“With Sobering Science, Doctor Debunks 12-Step Recovery”


NPR interviews Dr. Lance Dodes, author of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind Twelve-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry. Despite the fact the 12-step programs have become our “go-to solution for addiction in all its forms” and are often “mandated by drug courts,” and “prescribed by doctors,” their success rate hovers between five and ten percent and, worse, “they are harming the other 90%.”

Article →



  1. No way , I call out this BS.

    I goto 12 step meetings and all of you that read my comments know I don’t take any crap.

    There are some problems with some members that get too fanatical and act downright stupid.

    I have a place to go be around friends who support me and “get it” when ever I want thanks to A.A and that’s 1000 times more helpful than anything psychiatry of doctors ever did for me.

    And here is the real kicker, I party hard at least once a month and don’t go down the tubes thanks to AA. I jump back on the wagon after on day for another 3 or 4 weeks. Been doing that for years.

    I have alot more to write about all this including some criticism of the program but AA bashing on MIA ? I am not digging it.

    Report comment

    • I think the doctor is misinforming, and I notice a lot of people promote ideas about the AA that are not true.

      The AA is probably the most sucessful recovery organisation ever, it doesn’t use medication, and it’s for free.

      Report comment

      • If it works for you, that’s great, but why accuse this doctor of misinforming? I am part of several groups of people trying to recover from their 12-step experiences in similar as people are trying to recover from psychiatric abuses.

        It hurts when people don’t believe our pain – whether it’s the pain of betrayal by the psychiatric community or the betrayal of the recovery community.

        What specific ideas does he promote that aren’t true?

        Report comment

    • Do you tell the other AA members that you “party hard”?

      If you do, then I’m very surprised you’re welcome back. All the groups I’ve known have been very strict about abstinence.

      If you don’t tell them, if you can’t be honest with your supportive community, how supportive can they really be?

      Report comment

  2. This sounds like BS to me too. How is “success” defined? Did the good doctor in this case ask a representative survey of 12-step attendees whether they feel helped by their involvement? Or did he presume to define success in some self-serving way himself…

    As for harming the other 90%, that is total bullshit. I’ve been to many 12-step groups and there are problems but many people make friends, feel more hopeful, and function better.

    Maybe this doctor needs to go to psychotherapy so he can stop seeing things as all-or-nothing.

    Report comment

  3. I listened and it wasn’t that bad. I It’s true that its more the comradery than the steps.

    AA suggests total abstinence from alcohol, that’s not for me so I keep my monthly drinking outings to myself.

    What is success anyway, is it never ever drinking again or never problem drinking again ?

    Seems to me learning to moderate is the ultimate success but they would count me as a failure for that if I was honest about it right ?

    Report comment

  4. Now that the “science” behind psychiatry’s “chemical imbalance” theory of “mental illnesses” has been debunked, the psychiatrists need a place to find new “clients.” So, it appears, this psychiatrist is trying to discredit AA in the hopes that the mainstream medical community will change their current standard of care, and send the alcoholics to the psychiatrists instead of AA.

    I find this highly ironic:

    “These studies are riddled with scientific errors and they say no more than what we knew to begin with, which is that AA has probably the worst success rate in all of medicine.

    It’s not only that AA has a 5 to 10 percent success rate; if it was successful and was neutral the rest of the time, we’d say OK. But it’s harmful to the 90 percent who don’t do well.” At least it’s free, unlike the equally bad, or worse, outcomes of psychiatric treatment.

    It looks to me like this psychiatrist is trying to project, the failings of his own industry, onto AA, to bring in more business for his industry.

    Report comment

    • Mainstream psychiatry is 100% in bed with 12-steps. The vast majority of recovery programs (both in and outpatient) rely on the 12-Step model. He’s not projecting the failings of his own industry, he’s exposing them. Psychiatry IS 12-steps. To believe in the power of one means to believe in the power of both (despite the medication mumbo-jumbo).

      Report comment