What is the Success Rate of Recovery in AA?

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What is the success rate of recovery in AA? That depends entirely on who you ask, and on exactly what you are measuring.

For example, there is documentation that proves “early AA” had a success rate of about 75 percent.

On the other hand, there are some people who claim that AA actually has a negative rate of recovery, and that people actually relapse in AA who might have recovered “spontaneously” through spontaneous remission of the disease.

Finally, there are a large number of estimates out there that put the success rate of recovery at around 3 to 5 percent.

But it is indeed a tricky thing to measure. For one, what exactly are we measuring? Complete abstinence for life? Alcoholics who successfully make it to one year sober? What exactly determines “success” when we are talking about success rates? This is the first half of the measuring problem.

The other half of the problem is that it is very difficult to obtain truly accurate results across a large sample. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the anonymity that the program is based on. Add that to the shame and guilt associated with relapse, and you have the potential to seriously overestimate the success rate based on an anonymous survey.

What does AA themselves have to say? Here is a piece of an actual memo from the Alcoholics Anonymous GSO (General Services Office), based on an analysis of a survey period that ran for 12 years:

“After just one month in the Fellowship, 81% of the new members have already dropped out. After three months, 90% have left, and 95% have discontinued attendance inside one year.” (Kolenda, 2003, Golden Text Publishing Company).

Of course, this doesn’t really tell the whole story, as many people will leave after AA after being first introduced to it, and then later return once they have truly been beaten by their alcoholism. Most people who are a success story in AA tell of how they struggled–sometimes for years–going in and out of AA before they finally “got it.”

On both sides of this issue, people are very passionate

If you follow the 2 links at the beginning of this article, you’ll see that one is definitely pro-AA, and the other is vehemently anti-AA. One is claiming up to a 95% success rate, while the other is claiming AA is actually detrimental and has a negative success rate (lower than spontaneous remission). And you’ll also notice that both people are very passionate and firm believers in the stance they are taking. Why such a discrepancy here?

I believe the reason is that AA is effective for some, but it is clearly not for everyone. It is not a one-size-fits-all program. There are plenty of people who have achieved success and meaningful sobriety in AA. There are also those who have honestly gave it there best shot, only to eventually relapse and die. This is unfortunate, and it begs the question: “What are the alternatives?”

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot. Yes, there are a few out there, but they are spread few and far between, and there are many disadvantages with all of them. While many of the alternatives to AA claim to have superior success rates, their method of measurement suffers from the same flaws as AA, and their is very little widespread support in these programs.

If you are on the fence about going to AA, here is what I suggest you do: Ignore the success rates you hear about and give it a chance. Do this knowing that AA is the single biggest support system of recovery in the world. The program may not be perfect, but it’s the best our planet has. The alternatives might talk a big game, but they don’t have meetings in every city in the world. AA does. You can find support just about anywhere. And it’s technically free to boot.

Here’s another suggestion: find someone in AA who has multiple years of sobriety and ask them what the success rate is for AA. They will likely tell you that they don’t care. It works for them.

Action items – What does all this mean for you?

1) Give AA a chance, because the meetings are everywhere and therefore the level of support is mind-boggling.

2) Don’t get stuck in thinking there is only one path to recovery – that is NOT TRUE. There are many paths.

3) Stay open. Regardless of what you choose, implement the spiritual principles into your life. Practice gratitude.


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  • kayakotto

    Excellant article with many good and valid points, Especially the thought that the paths are many. I went to AA for many years and supplemented this with a long term residential drug rehab program ( So the question would arise as to whether AA did or did not work for me. Perhaps by attending AA I did find enough workablity to get me butt to a rehab program when I realized I was in need of more intensive treatment. Just because I found lasting sobriety following my inpatient treatment is not reason to say AA had no effect.

  • Patrick

    Hi there Kayakotto

    Interesting that both of our paths involved long term treatment and AA, but didn’t necessarily end up with us being entirely dependent on AA as our ultimate solution.

    I’m definitely grateful for my experience in AA, and that it has led me to this point in my life. But some people confuse AA with being the path itself, when in fact it merely points to the path.

    I still encourage newcomers to give it a chance, because there is so much support there. Anyway, thanks for sharing your comment Kayakotto!

  • Joe

    The programs recovery rate is extremely higher than the fellowships recovery rate
    Many are in-constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves so they seek
    a label (sponsor) an outside menacing force outside the Big Book and get into personalities = another persons reality instead of being true to thy self.
    A.A. does not ask this it begs you to be fearless from the very start many get fear imposed on them to get a sponsor and boy do they get it.

  • Patrick

    Thanks for your comment Joe.

    Your statement about the “programs recovery rate is much higher than that of the fellowship,” that makes sense, and I would agree that such a statement points to the need to actually do some footwork and work on ourselves and take a deeper look inside (such as through the 12 steps).

    But I would also caution people to look at that statement and see how it elevates “the program” to perfection. This is a logical error, in my opinion. You get into the problem of always thinking that the program is perfect, and if someone fails, then it is because they did not work the program perfectly. This is a very limiting way of thinking that can stunt people from growing, because it can limit them from seeking growth outside of the boundaries of the program.

    Thanks so much for your comment, Joe, and good luck to you on your journey….

  • Dick B.

    Thank you for including our reference to the documented 75% success rate in early A.A. among seemingly hopeless medically incurable real alcoholics who went to any length to establish their relationship and fellowship with God. A.A. has changed, and in many many ways. Statistics should be viewed in light of our history See Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History The success rates today seem to be in the eye of the beholder. As one who has attended thousands of meetings, I can justifiably ask, where are those in flight. Most leave soon. Many go to Christian fellowships. Some tough it out. Others come and go and return. A hard crowd to measure. Contrast early A.A. where the original 40 kept rosters, knew each other by name and address, and kept track of sobriety dates, relapses, and the like. God Bless, Dick B.

  • Patrick

    Hi there Dick B.

    I agree it is a very difficult thing to measure, and this is the source of much frustration in the treatment community.

    I would encourage anyone reading to check out Dick B’s website, just click on his name in the comment above, it is very informative….lots of info there. Thanks for your comment, Dick!

  • Dick B.

    I much prefer the comments on this site to the long diatribes against those of us in the trenches who can see who comes and who goes. A.A. is undergoing change. The program of today, as seen in the fellowship, is not the program of the 1930’s, as reported by Frank Amos and published in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. The program of today does not insist on reliance on God; yet that was the first question posed by Dr. Bob to newcomers leaving the hospital. Those who criticize the accuracy of the early 40 members records give no evidence of having looked at the rosters, the collections in the Wilson House Griffith Library, the scrapbook on sale at GSO. I belong to the A.A. of today, and I’m really glad I do. I remember the A.A. of the 1930’s and have no difficulty asking God which way to go on any particular Step, Tradition, or Big Book suggestion. Neither did Bill and Bob. There weren’t any steps, traditions, or publishing efforts. God’s strength, guidance, and rescue were sufficient for them. God Bless, Dick

  • Dick B.

    Alcoholism Cured – A.A.’s Early Position on God and Cure

    Dick B.
    © 2008 Anonymous. All rights reserved

    Can alcoholism be cured by the power of God? And was it curable as early AAs viewed it?

    Let’s see what the founders, their early team, and the A.A. pioneers had to say:

    • Speaking of his first meeting with A.A.’s Bill W., Dr. Bob wrote:

    This man was a man who had experienced many years of frightful drinking, who had had most all the drunkard’s experience known to man, but who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say, the spiritual approach.

    • A.A.’s biography of Bill W. reports of the work of Dr. Bob and Bill W. with Bill Dotson:

    In late June [1935], Dr. Bob put in a call to Akron City Hospital. He explained to the nurse in the receiving ward that a man from New York had just found a cure for alcoholism.

    • AA Number Three (Bill Dotson) remembered Bill W.’s own testimony to Dotson’s wife:

    Henrietta [Dotson], the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.

  • Patrick

    Yes, there is quite a bit of controversy with early AA and the whole history of how things started. It is too easy to talk about the good old days and how everyone used to stay sober back when they did things differently. When people start talking like that I believe they are falling into a trap. Not for themselves, because those types of people usually have a strong recovery, but they are frustrated in trying to carry the right message and how to go about helping the newcomer. They yearn for a simpler time when things were easier. This might very well be “the-grass-is-greener” type of thinking….not realistic at all.

    I always appreciate your input, though, Dick, and I also have some level of hope for AA and their mission. But I think the creative theory of recovery is going to find it’s way out into the world eventually and people will start approaching addiction from a more holistic perspective. Thanks again for your comment.

  • Dick B.

    In November, 2008, we will soon be posting on our main website and on other sites an extensive discussion of the important question: Is Alcoholics Anonymous effective today, together with studies of statistics. Just note, there is a marked difference between present-day A.A. and its frequent lack of focus on the power of God in seeking recovery, and the early A.A. Christian fellowship and its documented 75% to 93% success rate among those who really tried.

  • Gary T.

    I just finished talking to my alcoholic 51 year old sister. She was calling to tell me she is being kicked out of her 8th residence in as many months. She hasn’t paid the landlord since moving in about 6 weeks ago. I was being called so she could tell me that our parents have basically abandoned her because they won’t bail er out again. They have bought her 4 cars in the past year and she has wrecked all 4 of them while drunk, one which may even have been a suicide attempt when she drove head on into a semi. The truck driver saw her and made a sharp turn to avoid the immenent head on. She left the scen, hid the car in the woods, and called the police to report it had been stolen. By the way, she drives on a provisional license which says she is to drive to and from work ONLY. This last crash was at 3 AM, and she was obviously not on her way to work. She has had 8 DUI arrests and 8 convictions. She has spent time in jail at both the county level and prison. She has also been arrested 7 other times for alcohol related incidents. Yet she says to this very moment that she does not have an alcohol problem, but that the police just hate her. Common “stnking thinking”, a term used in AA meetings and recovery centers all over the world. It has been suggested to her by every relative that she checks into a long term rehab, ut she doesn’t think she needs that because she enjoys being buzzed. So what if she has no home, no job (fired a week ago for drinking on the job), no car, or no possessions? At least she enjoys getting a buzz and apparently that is all that matters to her.

