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Alcoholics Anonymous has been a fundamental partner to our Orange County rehab and detox. While our detox specialists can provide therapy, guidance, and a safe recovery environment for patients, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the perfect place to help you stay sober after recovery. When combined with rehab and detox, AA is a critical part of the recovery journey and has helped countless people.

Sobriety and Chemical Hooks

Despite the prevailing beliefs in society, addiction is only partly based on the “chemical hooks” of addictive substances. While drugs and alcohol do create a euphoric “high” in the short term, anyone using for a long period of time knows that the drugs are just as addictive years after you stop feeling the original “highs” that made it exciting or relaxing or fun. In fact, an investigation by Johann Hari in his book, Chasing the Scream, found that in certain cases, the chemical hook theory didn’t make sense at all. In certain parts of the US, street drugs were so scarce that most of the samples confiscated were 100% filler, with no trace elements of the supposed illicit substance. Despite this, and despite users noticing the weakness of the drugs… drug trafficking continued, users kept using, and addictions persisted.

Certain chemicals in drugs do lend themselves to being more addictive and dangerous. In fact, with alcohol and opiates, the withdrawal symptoms from detox can be extremely painful and even dangerous if unsupervised. There is clearly a chemical element to addiction, and it requires careful medical intervention to overcome. But the very fact that chemical hooks aren’t the sole and universal reason in addiction means we have to understand how social and psychological elements can influence the disease, and what programs and treatments can be effective at targeting those issues.

The Effectiveness of Alcoholic’s Anonymous

Studies pretty consistently find that Alcoholics Anonymous is a critical aspect of long-term recovery. One study found that 28% of clinical outcomes were contributed to the number of AA meetings patients attended, the largest variable in the study. In comparison, stable jobs, marriage, and adjustment only accounted for 7% of recovery, which hints that AA could provide a form of social intervention or therapy not accessible to most people living an otherwise healthy and productive life.

The Controversy of Alcoholics Anonymous

While individual studies have found mixed results of AA effectiveness, meta-studies have found that, overall, AA supports a number of critical health outcomes in sobriety. Most importantly, the number of meetings attended had a clear link with overall abstinence, among varying sample groups and at varying lengths of follow-up. While AA may not be effective in 100% of cases, individual patient’s commitment to the AA 12-step process and attendance at meetings has a clear and significant impact on overall sobriety success.

How Does Alcoholics Anonymous Help?

While detox can purge your body of the “chemical hooks” in addiction, and therapy can help mitigate the negative feelings and emotions that can lead to or perpetuate addiction, there is still a critical social element to recovery. We all become addicted because of something fundamental missing from our lives. Whether it’s unresolved trauma, social isolation, boredom, or feelings of inadequacy or unfulfilling careers, there’s always something deep and troubling that keeps us reliant on fast and potent fixes to our emotions. AA offers us a chance to connect with others, and to express ourselves and our feelings in a way that might not be possible with close friends or family. Hearing others go through similar struggles also helps us connect with their story and gives us a roadmap to success in our own lives.