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Switch to Forum Live View Secret of AA - After 75 years, no one really knows how it works
4 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 12:15PM #1
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Informative article about AA from Wired Magazine. CLICK HERE for the link.


It's a lengthy read but well worth it. 


 


Pasted a few paragraphs near the beginning of the article and bolded the portions that jumped out at me. It rather reenforces many discussions on this forum surrounding the topic of the 12 step program. 


/begin quote


 Wilson’s success is even more impressive when you consider that AA  and its steps have become ubiquitous despite the fact that no one is  quite sure how—or, for that matter, how well—they work. The organization  is notoriously difficult to study, thanks to its insistence on  anonymity and its fluid membership. And AA’s method, which requires  “surrender” to a vaguely defined “higher power,” involves the kind of  spiritual revelations that neuroscientists have only begun to explore.


What we do know, however, is that despite all we’ve learned over the  past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior,  contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly  better. “In my 20 years of treating addicts, I’ve never seen anything  else that comes close to the 12 steps,” says Drew Pinsky, the  addiction-medicine specialist who hosts VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. “In my world, if someone says they don’t want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren’t going to get better.”


Wilson may have operated on intuition, but somehow he managed to tap  into mechanisms that counter the complex psychological and neurological  processes through which addiction wreaks havoc. And while AA’s ability  to accomplish this remarkable feat is not yet understood, modern  research into behavior dynamics and neuroscience is beginning to provide  some tantalizing clues.


One thing is certain, though: AA doesn’t work for everybody. In fact,  it doesn’t work for the vast majority of people who try it. And  understanding more about who it does help, and why, is likely our best  shot at finally developing a system that improves on Wilson’s amateur  scheme for living without the bottle.


 

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 3:13PM #2
andrewcyrus
Posts: 4,253

Agnosticspirit,


 


How many AA's do you know on this forum for whom AA works?

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 5:16PM #3
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

There's a much larger world beyond this little forum.  3 people very close to me suffered from substance addiction. 2 of them tried AA and NA. It didn't work for them, but they did manage to quit on their own and have been clean for 8 and 2 years respectively. 


Regretfully, one close family member still drinks too much. I don't think any program will help her because in her heart, she doesn't really want to give up the superficial comfort of her drug of choice. 


I've never questioned AA has worked for you, ssp,  and others. The linked article supports the fact that AA does work for some... It supports my experience that it doesn't work for everyone. It supports the concept that there is no one single solution that applies for everyone.


 

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 7:45PM #4
andrewcyrus
Posts: 4,253

Aug 1, 2010 -- 5:16PM, Agnosticspirit wrote:


There's a much larger world beyond this little forum.  3 people very close to me suffered from substance addiction. 2 of them tried AA and NA. It didn't work for them, but they did manage to quit on their own and have been clean for 8 and 2 years respectively. 


Regretfully, one close family member still drinks too much. I don't think any program will help her because in her heart, she doesn't really want to give up the superficial comfort of her drug of choice. 


I've never questioned AA has worked for you, ssp,  and others. The linked article supports the fact that AA does work for some... It supports my experience that it doesn't work for everyone. It supports the concept that there is no one single solution that applies for everyone.  




Andy>


I am not a "no one" according to your label.


Neither is sixth step phobia, see fan, revjon, or the countless other AA's that have popped in from time to time.


Yes there is a much larger world beyond your two. A program for alcoholics annonymous that has transformed hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives. AA exists in practically every community all over the globe.


 


agnosticspirit wrote;


 "people very close to me suffered from substance addiction. 2 of them tried AA and NA. It didn't work for them"


Andy>


The AA program doesn't work unless the people work its steps. Seems you have based your entire premise of AA not working on your experience with two people who  thought the program was some kinda fairy dust that was suppose to work itself.


 



It works if people honestly work the steps.

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 01, 2010 - 10:11PM #5
Revjohn
Posts: 167

Warm Greetings, All,


I have, besides my own experience with years of recovery in AA and watching many others in the program, considerable experience with substance abuse treatment, in which I have been involved for 33 years.  I run into people for whom AA "did not work" quite frequently.  The number one reason for this is that many people go to one or two meetings, or perhaps the 6 or 12 required by their DUI program, and then never set foot in another meeting.  It is true that AA almost never works for such people.  Then there are people who go to plenty of meetings, but sit passively, never get a home group, never get a sponsor, never work the steps, and read little to none of the AA literature.  I was in this category myself for nearly two years, and AA didn't work for me, then, either.  There is also a sizable contingent of people who never do go to any meetings, because they are "embarrassed" to go, because they feel it is some sort of "cult," or because they know that God is mentioned there.  Although they never actually went to any meetings, they will readily share their opinion that AA is useless.  So my considered opinion is that the vast majority for whom AA "does not work" are people who never actually used the program. 


