Leaving AA

Leaving AA can be a really daunting prospect for many people. I was desperate like most, when I joined and I assumed that because it was so well-known, it would be the best solution for me. I knew very little about what goes on in a meeting, or the methods used in the 12 steps, which are the basis for recovery within Alcoholics anonymous. I had not been to rehab, and had not really explored other options, and to be honest there did not seem much point, as I was aware of AA from various books and the fact that lots of musicians and other celebrities had used it as away to stop active alcoholism made it attractive for me.

I had really had enough of drinking by the time I joined and it is this that has kept me stopped, not any program. I was not looking for a program to do the work for me, I had made up my mind. I think this is the case for most people, but AA members will generally credit the fellowship and a higher power, rather than say they have sorted their life out and stopped, which really is the case. I did throw all my effort into recovery. I was determined to succeed and I went along with the suggestions.

Looking back on this, I realise how desperate I was, as following the steps and subjugating myself to God is not something I would do, if I was thinking rationally. I got caught up in the ways of the group and went along with it all. I think it is the fact that AA is so different from the real world, is the thing that makes it hard to leave for many, even when they don’t like it, and it does not keep them from the drink. There is a lot of repetitive reading. such as chapter 5. When something is repeated over and over again, it is really hard not to accept it , especially when you are in a group. Many of those who seem to believe what is being said, have been a member of the group for some time and therefore have credibility in the eyes of a new member. You then have countless little phrases, which are also repeated, which get in your mind. You are told from the start, that if you stop going to meetings, or working the program, you will fail, and the countless stories of relapse seem to add some conviction to this. I feel the reality is somewhat different. The stories of relapse, mean that the program does not work for many and is seriously flawed.

If you read chapter 5 to somebody who has not encountered AA, they are often surprised by the content. It is simply a slight reworking of the methods of the Oxford Christian group. It is not an effective method for dealing with addiction at all. In fact, you could quite easily argue that its main function, is to make you pray to God. If you carry out these steps on a daily basis it will alter your belief system and that is what makes it difficult to walk away from even if you start to question the steps, which is what I did.

I have included Chapter 5 from the Big Book, for anyone who is not familiar with the religious side of AA and the 12 step world.

Most people are quite surprised at what the steps actually are, especially if they have spent thousands of pounds on some 12 step rehab, expecting to get some treatment.

The 12 Steps of AA

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


Another thing that makes it hard to leave, is peer pressure within the group. You will be told not to doubt any part of the program by most old timers, and voicing opinions like mine, will be met with ridicule. No vulnerable person wants that, especially when they are trying to escape the clutches of the illness of addiction, which can be very powerful. Another problem is that you are told you are powerless and have an incurable disease that can only be cured by a spiritual solution. This will demoralise anybody and will decrease a member’s self-worth. This can be catastrophic and many will go on a binge when things become unbearable, especially after branding themselves with the negative self-image of the alcoholic on a daily basis. As time goes on, somebody really working the program will start sponsoring another and taking them through the steps. This normally locks them further into the fellowship as they become responsible for another’s spiritual guidance.

It was as this point that I gave up, as I could see that it was no good for me to tell another person things, I did not believe in myself. I actually went the other way, and lost faith in AA as a solution, but this is rare, although there were some major trust issues and a breach of my anonymity to add to the reasons that compelled me to get out. It is still hard to go against many of the things you have been told. It is a bit like brainwashing, because you are vulnerable and confused when you first arrive and are ripe to be manipulated. To be fair, many are in such a state when they arrive, that it probably does them some good to be told what to do, and be controlled, but for others, it can lead to a life that is dominated by AA and recovery when there is no need for that to be the case.

It is hard to leave something when you are told you will die as a consequence. I can see why some people call it a cult. I was not there long enough to be totally taken in, and I also had friends,who had left, who were much saner than the Big Book thumping old timers who dominate meetings. I feel it is a shame that the religion has taken over the fellowship and the support side of AA, although most will deny it. I did speak with a therapist about leaving, and she agreed that I was not suited to the 12 step way. She pointed out I could always go back, if I wanted to, and that was actually quite comforting in a way, to know that AA will be there, should I change my mind.

On reflection, leaving Alcoholics Anonymous was the best thing for me. It felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. I no longer needed to sit in a room, with those judgemental 12 steppers, who I ruin meetings and drown out more rational shares from more rational members. I no longer was told to pray, and I could do more positive things with my life. I was able to move on and cross the bridge, to normal living, which is an old AA phrase. AA had given me a place to go where there would be people who would not be drinking and where some of the more moderate members, offered some support which was great. I met a lot of new people in a similar situation to myself and we struggled together for a while. Many did not succeed. Comradeship was the good thing that AA did for me and is why I don’t want to see it destroyed like many on certain websites. However, I also met some cranks and lot a lot of seedy characters who were there to manipulate, and my overall impression was that AA keeps many sick, and they would do better with other less faith-based methods.

Here are some links to other related posts on leaving AA





Commenting area

  1. Hi …I enjoyed reading your story as to why you left.

    I left after Kristine and Saundra Cass were murdered by a man sentenced to AA show was a violent man and the courts knew it and the health care professional sin Hawaii knew it. A culmination of other things as well as being A GSR in my area, made it apparent that throwing me out of meeting for handing out safety literature was more of their thinking then throwing a rampant 13 stepper or a sex offender out of a meeting. I wanted no part of what I saw AA had become.
    But as I as leaving I finally heard the BB readings in a new light…I guess in 2008 …when I took a family member to a young persons meeting and it was filled with disgusting men, I saw AA in a new light and it changed from that point on. You can read my whole story on my Leaving AA blog. I still try to help people if they are still in it with AA safety Literature and putting on a workshop if they want to do that.

