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What is the Percentage of Alcoholics Who Stay Sober?

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People have asked me throughout my recovery: “What is the percentage of alcoholics who stay sober?”

It is a tricky question because the person asking it is usually basing it on at least one assumption.   For example, we might be at the drug rehab that I used to work at, and they will be talking to me about treatment there, and then they will ask that question.  So really what they are asking is: “What is the percentage of people who stay sober after going through a treatment like this one?”

Then there are people who might ask this question when you tell them that you have been to AA meetings.  They are really asking “What percentage of people stay sober who go to AA?”

And so on.  So there are a lot of different ways to ask the question.  They all seem to involve a different group of people:

* Those who are alcoholic but have never sought professional help or AA, but tried to get sober on their own.

* Those who are alcoholic and have entered into an inpatient rehab facility.

* Those who are alcoholic and have gone to an AA meeting.

* Those who are alcoholic and who actively participate in AA and continue to attend over a long period of time.

And on and on and on.

All of these different groups, and the question just sort of lumps them all together.

The most common assumption behind the question though is this one:

“What percentage of alcoholics remain sober after seeking help of some kind?”

That is the general and most common assumption behind the question, so let’s tackle that one.

If you look at the numbers in this addiction infographic that is based on government data, you will find that while almost 10 percent of adults have some sort of addiction problem, only about 13% will ever seek help for it.  That right there is a scary statistic in its own right.  Most who need help do not ever seek it.

Next, you will see that of those who seek help and do attend treatment, only 1 out of 5 people will still be clean and sober after 90 days of leaving rehab.  Ouch.  A 20% success rate at the 90 day mark, and most people would like to think of abstinence as being “permanent.”  The numbers get even worse if you go out to six months or a year.

Furthermore, the churn rate in AA is deplorable, as pointed out by the 75% drop out rate in the first month of AA attendance.  Furthermore, AA World Services found in their census data that a full 95% of all who attend an AA meeting leave within a year and never return.  Shocking to say the least.  Most who visit AA do not stick around.  They simply leave, and reject the program.

Of course, a small percentage do stay and use the program to better their lives, and that is fine.  But you have to be at least somewhat alarmed at how many reject the program outright.

If you really want a rough estimate that sort of gives a decent answer to the question, you can always say “about 5% stay sober.”  This is not far from the truth.  In all actuality, you can see a sort of drop off rate as people try to stay sober for longer and longer.  In other words, if 100 people try to get sober, about 5% of them will make it to 90 days sober.

Now take all of the people who made it to 90 days sober.  About 5% of THOSE people will make it to 2 years sober.

So there is sort of this drop off rate that slides, and it is a pretty scary slope.  Make it to 90 days and you are not out of the woods yet.  Make it to 2 years and you are STILL not out of the woods yet.

However, if you make it to 4 years sober, then your chances of achieving “permanent sobriety” jump significantly.  The statistics show at that point that if you make it to 4 years sober, you will probably stay sober forever.  Of course with addiction there are no certainties.

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  • Jordan

    i have 13 days clean & sober. These stats scare me because they make me feel like the deck is stacked against me. I HAD 2 years and 9 months and then decided to relapse…. but that experience was so horrific it taught me that recovery is the only lifestyle for me. So I don’t care if the numbers say I won’t make it, I am deciding to do way more with my life in recovery this time and therefore I know I will make it.

  • Danielle

    I ‘m afraid my son is drinking again after two years of sobriety. Can he stop? Or is he doomed to go back to his old lifestyle?

  • Ryan

    Those stats are flawed, no he’s not doomed he just needs to work the program he probably wasn’t sober he was probably dry best of luck to my fellow alcoholics and junkies

  • Rachel

    Is the author claiming that dropping out of AA is not staying sober? Because that is absolutely incorrect. I could not stand AA. I dropped out after 90 days. Don’t get me wrong, I always recommend it for those who need help, just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. However, I have been sober for 7 YEARS and I did it without AA. Different things work for different people. I think I will look up my statistics on a less biased website.

  • Patrick

    @ Rachel – I am the author and my point is not that AA is required for success, that is for sure. I myself am an AA “dropout” after only 18 months, and I am still sober over a decade later. If you explore this website you will find that I advocate an holistic approach that focuses on personal growth. I tend to steer people away from traditional recovery methods such as AA.

  • ellen

    It does seem like the deck is stacked against alcoholics but i asked jesus to help me quit and i have been sober for over 2 yeats and have no desire to drink at all and i drank for iver 20 years. When jesus takes it from u it is truly over thank you jesus for saving me from the hangovers and the embarresment caused by drinking

  • Steve

    Ellen’s response to me is absolutely ridiculous. I am almost 10 years sober and I reject all forms of religion. I find it delusional to believe anything to do with any religion. To put your whole life and belief in a fairy tale santa clause story. You have no responsibility for anything, you just throw it up to allah and he cures everything. Bullshit. I made a decision…. I did the work… April will be 10 years and I am still not happy with life or satisfied with myself. I may drink over it someday, just not today.

