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Talk:Alcoholics Anonymous

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I saw an entry for AA and read it with the expectation of putting on a "mission statement doubt" tag - I had no idea that it was such a godbotherin' programme. Thanks for this. Does anyone know of any non-religiously oriented alternatives? Not that I'm lookin', but I am curious... PFoster 18:51, 21 February 2008 (EST)

"it is problematic for atheists, rationalists, and other freethinkers, because AA relies on a belief in a supreme deity ("God") as an inseparable part of the program."

Yes, it certainly is problematic for atheists. But how is it problematic for rationalists or other freethinkers? Does anyone here even know what rationalism or freethinking is? DoggedamesP 19:05, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Bohdan is problematic for most people, too.-αmεσ (tailor) 19:06, 21 February 2008 (EST)
Who is this "bohdan"? Granted, he sounds like a rationalist and an all around wonderful person, but how does this apply to the topic at hand? DoggedamesP 19:08, 21 February 2008 (EST)
The Bo'Dan has a point. Oh, just to clarify - Bohdan set up this website, he's like a kind of living saint for all involved. A secular saint. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
I gotta agree with Yuri/Andrej/Bohdan/Oscar here. I find AA problematic as an atheist in the step of surrendering to a higher power (as you understand it), but i doubt anyone else other than an atheist would have that problem.-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --It hurts when I do "this" 19:10, 21 February 2008 (EST)

I've got a better one "User:DoggedamesPMD". DoggedamesP 19:11, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Sheesh. I give up already. Secret Squirrel 19:16, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Wow, I had no idea that AA involved His Godness? It kind of explains something. A few years back, a friend of mine started going to AA, and at the same time became very VERY Into God. I never associated the two before. The odd thing was, no-one who knew him thought he had a drink problem. He could party like a rock star, for sure, but weeks or months could go by without him doing so. He claims he had a problem, I didn't see it myself, but who am I to judge, maybe he did? Anyway, it goes some way to explain the AA thing, although I don't know if it was the chicken or the egg. DogP 19:17, 21 February 2008 (EST)

One thing I would add regarding the higher power is that the phrasing is something along the lines of "a higher power as you understand it." That higher power need not be divine, indeed when I was in Overeaters Anonymous we had an atheist member who considered the group itself his higher power inasmuch as he turned his problems over to the group and our support helped take away his desire to overeat. It's problematic, perhaps, but not insurmountable. Stile4aly 19:22, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Ah, OK, I guess that's fair enough. There's no denying some people do indeed have problems managing alcohol, and I wouldn't deny them the right to believe in whatever they want if it helps them. God is My Wallpaper! DogP 19:32, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Is there anyone on this wiki other than susan who doesn't have a high BMI? (myself included)-- Asclepius staff.png-PalMD --It hurts when I do "this" 19:38, 21 February 2008 (EST)
Me? I have low BMI. Me small person. DogP 20:08, 21 February 2008 (EST)
Wiki-ing ... wow equations. OK, 23.5's alright, but I suppose that's due to cycling to school every day. --מְתֻרְגְּמָן שְׁלֹום
To kindergarten? DoggedamesP 20:35, 21 February 2008 (EST)

I've always found the concept of AA to be a bit strange. total abstinance on the idea that 1) you can't handle it, and 2) only some super power can handle it. Could you imagine if this were applied to obese people like me, who are addicted to food? DO NOT EAT EVER! Admit you do not have power over food, so avoid it at all costs. gak. --Waiting for Godot 12:31, 31 July 2008 (EDT)

