Alcoholics Anonymous is 75 years old, and it's getting an awful lot of attention for a group that thrives on anonymity. If you don't know the backstory, Brendan I. Koerner lays it out in a recent article for WIRED, and explains that we still don't fully understand why AA works for some people:
What we do know, however, is that despite all we've learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better. "In my 20 years of treating addicts, I've never seen anything else that comes close to the 12 steps," says Drew Pinsky, the addiction-medicine specialist who hosts VH1's Celebrity Rehab. "In my world, if someone says they don't want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren't going to get better."
And today, in the Los Angeles Times, a writer on the Op-ed page writes, "My name is Chas. I'm an alcoholic." He found his way to AA, worked the steps and hasn't had a drink in 13 years.
I don't know why that happened. Most alcoholics never make it to AA, and many who make it don't stay sober. But I know how it happened. That's what I share with the newcomers I meet at the meetings I still attend: what I was like, what I did about it, and what I'm like now. That's what I hear from others too, men and women, gay and straight, older than I and younger, with more sober time and less, talking frankly about their struggles and their solutions.