The Wired Article [updated]

Wired has an article up about Alcoholics Anonymous.

I just added my rant/response, below the jump:

What we do know, however, is that despite all we’ve learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better. “In my 20 years of treating addicts, I’ve never seen anything else that comes close to the 12 steps,” says Drew Pinsky, the addiction-medicine specialist who hosts VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. “In my world, if someone says they don’t want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren’t going to get better.”

I think the “tell” in the Wired article is the writer’s insistence that we don’t know how it works. I get that because of the venue (Wired), a puff piece in on the 75th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous has to seem more skeptical and literate than the sort of article you’ll find in your local Bee. And it is. Kinda. And, as a piece of journalism, it’s got to appear to approach the subject with some objectivity. Look, it’s not as if I expect anyone but a handful of us outlying, alcoholic-murdering cranks to go balls out against AA. So, I’m not going to cry about every article that doesn’t sound as if it were written by me. There are hundreds of Happy 75th AA pieces out there that we didn’t link to.

But, Wired? Jeezus. Was this meant for the Fortean Times by chance? There must be some mistake.

The thing is that the foundational question, “How does it work?” is loaded – assuming right off that AA works, and that there is something beyond our mere mortal understanding that makes it work. The question exposes the author as a softball on this subject.

It would occur to any smartypants that perhaps AA works for some people because people who are ready to quit drinking congregate there, because… that’s where we’re supposed to go. Anyone doing an objective piece on AA would have to acknowledge this bit of obviousness.

You’ll also have to take into account that nothing else has popular endorsement and that there are no other options for most people. People who are already going to quit drinking will find a way – and this is pretty much all we got. And it is endorsed. And people are sentenced. And your wife will kick you out unless…

Either this simple stuff didn’t occur to the author, or it did and he chose to ignore it. And if he chose to ignore it, did he ignore it because it didn’t jibe with the propagandistic intent of the piece, or because it didn’t jibe with the sensationalistic “Or Could It Be… Satan!” intent of the piece? Anyway, I expected something better from Wired, which is why I linked to this article.

Well, no… I don’t. I guess I really don’t. I don’t because I don’t think that alcoholism and addiction treatment in general are on anyone’s radar. People don’t go there, except to say, “Isn’t that good what Those People do, when they become Those People? See how they do? Very good! We don’t understand it!” And I think that’s why AA gets the pass it does. And perhaps that’s where this writer is coming from – though I doubt it – just because of the stuff he ignores and glosses, and because of the stuff he chooses to emphasize.

It starts with the human interest element, and then the standard Bill W. as modern-day (He cried out!) prophet bio, but it really kicks off with the quote I opened with. We don’t know why it works, but the most popular addiction specialist in the country says that people who resist the steps won’t get well, and don’t really want to. Then Koerner gets a little sciencey, for the sake of objectivity (relapsing rats?). And, finally, he leaves us with a couple of thoughts.


A person’s openness to the concept of spiritual rebirth, as determined by their neural makeup, could indicate whether they’ll embrace the steps. Last September, researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that people who claimed to enjoy “an intimate relationship with God” possess bigger-than-average right middle temporal cortices”

Get that? Spiritual people have bigger brains. I wonder how this would explain my sudden embrace of Intelligent Design.

And, second, the standard drunkalog boilerplate:

I always thought I was too smart for AA,” a bespectacled, Nordic-looking man named Gary shared at a meeting in Hell’s Kitchen this past winter. “I’m a classical musician, a math and statistics geek. I was the biggest agnostic you ever met. But I just wrecked my life with alcohol and drugs and codependent relationships.”

And now, after more than four years in the program? “I know God exists,” he says. “I’m so happy I found AA.”

Maybe one day we’ll discover that there’s a quirk in Gary’s genetic makeup that made his prefrontal cortex particularly susceptible to the 12 steps. But all that really matters now is that he’s sober.

See? All that matters is that Gary is sober.

Of course, this is just Conversion Narrative: I once was lost, but now am found. We have heard this story so many times: I didn’t believe in God! I was mad at God! I was an avowed agnostic![what does that even mean?] I was too smart! This is how the story is supposed to start. It always starts this way. Always.

And the conclusion of this piece is the ultimate, standard, abdication: Well, it worked for me. I mean, for Gary. That’s really all that matters, right? That Gary is sober.