Friend of mine (different friend than above) was out for coffee with me the other day, and he was flipping this coin around in his fingers. When I asked what it was he showed me his AA coin/medal thingy. There's four words written around the circle, and one of them is "God". My friend's not religious at all, but there you go. God's part of the deal of giving up booze it seems. Remind me to quit as I get busy with my first cocktail of the day. --DogPMarmite Patrol 17:20, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
As someone intimately familiar with this particular program, I can say that God's not only part of the deal, God is the deal. He'll be religious soon enough. It isn't optional, no matter how much they like to insist it is. By the way, I love that your friend was randomly flipping around an AA coin in public for no reason other than hoping you'd ask about it. --PitchBlackMind 17:37, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Judge ye not my friends Mr.Mind - he wasn't flipping around the coin so I'd notice it, not at all. It was an absent-minded thing, and it's the first time I've seen the coin in the six years he's been going. He's not about to be infected by Godness. --DogPMarmite Patrol 17:43, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Haha, I see, I see. I have a serious bias against AA, and it showed a bit there. I've refrained from editing this article for that very reason.--PitchBlackMind 17:50, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

On Good Thing AA Does[edit]

They do run the All Ages, non-profit venue (the SOS Recovery Room) that my band played our first show at. They even gave us free food and pop (also know as soda in stranger parts of the world). Above that, the volunteers running the venue don't charge an admission cost, but rather have a "suggested donation" so that kids who can't afford to go to the show aren't excluded. The best part, however, is that it is, literally, right across the parking lot from a liquor store.The Goonie 1 19:32, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Lol, one-stop shopping! ħumanUser talk:Human 20:29, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Technically, AA groups can't run a venue (the exception being a "central office" for multiple groups). Most rent space. If a group feels the need to run a "recovery centre" or whatever it will be spun off as a separate endeavour, which is not allowed to carry the AA name or logo. Then it will rent space back to the group. Sounds like what's happening here. TrogL (talk) 17:55, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

OK, so how do we handle misconceptions about AA?[edit]

I put in an edit pointing out problems with the Orange anti-AA site (it's a mishmash of logical fallacies), that appears to have disappeared.

In terms of the "God" thing, certainly YMMV wildly, as pointed out. I disagree with the portrayal of "We agnostics", the appendix at the end of the Big Book has been completely ignored, as has supplemental literature that if anything, muddies the waters even further in terms of a theistic "God". Also ignored is early members' success in stomping out any attempt to turn AA into a religion.

AA is primarily a "fellowship" as opposed to a "program", is the first to admit that it's not for everybody, that the "God thing" is an issue, and that YYMV. Given that it does have an actual success rate (~10% of people walking in the door) > 0 it seems odd to dismiss it as complete and utter woo. TrogL (talk) 16:58, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

