Does AA Actually Work If You Show Up to Meetings Drunk or High?

By The Fix staff 01/02/19

Lighthouse makes it a mission to make sure someone is in the best possible physical and mental condition to receive the message of 12-step recovery.

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A small group of people in an AA meeting, going to meetings high or drunk

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the many subsequent 12-step organizations it’s inspired—such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)—are a well known sober support system. “Keep coming back” is a commonly-heard AA saying. This is a great sentiment. It assures people that if they continue coming to meetings and listening to the suggestions of those who have been in the program long enough to see results, their life really will get better.

However, sometimes the concept of continuing to come back can be more complicated than simply showing up at meetings. If the person is on heroin or meth, for example, while they are still welcome to attend meetings—even if they are currently using—it might be difficult to hear the message of hope and strength with as much clarity as they would if they were fully detoxed from a substance. So even if they “keep coming back,” showing up for the support and truly trying, they might not be able to reap the full benefits as quickly. It can be more difficult to connect with others and one’s own spirituality when someone is still so physically dependent on a drug. Oftentimes, people struggling with addiction really need a supervised detox, mainly so they can access the physical sobriety that will help them truly comprehend the program of AA. Sometimes detox in a formal setting is necessary to help someone get clean and sober, and then AA can help them stay clean and sober.

While AA welcomes anyone regardless of whether they’re still using or drinking, its literature does address the importance of detox when it’s needed. The Big Book of AA states, “…we favor hospitalization for the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged. More often than not, it is imperative that a man’s brain be cleared before he is approached, as he has then a better chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, pp. xxvi-xxvii]

In Orange County, where the opioid epidemic is unfortunately as rampant as ever, the need for detox is very apparent. Lighthouse Treatment Center is a premiere drug and alcohol treatment facility offering medically assisted detox for alcohol, heroin, meth, opiates and benzos in a safe, beautiful location. Lighthouse makes it a mission to make sure someone is in the best possible physical and mental condition to receive the message of 12-step recovery. A proper detox makes it possible for individuals to enjoy the sober community and self-help groups available to them for sustained long term sobriety.

The importance of detox is reiterated again in AA’s Big Book when it states, “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure …” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, pp. xxvii-xxviii]

Throughout the entire detox process at Lighthouse Recovery, clients are monitored by medical professionals to ensure their comfort, and are given medications that bring them through the withdrawal process as quickly and as safely as possible. In cases where clients have been using drugs like heroin and meth for long periods of time, they may experience feelings of depression or anxiety after the drugs have left their system. The staff on hand at Lighthouse Treatment Center is able to assist by offering counseling and, if needed, additional medication to help temper side effects and stabilize the individual.

AA is a wonderful organization and program that offers many people a path to long term sobriety. There is still always a risk of relapse. If someone has developed a crippling physical dependence on alcohol or drugs, one of the most effective ways to get a head start in sobriety is by going through a detox program first. And Lighthouse Treatment Center, a well respected Orange County detox and drug rehab, can give people the leg up they need in order to live a life in recovery.

Learn more about Lighthouse Treatment Center on their website or reach them by phone at (877) 959-5909. Find Lighthouse Treatment Center on Facebook and Instagram.

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