Miss Margo Offers Sensitivity Training

    After rolling out of bed this morning to find yet another email from a complete stranger informing me that AA and 12-Step Programs “don’t work” and that the recovery rate for addiction is only 5%-10%, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer lessons in sensitivity and tact.

     Repeat after me: It is not helpful to tell an addict who is fighting for her life, and whose last relapse almost killed her, that her recovery program doesn’t work.

     Let me reiterate: It is not helpful to tell an addict who is fighting for her life, and whose last relapse almost killed her, that her recovery program doesn’t work.

      I do not need YOU, random strangers of the internet, to “educate” me about alcoholism or the problematical aspects of AA.  Besides the fact that I am a highly intelligent woman and a critical thinker who has read the medical literature and most of the important books on these subjects, I have extensive experience as a fucking atheist in AA in New York.  I have been to almost every fucking meeting in Lower Manhattan.  I am intimately familiar with the “problems” of AA.  I do not need you to tell me about them, but thank you, so very much, for your unsolicited opinion about why I am a drunk and what I can, or cannot do about it.

       You don’t have to like AA.  I don’t like it myself.  But whatever you think about it, for most addicts, it is the only game in town.  If you want to spam your Salon and Psychology Today (truly august publications, btw, real top-shelf reading) about how AA is a useless religious cult to anyone, maybe you should send them to members of the psychiatric establishment, because unfortunately this is the best that modern medicine has to offer alcoholics.  

      More importantly, I want to ask: what is wrong with you to want to discourage or erode the hope of someone who is trying to survive and build a healthy, fulfilling life?

       Seriously.  What the fuck is wrong with you?  Do you have any idea how scared and miserable–and, indeed, desperate–most people are when they finally resort to AA?  

       If someone had cancer, would you forward them an article saying that you really hoped they survived, but btw, this is the success rate of the chemo?  5%–10% recovery rate?

      No?  You wouldn’t do that?

      Then why are you doing it to me?

6 thoughts on “Miss Margo Offers Sensitivity Training”

  1. Let me tell you about Weight Watchers. I don’t like it. I’m not coordinated enough to count my calories, carry a scale, do the iPhone ap, and all the tracking. But every week you have to face the scale. And every week that lady looks at you and grills you like “bad cop” on why you didn’t lose any weight or she is all smiles and warmth when you did.

    So…AA. Every time you have to face that crowd. Maybe that’s enough encouragement to go one more day without a drink. I don’t know and have no opinion on it.

    But I will say that I lost weight because I was afraid of the lady with the scale and the scorn of the group of strangers. Good on you for going to AA, Ms. Margo. I believe it will work for you.

  2. Sadly, there ARE people who will tell a cancer patient that what they are doing – it doesn’t really matter what that is – probably won’t work and they should try *this* instead. There are people who tell folks who are successfully losing weight and getting in shape that they are doing it wrong. Seems the world is full of asshats, and the anonymity of the internet brings ’em out from under the rocks. Hang in there – you CAN beat this. You are more than your addiction.

  3. Hello, I am also in the rooms and struggle with living the beliefs of a 12 step program. I find the postive people who have what I want and build relationships with them. AA and NA give tools on how to live a better life. I think eveyone can beneift from it. Take what you need from the program, leave the parts that you do not like behind. It will be OK. One day at a time.

  4. Dear Miss Margo,

    People can be jerks. And stupid – as I’m sure you know, the structure of AA makes any scientific evaluation impossible. So where do people get 5 – 10%? Some studies of people ordered to go to meetings by some court, some group that agrees to be studied, which is so far from typical of alcoholics it’s absurd?

    My experience is that AA works about 80% of the time. Of the people I knew when I got sober, 80% of the regulars got and stayed sober. These were the people who were motivated and were trying to stay sober. Some of those who couldn’t stay sober had major psychiatric disorders – I mean schizophrenia or major depressive illness.

    When I was 25, I was drinking over a quart of vodka a night alone in my apartment. I had started getting drunk alone a couple of times a week when I was 13. I started getting drunk every day at 18. When I quit at 27 I felt awful. My first year I was living out in Brooklyn and every Saturday I would sit in a chair and cry – I mean really bawl – for an hour or so. And I felt no better afterwards. I cried every time I opened my mouth at a meeting. This started to ease after nine months or so. I still remember when someone at my home group said that she had just heard me laugh for the first time. So what am I going to believe – my experience, what I have seen with my own eyes, or some magazine article?

    Sorry to go on, but this pisses me off. What, you exist only so that some asshat can make a debating point about AA?

    I knew a lot of atheists in AA. They were as sober as anyone. And some of the people who really helped in that desperate first year were atheists. Kinder, wiser, more ethical people you will never find.


  5. Good to see you pissed off and expressing it so well. It gives a sense that you are getting better and growing through this thing. Not good to see you having been pissed off by some Cro-magnon. If stupidity were a crime then some people would get life in the electric chair. You are making it!

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