10% > 0 is the same 10% as people who just decide to go cold turkey on their own. That's the problem. (I don't have actual statistics on that, but AA has about the same success rate as Dieting to lose substantial amounts, giving up smoking, etc. In that sense, it really is a woo. It also has the problem of becoming (for some) an addiction on its own. But, so does/can everything in life. When you note that after the first year, those that are in the program, stay in the program - that's telling. But the same is true with Spraks People for dieting. Those that are committed to any program manage to stay with it. As for the God thing - how prevalent is it really? other than the opening line of meetings. I don't' know, cause i don't go. If no one is talking "god" beyond that "one nation under god" level of ritual that is at meetings, i'm dubious that "god" is a big issue. (And yes, I dislike AA, so i'd never edit it, or i'd yell "bullshit" all over it. hehe.--Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 17:06, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it's NOT the same 10%, those people never darken AA's doorway or are in the 90% who don't stick around. Some members have attempted "cold turkey on their own" and haven't been able to do it without the "fellowship" (whatever that works out to be for them). Certainly AA addiction exists, but it's less problematic than its alternative. I don't remember saying anything about "first year". The God thing, as said, varies widely (or even wildly) from member to member. Some will stand up in meetings to babble about Jesus (to boos and catcalls, it's supposed to be a personal "higher power" - mine likely won't work for you so there's no point in bringing it up), some people use the group itself or even an inanimate object. Other than the normal readings (normally ignored in favour of fetching coffee, doing your knitting), the majority talk about nuts-and-bolts methodologies for not drinking (eg. stay out of bars).TrogL (talk) 17:36, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, that was bad writing. I meant, 10% of people will be successful if they go to AA, Sparkpeople for diets, Overeaters Annoy (who do not "work the steps", they just talk and share), and who just try on their own. AA has a very low success rate, but so does almost any approach, including medical detox. I would not call sparks people "woo", but i would not say they are "successful" either. People who are committed to any type of program, and stick with it, tend to make it. but that's not because AA itself is better or worse, it's just one method of people focusing their energy on stopping bad/additicted behaviors.Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 17:46, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
That's the sort of "logic" that I find on the "Orange" site I was complaining about, basically "AA is a bad thing because it doesn't work for everybody" (if I'm reading you correctly). Certainly AA makes some strong recommendations, ya know, stuff like "don't drink", "show up for meetings on a basis that works for you", "make some sort of attempt at the Steps", "please respect our Traditions" and certainly there are some "spokespeople" (a contradiction in terms) who need to keep their mouths shut (do NOT get me started on that one), certainly the Big Book contains some patent nonsense, but dismissing the entire thing as "woo", when it fact is does have some (up-front admitted) limited success strikes of throwing out the baby with the bath water. TrogL (talk) 18:07, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Sure, it has some success. So does just stopping cold turkey. So do non-denial, non-abstinence programs. There are in fact, some medical programs that have a much higher success rate, since they address the actual addiction and not some mental place of "giving over control to someone else" or saying "you can never drink again, cause you are not in control". AA promotes itself as if it is a solution. And it is no more successful than anything out there. As i said, including NO PROGRAM. it's hard to see how we can say it's not woo when the success rate of saying "i feel like stoping and am going to" is roughly the same as the rate of someone going to these meetings". Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 18:31, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Because that treats the situation like a zero-sum game, which it's not. (Wildass numbers pulled out of my ass) 10% get better "cold turkey" (YMMV - see Amy Winehouse), 10% AA (with or without woo), 10% medical intervention (which AA does not preclude), 10% "controlled drinking" (which it does) still leaves a whole lotta people out there living a train wreck. Lumping AA (which has a > 0% success rate, in with chelation, which does not, hardly seems fair. At least could we have a link to the official AA website to counter the "Orange" website, and/or someplace where I can have a go at it. TrogL (talk) 18:49, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Not sure I have much of anything to add here, but TrogL: thanks for bringing it over here instead of edit warring on the page. EVDebs (talk) 00:43, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
We're still left with the situation that the only link allowed on this page is to a website that says (in a nutshell) "AA is bad because its co-founder was once a member of a completely different organization whose founder was a bit of a whack job", and a host of other logical fallacies.TrogL (talk) 19:35, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Especially since you allow a link to "Answers in Genesis" but not to — Unsigned, by: TrogL / talk / contribs
so, I've added the AA home page, how difficult was that. The article does say, right up front 'While AA has undoubtedly helped many alcoholics to recovery' and, later on, 'there are nonbelievers who are prepared to publicly defend AA on the basis that it "works for them"' So, come on, all we're saying is that it isn't for everyone. The problem with the AA seen from where I stand is the popular conception that AA is the only answer and that it has 100% success. For those of us who don't believe in a 'higher power' the 12 step plan looks, from outside, like a non runner. Bad Faith (talk) 20:46, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. Much better.TrogL (talk) 21:47, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

I think some people here get a Pavlovian reaction, whenever they see the word God, without understanding its use in AA.

For many AAers, their higher power is G.O.D. (Group Of Drunks). The purpose of the Higher Power is to reduce their self-centredness which has caused many of the problems to begin with (that's why they're told to make amends to people they've hurt) and which is a common problem in western esp. American society. (There is a good argument that AA is too American, unaddressed here) Additionally, if someone associates themselves with failure (another cause of alcoholism), they may need to look out of themselves, at least initially, to move beyond it.Albannach (talk) 11:37, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Far too anti[edit]

Someone says above "I didn't know AA was such a God bothering program", well it isn't. AA is full of non-believers. (If you want religious twelve step programmes they exist).

