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Health Alcoholics Anonymous AA Sham Criticism 2006

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#61 Kosh

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 03:08 PM

View Postgsmonks, on Jun 11 2006, 09:18 PM, said:

View PostRhea, on Jun 11 2006, 06:47 PM, said:

View PostSolar Wind, on Jun 11 2006, 04:42 PM, said:

~shrug~  I don't see why it's so hard for people who actually want to be free of the effects of alcohol to just refrain from buying the bottle or going to the bar ... but maybe that's because I'm not addicted. AFAIK, people who drink heavily usually have some underlying problem in their lives they're trying to hide from. To me, addressing the underlying problem (or problems) seems more likely to succeed than getting a bunch of such people together as a group to bewail how powerless they are over their condition and tell their sad stories.

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.
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#62 emsparks

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 03:19 PM

This is an explanation not an accusation.

Willful lack of will power, willful lack of self control, willful lack of motivation, and “you’re not trying hard enough,” are the abusive brick bats just about every child abuser uses to mentally attack their children. It is also the pronouncement of untrained teachers apply to the neurologically disabled and mentally ill children in their class rooms

If you’re looking to push someone’s emotional buttons, you couldn’t have chosen a bigger one, for the disabled, abused, and addict populations..

Edited by emsparks, 12 June 2006 - 03:20 PM.

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#63 Kosh

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 03:23 PM

View PostCJ AEGIS, on Jun 12 2006, 10:11 AM, said:

Moderator’s Hat On!
I strongly advise everyone to back off on making personal comments in this thread.   It doesn’t help a debate to call someone a name or assault their intelligence/competency.  I strongly advise that the topic of this thread stays on the discussion and not on each other.
Moderator’s Hat Off!



Yopu are a moderator, your "Hat" is always on.
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#64 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 04:19 PM

View PostNatolii, on Jun 12 2006, 03:58 PM, said:

Not everyone had a strong parent. In that you were fortunate.

Thanks. But at the time I didn't feel fortunate. Do you know how hard it is to get away with stuff you're not suppose to be doing, with a parent like that? LOL.
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Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

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#65 Natolii

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 05:05 PM

View PostLORD of the SWORD, on Jun 12 2006, 05:19 PM, said:

View PostNatolii, on Jun 12 2006, 03:58 PM, said:


Not everyone had a strong parent. In that you were fortunate.

Thanks. But at the time I didn't feel fortunate. Do you know how hard it is to get away with stuff you're not suppose to be doing, with a parent like that? LOL.

You could ask emsparks what I could and couldn't get away with

;)
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#66 Mel

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 05:36 PM

View Postgsmonks, on Jun 11 2006, 08:18 PM, said:

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.

I know very little about AA.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where addiction didn't really touch me.  Although my husband's extended family wasn't similarly blessed, his immediate family is also free of such problems.  

However, Delvo is right about the numbers.  Unless the 3-5% are the same percentage of people randomly sorted into AA and non-AA groups in some type of scientific trial or study, there may very well be a self-selection bias.  The people who quit using AA may not have been able to quit on their own.  They may recognize that they require the social support of AA, whereas others may be able to quit by themselves.  Now, these numbers do perhaps call into question how effective mandated AA treatment is, since people forced into it may not be the type to do well with AA or may not have the proper attitude going into it.  It would be interesting to see if there are any scientific studies on that particular sub-population.

#67 Delvo

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 05:39 PM

View PostMel, on Jun 12 2006, 06:36 PM, said:

It would be interesting to see if there are any scientific studies on that particular sub-population.
I'm more curious about how they got any numbers at all for alcohol drinkers who are NOT members of such a group...

#68 sierraleone

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 04:41 PM

Gsmonks, if I said same percentage of babies die within 72 hrs of birth whether they are birthed naturally or by c-section, would you automatically assume that means c-sections don't save babies lives?

(just using that as an example, had no idea what the statistics are).
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#69 Rhea

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 08:09 PM

View PostSolar Wind, on Jun 11 2006, 04:42 PM, said:

~shrug~  I don't see why it's so hard for people who actually want to be free of the effects of alcohol to just refrain from buying the bottle or going to the bar ... but maybe that's because I'm not addicted. AFAIK, people who drink heavily usually have some underlying problem in their lives they're trying to hide from. To me, addressing the underlying problem (or problems) seems more likely to succeed than getting a bunch of such people together as a group to bewail how powerless they are over their condition and tell their sad stories.

Here is the current medical thinking from the NIH:

http://pubs.niaaa.ni..._HTML/facts.htm

Quote

What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes four symptoms:

Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to “get high.”
People who are not alcoholic sometimes do not understand why an alcoholic can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. However, alcoholism has little to do with willpower. Alcoholics are in the grip of a powerful “craving,” or uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides their ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water.

