Why You Should Not Sit through AA or NA Meetings for the Rest of Your Life in Order to Stay Clean and Sober

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Let me get this part out of the way right up front: If AA or NA meetings work for you, then that is great, and I would encourage you to continue on with them (for the most part).

However, even if meetings seem to be working for you, I would encourage you to take a look at some of the ideas on this page. I am not trying to “talk you out of meetings” necessarily. I am just challenging folks to really look at their recovery. The fact is that anyone who is living a successful life in recovery should be making personal growth on a regular basis. If they are just coasting along then they are not doing themselves any favors, and they are also running a risk that they might relapse at some point.

So while it is not going to be the case for everyone, some people would do well to think about an alternative approach to their recovery other than just “go to a meeting every day.”

Let’s find out why:

AA meetings can be a waste of time

You only have 24 hours in each day and many of those hours are already spoken for with things such as sleep, work, family interaction, and so on. Your remaining expendable (disposable) hours are very precious and what you do with them will have a huge impact on how your life evolves. Given that, are 12 step meetings the best choice?

There are a few reasons that meetings are effective. One is because recovering alcoholics benefit from a constant reminder that they are in the recovery process. This helps them to shut down thought processes that might romanticize the idea of taking a drink. Without regular reminders about recovery, these thoughts are pursued for longer periods of time and can make the recovering alcoholic miserable. Therefore, regular meetings serve as a reminder to the brain to help keep it on the right track.

Another reason that meetings are effective is because they allow people to vent. If you have no one to talk with in your life then going to a meeting can give you a chance to vent frustration. This was never the intended purpose of AA meetings, but they definitely do get used in this way. If you go to several AA meetings you will surely hear people vent about their problems that they are having in their lives.

In very early recovery, meetings can also be the vehicle and the location where the newcomer actually learns how to live a sober life.

So those are the ways in which meetings can be effective and helpful for recovery. But, keep in mind these 2 things:

1) All of those needs can be met outside of regular meeting attendance.

2) The “cost” of each meeting is one hour per day plus travel time. This adds up significantly over a lifetime.

Time in AA meetings is not necessarily “wasted” as it depends on what your needs are. If meetings work for you then it is probably wise to continue with them.

But be honest with yourself in terms of how much growth you have made in the last 30 days, the last 90 days, the last year. Are daily meetings pushing you forward, or are they keeping you stagnant?

One hour per day plus travel time is a HUGE investment. If you are not getting inspired growth and continuous progress based on your meeting attendance, then it is likely a waste of your time.

Results speak for themselves, but of course, you have to be truly honest with yourself. It can be easy to coast along, become stagnant, but still pat yourself on the back for not relapsing. Are you really growing though?

AA meetings can detract from what your real priorities should be in recovery

What is the long term goal in recovery?

In my opinion the answer is personal growth.

That is why anyone who is attending meetings on a regular basis but feels like they are stuck in a rut needs to take action in order to jump-start their recovery.

The point of recovery is not to abstain and sit in meetings all day. The point of recovery is to recover a life of purpose and meaningful growth. There is a tendency in AA to focus on one type of growth at the expense of all others. Spiritual growth is the only kind that matters in the program of AA.

But in “real world recovery,” there are huge benefits from looking into other types of personal growth. For example, exercise and physical fitness can have a huge, positive impact on recovery. The 12 step program does not acknowledge or admit this. It has no need to, because the solution in AA is narrowed down to “spiritual growth.”

The real solution is bigger than that; more powerful. Holistic growth is the key to a successful life in recovery, and it includes the idea of spiritual growth as well.

AA meetings are effective because they narrow the focus down so much and give concentrated help in one specific area. If you have two weeks of sobriety then you can get huge benefit from an AA meeting. But after two years or twenty years in recovery, are one hour meetings every day really giving you the exact help and guidance that you need to keep making forward progress in your life? Sure you can still get value from any AA meeting, but that is not the point. The point is, how are you spending your precious hours every day?

For people who have mastered the basics in recovery, sitting in a meeting every day becomes an excuse for inaction. Your real priority in recovery should shift to one of personal growth. New goals should appear in your life or you should find more meaning and purpose in other ways. That is not to say that you *have* to leave AA as you move into long term recovery. It merely means that you need to make a conscious choice about how you are spending your time, and if the daily AA meeting is the best way for you keep growing in your recovery.

For some people, the daily meeting is a great way for them to experience growth. Maybe they actively sponsor people, chair meetings, get involved, make a real impact. But many people do not take it to that level, and instead just coast by, using daily meetings as a sort of life preserver to keep them sober. This is not real recovery and that is not real personal growth.

So yes, you CAN keep going to AA meetings in long term recovery. But don’t do it because you NEED to in order to stay sober. If that is the case, your recovery needs work.

AA meetings are fine. But dependency on AA meetings is not good. Personal growth is the goal, not just stability.

AA meetings might not be your best venue for helping others in recovery

Why help others in recovery? Why not just help yourself and focus on your own sobriety?

The reason is because helping others in recovery is one of the highest-impact things you can do for your recovery. There is little else that you could do to strengthen your recovery more than helping others. This is true both in and out of AA.

So you have to ask yourself: “Can I help others most effectively inside of AA meetings? Or outside of them?”

The key is to be honest with yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of getting some clean time, prattling on at meetings like a guru, and feeling your ego stroked while all the newcomers look up to you. Yes, you want to help others in recovery. But if you are doing it in meetings every day to stroke your own ego, then that is a problem. It can be easy to fall victim to “big-shotism” in AA when you get a few years sober, depending on what meetings you may attend. Old-timers are rare, but newcomers abound.

Going to AA meetings and sharing your experience is one way to help recovering alcoholics. But there are other ways. What you should do is to consider your own unique strengths and talents, and see how you can best use those to reach out to others in recovery. This may or may not be best suited for AA meetings. (For example, maybe you excel in one-on-one interactions rather than speaking in front of groups, etc.).

AA meetings can become a daily routine and an excuse to stop taking real action and making real growth in recovery

This is the main caution that I want you to take from this article. I am not trying to talk you out of meetings….rather, I am trying to get people to consciously choose meetings if they are going to keep going to them.

Remember that your real goal in recovery is not merely abstinence but instead it is continuous personal growth. AA meetings might be pushing you to make that growth, but they might also be keeping you stuck in a way.

It is easy to fall into a pattern of complacency if you attend daily meetings. This becomes especially true as you start to accumulate more sober time. Due to the massive attrition rate of modern day AA, this means that anyone who sticks around for over a year basically becomes a “senior member.” The constant influx of newcomers (who are not going to stick it out for the most part) means that you can now pat yourself on the back due to your “success” in being able to stick and stay. Show up to a meeting every day, preach to the newcomers, life is good.

The danger in that is complacency.

If you are stuck in a “meeting rut,” ask yourself the following questions:

* How can I push myself to grow in my recovery outside of traditional step work and spiritual growth?

* How can I push myself to carry a message of recovery to the world outside of the 12 step program?

* What can I do with an extra hour or two each day that will have a huge, positive impact on my life?

* Am I depending on meetings for my sobriety? How can I grow beyond that dependency?

AA meetings as a crutch

In some regards I tend to think of AA meetings as a bit of a crutch. This depends entirely on how you use the meeting, however.

If you depend on meetings to maintain your sobriety then obviously it is a crutch. The question is: “Is that a healthy dependency?”

Most people would answer that it is a healthy dependency to have and is certainly better than drinking. I would agree that sobriety beats drinking, but would also challenge people to choose the route of daily meetings more consciously. If it just becomes your default method for sobriety, your daily venting session that you depend on to keep you sober, then I think there is room for growth there.

Continuous sobriety should come from continuous personal growth. If you stagnate in your growth because attending daily meetings keeps you sober with little extra effort on your part, then that is bad. Look to challenge yourself a bit, away from dependency on daily meetings.

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  • Mary

    Excellent article! I completely agree. I found myself finally admitting that I was leaving a lot of meetings feeling guilty and like I was a bad recovery person because I couldn’t force myself to do nothing in life but pound myself with “the steps” and run for every service position imaginable and attend every meeting I could think of non-stop (oh that look from people when they haven’t seen you at THEIR meeting for a while, you just have to be drunk, right?). These negative self-perceptions were hard to fight down, I felt like I was some kind of a fraud with undeserved double-digit sobriety.

    Then I went through a very rough spot with the death of my father and my husband being sick and in and out of the hospital for a while. I then had to face that the diagnosis of depression I had before I ever drank, probably shouldn’t be ignored any longer. I didn’t drink, didn’t want to, but I faced some things and came to a belief that echos your article. I have to allow, without shame and fear, other interests in my life. We got a little puppy right after my Dad died, my first dog as an adult, and I had to ask myself why I was putting her in a crate extra time for me to go to meetings I dreaded instead of devoting time to training her like I really wanted to do. I started staying home and working (playing) with our dog and it was such a joy! She got me and my husband outside and that led to my being a more sociable person over-all. There really isn’t enough time in life to fill it up with things done simply out of guilt and fear, which was why I had gone to so many meetings per week for years. You mentioned exercise, I added running to my agenda in place of hiding indoors on the elliptical machine so I could get my dog some good morning exercise as she matured. Exercise has been very beneficial to me for years.

    One thing I must point out is that many people in 12 step programs do not understand adding other meaningful things to recovery, especially if it takes any time away from meetings or organized service work. A person needs to prepare themselves for people who will question the quality of their sobriety if they dare to add things to their lives. I had a woman in recovery ask me why I wasn’t currently in a service position and I told her about working with your young dog. The woman looked at me like I had just spoken to her in an alien tongue that made no sense at all. To many people you must devote your life in its entirety to a 12 step program forever or they will tell you that you are on dangerous ground. That’s why your articles are important, keep ‘em coming!

  • Patrick

    Thanks for the supportive comment, Mary! I like your view of things.

    I would like to point out that I have received several emails about this article already, though…apparently it ruffled a lot of feathers out there. They say I am bashing AA, but I tried to just caution people about complacency.

    I see so many get stuck in meetings, stuck in the fellowship, stuck in the program. Or they say “I worked the steps” and then they take no further action. Etc.

    People can get stuck no matter what “program” they follow. It happens.

    I figure my job is to wake them up, get them moving again. Personal growth is what keeps people sober, I don’t care what program they are working….(the program is not the solution, it just points towards a solution).

  • becky

    Thanks for the article! I agree that AA is not the be all/end all in recovery. I have found some meetings are very beneficial and some are more of a complaining session. Its kind of a crap shoot. I have seen some people use AA as a crutch to not move on with life. I, agree, that AA for new members is very beneficial and has a great purpose. My personal take on it is to integrate AA with other recovery tools. Exercise is great, as well as, meditation and deciding what your goals are in this new found life. I had to ask myself what I wanted and make some decisions that were outside my comfort zone and more than a bit uncomfortable in order to achieve goals I set for myself. It is scary but 100% worth it.

    I, also, don’t think the legal system has a clue as to how to deal with addiction. Not all people are ready to do what they need to do in order to stop using/doing whatever their addiction may be. A certain frame of mind needs to be attainable and not all people are there. Being court ordered to meetings three times a week does not constitute recovery.

  • Patrick

    @ Becky – I agree with everything you are saying. AA can definitely be both a help as well as a hindrance, depending on the unique situation and each individual. The scary thing (to me) is that it has sort of become the default, and only, solution that is offered to 98 percent of people who seek help for alcoholism or addiction.

  • Dana

    Hi spiritual river,
    I love reading your articles and forum. I am too yet back in the rooms. Fighting the forever meetings and not wanting to conform been there done that. However I am working with a sponsor whom I respect and she welcome me in to help or guide me in this early time. As I sit back in meetings I still cringe and think wow. I listen to people who have years of soberity and still go to 3 meetings a day and they are obese and smoke or both. Its digusting to me. My sponsor attrends 4 mtgs a week which for me is way too much for someone who is 4 years sober. I see alot of fear based soberity and I will attend my 90/90 and then to a mtg when I want to go. I do want to have anything that I am dependent on for soberity how scary is that. Last night at the mtg the chair man said he had 9 years and stop mtgs and relaspe. I feel that is just an excuse. I dont believe in that cop out. I mean what kind of soberity is that? I am totally into mind-body-spirit. Excercise is a huge plus and I am also a Christian. AA God is too gerneric for me. I want to be sober so i can be free and not addicted to something else like endless mtgs. Negativity is very unhealthy for me and also being an emapath is tough for me to sit through drama-ego mtg.
    For now I am doing this however I much open to many avenues and will do the “zero tolerance policy” for myself I really like that.

  • Sandra in San Diego


    I have 23 years of sobriety and I have seen many, many people over the years with both short time and long time sobriety come back to AA after a bender…nearly all of them say that they had quit going to meetings and that was the beginning of their slide. My first sponsor had 15 years and decided that she was so recovered that she no longer needed the meetings. It took her three years before it seemed one day like a good idea to have a little booze in her coffee during a ski trip. It was all downhill after that and three years later she crawled back to AA. Some people don’t make it back..they die. So why would I want to take a chance on stopping going to meetings. I don’t! Being sober, life is too good to throw it away again.

  • Marti

    The author of this article is really putting a lot of bad information out there. As a recovering alcoholic, I made the choice to stay away from meetings after a few years, the result was devastating, it took years for me to drink again, but eventually I did. What is one hour a day anyway, including travel time. How much time did we spend in bars, in liquor stores, etc. to make our drinking possible? I think the author of this article is doing any one any good. It is just what some people would need to stop going, it’s like pulling an i.v. out of a dying person in the emergency room, it is just that serious.

    I didn’t drink for 23 years, stayed away from AA meetings for the last ten years or more, and eventually I forgot that small fact, that my disease is cunning, baffeling and powerful. I ended up locked up for a while, and if it takes going to meetings to keep me in fit spiritual condition, then so it is. If you can’t help the problem, you know nothing about the solution, so it would be wise if you just stop messing with a very deadly disease that you know nothing about.

  • Patrick

    @ Marti – Your brand of misinformation is as damaging as the free thinking model.

    AA saves some lives, yes. But it also kills some people. When it comes to recovery we have much to learn.

    You are substituting your experience for everyone else, wondering why they all can’t “get it” like you did.

    AA does not work for everyone. (In fact, over half leave within the first year). How do YOU help people who reject AA? Just give up on them? I try to help them.

    Good luck to you.

  • Paul Dolan

    Fine article. AA is only a tool, a good one, for long-term sobriety. To become “dependent” on this one tool could be targeted for relapse if this tool in someway collapes. AA is not a rock and is as fragile as we are. Any smart person would not put all his coins in one basket. There is alot of recovery information out there (including yours) to buttress your long term sober life. Keep coming back.

  • Brian

    AA helped me stop drinking, that’s it. I worked the steps with a sponsor, and ‘loved AA’. Then is became aware that I then needed something else. My sponsor told me without AA I will drink guaranteed. AA helped me address some of my fears, but developed more fear. When I realized AA was not for me, all my AA ‘friends’ were only to be found at a meeting. AA is a fear based program. From my experience, AA helped me stop drinking, that’s it. I would have probably relapsed if just stopped going to meetings. I stopped attending AA, but I started….studying Martial Arts, devoted more time to playing guitar, socializing at my local dog park, began studying meditation techniques with a Monk, and volunteering at community events. If AA is ‘it’ for you, then yes, you will drink if you stop going meetings. May everyone be happy and healthy.

  • Mary

    I agree with Brian’s statement above, and also the message “go to AA meetings forever or DIE” is not a positive way to recover. People who fall back into the same lack of care for their own emotional and mental health they had when drinking do run a greater risk of drinking again in my opinion, but taking care of oneself in a positive way comes in many forms. It’s amazing and wonderful to me that I can gradually begin socializing with other people out there and they don’t see me as some kind of freak! So long I was afraid to do that.

    Right now I still go to my home group, where there are many people I truly love and are a positive influence on my life; but I am grappling with the fear-based part of my recovery as well. I know that it won’t serve me well forever, and the worst of the AA based fear hasn’t served me well emotionally in the past. I need to keep working on how to live a full life and let go of that remaining fear which holds me back.

    AA can be harmful to people in some ways, I have read that the suicide rate for people who relapse after being sober in AA is higher than that for people who get sober in other ways then relapse. I understand this since for years I told myself that if I drank again suicide would definitely be an option. I also figured there would be no use having a small relapse, since you lose everything in AA by “going out” you might as well make it a good one right? This kind of thinking isn’t healthy, it took me years to start seeing it for what it was.