AA isn't effective for everyone, but it is extremely effective for some people, and this article is doing any alcoholic readers a disservice by turning them away from trying something that might help them. Some people keep off alcohol abuse for decades thanks to AA and it certainly saves at least some people's lives... including folk who've been put on metabuse and other drugs and failed.-Albannach (talk) 11:16, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

We actually have no idea how successful AA is because they refuse to allow anyone outside of the organization to do studies on their effectiveness. They claim a near 100% success rate, which is basically impossible. It's also worth mentioning that a lot studies have been done comparing different parts of different treatments for alcoholism, and a lot of what AA says to do is not all that effective. Their god-bothering aside, it is an organization that really should be trusted.--Token Conservative (talk) 14:57, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

I didn't realize that the Rational Wiki existed to promote AA! What I provided was a somewhat humorous account of how addiction/abuse/drunkness came to be a disease using factual information.

There are studies that have been done where AA attendance formed part of the study , examples of which are Ditman , Brandsma and Vailliant and the "evidence" does not support AA as an effective treatment. Even Vaillant a strong supporter of AA could not demonstrate its effectiveness. So when Science meets AA what are the results...well not so good. More so other methods of theraputic intervention prove to be somewhat more effective when compared to AA. One AA member's review of AA surveys up to 1996 show the drop out rate is significant 95%. High drop out rates were also noted in the Ditman and Brandsma studies.

So how does posting such information get translated into being anti religious and anti AA. Describing what has been examined by people who have educational qualifications is just describing what has been found.

Could it be that it is hard to face the facts. Antedoctal evidence eg AA saved my life it works for me is not enough. If you want antedoctal evidence check the fan reviews for homepathic medicines better yet google up your favorite face cream or soap on Amazon and read the reviews. Ignore the fact that some of these products contain ingredients that have links to cancer.

It is a rather presumptious that AA members "feel" that AA can do for you what you cannot do for yourself, and that if you fail to respond to what they have to offer "then you are unconstitonally incapable of being honest with yourself" further more they conclude "you have been born that way" per AA literature.

A major point made here is that AA does not conduct studies on its effectiveness. I ask myself why not An examation of its history shows that its original membership at the time they broke from the Oxford Group to form AA was approx 40 and that half of those returned to drinking. Wilson`s solution was to edit out their stories in the big book and add new ones.

There are many self help groups and recovery organizations to choose from and some are listed on the page . Perhaps for the majority of the drop outs , the 95%, these "born that ways" these are the better option. Namby (talk) 15:47, 19 April 2013 (UTC))

No statistics about AA can believed, other than perhaps the no. of meetings they hold. Anonymity is both the strength and weakness of the organisation. Strength because people can attend without publicity or fear of reprisal. Weakness because it is impossible to quantify its work.
If AA helps only one in every hundred, it's worthwhile. It's cheap, private and its sponsor system provides cover that is otherwise time and labour intensive. It doesn't drive people away from proper medical treatment either. In addition, it has the personal touch. People may be more convinced by the testimony and advice of a fellow sufferer than a medical expert. (Although plenty of doctors are alcoholics themselves)-Albannach (talk) 16:24, 22 April 2013 (UTC) ps I do take you point about Wilson, although he is not the AA.

What about the Damage AA causes, the same reasoning could apply. If AA attendance emotionally or pyschology damages one person in 100, it could easily be concluded it would be better to find an alternative program. Certainly AA the Big Book written in the 1930s teachings and beliefs have been challeged by Albert Ellis and Alan Marlatt alike

Sponsorship appears to be a one sided affair if this study holds to be true. Baltimore, Maryland study of 500 former and current heroin and cocaine injection drug users over the course of one year indicated having an AA/NA sponsor was not correlated with any improvement in sustained abstinence rates than a non-sponsored group (Crape 2001:291). However, being a sponsor was found to be highly correlated with sustained abstinence. (Crape 2001:298).

