Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

AA is Faith-Based, Not Evidence-Based

Posted in Science Based Medicine by Skepdude on May 19, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “SCIENCE BASED MEDICINE”

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most widely used treatment for alcoholism. It is mandated by the courts, accepted by mainstream medicine, and required by insurance companies. AA is generally assumed to be the most effective treatment for alcoholism, or at least “an” effective treatment. That assumption is wrong.

We hear about a few success stories, but not about the many failures. AA’s own statistics show that after 6 months, 93% of new attendees have left the program. The research on AA is handily summarized in a Wikipedia article.  A recent Cochrane systematic review found no evidence that AA or other 12 step programs are effective.

In The Skeptic’s Dictionary, Bob Carroll comments:

Neither A.A. nor many other SATs [Substance Abuse Treatments] are based on science, nor do they seem interested in doing any scientific studies which might test whether the treatment they give is effective.

In the current issue of Free Inquiry, Steven Mohr has written a thorough and incisive article “Exposing the Myth of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Mohr characterizes AA as a religious cult. The founder, Bill Wilson, had a religious experience while under the influence of strong psychotropic drugs.

He had a vision of a bright light and the revelation that he could be saved only by giving his life completely and fully to God – and that an important part of his recovery would be to bring the news of his epiphany and recovery to other suffering alcoholics.

The 12 steps of AA refer repeatedly to God. They require admitting you are powerless, accepting that only a Higher Power can help you, turning your will and your life over to God, taking a moral inventory, admitting your wrongs, being ready to let God remove your shortcomings, making amends to those you have harmed, improving your conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation, and spreading the word (proselytizing).

Criticism of the religious orientation led AA to switch emphasis from “God” to any “higher power.” One member allegedly designated a doorknob as his higher power and believed that praying to the doorknob helped him maintain sobriety.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “SCIENCE BASED MEDICINE”

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3 Responses

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  1. Larry said, on May 19, 2009 at 1:40 PM

    This article, it’s not of much use.

  2. manifesto said, on July 4, 2009 at 5:06 AM

    This article is very important, because it tells the truth about a very malign cultural force in our democratic and open society. What other sometimes deadly condition is treated with “God”? Cancer?

  3. Damien Blomker said, on January 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    So the question is what’s the govenrments role in all of this. Are they helping or hurting or just not even a player. I always try to look behind the scenes and see who’s pulling the strings.


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