Leaving AA and staying Sober.

Leaving AA and staying Sober.

Although I have credited AA with giving me a place to go in my early days, which was helpful, I also feel it held me back in my recovery after a while. At the start it was alright, I think that if you spend a lot of time going to meetings in your early days, it can take you away from the people you hung around with in pubs, and give yourself a different sense of responsibility. Nobody wants to go back to AA pissed, although many end up doing that. You want to be part of the group, and to be seen as a successful part of the group, rather than the person, “who does not get it”. This bit had an effect on me and I became competitive with other newcomers which helped.

However, with reflection, I can see that I had really just replaced an alcohol addiction with an addiction to AA. You may say that is a positive thing, but it can have problems. I am convinced that you have to grow as a person and really deal with the issues you face in life if you are going to have a successful recovery. I think that AA can actually stunt this growth. Although the first stage brought me a bit of time, I then felt I had become reliant on the program. That is not a good thing as it makes you different, to people in the outside world. Many in AA talk in a certain way, and are only really comfortable with others in recovery. I wanted more than this. I wanted to emulate those who lived life without emotional difficulties. Not be somebody who had to live a life centred around meetings and who could fall apart when life became hard.



I would say you have to be pretty stable to walk away from your support group in recovery. I am not trying to paint a picture, where all you have to do is leave AA to have a great sober life. That is the impression some try to give on forums such as the anti AA Orange Papers forum, and I think this could lead to disaster for some, who need people around them. You have to be honest to yourself about how things are going and why. Some people need more support than others. Some may feel AA is like a cult and should do something about that, while others will just find it irrelevant and boring.

You may well have stayed in the program through fear. I was told I would relapse if I left and this kept me there for a few extra months, which were not much fun. However, I could see it was not working and I did something about it, and that was the important thing. I did not just sit there, getting angry and hating people, I made a positive move. I got some counselling, and went through a transition period and discussed what I felt, with somebody who was trained to take a step back from the situation and give informed guidance. This was important, to counteract what was being said by those who were indoctrinated by the 12 step method. It was fear that kept them going to the meetings and faith in a higher power. I had no faith and was left with a certain amount of fear and a lack of trust.

Thankfully, after cutting down meetings a bit and trying other activities, I felt better. I work a lot on fitness and this has the benefits, of bringing me into contact with positive people who care about their bodies. They are unlikely to be drinkers, and are good people to be friends with. I got into meditation and again this brought me into new circles that were full of people who were interested in general well being, rather than just talking about recovery. I became serious about cooking food. I started running and swimming and also brought my music playing skills back up to the standard they had been in the past. I also worked the whole way through my recovery, so I was always mixing with normal people. This made me regard those, who spent a lot of time at meetings as strange. I really did not want, what they had. I did not want to waste my life in the rooms. I wanted to try new opportunities and move forward. In some ways this is harder than just staying in the rooms, doing the same things week after week, but once you have established a new lifestyle, it is so much more fulfilling.

I was also told not to forget that AA would be there if I needed it in the future. I have no intention of going back now after about six years of AA free recovery, but that was a good thought to have, when I was transitioning from meetings. I did feel a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders when I left, but I still had bits of self-doubt.

I think the worst thing to do is simply leave AA and then sit around doing nothing. This is the sort of lifestyle that will lead you back to trouble. AA may not be the most normal of lifestyles, but the time investment in going to meetings does make a difference to many. It certainly disrupts your drinking, if you have a commitment several times a week. You will also spend time travelling to meetings and may well have a coffee afterwards. If you are going to leave, you are going to have to fill that time. Try to do some thing worthwhile!Chapter 5 of AA Big Book

The other thing that you will leave behind is the support of other members. Now, I am straight about not liking the God squad, big book thumpers, but there were some decent people about, when I went to AA. I still say hello to quite a few and wish them well, if I see them. There are others who dislike me, because I did what they could not do and left, but many are just pleased to see you are doing well. If you walk away from the 12 step world, you may find you do not have many people to talk to if things happen, so think about that. I can see some people who go on the anti AA forums are looking for some kind of fellowship. They have rejected and hate the 12 step world and spend a huge amount of time running it down and arguing about it. Some get quite stressed by somebody with differing views posting on a site. I feel they have not managed to break away from the 12 step world. They don’t agree with it, and hate it but cannot make the transition to a more normal lifestyle. This is better than not drinking, but they are still stuck on the bridge to normal living. I wanted to cross.

I do not regret leaving AA. It was the right decision for me. I worked at other methods similar to those used by the people who go to Smart recovery and I feel I have grown up. I am have not had any therapy for over 5 years and have not had any depression since leaving AA. I have less feelings of guilt and certainly don’t fear alcohol. Many of the things that I used to hear people sharing about in meetings, now seem trivial but were not at the time. There have been challenges, but when I have problems it is very rare for me to think about drinking. It has faded away.

This seems different to people who are still in AA. They are still obsessed by alcohol. They talk about it now rather than consume it, but it is still the centre of their life. That is not something, I would do normally, although I am using some spare time to write this blog, generally when I am travelling, so I am thinking about it more than usual. I’m not obsessing about it or fearful, or in need of spiritual guidance or any need of support. I just want to tell a few people who find this site, how I’m doing without AA, because many stay in the rooms when it is not the best place for them. There are other options.

I’m happy that some do succeed with the 12 steps and admit it does seem to suit them. However, I have also seen people go on really dreadful binges, when things go wrong. The learnt behaviour of powerlessness, that has been reinforced by countless meetings and readings of chapter 5, kicks into the subconsciousness and off they go. One of my contemporaries from the rooms smashed himself up after jumping off a bridge during a relapse. He still goes to meetings even though he has relapsed many times. That is the path he has chosen. I hope he finds a solution, but I fear more trouble to come. I hope I am wrong.

For me, recovery was about taking responsibility. I do not need the excuse of a disease. I am sure my brain changed over time and welcomed the reward of alcohol, which made me feel I needed it, but this is not what I call a disease. There were cultural influences such as the Irish side of the family, and the wish to avoid certain feelings and self medicate but I’m not going to use that excuse either. It was always a choice. I knew I was doing wrong, but it took me a long time to change. I started recovery when I was forty and time was running out. If I had started in my twenties, things may have been different, although I don’t feel would have reacted well to the religious side of AA at all when I was young. I think harm reduction, would have been a better choice for me then, but I had not heard of it. I also think combining methods could have been a good idea, such as Smart for the tools to recover and AA for a place to sit and some fellowship. I am pleased to see quite a few people suggesting this approach. I feel this method could be the start of a balanced recovery.

I now have enough time away from drinking and away from AA, to feel the real advantages of my life today. I have grown up at last and don’t need to get drunk. Some people ask me if I could moderate drinking now and I think I probably could, but the truth is, I have had enough. I went through too much trouble and as a result of having to turn my life around, I view alcohol in a totally different way. I simply don’t want it. I have a new set of friends, a partner who has never seen me drink and the trust of my family. I have dealt with the issues of the past and have moved on. I’m not on the recovery treadmill and have no wish to be in a support group or to try drinking again. I feel like a different person.

It is up to you if you want to leave. There are other methods of staying sober and lots of on-line resources and books that you can read. It is down to you how you recover and is your responsibility. It can be hard work and frustrating at times. Many in AA look down at other methods. Those type of people have got well in AA so they wish to push that method on others. They ignore the fact that many fail. The fact that many go on to work in rehabs using the Hazelden type approach has meant that the 12 step method is viewed as a treatment by many, but I always simply looked at it as a support group. If you have had problems staying sober in AA then maybe try something else. Just because AA is the biggest group, does not make it the most successful, which was something that surprised me, when I read about the failure rate.

I did not like living my life based around recovery. I wanted more, I wanted to cross that bridge to normal living. Most in AA seem to get stuck on the bridge, and other people jump off.

Good luck with whichever route you take. Find something to do with your spare time. Learning how to make a website like this, was something I did, that made use of time spent on trains or other wasted time. I have enjoyed doing this so far, and the blog is nearly a month old now. It is my second attempt at a recovery based site, and I learnt quite a lot from the mistakes I made with the first one and have changed things. As a result of starting up again, I have been motivated to read about new methods and reach out to other people on other blogs. I am enjoying it so far and will hopefully build it up over the next year into a site with some good searchable resources for people who want to  have a more independent form of recovery. The numbers of different people coming to the site seem to be far higher than when I had my first site, and I hope that this can continue. I feel there is a need for a site that is not focussing on 12 steps as a solution, but is not simply a place to bash those methods.

Here are some links to other related posts on leaving AA




Here is a link to a piece about alternative methods of recovery


The categories in the side bar also lead to solutions such as the Sinclair method and Smart Recovery.



Commenting area

  1. I went to a meeting the other day and decided that’s it for me. Last meeting. After some AA success in the past it hasnt worked for me for 5 years. I broke the cycle of apathy about my life by finally realizing that if I wanted to be abstinent I just needed to care and have love for myself. I will spare the details of my entire life but one thing I did learn is that I am not an alcoholic. I dont care to really drink now. It doesnt fit for me and I really just needed a couple weeks seperation from the weed to get over it. I have a desire to be an adult and responsible to myself and those around me. God talk in meetings usually made me cringe even when I did believe in God. For more than ten years I have been a happy non-theist though not always happy, but comfortable in my beliefs. I am not angry about AA but did get angry sitting in meetings whether 3 years sober or in and out with one week which I did plenty. After trying over 5 years to get down with AA, I am relieved to realize I don’t have to and its ok.

  2. Good luck with the future. Many do just drink heavily in reaction to an incident in their life and can go on to moderate afterwards, when they have had some space and sorted things out.
    On top of everything else, I just found meetings boring, and found most of the sharing to be ridiculous. I don’t regret moving on and know that there are many support groups around if I feel I want them. I do think that most people need to get some stability in their sobriety before moving on from a group, but often feel better once they have.

  3. I absolutely love what was written here. I have never really felt comfortable and I do not like how their way is shoved down your throat. I dont have a sponsor and have been sober 6mths. I have not worked the steps, only attended meetings here and there. Mainly to support my partner. But I completely agree, wasting your time in so many meetings can and will stint self growth. The language there is different and they do isolate themselves from the outside world. I think AA can do some great good for those who are not as strong and who need guidance. But its not for me, its not for everyone. I think I feel more of an urge to drink at the meetings rather than any other time. Anyways, I am in complete agreement with you. Thank you for this blog. Its exactly what I needed to read.

  4. I love this thread, Lovinglife. I think I posted here before but I can’t see all the comments.
    I am another that has moved on from AA, there was nothing left to learn. I felt a commitment (guilt) at first to the new guy and second, there was a level of fear. What would happen? Deep down I knew I would be ok, but I was scared none the less.
    I replaced an incredible amount of time all of a sudden with my relationship, hobbies, exercise and work. I guess I am living the normal life I always wanted….lol.

    • Hi RC, I think you may have commented on a similar thread on the site before rather than this one. All your comments are still on the site! Sometimes the comment counter gives a different number to you expect on wordpress sites as it will count and internal link from another post as a comment.

      Glad everything is going well after you have left and you are getting on with life. AA does take up so much time that could be used for other positive activities. If you throw yourself into these you can do well without a support group, but if you sit around doing nothing and expecting the world to change then it can be tough.

      Im actually doing a longer post about this at the moment.https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/moving-recovery/

  5. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I quit drinking using antabuse and went to AA meetings. I started drinking when I was very young 15 and was working and earning. I hink this changed me a lot in the brain maybe. I also did a lot of drugs. Im 40 now and Im 4 months clean and sober.

    I was working the steps but Ive had bad experiences with sponsors and they really really push it. I have a counsellor I see. some of the people in the meetings really need anger managment training but they are very anti- psychotherapy.

    I now need to find other interests to take me away from this and that takes effort. My plan at the moment is to take antabuse read kick the drink easily by Jason Vale and join some clubs, hobbies, church etc. while continuing my counselling.

    Hopefully I can make a new life for my self using antabuse and counselling as a bit of a safety net.

  6. Thanks for your comment Grant. I also stopped when I was 40 after a similar time of drugs and drinking. I found a lot of people in recovery communities to be quite strange as well, especially those who have really taken on the religious side of AA.
    There are plenty of ways to recover and I have talked about some good books on this site. The ones by Lance Dodes and Stanton Peele offer good methods as does the Harm reduction book by Kenneth Anderson.
    There are alternative groups that are listed here https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/options-alternatives-aa-12-step-alcohol-addiction-recovery/ these alternatives often have online meetings so it is easy to ignore the cranks! There is also the soberistas site for general recovery chat of all types, which is generally a friendly place.
    Good luck with the future. AA will be there if we need it but I felt it better to move on and look at more rational methods.

