Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services

Recovery Roads: Is AA the Most Effective Path to Sobriety?

recovery

There are many roads that people take to achieve sustained addiction recovery. What works for one person may not have the same effect on another. Last week, we wrote at length about the benefits of gender-specific addiction treatment. We also discussed the value of brotherhood and fellowship in recovery.

When the word fellowship comes to mind regarding sobriety and abstinence, most people think of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). There is a good reason for that association; AA and 12 Step recovery has been extant for a long time. Moreover, millions of Americans and individuals across the world owe their recovery to working the 12 Steps.

Most evidence-based addiction treatment centers, including PACE Recovery Center, introduce clients to AA and Narcotics Anonymous. The hope is that when one completes a stay in rehab, they will continue being an active member of a 12 Step fellowship.

Long-term recovery hinges on continued maintenance. Continued progress depends on dedicating one’s self to working the Steps in all your affairs and practicing the principles established in 1935 when AA was founded.

While there are other modalities than 12 Step recovery such as SMART Recovery, most addiction experts recommend the former. You detox, undergo cognitive behavioral therapy, learn how to cope with challenges, and prevent relapse while in treatment. After rehab, you continue working with others both in and out of meetings to keep your recovery and show newcomers how to do the same.

For 85 years, men and women from all walks of life have joined forces against their common foe: the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. Today, we refer to those types of behavioral health conditions as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD).

The Most Effective Path to Long-Term Recovery

Even though Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for quite some time, there is not much research on the program’s efficacy. However, we now have a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of AA on alcohol use disorder, CNN reports. The research appears in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review.

Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, and his colleagues evaluated 35 studies. After looking at the research of 145 scientists and more than 10,000 participants, Dr. Humphreys and his team concluded that AA might be the most effective path to abstinence for people living with AUD.

The researchers found that when a counselor encouraged a client’s adherence to the 12 Steps, it was more effective for achieving abstinence, compared to other psychotherapies. The authors’ key findings include:

  • AA and Twelve‐Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions usually produced higher rates of continuous abstinence than the other established treatments.
  • Clinically‐delivered TSF interventions designed to increase AA participation usually lead to better outcomes over the subsequent months to years in terms of producing higher rates of continuous abstinence.
  • AA/TSF will probably produce substantial healthcare cost savings while simultaneously improving alcohol abstinence.
  • AA was more effective for women than men, slightly.

An advantage that AA has over the kind of therapies I was trained to do, is that people can persist in it a very long time, which gives them a better shot at recovery because you could literally go to AA everyday for years and years and years if you wanted to,” Humphreys said. “That may be better matched with chronic disease than short-term interventions the health care system usually gives.”

The Advantages of AA

Dr. Humphreys points out some of the advantages AA has over other therapeutic techniques. He says that 12 Step programs are free, offer social support, and inspiration, according to the article. Humphreys adds that 12 Step groups can provide insular resilience to situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.

Working a program can “help people create senses of worth and value that occur in the brain and don’t center around alcohol, retraining the brain to live differently,” Humphreys said. The professor of psychiatry rightly adds that AA instills hope for a better life in ways that some professionals cannot. Dr. Humphreys says:

I can say to someone, ‘Believe me, you can have a better life than what you’ve got right now,’ but it’s pretty powerful when someone says, ‘I’m not just telling you that, I had your life. Look at me — I’m also an alcoholic, and I’m having a really good life. If I could do it, you could do it.’ “

The review has some limitations which should prompt further study. Dr. Jennifer Plumb Vilardaga, clinical psychologist at Duke University Health, who wasn’t part of the review notes that the analysis did not focus on how effective AA was with:

  • Psychological Well-Being
  • Overall Health
  • Adolescents
  • Members with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Dr. Vilardaga says that people with AUD and co-occurring mental illness may benefit more from a combination of professional counseling and working an AA program, the article reports. She states:

As a psychologist myself, my read of the literature is that if you have a significant mental health issue, you’re still better off seeking professional counseling to address your alcohol as well as your mental health concerns.”

Orange County Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we help adult males break the cycle of addiction, and our clinicians also specialize in treating individuals struggling with co-occurring mental health disorders. Our team understands that finding long-term recovery rests on treating the whole client.

More than half of the people with AUDs and SUDs meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis. It’s essential to address addiction and mental illness simultaneously. With the aid of evidence-based therapies and adherence to a 12 Step program, you or a loved one can achieve sustained recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our gender-specific addiction and mental health treatment center.

Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 “Books that Shaped America.” Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby’s just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history,” and the defendants “are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain,” the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

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