    Like you…I am free now and much happier. Its been 2 1/2 years.

    • Thanks for your reply, good to see you here!
      I think that AA needs to change because the world has moved on since the 1930’s and because people are being sent to meetings by the courts etc. Too many people push the religious side of AA, rather than thinking about what would really help others.
      I think it is really important that when we leave AA we say why we have done so. That is the only way any change will happen. I expect there will be more tragedies before much change.

    • I have no problem with ‘religion’ or spirituality, I also agree that I wouldn’t want to ‘bash’ AA because it does provide some level of on-going support beyond rehab. I did go to rehab. In rehab I got a more complete view of recovery from addiction. I too was highly vulnerable. I am sickened by the behavior and in my opinion, utter stupidity of allot of people I have come to know. Because they have learned the AA ‘talk’, it actually I think makes them more dangerous. It has taken me quite a while (I have been working on putting the pieces of my life back together) to actually know who these people really are. This is the shocking and dissapointing part for me.

      • The AA talk seems to make them say things “parrot fashion” without thinking. Having some people to talk with and a place to go helped me in my very early recovery, but then it became more and more negative.
        It then takes time to adjust to life away from AA as the little phrases can stay with you for a bit. Some people seem to be quite badly affected by the experience of the 12 step world.

  2. This is my 2nd post and I feel compelled to note my continued independence from AA ‘suggested’ conduct. Like massive, I have been free & happy for 2 1/2 yrs. I no longer slam AA protocol and occasionally attend mtgs for the reinforcement of common goals. I don’t dwell on my past indiscretions and have few regrets, as I realize that my present awareness wouldn’t have evolved if not for my years of semiconscious self-destruction. I knew AA was not for me when making direct amends to people ‘I had harmed’ was required. My sobriety and the confident, decent woman I’ve become seem to speak louder than a face to face groveling apology that would only end in tearful humiliation.

    I choose empowerment, not powerlessness

  3. Thanks so much for coming back and posting. I think it is really important that people say which part of the program was not suitable and why. I am sure you are right about making amends in your case. I think sometimes things are best left in the past and forgotten about. Amends can also bring up bad memories for somebody that is the subject of them. Every person needs a different approach.

    Amends may help a violent criminal with his sobriety, but they may affect the victim he is making amends to, when the past is dragged up by somebody they have no wish to see. Although AA acknowledges this, you often hear of people who become furious when amends are made.

    I’m glad you have made your peace with AA. Although many of us feel harmed by the strange, old fashioned ideas, it is good to move on. I think most people do this, and just drift away from meetings to live a happy life. I think it is important to say that you have managed it. There used to be a phrase about “a bridge to normal living”, but most on AA, get stuck on the bridge. It sounds like you have got across fine, along with Massive, and many others.

  4. Thank you! I feel the same way, and I really want to lead a normal life. I agree that AA is a buble from which it is really hard to leave. The truth is, I feel that it is not the way for me (and I shiver just with the thought). Nevertheless, I have been coming for almost 12 years now and I see a whole world out there that I want to explore free of these limiting principles… I started recovery with 19 and fear has been with me for these 12 years… I do not believe in a religious God, and although many member do not also, I feel a big influence of Christianity in the readings as you said. I am afraid of relapsing to be honest, and I will do my best not to… but I am at a stage in my life that I feel that this is what I need to do!! Thanks for your honest post. I hope I can overcome the fear and feel comfortable with myself and believe that I am capable of doing this. Meditation, and sports are what I am doing already… the only thing I am afraid of is the not having anyone to talk to about my feelings… that prospect is scary

  5. It is very hard to leave a support group that you have used for a long time. maybe try some counselling or perhaps Smart or another recovery group. The soberistas site has a good chat room that is friendly and there are other on line communities. I would try not to relapse, especially if you are used to the powerless concept, as that often leads to a big binge.
    when i had some good (non 12 step!) counselling from somebody who was very experienced I experienced a big shift in feelings and was really able to deal with life without much group support. this is not always the case, as many are happier in a formal recovery group. people like Stanton Peele who are on the links page do online therapy which may help and there are other people there that may be able to offer support.
    Perhaps just cut down on meetings for a while,I did that for a bit to build confidence. AA is not going to go away so you could always go back if you find it difficult, but perhaps try a bit of independence and see how it goes.

  6. Hello Massive,
    Thank you again for Leaving AA.
    My angle is the government’s involvement in A.A. Coercing people to participate in a religion. State and federal agencies universally using a cult to “rehabilitate” people. It’s pretty clear a violation of the first amendment, yet it persists. It is clearly a racket for rehab clinics to make a killing, to destroy people’s self esteem. My friend is an example. I watched her go through four months of rehab to get her license back. She still drinks, same as ever. She now has no self esteem, and she’s wildly in debt.

    • Hi Aztec, have you seen the new Lance Dodes book, “the sober truth” https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/sober-truth-book/ – sounds like the type of book you would like.