That being said, I have known some people who have made an honest attempt to work a program and AA did not work for them.  However, when I encounter people who are in a successful, long-term recovery who are actively enjoying sober life--not just hiding away to avoid temptation--most of them got there through a 12-step program. 


So no, we do not have good statistics on AA, and probably never will, because of the nature of the program.  It is also true that not everyone will benefit from AA.  But I know of no other approach with a success rate, in terms of producing sobriety with good quality of life, that has worked as well with as many people as AA, from my many observations.  And it is my firm opinion that without the program, I would never have become sober, long-term.  Even if I take drunk tomorrow, the program has given me 21 years of life without booze or drugs and in which I have not only been happy, but have grown spiritually to an extent I never imagined being able to. 


So if anyone has anything better, I'd sure like to see it.  And sorry, Chris Prentiss's claim of a ridiculously high success rate is bogus.  (Funny how you can get the cure for only $18.95 if you buy his book, but you'll need to cough up $70K a month to get it from him in person at his rehab in Malibu...)


RevJohn

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 03, 2010 - 11:39PM #6
sixth step phobia
Posts: 733

Hey guys


Sorry ive been gone for a while i have recently joined ETTV (eckhart tolle tv) and the community there is vibrant, evolving and exciting


I am still doing my three meetings a week with AA and love it


A few of my australian AA freinds just came back from the american conference blown away by the 160,000 recovering alcoholics they seen


Lets forget about AA and addiction for a minute and look at the larger picture what percentage of the general populace has OCD, 100% obseesive compulsive thinking


Out of that amount how many have awakened from the dream of form?


It seems that for most a synchronistic event enables this awakening, usually a combination of readiness (loss, suffering) and coming into contact with a spiritual teaching


When the hapless addict walks in the door of AA/NA he is bewildered and suffering greatly then a set of spiritual tools for awakening is laid at his feet only he can pick it up start digging and find the pot of gold that is closer than his hands or feet


I urge you andy, AS, and revjohn to spend twenty bucks and join ETTV you wont be dissapointed


Ray

Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought
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4 years ago  ::  Aug 04, 2010 - 12:02AM #7
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Aug 1, 2010 -- 7:45PM, andrewcyrus wrote:


Andy>


I am not a "no one" according to your label.


Neither is sixth step phobia, see fan, revjon, or the countless other AA's that have popped in from time to time.


Yes there is a much larger world beyond your two. A program for alcoholics annonymous that has transformed hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives. AA exists in practically every community all over the globe.



It's very odd when someone extracts something out of another's post that simply isn't there in the first place. I never said you or anyone else was "no one".  As far as my worlds, again... you extrapolate something I never said. Never a good idea to presume  you "know" someone's intention, especially given a certain tendency to attribute negative intentions towards other posters.


Aug 1, 2010 -- 7:45PM, andrewcyrus wrote:




 


agnosticspirit wrote;


 "people very close to me suffered from substance addiction. 2 of them tried AA and NA. It didn't work for them"


Andy>


The AA program doesn't work unless the people work its steps. Seems you have based your entire premise of AA not working on your experience with two people who  thought the program was some kinda fairy dust that was suppose to work itself.



LOL! Once again trying to put YOUR spin on my words, I see. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and try to respond based upon what has actually been said rather than what you THINK someone has said, hmm? I certainly wouldn't presume to tell you how you've come up with your conclusions and will thank you for the same courtesy in the future.  I will feel free to share my own conclusions just as you have that same freedom (within the bounds of the ROC)


Back on topic.... do you base your opinions only on what you see on discussion forums, or do you formulate a conclusion based upon real life experiences, lessons learned from loved ones around you, researching third party sources, in addition to internet forums? Just as I obtain news from many sources because corporate fed media lends its own bias, so I research topics of interest from a variety of sources. It's a worthy endeavor if one truly wishes to get past the inevitable bias originating from a single source. Anecdotal evidence can lend itself to bias as well. We all draw from personal experience... said personal anecdotes can set benchmarks for ourselves, but it doesn't follow that these personal benchmarks will apply to others.


After all this time... I see a lack of acceptance from some members for others who arrive at different conclusions... Sorry you feel that way but it's a FACT that AA doesn't work for everyone --- that it doesn't by no means invalidates the experience for those that have been helped by this. 


There was no mention in the linked article about the utter dogmatism AA inspires... a slight omission, given the wealth of other background within.


Aug 1, 2010 -- 7:45PM, andrewcyrus wrote:


 



It works if people honestly work the steps.



For some it will. For others who honestly tried to work the steps, it didn't. This is supported by the article as well but whatever.... those with ears to hear and all that. 


