How Successful is AA ??

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How Successful is AA ??

Postby Step 9 » Mon May 16, 2011 1:56 pm

I think in AA people come and go, but just recently i went to a meeting i had not been to for 5 years, and the same old timers were there with only one or two new people, it did make me stop a think how successful is AA, the stats are bad is it 5% or something like that, don't know how it can be measured.

Their is only one person left that came in around the 6 month period i came to AA, this person came to my home group last week it was great to see her but again all the other people in that time frame are drinking, dry or dead.

Also people drift into AA who are not alcoholics, maybe mentally ill ,addicted to something else, or realize they are just heavy drinkers. We can't give these people what we have because they have not had what we suffer from.

Is successful AA based on
1, Quality of sobriety
2, Time without alcohol
3, Staying a member of AA all through your life with one or two slips till your death
4, Or just staying sober for one day
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby RVW » Mon May 16, 2011 3:17 pm

The discussion may be interesting. To me, if the hand of AA is there when someone reaches out for help, then it is successful.
The question does not seem to dispute that it is successful.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Joe H » Mon May 16, 2011 4:19 pm

How Successful is AA?

I have not taken a drink today.

the stats are bad is it 5% or something like that,

May I suggest reading the forward to the 2nd edition.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Blue Moon » Mon May 16, 2011 9:04 pm

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" used to be reworded by one old-timer as "rarely have I seen a person succeed who hasn't thoroughly followed our path".

The second-edition foreword described success in terms of those who "really tried". Due to the way newcomers came in at that time, it probably wasn't too difficult to determine which were working the program. The stats probably haven't changed, but how newcomers arrive certainly has.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Step 9 » Tue May 17, 2011 8:11 am

Im not disputing that AA is successful it is working for me because i work at it, i guess im trying to understand what successful recovery means ,to go to the death without a drink having been sober and active in AA all your life. This stat of 5% is not mine it just gets bounded about, meetings fill up and empty of different people all the time, so on a world figure we could say today we have 2 million members, AA has just reached a tribe in the rain forest and so on.

Just on the net i have read people pulling AA to pieces about the success rate, it pisses me off just trying to get more of an understanding of this.
In meetings people come in who have been to other organisations that are funded, trying to teach them how to drink almost killing them.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Marc L » Tue May 17, 2011 8:53 am

Oh WowwieZowwie;
This is the ultimate Step Two dilemma. :D
Well, first lets look at where AA began.
Many Moons ago a couple of drunks started chatting and became friends all the while staying away from booze.
They stayed sober and figured 'Why don't we tell others what we are doing and maybe it'll help them too'
They kept notes about what they were doing and wrote a book.
So a small spark in the wilderness started a bonfire and the thing expanded exponentially.
Drunks were getting sober all over the place... Bring out the dogs and patties! :lol:

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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue May 17, 2011 10:48 am

i guess im trying to understand what successful recovery means ,to go to the death without a drink having been sober and active in AA all your life


I would say an alcoholics recovery is successful if he finds sobriety in all dimensions of life, not just physical. But also mental, emotional and spiritual. But how do we measure that in an individual? Very difficult to measure. Remember we are still like actors. We could put on a happy face but be miserable inside. I have heard stories where people with long term sobriety suddenly shoot themselves. At the best we can gauge by the physical and to some extent mental aspect of a person. The problem with todays AA is there are people at various stages of their alcoholic phase. Some sincere work the steps, some just go to meetings and some doing the cafeteria style program...This is where the problem starts. The new comer coming in may be a real-alcoholic and could run into a guy who just made it by going to bunch of meetings and gets the idea that he could also do the same. We just lost a new-comer who has been just going to meetings last 6 months. Took a drink and couldn't control the amount and croaked. Maybe its all gods grace. But, our responsibility is to carry the right message (or the common message) of working the 12 steps and arriving at a spiritual awakening. Not the 'Meeting makers make it or the 90 and 90' crap and leave the success of the fellowship to GOD.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby ann2 » Tue May 17, 2011 1:35 pm

Sorry, I just can't see it in lifetime terms, like there's a prize for not drinking ("I'm a Successful AA Member").

Don't you see that EVERY DAY I don't drink is a miracle? Beyond success. It's -- unfathomable.

If those days come altogether or spaced apart, and if something happens at the end that puts an end to the days before an end to my life, i will not regret it a moment. I will never find myself saying, "What was the good of all those beautiful sober days if I am drinking now." Never say never, I know, but these days are too amazing, astonishing and cherished for me to consider even an interruption of them to constitute a failure.

I am one of the lucky ones who so far hasn't had a need to drink since I got to AA. I am twice blessed that I got here at the age of 26 and have managed to live another 24 years and counting. But those facts are absolutely no reflection on me -- just grace, you understand, and I don't put any conditions on it.

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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby TheresaR » Tue May 17, 2011 2:06 pm

Don't you see that EVERY DAY I don't drink is a miracle? Beyond success. It's -- unfathomable.


What Ann said
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Step 9 » Tue May 17, 2011 2:19 pm

Thanks Ann & Avaneesh i think at times my thinking on the whole AA way becomes robotic.