    AA got me sober, it was the only game in town in 1992. I did detox, 21 day treatment, then long term treatment and AA. I have served in the AA service structure, chaired meetings, given leads. That is not bad, but without the possibility of more to life I don’t know what would have happened to me when things really got rough from time to time. It’s hard to tell anyone that one more inventory, isn’t doing anything for you. Or one more lead, making sure to exaggerate your failings in the ways that get the best belly laugh, doesn’t take care of everything; or talking to one more newcomer who has been coached in meetings to believe that a sponsor is a goddess who can make her be sober isn’t the most valuable thing you will ever know in life. You can’t say that, it would be considered “sick”! Those are the times you need a life and the knowledge that there is more to live for and more help available beyond AA if you find you need it.

    And it is a worn out tactic to tell someone with a difference of opinion that they are “dangerous” and they don’t know anything about recovery. When I read this web site it looks like the author has been there and done that and probably has the tee shirt.

  • kevin mudford

    30 years free thru jesus christ . aa is a bondage program filled with half truths , the big book is not the bible . 1 spend my time going to aa meetings an getting them to christian church meetings , 1 am an aa evangelist , aa is full of people searching for truth . jesus said 1 am truth. ha aa what a lie from the beginning . jesus said there are many paths which seem right but only one path leads to the father, he aa members give your self a break . give your life to jesus an you will never need aa a gain god bless , mad dog.

  • Amy

    This article is fantastic! I am currently in a relationship with someone who uses meetings as a crutch and it has affected our relationship (which I’m currently ending)…. I was married to an addict for 8 years and I dealing with that end of it (abuse, using, etc.) was hard…. little did I realize that being with someone that is recovering is even harder! Excuse after excuse of why they NEED meetings…. she has been sober for 4 years now and completed the 12 steps but her sponsor tells her that she needs to stay committed to 5-6 meetings a week in order to stay clean……

    Her life revolves around AA and there is really no personal growth…..

    I’m sending this to her…. thank you again!

  • David

    I loved this article because I actually left AA because I started to realize that the “healthy” group were obsessed with AA meetings. I became a Nichiren Buddhist while in AA and frankly I get more accomplished sitting at home in front of my Gohonzon(object of devotion, scroll that I chant in front of) chanting for a couple of hours than I do sitting in a meeting hearing so called AA big book thumpers go on and on about “the big book this, the big book that” when they continually contradict that said book. IE:have to this, have to that, must this must that, blah blah blah(kind of funny when the Big Book says that “our book is meant to be suggestive only” which trumps and cancels out any “must” that it mentions prior to that in the book, and they conveniently sweep that under the rug even after reading it in a meeting). I find as long as I chant 2 hours a day I never have a desire to drink and I remain smoke free, free of depression, showing up to work on time, free of resentments, no meetings or 12 steps required, no need for all the drama. I have proven this over and over again, and of course people in meetings would tell me that it doesn’t work just because it doesn’t line up with the religion of Bill W. and Dr. Bob no matter how many things I have overcome by chanting. I especially love the fact of hearing people go on and on about “that’s just my sick crazy alcoholic thinking” when it is nothing more than an excuse to not pay their bills or rationalize acting more like a 12 year old as opposed to acting like an adult and people just nod and laugh about it knowing that they do the same thing then patting the person on the back for their “honesty”. I’m not saying that every AA member does that, but any time I might have called someone out for that type of thing people would tell me that just because I don’t have as long sober as they do telling me to take the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth or some other nonsensical thing like that. I don’t ever want to darken the doors of another AA meeting for as long as I live, the only problem is sometimes I miss the fellowship. Sometimes I miss the campouts, picnics, etc etc. Guess I’ll chant more to break that emotional attachment and to keep it away.

  • Dan

    Patrick, your comments are misinformation. Mary, you along most of the other commenters do not or never had a solid understanding of AA…or addiction itself. This article is a shame. Never have I read so many adults comment on something that they gave up on so quickly

  • John

    After 3.5 years of sobriety and over the past 2 yeasr have gradualy been pulling away from AA. “You must go to a meeting if you dont feel good” etc , seems to me, to make you become dependant on AA. I practise meditation, have learnt play to a muscial instrument and now gig (often at pubs and bars and seeing people drunk is enough to remind me that I do not want to go there again). In other words, I have deliberatley set out to have another life apart from AA. I still go to a meeting approx. once every two weeks and just dip my toe in. I am very grateful to AA and in my part , I offer service by running meditation classes. Becoming dependant on AA is not something I want – I want a balanced life. Years ago I went to see a consellor and then stayed seeing him every week for 2 years. I spent alot of money and alot of my self worth was dependant on him. The he moved away and I was devistated and hurt. It tooks months for me to get back on track. I feel the same now, I do not want to become dependant on AA. Sometimes it sounds like a cult or brainwashing, the things people say. I say if you need it then make AA your life and I am sure that this is a great way to live. I just prefer other things such as meditation and music to provide me with spiritual support, plus occasional AA meetings.

  • John

    Hi its me again!

    NOTE: I do not think I would stay sober unless I did have some kind of spiritual program and had hobbies or a job that I loved doing (love being the important thing) . Spiritual practise or personal growth does seem to be very important to stay sober. Music for me (either listening or playing music) is a spritual practise and also makes me feel good and calm.

  • Susan

    I am the wife of an alcoholic. My husband is a type-A, controlling person, who over does everything (job, school, working out) and often fails to remember that he is married and that I deserve some of his time. I am grateful that he’s finally admitted his drinking problem after 8 years of being together. However, he tells me it’s imperative to attend several meetings PER DAY. During the work week, he no longer comes home for lunch and is gone every evening at meetings. He took the day off from work today and is on his 4th meeting of the day. Is this normal???? I understand the need to go to meetings, but is it normal to go 24/7? This seems like his newest “crutch” to me, and that he is using these meetings to save himself from having to face the destruction he’s created at home.

  • David

    It doesn’t seem to me that the author has actually read and anderstands AA’s literature or has attended enough meetings and worked the steps for long enough to really understand the type of alcoholic AA works the best for or how it really works. I have run into many alcoholics who once they came to the realization that they couldn’t have even one drink safely were able to adopt a lifestyle where they could stay away from that first drink and have a good life without AA or any of the things the author is suggesting. Most emotionally and spiritually healthy people don’t need AA or the type of things the author is suggesting, even some alcoholics. There are many alcoholics, however, who are OCD about alcohol(not an AA term) and need to have a “spiritual awakening”(an AA shorthand term to denote in part a profound personal change) to obtain any peace and long term sobriety. Most of these people have tried multiple other ways of staying away from the first drink, including many of the non AA things the author is suggesting, and have not been able to stay sober or attain a satisying life without alcohol. Once these people have a “spiritual awakening”(please don’t get hung up on the term – its just the most convenient shorthand term for what happens) they are so grateful that they made part of their life’s purpose to carry this message to alcoholics like them who are still suffering. The author is putting the cart before the horse, and might I add playing with fire. I actually love going to AA meeting and have been going to 3-5 a week for the last 20 years, but I also don’t want to risk the great life I have to day. Based on my experiences during my last 5 years of trying to get sober there is a real CHANCE(not certainty) that I will pick up again if I completely stop going to meeting. Since I love meetings anyhow it would be nuts for me to stop or substitute them with something else. I also did many of things the author is suggesting for a brief period during my sobriety, and benefitted from them, but I’ve grown past them and feel I I will achieve much more growth through AA and working with alcholics than through any of these other methods.

  • Toni Siani

    Thank you for your artcal, it seemed to express the transition i am in at the moment. I am 2 yaers clean and my life is taking off and it’s graet. I have been finding the meetings controling, fear based and not loving and caring, so where are the spirital princables that your suppose to work in your program. As addicts we usually manipulate every situation to meet our needs and that is what i think is happening. My step 3 shoes me to take action and face fears in all areas of my life. If i am stuck in the safty of meetings all the time i am not implying that step. I also think people stay in the rut because it feeds there ego, which again is what working the steps is suppose to make you aware of, by looking at and changing your defects of character in your 6+7 step. I love the 12 steps as they have freed me in ways i’d never have drempt and NA is where my heart lies, but the program teaches us about balance and not to live in obsession, which the program it self can become. I have been controled by drugs and men all of my life, i refuse to now be controled by NA. I work the steps, go to a few meetings and sponsor woman and I am free to make choices. I should not be shamed because of that. I am fortunate that i have good friends who work 12 step who see the insanity in it to.

  • Chuck S.

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I know this isn’t proper English but….”If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it.”

    CCB and enjoy the day!

  • Patrick

    @ Chuck S. – Have you seen the success rates for traditional recovery? I worked in the treatment industry for 6+ years. My opinion: we can do better. Or rather, that is my hope. I would encourage you to take a view from 10,000 feet rather than just down at the local AA meeting…..

  • Cameron

    I totally agree with this article… I was in AA for the last year and a half. My addiction wasn’t to the point of drinking everyday… I got fed up and tired of being made to feel less of a person because if my lack of sobriety time, and I always got nagged at by various sponsors for not doing service work… And to add insult to injury, most of my sponsors couldn’t handle my past as they cited it “stressed them out” or they “didn’t want to hear it.” I have grown up in group homes and foster homes and have lost most of my immediate family before I was of age. I know I am not perfect, and I haven’t had a normal past… But who really has? We all have our issues from current day and our pasts… There are situations that are sometimes beyond our control. Some people say I am too blunt in my personal life on all levels… Last time I checked freedom of expression and freedom of speech are not a morally wrong thing… We are entitled to our views and opinions… I speak my mind. Growing up, I was taught to keep everything in… That is unhealthy… There are many side effects to things in life through bottling things up in our day to day lives… Our interactions, stresses, worries, trauma, and experiences in life… They are what shape and form us as individuals. The key to life is self-growth, goals, reinvention, and challenges we face in our day to day lives… Those are the things that can make or break us… The choice is ours as individuals… I am going to look into key areas in my life that I feel need to be worked on, so I can become a better person… And that is all I can do… I am just me, and that is all I know how to be… I just need to keep on evolving and reinventing the areas in my life that need to be worked on… The program works for some and not so much for others… Especially the gay groups… I find them very bar scene like, minus the bad music and the lighting to make them look better… There is still the attitudes and a lot of 13 stepping… There was 12 last time I checked

  • CVB

    wow…awesome, no-nonsense, non “anti-WHATEVER” , rational open minded view of the 12-step scene. its hard to find ppl with opinions that arent rock-hard against AA bc of the religious nature or because of an unfortunate negative experience, , and also it seems a huge majority of pro-AAers are blindfolded and narrow too… thanks for an intelligent and practical viewpoint!

  • Traci

    I like what you have to say here. I am three years sober at this time and stayed sober my first two years with no meetings. To tell you the truth, I had more inner peace before I started going back, but I also learned some great things this time going to meetings and I truly learned that meetings are indeed for the newcomer. There were a lot of misconceptions I had for years of going off and on and I hold higher respect for the integrity of AA. I honestly get more growth from living and dealing with people and life rather than getting mixed up into the whole AA thing. These days there is less focus on recovery in the fellowship and more focus on drama and BS. I have backed off of going to meetings lately and I think I do better with listening to speaker tapes and reading at home than going. Don’t get me wrong, if I hadn’t had seeds planted early on, I couldn’t have stayed sober without the tools I learned and what’s in the first 164 PGs.

  • Sandy

    Sounds like someone got a little resentment in AA. Haha.

    Don’t want to waste time going to meetings? That where you could actually find real live people to form a relationship with and help yourself instead of acting like you are a guru via the internet. Why should people waste their precious time isolating reading your bullshit, if they shouldn’t be “wasting time” going to a meeting. Thats what doesn’t make any sense.

    Oh yea- becuase it feeds your massive ego, thats why.

  • Patrick

    @ Sandy – There are lots of good reasons to go to AA meetings, but the point of the article (read the title again) is that you should not rely on them to keep you sober. If that is the only goal then you are wasting your time. I have at least two friends who still frequent AA meetings regularly who agree completely with that–they know that meetings don’t keep anyone sober. Many who go relapse frequently. My friends attend for other reasons.

    The point of reading a site like this is to challenge yourself to grow. If meetings have stopped doing that (like they have for some, not all though of course) then that is helpful to recovery. Lots of people get “stuck” in AA. I have been “unstuck” for over ten years now. The only resentment I have is that AA seems to harbor complacent alcoholics in some cases. My job on the web is to help people get unstuck. And I would not say it is a real resentment or any real anger there. Just sharing what works for me, and pointing out how so many people attend AA meetings every single day for the wrong reason. (you should not rely on meetings for sobriety…this is a dependency).

    Why bother reading and commenting if you did not want to “get unstuck?” Go live and be happy, do what works for you! Peace

  • V

    OMG… an eye opener… I have never used drugs, but I am involved with a man who is in recovery. He’s been clean for 6 yrs, but was “in the life” for 20 or so. He persued me for the past 3yrs as I was volunteering at the place where he works. I had my reservations of dealing with someone who is in recovery, but decided to give it a go because he is such a good guy (humble, great character, attends church, mannerable and would help anyone out). Lately, I’ve been feeling that he’s alittle stuck. I see amazing potential in him, but I feel he’s not putting forth the effort to move onward and upward in his life. He has his “committments” by attending meetings several times a week (Thursday mornings-because he works where meetings are held so he just stays since he has to open the building, Thursday nights and Fridays). I understand that everyone has a journey and who am I too tell him what he should be doing, but since being in a relationship with him and seeing his routine, I’m like- well what else are you doing for personal growth? As stated in the article…how else can you spend 1hr of your time?What I see for him- working on getting his GED, getting a better job (once he obtains his GED) moving out of that transitional program, finding a mentor and getting new teeth (which he was in the process of, but stopped). I’m really starting to rethink this who relationship because I’m feeling that he’s not ready for the type of relationship I’m looking for. I have a college degree, just purchased a home, have a full time job with full time responsibilites-BILLS. I want to travel, enjoy the weekends with quick getaways, have deep meaniful conversations and not about what happened in the NA meetings (nothing against that, but there are other topics to discuss). I try to encourage him to step outside the box, get a mentor (not sponsor since the basis of him picking that sponsor was because the sponsor has so many years clean and not a combination of personal & spirtiual growth, yrs clean and out there enjoying his life seeing the world) and learn as much as he can about life. I’ve even encouraged him to try a different enviroment. He works at soup kitchen (where there is an array of people who are still “in the life”, his pt job is at a convient store located in the heart the city where he people who are on drugs, homeless or have mental illness frequent and he still resides at the transitional home. I give him credit, with all that, he has not surrendered to the pressures of the enviroment, but goodness it’s more to life than this. He’s still experiencing “in the life” to a certain degree. The bottom line is… I agree with this article totally and will be providing a copy so that he can read. I welcome any CONSTRUCTIVE feedback that can help me with this situation. I’m not trying to sound selfish, insensitive or judgemental. These are just my feelings and I am really confused at this point..

  • Dan

    I’ve been sober 3.5 years and I attend about one meeting a week – usually my home group. My recovery has been about many different areas of my life. As you’ve mentioned, I now devote time to physical fitness. I also spend time with friends outside of AA, devote more time to work, and spend time pursuing spiritMual growth outside of AA in Church, bible study, etc. Regular meeting attendance is important to me as is service in the form of speaking commitments, but once weekly meetings work fine for me. Whenever people in AA ask me how many meetings a week I go to, though, and I tell them they often react with surprise or act like I’m doing something wrong. It’s often said that we should devote as much time to our recovery as we did to our drinking but for me recovery is about having a whole, complete life. I also go to a therapist so I feel no need to vent. Anyway just wanted to say, great article, and not a perspective often heard in AA!

  • Nate

    This was an excellent article. Alot of stuff on the internet is either culty pro-AA stuff, or very negative AA is Satan spawn stuff. I have very mixed feelings on AA and this article neatly summed up my feelings. I’ve often thought the whole “Meeting makers make it” was very simplisic.

    An old timer had like 30 years when he died. He helped a ton of people, including me. I was talking to his wife a few weeks after he died, and she told me he never focused on his family after he got sober. I started to realize that there was no point in going to meeting after meeting supposedly helping people, if I was screwing over my own family, fiance, work, education etc.

    Anyways thanks for a great article, and the point of NOT relining on meetings was an excellent one.

  • Buck

    Great article. It’s my third day in AA. Before going to aa I thought to myself it’s not just about the meeting that will make better but also spending time lost with my family and working out also.

