My day started when a very polite man inquired, via Twitter, why I "knock" 12 step programs.
Actually, 'Lose The Booze' is about following where the research leads and determining what evidence-based program will work for YOU to Lose The Booze. Or the drugs. Or the gambling habit. Or whatever is keeping you from being the best 'you' that you can be.
If, like my Twitter follower, the 12 step program works for you--that is, it creates a space where you can achieve and maintain your sobriety goals--then 12-step is the perfect program for you. Keep doing what works for you.
If a 12-step program has allowed you to meet your abstinence goals over a sustained period, congratulations. Your success in the steps makes you a pretty rare tropical bird. The research--verified, peer reviewed, scientifically validated research--indicates that the Alcoholics Anonymous program has about a 4% success rate in terms of long-term abstinence. If you're one of the real winners, you deserve more than a chip, you should get a medal and share your success with some of the scientists studying your program.
SO my message, and I do admit that I repeat it frequently, is that you are not a failure, if you are not among the 4% for whom AA works over the long haul and have failed to find long-term sobriety by using the traditional 12 step program.
If you are failing at 12 steps, it is time to look at other alternatives to support you in finding and maintaining a sober, sane, life. There are options. SMART Recovery works for some. Harm reduction models, work for others. Cognitive behavioral therapy wins the research bake-off hands down. Want blinking lights and sound with your CBT? Maybe EMDR is the route for you.
There are also new classes of medications to help ease urges. New awareness that most addicts of all sorts suffer from underlying mental health issues and that treating those issues may ease your triggers to self medicate.
Again, 12 step programs are the perfect program for those who achieve long-term abstinence using 12 steps. But even the most enthusiastic step advocates generally agree that adding a few modern touches, like supportive therapy, coaching, sober lifestyle training, case management with accountability, and other tools, can amp up the odds that your 12 step focused program will remain successful for you over the long-term.
I think there are plenty of truly anti-12-step folks out there. If you're looking for someone who truly detests the model, Jack Trimpey and other good folks who have had genuinely ugly AA experiences, have plenty of online sites for you to visit to share any anger you feel toward the program.
Lose The Booze is about finding your positive and genuinely sustainable place of sobriety, without shame, guilt, or the constant fear that you will fail.
I believe that you and I are powerful, beautiful, and intelligent people who can benefit from decades of advances in research based treatment alternatives.
I am certain that we all need help along the way.
I admit that I find listening to the failure stories and drunk-a-logs of sad, people who believe that they are powerless, is the very last thing to help me maintain my hard-earned long-term sobriety.
Isn't it wonderful that there is more than one road?