One of the first things we recognized when we began this practice was that most clients needed some degree of “deprogramming” from all of the pervasive AA/12 Step mythology.
We were getting calls from people who were finding it more difficult to give up AA than they’d had ending their alcohol abuse. And, again, the mythology was the problem.
So! A fast review of the actual research and experience seems in order once again.
First, and most important, you are not “powerless.” Far from it. It’s a great excuse to keep on drinking, but it’s obviously not true – if it were then no one would ever stop, but since most people do… well, you get the picture, we’re sure.
Second, it’s not a disease. It can be a response to dis-ease, as in anxiety, loneliness, boredom, malnutrition, and so on, but it’s still a choice. Yes, it goes well with “powerlessness” for people who want to keep on drinking and not take responsibility for their choice, but even that’s still a choice.
Third, that you need to go to 30, 60, or 90 days of “rehab” to fix “the problem.” Since rehab in the U.S. and Canada is pretty much just paying a lot of money to attend AA meetings, and since AA has an efficacy rate of less than 5%, how do you think that’s going to work out?
Additionally, you could just stay home and get the same benefit for free by trying a few meetings. If that was actually going to work for you, you’d know soon enough.
Fourth, you need to be “in recovery” for the rest of your life. This isn’t even remotely true but, again, it’s a choice you can make. It’s a great way to get the same benefits you get from drinking while pretending you’re doing something positive.
But we suggest that it’s far more beneficial to get a life. (Continued below…)
Debunking the 12 Step Mythology (continued)
Another common belief is that “alcoholism” is an incurable and progressive disease. And again, while the degree of alcohol abuse in some individuals may increase over time, it is far more common for it to remain stable or recede – consider the many people who experience a temporary increase in their alcohol use following tragic events, divorces, job loss, and traumas of all sorts. This “progression” usually ends within a year or so, often ebbing back to normal use as shown by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse study of 2003.
Reality? Spontaneous remission is far more common than “progression.”
Finally there is the biggest myth of all – “AA works!”
Really? A cult with an efficacy rate of under 5% “works?”
Yes, there are people who find sobriety through AA. But again, the research, mainly conducted at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota between 1990 and 2000, showed that it is fairly easy to predict those for whom it is a possible option.
So, who benefits? People whose emotional development was arrested before puberty. Those who remain frozen at 10-12 years of age and the predators who prey on them.
Not interested in joining that club? We don’t blame you. So why not step up to being the true adult you are and make some new choices? Ones that let you leave alcohol abuse – and AA mythology – in the dust where they belong?