The fact that you don't understand says that there are no addicts in your family. Lucky you.
My father and brothers were both alcoholic. My brother has been many years sober, and did it with the help of AA. My father, OTOH, drank himself to death. His only sober years came from his attendance in AA.
Having someone to reach out to and support you who understands what you feel is priceless. AA doesn't work for everyone - but then, for any group of addicts there's never going to be one program that works. It's whatever works for you.
I spent years going to Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings as well as the local program for adults who were molested as children, and it got me through some of the worst years of my life. I haven't been been for many years, but I would go in a heartbeat if I though I ever needed to.
It's extremely condsecending of GSMonks to assume that every person who ever went to AA was somehow sucked in because they were either too addicted or too stupid to know they were joining a cult.
I object to GS' characterization of AA as a cult, period. It's a tool, nothing more, but a tool that has help millions of people get their act together and kick their addiction.
The associated groups also teach wives/husbands and children how to stop feeding the loved ones' addiction and save themselves - also extremely valuable. If you don't understand the nature of the addiction you can't understand how to cope with an addict in the family.
Nothing personal is intended, Rhea, but what you and others are offering is hearsay, not evidence.
The evidence as put forth by many reputable study organisations is this:
AA's rate of success is around 3-5 %.
Spontanious quitting is around 3-5 %.
All AA is doing is trying to take credit for that 3-5 %. End of story.
Waterpanther mentioned that treatment centres cost money. This is a non-argument. Of course they cost money. They're not subsidised. They cost about the same as clinics, which are also treatment centres. Their rate of effectiveness, unlike AA, is something that continually has to undergo government scrutiny in order for them to justify their existence.
AA is free, you say? Of course they're free! You can't charge money for giving bogus treatment. And the easiest way to weasel out of being scrutinised and taken to account is to call yourself a religious organisation, which is what 12-step programmes are.
What's really sick about AA is the manner in which the legal/judicial establishments can force a person into AA "treatment", aided and abeted by the medical establishment.
If AA were subject to the same degree of scrutiny as a treatment centre, they'd be shut down in a week. They're a bogus organisation that was founded by and is run by alcoholics. That's tantamount to having an insane assylum run by lunatics.
You must realise that if this were a court of law, every time one of you said, "I know someone who . . .", all I'd have to do is stand and say, "Objection: hearsay" or "Objection: calls for speculation", and that would be the end of your "rebuttal".
You can't present "I know someone . . ." as an argument. There's something called prima facie evidence, which means that if your evidence is a person, you have to produce that person. You can't speak for someone who isn't present.
Delvo stated: "Actually, no, because you're talking about two different sets of people . . ."
Again, Delvo, here's how it works:
3-5 % of people spontaneously quit drinking. AA's actual success rate is around 3-5%.
So tell me, how does this break down into two different sets of people? That 3-5 % means that any part of the population that's tested quits at a rate of 3-5 %, and part of that population is AA's so-call "success" stories.
The "higher power" thing is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. Whether people believe in such a thing or not, their statistical rate of alcoholism and quitting is identical.
The links you have offered are not credible, as several people have pointed out. I know people who have gone to AA and don't drink now. My brother quit cold turkey. What ever works.