Alcoholics Anonymous Wasn't for Me -- I Left It Behind

June 21, 2023 Martyn Armstrong

Over time, I learned that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) wasn't for me. To say my initial response to the concept of AA meetings was poor would be an understatement. I recall being in my first rehab, joining the chorus of naysayers with some choice words. However, this would all change when I could no longer keep telling myself I was in control of my drinking

With time, I warmed to AA, but something caused me discomfort. I went to meetings, had a sponsor, and worked the steps. It hit me when it was time for Step Twelve: I was going through the motions. I didn't believe in AA enough to teach someone else. Alcoholics Anonymous wasn't for me.

Alcoholics Anonymous Wasn't for Me, and I Left Without Relapsing

If I recall the AA ethos correctly, I am now considered one of those "unfortunates" -- a dry drunk. A person who is hopelessly incapable of following the AA program. Conversely, my alternative journey in recovery hasn't led me back to alcohol or a relapse. My final meeting was eight years ago, and I'm approaching my 10-year sobriety milestone. And my resolve to continue a life without alcohol is stronger than ever.

Even Though AA Wasn't for Me, I Still Focus on Improving My Mental Health

Let's revisit my twelfth-step realization -- it was time to sponsor another addict. The idea made me feel hollow, being responsible for someone else's sobriety. A neon light with the word "imposter" above my head felt appropriate. Could I fake it and hope for the best?

Deep down, I knew my addiction and declining mental health were intertwined. So, what was AA's role? The communal aspect and making sober friends were the only things keeping me there. My focus turned to improving my mental health, and I learned that AA wasn't for me, so my time ended soon afterward. 

I keep one crucial teaching from the fellowship: a twenty-four-hour pledge to stay sober. My next day of sobriety is more important than any significant milestone. 

Alcoholics Anonymous Wasn't for Me -- But It Works

Now it's time for a contradiction. AA wasn't for me, but it works for others. The twelve steps were an essential part of my early stages of recovery. If you're new to sobriety, try a few meetings and learn the basics of the twelve-step program. In a related study, 26 percent of participants stated that AA was responsible for their recovery.1 And just because AA didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for others.


  1. Laudet, A. B., Savage, R., & Mahmood, D. (2002). Pathways to Long-Term Recovery: A Preliminary Investigation. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 34(3), 305–311.

APA Reference
Armstrong, M. (2023, June 21). Alcoholics Anonymous Wasn't for Me -- I Left It Behind, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 17 from

Author: Martyn Armstrong

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