Have Millennials Killed AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well-known 12-step program designed to help people overcome alcohol addiction. The program is faith-based and available to anyone who will agree to the anonymity of other members. The steps include elements such as admissions of powerlessness, belief in a higher power, moral inventory, making amends, taking personal inventory and prayer. Small groups meet nationwide in churches and community centers. Almost anywhere you go, you can find an AA meeting. People can attend AA before, during and after rehab for alcohol addiction.

The research available on AA is somewhat mixed and can be controversial. A study published in the Journal of Addictive Disorders found that AA attendance led to more relapse occurrences, while also finding evidence that AA strengthens outpatient programs and is effective among lower-income participants. Differing data aside, the tenets of AA have been largely unchanged since its founding and much anecdotal evidence is available in the stories of people it has helped.

The people AA is helping, however, may be an increasingly isolated demographic. A study conducted by the organization in 2014 found that:

  • 75% are over the age of 41
  • 28% were between the ages of 51 and 60
  • 18% were between the ages of 61 and 70
  • 62% of participants were men
  • 89% of members were white

This data indicates that involvement in AA may be becoming generational. Addiction is widespread and is found in every part of our society. So, why aren’t millennials getting involved with AA?

Has AA Run Its Course?

AA is entrenched in our culture in meaningful ways. Some of its statements have become part of our social lexicon, as we routinely use phrases like “hit rock bottom” or “make amends.” But, has AA run its course? Based on their membership survey, millennials have largely rejected association with the program. Could its strong faith-based tenets and the appearance of being “your grandpa’s program” be the reason that millennials are not getting involved in AA?

As research expands our understanding of addiction, including its relationship to the physical brain and mental health, AA may be unequipped to handle people’s questions. Each meeting is autonomous and run by volunteers. AA takes no stance on official alcoholism treatments.

The cultural attitude toward addiction has also changed, with a greater focus being on mental health. Some care providers now recommend limiting intake rather than abstinence. Behavioral modification and alternative therapies are gaining traction in some circles. All of this may be more appealing to young people who struggle with alcohol addiction, leaving less room for programs that require bold introductions, proclamations and rigid standards.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Addiction?

The short answer, there isn’t just one solution. Addiction is a chronic condition that impacts individuals very differently. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating addiction. The kinds of therapy, programs or treatment that work best for one person may not be as suitable for another.

Multiple kinds of addiction recovery facilities provide specialized services for groups of people with unique needs. This includes people who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, pregnant or postpartum women and teens. Experts have also found that people who are victims of abuse or trauma require specialized care. As research provides increasingly helpful information about the nature of addiction, the kind of care being offered in rehabilitation facilities nationwide is evolving to meet patients’ needs.

Sobriety Support Groups

Staying sober can be largely aided by social support. Group therapy and support is often a component of alcohol rehabilitation. Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only kind of sobriety support available. There are many alternatives to AA including:

  • SMART Recovery
  • Online counseling
  • Women for Sobriety
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety
  • Sobriety tracking and support groups through apps
  • Moderation Management

Whatever resources most appeal to you, it is most important that you reach out for help if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse. Alcohol addiction can be a crippling condition that negatively impacts every area of your life. Representatives at The Recovery Village are available to answer your call any time of the day or night. One of our caring intake coordinators can discuss your specific situation and a treatment plan that can help you begin your recovery journey.