 

Tribalism, ethnocentricism, racism, nationalism, and FEAR is the Mind Killer... >:(

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 04, 2010 - 12:12AM #8
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Aug 3, 2010 -- 11:39PM, sixth step phobia wrote:


Hey guys


Sorry ive been gone for a while i have recently joined ETTV (eckhart tolle tv) and the community there is vibrant, evolving and exciting


I am still doing my three meetings a week with AA and love it


A few of my australian AA freinds just came back from the american conference blown away by the 160,000 recovering alcoholics they seen


Lets forget about AA and addiction for a minute and look at the larger picture what percentage of the general populace has OCD, 100% obseesive compulsive thinking


Out of that amount how many have awakened from the dream of form?


Hi ssp, nice to see you? While we endure heat waves on the eastern seaboard, SoCal and elsewhere... odd to think its winter in your neck of the world. 


I've heard of OCD --- obsessive compulsive disorder... obsessive compulsive thinking is new. What does that mean? Lack of control for our thoughts? Do we obsessively compulsively think when we sleep? 


Aug 3, 2010 -- 11:39PM, sixth step phobia wrote:




It seems that for most a synchronistic event enables this awakening, usually a combination of readiness (loss, suffering) and coming into contact with a spiritual teaching


When the hapless addict walks in the door of AA/NA he is bewildered and suffering greatly then a set of spiritual tools for awakening is laid at his feet only he can pick it up start digging and find the pot of gold that is closer than his hands or feet


I urge you andy, AS, and revjohn to spend twenty bucks and join ETTV you wont be dissapointed


Ray



Picked up the "power of now" at my local friends of the library sale a few months ago... still sitting on a stack of books I plan to catch up on. :) 

Tribalism, ethnocentricism, racism, nationalism, and FEAR is the Mind Killer... >:(

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 04, 2010 - 4:21PM #9
andrewcyrus
Posts: 4,253

AS WROTE


"For some it will. For others who honestly tried to work the steps, it didn't. This is supported by the article as well but whatever.... those with ears to hear and all that. "


Andy>


Than in all honestly provide the quote. The think about honesty is the ability to identify the problem and then honestly apply the solution..


 


Never tuff here - AA solution - don't pick up that first drink and you won't get drunk.


 


It works 100% of the time if one works it honestly. 

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 07, 2010 - 7:15PM #10
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Aug 4, 2010 -- 4:21PM, andrewcyrus wrote:


AS WROTE


"For some it will. For others who honestly tried to work the steps, it didn't. This is supported by the article as well but whatever.... those with ears to hear and all that. "


Andy>


Than in all honestly provide the quote. The think about honesty is the ability to identify the problem and then honestly apply the solution..


 


Never tuff here - AA solution - don't pick up that first drink and you won't get drunk.


 


It works 100% of the time if one works it honestly. 




A couple quotes from the article: one of them was included in the opening post... I'll paste it again for your convenience. 


No argument about the 100% solution. Don't pick up a drink in the first place. For those who can recognize they can't afford to pick up that drink, they have a hope to recover. For those that can't... no therapy will help.




Another portion of this article: It clarifies why it doesn't always work, and also why it does work for some. If you read more, the key may be the group therapy... recognition of the problem... and making reparations by seeking forgiveness. 


/begin quote


As dependence grows, alcoholics also lose the ability to properly regulate their behavior. This regulation is the responsibility of the prefrontal cortex, which is charged with keeping the rest of the brain apprised of the consequences of harmful actions. But mind-altering substances slowly rob the cortex of so-calledsynaptic plasticity, which makes it harder for neurons to communicate with one another. When this happens, alcoholics become less likely to stop drinking, since their prefrontal cortex cannot effectively warn of the dangers of bad habits.


This is why even though some people may be fully cognizant of the problems that result from drinking, they don’t do anything to avoid them. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, my family is falling apart, I’ve been arrested twice,’” says Peter Kalivas, a neuroscientist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. “They can list all of these negative consequences, but they can’t take that information and manhandle their habits.”


The loss of synaptic plasticity is thought to be a major reason why more than 90 percent of recovering alcoholics relapse at some point. The newly sober are constantly bombarded with sensory cues that their brain associates with their pleasurable habit. Because the synapses in their prefrontal cortex are still damaged, they have a tough time resisting the urges created by these triggers. Any small reminder of their former life—the scent of stale beer, the clink of toasting glasses—is enough to knock them off the wagon.


AA, it seems, helps neutralize the power of these sensory cues by whipping the prefrontal cortex back into shape. Publicly revealing one’s deepest flaws and hearing others do likewise forces a person to confront the terrible consequences of their alcoholism—something that is very difficult to do all alone. This, in turn, prods the impaired prefrontal cortex into resuming its regulatory mission. “The brain is designed to respond to experiences,” says Steven Grant, chief of the clinical neuroscience branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “I have no doubt that these therapeutic processes change the brain.” And the more that critical part of the brain is compelled to operate as designed, the more it springs back to its pre-addiction state. While it’s on the mend, AA functions as a temporary replacement—a prefrontal cortex made up of a cast of fellow drunks in a church basement, rather than neurons and synapses.



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