Bill Wilson and Bob Smith created Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) 73 years ago, but the program is stronger than ever, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Oct. 19.
“Twelve-step programs are very helpful for a lot of people, especially when it comes to substance-abuse issues,” said Tommie Richardson, a staff member at the Ridgeview Institute, an Atlanta-area addiction hospital. “They are the most successful modality we know of right now. The fact that they've been around so long and continue to thrive tells you that.”
The 12-step program is based on spirituality, self-examination and self-renewal. Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon follow AA in worldwide popularity.
However, some health professionals say the spirituality aspect of the program scares some away. “I see folks who have gotten into treatment after a DUI or who think it's an aberration,” said Bob Fredrick, a clinical social worker and therapist in Atlanta. “They say 'I just don't connect there' or 'I'm not as bad as them.' There's a lot of denial with addiction.”
Twelve-step programs are superior to individual therapy, according to addiction counselor Scott Maddox. “You have people who have common problems and experience with solutions to those problems,” he said. “They provide a support network for ongoing recovery that therapy doesn't provide.”