Although some people are able to recover from alcoholism without help, the majority of alcoholics need assistance. With treatment and support, many individuals are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.

Many people wonder why some individuals can use alcohol without problems but others cannot. One important reason has to do with genetics. Scientists have found that having an alcoholic family member makes it more likely that if you choose to drink you too may develop alcoholism. Genes, however, are not the whole story. In fact, scientists now believe that certain factors in a person’s environment influence whether a person with a genetic risk for alcoholism ever develops the disease. A person’s risk for developing alcoholism can increase based on the person’s environment, including where and how he or she lives; family, friends, and culture; peer pressure; and even how easy it is to get alcohol.

I chose this particular publication because it mirrored your "I don't see why it's so hard for people who actually want to be free of the effects of alcohol to just refrain from buying the bottle or going to the bar" almost perfectly.

More:

Quote

Although alcoholism can be treated, a cure is not yet available. In other words, even if an alcoholic has been sober for a long time and has regained health, he or she remains susceptible to relapse and must continue to avoid all alcoholic beverages. “Cutting down” on drinking doesn’t work; cutting out alcohol is necessary for a successful recovery.

However, even individuals who are determined to stay sober may suffer one or several “slips,” or relapses, before achieving long-term sobriety. Relapses are very common and do not mean that a person has failed or cannot recover from alcoholism. Keep in mind, too, that every day that a recovering alcoholic has stayed sober prior to a relapse is extremely valuable time, both to the individual and to his or her family. If a relapse occurs, it is very important to try to stop drinking once again and to get whatever additional support you need to abstain from drinking.

And for GSMonks:

Quote

Virtually all alcoholism treatment programs also include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. AA describes itself as a “worldwide fellowship of men and women who help each other to stay sober.” Although AA is generally recognized as an effective mutual help program for recovering alcoholics, not everyone responds to AA’s style or message, and other recovery approaches are available. Even people who are helped by AA usually find that AA works best in combination with other forms of treatment, including counseling and medical care.

From the Mayo Clinic:

http://www.mayoclini...oholism/DS00340

Quote

Causes
Alcohol addiction — physical dependence on alcohol — occurs gradually as drinking alcohol alters the balance of some chemicals in your brain, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits impulsiveness, and glutamate, which excites the nervous system. Alcohol also raises the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is associated with the pleasurable aspects of drinking alcohol. Excessive, long-term drinking can deplete or increase the levels of some of these chemicals, causing your body to crave alcohol to restore good feelings or to avoid negative feelings.

Other factors can lead to excessive drinking that contributes to the addiction process. These include:

Genetics. Certain genetic factors may cause a person to be vulnerable to alcoholism or other addictions. If you have an imbalance of brain chemicals, you may be more predisposed to alcoholism.

Emotional state. High levels of stress, anxiety or emotional pain can lead some people to drink alcohol to block out the turmoil. Certain stress hormones may be associated with alcoholism.

Psychological factors. Having low-self esteem or suffering from depression may make you more likely to abuse alcohol. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly, but who may not abuse alcohol could lead to excessive drinking on your part. It may be difficult for you to distance yourself from these "enablers" or at least from their drinking habits.

Social and cultural factors. The glamorous way that drinking alcohol is portrayed in advertising and in the entertainment media sends many people messages that it's OK to drink excessively.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#70 Rhea

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 08:13 PM

View PostZwolf666, on Jun 12 2006, 08:15 AM, said:

I've never really liked AA's method, which isn't usually curing the addiction so much as substituting one addiction (alcohol) with another (religion).

(If you ever want to see an unintentionally-hilarious example of how this works, seek out Michael Madsen's first movie, One For The Road (aka Against All Hope - it's on DVD, super cheap, and it's one of the funniest things ever).  

But, if you have to have an addiction, I'd reckon that religion is less damaging than alcohol... and a lot of alcoholic-types do need some external thing to complete them, so, in that case, AA's not that bad.  I'd rather people took a different route, but that's just my d'ruthers.   AA does work for some, so I wouldn't want to ban it.

Cheers,

Zwolf

I also reckon that anything that cures or controls an addiction is good by me.

From the point of view of having gone to Adult Children of Alcoholics for several years (and it uses the same twelve-step method), I don't think it promotes religion at all. You are asked to determine what YOU consider to be your higher power (and given that I'm an agnostic, that's quite a bit of work I had to do). Your higher power can be Christ, Buddha, Muhammed or any other religious figure - your higher power can also be much more generally defined (I chose to see it as the part of me that makes the best choices and participates in life most fully, passionately and compassionately).  Simply the act of being forced to sit down and define what my higher power is was invaluable.

Doesn't matter - all the AA mantra really says is that you have to admit that you can't control your addiction and need help. Since a person wouldn't go to any 12-step program unless they'd lost control of their lives, I think it's a fair statement.