For every Gary who tries AA, there are countless Garys who fail AA – and in failing, kill themselves or kill your kids. Addiction is a apocalyptic problem, and this kind of flip-ass spiritual bullshit has done nothing but make it worse.

What we do know, however, is that despite all we’ve learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better.

We do not know that at all. Works? You mean, AA works better at inspiring a Spiritual Conversion than science does? Because that’s what the purpose of the steps is, right? Not abstinence, but spiritual awakening.

To say that this is still the best we can do – and, further, that we know it – is balls.

We have learned an enormous amount in the last 75 years about how people respond to medications and treatments. We know so much more about behavior and addiction, and we have so much to work with. The fact that we don’t take advantage of it is no vindication of AA or proof of AA’s effectiveness.

Not only does it not work better than nothing, but it has made things worse by actively stymieing research, by fucking generations of addicts in the head, by turning a blind eye to rampant abuse (you’ll notice that Wired didn’t find it at all relevant to mention this stuff), and by allowing a cynical industry to grow around it, institutionalizing this mess.

People don’t fail AA because they’re not ready to do “the work.” They don’t fail because they’re not honest people. They don’t fail because they haven’t hit bottom. They don’t fail because they haven’t had a spiritual awakening.

There are plenty of dishonest, punkass, godfearing AA oldtimers – The Spiritual Big Fish – who will gaslight honest newcomers. People fail AA for so very many legitimate reasons that this Wired author ignores. They fail because their conception of God does not jibe with AA’s conception of God. They fail in AA because their sponsor is the crazy cat lady. They fail because the inmates are running the asylum – as they love to say – and it is not funny.

I wonder why Wired published a puff piece on AA at all. Why bother? If they’re going to do an article on AA, why not a real article?

  • Ben Franklin

    Read the comments. AAer: try willpower when you have diarrhea. Wow that is such a perceptive idea that I have never heard of! Golly where do I sign up for your cult-er-program! Not only does your comment show that you understand everything about life, addiction and how willpower does not work you obviously know medicine by showing your intricate knowledge of body functions. Everything has now been answered for me today! Oh, that's a false analogy. I Don't care. It works if you work it.

    Goon, It jerks if you jerk it.

  • tintop

    some of the comments were pretty sensible. i think that a lot of people do not have many illusions about aa. the articlr itself was mediocre.

  • McGowdog

    It jerks if you jerk it! Can I use that next time I do the Lord's Prayer?

  • tintop

    please yourself mcgowdog

  • McGowdog

    So keep jerking back… because you're worth it.

  • speedy0314


    a more appropriate title for this article would have been, "Secret of AA: After 75 Years, All We Can Say With Any Degree of Scientific Certainty Is That It's Still Here".

    more bunkum, this time served up with some feigned authorial objectivity, truly awful grabs at the 'scientific' underpinnings of the 12 steps & a money quote from dr. drew ("are the cameras rolling?") pinsky.

    longevity does not equate to efficacy. the author states plainly, "The sad fact remains that the program’s failures vastly outnumber its success stories." — but doesn't even remotely define what would constitute a 'program success' or a 'program failure'; in more common language, that's just saying what everybody who reads this blog knows — the overwhelming majority of people who walk into an AA meeting will end up walking away from the 'program' usually within the 1st year or after a number of futile & frustrating 'tries'.

    and they'll (in most cases) be better off for it. AAWS has no interest in drawing attention to that big, fat elephant in the middle of the 'alcoholism' room.

    repeating the 'anonymous nature' undermining effective scientific study canard is where the author either shows his gullibility or his true colors. anonymity is the VERY FOUNDATION of sound scientific study. studying the a-of-a's efficacy would be no more difficult than applying the same standards as those use in double-blind drug trials. a clinician charting results with no awareness of whether a test subject is receiving the 'drug' (AA/12-step facilitation [uughh]), a 'placebo' (e.g., SMART, SOS, one-on-one CBT therapy, etc.), or is in a 'control' group (no treatment at all) keeps the playing field level.

    that's how we all but wiped out small pox & polio, how we discovered the indisputable link between smoking & lung cancer, & how we'll eventually end up treating people who abuse alcohol or drugs … if that ever becomes a serious concern. i'm doubtful that it ever will, though.

    i loved the comment posted by 'orbust':

    "My question is this. (sic) Why in hell would anyone want to give up drugs or alcohol. I can’t imagine getting through life with out them. I love to get high. Sorry, but I do. I still run a successful business and provide for my family. Its not that hard.