    • Hi Aztec, I feel the same way about the governments involvements. I am furious over this. I think the only reason this has been allowed to continue is there has not been enough people complaining about it and demanding changes in policy. AA has helped our government run over us all with blatantly ignoring our civil rights. It does not only impact the addict, but entire families and their friends.

      AA needs to be held accountable too in aiding our government in this practice.

  7. AA worked well for me in most respects, but after my 18th year and a failed marriage to another “AA member” I began to second guess a lot of the AA doctrine. Now into my 30th year, I rarely go to meetings, but am busy living life as a contributing member of my community. I’ve remarried to a wonderful woman (NOT a member of any 12 step group). It is now my belief that this is where and what AA is designed to do. NOT to hide out in church basements patting myself on the back for not drinking (LOTS of folks don’t drink). Life is good, I enjoy free will and free choice, do not drink or abuse medications/drugs, nor do I wish to. I’m grateful that AA was there in the beginning and that I was able to benefit from it, living my life is how I say *Thank you*. As to the the concept of giving back, I find plenty opportunity in my community to give back if I look hard enough and am open to it. I’ve tried to share this with other members….well, don’t even try. 🙂

    Have made some wonderful friends along the way, many of which I’m still in touch with. Yes, I’ve been told that if I don’t go to meetings that I’ll drink, but…. I’ve seen people going to meetings and get drunk. So that can’t be taken seriously can it?

    It’s disappointing that one cannot _really_ share openly within the fellowship without being judged and chastised, but I have learned to *stand on my own two feet and not crawl before anyone*….hence I grew up.

    Has life been easy and rosy? Absolutely not, and not realistic to expect that it would, however…
    I am at this time, the happiest I’ve ever been….and truly grateful.


  8. Thanks for your comment – sounds like you have made it across the bridge to normal living! many seem to get stuck there. I think it is important to share all that has helped us, and that was certainly a problem for me in AA as well. What works for one person may cause problems for another and it is important to be open about this.

    • Yep. For me, that *bridge* was a newly discovered love for nature, the outdoors and photography that proved to be helpful. I discovered that an unrelated interest/hobby was essential for a healthy and well rounded lifestyle. It was a slow and gradual process, and not one that was driven by fear and anxiety. I remained *convinced* throughout that drinking was not an option….. at any point, and it still remains that way for me. I’ve been fortunate that it’s been like that for me since the git-go over 30 years ago. Thanks for this blog….it helps to not feel like an *oddball*, and also perhaps to show others that yes….there is such a thing as “Life after AA.”

  9. Great article it’s exactly how I feel right now. I’ve been wanting to leave for a while now and have just been trying to fulfill a 6 month service commitment or is it another way of keeping you around ? Let my sponsor go last week , he called two days later and said he was worried about me . Strange how when you start thinking for yourself people start to get worried . Next Sunday is when my secretary position is up so I will be handing over my keys to the building and running for the door. So if you see a guy running down the street being chased by a group of people carrying blue books please lend a hand ….. Thanks . Still have zero desire to drink !!!

    • Good luck in the future, there are plenty of more rational groups if you need them and lots of books that help. I do not regret moving on at all, and I feel I am much stronger as a result of standing on my own two feet.

  10. @Jeff: I’ve been away from the programs for close to 9 years. You can do it, too. Best wishes!!

  11. am so relieved to read how others are leaving with no regrets and going on to have happy sober lifes. ive been involved in aa for only 6 months but am finding its all fucking with my mind and getting me down,feeling very controlled.have made the decision to leave but being told by my sponsor this is the malady speaking! im confident i wont relapse,i dont want or need drink in my life. just feeling really weird as its been my life the last 6 months but i want the real world and me back

    • I think a lot of people leave and still stay alcohol free, you just don’t hear much about them. I read quite a few books when I was leaving and had some counselling as well. I found I was better off using the type of methods that Smart suggest. We are all different and need to find our own way. AA will still be there if you change your mind. Good luck with everything.

  12. daz, it is kind of scary but as Lovinglife said many before you have done it. You find other sites around that will give you additional help. I left AA, i used my friends, family and a professional counselor to help with the transition at first, then as time moved on my intellect and intuition kicked in and helped me the rest of the way. Loneliness was the biggest hurdle for me at first, so i leaned heavily on people who could help me, family, friends and professionals. My first year out of AA I realized just how much time I had on my hands…lol. So i used this time to build on hobbies, positive social activities,educational studies and many work shops to improve my overall well being.
    Hey, you are not powerless and your life is ahead of you. I told myself that i had another lease on life so lets get going….lol.
    Take care buddy