  • barb

    i picked up my 24-year chip yesterday in front of many newcomers and a few of the same folks that just don’t drink and go to a meeting for life. i owe my life to the aa program and followed it religiously for about 10 years (off and on). i never relapsed after the first white chip other than to take a drink that night and then quietly (on my own) pick up a second white chip he next day.

    for many years i have stayed sober without meeting, living a life of gratitude mos of the time. i am now 63 and totally agree about personal growth as the objective in life and that time is precious. i did not make a good sponsor and i do not need a daily reminder to not drink. in addition, i simply do not enjoy the sanctimonious company of most of the really old timers. i’d rather have lunch with some naturally sober friend, take my dogs for a walk, work out at the gym, or try to do something for someone or something else (animals are a priority to me).

    i think many who go to meetings for life resent (and possibly don’t believe) that one can stay sober without meetings. i’ve been challenged by some arse-holes that believe i’ve been out. but i haven’t been and don’t plan to. i do not think of drinking too much and have been through lots of good and bad times without wanting a drink…for me, drinking is simply no longer an option.

    i don’t mean to sound arrogant. i mean to make it clear that working the aa steps and going to meetings/practicing the program works. but daily meetings for me today is not a good use of my time today. i love being sober and cannot imagine anything that would me take a drink today. if i ever have the desire, i hold on and the desire passes. and i know that i have grown in many ways as a sober person. works for me.

  • Malcolm E.

    Great stuff! Here is my take on the whole matter.What ever works in a positive way for you,then work it! God is not limited to our human thinking.God has and will continue use use different avenues to meet our individual human needs.Why would anyone who is in recovery now think they have arrived to a point in this process to challenge anything that seems to be working is beyond me?God is the Master at knowing it all.God I thank you continually for the program that you gave me to set me free!And I pray you remind the person who started this discussion and everyone that participants in it,the spirit of Anonymity!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Dearest Young Man :-)
    How wonderful it has been to read your optimism! I started in alateen when I was about 16 under my fathers direction. Over the years, on and off, alanon, ACA, and now AA. I truly believe the rooms are valuable in the beginning when support is vital. However, I find myself returning over and over again, to the same negativity(in the rooms) and it has harbored a stagnate position for me that I just cannot endure any longer. The message that you are sharing is very !courageous! indeed. I do not attend the same groups over and over again. I have addressed many internal problems by reading inspirational books outside the rooms. So much great stuff out there! I love your attitude about helping others and believe this opens the gate to freedom from the rooms.
    I just luv ya today kid. Stay strong! You can come back now and then, just to be reminded of the condition of drinking or using…but freedom is surely yours. “If he thinks he can do the job some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience…” AA pg. 95 4th.e last paragraph. Press on to ride the stars…grateful beyond measure to meet you here. I wish you peace, Carolyn Lee <3

  • Anonymous

    I stumbles upon this while looking at recovery sites.

    In a nutshell for me…. I have to be around AA meetings to help the new comers, this in turns helps me. Someone was there for me when I walked in the door. Someone was there for my mother 30 years ago when she walked in the door. My mother does not go to AA anymore and travels her own path of pain. I keep going because I want to “like” myself” as you all have taught me. I want to help someone else with the same issues as I had when I walked in the door. Can you imaging going to your first AA meeting and no one is there? I am so grateful to my AA family. I stick to the humble and loving people who want a better life in and out of AA. I do see how the negative people of AA can leave negative mark on new comers, but I was told to stick with the people who I want what they have. Go figure the ones that have what I want are all doing the same thing…. Thank you God!

  • Jakob

    Thank you for this. I grew very tired of AA about 2 years ago and slowly weened myself off of it. I’ve honestly never been happier, and its given me time to pursue other goals in my life. I’m still sober 6 years, and I don’t think about picking up. I do help people in other ways, and I am not adverse to going back to meetings with someone new, as I know I couldn’t have gotten sober without AA, but I found myself completely miserable sitting in AA meetings every day after about 4 years.

  • Mary

    So I have a question about these aa meetings. My husband goes all the time, we were always thrilled that he was sober. Then he turned into a dry drunk, then went through depression, started this big guy attitude I know best be like me I dont have to do that I have to work on myself first my aa family comes first. I get the concept but he took it over board. He texts women back and forth all the time… says he can do that because it is aa related… some rauchy texting. But its just a joke he says. I say NO that this is borderline cheating. So why does AA encourage this? YOu have families that stuck by you in all your crazy drinking binges so why do you still ignore your children and your spouses. Where is the 13th step that says you need to work on repairing relationships that you have let slide or you ruined because your sister or mom didnt stop talking to you because its their problem whether you were so drunk or not and cant remember. I think AA teaches a lot of AA parents and spouses to give up on their real lives and live this pretend life of AA meetings and helping out your aa people. Am I a little resentful … yep you better believe it coz its a lifetime of just about you all!!

  • Diane

    I find reading about spirituality and recovery is a reminder to be centered I went to many aa meetings at first, and still attend but have found other ways to care for myself in sobriety. It is not once size fits all. I exercise, help others, am selective in who I allow in my life…….my life is so simple and boring… times if I am under stress I need to so whateveer it takes to stay on track…..and I mean whatever it takes. Drinking alcohol is never an option…..ever.

  • Carol C

    I have been married to a recovering addict for almost 3 years. In my work as a case manager for homeless families it was very easy for me to parse and define some of his specific behaviors. My husband has 16 years clean time. When we started living together a year before we married he was going to meetings 5 times a week. At that time he had 13 years clean. During the course of our relationship I quickly shared with him my feelings and views about his sobriety. (Side not he attends NA meetings, pure drama) I told him be greatful and thankful to NA because it afforded him the opportunity for a different kind of life. But I also felt like he made NA his life. He frequently sponsors folk who relapse repeatedly. One of my main complaints is he has not taught people how to respect his time. When someone tells you they need to pick up a white chip because they did not realize drinking was using in my opinion that is a load of crap. I am not an addict but I have attended enough conventions and speaker meetings to remember a part of the NA creed that talks about not using anykind of drug and it specifically names alcohol and goes further to categorically identify it as a drug. I honestly feel like he replaced one addiction with another more accepted one, NA. Not bashing, haven’t been offended at a meeting, just calling it like I see it.

  • Thy will


  • Thy will

    Well my take on all this is this. If the big book is correct in its entire reading, those of us who 100%concede that ourselves are alcoholic must have a spiritual awakening as the result of working all 11 steps ,for me that means a few things. One is that my alcohol problem is removed. Another is that I believe a higher power is responsible for that and I choose to call the higher power god. Another is that I continually seek the will of god the best I can while not drinking along with having learned to look at my own self during troublesome times, ESP when other creatures are involved and attempt to basically say I was wrong for some things. I pray and meditate the way I know how and that’s my spiritual awakening. I sure didn’t do any thing like that until I worked these 12 steps, and I was always high and drunk. So I’m sober n clean now for four years. The big book says we have meetings for two reasons. That’s it. Two reasons specifically stated twice in the big book. You find them and ask yourself is that why you go to your meeting/meetings. That is why I go to my 1 meeting a week which is my home group. The dude is rite, if you have been through all 12 steps it may not be acceptable to go to all them meetings. If I’m a treatment or corrections chair or some other chair then it is acceptable for me to go to a couple meetings a week, one my home group two my treatment meeting three the meeting I got asked to speak at four the meeting I’m attending with this new sponsee I obtained last night five my other sponsees two year birthday six my sponsers twenty year birthday seven my four year birthday eight the powerful speaker story of the seven year sober guy nine the other meeting I got asked to speak at ten the pot luck meeting celebrating that meetings fifteen year up and running along with my girlfriends two year birthday eleven and twelve does it really matter why I choose to go as long as I do attend one consistently which is my home group with the intent on being there so the new man may have a place to come and recieve the solution to his alcohol problem as bill mentions in his story. I do believe as well that meetings are good but not good enough for me, I get out in the real world baby but if need be ill attend many meetings for many reasons. One meeting a week is good for me, that’s what I give back to aa at the least.

  • Elisabeth

    I’m not an alcoholic, recovering or otherwise, but I have a question. My eldest daughter has been in a 9-month relationship with a guy who is a recovering alcoholic/addict. He has been clean and sober for 16 months with no relapses. He was attending a meeting a week, then his sponsor told him he should attend more often, so he started going to meetings 3 times a week. Now his sponsor is telling him he needs to start all over with the 90 meetings in 90 days because he has “already relapsed without physically relapsed” and that he needs to be completely selfish. Is it normal for a sponsor to tell someone with this history of sobriety something like this?

  • Harry

    There’s more to that story it sounds like and as far as meetings go at first to get to know how AA worked I went all the time learned to live the steps and my sponsor always told me sailboats are safe in there harbors but are meant to sail I come to meetings to help and show others what the people before me showed me but I live my life also I can see some people het stuck I’m grateful I had good sponsorship amd try to pass the same gift to pthers

  • anon

    My wife has been in AA for about 6 years. Well, I’m glad she’s sober but AA is definitely her new addiction. She goes to maybe 2 or 3 meetings a week but more than that — she volunteers for everything. She was doing one job and then starting doing another business-related thing and so she’s usually going to meetings at least 3 or 4 days a week. Plus, every conversation she has is about other people in AA and all the little fights and stuff.

    When she gets home she’s usually exhausted. She schedules meetings to talk to sponsees all the time but we rarely talk anymore. Basically, she has married AA and I feel more like a personal assistant. AA is definitely an addiction. She becomes totally angry and depressed if for some reason she can’t get to a meeting in four or five days… kind of like alcohol for some.

  • Justina

    I never really had any bad feelings about AA until a friend of mine started going through it. We’ve been close for years. She hid her drinking until she couldn’t and finally accepted that she needed help. Very quickly her life began to swirl around AA. I should start by saying – she’s clearly got an “addictive”personality. In college, she had a good drug run. She pulled herself off of drugs but swapped it out for alcohol. Now she’s been sober for quite a few years thanks to AA. This would be fine but I can’t help but think that recovery is being able to enjoy your life without being hopelessly dependent on something else. We don’t see each other often now. Her reason is most often – I have something AA related to do. She misses out on many opportunities because it’s always about the meetings. It’s hard for her not to talk about her recovery process. I don’t mind talking about AA if that’s what she’s interested in – but I’d like to see her passionately talk the same way about something else too. While this sounds selfish of me – I kind of wish she was able to be focused on the rest of her life. I thought the point of recovery was to return to a normal life….

    This sober version of her is definitely better than the spiraling version – but she’s still nowhere near to whole. The catch is she seems to have stopped progressing towards being whole. Now it’s just a day by day battle to not get drunk. I can’t help but think life is supposed to offer so much more. I’m not anti-AA but this feels very cultish. I can almost guarantee that if I say anything negative about AA……our friendship will be over. It’s like she’s praying to a new sober God all the time – and if she stops praying she will relapse….

  • Justina

    I should add – she’s on year 5 of AA…

  • luke

    very interesting read. i am a recovered alcoholic and active member of AA. i must say you have made some very valid points. AA was not set up to make us slaves to meetings.its purpose was to help alcoholics recover and become a part of life again. we are obligated to take others thru the steps and help them also but not at the expense of our families and friends. to do so would be selfish. it goes against aa principals. the problem is not many people are even alcoholic in aa anymore. we are overrun by pathetic “victims” who use our program for a 1 dollar therapy session. they just stopped drinking and live day to day crying in our meetings but never wanting to really do anything about it. counseling could have helped these people. they didnt need a spiritual awakening thru the steps. they stopped on their own and they do not need AA. it confuses the real alcoholic when he or she comes in. and it really really sucks. i have 4 years recovered. i make sure my family has my time as well as my sponsees. i enjoy every second these days. for those of you who disagree with me, try reading our book and compare your life to what the book promises us. i bet youll have an awakening, even if its not the spiritual kind. blessings to you all.

  • jen

    I agree. my sister used to be a meeting maker. she kept relapseing and was too busy with meetings for us. she found some recovered people who took her through the steps and now she goes to one meeting a week and is a totally different person. She’s a part of our family again and its really cool.

  • Jo

    Good article, recovery is holistic; at least I have found it. I am just over 10 years sober and the whole time I have been an AA member. I have always had a weird uneasy feeling about AA, about some of the members, th kind of robotic stance alot of them have, like they have had a personality transplant! However, I have met some truly wonderful AA members too. I always questioned certain things about AA. I have had sponsors, sponsees, done the steps 3 times! I would say that i am fairly “well”, i can cope with life well and my life continues to expand. I am a firm believer in the ‘bridge to normal living’. For me, by expanding my life, my friends, my work outside of the rooms has helped me to grow in ways I don’t think would have been possible if I had just immersed myself in AA life. I’ve always had one foot in and one foot out. I don’t have a sponsor or sponsee anymore and I don’t plan to get either in the near future. My last sponsor was a woman younger than me, who had practically spent all her life in AA, she was really indoctrinated and very judgemental!! She definitely did not have what I wanted and upon reflection I don’t rate her recovery at all. She tried to start to tell me what to do, I was secretary for a meeting and she used to tell me what chair people I should get for the meeting. I just told her clearly that that is not what I want from a sponsorship relationship and I left her. To me that is codependent controlling behaviour that has not been addressed but yet finds an outlet under the guise of AA sponsorship role – there a lot of control freaks in AA.
    I have a home group i attend once a week and that is fine but i am wanting to drift. I have no desire to go to any other meetings or take part in AA life anymore. I have a couple of friends in AA but most of my friends are outside AA and have no addiction issues. These relationships with non AAers has been so inspiring – i don’t want to talk about AA or recovery all the time. I am grateful to AA for helping get and maintain sobriety but now i feel ready to move on. I know 3 people with long term sobriety who have left the rooms and they are doing absolutely fine, in fact they have very full and rich lives and they have never relapsed. There is a lot of scare mongery that goes on ‘leave and you’ll drink’ etc but there are no facts or figures to back up this claim? Maybe some people do relapse and die but countless others with long sobriety time leave and have a great life which does include alcohol.

  • Sherrie

    My husband is a recovered alcoholic. He has been sober 5 yrs. He has been involved with AA for all of the 5 yrs. He could not of gotten sober without AA. He still goes to meetings twice a week. Sometimes if it is an open mtg, I attend with him which makes me feel better also as I feel included. However, I am starting to see why others sometimes state that AA mtgs are cultish. I definitely feel as though my husband has two lives. One with AA and one with me and our children. There are so many others in his life that we do not know. I often feel left out, but, I will not complain for fear he will stop going and start drinking again. He has said just recently if he did not have AA he would drink again. He communicates with other AA members more than he does with me, his wife, and that makes me feel like an outsider. It is like he has a stronger bond with the AA family then he does at home. I found by going to mtgs and cookouts that we are a rarity as far as a couple that has stayed together from beginning to end. Most are single, divorced, or met at AA functions. I do not think that AA is friendly to happily married couples. That is just what I have observed over the past few years. It is almost if they are resentful towards us for sticking it out and making our marriage work despite our past faults. I have witnessed girls role their eyes at me, giggle at us, and act immature by whispering things like, “that’s her”. We have a few different mtgs we frequent and it seems like that happens the majority of the time. I tried to attend Alanon but that was depressing for me. Most talked of upsetting things that were currently happening and that part of my life is in the past. A past that I overcame & do not care to re-hash so therefore is not very uplifting. I don’t feel a need to go to counseling sessions which is what it felt like at Alanon. I apologize if I sound bitter, it is just frustrating to have a marriage in which your spouse has two families. He tends to communicate well with his AA family & not so well at home. If I try to talk to him about it, he states that I do not understand. It seems the longer he has been in AA the more disconnected I feel from him. It does appear to be like a cult which only wants alcoholics involved not spouses/significant others. And, I believe they try to brainwash new members into believing that the “sober ones” do not understand what they are going through which I think is BS. I understand a lot more than they realize. My father had a gambling addiction, my grandfather was an alcoholic so I do understand. Whether it is gambling, alcohol, drugs or sex it is still an addiction. I personally helped my father overcome his gambling addiction after 40+ yrs of gambling away our money & putting our lives in danger. It was not easy but we got through it but they have convinced my spouse that I know nothing. We have been together for 20 yrs now so I actually do know what my husband went through; unlike them; I was there & still am today!

  • ken

    The steps on aa were designed to help bring a suffering alcoholic to have a spiritual experience. he/she then helps others achieve this as best as we can. the line between a heavy drinker and a real alcoholic is a fine one till one of them tries to stop. the difference? a heavy drinker will feel better without alcohol. the alcoholic will feel restless irritable and discontent without it. counseling is recommended for the family who has had to suffer because of the alcoholic. but if sincerely done both alcoholic and family can recover. people using meetings to stay sober make aa look like a cult. Alcoholics who have recovered thru the steps are not meeting dependent but god dependent. meetings are where we find a new person to help and share a solution for them.

  • Amy H

    Thank you. I left 6 months ago after getting 5 years sober. Most sights or thoughts on this issue are a bit nutty and I doubt the person writing them stays sober but I did the steps three times and now am married, graduated college, expecting a child and working my tail off. I want to exercise and cook and enjoy my life. I want friends outside of AA so yes, I agree with you.

