I am sharing my response to the messages I have received asking about my thoughts on the recently published AtlanticArticle, ‘The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous’
No one really needs to defend The 12 Steps – 12 step programs have helped millions of people with addiction issues and they provide a spiritual foundation for a wonderful and effective way of life in recovery for those that want it. In fact the co founders of AA (the original 12 step program) never claimed to be the “be-all end-all” of addiction recovery but instead wrote “we know only a little”. Another thing to point out is that 12 step programs of all kinds operate from The 12 Traditions that clearly state that these groups do not endorse or lend their names to any out side enterprises including treatment centers. The traditions also state a clear lack of opposition to anyone and anything. The 12 Step programs policy on public relations are based on attraction not promotion (they don’t advertise). These organizations have no owners or shareholders, no one person represents them (including myself) nor do they have a profit motive.
What has actually happened is that many treatment centers, have adopted the 12 steps as part of their programs because of the effectiveness the twelve steps have in helping people recover. So to attack AA is ridiculous, yet it proved to be a very effective headline, just sayin:)
I think the real issue isn’t about the 12 steps working or not – people in 12 step programs know better than anyone that “the program” works beautifully for many but does not work for everyone and it’s not enough for some people – addiction is a complex, complicated, destructive and too often deadly problem.
Up until recently there has been little if any profit motive to help addicts and alcoholics due to a lack of parity with health insurance and limited funding for research. Because our nation has criminalized addiction, most of the public resources are thrown at the after effects not the education, prevention and treatment which would be far less expensive. Additionally, because anonymity, part of the traditions of twelve step programs is largely misunderstood (in my opinion), many recovered people keep their recovery a secret. So under these circumstances the stigma and the shame of addiction have blossomed.
Now, in addition to other substances we are facing a full blown heroin epidemic in this country in which people, often young are dying at an alarming rate. At the same time the recent changes in our healthcare system have brought money to the table so more people are looking at this issue and that is a good thing:))
I and most of the people I know who have been in long term recovery using the 12 Steps are grateful to have found what has worked so beautifully for many but remain open minded and welcome research and support.
For more on this topic I highly recommend:
Tommy Rosen , the founder and host of the Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Online Conference series and presents workshops annually at Esalen and Kripalu. Tommy’s first book, Recovery 2.0: Overcoming Addiction and Thriving through Yoga, Meditation, and the 12 Steps, was published by Hay House in October 2014.
In Defense Of 12 Steps: What Science Really Tells Us About Addiction Wbur’s Common Health Reform and Reality by
John F. Kelly, PhD., is the Elizabeth R. Spallin Associate Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the President of the American Psychological Association, Society of Addiction Psychology. He is also the Director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Gene Beresin, MD, MA, is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Health Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The Anonymous People – by Director Greg Williams – The Anonymous People is a feature documentary film about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction.
Deeply entrenched social stigma have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades. The vacuum has been filled with sensational mass media depictions of people with addiction that perpetuate a lurid fascination with the dysfunctional side of what is a preventable and treatable health condition. Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, a grass roots social justice movement is emerging. Courageous addiction recovery advocates have come out of the shadows and are organizing to end discrimination and move toward recovery-based solutions.
The moving story of The Anonymous People is told through the faces and voices of citizens, leaders, volunteers, corporate executives, public figures, and celebrities who are laying it all on the line to save the lives of others just like them. This passionate new public recovery movement aims to transform public opinion, engage communities and elected officials, and finally shift problematic policy toward lasting solutions.