The Sober Truth

The Sober Truth

Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-step Programs and the Rehab Industry

Book - 2014
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An exposé of Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step programs, and the rehab industry--and how a failed addiction-treatment model came to dominate America.

AA 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. 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.

The Sober Truth includes true stories from Dr. Dodes's thirty-five years of clinical practice, as well as firsthand accounts submitted by addicts through an open invitation on the Psychology Today website. These stories vividly reveal the experience of walking the steps and attending some of the nation's most famous rehabilitation centers.

The Sober Truth builds a powerful response to the monopoly of the 12-step program and explodes the myth that these programs offer an acceptable or universal solution to the deeply personal problem of addiction. This book 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.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c2014
ISBN: 9780807033159
Characteristics: ix, 179 p.
Additional Contributors: Dodes, Zachary 1976-


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Jul 10, 2014

I was curious to read this when I saw it mentioned in a Listener article recently regarding addiction and recovery. It is a very thorough de-bunking of a lot of the principals, methods and outcomes of 12 step programmes. He backs it with evidence and also acknowledges that his approach could be coloured by his years of working with addicts from a psychologist perspective. While I didn't agree with all that he said he it certainly gives one food for thought and some substance to overlay as a template to ones own experiences.

Jun 15, 2014

This is a great book that explains why AA failed me. AA is a pseudo-religious shame based cult. As a Nilhilist (think super-Atheist) the joining of hands in the lord's prayer and the endless recitation of mindless platitudes was anathema to me.
There is also the "13th step". There are lots of them in these programs who take advantage of the weakness of those new to the "program". It is especially perilous for women. In my case, as a male, I lost a considerable quantity of cash to the beggars and fraudsters who inhabit "the rooms".
BEWARE of this crap. Get a good one on one therapist for better results.
AA is extremely superficial. During my attendance there for a considerable length of time I came to realize that addiction is the surface manifestation of something of a much deeper trouble. Many in AA are sociopaths who prey on the weak. It happened to me. Thank the non-existent deity I got out.

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