It is a well-known fact for those of us that have been in recovery for any length of time that AA's success rate, as well as the rate of most rehabs across the country, is depressingly low (some say 5-10%). Here is a disturbing but very plausible explanation: what if, across the board, addicts and alcoholics are being misdiagnosed. Instead of being "alcoholic/addict," perhaps a more realistic diagnosis would be: "compulsive." This new diagnosis changes dramatically the breadth and depth of the recovery process. Much more work is required to develop a non-compulsive way of life, but it is this hard work which leads to renewed confidence and self-esteem, not to mentions lasting happiness. As a former drug and alcohol counselor, I would say that more than 75% of the people I sent to meetings as a part of their treatment returned to tell me that they found the experience to be a very depressing one and had little to no desire to return. Having been to more than a thousand meetings in several cities, states, and countries I understand all too well what my clients were experiencing. Basically, AA meetings lack the vitality and charisma necessary to catalyze a true and effective movement. It is true that there is fellowship and laughter and much open, honest sharing at a good AA meeting, but without an atmosphere of real confidence and happiness they lack the power necessary to inspire and uplift, and that is oh-so-critical when up against your own personal drug war. That kind of confidence can only be achieved when you dig down deep and root out all your compulsions--including the nicotine and caffeine--so that there is no longer anything dragging your spirit down. Until you do that, recovery is much like driving down the interstate with the parking brake on--a journey of resitance and unexpected break-downs. I know my view is unpopular and will no doubt incite a lot of hostility from AA/NA die-hards, but the sad truth is that as good as AA/NA may be, the drug and alcohol situation in our country--and around the world--is getting worse not better. A true movement--such as the one started by Jesus two thousand years ago--would've long since addressed this, in my not so humble opinion.
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