    Tonight I am going to drink a bottle of wine and smoke a doobie, I can’t wait."

    talk about 'rigorous honesty'!

    the fact of the matter is, while the a-of-a may boast of its 1.2 million number (which actually shows a decline over the past 20 years) the overwhelming majority of americans are just like orbust. and while coors light & budwesiser & captain morgan bombard us with commercials about "drinking responsibly", there's a cop squirreled away somewhere counting on orbust getting a case of the munchies one night & driving off to 7-11 to grab a huge bag of funyuns. orbust could've just put away as little as a glass of wine & one poke off that doobie to land in a world of hurt. he doesn't have to be impaired in any way at all in order to get locked up & saddled with months of court 'appearances' & a slew of fines, surcharges, & legal fees.

    put simply, if orbust wants to maintain any semblance of civic normality he's going to have to pay through the nose for it. and he'll probably have to go to a bunch of a-of-a meetings until he gets 'the message': stock up on the funyuns BEFORE you chill the wine & get high.

    everybody loves a good time. here in america, we've figured out to package & sell it while simultaneously stigmatizing & wildly taxing it. that includes most 'illegal' drugs for middle-class offenders. the a-of-a has been piggy-backing this increasingly puritanical legal treadmill for 50 years.

    party like it's 1999, baby!

    unless or until we catch you … then you better break out your checkbook & get your ass numbed sitting in church basements for a bit.

    then, go back to work.

    and go out afterwards & party like it's 1999!

    the sad truth is that it doesn't matter if 'AA works' (at the macro level, it doesn't — even the author of this pseudo-scientific blahbity-blah admits that). what matters is that 'works' into the larger system of making middle-class & poor americans pay very dearly for that all-american good time.

    'alcoholism' isn't a disease. it's a myth. in this country, that myth gets a lot of people paid & keeps a 'program' as ridiculous as the a-of-a sitting on the shelf long past its expiration date.

    jeez, hate to get all noam chomsky on y'all but look at 12X12'S central message: surrender your life & will over to the care of AN AUTHORITY LARGER & MORE POWERFUL THAN YOURSELF. happiness is slavery.

    two cents & then some,


  • Ben Franklin

    Well geez Speedy,

    I am sure we can prove AA works by studying the effects of willpower on patients with diarrhea. We can measure the amount of willpower needed in terms of sphincter spasms,abbreviated ss. Then we can measure the time before the defecation response and plot that as a variable on a semi-log plot. We could also measure the velocity of the defecation particulate as it hits a sterile large piece of graph paper. Another possibilty would be to measure the splat-the diameter of the defecation particulate after the ss threshold has been exceeded.

    I am sure we can get Dr. Drew to help us with this. We can get mucho $$$ from the Department of Alcoholism and Spirituality.



  • michael

    I Thought it was quite a reasonable article and in my experience the only people that AA worked for were the religious higher power following types who were replacing one addiction with another and were unable to stand on their own two feet. I was defiantly one of the people who had decided to stop before I walked into the rooms and I know that God has played no part in my recovery. I feel sorry for the people like  that went to AA expecting great results after hearing chapter 5 and work the steps time and time again with no positive result . I have not been to a meeting for several years and feel better for it but If i could turn the clock back I wish there had been a decent alternative to AA which caused me a great many problems mainly due to the gossiping and ignorance of many of its members. I many cases I feel that the religious side of AA retards recovery like it does almost everything else in society. I am sober because I made a decision to stop not God.

  • AndyM

    It may seem a small point, but Wilson was never a stockbroker, failed or otherwise, as repeatedly stated throughout this article. It's a more plausible claim than those made by some other cult leaders (L Ron Hubbard, for instance made the ridiculous claim that he was a nuclear physicist), but it is still a lie.

    In itself it probably doesn't matter much that Wilson lacked educational qualifications and any recognised professional status, but I think the fact that he seems to have been dishonest about it raises obvious questions about his integrity. He seems to have been so successful about misrepresenting his acheivements that the untruths are just repeated over and over by lazy journalists who cannot be bothered to check their facts.

  • AndyM

    In general, though, I got the impression the writer thought AA was mostly bullshit, but couldn't quite bring himself to say so for fear of upsetting the AA faithful.

