What Are The Pros And Cons of AA?
Do you have issues with alcoholism? If so, and you’re finding ways to live a sober life, you might have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or AA. You may have also heard that AA is effective in helping you overcome your alcohol dependence.
But what is AA anyway?
Alcoholics Anonymous is a popular 12-step program for addressing alcohol addiction. They have 12 principles that they live by:
- Admit you have no power over alcohol and your life has become chaotic.
- Believe that a higher could restore a healthy state of mind.
- Decide to turn your life over to God.
- Make a moral inventory of yourself.
- Admit your wrongdoings to God, to yourself, and to others.
- Be entirely ready to have God remove these wrongs.
- Humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.
- Make a list of everyone you have harmed and be willing to make it right with them.
- Make direct amends to such people where possible, except when doing so would harm them.
- Continue to take personal inventory and immediately admit when you make a mistake.
- Through prayer and meditation, seek to improve your contact with God, praying to know His will for you and the power to carry that out.
- After having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, share this message with other alcoholics, and practice these principles in your own life.
In the US as well as other parts of the world, many recovering alcoholics attend AA meetings. Many of them even say it’s effective, but you could still be wondering if it’s right for you.
Before you decide to join an AA group, it’s best to be informed about its pros and cons.
Pros of Alcoholics Anonymous
Meetings are very structured
AA meetings follow a certain order each time. This strict routine is there to make sure all members of the group are on the same page. Everyone will be able to share what’s on their mind, and everyone can learn from each other’s experiences. That way, each meeting time is maximized.
You can learn from the other members
AA meetings focus on group interactions and dynamics. In each meeting, members always share their struggles and successes with each other as they go along. The goal is to be as open to each other as possible, which helps you break down any barriers you may have put up for yourself. This way, you would be more open to sharing your own struggles with the group.
Also, AA members are taught to support each other, not to be judgmental or harsh. That environment encourages you to be open even more.
Your identity is hidden
You could be ashamed that people from the outside would know that you’re struggling with alcoholism. That’s where the “anonymous” in AA comes in. Your identity will not be revealed to anyone outside the group. Also, only people from your group would know about the things you share with them. Other AA groups won’t know. Everything said in the meeting room stays there.
AA is a proven method that prevents relapse
Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicates that many alcoholics who attended AA meetings do avoid drinking in the long run. Since every member of the group is motivated to stay sober, they can be each other’s inspiration. If you continue to struggle and think you might relapse, you can even call on your fellow members. Encouragement is just a call away.
AA groups are free of charge
AA is a great alternative if you can’t afford to go to private rehab centers. Joining an AA group will not cost you a penny.
Cons of Alcoholics Anonymous
Despite being effective and free to join, AA groups are not perfect. Here are some downsides you ought to know.
AA depends too much on interactions with others
AA is not the best if you are an introvert or have social anxiety. The focus on interactions with other members may make you really uncomfortable. Sharing difficult parts of your life with others may add to your anxious feelings.
You have to publicly declare yourself as an addict
One key aspect of AA is the compulsion to declare yourself as an “addict.” While it is true that you are suffering from an addiction, you might feel that they’re rubbing it in your face further. This can make you feel worse about yourself, and it does not help in your recovery process.
AA does not deal with the physical part of addiction
Facilitators of AA groups are not trained medical professionals. They cannot give you medications in case you need them to help combat your alcoholism. Also, AA in general does not address the physical and biological side of addiction.
AA meetings are time-consuming
Most AA groups will tell you that you must attend at least 90 meetings in 90 days. In other words, you need to go to daily meetings for at least three months, with each meeting lasting from one to two hours. This much commitment of time could be too burdensome for you, especially if you live a bit far from the meeting place.
Some members may not be taking things seriously
Some members of AA groups are just there to avoid staying in prison. Those caught driving under the influence (DUI), for example, have the option to attend AA meetings as a substitute for jail time. Thus, some AA members may not be as committed to recovery as you are. In turn, they can just cause trouble and become bad influences in the group.
If you happen to relapse, some members may treat you harshly
Though AA is touted to be a support group, some members are not very supportive of those who relapse. If you do, they put you in a bad light and shut you out instead of helping you get back on track.
Now that you know of these pros and cons, you can make a more informed decision.