A powerful exposé of Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step programs, and the rehab industry—and how a failed addiction treatment model came to dominate America. “A humane, science-based, global view of addiction . . . an essential, bracing critique of the rehab industry and its ideological foundations that we have much to learn from.” —Gabor Maté M.D., author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts Alcoholics Anonymous has become so infused in our society that it is practically synonymous with addiction recovery. Yet the evidence shows that AA has only a 5–10 percent success rate—hardly better than no treatment at all. Despite this, doctors, employers, and judges regularly refer addicted people to treatment programs and rehab facilities based on the 12-step model.
In The Sober Truth, acclaimed addiction specialist Dr. Lance Dodes exposes the deeply flawed science that the 12-step industry has used to support its programs. Dr. Dodes analyzes dozens of studies to reveal a startling pattern of errors, misjudgments, and biases. He also pores over the research to highlight the best peer-reviewed studies available and discovers that they reach a grim consensus on the program’s overall success.
But The Sober Truth is more than a book about addiction. It is also a book about science and how and why AA and rehab became so popular, despite the discouraging data. Drawing from thirty-five years of clinical practice and firsthand accounts submitted by addicts, Dr. Dodes explores the entire story of AA’s rise—from its origins in early fundamentalist religious and mystical beliefs to its present-day place of privilege in politics and media.
A powerful response to the monopoly of the 12-step program and the myth that they are a universal solution to addiction, The Sober Truth offers new and actionable information for addicts, their families, and medical providers, and lays out better ways to understand addiction for those seeking a more effective and compassionate approach to this treatable problem.