  13. I am so grateful for this post! I have been in and out of “the rooms” for 6 years. I’ve not managed much more than 3 months of sobriety at a time. In the past year, I have not had more than 4 days at a time sober. I am far more confident than I was in my earlier attempts at sobriety, and was quite susceptible to the shaming of AA: “You can’t do this alone,” or “you’ll die if you don’t take the suggestions.”
    The worst was the contradictory slogans: “think, think, think” vs “your best thinking got you here.” WHAT????
    I am determined to stay sober and reclaim my health and do some personal growth. Like you, the idea of my life revolving around alcohol is NOT what I want, and I find that once a person is “in recovery,” life is all about NOT drinking and the only people AAers hang out with is other AAers. That sounds limited and unfulfilling.
    Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • A think a lot of people find the AA approach unhelpful and I feel it is a good idea to try something else if this is the case. A recent film about the Sinclair method impressed me, and it may be worth you looking at this and other sites that talk about the sinclair method. Here is a link https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/pill/ There are also harm reduction techniques which are good for people, who still drink although they do recommend a period of abstinence. Here is a link https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/change-drinking-harm-reduction-guide-alcohol-2nd-edition-kenneth-anderson/ . there are some good recovery books using alternative techniques and I like the ones by Lance Dodes and Stanton Peele who both helped me. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/
      There is also Smart recovery which is covered on the site and has some really helpful CBT techniques https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/category/smart-recovery/
      There are many ways to do recovery and I feel it is best to look at or try a few methods to see which suits you. I have changed approach over the years after starting in AA. I also did not like the slogans and was looking for a solution that empowered me, rather than one that required me to view myself as powerless. I did find some AA meetings better than others but while I’m grateful for having aplace to go in my early days, I find that AA is really out of date and does not help people as much as it could if it were to modernise. The other groups are smaller and you do have to search for them, but they do suit certain people really well and have lots of online resources.
      Anyway best wishes and I hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday period.

  14. ColorodoRyan April 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm · · Reply

    I’m in a bit of an AA nightmare right now myself and thinking of leaving (AGAIN). I left the rooms over 6 years ago to some weird goings on, and what seemed like sponsor abuse and culty behavior. I was really shaken up as I was involved with a group in my town that used the old school method of Christian recovery
    After a major relapse last year, and what seems liked a Christian conversion, I contacted my old sponsor from that group hoping he could help after I had experienced what seemed like a divine communication during detox. I was really vulnerable, scared, and thought he could help. I was ‘humble’ as my ‘pride had been smashed.” I think i was just desperate.

    Things were going really well for a while, and I did the Steps, and then something took a turn for the worst. I started to see people in these meetings rewarded for talking about how horrible they were as sinners and sociopaths. I also went with the flow and took that tone as well. Started talking about how I was a horrible, arrogant, fake hypocrite that was finally saved by God. I was so desperate for acceptance; I figured this type of ‘rigorous honesty’ would be valued. After some time, it started to make me feel like shit. Because in actuality, I’m only human and not really any of the things described above. So lately my shares have been called out as not being proper or honest. Even if being totally honest.

    Furthermore, I was asked by my sponsor to talk to his other sponsees to tell them what I thought was wrong with them. He said it would be good for them to help them pray away character defects. I found this to be out-of-line and abusive, so I refused. Plus I’ve been told not to offer advice to people, and if I interrupt the group leader during one of his ‘fellowship discussions’, I get reprimanded with a dealth stare and passive aggressively attacked. So I just keep my mouth shut. That seems to be what is accepted.

    I’m starting to regret my decision to go back. I’ve been experiencing crippling anxiety for the past few weeks. It’s like my heart and chest are seizing up on me. This usually happens before and after meetings and before I call my sponsor. Whenever I mention my anxiety to my sponsor, he says it is because I am not being honest enough and that my Pride has reared its ugly head. I attribute it more to my body telling me something is seriously wrong. He has told me to do another 4th step (I’m 6 months sober) and that the demonic will take over my life unless I get honest.

    I don’t know what to do. Should I continue with this and do what he has suggested (honesty and ego deflation) or just throw in the towel? My friends, coworkers and family are concerned. I’m not feeling too good about myself at the moment. I can’t believe I went back. I’m losing my faith in God. What was I thinking?

    • ColorodoRyan – it really does sound that things are not going well for you and I think it may help to look at other solutions such as Smart Recovery that you can also do online. I found talking to a non 12 step counsellor helped get things into perspective for me. I did not have much faith in the steps of AA, but found the fellowship helped at the start. After a while I moved on and read a lot about alternative solutions which helped.

    • ColorodoRyan April 23, 2015 at 3:37 pm · · Reply

      Thank you for the support. I spoke to him (sponsor) last night and he told I was anxious because I was not praying hard enough and asking God to take away my defects of character such as my arrogance, pride, rebellion and fear of what people think of me.

      They must really believe this stuff after repeating it over and over again over a number of years. The reason I’m scared of speaking in meetings because any time I do I’m judged, called out, labeled a phony, glared at, crosstalked against with some passive aggressive comment made to make me personally feel uncomfortable. While my name is not mentioned in the crosstalk, I know these comments are directed towards me about things I have shared in confidence. In my opinion, that is evil and abusive. Coming from some holier than though Christian.

      It’s funny…the meeting I attend has been threatened to be taken off the AA meeting list many times. The leaders say this is due to their use of the Bible and Christian beliefs. They dub it as persecution. But I’m sure there are many other underlying reasons that are not being discussed. When pretty much every single past sponsee you’ve had turns against you, you can’t blame it on the devil corrupting them. Painting it like you are God’s chosen person and the world is against you. Or cry Christian persecution. When all those people head for the hills, it is not the devil, it is YOU!

  15. Little Rock Larry April 23, 2015 at 7:21 am · · Reply

    Colorado, Read page 11 (bottom-last few lines) in Daily Reflections-grey AA book. Know i’m playing non-AA sponsor here but WE ARE NOT POWERLESS-JUST NEED TO LISTEN TO OUR INNER VOICE, GET BUSY AND BUILD OUR LIFE. I’ve had enuff AA-27 years, had therapy, read many self-help books and see your well-meaning sponsor as a dyed-in-the-wool stepper who can’t help with your legit feelings. YES, THEY WILL glare, crosstalk, cold-shoulder and label you. If you dont have the power yet to
    leave, be quite in meetings…(here to listen-pass today thank you) if called on. Get on-line, go to liberal people, meetings, read healthy non-AA books. If you can’t distance yourself from sponsor and others yet be cool and low key. Talk enuff AA to get by knowing how you really feel. Its ok-I’ve been doing this awhile. You’re ok, Don’t quit on you!! Positive self-talk works. Get help.