  • Lily

    Rachel: That’s interesting because I have the same experience you do of 12 steps, and found this site very helpful to move me in a more fulfilling direction. I gain the impression that the author is really not a fan of the 12 step movement as a whole, but the 12 step method is one possible option, so they have to present it as a possible option. However, yeah, there are lots of people who get clean and happy without 12 steps.I’m one of them!

  • Nancy Thorgaard

    Holy smokes! Only 5% make it to 90 days and only 5% of those make it to 2 years? I’ve been sober for 15+ years. I never went into formal treatment, but I did start AA meetings right away. I went regularly to a couple of meetings until the “God-thing” got to me. I would hear people coming in after a relapse and claim that all they need is their higher power and they know they can make it. Really? Then how come you keep relapsing over and over?
    I was never the religious type and as time goes on I found I had become an atheist. It has nothing to do with AA. So I dropped out of AA because of that. Too much god stuff. Too much prayer. Too much “surrendering” to this mythical higher power.
    I’m sober today because I no longer wish to be drunk! Life was passing me by. Now I’m IN life and it’s much better.

  • Dale

    Hi there, I haven’t had a drink in over 12 years. When I first quit I really took a shotgun approach to staying sober…I tried anything and everything I could think of. AA, pretty much every book written on addictions in the past 5 years, psychological counselling etc. I went to AA for around 2 years but as I got farther and farther away from my addiction, I got less and less benefit from AA. Don’t get me wrong, it probably played a big part in my quitting for those 2 years, I went to lots of meeting and learned a lot. I also met a lot of great people, many of whom are friends to this day. I just found I wasn’t getting a lot out of AA anymore and I had re-established a fairly normal life. Hold down a good job, found a woman I love very much and we have a child together who just turned 10. I rarely think about drinking anymore and I’ve certainly never come close to having that first of many drinks. I don’t avoid it, many of my friends drink and I certainly don’t avoid situations where alcohol is present. My friends respect that. In fact, my wife enjoys a glass of wine every now and again so there is usually some in the house. All this to say that AA was there when I needed it. I just don’t need it right now. If I did, I’m pretty sure I have the tools now to recognize that and get help where I needed it. I would have no problem standing up and saying Hi, my name is Dale and I’m an alcoholic – because its true. I have nothing but respect for AA, its just not what I need right now.

  • Jane

    Today (1/17/13) I told my sponsor that I was quitting AA for a number of reasons. The meeting I attended this morning was the final straw. My sponsor said “Jane, you’re going to kill yourself.” How completely irresponsible to say something as harmful as that – especially since I have chronic depression???? Enough said – I’m outta there and with good reason. I came to AA when I was 54, and was “struck sober” at the first meeting — never had a craving. I’ve been sober for over 15 years.

  • Tom B.

    I am a 76 year old recovering alcoholic. I haven’t had a drink or non-prescription drug or substance since June 25, 1981. I attribute my recovery to primarily to my imperfect working of the 12 steps of AA and and active participation in the program for many years. I also have had a few years of active psychotherapy although never went to a rehab. I know that the 12-step method works (if you work it) and have also had success with Nicotine and am “Smober” for 18+ years. Over eating and food addiction have worked when I worked at it (OA, and FAA) but been more difficult as have the tenets of ALANON. Debtors Anon. (DA) and (ARTS) have helped too with money problems and artistic endeavors. When last I checked with The Grapevine Organization, who owns the copyright to the 12 steps, there were over 200 organizations patterned on the AA 12-Steps of Recovery. My drunken life was a wreak and has improved immensely since I stopped. I am still sober one-day-at-a-time I intend to stay sober through the help of AA and a higher power I chose to call god. I am eternally grateful to AA and my fellow sober friends and members.

  • Glenda

    My husband has been in and out of sobriety for over 4 years now and even going to jail recently hasn’t seemed to deter his drinking. After being in law enforcement for nearly 20 years, our lives have completely changed. He drinks and drives and has become a very mean drunk and I’m afraid for his parents and all the innocent people he comes into contact with. We’ve tried rehab but now he has hasn’t worked in nearly 2 years and has no insurance. I know that if he isn’t ready to get sober, he never will and as long as people enable him. I’m about at the end of my rope. I love him but know that he is on a very destructive path if he doesn’t sober up soon.

  • ron

    Jesus saved me–and than helped me overcome my addictions. These addictions were nothing more than a symptom of my life with out Christ.