    So she asks me what I think she should do and I suggest 30 day rehab and AA every day from noe on. She quote a suceess rate of AA being only a mere 3% so she akready knows it is a waste of time. So I look this article up to find what the actual rate od sucess is and see that this article makes her answer appear to be correct. That’s complete and udder nonsense. I agree that there is a huge drop out rate of people in AA, but, and this is a huge thing, of the people attending most AA meetings there is a huge number that are there because they have been forced into it by court or as a contigency to some other punishment. These are the people who are going to leave as soon as they have attended the number of meetings ordered by the court, and unfortunately the judges who give these orders are obviously ignorant to what AA evens is. They only or 10 or maybe 15 meetings. Most alcoholics could do that standng on their heads if they knew they could go right back to drinking after a couple weeks. Therein lies the reasoning behind such poor statistics.

    I went to AA in 1986 trying to save a failing marriage. My wife was the alcoholic and I had been told that going to an AA meeting or two would give me an understanding of how a 12 step program worked, This was on a Tuesday, and I had just missed the new members Alanon meeting which only meets on Mondays. So I had to wait another 5 days until the next Alanon meeting. Anyway, from that very first meeting of AA I was hooked. It was as much of a dug to me as was any other. I couldn’t get enough of AA, Alanon, NA, or whatever other 12 step program I could find. I was going to 2 meetings a day, regardless of which Anonympous it was, even if I wasn’t part of the particular problem the meeting was trying to help. AA was like going to church and fellowshipping with people from all walks of life, and I was digging it. I was a non smoker willing to sit through a meeting in a room so thick with smoke that I could barely see who was speaking just to be around other people who wouldn’t judge or dislike me or anybody else. It felt great.

    So 22 years have come and gone since that addic tion started. I quit going to meetings after 3 1/2 years and instead went to a holy roller church. It was the fellowshipping that I had been craving, and not so much the content of any meeting. I haven’t been drunk or high since 1986, and that is without the benefit of an AA meeting. The seeds were planted way back there in 1986 and they have been thriving within me ever since. I know what being sober is all about and I know what AA is all about. There will be no success in such a thing unless the person attending wants to be there. Nobody who is forced to go will stay very long. Nobody who has to have his card signed by the leaer of a meeting gives a damn about what the topic was in a meeting. Unless a person has gotten so low that there is no way but up, they will refuse to believe they have a problem. My sister reached that point today. Unfortunately she was drinking as we spoke, and when she had enough alcohol in her system to make that little switch in her brain switch on, the walls went up, the ears quit hearing, and she decided tht even though she had called me crying to ask what I thought she should do, I was the asshole who thought I knew everything. She is one of the failure statistics. She has been court ordered to attend AA 14 times. and after she got her cards signed enough times, she went right back to getting drunk and high. She is one of the numbers people use to determine that AA is a failure.

    If you really want help with your alcohol problem, then AA is an excellent opportunity for you. You will hear from people who have been exactly where you have and have been able to turn it all around. ut these will be people who aren’t one of those statistics tis article talks about. These will be people who decided they had had enough of the being broke, poor, and homeless and stayed in the program until it worked. If that’s who you want to be, then look at this website, find your state or country, and get a phone number to find out how to get started.
    I promise that if you are really ready to give up on the life at the bottom, then you will at least find a place to get started to your way up. I pray to God that my sister reads an article like this so she can see that there are people out there who love you enough to help you out.

  • Gary T.

    Wow! I wish had spell checked before I hit submit. It’s an udder (OMG) er, utter disgrace.

  • Patrick

    Yeah I say the “udder” thing too, that was funny! Got a chuckle from me.

    Yes I agree that the success rates are a bit skewed due to the court mandated attendance, but I still think the problem is a bit deeper than that. Many who willingly go to AA and want what they have there still relapse at a really high rate, but I do not necessarily have an alternate solution.

    I believe that the peer support and networking offered by AA is critical to the newcomer and therefore I still recommend it. But I do see a great many people who have “got stuck” in the fellowship and the path they are on is very limited as far as growth goes. I am not against AA but I am cautioning people that there is huge growth to be had outside the boundaries of traditional AA.

    The fellowship is valuable but at the same time it can become a dependency, as you pointed out Gary. But I thank you very much for your insightful comment and I am praying for your sister and others in her situation. I hope she can find a path to sobriety, either in AA or otherwise. God bless.

  • Irrevenant

    What I’m interested to know is how the AA success rates compare to NO support program at all. ie. Does AA leave you worse off than you started?

    I can see that it might, with the whole admitting utter helplessness in the face of alcohol thing, but it’d be good to have some hard figures one way or the other.

  • Patrick

    Hard figures you will not find, they do not exist. Any figures that you do find must be taken with a grain of salt, because it is so difficult to get reliable data from such an anonymous playing field. Even those who respond to follow up surveys from treatment centers will often lie a bit just out of shame and guilt if they happened to have relapsed.

    There are some who argue that 12 step programs are detrimental as a whole, because they say that the spontaneous rate of remission among alcoholics is actually better than if you have them all go to AA. My personal philosophy on this is that I don’t quite buy it…I think AA does more good than harm, but not buy a huge margin. There are so many who fail and so many more who stay stuck in relatively shallow sobriety.

    My stance is that we can improve on AA and go beyond it in some way. The creative theory is my attempt to explain how I have done that in my own life.

  • Bill Webb

    I have attended Back to Basics now for a little over a year. Back to Basics teaches trust God, clean house, help others. Those that have attended more than 3 months at this point we have 100% success rate, however our statistics on those who come one time aren’t much if any better than AA as a whole. I think the key is; if you just attend AA meetings the result is a low rate of success on the other hand becoming a member of AA AND trusting God, cleaning house, and helping others will 75% of the time keep you sober. I don’t think that’s changed over the years! It has worked for me now 29 years.

  • Patrick

    @ Bill Webb – yes what you say makes perfect sense, those who put forth a tremendous effort are the ones who will get good results. I believe AA stated that at one point: “Of those who really tried, 50 percent stayed sober, and 25 percent drank but showed some improvement.”

    To me there is something really fishy with these types of statements. Seems to me that we could reword it in a more accurate way: “Of those who stayed sober, they were the ones who really tried. All others put forth less than a 100 percent effort.”

    We could even interview those who failed to stay sober and they would agree that they had not “really tried.”

    The program itself is irrelevant. These same statements hold true regardless of which program we are discussing….be they 12 step based or otherwise. You see what I’m saying?

    You are right in what you said Bill…of those who really tried, most stay sober. But this is not profound or useful, and it does not lead us to refine or improve a program that has a dismal success rate……

  • Des

    I’m a occaisional drinker 1-3/week and social only.
    My wife on the other hand drinks whenever she likes and usually once started does not stop until falling asleep. I have done all the usual in my struggle against uncontrolled drinking. Enduring lies, fights, seperations etc…But when she is sober- God love her there is no one who can touch her vivacity and caring. Recently, the stuggle against drinking bouts during workdays where I come home to find her pretty lit up, has become an obsession for me in that I feel she will collapse our marriage. We have a wonderful set of life circumstances and no reason to stuggle about anything …except uncontrolled drinking.
    What would you recommend as a course of action to stabilize and then correct the issue?
    Desmond in Washington

  • mary

    Desmond My son was drinking and doing pot for 5 years. he is now clean and sober 8 months. he did inpt rehab 3 mos and then NA/AA for 2 mos. he decided he didn’t like it but he is seeing a couselor weekly. But what helped me find peace was going to AlAnon. I’ve been going since Sept. and it has helped me take the focus off him and restore balance in our family. I would urge you to try a few different meetings. Good Luck to you and your family Mary L.

  • Patrick

    @ Desmond – I would second what Mary suggested. You need to take care of YOU first and that means finding a support system.

  • jim harmon

    our daughter age 43 is going thru a divorce from an alcholic and borderline personality disorder man. She has been abused, cheated on, lied to, swindled, alomst lost her home, bankrupt, but still thinks he can be rehibilitated…and would take him back in a year if he can prove he is well.
    Is she as crazy as he is , or what. Where can we get her the help she needs to put this into prespective. He has been in jail for the past month. An ohio case..
    Frustrate3d in Florida…Parents

  • rose

    I LOVE AA!

  • rose

    Where would I be without AA, NA, Recovery International, therapists, God, one halfway house, and one 28 day program which your and my family’s tax dollars paid for and the support of my family? BAA (Before AA ..and a public mental health clinic) I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After 2 yrs of going in and out of meetings (brief intervals of sober time), I finally was blessed, and God removed my compulsion to drink and do drugs. Been clean and sober over 24 yrs now… off cigarettes 17 yrs now w. help of nicorette and an antidepressant for 13 yrs.. if ur an addict, just keep trying; even if you relapse, get back into the meetings and keep trying and keep looking for Good Orderly Direction; Group of {recovering} Drunks – in other words a Higher Power who you can picture and feel is looking out for you, even when u cant. Write letters to God if u can’t pray. Sobriety will happen for you too if u just ask for help and follow the suggestions. PRAY for the GIFT of Desperation; desparate to get and stay sober!

  • rose

    One last thing; Naranon is a great help if your family member or friend is the addict… especially if they’re doing crack. That’s been my experience anyway. Alanon’s ok too but if it’s drugs theyre hooked on, try Naranon!

  • Patrick

    Thanks for sharing your experience there Rose. I agree that desperation is important. Glad I got desperate enough to take drastic action in my life….

  • jason metheral

    I think it is important to look at the early success rate of A.A. I believe that somewhere along the line the message has be drastically watered down. With people I have worked with 100% have recovered who have followed the program of alcoholics anonymous as directly outlined in the big book. The rate to could just be also in the introduction of drugs and just the nature of the illness.