  • I didn't get that impression, Andy… I my sense was that, as a Wired article, it has to make a nod toward skepticism, which it does — but so, so perfunctorily. I posted the link to the article before I was finished reading it, and about halfway in, I added the "propaganda" tag, which was cinched by the time I got to the last paragraph, with threw down the old I used to be a diehard agnostic (whatever tf that means) drunkalog boilerplate.

    Anyway… I'm gonna update this post with my response to the article.

  • KG

    "Try willpower when you have diarrhea". Well, I can hold it back, until I can allow my body to expunge the toxins in a hygienic manner. After a (usually) short amount of time the physical symptoms go away, especially if you make the conscious decision to eat better and take medicine if prescribed. Also, if I CHOOSE to live a better lifestyle (eat healthier, exercise, good hygiene, etc) it won't come back as often. When it does, it is usually not that bad, because I have already made those decisions to be healthier.

    Actually that does sound like dealing with an addiction! HOWEVER, my body has never decided to take a drink, but it has decided for me (yes, I am powerless over my diarrhea) to pooh in a watery fashion.

  • Tippy Katz

    Try working the steps, going to meetings and calling your sponsor when you have diarrhea.

  • k

    Wow, propoganda, orange would have had field day with that. Take it they don't teach about clinical trials and placebo at the med school dr drew went to.

  • jcal

    Ill bet deep down Dr. Drew knows its bullshit, but hes now famous and making a fortune off the 12 step garbage.

  • Dr. Drew has been shoveling money out of the hole he's digging for himself.

  • DeConstructor

    Should there not be a criticism from the medical community over the carnival side show these guys are putting on?

    Treatment? Confindentiality? No washed up has been second string celebs trying anything to get on TV.

    Dr. Phil is worst. Yesterday he put a coffin in front of a woman on stage, sfter berating her to no end, because 12 step "treatment" did not work for her, and she had not overcome the "disease" she was trained to be powerless over.

    His message board is heavily censored.

    There should be ethics investigations of these guys and licenses should be yanked.

  • speedy0314

    @ Ben Franklin:

    that is too hilarious. yeah, i guess i do have a tendency to 'run' (wink wink, nudge nudge) at the mouth at times don't i?

    @ ftg:

    i wouldn't even bother "responding" to the piece — a fair amount of commenters saw it for the agitprop it is & most readers (whether of the printed or on-line version) will just flip the page & not give it a moment's notice. answer this piece of puffery with yet another in the "keep comin' back" series as a corrective.

    for every "Nordic-looking" "agnostic" type named "Gary" in "Hell's Kitchen" (newsflash, dipshit, the neighborhood's called 'Clinton' these days … or didn't your publisher send you the memo before buying up the place?) who's found 'gawd' & AA, there's a hundred 'straight-out-of-central-casting' types named (fill in the blank) who will tell you that the a-of-a is horseshit & that you can't get a beer in this town for less than five bucks.

    a Celtic-looking, be-spectacled snot-nosed eed-jit,


  • Speedy, You know that I never miss an opportunity to shut up (as my grandmother would say).

  • DeConstructor, I agree with you about Dr. Phil and ethics investigations.


    Tough love is strictly for jerks.

  • tintop

    i found many of the comments intelligent; some not at all.  i found the article itself to be blah on steroids.

  • murray

    McGowdog I sense unrest in you.

    I think you know you want to come over the lightside of the force.

    Free yourself from the remaining tendrils of the darkside and know true peace my friend

  • murray

    Oops that sounded a bit rude. I meant "come over to the light"

    No pun intended

  • "blah on steroids"


    That is goddamn delightful.

  • McGowdog

    Murray says, "Come over to the light". 

    Do you gots candy up in here?

  • Ben Franklin

    Speedy, I'm sorry I was not implying that you run off at the mouth. My little "experiment" was in response to a steppers commentary on Wired when he said to try willpower the next time you get diarrhea. This analogy is supposed to show how willpower always fails in the addict/alcoholic and how you should work a program/write a check for treatment/give it up to god. That was in my initial post. You can run off at the mouth anytime-I like your posts.

