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AA Success Rate: Is Alcoholics Anonymous Failing Us?

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Alcoholic Anonymous  has become one of the most sought out forms of recovery for alcoholism, yet many still question the AA success rate when it comes to long-term sobriety and relapse. The reason is because the majority of AA members are anonymous and aren’t reporting their success to anyone on a yearly basis.

Viewing AA Success Rate

So, knowing that anonymity plays a role, does this mean there are no concrete numbers indicating any form of success? If that were true and AA did not work, the fellowship wouldn’t be the size it is today, since it first started in 1935.  Looking further at the AA success rate, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous had indicated in its second edition, which was published in 1955, that AA helped 75 percent of alcoholics who had gone to meetings and “really tried.” It also stated that 50 percent got sober right away, and another 25 percent struggled for a while but eventually recovered. According to AA, these figures are based on members’ experiences.

Made up of over 2 million recovering alcoholics throughout the globe, Alcoholics Anonymous maintains a substantial success rate.  Despite the fact that some people become critics and throw harsh words at the program when they fail to remain sober, the AA success rate has remained steady as individuals have continued to show up and do the work.  The group is a fellowship composed of alcoholics that come together to help one another through the process of recovery, by working on the 12-steps so that they can achieve and sustain their sobriety.  The process in which an individual recovers, stems from them actually doing the work and supporting one another through the steps and helping others.

Understanding how anonymity plays role in complicating statistics

When it comes to viewing how well or poor the AA success rate may be, it’s hard to gather accurate statistics.  A census can prove to be almost useless because of the anonymity factor behind the principle followed by the 12-step program.  The same could be said regarding statistics for relapses. Even the statistics previously mentioned could be argued because technically, no one is going around in the fellowship keeping tally of how long each person has been sober, and nobody is testing them to see if they are telling the truth about their sobriety; the statistics are based on the honor system.

People do recover from this debilitating illness, but they are anonymous and not promoting it because of the tradition that highlights attraction, not promotion.  AA works well, but it’s a program not about gathering the most people in it because of a success rate, but rather on people seeing how well it works for others.  With that, maybe they will want to give it a try for themselves and see that if it works for someone else, maybe it can work for them too.

Any alcoholic can recover with capacity to be honest with self

The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book itself says, “rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path,” indicating anybody can recover from this seemingly hopeless state of mind.  The next line follows by saying that individuals, “who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves tho this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”  This suggests whoever does not recover from their alcoholism by working this program is dishonest, because they lack the capability of entirely surrendering to the program completely.  Individuals must do this essential part of the process, because if an alcoholic remains stubborn, unwilling to take suggestions, and keeps in denial of their disease, then they aren’t going to be making much progress.  They will remain stuck in their same behaviors and continuing actions that don’t constitute any change having occurred.

The point is, society would like to point the finger at Alcoholics Anonymous and claim relapse is due to a lack of AA’s success.  However, the context of the literature explains how the program doesn’t fail the individuals.  When the program seems to have not worked for the alcoholic, it isn’t because the individual has failed either, but rather they were not ready, willing, or honest enough in their recovery process at the time.  It can be easy to place blame on the program when angry about having resorted back to former behaviors like old ways of thinking and going back to drinking.  However, it’s never too late to jump right back into the step work and recovery process so that the alcoholic can strive toward a sober lifestyle once again.

Are you struggling with alcohol and/or another substance?  Contact The Addiction Recovery Center for help today because living a sober life in recovery can be more than possibility.  When you call today, it can become a reality.  So don’t wait, contact us for help now.

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