Pros and Cons of Alcoholics Anonymous

Published On: June 10, 2015

In this blog post, we discuss the pros and cons of Alcoholics Anonymous.

But first, we take a brief look at AA…

Alcoholic Anonymous started in the USA over seventy years ago. AA teaches an abstinence-focused approach. Attendees are required to admit ‘powerlessness’ over their addiction to alcohol and that their lives have become ‘unmanageable’ as a result. Attendees are then told to look to a ‘power greater than themselves’ to restore ‘sanity’ in their life. This greater power invariably means God.

Pros of attending AA

First, we’ll look at the advantages of AA.

#1.   Highly structured environment

AA meetings are highly structured. A set timetable is presented and followed to the tee. You can find a meeting in your area by

#2.   Alcoholics gain from listening to each other’s experiences

Alcoholics see their disease in the open when other addicts talk openly about their addiction. New members thus learn to drop their defences. This environment allows addicts the opportunity to learn from one another in a low pressured environment. Peer learning is very effective in promoting long-term recovery.

#3.   AA prevents relapse

Many people in AA gain a powerful motivation to avoid relapse. Many members may not have family and friends to call on if relapse becomes a legitimate threat. AA fills this void and provides members without family and friends a powerful support network if the urge to relapse arises.

#4.   AA is free

Not everybody is able to fork out on private alcohol treatment costs. AA thus throws many addicts their only lifeline in seeking out help.

#5.   AA is international

AA meetings are global. This means people are able to access groups when travelling or when on holiday. Being abroad may act as a relapse trigger. Thus the availability of AA in the addict’s country of destination may help him or she avoid relapse.

Cons of attending AA

Now we’ll look at some of the cons of AA

#1.   Anonymity has led to abuse

The anonymity of AA has led some members to abuse other members. Many women have come forward to speak of sexual abuse and harassment suffered during of after AA meetings. AA’s policy of anonymity has protected those committing these crimes. Striking up a sexual relationship with others in the groups has been termed the ‘thirteenth step’. ‘Sponsors’ are those who’ve been in recovery for more than a year. Unscrupulous male sponsors have been known to prey on vulnerable female members who are new to the group.

#2.   Members may attend under court order

Those who’ve committed drink driving offences may attend AA in order to avoid prison. These people thus do not attend AA for the primary reason of getting into recovery but rather to avoid prison. These people may distract the group due to a lack of motivate to participate.

#3.   Young addicts may mix with a bad crowd

AA meetings may be frequented by ‘bad influences’. This could be addicts who attend infrequently. Young or vulnerable addicts may be taken advantage of by those with bad intentions. Vulnerable addicts may also be introduced to drugs by mixing with these people. If vulnerable group members socially mix with these people outside AA they risk developing an addiction to other substances. Some AA centres may even attract active drug pushers hoping to turn a profit from attending the group. Viewers of the American TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ will agree with this point.

#4.   AA is community-based

AA meetings take place in addicts’ local communities. This means addicts are not removed from bad influences such as certain places and people whilst help is supplied. This means relapse is more likely than for treatment carried out in residential alcohol rehab centre.

#5.   AA must not be confused with medical treatment or therapy

AA is educational in its approach. Sessions are conducted by lay people. AA is not akin to treatment provided by a residential rehabilitation clinic. Clinics provide medical treatment supervised by doctors, nurses and therapist. AA does not provide for this level of expertise.

#6.   AA is time-consuming

AA attendees could memorise the 12 steps in as little as two to three hours. However, AA recommends members ‘work the steps’ and ‘get a sponsor’. This takes considerable commitment on behalf of individual addicts. AA recommends ’90 sessions in 90 days’ where addicts must attend AA sessions every single day for three months. AA members warn newcomers not to get ‘overconfident’ and to ‘work the steps’ by attending AA meeting several times a week over several years. However, some may struggle to invest this amount of time in the process.

#7.   AA members have been known to turn on those who relapse

Those who relapse have reported a lack of support from the rest of the group. Members who relapse have been reprimanded for their relapse rather than supported.

#8.   AA comes with religious undertones

AA has non-secular origins. This background very much exists in modern-day AA meetings. Those who identify themselves as agnostic or atheist may struggle to adapt to AA’s religious atmosphere.

About Rehab 4 Alcoholism

Rehab 4 Alcoholism offers safe and secure alcohol addiction treatment throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Centres are typically residential in nature and offer a diverse range of treatment plans depending on the severity of addiction and personal wishes of the patient. Please call Rehab 4 Alcoholism today by dialling 0800 111 4108 or complete our enquiry form.

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