  • Tracy

    I am so happy that I read your article. There should be meetings for people who dont go to meetings anymore lol. I went for 10 years, after the first 9 it began to feel like work, I felt like a slave to the program and I would come from work, scramble to find a babysitter and make a quick dinner and get to a meeting and sit there and hear absolutely nothing, never did I say “wow this is awesome I am so glad that i ran around like a lunatic to get here to this meeting!” Granted, the first few years, yes it was super helpful and I am grateful I went. However, I agree that this is not a forever thing, do you ever look at the people who still go regularly after they have been around for 10-20 years. Most are unhappy at home and go there to flirt or get flirted with. Or they made NA/AA such a big part of their lives that they certainly lacked in other aspects like advancing at work or in education. Sure you have 10 years clean but no GED, Really? Come on folks, ego is dangerous and I agree with the other gentleman on here and agree many in the rooms suffer from clean/sober time bigshotism, there’s more to life, I never had more contentment and peace not going then I had going. What did i do instead? took a college class, went to the gym, got healthier, read more, spent more time at home with my kids. I have to say I met a lot of great people, but I do have a fonder place for my friends who arent in recovery.

  • Tony B

    This comment is useful but would be dynamite with reasons attached –
    “”The big book says we have meetings for two reasons. That’s it. Two reasons specifically stated twice in the big book.”” – any chance anyone know the 2 reasons

  • Tove Ghent

    I’ve been in AA for about 6 weeks and that sounds really fishy to me, but I’m not an expert. Sometimes I think sponsors are on some kind of power trip.

  • Kristi Bratton

    I fully agree, my husband misses the boat when it comes to family, I love him, but AA always messes up our ability to create our own “family patterns” ,etc…. really tired of it all… four years now, and I’m about done.

  • Binimumu

    I found this page by chance, looking for a youtube video! It’s a sign! Thanks for sharing it.

    Sober now for 18 years and with gratitude. For this, I have many things to thank, not least AA.

    Just like your article says though, I felt in a rut. I began to get resentful in meetings. Things were happening and I had responsibilities that were new to me. They had to come first and I had to wean myself away from AA and focus on family life.

    I have done plenty of service in my time, up to intergroup level but, for now, I need to focus on another stage of life. There is no doubt I will go to a meeting again, and they are there if I need them, but I shouldn’t feel the weekly ‘obligation’ (i.e. addiction!) to going to the group of people for their approval. This is fear based for me and that’s not progress.

    For every big book basher, there’s the other side of the coin:

    “Bridge to normal living” being an obvious phrase.

    As Carolyn says above, from chapter 7 “If he thinks he can do the job some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience” Doctor Bob and Bill W were good people, great people and their message was one of love and spirituality.

    From how it works: “The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”

    The amount of times I’ve heard these. The same literature over and over, the words drifing past my ears but only half taking in messages. Somehow it’s the message from the big book basher that tends to ring in your ears.

    To know AA is there is fantastic. Every time I go abroad, I look online first to see, is there something there? Am I safe? AA is still a rock for me, but for now I need live again and without fear.

    I used to be really cautious of people who drifted from meetings, or I’d (mentally) jump on people who would dare say anything against the precious big book! Now I realise that that wasn’t healthy.

    Don’t forget easy does it, and live and let live!

  • John Panzer

    Wow, the experience I’m having, as a recovering addict, after reading this article has never happened to me before. I want to run, not walk, to a meeting. This is not a statement of partisan politics for and against AA, on my part. I’m in reaction to the very flawed broken logic and invalid arguments in this article typical of alcoholics and addicts. I share the author’s obvious resentment at AA, for their true believer requirement for membership.

    AA’s love to say, “:Maybe you can stay clean without AA, But I never met anybody.” That lacks deductive reasoning as well, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but that’s whet they’re implying. To AA’s credit, “Your best thinking got you here,” applies well to this article.

    My favorite is the 100% pure alcoholic 200 proof question, are 12 step meeting the best choice? The answer to that is….how did I end up underneath this bar stool? they aren’t a choice, you go because you can’t get clean and sober alone – you have to have someone outside your brain restore the operating system, or at least have a consultant that understands, its not the drinking, its the thinking.

    The author means well and touches on a number of excellent points, viewed, differently than I. Its JUST one hour a day, it just so happens that was the one hour a day i used to be clean, now i hate that hour, and going to meetings with it but I found 23 hours a day i never knew about it. I didn’t know five o’clock came twice a day either. EVERYONE who gets and stays clean, regardless of where or how feels like they’re expanding the living capacity of their day, not loosing more.

    The author asks you to consider if you’re dependent on meetings for your recovery and suggests that growing beyond that is his vailed way of trying to lead you toward his great wisdom. I would suggest the author, doesn’t need a meeting to go one hour a day not doing things your way. God bless anyone and everyone who is dependent on anything for their sobriety. I hope I am, i just haven’t found it yet. So few people stay clean, i would hold onto whatever it is like my life depended on it too, because it does.

    There is no long term goal in AA. Don’t drink or use today. “Personal Growth,” is apparent to everyone around the alcoholic. The word I use is thrive, and that’s dependent on the quality of my recovery, as i stay clean, one day at a time. Its takes about 5 minutes of sobriety for everyone to notice dramatic personal growth in the clean and sober addict, it wasn’t personal growth that brought about the sobriety, its the product of continuous sobriety the driver of it. ‘Should.?” Go make up your own recovery program. No one said you have to do it this way.

    I’ve shared my experience, the author tells you what yours should be, and for some people what addiction and recovery is, and what the point of recovery isn’t ( The point of recovery is not to abstain and sit in meetings all day.) Structurally this is the only valid argument the gentleman makes. (Valid not being true or false, but the logic structure, of If 1+2 = 3, than a+c=c). He just never tells us what recovery is and what he did to stay clean and sober today.

  • Michael Jordan

    I must chime in on this… I am a “recovering” addict not “recovered” addict…I wish. Unfortunately I am an alcoholic and opiate addict for the rest of my life, today I am sober and have been for almost 2 years. You’re blog disturbs me, as someone who is new in recovery might take you’re advice and die. Don’t get me wrong, If this approach works for you then keep doing exactly what you’re doing, find what works for YOU and stick to it.Its when those who have significant amount of clean time start to tell everyone else how to stay sober, I worry for them, as they seemed to have figured it out, their “cured” and this is right before relapse typically. For me…ME… I found that going to meetings regularly helps remind me of my last drink or drug. I have a built in forgetter that needs to be reminded or else I will pick up again, this is a cunning and baffling disease, the only disease that talks back, the only disease that tells you you’re not sick. What works for me, may not work for you, but I know for me, if I tell myself that I am recovered, then I’m not sick anymore and I should celebrate with a drink. See, alcohol and drugs are just a symptom of the disease, I like to put substances into my body that alter my state of consciousness, reality, or just to feel good and buzzed, and I don’t know how to stop on my own, I have battled this disease for 15 years and I learned the hard way that I am powerless over my addiction, and I can’t stay sober on will-power alone. When I had burned every bridge, lost everything I owned and was homeless on the streets of Lowell, ma in and out of homeless shelters and still continued to get high and believed it was everyone else’s fault for my situation, it took me going to jail and the first 2 months all I could think about was getting high. Something happened… I was invited to an AA meeting in the jail, and for the first time in my life, I listened to others stories, some weren’t as bad, some were much worse, but we all shared a common problem, that brought us to where we were at that moment. I went to my second AA meeting 3 days later after being released and I was broken, shaking, defeated, scared, and for the first time in my life I surrendered to this disease, as I knew I hit MY rock bottom and I allowed myself to settle for less. My entire life revolved around that next drink or drug and nothing else mattered. And the day I walked in a lost soul I was welcomed by a group of people who wanted to know my name, and wanted to help me, and they did. I got my job through AA, I was able to tell my story through AA, and I now welcome the one who crawls through the door and offer that person a seat beside me, I ask if they are sick and tired of being sick and tired and I do anything I can to help, whether it be talking on the phone or helping a person find a rehab. And I go back even when I don’t think I need to, and when I leave, sometimes I found out that I really did need that meeting, whether I heard a great message or just met someone that might have never returned if I wasn’t their that night to walk them home and listen, and give suggestions, I never tell a fellow alcoholic or addict what to do, I tell them what works for me and make suggestions always leaving off with, “take what you need and leave the rest” but I keep it simple with my suggestions as I myself am still sick, and I don’t have all the answers, the only thing I can say to another addict is “never forget what brought you here, remember that last drink or drug and how empty you felt and how hopeless you were, hold onto that memory like you held onto that bottle of vodka or bag of dope… Never ever forget why you asked for help, when the pain was great enough” and for me, I make sure I hit a meeting atleast 3 times a week because when I’m left to my own devices I make poor decisions. Spirituality is a huge part of my recovery, but I have my days where I’m not feeling very spiritual, and on those particular days I know I am in dangerous territory if I allow my disease a chance to talk to me and tell me maybe I’m not that sick, I have almost 2 years of sobriety, I hear that meetings won’t keep you sober, so I must have done this on my own and wasted my time in those chairs…now on a day where my spirituality is bright, I probably won’t think such thoughts, or maybe I will as I said at first, this is a cunning and baffling disease and it can talk to you at any moment. Relapse happens way before you pick up the actual substance, as I said that’s just a symptom of the disease, what I learned in my recovery was becoming aware of my behaviors, as my behaviors have led me down a path that I never want to re-visit. In the halls of AA/NA I have watched those with 20+ even 30+ years without a drink, go out and never come back, and the ones who were fortunate to make it back told me their experience was not of a good one.

    I buried 7 friends this year and 1 of them was a born again christian and refused to come alone with me every time I asked. Well, one night he came home to a personal event that must of set his emotions off, he didn’t call anyone from what I know, all I do know is he was found dead from a heroine overdose.

    I am a man of Christ and he had given me my life back and more than I could ever ask for, I am also spiritual in other ways, as religion and spirituality are two separate things to me, but for me… I know what works for me is the combination of spirituality and hitting a meeting even when I don’t want to.

    As for the author, I am unsure of you are an addict or alcoholic. If you are, I suggest you focus on you’re own recovery and remember bad advice can kill those in recovery. Im not saying you’re advice is bad for everyone, but if I was new to recovery, you’re solution would have been PERFECT for me! As I would be so spiritual that no substance could control me and I would say to myself, I can have a beer with my dinner, I am spiritually centered, I’ve changed, I’m not the same person anymore.

    If you are NOT an addict or alcoholic, then I feel you’re thoughts on the subject are true in you’re reality, but this addict would forget the months in jail and start to reminisce of how fun it was to jump on the boat with some buddies and a couple fishing poles while getting a tan and drinking a FEW beers, at that time my disease hadn’t progressed yet so maybe if I grab a fishing pole and call my buddy with the boat, and I just buy a 12 pack that’s 4 beers each so I’ll get a decent buzzz and maybe the other guys won’t drink all four and I can get ….oh wait… I’m an alcoholic and drug addict and my thinkbox is not wired the same as non-alcoholics, as they would have to create a scenario in their head to justify a drink.

    My suggestion, this article is dangerous for those who are as sick as me, and I believe you can speak of spirituality in the same positive light without telling those in recovery meetings aren’t necessarily needed.

    This I know, no one has all the answers behind this disease, and their are different beliefs and theories when it comes to treating alcoholism and drug addiction, and no one knows who is right, and maybe after a certain amount of time I could stop going to meetings and focus on my spirituality and stay sober, but why risk it? I do know that so far I am still sober while doing what works for me and it took me almost 15 years to find a way that atleast for now works. I could go out tomorrow and pick up….who knows.
    One thing I definitely know, is everything I said wouldn’t hurt an addict, can you say the same for you’re argument?

  • shelbe

    I cant believe I found someone that feels the same as me …ive just recently started to get a grr feeling about AA . My husband has been sober for 26 yrs . I have supported him 100 percent . Attending round ups going to counseling appointment sending encouraging text message on and on . Weve had some betrayal issues . Never did he then go crazy on meeting to help his thoughts and strengthen his boundaries for our marriage . But when he has had something wrong with his company he goes to meetings like cazy . Developing secret aa friends .. for support . I do get it . But the 2 lives he lives is not fair shares all his thoughts and fears and prob stories about us .who knows .. but can come come 1 hr after meeting and cant even tell you were there secret aa coffee meeting is .. I really sometimes think he would do way better being married to another AA person who really understands his depression and the need to be addictive to meetings .

  • Lance Taylor

    There comes a time when all of us in Alcoholics Anonymous need to get off our ass and work our program of action. This can be done in the rooms but I believe recovery is stronger if you start to take this out of the rooms. If you read in our literature it quite simply says we do recover from a hopeless state of mind and body. But this only happens if we are working a programme of action, action and more action is required. if we are still referring to ourselves of alcoholics and still obsessing over drinking and drugging then we have not followed the instructions that are clearly stated in the book. just like water that’s it still does not run freely we start to die, if we are not moving forward we are moving backwards whether we know it or not.

  • Hal Lackey

    The primary purpose of an AA group is the teaching and practicing of the 12 Steps.Outside of that it becomes BB.What is BB?Who knows,but it sure as hell ain’t AA.

  • james9

    The guy who wrote this blog is absolutely right in my experience. I live the 12 steps a day at a time. As far as meetings, I take some time off and have a group that i go to twice a week. Going to too many meetings is not healthy(in the beginning i did this). I had to find a balance in life. between the program(12 ssteps) and sponsorships and service. If I go to 5-7 meetings a week there’s no point for the rest of my life.

  • Louis Applebaum

    How can one alcoholic help another?Pass on the AA Program,the 12 steps.This will allow both members to be of maximum service 2 one another.AA in the 21st Century is a social club.Some like to refer to it as the fellowship, however ,this “Fellowship”((ego) is what got many alcoholics to drink in the first place.It is not a haven for people whose mental health has reached a pinnacle.Easier 2 get straight with other alcoholics yet longevity in the club lends itself to becoming a bleeding deacon.Not a very good recovery rate in AA and mostly because the vast majority never do the steps and cannot pass on this life saving experience to others.No one can deny the importance of “One Day @ A Time” and the book is clearly about getting a Higher Power to solve your problem.

  • jorge21

    This is absurd…

    I was ordered 2x week for 7 months, I completed 5 months before running into trouble with my car then my job and insurance, the judge ordered to attend aa 6x week for a month wtf

    Stupid liberal p.o.s.

  • Lovinglife52

    I think this is a really good piece. I moved on from AA about 6 years ago as I did not find being in that type of group helpful any more. The fellowship was helpful in the early days, but I was not a fan of the Higher Power stuff and found I needed less support after having some proper therapy. i felt that I got stronger and more independent after leaving. I think it is important to make use of different approaches at different times in recovery if that feels the best thing to do. I have continued to be alcohol free since leaving but sadly some of the people that I know from AA did not do so well.
    I worked hard for my recovery, rather than simply sitting in meetings and praying. Sometimes it is best to take responsibility for ourselves.

  • TheEmperorIsStarkers

    I can only speak for myself, but my reason for attending daily meetings changed over time. I went to a meeting a day for about five years, and there was definitely a progression. At the end of five years I was seeing the results of working the steps, not only in myself but in others who had been coming around as long as I had. Seeing their transformation from completely self-involved, angry, immature people to fully-fledged members of a supportive community with careers and lives and even successful romances outside the rooms was inspiring and made me work all that much harder on my own program. And supporting others in that goal is not a waste — it reminded me how bad things could get if I didn’t work my own program. Helping others is also a way of giving back to the community that helped me figure out how to do this life thing.

  • TheEmperorIsStarkers

    Just a suggestion, Sherrie — have you ever taken these concerns to an Al-Anon meeting?

  • V Freund

    I am just as sick as you are but you need to take your own advice. I know the program works really well for some people and by all means PLEASE continue going to meetings if they do. I went to AA meetings for months and they did absolutely NOTHING to help me.

    People would preach that these AA was the ONLY way to stay sober and that I would relapse if I didn’t embrace the steps. I was getting nothing from the meetings and all the preaching that I would fail if I didn’t accept this ONE way stressed me out and made me want to drink even more.

    It wasn’t until I cut meetings out of my life completely that I was able to really work on myself and find joy in sobriety. You may think that this post could hurt some people, and yeah maybe it will (but an addict will find any excuse to use…they don’t need a blog post to justify using/relapsing). My point is that claiming AA is essential can do damage to people as well…people like me. If I had read a post like this in the early months of my sobriety I would have felt more hope and less despair about potentially relapsing.