  7. I am so happy I found blog! I have recently discovered that I have been sucked into the idea that I will die without “the program”. I am tired of being told that I am powerless and having other people telling me what decisions I should make in MY life. I am half way through the steps and since joining have never had the desire for another drink because I knew in my mind that I did not want to be the person that I had become while drinking. They keep telling me that without doing what they tell me to do that I will never stay sober and that I will be unhappy without AA. Well AA is causing me to be unhappy. I am thankful that I was able to find GOD because of the program but I do not think that I should be held accountable to anyone on this earth but myself. It was Fear that drove me to hit my bottom, causing me to find AA. Now my ability to think for myself and be self aware again is telling me that I am able to join the real world again. I am now seeking a counselor rather than a sponsor and I feel that that is the right choice for me. I already have many friends who do not drink and lots of love and support. I also have a much stronger spirituality than I ever have and I believe that was the missing key all along. I self medicated my problems and now I know how I can handle them like an adult. AA did point me in the right direction but I think God and I have it from here.

    • Your last sentence is where I am at.
      Thank you.

    • Jennifer Marie May 17, 2017 at 5:00 am · · Reply

      Wow I am so grateful to this blog and link I searched and found tonight! Months back I discovered I was so fearful of relapsing because everyone always is talking about it happening and it taunted me as if it must be part of my journey when I didn’t even want to drink or drug. I then started distancing myself from meetings and recovery but fear led me back to them or a really bad day or mood lol which j realize is just a coping mechanism to tough times but it’s been over two years sober for me and I feel like I’m over it, the whole recovery world and have been for quite some time. I’m forever grateful for what it gave me, my sanity and life and self back after hard work I had to put in. I know it’s always going to be there so it’s nice to have that, but I did feel afraid of failure until I searched life after recovery tonight and got the much needed confirmation that it’ll be okay and I’m not alone in my quest. I guess certain people have different levels of strength and growth and healing, and aa defiantly connected me to god again and I believe that’s enough with my tools I acquired to combat life with. I made it out of the pit finally and am living my life like a regular person, finally grew up!

  8. Hello Victoria, I am glad you like the site and good luck with the future. I think it is good to try to be independent when possible, and AA will be there if you change your mind. I staggering number of people come to the leaving AA section here on the site and I am sure many of them are questioning the 12 step method.
    There are a number of other solutions such as Smart and there are lots of books on the subject, that I have talked about in the book section. If you are looking for an online community then http://www.soberistas.com may suit you.
    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  9. I appreciate this post. I have been sober “through AA.” for over 6 years now, and for the first three years I was all AA! Steps, meetings, service, sponsorship…hoorah. I loved it. It literally saved my life. Then I moved and I think it was time. Here in Colorado there is wonderful recovery and I have “joined” a group but by no means have I done what I did those first few years. I have one Sponsee, and I attend 1 meeting a week. it’s for women and I find that I go for the social aspect and the lunch with the girls that follows. But I’m bored with it. I never have believed that I would need it forever and the only thing keeping me there is guilt. I feel as though I owe it to the next person to “keep the doors open” as they say. This article really helped and I think it’s time I fade away. I like being a 49 year old gal who just doesn’t drink anymore. I think I like that a lot.

    • Thanks so much for your answer.I think that for some of us moving on is a good idea after a while. I still occaisionally talk to my old sponcee, once in a while and still say hello to a few people that live close by that are in the rooms.
      I still think that poeple who stay alcohol free and live good lives can have an influence on others. I think i set a good example to younger people at the place I work most of all, as many see me as somebody who is involved in sport rather than as a drinker, and a lot do talk to me about not drinking. i also get quite a few emails from people who have seen this site, but who don’t want to put something in the comments section. good luck with the future.

  10. I love this post, thank you.

    • Thanks so much. I plan to come back to this subject in the future as the leaving AA section of this site gets so much traffic. It is something that people are looking for information on, as I think many come to a point in recovery where they feel they should try something new, but are frightened to do so.

  11. Ashley Nicole August 7, 2014 at 4:14 am · · Reply

    Thanks for this blog. I quit drinking over a year and a half ago. In the beginning it wasn’t difficult for me to quit. I was really ready. I went to AA meetings here and there for the first 9 months. After 9 months I decided to ask a friend (who I knew before quitting) to be my sponsor because although I wasn’t drinking, my life was still kind of a mess and I was still making some poor decisions as far as people I surrounded myself with and whatnot. She helped me a lot and my life began to turn around and is so much better than it was before. The AA fellowship was nice too. Now I am in a place where I’ve started seeing a therapist and I feel good about my life, relationships, business, communication, etc. The obsession to drink was lifted in the beginning of quitting drinking. Although there were times when I would say “I love AA,” I never felt totally sold on it. The word powerless does bother me. Some of the beliefs cultivated in the rooms bother me too.. “you can’t be sober w/o AA” and “you’re definitely going to relapse if you don’t go to meetings” and “it’s your disease talking.” These things bother me. I am in a place now where I am seeking MY truth. What do I need to live this amazing life I’ve been given and co-created? My truth right now is that I don’t want my life to revolve around meetings and calling my sponsor and feeling guilty when I don’t do these things. I have spoken with my therapist about this (who is in AA, but very open) and he said AA isn’t for everybody and he thinks I’ll be okay with out it. I am doing my best to get these self defeating beliefs out of my head- that I won’t stay sober without AA. From time to time, the thought of drinking comes into my mind as a fleeting thought (not obsession). And looking back on it, those thoughts came more once I became a part of AA. I am fearful of losing some friendships that I have made and/or feeling judged by those people who think there is no other way. But all I can do is be honest and live the truth I know right now.

    I really appreciate this blog. It helps so much to know that others are clean and sober without AA and helps me lose some of the fear.

  12. I found this very comforting as well. Just couldn’t latch on to a couple of notions of AA: one being it’s a disease (it’s a choice for me anyway it is). For example, a 40 year old mother of 3 who gets cancer, now that’s a disease. She doesn’t go in to the cancer store and say oh I had a hard day these 2 bottles of breast cancer will really help me get through the night. I’m not being flippant I’m putting it in perspective for myself and I’m not making a joke out of cancer. (Lost my sister to breast cancer). The other aspect I just couldn’t swallow was the negativity of how I’m worthless and if I don’t do everything, including all 12 steps within 3 days, or if I leave I will fail. I was told that by two AA old timers that actually yelled at me and did the finger waving in my face. Really? That’s uncalled for. I appreciate the words on this forum and I wish all that do stay in AA the best and if it works for them that’s wonderful. For those who make the choice to leave (like myself) I wish them all the best that life has to offer. I wake up every morning, after meditation and sing the song from American Authors: This is going to be the best day of my life! You sing that every morning…each and every day will be the best day of your life.

  13. Thanks for your comment, I have really found that meditation is helpful as well and that we certainly do have the power to make our days better.

  14. Hey guys, was searching the net and found this site. Its really awesome to read all the posts and to know theres other options. im going through a weird point in recovery myself. Im 21 and in aa, went to rehab and got told that i have a disease and that i need to go to meetings. Its been 15 months but i dont really connect there, “looking at the similarities not the differences” is hard when people in aa have had a lifetime of drinking and i am just starting mine. Most family members of mine would be eligible for aa at some point so may be hereditary. Its just hard to comprehend that my whole life is either aa meetings or drinking myself to an early grave. I feel like the drinking was mainly due to my upbringing and a few stressful events that sent me to the bottle. I just moved house and am looking to start over and take some aa principals but live like a normal person. Thanks to everyone for posting and for making this website. Would really like to hear some feedback or suggestions in moving away from aa.

  15. Hello Terry,
    glad you found the site worthwhile. I also come from a family where some members are really heavy drinkers and this is quite common in people who develop drink problems. I tend to think that growing up in that environment is more to do with developing the problem rather than any genetic or heritary reason, but to be honest whatever the cause, it is only us that can make changes to ourselves.
    I was a lot older when I went to AA, but left after a similalr time to you. You may find something such as Smart recovery http://www.smartrecovery.org/intro/ more useful. I have put some links to other places here on the site https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/other-sites/
    I moved on from AA after reading a lot of books and ahving some private non 12 step counselling. There is no one size fits all solution and it is up to us to look for a method that will help us and decide if being part of a support group is where we want to be.
    Good luck!

  16. I am very glad to find you here. I was in AA at the age of 14 (court ordered when caught drunk in my boyfriends car) and I fell in love. I stayed for 4 years. I left at 18, deciding it was me being an idiot child that got me in trouble. I found myself back as an adult last year. As an adult, I had a very different experience. The women’s support groups were great, especially with my issues, but something didn’t feel right. I left. After a few months, I tried drinking again, and I must admit, I was good from January until September, but the last few weeks I found myself wobbly again. I just do not want to go back to AA. Everything you wrote describes why. Thank you for articulating my experience. I don’t want my world consumed by alcohol anymore (whether it’s in or out of my life). I don’t want to be a perpetual victim. I just want to shift my life. I plan on joining Krav maga and focusing on my health.

  17. It sounds like you have recognised when things are going wrong and doing something about it. Getting fit has certainly helped me and I am sure Krav Maga will help that. You could alos look at harm reduction which does not talk about abstenance for everyone but does help people avoid dangers such as binge drinking if things got a bit wobbly in the future.
    Good luck with everything.

  18. I have been in aa for 37 days now, on step four. I just told my sponsor that I don’t want to go to meetings every day bc quite frankly I dread them. An hour of the same ol same ol. I have no desire to drink, but when I’m bored is when I want to drink. I explained this to my sponsor and she quickly said there is deeper issues. Why? I love my life and I am doing a lot of good, why can’t it just be that simple? Why make a mountain out of a mole hill? But basically I just got fired if I choose to not attend meetings.. so I will be on my own now. Glad I found this site. Gives me confidence bc the whole if u don’t have aa u will drink concept scared me. I don’t want to drink. I’m over it. I don’t crave it nor think about it. Why make something so simple so complicated?

  19. AA people normally say do 90 in 90 but of course you can go at your own pace. I would have thought that doing step 4 after a month is pushing things really fast, and it sounds as if you may have a really controlling sponsor.
    I used AA as a place to go to help break my habit of drinking in the early days, have some fellowship and meet with people who were enganged in giveing up alcohol. I did not get much from the steps. I think it takes some time to get used to being alcohol free and that taking it easy for a bit is probably wise rather than rushing through any programme is probably a good idea.
    There are alternatives and you may find the ideas in something such as Smart recovery help you https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/smart-recovery-overview/
    there are other alternatives listed here such as hams https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/options-alternatives-aa-12-step-alcohol-addiction-recovery/#comment-1587
    another community that would probably help is http://www.soberistas.com which is aimed at women in recovery, especially those under a year.
    I think the most important thing is to stay engaged in the recovery process, but of course it does help if we find a method that is inline with our values. It is probably looking at some of the books I have talked about here https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/ especially those by Lance Dodes, or the new one by Stanton Peele. There are many other methods that work if you can find them. Unfortunatly they tend to get swamped by AA which is so well established. AA certainly does not suit everyone, and I feel it has been taken over in many meetings by people who treat it as a religion, and who think that the steps are an answer for everything. Quite often people react badly to step 4 and 5 especially if they are sensitive, while others feel they have some value.
    The web does have a lot of information on alcoholism but a lot of it is suspect! I would advise looking at the alternatives and reading a bit and making your own mind up about the method that suits you. I hope things go well for you.

  20. I’ve been gradually pulling away from a.a. for several years now. I notice when I do go now, which is probably once a month at this point, I always pay the price with a kind of “emotional hangover” that goes on for a couple days or so. I got sober in a.a. at 25 and now I’m almost 50(still sober). A.A. and “recovery” was my life for most of those years but for the last several years I’ve cut back on meetings and noticed I “relaxed back into myself” instead of always being “out of myself” and I feel healthier and actually more in touch with God than I did walking around in a trance or “serenity” as they call it. I am glad a.a. is there if I need it and it was instrumental to my early sobriety, but I feel a strong pull to keep moving away from it at this point and toward a better, more fulfilling life. Thanks alot for you blog, I really identify with your posts.

  21. Although I feel that fellowship in AA can be really helpful , I feel that the moralisation that takes place can actually make people feel guilty after a while and it is probably time to move on after that has happened. The Oxford group and its offshoots are all about God control and a pretty strict way of living that is more extreme than other areas of Christianity. I did not like the idea of being a God controlled puppet that had to confess everything in public, and wanted more privacy and a more normal circle of friends than I was getting in AA.

  22. Thanks for this post. I’ve been attending AA for 10 years, and while I’m sober, I feel completely disempowered by the message, and by the “blame the victim” strategy of the program in general, especially for women who came out of backgrounds where they were disempowered. I need the OPPOSITE message–goals and self-determination. Also find it very hostile toward intellectualism of any sort, not good for me, a writer and academic. I’ve never been able to accept that I was alcoholic, but had periodic episodes of abusing alcohol after a divorce, surgery, major move, life, job loss, death of family members, and trying to medicate major depression. Enough to not want to drink again. That’s what got me in the rooms. Since I had no other friends, family, or job in the new state I lived in, I let AA become my only support network and my entire social life, and that’s gone on for years. Meanwhile, “real life” is just passing me by and I haven’t been making any forward progress or rebuilding a life or career, or exploring or meeting anyone who shares any of my real interests and passions. I’m tired of talking about alcohol and drinking exploits; bored, frustrated, and especially tired of meeting predatory men. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while, also a recovered alcoholic, and am going to start transitioning out of AA. I’ve been stuck for way too long, and as a result, depression just recycles itself. I want to move forward.