  • murray

    No Candy just the relief of no longer having 12 stepology taking up rent free space in our minds.

    good times 🙂



  • speedy0314

    @ben franklin:

    no worries, man. i got the joke, took your metaphor & ran with it — just to take some of the air out of myself.

    like tintop says, i have a tendency to go "blah on steroids" … and a few bumps of crystal just for verbosity's sake.

    it's all good,


  • tintop

    not you speedy.  the article went "blah on steroids"  in other words, it was underwhelming.  you put up good stuff. 

    i think that aa goes along because society, and the professionals delegated by society, care nothing about drunkards. occaisionally, there may a bit of condemnation; or, a bit of pity. but,mostly,malignant neglect.

  • speedy0314

    jeez, can't a guy make fun of himself without offending anybody else these days.


    that's it — i'm cracking open a bud, stopping off at the mental institution before going to jail & then dying.


    scratch that.  think i'll just shut the f**k up.



    on digitox (the planet with the removable hard-drive) they would have gotten the joke,




    last of the big-time jewish comedians

  • joedrywall

    That article was like the bible: too long for me to read.

    The question I simply must ask is why did it take so long, until someone else started some sort of alternative? And not until five years after Wilson's death?

  • tintop

    why did it tak so long?   my guess: apathy

  • k

    Nothing else makes the grandiose claims that AA makes.

    Partly as the big book actively discourages alternatives.

    Its the result of the highly successful cult of AA, its very difficult to have a real belief in setting up alternatives when even professional doctors say its the only way

    Meetings are a problem aswell because of the god content of AA it makes use of the many churches to hold it meetings in these parts.

    any other alternative self help group would struggle with holding meetings

  • k

    and yes agree tintop, apathy on the part of society as a whole

  • AndyM

    Must admit I didn't read the whole thing before posting earlier. Making out that Wilson unwittingly stunbled on the insights of modern neuroscience is pretty risible. A lazy article churned out to order for the occasion of AA's 75th anniversary?

    The 12 step approach seems to have attained a virtual monopoly on addiction treatment in the USA. If it has such a stranglehold, it's not really surprising other approaches haven't had much chance to develop. If the author of the article were really interested in answering his own question about why other approaches didn't have a better record of success than AA, he might do well to look beyond the USA to Finland for example, where a completely different approach seems to be showing promising results.

  • joedrywall

    Of course there was an alternative. I will confess that I know nothing about aversion therapy.

    History of Schick Shadel Hospital

    Charles A. Shadel was a pioneer in the field of treating alcoholism. In 1935, Dr. Shadel provided a colonial mansion in Seattle, offering the warm and personal comforts of home to those who were then considered society’s outcasts – the alcoholics.

    Shadel believed that the only thing wrong with alcoholics was alcohol. His philosophy was that the body, not the mind, was dysfunctioning. He felt that alcoholism was a drug addiction, and that therapy should include every effective resource. Dr. Shadel and Dr. Walter Voegtlin, a Seattle gastroenterologist, developed and tested a safe and effective formula to effect chemical aversion to alcohol.

    The work of Shadel Hospital in Seattle continued quietly and effectively until 1964, when then-chairman and CEO of the Schick Safety Razor Company, Patrick J. Frawley, Jr., checked in to face his addiction to alcohol.

    After the first day of the program, Frawley felt immediate relief from the compulsion to drink. Months later, he was astonished to find that he still didn’t desire for any of his favorite drinks.

    In 1965, Schick Safety Razor Company formed Schick Laboratories, Inc., with Mr. Frawley as chairman. This new company purchased the Shadel Hospital and $6 million was invested in researching habit formation.

    The research, under the direction of Schick Shadel Hospitals’ chief of staff James W. Smith, M.D., resulted in a program for nicotine addiction. Programs for cocaine, marijuana and other dependencies have been developed more recently by the Schick Shadel doctors, based on the aversion therapy pioneered by Shadel.

    Schick Laboratories, Inc. separated from Schick Safety Razor Company and owned Schick Shadel Hospital in Seattle, Washington, until 2002. It was at this time a group of former patients, led by Dallas businessman Jim Graham, formed Duffy 1, L.P. to buy the hospital.

  • k

    I used anatabuse. If you don't know thats a form of aversion therapy it makes you ill when you drink. I like to think, although I maybewrong, it gave me a bit of breathing space I stopped my instinct for drinking in certain situations.

    The probelm is when depression hits hard I would drink on it. I like the commis no holds barred 1 stop method for people with less severe mental health problems. Unfortunately the russian citizens have got wise to it.