Eric Berne in his transactional analysis theory concluded that the AA sponsor moves into the positon of a rescuer , when an AA chapter runs out of newcomers{victims in need of rescuing] that they can function upon through sponsoship a whole chapter will empty out and return to drinking to start the cycle/game of rescuer/victim one more time. In fact it was Wilson who came to the conclusion his sobriety rested upon the functioning/indoctrination of others into the Oxford Group which led to his introdution to Dr. Bob the other early founder.Namby (talk) 17:59, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

As I pointed out earlier the "scientific" studies you mentioned are trash. (With an unrepresentative and self-selecting sample like so much soft "science") AA is made up of people who do not seek publicity, and go to an anonymous group precisely for that reason. Some of them can't even bring themselves to go to the doctor, at least to begin with. Why would some of them wish to take part in research, when they go to such lengths to hide or avoid telling work colleagues, spouses or close family about alcohol abuse? Therefore we're in a realm, where data is meaningless and skewed. (Like rates of illegal immigration, smuggling and other covert activities - the stats can't believed, they are purely guesstimates)
Since AA is a take it or leave it set-up, I doubt many are damaged by it. People are hurt by personal disagreement and abuse, of course, but that isn't a specifically AA problem and occurs outside it all the time and in ordinary medical clinics nd hospitals too. But many are helped by AA and when it works they stay off alcohol for decades as a result.
While standard medical treatments for addiction can help, the Achilles' heel is that many of them replace one addictive substance with another, without looking at the roots of addiction. Even anti-depressants fall into this category, let alone methadone (both have street value). I disagree about the victim comment, that was tasteless. Many AA members wish genuinely to help, and they can at least see the problem fom the inside. The tragedy is that so many alcoholics never seek help, and die from that as a result.
Despite the best attempts of neo-liberalism and so called libertarianism, humans are still basically social/communitarian animals, and generally prefer advice from those who have experienced what they have, and also enjoy the company of others and sharing their thoughts. We see this kind of thing in many walks of life, for example I led a drama workshop this evening hich had aspects of that... others find solace in sport, dungeons 'n' dragons or choirs.Albannach (talk) 23:57, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Alannach what you are expressing is simply your own opinons{POV}. Even your opinion science and studies do not work. They work very well indeed if you take the time to read them. They even confirm AA 's own surveys that show the drop out rate is outrageous.

I put more faith in science or a scientific study than the ramblings of AAers claiming AA saved them. In the Words of George Vaillant upon reviewing his own studies that took years to comply, the AA 5% success caused him to conclude "who is to say AA works or is it the person's own decision to quit " that made the differnce. In other words it is the placebo effect, or better put; somewhere to go; something to do ; someone to talk to . Certainly groups like Smart and Lifering can fit that requirement as well as provide current and useful information concerning addiction rather than the misinformation/erroneous claims of the Big Book of AA that only serves to demonstrates AA lack of knowledge concerning addiction.

As you put forth yourself the action of joining a drama class, and I might add a cooking class , or hiking club and could well achieve the same outcome if a person has decided to quit drinking.

The AA pandering to newcomers, upon whom they rely, with how "AA saved them" does not make a good study or provide good evidence. It is antecdoctal evidence, the type of evidence I would expect from someone caught up in the belief that homepathic medicines work for them even though no active ingredients can be found in their pills, or yet again a born again Christian's claim that they are consumed in the holy spirit and all lifes problems can be solved for you if you simply get with their program. Namby (talk) 16:45, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

"what you are expressing is simply your own opinons" - That's another pomo cliche. Of course, it is someone's opinion. You are expressing your own opinion. The statistics you provide are ridiculous and unscientific for the reasons I explained. You have taken absolutely no notice of this and keep quoting dubious sources at me. Just because it is written by an academic does not mean it uses proper methodology.
There are no real stats for a confidential/secretive organisation. How can there be? You can't take any representative sample of such a group one way or the other.-Albannach (talk) 18:13, 4 May 2013 (UTC) ps You've edited the wrong section by the way.

Don't have faith in science (it is not a religion), put your trust in rigor and methodology. A scientist is not an infallible priest, s/he is a tester/recorder. Homeopathy can be, and is, tested clinically. It fails. AA can't be tested clinically, it is an anon support group/community, not a treatment.

