Debunking Some Myths About The Alcoholic Anonymous

Alcoholic Anonymous or commonly known as AA forms the cornerstone of treatment and recovery of every alcoholic or individual with problems in addiction. The practice was started in the late 1930s and continues to help every individual with an alcohol problem to recover and live a meaningful and healthy life. This article will bring us closer to understand what goes around when a person enters this exclusive group and myths or fallacies concerning AA shall be corrected.   


It Is Not A Cult Or Religious Group  AA does not recruit nor entice people to join the group. Joining is done voluntarily and free. It all boils down to the commitment and desire of the person to attain recovery from addiction. The idea that AA can be a religious group stems from the origins of the 12 steps which are “set of principles, spiritual in nature when practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole,” (Loder, 2009).   The 12 Steps serve as phases of the recovery process. This includes the following (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2016): 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. 
  1. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
  1. Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 
  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  1. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  1. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
  1. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  1. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  1. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  1. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

It Has Lower Recovery Rates   


Most have self-doubts on the recovery rate that AA has to offer. As a rule, there is not a permanent treatment action or strategy that can help a person with a substance abuse problem. For some it works, while for others it may be a total disaster. Nonetheless, numerous studies can back up the effectiveness of AA in helping people overcome alcoholism or other addictive problems. The National Institute of Health, the American Psychiatric Association, the Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System have all attributed excellent success rate of AA.    Sponsorship Does Not Entail A Forceful Commitment  The wrong idea of sponsors in AA came from the false belief that sponsors direct and dictates the persons’ actions and decisions in life. When the time comes, the person will be asked to find a sponsor to help, guide and serve as role models in the recovery process. The sponsor does not control the sponsee in whatsoever that will affect the road to recovery. The sponsor can suggest and recommend, but it is all up to the person to follow it or disobey any advice.   When a person decides to join AA, it is anticipated that the first encounters can be challenging and the chances of dropping from the program are high. However, this does not count as a failure of the program nor fault of the person. Constant encouragement is necessary to help the person return on track and fulfill the recovery process.   

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References:  Alcoholics Anonymous (2016).   Loder, E. (2009). Alcoholics Anonymous:” The Big Book.” BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online), 339.