Alcoholics Anonymous and all twelve step programs get a bad reputation, but they save millions of lives. Don’t go running before you know the truth about AA. As it is often said, try a meeting three times and if you don’t like it…try another one.
Myth #1: AA Is A Christian Program
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous spent a lot of time doing spiritual research. The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous was written incorporating many themes from religious texts, philosophy, psychology, science, and personal experience. In the book, philosopher William James is cited. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist and dream analyst worked closely with Bill Wilson, one of the founders. The authors are rumored to have researched spirituality deeply before creating the book. Importantly, though they use the term “God”, they are referring to a “High Power” which they define in the twelve steps as being “As you understand Him”. While AA is a spiritual program, it is not a religious program. Often it is joked, you can pray to a door knob if you like, but it’s probably not a power greater than yourself that’s great enough.
Myth #2: AA Is Full Of Old, Cranky Men
Alcoholics Anonymous definitely has its share of old men, even some cranky ones! However, those “old timers” have typically been sober for decades and when they pass away, they die with 30-50 years or more of sobriety. AA is all inclusive to men and women of any kind who are in need of a solution for the problem of alcohol. Youth are exposed to alcoholism, as well. Many local organizations form to support young people in recovery, hosting conventions, parties, and events for young people to fellowship and find solidarity in recovery.
Myth #3: AA Doesn’t Work Because It Isn’t Science
Alcoholics Anonymous was formed in a time when science was lacking in an answer for alcoholism. Nothing seemed to help an increasing amount of men and women who were close to losing their lives to alcohol. Wet brain syndrome, liver damage- there were not yet medical procedures to help treat alcoholism. Alcoholics were kept in hospitals or sent to psychiatric wards. When word started spreading of a “spiritual solution” and a “practical program” for recovery, doctors found themselves astonished, because it was working. The Big Book begins with a chapter called “The Doctor’s Opinion” in which Dr. Silkworth, the treating doctor for Bill Wilson, describes the miracle yet effectiveness of the AA program.
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