  • Patrick

    @ Jason – I partially agree…but at the same time, we can look at any success story in AA and say “see? They are applying the AA program in their life, just like they should be!” And at the same time we can look at the failures and say “They are not working the AA program.”

    This is useless, as this logic also works with “stand-on-your-head-all-day” programs of recovery. Early AA rates typically discount the failures and eliminate them from the equation, from what I have seen. This is further backed up by the language used when AA said “Of those who really tried, about half stayed sober….” etc. etc. See how they qualify that there? You can’t do that in statistics (at least not in valid, published studies you can’t).

  • Robert Stokes

    If you are thinking about going to AA because you think you may have a drinking or a drugging problem why dont you just go? See what its like for your self. If someone told you what sex was like would just say oh I have figured out I dont think I need to try it. If you think you may have a drinking problem dont let other people tell you about AA. Its just like anything else in this world things mean different things to different people. I like chicken my girlfriend is a vegetarian if you asked me about cooked chicken you’d get a way different answer than if you asked her. On a side note remember people possible newcomers could be reading this and if you dont have anything good to say maybe you should stay anonymous at the level of press radio film and INTERNET.

  • Patrick

    Robert, I respect your opinion and I agree that anyone who is curious should give 12 step programs a try.

    However, your closing statement there is way out of line. Why should people outside of AA have any interest in operating under AA traditions? That is an unreasonable request. I have heard similar arguments where people say “if you steer people away from AA you are killing newcomers, oh no!” This is utter crap. Look at the success (and death) rates in AA, and you will see that other treatment methods produce statistically similar success rates. That said, AA may indeed help people. It is just not the default cure that some people think it is.

    The market leader is not always right.

    I am not anti-12 step, but merely pro-recovery. Recovery does not necessarily equal AA. There are other paths…..

  • Eileen H.

    I am fortunate to be sober for 4yrs. and 10 mths..a miracle for me..I realize it is a process (To change).So, One day at a time I try to do these. I know longer worry or care about A.A. statistics…al I know is..It has worked for me..and at one time I couldnt stop drinking for more than an hour at a time..God could and would if He were sought..God has done for me, what I couldnt do for myself.

  • Dick B.

    The best model for success rates can be found in the little known details as to how the first three AAs–believers in God and Christians all–finally turned to God for help, were cured, said so, and never drank again.

  • Brandy

    If you want to be clean you will. AA and NA are not meant to do it for you they are support groups that will help you to maintain your own power from within and desire to change. If you are counting on them to change your life you are going to fail because only YOU can change your life. However if you want a million people to love you and support you while you change your life AA and NA will give you that when you want to relapse you can call 500 people and they can help you out of it. There numbers are large there are meetings daily sometimes even 2-3 times a day. And the people there know what you are going through and want to support you as you change. it is about honesty to your self .

  • jason c.

    there are many ways to recover. i have chosen aa because it works for me. by all means, do whatever you have to in order to achieve your goals in recovery. if aa is not your way that’s fine by me, it ‘s not my life, it’s yours. the true principles of the program are about each one of us finding our own path in recovery. it is not a matter of aa being the only way and unfortunately some people do present it in this manner. i simply encourage people to be open-minded and willing to explore the options available. help is available and aa has been wonderful for me.

  • jc

    after 3 1/2 years in AA I would now call it a spiritual path, which I really did not want to accept when I was a newcomer. So one needs to grow spiritually , physically , mentally on and on slowly. The program is a place to reflect and use the “tools ” use the people to help each other. There’s no cost$$$- just a willingness to listen and be open minded. As i type this I’m actually feeling more grateful for the AA program-no one here is after your money but everyone supports each other. Newcomers help the ol timers and vice versa. P.S. there’s a lot of humor and laughter at these meetings too!

  • Jason Williams

    I would like to find a site that has the AA stats.

  • Dick B.

    In order to get the correct statistics, the searcher needs first to decide on the period and the program for which information is sought. Thus, if we are talking about the early Christian Fellowship program founded in Akron in 1935, there are ample statistics as to the documented 75% success rate in Akron, and the early 93% success rate in Cleveland. See Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010 ( As to later years, the statistics are mostly speculative–albeit low. The reason is that the surveys were not done on a sound statistical basis; the population is constantly changing; and the rates are skewered by those who can’t or won’t define the difference between the early program and the changed program in the Big Book and the much more changed situation by 1955 after Dr. Bob and Anne were both dead.

  • bill

    the general attitude of most in the fellowship is “us and them” that is probably what has caused aa memberships to dimish. and eventually will destroy aa itself. like dr bob said to bill about it the fellowship ceases, it will be destroyed from within. the percentage of “aa nazis” has been on the increase, and the membership has fallen for some years now. that not to mention the many anti-christians claiming aa membership in aa. it seems that aa has or is evolving into a cult. at least if fits all the requirements of being called a cult.

  • Dick B.

    I’ve traveled all over the US, communicated with folks all over the world, and attended thousands of meetings for over 24 years of continuous sobriety. Is A.A. a cult? Not if you consider that some two million members are passing in and out with regularity. Not if you learn that the membership includes Jews, Roman Catholics, Protestants, hindus, buddhists, devil worshippers, atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, and felons galore. If that’s a cult, it certainly is an all-inclusive one; and it sure doesn’t have a charismatic leader–or any leader. As far as I know, the leader of the Nazi’s shot himself in a bunker; and I’m really not intimidated by anyone in A.A. who calls himself or is called a step nazi, an AA cop, or a trusted servant with a baseball bat.
    What’s happening today is that a minority group of Christians are publishing all kinds of materials trying to convince A.A. Christians that they are on the road to hell if they even set foot in the door of an A.A. room. Then there are the atheists who are condemning A.A. as a religious cult. Then there are the atheists who advocate a “higher power” that can be a tree or Gertrude. Then there are the scientists who think that you can’t measure faith healing because of the absence of blind experiments. Finally, there are lots of folks who just don’t like A.A., are violently anti-A.A., who spend their time lambasting its founders as freemasons, spiritualists, drug users, adulterers, and all the other sinners named in the Bible.
    If someone wants to give A.A. a try, let him do so. I did that 24 + years ago. I then heard about all the higher powers, lightbulbs, “spirituality,” “not-gods,” “fourth dimensions,” “Group of Drunks” that passed for a god, and much much more. On the other hand, I dived in as a Christian Bible student, held my tonque on evangelism, learned the Big Book and Steps, went to all kind of events and served as a secretary, treasurer, greeter, and broomsweeper.I also learned that A.A. came from the Bible, that its first three AAs were Christians, that the movement dumped Christianity in 1939, and that it can’t, doesn’t, and won’t dump Christians–be they felons, perverts, sinners, smokers, rabble rousers, or bleeding deacons.
    Eventually, you get the point that real AAs don’t drink. Real AAs help others. Hopefully, tolerant AAs don’t run around condemning others in A.A. or A.A. itself. And many AAs,including yours truly believe that God can, does, and has done for them what they could not do for themselves. And beyond that, statistics aren’t worth a fig, nor are opinions about A.A. versus treatment, nor are First Amendment objections to A.A. ruling that it is a religion.
    It is what it is. And some of us owe a lot to the existence of this fellowship–warts and boils or not.
    And that is about all for today. God Bless, Dick B.

  • Ken

    I have found the discussion of AA very informative. I enjoyed reading the different points of view presented here. My question to the readers–Is AA about abstaining from alcohol or finding the cause of the alcoholism and how exactly is it effective for each individual? It seems to me, clarify if I misunderstand, the main focus of AA is abstaining from the use of alcohol. This is demonstrated by the yearly celebration with a cake i.e. 20 years of sobriety. This of course brings up the question whether or not alcoholism a disease or symptom or both. A question for another time. Now back to the question what is the purpose of AA? If the purpose of AA is to heal one self from a holistic point, stopping drinking is just one step in that process. The 12 steps of AA are to lead a person down a path of healing, but is can that be effectively done on ones own, or even with the help of another who is not trained in therapy. I guess that would depend on the individuals and their intentions in the relationship. If we look at seeing a professional therapist, rather than or even with AA, we must realize that not everyone will be effectively helped by therapy and not all therapist are right for a particular person. That being said, how does one define a healthy individual. Is this a productive member of society by way of job, family, volunteer etc. We would base this off our cultural values. Or maybe is has more to do with how we see ourselves in the eyes of others. There is no doubt AA is a community for those who feel shunned by the ‘outside’ world for their addiction. It can not be overlooked that an effective support group can build success in overcoming and facing daily challenges. This is especially true for those who have, unfortunately, lost all of their family and friends because these people get frustrated and do not know how to help those in need. They quit on their loved ones. No one can do it alone. This brings up the question as to how effective is this support group and do people really get support. What are the group norms and who enforces them and who is accountable for setting the boundaries in the relationships formed. What is the bases of these relationships. Are friendships formed to replace those once lost. Are those friendships unconditional. How does one keep from becoming the ‘dry drunk’. Not only can motivation be found in community, but the idea of a higher power can be beneficial to most people which is a large part of the 12 steps. It is proven that after a life altering event like the death of a child, those who have a spiritual belief tend to come through in a ‘healthier’ manner than those with no belief in a higher power. Now I must consider, how different is a person in AA from those not in AA. How many things do we all have in common compared to our differences. I have often heard those in AA have difficulty spending time with ‘normies.’ Are the struggles we all share so different. Does this type of behaviour promote healing or separate one from others and make it more difficult to integrate into our society. I figure AA is a combination of many things for many people and it’s effectiveness is very subjective. It would be interesting to know the main reasons why people keep coming back.



  • Theresa

    I had to “cease fighting everything and everyone” even AA.

