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Sun Feb 12, 2012, 05:06 PM

Why all this "G**" S*** in recovery?

Let’s forget, for a moment, our personal takes on how it does or doesn’t work for us, why it’s a turn-off or a tool, a barrier or a doorway. Those are important discussions, but let’s step back a little further: Why is the “G**” stuff (or the “Higher Power” stuff, or the “Spiritual Source” stuff or whatever you want to call it) there AT ALL?

AA and the Big Book are the most widely-used recovery tools in America, and, let’s face it, no matter how we try to weasel around it and make it palatable for the non-theist or the anti-theist, the God-stuff is all over it. The majority of treatment programs use some version of an AA-influenced structure both during treatment and as an aftercare tool. Even when they carefully expurgate the explicit goddy language, you know it’s lurking underneath all that “spirituality” talk.

It’s not hard to understand how it got there in the first place. The Big Book was written, and the principles of AA recovery were conceived by people from a Judeo-Christian cultural matrix. The early practice of AA relied heavily on Church basements, and it was tested and came of age in communities where the overwhelming majority professed some form of belief.

But why is it still there? If there’s any truism that resonates for recovery programs of any and all varieties, it’s this: “Whatever helps. And nothing that harms.”

I asked the wisest-about-recovery person I know the question: “After all the research and all the millions who have been through treatment, haven’t we learned yet what exactly it is that helps people recover?”

And I got the answer (most recovering people have heard this one,) “If jumping up and down on your left foot ten times and saying ‘boola-boola’ with each jump helps you not drink, then that’s useful for your recovery.”

Recovery (we say it on our website a lot) is a big room with many doors. But for so many people the label “God” is not on a door, it’s on a huge barrier that keeps them from getting into the room at all.

I think it all goes back to the first step: We are powerless over the disease.

Yet, it’s possible to recover. Therefore, there is something that works. It’s not us, because we’re powerless: That’s the nature of the disease. It’s what the disease is, being powerless over our drug, or over booze, and so on.

So to recover, we have to find that other power, latch onto it, and let it work in our lives, and use that power to recover.

To each of us, that power is going to manifest a little differently. We can call it “the accumulated wisdom and experience imparted to us in the context of fellow-sufferers.” We can call it “insight and capability built and shared through diligent practice with others like us.” We can call it “spiritual grace” or our personal “Higher Power” or “God.”

And whatever we call it is an accurate description for us and can be utterly meaningless or even ridiculous to others. Nevertheless, it comes down to the same thing for everyone in recovery: It’s the power that can help us recover, if we are willing to give over trying to do it on our own. If we’re willing to give over control. If we’re willing to accept guidance. If we’re willing to do stuff that seems to make no sense. If we’re willing to hang out with all those crazy alkies and addicts who aren’t like us in any way except they share our disease.

That power exists. You can call it a Jungian collective consciousness, a shared delusion, a spiritual force, or a deity, or anything you want, but that power exists.

Calling it “God” may be a barrier for some, even many. Truthfully, I’ve never seen it keep an atheist from recovering once the atheist was ready to recover.

An anti-theist friend of mine (don’t get her started on the words “Higher Power….”) who achieved recovery after many painful attempts over some decades once told me that the hardest reason for drinking she had to give up (because it was the most powerful) was “I can’t possibly recover because I’d have to hang around with all those offensive, deluded god-botherers who are always trying to convince me I’m wrong.” After toughing it out for a few years, one meeting she heard herself using the words “spiritual awakening” and darn near went out and bought a bottle of vodka.

Then she laughed, and realized it just wasn’t that important any more. She still didn’t believe in God. She didn’t have to. And she didn’t have to let others’ different beliefs bother her, or interpret anyone else’s attribution of sobriety to divine intervention as an attempt to proselytize her.

