If you ever had a problem with substance abuse, were you offered more options that attending Alcoholics Anonymous? I was not, even though during the time (2005) there were a variety of options other than AA. In this interview, Joe Miller talks about the problem with assuming that AA is the only way to stay sober, and the campaign that Marty Mann pioneered that influenced the country to believe in the disease concept of AA as well as it being the only way to sobriety. Her actions still largely impact the medical as well as legal field when it comes to an understanding of alcoholism and treatment for it.
Also, when I read that AA pioneers promoted the disease concept versus alcoholism as a moral failing, I wonder why today this seeming dichotomy still exists. Researchers have found that alcoholism is not as simple as a moral failing or as a progressive disease. Furthermore, both of these ideas promote learned helplessness and victim behavior. There are many shades of gray as to what substance abuse/misuse really is, yet the treatment industry and society in general has yet to truly adopt any of these gray areas, including the idea that substance misuse is a behavioral problem or the result of poor coping mechanisms. I believe, if you want to empower people who have issues with substances, these gray areas must be discovered, understood, and even promoted in our society today.
Here’s the article: