Alcoholics Anonymous: Not a Cult, But Close.

I’ve had two years to reflect on my time with A.A, the people I’ve met there, and the people I continue to meet who swear by the program. My opinion of the program is unpopular but I stand by it. My attitude toward The Anonymous has been called judgmental and “holier-than-thou” but while I am certainly judgmental (and I thoroughly enjoy it), there’s nothing holy about me or my opinions.

One should never feel obligated to apologize for a judgmental worldview

Rating things on a linear scale is how we decide what is good, bad, pretty, ugly, etc. It helps us avoid danger, find true love, evaluate political opinions, and decide whether or not we like tacos (if you don’t, you’re dead to me). So when people criticize A.A. as being judgmental, I don’t consider that to be a negative quality. I do the same thing… The Russell Brand “we are all one and the universe provides” mentality isn’t for all of us. I judge other addicts all the time. Truly, one of the things that helps to keep me sober is to know that I’m doing it better than a lot of other addicts. I believe most of us feel this way but few are willing to admit it.

To say that I have a problem with Alcoholics Anonymous would be inaccurate. I think it’s a valuable tool for the type of person who needs it. My goal is to steer the people who would not benefit from its dogma toward other forms of recovery. You see, a very specific type of person needs A.A. Yes, everyone who is willing to work the program will likely achieve sobriety… but if you’re not the kind of person who needs to be told to clean your house every Friday, say thank you to people, or beg some imaginary god (or your toothbrush, as A.A. claims anything can be your higher power), it’s only going to make you feel stupid.

I went to A.A. meetings every day for two months after getting out of rehab

It was the most depressing, worthless experience I’ve had in recovery. Tables upon tables of abject failures talking about how much they missed drinking and were holding on to “sanity” (they love that word despite having no clue what it means) only by the grace of The Big Book. I marveled at how someone who was sober for 25 years could still be obese, uneducated, and working a dead-end blue collar job.

A lot of these outside A.A meetings

That’s the crux of it, though. Maybe the type of person who needs A.A. will never achieve more than that. When you’re barely hanging on to your sobriety and need a program of 12 steps to tell you exactly what to do every day, there’s no other room for growth. Maybe that’s fine. Maybe most of the world (A.A. boasts the largest membership of recovering addicts of any program, after all) isn’t capable of achieving anything better than the minimum. History surely suggests that is the case. There are exceptions but not many, I’ve found. As anybody can use the program, inevitably some great men and women get mixed up in it and fool themselves into thinking that if they don’t go to a meeting every day they’ll relapse. Is it even worth trying to stop going when the incorrect move might mean relapse? I can’t answer that for anyone.

It was worth it for me and I’ve never felt better.

7 thoughts on “Alcoholics Anonymous: Not a Cult, But Close.

  1. On my recent post about AA, someone left a comment that the program was flawless and the only way to long-term sobriety, and anyone who didn’t understand that just didn’t understand addiction. That fascinated me, because it had that cultish kind of flavour to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an obese, undereducated, stuck in a dead-end blue collar job old-timer, all I have to say is AA saved my life. The view from my side of my sobriety is that my journey to today is filled with great memories, happy friendships, wonderful family, and love for crappy AA coffee. The book suggests that we trudge the road to happy destiny. Every trudge is different. Some people’s definition of success is money, cars, prestige, large house, important job. My definition of success is gratitude. I’m lucky to be alive. When I walked into my first meeting, I was at the bottom of my grave. The program gave me a way out.

    I hope I never get to the point where my life is so perfect that I can judge and criticize those ahead of me. I may have been sober a long time but I still have daily opportunities to learn, grow, working with sponsees and a sponsor, and be grateful.


  3. I’ve only had one therapy session and she mentioned AA as something I might want to look into. I think I share your mindset about all this group therapy stuff and am skeptical about what I might get out of it, if anything. I also could be lying to myself just as an excuse not to go.

    So I’m curious what type of person do you think would “click” with AA and find it fulfilling?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think you have to click with it to help, like my rehab was AA based and I went to meetings for 2 months after I got out. But then I didn’t need it anymore. Some people just can’t stay sober on their own… It’s like drinking is all they have and they have to replace it with AA so now AA is all they have. Without it they relapse.

      You’re young enough to still have dreams. Lol

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a hard time agreeing to being powerless over drugs and alcohol. For me this is a mind arresting thought that I can’t subscribe to. I understand the principal of AA and if AA save anyone it work.

    Liked by 1 person

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