05/03/2013 12:48 GMT | Updated 05/05/2013 06:12 BST

AA and My Nan


In 1935 Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous using a template of 99 men and one woman. Before my time yet a very significant year. Because not only was AA born that year. So was my nan.

My nan is all kinds of great. She is strong. She had six kids in nine years. She worked. Raised a big family on very little. She's seen a lot of life and she never judges anyone.

For these reasons if I have a problem I go see my nan. She is the head of the family. She's been around the longest. It's long been known-you need an ear, you go tell your nan and it goes no further. She is the one in charge. The most trusted.

Problem is though as strong, wise and resourceful as she is - my nan's not actually that old, is she - and whilst she is wise, I wouldn't base my life on all of her teachings. I do seek guidance elsewhere. There are some problems outside her realm of experiences these days. So as much as my nan remains my favourite person, she's not always the most relevant.

Oldest is not always best.

AA has helped countless alcoholics since 1935. It is a safe place for anyone seeking refuge from temptation-no matter where in the world they may be. It's sister organisation Al-Anon has provided support too innumerable to measure for families of alcoholics. It is the biggest, most commonly recognised network an alcoholic has. The longest established. When an alcoholic begins their journey of sobriety this is where all of their received wisdom comes from.

I think that's where the problem lies.

I find it troubling that all of the AA teachings have become exclusively synonymous with successful recovery. It worries me we take as gospel that we must fight the demon drink. That the journey is hard and long and filled with trial. That an alcoholic is never recovered. Is always vulnerable to relapse. That they suffer from an illness or a disease.

That we do not question the information handed to us as law by support groups and rehab centres. I think another way is worth considering. Especially given the current 95% failure rate we find ourselves with.

We are a nation in a drinking crisis right now. The problem is getting bigger, more dramatic. Yet our most accepted solution is less than 8 decades old. It's a solution both too old to be totally socially relevant to today's addict- and too young to be taken as the only answer to build all alcoholism treatment on.

We need to be more adaptable, more accepting of other methods of recovery. The world we live in does not consist of the 99 men and one woman Bill Wilson used to found his organisation. There is such a thing as total recovery from alcoholism. Of a fulfilled, happy, secure recovered alcoholic. It happens. Yet it's largely unacknowledged.


A life after alcoholism is not just a better life, it is a life that bears no resemblance to the nightmare of addiction. I find it unbearably sad that we are conditioned to expect the total opposite.

I'd like us to start opening ourselves up to the possibility of other options. Working together, pooling our knowledge and success stories. Telling the story of our empowerment. Of our strength. Of our eagerness and excitement. To really start living our recovery not just going the motions step by 12 step.

I think we could start as soon as today.

Think what we could build together in the next eight decades.

Regardless of which decade we belong to.