Why you can't get scientific stats for it:

  • You have to define an AA member (no consensus)
  • You have to identify people in it. (It's anonymous)
  • You have to identify people willing to talk to you. (a minority)

etc etc This is why it's very soft (pseudo?) science. The sample is unrepresentative and self-selecting. On a similar note (yes, you'll cry anecdote, but it is not quite) about ten years ago I received something about cable TV, and threw it in the trash, thinking it was commercial data harvesting. Well, lo and behold, I happen to read a study about cable TV in my area, repectably produced, referenced, peer reviewed etc. By their own admission, they'd received fifty postal responses and based the data on that. The only problem is that there are about a thousand homes in my area. So the sample i unrepresentative. It reminds me of what you're producing here, beautifully packaged stats, which don't withstand logical scrutiny.Albannach (talk) 19:10, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

There's already a disclaimer in the article that says more or less the same thing. As for all the additions, I don't have the time to or the expertise to review all of the articles. I'm sure AA proponents can find dozens of studies finding just the opposite. And that's the point of arguing over the numbers -- many AA proponents claim their approach is treatment (not just a support group) and is backed by rock-solid data, and it's not. Some of these studies can probably be axed. Meta-analyses, though, like the one from Cochrane Reviews should stand as they are not just one-offs with tiny sample sizes. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:33, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
I'd be sceptical of pro-AA stats for the same reason. I'm very wary of street pollsters. Many people (how many though?), myself included, refuse to do most street surveys. Surely that skews data sets as does the whole anonymity business. I am not an alcoholic, but I have seen how AA operates. More on that later. (Actually anyone who wishes to get a good taste of AA is like should watch the very underrated film Drunks, which I think gives a pretty realistic portrayal of it. Richard Lewis' performance is superb.)-Albannach (talk) 20:23, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
AA's raw recovery rate is 26%; for those who give the program a serious try (defined as not drinking and attending meetings for 90 days), it rises to 50%.

The disease theory of alcoholism[edit]

I cut this section out of the article. Whether substance addiction can properly be regarded as an illness or disease is a much more far-reaching topic than what AA says or does about it. There may be scope for a separate article on the subject, but not just a one-sided account cited to a single biased source (Baldwin Researching Institute). ŴêâŝêîôîďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:13, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that probably belongs elsewhere. I suppose it depends on your definition of disease. I think "disorder" or even (mental) illness is more appropriate.Albannach (talk) 00:02, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
It would be best in an alcoholism article. There's a lot of woo, politicking, religioning &c. about its effects and treatment. SophieWilder 19:40, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
The DSM IV TR (and probably the DSM V and the ICD 9) lists alcoholism, drug addiction, and other addictions as "mental disorders" not "diseases", for whatever that's worth.--Token Conservative (talk) 01:56, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Generally I'd say the DSM is right, but alcoholism has significant physiological effects too. The body, as well as the brain, develops dependency.

I know some people view substance abuse as a form of self-medication too.-Albannach (talk) 08:04, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

The Dsm is subject to review, keep in mind that the DSM classified homsexuality a form of mental illness. Politics , popular opinion sway the DSM. Check this out the DSM how a mental health disorder is discovered. Namby (talk) 21:28, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

" keep in mind that the DSM classified homsexuality a form of mental illness" - Yes, excellent point and I'm told extreme homophobia is considered one in some quarters, suggesting to me the zeitgeist rather than science in both cases.Albannach (talk) 21:39, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
The problem being, of course, attempting to differentiate the two while you are still within said zeitgeist. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 21:42, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Not a problem at all since you can look at their laws. One era imprisoned gays and saw them as perverts who harrass "straight" men, the other is allowing them to marry, and sees them as ordinary member of society who get harrassed. So methinks it's more to do with which way the wind's blowing sometimes in psychiatry. -Albannach (talk) 21:56, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Also remember that when homosexuality was listed in the DSM, that was an incredibly liberal thing to do for the time. If you have a group saying "kill homosexuals!" and another saying "no, they're sick and need to be treated", yes both positions are wrong, but one is clearly better.--Token Conservative (talk) 22:37, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Regarding the "Comments on A.A.'s Triennial Surveys" document[edit]