  • Eric

    There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    I think it would be impossible to get an accurate estimate of the percentage of alcoholics who stay sober. First, are lingering problems with the definition and diagnosis of an alcoholic. Second, social statistics are notoriously uncertain at best, and would be highly unreliable where so many alcoholics will never be identified and many who do quit will never report on their attempts or successes.

    I think it would be more accurate to just say that alcoholics have a low rate of success for long-term sobriety no matter which method is applied. Kicking addictions is simply very difficult. However, based on my experience, X number of years sober seems to be where people can be more assured of permanent sobriety. In other words, I would rely more heavily on your experience than the few statistics that exist (and that have been interpreted to show contradictory evidence (e.g. orange-papers vs. green-papers).

  • bud

    You’ll stay sober if you really want to, the secret is to REALLY want a life without alcohol, i do because my experience of life without alcohol is bliss compared to my life of misery and despair whilst drinking :-) good luck to all. x

  • RyanYng

    I was trying to find out the number of sober people in the US. This is a very helpful example of what I have to expect, number wise. I have been 13 years sober. I have never been to AA. Just feel like I’m one in a very few people on the planet that have been sober this long.

  • Tom

    Congratulations to Ryan for belonging to the small band of long-time sober people. I have also been sober a long time, 32 years this month. I used the AA Fellowship heavily for a few years. I did work Steps 1 through 9 after about a year of sober fear and agony. Just about six or eight months ago, I got re-interested in the program. I live in Thailand and decided I wanted to carry the message here. I discovered, to my chagrin, that I didn’t even know what Steps 10 and 11 were. Now, with a new, seasoned sponsor, they are an everyday part of my spiritual development tool kit.

    Thanks for letting me share.

  • Linda L

    Hello, today I have 26 years of continuous recovery. For 15 years I went to 12 step meetings, mainly CA/AA. I went to a 32 day rehab where I learned about addiction and a little about myself. When I returned home I went to 1-2 meetings everyday for 15 years. During this time I also began attending my childhood church. I did what I was told would give me the best chance at staying sober. I went to meetings, surrounded myself with others doing the samr thing and of thr 20 or so of us that started together all but 2 of us have had continuous sobriety. Like someone said, you have to want this way of life. I no longer attend meetings but stringly belive in working the program in all my affairs. I have replaced meetings with my love for church. I am just as active there as I was in meetings. I attend most everyday, I’m in a group, they all know I’m in recovery, I speak when asked, etc… All this to say, I believe whatever way one chooses to stay sober it has to be one of change and includes the support of positive people, places and things. I thank God for all the 12 step groups. I especially thank God for all those i got sober with. We certainly blow theses stats out the water.

  • pam a.

    five years sober on 4-9-13. never went to AA, rehab or took a day off of work. Stopped for myself and my grandson. I just wonder sometimes if not having relapsed at this point is a comfortable percentage for reassurance to myself. stopped smoking 16 1/2 years ago, and that was more difficult. Some days are definitely worse than others!

  • Dan C

    Stopped drinking four years ago. Talked to a lot of AA members who helped me just by listening . Decided not to go that route but read as much as I could about addiction. Figured I had two small children so it was time to grow up. No need to strap a label on yourself for the rest of your life . Work threw it in your mind . Forgive yourself for the stupid shit you did and move on.

  • dale

    quit on my own, told wife 1 drink I’ll go to AA, 5 years sober I saw an actor on TY, he stated many people drank again after 5 years sober, so I went to AA for a year, once a week learned enough, 28ys good

  • Lin

    Glenda, I was in a similar marriage and just couldn’t see myself out of it. I thought my “love” was a bondage I couldn’t escape. I hope for your sake you wake up and divorce the man. He’s not going to “sober up soon”. Things are going to get far worse, irretrievably so. Life is fabulous when you’re not carrying dead weight and taking the consequences for someone else’s behavior and actions. As his wife (if you haven’t already divorced him), you are his main enabler. I thought the following was a shockingly eye-opening article.

    Freedom from misery is around the corner, but it’s up to you, not him. Be brave!

  • Lin

    Right on, Dale! I’ve been sober for 26 years and can’t remember when I attended my last meeting. AA was the lifeboat I needed to stay sober and I recommend it to anyone seeking recovery, but after many years in AA, I gradually quit going, I didn’t feel the need to continue even though some members like to scare people who quit going to meetings. I know some people might relapse without meetings, but I just didn’t think I should attend out of fear. If you have solid sobriety, you’ll turn conversations into meetings and people you meet into fellow “travelers” on the path to greater and better recovery, whether they’re alcoholics or not.

  • ptheroux

    ha ha ha ah ah ah pretty good when you consider their is no jesus clap clap clap

  • ptheroux

    Live your life ! Let him go ! Your son has to walk his own path & write his own history no matter what the history is …. it is his life. You love him just the way he is but you live your life ! You must stop enabling him because he has to learn to walk & fall and get back up on his own till he is tired of falling and getting up and stays on his knees and begs for help … not manipulate for help ! The wisdom is to know the difference go to Al Anon and heal yourself otherwise it is the blind leading the blind.

