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By the time he was a practicing defense attorney, J. (who asked to be identified only by his initials) sometimes drank almost a liter of Jameson in a day. He lived in Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Rehabs, people there like to say—and he knew what to do: check himself into a facility.He often started drinking after his first morning court appearance, and he says he would have loved to drink even more, had his schedule allowed it. He spent a month at a center where the treatment consisted of little more than attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.In his recent book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, Lance Dodes, a retired psychiatry professor from Harvard Medical School, looked at Alcoholics Anonymous’s retention rates along with studies on sobriety and rates of active involvement (attending meetings regularly and working the program) among AA members.Based on these data, he put AA’s actual success rate somewhere between 5 and 8 percent.But in a sense, he was lucky: many others never make that discovery at all.Tthe efficacy of 12-step programs has been quietly bubbling for decades among addiction specialists.His drinking increased through college and into law school.
According to AA, these figures are based on members’ experiences.
But although few people seem to realize it, there are alternatives, including prescription drugs and therapies that aim to help patients learn to drink in moderation.
Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, these methods are based on modern science and have been proved, in randomized, controlled studies, to work. G., it took years of trying to “work the program,” pulling himself back onto the wagon only to fall off again, before he finally realized that Alcoholics Anonymous was not his only, or even his best, hope for recovery.
That is just a rough estimate, but it’s the most precise one I’ve been able to find.
I spent three years researching a book about women and alcohol, Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control, which was published in 2013.The program instructs members to surrender their ego, accept that they are “powerless” over booze, make amends to those they’ve wronged, and pray.