When asked about this in various forums, a common response by the AA faithful was that “Well it’s in the meetings where you really learn how not to drink?”
Really? Ok, then that of course begs the question of HOW? Just how do the meetings themselves teach one to stop drinking?
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s use the standard open meeting/speaker format as that is by far the most common type of meeting. Let’s break down what takes place at these meetings and apply it to
the question of how any of these elements instruct people on how to actually stop drinking.
Today let’s analyze the dreaded introductions- This is the demeaning practice where they go around and everyone introduces themselves as alcoholics. You know, “John, alcoholic,- Betty, grateful recovering alcoholic,- Cindy alcoholic/drug addict,- Bill, recovering alcoholic for 35 years thanks to this program and you fine people, etc….,etc….
These introductions in and of themselves are disempowering as opposed to being helpful for the following reasons.
1-First and foremost, they are based on a lie. How can you be labeled as an alcoholic if you don’t drink?!!!!
In order to be classified as an alcoholic, one would assume that you have to actually drink alcoholically or dependently. Let’s take our friend Bill from the above example. Bill hasn’t had a drink in 35 freaking years but still proudly identifies himself as a “recovering” alcoholic. When, pray tell, is Bill going to wake up and realized that he has recovered?
2-The labeling is both demeaning and ego deflating. Society views addicts/alcoholics as damaged goods, weak, and irresponsible. If you’ve worked you buns off to overcome your dependencies, overcome any kind of underlying issues that you may have and have managed put together ANY amount of time free of said dependency, you should not be made to degrade yourself with these negative labels.
3-Repetition fosters belief. If you keep calling yourself an “alcoholic” on a daily basis, you’ll never believe that you have overcome this condition and that you can put in the past where it belongs and move on with your life.
4-It instills resignation and acceptance of a conclusion that just
isn’t true. Namely that you have an incurable disease and that therefore you
will always be an alcoholic and that the best that you can hope to achieve is a
daily reprieve from this lifetime sentence.
5-It’s just another affirmation of AA’s “powerless” mantra. It’s designed to make you feel helpless and in need of the program to survive. Repeat after me, YOU ARE AN ALCOHOLIC AND WILL ALWAYS BE AN ALCOHOLIC, GET USED TO IT AND ACCEPT IT.
6-Misery loves company and when you see everyone else around you admitting defeat and this lifetime label, it makes it that much easier to manipulate your belief system and your behavior.
It’s just so wrong on so many levels.
Next up, dispelling the lie that the steps and meetings are completely separate from one another.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Peace out, Rolf