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.