I have asked someone at a meeting tonight and was told that Bill & Bob had a high success rate for a few years as peoples rock bottoms were low.Then as the fellowship grew high bottom drunks started to come in and back out for another try, but the seed was sown for them to return on the yets.
This old timer also said if it has been a success for one then it is a success.
Last edited by Step 9 on Wed May 18, 2011 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby happycamper » Tue May 17, 2011 2:56 pm

How successful is AA ?

Well, I think it's pretty successful if ya ask me. AA as a whole that is.

I have seen very few drunks at an AA mtg, so everyone else at those meetins are sober and I call that successful.

I do understand what you're saying tho step 9 ... especially the part about not seeing the same ppl year after year, but still seeing those 'old timers'.
And not only is it just not seeing them year after year, its like month after month. I often see new ppl join, and they are all 'gung-ho' and doing really good, and then a couple months later , ya never see em' again.

The way I see it is that AA is as successful as its members choose it to be. And when a meeting use to maybe have 20 ppl, and its down to less than 10 currently ... well, that means theres 10 less drunks on the road, and to me , that is not only a success, its a miracle !!
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Steven F » Thu May 19, 2011 2:49 am

Step 9 wrote:Thanks Ann & Avaneesh i think at times my thinking on the whole AA way becomes robotic.

I have asked someone at a meeting tonight and was told that Bill & Bob had a high success rate for a few years as peoples rock bottoms were low.Then as the fellowship grew high bottom drunks started to come in and back out for another try, but the seed was sown for them to return on the yets.
This old timer also said if it has been a success for one then it is a success.


An interesting thing to read in that respect are the stories that featured in the first edition of the Big Book. You can find them online - juts google around a bit. They should represent the first members, and you can see for yourself if you identify with these blokes, or if you feel they went way deeper than you did.

There is also a lot of discussion and material on "method". I heard it said once that Clarence S in Cleveland had a better success rate, and that Bill W. Once asked him "what do you guys do to do so well?". Clarence S. his answer reportedly was "we seek God".

I think that is very pertinent. Many come to AA to quit drinking, and many fail to enlarge upon their spiritual life. I personally think there is something in there.

You know, the programme has three parts. The first is your personal recovery through the programme of AA. The second is fellowship - which supports the first but does not replace it. The third is service - which facilitates the first two. I see many people miss out on at least one of those three. Some even on all three...

But I'm just another drunk, and I haven't been here that long either. I don't know if you ever have read the last speech of Dr. Bob - the co-founder of AA and someone who in general has given us quite a lot of wonderful spiritual things. He said it like this (July 1950):

My good friends in AA and of AA. I feel I would be very remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to welcome you here to Cleveland not only to this meeting but those that have already transpired. I hope very much that the presence of so many people and the words that you have heard will prove an inspiration to you - not only to you, but may you be able to impart that inspiration to the boys and girls back home who were not fortunate enough to be able to come. In other words, we hope that your visit here has been both enjoyable and profitable."

"I get a big thrill out of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing that I did a number of years ago, played an infinitely small part in making this meeting possible. I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal and enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness. If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn't returned as I would like, so my remarks of necessity will be very brief.

"But there are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis; one is the simplicity of our Program. Let's not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual AA work. Our 12 Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words love and service. We understand what love is and we understand what service is. So let's bear those two things in mind.

"Let us also remember to guard that erring member - the tongue, and if we must use it, let's use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance."

"And one more thing; none of us would be here today if somebody hadn't taken time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to have done numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get the degree of smug complacency so that we're not willing to extend or attempt to, that help which has been so beneficial to us, to our less fortunate brothers. Thank you very much."


Love and service. Be kind and true in what you say. Help others. If we give it all that, I think we are very well on the right track ;-).
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby Mike O » Thu May 19, 2011 11:24 am

My view is that AA is successful for those for whom it is successful and it's not successful for those for whom it's not.
Stats ain't important.
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby jakpar » Thu May 19, 2011 3:59 pm

it's working for me and countless others, so as they say "nuff said" as far as I am concerned. :mrgreen:
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Re: How Successful is AA ??

Postby BB Kate » Thu May 19, 2011 9:28 pm

The heart of your question centres around the measurement of success.

Success must be measured by the objectives, but there is no clear consensus on this in AA.
* Some considered success to be not drinking a day at a time
* Some considered success to be not drinking again - ever
* Some consider success to be finding God or some other Higher Power
* Some consider it finding a new circle of friends or relationship

Furthermore, some consider success to be considered the living of a 'spiritual' life, whilst others reject spiritualism, the spirit and all non-material concepts.

We could also ask the question, is AAs measure of success the same as its members? Possible objectives that AA may aim for could include:
* Be there when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help
* Incerase membership
* Convert members to theism

In organisational dynamics, there is a constant tension between the objectives of the organisation and those of its employees. AA is an organisation with emergent properties distinct from the sum of its members.

I believe this question of success must therefore be answered in accordance with AAs stated organisational objectives. If membershsip is not exclusive or limited only to teh alcoholic, then success rates should include all who wak through the doors. Either AA takes credit for all successes and failures, or its takes credit for none. It is arrogant to only take credit for the successes, dismissing those who fail as 'not really trying' because it is inconvenient to the success rate. Furthermore, members who do succeed may personally attribute their success to a number of factors, not just AA or God.
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