Like most people who decide to get sober, I was brought to Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA certainly works for others, its core propositions felt irreconcilable with my own experiences. I couldn't, for example, rectify the assertion that "alcoholism is a disease" with the facts of my own life.The idea that by simply attending an AA meeting, without any consultation, one is expected to take on a blanket diagnosis of "diseased addict" was to me, at best, patronizing. At worst, irresponsible. Irresponsible because it doesn't encourage people to turn toward and heal the actual underlying causes of their abuse of substances.I drank for thirteen years for REALLY good reasons. Among them were unprocessed grief, parental abandonment, isolation, violent trauma, anxiety and panic, social oppression, a general lack of safety, deep existential discord, and a tremendous diet and lifestyle imbalance. None of which constitute a disease, and all of which manifest as profound internal, mental, emotional and physical discomfort, which I sought to escape by taking external substances.It is only through one's own efforts to turn toward life on its own terms and to develop a wiser relationship to what's there through mindfulness and compassion that make freedom from addictive patterns possible. My sobriety has been sustained by facing life, processing grief, healing family relationships, accepting radically the fact of social oppression, working with my abandonment conditioning, coming into community, renegotiating trauma, making drastic diet and lifestyle changes, forgiving, and practicing mindfulness, to name just a few. Through these things, I began to relieve the very real pressure that compulsive behaviors are an attempt to resolve.
Times change and discoveries are made that render earlier techniques and approaches less effective. Change is inevitable. To remain rigid when the whole world is changing and advancing is to invite misfortune. The AA program in particular is challenged with an opportunity of unprecedented magnitude.