“(Your description here) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That doesn’t mean “mysterious bearded daddy-deity do to me or for me.” It means “I need something, and I can’t do it on my own. Acknowledging to myself (and others, if we’re in a group) that I can’t do it on my own and that I need help, is the first step on the road to doing it.”

thoughtfully,
Bright

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why all this "G**" S*** in recovery? (Original post)
TygrBright Feb 2012 OP
applegrove Feb 2012 #1
Tripod Feb 2012 #2
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #3
Tripod Feb 2012 #5
tavalon Feb 2012 #9
tavalon Feb 2012 #8
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #10
tavalon Feb 2012 #11
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #12
tavalon Feb 2012 #13
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #14
tavalon Feb 2012 #15
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #16
tavalon Feb 2012 #17
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #18
tavalon Feb 2012 #19
NMDemDist2 Feb 2012 #20
tavalon Aug 2012 #38
Old Codger Aug 2012 #36
tavalon Aug 2012 #37
oldhippydude Feb 2012 #4
tavalon Feb 2012 #7
tavalon Feb 2012 #6
demosincebirth Feb 2012 #21
Dembearpig Mar 2012 #22
demosincebirth Mar 2012 #23
lins the liberal Mar 2012 #24
progree Mar 2012 #27
NMDemDist2 Mar 2012 #25
TygrBright Mar 2012 #26
get the red out May 2012 #32
Tripod Mar 2012 #28
Stuart G Mar 2012 #29
NMDemDist2 Mar 2012 #30
Tripod Mar 2012 #31
demosincebirth May 2012 #33
tavalon Aug 2012 #34
HelpmeHelp Aug 2012 #35
ismnotwasm Sep 2012 #39
Myrina Apr 2013 #40

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 09:27 PM

1. I didn't like the God stuff either. That was something I thought I would not get past

in AA. But I changed my mind. Handing your power over to a god (or in my case my ancestors and nature) means you have to accept you have no power whatsoever over your addiction. That means you are no longer denial. If you admit to yourself you have no power in your addiction and never will - half the battle is won. Afterall what is it you say to yourself everytime you have a relapse "... just this once" or "I won't drink that much" or "I can handle it". Believing in a higher power, found in my case in my ancestors, means that you can never say those thing you always think when you are in denial. So you are out of denial.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 10:39 PM

2. Well written TygrBright.

This is a great post for all. It opened my eyes to a few new ideas... Thanks.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2012, 11:04 AM

3. there is a saying around the rooms

"I can't, we (he) can, I think I'll let us (him)"


This saying was very helpful to me in early recovery. It's comes right down to what your wonderful essay points out, I had to admit my thinking and struggling had failed me and that I needed something else outside myself to help me.

Did that realization bring me immediately and gracefully into submission? Not by a long shot, but it did give me that tiny bit of willingness to try the actions 'that made no sense' in a desperate hope that SOMETHING would help me not give into that insane thought that the next drink would be different somehow.

I think on those first halting steps on the road to recovery, it don't matter how we 'feel' about the actions, only that we are willing to DO the actions. Whatever goads us to even attempt to instill into our ACTIONS (not our thoughts or feelings) the principles that allow us to live without the guilt and shame most of us carry deep with in us is enough to set us on the path.

Sadly, so often we hold on to the sickest of those memories in the mistaken belief that taking responsibility for those deep, dark secrets will break us. As Bill explains in the 12x12
In many instances we shall find that though the harm done others has not been great, the emotional harm we have done our­selves has. Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness. At the time of these occurrences, they may actually have given our emotions violent twists which have since dis­colored our personalities and altered our lives for the worse.


It takes courage to look those monsters of our past in the eye, but there is a freedom that's indescribable once it's done. Anything that will give us the willingness and courage to do so is a 'Higher Power' IMHO. Whether it comes from a trusted friend in the Program, a group who shows the way, a "Daddy Deity" or just that overwhelming feeling of fear and failure that makes us desperate enough to attempt 'the work' because we have lost the will to fight anymore is a blessing in disguise.

As one of my beloved babies likes to say "I wish you desperation" since often desperation is the impetus to move us to change.

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 14, 2012, 10:39 PM

5. "We are only as sick as our secrets"

That is a quote that I wish was a lie,,, but it isn't. The rooms of AA help me with this,,, Thank you here on DU, and the ones in the rooms. I love the bounce!

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Response to Tripod (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:57 AM

9. I kind of feel silly when I use what I call, "the bumpersticker quotes",

but so many of them have helped me so much. It's hard for me to understand why these sayings help me so much but it's unquestionably true that they DO help me. A lot.

