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.
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.