Exploiting the misery of alcoholics

Throwing AA under the bus to cash in on insurance benefits

The author is a retired community college instructor.

Twenty-two years ago, my life was in the toilet. I was separated from my wife, and I was binge drinking nearly every weekend. My daughters were grown, so my sense of purpose as a father was no longer the raison d’etre it had once been. The genetic predisposition that made me vulnerable to the disease of alcoholism was asserting itself with full force. More than once, I’d tried to quit drinking on my own, pouring my booze stash down the sink only to find myself replacing it within a few weeks.

And then I hit “bottom,” the word recovering alcoholics use to describe the lowest point in their personal battle with booze. Alcoholics aren’t supposed to talk about their relationship with Alcoholics Anonymous at the level of print, but I am compelled to forego anonymity once more because of an article in the current Atlantic Monthly, a reprehensible bit of “journalism” that targets AA as a “false gospel.”

Writer Gabrielle Glaser, in an entirely sleazy article, strings together anecdotal “evidence” and dubious alternatives to show that AA doesn’t work, principally because of the central tenet that one must believe in a Higher Power in order to be healed.

I’m an agnostic, but I have 21 years of sobriety. I owe those years to the fellowship of AA. I spent my early days of recovery wanting to debate the existence of God, to turn treatment of my disease into a series of sophomore-level bullshit sessions. But I got past that to find AA the most accepting and nurturing source of help available to anyone who suffers the affliction of chemical dependency.

The article in the Atlantic is reprehensible and irresponsible, mostly because it will give some people who are in dire need of help an excuse to eschew the most efficacious help out there. The woman who wrote the piece reveals her agenda in the closing paragraph when she quotes a psychologist on the subject. Speaking of the benefits available under provisions of Obamacare, he says: “This is going to be a mandated benefit, and insurance companies are going to want to pay for things that work.”

Private enterprise exploiters of human misery in the private sector are lining up to cash in on those benefits. Alcoholics Anonymous is a barrier to some of that profiteering because AA is free, and it works if you work it.