ACA helped me during a very difficult part of my life. It is simply impossible to overrate the benefit of sitting in a roomful of people with similar problems and talking about them knowing you won't be judged.

AA saved my brother's life - he was headed quite a way down the path that cost my dad his life (he literally drank himself to death). He was very heavily involved in AA for the first tear or so. He has his own mini-AA group at home, because his wife is also an alchoholic and they help each other stay sober, and have for 15 years. Whatever gets you there is fine by me.

Edited by Rhea, 13 June 2006 - 08:23 PM.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#71 Nikcara

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 09:21 PM

I was hesitant to respond to this thread, but the constant "AA only works for 3-5%" kept bugging me.  If you want some primary research instead of some guy spouting numbers without referancing any literature, here's one and here's another
and again here

You will notice that neither of those two give hard and fast "this is how many people recover" numbers because, realistically, you can't.  First off, you would have to define exactly what "recovered" meant.  Would someone with 20 years of soberity who relapsed for a week and then got back to not drinking have been a "failure"?  If number of relapses is all that is accounted for, the person with 30 days soberity would be a sucess and the first one a failure.  If you count everyone who enters the room you also have to count the numberous people who don't admit that are alcoholics and are just there because they have to be - be it because a spouse, family, or courts are forcing them to be there.  If a person doesn't want to stop drinking, no program in the world is going to get them to stop.  So by that account the amount of failure will also be inflated.  Furthermore, how do you count people who are forced to go to an AA meeting, learn some things but go out drinking anyway, and then come back and get sober through AA?   For those who go out on  another binge or drink...how do you keep track of them to know if they recover later or not?  I've known people who are in AA who when they were drinking spent time living in abandoned buildings, under bridges, and in dug-out holes.  It's not exactly easy to send them a survey on how much they're still drinking.

Also, if you want to argue about alcoholism not being a disease, please look at some of the research.  here's something on GABA going wrong in the brain, here's a study on how it can effect gene expression, here's a study about genes effecting GABA receptors resulting in increased addicitionsand here's something about endophenotypes

Alcoholism isn't about not having the willpower not to drink, and that's myth that has destroyed many people.  I don't really want to go into the various theories on exactly what happens in the addicted brain, but suffice to say that it's more than overcoming a simple desire to drink.  Many alcoholics describe feelings of not being able to live with alcohol but not able to live without it.  Many recognize that it is ruining their lives but can't force themselves to stop.  I would argue that anyone who can have one drink isn't an alcoholic by the way I define them because they don't have the abnormal chemical response in their brain (alcoholics - and any other addict, I should add - have abnormal serotonin levels and an abnormal pleasure cascade system in their brain which is why they can't have just one.  There's plenty of research into drugs to treat this here's just one example but we're a long way off, if it's even possible to get there).
We have fourty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse  -- Rudyard Kipling

Develop compassion for your enemies, that is genuine compassion.  Limited compassion cannot produce this altruism.  -- H. H. the Dalai Lama

#72 Mark

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 10:53 PM

Quote

Your higher power can be Christ, Buddha, Muhammed or any other religious figure - your higher power can also be much more generally defined (I chose to see it as the part of me that makes the best choices and participates in life most fully, passionately and compassionately). Simply the act of being forced to sit down and define what my higher power is was invaluable.

Mark: I once heard someone say your "higher power" could be anything whatsoever...and he included a door-knob as one example. Whatever works for each individual, because even though there is a 12 step program, each individual's program is as unique as each individual.  
...And you're correct, sitting down, and actually determining who or what your "higher power" is, is a priceless experience, that involves a lot of self-searching, and helps one develope an inner-dialogue (that many people often lack) about one's values, or lack of them.
Mark
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Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.
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#73 Delvo

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 11:35 PM

Calling a doorknob or radiator a "higher power" might make a good joke, but it doesn't really address the issue, because there's more to the "higher power" thing than just calling something by that name. It's also about appealing to the higher power for help with life, and nobody could seriously appeal to a doorknob or radiator for help with life.

#74 Mark

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 11:54 PM

View PostDelvo, on Jun 13 2006, 11:35 PM, said:

Calling a doorknob or radiator a "higher power" might make a good joke, but it doesn't really address the issue, because there's more to the "higher power" thing than just calling something by that name. It's also about appealing to the higher power for help with life, and nobody could seriously appeal to a doorknob or radiator for help with life.

Mark: It's really about developing spirituality, and the alcohoic learning and admitting they can't possibly be in control of their lives (or at least one part of it), and seeking a "higher power" to help them overcome their weakness/es.
Whatever it is someone deems their higher power to be, A.A. says it doesn't ask anyone to believe anything, and the 12 steps are just suggestions that anyone may take, or leave.
That choice always remains with the person seeking help.

Edited by Mark, 13 June 2006 - 11:56 PM.

Mark
Discussion is an exchange of knowledge: argument is an exchange of ignorance.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.
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