Deprogramming You From 12 Step Mythology

Periodically we receive calls asking how to contend with all of the AA/12 Step mythology that has permeated our culture. Sometimes the callers are people who are trying to avoid being unjustly accused of being “alcoholics.” Occasionally we hear from folks interested in research based treatment and encountering resistance from friends and family who “know” that AA is the “only thing that works.” Then there are the folks who joined AA, got sober, don’t see any reason to continue going to meetings, but are afraid to kick the 12 Step habit.

All of these individuals are suffering from the “disinformation” that AA and 12 Step based rehab mills have very successfully disseminated. That being the case, let’s take a quick look at the most blatant examples:

  • Alcohol abuse is a “disease;”
  • You are either an “alcoholic” or “in denial;”
  • You are “powerless;”
  • The Steps are the only thing that “works;”
  • You must be “in recovery” forever;
  • Alcohol abuse is “progressive;”
  • You can never drink again;
  • Residential treatment “works;”
  • You must avoid “normies” for the rest of your life.

This isn’t a definitive list, of course, but it does cover some of the major myths that AA and industrial strength, revolving-door rehab programs perpetuate with a lot of help from the media. It really isn’t any wonder that you’ve been duped, or those around you have. It’s more amazing that you haven’t!

So, let’s take a look at these “facts.”

First, there is no evidence to support the “disease model” of alcohol abuse, a model that was invented to justify collecting medical insurance for providing “treatment.” The misuse of alcohol is a choice, albeit one that isn’t working for you anymore. Remember, you didn’t get into trouble with alcohol because you are dumb and diseased, you got there because it worked. Except now it doesn’t.

Again, the research supports that alcohol abuse is a symptom. You’re most likely medicating loneliness, anxiety, boredom, frustration, physical pain, depression, hormone imbalances, and so on, all in a mosaic unique to you.

Guess what? The solution will be unique to you too. NOT simply drinking the 12 Step Kool Aid.

Next, you’re probably neither an alcoholic nor in denial, but an alcohol abuser who’s looking for a solution. And again, as the DSM-5 notes, the misuse of alcohol falls on the same sliding scale most things do.

And while we are at it, you’re not powerless, if you were nothing would work, including AA.

Only the Steps “work.” Reality? More than two dozen other approaches work better and we incorporate all of the top ten except “aversives”– try Schick for that.

Being “in recovery” forever just means refusing to give up an alcohol centered existence for an actual life. We expect, on the other hand, that you’d prefer to fully recover and live.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Nope. It’s neither. Most people’s alcohol use is either stable or regressive. Sorry AA.

Whether or not you can ever drink again, meaning non-abusively, is an individual question. Some can, some can’t, many choose not to in any case. Again, it’s pretty much up to you.

Residential treatment outcomes are no better than out-patient, and both, by design, have the same dismal “success” rates as AA – about 5% or less.

Finally, if you opt for a real life you will discover that “normies” couldn’t care less about your past alcohol problems which motivates you to keep those problems in the “been there, done that” category, not as a running drunkalogue for a few equally deluded cronies.

As usual, the real question is, what do you want?