The Truth About AA and Addiction Recovery

Despite what many believe, life after addiction doesn’t have to follow a specific script. Here are some myth-busters to show you precisely what I’m talking about.

You don’t need to define your life post-addiction as being in “recovery.”

You don’t need to attend meetings.

You don’t need to read the “Big Book.”

You don’t need to get a sponsor.

You don’t need to do step-work.

You don’t need to memorize your sobriety date.

You don’t need to believe that you’re “powerless over your addiction.”

You don’t need to call yourself a “recovering addict” or a “recovering alcoholic.”

And finally…

You might even be able to use potentially addictive substances medicinally and/or responsibly instead of swearing off the use of all mind-altering drugs forever (along with alcohol).

Dogmatic Beliefs and Groupthink

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other offshoots of this are not the only way to overcome drug and/or alcohol addiction, despite what you may have heard from the AA Police and other dogma-pushers.

A dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly accurate.

The teachings in the Big Book have helped countless individuals over the years, which is quite extraordinary and notable.

However, suggestible members of 12-step programs often develop ego-investment in these teachings and thus become what I call ‘programmed,’ meaning they no longer can think for themselves in the domain of addiction recovery, even though they may think for themselves quite well in other areas (such as politics, relationships, or religion).

Many of these programmed members then make the mistake of shaming others who want to end an addiction without using the dogma that they’ve developed ego investment in.

Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

Groupthink permeates our society, and it’s especially prevalent in AA and NA meetings.

Deductive Reasoning

The group thinkers, dogma pushers, Big Book thumpers, and the like believe that going to 12-step meetings is the only way for a person to recover from addiction and that the people who don’t work the program will end up in jails, institutions, and six feet under.

They didn’t come up with this dogma on their own.

Instead, they learned these ideas from a book published nearly a century ago (in 1939). The Big Book was co-authored by a 1930s doctor and a drunk who had a spiritual experience while tripping on hallucinogens and quit drinking. He also says that he used the supplement niacin in high doses to cure his depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, using deductive reasoning (aka deductive logic), we can dispel the myth of what I call ‘The One-Path Recovery Doctrine.’

Deductive reasoning is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logically particular conclusion.

Here’s an example:

  1. All men are mortal (First premise)
  2. Socrates is a man (Second premise)
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal (Conclusion)

Using deductive reasoning, it’s pretty simple to come to a logically inevitable conclusion that quickly dispels the myth of one-path recovery (e.g., “the only way to recover from drug or alcohol addiction is by working a strong 12-step program”).

Here’s how I’ve dispelled the myth:

  1. People were addicted to drugs and alcohol for thousands of years before the creation of AA and the Big Book.
  2. Some of these people ended their addictions and lived healthy and fulfilling lives afterward (and you can learn about this in books or online).
  3. Therefore, people can recover from an addiction without working a 12-step program.

In addition to using this deductive reasoning, I’ve also personally recovered from addiction and haven’t gone to a meeting in over 12 years.

Chris Scott, the founder of Fit Recovery and my co-host on the Elevation Recovery Podcast,  transcended his alcohol addiction a decade ago and hasn’t gone to a meeting since then, either.

I’ve also worked with hundreds of clients and received thousands of emails and blog/YouTube comments. I have corresponded with hundreds of people who stated they quit their alcohol and/or other addictions and turned their lives around without going to 12-step programs.

Let us not forget the many people who overcome alcoholism or other drug addictions while living 300 miles from the nearest 12-step meeting.

The fact is…

U.S. adults are, for the most part, ignorant and brainwashed when it comes to their understanding of addiction and its treatment. Worse still, many suffer from the Dunning-Krueger Effect in the area of addiction. 

This cognitive bias occurs when a person learns a little about a topic and grossly overestimates their scope of knowledge.

Emotional Reasoning and Ego Protection

Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true, regardless of the observed evidence.

Thus, even when I state the evidence above, deductive reasoning does not affect if a person has fully adopted the Big Book teachings (significantly if AA or NA has helped them improve their life).

I have compassion for people who are close-minded and emotional reasoners because I realize how powerful a force of ego investment is.

Their ego is to blame for their obtuseness… not their True Self.

Since a vital function of the ego is self-protection, most of these people have unconscious defense mechanisms that prevent them from seeing how my deductive reasoning on this topic is valid.

The One-Path Recovery Dogma is simply that… a dogma.

It’s not a scientifically proven fact.

Most experts estimate that AA success rates range from 3% to 10%. This means that AA almost certainly has a failure rate of 90% or more.

The One-Path Recovery Myth has been factually dispelled by many of my predecessors.

Many others and I have unplugged ourselves from the One-Path Recovery Matrix embedded in traditional treatment programs, 12-step programs, and, to a degree… our culture, communities, and society in general.

Here are four things I know to be true:

  1. I’ve personally recovered from addiction and created a fantastic life without going to meetings.
  2. I know dozens of people who have also done this and corresponded with hundreds more.
  3. People recovered from alcoholism and drug addiction for thousands of years before AA and continue to do so today.
  4. People who live hundreds of miles away from meetings recover from addiction without AA and the like.

For People Helped By 12-Step Programs

If you love AA or NA and have ended your addiction and transformed your life because of the program, then obviously, the above was not written for you.

You’ve already found the path that works for you, and this was not intended to get you to quit doing what’s working.

This piece was written for individuals who have been told they can’t overcome addiction unless they go to AA or NA meetings and work a solid program but who, intuitively (and perhaps even logically), aren’t convinced this is a truthful statement.

This article was created for people who have tried AA and/or NA over and over again, keep failing, and don’t feel like they cannot necessarily work the program right, but rather, the simple notion that it’s probably not the most effective path of quitting an addiction for them, personally.

It was also written for individuals who have been brainwashed by culture, family, friends, co-workers, films, etc, to believe in the False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous.

And finally…

This article was written to educate people on the ideas of dogmatic beliefs, emotional reasoning, ideological possession, ego-investment, and groupthink being the main reasons why so many people believe in the One-Path Recovery Myth and the various ironclad rules that go along with it, which perpetuate due to the vast number of AA Police, dogma-pushers, and group thinkers indoctrinating the One-Path Recovery Dogma into their sponsees, other members of the program, and more — who then do the same — thus continually perpetuating the conscious and subconscious reprogramming of the teachings of the Big Book.

In short, eight decades of Big Book indoctrination and ideological possession have led to this dogma being wholly embedded in the domain of “addiction and recovery,” making it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to unplug people from the one-path-only recovery matrix.

It’s a scary process for some… but ultimately liberating for others.


Please review this post!



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