Are Treatment Centers Responsible for their Failures?

A reader asked me something like this:

I know that AA promotes honesty, openness, and, willingness. I would appreciate any logical feedback on something I have read. ” If a doctor killed a family member with a botched surgery, would you still support the doctor?   Would you sue for malpractice? Since alcoholism is a disease, is it time to hold treatment centers responsible for their failures?” Ps keep your resentment if you find this offensive for your daily moral inventory. Thanks

I have edited and changed the words of the question because when I read it I Googled it to see where it comes from, and it comes from an anti-AA website.  I won’t publicize an anti-AA website because AA saved my life.  I understand that it doesn’t work for everyone, but if an anti-AA anything turned off even one person who otherwise might be helped, it could be sentencing that person to death.  Literally.

This question seems like nonsense to me.  A life-saving surgery would be a physical thing, and it would require nothing from the patient beyond payment.  If, after surgery, the patient didn’t follow post-op instructions and died as a result, would you sue the doctor then?

If only curing alcoholism was as easy as curing bad tonsils.  If patients in treatment centers followed the instructions of the treatment centers, surely many would get well.

I imagine some treatment centers are better than others, and I hope the good ones get more support than the bad ones.  But ultimately the fate of an alcoholic is in his or her own hands.  No doctor can surgically remove the disease.  It isn’t found only in the body.  It is also in the mind and spirit.  A book read by early AAs is even called Soul Surgery.


5 thoughts on “Are Treatment Centers Responsible for their Failures?

  1. The key to recovery is to be at ‘rock bottom’ the jumping off point. The crossroads where the only solution seems to be to die. When we reach this place we are willing to try anything. The gates of hell looming in front of us enable us to grab onto any lifeline.

    Many people in treatment centres are there to please other people, their employer, partner, children, family…. It’s hard to hear the message if you do not have the gift of desperation.

    I read recently, for cognitive behavioural therapy to work, it has to be done for at least 3 months. This happens to tie in perfectly to AA’s suggestion of 90 meetings in 90 days for a newcomer. Within this time we listen to lots of different stories, many very different from our own, but as time goes on, it begins to dawn on us that there are more similarities than differences, and we gain acceptance of our illness, and hence the ability to understand that we need help to recover. In this time our lives usually become exponentially better simply as a result of not being drunk, or wanting a drink constantly.

    Whether someone ‘gets it’ or not from then on, is dependent on remembering how bad it really was, and gaining a strong desire never to go to that black place ever again! If people in their early days (first few years) don’t go to plenty of meetings, they will forget how bad it was.

    The success of treatment centres depends on the willingness and desperation of the patients. They attract those needing ‘a little holiday’ and therefore should be expected to have low success rates, whatever methods they use.

    AA is not for everyone, some people stay clean and sober without AA, but for anyone who wants recovery badly enough, ‘it works if you work it’ 🙂

  2. You can’t hold a treatment center responsible for my actions after I have left the center. NOW if they handed me alcohol while I was there, THAT would be a weird issue.
    Thank you for saying AA saved your life, AA saves so many lives, so so many.

  3. There are many repeat relapsers who have not hit bottom and do not have the desire to stop drinking.
    They would love to blame somebody else every time they drank.
    But I share your opinion. its mental, not physical.

  4. I appreciate that you took the time to replay to that anti-AA comment solicited to you. You answered it very well. I think maybe the person who sent it, didn’t think through what they were asking. I understood what they were getting at, but the answer was very logical. You could sense some bitterness about something. Like they don’t want to give the program any credit. Or maybe I’m misreading the tone. I agree that AA is not for everybody, (it wasn’t for me, might I add) but it has saved so many lives and still is. I am grateful that there is a program for people who do get something out of it.

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