    • Thanks for your comment. You may be interested in online support groups such as http://www.soberistas.com http://www.hellosundaymorning.org or a more formal group such as Smart recovery which offers online meetings.
      I found it important to change the balance of my life at various times. I threw myself into recovery which included many AA meetings for a while and then got outside help and read as much as possible about the subject. There is a lot of crazy “conspiracy theory” rubbish out there but also some great writers such as Stanton Peele or Lance Dodes. After a while I stopped doing much recovery stuff and became involved with normal social groups, generally involving healthy people rather than drinkers or ex drinkers. It is important sometimes to learn from people who do not have a problem rather than those who do!
      When I first cut down my AA meetings I realised I had time to do other things, and that AA or other support groups would still be there if I needed them in the future. It depends on the individual, some like to stay engaged in a recovery group doing service etc and some like to move on to a new life and put things behind them.
      Good luck in the future!

    • Totally relate to what you say, I wasted years in that AA World, getting back into the real world is hard. The fear-mongering and the apathy in those rooms causes anxiety & depression.

  23. Hey

    I enjoyed your thoughtfulness on your journey in recovery. I did initially spend time in sobriety within SMART recovery, and have been sober within AA for two years. I’ve come to terms with the weaknesses of the AA program, but do still experience the benefits. I definitely understand what you mean by talking about people who’ve never crossed the bridge from sobriety into normal living. I count myself as blessed for having a sponsor with an active architectural business, a loving wife and grandchildren, and countless friends; both sober and normal. He has always been a proponent of becoming in touch with the negative feelings, moving forward through introspection, and having AA be a part of an actively healthy existence, rather than its totality.

    I will say I’m sad to hear that your experience in AA featured mainly people who were consumed with the talk of alcohol, I do not go to meetings such as those, and the men in my life have been sober long enough that meetings are a place to reconnect and be reminded of continuing to move forward in life. These men engage with life on life’s terms, and truly live the principles of the program in the other 23 hours. As I saw how balanced your perspective was on AA as a whole, I simply wish to remind you that there are good people within the program who are “happy, joyous, and free” who’ve crossed the bridge from early sobriety into being apart of their greater community and are driven by living, instead of not drinking.

    My thoughts and gratitude to AA aside, what does mark me as different from a lot of AA members is my enthusiasm from other approaches. I do believe that there are many ways to become and stay sober, and if one is able to do it without a 12 step program in a way in which they move forward with their lives, then I’m happy and glad another human being is sober. I too find that there are huge benefits to hanging out with people interested in being healthy without being in recovery: I am a member of a young people’s meditation group and am trying to participate again in intramural sports at my school in connecticut. I’m grateful to be 22 years old with two years sober and to be able to truly participate in life.

    As you mentioned, there are people who moderate alcohol successfully. I have an uncle and close family friend who have done so after debilitating cocaine addictions. While I have chosen abstinence, I’m still respectful of their life choices and do not view them as “living dirty”. I too appreciate that you are not caught up in the Anti-12 Step community whose efforts to demean AA as a crazy cult outweighs their sometimes astute criticisms. Yes, there are problems with AA. Yes, there is sometimes little talk of what can be done to improve as a human being emotionally, physically, and spiritually outside of step work. But at the end of the day, we are all taught within the program that we can “take what we want and leave the rest”, and I accept that I must add many non-AA components to my life to be a healthy sober man and there are some people who will be angry dry drunks for the rest of their lives.

    I feel that the Anti-12 Step people get so caught up with the failings and cult-like behavior of Bill W and their own negative experiences that they cannot reconcile the idea that there are solid members of AA with their own incredibly negative perception of AA and similar programs. They are as equally bad as homophobic, racist Big Book thumpers who don’t believe in medication. They are two sides of the same coin of intolerance, rather than people on opposite sides of the recovery divide.

    I also would like to conclude that I’m glad you’ve found passion in your life, great friends, a caring partner, and the desire to be intoxicated has been lifted. I like that you’ve taken responsibility for your life. Life on life’s terms is hard work, but the rewards of it are endless.

    Keep on keeping on
    Adam S

    • Thanks for your comment, I am glad things are working out for you. I think it is great idea to look at alternative methods of recovery and choose the one that works for you or is in sync with your values. I did not do this at first and realise that was a mistake. I also did join one of the more extreme groups in AA which are common in my area, although not all are that way.

      I certainly met people who had got their life together in AA and enjoyed being a member. There was also a lot of close minded people and they tend to be the problem. I find that AA frustrates me as it has the potential to reach so many people compared to other groups due to it’s large infrastructure but is weighed down by dogma.

      I agree that some of the anti AA people are as irrational as the most extreme 12 steppers. I feel that the Orange site that I mentioned causes problems because some people believe everything written there, but although there are sections that are true a lot of it is “conspiracy theory” type conjecture and is misleading. I read many of the pieces he cites and come to different conclusions. This can have a really bad effect on some and these people also become more extreme as time goes by, after getting caught up in the pack mentality of a group. I don’t doubt they have had bad experiences, but to blame everything that has happened to them as the fault of AA is generally irrational. People do get depression etc in recovery and it is only going to get better if people do something about it. It is crazy to blame AA for that every time although it probably has a negative effect at times. Some of these people seem to see themselves as victims in many areas of their life and want to to be spoon fed a solution. Life is not like that. They want to believe they are the victim of being sucked into a cult rather than view themselves as a drunk that has failed to get sober because they did not look for a solution that would help them and used one which conflicted with their values.

      For me it was right to change approach but that will not be the case for everyone. I do think that some get held back when they take on the core beliefs of the 12 step world. Other people are suited to it. I do see it as a problem that people are not aware of alternative solutions and I feel this is holding the recovery world back. I do think it would help if alternatives were sometimes mentioned in AA meetings which may help those who struggle.

      I do find the arguing that takes place between the fans of different recovery groups on sites such as the fix as a big problem. People will come to mainstream sites looking for solutions and will be put off trying solutions due to the lunacy on display there. It is times that people who are in recovery should try and support each other and not divide groups. It is tough to stop drinking and respect anyone who attempts to make their life better, which ever method they choose. Many people feel that only the method that they used when they finally managed to stop has any value and cannot see that others do better elsewhere.

  24. Very interesting as I have been going to AA meetings and not really likeing them. but realize they are helping many. I now go to addiction services a couple times a week while i’m trying to fill my time with healthy activities. Thanks for your time spent on this article. I am now gonna move forward and lead a normal life. Will be a challenge but it’s better than the alternative. Life has its ups and downs for sure but gets worse if I don’t deal with them on a regular basis. Then it gets easier.

  25. Thanks Darren for your comment. It really does depend on how comfortable you feel in a recovery group for it to have much value. There are alternatives to AA and many are mentioned under this catagorie. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/category/non-12-step-recovery/ I find Smart is the closest to what helped me in approach and you can go to online groups. I am reading about the Sinclair method at the moment and I think this could be a major help to a great number of people in the future if it get accepted and becomes more common. There are loads of books on the subject including the ones by Lance Dodes and Stanton Peele.
    Its probably a good idea to simply cut down meetings for a while and see how you feel, at the start and decide after a while if you need them. AA will still be there if you change your mind!

  26. A real tragedy, is that methods such as the Sinclair method, using Naltrexone are not more widely known. When I decided to fix my drinking problem, the immediate recommendation was a 6 to 8 weeks semi inpatient twelve-step program, 90 meetings in 90 days, and urine alcohol testing for five years.

    I am too self motivated to believe in that strategy, so I discovered the Sinclair method, and did extensive reading about alcohol, and it’s role in society, and our lives. Also attended one AA meeting, and realized immediately it was not for me. The people were friendly, but it focused more on the doom and gloom than on the positive.

    Anyway, now I rarely if ever drink, and I was easily a three bottles of wine a day drinker, met all the criteria for alcoholism etc.

    Better yet, any drinking I do is a choice, and not a mandate not to. , I rarely want to drink, and when I do it’s very minimal. Never get drunk, never have any issues with it.

    I have noticed on numerous forums and in numerous discussions by alcoholics testifying vehemently that any sort of drinking is absolutely impossible. Well, I’ve been doing it for over a year and a half, and Live an essentially sober life.

    The bottom line is, I can decide whether or not to drink, but I would hate to be told that under no circumstances can I ever ever ever ever have a drink again. I realize this method is not for everyone, but it has left me knowing I will either stop drinking if I don’t want to drink, or if I do drink, it’s not going to be a problem.

  27. BTW, Nice of you to create this blog.

    Your arguments are very reasonable, and it’s good for people to know there are options.

    I also have never considered myself disease, recovering, or recovered, or rather as having recognized the problem, and taking steps to fix it.

  28. Thanks for your comments Steven, and I certainly agree that the Sinclair Method should be talkeed about more in recovery conversations. People on online sites seem to either be praising or bashing AA rather than talking about positive experience of using alternative to 12 step solutions, and this really annoys me as I feel so many people are missing out on the chance to recover.
    I did not know about the Sinclair Method when I finally stopped drinking, but would certainly have used it if it had been given as an option. I have done a few posts about it and setup a new category yesterday on this site. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/category/sinclair-method/
    I will try and put more information about the method as I find it.

  29. So glad I found this blog as it is the first rational, truthful perspective I have read on recovery and leaving AA. I have struggled with the fellowship for the last year, and currently attend one meeting a week and have for the last year. It took some searching to find a meeting that was not to filled with people, that couldn’t think for themselves. I appreciate your approach in admitting that AA did help you and has some great qualities, and that you have some issues with the religious side of the program. Most if not all of the other sites I have found are basically a collection of atheist, that are so blinded by their hate of religion, that it also blinds them to seeing any positive aspects of anything really. I understand it completely, as I was an atheist myself for most of my adult life. The last thing I want for myself today is to become the opposite, and try and shove religion or “spirituality” down anyone’s throat either. I have found many great tools and techniques to apply from the program of AA, but like a lot of people, have become pretty disgusted with the fellowship itself. Most of the complaints and criticism I hear, are from crap that has been perpetuated in meetings and is nowhere to be found in the book of alcoholics anonymous. I agree that since I have stopped going to meetings everyday almost, and started living life outside the rooms, that my life has become significantly better! With my better half we utilize the help of a professional therapist to help with life’s issues and improve our relationship. I was always amazed at the number of people who never had successful relationship in their life, try and tell me how to have one. One thing I do truly enjoy though, is helping someone else who is struggling with addiction and alcoholism like I was. I appreciate the links and resources found here to alternative methods of recovery, and hope to better understand them so I can incorporate them myself, and utilize them for someone else who may need my help some day.

  30. Thanks so much for your comment, I do feel it is important so say what we found helpful and unhelpful in the recovery process so others can adapt their own recovery methods. There are people out there with grudges against AA, some of which are valid, but these are often due to the problems in certain groups. When people are being negative about AA they normally find fault with the steps which I only feel help a limited number of people in the way AA claims. The anti people never seem to say that they identified with any of the sharing which I feel is probably untrue.

    Quite a few people have been in contact with me who do believe in God and have problems with the religious side of the program. I am not religious and was not brought up in a religious environment, so can’t really comment that much on that, but I do feel it is a mistake for a recovery support group to incorporate religion and moralising as a key part of the program. I tended to just use the parts of AA that we’re going to help me and left the rest and ultimately moved on once I had found a different type of support and it sounds like you are doing the same.

    Good luck with everything in 2015!

    By the way your comment got stuck in the spam filter today, for some reason, so it did not make the site straight away.

  31. Hi all, I have been reading all your comments and find it refreshing that there are like minded people. I have trouble with my drinking always have done some months I am fine others I fall off my horse so to speak. My initial experiences with aa where very similar to many I read about, I found the Christian side did not agree with my own personal beliefs as I am an odinist. But anyway the people I met there attended my school and found they were in the bliss stage which is good for them I also found groups close to home that did a lot of the guilt trip and and 90 meetings in 90 days which if it works do it. But I am hoping I can take some pages from others experience and stories as a lot of people I know have lost it all and had to start again. My partner has been so patient with me and I hope reading peoples blogs and experience will help me take my life back. It’s a long battle I have been fighting and I’m sick of losing to myself. Anyway thanks for reading and good luck and have a good year

    • Thanks for your comment and like the Viking name! AA is not always the best solution for people and there are other less faith based approaches that you may find more helpful. Smart is good and there is also the Sinclair Method which involves drinking while taking a pill and actually kills the desire to drink over time. There is a good film about it by Claudia Christian which is really worth a look.https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/pill/ Other things wortyh looking at are harm reduction techniques, which are about controlled drinking. I personally felt I went too far for this and was always frustrated by attempts at moderation, but some may find it useful and this book has some great ideas. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/change-drinking-harm-reduction-guide-alcohol-2nd-edition-kenneth-anderson/
      There are other books on recovery not using the steps such as those by Lance Dodes who also wrote the Sober Truth which explains why many are frustrated by AA methods and Stanton Peele who has written lots of great things over the years. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/
      Good luck in 2015 and hope you come back to the site.