  • James Long

    Perhaps your should add a fourth poit to your Action Items list:

    4. Do not expect AA to solve your problems. (Neither AA nor any other “program” can “fix” snyone’s problem with drinking. All change has to come from within. The best any such program can accomplish is to “lift the veil” so that one begins to see how one is undermining one’s own efforts to stop drinking or using drugs.)

    I have not read all the other posts, so I may be duplicating a suggestion by someone else.

  • Bob & Bill’s friend

    I came across this site unexpectedlly and it is a fine outline and outlook on AA. It’s true that AA is not for everyone and also true that it is not the only way to get sober. But, for me it was the answer and has been for thirty two years.

  • Bob & Bill’s friend

    I have just read the site with all the negative statistics, and information about “Alcoholics Anonymous”. None of it was a suprise to me. After many years as an AA member, much of what was written about, I’ve observed in action, and many of the negative statements I read, are the very same words I’ve said myself out of frustration at things I regarded as wrong ridiculous, outrages etc. However, my touch stone has always been, unless I can offer something that I believe in, more than I believe in, AA, I will not tear the fabric of the fellowship of “Alcoholics Anonymous” into tatters before the eyes of a person who is searching for their way.

  • Dick B.

    The ability to turn to God for help in A.A. and other 12 Step Fellowships is as much present today as it was in the early days of the Alcoholics Anonymous Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935. In those days, belief in God was required. So was a decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So was study of the Bible as well as the old fashioned prayer meetings and reading of Christian literature and devotionals. So, of course, was the requirement of helping others get straightened out by the same means. See Real Twelve Step History (
    When the simple program of 1935 was followed, 75% of those who really tried and went to any lengths to establish their relationship with God and stay in fellowship with Him, His Son, and other believers were permanently cured. Yes cured! And it was Dr. Silkworth who so stated to the Rockefeller people a few years later.
    The situation is different today. 400 pages of Christian and Bible materials were thrown out just before the Big Book went to press. “God” was removed from Steps Two, Three, and Eleven. And atheists and agnostics were invited into the society, along with folks of all races, colors, religious beliefs, or unbelief. Thus to try to take an inventory of this diverse crowd without being able to categorize their status is a vain endeavor.
    The important point is that Christians in recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships are not alone. There are tens, if not hundreds, or thousands of Christians in A.A. today who are as free today as the original AAs were in 1935 to believe in God, claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, study the Bible, hold prayer meetings, read Christian literature, and help others by the same means.
    Rather than being a “cult” today, A.A. and its diverse membership, its believing and unbelieving members, and its lack of any charismatic leader, offers a freedom to believe or not believe that no cult ever embodies.
    The case I make is that I chose to believe, to dive into A.A., to help others, and to rely on God. And I believe that offers help to anyone who wants it today.
    God Bless, Dick B.

  • Paul

    I find the idea that you can talk yourself out of an addiction a little hard to accept. Addiction is a chemical process. A substance like alcohol creates stimulants to the neuro-receptors in the brain. As these receptor sites get over stimulated, they begin to withdraw. So, it takes more of the stimulating substance to get the same buzz. This is called tolerance. It’s the same with alcohol, meth, cocaine or bennies.
    Intravenous amino acid therapy gives the brain what it craves while simultaneously reducing the need. The brain gets healed, the cravings disappear and “withdrawal” is almost non-existent. One becomes chemically clean. Then there is an opportunity for a fresh start, working on those other concerns of life that probably opened the door for the addiction in the first place.
    I believe this process is the only civilized approach to addictions today. The success rate is so much higher than any other program you can name. Check it out:

  • Anthony

    This article is the stupidest shit i have ever read, i am appalled and offended, the success rate of AA’s staying sober for LIFE is 100% IF AND ONLY IF THEY DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO!!! If you cannot follow what AA and the people there suggest then obviously you do not want sobriety bad enough and you need to go get drunk and finish the job until you are willing to accept and work the 12 steps… people disgust me with your lack of intellegence and lack of fact about AA!! by posting this you are only pro-longing someones chances to recover!!!

    P.S.- A&E’s Intervention is a joke,most of those people do not last more than a year or 2 because they are not fully ready. The program of AA will also not work unless the person in question is fully ready to give up trying to control everything along with there addiction!

  • Bob D.

    The so-called documented 75% recovery rate of early AA is not completely true. It is given in the forward to the second edition of the Big Book, which says “Of alcoholics who came to AA and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with AA showed improvement.” It seems to me that the key words are “really tried” which is very hard to measure. Perhaps current AA could claim the same success ratio.

    Determining the success of an anonymous program that is not organized and keeps no valid statistics is very difficult, if not impossible. Based on my own observations over the past thirty years of sobriety, I say that 10% would be an optimistic estimate for all of the people that come into AA. Many people are court-orderd to attend AA and most people are resistant to the program at first. Those people who really have “a desire to stop drinking” and are “willing to go to any length to get it” have a much better chance, maybe as high as 50 to 75%.

    Regardless of these artificial statistics, AA is still the most available program that works for the most people. There is a tremendous amount of support for recovery in AA and, while it doesn’t work for everyone,it has helped a lot of people, including me. Perhaps the biggest problem, in my opinion, is people who are over-enthusiastic and come off as being dogmatic. I hope I haven’t been that way. Try it, you may like it.

  • Patrick

    @ Bob D. – I agree with your thoughts, for the most part. The dogmatic, overly enthusiastic members of 12 step programs sort of give it a bad image, in my opinion (especially when they happen to relapse). That said, I still think AA is very helpful for some people. Thanks for your input, it is right on the money!

  • Bob D.

    The dogma of some AA members, especially some old-timers may affect the success rate of AA in other ways. It seems to me that some old-timers think they know what newcomers and relapsers “should” do. Some-times we forget to share our “experience, strength and hope, and start giving advice. M.Scott Peck’s book, “The People of the Lie,” indicates that the lie is that we know what is right for someone else. In reality we barely know what is right for ourselves.

    It seems to me that AA has become more dogmatic over the years and that dogma is what is driving people away. AA was intended to be very open and accepting, but it seems more rigid. Some AA members may try to impose their will on their AA group, other members (usually newer ones) and even the Big Book.

    Whatever happened to “Take what you want and leave the rest?” Please let (help) each person find their own way in AA. I have never seen any two people work the same step or their programs in exactly the same way. I hope I never do. “Keep coming back!”

  • Bob D.

    Maybe another interesting aspect of recovery is the number alcoholics who even come into AA or seek help elsewhere for their alcoholism. Some statistics are needed, but the best I can do is to make a guess.

    There are about 325 million people in the United State and I estimate at least 200 million people drink. It is estimated is that 10% of the people who drink will become alcoholics. That’s 20 million alcoholics.

    The membership of AA in the USA 1.25 million, which means that slightly over 5% of the alcoholics in the USA are in AA. That’s not a recovery rate. It means there are a lot of people with drinking problems who are not going to AA. Where are they going?

    Some may be get help from other programs of recovery such as Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS), which has almost 200,000 members or Rational Recovery (RR), which has about 50,000 members.

    The total membership of AA, SOS and RR in the USA is under 2 million members. There are about 18 million alcoholics who are not in (AA, SOS or RR)recovery. You said about 5% may recover or stop drinking on their own. That leaves 17 million drunks out there.

    Are we missing that many people who may want or need help? It has often been said, “AA is for those people who want it, not those that need it.” Or another saying, “If you want to drink, thats your business; if you want to quit, it’s our business,” which means we’ll try help you get and stay sober.

    Almost nobody wants to quit before they come to AA. Some don’t want to quit drinking and others are afraid they can’t stop. I don’t know what we can do to help people stop drinking other than to welcome them into whatever program fits them best. I can only speak for myself when I say, “I’ve been drunk and I’ve been sober, and sober is better, way better!”

  • Bob D.

    Oops, I fouled up some numbers in my estimate.

    1.25 million out of 20 million or 6.25% of all alcoholics in the USA stay sober in AA.

    Let’s say AA has 1.25 million members, SOS has 200,000 members and RR has 50,000 members for a total of 1.5 million out of 20 million alcoholics or 7.50% stay sober in AA, SOS and RR together.

    If 5% get sober on their own like you say,and sounds high, that amounts to 1 million alcoholics.

    Does on their own mean they went to treatment or maybe started in AA, but no longer attend AA? There are a lot of alcoholics who come to AA and leave. Maybe some alcoholics just quit when they realize drinking is messing up their lives.

    Anyway that amounts to 5.0% (on own) and 7.5% (AA, SOS, and RR)for a total of 12.5% of the 20 million alcoholics in the USA. 12.5% of 20 million comes to 2.5 million recovering or sober alcoholics.

    That leave 87.5% of the 20 million alcoholics or 17.5 million alcoholics who are still drinking in the USA.

    How can we help these people? In AA, we cannot help anyone unless they want to stop drinking and that may true for all methods of recovery or stopping drinking.

    However, practicing alcoholics are responsible for car wrecks, DUI’s, domestic violence, crimes and numerous other offenses. Putting drunks in jail may not be an answer; sometimes it forces alcoholics to face their problems. Sometimes jail makes it worse.

    Alcoholism is a major problem and we have barely scatched the surface in recovery or stopping drinking. I hope this helps to put some numbers on the disease.

  • Becki

    It’s funny. All this talk about the success rate off AA. How about AA bucking up to the truth that Bill W. worked with Dr. Hoffer and did vitamin therapy to get over his addiction. AA squashed it and still is to this day. That’s why I don’t want to sit around a table and talk about my life that at a group that is and has been put on by liars, manipulators and hypocrites.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so inside my head now because of AA. I feel crazy!

