NY Times Story Affirms AA’s Effectiveness

by Mark H.

A well-researched, academic probe into AA’s effectiveness found what many of us already know: AA is still the best way to find recovery from alcohol addiction…and its free to low cost (your choice).

While we can’t reprint the entire story here (copyright restrictions), we’ll offer some highlights. To read the entire story, see:

Among other things, the NY Times reports:

*An updated systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration found that A.A. leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other common treatments.

*These results demonstrate A.A.s effectiveness in helping people not only initiate, but sustain abstinence and remission over the long term, said the reviews lead author, John F. Kelly, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.

*Studies generally show that other treatments might result in about 15 percent to 25 percent of people who remain abstinent. With A.A., its somewhere between 22 percent and 37 percent (specific findings vary by study).

*Another study found that for each additional A.A. meeting attended, health care costs fell by almost 5 percent, mostly a result of fewer days spent in the hospital and fewer psychiatric visits. …The bonds formed from the shared challenge of addiction building trust and confidence in a group setting may be a key ingredient to help people stay on the road to recovery.

*Worldwide, alcohol misuse and dependence are responsible for 3.3 million deaths per year, 10 times the number of fatalities from all illicit drugs combined. In the United States, alcohol is a larger killer than other drugs; accounts for the majority of all addiction treatment cases; and is responsible for at least $250 billion per year in lost productivity and costs related to crime, incarceration and health care. Moreover, American deaths related to alcohol more than doubled between 1999 and 2017.

AA Criticisms

I have read some online criticisms of AA such as AA is too religious.My take: True, AA has some Christian overtones and some in AA push it, but not much. I am not a Christian. In 32 years of attending AA and 32 years of continuous sobriety, I have felt welcomed.

Most times, most in AA try real hard to be non-denominational. Its even in its literature and 12 Steps. I have been pushed harder to become a Christian at airports and on the streets. Honestly, putting up with the odd bible-thumper now and then is nothing compared to dying or ending up in jail because of active alcohol addiction.

Also, if an AA club is too religious, and I’ve been to some, just leave and find another meeting. There are hundreds of them out there.

Rumor: AA is depressing, talks about depressing things too much and is full of too many head cases. My take: People who say this have never been to many AA meetings. We talk about our issues in order to understand them and break through into recovery and lead good lives. We don’t wallow in our sorrows. We don’t have to because in AA, we learn from them and move on, focusing on recovery and the future. There are people with mental illness everywhere, not just in AA. I have seen many people recover from what bugs them and move on to happy lives over the long term.

AA is not perfect, but what is in life? Give AA a try, the only thing you have to lose is your misery!


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