When Bill Wilson met Dr. Bob Smith in June of 1935 there was no “rehab” to speak of. Health farms, insane asylums, mental hospitals, and other such crude attempts at rehabilitation existed, but few were successful in helping “cure” an alcoholic man. Doctors around the country were completely confounded by the inability of some men, and some women, to stop drinking. Despite their physical illness, their obvious mental illness, and the severe consequences which came after every drunk, these individuals persisted in the delusion that one day, drinking would fall back under their control. Of course, time after time, patients would return to their doctors inebriated, facing withdrawals, and craving just one thing: another drink.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Bill Wilson and a man he was introduced to, Dr. Bob Smith. After a night of need and thorough discussion, the men realized that great relief from cravings was brought on by conversing with another alcoholic. Through significant amounts of research, drawing inspiration from the six steps of the Oxford Group, and practical experience shared by other alcoholics, AA was born. Suddenly, the dozens of men and women who had no answer to their unquenchable thirst for liquor were sustaining their sobriety and turning their lives around. Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as “The Big Book” was published in 1939.
Word of the proven method outlined in what became the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous spread throughout the country, then the world. The 12-steps even inspired the first “rehab” in Minnesota, which was a facility that offered a model based on the 12-steps. More than 90% of treatment centers today are based on the 12-step model and/or include regular attendance to 12-step meetings. What is outlined as a “spiritual program” has many proven metaphors and philosophies, but is not a proven treatment method for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. Problematically, the cultural renown of the 12-steps has turned them into a religious icon of their own being. Millions of people believe that the 12-steps are the only way someone can get and stay sober. If the 12-steps don’t work for someone, they’re casted as hopeless, helpless, and untreatable. The 12-steps work for everyone and everyone needs to incorporate them into their lives.
Undeniably, there are universal elements to the 12-step program which could help anyone be and act like a much better, more morally directed individual. However, the necessity of a “higher power” and the spiritual convictions of the program are not for everyone. Likewise, the other components of a 12-step program like attending meetings, helping others through the steps, and more facets, may not fit someone’s lifestyle. Unfortunately, the 12-step world will tell someone that they are the ones who won’t make it fit and that the 12-steps should be a fit no matter what.
You don’t need the 12-steps. You don’t have to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that says you cannot get and stay sober without the 12-steps. While it is true the steps “work” for millions of people and it is true that many elements of the program are universal, it just may not be what works for you. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It simply means there is something else out there for you. If you aren’t taking the 12-step route, you have to take some kind of route. What works about the 12-steps is having some kind of structure, routine, and hope for sustaining your sobriety.
Men are finding freedom from addiction by building a lifestyle of sobriety founded on sustainable recovery created by sustainable change. Inspired by the adventure of living in the Pacific Northwest and the proven efficacy of innovative treatment, our men’s programs are transforming lives inside and out. For information, call us today: (503) 850-2474