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Proof that Alcoholics Anonymous works


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After 70+ years, shouldn't there be some sort of proof that AA works?

George Vaillant, Harvard professor, researcher, and member (at the time) of AA's Board of Trustees, attempted to do so, compiling 40 years of older studies and conducting an eight-year longitudinal study that followed 100 people who had gone through 12step treatment.

He found that all but 5 relapsed, then compared that to three studies that involved no treatment, and 4 other studies that involved treament. All had about a 5% success rate, but Vaillant's group had the highest mortality rate of any of the studies. Vaillant said of his findings, "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism, but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."

There have been few randomized longitudinal controlled studies that studied the effectiveness of AA, but those that have been done, found AA lacking:

1) Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found that A.A. indoctrination greatly increased the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics.

2) Dr. Keith Ditman found that A.A. involvement increased the rate of re-arrests for public drunkenness in a group of street drunks.

3) Dr. Diana Walsh found that A.A. just messed up a lot of alcoholics and made them require more expensive hospitalization later on.

4) In England, a British team of researchers, Drs. Orford and Edwards, et. al., found that just having a doctor speak to alcoholics for a single hour, telling them to quit drinking or they were going to die, was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based "treatment".

5) The most damning test of all was done by one of the leaders of A.A., Doctor and Professor George E. Vaillant, who is also just about the biggest A.A. booster in the world. He just loves A.A. and thinks that everybody should get shoved into it. Doctor George E. Vaillant is also a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and he is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.. Vaillant clearly demonstrated that A.A. treatment kills patients. For eight years, his A.A.-based treatment program had the highest death rate of any kind of alcoholism treatment that he studied. Vaillant also candidly admitted that the A.A.-based treatment program had a zero-percent success rate. At the end of 8 years, his results with his first 100 patients were: 5 sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking. But 5% is also the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. That's how many quit drinking each year without any treatment. So 5 minus 5 yields zero, the real A.A. success rate.

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters26.html#RLCS

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OK Ray! You might remember me as Gabby from some other sites . I haven't posted for a while though.

Here is my take on the whole issue. If it works for you GREAT! If not.... well do something else. I do know several people in this area alone that are in AA and have been sober for years.

I have to work or at least discuss the steps with my therapist. She works at the rehab and I am doing out patient. Discussing them will not hurt me.

My biggest downfall about AA is the ones that are sober seem to live for AA. They have made AA their addiction or NA. They go to every meeting they can and most are single.

I am reading and if you remember me you know that I have tried MM. RR and anything else I could find. Searching for the "magic" cure!

I have decided that the cure is in me. I have to fill my life so that I won't have time to drink or so that I won't drink because I have something to do later. I have to continue the outpatient treatment because I managed to get a DUI last month ( I had already started treatment) I let my impulses take over and drove. If I can get my therapist to sign off on it my license will only be suspended a year.

We are also talking about the underlying causes.... dipping into my childhood and my first experience with all mighty alcohol. Personally I find the NA literature more to my liking. Actually I like NA. I have not been going to any meeting lately however. ( no license!)

Hope some of this makes sense... I am a little manic right now.. But sober.... This is Day 19 sober.

JT

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I have decided that the cure is in me. I have to fill my life so that I won't have time to drink or so that I won't drink because I have something to do later. JT

That might work until you run out of things to do. I think the real trick is setting up your life so that drinking no longer has any room in it.

My wife doesn't drink and I don't want to be around her drunk. I facilitate substance abuse groups and even though I advocate harm reduction, if I drank, I'd lose credibility. And not just with clients, but when I'm dealing with government agencies, trying to keep them out of 12step treatment.

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Same boat here. My husband doesn't drink and I don't drink around him. That is one way I have made it as long as I have. I have been spending time with him. He works out of town but, I have been going with him.

Honestly, I should stay home this week. New puppies..... but I am afraid that if I do I will get some alcohol. I have to go do 24 hrs in the county jail Thursday evening and I would use that or my nerves to convince myself that a few beers won't hurt. And if you are like me I don't "drink" --- I DRUNK! I don't have A drink, I have A DRUNK!

Right now I am fooling myself, saying that I can have a few beers now and then.... I do not understand why I don't want to just not drink anymore. It is like saying goodbye to an old lover that you have remained friendly with for years even though he beat the hell out of you when you were together and you know he would do it again if given the chance...( but that is another story!!!:))

I have read some of the Orange papers... back a while back. And I believe that for some AA can be like a cult. How many "new comers" come in fresh from Rehab etc... and they have that "Glow" about them ( pink Cloud) They have found the "answer".... They speak the talk. you know... " easy does it, One day at a time, But for the grace of G go I...Think , Think, think>" They carry the BB with them like some people in some religious groups carry their bible or literature, They preach and sing the blessings of AA to anyone who will listen.They have been brainwashed into thinking ALL they have to do is to come to meetings and read the BB. The ones that scare me are when they quit their meds... because they are told that THEY were the problem and if they leave alcohol alone they won't need the meds.