    I have been happily sober for 5 years now. In those five years I have earned a Master’s degree and am working towards my PhD. I also have a fiance and my life has never been more clear and rewarding. This is a huge turn around from who I was when I was drinking…multiple DUIs, drinking at work, many shameful nights, some I remember, most I don’t, stealing from friends, etc. Turning my back on AA worked wonders for me and I would recommend this post to anyone. I would also tell newbies to try one on one therapy and numerous other alternative methods if they don’t feel like that get anything out of AA…..that advice just might save their life.

  • Lisa Dalton

    There’s more to your story than what’s being said here. It doesn’t make common sense that if you were complying 2x per week, then you simply had “car problems”, the Judge wouldn’t order 4 more meetings per week. Did you relapse, drive without insurance, without a license, perhaps another reason? Sometimes we, as humans, see things one way, OUR OWN WAY! It sounds like you might not have your own, sincere desire to stop drinking and, possibly driving. Maybe the Judge sees that too.? You do have a choice, jail time (where there isn’t any “personal growth) or meetings (where you might make some real friends and step work where you might gain personal insight as to why you think it’s “absurd”). Either way the choice is yours. Do well, be well. I hope you stay off the road while drunk either way.

  • Lisa Dalton

    This article is typical of someone who hasn’t completed the step work. The step work is where healing and transformation takes place. It is a guide for those who do not know how to live life on life’s terms. A guide to not being selfish and reaching out to someone else who might be struggling the similar internal struggle. There is power in acknowledging our shortcoming and character defects which leads us to drink. The steps provide self examination into things we may never have seen or been in DENIAL (Don’t. Even. Know. I. Am. Lying) of. It’s a form of therapy. The AA meetings are a form of group therapy. Take what works for you, then leave the rest. Don’t have any expectations that AA will fix you. Only you can fix you. Start with the steps, read the BB, find similarities in others, create a support group that fits YOUR needs, NOT someone else’s.Don’t drink because YOU DON’T WANT TO. There must be your own desire. Recognize character defects and change them, that’s recovery…

  • Lisa Dalton

    I agree.

  • Jaime

    Big book

  • Power Chord

    QTIP – Your comments are a good representation of the standard drivel heard in A.A. meetings. And a good reminder why I don’t go to them any more. Doing something an A.A. disapproves of always gets the rebuke of, “You haven’t worked the steps!” It makes it hard to argue with A.A.’s when they accuse of things they have no proof of. You waste your life in the meeting rooms, I’ll go live mine, clean and sober and helping those around me who aren’t in the A.A. rooms.

  • QTIP

    More power to you brother. I don’t like being accused either. I get where you’re coming from. AA is not the only way to get sober. I too have felt accused and judged by people in AA. I do, however, believe the 12 steps are a good place to start for someone who doesn’t have, spirituality or doesn’t possess social skills, like apologizing, being honest about shortcomings, etc. Doing the steps doesn’t mean you have to sit in meetings. Some of the gun hoe AA people are out of their minds and do take things too far. For instance assuming, because one has a certain amount of days, and without even trying to get to know the person or their life’s circumstances, that the person doesn’t have any knowledge about how to live or make good choices for themselves. Like I said it’s a good place to start. Qtip = Quit Taking It Personal. Lol. Thanks for you’re response.

  • Olivia Mae

    Just a thought. What if when you came for your very first meeting… no one was there? (Because we all “got”our sobriety and then left). Many of us are there to give back- to help people who are -where we were. Life balance is essential. We get sober to LIVE, absolutely. And to stretch in all areas of our life, not to hang around a coffee pot only. But in my experience, when I stop giving back (and I have) something dries up. I find my life is much fuller with a few mtgs a week. I wasted many more hours drinking than I do now.

  • Olivia Mae

    Mary, that’s not what AA teaches. Our lives are our own responsibility- and as I have heard in meetings- if it’s not working at home, it’s not working. Sorry that you have been hurt by your husbands actions. Raunchy texting with women happens all too much in our culture- it’s not at all something that AA encourages. Many on here have stated the real purpose of AA. Fact is, wherever you have humans, there are problems. Churches, schools, government, bars, wherever. I caution people who think AA itself is the reason for problems. We get from it what we put into it. And I agree with others- we get sober to live full lives. If the 11th step is truly practiced, our lives touch those around us in a good way, not a selfish way. I so hope things have gotten better for you. It breaks my heart that any spouses feel left out.

  • Alexandra

    You sound like someone who wasn’t willing to do the simple suggestions given to you by other AA members. I am a member of AA. I go to anywhere between 3-7 meetings a week, depending on my schedule. I work full time, have a life. I do fun things, I plan trips, I go out to dinner, I spend time with my family. AA meetings have never ever gotten in the way of my life. In fact THEY GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE ONE! working the steps and being of service to other recovering alcoholics has taught me how to be a human being and no longer live in my self centered existence. I don’t want to focus on your article because I think it is just one small minded opinion. AA has worked for millions of people since 1939. That is saying something. AA meetings are located all over the world, and most treatment centers are based off of twelve step program principles. (sorry to those of you reading this thinking treatment would let you skip out on the AA stuff, you can always go to passages Malibu ;) ) I am just saying AA worked and continues to work for me. I don’t spend all my time in meetings, but I do go, because those are my people, my tribe, without them I wouldn’t have gotten sober. I wouldn’t have the beautiful amazing life that I do. So sorry dude. Going to have to disagree with the ENTIRE article. Not well informed. Just kind of sounds like you need to work a solid 4th and 5th step. Good luck

  • Michael Jordan

    AA is a program, and how the individual works that program is a big part of it. AA does not keep anyone sober. How you work your program is your choice, and those who want to stay sober have to put in the effort. There is NO EASY WAY OUT! Stick around until the miracle happens! Because of the work I put into AA, I learned how to live again! I learned how to take responsibility for my actions, I learned how to GET HONEST! I was able to do things I never imagined! My family trusts me today! I walk around with my head held high. My get well job put money in my bank account, which grew every week! I was able to go back to school, work full-time, and attend AA meetings…please tell me how AA got in my way? I just formed an llc. If you told me 10 years ago I would be running my own company I would have laughed in your face. I have a wonderful family, a beautiful daughter and loving wife! We moved into our new house 2 months ago… EVERYTHING improved in my life since I surrendered to this disease! I am powerless over my addiction! I attend 5-7 AA meetings a week and probably make more money than the author of this article! Although money is not important here… my recovery is! my suggestion is, try both methods and find out what works for you! there might be a better way… I avoided the program of AA for years! I tried everything! AA did not give me the life I have today… I earned all of this because I put in the effort… All AA did was provide me the directions and the directions are simple and clearly written. AA is a program that works for ME!

  • Stuart Totten

    I left after a year of feeling more sick from being in meetings. Constantly saying I’m powerless, trying to believe a higher power can take it away and always dwelling on it. My thoughts were focused so heavy on all the trauma and pain. How my mind is diseased and I will always need to be in meetings. I felt like I was being brainwashed and I was. Always resiting the words..those who keep coming back, stay clean… Also all the people are always focused on problems. They tell me they can’t live without and a higher power. Some of the people were so sick and didn’t even see it. They have like you said, become stagnant in their recovery, believing they always needed to fix what is broken instead of using what wasn’t and working with that to get well. If you mentioned other methods of recovery, like CBT or mindfulness ansntell them that this also helps repair your chemical embalance, they would tell you that you are going to die if you leave the program. The thing is, is that I have seen more people die in the rooms than outside of them and I have always given out more one day key tags than anything else. Many people are still messed up because they are focusing their thoughts on that. The truth is, is that people will believe what they are programmed to believe and my best recovery came outside of those mettings. The difference with some that said they relapsed or felt worse when they left meetings is because they stopped recovery all together. NA and AA meetings is not recovery, it is a place to go to not use. The 12 steps is a spiritual program which does help but in no way is recovery and I have witnessed people after years who are still fighting their demons and have emotional meltdowns. I have been away for over 3 years after being in NA for a year and I feel happy content. I dealt with going back to College, getting a diploma, while taking care of my terminally ill sister who has passed on. I coped well with my CBT and mindfulness with my stress and I have a new relationship and starting a new career. I in no way glamourize my life and think everything is perfect or that it ever will be. It’s like I say.. I’m not happy because I know everything is great, I am happy because I accept that nothing ever will be. Life is life and it will have it’s ups and downs. We face it as it comes and we find solutions. Live it well and keep your thoughts focused on what’s good… 10 years on the streets and I’m now doing well with my recovery thanks to being open with other ways of recovery…

  • Sean

    30 years of drinking produced a lot of wreckage. 30 months of AA and not coninuously sober produced guilt and shame. Jesus gave me a way out by offering me his yoke of freedom. I was told today by a hard core ex catholic AA 26 years of sobriety that he would only sponsor me inside of AA without any “diluting” from my Christ centered fellowship recovery. Strange.

  • Robyn Ragone

    This is the silliest thing Ive ever read…an hour a day…or maybe 3 xs a week…that’s too much to keep you centered on recovery which is a life long process…lol..

  • Gordon s

    If aa does not work for you then don’t go simple it works for me

  • Evan

    A great article… and it helps me with a most interesting quandary. I joined AA in 1992 after a series of incidents put me at rock bottom. For a few years the group enabled me to find friendship and answers to alcohol-related problems and miseries that had plagued my life (in brief, a similar story to many, we’ll just leave it at that). I never got fully immersed in the program, never got a sponsor but loved having a place to go to make some friends including a girlfriend, of sorts. The friends I had made also took in the program as I did (utilize what was there but not get too immersed in it).. And that worked well for us. Once in a blue moon someone would ask me “Do you have a sponsor” but it was easy to push that off, not to mention stay away from such people.. That was very rare though and the friendship and company definitely outweighed any such incidents. Around 1998 I just found myself going less and less. It wasn’t that I was consciously leaving the program, it just seemed that my life (work, social, outdoors etc.) was just getting better and the time to swing by a meeting just wasn’t there. In 2000, I moved to a different state and never went to a meeting again since… Again, not so much ‘leaving’ the program, it was more just more things in my life especially as the new state enabled me to do more outdoor activities, have more outside friends etc.. The need to drink was literally a different planet far outside my new life. Despite the fact I no longer went, I always remembered the program fondly and respected that fact that no one ever pushed me and I was free to get from it that which helped me…. And me help others as they wanted.

    Now, 16 years of leaving, 19 years of sobriety I contemplated visiting a room, the very first in this state after moving here 14 years ago. I won’t go into the reasons but suffice it to say I am very lonely and a bit scared of some things going on now. I ended up trying to go to a small one in a hospital; however could not find the room. I could have tried harder to find yet I gave up easily more because I was afraid of how I would introduce myself there. Even stranger, I even felt a little ashamed of myself for abandoning the program and now wanting to come back. Perhaps they would tell me “Well since you’re so good, why are you coming to us now??… You don’t need us”. I know that is ridiculous but I just felt awkward thinking I must be on the only Prodigal Son in AA.

    Your article really makes me realize that my utilizing the program in the way that helped me the most and phasing out when my life got better was not much ingratitude but more moving on. I never at one moment said that 100% I would never return and knowing it was there was always good for me. It also makes me realize that I am not some unusual exception or outcast.

  • Kirstie

    I really liked having another opinion on the subject , I am sober 6 years went to meetings 51/2 . Have not been to any in a while I don’t feel like I need one like I have heard many many times . I am responsible for myself and live by those rules I have learned . I ran into an AA friend today she seems to think because I don’t go I will eventually relapse. Thats kind of a bad feeling and very negative . She said they miss me but they don’t even know me . I love my sobriety it is a gift I am keeping .

  • Erine

    While you may feel that old timers are rare and newcomers are abound that could be that people with your attitude don’t stick around.
    The 12 steps are about personal growth. If you continue to attend meetings then you should still have a sponsor and then therefore you would probably would continue to work the 12 steps over and over again. I continue to grow even though I have LONG TERM sobriety because I choose to repeat working these steps over and over with my sponsor and always look for ways to improve myself.
    I ran across this and was astonished that someone could actually come across this and say “see I don’t need AA it doesn’t work, at least long term doesn’t”
    Also, where I attend meetings at the old timers are plentiful. They tell us that if old timers wouldn’t have stuck around when they got sober then that room would have been empty when they needed it. So think about that when you are encouraging people to not continue to work the 12th step.
    Yes, the 12th step doesn’t always get directly worked in the rooms. I have helped people from church (that’s right people that attend church have drinking problems) get introduced to the rooms, and I have also helped co-workers.
    Furthermore, ask yourself without working these steps are your addictive behaviors popping up in other aspects of your life. Yeah they probably are. Take a look at your sexual behaviors, eating behaviors, your quick temper, amount of irritation with others, lack of tolerance and patience with others, are you spending your money the way it should be? That’s right! AA and NA in the beginning for you is helping you come off of drugs and alcohol and after that point it becomes a design for living if you don’t practice it you loose it. Just like a runner that doesn’t run on a regular basis becomes out of shape the same happens with our brains.

  • BB

    I agree with the Patrick, the original poster.

    AA is great to get you off of the booze and while you’re there you have the opportunity to help others in return.

    If I were to rely entirely on AA for my recovery would be absolutely, I would be foolish.

    We in AA are not experts on anything. There are therapists, doctors, and other trained professionals to help people in recovery.

    Anyway, AA is but one small part of my personal recovery. AA is about its people. It’s about service. My personal responsibility to have balance in my life.

  • Heather M.

    I have to say that, as a member of AA, I was profoundly saddened by this article. While it is absolutely each person’s choice to attend (or not attend) 12-step meetings, I know that the AA program has worked for me. We pride ourselves on attracting and not promoting, so I’m not going to get all “preachy” or anything – I just want to make sure that if someone reading this article is unsure about the program, they know to at least give it a shot. I saw so many references to AA as a crutch or something similar in the comments above and that is not what it is intended to be. I was taught that I was getting sober to become a productive member of society, not to hide myself away and only go to meetings. That being said, meetings are a core part of the program. Even the Big Book (or basic text) speaks about the importance of meetings, and it was written (along with additional publications later on) by men with significant sobriety. However, I digress. For me (and that is the only person I can speak for – myself), meetings are where I go to feel a part of something, to hear what other people are doing to stay sober and deal with the ups and downs of everyday life, to meet newcomers that I can help, and to meet old-timers that can help me (although it really doesn’t matter how much time someone has, because we can all help each other), to be reminded of how it was for me in the beginning, to be warned of what could happen if I stopped being diligent, and many more reasons that I could not possibly name all at once. In addition, meetings are only one part of the program. If you are just going to meetings and feel dissatisfied with “the program,” I do not blame you. The program sucks if you’re not really doing it. “The program” is also the steps, spirituality (NOT religion unless you want it to be), the traditions, helping others, and plenty of other aspects that take place outside of meetings. Going back to my original point about going back out into society, my life today is amazing because of AA and the fact that I work on my recovery every day. I recently celebrated 9 years of sobriety, the month after I married the love of my life. We had many sober alcoholics in our wedding party and as guests, as well as friends and family who are not in recovery. I do not isolate myself or only surround myself with others in AA. I go to meetings regularly (I aim for 4-5 a week, but it’s getting difficult since I started my last year of grad school and have continued to work as well) but also socialize with my friends who are not alcoholics just as regularly, and often at the same time. Also, every AA group is different. If you’ve been to one meeting or one clubhouse and formed an opinion on AA based on that alone, I would strongly encourage you to try a different one. There are plenty of meetings that I do not particularly like, so I just attend other ones. Again, it makes me very sad when someone who is new and doesn’t know much about AA sees people misrepresenting the program or outright providing false information (whether intentional or not). It can turn people away from something that could very well save their lives. I admit that AA (or 12-step programs in general) are not for everyone, but I know that it works for me and countless others I know in AA all over the country. The type of alcoholic like me, a truly self-admitting definite alcoholic, needs to go to meetings consistently or I will not stay sober. If you are an alcoholic like me, I would tend to believe the same holds true for you. Lastly, while I so very greatly appreciate the comments from people who are not alcoholics and/or not in AA, please be sure to check your sources and know what you are talking about before providing potentially faulty information to the masses. Misinformation can be very damaging. Thank you all for your time and patience.

  • Heather M.

    One more thing I forgot to say – I most definitely spent more than one hour a day drinking, using drugs, and/or going to get said substances. If I could spend that much time on my drinking and using, can’t I spend a single hour a day on my recovery?

