*This is from a blog I wrote in 2012, i am reprinting it here today.  I wrote this a month after leaving 12 step rehab— feeling a bit shaken, but not stirred. *

A Slap In The Face

Evidently, it doesn’t seem to matter to drug and alcohol counselors that Alcoholics Anonymous virtually ignores the facts about women and alcoholism.  Women don’t drink like men do. For one thing, women have a lower percentage of water in their bodies, which means a woman who drinks the same amount as a man will have a higher blood alcohol content.  THIS is fact. Alcohol related problems for women, however, are dealt with the guidelines developed for men. Why? Because of Alcoholics Anonymous.  A program developed for men.  A program that uses a book written in 1935, no less.  That book, The Big Book, is even used in treatment centers for women.  Even though, the book was obviously written for men.  There’s even a chapter titled, “To Wives.”  Not to mention, since most female alcoholics also have past histories of childhood or sexual traumas, it makes even LESS sense to subject them to such an inconsiderate, sexist program such as AA.

On another note, Alcoholics Anonymous is also a “spiritual” program.  Even though alcoholism is a known and recognized medical disease**, the best known cure doctors and therapists still recommend is AA? Even if you’re not put off by spirituality, you might be put off by the fact that AA doesn’t use vague terms.  AA uses “God,” and a male God at that.  For many women who have a history of rape, perhaps the idea of an all-powerful male deity coming to the rescue might not be very helpful.  In fact, it could have the opposite effect.  Consider the 12 Steps themselves:  Step 3 is, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Psychologically, Alcoholics Anonymous re-traumatizes women.  It creates an atmosphere of women being treated as secondary.  This lowers a women’s self-esteem.  Alcoholics are supposed to rebuild their self-esteem.  Instead, AA tells a woman she has a problem, and then goes and slaps her in the face for having one.  What I have to wonder is, how many women tried AA, found it insulting and nauseating, and started to drink again only to die from alcoholism?  So, Alcoholics Anonymous, what’s YOUR problem?  Are you there to save lives or to stubbornly refuse to CHANGE your ineffective program because you’re scared to help more people?

Juliet Abram

Author’s Note: **I was told repeatedly in rehab (again) that alcoholism was a medical disease, and took the angle that, if it WAS a disease, that would rule out AA as medically sound.  I do not personally hold the view that addiction is a disease.**

ALSO: Filming for The 13th Step documentary is COMPLETE!! So excited!  Very happy news, and a fantastic job by Monica Richardson.