US of AA

US of AA

How the Twelve Steps Hijacked the Science of Alcoholism

Book - 2019
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For almost as long as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been in existence, the debate has run about whether alcoholism is a disease or a learned behavior, with no consensus in sight. Miller spent five years finding out why AA became the go-to remedy, when, by AA’s own statistics, it has a failure rate of 95 percent. He begins his book in the early years after Prohibition and describes how a hopeless female alcoholic became the unpaid salesperson for AA and took it viral. Miller spent nearly thirty years believing that his only choices were AA or to drink himself to death. He attributes his turn around to a medication called naltrexone. While it did not totally curb his craving, it mitigated it. His compulsion to binge lessened, and when he did drink, it was less frequently. He went in search of more help and began participating in SMART Recovery meetings online, and downloaded a cognitive behavioral therapy app CheckUp & Choices. While not bringing 100 percent abstinence, they offered options and hope. According to a federally funded researcher, after gathering more than 400 studies back to 1868: “If there is a natural developmental momentum within the course of alcoholism and addiction, it is toward remission and recovery.” Distributed by Independent Publishers Group. Annotation ©2019 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Independent Publishing Group
In the aftermath of Prohibition, America’s top scientists joined forces with AA members and put their clout behind a campaign to convince the nation that alcoholism is a disease. They had no proof, but they hoped to find it once research money came pouring in. The campaign spanned decades, and from it grew a multimillion-dollar treatment industry and a new government agency devoted to alcoholism.
But scientists’ research showed that problem drinking is not a singular disease but a complex phenomenon requiring an array of strategies. There’s less scientific evidence for the effectiveness of AA than there is for most other treatments, including self-enforced moderation, therapy and counseling, and targeted medications; AA’s own surveys show that it doesn’t work for the overwhelming majority of problem drinkers.
Five years in the making, Joe Miller’s brilliant, in-depth investigative reporting into the history, politics, and science of alcoholism shows exactly how AA became our nation’s de facto treatment policy, even as evidence accumulated for more effective remedies—and how, as a result, those who suffer the most often go untreated. US of AA is a character-driven, beautifully written exposé, full of secrecy, irony, liquor industry money, the shrillest of scare tactics, and, at its center, a grand deception. In the tradition of Crazy by Pete Earley and David Goldhill’s Catastrophic Care, US of AA shines a much-needed spotlight on the addiction treatment industry. It will forever change the way we think about the entire enterprise.

Publisher: Chicago, Illinois : Chicago Review Press, [2019]
ISBN: 9781613739273
Branch Call Number: 362.292 MIL
Characteristics: 194 pages ; 24 cm


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