Does AA Actually Work?
Since its inception in the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has become the most popular go-to program for alcoholics desiring to first of all get, and then to stay sober. AA’s adherents swear by its effectiveness. Critics have spoken harshly against it. Does AA work? Is it more hype than help?
What is AA?
On their website, AA declares:
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
The peer-run, nonprofit group proclaims on the site, “since the book Alcoholics Anonymous first appeared in 1939, this basic text has helped millions of men and women recover from alcoholism.” While there is no way to specifically verify that claim, what is easily recognizable is that AA has become a worldwide program with millions of meetings being conducted every day, all around the world.
Even if you’ve never been to an AA meeting yourself, you are likely familiar with AA’s process through its portrayal on television and in movies—members share their stories and encourage one another to work through 12 Steps which, when followed, are purported to help people gain and maintain sobriety.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have become so popular that they’ve been adapted by other addiction programs like Narcotics Anonymous. Those steps, wherever they’re utilized, are based upon three basic concepts—
–2 Surrendering to “a Higher Power” or “God as you understand him”
–3 Accepting responsibility for your actions
What AA is Not
There is an important distinction that needs to be made: AA is not an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program. It is more of a support group. There are no mental health professionals or addiction specialists behind AA meetings. There are no doctors, psychologists or therapists. There is no inpatient or outpatient care. There are no medical evaluations or diagnoses—just people battling a common foe.
For the many who have found help and encouragement in AA, and for what it is—a support group for those struggling with alcohol—it is effective. Studies have shown, however, AA’s success rate dramatically rises when it is part of a comprehensive inpatient alcohol rehab program.
Do You Need Treatment?
Here are some of the telltale signs you need treatment. How is alcohol affecting different aspects of your life?
- Are related health struggles developing?
- Are related financial or legal issues developing?
- Are complications developing at work? With studies?
- Are difficulties developing at home? With family interactions? With honesty? Trust?
- Are there troubles meeting responsibilities and keeping commitments?
- Have there been broken promises to cut back?
An Alcohol Treatment Program for You
From detox to counseling, an inpatient rehab program offers you a full spectrum of treatments and support for your struggle with alcohol. Inpatient care allows you to focus entirely on your recovery, removing the distractions and triggers of daily life for a time.
AA touches very generally upon spirituality—recognizing a Higher Power—and many treatment programs give lip-service to the role faith plays in treatment. At Honey Lake Clinic, we believe faith-based treatment, encompassing your spiritual, physical and mental health, will provide you with the long-lasting tools and knowledge you need to break alcohol’s grip.
Honey Lake Clinic offers a residential, holistic program addressing all three levels—
Psychological: Teaching decision-making skills to help you cope with underlying struggles.
Physical: Using therapy and medication, if needed, to re-circuit or renew your mind.