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What is your opinion of AA? I think it is a cult.?

I have been through it with a loved one (I'm not the alcoholic). I went to Al-anon and all I heard were old, used up cliche's. Has anyone found an alternative that is not religiously based?

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    AA is useful for some people, but not for others. AA groups can become cult-like and foster dependency, with the addict replacing drinking/drugging with attending meetings. However, I have to ask how many meetings you went to, and what group you went to. Every AA group is different.

    It is true that AA was founded by born-again Christians, and that a lot of their literature used to reflect born-again Christianity before it was "cleaned up." is a great website for finding out the truth about the origins of AA. They're not necessarily all pretty. AA also has a high recidivism rate, which they tend not to tell you about. contains a devastating, if bitter, critique of AA from the point of view of someone involved in Rational Recovery. Rational Recovery is a controversial, non-religious technique for overcoming addiction that is completely opposed to Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Unfortunately in my situation I am forced to refer people to 12-step groups. I think the primary benefit people derive from these is fellowship with other people and the understanding that they are not alone in having problems with addiction, but I have many arguments with the 12-step program itself and its efficacy.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Al-anon is different than AA. AA is a recovery program. Al-anon is a family help group. See the sources below.

    Neither are religiously based, as some people mistakenly believe, but a spiritual based one. It is based on a higher power, which AA chose to call God, but that higher power can be ANYTHING of your own personal choosing. Whatever works for you.

    AA has been around since the 1930's, and their 12 step program is now days used by many serious programs (click on Fellowships on the last source page), for people with an addictive personality, and other problems.

    Enough said. The resources are here for you to read if you are really interested in getting an answer to your question.

    The AA program is straight forward and simple, and the source pages are a fairly easy read.

    Best wishes on finding the answer to your questions, either here or somewhere else.


  • 1 decade ago

    Oh, that's just too funny! Apparently you did not listen when you went to Al-Anon. It is not religious based nor is it a cult!

    The first time I went was to FIX my alcololic husband. They were blunt in letting me know I would not be with him if I did not also have problems. I did not go back for two months. I had been under a very mistaken impression. Once I swallowed my huge pride and followed the program I was able to face my own problems. I think you should try doing the same.

    Me= No longer an enabler, left him 20 years ago, living life without an Alcoholic.

    He= Was in denial until 2005 he dropped dead at a young age from Alcoholism.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Any group that tells me I'm going to die if I leave the group is a cult in my eyes.

    Who says you need a group? People have been quitting on their own before groups came into being and the majority of those who quit do so on their own.


    "One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated. When a group of these self-treated alcoholics was interviewed, 57% said they simply decided that alcohol was bad for them. Twenty-nine percent said health problems, frightening experiences, accidents, or blackouts persuaded them to quit. Others used such phrases as "Things were building up" or "I was sick and tired of it." Support from a husband or wife was important in sustaining the resolution.

    Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction -- Part III, The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 12, Number 4, October 1995, page 3."

    Here are some tips on quitting or cutting back:

    You could try Rational Recovery:

    Don't bother with the tapes or DVDs, the method is described on this site or try Trimpey's books "Rational Recovery" or "The Small Book".

    Part of the AA culture is that you must have a group in order to get sober. If you believe this, there are secular recovery groups, the major ones are:



    and LifeRing:

    They have limited face to face meetings, but all have active message boards.

    You could also try the Yahoo group "without_aa":

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well, I know I'll get some thumbs down, but...

    I had a dear friend who developed a drinking problem and he found a group called Save Ourselves in his hometown that was a group of people who wanted to help themselves under their own power, with each others' support and open dialogue. He felt it was very good for everyone's feelings of self respect and self esteem.

    He found this to be a lot more helpful to him and found success. His opinions of his AA experience was that it is religion based, and forced another dependency besides alcohol. He is an atheist, but said many in his group were not.

    I'm not sure if there is a national thing like this, but it's worth trying to find a group like this in your friend's area.

    Good luck!

  • 4 years ago

    devoid of AA i does not be alive as we communicate. basically simply by fact AA could no longer help you is not any reason to poison people's minds. Are you an alcoholic? I easily have regarded at those Orange Papers. each minute I spent reading them became time wasted.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I don't know what you mean about being "religiously based." As a nurse, you may know that each doctor is different, and each AA group is different. You may have just stumbled into one that is more religious than the ones I have been to. The requirement is only that one offer their problems up to a higher power.

    Here is a quote I like about religion and AA. It was written by "a Licensed Psychologist, with an expertise in cult-related issues." He is also a recovering alcoholic who was "clean" at the writing of this for 4 1/2 years due in part to attending AA.

    "The difference is basically this: there is no theological doctrine whatsoever in AA. It is suggested, and NOT required, that one try to get in touch with his or her "higher power," whatever that may be, in order to help overcome the powerless feelings that most of us alcoholics experience in relation to drinking. There is no definition of that higher power. Many atheists use AA, and they often call their favorite AA meeting their higher power, in that there are many people in that meeting who simply have more knowledge and experience overcoming alcohol than the newcomer. Others simply use any symbol they choose. I knew one successfully sober man who said his higher power was the Great Pumpkin. Further, if one chooses not to buy into the higher power concept at all, that is fine. One need only to wish to stop drinking to participate in AA. I have heard many speakers say in front of their AA meetings that they do not use a higher power. No problem. This is clearly not a religion."


  • 1 decade ago

    AA saved my husbands life and my marriage.

    we both attend meetings a couple times a week, and we both need it.

    its a great program. it is spiritual, but not religious. the main thing for you would have been to take what you need, and leave the rest.

    i will say that i agree with another post, that each meeting has its own personality. for that matter, we have noticed that even different regions can show differences, for example, in the south, the meetings can get kind of "churchy".

    i hope you find some help :)

  • 1 decade ago

    AA is not a cult, dear.

    Bummer that you weren't able to work the program. Many others have found hope, help, and healing through AA and other step-based self help programs.

    Perhaps individual psychotherapy would provide you with the alternative you seek.

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