  • speedy0314

    hey kids!


    you wanna play a really fun game?


    just a try and find ANYTHING on the inter-webz that even resembles the 2006 study described in this article as part of "Yet a growing body of evidence" that the a-of-a is good for what ails "over the long haul".  type all the search terms from that paragraph you want (e.g., "2006 study" "AA" "stanford" or "stanford psychiatrists" "628 alcoholics" or just "628") & see if you get anything other than a link to … (drum roll please) the WIRED article that cites it!


    yessir, the 'evidence' keeps piling up!  of course, we can't provide any links to said evidence … but take our word on this one.  remember, we're talking "long haul" — just like the apocryphal 2006 study of 349 alcoholics that Scientific American can't directly llink to either.


    no shit.  just try & find either of these two landmark studies & you come up with bupkis!


    maybe they were rocketed into the fourth dimension of happiness.



    hmmm …




  • Speedy, I cracked up when I read the paragraph about the relapsing rats. Whaaa? Relapse? Were the rats white-knuckling a quit? And then did they just say "fuckit!" and swing by the liquor store?

    I can't figure out how Rats and Relapse go together… Something got left out there.

  • Also, I think you may be right about bothering with a response. I wrote it, but it's a little tedious. I'm not sure I should inflict it on anyone.

  • speedy0314

    yeah — Wired is essentially eye-candy these days.

    still, the sheer volume of foof in this piece does give one pause. if it were a story on Pixar or Monsanto, you could bet they'd have their facts straight & all their sources directly linked.

    no joke — i spent nearly 4 hours trying to track down this 2006 study of 628 alcoholics over 16 years & i get nothing but the Wired article itself. if i had a million bucks, i'd bet that this study does not exist.

    shit — maybe the followup should be, "Hey Wired: Where's The Beef?"


  • tintop

    speedy – there is a good chance that it does not exist.  i see similar things in history books; the story goes back to double hearsay. 

  • Ben Franklin

    I found it. You have to do an EBSCO search on it. Many people don't have access to Medscape but I do. The article is titled:  <a title="Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals." href="; rel="nofollow">Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals.Full Text Available By: Moos, Rudolf H.; Moos, Bernice S.. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Jun2006, Vol. 62 Issue 6, p735-750, 16p, 5 Charts; DOI: 10.1002/jclp.20259; (<cite>AN 20735566</cite>)

    There is also this

    <a title="The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous." href="; rel="nofollow">The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous.Full Text Available By: HUMPHREYS, KEITH. Addiction, May2006, Vol. 101 Issue 5, p617-618, 2p; DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01447.x; (<cite>AN 20506495</cite>)

    I briefly reviewed the articles and see nothing that is earth-shattering. It basically says the more treatment and longer exposure to AA the better results. Kind of like saying if you go to AA a long time you are likely to be sober and if you go to a bar a long time you are likely to get drunk. The Humphreys article was a review of some sort. I don't trust either Moos or Humphreys. I would not say that these articles prove AA works. There seems to be many methodological problems and lots of self-selection bias.

  • Ben Franklin

    <a title="The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous." href="; rel="nofollow">The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous.Full Text Available By: HUMPHREYS, KEITH. Addiction, May2006, Vol. 101 Issue 5, p617-618, 2p; DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01447.x; (<cite>AN 20506495</cite>)<a title="Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals." href="; rel="nofollow">Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals.Full Text Available By: Moos, Rudolf H.; Moos, Bernice S.. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Jun2006, Vol. 62 Issue 6, p735-750, 16p, 5 Charts; DOI: 10.1002/jclp.20259; (<cite>AN 20735566</cite>)

  • Ben Franklin

    Trying to post

  • Ben Franklin

    <a title="Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals." href="; rel="nofollow">Participation in treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-year follow-up of initially untreated individuals.Full Text Available By: Moos, Rudolf H.; Moos, Bernice S.. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Jun2006, Vol. 62 Issue 6, p735-750, 16p, 5 Charts; DOI: 10.1002/jclp.20259; (<cite>AN 20735566</cite>)

    <a title="The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous." href="; rel="nofollow">The trials of Alcoholics Anonymous.Full Text Available By: HUMPHREYS, KEITH. Addiction, May2006, Vol. 101 Issue 5, p617-618, 2p; DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01447.x; (<cite>AN 20506495</cite>)

