Is Alcoholics Anonymous Effective? Research Shows AA Fails 95% of Those Seeking Help

Published: 05th June 2009
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"Alcoholics Anonymous hardly sounds like a 'proven method,'" says Melanie Solomon, author of a new book showing alternatives to AA for treating alcohol and substance abuse. "In fact, it doesn't work for most people."

A recovered pill addict who found AA morally defeating, Solomon wrote her newly released 2nd Edition of "AA Not the Only Way," to shed light on alternative methods and treatment programs that work as well or better than AA.

Solomon is quick to acknowledge the contribution AA has made to those it has helped but suggests the numbers are just too staggering not to explore alternatives for those not being served well by 12-step approaches. So when asking the question, "is alcoholics anonymous effective," the answer depends on what your definition of "effective" is.

"Only 5% of those who seek AA for help remain in the program after one year," says Solomon, citing an internal AA document that contains data from five surveys conducted from 1977 to 1989. The numbers show:

• 81% of AA attendees are gone after one month
• 90% are gone after three months
• 93% leave by six months
• 95% abandoned the program after one year

In fact, 45% of those who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings never return after their first meeting.

Yet even with all of this research, "93-97% of conventional drug rehab and alcohol treatment centers are 12-step or AA-based, so those who have left AA to look elsewhere for help, are essentially rejoining AA," notes Solomon.

She found herself seeking help from AA while attending law school, attending the required 90 meetings in 90 days and found that saying she is an alcoholic over and over is a negative affirmation bringing about only negative consequences.

"They sought to convince me I was the victim of an incurable, progressive and fatal disease, that there was no way out, and that I must give up my own thinking to a higher power," she adds. "But the result was that it made me feel weaker, sicker, and out of control."

She went through twelve years of the vicious cycle of rehab, sober living, AA meetings, and relapses. She has found alternative treatments to AA, and now, at age 36, she finally feels free. She now devotes her life to researching recovery options, and then sharing these findings with others through her seminars, website, and most currently through the newly released 2nd Edition of her book, "AA Not the Only Way; Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives."

Some surveys and studies show the most effective way to recover is actually through self-treatment, rather than a program. Although a Harvard study shows only 20% of all alcoholics kick the habit for good, of those that do recover as many as 77-82% did it on their own without the use of a formal program.

"One-size-fits-all treatment is not possible," Solomon says. "Treatments must be as diverse as the people seeking it. But that said, AA works for some people--maybe 5%. Certainly it is not for everyone."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse seems to agree, stating "No single treatment program is right for everybody. Matching the treatment program to each individual's needs is critical to success."

Leading U.S. addiction expert Dr. Marc Kern states, "I have long awaited this directory of addiction treatment alternatives. It represents what I believe to be the future of the field. It is a pioneering effort to organize this unique body of knowledge. A directory of this type was never available before."

Dr. Frederick Rotgers, another leading addiction expert explains, "The problem is finding treatment providers who provide these alternative, evidence-based approaches. Melanie Solomon has taken a wonderful step toward making that process, of identifying alternatives to traditional treatments, easier."

"It is finally time to stop living in the dark ages of recovery, educate people about all of their choices and alternatives that are out there. Maybe we will start making a dent in the alcohol and drug use problem that millions are facing each day instead of continuing to perpetuate it," says Solomon.

About the Author:

Melanie Solomon is the author of the highly anticipated 2nd Edition of "AA-Not the Only Way; Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives". Please visit AA Not the Only Way for more information or to sign up for your FREE discussion forum membership and updates. Before you make any decisions regarding your treatment plan, please be sure to get this excellent FREE report on how to get your most effective treatment, available at Alcoholic Help for Families She has also spoken to teens at The Huntington Beach School District Drug & Alcohol Program, and led workshops at The Learning Annex in California. Solomon offers a FREE first time 15-30 minute phone consultation where you can discuss your greatest challenges and how to overcome them, as well as your dreams and the outcomes you are trying to achieve. To schedule a free session, contact her through her website at aa alternatives

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