I've seen this bandied about quite a bit over the years, mostly as ammunition for a "back to basics" movement within AA. The document is available in several locations on the web as a PDF, including Scribd, and may be found by searching for the title given above. (I won't point anyone to any particular version as authoritative lest I be suspected of some sort of trickery.) The figures cited here are derived from Figure C-1 on page 12 (a hand-drawn chart on a typescript memo intended as a meeting briefing) and rather than indicating the drop-out numbers cited, they indicate an inability of some people to read a chart (and, perhaps as bad, a very poor selection of chart type for the data). The chart simply indicates which percentage of all of the people surveyed who reported themselves to be in their first year of continuous membership reported themselves to be in a particular month. There isn't an 81% drop-out rate in the first month; 19% of the people who are in their first year happen to be in their first month. One can run the totals (which, due to rounding, will vary somewhat on a survey-to-survey basis, but cluster around 100). Or one may simply look at those years in which people would have to have been able to stay in AA (sobriety is just an assumption) for N+1 months without having achieved N months in the first place (see months 6 and 7 of 1986 in particular). (The apparent bump in the middle is probably correlated to the survey period; there tends to be a bit of an influx of newcomers after the Festivus period.) There is, as one would imagine, a large decline after 1, 2 and 3 months (corresponding roughly to various mandated attendance periods, the length of stay in rehab facilities that promote AA as a follow-up strategy, and "see, I can stay sober if I want" periods). The retention rate shown is just a little more than 20% overall, and about 50% of those who've remained in for three months (the famous "90 in 90", or the "good try" of the Bill Wilson back-of-the-napkin quotes). Again I stress that this is just membership retention, not necessarily sobriety. It's time for all references to the chart to die unless you really feel a need to support the original high-success-rate claim (about half that really give it a good try will make it, and if you fall and get back on the horse, it's still at least a coin toss). I doubt that the original misreading/misrepresentation of the data was deliberate, but its dissemination was not without an agenda: the heathens and hippies were "ruining" AA, you see, and it was time to bring it back in line with the Big Book and the Good Book. "We used to have 75% success, and now we're down to 5%!!! Something must be done!!!!1!!eleven" The revolution largely succeeded, but there is a counter-revolution in progress that seems to have some wheels. (I hope it's obvious why the BoN status here.) — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs (signed by bot) 12:14, 06 July 2014 (UTC)

Another issue[edit]

The references are to a male god - thus followers of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, Bona Dea, New Age=Pagan-Goddess followers, tree-worshipers, sun-worshipers, and others following deities which do not fall into that category. (talk) 18:24, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

The Higher Power, or God, of AA is directly drawn from the Judeo-Christian deity. Both gods are referred to as a male, and both intervenes in the affairs of humankind. One can and should petition "Him" for things. He forgives sins or "removes character defects." When I have time, I'll add some info about how the state -- courts, probation and parole officers -- cannot compel criminals to attend 12 step programs. This is prohibited by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, as virtually all courts hearing the matter have ruled.---Mona- (talk) 18:55, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
And what about Baron Samedi as the Higher Power? (talk) 19:02, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

This article is very objective, but most of the medical profession is still committing blatant malpractice by pushing religion[edit]

I'm not going to get into the Smart Recovery (abstinence) vs. Moderation debate for now (it depends on why you're drinking to determine what approach is indicated for you and dual diagnosis treatment for people who abuse alcohol because of PTSD for example is a must in my opinion)., However, most rehab programs are 12 step based, not secular based even like Smart Recovery. While nominally better than Celebrate Recovery - which is then better than the extremes of right wing Christianity - 12 step programs are anti-atheistic and agnostic. To the Agnostic in the Big Book should be required reading for any licensed professional pushing a 12 step program, not to accept the premise but to realize how ridiculous the premise is. Objective (talk) 22:08, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

Yup. PB (talk) 23:01, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

Halp this article[edit]

It needs a comb-through of all the text. Some places we're too hard, most places we're too soft. Some claims need sources. Almost every section could use a pruning and/or some copyediting. And so on.