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:54 AM

8. Wow, "I can't, we (he) can, I think I'll let us (him)"

I've not heard that phrase before. It's magnificent!

I feel some gratitude that submission has been easier this time (I'm remembering now that it was difficult the first time around). As I've said a number of times, the addict brought me to my knees and since I was there, I decided to pray. A lot.

I wish you desperation! That made me laugh out loud. OMG yes! I went down so hard and so fast this time - I went from the illusion of having my life totally under control to the desperation of absolute insanity. It really is that singular point of desperation where all the extraneous stuff peels away and a choice must be made.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 08:32 PM

10. someone explained ti me

That phrase is the shorthand way of saying the first three steps

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 03:37 AM

11. Oh, yeah,

I got it, straight out of the shoot. That's why I was so impressed. Way to make the first three steps look easy! Can you find something to make the fourth step easy? I'd be real grateful!

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Response to tavalon (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 10:45 AM

12. thats worth a thread of it's own

The first one is always tough, but once its an engrained part of your life its easy.

Lots of 10th step daily practice is a good way to start easing into the 4th IME

You'll start seeing your patterns with a 10th and finding those patterns is a big part of why we do a 4th

4th step work isn't about beating our selves up or reliving our shame, its about finding alternative coping methods for our triggers. But first we need to find those triggers and take some of the power out of them.

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 16, 2012, 11:29 PM

13. Hmmm, I hadn't thought about doing it that way

It's not like I have a personal problem with doing 4 through 12 in order (I have a pretty strong belief that I wouldn't be able to do any of the steps until the first three were good and settled in me).

As I was writing my searching and fearless (?) moral inventory, I remembered half way through that this was to be honest, not brutal and that my inventory needed to include things that are good and right with me as well as the character defects.

BTW, I don't actually know if everyone actually writes their inventory, but since my therapist was my sponsor the last time, there was no way I was going to remember and stay accurate without the writing. This time, because I hit the door to the rooms so fast and the first three steps were so blessedly easy this time, I don't yet have a sponsor so I need to write it so I don't forget or try to layer on the lies again.

Another thing that's different for me this time is that while I have character defects and want to remove them, I'm not nearly as ashamed as I was the first time. So the once daunting fifth step isn't so daunting. I remember just the other day, saying to my hubby, "hey, I found another character defect. wanna hear it?"

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Response to tavalon (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 17, 2012, 06:56 PM

14. writing is critical IMHO

Here's what I have my babies do, buy a regular 8x11 spiral notebook, write on the first pave something like "this is NMDD2's inventory, if you read it I'll have to have my sponsor hurt you!

Then turn the page so you have the two pages opened up. Since the BB tells us we list our resentments etc, the only way I know to list is down, so you write a name, skip a line, write a name, skip a line etc. When you have listed EVERYBODY, only then do you go to column two. So on the right hand side of that list, make a quick note ( literally! 20 words or less) of "what happened", again going down the list, one at a time.

For a brand new person, that's all they write, they bring that to me and on that facing page we go down the list together again, but we ONLY use the 5 choices in the BB from page 65, ambition, relationship etc noting what was effected. Then we go to page 67 and note in the middle if the page which of those choices were involved? Selfish, dishonest etc.

Finally, on the right side, we write "what should I have done instead"

With a person which knows the process they do the first 4 columns alone, then we discuss the 5th column as the 5th step together.

I have found that process gives us a great deal of information, not only on our 8 & 9 steps, but our 6&7 too.

If you've read all this let me say WOW well done! And I hope it helped

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 17, 2012, 08:11 PM

15. If I read all this! LOL

I have read so many whole books on my recovery, a couple of paragraphs, especially useful to my recovery paragraphs are no problem. Yeah, you do it really different from me but I like it and might well incorporate some of it. I had completely forgotten to list those for whom I harbor resentments. Whoops.

Though, just running them through my head, there's one that falls under the category of not making amends to, since she's threatened to kill me if I get in her vicinity. See, she's married to my ex (the addict) and she is furious that I told him he was an addict and had to stop taking his medication immediately (what I actually said did include the addict word but I urged him to get help, in fact I begged him to get help - one of my many crazy behaviors, begging pleading, being angry, etc.).

