I don’t think that AA is for everyone, but because it has helped so many, it’s worth it to try a few meetings out for yourself, and decide whether AA might just offer you the support you need to stay sober.
Firstly, I have to say that AA has worked and is working for me, and I always recommend that people struggling to get or stay sober give the meetings a try. I find the support of other alcoholics and the 12 step program empowering and strengthening, and it really helps me to live one day at a time without drugs or alcohol. But, I recognize that it’s not for everyone, and if it doesn’t work for you there is no point in beating a dead horse, just try something else.
In my opinion there is far too much internal debate amongst both addicts and professionals about the relative merits of AA…or whether AA is a cult, or the only answer or whatever!
AA works for a lot of people, and has a long track record of success, and that should be enough. AA doesn’t ask for your money or your life, and you are free to go or not go to a meeting at your discretion. I don’t feel that AA is cultish in any way, and am grateful that there have been meetings available for me as I’ve struggled through some dark days and nights trying to stay sober. Although AA maintains an interfaith philosophy, there is a requirement that members call for strength from a higher power, and this can be problematic for some without a belief in God; while others in AA, even those that are agnostic or even atheist, find a way to make the AA credo work for them, within their own particular framework of beliefs.
AA isn’t a missionary organization, and isn’t trying to convert you to Christianity. Believe what you believe, and if you can make that fit within the framework of AA, all the better. What I say is give it a try. The meetings are very welcoming places, and new members are encouraged to open up at their own pace. You’ve got nothing to lose by attending a meeting or two, and possibly everything to gain. Like any organization, the meetings at one location, with certain attendees, will vary greatly from the meetings at another, so try a few out, and find the one that feels best to you.
Go as often as you need to and take the advice of others that have succeeded and are in control of their alcoholism. If after giving AA a real attempt, you don’t find it to be right for you, don’t get discouraged; simply try something else. We’re all very different, and there is no such thing as a stereotypical addict; and as such what works well for one, or even for most, won’t necessarily work well for everyone. If AA isn’t working for you, seek advice on other available alternatives, and keep trying aftercare support programs until you find the one that feels right, and works for you.
If AA isn’t a good fit, you may find regular counseling with an addictions specialist or addictions therapist helpful. Other organizations that offer after care support are S.O.S. (Secular organizations for Sobriety) that concentrate on recovery without a religious element, Christian recovery groups, that increase the use of Jesus Christ in recovery, Women for Sobriety, a woman’s only organization, Rational recovery, and many others.
Find what works for you and stick with it. Getting at least some aftercare support really increases the likelihood of long term sobriety, and as your period of sobriety increases, you may be able to taper down your need for support services. AA is there to help, and it works for a lot of people when nothing else does. Because AA has proven so successful for so long, even if you feel unsure about the organization, or have heard some negatives about the philosophy, I would urge you to give it a try and make up your own mind.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what works, as long as it does; and you just need to keep on searching until you get the support and inspiration you need to stay sober and live a happy life without abuse.