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SuperMouse's avatar

If you have overcome an addiction did you use a 12 step program?

Asked by SuperMouse (30738 points ) April 8th, 2010

If you are an alcoholic or have overcome some other addiction did you work a 12 step program? If you did, do you think the program is what is keeping you sober? Do you still attend meetings? Full Disclosure: I am a recovering alcoholic but did not use AA.

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27 Answers

rebbel's avatar

Not sure if i was officially addicted, but i stopped gambling the one-armed-bandit some 15 years ago without a 12-step program.
I just started to hate myself for my behaviour and decided it was time to call it quits.
It worked, in 1 step.
Same goes for smoking, although i believe that was an addiction.
Stopped one day after my thirtieth birthday, and continued to be a stopper untill seven years later, when i began again, on my birthday.
Now, almost five years later, i’m thinking of quitting it again.
I know i can.

RandomMrdan's avatar

an ex girlfriend of mine got me hooked on smoking… I was smoking for about 4 months. I was completely hooked, the first thing I wanted to do when I woke up was stand on my balcony and have a smoke.

I tried quitting cold turkey, but was too difficult, so I bought some patches, and don’t have anymore cravings, and don’t smoke anymore.

I’m not familiar with a 12 step process.

jazmina88's avatar

no. i did too much of cocaine in the 80s..went to rehab but did not follow the program. But successfully have stopped that life ending drug of out will, preservation, and determination.

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes I got straight at a young age and was addicted to drugs- pot, coke, acid you name it. I also drank to excess and would often just substitute one addiction drink for another. I first got straight in NA and found a common bond with people who were also in the grip of addiction. I applied the steps to the best of my ability and don’t know if my experience was the same as others because it ultimately felt like there was an understanding of the principles and a clinging to them which saved my life. I inherently knew that if I continued in my blind insanity I would be dead. That said I initially enjoyed the foxhole camaraderie but later felt that my experience was highly unique and probably more decision focused then the allegiance to the group etc that others spoke. Again, not that I didn’t find identification and friendship but it was never the kind of desperate adherence to the group that some professed. Today I rarely go but I am still grateful that the group was there and continues to be there for people who are at their end. And I will never bad mouth NA or AA because I have seen far too many people helped and far too many people die in their self sufficient pride.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I had a really hardcore herion addiction, I did not use a twelve step. I was locked away for months, medicated, and had really good counselors, and a lot of support. The biggest thing for me for being away from the life, the people, and all that.

SeventhSense's avatar

@trailsillustrated
Bravo to you. It takes a special person to overcome.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@SeventhSense thankyou. I was told by people that didn’t know what they were talking about that end stage heroin users rarely recover. Today I am an ordinary mom woman and no one would ever know. I cover my arms.

filmfann's avatar

My daughter went thru a 12 step, with an added 13th step: If you fail a drug test, you’re going to jail for 6 months.
Amazingly, it worked, and she has been clean for 8 years.

SeventhSense's avatar

@trailsillustrated
No they definitely knew what they were talking about although it might not have been encouraging. Most usually OD or die heroin addicts. We’re the exceptions.

davidbetterman's avatar

Nope. I quit many of my bad habits without the AA 12 step program.
heroin, cocaine, angel dust, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar…Wow, I did all that?

Silence04's avatar

Here is the aweful truth…

Addicts that use a 12 step program have a 5% recovery rate… Addicts that don’t use a 12 step program have 5% recovery rate.

Whether you use a 12 step program to recover or not, you still have to make the same decision. And that is to quit.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@SeventhSense it’s a sad commentary but the truth is I had a tremendous financial resource- most heroin addicts don’t, I’ve been through state detox + recovery (12 step) – the camp atmosphere, the other addicts dropping into town looking for ‘help’, the people hitting on you in the meeting, the people hooking up in the meeting, everybody leaving to go get high- the thing that worked for me was total removal

SeventhSense's avatar

That’s definitely the most effective- long term immersion and care in an alternate and supportive environment.

trailsillustrated's avatar

yes and I am still here to show it : )

faye's avatar

I was seriously drinking too much and have now split up with that man of 10 years. I rarely drink now and have quit smoking with Champix. I absolutely think it is the group you hang with. I know my ex and I enabled each other with the drinking. I am doing so much thinking these days as to the why of it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I use the 12 steps every day and have been sober for 10 years 11 months and 6 days at this writing. In the steps, I not only found relief from debilitating alcoholism, but I also found peace and serenity. My life used to be filled with misery day and night, and now I have contentment and ease. I owe it all to the 12 steps.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Most alcoholics either quit drinking or learn to drink in moderation without joining any program; they do it entirely on their own.

http://www.baldwinresearch.com/

SeventhSense's avatar

@ItsAHabit
Yes and of course the Baldwin Research Company is so well substantiated unlike that little organization called AA which has chapters in nearly every nation on earth makes no profit and has helped millions.

