The Alcoholics Anonymous Program is Not a Program

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The Alcoholics Anonymous Program is Not a Program

AA claims it functions as an alcohol recovery program despite having no methodology.

The pseudo-Christian religion, AA, oddly, does nothing to get people to stop drinking. In fact, AA recommends that people go to AA meetings even if they’re still drinking,

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Members who are still drinking are encouraged to “keep coming back.” ~A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care Professional

Sounds great! AA must have a comprehensive program to get people off alcohol since it tells people to keep coming. According to the AA Big Book, the program begins on page 58 with the chapter How it works. Pages 58 and 59 fill with spiritual rhetoric that attempts to persuade one to believe she is powerless over alcohol and in need of God to save them. But what is interesting is that the Big Book never actually tells one how to work step one. Page 58 and 59 discuss being honest and announce the twelve steps. However, upon listing the steps, chapter five simply states,

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

c) That God could and would if he were sought ~The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

At this juncture, the book assumes one has read the four preceding chapters Bill’s Story, There is a Solution, More about Alcoholism, and We Agnostics. The book also assumes the reader agrees with the literature. The literature confirms this assumption by stating one is now at step three. “Being convinced, we were at Step 3.”

Wait a minute! How can a person be at Step 3? Nothing has occurred other than reading the first four chapters. When did the person stop drinking? Have they stopped drinking? Had they stopped drinking, AA would be an amazing program since reading four chapters induced abstinence.

As ridiculous as this sounds, AA assumes the person desires and is ready to quit based upon reading the first four chapters. AA does nothing to achieve a person’s sobriety since no behavioral modification occurs other than suggesting the person believe in a high power. Never once does the literature show or exhibit how to stop drinking. The first four chapters of the Big Book discuss alcoholism, finding God, talk of AA’s great solution, but not one mention of how to quit drinking. The only exception would be the continuous repetition of rhetoric concerning having a spiritual experience or developing a relationship with God, which is AA’s answer.

If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. ~The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Although the primary purpose of AA seems to be sobriety’s achievement, there is no means to this goal except having a spiritual experience. If one attends AA and still drinks, the group members will sometimes try to convince the individual to stop drinking. If probed for a method, AA members will return standard AA slogans:

  • when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, come on back
  • one day at a time
  • pray
  • whatever you do — don’t drink!
  • think before you drink
  • read the big book
  • practice the steps
  • let go; let God, etc…

Calling itself a “program” is perhaps the most ridiculous AA claim since a complete absence of method exists beyond having a spiritual experience. It is not at all uncommon to hear AA’s tell newcomers to “fake it till you make it” and “pray for sobriety.” If these are the answers, then the obvious question arises: if you can stop drinking before you practice the twelve steps, why do you need the twelve steps?

Jesus Fish

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (2018). A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care Professional

Wilson, W (2001). (The Big Book) Alcoholics Anonymous. New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

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