  • ptheroux

    No you did it with AA … and you have managed to stay sober with resentment and heck whatever works works :)

  • ptheroux

    Jesus is not real so your addiction is fantasy … slightly better than being a drunk or an addict !

  • TempusFugit1

    Very well done I do the same I will never stop reaching out !

  • Jodi

    Steve,did you ever consider your discontented feelings may be due to your lack of faith, not in man made religions or gods , but in the fact that youre not the most powerful being in the universe. That no matter how hard you try, you know there are forces at work and there’s not a thing you can do about it? You might want to consider humility over ego to find peace,if this comment cause you dis ease, I am most likely correct…

  • Jodi

    That’s because you don’t spend time with people in recover,in many meetings you’d find you’re a newcomer…..

  • Jodi

    You may have the wrong idea about AA, the point is it’s not about you, it’s about helping others,the same principal’s as many great men have been preaching for millennia .

  • Jodi

    I’m curious did you actually read the AA literature? Have you heard about the twelfth step? Maybe the saying “paying it forward”? The whole point of AA sums up to carrying the message and being of service. Not simply putting down the bottle or baggie or needle. Imagine the civil rights movement without any people? Black people would still be sitting on the last bench in that bus..

  • Jodi

    You sound happy joyous and free,try helping people instead of degrading them….

  • Jodi

    Please try Alanon, you will find the support you need,another family that will support you!

  • Jodi

    Notice most dry people are very selfish,your gratitude tells a different story, God bless you.and thank you for your hard work,I’m sure your experience, strength and hope had inspired many!

  • Jodi

    You sound very resentful because someone didn’t care about you too your specifications, sad!

  • Jodi

    Prove he’s not real, and you’ll be a zillionaire!

  • Jodi

    That’s the problem PERSONAL growth,means not helping anyone else. Why do you think A A had I only grown immeasurably since 1935; because personal growth is dependant on helping others. Simple concept, pass it on.

  • TempusFugit1

    The pope just admitted that their was no Adam and Eve and that it was a fable the church crated he also stated their was no hell that was going to burn eternal fire on sinners it was all about controlling the sheep ! So I am sure it will be just a matter of time before they admit Jesus was a fable as well ….. the fable of Jesus was and still the #1 money maker for the church yet their is not one bit of proof that he ever walked the planet …. not one thing jesus wrote down or wore or even a fragment of his personal belongs are left ZERO ! Every thing about Jesus was written by other people over history. Not one thing written by jesus :) = Hoax . If Jesus was alive today wink wink he would not even be good enough of an opening act of David Copperfield or Chris Angle. Heck religious freaks have been trying for thousands of years to prove Jesus was real so desparite the faked the shroud of Jesus ….. and pictures of jesus bleeding out the eyes … my guess a meth head saw that . I once thought I saw jesus in my corn flakes and he spoke to me and said tell all people far and wide that when I come back I will be short one trick ! I will not preform walking on water due to the holes in my feet !

  • TempusFugit1

    You will be fine I have been sober 29 years stopped meeting at about year 11 or 12 raised a family and all is good :) I was struck sober in a detox centre AA taught me living skills and I still will reach out and help others can’t help doing that seems God seared that in my heart and soul :)

  • Jodi

    That’s like trying to put statistics on how many people never eat sugar again although they’re told their diabetes will kill them. What were the odds that you would be born.? Heavens to Betsy, it’s about people gaining QUALITY of life and not making every one around them miserable. How many brand new cars will go ten years without a problem? How many natural disasters are looked at as a positive? But the stories after the disaster of people helping people are beautiful and poignant! Our country was at it’s best after pearl harbor and 9/11. Hmmmmm, I wonder, is there a link about the connection of the human spirit, people helping people. That’s what AA is about NOT statistics!

  • Jodi

    Wow you’re brilliant, unparalleled to every great philosopher, scientist , theologian , you must be a zillionaire! I feel honored you spent that much time and effort proving beyond a shadow of a doubt there is no Jesus! Stupendous my friend!

  • TempusFugit1

    Jodi Jesus will always be your imaginary friend …. its okay to play make believe. Most people believers or not would laugh if Jesus walk up and said I am Jesus I am back all would laugh !

  • Jodi

    Hey genius,I’m Jewish,ha!

  • Jodi

    Oh and not practicing,just would rather live believing in God dying and finding out there’s not one,than not believing and dying and finding out there’s not one,! I’m not so ignorant or egocentric to KNOW anything other than all that’s for sure it’s I have to stay black and die!