      • i have always been looking for ways that i can improve my life even if it meant stopping completely, I do things like make my own meade and it is certain drinks and frames of mind that set me off, I have happily had meals with my wife and her family but in AA it was the stop or die situation,which my friend had went through which i have the utmost respect for that. I am aware of the tablets and how it affects maybe to do with my mental state at that time. I am recently recovering from one of my binges and i am looking inside and out at all facets. changing physically and improving my health is easy as in the past i was training or drinking, so whilst recovering I have been spendin my time reading the blogs which in essence has been like a meeting I just feel as pressured. But thats just me. Thank you all

  32. I know thank you for chatting with I will surely stay with blog and offer my findings and see about other peoples

  33. Thanks for your reply, and I like your comment “I do feel it is important to say what we found helpful and unhelpful in the recovery process so others can adapt their own recovery methods” very much. I have just downloaded the Smart Recovery Book and am beginning to read it this evening, and will be posting my thoughts on it. As part of my own Recovering from Recovery process, I will try and share what has worked for me up to this point, and what I found discouraging about the recovery process. I have been alcohol and drug free for four and a half years now, and was heavily dependent on AA for the first two years of my recovery. I believe that AA was the catalyst of my recovery, but it also started to become the crutch that held me back from living my life. The narrow mindedness and ability to see how other tools and methods could be helpful, is just to prevalent to make sense anymore to me. It amazes me how a program that asks me to have an open mind, is full of people that completely close their mind, after having been there for awhile. My apologies, I don’t want to become an AA basher, just venting some frustration with the current state of the program! I would like to state, what I tried before AA and didn’t have success with, and possibly why it didn’t work me. First for me was Therapy, both with and without medications. I spent about a year and a half on some of the finest couches around. I personally had zero results with therapy, and made no progress at all. I know today that I was as far from honest as possible, lied about the amounts I was drinking and using, and wasn’t very open. Today I see a therapist twice a month with my fiance, and must say that the results are most impressive. We make constant progress on real life issues, and get insight from a professional that knows what he is talking about. If you get anything from this, I hope that it’s don’t waste your money, if you aren’t willing, or can’t yet tell the truth. This is something I credit AA for, and where I learned about honesty and openness. The truth for me though is it took another person to stand on my neck, and help push me through writing things down, and then openly talking about them. Which leads me to my second method I tried for recovery, which was self help books. I filled several bookshelves with them, and read them through and through many times. Every one of these books had the same thing in common, and that was to start writing things down, and begin to take some action. Once again I did neither of these actions, and again got no results. My experience has been that I need someone to hold me accountable, and push me into change, and that the people closest to me, are the last people I would ask. I am better today at accepting help from those close to me, but it wasn’t that way at first.

    • Thanks so much for this comment, you have had a very similar experience to me in that you tried therepy before AA and it only had a limited effect, but it was better afterwards. I think I was motivated to recover by seeing people in AA who had obviously improved their lives and that made me be able to be more honest when I had more Cbt conselling in the future. I actually have a draft post at the moment that touches on this as part of a wider subject but will explore it more in the future. I do feel being motivated may well be the key whichever way we choose recovery, and it is up to us to find a method that helps us do this.

  34. After 8 years of continuous sobriety on my recovery journey, I’m considering stepping away. It’s tough when people call you but I really feel I need to cut this unhealthy leash off. I’ve spent some quality time in the halls but I’m coming to a reality that nobody is going to miss me if I walk away. I feel like I’m addicted to the drama and see and be seen. I’m sure this wasn’t the founders intentions. This certainly is not the best method for people but I rediscovered the god of my childhood and have peace knowing that I am not responsible for the entire universe. I am responsible for my attitude and everyone I encounter daily. Want to know how my program is going? Check out the dishes in my sink or laundry basket. You can talk to your sponsor. I’ll be maintaining my household and paying my bills on time. Lol

  35. I’ve been playing around with AA for a few years now. I do great for a little while, but for whatever reason, I always fall off the wagon again, and feel guilt and shame about having to start it all over again. I think part of my problem is that stating that I’m an ‘alcoholic’ publicly in front of (relative) strangers is a trigger for me, that being constantly reminded that I’m “sick” and will always be “sick” in my life makes me feel that, at it’s core, it’s pointless to try and fight it. I don’t want to think like that anymore, I don’t want to feel like I’m “diseased” or that I’ll always be just off from normal because I haven’t been responsible with my alcohol consumption. I’m also not too hot on the concept that I need a Higher Power to stay sober and alcohol-free instead of just relying on my own self.

    I’ve been reading a lot about how to recover without AA, and I’m glad I came across your blog post. You were very open and honest, without discounting that 12 step programs can work for some people. I’m still going to go to the meetings, if only for a sense of fellowship, but, reading through your blog, I can say recovery without the 12 steps is for me. Like you said, it’s all about choice and taking responsibility, and both of those come from me, and I need to learn to cultivate the self-confidence and self-reliance to do this on my own.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion and experience. I feel more confident now that I know other people have remained sober without AA.

    • There are certainly many ways to find support in stopping and there is nothing to stop you using them along side AA for fellowship. Smart recovery actually says this in its handbook which is well worth a read. I think the Lance Dodes books are pretty good as is some of the things that Stanton Peele writes. There is also the Sinclair Method that uses Naltrexone and is a great solution for many people if they are still drinking.
      I often think that motivation is a key factor in recovery and that finding a support group that motivates rather than annoys you is important! I think you have to take AA for what it is – a big group that has grown successfully but one based on religious ideas, with a lot of traditions that were written a long time ago. It certainly is not the answer for everything, but a place to go that can put you in touch with people who have a common aim. Some people give good advice but others are fairly mad!

  36. Thanks, like a lot of people have mentioned aa is not for everyone.. For some reason I feel guilty about wanting to leave the rooms. I do appreciate the recovery that I’ve been given during my 2 plus years.. However, I am interested in other recovery at the moment. Luckily I have a few friends that have left the rooms and have been able to talk about it. This thread is super helpful too.

    • I think a lot of people simply choose to move on from AA when they feel they can stand on their own two feet. I found the peer support helpful for a while, as well as having a place to go when I would be drinking but I feel that relying on a religious/spiritual program longterm was not the right thing for me. Some people really enjoy being part of AA and should stay but others need to cross that bridge to normal living. I found that friends who had moved on from AA seemed saner than those who stayed.
      AA will always be there if you want to go back but after some CBT therapy, I simply moved on and am glad I have done so. This thread does get read a lot compared to other posts on the site, so I think a lot of people must think about moving on. It does depend on how emotionally stable somebody is and how well they have adapted to alcohol free living, but there are many alternative groups with a more rational approach such as Smart for those who want support but have had enough of the 12 step world.

  37. I moved on from AA after two years of sobriety. I felt so free not having to live the AA worldview. Now a doctor that monitors my recovery progress for my occupation has required me to go to AA again. I am miserable, but I know God will get me through it.

  38. It is absolutely astonishing that AA is still considered the best way to get past alcohol abuse. The “gold standard”

    Self empowerment and positive attitude worked for me. I attended an AA meeting and read the BB No thanks !!!

    Now I am in control, and would recommend finding alternatives such as Medication, hypnosis, CBT, etc.

  39. AntwanFisha April 7, 2015 at 3:29 am · · Reply

    Great post. Thank you for writing down your experience so well. I think I’ll bookmark this post. Great stuff.

  40. Much research links addiction and trauma. You may start hearing about this in meetings as last time I went people were talking about PTSD which I had never heard before. Nevertheless AA can’t help much in my opinion because it insists on dealing with the symptoms only and never the problem. Unless you accept that you have a spiritual disease and God and meetings are the answer. Problem there is only place people believe in the “spiritual not religious god” is in meetings. Totally whacked. It would be nice if it were only a support group but it’s far from it. It’s actually the religion of the 12 steps that lead to the god they worship which is being sober.

    I liked your article and appreciate your wanting to be fair. You may go there in the beginning looking for support to stop drinking, after all, where else are you going to go? I’d be careful though. It took me over 20 years to escape them. (perhaps because I am writing this stuff about them I have yet to escape as you suggest but I think it’s important to put it out there) There are other ways but not other widely accepted ways. Nor many places you can go every night if you are trying to kick. That’s the current state of “treatment.” Hopefully things are changing.


    • Thanks for your comment, I agree you have to be careful about going longterm. Some people do get an unhealthy mindset in AA, and some groups are certainly extreme and can damage those who are vulnerable.

  41. How much time clean and sober do you have LOVINGLIFE52?

  42. WOW! I thought I was the only one that didn’t fall for the whole AA philosophy. It seems that all recovery is based on this foundation of 12 steps.

    • There are a lot of other solutions out there but they do not get a lot of publicity. There are categories on this site linking to the Sinclair Method and to Smart Recovery, which are both more modern than AA.

  43. Very nice post. I’ve added it to my favorites. I’m glad in the vast space of alternative recovery blogs I found this wonderful summation of the process of moving on with one’s life soberly without permanently depending on the training wheels of perpetual “recovery”. This is one of the most thoughtful essays I’ve ever come across about quietly leaving the rooms while still confidently moving forward into new stages of life with your sobriety. This was a really good reading for me to come across at this point in my own journey. I have almost 4 years of sobriety and I’ve been looking to gradually ease off my own involvement with 12 Step and SMART Recovery just to free up some time and finally put my past in my past.

    Recently at a SMART meeting a gentleman in the meeting with about the same time himself asked the room why it was that so many people who used to come to our meeting don’t show up anymore. Everyone in the room had many good thoughts, opinions and theories about what might cause people to fall away, from those moving out of the area, changing jobs, getting married and having children or plain just getting busy with life and not showing up anymore. If this was one of my AA meetings the response likely would’ve been, “he/she is either going to different meetings or is ‘out there’.” (in a foreboding tone of voice). To those who might have remained sober while quietly not “coming back” the response likely would be that they’re either a “dry drunk” for not working the program well enough or they were “never an alcoholic to begin with”. The idea of simply and legitimately moving on with one’s life in time is simply not in the 12 Step vocabulary because recovery is seen as a “way of life”.

    I applaud the efforts you’ve made and sincerely hope you’ve been able to keep up with them since you first wrote this. I do recognize that changes in habits and thinking, sometimes rather drastic ones, often do need to be made and people tend to thrive in structure. Structure is probably the best attribute I received from the rooms of recovery, 12 Step and otherwise, and it was definitely a vital one in my own early days. The most significant message I gleaned from your description of your process is how that need for structure CAN start to mature and evolve in broader ways over time. In my own experience I’ve found that sober time and all I’ve been through has allowed me to find my own voice both by following and by fighting the teachings of the Big Book. In the deepest way possible I’ve bought into the often overlooked principle of “take what you want and leave the rest”.

    Speaking of which I have a quick word about “bashing” AA: While I understand that we shouldn’t go overboard I can say I’ve “bashed” AA at times and I’m glad I did. Particular parts of AA recovery doctrines, especially some of the most patriarchal, condescending and archaic elements of the 12 Step literature, certainly deserve it. I’ve seen a range of behavior in the rooms from kind, caring and supportive to predatory, harmful and even abusive. Yes, some of the anti-AA blogs and so forth can exaggerate and spew unhelpful negativity of their own but there are REAL reasons people can and do become frustrated with the limitations and even the abuse of the 12 Step process. We should never be afraid to question and challenge and seek to open new avenues for recovery for those in recovery looking for alternative tools and methods.

    Once more, thanks for writing this and I wish you all the very best. I hope in time the quiet and lonely voice of those in long-term committed sobriety who have chosen to move on without consistent involvement in AA becomes louder and more people in our circumstances can start to realize they CAN move on and that it isn’t to use an old AA cliche their “disease doing push-ups in the parking lot”. The idea of being an ex-AA member and sober and happy are not mutually exclusive propositions.

    • Thanks for your comments Mike, and i’m happy to say that everything is still going well for me since I wrote this! Lots of people have been in touch about this via email and it seems that many do manage to move on from AA after a while with no real drama.
      I think that there are elements of AA that are useful to many such as the ready available sober community, but certainly found the ideas presented by Smart recovery to be more helpful in rebuilding my self esteem and giving me the tools to beat addiction.
      i agree that some points made by people who are critical of AA are valid and I have certainly been positive about the work of Stanton Peele and Lance Dodes on the blog. However there is a world of difference between the arguments put forward by Lance in the book”The Sober Truth” and some of the things written on sites that are just about AA bashing. Some people are drawn towards sites calling AA a cult and that try and link AA to the Nazis etc, or blame AA for every suicide by somebody who has suffered from addiction. These people are often unstable and spend their time acting agressively online wherever they are allowed to comment and they create a backlash against people doing sensible work to build Smart meetings or set up harm reduction solutions. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sit in a room working on recovery with the type of people that are attracted to the Orange forum. Some of these people have not even been to AA and others sadly have serious mental problems. Judging from the stats on this site which show what people have searched for in google to get here, very few people are interested in “Anti-AA” stuff compared to those who simply want to move on from AA and explore new, more rational solutions. A few people who are obsessed with the “Anti Alcoholics Anonymous” message attempt to give the impression that there are a lot of people interested, when this is not the case.
      I do think AA could be improved by some modernisation and that other solutions need to be acknowledged rather than be swamped by the 12 step world. I do have problem with the 12 steps being offered as a treatment solutions as it is ineffective for so many, and much of the rehab industry is poor quality. I would call this site “pro choice” rather that anti anything as it is up to the individual to take responsibility for their recovery, and find something that helps them. I did put one piece on here explaining why I do not take any notice of Anti AA sites, so that I could make it clear that I am not part of the crazy trolling that goes on on sites such as the fIx. I do not wish to be linked to people who have no respect for other members of the recovery community and who are as “narrow minded” as the most staunch 12 steppers. Recently, supporters of the Orange papers site decided to attack the “13th step film” which is aiming to highlight safety problems in AA, Stanton Peele as well as people commenting here and on over sites. The site owner allowed this to carry on for months before lifting a finger which is his normal response. I do not think this helps the recovery community develop but simply divides people and causes bad feeling. Despite all the online screeching, i don’t think the “Anti-AA” lunatics have managed to shut down a single AA meeting and they have certainly not helped any of the alternative support groups with their mad support!

