Why doesn’t AA work for everyone, and why is it such a tedious venture?

There are a number of reasons why AA or the other 12-Step programs might not work for individuals.  They range from a lack of commitment to sobriety to unwillingness to be a part of what they see (wrongly) as being a religious organization.  In other cases, people’s issues may be such that they simply lack the ability to stay abstinent for long enough to do the work required.  And, of course, some people expect a free ride: never getting a sponsor, working the steps, and not doing the  things that others have found effective.  That is often because they feel that they are different, and thus do not need to “Thoroughly follow our path.”  Doing so can be pretty scary, and it is easier to run than to face our fears.

As far as “tedious” goes, that is certainly in the mind of the individual.  It is true that some meetings rub some people the wrong way.  Solution: find another meeting.  It is also true that meetings tend to discuss the same things repeatedly.  That is because they are intended to address the issues of the members, and those are the issues.  While, as an “old-timer,” I might find some meetings lacking in variety, I have to remember that the meeting is not about me.  It is about all 5, 15, 30 or more people in attendance.  Becoming active in our group and beginning to help others can be useful in overcoming boredom.

I badly needed to hear the bsics myself, over and over, when I was a newcomer.  Hearing something once, or reading it once in a book, is not sufficient to help us change our outlook and behavior when we have been thinking like addicts and alcoholics for years.  If that were the case, all it would take is reading an article in a medical journal to sober us up.  Sometimes basic ideas don’t even make sense until the 10th hearing — or the 50th.  We need to listen with an open mind, and not assume that we are superior to the others in the room.  Thoughts like that virtually guarantee that we are wrong.

That said, the Steps are not for everyone.  The 12-step programs are extremely effective for people who are determined and willing to “go to any lengths.”  There is no reason, however, to assume that other programs would not work as well for people who are dedicated to remaining abstinent and relearning the skills and attitudes of normal living.  For those who prefer half measures, probably no program will work.  Remaining abstinent is the beginning, not the end of sobriety.  It is entirely possible to remain abstinent for years without changing our thinking enough to be truly happy ourselves, or to contribute to the happiness of others.

While this writer continues to believe that the 12-step process produces the best results for the greatest number, there are a number of other programs that could be effective.  They include

and a variety of others.

This is not meant to imply that these programs are the best, or that they are superior to any others.  Neither should it be considered a recommendation for them, as opposed to the twelve steps.  Our staff here at Sunrise includes literally hundreds of years of sobriety.  It is our experience that AA, NA and similar groups produce the best results for the greatest number.  Nonetheless, support is critical for successful recovery, and we hope that everyone will find a path that is right for them.

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