Abusing Alcoholics Anonymous Essay, Research Paper
Using AA vs. Abusing AA
This paper will try to explain the different views of how and why Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are accepted and rejected as effective tools in treating alcoholism and other addictions. The articles reviewed contradict the others? opinion. First, we see that supporting the 12-step programs with a degree of involvement both the doctor and patient will see better results in treating the addiction. The second view will show that 12-step programs can be used as ?self-help? treatment and must be used in conjunction with other forms of rehabilitation. When AA and other 12-step programs are not used with other forms of treatment, the patient tends to become codependent on the group.
Doctors Peter Johnson and John Chappel believe that AA is not considered self-help and by contributing to the 12-step process as doctors the program experience will be enhanced. Self-help programs are considered to be a form of therapy used to better oneself without scientific research supporting the success rate and usually attended without a physician?s input. The support shown for programs like AA is attributed to the abundant success rate they found when a doctor takes some minimal preparation for the patient. These preparations include such tasks as locating the closest meeting and the type of meeting the patient would prefer. The person who is suffering normally takes on these tasks; if discouraged at this point faith in the program may be ceased. They state in the article, ?AA is more important over the long term than professional treatment.? (Johnson, Chappel.1994) The article shows effective guidelines for professionals in the treatment of addiction. We know that AA predates the American Medical Associations? ruling that alcohol addiction (along with other addictions) is a disease. We know from experience, either personal or second-hand, that addiction can not be cured without intervention of some kind ? with the help of a professional and others? suffering it can. Is that enough of a scientific approach to rely on a group-help program? ? Dr. Jarlais does not think so.
In the article, Self-help and Science in the Treatment of Addiction, Dr. Jarlais addresses the concerns about the relationship between formal scientific methods and the 12-step approach of treatment. The proof or data necessary to be labeled as such would need to concur with that of a group and not just the personal experience of one and the authors. By disproving the methods of the 12-step supporters, Dr. Jarlais simply notes, ??these ideas are not supported by the usual framework of formal scientific research.? (Jarlais. 1994)
Dr. Jarlais? statement would surely raise eyebrows at the next research convention but is that what we can base the tremendous acceptance and success rate of AA on? In my personal experience, I can agree with the supporters of the 12-step method. The reasons are many but one comes to mind each time I read the opposing views ? Are we complex human beings or lab rats? Is it necessary as recovering addicts and psychodynamic therapists alike to use a scientific approach to confirm the resounding results? AA works and if personal response or ?storytelling? along with the admitting that we are powerless over our addictions helps, well, that is enough proof for me. Terry M. states, ?Our primary goal is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.? (Terry M. 1998) This statement is enough proof that I believe the people who attend AA are more useful than any scientific influences. A Dr. and a patient formed AA; this alone also shows the importance to respect what has been a foundation to recovery ? the honesty and no judgement policy of recovery.
Issues of brainwashing, codependency, and let us not forget the overwhelming popular issue of ?never recovering?. Dr. Jarlais explains that the mere acceptance of this policy is proof that the supporters are contradictory about the influence of the method. As members it is crucial to the cohesiveness of the group to believe that ??the alcoholic or drug addicted person is ?always recovering and never recovered.? ?We believe that this hyperbole is wise and necessary and serves to protect against the common susceptibility among this population to lapse in self-care.? (Johnson, Chappel. 1994) The words; wise, necessary, protect ? these are indicators of human responsibility. They provide us with the insight of human explanation over scientific method of research. These doctors admit, ??the 12-step programs work, they compliment medical, psychiatric, and psychological treatment.? (Chappel. 1992) they do not denounce the use of scientific research only provide us with an area that needs more research.
Dr. Jarlais raises some questions about the correlation between formal scientific approaches and the practice of the 12-step method, but I think these ideas can?t be supported by the usual method of formal scientific research. The belief in a ?Higher Power?, which is step 2, can never be proven or disproved by scientific research. By making ??a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.? (Author. 1953) the members have a place to put all the grief and lies that they carry daily. This step is crucial to the sobriety of the individual and the maintenance of the group. When the step is never fulfilled the member will seek other forms of ?self-help?, which could also mean medication or liquor. The medicine they used in the past were alcohol, drugs, food, etc. These will be the medicines they seek again if they don?t have somewhere else to place that will ? their Higher Being.
In conclusion, I respect both sides of this argument. This argument is what I don?t respect. I see that we have lots of years of research ahead of us in the field of alcoholism and its cures. I see that we need answers to questions baffling scientists from past centuries up to today. I welcome and hope to have many future doctors and researchers questions methodologies and approaches long proven to find easier and more efficient models. I do not see the need or the want to disprove or challenge a process that has served millions well and gives respect to the unknown. If we take matters of God into the laboratories with all the methods, experiments and theories ? all we will prove is that some may believe even when there is no proof and just because we can?t prove it, does not mean that is does not exist. It only means that we can?t prove it. I believe that a ?survey or technique in which questionnaires or interviews are administered to a selected group? (Morris, Maisto. 1998) at these 12-step programs would provide some of what they are looking for ? proof that it works and maybe some of the why it does
1. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (1986). Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Author.
2. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (1953). Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York: Author.
3. Elsevier Science, Ltd. (1994). Using AA and other 12-Step programs More Effectively. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Vol. II. Dr. Peter Johnson and Dr. John Chappel
4. Elsevier Science, Ltd. (1994). Self-Help and Science in the Treatment of Addiction. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Vol. II. Dr. Don Des Jarlais.
5. Recovery and Sobriety Resources. (1998). Alcoholics Anonymous ? What?s it All About? www.winternet.com/~terrym/mystory7.html
6. Alcohol and Research World (1996). Jellinek?s Typology Revisited. Washington: Susanne Hiller-Strurmhofel
7. Addiction.(1997) E.M. Jellinek and the evolution of alcohol studies: A critical essay. Penny Booth Page