Anyway, got off on a tangent there. I will add some of what you said. The front of my journal says, this is Terri's recovery journal. Reading this without authorization could be bad for both of us. Don't do it. Wordy, but I hope it gets the point across.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 17, 2012, 08:38 PM

16. the way i outlined is pretty much

Directly out of the big book Alcoholics Anonymous. I've seen so many different "worksheets" and directions, but after 20 years (later this month, KNOCK WOOD) I have come to realize that its still one of the best, tried and true methods when it comes to working the steps.

YMMV

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #16)

Sat Feb 18, 2012, 12:56 AM

17. I just ordered a metric ton of info from

Nar anon, and one of the items is a booklet all about the fourth step. But, I really think the information across the myriad of different 12 step groups really isn't all that different. I really appreciate the input from any knowledgeable source.

I didn't realize until this post that you call the people you sponsor, your babies. Part of me wants to say, " hey, they are adults, not babies!", but a bigger part of me is so grateful that they have such a strong, but nurturing sponsor. I think I have a little sponsor envy. I don't know my F2F peeps enough to know who would be a good sponsor for me, much less whether they would want to!

I do know that I'm too new this time around, to be a sponsor yet, though I did buy the book on how to be an effective sponsor - for later. Service to others is a big part of this path, as you obviously know. Your spoonsees are very lucky to have you!

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Response to tavalon (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 18, 2012, 04:38 PM

18. just don't get stuck in the paralysis

Of analysis

As for how to chose a sponsor, listen for someone who quotes the book and talks about the steps ALOT

If you find yourself taking their inventory with snark in your heart, that's the person you need. LOL

While that sounds like a joke, its probably good advice

And calling them "babies" is better than calling them "pigeons"

The joke goes " we call em pidgeons cuz they flutter around and crap all over the house, but eventually sometimes they learn to carry the message"

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 18, 2012, 05:14 PM

19. Well, you wouldn't qualify for me

Because there is not one bit of snark in my heart for you. That said, you share wisdom here that seems tailor made for me, so don't quit talking.

I love the pigeons joke!

And lastly, while I get your concern, I'm not only relying on the literature but it was a bedrock for me the last time and I know it will be this time. It's a springboard from which my recovery can launch. Soon, very soon, I will pick a sponsor.

Now, a question, if I may? Al anon has been helpful, meeting wise, but it isn't a great fit because alcohol isn't/ wasn't the problem. I'm looking into a F2F CoDA meeting that doesn't fall on a work night ( damn these 12 hour shifts) and I expect to find someone there. But, I'm very active with an online group, and in fact, "attend" about three meetings a week there. They are some of the best run meetings I've ever seen. Finally, the question....... Can an online (and obviously phone) sponsor work? I know a number of long timers there have placed themselves on a list that says they are willing to sponsor.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #19)

Sat Feb 18, 2012, 07:53 PM

20. thats a very good question

For a brand new alcoholic/addict my first response is no, BUT for a codependent with a bit of background and a commitment to willingness and honesty, I don't see why not



Try it and see, you can always change your mind if its not working out, or if you find someone in a F2F meeting.

Since you have some special circumstances, an online sponsor may work just fine.

Good luck on your journey and thanks for the kind words!

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #16)

Fri Aug 17, 2012, 11:45 AM

38. While I am not an alcoholic, I think it would be good for me to have the BB

My addiction is you, assuming that you are a relapsed addict of some sort.

That said, I really think I ought to get the Blue Book. I think it might have more than the blue booklet from Nar Anon, my current lifesaver.

