The Complexities of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Alcoholics Anonymous has been effective in making sure that everyone with alcoholism gets together and shares their stories. Then, there are some people that need a different approach to treat their alcoholism. If you feel like Alcoholics Anonymous is not working well for you, it is important to keep an open mind to the many treatment options available and to never give up on your recovery.

What Happens in A.A.

People in A.A. share their experiences with drinking and addiction with others who are currently struggling. You get a sponsor who has been in your shoes before that you can rely on whenever you feel triggered to drink again. The program offers the 12 steps which are the steps to living a satisfying life away from alcohol. In speaker meetings, a member of A.A. will share their story of what it was like drinking, what happened, and how their life is now. Most of these meetings are for members only and the members agree not to let what is shared in the meetings go outside of them. The person who leads the meeting chooses a topic and members take their turns sharing the topics.

A New Study for A.A.’s Effectiveness

It has long been criticized that Alcoholics Anonymous does not have the medical research to back up how effective the program is. Well, a new study by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review discovered that A.A. not only helps people achieve sobriety, but has higher rates of continuous sobriety compared to therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy. This study measured factors like the length of time participants abstained from alcohol, the amount they reduced their drinking, if their drinking continued, and the consequences and health costs of their drinking. The study has found higher rates in long-term sobriety after being in A.A. What makes the program so effective is how free the program is, saving healthcare providers $10 billion.

Why the 12 Steps Work for Some

A.A. is a great way to build connections with others going through the same struggles as you are. The only people who go to an A.A. meetings are people who are sober or trying to be sober. That means that everyone understands what everyone is going through and you will feel less alone. Changing your social circle can make an impact in sobriety in that you are surrounded by people trying to stay away from alcohol just as hard as you. A.A. meetings teach you life’s difficult lessons in sobriety like how to resist alcohol when offered, dealing with hard moments without using alcohol as a coping mechanism, coping with the stigma of addiction, etc. You could take the stories of other people as tools for how to cope in your own life. 

Why the 12 Steps May Not Work for Others

Many people who are not so religious tend not to agree with the spiritual elements of looking to your Higher Power to get through your recovery. Some people believe that it takes more than confessing your struggles and praying as a course of treatment. Even though you do not have to use God as your Higher Power, you can use anything. Some may feel like they will be judged by others if their Higher Power is not a supreme deity, even though A.A. recommends using anything you want. There are also some 12-Step programs where people take a more confrontational approach for that person to get help compared to using positive reinforcements. The fact that every 12-Step program works differently with different people attending can make others weary of them.

What to Do If A.A. Does Not Work for You

If A.A. and the 12 Steps are not working out for you, do not think that this gives you an excuse to give up on your recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous may be one of the most popular support groups out there, but it is not the only one. There are many alternatives to 12-Step groups like SMART Recovery. This foundation is research-based where scientific evidence and research are used to support the techniques and methods promoted in this program. This foundation focuses on methods that use motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to change self-destructive behaviors. It is about creating the motivation to change, learning how to manage and cope with cravings and urges, how to control your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and learning how to live a balanced life.

What to Know About A.A. Before You Join

Alcoholics Anonymous does not keep membership files or attendance records. You can reveal as much as you want about yourself. If you meet people there that you know, you do not need to worry about it as no one is supposed to disclose anyone’s identity and you can reveal as much as you are comfortable revealing about yourself. There are no dues or fees for a membership. Members are free to contribute as much as they want towards rent, food, etc. You do not have to be religious to be a member as you just need to consult in a Higher Power whoever that may be to you. Alcoholics Anonymous may not be for everyone, but it is important that you attend one meeting just to see if it is right for you as you might be surprised. If Alcoholics Anonymous is not for you, keep an open mind to the many addiction treatment options.

Located in Huntington Beach, California next to a beautiful pond, Silver Lining Recovery is a serene outpatient care center that believes in staying relaxed while receiving treatment. Silver Lining’s philosophy is the most effective way to treat addiction is to find the underlying cause of it and offer professional help. Their customized treatment program offers a number of different individualized therapies with knowledgeable and experienced counselors to be there for you and uncover unresolved issues like EMDR, CBT, DBT, meditation treatment, faith-based treatment, and academic and career counseling.  For more information, please call us at (833) 847-6984.