AAPAper - Stockhold1 Olesia Stockhold Prof April...

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Stockhold1 Olesia Stockhold Prof. April Lewandowski English 122-012 17 Mar. 2011 Alcoholics Anonymous and The American Justice System According to author Brandon Koerner who wrote the 2010 article, “Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works,” “An estimated 23 million people grapple with severe alcohol or drug abuse—more than twice the number of Americans afflicted with cancer” (Koerner). Of the 23 million people who struggle with some form of substance abuse, “Some 1.2 million people belong to one of AA’s 55,000 meeting groups in the US” (Koerner). Similarly, in his article “Saying AA Is Religious, Court Lets Inmate Skip It,” James Barron reports that of the 15,000 plus inmates in the New York State prison system, two in nine go through prison mandated treatment every year, which includes A.A. or a similar 12-step program (Barron). The consensus is clear, addiction is a problem that affects a great deal of people, and many of those people are turning to A.A. for treatment. However, there are conflicting ideas as to whether or not A.A. works for those who do not embrace its religious overtones, and whether or not it works at all. With the evidentiary support for AA’s usefulness lacking and the message of God as a “power greater than oneself” coursing through the program’s veins, Alcoholics Anonymous should not be used as the mandated treatment for addiction by the justice system in the United States. Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-step program began in the early 20 th century as an insolvent former stockbroker from New York named Bill Wilson struggled with alcoholism (“AA Timeline”). On a chance night while Bill was at home in Brooklyn, engulfed by the drink,
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Stockhold2 an old drinking buddy of his knocked on his door. This man, Edwin “Ebby” Thatcher, had been an alcoholic like Bill but was now in recovery. He had come to Bill’s home in the middle of the night to attempt to pull his old friend out of the shadows, and into sobriety (“AA Timeline”). Ebby had been a member of a religiously based movement called the Oxford Group. “Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others” (“AA Timeline”). Ebby’s efforts were not enough to cure Bill that night, and Bill, a self-proclaimed agnostic, someone who has not taken a stance on whether or not there is a higher power, was skeptical of the message and teachings his friend was trying to convey (“AA Timeline”). He sent Ebby away that night, but in the coming years, Bill decided he could no longer live with his addiction (“AA Timeline”). In December of 1934, Bill checked into Towns Hospital in Manhattan where he found a higher power to help him make a push for sobriety (“AA Timeline”). “What happened next is an essential piece of AA lore: A white light filled Wilson’s hospital room, and God revealed himself to the shattered stockbroker. ‘It seemed to me, in the
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AAPAper - Stockhold1 Olesia Stockhold Prof April...

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