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Let’s Start with AA: Although I neither endorse nor use the AA method of maintaining sobriety, I’m not entirely against it as much as I am some of its teachings. Research suggests that (at best) 7% to 12% of those who try AA find success using its method. For that small percentage, AA provides an invaluable service and should be commended.

Unfortunately, AA provides a terrible disservice to the other 88% - 93% who are often (falsely) led to believe only AA can help them. A disservice to those who resist being labeled “diseased,” only to be told their objection is proof of their disease. A disservice to those who refuse to accept they’re powerless; only to be told they’re in denial. For the vast majority of people, AA’s dogmatic approach can actually impede sobriety. Given a false choice between drinking or AA, many take their chances with drinking.

AA, in my opinion, works best for those who’ve come to accept they have no control over their own behavior. For some, the idea their problems stem from a “disease” for which they’re not responsible is more than acceptable; it’s a relief. –And if “turning their life over to the care of God” (as AA suggests) is the solution, they’re more than happy to take that “step” along with all the rest. For this group, accepting and applying the AA approach is desirable and if, in the end, it helps them find the life they want, that is excellent.

However, the average person entertaining the idea of sobriety has a hard time accepting they are “powerless.” They don’t expect to be labeled “alcoholic” let alone “diseased” and they’re generally less than thrilled with the concept of surrendering their life to a “power greater than themselves.” For this other group, it’s unfortunate that AA offers no alternatives. Either you’re an alcoholic who has got to work the “12 steps” or you’re not. Either you suffer from the “disease” alcoholism and will be “recovering” the rest of your life, or you’re not. Simply stated, the AA / 12 step approach just isn’t practical for most of us.

Again, I’d like to make clear it’s not my intent to slam AA or the other 12-step programs currently available. Although I disagree with much of what they and the medical community teach, I recognize their approach has saved lives and brought a lot of good people together. If AA works for you or someone you love, I am happy for you or them because anything, in most cases, is better than the problems associated with regular substance abuse.

My primary goal in writing this is to shed light on a different approach. An approach for those who don’t believe they’re “powerless.” An approach for those who have confidence that their problems can actually be solved instead of just “treated” the rest of their lives. Dare I say, a “1-step” approach that goes right to the heart of the struggle; and kills it…

I stopped drinking more than 17 years ago. I can honestly say I haven’t had to “fight an urge” to drink in the past 16 of those years. This has freed my mind (and my time) to take on many new and rewarding challenges. My life is a thousand times richer as a result.

My hope is that you too can take something of value from my experience, my methods, and my views pertaining to drugs and alcohol. My objective isn’t to convince you to stop; rather it’s to provide you another perspective should you decide you want to.

Joe Plummer
October 2008