Alcohol to me is a symptom. What I am working on is the underlying cause of it. I do believe that my body uses alcohol diffrent... How else can a little woman like me put down 24 + beers in one sitting and get up in the morning ready for more. With therapy I am trying to fix the reasons that I feel the need to drink and black out in the first place. But yes for now, I am trying to keep busy and around my husband as much as I can.

Good morning by the way..... let me drink my coffee and maybe I will make better sense.

JT

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Good morning by the way..... let me drink my coffee and maybe I will make better sense.

JT

You made perfect sense.

I doubt that there is any one, single cause of your drinking, and even if you discover it, or several, your preoccupation with alcohol won't just disappear.

I talk about getting help for my depression making it possible for me to remain abstinent, but it was still difficult.

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Just ran across this article by Stanton Peele:

Real Recovery Requires Life-Building

Recovery must focus on the life the addict will lead

Addiction is like the tail wagging the dog, or person, with the tail being a habit that dominates the person's whole life. Addiction therapy concentrates on the tail - cutting it off in abstinence therapy, making it smaller in behavioral treatment. But the real task is for the person to build a life - body and soul - that can't be wagged by even a very powerful tail.

Here are the five elements to effective addiction treatment and successful recovery:

(more): http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/200901/real-recovery-requires-life-building

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Guest ASchwartz

Ray and others,

Read the ariticle I just posted on the site, here, about Phoenix Multi Sport. In fact, they were on television news last nite.

Allan

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Ray and others,

Read the ariticle I just posted on the site, here, about Phoenix Multi Sport. In fact, they were on television news last nite.

Allan

I'm sure that 12step facilitation plus excercise is better than plain ol' 12step facilitation, but is that really saying a whole lot?

To me it's like slapping a new coat of paint on a house that's termite infested. Looks pretty enough, but is it doing anything about the basic problems?

The people who do best in recovery, by whatever methods are those that have reasons to recover, professionals who have jobs to return to, people with supportive spouses, kids, people who hadn't "hit bottom" and lost everything. And here, people who prided themselves on fitness returning to that community.

That's why I like Motivational Interviewing, helping folks find their motivation to quit, but without "ego-deflation", "powerlessness", and mixing religion and recovery.

I've seen relapes cause a crisis of faith in people without mental health diagnoses. Faith can be A tool, it shouldn't be THE tool.

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Guest ASchwartz

JP,

Aha, I caught you. Obviously you posted the same objection in the comment section after the article about Phoenix. Why did you post "anonymously?" Curious.

To judge this successful non profit organization without knowing one thing about it because they hold 12 step programs in high regard is reflects the futility of discussing any of this with you. Why? The answer lies in a variation of an Arabic saying. The actual Arabic saying is, "The enemy of my enemy is not my friend." OK, well, does that mean, therefore, that "the friend of my enemy is my enemy?

If that is the case, then, this is not about whether any program is effective or not. Instead, it becomes a discussion over religion and which one is the "one true faith." Let us say that I am Lutheran and, if I dare to state that I hold Catholics in high regard, I am therefore infected with Catholic evil?

Do not reject this metaphor too quickly because this is the way people thought before the twentieth century and even into the first half of the century. There were American opposed to John F. Kennedy becoming president because he was Catholic. People actually feared that he would help the Pope "pollute the nation." It is akin to the way Shiites and Sunnis hate one another today. I am sorry to say this, but, this is an absurd way to think.

Phoenix Multi Sport does not follow anything even remotely connected to steps, whether twelve, fourteen or ten!! They do not follow any kind, type or form of religious or spiritual thinking. Among the members in recovery, some attend AA, some do not and some did in the past but others no longer do.

You see, I chose this issue because I am in Boulder Colorado at the moment and know these people. They are not simply or only based on sports and, if you would go to their site and read, you would realize that. What they are based on is building a community of people in recovery or who want to prevent getting seduced into drugs and alcohol. What they do is based on group cohesivenss, group elan or energy. I have met these people, including the founders and have talked to them and to the members. They are all in recovery. Some are anti AA and some are pro AA and some never attended and do not care.

Sorry, JP, but, I believe I have caught you in the process of being blindly judgemental and absolutely prejudiced in your thinking.

You need to think this over, very carefully.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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JP,

Aha, I caught you. Obviously you posted the same objection in the comment section after the article about Phoenix. Why did you post "anonymously?" Curious.

To judge this successful non profit organization without knowing one thing about it because they hold 12 step programs in high regard...

You're being very misleading here. First you say you're playing "Gotcha!", then you're claiming that just because they hold 12step in high regard doesn't mean that they have anything to do with 12step. HUH?

I googled "Phoenix Multi Sport". I poked around on their website:

http://www.phoenixmultisport.org/index.php. Partners with West Pines. West Pines:

"With a focus on wellness, the program even provides outdoor exercise/adventure therapy and a ropes course, indoor weight lifting, fitness/yoga and wall climbing, acupuncture, spirituality and 12 step meetings seven days a week."