  16. Little Rock Larry April 23, 2015 at 7:48 am · · Reply

    Ryan added: give yourself time-don’t drink-if you can, LEAVE!!! I am-it’s just taking me a little time to deprogram from 27 years and build more friends and activities. anxiety is normal when we change, make decisions or give our power to others. Take back your power (willpower that is). The original “how it works” was designed to “sell you” powerlessness. This is proveable.
    Build yourself some secret power (I will do this and not be afraid) (My best IS good enuff) Healthy but safe anger IS ok.
    Self-empowering mantras like these carried me thru some tuff days………….

  17. Hi. I have just left AA after nearly 13 years of sobriety. The last 4 years have been unbearable in AA. I couldn’t take it anymore. I got so sick of the dogma, magical thinking and mob-rule mentality. I am lucky because I always had one foot in AA and one foot out. All of my friends are not part of AA and my partner is not an AAer so i don’t feel a sense of loss in terms of social connection. I am looking forward to life outside of AA and i feel a sense of relief, of freedom. There is a lot in Aa that i am fundamental opposed to like the constant monitoring of oneself, taking the moral high ground, the cult likeness of AA and the list goes on. I needed it for the first 6 years of my sobriety, it kept me vigilant and i moved forward in life so I do think it can help people get clean and sober. But after such a long time, i don’t need the constant reminding that i am an alcoholic, i know i am, and my ‘primary purpose in life’ is not to help other alcoholics, god forbid. However, if anyone was in trouble with booze then i would try to help them and i would direct them to a AA meeting or another recovery programme.

  18. p.s i actually think a few years back AA made me quite depressed in the end. I spent years and years single, lonely, just going to meetings, not able to have some fun, like a nun! I had to radically change my life to get over this and this made me seriously question AA. There is a lot of depression in the rooms and suicide and this is never discussed.

    • Hi Bella, I am glad you are feeling the same sense of freedom that I did after leaving. AA helped me by giving me a sober community but I did want something more normal after a while. I also had depression and found I needed outside help and that has now gone. I do not think AA really helps with depression and people can become sucicidal when they do not have the correct type of support. I think many in the program are against anti depressants etc and this can cause problems for the vulnerable.

      I also direct some people to AA, but not young single females. I also tell them of my experience and tell them about the books I have read . Good luck with the future and I hope you do well with your indepenant approach. I found it helpful to always remember that AA would still be there if I needed it, but luckily I have not in the past 8 years.

  19. Sophie Pride January 4, 2016 at 5:42 pm · · Reply

    I left AA for Women for Sobriety (WFS), a positive, secular, self-esteem building support group founded in 1975 by a PhD sociologist who herself found AA to be depressing and a poor approach for many women, who do not need ego bashing. Her New Life program is based on 13 positive statements, not steps, used to help you release the past, plan for the future, and live for today. Pamphlets now available in Men for Sobriety format also on the website.

  20. I’ve been in and about AA meetings for 11 years and the last 2 years I haven’t really bothered going to many meetings. I did have counselling during my first year or so and it was even made clear to me I could leave after 4 or so years. The only thing that really kept me going back was that I was easily led and there was a fear in me about not going. Anyway, I think I’m just not going to make the effort at all anymore. During the last 2 years, during which everything went wrong including my younger brother dying at the age of 39, nobody has showed a damn bit of interest. To be honest, that’s absolutely fine, it is meant to be a spiritual program and we’re meant to find a God of our own understanding, which means we don’t really need the group or meetings. As long as you can live quite happily & contentedly on your own, that’s all that matters. Some of the people in the meetings are just pure rotten too, I’ve had some real bother from people who were meant to be years sober. I can do without all that as I can do without AA. I also know plenty of people who used to go but don’t go now and their lives are just fine and they haven’t drank again. I ain’t putting AA down, it was grand in the early years and I’d happily point anyone in that direction but for my own sake, I don’t think I’ll be going back. Beside all that, I’m sick to death of hearing people’s life stories over and over again. Besides the drinking, I have very little in common with anyone else too. It was pointed out to me in counselling as well, that I generally didn’t care and when it came to writting my step 4, there was actually very little in it except a one incident. Looking at myself, as you do in AA, I never had any self will as they talk about in AA, I just generally drifted along and drank. It also says quite clearly in the AA book ‘Living Sober’ that if you’re not getting anything from the meetings you can leave and this is re-itterated in one of the sayings ‘the door swings both ways’. I’d just like to disappear from the whole thing, which is going to be quite easy as, like I say, nobody showed a damn bit of interest the last 2 years anyway. As an ego deflating program, I can disappear into the crowd of society, trudge away quite happily without going back.

    • One of the best thing I’ve ever done in my life next to getting sober is walking away from AA … In the beginning it served a purpose but then it became a burden . It took me about a year to clear all the bullshit out of my head and the guilt of walking away , but it was the best thing for me and I couldn’t be happier . Wish I would’ve done it sooner … The funny thing is I still get calls and text messages asking if I’m ok , like if I’m not sitting in a meeting my life will self destruct … Best wishes to ya , and sorry to hear about your brother . Take it easy my friend ……

    • Thanks for posting Chris, I
      think it is important to tell our experiences. Many people stay in AA because they feel they have to, but many do well when they sort themselves out and move on.