      • Thanks for your response. I do see what you mean about some of the diatribes sometimes seen on places like Orange Papers and the like. I personally have mixed feelings about Orange Papers. On the one hand, it is a bit out there at times and sometimes makes conspiratorial connections that I’ll generously say are tenuous at best. On the other hand sometimes it takes somebody who might seem a bit more strident and obsessive in order to have the bravery to so publicly and thoroughly stand up to the hegemony of 12 Step recovery in this country. Whatever you might think of him it’s not easy to put yourself out there and respond so consistently to criticism of what you’re doing and still plow through. Also, his work is tremendously well sourced and researched and gives you a lot of history (and dirt) about AA, something anyone in and around AA would probably be interested in even if it does come with a somewhat exaggerated and toxic perspective. For me when I first had feelings like I was trapped in a program if I wanted to remain sober that never completely made sense to me that website at least gave me some initial resources and a language to draw from to voice the unease that I was already feeling in my head. Over time as I read more and discovered more I learned to “take what you want and leave the rest” from Orange Papers just like I’ve learned to do with AA.

        I don’t know many people who really want AA to “go away”. I know I’m certainly not looking for that. It’s helped me in its way and I don’t mind even going back to a meeting here and there to say hello and remember where I came from. However, it’s good to know you can maybe start to move on from it as well. It is rather bizarre to me that well into the 21st century we’re still primarily treating addictive behavior with “spiritual solutions” and that behavioral modification is wrapped up in the archaic religiously tinged terminology of “character building” and “moral inventories” and that we need to buy in to these ideas completely or we’re being “dishonest” and will inevitably be lost. Rather than inspiring it’s actually kind of sad to me to see people 25+ years away from a drink still believing that without their meetings and program they would invariably fall back to alcoholism and death (which happens to us all anyway). The recent meetings I’ve been to around me at least seemed to be gradually thinning out a bit and skewing older and drawing a more and more conservative and overwhelmingly male crowd. Sometimes these meetings feel like an Elks Lodge meeting or something. I’ve also noticed that most of the people that attended meetings with me when I started simply don’t show up anymore. A few I’ve run into in different public places and while they were happy to see me they’ve all seemed a little embarrassed to have had to go through AA to begin with and just seemed to want to say hello and move on with their lives.

        Anyway, anti-AA sites really aren’t even for the people who are happy with their 12 Step experience. They’re really more for the silent guy sitting in the back of the room who’s afraid to speak up even though sometimes the cognitive dissonance of what he’s hearing can be deafening. In terms of the more extreme elements of the anti-AA community I’m not particularly concerned because for the most part they kind of burn themselves out. You can only be righteously pissed off at something for so long before it becomes boring and repetitive. I’ve worn a lot of different philosophical hats over the course of my own recovery (and the several years before it that before I permanently got clean) and I trust that most people can figure out what’s right for them over the course of time. I’m just glad they’re here and I’m glad we can have discussions that feel less shoehorned along a specific set of 12 Step endorsed narratives.

        Thanks for the response and chat. 🙂

        • I certainly don’t want to derail this thread into something about the orange papers as I am not aiming to reach the anti AA community with this site. I agree that the writer of the Orange site has done a lot of research but do not agree with many of his conclusions. Certainly all the cult and Nazi stuff is weak and generally not accepted by reasonable writers. He also tries to blame AA for making alcoholics suicidal and while I would agree that AA does often not prevent members committing suicide, I think blaming it for everything that goes wrong is incorrect. I always point people towards the Lance Dodes book “The Sober Truth” https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/sober-truth-book/ for a more balanced account of the History of AA and the way the treatment industry evolved using the 12 steps. Lance does not need to go on about Hitler etc to make his point, and does not need to call AA a brainwashing cult. Perhaps I should do an updated piece on why I do not think the anti AA world achieves much, but I don’t think that many people are interested in them to be honest, so have not bothered since the early days of the site.

          If you set up a site with extreme views you will attract people with equally extreme views (for and against) which will influence your thinking, but you will not attract much interest from the more moderate majority. I certainly do not agree with forcing people to go to AA, and have an issue with the 12 steps being used in treatment without exposing patients to other solutions which may help them better. On the other hand I can see things that AA helps people with and acknowledge that as I attempt to be honest and balanced.

          Im pro choice and although I feel that many of the alternatives to AA would help people more, I do accept that AA manages to help many people stay motivated in recovery because of the fellowship and number of meetings. Other solutions do need space to grow, and they have certainly been stifled by the treatment industry and the evangelical appraoch of many in AA. I certainly do not think that people ranting and attacking each other on certain message groups or comment sections and then saying go to Smart Recovery or try harm reduction are doing these solutions any good at all. On most of these comment sections there are only a few, obsessive people commenting, usually using multiple names, and they are generally ignored. Search engines rarely pick any of these comments up and list them high for general search terms anyway so nobody new to these discussions will see them. I think there is a backlash against them as well. Certainly some people in Smart groups or harm reduction have no wish to be associated with anti AA people, which I can understand.

          I think it is important that people tell others how they have beaten addiction and how they have made use of different solutions at different times. There are many recovery blogs and online groups starting up now that are not full of people with polarised views, where people can support each other and let people know about different things that have helped them. In the long term these sites will have a much more positive effect on recovery that a few cranks attacking AA and a few equally crazy AA people arguing back. I don’t think the anti brigade have shut down one meeting, but groups such as soberistas are allowing thousands of people to join together in a safe way online and support each other, and that is the type of thing that I see as bringing change to the recovery world. The members of the Soberistas group certainly don’t fill up the comment sections of sites such as the fix with a load of pointless rubbish, they are too busy helping other people get well. Things will only change when there is a demand for it, and if treatment providers can see groups such as soberistas growing, because they are attracting members because they have an approach that people want then they will be influenced by that. They simply ignore the anti lot.

          I think it is important to say that not everyone will do well in AA and that following the 12 steps is certainly not foolproof. I always try to encourage people to explore as many options in recovery as they can and find what works for them. There are too many people in AA or in the anti AA world who wish to control others or tell people what they should be thinking. This often leads to poor advice and problems. Leaving a support group such as AA is a daunting prospect for many, if they have made it a major part of they life, and it is a good idea to have some alternative support elsewhere with rational ideas, and not just find some online forum with a few people going on about how they were harmed by the idea of powerlessness etc, after they went to AA for 20 years, or mixing with a bunch of DUIs who are angry that they got sent to AA. Many people do need some peer support in recovery and benefit from it ( we don’t all spontaneously recovery as certain sites claim!).

          The whole addiction recovery world can be a crazy place, and there are many people who are best avoided and I think most people with extreme views fall into that category. Most people do go through an unstable period in recovery and can have disastrous experiences. Others can do well by following a similar path. There is no magic one way to beat addiction and every type of approach has potential strengths and drawbacks. People who do well have often taken the time to look around for the type of help that is available and been sufficiently motivated to find something that helps them. Others seem to want to be saved and expect something such as AA to save them and then blame it when it did not work. In the couple of years that I have had this version of the site many people from different backgrounds have started recovery blogs and are active on twitter and on social networks such as Facebook. New sites such as Addiction.com which I contribute to, are exploring different aspects of recovery and there are many books on the subject. A few years ago there was not much, especially on the topic alternative to 12 step recovery and sites such as the orange one were the only ones around that questioned AA and grew over the years as a result of being around for a long time (a bit like AA). I certainly think the newer less confrontaitional sites are going to have much bigger influence than the few old anti sites. People are more likely to leave groups such as AA after reading about people they can relate to being successful using other methods. If people can learn from the mistakes of others and build communities which are friendly and root out extremists and idiots then the online recovery movement can really reach so many people. There is certainly a demand for alternatives to AA and the search statistics from google about my site certainly show that people are looking for information about leaving AA and staying sober using alternative solutions and support, probably as they are turned off by the steps and God stuff. On the other hand AA is still the first place many people will go because that is all they have heard about and it is easy to find a meeting anywhere. Other groups have so much catching up to do before they can match that.

          • Other than a few particularly strident and visible activists I don’t know that there’s necessarily a formal “anti-AA” community out there. Many of us seeking out alternative recovery videos and blogs come from a variety of viewpoints and experiences with recovery. As I’ve talked about in the previous posts I have complicated and mixed feelings about the 12 Step approach just like I have complicated and mixed feelings about the most strident elements of the “anti-AA” community. I did start questioning 12 Step because of my own experience and I don’t believe that makes me an “anti-AA” member or as I’ve often heard at meetings, an AA “basher”.

            You mentioned about how AA is often the first place people come to when they’re seeking recovery. That isn’t necessarily so because of its success as the most empirically based well proven solution out there. AA is notoriously difficult to study and track scientifically. The spread of 12 step approaches speaks more to the successful diffusion of its ideas throughout the media, the legal system, and parts (though far from all) of the medical community. People are usually first exposed to it through a 12 Step oriented treatment center, the court system or a sympathetic medical professional. Going to an AA meeting is often like watching a late-night infomercial with endless testimonials. Those who keep attending meetings over time are a self-selected sample of individuals who “keep coming back” because they’re true believers to begin with. Its effectiveness is completely based on the circular logic assertion of “it works if you work it”, the implication being that if it didn’t work for you it was only because you didn’t “work” the program well enough. It protects itself from serious scientific analysis by claiming “spiritual” solutions and that it is only a non-profit volunteer organization despite its many informal ties to the treatment center industry.

            You also mentioned that you are “pro-choice” when it comes to approaching treatment. Part of being pro-choice is to question all methods of treatments and see how well they work and cultivate new and possibly more effective approaches. Many addicted people, especially those in more isolated rural areas, just aren’t even aware that there IS anything else out there other than 12 Step recovery. When many of these people inevitably fail they simply double down harder on themselves (“the program didn’t fail for me, I failed the program”) instead of seeing what else might work for them. The program itself throughout its literature encourages this way of thinking (“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…”) and really doesn’t present any viable alternatives to its approach (“perhaps you should try some controlled drinking…”, “constitutionally incapable of being ‘honest’ with themselves…”).

            No, I don’t believe that AA is a cult or a “Nazi” organization or many of the other wild conclusions Orange Papers or other websites come up with. Many, if not most of the people I came across in the rooms were well-meaning individuals who were only doing what they thought was best. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that AA doesn’t have problems or that we should just accept that AA is in the position of primacy in recovery simply because of its effectiveness. I know a lot of people who like me were in a bad place in their lives and came to AA because they were told to and didn’t know where else to go or what to do. Vulnerable people should have options and information at their disposal.

            We may be agreeing with each other here, just coming at the same point from different angles. I just want to make sure that I make the point that it’s ok to question 12 Step approaches and not risk being automatically be thought of or dismissed as “anti-AA”. I know for myself that I came across my perspective thoughtfully, carefully and through a lot of time and experience. It’s this experience that drives my own interest and even passion towards making sure people have the ability to choose the best tools for themselves to get better.

          • I certainly do question AA on this blog and on addiction.com and have a section here which runs several pages which is critical of AA. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/category/aa-critical/

            I think most people go to AA before trying formal treatment, and most read about it in the press or have seen it in films. Most other solutions do not get a fraction of the exposure in the press, and until their is a demand for them this will stay the same.

            Here is a post which I feel is balanced on the subject on addiction.com http://www.addiction.com/expert-blogs/why-i-dont-go-to-aa/ which I wrote. The comments that it received from the few morons that still read the old orange site shows the stupid close minded, ignorant mentality of the small number of mentally ill people that make up the anti AA brigade. Windy city is my favourite and is some crazy old woman that generally calls herself anti denial that never even went to AA. The others all have multiple identities and are simply trolls. I don’t allow them on here as they generally drag any forum or blog that they are allowed on down to their level and derail any thread. You are right there is no formal anti AA movement – just a few crazy little sites that are generally ignored, and only viewed as important by a few contributors. They do seem to worship the orange site and will attempt to tell you what to think, much more than anyone in AA. I doubt that most of them could handle any normal social situation and one of of them who things the end of AA is nigh, could not even stop his wife going to meetings! Most importantly I do not feel they accurately represent the majority of people who move on from AA or who make use of other “more rational solutions”. They are simply a bunch of keyboard warriors who are trolls out for an argument with anyone who will acknowledge them. They certainly have no interest in supporting other members of the recovery community. I really could not care less what recovery solution somebody else uses as long as it works for them, and many credit AA with being beneficial. I do think that the social side rather than the steps is what helps but it is generally the steps and God that get the credit.