  • Jo W

    Hi. I’m in London UK. I’ve been sober for 12 years, I’ve been in AA all that time. I really like your article. For me, you are not saying ‘do not attend any meetings’ simply that they can be used as a way not growing into life or crossing the bridge to normal living. The first couple of years is fine to go to a meeting every day in my opinion. Once the years start clocking up, I personally feel it is slightly strange to be going to a meeting every day and I would personally recommend that to newcomers, you need to create a good solid foundation in sobriety.
    I am in a situation at the moment where I feel so bored of meetings. For the last 2 years, I was going to one or two meetings a week. I also go to another fellowship, one meeting a week. Up until recently, I was in a relationship and cohabiting with my partner. We split up about 4 months ago so I upped my meetings to help with the emotional turmoil and loneliness. I am now going to about 3 AA meetings a week but they are seriously doing my head in. It feels too much. Like you said, it does not feel like growth. I have created a great life for myself outside of AA. Nearly all my friends are not in recovery and are not addicts either. I have many interests that I pursue, i am very social. I feel more alive when i pursue these interests and i am mixing with non-AAers, to be honest. I don’t think about myself, i don’t analyse myself, I am engage with others around me. With AAers all you can talk about is the steps or feelings…after 12 years this is tedious quite frankly. We never talk about politics, culture etc, real things going on in the world. It seems to me that sometimes the steps and the over analysing can actually increase self obsession! I feel like saying sometimes ” pick up a newspaper, watch the news, connect to the world’ this would be as much a spiritual growth activity as turning inwardly and thinking about how your not doing the steps properly or what your higher power is saying to you. I’ve seen a lot of AAers stuck in a rut, they are unable to see life as it is. Everything is within the framework of ‘them and us’. I do not feel any different from people who are not in recovery. I find it a massive relief to spend time with people who don;t need or are in recovery, it is less of a brain drain and more fun.

  • Laura

    Thank you for a great article, Patrick. I felt the same when I started attending Al-Anon meetings, questioning why am I here? Over and over I hear “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable”, tell me something I don’t know, this is why I am here, to no longer be powerless! I wanted to talk, share stories, help each other and give and hear solid advice but that was not the case. Many of the women I had met had been attending Al-Anon for 20+ years and still seemed so sad and truly never grew, no personal growth,I wanted to laugh and say come on girls get up and dance! I began my life again without Al-Anon, spending more time with friends and family, joining a gym and become healthy, taking a yoga class and most of all I grew my relationship with Christ, without him my personal growth would not have happened.

  • Bill

    I love your article. I was going through a time when i was going to too many meetings and was not growing. I am always living the steps. with prayer/meditation/self examination. This all or nothing (go to a meeting everyday/don’t go at all)
    i go to 2-3 meetings a week, because I like to.
    going to a meeting everyday for me worked in the beginning but now at 3 years it’s too much.

    The A.A. members of that time did not consider meetings necessary to maintain sobriety. They were simply “desirable.” Morning devotion and “quiet time,” however, were musts (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p.

  • Stephen John

    I agree with another writer , that the program is 1/2 truths. If you do not realize the Program is a perversion of the Truth, it is. That is one reason why people remain stuck, the other problem is people come to their own version of truth adn ‘what works for me’ without every coming to the Knowledge of the Truth so that they might be healed. That is straight out of the bible as well. There is no such thing as ‘recovery’…that is from psychologists to keep the bucks rolling in. HEALED. The book reads, “We were reborn” “Jesus: You must be reborn to see the kingdom of God” ; we saw only 1/2 the serenity prayer and leave out the part that refers to Jesus. They say, ‘but some of us can’t be entriely honest with themselves” Now ask, who is being dishonest? Works without Faith is dead. Book of James..yet Narrow is the road the leads to life and few are those that find it; and BROAD is the Road that leads to Destruction and MANY will take that way”..yet the big book reads, “The broad road to ‘happy destiny’?” Don’t be so sure! This is serious stuff folks. Your ETERNAL DESTINY might be at stake by following half- baked lies. And that might be the core of why we need to get out while you can and are ready. The better part of the program is our character investigations..yet c’mon…there’s no forgiveness..we ask God to REMOVE our short-comings? How do you think He is going to do that ? Not if you dont’ honor him he won’’s all psychological then and not REAL. ‘Only God can forgive what? SINS. But Jesus while on earth could forgive and heal”. This isn’t magical thinking and it is not religion. I’ts Spiritual Reality. So if you wan’t to spend your time doing something constructive, come to learn about Him in your private way, but first Turn your life over to God..not an easy thing..but ‘we thought we could find a simpler easier way”..”My yolk is easy and my burden is Light” – Jesus. Wake up.

  • Stephen John

    John 10:10
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the Full.” That answers this post perfectly. and “”I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. (Bill Wilson)”How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek The Glory that is from The One and only God?” John 12:43
    “For they loved human praise more than praise from God.”John 18:37
    “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” and this is from the very same book from the quote, “Faith without works is dead” (James) lets us some more from that same book just to validate this Truth, ” and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another (your list of character defects), and pray for one another so that you may be HEALED. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much “

  • Stephen John

    Recovery programs are a racket that ENABLE people to remain stuck.

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  • MC

    “Keep Coming Back!”

  • Daisy

    I have almost 12 years sober and currently attend about 2 meetings a week. But meetings aren’t the only thing I do to remain sober. I have a very strong prayer life and also attend church, which helps me stay spiritually sound. For me, drinking was a moral issue not just a disease. I used drinking to cover up shame from acting out immorally. I feel meeting attendance is personal and no one should be hoity toity about someone not going to as many meetings as someone else. I just had a woman confront me today about the amount of meetings I go to. She said she attends 4-5 a week. Well, sorry, I don’t. I hear people talking about people who stopped going to meetings and got drunk. Well, I don’t think people who go to 2 a week are STOPPING their meetings. It’s still regular attendance. Going to 5 meetings a week but taking everyone’s inventory and not progressing with life isn’t good sober recovery. I see people going to meetings every day but they don’t want to work, can’t hold a job, don’t want to exercise, they sit at home watching TV all day, and many of them are just looking for a date. So don’t judge someone who isn’t going to meetings 5, 6, 7 days a week because you think THEIR soberiety is worse than yours. You might be wrong.

  • Jo W

    Daisy, I can relate. I am nearly 12 years sober, I go to about 1 sometimes 2 meetings a week. I choose not to sponsor people. This is an informed decision, I do not feel that i could do the best for a sponsee who is looking for someone to tell them what to do or be hardline about it all. I used to sponsor but not anymore. I have a lot of reservations about AA but i find 1 meeting a week helps me to remember what it was like. The other week, an AA member said to me that I should sponsor people. Bearing in mind that this person was just back from a relapse after 4 years of sobriety. It annoyed me but then i just thought that’s his own conviction and lack of emotional development….if he sticks around AA and stays sober, he is going to feel very different about AA, once he realises that AA is not the be all and end all. Remember people have been coerced into AA and believe what they are told repeatedly everyday in meetings. In my opinion, after a while if people are still going to loads of meetings, there is something a miss, they are in fact unhealthy reliant on AA and are probably not growing in their life.

  • Daisy

    I tried to sponsor some women but they didn’t call me and weren’t interested in learning about the Steps so that was that. I’m not going to hunt someone down, which is what the hardcore AAers seem to do. Hunt down their 7 sponsees, get a blow by blow update from each of them every day about what they are doing. I don’t agree with that. I don’t want to call sponsees and hunt them down and then pry into what they are doing all day. For that matter I hated having to give my old sponsor the same blow by blow so I stopped doing it. A sponsor should explain the Steps, maybe be there for someone who wants to talk, but that’s it. A sponsor is not a Gestapo and also shouldn’t give advice. The few sponsors I had, were in no way, shape or form, equipped to give me advice. I’m a single working woman; my ex-sponsors were like, getting taken care of by their man and had never really worked a 40 hour work week in their lives. Most of them were estranged from family members whereas I was very close to my family and taking care of elderly parent day in and day out. They didn’t get it. one of them was, like, Did you get to a meeting today? NO, I didn’t. Sorry!! I was working an 11 hour day and taking care of my elderly parent! I think sobriety should evolve into learning to think for yourself, being a productive member of society, working or doing volunteer work or something productive. Not just going to meetings and that’s the high point of your day? Sure, if someone is struggling and needs meetings, I agree they are worthwhile, but if someone is already on the road to good recovery and is in a good spiritual condition, then don’t lay the meeting guilt trip on that person.

  • Jo W

    In my opinion, there are two types of alcoholics (this is just my pop psychology theory). One type are more chaotic, don’t take the lead, don’t make decisions, don’t believe they are always right etc, the other type are complete control freaks. When the chaotic drunk gets sober, they get more organised and together. When the control freak gets sober, they become even more of a control freak. The later, in my opinion, seem to recover better, they have less of an ego. The control freaks find it much more difficult to let go of their egos. When presented with this sure fire black and white 12 step dogma, the control freaks have a field day. These people try to control others, they sponsor when they are not well enough to sponsor, they take peoples inventories and expect others to adhere to their strict and sense of morality. They lack empathy and I do think that they are a bit sadistic, i’ve heard some terrible stories of emotional abuse carried out by control freak sponsors. Like i say this is just my observations over 12 years in AA and I could be totally wrong or biased.

  • dave

    Awesome!!! Thank you. Experience strength & hope friends

  • dave

    This author is not familiar with recovery. larger than life ego, spewing unidentified fear. With out the twelve steps where would the alcoholic go?? A holistic approach, counseling, good luck with that friend.
    Strange thing that, complacency, ask any recovering addict if they’re complacent about their recovery. Easy to identify in others but difficult to spot in ourselves.
    Prison, insanity or death is the result friends.

    NB continuous personal growth… What have we been doing all this time, when does the BS stop.

  • peggy sue

    I have a little over 9 years sober and I wear the program like a loose garment. I decided to enroll in college and am now doing a master’s degree. I have huge time commitments related to work and my academics. So, what I do is maybe one or two meetings a week. I feel happy and content most of the time and do pray and meditate regularly. I am against feeling like members have to do all their service work in AA. I did that for awhile and really never had a woman sponsee get it long-term. I do like volunteering at senior centers and sometimes with abused children though. I bristle at reading the Big Book over and over-ad nauseum. (I picture having every single class with the same textbook and I find it repetitive and redundant), so I avoid Big Book studies. Oh, and I no longer have a sponsor. I decided on joining a local Buddhist temple and found an excellent spiritual advisor. My last sponsor, when divorcing her husband-went nuts-called me from the town her ex had moved to that was over 100 miles away at 1:30 am and told me she had slept with her ex, hidden her panties in his bed and then called his new girlfriend to try and break them up. “You are calling me to tell me at 1:30 am that you are off acting like a drama queen when I have to be on the nursing floor at 6 am?” I asked her. I fired her, and I find the sponsor/sponsee relationship after the steps are done and 10, 11 & 12 are maintained-a codependent state that should not continue. If you still have to have someone to that extent after extended step work-you likely have issues. I work a program that works for me, and I disregard what others tell me I “should be” doing. I do what brings me closer to God, induces gratitude and keeps me balanced.

  • Ashley Brewer

    I cannot believe people are buying this nonsense. I hope you plan to attend each & every funeral of those who took your suggestions. You are trying to go up against something that has helped MILLIONS of people since the 1930s, with a blog site? Seriously? If your suggestions are so genuine, why don’t you have a book or a fellowship? I’m so disgusted by this

  • Ashley Brewer

    What makes you say they did nothing to help you? How do you know that? What evidence do you have that did “NOTHING?” It seems to me that you get what you put into it. If you got nothing, you put in nothing.

  • JunkandOtherStuff

    Thank you for writing that. Your story significantly helped me, for today. I wish I lived closer to you b/c I would ask if you wanted to go to a meeting with me! :)

  • Jeffery

    This is not a selfish program we give it a way to keep it. Help others to help your self.

  • Blue nat

    He clearly stated they didn’t help. It’s very arrogant to assume that AA is a panacea.
    Different strokes for different folks. There’s more than 1 way to skin an onion.
    Claiming as such is dogmatic and cultish.
    I went to AA. It didn’t help and I thought much more of drinking than I ever have doing it on my own.
    I’ve been sober over 18 months, and the last year has been me, on my own. Not through gritted teeth I may add. I also feel less burdened, depressed and happier than I ever did going to meetings.
    My turning point was the hipocracy which was rife in the rooms. A lot of talk but not much action.

  • Glen

    Some guy told me today that, “There
    are many ways the message of AA can be carried”.

    That would be his unstudied
    opinion – but not a fact. The ONLY directions for carrying the “THIS” message
    of Alcoholics Anonymous is clearly detailed in Chapter seven, “Working With
    Others” – and that is by taking others through the Twelve Steps.

    There are no “many” ways
    described – and if anyone thinks there is then they have believed someone
    unfamiliar with the Big Book who told them that – or they are very inventive themselves
    – because they ain’t in the clear-cut directions detailed in the book.
    The method of “Carrying this message” is VERY specific and the way the
    co-founders did it was to “Work the steps” with newcomers.

    That’s what they did and why the
    first 43 pages of the Big Book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” goes to great
    lengths to illustrate this – the exact opposite of this guys claim. I can’t
    blame him though – there is SO MUCH opinion about AA out there – even within
    the fellowship itself – it gets confusing.

    If only such crap were limited to
    this one persons opinion – but it is not. The problem is that so many of us
    don’t take the Steps and recover ourselves – which means we don’t much get into
    the directions in the Big Book – ergo, we have no recovery or Program to offer
    others, visa-vi the directions – so we make stuff up — Stuff like, “There
    are many ways to carry the message”. See: Depth – Weight

    Oh I forgot the mention that this guy ALSO went further to imply that Bill W
    didn’t take the steps because he hadn’t written the Big Book yet. I actually
    hear this once in a while from others too – even within our fellowship. Some
    believe this and that is is that Bill is a hypocrite and that a real alcoholic
    does not really need AA or the steps to give up the sauce – since Bill
    apparently did not drink after starting AA.

    Well, that contains about as much
    logic as saying a cake recipe won’t work because the chef who developed the
    recipe did not have the recipe to follow yet. The main purpose of the Big Book
    is to show us how they did it. “To show other
    alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book.”
    (Forward – First edition) It isn’t to give us some idea so we
    can come up with “Many ways” on our own – or to “interpret”. It is a
    chronicle of PRECISELY what they did. And if we do PRECISELY what
    they did, we get PRECISELY what they got – we recover!

    The fact is Bill W’s complete account of his own taking of the 12 steps are on
    pages 8 thru 14. What I read there is
    Bills recount, and claim, that he did indeed “Do the work” that set him free
    from alcoholism.

    Even someone with the most casual
    recognition of the 12 steps can easily pick them out of these pages, all performed
    while Bill was still in Towns Hospital, with his sponsor, Ebby T, prior to the publishing of the Big

    In that hospital he did the work,
    had a spiritual awakening, the desire to drink was removed and he went on to
    help others do the same if they were to do the same. Simple!

  • Glen

    I was thinking one day, “What if we could “insure” against drinking? As long as the insured would pay the premium – he would have no fear that he would ever again drink for as long as he were alive? He’d be IMMUNE from drinking as long as he kept the policy in effect. How much would the premiums on such a policy cost?

    “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics!”


    There’s nothing which says that going to meetings will insure immunity from drinking – only INTENSIVE work with other alcoholics. THAT is the premium!

    Going to meetings is not working with others – nor is it intensive.


    Possessing or displaying a distinctive feature to an extreme degree: the intense sun of the tropics.

    Extreme in degree, strength, or size: intense heat.

    Involving or showing strain or extreme effort: intense concentration.

    Did you know that in early AA – when there was a 75% success rate – there WERE HARDLY ANY MEETINGS? And when there were eventually were – an alcoholic did the Twelve Steps PRIOR to being admitted – hence he was “sponsored” into the group? So meetings are not so necessary for sobriety are they? God is. That’s why they wrote the Big Book – to spread the solution – wholesale distribution through print AND the action prescribed in it.

    They didn’t hand out freakin’ meeting lists! They DID distribute clear-cut directions on how to recover from alcoholism that did NOT propose going to meetings as a solution – not ANYWHERE in it.

    Maybe if we redirected the emphasis off the meetings and more toward the God solution we could again have a 75% success rate.

    If me or anyone I sponsor has the time to go to seven or ten meetings a week, than we probably aren’t working with other alcoholics and therefore not carrying the “this” message. When I was not practice these principles in all my affairs I tended to go to LOTS of meetings.

    But once I got out of the basements where the only thing intense is the coffee – and into the field and trenches to and begin helping other alcoholics, there just was no time.

    Now I get to maybe two or three a week at most. If I find myself dry for protegees I step it up because I am searching for another alcoholic to work with. After the pool has a few in it, the meetings taper off again.

