One day at a time is a good sentiment and can be applied to just about anything in life. Be it smoking, drinking or any of life's little problems. Tomorrow is another day and it will be different. And life is just that way, some days are bound to be difficult and other days will bring abounding joy.

However, I have a problem with AA and its utter misuse by the Judicial System. First off AA is a religious organization. Staunch members will argue that it is not, but it is. They may not call it God but you must have a belief in a "higher power". That is just semantics. Some people just don't believe in God, any God, or in any organized religion. Yes, us pesky atheists. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state. To me the courts ordering a person to attend AA meetings crosses that line. The courts wouldn't be allowed to order a person to go to the local Catholic Church five days a week and partake in confession. Which, by the way, would work as well as AA.

Secondly, It doesn't work. While most articles on the subject will admit that because of the anonymity of the organization it is hard to get clear and precise data, they do report that most legitimate studies have consistently recorded the success rate for AA to be between 3% and 5%. Those percentages just happen to be the same percentages recorded for those people who kick the habit on their own with no treatment whatsoever. Statistically it is called spontaneous remission rates.

In my opinion, if it isn't legal because of the separation of church and state and it doesn't work, then it is either short sighted or just plain lazy of the courts (and society by extension) to mandate that DUI drivers attend AA as part of their probation agreements. I am not saying that the DUI laws should be lax, on the contrary, I believe the laws should be more stringent, especially for repeat offenders. I am merely stating my opinion on punishment as it pertains to AA.

I have limited personal knowledge but I have been to a couple of AA meetings with my former significant other and, yes, it was court ordered. That is when I did a little research on the subject. Also, my daughter was sentenced to attend 5 meetings a week after her bout of legal troubles last year. I know it won't work for her and think some other sort of treatment for drug abuse would be a better alternative. If she had cancer I would not choose a path to wellness that only had a 3% to 5% chance of survival.

Unfortunately, I don't have a solution. If I did, I would instantly become a very wealthy woman. One possible solution is to go back to prohibition. That could be done on both alcohol and tobacco products. It would make for a much healthier society. But we all know that is not going to happen. Making those products illegal, even if the people would allow it, would only serve to drive crime up and make millions of Americans into criminals. And prohibition doesn't work either. Even if the crime wasn't a factor it would most definitely be about the money. The United States would be broke in no time at all without the steady revenue of sin taxes.

And there it is. My very opinionated opinion on that subject.


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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 19, 2011 at 1:35pm
I agree with you very much about AA and also find it repugnant that a secular court would order a criminal to attend a religious meeting as a 'solution'. If it is intended as a punishment, well then why not send Atheists to a Pentecostal church, forcing them to dance around pretending to be infected with the holy spirit, and send Christians to pagan or wiccan ceremonies or the like - on the other hand, both would constitute torture and I'm very much against that.

When my cousin was in AA I asked if it were possible to change the 'higher power' to 'group support' when admitting the problem was beyond your own control and you needed to submit to another 'authority'. His sponsor said no, and I've generally understood that most AA programs will not allow for this.

My own solution for my drinking problem was a rather radical one. I learned to make my own alcohol and usually keep at least 5 gallons of vodka and/or wine on hand at any given time. I am still tempted to drink but terrified to do so more than a couple hours before bed because that is just too much damn booze no matter how much you like it. For the most part, I'm so overwhelmed by the volume of it that I just can't bring myself to start. For me, this has lead to much more moderate consumption of alcohol and an aversion to getting totally pasted.

I don't recommend this approach to anyone else with a drinking problem because it obviously carries a significant risk of just plain drinking yourself to death. On the other hand, obsessive prayer is a real waste of life itself so maybe there isn't much difference.


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