Thursday, March 15, 2007

Alcoholics Anonymous

I've been inspired by a local news item to contemplate my off-again relationship with the world's most popular and well known alcoholism recovery program, Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA has helped millions of people spend at least one 24-hour period without having to get plastered out of their minds with booze.  When AA makes any claims beyond that one day--well, there's no proof of that.  Truth is, AA has never been clinically tested.  No one knows with any certainty if people stay alcohol free in any greater numbers by going to AA or by quitting on their own.  Believe anecdotal testimony, and AA is the greatest organization to have arisen in the 20th Century, with a founder channeling the inspired Word of God into the AA manual, The Big Book. 

Human beings have a pathetic desire to fit in.  We are social creatures who need attachments.  Alcoholics generally destroy these attachments through the disgraceful behavior their drinking engenders.  So when a group of people welcome them without the harsh judgment of non-alcoholics, it can foster devotion or even dependency in the psychologically needy.

The situation is ripe for abuse.  And abuse happens.  Just because alcoholics no longer have toxic chemicals flowing through their systems does not mean that they have been restored to full functioning health.  No.  Depending upon how low down the scale they've fallen, their behaviors, coping mechanisms, and personal codes of conduct are as impaired as the day before they walked through the door.  They've been tornadoes blowing through the lives of others and the winds are just as strong as ever.  But the've given up their booze and so in some dim, small, pin-prick of their benighted brains they truly believe that their feces no longer stinks.  That supreme sacrifice permits them to justify just about anything.


stwill61 said...

Interesting entry.  And, since you have some expertise in this area, I'd like your opinions/knowledge on something.

Forget the legal issue which the article raises (whether the pre-verdict imposition of an AA meeting or some such activity is presumption of guilt.)

What I'm curious to know is whether alcohol-induced accidents, or indeed any intoxicated incidents, are clear indications of the kind of addiction which AA claims to treat.

I live a sheltered life in regards to this topic, but it's always been my understanding that a person can make the (stupid) decision to get drunk and then get behind the wheel WITHOUT being an alcoholic.  That is, they don't have the addiction/disease, but they still make dumb decisions.

And, it's been my understanding that step 1 of AA (or some early step) requires that someone admit to being an alcoholic, and that the "treatment" one receives from the program is predicated on that addiction/disease.

Can someone make stupid decisions with respect to alcohol, and yet NOT be an alcoholic?

albdvd said...

Hi Hacker MC

My name is david and yes, well, you've guessed it I am etc etc

However, I have not had a drink in nearly 8 years.  I've been to AA in the past.  But not since I've stopped drinking.  I don't need it.  Nor do I actively seek out fellow alcoholics - practicsing or not - what the hell would be the point of stopping drinking if I did that?!

AA is an odd organisation.  No doubt it has helped many people but I agree for regular AA attenders it does seem to create a new dependency and that would seem to foster abuse.

Some of the ideas you touch on feature in a novel called Hotel Veronica which is available  at

Here is the blurb:
When Martin Lawrence starts his journey of recovery from alcoholism he is not on his own. He has a supportive family and a team of professionals to help him. But he also has a host of painful memories, stretches of time he can remember nothing about and half a million pounds in his bank account that isn't his. As he struggles to come to terms with his past, make sense of the present and build plans for the future he collects a colourful array of friends and enemies in an adventure, told at breakneck speed, that is as heartwarming as it is disturbing.

Yes, I am the author!

I used to joke in rehab that just because you were a bastard when you were drinking it didn't necessarily mean that you would stop being a bastard when you were sober.  On reflection, many alcoholics are better people for the drink.