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Response to tavalon (Reply #13)

Wed Aug 15, 2012, 07:00 PM

36. Ok

I didn't read any further yet but this is my understanding of the steps, I think the first 3 need to be pretty much in order.., the fourth step is a time thing in that you will never be ready after the first three to go all the way into the fourth... you will actually be doing that every day in some manner for a while.. Most really have the hard time with 5, telling someone else all that is hard to do..Although I have heard several 5th steps and am amazed at the similarity of the stories, we all think we are unique and have done some pretty terrible things but in the end I have not learned anything new from them...
Some have the hardest time as we in the original OP here about god and higher powers and turning loose of control, actually should not be that hard to do since most of us have not really been in control for quite some time ... I am an avowed atheist, I personally had a real hard time with the "god" part of this the first time I tried to get sober, after failing miserably I decided that if I could fake all the stuff I faked while drinking and I could lie about all that stuff then also, I could fake this too if it meant my life and it did and I did and 28 years later I am still faking it and staying dry and most of all staying sober and having a life that I am not ashamed of.

So I see most of the anti-god stuff around the tables at meetings as attempts fail, so they can continue their death spiral....

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Response to Old Codger (Reply #36)

Thu Aug 16, 2012, 12:05 PM

37. Like the uniqueness feint

I tried that one. Failed miserably. Back to recovery.

I fine the fourth to be the time consuming one, because there is a whole life to review there, the good, the bad, the ugly, the noble, the human and inhuman.

I didn't find the fifth hard, but I would think most would. Doing the fifth (and knowing another is coming by the end of this year) just helped me to find common humanity and get over my bad self.

Doing the tenth on a regular basis is, for me, foundation maintaining after the foundation has been built.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Tue Feb 14, 2012, 07:15 AM

4. despite a whole chapter

"we agnostics".. i was taught a couple of simple analogies... first of all, i have become a beleiver in the concpt of a group conscience.. that carries over from 12 step rooms, to political movments, and ultimatly to most of my life.. while blind obdience to any doctrine is dubious the concept of community, was the cement that binded my recovery

in the rooms of A.A. you often hear the concept addressed as Group Of Drunks.. maybe an over simplification, it often works for those who like me had an overdose of Judeo-Christinan education..

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Response to oldhippydude (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 01:36 AM

7. The power of the rooms

is how I've heard it. And to me, with my sensitivity to emotional currents (that's how I stayed alive as a child so it's a well honed skill), I can tell you, there is great power in the rooms. And I've been in many rooms with different recoverers and that strength and peace and dare I say it, gentle kindness, has always been there. Even if I didn't have a belief in a higher power, I believe in the power of the rooms.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 01:33 AM

6. I'm a Wiccan,

a witch and I was the first time I went into recovery (and why did I think it was time to quit?). The God thing doesn't really bother me. I usually preface when I speak of my higher power that I visualize it as a her and her name, to me, is Evelyn. No one has ever given me a lick of trouble about it. I haven't even seen any double takes. Nor do I have a problem that many of my fellow recoverers in that room believe in the more common paradigm God.

I don't know if it's luck or if people in recovery are less judgmental, but they always talk about their higher powers without any one true wayisms. Having grown up in the southern baptist church, I would pick up on it if they were proselytizing.

But, I do think we need an update, one that helps people understand more fully "as we understand ____", since even there, the word God is used, and if one person turns away from their possible recovery because they are turned off by the word God being used, it's just wrong. It hurts my heart to even think about that.

I do know that, for me, a higher power as I understand that higher power is necessary to my recovery. It seems to be that way for many people but it's not for me to say. Looking at the 12 steps (for me, it's been CoDA and now Al Anon), the term God could be removed and I don't think the steps would be any less effective. Most of them are about personal "house cleaning", not about blithely handing our issues to some amorphous whatever that will handle it. By the time the spiritual awakening comes, the person has done so much self work, as all of us who do work the steps know. For me, though, to set aside my higher power (as I chose to do) and do my own driving really hurt me in the long run. This time around, I won't put her on the back shelf when things seem "all better". This is my biggest lesson this time around. My higher power as I understand her, is a vital part of my continued recovery.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 09:58 PM

21. It works. nt

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Response to demosincebirth (Reply #21)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 12:25 AM

22. No it doesn't work, never has, and never will.

 

AA and the twelve steps are the most unsuccessful self help program in human history, and even their own data supports this fact. 12-step rehab facilities have a 97% failure rate within 12 months. AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. Numerous studies show that those who take no formal action have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher success rate. The ONLY reason AA is still around and widely accepted is because of its Christian roots (the ultraconservative Oxford Group to be precise).

Wake up and get a clue!

