Further Reading

Can I argue against AA in my philosophy debate?

Hello Mr. Peele (or Stanton if you prefer),

I am wondering if there are even any answers to the questions I have posed below:

  • What percentage of people that joins AA/NA become and stay sober, or actually recover so to speak?
  • Is it true that you are forever considered an addict and in recovery, even if you are sober for over a decade while in a twelve-step program?
  • Are you aware that people lie about their sobriety in order to not upset the group's motivation to stay clean as well as to not embarrass themselves in front of their peers?

My reasoning for not knowing if an answer exists to the first question is because in my research found in Narcotics Anonymous: A Resource in Your Community (NA literature) under Rate of Growth it states "Since no attendance records are kept, it is difficult to estimate what percentages of those who come to NA untimately achieve long-term abstinence."

As for the latter questions, I myself attended a NA meeting but did not find it wise to ask the program director harsh questions that question the ethics of the program itself. I have searched through your questions, but found that most of the Q&A is more addiction based that philosophically based. I did enjoy your conversation with Chris Wagner in Do Values Pay a Role in Addiction? However, I am doing a debate for my Philosophy 205: Morals and Ethics class on the effectiveness of NA/AA programs, a topic which I chose while we were assigned to pick designated topics already. I also chose the con side, saying the programs are not effective. I have found alot of information on my own, but was hoping I could get some words of wisdom directly from you relating to my topic.

Thanks for your time. :)

Desiree Bach
Lake Tahoe Community College

Dear Desiree:

AA is here to stay as the one basic voluntary group for dealing with alcoholism. It seems that this will always be true. Your questions bring up some issues that indicate perhaps we need some additional programs, and certainly treatment approaches, in order to have a significant impact on alcoholism overall in our society. As to your specific questions, one review by AA of its own surveys found only 5% of people who appeared at AA continued attending for a year. People might drop in and out and come back later, but only a small percentage of alcoholics get better through AA at any one time. As to whether NA/AA members consider themselves always to be alcoholics/addicts, did you ask any NA group members? I believe this is the philosophy of 12-step groups, however, and most people who subscribe to the 12 steps accept this view. As to whether people are telling the truth at meetings, for example when they slip, again you would need to ask people in the groups you attend. There is no doubt that this happens, however. Oddly, if they are able to disguise their use (perhaps they used moderately), an alcoholic or addict would probably need to suppress this from the group.