Kudos to Dianna Narciso, blogger for the website examiner.com of San Francisco (no relation to the Examiner newspaper) for mentioning LifeRing among “rational alternatives to AA” in her article on the 75th anniversary of AA. Her article asks the important question, “why … AA works for the few it does help out of addiction,” and answers that it’s probably simply the fact that it’s a group, because group support works for many kinds of afflictions. She sees AA as basically a religious group (in agreement with court decisions on the issue) that substitutes “religious fervor” for substance addiction, and enjoys “a very low success rate.” Read her blog post here.
Dianna also links to a recent article on the AA anniversary in Wired magazine, here. Brendan Koerner, the author there, seems aware of some of the modern research on AA outcomes. He writes,
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.
Koerner then goes on a dubious path of speculation and rationalization about AA’s effectiveness in the few cases when it works. He concludes :
The sad fact remains that the program’s failures vastly outnumber its success stories. According to Tonigan [a University of New Mexico professor], upwards of 70 percent of people who pass through AA will never make it to their one-year anniversary, and relapse is common even among regular attendees.
Actually, according to AA’s own membership surveys compiled by Don McIntire in the Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, the “upwards of 70 per cent” figure should read “upwards of 95 per cent.” But close enough. Despite these rather discouraging conclusions, which have been well known in professional circles for a decade or more, the writer can’t find one word to say about the alternative support groups that have been on the scene since the foundation of Women for Sobriety in the 1970s. Koerner’s tortured article is like the proverbial drunk who knows that his life is a failure but just can’t see any alternative — even when it’s just a few clicks away on the web.
— Marty N.