  • Jodi

    Just curious are you a philanthropist?

  • a q

    Eight years ago I had seven years sober and had a glass of beer. It’s been down hill ever since. In the past five years I have made repeated attempts at sobriety through AA but keep getting drunk. I do every thing suggested. If there is one thing I can count on is that my mind will “click” over from reality and I’m drunk, every day. I cant take this crap no more. Thinking of offing my self because the pain is to great. The odds are staked against me. I am a real alcoholic like the book says, 100% hopeless. I am not the guy that got a DUI and went to meetings. I am screwed. Hate going to meetings any way with all that fake bravado and getting an ear full of bs. I am so done with it. I cannot do this another day, no way.

  • Shmucky

    All you have is today my friend… that’s all any of us have.

  • Shmucky

    100% of all alcoholics hate to be told NO.
    As in NO you can’t stay sober because the percentage says you can’t. Long after everyone gave up on me… that’s when I got sober. that was 13 years ago. When it comes to relapse the guy who lives in the plains doesn’t worry about falling off of the mountain. The guy that goes and hangs out at the cliff everyday is much more aware of the possibility of falling. that’s why I go to AA to hang out with the other former “mountain climbers”. However as for the guy that lives in the plains..? there’s a lot of sinkholes out there and the less he looks for them the easier it will be for him to fall…

  • Lin

    Jodi, chill out. You sound a lot like a dry drunk to me. Remember to breathe, and don’t feel like you have to correct EVERYone.

  • bambino33

    Go to a sobriety countdown at a stadium then you get a better picture then anywhere else. I went to founders day in Akron once they did the countdown and this is when you see a pro-AA audience. 20K stand up, by the time you get to five years your at roughly 10 percent of crowd standing, by 25 years maybe a couple hundred if that, by 50 one guy will be standing up. Thus if you get like me sometimes and go into the poor me’s because your family still sees you as a freak after 24 years then you realize just how lucky you really are. God disciplines those he loves. Its amazing how many people die drunk, and quick. I got sober in 1990, at that time my sister was a wall flower once in a blue moon drinker, she was always needy though. Well she married an AA’er in 1999, by 2003 he was drinking, by 2004 my sister was drinking and cracking, by 2009 she was dead. This all in the course of me the entire time sober. Really people dump these silly questions and who gets sober who doesn’t, what you need to do and don’t want to do. Hell you don’t even know if you’ll be sober in 5 years let alone alive. I got one word stay close to God, that’s it. Forget the rest. You being sober is a miracle. By the way if your sober after 4 years your set, not hardly a 4 year member is a greenhorn. If that’s in sobriety terms your just maybe leaving diapers.

  • Jason

    No, she did it without AA. But thanks for assuming that your court ordered meetings which are full of negative reinforcement and people that would most certainly dispel any notion of “attraction not promotion” have any part whatsoever in this woman’s choice to abstain from drinking alcohol.

  • Jason

    Retarded troll, please relocate yourself to the bridge your crawled under.

  • Jason

    You believe in AA yet state that Jesus is not real? Have fun praying to the door knob that constitutes your higher power chief.

  • Jason

    Your banter may work when you post on an article where English is not the primary language, but unfortunately you can see that we communicate in English here. Both in regards to spelling and context. “Chris Angle”? “Preform walking on water”? Your opinions (all unsubstantiated) which you spewed out are all duly noted and thrown in the gutter where they originated. Every time you try to discredit Jesus, you do the son of God a huge favor by discrediting everyone from your camp. God bless

  • Vote Wildrose

    I can see your confused and it seems complicated to you , but that okay keep going back !

  • Aunt Mandi

    The truth is that there is no magic formula as to who stays sober, and who doesn’t. As the Big Book suggests, there is something in that person who possesses honesty, openmindedness, and willingness – even for a moment. The odds are against you, but so what? All you have to worry about is one day at a time. Sobriety date May 17 1990.

  • Brando1

    Jodi, thank you for your comments and great perspective! Although I have never been religious, your views show why going down the faithful road beats the road of doubt and cynicism. Also, thanks to your attackers, this point has been accentuated greatly!

  • Donald Easterling

    I am a very devout catholic and can say that it really doesn’t matter whether he has belief or not. If he is not drinking and is ten years sober, then his life is better for it. Faith takes a lot of forms and the good deeds committed whilst being sober might outweigh even accepting the general premise of organized religion. I say, good job on staying clean, Steve. Your heart is in the right place, Jodi. You need so e sort of satisfaction, Steve, so I suggest you find it. Hopefully not in a bottle but so what you need to do. Wish the best of luck to you and I know where you are coming from.

  • Craig

    You are a pinhead Lin!


