AA – Why do People Who Need Help Reject it?
When I realised I was alcohol dependent (alcoholic by any other name) I ignored it or quite a time – years in fact. I was a functioning and controlled alcoholic who got into a number of minor scrapes but managed to carry on with the activities of daily life: holding down a good job, running my home, being on the surface a good mother and wife (in that order). However, once things began to unravel, I went to Alcoholics Anonymous. While I recognised a good message which applied to me. It did not stop my drinking. I was not ready to give up – or it had not got sufficiently painful.
I have just started reading an excellent book (Undrunk by AJ Adams) which is written for the AA cynic and humorously portrays what many of us thought on first going to AA (even though it is set in the USA it has many parallels with my experience – not surprisingly as being alcoholic is the same the world over and AA itself is based on the same structure and philosophy wherever in the world you attend).
Like me, Mr Adams realised he had a drink problem before he finally got the AA message, but as he says, he initially avoided AA – writing that it was like someone threw him a life belt from the Titanic, but he was not sure he wanted it because it was orange. He succinctly and accurately describes why many people reject AA:
Hadn’t Suffered Enough
- They haven’t suffered enough and are prepared to carry on paying a price to continue drinking. The cost of a bottle in monetary terms will not put off a determined alcoholic. Losing a few friends and having a negative impact on our families will not put us off either. Losing a job due to drinking may or may not make us realise something has to be done. But for many of us, we have to realise we are going to lose our families, health and all self-worth in order to realise we have to stop. For some alcoholics, this too is a price worth paying and they drink to the death. And what a painful slow death it can be.
- AA has an old fashioned image and many people can see it as something to joke about: ‘my name is …. and I am an alcoholic’. For those of us in need of AA, it is a lifesaver and though there is a lot of laughter at the meetings, being in active alcoholism is certainly no laughing matter, as millions of sufferers will verify.
Its Not Easy
- It is not easy to give up drinking and therefore it is not easy to embrace AA fully and go down that road. Many people go to AA wanting to control their drinking. This never works for an alcoholic. One drink is too many and a thousand is never enough. Giving up and becoming a member of AA takes serious commitment .
- Another reason for rejecting AA is that people know nothing about what it is really about and the sort of people who attend. Who does attend? People from all backgrounds, all walks of life, of all ages and from all races and religions.
AA – 12 Step Program
AA and the Twelve Step Programme of AA is the most successful way known for alcoholics to recover from their drinking and to live happy lives free of their addiction. As the members say – keep coming back. It will work – if you give it a serious chance.
The Haynes Clinic is a 12 Step alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinic. If you need help call 01462 851414 for a free and confidential assessment