  21. thank you for posting this article as I found it valuable – what other types of recovery methods would you recommend?

  22. I have been in AA for 18 months and I am so thankful to find your blog. Mainly because you do not bash AA but provide an alternative insight. Im so thankful you mentioned other blogs that dedicate themselves to hating AA. I don’t want or need that kind of negativity in my life. I really want to leave AA but have been scared to death I was going to “die” or relapse and “lose everything”. I don’t think AA is a cult but I did feel like I was being brainwashed in a sense. Maybe I needed it in the beginning but now it just feels like a chore. I don’t hate AA or the people in it. Oddly enough I have a problem with the spiritual side of AA because it doesn’t quite line up with my Christian beliefs. It’s interesting to hear so many agnostics\atheists have a problem with the heavy spiritual side of the program. Either way, I’m happy to say I’m going to start phasing my way out and replacing AA with a more serious look into my faith. I plan on choosing woman who are older and love me to be my spiritual sponsors​. I’ve learned so much in AA. I’m just ready to trust my God that he’s enough. Besides, the doors of AA will always be open if I need them in the future.

    • Hi Bethly, thanks for your comment. I don’t think there are that many people who really hate AA, and those blogs never have much of a following. Many of the anti AA supporters are noisy on sites such as the fix but there are not great numbers. I have met quite a few religious people who have had issues with AA, and I remember one person who I knew when I was a member being told that he was wrong to go to church rather than AA. He did fine with the support of the church.
      It is up to us to find out the most effective support for our needs and to decide what type of community to be part of. I think AA has become a religion for many of its members and they try to force it on others. This is not what AA started out as.
      I hope everything goes well for you and AA will still be there if you feel you would benefit from going in the future.

  23. Thank you for this discussion. I have finally left AA after almost twelve years in the rooms. I too feel an incredible sense of freedom as a result of my decision to leave. I was grateful to have found AA as it separated me from drugs and alcohol and gave me some valuable tools, but after awhile it became stifling and honestly, I became bored with the conversation. I am so grateful to be re-entering the world. I honestly feel like it was cutting me off from the rest of humanity in some odd way. Since leaving, I feel more connected, mentally healthy, and happy. Not to mention how much time I have! Thank you again for providing a support network for others who are stepping away from the rooms.

    • Hi Wil,good luck with everything and I agree with what you say. I needed cutting off from my old world and attending meetings certainly helped that, but after a while I wanted to enter a new world full of functioning people! I remain vigilant about addiction and keep in touch with people online etc but find moving away from the daily ritual of the 12 step world has been benificial in my case.

  24. I am feeling very conflicted about leaving/staying. I have been sober for 5+ years in the rooms and am currently serving the fellowship at the world level. I have zero desire currently to drink/use, but am terrified that my desire to leave somehow means my brain is tricking me in to relapse. I would love to know how many of you “left” and are still happy and sober after some time. I don’t know anyone who has left successfully. Thank you.

    • It was a good 20 years before I began to pull away. I still went to the odd meeting, but it wasn’t out of fear of drinking, it was merely to drop in and say hello to a few good friends I’d made through the years. It’s now 33 years since I’ve had a drink and have not had ~any~ desire to have have a drink, nor do I fear it… I simply know and accept the truth…that I cannot drink.

      I don’t think I would’ve been ready at the 5 year mark, nor even at the 10 year. It took what it took for me to see the bullsh*t that was being fed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the help, but that’s a whole different story.

      In response to……”I would love to know how many of you “left” and are still happy and sober after some time. I don’t know anyone who has left successfully. “……. you can’t count me as one who has. I’ve *never* regretted leaving, am still happy and sober, AND have replaced my AA activity with other hobbies.

      Oh yes, I do give back btw…. I give back to my community when/where I can, there’s always opportunities if I’m open to them.

      I would suggest that you take the time you need, there’s no real rush …is there?

      Just be careful that you don’t set yourself up to be hurt/ridiculed if you’re not strong enough to handle it (yet)…..and there WILL be many who will ridicule you within the rooms, and point to you and say…”he’s going to get drunk.”…..that’s simply bullcr*p and borders on bullying in my opinion.

      Best of luck to you…

    • I left 8 years ago and everything has been fine and I know many who have done this. However it is not a decision to take lightly. I had one on one support from a very good therapist at the time who helped me a lot with CBT methods. I gradually transitioned out after reading a lot and deciding I wanted a more independant lifestyle. I also made use of Smart recovery, especially online meetings. I found this approach helpful and had a period when I used Smart and AA together. I was using Smart CBT methods and AA’s sober community. Smart is there for as long as you need it but is not aimed as a group that you need to attend for life in the same way that it is suggested in AA. There atre many good books listed in the books section here and write ups of other solutions. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/book-reviews-recovery/
      Take your time and work out what is best for you.

