Dear Annie: Readers champion alternative routes to sobriety and recovery

Dear Annie: I was surprised at your response to the letter writer regarding the Rational Recovery book, offered as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not an alcoholic myself, but I have adjacent relationships, including a dear departed uncle who met the love of his life at AA. I have no objection or ax to grind with AA. You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT that AA and its many offshoots have saved millions of lives.

Unfortunately, the belief system and frequent use of the word “God” that provide a basis for this effective approach to recovery contain within them an element that can be extremely upsetting to survivors of religious-based abuse. Your letter writer shared a book title that helped them quit drinking, which includes the word “rational,” implying that a religious belief system is not included in the strategy for getting sober. How cool is THAT?!

I’m disappointed you didn’t just say: Oh, that’s great! Any route to sobriety and recovery is a GOOD thing! — Blessings

Dear Blessings: I wish I had asked you for advice before giving my own. I remain a huge fan of Alcoholics Anonymous, but only when there is flexibility and tolerance at the meetings. Sometimes recovered alcoholics can become the most tyrannical, and I wholeheartedly agree that “any route to sobriety and recovery is a good thing.” But AA can also be flexible and helpful in ways that might surprise you, as the next letter shows.

Dear Annie: Your response to Rational Recovery was the best advice possible because you pointed out that whatever works for that family to achieve sobriety should be applauded, but you also pointed out that AA has helped millions of people. I am a recovering alcoholic and was turned off by all the talk of a “higher power” until I discovered an AA group of atheists with regular meetings. They said the acronym GOD could stand for Group of Drunks, and the people at those meetings were honest and friendly and kind. I have stayed clean and sober for more than 30 years thanks to the support they gave me, as well as at other AA meetings over the years. — AA Fan

Dear Annie: I read your column regularly and generally think your advice is fine. But I really have to take issue with your advice to the family that chose Rational Recovery to deal with alcohol abuse. It was REALLY condescending! As someone who went to AA for help because everyone recommended it, it was so awful, controlling, unforgiving (and I tried several groups) and unfriendly, especially to women. I didn’t need the opinions of 1930s men telling me what to do. In the end, I found SMART at my local hospital, which works on principles of modern psychology. It is far less judgmental, kinder and more forgiving. And I wasn’t the only one in the group who had fled AA. One size does not fit all. It’s not the 1930s anymore! — Secret Oath

Dear Secret Oath: If SMART works for you, then I am all for SMART.

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