            Most people decide what they want to do about recovery and move on if they want to, without the drama that seems to happen to these few objectionable people. I obviously found fault with AA as I left it, but there were also benefits for me and so I try to be fair about my experience there. I also support people such as Monica Richardson who attempt to highlight some of the dangers of AA such as 13th stepping and have written about her on both blogs. The vast majority of the books I have talked about, are generally describing non 12 step solutions which I feel people should be aware about. The all helps people stay safe and make the right choice.

            I certainly think AA is out of date and does not always provide the best support and have changed the front page of the site today to reflect that a bit more. However several million people choose to be members of the 12 step world which is far more than any other solution. Most of these people are grateful for it and happy members and I respect that. No other solution has managed to attract that kind of following or engagement. Maybe things will change in the future as more people write about great books about the truth behind addiction such as the new Marc Lewis book, which I recently talked about in the blog. There is the work of Smart Recovery and the Sinclair Method which deserve a better following. However the small number of keyboard warriors that write anti AA stuff and then go on about more rational solutions are the worst possible advert for them. I get trolled and flamed because I don’t support the nutcase sites but could not care less, nobody of any note is reading that rubbish. I feel a more balanced, moderate approach linked to respected people in the treatment industry will get read by a wide range of people and hopefully by some in the 12 step world, and it may make them think about telling a struggling newcomer about another solutions. AA people are certainly not influenced by the anti AA lot – they just click away or laugh at them. They have earn the contempt of most people in the recovery world and deserve it!

  44. Beth raskin August 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm · · Reply

    My name is Beth and I have been clean and sober for 21 years. I got sober in a very “structured/disciplined” group, named after an ocean in the U.S. I have over the last 10 years slowly started drifting away, and find that when I attend meetings I feel as though I am a foreign person on a foreign land who doesn’t speak the language, I keep going back I would say out of fear , mainly that if I leave I could be at risk for a drink, even though I really no longer think about alcohol and drinking, I was taught that to leave AA is to drink and to die. I see posts from people who are much newer In sobriety here, would love to hear from folks with long term sobriety who have over come old programming , how did you do it? Suggestions for types of counseling/ therapist to look for? Thank you for the great reading list will be starting there!

    • Hello Beth and thanks for your comment. I did not stay in AA for too long and although I made it a real priority in my life to start with, I was not somebody who sponsored lots of people and became a stalwart of AA before moving on. I have been quite happily sober in the 7 years since I have left AA and am happy with an abstinence only solution as I had a very bad drink problem for a number of years. Other people who comment here have spent much longer than me in AA, i think Jon as there for about 15 years and certainly worked the programme fully. He has a good blog here https://jonsleeper.wordpress.com where he talks about AA, how it helped him and why he moved on.

      People do move on from AA and do well, but you tend not to read much about them as they generally seem to just cut down on meetings and then gently ease themselves into normal life. I suppose they have “crossed the bridge to normal living”. when you are in AA you only see the ones coming back who have not done well, and this gives the impression that nobody succeeds without AA, which is false, however some people do not do well when they leave.

      there are other support groups and I like the Smart Recovery approach which uses CBT style techniques and helps build self esteem. They may be the type of support that could help or there are online sites such as http://www.soberistas.com although that is generally a newcomers site.

      I saw a great therapist towards the end of my time in AA who was helping me more with adjusting things in my general lifestyle using CBT techniques rather than concentrating on my drinking problems as they had diminished with time. I found knowing that AA would be there if I needed it helpful after I had left as it is not going anywhere or likely to change and so I could always go back. I have not done so and feel happier on my own with my own little sober community of people I trust, most of which are people who have moved on from AA. I don’t personally like the term deprograming from AA although many use the term. I do not think the brain works like a computer at all, and that although I now disagree with things that are taught in AA , I accept that I willingly took those ideas on at the time. I do not view this as brainwashing or mind control in the way that some people call it as I think that that can only be done with isolation and violence, although I do see people who have been affected in a bad way by some “suggestions” in AA. I will put up a few thoughts about the idea of “deprogramming soon on here. I have written something but am not quite happy with it and am still changing things. It is different to what a lot of people write as I don’t think bashing AA particularly helps you deprogram but think that simply moving away and joining in a wide range of positive activities with friendly normal people is the best way back to normality for most people. Having said that, we are al different and have different needs. I found reading a wide range of books with opposing ideas helpful, and I feel the Lance Dodes book “The sober truth” really explains what AA is.

      Anyway good luck with what ever you decide to do, and let us know how things are going. I feel it is important to share the things that have helped us, and that was one of the good rings I learnt in AA.

    • Hi Beth,
      It’s been 2 years since your post so I am really hoping you have found your way out by now. I was one of those old timers who left after 17 years. I felt like you did – foreigner in a foreign country. I tried to honor their culture and traditions, and was also afraid if I didn’t go to meetings I would die. My friend who left before I did shared that I will not drink and die. With the time under our belt, we have the ability to think for ourselves and choose NOT to pick up. Another atheist friend pointed to the big book that said, “our thinking will change” if we rightly relate ourselves to Him. It was the idea that I could take back my power and my thinking. These gave me the leverage to get out.

      Leaving was horrible because I did it all wrong. No matter how I review it today, I only had two options: 1) slink away and disappear or 2) announce I’m outta here and experience the fall out.
      There was no way for me to calmly sit down and discuss why I wanted out. Because the discussion always came back with fear that I would drink if I quit going to meetings. There was no way to leave without doing 1 or 2.

      Either way, as the author has written, get as busy in other interests as much as possible. I did therapy while facing all my fears: traveling, sewing, training for sports, going to church, painting, learning the flute – etc. Anything and everything I didn’t do in AA (because another alcoholic needed my help) I did after I left AA. It was so painful to see how much of my life I put on hold for others, and so thrilling to get my life back at the same time. My depression lifted after years of struggling with it in AA. THAT was huge. And it has stayed lifted. That was 2011.

      The best news was that I connected with the “normies” and the “others” whom AA had turned into the enemies because they weren’t in the program. “Only an alcholic can understand me” became a fear tactic to keep me tied to my chair. My hope of wanting to connect with everyone – not because of my woundology but because I was a human being – started to come true. I got out of the sobriety echo chamber and started to see and feel as a human being. Once that began to happen, I was so happy (which lifted my depression even more).

      Today, I still have my ups and downs. I am still amazingly shy (although I talked so much in the program). I love my silence with myself (which I hated when I was in the rooms) and meeting a stranger in the grocery store line is a blast, which practice in AA taught me to do. BUT, I am much more balanced and happy with better boundaries.

      Like I said – I hope you have found your way out by now. It took me 4 years to make the jump for fear of losing everything. I never lost my sobriety (my choice) and although I lost one HUGE community, I learned that I wasn’t “different” from others and connected with humanity. And I have the empowered, thinking choice NOT to drink. This is my responsibility, not the steps or the program or the sponsor. It’s all mine and I live it fully. I hope you have found this already. Thank you for 2013.

  45. Um, for some reason you’ve shut off further replies to the thread from above. That’s unfortunate. It sounds like you have a visceral disgust with what you term “anti-AA” people that I simply don’t share. If they’re crazy I just ignore them. I just don’t find them to be the problem you seem to think they are. I don’t agree with everything they say and I certainly don’t take marching orders from them but I have gained some good information about AA over the years from them.

    Honestly, I am tired of being handed the line that we should respect AA because of how many “millions” are in the organization. Without good scientific analysis we don’t really know how many “millions” of people AA has helped or hasn’t helped. Personally I prefer to believe we ultimately take responsibility for our own lives and recovery whatever tools we use. The tools are less important then the will and commitment to change our addictive behavior. If AA has helped so many millions then it should be able to take criticism for the many more millions who silently drift in and out of the rooms.

    I really do like parts of AA. I like the fellowship, I like that it’s low (or even no) cost, I like that it’s widely available and I think many of the people are there are decent folks just doing what they know to do to get well. Like I said earlier though I do find several fundamental aspects of the program problematic and I hope to see the evolution of the recovery community towards more secular based approaches. AA obviously isn’t going away nor is it threatened in any way. It just finally has some competition.

    It’s a shame because I really was drawn to the balance of your original piece but with each response you seem to be revealing more and more acrimony and negativity about a small group of people who you then claim to be indifferent about. When they’re cogent “Anti-AA” people have their role in the discussion about AA and if they bring up legitimate points about the history, teachings or operation of the organization they should be listened to and learned from.

    • The blog allows nested subthreads about 5 deep then stops them, as it stops threads getting derailed, like this one is here. It is the standard wordpress setting. You can reply to an earlier part of the subthread and it will add your comment to the discussion.
      If you were to go on an anti site and say that you thought that aspects of AA were ok and that some of what is being said is extreme, you will be flamed and trolled. Most of these sites have little tolerance for anyone who has not taken on their ideas!
      The anti AA argument on comment sections is rarely much good and is generally just trolling these days. There are of course some valid points but most people are simply trying to blame AA for everything that goes wrong in recovery and concentrate on bashing the steps but do not mention the benefits of fellowship. I will put a piece on “deprograming from AA” soon which is not a term I like, but will mention why I keep apart from the anti AA bunch in that. I really do not think they achieve anything other than cause bad feeling in the recovery world and do not represent the views of most people who have moved on from AA, who may not like AA any more, but realise that some people in recovery are using it in a positive way to stay motivated. The anti AA lot generally don’t contribute to any broad based recovery debate, they simply use any venue open to them to argue with other members of the recovery community and bash AA. They seem to have taken on board certain views and values from some of the more extreme sites to be the norm after repeated the same thing over and over again, in a similar way to people do with phrases in AA. Experience has shown me that they are best avoided as they cause problems rather than take part in any meaningful debate. This is a shame as it does make a good debate about the pros and cons of AA pretty much impossible as any post on the subject simply attracts a torrent of vitriolic comments. Any more moderate views or people with a bit of common sense are effectively silenced by the nutters on both sides. I certainly do pick up problems in AA as I see them on this site such as the old fashioned view on medication and the way that AA makes some aspects of addiction a moral issue. I point out that AA and the 12 step world often hold progress in the rehab field back, and that I don’t agree that making money out of the steps in some “treatment centres” is helping those suffering with addiction.
      However I do realise that AA has a huge following and that its members should not have to be put up with being trolled by a bunch of lunatics that think they represent the majority who have left 12 step world. There is no simple solution to recovery and all I attempt to do with this site is to point out there are many alternative support groups and that you can leave AA and stay sober as long as you are confident that you can use other methods to beat your addiction or that the addiction problem was in the past. Many in the anti communinity simply want people to leave AA whatever the circumstances and are about destroying AA, not supporting people in recovery. They seem to think everyone should agree with them and they seem to be a small insular online based group, that has no formal meetings or structure. Sometimes to have to lose a battle to win a war and the anti brigade have no concept of that!

  46. I have been ‘in and out’ of aa for 12 years. I am a chronic alcoholic and iv drug user. My recent stretch of clean time in aa was 15 months. Having relapsed literally a hundred times in aa I now only seem relate to a handful of people who have had similar journies. While I’m conscious of looking for similarities rather than differences – I have felt hopeless in aa for a long time. I also feel my have nothing positive to offer others through sharing or helpinv the new commers as my view on aa is so negative. I am happy to see a hate free discussion for alternatives to aa – it is comforting during this transition period from aa. Hopefully this and other sites will continue to offer peoples alternative sucessful recovery experiences. I know in my heart that many people have not made it due to a perceived failure on their part to ‘get’ certain programs. I hope that testimonies from hardcore addicts and chronic relapsers will continue to be available to those in need of reassurance that they are not doomed without aa. Anyway hope that doesn’t sound like I’m bashing aa. Good luck.

    • Good luck to you as well and I hope things work out for you. Have you tried any other support groups or methods such as the Sinclair Method. Stopping drinking is hard, especially when it is around us all the time. It took me many attempts to stop and I did not attend any support groups until I was 40 and really going downhill.
      AA motivates some people to stay stopped but certainly does not work for everyone who wishes to change. There is no magic bullet solution for addiction and we need to be honest about this and not just send people to the same type of group that is not really helping over and over again.
      I hope things work out.

      • thomas zeiler, dc, cvcp August 14, 2015 at 3:14 pm · · Reply

        hi mike, im tom, and have been struggling for years, up and down, etc.lots of loss .ive been a huge hypocrit, i am in health care talk the talk and didnt walk it. i appreciate this site,and want to sober up and stay that way.where to start, i have done aa, and in house therapy/28 days. i know i have lots of issues. where to start, thanks, tom

        • Hi Tom, good luck with stopping. If I was stopping again myself I would probably make use of the Sinclair Method and Smart Recovery as I think they are what would suit me. However we are all different and thankfully there are many ways to stop these days, so although it is hard at times, we should be able to find a support group. Have a look at the categories in the blog section as there are many sections on different recovery solutions such as the Sinclair Method and Smart. These posts contain links to many helpful resources. Good luck.