    • It’s the second best thing I’ve done in a long time other than getting sober of course … Why I waited so long is still a mystery but I’m happier now than ever with no thought of drinking . Some people can walk away and be fine , others not so much the trick is figuring out which one are you .. Good luck

  25. thankyou for all the posts

  26. I left AA 5 years ago, for 3 years I didn’t go near it..then I went back to NA which I had been to during my 19yrs in and around AA.For the past 2 years, I tried NA..i left NA 3 months ago.dureing the years in AA/NA..i did meetings I had sponsors I did service mainly in NA but also some in AA I bought most of the books in both AA/NA and read them,some daily.I did 2 life stories in AA and went through up to step 7 one time in AA, then all 12 steps in AA..in NA I did up to step 7.and wrote 2 life stories one was read. I had periods of abstinence in both AA NA..i drank alcohol and smoked cannabis..when I arrived in AA.I have continued to drink and use cannabis..none of it stopped me for life.
    what I have come to realise is that im not an alcoholic or and addict..for example I can have 1 or 2 drinks and stop…i can drink and leave it alone for weeks and not crave it…in last 3 months I have drunk twice..on one ocassion I had 4 halfs of larger….then nothing for weeks then on xmas eve I had a few drinks and not touched it since, nor do I have thots to drink.the canabis pre AA many years ago I gave that up for 8 years without 12 step fellowships… I also stayed off everything in NA back in 2004 for over a year without working steps… I have used cannabis since leaving 3 months ago..but I have also stopped and stayed off for periods without any of the Na or AA suggestions..right now I have not had a drink for is it 20 days or more…and I have not had any cannabis for nearly a week now…and I’m not having thots to use drink or weed…I’m also not doing any of the suggestions.so I have control and I don’t crave… I also don’t go on to use heroin or crack when I drink..or smoke weed…so, therefore, I cant be an alcoholic or an addict….what I found in AA from the first week I went there were bullies assumptions finger wagging gossip double standards power mad people, predators, shunning criticisms controlling verbal abuse later death threats sexual harassment intimidation threats to be battered financial manipulation and that I was to belive that I caused all things bad in my, life pre aa and after it.. I made no friends in AA and had 1 persons support that later was to blame me criticise me belittle me showed little if any empathy around abuse I had gone through and later when I was out of AA and ill and on heavy prescription medicine 13steped me .the rest in aa shunned me…in na I had some support from 3 women…the sponsor was ok at first but later found her to be fake she later belittled me lied to me a few times and became cold also manipulated me out of a lot of money.. I found out she was committing criminal activity while working 12 sts and doing suggestions .. I feel I wasted 19 yrs of my life and was put in a position where I found it difficult if not impossible to defend myself .going there isolated me.I’m surprised I didn’t end up in the mental hospital during this time in my life many around me in meetings did.I don’t like AA or most of those I met in there.. I don’t like the way they think .i find them very cold uncaring people..they only care about themselves..as for support it was practically nil in AA. I was told before I left those nice people in AA aren’t liked in AA that I was hated by them all.I don’t care anymore these people mean nothing to me now. I don’t need or like them .i don’t enjoy being around them.when I spoke of some of the abuses that happened to me in AA to outside counsellors they were disgusted at how I was treated.. though I have no religion nor am I religious ..but because I have faith in God and had some good .counsellors along the way I have been able to forgive the people in there that hurt me and my anger has gone.and i have let it go these people mean nothing to me i was around them 2 decades and hardley knew them no close friends…they were abuseive people selfish greedy with no compassion or warmth I have to lol now when I recall the last sponsor bragging in meetings there was no one as kind as her and how she was no longer selfish ..then later manipulated me out of a lot of money and had no kindness in her feedback around any difficulies I had with anything in my life she had no undertsanding whatsoever of any of the problems I was faceing when I knew her she just had cold responses..or anger such as shouting screaming in meetings how she wanted to smash all the womens faces in like she had smashed her partners face in the night before. .today I know AA and many (tho not all ) in it are very sick childish selfish angry twisted ( sexually perverted rapists child molesters sex addicts ) people who pretended to be happy faked smiles and went home and moaned and kicked doors in bitter people..who probably do have to do it to stay off drink and change their natures. I do pray for them to get well that’s the only thing I do that I heard in AA ..however, I did this before I got there I used to pray for people including my enemies before I got there…there’s only been one person in my lifetime I didn’t want to pray for…that was an x husband.. I forgot him years ago and I forgot a lot of them in AA now .. I don’t think about them that often and in time I know I won’t think about them at all… I have plans for my life that I have been putting into motion ..I’m going to get into new things arts crafts music art writing I’m going to live on the coast make new friends. I bought myself a static caravan there..I’m excited and happy about this. I do things I enjoy today. I mix with people who care about me and I care about them. I made new friends after I left NA ..they like me as I am and I like myself as I am. and I shall make new friends at the coast.. I have also made a male platonic friend who is not AA/NA or an alcoholic or addict who is not indecent like the men I knew somewhat in AA but a good and caring decent person who unlike the lazy men I met in AA worked hard for a living.. I’m so glad I didn’t turn into one of those horrible nasty greedy cold bitter people.and that i am free of it all and content in my life .

