Is Alcoholics Anonymous Bad or Good?

At a certain point, struggling to overcome an alcohol use disorder can require the help of a community of people. Indeed, the help of other people can do much to keep us accountable and moving forward in life; too often, it becomes easy to feel as though our drinking or the drinking of a loved one is literally out of control. But when it comes to alcohol use disorders, seeking help is also a sign of bravery and personal responsibility.

In fact, seeking help is often a difficult but necessary first step towards a better life. What AA Is and How It Works To this end, many people wonder whether Alcoholics Anonymous is right for them or right for a loved one. Alcoholics Anonymous is by now a famous organization; for years, AA has been depicted in a variety of television shows and movies. Sometimes these depictions in the media are accurate; at other times, they are heavily romanticized or exaggerated. But one thing is true of Alcoholics Anonymous: AA groups do tend to meet frequently and do tend to take matters of alcohol addiction very seriously.

Meetings tend to involve serious, frank, and often very private discussions around alcohol addiction and personal struggles with alcohol use. In these environments, accountability is heavily emphasized; many members of AA tend to swear by the organization for this fact alone. Towards a Brighter Future And of course, many AA groups also pride themselves on the level of privacy that is afforded to members.

Whether someone is famous or obscure in an AA group is a seemingly meaningless distinction. Participation in AA requires that members do not discuss the problems of other members outside of meetings. This honor code is extremely strict. Yet the level of privacy conferred on AA members is often a very comforting facet of the organization. This is especially true for people who have difficulty confiding in others. Such a code of personal confidence often makes AA feel like an extraordinarily tight-knit community to outsiders.

At a typical AA meeting, an attendee might experience:

  • Regular small talk.
  • Discussions related to personal progress.
  • Discussions about shared personal experiences.
  • “Personal inventories”: Behaviors that members would like to address and change.

To Participate or Not To Participate So if AA is this helpful to people, why do some people avoid it? This may have something to do with the spiritual dimension of AA as an organization. Indeed, it would be strange to talk about AA without discussing the religious undertones of AA meetings. People in AA tend to contrast matters over which they have control against matters over which they have no control.

There is a belief that is current in AA circles that suggests that a higher power is at work in the universe, and that individual human beings must recognize that they are subject to the force of that power. Seeking Perspective At base, this is only another way of saying that we have limitations as human beings and that we should not expect perfection from ourselves.

Moreover, some people who attend AA meetings simply choose not to engage with a religious interpretation in the concept of a higher power. To such people, a higher power may simply refer to the laws of physics rather than God. Because it is a close-knit community defined by a hierarchy of long-term and short-term members, moreover, AA as a whole can sometimes resemble a church or a religious movement. Some individuals find this sense of “religiosity” as it pertains to AA as a whole unappealing.

They may seek to avoid notions of “insiders” and “outsiders” and the personal differences that these artificial boundaries engender. A Personal Choice To wit, how a person responds to AA and whether Alcoholics Anonymous will help them will depend on a variety of factors. Some people may find comfort in group settings and references to a higher power. Others may find that the social landscape of a typical AA meeting is too restrictive or difficult to navigate. Similarly, some people may find that the emphasis on personal accountability in AA meetings can be life-changing in its positive effects.

At the end of the day, an individual’s personality will probably determine how manageable they find the program. Whether Alcoholics Anonymous is right for a particular person will depend on their own views and life experiences. But it is important to note that there are many ways to treat an alcohol use disorder: AA is just one tool among many to solve a complicated issue. If you or a loved one require help, get in touch today at 844-639-8371!

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