Myths of AA

The Sober Truth debunks many popular myths about 12 Step programs, the better to wipe the slate clean and have a rational conversation about what really drives addiction.

MYTH: Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs are a highly effective way to treat addiction.
FACT: While 12 Step programs have helped many people, they are useful to only a small minority; a broad consensus of reputable studies place the overall success rate of AA between 5% and 10%.

MYTH: There is solid scientific evidence that AA and rehab programs are effective.
FACT: A close look at the science reveals just the opposite; no controlled study has ever proven that AA works better than no treatment at all.

MYTH: There are no good alternatives to 12 Step programs for treating addiction.
FACT: Better alternatives are indeed available; a world of good ideas awaits addicts and their families in search of something different.

MYTH: 12 Step programs never fail; people fail because they aren’t yet ready to change.
FACT: In no other field of medicine or psychiatry is the patient blamed when treatment fails.

MYTH: Only an addict can treat an addict.
FACT: Addiction is a compulsively driven behavior, so it only stands to reason that a professional trained in psychology would be the best equipped to treat it. We don’t insist that only someone who has had cancer can treat cancer, do we?

MYTH: You have to hit bottom before you can get well.
FACT: There is simply no evidence that bad consequences can affect addiction, or that especially bad consequences have some special power. If they could, there would be no addicts.

MYTH: Addicts have “character defects,” and recognizing these is key to getting sober.
FACT: Addicts are no more or less likely to have “character defects” than anyone else. There are as many personality types with addiction as there are addicts. Every addict is different, and every addiction is a burden.

Interviews, Articles and Excerpts:

  • Article about The Sober Truth on The Dish by Andrew Sullivan
  • Dr. Lance Dodes Interview on WBUR Boston
  • Article in The Atlantic by Jake Flanagin on The Sober Truth
  • Excerpt from The Sober Truth on
  • Dr. Lance Dodes on All Things Considered
  • Lance Dodes on Airtalk with Larry Mantle
  • Dr. Lance Dodes in Macleans Weekly Magazine
  • Dr. Lance Dodes on The Scholars' Circle Radio

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