Change the Doctor’s opinion in AA

Change the Doctor’s opinion in AA

I saw this petition on changing the text in the “Big Book” of AA which many feel is out of date so I thought I would post it here as I certainly think that the literature in AA could be improved dramatically. I actually thought the “Doctor’s Opinion” was current when I first read it and not something 80 years old. Nothing much has changed since the 1930’s and this causes problems when some modern advances in medicine such as The Sinclair Method are completely ignored by AA. There are also questionable ideas about antidepressants in some of the more cult like meetings.

Anyway it is worth a look and I think that some simple reform in AA could really help the organisation be more effective in the modern world.




Commenting area

  1. Changing AA to allow “crosstalk” would be a step in the right direction. This would bring it more in line with current thinking regarding group support theory (and would bring AA more in line with the effective approach of LifeRing recovery).

    • I do not think allowing crosstalk in AA meetings would be a good idea, regardless of current research and thinking. For one, there are newcomers fresh into recovery who need a forum to express their thoughts without interruption; for many, the social isolation that came from separation from old social circles and the lack of any many options other than AA means that it may be their only forum to actually express themselves. Second, it would allow and encourage the more authoritarian members of the group to interrupt whenever they sense the opportunity to present the “solution.” I know this because I have seen it: old-timers whose only training in addiction counseling has been through sitting in the rooms and memorizing passages and slogans, eager to correct anyone whose shares begin to contradict the sacred texts or established rituals. It may work to allow more of a conversational atmosphere in other programs that have more research-based and effective advice to give, but in the context of AA’s overabundance of bad advice and bad pseudo-psychology it simply opens the door for “experts” on the particular thinking on the program to talk over fresh voices and perspectives. It would be better for those in the rooms who want to help others to enter into a conversation with another member by listening (like, really listening, not just waiting for a chance to interject) to what they have to say during the meeting, waiting until the meeting actually closes, shaking that person’s hand and engaging them in a conversation at that time.

  2. Thanks for your comments Edward and Mike. It just goes to show that many peole feel AA could be improved. Crosstalk can be a good thing in other groups where there is a facilitator who can steer the group. AA has good and bad points, some people love it and others hate it. I do think a bit of reform could make it so much more effective.

    • Thanks for your feedback regarding the comments. The most important point is that the best path is to reform AA/NA from within. This can create an effective support group environment, letting Smart Recovery focus on early recovery.

      • It does seem to have problems doing much in the way of modernising. For example a lot of the literature is out of date including the pamphlets but they take ages to write a new one. This is a shame but is partly caused by all the local area meetings being dominated by old timers who are often inflexible.

  3. The ways I would like to see AA reform is first to not compel people to label them selfs as an alcoholic when they want to talk. I will still attend meetings occasionally to see people and listen but I do not believe in labelling myself for the rest of my life. I was addicted to alcohol . I could be again, right now I am not . I witnessed one newcomer get shouted down for saying she was not comfortable with labelling her self. I would be surprised if she ever went to another meeting.

    I think the problem with people in AA having a tendency to label themselves mad is because the big book does use the word abnormal to describe addicts. Maybe that’s just how people talked in the 1930s. I think if it had been written in these times I don’t think it would sound like this.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>