Sunday, January 10, 2010

AA Works...

I had a private email conversation with one of my favorite people the other day about how much information and opinion came up against AA when you searched for information via Google.  It started my head running down a path that seems to have been similar to many in the fellowship.

At my meeting last night, our speaker mentioned that "...of the dozens of guys he's sponsored through the years, about 1/2 of them recover from alcoholism..."  What's fascinating to me about his observation is exactly what I've heard stated from no less than a dozen different members in the past month - each with more than 10 years' experience on this path.  It's also roughly my experience (plus or minus about 15% - I've never tallied exactly).

AA is criticized in the blogosphere and  elsewhere because several studies have indicated that as few as about 1 in 20 folks who come to an AA meeting find a solution to their drinking problem.  The opinion then runs that this is even less than the number of people who simply decide to stop drinking at some point - and successfully do.  For that reason, they conclude that this thing doesn't work.  Some then conclude a whole bunch of other things.

I don't know if my friend has had other conversations around the blogosphere but there are at least 2 articles I came across this morning that are trending along with my thoughts.  Mary in Africa, one of the most talented authors I follow regularly, talks about "Asking the harder questions."  Danny, a blogger I generally follow but don't include in my BlogRoll because sometimes his tone is a little more harsh than I'd like to recommend (I'd happily go on a 12-step call with him though!), actually published an article written by Cliff, a member I know from another forum.  This article I think explains better than I've read recently why AA works for some better than others.

This has come close to motivating me once again to write that chapter I feel was left out of our Big Book: "Why it Works."  In my saner moments, I fully appreciate this chapter was left out for a reason.  However, my character defects still cry out when I see the program that I love - which clearly has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams - criticized or potentially diminished based on unjust appraisals.

What I've learned to do instead is simply to listen.  With gratitude in my heart for the grace that has given me my recovery, I can hear others' experience and appreciate their frustrations and when requested, offer my experience.  On a really good day, I can keep most of my opinions to myself.

AA works.


Mary Christine said...

You know, I can't seem to keep any opinion to myself these days. I think you did a nice job of writing about this without getting too strident. Not sure I could do that right now, but I might try.

AA works and it frustrates and sickens me to see people pervert and twist the truth into something else. To serve their own agenda - and sell a couple of books.

Mary LA said...

The bigger picture with global AA interests me very much -- in the last couple of years I have been to AA meetings in Wales, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Vietnam and manhattan. Many differences along cultural lines and many commonalities.

Perhaps it is about having the grace to accept what cannot be changed?

Syd said...

Ed, I can't comment from an AA perspective but my Al-anon perspective says that it works if a person is willing and wants the program as it is presented in the Big Book. And if a person wants to have a spiritual awakening, then it is there for them. There is nothing that I can do to change the hearts of others. I can only do my bit. I am powerless over what others write, think, or opine.

Danny S said...

"Forgive me Majesty...I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you my music is not!" (Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, 1984)


Wildcat said...

At the end of the day, I don't really care if it's a one-in-ten "success" rate or something else. Hey, we're not able to conduct a clinical trial here, so we'll likely never know. The point is that AA works for a lot of people (as does "just quitting" work for, apparently, a lot of people).

I reckon that most folks end up in AA just so they can get something they want (say, the courts or a spouse off their back; maybe a car to replace the one they totalled while drunk driving). If they quit AA when they get what they want, then that's good enough for them. Some of us, however, come to understand that The Program offers us something else that we want (say, for example, some sort of serenity or whatnot) and so we stick around.