ItsAHabit's avatar

SeventhSense Two points. First, Baldwin Research is non-profit, as is AA. Second, the fact that AA is popular is about as relevant as the fact that millions of people believe in astrology and ghosts. What matters is success.

More than one-third (35.9 percent) of U.S. alcoholics are now in full recovery, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcohol dependence (alcoholism) nor alcohol abuse. They either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk. They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18.2 percent) and low-risk drinkers (17.7 percent).

These statistics stand in sharp contrast to Alcoholics Anonymous’ self-reported success rate of “up to five percent.” Spontaneous remission occurs in about 30% of cases, according to most scientific medical research.

The NIAAA analysis is based on data from the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of NIAAA. Based on a representative sample of 43,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, the NESARC is the largest survey ever conducted of the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use disorders and related psychiatric conditions. The NESARC defines alcohol use disorders and their remission according to the most recent clinical criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association.

Research has produced evidence for decades that some alcoholics could return to moderate or controlled drinking. However, Alcoholics Anonymous and other influential and powerful groups have tended to define an alcoholic as a person who can never drink in moderation. Thus, their conceptions and definitions have caused them to reject this mounting evidence. For example, they tend to argue that if researchers identify alcoholics who can now drink in moderation, that simply means that the alcoholics were falsely diagnosed and really weren’t alcoholics or they wouldn’t have been able to drink in moderation!

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1109212610.html

SeventhSense's avatar

@ItsAHabit
Look there’s real alcoholics and then there’s whiners who end up going on a bender or getting Mommy and Daddy mad because they dropped out of college. AA deals with the former and for them, their success rate is second to none. Before AA people died or were considered terminal and assigned to an asylum. There is no drinking in moderation or will power for a true alcoholic. That’s like imagining pouring a little gas on the fire won’t be so bad. Talk to me when you’ve seen someone die because they are jaundiced and their liver and internal organs have shut down from alcohol toxicity.

ItsAHabit's avatar

I’s pointless to play the old definitional game. Freud said that men couldn’t suffer from hysteria because the root of that word refers to women. Ergo, men could not suffer from hysteria. AA ideology (it has no scientific basis) is that an alcoholic can never drink in moderation. Ergo, when alcoholics drink in moderation, idiologues explain it away by saying that they couldn’t, by definition, have really been alcoholics!

The federal study defined “alcohol use disorders and their remission according to the most recent clinical criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association.”

Ideology is rigid and unchanging whereas as science advances on the basis of the best information available. I believe in science rather than ideology.

The success rate acknowledged by AA World Services is not good, to say the least. The evidence simply does not support the assertion that its “success rate is second to none.”

The fact that some alcoholics can’t abstain is irrelevant to the fact that many alcoholics are able to drink in moderation. Your quarrel really should be with the federal government for conducting the research, not me for reporting it.

SeventhSense's avatar

@ItsAHabit
The fact that some alcoholics can’t abstain is irrelevant to the fact that many alcoholics are able to drink in moderation.
This statement is illogical. The definition of an alcoholic is one who can not drink successfully in moderation. Otherwise he would not be an alcoholic he would be someone who simply had a few too many drinks.

The Physical Component of Alcoholism – 1

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

In The Doctor’s Opinion, Page xxviii, Sentences 1–2, Doctor William Silkworth. describes the physical reaction of alcoholics to alcohol. This description is included to help people determine if they are, in fact, alcoholic.

xxviii:1We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. 2These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.

The Physical Component of Alcoholism – 2

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

In There is a Solution, Page 22, Sentences 16 – 23:1, The physical component of alcoholism is further described. This reinforces The Doctor’s Opinion that once a person enters into alcoholism they can never return to normal drinking. This purpose of this paragraph is to help people determine if they are, in fact, alcoholic.

22:16We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. 22:17We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes, it virtually impossible for him to stop. 23:1The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm that.

The Physical Component of Alcoholism – 3

Step 1

Alcoholics Anonymous Step One:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

In The Doctor’s Opinion a crucial indicator of the powerlessness of the alcoholic over alcohol is attributed to a particular physical sensitivity to alcohol – an allergy if you will. This allergy causes a craving for alcohol. In the following passage the Doctor describes what happens when someone with this sensitivity exposes themselves to alcohol.

xxix:1After (an alcoholic has) succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again.
2This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.

So this psychic change is not caused from any organization, creed, dogma, religion or but from within the recovering alcoholic. Statistically looking at “success” rates of chronic alcoholics is as pointless as saying there are still crazy people in this world so psychological treatment is useless. I have been sober and completely abstinent for 23 years and I owe my life to the sound principles of AA.

ItsAHabit's avatar

SeventhSense Congratulations on your 23 years of sobriety. That’s an accomplishment of which you should be very proud.

I noted that “The fact that some alcoholics can’t abstain is irrelevant to the fact that many alcoholics are able to drink in moderation.” Contrary to what you say, this statement is both logical and empirically correct as reported by the federal government and many others.