  • pat m

    i’m a free thinker. this does not go over very well with anyone really. when i read the aa approved (that’s scary in and of itself)book, pass it on, i read where bill wilson was hanging out with the intellectual crowd of the 60’s. bill took lsd in the name of it possibly helping out alcoholism. he used and got lois to take it too. so much for her codependant recovery and his sobriety. bill never quit smoking either and died a horrible death as a result. my favorite aa saying in how it works is that “no one among us has maintained anything like perfect adherance to these principles”. NO ONE!!! i was told when i started going to meetings that there are no stupid topics or questions. i got into therapy to deal with my dysfunctional family issues and depression. when i would bring up my family stuff in aa/na meetings i was told a few times that “we don’t talk about that here”. that’s when i saw one of aa’d big red flags. i remember being at a meeting one night when a mob figure took a 5th step about how many people he had murdered in a big meeting. BIG RED FLAG!!! i have come to believe that my bipolar/panic/anxiety issues have been the culprit all along. i drugged myself with alcohol, coke and prescription medication to deal with it. the god squads in the rooms didn’t want to here about it. i spiraled into a deep dark depression that landed me in the hospital for three weeks about 5 years ago.this happened to me with over twenty years stone cold sober and working a “good program”.I had a complete nervous breakdown ,stone cold sober, mind you. my experience is that the “a drug is a drug is a drug” is not “thee truth”. because of my mental issues i had to take mood and mind altering prescription drugs just to find anything close to focus. my sponser was the one who recommended i take them. i fought him tooth and nail on the subject. i was scared to take them because the program had instilled in me that i would surely abuse such drugs. it never happened. i never took more than i should and never took them to get high. thus proving that there are no absolutes and i started staying away from those nazi type recovering folks. my sponser always told me “if someone says they have the way, run the other way”. so i did just that and i’m here to talk about it. i have aa/na friends who have comitted suicide because some self appointed recovery gurus told them to just pray away mental illness without the use of antidepressants. this is where aa/na people can be very dangerous, VERY DANGEROUS!!! so my friends killed themselves because of mental issues, unrelenting mental issues. maybe jeff and mitch would still be alive had they got stabilized with medication and stopped listening to the uninformed dangerous types spewing “work the steps or die mother fucker” poison. i started using marijuana about a year after i got out of the hospital. it is a good drug. i have always thought that. so far so good. god’s own earthy antidepressant. i am no saint. neither are any of you.

  • Annie

    For me, the statistical data for AA is not terribly relevant. I am sober now for six weeks, and I started AA along with outpatient treatment because I will do anything possible to survive alcoholism. I want my life back, and until there is a 100% proven cure, I will try, what most agree, is the only tested method for recovery. One success among 100 may be a low success rate, unless you are that one. It ain’t perfect, but for now, I believe it is the best we have.

  • Dick B.

    I’ve commented here before, but I return because of the moderate nature of the comments. Several sites today are either those manned by self-proclaimed Christian writers who seem to pan A.A. as a cult, as a dangerous place for believers to be, and as a Society founded by spiritualists. No documentation, no accurate history, and no understanding of society today accompanies these critics. On the other hand, more and more sites and forums are filled with disgruntled AAs who don’t appear to believe in God, or who failed in A.A., or who have never taken the time to study the origins, history, founding, original program, and successes of the early A.A. Christian fellowship. I came into A.A. almost 25 years ago and have had continuous sobriety from that date until this. I had no preconceived ideas about A.A. I simply hurt, was miserable, was frightened, and was in a mountain of trouble. I dived into A.A. I later researched and learned its history and changes. But the most important Big Book phrase was: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” My belief was and is that if a newcomer entered with intent to learn and follow the fellowship program, sought God’s help, and then helped others to get well, he would succeed. And I believe he will!

  • AA works for me

    What these studies fail to include is the difference in who is attending; now versus the “old AA”.
    There are a great many court ordered members, they DONT want to be there and are gone as soon as their paperwork is over, there are also a much larger group of younger AA’s since then, a group I would hazard to say have much less of a chance of sobriety and then there’s the cross addictions or even AA members that only identify as “Addicts ( drug). Studies show hard-core drug users have much less chance of sobriety than AA’s

  • Patrick

    @ Everyone – most studies show no difference whatsoever between success rates of those who are court mandated vs. those who are self motivated. Counter-intuitive, yes. But I see it in rehab where I work too….

  • Don Harris

    I have read through many of the posts here. I ran into the “big book” about 30 years ago while travelling. I read it from cover to cover. I was moved by the humility of the men responsible for its writing. What I observed was that when a man was desperate for freedom from slavery to alcohol, who stood with arms outstretched to heaven and cried out to the Living God (of the Bible.. since the man was a Christian) for deliverance, he was delivered. He had tried over and over to stop drinking and found he could not.

    He was miraculously delivered by The Living God. The ONLY living God. The God of the Bible.

    Since then, AA has become a religion of sorts, which while giving a tip of the hat to “God as you perceive him to be”; does not pay homage to The Living God, the Father of Jesus Christ, the giver of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of FACT, one does not need to be a believer in Jesus Christ or the God of the Bible in order to be “set free” from Alcohol and Drug abuse. Perhaps without knowing it, AA has become a “house of many gods”, which is clearly contrary to the teaching of the Bible. In fact, “sobriety” has become an idol in the modern day AA. I know that the doctrine teaches that as you pursue sobriety, by practicing the 12 steps and “working” them diligently, you will have a spiritual awakening which will lead to sobriety. But you must continue to live under the notion that “once and addict, always an addict” and that one is always in “recovery”.

    My experience has taught me that if an abuser attends AA meetings he is more likely to run into a supplier of drugs than he/she would if they just stayed home and abstained. According to their own statistics, “most people who are in AA never get sober”. This is truly lamentable. The God of the Bible never rejects anyone who wants to be healed or delivered.

    “Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord SHALL be delivered”. These are the words of the Bible.

    In its beginnings (before it was corrupted by well meaning men and women who elevated sobriety above a true knowledge of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit BY EXPERIENCE) AA was successful. It was successful BECAUSE it pointed people who were in need of deliverance from bondage to alcohol and drugs to the PERSON of Jesus Christ, The God of the Bible, and the Holy Spirit GIVEN to those who wanted to become children of God, and walk in freedom from Sin.

    Sadly, now, there is a banner over the doors of most AA meeting places which reads, “ICHABOD”. God has departed because HE is no longer worshiped as God.

    Want a greater success rate? Submit to God and to His Word.

  • Annie

    I appreciate your personal views, but this is no place for proselytizing. Narrowly defined views like yours will keep so many alcoholics away from AA because they think it is a christian church related organization. I would never have gone to AA if I thought I would get fundamentalist rhetoric from Christianity or any other group. The bottom line is this: for most of us, we will NOT succeed in sobriety if we don’t develop our spirituality. It need not be Christian. You have done a disservice for Christians everywhere with your post – it seems paranoid, overbearing and dogmatic.

  • Patrick

    @ Annie – Hmmmm….many Christians recover through religion rather than going to AA at all. Plus, I know of at least 2 people who have left AA completely and now attend a Christian church INSTEAD. So I am not sure what the problem is here?

    The only disservice I think I have done is not to shake people up enough so that they will stop depending on AA for their sobriety. Using the meetings as a crutch is very common (based on what I observed over the years) and it can eventually lead to relapse.

    I just want folks to seek real growth outside of dogmatic programs…to me, that is where the “real recovery” happens. Recovery IS personal growth. Programs, religions, steps–they all just point to the solution, but none of them ARE the solution. Just my 2 cents.

  • http://n/a aa1985

    #55 is funniest…” I am so inside my own head now because of AA. I feel crazy!” This one comment made all the posts worth reading. I know personally the hell of getting sober and living drunk. Be true to self. Take time to find what works. Anyone reading any of this has some kind of problem. I pray that you all find your answers. Don’t take yourself too seriously…rule #62.

  • Anonymous

    You can’t say that you can’t get reliable data from a large group. That’s exactly where you get it if the group is identified by certain traits that you are looking to analyze. Be careful what you say and how you are saying it.

  • Aaron

    I heard on another site that recovery rates for alcoholics is very low.And that most die.It does not have to be that way.I have known people who recover.I believe that if one is willing and ready they can get the help in order to recover.AA has helped many people.But people must want help.And if AA wishes to return to it’s high recovery rates of 1940’s it must get get back to Basics,as it’s highly successful meeting logo says.

  • Dick B.

    Just a comment or two. First, early A.A. was a Christian Fellowship and was entirely different from the A.A. of today. The early fellowship had a documented 75% success rate among those who really tried. The stats today are unimportant to me, albeit proving lack of success. But is the lack of success due to poor statistics. To poor relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. To court ordered and treatment center-oriented bussing. To the growing idolatry and secularism there and in society? To insistent pounding against A.A. by the psychoheretics, the Orange site, the atheists, and the anti-A.A. folks. I don’t know. But I just attained 25 years of continuous sobriety in A.A. today. I dived into A.A. I turned to God for help. And I helped many others do the same. Success today with God’s help is as available today in A.A. as it was when the early AAs insisted on utiizing it.

  • dan

    I am always sadly amused when I see that those who gave up on their AA program are the first to say AA doesn’t work!
    To me, that very blaming behavior IS ‘alcoholism’ with all it’s attendant self-pity, basic dishonesty, and evasion of responsibility.
    All AA told me was that it would work for me to the exact degree that I applied myself; that we are only sober today; no one but me can make me take a drink; and that my very life depends upon avoiding resentment and also ‘trying strenuously to help the next alcoholic who comes along’.

    Sober 24 yrs, 6 months

  • Fred

    If a Dr prescribes you a life saving medicine and you decide not to take it and subsequently die.

    Has that Drs treatment failed?

    AA works 100% for those that “take the medicine” ie follow the program.

  • G Phillip

    I beg to differ. There are no 100% effective treatments for addiction. But the best numbers we have indicate that 60 to 70% of those who complete all 12 steps of the program are sober and have good relationships after 10 years. In contrast, 90 to 95% of those who quit the program before completion are still struggling with addiction, institutionalized, or dead within 10 years. It’s not perfect. I wish it was. But it’s the best hope most addicts have. I strongly urge anyone who has a friend or family member struggling with addiction, to get them to a meeting and do what you can to keep them in the program to completion. Look at it as saving their life, since odds are that’s just what you’ll be doing.