  47. So glad I’ve found this Blog and read it, I’ve been overcome with guilt and fear about my decision to let go of AA. Iam extremely grateful for AA and 12 steps,but the my life only started to change when I began to engage in the real world with all its ups and downs. I,ve seen so many “old timers” who have remained in the AA bubble become bitter and twisted because their lifes have have not improved. I’m still in the process dissengaging completely but the more I do the better it is.

    • Thanks Lenny, I know what you mean about engaging the real world and things changing. I went through a bit of a transition period when I left and read a lot on the subject from people with many different views and took what I thought would help. I have listed some here https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/ and “the Sober Truth” by Lance Dodes is a really good one about how AA evolved and why it is like it is> I think he is balanced unlike some websites out there which are extreme in view and inaccurate. He also wrote some great books on recovery. I hope all goeas well for you.

  48. Hello everyone,I`m am new on here

  49. You do not get sober to go to meetings. Meetings are a portal a doorway to a Program. A.A. is a spiritual kindergarten it is your responsibility to pass on to higher grades. A.A. is a type of apprenticeship . A.A. has not kept me from socializing or growing in to a healthy well adjusted adult it has given me the tools and the support to do so. I am a heroin addict and an alcoholic who started using at 16 until I was 46. WE do not have a monopoly on recovery. We are not immune from social change. It took me 10 years to become really addicted. It appears today that kids get addicted or so they think in a few short years on very low doses. They also like to exaggerate the quanity of their use. The addict rejects and wants no part of discipline. Also is extremely selfish rebellion dogs our every step at first. IT takes time and effort to come to a state of complete surrender. Surrender my right to myself. I could go on but feel I have said enough. I have been sober over 18 and a half years, by the Grace of God and the program of A.A. Love is the answer. Love never fails. Carry on

  50. Lotten Säfström January 11, 2016 at 12:27 pm · · Reply

    I go to meetings and am approaching my first decade without the potent drug, alcohol which was my drug of choice. I used anything else when that drug had driven me to my knees, which it did in different stages from a terrible experience when I woke up in my own vomit at the age of fifteen. Then I continued using foremost alcohol heavily for 25 years until someone called the social services on me.
    This was the most loving thing anyone had ever done for me in my whole life. I was given the opportunity to go to rehab with my then 3-year-old daughter.
    From there I came to visit my first meetings.
    The first year I didn’t have any desire to stop using but the people in the meetings awoke something in me. A kind of realisation that it actually was possible to live without using alcohol. Something reached me in a way that no-one else had ever managed to before. I still don’t understand why that happened but from reading this site I see that many people who don’t go to meetings anymore found a similar experience at meetings in the beginning.
    I remember being inspired by this fact that people with longer clean time and shorter lived without the drug in their lives. That brought me back into the rooms. This was several months after my rehab was over. Now with an awoken desire to stop drinking and the occasional using of other drugs.
    I was very close to dying. My daughter didn’t live with me anymore because of my terrible state. If I hadn’t been inspired by the people going to these meetings I wouldn’t have found my way out of my active addiction in time.
    This is why I keep going to meetings. Sharing my experience, strength and hope. To inspire the attractiveness of living without mind-altering substances. Many need the inspiration that other addictive people can show them with the evidence of sobriety actually working well over a life-span.
    I am not saying that this is the only way to live without using but for me it was the only thing ever that inspired me. Not even my little daughter could awaken the desire to live without alcohol. No therapists, no sects, no church, not my family or parents. Why this happened is something I don’t analyze too much. It just works and feel my social abilities are enhanced by the twelve-step method.
    I have most of my friends outside AA. I put in 5-10 hours a week working the program – meetings, service, sponsorship, literature/step-work. For being able to pitch in at arresting a deadly disease it’s a small amount of time to do non-profit work. Plus it’s a priceless gift to be able to inspire others to find their way out of their addiction.
    No fees, no hierarchy, no pointing fingers (other than by people who are too full of themselves which the whole planet is inhabited with individuals doing by the way, including myself and no-one ever ordering me around. I like it. The freedom I experience is total.
    I don’t have to speak badly about other forms of recovery – I love sobriety and happily party with other sober people no matter why, where or who keeps them living without being mind-altered by substances such as alcohol.
    I notice that many have the need to lash out at twelve-step organisations. Why is that? What threat do these groups pose? If there is a dysfunctional group or member within a group that doesn’t prove the method per se as crazy…
    There is always the possibility to develop or turn to other methods! For me I owe my very life to becoming sober and like my counselor at the addictive ward (where I went almost nine years of my first years sober) said: “Recovering addicts often carry the same gratitude toward life as others who have cheated death either from deadly diseases as yours or from accidents.” This gratitude keeps me giving om what was given to me.
    I can find it easier to relate to the “younger” twelve-step programs. The literature in these organisations are very well worked through and approved after innumerable people have revised the texts. It also makes me feel safer than reading books written by a single person or a few people coming up with ideas that seem bright at the moment but that these people maybe/often never even lived through. I cannot write or read myself to “understanding truths”. I need to live and act what I claim to have developed an understanding for. Only my actions tell me if I truly understand/know something.
    Well this on that. As long as I can see that my non-profit involvement in twelve-step groups can inspire someone else to not go back into the hell of addiction and to find and keep an attractive way of living sober I am going to keep coming back 🙂 My gratitude for being alive needs to be passed on or else I might explode from thankfulness LOL
    All the best to you all!

    • I am glad things are working out for you, AA certianly suits some people and it seems to work for you. It does not help everyone and so it is important to highlight other solutions, especially those with a higher success rate.

  51. I am almost 8 months sober and at one time had a little over 2 years. Have become a non orthodox big book thumper with a humanist interpretation of AA literature that some love and find refreshing and some loathe. People hate it when I mention the many sayings in the book that are very pro intelligence. One in We Agnostics actually calls human intelligence one of mans magnificent attributes. I love to point out that bashing one’s intelligence is telling whatever people believe created us that their judgement of how to make a human brain is far superior to this alleged god they claim to believe in (as ones IQ is an accident of birth) which is not working the second half of step one and it is not living life on life’s terms. So how are they working step 3? Have seen some put their heads down when I say that, such nonsensical fear, why subject myself to that as opposed to helping people like at a homeless shelter. I have had to get really honest with myself and say that although I believe in the steps, not the steps as a concept more like framework, but the looking at my resentments, making amends, meditation, getting outside myself, etc etc, I have outgrown AA. So many people bash intelligence. So many think they know about meditation yet have no clue. That really gets to me when people laugh at what I say meditation can do or fear it (I am a Buddhist and have formally studied mantra chanting, chant 2 hours per day, do Zazen 40 minutes per day, also use NLP). I really need to move on but am going through a transition period of one meeting per week. The sad thing is in my late thirties, so much of my socializing has been either people in AA or people drinking. Will look for a Zen group and get into community service I think. I love reading about alternatives to AA minus the anger of people like Agent Orange. Thank you for writing this.

    • Thanks Alex, I understand outgrowing AA and think it happens to a lot of people once they have some sober time. I found that finding new people to socialise with who were outside AA but living really positive lives, really helped me. I hope to do a podcast about moving on from AA soon in the podcast section here.
      Best wishes for the future Mike.

    • Alex, I hear you on the intelligence factor. And it’s not just mental intelligence that is great about humanity but also emotional intelligence. My emotionality tells me there are many things in AA that don’t fit for me. I cannot choose to follow them just because someone else says to. I appreciate your comments.

      Have you heard of Refuge Recovery? While it’s a bit more theravada Buddhism-based, it has moved away from steps and instead does Noble Truth inventories, guided meditations, etc. It’s worth a look…


  52. Thank you for this blog! I have been sober now for 8 years. After rehab, I attended a two week out-patient program at which a woman from AA spoke to my group and strongly encouraged us to go to AA meetings. In the early days of my sobriety I attended 1-2 meetings a week, got a sponsor and socialized with AA peeps only. What always irked me and what ultimately drove me away was having AA’ers ask me if I was getting to meetings (because they’d only see me once a week at the same meeting; my home group)… “Oh, you only go to ONE MEETING A WEEK?” It was no one’s business how many meetings I went to but I heard the message that “Meeting makers make it” so many times that I was afraid I wasn’t living up to other people’s standards of one meeting a day, two meetings a day, 90 in 90, etc. I felt inadequate. I never did the steps and many people were incredulous over this; saying that completing the steps was essential to “working the “program.” I got sick of all the jargon….and I always felt there was a veiled threat that if you didn’t go to AA meetings that you would surely “go back out.” I’m sure there are well-meaning people in AA but after about a year away, I’m feeling so much better! I don’t obsess over alcohol, don’t miss meetings and don’t feel a void. I do have other support systems in my life including a wonderful therapist who assures me there are many people that are living full and sober lives without AA. And by the way, I have wonderful friends who are drinkers and light to non-drinkers (in AA I was warned that if you don’t stick close to sober people, you will put your sobriety at risk). I’m thankful for AA being a place to land after I got sober; there are wonderful people in the fellowship that are very kind and understanding. But I am happy I landed on this site because some of my negative feelings about AA have been validated. I am not alone. Good to know!

    • Thanks Gayle for your comment. I experienced many of the same things as you an think kit is quite common. I also think it is important for those of us who have taken responsibility for our own problems and who have successfully moved on from the 12 step world to tell our stories so that others can make rational decisions about their own recovery if they feel they wish to modify their approach.

  53. Just found this article and want to say thank you for putting the thoughts in my head clearly down for me to read. I stopped drinking almost 4 years ago, did the first few years in and out of meetings (mostly do to my dad “forcing” me to do it). Then I started working out, I started dieting, I got a coach, I started reading a lot, I got a girlfriend who makes me happy and we go hiking and to the gym together. Pretty much I made myself busy, so busy that the few times a week I was going to meetings felt like a waste of time. I felt better leaving the gym then leaving a meeting. I have to also say I am 24 and got sober at 20. All these years I’ve been scared to say I am not a member of AA cause I thought that meant I would go back to my old me. Honestly though I don’t drink now because of the empty carbs.

    I work everyday to grow my body, my mind and my spirituality. AA works for some (including my family members) but I think I am much happier with my path.

    Overall I want to say thank you for this post. Wish I would have seen it when you first posted it.

    • Thanks for commenting John, I think many people grow out of recovery after a while and for those that do, it is healthier to take part in more normal activities. I certainly no longer want a life based around recoveryalthough that was helpful in my early days.

  54. Katherine A April 10, 2016 at 10:01 am · · Reply

    I have been clean for 23 years now and have been involved in the NA program for all that time but have realized that I am having questions regarding whether it is a good fit in my life anymore. As someone who has “bought” party line for 23 years I am now questioning everything I was “taught” in the rooms. I am finding that now, when I verbalize those questions, I am told that I am in my disease or chastised for talking bad about the program. I have been struggling with the addict label and I feel like it only separates me from others. I have come to the conclusion that we are all searching for the same thing, which, in its simplest explanation, is connection, and the only thing that differs is the ways that we try to obtain that connection. To continue to label myself as an addict and refer to everyone else as “normal” is sending the message that I am abnormal and, as I’ve always believed, what I focus on, expands.
    Over the years, I have added other things in my life that allow me to continue to grow and involves self-reflection of my life. By adding these things, I now have wonderful relationships with people outside the rooms who support me in the same types of ways that I get support from people in the room. I am not sure what my role in NA will look like in the future but it is comforting to know that there are others out there who have expanded their world and are getting support elsewhere and that maybe I no longer have to believe in the “work the steps or die m-fucker” approach. Just don’t want to live with the shame and fear tactic approach any longer.

    • Hi katherine, thanks for your comment and well done on so many successful years in recovery. I think that some of the ideas which helped us stop a stay stopped in the early days can become a bit of a problem later in recovery when we do have different needs. This is not really something that is addressed in the 12 step program, but there are many books out there these days on the subject that can help people find out a wide variety of methods that can help them. It is important to find something that helps us as an individual, and I felt that being more independent was the best way for me.

  55. Michael D very nicely written. I too left AA, though I was grateful for their help in the beginning of my recovery, sobriety or whatever term can be applied to abstinence from alcohol. I echo many of your sediments. I left AA because I did not see many examples of ‘living life on life’s terms’ which I wanted to do desperately without drinking. I found a path and now enjoy life. I do wish I could describe and share my path in order to assist others who cannot grow in the rooms. I am however thankful to those in the rooms who assisted me in my transition. Thank you for so eloquently vocalizing how I also feel and felt about AA.

  56. Thank you for your honesty Michael. I ami in the processing of “transitioning” myself. I will always be grateful for AA and the tools It has taught me. It helped me to get my life back. That being said, I am finding it too restrictive. There is definitely an attitude of “our way or the highway.”There seems to be no real acceptance of any other forms of recovery. All I ever hear is…”You’ll be back.” …Like you, I don’t necessarily agree with my alcoholism as a “disease”. Maybe there is a medical component…maybe not….But, I choose to drink…period. And, no amount of AA or any other recovery group will keep me from picking up again. If I drink, I want the drink more than I want my sobriety. Sobriety has given me my life back. I don’t sit in fear….I live in serenity Recovery is possible…without AA.

