Ah, yes. Hate mail, I love it! Many of the articles on my site ridicule AA and it’s “learned helplessness” approach. I believe it causes more harm than good, and we should look at other options first.
People don’t like that. Or they feel that my site doesn’t meet their expectations of what makes for good “alcoholism articles”. Here are a few of the more interesting comments and/or emails I’ve received. By the way, I’ve corrected the typos, as evidently people who write hate mail cannot spell!
Complaint: It is unconscionable that your site recommends avoiding 12 step programs. By definition if you have an addiction you are powerless over a substance. The 12 steps empower one in other ways – you obviously don’t understand how AA, etc, empowers members in other ways. I know many people whose lives have been saved by those 12 steps. I know others who have died believing they could be in control. The 12 steps may not be for everyone, but to advise visitors to this site to avoid the 12 steps is uninformed and unconscionable. – Kathleen from Potsdam, email
My Answer: Kathleen, addiction is NOT defined as being powerless over a substance. I’m not sure where you might have learned that definition, but it is in error. The definition of addiction is having a dependence on a substance which, once ingested, temporarily alters the chemistry of the brain. An addiction has NOTHING to do with being powerless.
Teaching a person that they are powerless over alcohol – or any other addiction in their life – is what is TRULY unconscionable. Alcoholism is a bad habit, not a disease. It is not something one is powerless before, and certainly not something that a person must kneel before in humility as if it were God. The 12 steps may help some people in some ways (which is good) but to teach learned helplessness (the very definition of uninformed and unconscionable) hurts many, many more people than it helps. And it hurts them every day of the rest of their lives. (article continues below).