There is one organization that was started in the last century that can be attributed to saving hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide–Alcoholics Anonymous. If an individual realizes their plight, opens their mind to a higher power, engages with others who are suffering, and follow the 12 steps, probabilities of survival and revival are good.
Now that we have entered the 21st century, substance abuse involving various drugs as well as alcohol, is killing people every day. However, our medical knowledge of the mental (brain) and physical affects (body) of addiction have stepped up to the task by uncovering drugs that halt addiction. Meditation and other techniques for recovery are seen on Social Media every day. This has created a new and real force called, “Recoveryism,” a term coined by Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery in 2006. See Recoveryism explained. Simply, Recoveryism is various camps professing that they have a solution for the alcoholic or drug addict; these camps carry a flag saying, “We are the Holy Grail of recovery.” This approach holds that there is only one true path to recovery.
I have seen this first hand at AA meetings. In May and June 2016, I went to an AA meeting, which is coded, Open Discussion Group, and a well-known man in recovery, and a sponsor of other alcoholics, stated that “the room is for alcoholics only and all others are in the wrong building.” After this comment people left the room!! Another time, a woman spoke and told the fellowship that discussions must focus on alcohol only, or people should leave the room. What is scary and important is that if you multiply those two meetings in one Massachusetts town, by all the people who think that way, by all the towns holding AA meetings, there is an immense number of people being excluded from recovery efforts.
Note: Though there are no elected officers that can send an amendment to the fellowship, a message of change is needed. What has worked for alcoholic addicts can work for all addicts, in my opinion.
AA must rethink the type of addicts they are willing to help and what century we are in. If AA does not modify itself and bend with the wind, it will break; unfortunately, if this AA stance continues, other addicts who could be helped will die. In order to avoid “recoveryism,” Alcoholics Anonymous may want to become “Addiction Anonymous”, which will recognize and welcome all those who are suffering. The 12 step process will work for both alcohol only and addicts.
Father Martin, who was a huge advocate of AA, was way ahead of his time on alcoholism. See Father Martin’s Chalk Talk on Alcoholism. Do not let the “Father Collar” stop you from viewing his video. Father Martin combined the struggle of the alcoholic to the rational and irrational parts of the brain, which was causing the problem. He was 50 years ahead of the University of Yale Medical School findings and the “Spect” of Dr. Amens. I am sure, Father Martin, would not have verbally closed a meeting to those in need.
Note: As I stated in earlier blogs, solutions to addiction is like a portfolio. Financial advisors recommend that clients diversify the investments in a portfolio to minimize risk; this increases the probabilities of a positive outcome. Similarly, we need to have an open mind for remedies, or we reduce the chance of a healthy and happy life.
The world needs Alcoholics Anonymous. And the world needs other methods of curbing addiction. The 12 steps can work when it is combined with other methods of sobriety. AA will have the same positive meaning it always had, but it now needs to be considered, Addiction Anonymous. Let’s not have the bigotry within any recovery chase away that one person who may have cheated death that day.