    Show me someone who goes to one or two meetings a day and I’ll show you a still suffering alcoholic who doesn’t work with others – OR a meeting addicted former hard drinker who isn’t alcoholic anyway.

  • cynthia.

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  • cynthia.

    My name is Cynthia and my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I visited the INTERNET for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problems to him….. he cast a spell for me and assure me of 3 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my peter came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Dr OHEHE spell caster, you are truly talented and gifted contact his

  • Shawn

    After 9 years in marriage with my hubby with 3 kids, my husband started going out with other ladies and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other ladies, I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet Dr. osas who help people with the relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him, he helped me cast a spell and within 24hours my husband came back to me and started apologising, now he has stopped going out with ladies and he his with me for good and for real. Contact this great spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem at spirituallove @ hotmail . com.

  • Beware the Lamiae

    exactly! When an alcoholic with real intelligence sees whats going on (the cult memes, the quack medicine, the ridiculous literature and proposed solution, the cows all mooing in unison affirming complete delusion) he walks out and either drinks or stays dry.
    We live in a godless, deterministic universe as evolved, automated, neurotic animals, this is THE truth, period! The steps (specifically 1,2,3) are only saying,”you don’t have control, understand causality!” but it delivers this message in a deranged, dogmatic, cultish and severely retarded way telling you to “let go and let god.”
    You can read a book about Determinism and the Illusion of Freewill and effectively, scientifically, and simply bipass all the bullshit you will endless hear in AA. All the lies and retarded memes keep more people drinking. (5% AA success rate is proof that AA is ultimately worse for people than better–they ALL go out and if they didn’t, it sure as hell wasn’t stepwork that got ‘em sober!

  • Beware the Lamiae

    There’s way more screwed up with AA than wasting an hour of your day. Write about how ineffective and dogmatic the steps actually are. Write about the morons endlessly affirming each others big book cliches. Everything, from insisting on an anthropomorphic illusion to get you sober to the disorganized meetings and crowds of jerks with court papers to get signed who don’t give a crap about recovery, it’s all lies, delusion and danger.
    Then there’s always the conceited ‘lifers’ who make every meeting and preach big book psycho babble like it wasn’t written by a barely sober, womanizing, stock broker who took LSD. His ideas about relationships, philosophy and religion are, to say the least, embarrassing and pathetic. They perfectly emulate Christian rhetoric–a submissive and servitude stricken cult who punishes themselves for being human.
    The Big Book of AA is a perfect example of someone building a castle on a total fallacy. He gets it right in chapter 1 when he says “..the presence of god was negligible…” then he completely divorces reason and insists on a personified deity to keep you sober. Chapter 4 is complete intellectual suicide and ‘To Wives’ is appalling to anyone who can think reasonably, I don’t even like women but if I were one, I’d burn ever AA book I saw.
    Ultimately, AA does more harm than good, period! Even ‘great’ groups are just an hour of pseudo intellectuals taking turns affirming each others circular-reasoned false memes that make no sense at all in terms of sociology and a dozen other Sciences. Agnostic groups are just as bad; fence sitting liberal moderates who act like they’re not wearing Intergroup’s leash as a walking contradiction telling a newcomer how bad religious AA is while 12 steps (half of which requiring God) hangs on the wall behind them.
    My advice to anyone seeking sobriety or anyone who just can’t stop drinking–drink more, more often until your life really gets bad. Half of you aren’t sorry at all for your DUI, angry wife or lost job and will be drinking a month from now. The psychiatric ward, jail and suicide are right around the corner, don’t worry about stepwork, you’ll either die or “get it.” Then you will effortlessly never pick up a drink again and live happy. Don’t thank a god who doesn’t exist, thank your brain for finally learning where real danger lies, Thank yourself for participating in your life. Dont thank retards at AA or a some Harry Potter higher power.

  • Alex PA

    I have gone back and forth on this. I practice mantra chanting, I do it 2 hours per day-used to be a Nichiren Buddhist but wrote my own mantra so now it is closer to transcendental meditation. I find it is irrelevant whether I go or not. AA meetings serve to program the subconscious (which won’t keep a person like myself sober, already tried NLP for that purpose), and if I quit chanting within about a week the desire to drink returns. With that, step work of course. Went to meetings without chanting, would get drunk between meetings. Stopped going and just chanted, no desire to drink but would get lonely and several months later return and stay sober until I stopped chanting (2 hours is quite a time commitment but I figured that out FOR ME through trial and error). I get sick and tired of the drama with some people. Pushy people. People acting like what they do is superior to what I do (as I don’t talk about it ever, used to and it only started debates as people around here are more or less Christian). What always got me was I had successfully quit smoking early on, within the first month because I chanted for 2-4 hours. They couldn’t quit smoking after 10 plus years. I overcame depression, aspergers meltdowns, being late to work all the time, etc. If they knew the amount of time I put in daily, it would be incomprehensible to them. They are still medicated, still have angry outbursts (not everyone, but the specific people I am referring to full of drama), and yet what they do is superior to chanting? I’m supposed to stop chanting and be as crazy as them? I don’t debate it or talk to them about it anymore and my life is 10 times easier. I just get tired of hearing about how sick and crazy some of them are. I also have trouble rationalizing spending another 2 hours (travel time, meeting before the meeting and after the meeting) on top of the two I spend chanting. My feelings on this are so ambiguous because despite these complaints, I have truly had some wonderful times in AA. I have some good friends in AA that I respect and even people I’m not close to that have overcome many issues and aren’t crazy despite believing a lot different from me, I respect them for the good people they are. I will eventually figure this out but one thing I know for certain, one way or the other, I never have to drink again.

  • Clare

    Utter bull! I have tried to stay clean by many other means and only ever been successful for a few years before relapsing. I have done counselling, drug treatment services, rehab etc etc and nothing worked. NA is a life solution for me as it is always there, it teaches you to live without it but I can never say never so I can return to NA as little or as often as I feel it is needed. Some times are more trying than others but NA is the solution to my addiction!

  • Clare

    You get out what you put in!

  • Clare

    Isn’t it then after 10 years, about going back to the beginning and remembering the newcomers in the room and being able to share your thoughts, feelings and experiences with them?

  • Clare

    There are open meetings you could attend together, just a thought

  • Michael Jordan

    Take my own advice? I didn’t give any advice. I don’t know shit. Nothing. I found something that works for me and I kept it on me. I made a suggestion to not “tell” another alcoholic or addict to do anything or how to work they’re recovery, who the hell am I to tell someone else how to stay sober. I work my own recovery. When it comes to meetings… You get what you give. I’ll keep you in my prayers my friend.

  • Sue sue

    The 12 steps is to show u another way of life and thinking when u become a lost soul. Dont even need to drink to get to that point. And the meetings are there because in your recovery you have to have fellowship and thats what u get plus whyle doing that if you really do the steps and apply them in your life you have to remove selfishness from ur brain. Those meetings help alote for that actualy they help wt so many aspects like obsessions ect…. I find it a beautifull place to recover and finaly live. A normal life ,not insanity anymore. Any ways this again is my opinion then again i could be right i could be wrong

  • Kari Foust

    I m one that has 8 years sober. For the most part I am happy. I go to 1 meeting a week. My happiness seems more to come from exercise and meditation. I haven’t found a sponsor I like. I would like to find other options for recovery than NA and AA. Anyone know of other groups?

  • Pedro the exile

    With the greatedt respect to the author,I’m never entirely sure why individuals find the need to share their personal insights on matters like this .
    Me-coming up for 22 years clean & sober and a very happy camper.I got sober through AA-initially meetings(lots) and total immersion in working a programme of recovery and fellowship.Basically I lived in AA for the best part of 3 years-I separated from my wife,changed friends ,went to conventions etc etc.why?-because I needed to.However thats how I got sober-2 days before my first meeting I was covered in purple rashes & rolling around in my own puke & shit seeing objects coming out of the wall.Do I advocate this for everyone(even my sponsees)-no-the only thing I can say is that thats how I did it and it worked for me.Fast forward and I do a lot of the stuff referred to in the blog -I have a physical recovery programme and I use lots of outside help-I also continue to attend AA meetingsand do service but its more like 1-2 a week maximum and sometimes 1 a fortnight.Why-because I regard it as a key part of my continuing recovery-it grounds me and brings me back to base and every so often I still hear something that helps me grow.
    Unlike the author i don’t regard this as a huge investment of my time-ffs….our meetings are 90 minutes so its one evening a week and its a time when I can reconnect with people who understand my illness and an opportunity to give something back.Like another person said,what if you went to your first meeting an dtheer was nobody there!A fundamental aspect of my recovery(not yours)is practicing not being a self centered,egcentric areshole and going to a meeting,doing service and listening to others helps me in that goal..I also get the opportunity to share my recovery-good and bad-which is a bonus.
    I don’t know anybody with an equivalent length of continued & happy sobriety who goes to a meeting every day but i know lots who are still attending on a similar basis to me.Do I feel the need to tell everybody thats this is the key to a successful recovery-no-its what I do and if you find my recovery attractive you might find it useful but there’s as many y ways of working a programme as there are recovering alcoholics.
    God Bless you all.

  • Arnold Babar

    You can’t keep it unless you give it away. In addition, someone may have needed to hear what YOU had to say…

  • Snoopkittykat

    “In addition to these casual get-togethers, it became customary to set apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life. Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems.” (AA Big Book (4th Ed.), pg. 159-160).

  • Snoopkittykat

    BB is the AA book (“Big Book”). The first 103 pages of the BB contains the program of recovery that is espoused by AA…basically a discussion of the three part illness that AA views as alcoholism and the Steps to becoming recovered. Yes, I said recovered. The Big Book itself claims you can “…recover from the hopeless state of mind and body” that is alcoholism. This doesn’t mean cured (if you drink again you will likely trigger the illness). You will hear all sorts of non-Big Book opinions in AA (including many of the slogans) that are actually not in the BB. AA is not for everyone and the BB itself claims no monopoly on recovery.

  • Snoopkittykat

    The reason practicing AA members (those actually working the program as outlined in the first 103 pages of the AA book) continue to go to meetings is to practice the third leg of the AA Legacy: Service. I am talking about the Service of taking others through the AA Step work so that they can turn around and do the same. Recovery (working Steps myself), Service (taking others through Step work), and Fellowship (meetings) are all part of the program of recovery in AA. We try and stay in the middle of this triangle to have a balanced recovery. Many people only go to 1 or 2 AA meetings a week…or maybe even less…or more. But it’s difficult to stay connected with AA and to find new people to help (which is a main reason for meetings…so new people can bring their problems) if one doesn’t go to any meetings at all. :-)

  • mrcanada976

    I’m glad I found this page. I’m on day 11 of being sober and I am giving AA a try.

    I have found it a bit disconcerting that the solution to everything is to attend more meetings.

    I got sober by going to detox treatment and it comes with an outpatient Daytox program with courses acupuncture and counseling. So I do that for 3-5 hours a day on weekends. Plus with the detox I did 3 group sessions plus an AA, NA or CA meeting each night. Since I left detox I’ve taken the AA advice to hit a meeting each day.

    After 8 days straight of this I took a day off of meetings to have a power walk and a day for myself and my temporary sponsor was concerned. He offered to show me where there were lunch time meetings I could attend by my work in addition to the daily evening meetings. Thursday in my area is big book study group and I don’t think I’m ready for that yet, so he wants to bring me to a meeting in his area offering to pick me up and drive me.

    To be honest I find that the meetings are ok but not some panacea. The same people are at most of the meetings and the same people keep getting called up day after day and they tell the same stories. I’ve met a few nice people and have exchanged numbers but most of the people are either tight with a group of people or socially awkward.

    I am looking to find new activities to fill the time I used to spend drinking. I don’t want to transform my life from drinking all the time to going to AA meetings all the time.

    Every time I talk about taking a day off all the AA people get all concerned like if I don’t go all the time I’m going to fly off the handle and go straight back to drinking every day. I have no problem going on a regular basis for peer support but it seems that the solution to getting bored of meetings is to go to more meetings which doesn’t make sense.

    Between Daytox and nightly AA meetings that’s 17 hours of recovery stuff a week plus travel time it’s overwhelming I like have no life anymore.

    To make matters even worse my temporary sponsor asked me what my plans were for the weekend and I told him I was going to hit Daytox and AA meetings but that I wanted to get laid or at least hook up some dates. He told me I shouldn’t do that and I’m like wtf. It’s boring enough being sober and going to all this recovery shit, I can’t obviously go out and party and I haven’t figured out what kind of new routine I want to establish, sex doesn’t cost any money doesn’t require alcohol it’s lots of fun. Sure he can go home to his fiance but I’m not about to sit around and suffer just because I’m sober now- that would just make me want to drink again.

    Also as many of the commenter have said while AA has few rules the inference is rampant that AA is the only way and while I’m giving it an honest shot I know that can’t be the case.

    I’m going to get a prescription for naltrexone and cut down to one meeting a week, whichever group I choose as my home group.

  • jimbo

    And AA says, AA doesn’t claim to be the only way. And AA also says, if you can manage to stay sober on your own. Our hats are off to you, God knows we have tried hard enough and long enough. So my hat is off to you. And I am an AA member. And I agree with you. There is dogma and a cult feeling in many, many of the rooms. But AA Meetings are not the program of recovery. But members of AA have propagated that it is. AA went through some dark age where the original program of recovery was lost. And it’s AA’s fault. I don’t disagree with much the man wrote above in the article.There are a lot hypocrites in AA. There are a lot of Hypocrites anywhere humans congregate. Let alone where there are a bunch of Alcoholics. If I May?, In the late 60’s or early 70’s a bill was passed in congress requiring that insurance pay for treatment. And where ever there is something covered by insurance. Believe you me people are going to cash in. Treatments centers started popping up everywhere. And Treatment is good. Many people need detox and their are probably some issues the AA cannot effectively deal with that need be addressed. But what happened is these treatment centers started turning people out by the thousands….and then told them a good after care plan would be AA. These people arrived in AA and full of self knowledge and all kinds of good stuff. But things that weren’t really AA. You see makes a clear distinction in the book Alcoholics Anonymous between different types of drinkers. One of them is the hard drinker. He looks like an Alcoholic externally. Alcohol has caused him all kinds of trouble. but one thing, well 2 separates him from the alcoholic. Those are the inability to control how much he drinks once he starts. and the udder inability to leave it alone no matter how great the wish or the desire. Now, a hard drinker can stay sober under his own steam. He may even need to be hospitialized to do so. He may need some therapy. But given sufficient reason, he can stay sober. When these treatment centers started turning out thousands of people. They did not use the same criteria to determine if someone was alcoholic. They used the external mostly….does alcohol interfere with your life. And how much they drank. None of which the big book says is critiera. And finacially it’s in the treatment centers interest to find people alcoholic. So these people showed up to AA. Already diagnosed an Alcoholic. AA failed to qualify these based on their standards. We started using the common standards…what does your life look like and do you drink a lot. These people’s lives got better simply due to the removal alcohol. But this all happened while attending 90 meetings in 90 days (another non AA suggestion that has creeped into the rooms. Mass meeting attendance is not anywhere in the program) These people attributed there own recovery from hard drinking to going to meetings (in fact meetings are not part of the solution AT ALL) So they started telling other people… AA works. Just don’t drink and go to meetings.. Soon we are getting all kinds of people that are not really alcoholic and they are spitting even more treatment jargon..just stay away from ‘triggers’…. As if hearing a song or talking to my mother makes me want to drink. again this works for even more hard drinkers….and the people in AA who had the solution failed. They failed to qualify these people. let them sit in our meetings and share their message, not AAs message. Soon AA starts having a terrible recovery rate…and in the 40’s they were claiming 75%….now we can’t we claim 10%. It wasn’t till I went to a meeting of AA and heard a man speak of the steps, his message of hope did I finally have psycological change. You see sitting around meetings for 20 years and trying to work the hard drinkers solution of 90 in 90, stay away from triggers, don’t work the steps till your ready, have a year before you sponsor, don’t get in a relationship, don’t have sex, men sponsor men, and women sponsor women….all not AA. He took me through the steps in 2 weeks, Bill wilson did the first 8 while in towns hospital. and the remainder immediatly after discharge. Dr. Bob. Did 8 steps in 2 weeks and stalled at 9. Thought it was a bit drastic, and was concerned for his career. bill warned him. Then went out and drank. He came back a day later and did the rest. Never drank again. AA’s Bday is not when bill and bob had their first encounter in Bobs house. It was a little over 2 weeks later when he took the remaining steps and never drank again. 2 weeks sober, All my steps done. I was told to find a drunk….not one in AA. but one at a hospital, jail or a treatment center. I was put to work. And not recruiting. I was simply to tell how I drank and that I had found a solution to my problem. So maybe your not the real McCoy. Dr. Carl Jung… world respected mental health professional told roland hazzard ( a predecessor to AA) that he was doomed. That he had never once sobered up a man with his type of drinking problem (the alcoholic) That if he were to live he’d have to be locked up. Now that ain’t AA speaking. that was said before AA was even around. Dr Jung ( a non alcoholic) gave AA the second step. That a real Alcoholic, his only hope is a spiritual experience. Dr. Silksworth…a non alcoholic gave AA the first step…that is the Malady as we know it. The Third step was given by william james ( A non-alcoholic)in the book “A variety of Spiritual Experiences.” The Oxford groups ( a Bunch of non alcoholics) gave AA steps 4-11. Only step 12, was given to AA by an Alcoholic. And that was given to us by Bill W. At the Mayflower hotel, having worked the first 11 steps… Bill suddenly thought of a drink ( he had the trigger any treatment center will you to avoid…he crossed the threshold of a dinning room….HAHA) And intuitively he had the notion that maybe if he does, what his friend Ebby had done in his kitchen…that is call on another Alcoholic and try to help him. That maybe he could sustain this thing. You see Willliam James in his book “A variety of religous experiences.” Sorry… I called the book “A variey of spiritual experiences” above… Sorry the lingo is hard to shake….but in his book, he quantified and studied when people had conversion experiences as they relate to faith….he eluded that they were powerful and men were changed in an instant sometimes. But they did not seem to last. Bill, by being visited by Ebby thatcher was given the missing piece. The idea that to keep something you have to give it away. You see what AA is, is not what you most likely experienced at an AA meeting…you saw, AA diluted…or AA lite. AA at the bottom of it all is really a very kind and compassionate idea. It’s a pay it forward program. Basically here it is in a nut shell. No meetings, no cute slogans, no bullshit relapse prevention…. Here it is. Do you suffer as we suffer. Do you think God can help you, Decide to let him help you. This Decision is only consummated by doing the rest of the program. That is listing the things that block you from doing gods will (Which I have found is simply being useful to others) Share them with god, yourself and another person. People focus on the other person….but really the yourself part is the most difficult. Become willing to have god take the character items that block you. Ask him to do so ( you here more BS in the program…I am working on my anger, patience…blah, blah, blah. the deal is you don’t work on em;….you ask god to take them) list everyone you hurt, pay restitution if need be…and amend your behavior. Keep checking to see if new things block you from good….ask God what he would have you do. Center yourself. And go help others. That’s what brings about recovery. Not meetings. Bill, Dr Bob, and Bill d…the first three….All got sober never having attended one meeting.

