Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Outside Issues: The Atlantic Magazine and Gabrielle Glaser

Oh, hold on to your hat and your folding chair in the church basement. We are tearing ourselves apart with the tussle over Gabrielle Glaser's article in the April 2015 Atlantic Magazine.

Glaser's article is called "The False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous", and she cleverly used the Affordable Care Act as a media/political hook to write about why AA may not work for everyone and to talk about other methods of treating alcohol addiction, including, moderation and medication.

Yes, I know that "we" collectively have some experience with moderation and with medication. But really, did we believe other people when they told us that abstinence was probably going to work better? No, we did not.

I don't think Glaser is a bad person and I don't think she is "abusing AA". She is asking questions. She just doesn't like it, didn't feel it was the right thing for her or other people she knew, so she wrote about that. And, because she is a journalist, she did her homework and dug deep to look at other methods of dealing with addiction. She writes about neurology, physiology, psychology and what other countries do.

I am really glad that she wrote about addiction and treatment, and yes even that she raises questions about what works and what doesn't. AA is not perfect. We know that. We admit it to ourselves and each other all the time. For years I have shared the rooms with people who have 25, 30 and 40 years of "recovery" and I don't want what they have. I want a whole lot more than abstinence form a substance. But that's my preference. Mine. Other folks are very happy to just not use. I want all the emotional and spiritual and personal growth that can come from our program and working the steps--and I include therapy and retreats and all kinds of other help in my program.

So why not let folks find what works for them?

Yes, I know the title of the article is dastardly provocative, "The False Gospel…" Well, that's what editors do to make us read newspapers and magazines. And does she say there's not a lot of science around AA? Uh huh. And is there  a lot of science around AA? Nope. So that's OK.

I love AA. I adore AA. And I'm beyond grateful that I found it and that it works for me. So I can only hope that other people in pain find what ever works for them, and that Glaser's article has kicked up the dust and the national conversation about addiction.

Here's a link to The Atlantic so you can read the whole article.


Kathy C. said...

Thank you for your commentary on this article Diane. It has been on my mind for the past week. I have many mixed feelings about Ms. Glaser's article. I wondered if she has stock in the company that produces naltrexone (my defensiveness acting up!). I also worried that her article would put many people off regarding AA...and that led me to wondering if our policy of anonymity sometimes gets in our way. Then again, I truly believe AA will stand the test of time and continue to help many as the years go on.

Diane said...

Kathy--Well said. Maybe we have to see this article and there like it as "outside issues". I too believe that AA will stand the test of time. And the less defensive we are the more attractive we become.