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Response to Dembearpig (Reply #22)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 05:46 PM

23. You don't deserve a reply nt

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Response to Dembearpig (Reply #22)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 06:00 PM

24. Numerous studies??

I am not in AA. I am in another 12 step group. But I would like to see some links to these studies you speak of. Personally, I know people who have 30 plus years of sobriety. I myself have been helped tremendously by other 12 step groups, such as OA. I weigh about 50 pounds less than I did at one time and have kept it off for about 10 years. I've also received much help from Al-anon.

As to the Oxford group...in the US it was associated with the Episcopal Church. I can't imagine anyone thinking the Episcopal Church was ultra conservative.

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Response to lins the liberal (Reply #24)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 04:05 PM

27. The background behind the 5% effectiveness / 95% ineffectiveness claim (LONG dissertation)

Last edited Mon Jun 23, 2014, 12:49 AM - Edit history (1)

Dembearpig> AA and the twelve steps are the most unsuccessful self-help program in human history, and even their own data supports this fact. 12-step rehab facilities have a 97% failure rate within 12 months. AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. Numerous studies show that those who take no formal action have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher success rate.


I've long read statistics about the success or failure rates of 12-step treatment "rehab" facilities and, separately, A.A.

I've never seen a 97% failure rate figure for 12-step rehab facilities before, or anything near that high. I'll leave it to others to delve into that.

On the "AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year", the source of this controversy is an (allegedly) internal A.A. document, "Comments On A.A.'s Triennial Surveys (5M/12-90/TC)" available at (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) And in particular, "Figure C-1" on page 11, which is a graph that also helpfully includes the data being graphed. The data is as follows (I've also included Figure C-1's heading in the below):

/============================================================
"% of those coming to AA within the first year that have remained the indicated number of months.

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%
\=============================================================

I agree with Agent Green http://www.green-papers.org (or at least I think his interpretation is much more plausible). Here is the relevant excerpt from his web page --

Does AA's retention rate indicate 95% failure?

Orange quotes ( http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#AA_dropouts ) an internal AA survey as evidence that 95% of people who begin going to AA meetings will have left after a year. In reality, the graph shows that 74% will leave within their first year not 95% - Orange either doesn't know how to read a frequency distribution graph, or is willfully presenting it dishonestly.

The graph (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) is very simple.

The researchers went into different AA meetings and asked the people there how long they had been attending, they plotted the results for those within their first year on this graph by monthly averages. So it shows, 19% of people were in their first month, 13% their second, 10% in their third and so on up to 5% in their twelfth month. Orange claims the 5% of people in their twelfth month indicates that 95% had left after a year (oblivious to the fact that the other 95% in the survey was comprised of those sitting in the same room and with less than 11 months time attending meetings). Agent Orange is in need of a math lesson.

This survey is the other source for Orange's purported 5% success rate. The graph actually shows that 26% of people who try an AA meeting for the first time are still attending AA after the first year, the attrition is from 19% (those in their first month) to 5% (those in their twelfth), and therefore around 74%.

Orange also claims that this 74% attrition is an AA failure rate. I will now use Orange's spectacularly warped logic to prove that exercise is unhealthy. Watch carefully!

•After one year, 74% of people who began work-out routines at a gym are no longer using the gym.
•Therefore gyms have a 74% failure rate.
•Therefore exercise is unhealthy!

It is indeed true that only 26% of visitors to AA stay more than a year, and AA has shown some concern about this statistic. But:

•Some people visit AA and decide it's not for them.
•Some people get sober and decide to leave AA.

Orange's 'failure' statistics turn out to be at best ignorance and at worst flat out lies.

