3 recent articles about AA

truman11Here’s a rundown of a few recent positive articles about 12 step recovery.

First, Meghan O’Gieblyn interrogates Gabrielle Glaser’s widely circulated takedown of AA:

Last April, the Atlantic published a feature-length takedown of America’s longest-standing mutual-aid fellowship. “The False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous” was the work of Gabrielle Glaser, who delivered the bad news in dry and dismal statistics. According to modern studies, AA’s success rate is between 5 and 8 percent. Glaser claimed she was surprised by the numbers (“I assumed as a journalist that AA worked”), though the article betrayed a longstanding skepticism. Over the past few years, Glaser has been advancing the message in major news organs that twelve-step programs are bad for everyone, including women (Wall Street Journal), teenagers (New York Times), heroin addicts (Daily Beast), South Africans (Marie Claire) and doctors (Daily Beast again). But at eight thousand words, the Atlantic article was longer and received far more attention than her earlier publications. It also offered the most complete formulation of her case. “The problem is that nothing about the 12-step approach draws on modern science,” Glaser wrote, “not the character building, not the tough love, not the 28-day rehab stay.” If alcoholism is truly a disease, why is the default treatment a spiritually oriented support group run by nonprofessionals?

Second, Jessica Gregg, M.D., Ph.D. encourages doctors to think twice before dismissing 12 step groups:

Addiction has long been medicine’s unwanted stepchild. Doctors didn’t understand it, didn’t know how to treat it and felt helpless in the face of the wreckage it brought to their patients’ lives. As a result, while providers addressed the consequences of addiction — endocarditis, liver failure, seizures, overdose — they rarely treated the disease itself. That mysterious task has been left to others: counselors, peers in recovery and 12-step programs.

Third, Tori Utley examines criticism of AA in the media:

In recent years, reports of the failures of Alcoholics Anonymous have continued, challenging the foundational programming of the 12 steps. With the majority of treatment programs being based on the methodology founded initially in the 1930s by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio, many wonder why these programs are still followed and why we put any confidence in 12-step programs at all.

With conflict about the issue surfacing in the medical and clinical communities, numerous sources have arose to dispute the 12-step methodology.


2 thoughts on “3 recent articles about AA

  1. Ms. Glaser should not write about something she does not understand. Dr. Gregg seem to “get it”. Science and medicine will never be the answer to a spiritual (not religious) and emotional dis-ease. The challengers of AA are typically 1. Pharmaceutical companies wanting to make billions with Rx opiates, primarily Suboxone. 2. Doctors running pill/Suboxone mills.3. Individuals who think doctors know all when most no nothing about addiction (even doctors who got their “8 hours online training” to prescribe Suboxone). 4. Those not willing or ready for recovery. This is my opinion.


  2. I think Ms Glaser should not compare a group of well meaning individuals who want to help each other with medical professionals. If I were your next door neighbor and you asked me what to take for a headache would you blame me if I told you to drink some pepsi cola and it did not work.
    AA is being asked to produce results comparable to medical doctors and other addiction specialists or be marked as irrelevant or even demonized. It is not a good comparison. Do you expect your Grandmother to heal your cancer. No. You go to a doctor. MDs are in charge of the health in their communities, not support groups.
    Addiction medicine is a mess, but it is not because of layman. It is because of medical professionals and others who failed to do their duty. They were happy to let someone else take care of a this health care problem and now they seem to be happy to let another organization take the blame for what has always been their responsibility.
    Do we blame the Boy Scouts for the enemy in our backyard or do we blame the army who is charged with defending our country?
    (I’m not an AA guy, but I am tired of them being scapegoated for other peoples failures.) Those failures don’t just include doctors, the US Congress and Insurance companies all thought their opinions were important too.


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