    . I HAVE NOT HAD A DRINK / have BEEN SOBER FOR 26 YEARS … STOPPED ATTENDING MEETINGS AFTER 5 YEARS, REALLY/ SPORADICALLY till 10 years…. no meetings for 16 years…. I am back after all this time. ( 26 years no drinking) I never picked up…. but my life was becoming unmanageable … so I am back… have found a lot of the “”ISM” CREEPED BACK INTO MY LIFE.. LIVE AND LET LIVE/ BUT I THINK I M VERY HAPPY TO BE BACK.


    re : BICKERING AND NAME CALLING HERE…. keep the focus on yourself… live and let live… if you really believe someone is ” wrong ” THEN , BY A.A. PRECEPTS compassion for that person comes first…. a sympathetic ear may help them more than vitriol… just a thought. alanon issues here…

  • steven

    “The question is only, do you want to be sober more than you want to drink? Very few people can answer this question truthfully and reply yes” from Augusten Burroughs book “This is How”

  • josh

    I have been sober 3.5 years now. AA and my higher power worked for me. I don’t go to many meetings anymore because the meetings aren’t meant for me anymore. I go to share my story with the newcomer that maybe relates to me. Two things happen when you share. You can first transform your audience because your pain strength and hope some one may hear it and benefit. The second thing is I get a chance to be transformed. If you enter any program with a check list action off your list, I thinkbit will be hard. The biggest key was to surrender and let god do for me that I couldent do for myself. My sobriety is based on my spiritual fitness every day. Hope this helps

  • steve

    Did a 28 day rehab in New Jersey in 1983, 90 meetings in 90 days a couple of years of 2 to 4 meetings a month. Eventually phased out meetings to 1 a year. Still live a day at a time. I don’t set goals for my sobriety other than today. Don’t recognize anniversaries they don’t matter because it is not a competition. Keep going to AA it gets better.

  • lifeiznuts

    I’ve been sober for over 17 years. I never went in for formal treatment but did start AA meetings right away. I was aware that some support was necessary. I was working as an RN on a drug and alcohol treatment unit at the time. Ironic, isn’t it? I quit AA meetings when I became annoyed by all the “God stuff.” Some members seemed not to be able to make simple decisions, like what to wear that morning, without consulting “their higher power.” I found I was becoming more and more annoyed with that. I was also becoming an atheist. So after enduring higher power this and that for a couple of years, my attendance gradually came to a halt. Of course, that was frowned upon by active members. I was constantly told I was doing something wrong, not attending enough meetings, not calling my sponsor often enough, blah, blah, blah.
    I think AA is a form of brain washing, but if that’s what you need to quit and put some order back into your life, then so be it. It just wasn’t for me. When I read the stats about how many people stay sober, I’m amazed. I was a liter+ daily drinker before I quit. I am so glad I don’t do that any more. Life is so much more beautiful without that haze of alcohol.

  • Goldie Michaels

    Whom the Son sets free is FREE IN DEED

  • jn314504

    I am so my the by people who are sober and just miserable. For an alcoholic like me if I am going to b miserable I will b drunk and miserable. But I havery yet to find a reason to do that, been sober 3 years and can only thank the program . I had tried every other thing known to man and it is the only thing that has worked for me

  • bambino33

    If the answer seems difficult to follow its because it is because it meanders all over the place comes back and meanders again.
    Simple approach using his numbers:
    1,000,000- drunks
    130,000- drunks seeking help 13%
    6,500- drunks sober after 90 days 5%
    325- drunks sober after 2 years 5%
    ????- whatever out of the woods means 4 years
    Because his perimeters keep changing its hard to actually figure out what the answer is, but my guess is his ballpark figure is right. Go to a founders day in Akron, usually there is a big meeting in the ballpark, they do a sobriety countdown. You get to five years 90% or better of the ballpark is sitting down of a crowd of 20K. Now of course got people who die sober and they count too, but once you get into the 30+ years now your in the AA Hall of Famer so to speak class. Lucky enough to live that long and stay sober thus a couple of hundred until 40 then less then 25 till the top guy or girl at 50+. Myself at near 25 years I’m usually in the top 3 or 4 at any meetings. But dedication also effects those countdowns thus I’d agree roughly to his ballpark numbers until his numbers get very vague. Then dry drunks, and so you can see the problem trying to figure the numbers.

  • bambino33

    They tried the best they could to un-God the program while keeping the concept that you can’t have it be you. You go to agnostic/athetist meetings basically what are they AA meetings minus the God section of the book and God portions of the meeting. Coffee, check. Sitting in a circle/at tables, check, some type of closing, check. Meetings in Churches/ town halls, check. Only thing I recommend is leave the animosity towards beleivers out of it, the goal is don’t drink, not figure out a way to out wit AA because truth is many things in agnostic meeting is the same as standard AA meetings.