What Agent Green left off, unfortunately (for those trying to defend his interpretation from his critics), is that there is a couple of statements in A.A.'s study which would lead one to believe the Agent Orange interpretation that only 5% remain after 12 months, rather than Green's interpretation that 26% of those in month 1 are still around in month 12. Frankly, from the Green (and my and AAHistoryLovers' viewpoint <1> ), Figure C-1 is mislabeled; and also the page 11 "It is possible to calculate" statement in a2 below is also incorrect:

a1). The heading of Figure C-1 (p. 12): "% of those coming to AA within the first year THAT HAVE REMAINED THE INDICATED NUMBER OF MONTHS." ((emphasis Progree's. Note that Tom E., a writer of a number of postings on this subject at AAHistoryLovers, also indicates the wording is incorrect: "The title of C-1 doesn't match the data" <1> -Progree))

a2). p. 11 - "It is possible to calculate from completed questionnaires, by month, the number of members that have "been around" a given number of months. This relies on the question that determines the month and year that the respondent first came to A.A. The calculation has been performed for the twelve months of the first year for the five surveys, and the results are plotted in Figure C-1. Such results can be interpreted to show the probability that a member will remain in the Fellowship a given number of months" ((immediately following this statement is the "to be more explicit" paragraph in b2 that makes clear the 26% interpretation - Progree))

And here is why we think the Green 26% interpretation is the one intended (and repeating the data again for convenience of proximity):

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%

b1). p. 2 - "approximately 50% of those coming to A.A. leave within 3 months" ((only the "Green 26%" interpretation of the numbers comes anywhere near close to matching this statement -- for every 19 people in month 1 there are 9 in month 4 -- 9/19 = 47% = about half. Perhaps the intended comparison is 19 in month 1 and 10 in month 3 -- 10/19 = 53% also equals about half. --Progree))

b2). p. 11 - "To be more explicit: if all the members who report they have been in the Fellowship for less than a month were still present a month later, then the number who report being in A.A. between one and two months should be equal the number that report being in less than a month, subject, of course, to month-to-month fluctuations and to any possible seasonal effects. The same should apply to succeeding months. However, it is observed that there is a steady decline, (subject to inevitable fluctuations)"

b3.) The percentages add up to 102%, supporting the frequency distribution interpretation ((a frequency distribution table with exact numbers will add up to 100%, but since all 12 numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number, a sum of 102% is quite consistent with a frequency distribution table. It just means that 2 more numbers got rounded up than got rounded down. -Progree))

b4.) It is highly unlikely that given the Orange interpretation of drastic attrition, that only 1% leave in the 5 month period between 6 months and 11 months. Data: (6mo, 7%), (11mo, 6%).

There are a couple of other reasons for thinking the Green 26% interpretation is correct, but they are difficult to explain succinctly.

Anyway, now you know where statements like "according to A.A.'s own statistics, 81% of newcomers leave in the first month (and only 19% remain after the first month); and 95% leave in the first year (and only 5% remain after the first year)" come from. And why that interpretation persists and is so widespread. For example, just Google (without the quotes)

"A.A. 5% retention rate"
"A.A. 95% dropout rate"

and similarly, in the above replace "retention" with "effectiveness" and "dropout" with "attrition" and similar terms to get some more hits.

Another piece of datum cited supporting A.A.'s alleged 5% effectiveness rate is the Vaillant study, which Agent Green also debunks at green-papers.org (and having looked at the Vaillant study extensively myself, I agree with what Green says about it).

Just thought some of you might be interested in knowing where that 5% effectiveness rate stuff comes from. And about the Orange v. Green fight. If you wonder why the A.A.'s don't get together and present the case for A.A.'s effectiveness (such as it is, but almost certainly better than 5%), I don't know either. If you have wondered why A.A. has (apparently) never confirmed which interpretation of the Triennial Survey data is correct, a lot of people are wondering that too.

I agree with the authors of the A.A. study that we could and should be doing a better job at retaining people...

====== Footnotes ==========================
<1> AAHistoryLovers group - see: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAHistoryLovers/message/2044
See also messages 2379, 3374, 3385

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Response to Dembearpig (Reply #22)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 04:55 PM

25. well, that little troll didn't last long

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #25)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 06:38 PM

26. Heh-heh. I had a little bet on with myself about that one. I won.

We take our small triumphs where we can get them...

amusedly,
Bright

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Response to Dembearpig (Reply #22)


Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Thu Mar 8, 2012, 02:11 AM

28. Simple!

No one ever can be sober, and fight this without it, Him or Her, or It. Try looking in your mirror for twenty minutes, without looking away. You will see what you have become, and hope you see what you will be. Sorry you are frusterated, but that will change. You will die, or find a higher power

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Sat Mar 17, 2012, 11:14 PM

29. I recently used the HP..in a different way..

I had major surgery ( heart by pass ) and I was struggling with the physical therepy. In reality, it meant walking around a fifty foot
course a number of times. I would walk around once and get very winded. I needed to slow down, stop if necessary and start up again when some strength returned.

