Alcoholics Anonymous is almost always portrayed in the media in a positive way. The popular view is that this is a hugely successful organization that has helped countless former drunks escape from misery by living one day at a time – the thousands of scenes used in TV shows and movies add to this image of the group. This positive opinion is not universal though – in fact there seems to be an increasingly negative view of Alcoholics Anonymous developing in recent years. A vocal minority of individuals are willing to go so far as to say they hate AA and accuse the organization of all types of wrongdoing. It is bit sad really. Why have things ended up this way? How can one drunk trying to help another be a wicked thing?
My Experience with Alcoholics Anonymous
I need to admit right here that I was once a member of AA. This means that my views here are not going to be impartial. I first started attending in my teens and once managed to go to a meeting every day for two whole years. There were times that I disliked the organization, but it never reached the stage where I started to hate AA. I could see that it worked for some people – a lot of reformed drunks would likely be dead if it wasn’t for this twelve step program. Despite whatever criticism of AA exists there is no doubting that it has brought benefit to people’s lives.
The Reasons Why People Might Hate AA
I think that AA has been a victim of its own success. It is the most well-know treatment option in the world. In some parts of the world it seems to be almost the only recovery path on offer. I remember the first treatment center that I attended insisted that we go to these meetings every day during our stay. I don’t doubt that those running these treatment facilities mean well, but I also feel sure that the early founders of AA never meant it to have members who were coerced into attending. It would be nice to contact a hotline for alcoholism and not have people insist that AA is the best option.
I think another reason why people hate AA is that some members of the groups are quite loud in their opinion that the meetings are the only solution for drunks. They seem to be against any type of further research into addiction and believe that AA should be the only option on the table. If you say that you are doing fine without the meetings they will either accuse you of being a ‘dry-drunk’ on the verge of drinking again. They might even say that you were never were an alcoholic to begin with. This sort of closed-minded attitude puts people off.
Good Reasons Not to Hate Alcoholics Anonymous
Despite all its flaws though, I believe that the twelve-steppers offer a real treatment option for some drunks. The group can provide a lot more than just a way of staying off the drink. Some people really blossom in the program and go on to live fantastic lives that benefit themselves and everyone around them. Those of us who do not belong to AA can likewise live amazingly happy and productive lives. It doesn’t have to be that one way is right and the other wrong – it is what works for the person.
I think a problem for organization like AA is that many of us have an all or nothing attitude. We view things as either good or bad. This means that if we find out that there are flaws evident in some members of the group then this must mean that it is all bad. The criticisms of AA also seem to be contradictions. On one hand people accuse it of being a cult while on the other hand they say that it can’t hold onto members. It can’t really be much of a cult if it is unable to hold onto members – can it?
As I say, I no longer use AA but this does not mean that there is a need for me to dislike it. Alcoholics Anonymous helps a lot of people and I’m grateful that it is there for them. This group does not work for everyone but that alone is not a reason to hate them – no treatment option is perfect.