  • bambino33

    Are you here to share sobriety or spit in the eye of believers? Many of these agnostic/atheist groups are about politics. I thought it was about getting and staying sober. Even though I have faith its not that I ever saw AA as some Christian fellowship, in fact I find it extremely new age in its approach. Your would never here the term higher power in a Church, or God as you understand Him. Thats always been the puzzling part to me of agnostic/atheists anger at AA, how can you be angry when it says God as you understand Him? The goal is that its not YOU, thats what Bill was trying to relay. He knew our egos were very dangerous to sobriety. Really look at your own sayings their not Nancy invented sayings their AA sayings, just puzzling how people so angry with AA in some ways made that they think their being told to do something they don’t agree with then on the other hand use concepts and slogans from the hated institution

  • bambino33

    13 years is far from a newcomer in any meeting.

  • bambino33

    I get the faith issue what I never got was the anger associated with it especially to AA. The God issue has nothing to do with AA it was there long before you walked in the doors

  • Frank Bartushock

    I am sober and an atheist. I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. My father has been sober for 45 years and is a Christian. I like what he says “if it works for you then it must be right for you.” He is a member of AA. I am not. But he will defend my sobriety completely. The group he founded 40 years ago has a term they use for the “Jesus is all I need” alcoholics. They call them revolving door newcomers. Or 30 day coin collectors. Because they honestly believe that Jesus has cured them. I’m not as nice. I call them delusional.

  • Terrence K

    My Sobriety date remains 4/4/09…I hate this disease…

  • Kristi

    As I’m sitting here today celebrating my 4 years of sobriety and reading all this anger and judgement…we should all be happy for one another. We are beating the odds agains this disease. It shouldn’t matter how you became sober. All the matters is that you are.

    Other disease like diabetics don’t scrutinize one another on their treatment or how they handle themselves. As long as they are healthy is all that matters. As addicts we should do the same and stand tall for one another. We are fighting this disease and winning!

    I’m not saying I’m for or against AA. But I don’t think Bill would want anyone in or out of his program passing judgement. He would want you to spread the word of sobriety.

  • Jerel S

    I haven’t had a drink in over 22 years. I still go to AA because we are a group of people who have been there and know what alcoholism feels like. Not counselors or doctors who think they know how to fix us, but real veterans of this disease who know the pain first hand. I would add one thing to any program of recovery. It’s a sincere, deep down desire to live without alcohol. When AA began those in recovery were critically addicted and had no option but to quit or die. Wanting to quit was assumed in the program. I struggled for over two years because I knew I needed to quit, but subconsciously was still in love with the buzz.

  • Aunt Mandi

    25 years today.

    I believe that the 12 steps and 12 traditions are the spiritual backbone of my program.

    I was warned early on that meeting attendance is not necessarily the only measure of success.

    Yeah, I heard those probabilities when I first came in. I knew they weren’t joking. Was told to look around me and watch the people drop off. Never thought I had the right stuff. To be honest I just felt that I had no other option.

    If you are like me, ask questions. I wanted to know if I was going to turn into a nun or something. Ask more questions. Examine additional alternatives, like nutrition and exercise. Ask more questions. You are worth it.

  • Aunt Mandi

    This drunk used to show up to meetings high etc. and I was …. tolerated ;). We can’t judge how people do their program. We can however empathize with them and guide them.

  • Trin Denise

    I agree with you 100%. Based on a lot of these posts, people used AA for self-seeking, self-absorbed motives: to get themselves sober and only them and to heck with helping anyone else who was in the same shape they were in when they first came to AA. What would they have done if they showed up at their first AA meeting and there was no one there because all the people who got sober took on the same attitude of no longer needing it for themselves? To thine own self be true :)

  • a red blooded American

    are you still sober?

  • pv

    one day shy of 30 years and most of you sound like judges, once you get here the white chip is free, the hardest part of this is the second step, it dosent gaurentee you sanity, sobrity or wisdom, it confers on you a posabilty, it is possible that if you do everything right you may stay sober one day ,it the possibity that even if you dont do the aa,. na, program you may stay clean and sober one day, along with this comes the possibity that you wont make a single day, one thing is certin i am not god i couldnt get sober or keep you sober,I was wooped good i have to depend on that. i had a sponcer named bill heart he was one of origionals he died with 42 years sober, all he ever realy told me is wake up every mnorning and expect the worst if you get the best be happy if you get the worst ask for help, dosent matter what form it took just the asking reopend the possibitys rule to staying clean. one day to go its possible i may get there i have 10949 days of practice

  • Dave S

    you have to give it away to keep it

  • Shane

    Statistically, the percentage of people that quit on their own is higher than rehab/AA. 99% of rehab places use AA/NA. It doesn’t work, but business-wise rehab is a great money maker- expensive “treatment” with costumers that return again and again and again. The majority of people in AA are court ordered to be there. So, typically in AA you see the worst of the worst of drinkers and not the full spectrum of drinking problems. It is not exactly true that someone that has a problem cannot go back to drinking in moderation. Happens all of the time, but you don’t hear about it. AA is classified as a religion in spite of rhetoric that it isn’t. The history of AA through Bill W. is steeped in religion, and the man himself was cultish. Lastly, Bill W. was never cured before he died. Sure, he never drank again, his handlers saw to that to preserve his legacy, but his problem was addiction, much deeper than alcohol. He simply traded alcohol addiction for nicotine and sex addiction. In fact, he literally smoked himself to death.

