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Thursday, June 12. 2014
AA is a wonderful thing which has helped countless people, and countless patients of mine.
I have no idea why our internet friend thinks that we shrinks do not appreciate it immensely: Does AA Work? In fact, I have often said that there should be an AA for non-alcoholics. Its general approach could help people grow up even if they aren't drunks.
As we have posted in the past, the format of AA was based on a Methodist program for personal spiritual growth, and spiritual and emotional maturity.
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AA teaches us how to deal with life and should be taught to every child as part of the schooling process
Bill W .. codified the process of repentance.. (to turn away ..and walk in the other direction) We drink & drug because of "sin" (separation from God ) what Bill calls Character defects These look like fear ..resentment... self pity ..self righteousness untrust unforgiveness guilt shame and a host of others ..... What they all have in common is they are ALL UNCOMFORTABLE..
Only by changing these attitudes and beliefs do we find relief.
Step 3 Born again.. still walkin in the wrong direction but willing to change
Step 4 'Turn away from what?
Step 5 Confession
Step 6&7 Change ..start walking in the opposite direction ..don't do what I want to do ..do what I don't want to do ..because of free will God only helps after we take the first step...
Step 8&9 Atonement ...you owe sucka ..cause you took ...trust ..innocence ..love ..peace of mind ..hope ..money..time to pay back
Step 10 ..course correction ...4-9 every day
Soon after getting sober in AA (early 1989) I began consulting as a data-collection and patient-privacy consultant with a Federal agency that gives research grants in the substance abuse treatment field.
My experience with researchers - mostly psychologists but not a few psychologists, too - was that there was definite distrust bordering on hostility toward AA that has, as Dr. Schneiderman suggests, become at least less overt in recent years, and perhaps is fading away.
I have my own theories about the source of the animus within the research community, and would like to think that the increasing respect for AA in recent years is based on the mass of evidence that it works, and works well.
A large dataset that I worked with a few years ago determined that the best single predictor of long-term sobriety/clean time was the degree of involvement with 12-step programs. This dataset at that time included over 75,000 individuals with pre- and post-treatment assessments, some individuals followed over many years.
And, as an aside, yes, AA primarily treats "the ism" rather than alcohol, and most of us are wrestling with "the ism" to one degree or another. Almost anyone would benefit from the 12-steps.
Applying the AA concept to life is an interesting idea. My guess is it could help a significant number of people, but the concept of the "higher power" will drive some folks away. As an atheist, I was put off by the religious ambiance, but then for me, the "higher power" was the amazing utility and effectiveness of the group dynamic, which is therapeutic, inspires insight, and offers tangible hope. My experience was gained in Adult Children of Alcoholics, and for me, the organization was a life-saver. The religious aspects of AA can, I believe, be ignored by those who reject religion, and the benefit of the AA process can still be fully experienced. All one has to do is "keep coming back".
Some of us were introduced to AA principles early in life due to having family members who were alcoholics and thus getting help through Al-Anon. For some, like my uncle, AA took. For others, like my Dad, it never did because he would never admit had had a problem and then at some point he just didn't care he had a problem. I don't drink, not just because of Al-Anon but because of seeing too many people in my life who messed themselves up through drinking. I figured if you don't drink in the first place, you don't ever have to worry about whether you can handle it or not.
It was the Oxford Group meetings the Bill attended in New York at the Calvary Episcopal Church, run by Sam Shoemaker, that formed the basic structure of for A.A.'s Twelve Steps.
It had nothing to do with the Methodist Church.
"The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgment of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and from nowhere else."- Bill Wilson
The basic structure of the 12 steps is ..like I mentioned "repentance" which predates Sam Shoemaker .."Methodists" and Christianity itself .. Why do you think John The Baptist came first?.. can't follow God if yer walkin/ talkin/ thinkin /actin in the wrong direction..even if yer God is a doorknob..which hopefully he ain't. If you look at the steps ..allll the action stuff occurs before Step 11 ..it's a change of direction so you can follow..... about gettin rid a crap (sin/ defects) so you just might taste the spirit.........
Bye the way ..I'm sure he got this stuff from Sam S ..and yeah it's good for all humans ..not just us..
And all of that is true; repentance, forgiveness, and the rest that the Baptist preached on, and thousands of others down the ages.
But none of it was useful for the alcoholic that still suffers, until it was synthesized into a program of action in 1935 through the mind and out of the pen of Bill Wilson.
As I mentioned ..Bill codified the process ..cause the Bible certainly don't say how .. interesting point.. Bill corresponded with Carl Jung ..who failed to help Rowland H who was eventually instrumental in Bill's recovery .. Carl signed off
"spiritus contra spiritum" ..meaning the holy spirit counters the need for bottle spirits .. Carl Jung endorsement should be pretty good for the shrinks ..no?
I'll probably touch a nerve here, based on the comments, but it's just my two pennies' worth. I've sat in on an AA meeting as support and I've thumbed through the NA book before, and I got the impression that it replaced Christianity. If it does, it doesn't bother me. It's just what it is. I find the prayers to a higher power a little weird. Maybe a little empty and humanist. I know that abusing alcohol is sinful, but drinking in celebration with friends and family is a gift from God and deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian culture. Like all of his gifts, they can be twisted.
Am I wrong in thinking that AA was formed by Progressives during the Depression? Maybe I am remembering a history book incorrectly. But, Progressives have always been involved in the temperance movement.
Please don't get me wrong. I know for a fact that drinking too much can ruin your life, kill you, or worse. And I try to be practical and say if it does what you need it too, then that's a good thing. I just do not understand it at all. It seems as if it just replaces a harmful substance (alcohol) in an addictive personality with a harmless substance (group) without really addressing the addictive personality itself.
"Am I wrong in thinking that AA was formed by Progressives during the Depression?"
Founder Bill Wilson was from Wall Street. Co-Founder Bob Smith was a surgeon.
It is not related to the Temperance Movement.
AA is not anti-alcohol.
Alcoholism .. entails a mental "obsession" certain knowledge of a tried and true way ease the pain of life.... and a physical "allergy" where unlike normal folks having a bad day / good day / or a Tuesday..once the alcoholic takes a drink for relief or celebration..he can't stop.. so it's all too real. Only way out is to see "bad days" & Tuesdays differently...
Oh bye the way the "sin" part ain't about taking the drink ..it's about holding on to the resentment ..fear ...self pity.. self condemnation ..guilt and shame ..that causes the world to be an unbearable place ...
A concept like AA can work, IF the people taking part are voluntarily doing so and willing to put in the effort.
If not, you get a system not unlike the brainwashing sessions Chinese political prisoners are forced to go through, having to invent their "crimes" and then proclaim their disgust at themselves, often deprived food and forced to hard labour as punishment for those self-proclaimed "crimes" (sins really).