Does AA want members to get better?

When I went to inpatient treatment, the 12 Steps were taught as if they were the only method that worked.  For 2 months, over a dozen women and myself were trotted to AA meetings where we heard AA did work, if we “worked it.”  In rehab, the counselor stated the effectiveness like this: “Look around the room, ladies, only 1 out of 6 of you will make it.”

Excuse me, but 1 out of 6?  That’s like opening up a new roller coaster knowing that 5 of every 6 seats are going to fail, and filling up the ride anyway.


Relapse is expected in recovery.  That lowers the odds even more since AA success equals abstinence.  I’ve heard it was because of the low success in AA that relapse was added as a symptom of the disease- so failure meant AA still worked.  It must be convenient to add symptoms to a disease when the recovery method doesn’t work, right?

The first edition of AA’s Big Book stated:  “Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person… we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.” (1) Advantages such as expecting low expectations for yourself, and accepting poor results?
If you are feeling too good in AA, you’re on a “pink cloud.”  Those who aren’t feeling well are “dry drunks.”  In the middle, everyone else is sober but “still sick.”  It can be three years sober or twenty-nine, but an AA member will promptly admit: “It’s been over ten years since I picked up a drink.  I may be sober, but I’m still sick.”


Naturally, one cannot keep attending AA meetings for the rest of their lives if they weren’t in need of treatment.  One sip can trigger a full blown relapse.  Years of being dry and there are still cravings and urges.  A bad day at the office and a yelling match with a spouse becomes: “It was my alcoholism flaring up again.”  Some will not touch food made with or containing alcohol or use hand sanitizer,

If an AA member announces they are fully “recovered” it incites a roaring debate over whether or not a person is forever “in recovery” of if they’ve “recovered.”  The Big Book is picked apart and contradictions are found.  Some would never allow a drop of booze into their homes; Others will point to page 101: “…we MUST not have it in our homes; … we MUSTn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.” (2)

A sober AA member replaces booze with prayer, dependence on God, and passing on the 12 Steps to new members.  They give out their phone number and give rides to non-drivers.  They get a sponsor and then become a sponsor.  They show up early and stay late to all of those meetings they must attend frequently.  Active involvement in AA keeps one too busy to drink.  In the event someone had a shitty day, work sucked and their spouse is driving them nuts, I wonder if “needing a meeting” is just replacing “needing a drink.”  I wonder if alcoholism is really the problem.


Considering that AA’s grim prognosis for those who fail AA include “jail, institutions, and death,” it seems rather apathetic to offer no other remedies when only 1 in 6 will make it.   In treatment, the counselors seemed able to accept my discussing atheism but would not allow me to talk of alternative programs for sobriety.  It was as though my rebellion against AA was contagious and could doom others, who were already doomed to begin with.  Even though logic concludes my ideas might have saved some of those 5 out of 6, or would have made no difference at all.

Besides, who ever said if 5 out of 6 don’t stick with AA that they were failures- they might be better off without AA.  Who knows, they might not feel so sick anymore.

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