With sufficient effort, this article could become a front pager. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 19:47, 19 September 2016 (UTC)


Oh dear. This poor article looks a bit worse for wear. I think it's been out on the town lately... it's wife, the w:Alcoholics Anonymous article, has tried begging it to stay away from the saloon bar, but it just makes excuses...

Anyway. It's suffering from a bit of a split personality and has some very extreme views on things that have a grain of truth to them, but were overblown to the point of being a bit silly. It's definitely true that AA has an unhealthy (unholy? ha ha) amount of pseudoreligious and Christian-derived content, and that proof of its general efficacy is murky to say the least. From a skeptical point of view, it deserves a bit of a trip in the village stocks. SPOV however doesn't mean an undirected rant nor a laundry list of half-truths:

  • Yes, there's too much mention of God for AA to be called a secular program. The distinction it likes to draw been "spiritual" and "religious" is a bit of a disingenuous piece of semantics IMO. However, it is not really accurate to call AA meetings "religious services" as 95% of the discussion in them is on just plain alcohol, the God bits tend to be the kind of header and footer. Please check the compromise I've made: it's true there are elements of a religious service to them, basically.
  • The "increasing financial demands" is just laughably silly. There are financial demands which I think are a bad thing but I'm not sure how they're supposed to increase; the demands on a new member are precisely the same as an old timer (contributions in the basket and literature). There's not *much* AA literature that you can conceivably buy - hmm... 8-10 Conference Approved recovery books of which only 4 are of much importance (Big Book, the 12x12, Living Sober and ABSI?) plus the occasional magazine. It ain't no Scientology org bookstore; once you've got all the books you pretty much reach a limit there and they're inexpensive. With regards to other finance, if you have a service position your group will cover your out of pocket expenses. Can someone clarify what this was supposed to be about?
  • Regarding "competing with other religions", I couldn't possibly see how an accusation of heresy by other religious figures translated to this, so I changed it to "other organisations" (which it sometimes does e.g. actively competes against SMART Recovery, health services, etc.) Better wording needed here though.
  • The claim that AA forbids members from receive medical treatment was just total BS, especially silly given AA groups exist inside rehabs. Sometimes it is dangerously close to being discouraged for alcohol withdrawal itself, but even then Bill Wilson himself describes his medical detox in the Big Book and his addiction psychiatrist wrote the foreword. It says repeatedly that treatment is needed for badly ill alcoholics, though I admit this seems often to be forgotten.
  • This article doesn't really analyse AA in practice from a skeptical POV, it seems to more just be foaming at the mouth re the God business and doesn't really tell readers what actually happens in AA, really.
  • Some of the copy is extremely poor with broken syntax and an odd lack of continuity

As I've said, I've tried to fix a few things but... hmm. I think this article needs to come to believe that an editor can restore it to sanity... Tristessa de St Ange (talk) 06:24, 19 February 2018 (UTC)

Fifth Tradition[edit]

I spent a year in AA while getting sober, and there are plenty of things to criticize them for, many are listed in the article, but the criticism of the fifth tradition seems pretty petty to me. From the article: "Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship that focuses on promoting itself to those who struggle with alcoholism. AA's fifth tradition: 'Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.' Note that the primary purpose is not to help people stay sober, but to promote AA." In the AA rooms I frequented, the intent of the fifth tradition was avoiding complacency. Over time, it could become far too easy for a group to consist of a handful of folks with many years of sobriety. Reaching out to newcomers aided the group in focusing on helping alcoholics, rather than become a social club for former problem drinkers. I don't understand the criticism here at all. This seems like something that could be removed.Mikecol05 (talk) 14:45, 1 October 2018 (UTC)