  • fattyz

    They will tell you all your feelings are ‘stinkin thinkin’. Anything you want to do yourself is an excuse. “If you have a good excuse don’t use it.” If you don’t go to a meeting everyday you’ll drink and so, die. etc. I hope you get some help for what made you “drink/drug yourself into AA.” I have come to believe all addiction is trauma based, but that’s for me. AA should b a helpful support group nothing more but as you are finding out it’s a dangerous mind control cult. AA is not the only way. Stay sober if you have to but don’t listen to them, you don’t have a “disease.”

  • fattyz

    It is always there is the key to what you said IMHO. But why the continued relapse? Simple, the problem never got addressed and never will in meetings which treat the symptoms. What to do once the symptoms abate? Go to meetings forever because if you don’t the problem is still there. (they are right about that part, it shows you they understand without knowing it that they have no treatment) Your not a junkie/alcoholic because of drugs and alcohol your a junkie/alcoholic because you have an underlying psychological problem. 30 years later still sitting at meetings talking about the symptoms and chanting “we think not” lol. Once you sober up you better find something you like doing because you’ll still be a addict and act accordingly.

  • fattyz

    This is good, someone who got sober and left and went on with life. God bless you for being able to escape them and use it for what you need. I was very vulnerable and believed their BS and it almost killed me. 30 years later I am still alive and able to deal with what was bothering me in the first place. It was not alcoholism the way they preach it because there is no such thing. Your description of the way they behave is priceless. It’s the norm! Your lucky you were strong enough to get rid of them after only one nutty middle of the night phone call. This is all PTSD stuff IMHO and eventually the program the way it is will die off because they only deal with the symptoms. It would be dead already if it had not become institutionalized meaning they get a constant stream of new victims from the courts and the shrinks.

  • fattyz

    Like don’t say anything negative about AA because someone might hear you and they’ll die? That’s AA logic. If you thing can’t stand up under criticism or scrutiny (which AA can’t) you better get something else.

  • fattyz

    Sorry to reply to a 2 yr old post but this is a good summation of the problems with AA/NA. Nowhere near to whole. That’s it. Thanks.

  • nat

    A previous speaker suggested that if one took the advice on not going to a meeting one could die .I counter claim that in the fifteen years ive been around I’ve personally met scores of men and women that attended meetings in some cases multiples of years .And ended up taking their own lives .In my experience very few people do service, talk about how spiritual they have become put a few cents in the basket to show how greatful they are then buy a latte from Starbucks .The only service they do is lip service .I’ve met so many people who talk big and live low .
    They only know how to interact within the twelve step recovery bubble and crumble within the real world arena .Date and have relationships with other members .What ever happened to crossing the bridge to normal living .If you have a varying opinion you are regarded as a zealot you have to have the exact indoctrination as the highly regarded old timers .Who all seem extremely lost in the real world having no real clue how to survive outside of the rooms ,all claim to have higher powers that keep them safe and most importantly sober because no way would they of been able to have done it on their own .Asked to explain their personal higher power ,the same power that keeps them sober another day the same higher power that wipes out hundreds and thousands of innocent humans on a regular basis .But focuses its celestial energy on keeping specifically a handful of Alcoholics sober another day .They all say that that seems to be fair .

  • nat

    Im finding something else .It seems empirical evidence is not favoured within AA

  • nat

    What do you get if you put in indoctrination

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  • CJ

    I am so glad I found this article, thank you so much. I was so through a process this morning and part of it was a feeling of unsettled, and seemingly unable focus. I was frustrated with myself, because I had set my alarm for 05:30 but, then hit the snooze button for 45 minutes, and boom, you have missed the 07:00 meeting that I would have had to drive 14 miles for attendance. All of sudden, I realized, ” you are dependent on that meeting, as much as any chemical or drug” Whats

    up here? So, this article has helped, hopefully I will get out my to do list and start to do the many tasks that need attention, after being on the road for 3 weeks as an over the road driver, who is also coming off of the windshield, motion and music addiction that the truck provides everyday. So it is hard to come back to the house, which is not moving. CJ

  • Shea Stevenson

    Spontaneous remission rate and AA recovery rate are essentially equivocal, according to the Harvard Medical Health Letter anyways…. I’ve been sober in AA following all the “good orderly direction” and sober outside of AA for “a few 24 hours” I prefer the outside myself. The reason people call it a cult is clearly illustrated by many of the comments below.

    I ran across this while researching different treatment modalities for a heroin addict who is sleeping in my spare bedroom as I type. I believe in giving back but just as the article states there are many ways in which to accom

  • Mariah Conklin

    Wow what a great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mariah Conklin

    I agree with you. Some people need AA for life though and that’s understandable. I personally am not attending AA meetings for the time being. I truly feel called to attend Celebrate Recovery. The only problem is that I don’t want people telling me, what to do, who to be, how to be and so on. I to truly feel that I need to take this time to work on other issues besides alcohol. I also get so sick of being defined as an alcoholic when I want to be defined as a child of God. AA says that you’re an alcoholic and Celebrate Recovery is the same. If I’m a follower of Christ I’d prefer to just say that I’m a child of God and I struggle with so and so. I refuse to be defined by other things. I too found joy in AA but once I lost my job and moved far away from my meetings and my sponsor is when I truly found myself. I found myself, didn’t have to feel as if I needed to rely on others, people showed me there true colors, tried to define me. Most men in AA wanted something from me, most women in AA were controlling, none were truly there for me. I tried reaching out to other new comers but no one called me. AA worked for a while and then it stopped. I guess I just feel like God doesn’t want me there anymore. Who knows though maybe things will change. My main goal is to just no longer hurt anyone and try and be a nicer person each day.

  • Mariah Conklin

    The AA fellowship I attended helped for a while but after I left for three weeks and I went back I felt weird being there. Something just didn’t feel right. I sat down by this lady I sorta new and saw stuff for the first time I didn’t like. She tried to tell this new comer how to do recovery during the meetings, cross talked. She even acted as though just because she had about 6 months of recovery that she knew it all, played God, etc. It just didn’t feel right. The people in the meetings wanted me to go smoke with them (not into that) and were trying to change me. Too much drama in the AA meetings especially with the 30 and younger crowd…just don’t like it. Ever since I removed people from my life I feel happy and free. I guess I just can’t conform to anything….just the way I am.

  • Mariah Conklin

    Yeah I can see AA being cultish to. I stopped going to an AA meeting for about 3 weeks and my sponsor kept saying I was going crazy with my isms only because I hadn’t gone to a meeting. The truth though is that I was bored ever since being laid off from work and just had nothing else better to do than go crazy. People in AA told me that I would feel better if I went to an AA meeting and i did for a short while but once back in reality it didn’t really matter. Ever since I removed AA from my life and people in general I felt better. I just don’t have any time for stupid, opinionated assholes anymore ya know? I’m working two jobs in order to survive and to have someone tell me that I’m going to lose all of it because I’m not attending meetings isn’t right.

  • Mariah Conklin

    Kind of how I’ve been feeling lately. I didn’t attend an AA meeting for three weeks, went back to the same fellowship, sat in the front, felt a little weird but was the first one to share. AA meetings helped me grow but only for a while. My true growth came when I stopped relying on others to fix me and began to help myself and rely on God. For the time being I truly feel like I don’t need AA. Maybe I’m just not a real alcoholic and felt that I needed to drink because I hated my life. Today I love my life, what I do, love my church but have also been through a lot. AA members also said that they felt like they belonged in meetings and that the real world just didn’t understand. In my case I stopped feeling like I belonged in AA meetings and I couldn’t relate to a lot of people and yes I’ve met people outside of the rooms that understand what I’m going through. :)

  • Mariah Conklin

    When I was struggling I went to so many meetings. AA meetings and other meetings outside of AA but when I lost my job is when I stopped attending meetings. I agree with you Susan. Most people feel like they need meetings in order to stay sober but it’s not true for me. What will happen when he comes home and has to spend time with family? It really shouldn’t be all about AA. Hope things have changed for you.

  • Mariah Conklin

    That’s so stupid. My sponsor told me I’d feel weird and self conscious after not attending a meeting for 3 weeks. I felt sort of weird but I got over it. I had another person tell me that I can mentally relapse. Stupid. I think it’s nonsense.

  • Mariah Conklin

    and the problem with people is that they don’t keep their mouth shut and feel the need to tell people how they should live there life, what to do, how to be, etc. That makes me want to relapse. People need to learn how to shut up and listen without telling someone what to do. Those that listen to me and encourage me are the ones that mean a lot to me. If I ask them for advice than that’s okay.

  • Mariah Conklin

    My employer started to get super jealous because I started attending a meeting every night. I was a live in care giver at the time and I left and went to a meeting because she didn’t tell me that she needed me so I thought it was okay. Turns out that it wasn’t okay and she had all these crazy resentments toward me. I’m glad that I attended these meetings because they helped me grow and I actually ended up getting laid off from my job which was good because my employer was very toxic. Once I was laid off a month later I ended up getting two jobs that I absolutely love with great pay to. I also stopped attending meetings which was better for me because every time I would attend meetings (mixed meetings) the men would come up to me and chat me up which got super old.

  • Tim McCutchan

    This website is killing people. It looks like one big add for their treatment center, which I’m sure is not cheap. AA is free.

  • trudy cary

    Spot on…exactly what I would of said. Thank you. I hope the author of this piece reads your reply. I too, got the feeling, this is not an addict speaking.

  • Gj Vernon

    On the contrary we do not start to die, i myself soon started to realise i was not powerless in the slightest once i had left the co-dependence of the rooms i began outside to enjoy life and live again.. It is sickening that we are asked to constantly repeat the guilt inducing phrase “i am an alcoholic” at the start of every meeting – extremely negative knowing the definition of what an Alcoholic is..

    The steps are mere suggestions written by a quite mixed up mortal, not a divine message from God exclusively for recovering alcoholics.
    There is an insidious conditioning going on in AA as with every faith based nonsense and the classic is you are actually told not to think, keep it simple, dont complicate stuff – yep they have to do this because the book has very little to do with treatment for alcoholism and everything to do with converting you to Bill´s generic higher power term for ´God´..
    Soon as i realised that God was to be in charge of my life, i smelled a rat.
    AA is absolutely fine in early recovery because it´s somewhere to be other than throwing alcohol down one´s neck, but after while one realises it´s not even a real treatment program…how can it be when it´s just about the only illness that requires praying to get better!

  • Robert Gatto

    what a load of crap. AA has been proven to be THE MOST effective way for an alcoholic to recover. The lies above are one person’s opinion and can be very dangerous and fatal.!!!!!!!!

  • Donald Todd Quinn

    Why is it okay for you to criticize AA, but when others do it you bitch and complain?

  • Donald Todd Quinn

    Please provide evidence to support the claim that AA is “THE MOST effective way for an alcoholic to recover.

  • Lauren Fields

    You could try SMART Recovery or other alternatives to keep sober. I’ve gone to therapy as well before AA and only now after 3 years in recovery have i learned the root of my issue. For me, it’s all about finding the right therapist. There is more than one treatment modality that could work. And have you also tried exercise? That’s a world of help, too.

  • Lauren Fields

    AA is not the only way, you know. If someone truly wants to get sober/clean they’ll try anything. Even AA after a critique like this. Free speech is just that, free speech. Let the man exercise his right.

  • enjoying aa and staying sober

    You are an idiot

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  • Ryan Moore

    This is an interesting article and I like the question being raised. I agree with the part about complacency, and I feel that is the reason there are not a lot of long term members, or at least long term sober members. The problem I have with this article is the lack of a better option. I think long term meeting attendance is the best route of recovery. I also think that if you find yourself being complacent, then you shouldn’t stop going to meetings. We should then find a way to improve personal growth either on our own or through meetings. Approaching the way we take information from the meetings differently, so that it improves personal growth. But to stop going to meetings because we feel we can do it on our own is more dangerous than being complacent in the rooms of AA or NA.

  • Angie Padgett

    People would say AA was the only way… but the book does NOT, and also says it does not claim to be…that is, if you read it… just saying…

  • Angie Padgett

    I’m not reading through all the responses… I’m lazy :) but one must remember that being at a meeting…whether 2 yrs or 20 yrs is “carrying the message”. I am not saying you must go every single day… some people “hide” in AA and that isn’t good either… But one must give back.. that is key. So you got to ask yourself, am I giving back what was so freely given me if I attend no meetings at all?? Maybe once a week, or once a month after some good’s all up to you. (p.s… I do believe one has to maintain a holistic attitude…moderation in all)

  • Angie Padgett

    AA’s primary purpose is to stay sober and to help others achieve sobriety…so you missed the second part

  • QTIP

    Truth. Me too.

  • Shane

    A good read. I’ve been sober 34years and go to meetings to give rather than to hear something new. I go to one meeting a week which is my home group and do not find it a drag. If I did I would not go. I am also on a roster to go into detox facilities to help where I can. I actually love the program of AA (The 12 Steps) more than I do the fellowship. I go to the gym, read books, love photography, travel a lot and have a lot of other ‘outside’ involvement with life which is, after all, the last part of the 12th Step which states, “practice these principles in all our affairs.” I don’t live in AA meetings – if I did I think I’d go bloody mad. An AA meeting is really a more formal – ‘one alcoholic working with another’. I know that there are some members of AA who probably assume that someone so long sober still coming to meetings is on an ego trip or whatever. There is not much I can do about that. I go for myself to maintain and ‘grow’ in my own sobriety. For me sobriety is not just about not drinking – it is living with a healthy mindset of thinking of others and trying to keep off the negative aspects of focusing on my own case. I get uplifted, inspired and have peace of mind when I can help another person to not only stay sober but get up and kick goals in life. This is working the 12 Steps – it embraces all aspects of life. An AA meeting should be an introductory platform only which should lead newcomers to getting some sponsorship with someone to help them through the steps. Unfortunately, there is too much emphasis on meetings rather than working the 12 Steps of AA. I know I could be accused of heresy for saying this but if one is practising the 12 Steps, you are interacting with other alcoholics anyway – which is, in my view, the kernel of the ‘fellowship’ that a meeting is supposed to provide. It is the lack of this perspective that has led to the perception that AA is only about meetings.