  • Patrick

    @ Dan – I left AA and found a path that works for me. Staying in AA was leading to complacency. I am sure this works differently for different people.

    Saying that AA works for 100% of the people who follow it is an error in logic. Of course it works for 100% if it is abstinence based. But this is entirely meaningless.

    I can design a new program where you “don’t drink or take drugs no matter what and go to church twice a week for support.” Anyone who follows that 100% will be successful too. It’s not the church, it’s the implied abstinence.

    People who get sober using a certain method (such as AA, or the religious route) tend to believe that they way that THEY got sober will work for anyone, if they would just give it a chance.

    Well, duh. ANY Of these methods will work, so long as they are abstinence based. There is no magic in the 12 steps, or in a religious program of recovery, or in group therapy, and so on.

    Rehabilitation works when you work it. It won’t if you don’t. Sound familiar? That applies to AA, sure. But it also applies to ANY OTHER recovery solution you can imagine.

  • Aaron

    I agree that AA works for some,but not for everyone.Different strokes for different folks.

  • Moira F

    After reading most of the comments posted here I am compelled to say a few words. As an
    alcoholic with 15 years of continuous sobriety through the halls of AA, it is my hope that anyone
    looking for help, who may be in the throes of alcoholic addiction, find themselves at a meeting
    of alcoholics anonymous. AA literally saved my life. Without the love and kindness of fellow aa’s my life would not be as amazing as it is today. I’ve not met a finer, more sincere, honest bunch of people anywhere else than I’ve seen in the halls of AA. So for those writing in to complain, that AA is a cult, religious program etc, do some research. I’m the last person who would ever join a religious organization! I practice meditation and yoga on a daily basis and consider myself a buddhist. AA is very simply a group of people who have gotten sober, cleaned house and help others! So if you have a problem with alcohol get to an AA meeting and start living instead of just getting by!!! Peace:)

  • marian hennessy

    i must reply to some of the comments being raised i am a member of aa and am sober 6months. it is a spiritual program individual to each member of a power greater than oneself. each member has his or her own belief religious or otherwise to help him or her cope with the addiction. the only requirement of aa is the desire to stop drinking ……………. it is each persons journey in dealing with the addiction the comment being made that aa is a cult forming organization in my opinion is incorrect. people are there with a goal … to stay sober and in turn help others who are trying to maintain their soberity

  • c

    AA is great to build a foundation when you have destroyed your own.And there are some realy cool catz that will help you.Ive been sober now for 5 1/2 yrs and it took me 11 yrs to get there.I dont miss the dark days of alcohol haze at all and AA helped .But today I do see how some groups are very “clicky” and cult like .Make no doubt you join join a fellowship. No one calls it what it is, but it is the “Church of Bill W” ! The Big Book is The Bible. Make know doubt that every time you go to a meeting you are going to a religious service.Not sprituial.Thats cool ,I love GOD, but I have a disease. I talk to GOD all the time.Meetings wont keep me sober.Especialy when they are no longer about sobriety .Sadly AA is more of a social gathering place than a helping place today.

  • John Doe

    See following article on recovery rates:

  • Lynn

    In December 2005 I finally realized I had a BIG drinking problem and actually needed help to stop. I enlisted the help of an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). That step alone did not get me sober. Although I fought tooth and nail, after my first relapse (January 2006) I finally agreed to listen to them when they suggested I go to 90 meetings in 90 days. When I relapsed the second time (February 2006), I revisited what I was doing. I then got a sponsor as it was suggested I do. Well, I worked the program and remained sober and in the AA program for almost 2 years. Then, my sponsor moved away, and I got complacent. I started going to meetings sporatically; however I have remained sober for over 5 years (2/26/06). I have remained sober to this day!! Now, I am trying to get my RN license and because I admitted to being an alcholic (honesty may not always be the best policy) they are now REQUIRING me to attend AA meetings and get a sponsor. Why?? I will admit that AA got me sober. I am 100% convinced of that. But keep me sober? I don’t believe I HAVE to stay in the AA program to remain sober. I realize this program got me sober, and that many people believe if they don’t go to meetings on a regular basis that they will pick up a drink. But I have no desire to drink. It’s like telling me if I don’t go to church, I will be damned to hell. If I don’t go to AA meetings, I will be damned to drinking. What are your thoughts?

  • John

    I have never been able to buy blind faith. I have mixed feelings about A.A. My life has improved greatly since I stopped drinking, I was a mess. I am now a month shy of 10,000 days but I like to ring my bell every now and then which drives fellow a.a. people crazy. Now it would be great if one never used again but I don’t get twisted in the wind drugs like I did with booze. Most believe in a childish approach to life, a god that alters the universe so they can get their way. I think common sense was tossed out the window by many. What one can share at a meeting is censored and speaking of how you feel and think is discouraged if it is not in their book. I can’t be too hard on A.A. Since I won in being able to not drink for a extended period but abstinence from all mood altering drugs is where we differ. I just want a buzz and know when enough is enough something I could never determine when drinking.

  • Faith

    To Lynn – AA is an anonymous program. There is no way to monitor whether you go or not. So I don’t understand how anyone can force you to go. I, like you, got sober in the 12 step program. I am currently a chemical dependency counselor who RARELY goes to meetings. Through the years I developed some real concerns with the program and decided it wasn’t for me.
    It is a good program and a great resource in a country whose health care system fails it’s citizens.
    The reason many counselors recommend the 12 step program is because it’s free. Recovery cannot be achieved in the 7 to 28 days most insurance companies allow.

  • Marla A. Zahn

    Not much is known about the addiction center of the brain, but if it were, it would be known that alcohol is an addiction because it activates a certain group of cells of the pons of the brain. The medical profession wants to involve the cerebellum and even has a drug called Baclavan (hope I am spelling it correctly) to which Dr. Fred Levin of the Institute of Psychology in Chicago prefesses to eliminate the craving. Why not begin with correction to the source of the problem? Healers Who Share has remedies for Alcohol addition right in their protocol which includes a bornavirus. Few in Dr. Levin’s class had ever heard of the bornavirus, when David Alan Slater has 280 some remedies that involve the virus. Vibrational Frequency Remedies are based on quantum mechanics, which allows for the remedy to enter the cell and address the issues inside. Modern medicine is light years from doing that. So for all of you that fall in the category of not having success with AA, so after the source of the problem.

    I am a writer and you can contact me and learn more about what I teach at my website: There is a 12 page free read on the site. Email me if you have It is time to call a spade, a spade.

  • Seek The Truth

    I went to AA for five years. Different meetings, different sponsors (4). It was always the same.


    The 12 steps have nothing to do with alcoholism or problems related to it. Spirituality and higher powers? Why is that needed? It sent me loopy. I got no support unless I admitted powerlessness.

    Unless you beleive you are powerless and that a higher power (God) can take away the cravings, keep you sober, then stay away. The steps break you down but their is no relief unless you beleive that God is taking you away from guilt and removing your sin. I beleive in God but don’t beleive in that.

    Take God and Higher Powers out of AA. Take away the quaky steps. Take away controlling sponsors who think they own you. Yes, they do! And if you don’t do as they say, like pray and kiss their ass then they tell you you are in denial and unwilling to do what it takes to recover. If you don’t do the “suggested” (cough) twelve steps, which is too familiar with being a born again Christian, then they say you are a “dry drunk”.

    They keep you sick for life and committed for life. There is no getting better. You are always IN RECOVERY.

    Some say go to meetings and check it out. I say stay away. They try and brainwash you right away. The say “i love you”, “normal people don’t understand us”.

    Those that have posted that criminals are being sent there are telling the truth. Even sex offenders and violent criminals.

    There are such things as sponsor abuse and spiritual abuse. There is absolutely no one to stop some people from taking advantage of you. It is non professional. Everyone says and does whatever you want.

    They say you can take what you want and leave the rest. NO! Because then you are not working the program to the best of your ability.

    The 12 steps are 75 years old and derived from a Christian cult called the “Oxford Group”. The OG beleived that people were sinners and needed to confess sins to God. Bill W. was a member and left the group and made up some steps based upon the teachings of Frank Buchman.

    Research this stuff. It’s all a bunch of baloney. Know truth. Educate yourself. Trust your instincts. Research other options. If you really want to quit drinking YOU can do it!


    I have been in AA for 15 months and so far so great. I start to wonder why AA doesn’t work for some people as they have testified here. I refer backt o the Big Book for AA pages 20-22 and it says

    Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.
    Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason-ill health, falling in love, change on environment, or warning of a doctor-become operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.
    But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.
    Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He maybe one of the finest fellow in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently become disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. ..

    And it goes on and on talking about the “real alcoholic”. But I remember reading these pages and asking myself which catagory I fall into. I fell into the ladder and as I read testimonies of people who say they stayed stopped on thier own and I wonder if they were moderate or heavy drinkers and maybe they didn’t need a program like AA.

    I’m concened that a real alcoholic is thinking of getting help will read these other testimonies and compare themself with them and decide AA is not for them. And so to that person wI offer, why not read those pages for yourself and ask yourself honeslty which catergory you fall into. Check out a meeting instead of searching for answers online, online you are searching for what you want to hear. In a meeting you may hear some truth you need to hear.

    I’m sure AA is not the only way but it’s at least its a way, so if your curious try it out. My Mom is an alcoholic, she attempted AA and stopped. She is yes still abstienet but she goes through real bad periods of dry drunkeness but she also is a spiritual person and does lots of service work in her community so in a way even though she doesn’t go to meetings she does, unintentional do some of the step work. And other times her quality of life and her behavior is that of an alcoholic. So take what you can, leave the rest, God Bless.

  • Clifton S

    If you stop doing what you were doing to get sober……you will stop getting what you’ve been getting since youve become sober!!!!!!………..I know this personally “4” times over.

