Written By: Fiona Stockard
A member of AA reacts to The NY Times article about The Center For Motivation and Change
Responding to “A Different Path To Fighting Addiction.”
On July 3rd, 2014 Gabrielle Glaser wrote an article for The New York Times entitled, “A Different Path To Fighting Addiction.” In this article, Ms. Glaser profiled The Center for Motivation and Change (CMC) located in New York City. The CMC rejects the AA model of substance abuse recovery, instead using a “practical, hands on approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems.” It does not ask its patients to swear off chemicals forever.
As an active member of AA, it was not the idea of “a new way” that brought on my frustration, indeed I love and welcome new ways to get sober. It was the misguided and unethical treatment of the facts that caused my eyes to roll. The article seemed more interested in bashing AA and it’s members, than in presenting the CMC’s treatment philosophy.
The Message from The Center For Motivation and Change
The article opens by stating that AA and Al-Anon “Either force them [the patients] into rehab or detach until they hit rock bottom.” It goes on to say, “Science tells us those formulas don’t work very well.” AA and Al-Anon don’t say that. In fact, AA and Al-Anon have no official position on how to achieve long-term sobriety. Some AA and Al-Anon members hold the view that hitting bottom and entering a treatment center work. The reason they hold this view is because, well, it works.
It worked for me. I’m the only person who can make the decision to get sober. The choice is mine and mine only. By letting the consequences of my addiction hit me square in the jaw, my parents gave me everything I needed to make the choice to get sober. Again, let me say, this was my path to AA and not what AA encouraged me to do. Once I was open to the idea of recovery, the twelve steps helped me find not only a way to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety, but a spiritual path to find my true self.
For the record, what AA actually says is,
THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us
and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to
carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our
Service Material from the AA General Service Office
That’s what AA says and what AA is about. It doesn’t say parents should “issue edicts, demanding an immediate end to all substance use,” or that AA is “an all-or-nothing commitment for life.” What I found is that once I begin to practice the twelve steps, I didn’t want to live my life any other way. AA, and what it actually says, helped me become a better person. It helped with problems far surpassing my alcoholism. AA has given me a “practical approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems.” It’s worth noting that this “practical approach” is what The Center for Motivation and Change claims to do. Why, I ask, reinvent the wheel?
Perhaps, because as The Center For Motivation and Change states, “Science tells us those formulas [the twelve steps] don’t work very well.” Let’s examine what exactly science tells us.
In 1956, the American Medical Association voted to define alcoholism as a medical disease. The Center For Motivation and Change states that alcoholism is not a disease. It looks like they disagree with science on one major point. They also site numerous studies that say AA does not work. They’re correct, based on the studies they chose to reference, it doesn’t work. In fact, based on most studies, it appears that AA doesn’t work. Here lies the great issue of AA facts and figures, it’s an anonymous programs.
That Facts about The Center For Motivation and Changes Facts
AA members who work each step and practice AA’s principals in their affairs are taught humility and anonymity, thus encouraging them to stay quiet about their successes. AA members who attend a few meetings, don’t work the steps, and subsequently drink, are more likely to speak out. They’re more likely to blame AA for not working, than to accept personal responsibility for their actions.
AA is a program of action. Our literature states, “Faith without works is dead.” The recovering individual is simply a person living among you and working with you. Only when asked for assistance, will our anonymity be broken. That is why study after study paint AA as a failure.
The only fact that’s proof of AA’s effectiveness is the only fact anyone needs to know. In 2006, there were a reported 106,202 AA groups worldwide, with a membership totaling 1,867,212 recovering individuals.
That statistic didn’t make it into the CMC’s article. My question for The Center For Motivation and Change is, scientifically, is it possible that 1,867,212 people are wrong, and the 25 of you are right?
Doesn’t seem possible.
Gabrielle Glasser’s article is posted here