Rarely have we seen a person fail / try ? – Statistics

Getting & Staying Sober

I was at a meeting of AA that is outside of my home-group and the man that was the main speaker that night said that only two percent of alcoholics make it and stay sober.  Now where on Earth did he get that statistical data from I thought to myself.  He hadn't mentioned the book Alcoholics Anonymous at all but it clearly states in that book that the founders of 'Alcoholics Anonymous' discovered that an alcoholic rarely failed to achieve sobriety if they did what they had done.  I decided to do my own research.

I briefly looked at some documents published by the 'Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.' based in New York, USA and their statistical data.  Their data was different.  Here I found results based on an average of five surveys over a fifteen year period.  Although any statistical data is only pointing towards the true numbers nonetheless I would believe what follows to what the man above stated.  The following data did change by a small amount with each survey and stated that the figures can only be an estimation of true actual figures for AA as a whole.  But don't take my word for it, check for yourself.

Nearly one third (31.5%) leave the program after one month.

By the end of the third month, just over half (52.6%) have left.

Of those who remain after three months, about half (55.6%) will remain until the twelfth month.

About 40% of the members sober for less than a year will remain another year.

About 80% of those sober less than five years will remain sober and active in the fellowship another year.

About 90% of the members sober five years or  more will remain sober and active in the fellowship another year.

That's pretty grim reading when you consider the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous', the 'instruction manual' for achieving sobriety, states that 'Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.'  What's going on then?  Why can't alcoholics stay sober when they want to get and stay sober if that's what AA promises us? It would be natural to think that if a sane, rational person with critical thinking skills would be able to make an easy choice between a life of sobriety free from alcohol or a life of misery and mayhem caused by alcoholic drinking.  Certainly, for the non-alcoholic it would be an easy question to answer.  Their answer to themselves would be NO – DON'T DO IT, I'd be a fool to waste all that money, being sick with my head hanging in the toilet bowl, days off work with terrible hangovers feeling sick with a pounding headache,  disciplinary action at work for returning after my lunchtime break with my work colleagues at the pub and returning to work way too 'tipsy'.  The list would go on and on.  I know non-alcoholics that haven't got drunk for many years because they were put off by one seriously bad drinking session resulting from a birthday or new year's eve celebration.  This is particularly true of non-alcoholic women I know.  One friend springs to mind and she will not drink more than two glasses of wine over an entire evening.  It amazes me how she makes one glass of wine last for two to three hours.  She's in her thirties now and has not been drunk once since she was violently ill from just one night of excessive drinking when she was a teenager. 

But for the alcoholic it is a completely different matter.  Ask an alcoholic the same question and the answer will often be that alcohol is destroying their lives and the lives  of their loved ones; and that they would dearly love to stop drinking but as they are alcoholics they just cannot find that they can stop.  Even the best ultra-modern medical standards and practices cannot keep the alcoholic sober.  I have an alcoholic friend of mine who stayed in a treatment centre to recover from alcoholism for nine months.  Her father footed the enormous bill.  The result – she asked me the day she left the treatment centre if I would like to get drunk with her.  Was I concerned for her that she was suddenly in trouble within twenty four hours after having 'done so well for nine months'? Of course I was concerned about her but I accepted her offer because like her I am a selfish alcoholic & I couldn't pass up the opportunity of a free drinking session.  Did we care about how her father must have felt when his precious daughter failed to turn up at home and her phone was switched off the day she left  the treatment centre?  No we didn't because we are alcoholics and we both had the utter inability to stay sober, it was pure alcoholic selfishness on both our parts.  That's the misery and mayhem; for her father anyway.

So if the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' shows us exactly how to get sober then why do so many people get drunk again?  It has been my experience that I have stayed sober because all I have is a daily reprieve from alcohol that is contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition.  I have to work the Twelve Steps on a daily basis and practice the principles of the Twelve Steps on a daily basis if I am to stay sober and that is what I have done today and as a result I am free from any desire to drink today.

I had my first AA birthday yesterday.  I don't see it that way. I have an AA birth – day every day.  That's what is important to me, staying sober for today, as today is the first day of  the rest of my life.  A year – so what, that means nothing to me!  What good is one, five, ten, twenty or fifty years sobriety going to be if I get drunk the next day and continue to drink until it wrecks my life and kills me.

I phoned a friend yesterday as I hadn't seen him at meetings for a couple of weeks.  I thought he must be on holiday.  He is now in one of those categories of those grim statistics I read in that report.  He was drinking in a pub.

June 2013