AA isn’t the only way to ‘take alcohol off the table’ – Journal Inquirer: Other Commentary
An increasing number of celebrities are beginning to openly acknowledge personal issues with alcohol and/or drugs. ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas recently told the world of her struggle with alcohol. She said she is currently maintaining her sobriety as a “part of AA.” Fox News reporter Laurie Dhue joined the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship in 2004.
These women have a disease called addiction, or “disorder” if one doesn’t like the word disease. Those who don’t have it don’t understand it; those who do need help to stop. Trying to do it alone is possible — but not likely.
AA has its proponents but also its fair share of critics. Either way, it is fact that AA was designed by men and for men. Originally, women were not even allowed to attend much less join meetings.
“Dr. Bob,” one of AA’s co-founders, reportedly opposed the admission of women alcoholics into the initially all-male group. In fact, though meetings today are coed, many fiercely pro-AA men and women suggest that women with alcohol issues initially seek out all-women AA meetings.
Few know there are other options, one in particular that has a growing membership because it works.
In 1975, Jean Kirkpatrick recognized that, though helpful in the beginning, after many active years of membership in AA it no longer fit for her. That is, she discovered she could no longer adapt the traditional 12-step program to fit her needs.
Until that time, it was generally assumed that any program for recovery from alcoholism would work equally well for women as for men.
But Kirkpatrick and others realized that the statistics did not support this supposition. After some soul-searching, she discovered that some women with substance-abuse issues require a different kind of program for recovery than those designed for men.
Based on Kirkpatrick’s theory that a program based on women’s psychological-emotional needs would look different from those for male alcoholic, she developed one. It is called Women for Sobriety.
WFS is an organization and a self-help program for women alcohol-abusers and/or any woman who suspects that she may drink too much too often. The program is uplifting and focused on the positive attributes of women in recovery. Based upon a 13-statement program of positivity, it encourages emotional and spiritual growth, which helps women to overcome addiction and learn a whole new lifestyle.
There are major differences between programs and not a little controversy surrounding some policies and precepts of 12 step-programs. Suffice to say, there are many women and men who aren’t comfortable with all 12 steps.
For example, a particular sticking point for many women is AA’s first step, admitting to being “powerless over alcohol,” and its corollary, needing to turn our power over to “God as we understand him.”
WFS does not believe women are powerless — and many among us would take issue with calling God “him.”
Some refuse to identify ourselves as “alcoholics,” a term that has yet to be satisfactorily defined. Are alcoholics all “alcohol dependent”? Or are some of us simply “alcohol abusers”? Who decides who is “alcoholic” and who decides the parameters of that definition?
Another disparity between programs is that AA also puts great emphasis on humility: “So it is that we first see humility as a necessity” (from “The Big Book”). Women tend to grow up humble; we instinctively learn to serve others, siblings, family, children. We don’t need to learn humility. We need to learn how to recognize and use our power.
To members of WFS, however, all of that isn’t important. What we know is that we need to stop using — stop relying on — substances. Period. That is what WFS teaches in groups, online, and in person.
To do that, we must first “take alcohol off the table.”
To see what we are all about, join us at Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield every Wednesday from 6-7:30 p.m. Or contact Joyce at (860) 502-7970 or email Espiritalca@aol.com.
The writer runs the Women for Sobriety group in Mansfield, which is free and open to women from area towns.Google+