Went to the video featured on the Phoenix website:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/40211#?l=1785302026&t=27481154001

Starts right off, "When I tell people I'm a recovering alcoholic..."

AA/12step has its own language and all these people are talking it. So you're saying we assumed it to be 12step and it's not, while in reality, in checking it out, the people involved are 12step members and you're claiming.....what, other than we're wrong?

Always in recovery, never recovering is AA. Not SOS, not SMART, and certainly not the people who are proud of doing it on their own. Oh, you might hear some eay it, but only those exposed to AA first. Have you ever heard someone who quit smoking call themselves a smoker in recovery?

I have refrained from any personal comments until now. So now we've determined that you are some sort of AA apologist, you are not unbiased, and I have difficulty believing that you do not have some sort of direct 12step involvement. You're too enamored, too self-righteous, and too smug.

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Guest ASchwartz

Claire,

Sorry you feel that way but JP posted anonymously. Why? If you are going to give an opinion, why hide your identity? In addition, who is not open minded here? To condem a new program without knowing anything about them, their mission, their intents, their work, their efforts, is the worst kind of prejudice. You are good at giving out criticisms but not so good at taking them. You are incorrect. Incorrect about what JP did, and about my open mindedness and about this new program.

We all have a limit and I have reached mine with regard to the steady, blind, and ongoing criticims of AA or anyone who has the "temerity" to say anything positive about them. You have placed your opinions of AA above the feelings and views of anyone who disagrees with you. Immediately, anyone who disagrees with you becomes invalidated, negated and devalued.

"Gotcha indeed."

I will no longer address this issue. In fact, with regard to this, I will leave all of you to your narrow and one sided opinions. No more from me.

Allan:mad:

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Well, I hope no one minds if I jump in here.

So far, I haven't. Since my particular problems have never brought me into direct contact with AA, I haven't felt qualified. I've read it simply because I enjoy a good debate as well as the next person.

Undoubtedly, there's a lot of strong feeling on all sides. I see that as a good thing. It's certainly what's keeping the debate going with so little new information.

However, when someone starts suggesting that anyone would take this site down over y'all's little spat in here ...

Have you guys read any of the rest of what goes on here? I do.

There are a lot of suffering people here, some of them addicts of various sorts. And there are a lot of people here trying to help them, in whatever ways we can. That can be done without mentioning AA, either pro or con, believe it or not. It's called "listening". I suggest everyone who considers contributing further to this thread, on any side, try that first.

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John,

You're right, some of my words were poorly considered. In particular, I recognize you as a valuable contributor in several areas, and I wasn't referring to you in particular.

I care about this site a great deal, and even more for the people who participate in it. Perhaps I should have limited my words to that.

I'm afraid I'm actually not a big enough person to have attempted to calm this debate. ;-) I know when something's bigger than I am. I just feel that the many posts in this small set of threads concerning AA are obscuring the rest of what's going on here. I agree that the tone of it, well yeah, it's starting to get on my nerves, too, that's what it is.

I'm just an unpaid volunteer here. (If, by any chance, you may have confused me with Dr. Dombeck, though my name is also Mark, I'm an entirely different human.) I can disagree with some of the things that have been said by either side in this debate without it making me too concerned. You guys will have to sort this out between you, or not.

I was just trying to turn the attention back towards the productive work that also gets done here. I'm sorry if I ended up detracting from that message.

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I will no longer address this issue. In fact, with regard to this, I will leave all of you to your narrow and one sided opinions. No more from me.

Allan:mad:

We won't play by your rules so you're going to take your ball and go home? Real mature.

Allan,

For over a quarter of a century, I have endured mental health professionals who pushed 12step nonsense. Most, like you, deny any bias, but all complaints about the programs as treated as some sort of character defect of the person complaining.

Sure Allan, we're all "narrow and one sided" and you keep talking about our "opinions" as if we just decided to be contrary.

A person examines the FACTS, based on those FACTS and personal experiences he or she draws conclusions. Unless presented with new FACTS, the old conclusions are still valid. Where are your facts, Doctor?

I get accused of repeating myself, but you and Dr. Dombeck don't seem to respond to facts. You both respond on some level to our personal experiences, but mostly just to say that others have different experiences.

And why won't you address the facts? It's because you can't. There are no facts that support your position.

Frankly, I don't care what you personally think about AA/NA, 95% of all new members drop out within the first year. Doesn't that say anything to you, Allan? That only 5% of people like AA enough to stay with them for a year?

Why do you need to sell people on the idea of 12step recovery?

Maybe, just maybe, the five or six of us that you see as picking on you here, gives you the slightest idea of what it felt like for me when every mental health professional told me I was wrong about AA.

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Well Allan, since I am unable to respond to your articles I'll ask it here:

____________________________________________

Allan,

Why did you feel it necessary to conceal that the members of the Phoenix program are 12step members?

____________________________________________

To Mike the moderator,

I have a question, do you feel I've been out of line?

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