  • miles

    What a terrible ending to the article. precise statistics are used right up until the end, when it states that at four years probably you will stay sober. does “probably” mean 50% of people wIll stay sober at four years? or 90 percent. It’s almost like you ran out of space and had to end the story

  • obiwanbill

    i quit and “white knuckled” it for a few years. the when in navy, they made me a counselor and i got back into AA. then as civilian i have worked at several treatment as a state licensed therapist. i have been retired for 10 years still go to 6-7 meeting per week. i cant go to a meeting without seeing a former patient. the recipe for long term recover seems to be treatment with involvement in aa…nothing works better for self, than working with a new guy, I have 42 years clean

  • Jim B

    sober 38 years come Jan 9, 2016…..I kicked God and Church (Catholic) out of my life at age 14, I’m now 71. Had a great sponsor, we’re still long time friends, he’s sober 48 years, meanest sponsor in all of AA, made me do things that went against my grain, the sponsor from hell. He was had to be from hell to put up with the likes of me, the only one who stood by me in those early years of sobriety and what I went through in those early 24’s, I kicked the 2nd and 11th steps out for a couple years. Always said if you’re gonna restore me to the sanity I had before I picked up my first drink, keep it, that’s why I drank in the first place at 14 years old, to escape the reality of my life, AA didn’t restore me to that after I came to believe in about 2 years, I listened to the group as the higher power. When I finally did the 2nd and 3rd step, and by now honest, then more honest and in my 3rd or 4th years, rigorously honest and spilled my guts with the things I planned on taking to the grave with me, I had no more to hide, no more lies of covering up my past, I told it like it was. No, the sanity AA restored me to was a sanity I had never known in my entire life. My drinking was but a symptom of my disease, I also sought professional help after about 5 years of daily meetings, 2 and 3 per day at times for 15 years. I got very active and involved in AA, I one of them old timers now, brought up in my life in AA by the Old Timers, many have passed, but their spirits live on in my heart. I got involved in Service work early on, organizing AA conventions and working in the community, guess what, I still make coffee and door greeter at my home group, still folding up chairs and tables and cleaning up the kitchen. I’ve come to know I am but one drink away from my next drunk, my last drunk, I also came to believe that the higher power “IS”…too many coincidences in my life of prayer and meditation to call them simply coincidences, the proof is in my life, and in others who helped me along the way, when I look in their eyes, the windows of their heart, I know that He dwells in all our hearts. I see Him working at AA meetings, the hello’s, the how are you’s, where’ve you been, the hugs, the kisses, the handshakes of people who were once just like me, afraid, scared lonely, the downtrodden, the unwanted, the unneeded, the uncared for, the unloved. I love watching Him work through other people, the miracles, and there are no losers in AA, only those sick in heart and in spirit. The healers are still at work in AA around the world, spreading the word of the 12 steps to recovery. All I wanted 38 years ago was to put the cork in the bottle like I did so many times during my days of wine and four roses, but always fell off the wagon, but to stay stopped was the blessing, the Grace He gave me, when I put my drink problem in His hands, followed by my will and life some time later in the steps. I was raise in AA on those 12 Steps and the Big Book, if ever I want to know “how am I doing in recovery” all I have to do is pick up the 12 and 12 or Big Book and start reading it after letting it lay there on the shelf for a couple years. I swear someone came into my house and changed the words or put in a new paragraph or an entire page. I know I read it hundreds of times and those same words that now have a new or different meaning, I am after all, still teachable after all these 24’s. The best teachers sadly were those who went back out, I attended some of their funerals, visited them in hospitals and institutions after they thought they were cured, or they didn’t think they were alcoholic after all. But the truth is AA is not for everyone, there are over 130 different programs of recovery throughout the USA that are certified treatment programs, whatever works for you….if you are seeking sobriety please God may you find it, if you have sobriety please God may you keep it….God Bless and a sober and happy 24 wishes for all

  • Gj Vernon

    AA has been designated a religion by the US supreme courts more times that i can remember – the higher power has always been just a generic term for the Christian God, if you read the steps objectively you´ll see the manipulation – most long time memebers of AA have just become co-dependent in ´recoveryism´