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The Big Book, AA’s bible, states: Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.
“So I’d have one drink,” he says, “and the first thing on my mind was: I feel better now, but I’m screwed. I might as well drink as much as I possibly can for the next three days.”He felt utterly defeated.
And according to AA doctrine, the failure was his alone. G., Alcoholics Anonymous says that person must be deeply flawed.
Each time he got sober, he’d spend months white-knuckling his days in court and his nights at home.
Evening would fall and his heart would race as he thought ahead to another sleepless night.
But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep.
After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.
Alcoholics Anonymous is famously difficult to study.
By the time he was a practicing defense attorney, J. (who asked to be identified only by his initials) sometimes drank almost a liter of Jameson in a day. He lived in Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Rehabs, people there like to say—and he knew what to do: check himself into a facility.
He often started drinking after his first morning court appearance, and he says he would have loved to drink even more, had his schedule allowed it. He spent a month at a center where the treatment consisted of little more than attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
But although few people seem to realize it, there are alternatives, including prescription drugs and therapies that aim to help patients learn to drink in moderation.
Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, these methods are based on modern science and have been proved, in randomized, controlled studies, to work. G., it took years of trying to “work the program,” pulling himself back onto the wagon only to fall off again, before he finally realized that Alcoholics Anonymous was not his only, or even his best, hope for recovery.