We all know couples for whom AA and Alanon work. He, (it’s usually “him,” not “her”), goes off to his meetings and “works his program” and she (men don’t go to Alanon) hangs out with the other wives and everyone declares the problem solved.
It is a solution, but not one that appeals to people who want to actually fix their alcohol related problems.
Understanding this means understanding who AA works for, which research done at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in 1990 and 1991 provided a definitive answer: AA works for people who do not want to give up the benefits of an alcohol focused life and whose spouses want to retain the benefits they get from their partners’ drinking. Generally speaking, that translates onto men and women whose emotional development was arrested at the age of 12 or under.
The appeal of AA to these people is that it gives them the same peer group (i.e., drunks) to conform to that they found in bars; the same excuses to engage in misbehavior (“I was drunk” becomes “I am working my program”); the same escape from responsibilities at home; the same escape from spouses and children; a denial of responsibility for past (and present and future behaviors); and all of it sanctioned y being “powerless over my disease.”
Meanwhile, wives over at the Alanon meeting get credit for being saints; support for never actually doing anything about the problems associated with their equally alcohol focused lives; reinforcement of their “superiority”; and the upper hand in all family decision making.
All of which has a lot of appeal to people who are incapable of mature adult relationships in any case, but it does nothing to alleviate loneliness, boredom, depression, etc. On fact, it exacerbates all of these – which is why the AA attendees usually drink more after joining than they did before – and certainly helps explain why Alanon wives in particular sabotage any real change in their husbands’ behaviors.
But now suppose that you actually want to fix the discomforts and conditions that lead you to drink. Giving up boredom, isolation, depression, anxiety, lethargy, and so forth means doing exactly the opposite of what AA demands. You will need to assume responsibility for making new choices to replace your choice to drink.