Discussion > Attorney

Dear Dr. Dodes,
1. To the best of my knowledge, there is no science behind AA.
2. Notwithstanding some individual promotion, AA still values anonymity.
3. I do not think that anyone in AA would quibble with the five-ten percent figure.
4. In my profession, anecdotes are not considered sufficient evidence to establish any conclusions.
5. To my knowledge, people in AA do not disparage treatment. From what I have seen, a "treatment" model consisting primarily of AA, is not being funded by government agencies specifically because it provides no measurement tools.
6. "Carrying the message" is not intended to be "proselytizing." See #2 above.
7. AA keeps to itself. It is self-supporting. It pays its own rent and asks nothing from anybody.
8. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling a few years ago said it was unconstitutional for a court to order anyone to go to AA.
9. AA was not started with Bill Wilson's bright religious experience. It was started when he, and Dr. Bob Smith discovered that one alcoholic talking to another could make a difference.
10. I suspect that the overwhelming number of people in AA are completely unconcerned about what it looks like to others like yourself. It is curious to me that it seems to pop up as a whipping boy every now and then.
OK by me. Knock yourself out as they say, or used to say.
David L. Hagan

March 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid L. Hagan

Dear Mr. Hagan,

Thanks for your post. The reason that AA is often criticized ("pops up as a whipping boy") is that it occupies an extraordinarily important position in our society, seen by a majority as the best or only way to approach addiction, yet has a very poor success rate and harms many of those not helped. If AA critiqued itself and altered its approach in recognition of its limitations, it would rise in the estimation of many and would not require outsiders to critique it. The fact that AA members are, as you said, unconcerned with the criticism of others, is an essential flaw common to closed belief systems.
AA is important to those who can make use of it, but it should actively take responsibility to counsel out those who are not benefitting, rather than encouraging them to come to still more meetings, and should monitor its groups to ensure that they are not cruel or punitive, as many reports have described. If it accepted responsibility for its failures, not just its successes, AA would receive a good deal less criticism from others.

March 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLance Dodes, M.D.

Dear Dr. Dodges,
I don't think you understand how AA works. Maybe it is the word "organization" that confuses people. There is no authority in AA. Nobody speaks for the "organization."
If an individual is hurting people while supposedly applying the principals of AA, that individual is responsible. AA has no enforcement system. It is not possible for there to be "management" in AA. The "organization" can not change the program or dictate what goes on at meetings.
I speak as an individual, not for AA. If someone ever tells you they represent AA, keep your hand on your wallet.
If someone is abusing the AA name, that is unfortunate, but there is no remedy. AA is not a "brand" and never has been.
The gravestones of Bill Wilson and Bob Smith make no mention of AA. That in itself is the essence of the program. In my opinion the world could use a little more of that kind of humility.
Thank you for your response.
David L. Hagan

March 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAttorney

I spent a summer going to AA meetings trying to "fit myself" into the program. But at the end it just didn't work for me. I wished it had b/c there's not many "free" programs that can help me. I stopped going and continue to fight with addiction everyday on my own. There were plenty of people at the meetings who claimed that AA helps them so it must be doing something beneficial. My conclusion is that it wasn't the program, it's that the program didn't fit with me.

March 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

I agree. You have to find what works. Good luck.
P.S. Who is "K?"

March 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAttorney

Sorry, I was thinking your post was another reply from Dr. Dodes. Then I realized you were someone else adding to the discussion.
I was not paying attention. Still good luck. Anything you can do to get away from the demon is good.

March 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAttorney