General Question

Cardinal's avatar

AA working or not?

Asked by Cardinal (2913 points ) February 7th, 2008

I have a question concerning drinking. Situation: mid sixtiy y/o adult. Been a drinker (mainly wine) for 40+ yeras. Now, less volume brings on more antisocial behavior. i.e. 20 years ago 2 or 3 glasses, not really a problem for me, never a problem for the drinker (that he/she recognizines). Now only 3 or so glasses of wine makes for some very antisocial behavior and actions. They have attended a couple AA meetings after a visit with a physician and a counseler, which is a requirement. Some days there is no drinking (maybe 3 or 4 times a month) other times (last night for instance) 3 glasses of white wine made a very ugly situation around the house.

QUESTION: Is it normal, while being a semi regular AA attendant to continue drinking?

Drinking here: never less then 2 glasses at a session, some times 8 glasses per evening. The drinking usually starts mid afternoon.

I was told by someone that tapering off was the norm and cold turkey was rare. Someone told me once that a stork brought babies to the hospital too!

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10 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

From what I understand, AA expects you to give up drinking completely. No “tapering off.” It may be normal for alcoholics to not give up drinking when they go to AA and to claim they’re just “tapering off,” but that’s not what AA expects.

gailcalled's avatar

My family experience was with NA but I think that the same principles apply. No more drugging; no more alcoholic beverages. Your description is clearly that of an alcoholic.

Has the non-drinking partner tried Al-anon? He/she can pick up some very useful ideas and aid and comfort at those meetings.

mikebrowne's avatar

If you have questions about alcoholism and AA why not go directly to the source:

http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/en_pdfs/p-2_44questions.pdf

SeventhSense's avatar

@Cardinal
I have been sober for coming up on 22 years. Any reputable 12 step group will suggest nothing but total abstinence. Once you’re a pickle, you can’t go back to being a cucumber. You can’t just pour a little gasoline on the fire. One is too many and a thousand never enough. The first drink gets you drunk. It’s not about self control and willpower, it’s surrender. Eat a box of ex lax and tell me about self control….Do you need anymore cliches? :)
And yes some people struggle with the process and go back and forth a bit but that is never the aim and no true recovery can occur until the alcoholic is completely drug and alcohol free.

Jeruba's avatar

But isn’t it also often the case, @SeventhSense, that a person will start going to meetings before going all the way and stopping?—and that sometimes it’ll take a person months of meetings before they can take the first step? All that time, something is soaking in, they’re hearing the message, they’re meeting people who’ve done what they can’t do yet. I don’t think AA turns those people away. Those are the alcoholics who still suffer. I have known more than one who went along as wet drunks for a while—even got picked up and hauled to meetings by a 12th-stepper—before they reached the point of surrender.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jeruba
No doubt. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

mass_pike4's avatar

I have recently been attending AA. I still do drink from time-to-time. The people that attend all have the urges…some decide to use anyway and still attend, others simply resist the urge and make friendships with others to help them. AA is all about you. You make the decision on whether you want to become sober, and you make the friendships/get sponsors to help you out.

Again, AA can be very helpful for the individual who wants to change their drinking/drugging habits and want to become clean. But then again, it is all upon that individual’s shoulders on whether they really want to become clean. AA is probably the best place to go if your goal is to become clean and prevent future relapses.

SeventhSense's avatar

@mass_pike4
The point comes where it’s no longer a choice though. If one has been given a choice there is a point where being on the fence is not an option. And the wrong choice can have dire consequences. I’ve seen many funerals.

ItsAHabit's avatar

It is very normal for a person attending AA to continue drinking. However, AA calls for strict abstinence which is probably one reason its success rate is only about 5% (according to AA World services). There are a number of alternatives such as Moderation Management that do not require abstinence. And the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that a substantial proportion of alcoholics now either abstain or drink in moderation.
The most successful program, according to independent evaluations, is the Jude Thaddeus program which, in spite of its name is non-religious and non-spiritual. http://www.soberforever.net/ Its success rate for complete abstinence is about 64% and many of the others now drink in moderation. Whether you choose abstinence or moderation is up to you.

scott8035's avatar

If the person has a long-standing physical addiction to alcohol, there is no doubt that they should go to rehab under a doctor’s supervision rather than quit cold turkey.

AA is a no-drinking program. Read page 30–31 in the Big Book, titled “More about Alcoholism”...it deals with the topic of how an alcoholic will never be a moderate drinker, and how mightily they will strive to prove to themselves that somehow, some way, they will be able to control their themselves and “drink like a normal person”. It doesn’t work.

It sounds like the person in question might not be attending meetings for themselves, but rather to placate someone else…you perhaps? This won’t work. They have to want it for themselves, there’s no point going otherwise.

To be successful at AA, there are a few simple rules: don’t drink, go to lots of meetings (most people recommend 90 meetings in 90 days for a beginner), get a sponsor, work the steps, and DON’T STOP GOING TO MEETINGS! There have been many, many people in the program with numerous years of sobriety that have stopped going to meetings and then relapsed. I’ve only been in the program 2–½ years, and I’ve seen it many times first hand…when they describe why the relapsed, they always say “I stopped going to meetings”.

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