    • Hi Cathy, it certainly is possible to transition out of AA.Members of AA only tend to see the people that come back after having had abad time rather than those who successfully moved on. I found it helpful to realise that AA was still going to be there if I wanted or needed to return, when I was trying a more independent lifestyle. I hope everything goes well for you.

    • AA is founded on the 12 steps , its all they should offer. Ideally you should come to AA , take the first 9 steps asap ( 2 days ) practice 10 and 11 daily become 12 , come to meetings and share on this experience, no more no less , job done ! Thats the way it was meant to be and it works . Its not group therapy . Sadly thats what it has become and like you most people don’t get it ( the Steps ) This is what happens when people do their own thing ! If you want to understand alcoholics think ‘ adult child ‘ Just don’t tell them , illness of denial and all that . Hope this helps .

  57. Nicky Thurman May 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm · · Reply

    It was very refreshing reading these comments from recovering alcoholics who needed something other than AA. I have been sober for over 3 years now but went to AA nitially for a few months. I found myself opening up about my drink problem immediately at AA which was a huge help I just got slightly put off by the pressure of being given people’s telephone numbers that I hardly knew and having to start thinking about attempting the 12 steps, which made no sense to me what so ever. I therefore felt it wasn’t for me but what I learnt there was that I did not want to loose the things in life that I had so far taken for granted. Some people attending had lost their partners, houses, babies, children and money. It was almost a competition in respect to who had had the worst story to tell. Anyway I stopped going but have managed to remain alcohol free through will power, a supportive husband and fantastic friends. I find that if I am quite open about being an alcoholic previously it helps people understand why I can’t come out with them for booze ups anymore. I don’t get invited to many parties anymore which I did miss at first but I now no longer think about it. I have moments when I wish I could have one drink but I am worried what it would lead too so I’m better off not going there.Good luck and keep up the good choices in life to all those who have seen the light!

    • Thanks Nicky, I am glad things are going well for you. I developed much more when I moved away from AA and used alternative solutions including counselling. AA suits some people but I think that more people are questioning the effectiveness of the steps these days. For me, Smart Recovery offers a much more logical support group.

  58. I very much appreciated this article. I find myself transitioning out of AA after almost eleven years and am looking forward to what life has in store for me. I certainly have a lot more time on my hands. I have also recently started therapy which I believe is helping me heal some to the deeper issues that lead to my drinking in the first place. Although AA touches on some of the “causes and conditions,” it failed to get to the places I have been able to get to during my short dabbling with therapy. I am very grateful for AA as I have successfully stayed sober, but I am a bit burnt out on AA culture. There is life outside AA and it is quietly calling my name. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Jo, thanks for your comment. I also made great strides when I used aqualified therapist compared to simply working the steps. I made a huge amount of progress in a short amount of time, which I don’t thnk would have happened if I just used to AA ideas. This enabled me to move on. Good luck with the future.

  59. Hi Michael! Thank you so much for this wonderful article! I have been clean and sober for quite some time now and have been attending meetings twice a week up to this point, but in the past six months my mindset towards the 12 step program has changed. Slowly but surely I have begun feeling alienated by the rest of the members in the support groups because of my viewpoint changes. I find the meetings boring and I find it difficult to relate to the others that are there. I have no desire to use or to drink and the only times I ever think of doing that is when I am at meetings or talking to other members. I don’t experience the troubles that other people do. I take responsibility for my actions and live my life based on the spiritual principles taught in the program. I have adopted a very simple motto that have been working exceedingly well for me: “Always do the right thing”.

    I wanted to grow as a person and I felt that I cannot do that if I stay and stagnate in the fellowship like many others are doing. I want to be part of the normal world again and have thus started taking steps to reconnect with old friends who don’t drink or don’t do drugs. I have formed strong bonds with these people and in the past few months they have been a greater support group to me than the people in the meetings have ever been! Since breaking away from the recovery program I have had more time to focus on the things that make me happy (hobbies, spending time with family, and writing). I have also met a wonderful girlfriend who knows my history and is very supportive of my decision to not drink. Life has just been getting increasingly better for me. I can now face my problems head on by myself and deal with them in constructive and creative ways.

    This past week I have been wondering if there are others out there who feel the same as I do and today I came across the site and this wonderful article. Once again thank you and keep doing what you are doing!

  60. I have been in AA going on 5 years and just recently I have been having strong feelings that im not really sure about all this and being alcoholic. Perhaps that there is more to life then fellowship and the program. I have had many sponsors and worked the steps many times and ill say that I feel like it has given me a solid foundation and im really grateful for the time i have had to grow up. Part of me feels crazy for thinking of leaving AA and it seems really taboo to discuss these thoughts and feelings with most in the program. I have discussed this with my current sponsor and he is very open minded and pretty much said give it some time. I have already really distanced myself from meetings and go to 1 a week with some close friends. I just feel conflicted but at times i feel some sort of freedom when thinking of moving on. I came into the program in my twenties and was voluntold and I truly did find structure and a sort of escape from the way i was living. I dont have hate for the program in any way, of course there are things I disagree with but it has done alot for me thus far.

  61. Thanks for your commnet Jerrold. You may find some of the books on alternative to AA methods on the site helpful. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/ When I decided to move I found it helpful to realise that AA would still be there if I wanted to return. It is a big decision to make for many, so take your time and look at other options and perhaps try a few alternatives before leaving, if that is what you eventually choose to do.

  62. This totally resonates with me. Thank you. I have been in and out of AA for about 15 years and I got so sick and tired of the drama, thatrics, etc. The fear, the sick aponsors, the actual claim that I shouldn’t fear people no matter how dangerous or violent they are!?! WTF!!! That is SICK lol:) No more of that terminology “sick this” or “sick that” blah blah blah…almost 2 months free of meetings and sober! Just doing mantra chanting and NLP (self talk routines). Also incorporating Zazen, exercise, music (playing piano, was a Suzuki student for 18 years, played since I was 3 and been on hiatus for about 5 years, am 37), and happier than I have been in a long time. Reprogramming the crazy beliefs, alcoholism is alcohol ADDICTION not a disease, alcohol is a narcotic that anyone can become addicted to but each person may require lots of it or very little depending on DNA. I don’t push that belief on anyone, to each their own. So glad I don’t need permission to never again believe some bullshit like “my disease in in the parking lot right now doing pushups”, just stop, doesn’t work that way. No more conspiracy theories about the alcoholic mind, no more anti intelligence, no more of me being “too smart for my own good” or “we bury smart fuckers like you all the time”, “never seen someone too dumb for this program but seen plenty too smart for this program”. Well I guess I will just take my 135-140 IQ and walk right out the door and leave you morons alone, sorry that you are jealous of my mind as you wish you were half as smart as me as I will go much farther than you can hope to given that I stay sober (not every one in the room as some were smarter than even me, but most weren’t the brightest). You people have a nice life wasting your time in the rooms, I have a life to live, sayonara…

  63. I was so happy to find this post. I am two years sober and went into AA full speed ahead. I met some nice people but a lot of people turned me off. I got a sponsor and did all the steps although I never fully got on board with the big book. I went to all the meditstion and spiritual workshops fellow AA people put on and am glad I did. However, by working hard on myself I too found to have graduated from the AA classroom. It instilled in me a different way to think or approach problems, but I can apply that in real life without neetings. Meetings became annoying and I couldnt related to people who cried because a boss looked at that wrong meanwhile I am working 6-9 under tight deadlines and need help in coping. I read you take on the traits of the people you hang around the most, so why hang with people who you dont aspite to be. Its a tough position bc I am SO grateful for AA, but now I have no use. My sponsor hints I will “go out” if I dont go to meetings and I meed to put it first. Well U meditate and see a therapist and try to exercise more. I take care of myself and dont need it anymore. I wish they had an AA 3.0 for people who are more stable in their sobriety.

    • Hi Candice, thanks for your comment, it got stuck in the spam so sorry about the wait to publish it. Aa does not have an exit plan unlike Smart and people do become dependant on it. There are many other methods and theyare mentioned in the blog part of the site and there are also a lot of good books listed.

  64. I absolutely agree with Candice about AA 3.0 or advanced AA. One of the problems I have is not being able to relate to new sobriety so much anymore. I am coming up on 8 years and feel that I am ready to move on from AA. Getting sober changed my life, but the problems that brought me to the rooms are in the distant past. and I question whether it’s healthy to be constantly revisiting that period of my life several times a week. I find myself, when I share, usually addressing someone with less sobriety and starting out all my shares with “Back when I was drinking…”

    Thanks for this post.

  65. Yes, it is me Bill W., not Bill Wilson though thankfully. Instead of writing many words, I went to AA, been sober quite while, found myself in midst of my fifth or sixth times doing fourth/fifth step process, and asked myself, WHY? Aside from all the ribbing I got from other members, in 1990 I needed AA badly, but as time progressed I found myself dependent on AA and it’s members. I finally woke up to my truth, after my last 4th step (the group format I followed was intense) but long story short, I found most in AA were no better than I was. We are all human beings, it has been a struggle as I moved from midwest accustomed to certain friendly folks, and now in FL I just did not find my solution. I believe in my creator, leaving it at that. I cannot knock AA, made many good friends there, but on the flipside I saw lots and lots of stuff unhealthy stuff I could not be a part of.
    Bottom line for me – I am not willing to “help” another alcoholic or addict today. Most do not want help when in the midst of their addictions, I prefer to volunteer helping others in other areas of life, but I was not willing to “carry the message” any longer after I realized most people don’t want to hear it. For the fifth time I was not willing to “make amends” to those I have technically made amends to long ago, and honestly, most people want to let the past go, do not want to dig up old coffins, so I am now comfortable after attending AA for 26 years of letting it go. Tonight I had a female member call me, after a month of me not being there, I gave her my reasons, and she seemed in shock. Yes, I am capable, intelligent and self-sufficient, I can live life without AA today.

    • Thanks for commenting and I am glad you have crossed the bridge to normal living. That is great recovery. I agree there are some unhealthy ideas in AA which I found in some of the more cult type groups. In other meetings it is more about support which is what I think AA is best at.

  66. Very happy that I have made the decision to leave AA for good!!! Was trying so hard to stay in it just to keep Simone in my life, now everything has backfired and I must start all over again! Haven’t relapsed but due to certain circumstances, must start fresh. As I have read here, felt that there were not “suggestions,” rather I believe that I was talked at and not talked to! And, I think another thing that needs respected is the fact that not everyone’s personality is the same and some are not comfortable in group and do not necessarily feel great about sharing at the group level. Some are more introverted than others and prefer more individual intimate conversations and this needs to be further understood, and also I believe way too much focus is placed on “men with men and women with women!” Help us help no matter where you seek it! Will always be grateful to the one who got me in initially to the program but cannot say that AA itself did very much for me!! In fact, there have been too many occasions where I felt worse and more crazy than when I drank!

  67. Very happy that I have made the decision to leave AA for good!!! Was trying so hard to stay in it just to keep Someone in my life, now everything has backfired and I must start all over again! Haven’t relapsed but due to certain circumstances, must start fresh. As I have read here, felt that there were not “suggestions,” rather I believe that I was talked at and not talked to! And, I think another thing that needs respected is the fact that not everyone’s personality is the same and some are not comfortable in group and do not necessarily feel great about sharing at the group level. Some are more introverted than others and prefer more individual intimate conversations and this needs to be further understood, and also I believe way too much focus is placed on “men with men and women with women!” Help us help no matter where you seek it! Will always be grateful to the one who got me in initially to the program but cannot say that AA itself did very much for me!! In fact, there have been too many occasions where I felt worse and more crazy than when I drank!

  68. I have been a part of Alcoholics Anonymous for a little over 3 years now, but there have definitely been a lot of things that I don’t personally agree with. It was relieving to read your piece and to see that people stay sober without alcoholics anonymous. I am trying to find other avenues of staying sober but you kind of have to dig for that information. I also have people in my life that I wish I could point in the right direction to get the help they need with alcohol and substance abuse but the only method I know of is via AA. If anyone could help me find other successful recovery sources I would greatly appreciate it. 🙂

    • There are plenty of other groups such as smart and there are pieces about them in the blog. The catagories in the sidebar help break things down. There are alos many excellent books in the book sections which describe alternatives.

  69. I left AA three years ago because, like the writer, I wanted to live a life beyond recovery and I started feeling suffocated in AA. So I made the decision to leave AA and become a non-drinker, and not identify as an alcoholic. I am at total peace with the decision not to drink, and besides, I was always way more than just a drunk and just knew it was time to leave the AA nest. Sure, I would get the occasional inquiry asking me how things were going that I was now working my own program (code for I am sure you are drinking again). I was kind to them and honest that I just had enough, needed to expand my horizons and get on with living and that meant that I needed to leave AA behind. Like quitting drinking and quitting smoking, leaving AA is without a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made. They helped me out early on and I do appreciate that. For all those who suffer the self-inflicted damage of drinking too much and want to stop, there are many paths in the journey towards abstinence. It’s amazing how awesome living with a clear head and feeling great can be. If you need AA to help, go for it, they are nice people and you can sip or guzzle the AA Kool-Aid and hanging with people with similar struggles can be helpful but at the end of the day, it’s 100% up to you. Best of luck.

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