What is your opinion on/impression of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Posted to http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/EFTCoaa/

What is your opinion on/impression of Alcoholics Anonymous?  I know some people see it as a cult of sorts. Also, have you ever been to a meeting?

Not favorable. I've attended hundreds of meetings in 5 states since 1982. (They're about as different as different MacDonalds.) If they are not a cult,
they are at least cult-like. Of course, I'd say that about any organization that promised me that if I left the fold, I'd die.
For years I was told that AA was the only way to quit drinking. I was repelled by the religious aspects of the program and all the people running around claiming that AA is "spiritual, not religious" doesn't change the fact that a 6-year old would call it religious. People kept telling me that I must have gotten it wrong, or gone to a few bad meetings, that anyone regardless of religious beliefs is welcomed with open arms.
Page 77 of the Big Book states, "Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." How can anyone claim that this is not religious? Every time the question has been put before a higher court, the final decision is that AA is at least "religious in nature".
Some will claim you can choose any god you want, but in practice, your god must be a deity with the same micro-managing attributes as everyone elses. AA evolved out of a Christian sect, the Oxford Group.

The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps
But even if you can accept the bastardized Christianity of AA, with no Free Will, miracles on demand, and the idea that alcohol is so powerful that even God can't fix it, only grant a daily reprieve, the powerless concept is another story and perhaps the most damaging aspect of 12step treatment. It is contrary to most therapies where a person is empowered in order to make positive changes in their lives. How powerlessness affects alcoholics:
"In a sophisticated controlled study of A.A.'s effectiveness (Brandsma et. al.), court-mandated offenders who had been sent to Alcoholics Anonymous for several months were engaging in FIVE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got no treatment at all, and the A.A. group was doing NINE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got rational behavior therapy.
"Those results are almost unbelievable, but are easy to understand -- when you are drunk, it's easy to rationalize drinking some more by saying,
" "Oh well, A.A. says that I'm powerless over alcohol. I can't control it, so there is no sense in trying. I'm doomed, because I already took a drink. I'm
screwed, because I already lost all of my sober time. Might as well just relax and enjoy it. Pass that bottle over here, buddy." "
And that's not as disturbing as the Vaillant study
( http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#Vaillant )\
which showed that the success rate of AA was the same as no treatment at all (5%) but had a mortality rate SIX times higher (3% vs. 0.5%, mostly from suicide).
As an atheist, I was told that it was impossible to get sober without God, that I was going to end up dead and drunk in a gutter. As a human being, I was told that I was powerless and unless God chose to grant me a daily reprieve, I was doomed.
AA wouldn't be so bad if they would admit they are religious, and they did not actively persue new members by petitioning the courts:
Over 60% of people who join AA do so due to mandates of the courts, other government agencies or employee assistance programs. Considering this is a violation of the Establishment Clause, this practice should be illegal and has been declared so in at least 16 states; yet, it still occurs. Forcing people into inappropriate treatment that doesn't work is self-defeating. AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. Because of their practices, they are creating a new sub-class of people, the ex-AA member. And some of us are unhappy with the experience.
Nope, don't think much of the program.
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