  • Ben Franklin

    I have found it and tried to post the title and Journal. Will try later

  • Ben Franklin

    This study focused on the duration of participation in professional treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for previously untreated individuals with alcohol use disorders. These individuals were surveyed at baseline and 1 year, 3 years, 8 years, and 16 years later. Compared with individuals who remained untreated, individuals who obtained 27 weeks or more of treatment in the first year after seeking help had better 16-year alcohol-related outcomes. Similarly, individuals who participated in AA for 27 weeks or more had better 16-year outcomes. Subsequent AA involvement was also associated with better 16-year outcomes, but this was not true of subsequent treatment. Some of the association between treatment and long-term alcohol-related outcomes appears to be due to participation in AA. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 62: 735–750, 2006. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

  • Ben Franklin

    Authors Moos and Moos Journal of Clinical Psychology. June 2006.

  • Ben Franklin

    Nothing to see here. move along now. Basically what this study suggests is that the more Kool-aid you drink the more likely you are to be a kool-aid drinker. It is the same thing about going to barbershops and the correlation with haircuts. Anything by Moos or Humphreys is suspect.

  • Ez… Participation in Treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-Year Follow-Up of Initially Untreated Individuals… Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders… Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders

    Three by Moss and Moss, no surprise to have found these citations in Wiki under AA…

  • Commonsense

    How did they define "better outcomes," abstinence (i.e. dry drunk from an AA perspective) or something else?  if i remember my statistics, if you don't get better than 2.5%, then the correlations could likely be nothing more than random chance.

  • Commonsense

    Never mind, EZ posted the study.

  • k

    Did the participants choose themslves choose whether to enter treatment or AA? Surely not.

    Also it doesn't evaluate if it is the group element of AA or the 12 steps

    Obviously people who choose enter treatment or AA are more likely to abstain in the long run as they more motivated to staying sober. Its the phenomena of why people just becasue AA has millions of members who are sober it doesn't proove a thing

    I am in hurry so ill get back later but there has been many studies none have prooven AA to be effective. so either all the others are flawed or this one is. Check NHSs evaluation of many clinical trials

  • k

    27 weeks or more! I don't doubt the veracity of the results all it prooves is nothing.

    alcoholics who dont wnat to drink go to AA meetings.

    alcoholics who who want a drink go to bars instead.

    Er its no brainer which group is the most successful

    ok i'm being a bit flippant but hopefully you will inderstand what I'm getting at.


  • k

    Whats interesting about AA is that it should potentially show up as being effective it uses 2 prooven effective things group therpay – strengthening social networks and god.

    the problem its a very specific god that is taken away from people who are struggling. You can't say in AA "ok I am struggling but god is with me as it clearly states that if your struggling god is not with you".

    It also uses destructive dodgy psychology that attacks self esteem.

  • Mona Lisa

    Anything by Moos and Moos or Humphreys is automatically going to "find" that AA works; they have an obvious bias. And if you look carefully, you will still find that the studies show correlation, not causation.

    Interestingly meta-analyses of multiple studies have concluded that AA is useless, or at best, low on the list of a variety of approaches to recovery:

    In my opinion, if there is anything "good" about AA, it is the social network it provides. Too bad the social network tends to be isolationist, toxic and exploitive.

  • speedy0314

    humphrey & friggin' moos!


    sheesh … then what the hell study is Sci Am referring to?


    im'a con-fooz-ed!



  • tintop

    I have never seen a study that shows clear and convincing evidence that AA/12 step has a success rate.

  • Commonsense

    Heck, I know how it works. It is no secret. You get the courts and medical establishment to force people to attend! After all, the evidence clearly shows that AA is a program of promotion:

  • Nice find, commonsense. I think i might put that on the front page. Sheez. And again with the animated text! What is it??

  • Commonsense

    I think the animation is just a visual form of the slogan.  Both complement the Big Lie:

    "All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods."

    <cite>—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X</cite>



  • k

    commonsense. Are you the same commonsense who post videos on youtube. If you are they are great, gave me a chuckle just found them last night under the username commonsense11111

  • Commonsense

    k – No, that is a different Commonsense as their last name is 11111.  Just use caution if you happen to encounter my evil twin Nonsense.  But my cousin Horsesense is OK and is widely admired for his stable thinking.