  • A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous

    The program outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, not too closely followed by some who claim it, and often quite different from popular media, places importance upon an open mind. So, if you are still reading, I hope you will consider the following offered only to be helpful. AA is not successful, nor does it fail, any more than Harvard, golf or a violin. Many who earnestly try usually succeed. Millions have. If one succeeds, it works. If dozens succeed, it is evidence. If hundreds succeed, it is replicable. If thousands succeed, it is phenomenal. But, if millions succeed, it cannot be denied. People only succeed if they try. In the first few years of what later became Alcoholics Anonymous, the trial and error or flying blind period, many experiments and approaches were attempted, some were helpful and some were less so. They decided to write down what was working. In the next sixteen years, just over 300,000 copies of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous were placed in circulation. College, golf and music are not successful. Like a college class, chances of success increase if you get the book, read the book, study the book, and follow the lead of those who teach the book. Like golf and music, success usually only follows practice.
    In 1955, AA had approximately 150,000 members; divided by 300,000 books is 50%. Of course, many got the program by word of mouth. Others borrowed the book. But, many got the book and never read or took any of the recommended actions. Some bought more than one copy. In order to thoroughly follow the AA program, the book is required for some Steps, especially Step Twelve, when the person may need to lend a copy of the book to a new prospect. People got the book and successfully stayed sober all over the world, many with no other book, little or no guidance, or even meetings. In fact, had not Alcoholics Anonymous first edition helped so many to succeed in staying sober, AA might not have such large presence or even be around at all. It was the only book on the Twelve Steps, until 1953, when Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions was published. Another meditation book was published in 1954. However, these were not widely circulated until well after 1955, and were first purchased mostly by people already sober using Alcoholics Anonymous. So, any successes during the first twenty years, perhaps 50% more or less, were likely due mostly to the book Alcoholics Anonymous. At that time in history, anything close to 50% success in helping persons with chronic alcoholism, many very seriously afflicted indeed, was worth note. It still is. Alcoholics Anonymous book sells for around $12, about a buck at garage sales, far less expensive than treatment co-pay. The audio book is about twenty hours of listening. If you drink too much, have trouble stopping, or staying stopped, it might be worth the time and money. Try it, you might like it.

  • Carl

    I was a washed up alcoholic and drug addict. I went to a meeting (my then girlfriend caled ALANON and suggested I go) I was 19 years old. It was 1979. I have not had a drink since. In the 31 years I have been sober I have seen people die of this disesase. One shot himself in the head sober! He had around 5 years. I have lost many friends to booze and dope. Check it out. It works for me. I went to about 5 mmetings n the last week. I owe the fols at AA my life. I’m happy to give back.

    Take good care.

    God Bless.


  • http://yahoo Greg

    I have had some success with AA, but I have also been viciously verbally attacked in public meetings. I don’t speak up as often as I used to at meetings. Heaven help you if you dare to question anything in the Big Book.

  • A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous

    Hi Greg! I am truly sorry that you have found meetings abusive. I go to meetings where heaven help us if we do not question things in the Big Book. Dogma will kill us almost as sure as booze will. The man who carried this message to the man who carried it to me, said that Dr. Bob told him, “Corne, always send our people home a thinking.” That man bought his first Big Book to prove it wrong. He read it only to find fault with it. Well, he was 44 years sober when he passed. I hope you keep questioning it, find people who cherish and share your inquiry with you, and experiment with it. I hope it works for you, and if it does that you will try to pass it along to others. If not, I hope you keep trying to find anything that helps you.

  • Anonymous

    a bunch of crazys

  • Marty

    I was no longer welcome at my home group meeting once I became sober. The people who helped me in the start turned their backs on me and did not tell me why. They were always cross talking me and insulted me for getting married right in a meeting. According to those people I was supposed to ask my sponsor before i got married. I never have understood this and wondered how I was supposed to call my sponsor who never answered the phone while my husband was on one knee. I have well over three years but have not been to a meeting since July 4, 2011. I have been advised by two professionals that until I heal from the hurt of being outed not to return to any meetings. This has been painful and very lonely. AA can be a very negative place for some of us.

  • Kevin Miles Finn

    AA is certainly not the way to go for me. It’s really an outdated program that many people take too literally. When I got out of treatment, I went to two AA meetings during that first week out and I never went back. This is because I found myself looking around the room and thinking “I’d rather be dead than live like any of these old timers at this meeting”. Naturally, there is another way… It’s called take control of your life and put down the bottle.

  • Mike

    It has worked for me so far; next month I will have 12 years sober. For me, the focus on how to stay sober regardless of why I am an alcoholic has been critical. Simply stated, I don’t drink or use, I read the relevant literature with an open mind, I connect regularly with my own concept of a power great than myself as a meditative process to focus on what is positive and possible for the day, and I take time to talk with and commit to assist others who find themselves with similar issues and challenges. It has become a positive, productive way of living for me and I know it can work for others who are similarly committed—it doesn’t seem all that complicated or controversial.

  • Dick B.

    We receive lots of visitors from your site and thank you. At age 86 with 25 years of continuous sobriety, I’m still a happy camper with A.A. And that’s because I left no stone unturned in giving the program my best shot. That meant lots of meetings, going early and staying late, getting a commitment, getting a sponsor, involving myself in every kind of fellowship fun and learning, studying the Big Book, going through the Steps, sponsoring lots of men, and always looking primarily for a newcomer to help. Add to that my greater and greater trust in and reliance upon God, and I’m glad this great resource was made available to me. Today, I lke to say that I am A.A. friendly, history friendly, Bible friendly, and recovery friendly. And I think Dr. Bob set that as an example for all.
    God Bless, Dick B.

  • Recovering Alcoholic

    Perhaps someone can help me out…what is the success rate of people in AA who thoroughly work steps 1-9 with a sponsor, practice 10 and 11 DAILY, and practice step 12 by taking others through the work? AA for me is not meetings. It’s what it was for the founders…the program outlined in the book titled Alcoholics Anonymous. In that book it states, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not COMPLETELY give themselves up to this simple program…” I notice it doesn’t say “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has made it to a bunch of AA meetings,” or “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has done steps 1,2,3,” or “Rarely have we seen a person fail who sits in their fourth step for 3 months,” or “Rarely have we seen a person fail who takes years to get through the steps,” or “Rarely have we seen a person fail who goes through the steps and stops practicing 10 and 11 and working with others through sponsorship and reaching out to the newcomer.” I’d actually like to see the percentage of people who stay sober by working the program outlined in the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous…a program that by design of 10, 11, and 12 is a lifetime of continuous action. After having relapsed in AA, I realized there’s a war in AA that is killing people. There’s a war between the message often in the rooms and the message in the book. The message to save lives is in taking the actions outlined in the book titled Alcoholics Anonymous, “The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.” Please if you are struggling from alcoholism, go to an AA meeting, find a sponsor, and work the steps with the desperation of a drowning (wo)man.

  • Sam

    My father was an episodic abuser of alcohol (the pseudo-scientific term “alcoholic” is meaningless), brought on mainly by an anxiety problem (the root cause of most alcohol abuse).

    He was bombarded by the unasked for attentions of AA fanatics, which made the problem worse if anything — he did not need the sense of personal helplessness and guilt they tried to instil in him. +He could have been saved by a simple benzodiazepam program — Librium became available in the last year of his life and at least eased the suffering caused by the anxiety problem. But it was too late and he died.

    I was a heavy alcoholic for three years (one litre of cheap “whiskey” per day minimum) — same underlying cause: anxiety disorder. I went cold turkey one morning, staggered to my general practitioner (a very wise young woman) just round the corner with the worst panic attack I have ever experienced. She gave me an injection and put me on a six month valium program, starting high and phasing out slowly. The perfect cure and it has lasted for ten years. I can have a glass of beer or sherry when I feel like it (not very often) without the dire consequences of “one drink and that’s it!” that AA fanatics predict.

    I believe that anxiety disorders are the main underlying cause of alcohol abuse. Society makes it much easier to walk into a liquor store (without a prescription) and buy a deceptive “cure” for anxiety, than it is for most people to seek medical help — for alcohol abuse as a symptom, and the underlying anxiety or stress which is the real “disease”.

    The evil of the AA programme is encapsulated in the compulsory “I am Sam. I’m an alcoholic” — it is reductionist, it reduces the complex human being “Sam” (father, husband, friend, professional worker, artist or craftsman etc) to a pathetic one-dimensional creature: an “alcoholic”.

    Anyone who has read that old classic “Battle for the mind” by Sargent (?) will recognise the methodology of the AA as brainwashing. If they read the book they will also know that the effects of even the most severe brainwashing quickly wears off once the individual returns to normal society.

    The AA is a cult, and a dangerous cult, which undermines a true understanding of the underlying causes of self-medication with alcohol — such as anxiety disorders — which require medical help, not mumbo-jumbo. AA only works for highly suggestible people with underdeveloped intellects.

  • Sam

    A previous contributor wrote:

    “Please if you are struggling from alcoholism, go to an AA meeting, find a sponsor, and work the steps with the desperation of a drowning (wo)man.”

    If your are an intelligent person who make your own decisions and and prefer to control your own life, I say DON’T! Find a good general practitioner who has not bought into the AA cult, get yourself referred to an appropriate specialist to identify the underlying cause of your alcohol self-medication (“alcoholism” is not a disease, it is a symptom) — it could be an anxiety disorder or it could be an unbearably stressful situation at home or at work, it could be loneliness, it could be many things, but it is not a primary condition. Contrary to the belief spread by pseudo-scientists, there is no such thing as an “alcoholism gene” (there may be a genetic predisposition to anxiety and various other recognised disorders, which is something else). Get to the root of the problem. don’t try to treat the symptom by allowing a cult to get its claws into you. Spending the rest of your life attending AA-meetings is probably not much better than being pickled for the rest of your life.

    However, if you are a religious fundamentalist, and a sitting duck for shampoo advertisements on TV, the AA is probably your best option.