You say that “The definition of an alcoholic is one who can not drink successfully in moderation.” But that’s an illogical and meaningless tatology taught by AA. That is, a “statement so framed that it cannot be denied without inconsistency. Thus, ‘All men are rational’ is held to assert with regard to anything whatsoever that either it is a man or it is not rational. But this universal ‘truth’ follows not from any facts noted about real men but only from the actual use (or one such use) of ‘man’ and ‘rational’ and is thus purely a matter of definition.”

AA fools a lot of people with this definitional trick. It is commonly used to dismiss the clear evidence that many alcoholics can and do drink in moderation.

The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders emphasizes that “Alcoholism is the popular term for the disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as alcohol dependence.” The term alcoholism is in disfavor because of the ideological myths that commonly surround it s a result of AA teachings. However, it is commonly used as shorthand for “substance abuse dependence – alcohol type.”

The American Psychiatric Association defines dependence as:
• A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:
1. tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
▪ a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
▪ markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of substance
2. withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
▪ the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance
▪ the same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
3. the substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
4. there is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
5. a great deal of time is spent in activities to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects
6. important social, occupational or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use
7. the substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (e.g., continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption)

[DSM-IV, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ed. 4. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association (AMA). 1994.]

Silkworth’s assertion that “the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy” has been totally discredited. There is no medical evidence of this and if it were true, alcoholism would be the only allergy in which people knowingly seek out the allergen. People who are allergic to pollen don’t seek out flowers to sniff! The allergy theory is just another of the many embarrassingly incorrect ideas promoted by AA.

AA is based in ideology rather than in science and teaches some ideas that are actually harmful to alcoholics (that is, those who suffer from “substance dependence – alcohol type”).

Nevertheless, in spite of all its inadequacies and failures, you have made AA work for you and I commend you. You are among the “up to 5%” and that’s quite an accomplishment!

SeventhSense's avatar

If you can drink in moderation YOU ARE NOT AN ALCOHOLIC. If you are not an alcoholic do not stand as a stumbling block in the way of others who may DIE without the help they need.

ItsAHabit's avatar

SeventhSense AA asserts that “alcoholics are people who can’t drink in moderation.” Then, when the federal government and others report overwhelming evidence for decades that many alcoholics do drink in moderation, AA members retort that they couldn’t have been alcoholics because “alcoholics are people who can’t drink in moderation.” That’s an illogical tautology; the definition determines the conclusion.

Let’s say I define the earth as a relatively flat rectangular object on which billions of people live and that revolves around the sun. You then provide evidence that the earth is relatively spherical. I then insist that’s impossible because “the earth as a relatively flat rectangular object on which billions of people live and that revolves around the sun.” I then proudly announce that “You’re clearly wrong about that spherical foolishness” and I’m right that the earth is relatively flat and rectangular!

That’s the illogical nature of your argument.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Seventh Sense You asked that I “not stand as a stumbling block in the way of others who may DIE without the help they need.”

Indeed, I don’t stand in anyone’s way. I encourage alcoholics to seek help. It’s important for them to realize that if AA doesn’t work for them there are many other approaches and choices, some of which include:

www.soberforever.net – The Jude Thaddeus Program has the highest independently verified success rate in the United States.
www.moderation.org – Moderation Management stresses balance, moderation, self-management, and personal responsibility.
www.med.umich.edu/drinkwise – Drink Wise is a brief, confidential educational program for people with mild to moderate alcohol problems who want to eliminate the negative consequences of their drinking.
www.habitsmart.com – Habit Smart promotes the reduction of harmful behaviors and harm through habit change and wise choices.
www.rational.org/recovery (1–800-303–2873) – Established as an alternative to the spiritual nature of AA as well as its view that alcoholics are powerless and must submit to God’s will in order to recover, Rational Recovery stresses the innate power and strength of individuals themselves to overcome obstacles. It rejects the AA belief that “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Rational Recovery teaches people how to become independent of both alcohol addiction and of organizations dealing with alcoholism.
www.secularhumanism.org/sos (310–821-8430) – Secular Organizations For Sobriety (SOS), also known as Save Our Selves, this program stresses the need to place the highest priority on sobriety and uses mutual support to assist members in achieving this goal. The Suggested Guidelines for Sobriety emphasize rational decision-making and are not religious or spiritual in nature.
http://smartrecovery.org (216–292-0220) – Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) views alcohol dependence as a bad habit and attempts to use common sense techniques to break the habit.
www.womenforsobriety.org (1–800-333–1606) – The mutual support groups of Women for Sobriety work to enhance the self-esteem of members. Women for Sobriety groups are non-religious and the meetings also differ from those of AA in that they prohibit the use of tobacco, caffeine and sugar.

I encourage alcoholics to seek out that which works for them and not to give up. Few are as successful with AA as you have been and they deserve better than to be written off as unmotivated.

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s a matter of definition. I disagree with your definition of alcoholic.

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