Lots of people love to hate. That said, there are elements of truth to most things people have opinions about and then again, there are false elements too. Here are the unfortunate reasons the general public bags on A.A. and a persuasive case why anyone struggling with addiction will want to attend meetings anyways. Hopefully, anyone struggling with an addiction problem will give something that could help them a shot at least six times (apparently, that’s the magic number) before they make up their minds. After all contempt prior to investigation is….well…like cutting off your nose to spite your face…it’s just dumb.
Come on, nobody likes this first step, even the members who love everything about AA. Who wants to admit that they are not master or mistress of their own destiny? Self made professionals, young people who haven’t lost everything; even those whose world is falling apart, have a hard time with this principle and will stay away because of it.
Maybe this is an easier pill to swallow when the person with a substance abuse problem can think of it in these terms: as soon as I put something in my mouth, my arm or my nose, I cannot control what happens afterwards and/or how much more I consume.
2. Sexual predators
Many women and men have been victims of sexual and physical abuse and other trauma related maladies, and the last thing they need are horny dudes and ladies hitting on them, taking advantage of their fragility. This behavior is not unique to men only.
Yes, this does happen occasionally, however it also happens in the world outside of AA. For this reason, there are plenty of stag meetings where an addict can be with members of the same sex. It is advisable by many old timers in AA that the women stick with the women and the men stick with the men.
3. Bad advice
I have heard some myself. Some members in AA who will tell others they are not sober if they are on medication for their mental health. Some will give relationship advice and stir up trouble. Still more have opinions on religion, politics, finances, and on and on and on.
First, the true program of AA, as it is outlined in the book, takes no stance on medication, nor any other topic just mentioned. AA promotes suggestions (not advice) and those would come from a trusted sponsor or other individual who has been chosen based on their integrity and character. Second, people who toss advice around are to be avoided like the plague. There are plenty stellar members who do not behave this way. I always say, “Consider the source.” How is this person conducting their life? Are they in a healthy relationship, kind to others, practice restraint when offering advice?
4. AA is a religious cult
nothing gets more people up in arms than talk of G.O.D. and this is one serious reason that people love to hate on AA. No person wants anyone else to tell him or her what he or she can and cannot believe in. Everyone has a history of thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with God, that have been with them since birth and being new in a group that will possibly inform them their way is the wrong way – well, it’s no wonder some people will stay away.
Anyone who says that the founding fathers of AA did not write the Big Book with a flare for Christianity has their head in the sand. Bill and Bob were devout Christians and the nuances in the literature reflect this. The fact remains that they recognized that in order to help as many people as possible, they had to reach out to people of all faiths (or no faith at all). I have never experienced anyone attempting to coerce me to his or her faith, or tell me mine was wrong. For those who are agnostic or atheist, there are meetings tailored for them as well. The spiritual interpretation of AA is for the individual to decide for themselves and there is room for everyone.
5. AA brainwashes people
Outsiders say that friends or family have joined AA, only to became so obsessed with the program that they disappeared into it. Yes, this happens. There are those who probably feel that their lives were spared because of AA and that they will die if they ever use again. This can be a very real threat to some and it’s understandable.
Brainwashing is a strong word and I would challenge anyone who says an alcoholic can be told what to do or made to behave like a robot. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve heard there are people who cut off all other friends and family unless they are sober too, I don’t know any of them. The AA I know supports a balance of using the foundation of the program in order to re-enter the world and live happy, joyous and free.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a microcosm of the macrocosm. You’ll find the good, the bad and the ugly. You’ll also find recovery, joy, hope, laughter and some of the most creative and intelligent characters you will ever cross paths with. Alcoholics Anonymous is the only place I know of, where you can raise your hand and say things like: “God is a sham,” or, “You’re all full of crap,” or, “This program doesn’t work,” and everyone will simply clap their hands and in 2 minutes time, they’ve forgotten what you said (because they’re all just thinking about themselves) and ask you to, “keep coming back.”