Thursday, March 31, 2016

Frivolous lawsuit against AAWS dismissed

I have discussed in three previous blog entries Karla Brada's tragic death and the frivolous lawsuit Karla's family brought against AA World Services (AAWS). Anyone who was not a fanatic anti-stepper could see that the lawsuit has no merit -- how can AAWS be responsible for a relationship that did not even start in an AA meeting, much less a domestic violence incident that happened in a private residence? 

The courts agreed: The lawsuit against AAWS has been dismissed (mirror). While the murderer is still a party to the lawsuit, the judge decided that AA could not possibly be held responsible for something that had nothing to do with AA.

My prayers are with the Brada family that they can find peace and happiness. Hopefully, by having AAWS dismissed as a defendant, they can move on beyond what has been a misplaced resentment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Let’s look at one of the 25%

The numbers I have seen, for long term sobriety of people who really try the AA program, is about 75%, with most of the remaining 25% showing improvement. I haven't found any numbers more recent than the 1970s where a study says "We looked at this number of alcoholics. This number of people were really serious of the program; of those people, this percent got sober." The 1970s numbers I have seen, from The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, are that roughly 75% of those serious about working the program stay sober. 

The figures which claim a 5% or 8% or 10% success rate are numbers which include any alcoholic who has been to even one AA meeting and decided not to return; those numbers are not valid, for the same reason we do not judge the success of fitness programs by looking at people who do not exercise, or judge the success of chemotherapy by looking at the people who do not take chemotherapy. Working the AA program is defined as attending meetings once a week or more, getting a sponsor, and working the steps as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book -- to say AA is a failure because a large percentage of alcoholics refuse to do that (because -- this is based on my own personal experience talking to newcomers after meetings and then calling them up when I don't see them at meetings -- most people who are exposed to AA still want to drink) is downright intellectually dishonest.

So, even with this 75% success rate, what about the other 25%? I think I have found on the web a an example of someone who just does not have a positive reaction to the 12-step program. Now, I could be a circa 1990 AA fanatic and assert that someone like this deserves to drink again because they're too stubborn to accept the God thing. But, since I actually work the program as written in the 164, "love and tolerance of others is [my] code." 

What do I suggest for someone like this? First of all, I would like to commend Dick for trying really hard to work the program, and I think there are people out there who just can not have a spiritual experience as described in the Big Book, not even the gradual kind as described in the "Spiritual Experience" appendix. Do I think these people are doomed to an alcoholic death? Not necessarily.

Dick is saying he's trying SMART recovery. He hasn't said, in the comments, whether it is giving him continuous sobriety, but it seems more appealing to him than the traditional AA program. Another option for Dick is to go to AA, but only to agnostic meetings, such as the ones listed here:

Since I have worked the program as written in the 164, I have learned the principle of "Live and let live." I appreciate Dick's honesty  and wish him the utmost in getting and staying sober.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Some quick bookmarks

Some quick bookmarks: 

"the efficacy of 12-step programs (and 12-step facilitation) in treating alcohol dependence has been established" 

"the results of one well-designed investigation called Project Match, published in 1997, suggest that AA can facilitate the transition to sobriety for many alcoholics" 

"research suggests that AA is quite a bit better than receiving no help [...] Of those who attended at least 27 weeks of AA meetings during the first year, 67 percent were abstinent at the 16-year follow-up, compared with 34 percent of those who did not participate in AA" 

"Frequent AA attenders had superior drinking outcomes to non-AA attenders and infrequent attenders."

Monday, March 14, 2016

AA is like antibiotics

Your doctor told you to never to take only one antibiotic. Unless you take a pill twice a day until the bottle is empty, the antibiotic will not be effective. 

Likewise, Alcoholics Anonymous is not going to be effective unless you do what is suggested: Regular attendance at meetings and working the 12 steps as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. 

Lance Dodes, in his anti-Alcoholics Anonymous polemic (When calling this book a "polemic", I am quoting The New York Times, which called the book a "polemical and deeply flawed book"), argues that AA doesn't work because only some small percentage of people who attend even one meeting get sober and stay sober. 

This is a meaningless number; the majority of alcoholics out there do not want to get better. AA is a program for people who want it, not for people who need it. In fact, there has never been developed an alternate treatment which is more effective than AA -- AA, or any other treatment, is only going to be as effective as the percentage of alcoholics who want to get sober.

Valliant, in his classic The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, has a table on page 197. I ran the math on this table: 74% of the people who went to 300+ meetings had stable remission, 21% of the 300+ meetings attenders had intermittent alcoholism, and only 5% of people who went to 300 or more meetings were still chronic alcoholics -- numbers, that, interestingly enough, agree with the figures in the preface to the second edition of AA's own Big Book, which states that 50% got sober right away, 25% got sober after relapsing, and the rest showed improvement.

So, yes, Alcoholics Anonymous works. As long as you take all of the pills in the bottle: Making a habit of going to meetings and working the steps with a sponsor. Claiming the AA doesn't work because most alcoholics do not work it is dishonest.