AA: Simple and Effective?

Doubting AA’s Efficacy

Every meeting draws me back to the recurring thought, “Why isn’t AA more successful than it is?”

The Firm Belief in AA

Sharing such a thought often leads to strong opinions from AA members, defending the program’s efficacy based on personal experiences or broad statements like, “It’s the best solution for alcoholism!” or “It’s 100% effective for those it works for!” Often, discussions are shut down with the argument, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

A study by Kelly, Abry, Ferri, and Humphries, “Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-Step Facilitation Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder” suggests that AA is the most effective treatment when compared to others. However, the question still remains: can we help more alcoholics?

Contemplating Potential Revisions

The thought of tinkering with a program that has changed many lives is certainly not welcomed by all. There’s a sense of failure attributed to those who don’t get sober, often voiced as, “They didn’t want it bad enough!” or “They just weren’t ready.” But aren’t these just ways of blaming the victim? Instead of assigning blame, why don’t we introspect and see where AA could improve?

The Call for Modernization

After several decades with AA, hearing testimonies from people across the USA, guiding others through the steps, and poring over AA literature, I believe that the program could use some serious updating. The AA materials, though good, aren’t comprehensive or structured as a whole. Hence, seekers often find themselves with ambiguous or contradictory answers.

Advocating for Significant Changes

The suggestion of comprehensive changes that modify the twelve steps or the first 164 pages of the Big Book often sparks controversy. People often resist change, wanting to preserve the program they remember. But shouldn’t recovery be a dynamic concept that aids people in achieving and maintaining sobriety?

Introducing a Simplified Approach – The Five Steps

How about modernizing AA by simplifying the Twelve Steps to Five Steps? These steps are straightforward, action-oriented, and encapsulate the essential aspects of the program. They are:

  1. Get a Sponsor.
  2. Inventory and Confession.
  3. Amends.
  4. Principled Living.
  5. Give Back to AA and Sponsor Others.

Expounding the Five Steps

Sponsorship, inventory and confession, amends, principled living, and giving back to AA form the crux of these steps. Each of these play a vital role in fostering sobriety and encouraging a life of recovery.

Reflecting on the Impacts of Changes

Would a more direct, modern approach help more people achieve sobriety? Does the prevalent emphasis on divinity in the Big Book alienate some? Could any alteration make us less effective? These are questions we need to consider.

A Hopeful Vision for AA’s Future

My hope is that AA can adapt to the changing world. The AA community should begin to critically examine long-held beliefs. After all, alcoholism continues to claim lives and disrupt families. Can’t we come together, share our learning, and work towards a clearer, simpler path to sober living?