Wednesday, March 16, 2011
THEY'RE RIGHT, YOU KNOW
I've been spending some time over at Agent Orange, Stanton Peele, and even with our little friends over at ST. I've read all the arguments against AA, especially those attacking Vaillant's definitive study about alcoholism. I've already discussed the motives behind these attacks. Peele and Thaddeus Jude are pushing their own programs, Orange is bilking the poor conspiracy theorists, and our little friends are just plain intellectual midgets well out of their element.
So let me take on a few of their main arguments:
a. AA is a cult. This is true by most definitions of a cult. The American Legion, The Presbyterian Church, The Boy Scouts, and the Democratic Party also fit into this same definition of a being a cult. AA, however, has never experienced a schism as have most other cults of this nature. It would be cool to have a secret handshake, though....
b. AA is a religious organization. Strong arguments could also be made for this, as the Big Book has constant references to God, but not to a particular organized religion. The courts are still fighting this one out with the question of mandatory attendance for DUI offenders.
c. AA's effectiveness has been "proven" to be 5% or less. Well, AA's effectiveness has never been studied, so I'm curious as to where this came from. Orange and Peele refer to Vaillant's studies, yet nowhere in his book does Vaillant ever cite a study of AA's effectiveness. In fact, he states several times that controlled studies of AA's effectiveness have proven too difficult to carry out, yet naturalistic studies offer evidence that AA is effective.
d. All the AA opponents state unequivocally that alcoholics can return to normal drinking given the proper treatment. Again, this is true. But our (AA) definition of an alcoholic is a far cry from theirs. To Orange, Peele, et.al., then term alcoholic encompasses anyone from a problem drinker to a hard drinker, a binge drinker, an alcohol abuser, to someone dependent on alcohol per DSM IV. So we're talking different drinkers. By their definition of an alcoholic, they yes, that person could return to normal social drinking. Yet when backed into a corner, ever the most ardent proponent of controlled drinking Shiela Blume, states "Alcoholics who have repeatedly failed to moderate their drinking, or have irreversible physical complications (ie., addiction) due to alcohol, should not drink at all."
e. Another little trick they use is the term "return to controlled drinking for addicted alcoholics." The key here is "controlled" as in a laboratory not a bar. (Sobell and Sobell 1976, 1978a). Their results could never be duplicated by other researchers nor have they ever replicated their findings. Yet their results are touted as "proof" that return to controlled drinking can be successful.
f. Abstinence can be achieved by will power alone. Again true. For the alcoholics who meet Orange's and Peele's definition of an alcoholics, sure will power can be successful. But it's a little like advice to control you're drinking, willpower is useful for those who are only a "little bit " alcoholic.
g. Alcoholism is not a disease. True again. For the problem drinker, the alcohol abuser and such, not it's not a disease. It's a behavioral issue. But to someone who cannot not drink? It's a disease.
So what these folks say, within the context of their own definitions, is pretty much true. Unfortunately, they don't have the intellectual capacity or integrity to honestly apply their arguments to AA's concept of alcoholism. They would rather redefine terminology to suit their purposes and thus prove their arguments, embracing data that supports them and attacking information that disproves their arguments.
In the case of Orange, Peele, Thaddeus Jude and their ilk, it's strictly lying to advance their own greedy agenda. Our little friends are just too caught up in their own neurosis to see reality. I was reading through their site, by the way, and was constantly challenged to come up with any counter arguments to the attacks they make on AA and the Big Book. I couldn't find any specifics, only rambling incoherence. If I found a specific attack, I may have said something.
So the next time you come across the drivel put forth by our counterparts in the field of alcoholism, at least you know where they get their arguments from. My personal opinion, ignore them.