  27. well im all packed and ready to leave for the coast and start a new life.im unsubscribing from this web site and i wont be on any web sites that are to do with AA NA or Anti AA or anything like this either .starting tomorrow i wont be talking about AA recovery or drugs drink again.and the only people i will talk to about it again will be any close good friends i make in the future.after i know i can trust them .its a part of my life i won’t be discussing again.unless i feel i should when i get and know i can trust, new friends .its like if i meet and get a partner then i will talk to him about it as it is part of my past life.i will be focusing on my new life and things im doing each day.i have a lot planned.AA NA and all that happend to me there is in my past .i wish no one in there any harm.i have no grudges to any of them .i have no hate to them.i dislike them as people and glad i no longer have them in my life.i am free of them and there doctrine.i am happy to be gone from them.my head is much quieter and calmer.im smiling for real now instead of forced.i am glad to be ME.goodbye AA NA and all i met there and god bless you all including those that harmed me.i hope god helps you all to get well and get good and happy lifes.and that one day you will all realise that you need to change your ways and stop abusing people.and start to get compassion for vulnerable people instead of seeing them as a target for sex rape violence money or ridicule or a way to have control and dominance over to make yourselves feel bigger and better than.that you will actually do what your supposed to be doing and be of help to them., instead.

  28. I have re-read my posts I’m in a better place now than I was then.i am 100 per cent positive i am not alocholic.i was a binge drinker they convinced me I was alcoholic.im not.im also not a full blown addict and I have stopped using cannabis …after picking it up again while doing all of NA suggestions and leaving.i have stopped on my own.i heard things in meetings that i did ID with and being told to listen for similarities and told I was one of them by most of them only kept me there longer.There are similarities in binge drinking and alcoholism one i heard was we made our partners jealous of us..well that one was true of me i did do that to a few of my partners once or twice.when i was very young.accidents putting self in danger.there were a few things similar defects, of course, i have defects all humans do.for myself i didn’t need AA to point this out i already knew and lifes karma taught me a lot and it still teaches me what go around comes around.i learnt from my own mistakes before i got to AA.im over it all now and things have got better for me in some respects since i left.it took me a while to stop running around trying to help addicts and alcoholics I meet .at first i was still trying to be of service to any i knew or met out of AA/NA.like a woman my x sponsor told me to friend when i was in NA. the woman had left Na after a few meetings and has never gone back.i did friend her but then lost contact with her then bumped into her again after i left and started to support her give her and her addict friends until i realised that they were taking the mickey out of me takers users.now i make a point of keeping clear of addicts alcoholics who are in 12 step recovery and those who are useing drinking.i mix with normies.im 60yr old and ill had cancer not do long ago clear of it now its time i take care of myself .i spent most of my life takeing care of other folk mostly alcoholics and addicts pre AA i did vol work some of those i helped in vol work were addicts alcoholics and also some friends and all partners i had and some family. well excuse the swearing but Fxxxc them all.im off to enjoy whats left of my life and take care of myself.

  29. I will be 15 years sober this week which is why I checked this site out. I stopped drinking before I went to AA and I have never had a drink since. Maybe it was AA. Maybe it was me. The meetings were very helpful in the early days and I learnt a lot. I got a PHD in alcoholism there. I also went to ACOA, AlAnon, CODA and one SAA meeting (why?!) – all useful in their own ways But 2 years ago I looked at all the crazy people in the room (differences not similarities) and wondered what the hell I was still doing there. I was nothing like them ANY MORE. That’s the point. I was recovered and it was time to move on. People in early recovery are really sick (I was) and once you are recovered their company is limiting. I did my bit (a lot actually) with helping the Fellowship, but now it’s time to help myself catch up on all the life I missed – not to stay stuck in the hospital for very sick alcoholics that is AA. I can contribute to the sober world too. The only way I can stay in AA is to continually say that I am sick, a fuck-up, “recovering” – never recovered – and it’s patently not true. I was having to lie about who I was and how healthy I had become and re-tell old tales about my drinking days that were a million miles from who I currently am. I was even “dressing down” for meetings. It was nuts!
    Of course, I am brain-washed enough to know that this might be “my disease talking” and that I will drink or go mad out here in the real world. My personal experience is that is not so. Loads of people out here don’t drink and it’s no big deal. I never mention AA to my new friends and I see AA as a very useful part of my bridge to recovery. But I crossed the bridge, and the grass is greener over here.

  30. Yep…..I was 26-27 years when I began to back off bit-by-bit. A few things had transpired which caused me to do a double-take as to where I was at that time with regards to my AA involvement. As you, I had extensive involvement, sponsoring others, etc., but then I started to question a lot of what I heard at meetings, what I was *passing on* to others, and with the literature. It was if I suddenly *woke up*.

    As you say…lot’s of people don’t drink….no reason why I should make a big deal out of it. It’s now 34 years, I’m now the primary caregiver for my wife, and life has provided me new priorities. This is, in my opinion, what sobriety is for. It’s to give back where I need to give back, both at home, and in my community, when/where the opportunity presents itself. It is NOT restricted to helping other alkies.

    There’s a time and place for everything. The time came for me to bow out, though I still maintain a few close friendships…I no longer spout the AA mantra’s, but rather use the brains that I was blessed to be born with. Everyone is different with each having their own needs. Being coddled and spoken to like a child pushed me out the doors, and I finally decided to *stand on my own two feet* and start to make decisions (good and bad), and learn to accept responsibility for those decisions.

    Sobriety means having a life, contributing to that life, and not living in fear.

    Best of luck to you….and yes, it’s ok to enjoy life as you were meant to. 🙂

  31. Thanks Saxplayer and Michel.I feel the same as you do about AA. I felt the need to stand on my own to feet and take responsibility for my own actions. AA helped for a while but it also conflicted with many of my values about religion. etc and I did not like the Big Book thumpers or the gossips. I tink it is important to tell people that there is life after AA .

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