After a number of tries, I came upon this idea. Instead of thinking about the pain, or extreme weakness, or the awful caugh I
had gotten, I decided to just think about the kindness of the people I met in my 12 step programs. That kindness certainly
was bigger than me. When I did that, I was able to gain some strength and continue with the rehab program. The truth is
I don't always think of my HP at a time of stress, sometimes I think of me..that does not work. I cycle farther down the worry/ fear/
depression/ path.

Thinking about a greater power than me, (whatever that is, and it is kind and loving]...workes for me. Sure it is tough, that is why
the call it addictions. But thinking beyond our own selfish selfs and following the steps as best as we can. Does work for many...
Nice to be back......................................Stuart...........

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Response to Stuart G (Reply #29)

Sun Mar 18, 2012, 05:01 PM

30. I'm so glad



one step at a time eh? whether it's recovery or physical rehab

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Wed Mar 21, 2012, 04:18 AM

31. You will die with a drink in your hand!

Or as a few people I've known, with a bullet in your stomach. You don't have enough courage to shoot your face off. Don't do it.... without God, or such, you are a lost casuse! Good luck to you, It wont work without a Spirit!

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Response to Tripod (Reply #31)

Fri May 4, 2012, 11:24 PM

33. +1

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Sat Aug 11, 2012, 12:58 AM

34. Wow, how did I miss reading this before?

Or maybe I did and it's hitting me just as strongly on the second read. It makes me sad to think one single person who could be helped by a 12 step program might be stopped by the god problem. I will say, as a second time retread (15 years away), I haven't seen a bit of proselytizing or even commenting on the various forms of HP people have. No one bats an eye when I talk about my higher power and that I call her Evelyn. No one, zero, nada, zip.

So, maybe things are getting better?


PS While I'm a retread because I had the amusing idea that I was cured of my illness, which is codependency or co-addiction as it's also called, I don't think I'm going to be a thrice tread. While, of course, it's one day at a time, the reality is, my illness is incurable, progressive and fatal unless I'm in recovery, so 24 hours at a time, I'm making a life choice to remain in my recovery program.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Aug 13, 2012, 05:28 AM

35. I have bookmarked this thread.

. I hope I can get my son to take a look at it. I think "the God thing" is keeping a roadblock between him and the rooms. The "us" in place of the "him" may be useful to him. I just know that he HAS to find a way in there.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Sun Sep 2, 2012, 02:48 PM

39. Exactly

And as a non-believer agnostic who was welcomed into AA by an old timer atheist, (name of Boxcar Bill, how cool is that?) I try to pass on that same welcoming message.

Plus I sobered up at a rough, crude low bottom 'first step' hall so the first 'message' I ever heard was don't drink and you don't get drunk. Get sober, clear your head and don't worry about the God stuff.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Tue Apr 9, 2013, 04:05 PM

40. I look at it a little differently ...

... rather than "I can't do this myself, I need some(one)(thing) to (show me/guide me/do it for me etc)" ... as a child from an alcoholic family, I am a control freak. So when I recognized what living with my dad's disease did to me emotionally, and started therapy, I took the phrase "Let Go and Let G*d", and shortened it to just "Let Go" for my own personal use.

So much of my problem has been that I think I have to know/see/decide/own whatever is going on, how other people behave, etc ... that being able to set that down and just let it be has been immensely helpful. It's obvious now when I get in that head space - to try to start controlling things - I get anxious, nasty, headachy and my blood pressure goes up. So I have to stop sometimes, meditate for a few minutes and just repeat to myself over and over "Let Go" until my urge to strangle whatever the situation is, subsides.

So, it doesn't have to be about 'letting some(one)(thing) else fix "it" for you, it can be about just realizing that you yourself don't have to exert control over/react to every situation that enters your sphere.


Just a thought.

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