  • joedrywall

    Looked at that Back to basics site. I think that the biggest part of the Mass Delusion is the the belief(delusion) that folks have about early AA having anything like a 50-75-93% success rate. If it had anything near that then why not send everyone there, and even force folks there?

    For the Big Book thumper who thinks AA is watered down, who thinks that today AA is "pop" AA, or groups are offering "Cafeteria" style AA- YOU should be grateful!! Thats right if AA wasn't as watered down as it is it wouldn't exist. Something like Francis Hartigan stated in his biography of Bill W. – if it was up to Dr. Bob AA would have never left Akron, and if it was up to Bill it would be franchised like McDonalds. Which it is.

    Also Bill W. states in his memorial speech for Dr. Bob about the hundreds of folks they tried to help, with only a handful to take the bait. I have heard that Wilson is also quoted as saying that AA worked for about 5%, Hartigan even states that in his book.

  • tintop

    joe, you are correct.  If AA were not watered down  [ there is  a 'strong tea/weak tea article on line] iaa would have been gone years ago.

    I think that people realize that no one has ever been able to caluclate a success rate for AA.  AA has never made the attempt.  It has made half hearted efforts to guess a retention rate.  And, with that, only AA has ever seen the raw data.   A success rate for AA is undiluted guess work.

  • Ben Franklin

    Here we go again, but this time it is a puff piece about the puff piece.

    StinkinThinkin Goon

  • Ya know, I think AA gets away with all it does because outside of the recovery industry, nobody really cares. Let's face it, half the population does not  drink, so they don't even think about it unless it is in their face somehow. I'm not sure about the remaining 50%, but I've been told it could be 5-10% of that contains all the heavy drinkers and alcoholics. AA claims to have printed 30 million big books in 75 years. This sounds like a nice number, but And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christy written in 1939 has sold over 100 Million copies in the same time frame. The point being that 30 Million for a worldwide audience really isn't all that significant in the grand scheme of things…fyi -Quotations from Chairman Mao(1964) has sold between 800-900 million.

    AA is the big bully in a small Public Relations pond. If an highly visible author writes a real, factual piece on the AA subculture, what do they get? Grief, pure unadultrated grief. The 12 step machine is connected and vocal. The truth seekers are simply not relevant, because we are the minority troublemakers for all the wonderful selfless folks that tend to those sick souls that need help with their addictions. "Shame on you for disparaging such an altruistic and obviously successful group with your vitriol." 

    The only thing that can relieve the stranglehold is the Internet. They can turn back local dissention as it arises, but they can't deal with a combined global voice of dissention. All we need is organization and the tools are there to get the word out. If it is really true that 12 Step approaches have a higher death rate, lower success rate, worse relapse rate and higher re-arrest rate compared to other methods, it should be shouted from the rooftops.  If the 12 Step powerless, must find God approach is actually harmful vs self-empowerment approaches, then the lies must end and it should be stopped. If anybody really cares that is 🙂

  • McGowdog

    The way I've heard it was that there are about 10% of the population as being potential alcoholics and another 10% that are potential hard drinkers or "alcohol dependent" people.

    You say on one hand that A.A. is where most problem drinkers eventually go, but on the other side of your mouth, you utter that "12 Step approaches have a higher death rate, lower success rate, worse relapse rate and higher re-arrest rate compared to other methods". That's really hillarious.

    You also say, "The only thing that can relieve the stranglehold is the Internet."

    Bill W. wrote and published a book that sold 30 million plus. That does NOT put some dork like you on the same playing field as him, Agatha Christie, Chairman Mao, or Bill W. Chairman Mao was responsible for the deaths of 70 million people so, he hopefully stands all by himself.

    Just because you have a voice doesn't mean you should speak. As far as you speaking truth and A.A. being the answer to those "sick souls that need help with their addictions", the jury is still out on that one.

    You have a voice and you're privileged to use it on certain venues. But you will be held to the same standards that you impose on your detractors.

  • DeConstructor


    Corporate AA claims that the "Big Book" was not written by William Griffith Wilson. They claim it was written by a GSO office worker that was not even born when the book was orginally published.

    This was claimed in open court testimony as corporate AA was prosecuting persons for copyright violations in Mexico and Germany.

    Copies of official court transcripts.

  • Z

    OK, I'm linking to this. Blah on steroids, it jerks if you jerk it, very good.

  • i just now got your reference to fortean times. awesomeness. i love stinkin thinkin.