Effectiveness of AA

Forget All The Myths Surrounding The Program: It’s All About The Fellowship (For Me)

Have you ever tried to do something really hard? Perhaps lose weight, start a new fitness program or stop smoking? Did someone else help you or support you? Was it less difficult with someone’s help and support who accomplished what you are trying to accomplish? Of course it was.

For centuries, humans have relied on each other to overcome life’s greatest challenges. Humans have always organized into groups to do what individuals cannot do on their own. This is the foundation for government, democracy and civilization.

Alcoholics Anonymous, in its most basic, primal form, operates under this ancient, indisputably successful model. The Power of the Group. Power in Numbers. Tribe Mentality. The Fellowship. Call it what you want.

When thousands of like-minded individuals get together to meet on every given night, in every given town in American to help each other with their drinking problems, this is a power immensely greater than the individual fighting alone. No other program of recovery can boast this power. That’s a fact.

Let me give you a few examples of how the power of the AA program has worked from my experience. Mind you, I have only been in the program for 15 months.

  • People in AA are the only folks who can truly relate to what I’m going through as an alcoholic. They know what it feels like to drive by a billboard ad for booze and start to salivate and cringe at the same time. They know the guilt and shame that I harbor for getting into trouble with alcohol. They know how difficult it is living “one day at a time.” They know the insidious power of denial. My “regular” friends, my family and even my therapist can never truly understand what’s it’s like to be an alcoholic. This is so critical for me, because being an alcoholic can make you feel like the loneliest person in the world. With AA, it doesn’t have to be this way.
  • People in AA truly care about me and others in the program. I don’t think I have ever met as many selfless, giving, and caring people as I’ve met in AA. When I last relapsed, there were 6 guys offering to pick me up and take me to a meeting. There was a roomful of folks at every one of my regular meetings waiting to give me a hug and welcome me back. There’s my sponsor who puts up with my b.s. on a daily basis. There are guys and gals who offer me rides to meetings every day. Last night at my home group meeting, there were 110 people (yes, I counted) celebrating someone who got a 25 year coin. But the biggest round of applause came when a high school kid came up and got his 24 hour coin! Amazing…
  • AA Teaches You How To Live Sober. AA gets a lot of unwarranted criticism for its 12 Step program and emphasis on spirituality. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to believe in God or any of that stuff in the program. The Steps are suggestions, not requirements. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. Putting all that aside, what I’ve learned through a year plus in AA is how to live happily sober. It’s a learning process and work in progress, but AA folks are generally very fun to be around with great personalities. At least that’s what I’ve found.
  • AA is but one piece in the recovery puzzle. Borrowing from good financial investing, I believe with recovery, you need to diversify, and not put all your eggs in one basket. That goes with AA. For me, in addition to AA meetings, my recovery includes private therapy, medication, exercise, daily reading/reflection, and of course writing this Blog! Granted, AA is a big part of my recovery, but it’s not my entire recovery plan.

Well, that’s all I got today.

One day at a time…



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