  • chris s

    aa is a program of honesty. “many people are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. their chances are less than average.” aa works just fine. i am living proof of that. it is nothing more than a fellowship of men and women whose primary purpose is to help the alcoholic who still suffers. you can condemn the program without giving it an honest chance to work in your life-while maintaining your anger and untreated disease of alcoholism, or you can see what it’s all about….they’ll be waiting for you in a meeting near you. i promise.

  • paddy

    for those of you who said aa dosent work ,it didint work because u were not ready to quit ,if you have a serious drinking problem and your life is unmanageble get your self to an aa meeting you wont regret it ,your life wont get perfect but that fear of reality will leave you ,and you will know what freedom really means ,it will be tough a the start but even your bads sober will be better than your best days drunk ,i needed it and its worked for me ,you have to want it ,dont compare with anyone just idientify ,do the steps it ill make u a stronger person ,best of luck to every one who reads

  • Ellie C.

    AA saved me. I now have a choice everyday . Will I drink today or not ? All alcoholics know how terrible & terrifying it is to lose that choice. I’ve been sober for 27 years & of course they haven’t all been wonderful. I’ve lost loved ones & have had bad things happen in my life. Isn’t that just life ? Plain & simple !! For those who don’t like the people in a meeting, or feel picked on, get over it !! I’ve had people tell me after a meeting, that I shouldn’t have said what I did. I tell them exactly where to go !! There are no leaders in AA. We’re all equal & trying to live our lives & the people who criticize may be sicker than me . Share your feelings & be honest. If someone doesn’t like it, too bad.

  • D.J. B.

    i am an alcoholic. i’ve never drank for any reason except to get drunk. when i drank,the mental obsession to continue always prevailed. eventually i reached the point where the physical dependence required me to drink. my life was always in disarray because my brain was always polluted. when my life deteriated to the point of hopelessness,i sought help.i was medically detoxed for my own safety,and promptly sought a.a. after.i knew,on my own,i wouldn’t control my thinking.the support from fellow a.a.’s was the thing that helped me. i’ve been working steps,which are suggestions,because that is the way the program is designed.but for me,the greatest help is being with other a.a.’s,with problems like mine,and learning how they stay sober.seeing how they live their lives.becoming active with commitments was also a great suggestion because it makes me feel needed,and held accountable.things i never experienced being a drunk.i think a.a. is a great program for people who are honest,open and willing.if you don’t want help,you won’t get takes work and commitment,just like anything else you would like to succeed at.

  • Bob

    I have another addiction and I go to a 12 step program for that. I also go to an AA meeting once a week, even though that is not my addiction. My feeling is that AA is clearly not for everyone, but it does work for some people. It is not, as someone wrote above, a one-size-fits-all program. But there are honest people in the program who have clearly been helped. I just think it is not for everyone and does not work for everyone.

  • Mike

    I sobered up with AA and it took 5 years of trying before it took. The quality of the soberiety in your community has a lot to do with sobering up and staying sober. The big book should be questioned, every word of it. I needed more than just putting down the bottle, I needed help cleaning up my life, being heard when I was hurting, people to laugh with without alcohol. I found that in AA. It bothers me when I hear people say AA is the only path. It is not. It is a path, and a good one, but not the only one.

  • Nic

    I went into NA/AA on four different occasions. Relapsed every time.

    My agnostic logical mind couldn’t accept that i had to surrender myself to higher power. I could not accept that it’s a “disease” without any scientific proof.

    We drink/get high to feel ‘good’. Simple as that. Understanding addiction using the AVRT program worked for me. I’m not powerless as 12 stepping made me believe. quite the contrary.

    If i understand what I’m dealing with, i can conquer it.

  • Trev

    I hated AA all my life, told my self i would never be sober like my parents. Went to my first real meeting at age 21, went for 58 days, not every day but i didnt drink the entire time i was going to meetings. I hated life, i didnt take any of the suggestion that were given to me like make 90 meetings in 90 days, or get a sponsor or basically any thing that somebody told me there. I was basically there to prove to my parents that i wasnt a alcoholic. On day 59 i said to myself that because i hadnt had a drink for 58 days it proved i wasnt an alcoholic. For the next 4.5 years i reached a new bottow after a new bottom never accepting that i had a problem with drugs and alcohol. Always trying to get my life in order on my own, and alwasy failing. By circumstance i walked back into AA, and for some reason i just LISTENED, and took the suggestions even though i didnt want to. Something amazing happened, i was given a new life, i was literaly given a world beyond my wildest dreams. Life is still life, bad things happen good things happen but im 26 now almost 2 yrs sober and i know im living on borrowed time. Im sure theres alternative ways to get sober but i know AA works for me. Its the best thing that has ever happend to me or my family, give it a honest try your life could depend on it.

  • deborah

    This is not real mental health care or science and it’s sick and abusive. The public
    and our institutions have been criminally lied to about the real facts of substance
    use/abuse. This has no place in our healthcare system and needs to be outlawed.
    If people choose to privately engage in it I support that right on principle but the
    propaganda and fraud 12 steps have engaged in are criminal. It’s a cult that has
    engulfed our society (even though the first hand accounts of exposure to this mean
    made up theocratic insanity are overwhelmingly absurd or traumatic experiences
    for all but very deeply disturbed persons .) Bill Wilson was a very bad man and a con artist long after he stopped drinking. AA is a cancer on the society. This is a
    very important issue on many levels. Don’t just make assumptions or keep an open
    mind. Think and get facts. Don’t guess know. This helps no one. Read Stanton Peele, the Orange Papers and Jack Trimpey. Good luck everyone. Take care.

  • Crystal

    Hello, just wanted to know the actual success rate for AA ? thanks.

  • Darin F

    Funny how the posts by people dead set against AA are so negative, harsh, and very bitter. While those that attend, accept and show gratitude wish only the best of luck to anyone looking for answers. You tell me if it works or not? God bless you all.

  • Antonia

    AA works if you work it. It saved my life and 18 years on continues to give me life. It is not a cult but based on spiritual, common sense principles to live a decent life. It is about love and charity and redemption. The ‘drug and alcohol industry’ have presented a false view based on the mistaken belief an alcoholic can control her drinking. If you are an alcoholic you will never be able to consistently control your drinking. All you need to know about god is that you are not god. Good luck.

  • Jennifer

    Well Darin, that’s sort of normal for cult members, isn’t it? Reverent joy over having found a special place in the world… logic and science be damned. As for the author of this site… see this is what makes me a bit cranky about AA. Even people like you who pretend to be even handed and presenting both sides, etc. will finish the sentence with “but GO! It’s the best thing we’ve got!!!” So, even if some of these studies are true and that AA has a negative effect on recovery, you still advise people to go? What kind of sense does that make at all? Like, sometimes if you slam your hand in a car door, the bones will break but sometimes they won’t, so by all means… slam your hand in a car door!
    How about just NOT GO to AA and find sources of support that work?

  • gatesdoorsandwindows .

    Agreed, criminal, dangerous and sickening.

  • Marilyn Gavlas

    Three percent.

  • eric

    Some of the studies are horribly flawed because they count heads attending an AA group (a specific particular group). They see who the newcomers are, and then track whether or not they return to the group. If the person doesn’t return to that specific group, they count the person as a “drop-out.” As most of us know, people will attend a group, and then go to a different group. People hop around to different groups constantly. They haven’t dropped out, rather they just prefer a different group. This model, where people can pick and choose the groups they go to is foreign to most behavioral healthcare researchers, because their experiences in professional mental health and addiction services mandates clients to particular groups and the clients have no say or choice in the groups they attend.

  • Fred Weber

    I believe it is incredibly irresponsible to spout out inaccurate data you f…ing tool. So harmful to the new comer or someone who simply wants to stop by themselves or with another program. So, Patrick, alien face… why don’t you keep your pie hole shut. It is indeed tricky to measure…it’s close to impossible ass clown.

  • social anxiety acacia

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    so where can i do it please assist.

  • Rodney Johnson

    Deborah. I suggest you go to Dick B.’s website or listen to his YouTube audios. It might help you see the other side and maybe you won’t be so biased against AA. AA is a far cry from what it was in the beginning, early years when it had a very high recovery success rate. AA has been infiltrated over the decades by atheist, agnostics, and new agers who have turned AA in another direction, therefor the success rates have plummeted. From my experience as an AA member and sober for 11 plus years and having went to over a thousand meetings all over the southeast I can say the success rate is around 5% now. But I am in agreement with you that the State via the courts should not send people to AA. These people are skewing the success rates. Most don’t want to be there and have no intention of getting sober. Most are not a true alcoholic as described in the Big Book, but are merely problem drinkers or are potential alcoholics. Not the alcoholic of the disease variety of the hopeless and helpless type. In early AA the alcoholic was “interviewed”, screened in a way. …. Dick B. can explain this in much better detail. By the way Akron did have a 75% success rate in 1939 and Cleveland a 92% success rate. It’s documented. What are we doing wrong or different theses last 35 years that that was not done in early AA? If someone is just has a drinking problem but is not a full blown alcoholic they can come to AA and be a member because the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking but there might be other solutions. But if a person is a full blown alcoholic AA is probably the only solution for this disease type of alcoholic.

  • Steve Dronzewski
  • Daniel Burns

    If AA is a cult then I’m glad to be in that cult. I’ve been sober for almost 33 years. Their guild for living are suggestions and I don’t follow them to to T or do I attend a million meetings.
    The guilds set Down are guilds to progress not perfection.
    They don’t force their members to be there and they don’t claim to be the only way to recovery.
    The theory behind it is that one Alcholic helping another offers support and that gives you strength to fight the urges to Drink or Drug.
    The 12 steps are a moral guild to learn how to act after years of abusing mind altering drugs and being a complete mess.
    Why do so many rehab places offer AA as support?
    Personally I don’t believe they shouldn’t force anyone to go AA from the courts. These folks can be dangerous to others in the groups who want to be then on their own.