Do I Have To Go To Alcoholics Anonymous To Stay Sober?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-Step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are spiritual programs. Substance abuse is considered a disease, an allergy, a genetic predisposition, and a spiritual malady. The basic premise of Alcoholics Anonymous is that a spiritual program of action is the only way to keep addiction in remission. However, because it is an anonymous program, there are no controlled studies to show whether AA does or does not keep alcoholics sober.
What Do Alcoholics Anonymous Surveys Say?
Every three years, AA conducts a random survey of its membership. A 2007 survey found that 33 percent of 8,000 members had been sober for over ten years. Twelve percent had been sober for 5 to 10 years. Twenty-four percent had been sober for one to five years, and 31 percent had been sober for under one year. This survey was taken by addicts who were active in AA.
A 1992 survey of 6,500 members indicated that 35 percent had been sober for over five years. Thirty-four percent had been sober from one to five years, and thirty-one percent had been sober for under one year. The average length of sobriety was five years.
Over 80 percent of those who joined AA stopped going to meetings after the first year. It appears that although most people who enter AA donâ€™t stick around, those who do have a pretty good shot at long-term sobriety.
Is Alcoholics Anonymous an Effective Treatment For Addiction?
Addiction is a poorly understood condition, but those in the recovering community agree that itâ€™s a chronic condition. Adding to the confusion is the fact that someone who is addicted to one substance can easily become addicted to another substance. Drug addicts who stop using drugs, for example, often turn into alcoholics. This suggests that it’s not the substance itself that creates addiction. Rather, it’s the substance abuser’s predisposition to become addicted that creates the problem.
Before AA got started in the 1930s, there was no known treatment for alcoholism. Alcoholics were basically doomed to suffer a slow and painful alcoholic death. Since its inception, however, AA has grown from two sober men to over two million sober members worldwide in 170 countries. Such phenomenal growth strongly suggests that AA does help substance abusers to stay sober.
Do Meetings Really Help?
For those in recovery, meetings provide support on many different levels. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Meetings are a healthy substitute for substances
- With ongoing support from others, addicts don’t have to recover alone
- Meetings provide a non-alcoholic social milieu thatâ€™s safe and satisfying
- The 12 Steps offer a precise blueprint for a satisfying sober life
- An emphasis on service helps addicts to focus on others instead of on themselves
What Happens To Addicts Who Stop Going to Meetings?
Is there a connection between not going to meetings and relapse? Many addicts say they relapsed after they stopped going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. On the other hand, some alcoholics can stay sober without meetings, but many of them will tell you that although they haven’t relapsed, they still feel uncomfortable and unhappy. There are also people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for a while and then stop, but donâ€™t relapse. These people often find support in therapy groups, long-term counseling, church, and other types of supportive environments. This suggests that substance abusers who stay sober are only able to recover with the help and support of others.