our treatment program is research based and works for a far higher percentage (65+% vs 5%, or less) of people than 12 Step programs do, and consists of what the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) research has found to constitute real and effective treatment. (see: Ending Alcohol Abuse: What Works)

We do frequently mix the two messages in our articles and that can cause confusion. But we do feel that people need to be frequently reminded of the very real damage AA and 12 Step programs do in their zeal to convert everybody to their “religion”. (see: The Bucket of Crabs, or Why AA and Alanon are Bad For Your Health)

The actual facts about AA?

  • Most people who join AA drink more after joining than they did before;
  • Of all of the dozens of ways to end a drinking problem, including doing nothing, AA is among the least effective;
  • More people preserve their sobriety by out-growing AA than by staying;
  • 13th Stepping, the sexual, emotional, and financial exploitation of newcomers is alive and well and still defended by AA’s hierarchy (and women in AA make up their share of the offenders as well as the victims);
  • Selling AA as treatment is simply a con game – always has been, always will be (see: Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Sent My Brother Off To Rehab).

So if you want actual help, and aren’t just trying to placate a spouse, judge, employer, or anyone else… why not elect what actually works?

So who does AA work for?

Thirty years ago a colleague and I working at a well known Minnesota rehab program thought we could use Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test, a measure of maturity, to predict who would do well in AA. We were right.

Twenty years ago I reconfirmed that during my graduate work at St. Mary’s University of MN and Mary Ellen and I have been showing it again and again over the past ten years.

Who does AA help? Primarily “men” who are emotionally arrested at about the age of 11 or 12. – those whose “locus of control” is their peer group, and who respond to trinkets, badges, slogans, and the other trappings of pre-adolescent boyhood, including hating girls.

It also “works” for the predators who prey on the flock, the 13th Steppers, who, as noted above, are no longer only men..

Finally, it also works for a few hyper-conscientious individuals who attempt to guard the sheep from the wolves, though their numbers are woefully inadequate for the task.

Frankly, readers of our Newsletters don’t fit with this model of “powerless diseases” and immaturity – the “Peter Pan Society,” as my Uncles referred to AA way back in the 1950s. It’s a great place to hide out and avoid growing up, but a terrible place for adults.

It’s also another great passive-aggressive weapon to use against spouses. Another surprising topic we’ll take up next week.

But in the meantime – if you want to leave an alcohol focused non-life behind, we’re here to help you figure out how.