Help! I Don’t Like My AA Group
If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, chances are you’ve heard of an organization called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Some friends and family may have recommended it to you, too. You’ve also heard a lot about how effective it is, so you decide to join an AA group.
At first, the meetings go well. You’re welcomed warmly, the members treat you nicely, and you like to listen to others’ stories intently. But as you attend more meetings, you notice that there’s something off with your AA group. You don’t feel that you belong, or you feel that some members are judging you for not abstaining from drinking as fast as others.
Soon enough, you may tell yourself that you don’t like your AA group. You may even consider quitting AA entirely. But before you make that decision, consider a few things.
Avoid comparing yourself to other members
Each member in your AA group is going through a different kind of struggle with alcohol. Your experience is not the same as theirs, so you shouldn’t compare. Also, you have different careers, families, education, and interests. Moreover, other members may have either milder or more severe addictions than you do. With these, comparison just kills the mood entirely.
Instead, focus on what you have in common with your fellow members. Look at the things they share that you can relate to. With that, you will feel that you fit in, as all of you have similar struggles with an addictive substance.
Think of this as a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. Shake people’s hands even if you’re nervous. Speak up even if you don’t feel like it. Smile even if you’re uneasy. Doing these will help you ease your anxiety, especially if you are new to your AA group. If you make the effort to reach out to other members, they will extend their warm welcome to you in return.
The more you do these, the more you would convince your own mind that you do belong to your AA group. After a while, you’ll feel almost at home with your fellow members.
Do not tell yourself that AA won’t work for you
The more you think that AA won’t help you recover, the more it will become true for yourself. Pretty soon, your mind would be fully convinced that AA is not right for you. With that mindset, you will approach every meeting with a defeated attitude.
Some people use a negative outlook of AA as an excuse to go back to their old drinking habits. While you may not have the same intention, a wrong mindset about AA may lead to an unintended consequence: You could end up relapsing much sooner.
Instead, put yourself in a better state of mind. Have some positive self-talk. Convince yourself that you belong in AA and that the process will work for you.
Explore other AA groups
You could have several legitimate reasons for not liking your AA group. Maybe you’re a young person in a room full of older people. Maybe many of the members of your group are not friendly. Perhaps you prefer a smaller group to a big group. Or you could be an atheist in a highly religious group, and you feel that everyone is forcing their beliefs on you.
If for any reason, you really do not like being around your current AA group, it’s not the end of the line. You don’t have to quit AA entirely. You can find other groups that suit your needs. In fact, in many areas, you can find several AA groups composed of different sets of people. Some groups even have meetings in different formats.
If you want to be with people similar to you, you could join specialized meetings. Some are for men only, women only, or young people only.
The point is you can go to different AA groups until you find the one that is best for you. You are not obliged to stick to a group you don’t like. After all, if you dread being in the presence of your fellow members, it defeats the purpose of the support group. You want to be in a group that helps you live sober, not one that adds to your problems.
Is AA my only option to recover from alcohol addiction?
If you’re really not comfortable with AA, or you feel it isn’t effective for you, there are alternatives. Alcohol is just another addictive substance, so the principles of addiction recovery are similar. With that, rehab centers offer good alternatives to AA. The best part about rehabs is they can give you medications if necessary.
The moderators of AA groups typically are not medical professionals. With that, they cannot prescribe helpful medications to you, such as naltrexone. This drug is a common medication used to curb cravings for many different substances, including alcohol. Studies have shown that naltrexone is highly effective in stopping alcohol cravings, which is a big help if you have a severe addiction.
Additionally, AA does not emphasize the biological aspect of treating alcohol addiction. Rather, AA is an abstinence-only program. They focus on just convincing you not to drink alcohol. This method does not work for everyone, especially if you have a deeper level of addiction. You can’t just shoo away your urges to drink.
But with medications such as naltrexone, you have a better fighting chance. Also, with a doctor’s supervision, the drug is safe and you won’t have to take it forever.
What are my alternatives to AA?
The 12-step approach that AA uses isn’t foolproof, despite many people vouching for its effectiveness. If you want to join support groups that don’t depend on 12-step programs, here are some alternatives.
- LifeRing. This is a secular peer support network that helps people to keep away from drugs and alcohol.
- SMART Recovery. This group focuses on empowerment to help members stay in recovery.
- SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety). This is a nonprofit network of secular recovery groups.
- Moderation Management (MM). This group teaches members to moderate their drinking instead of purely abstinence.