Why AA And Other Twelve Step Fellowships Don’t Always Work

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By  Amanda Froelich Truth Theory

Addiction — everyone experiences it to some degree. Some people are addicted to coffee and checking their cell phones every three minutes. Other people are battling more harmful addictions, such as an eating disorder or substance abuse. The one similarity is that everyone has a vice — or several — to cope with life.

There is nothing wrong with coping mechanisms. Life is tough, after all. It’s when one becomes too dependent on habits that adversely affect health (mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally) that problems arise.

How does one live a healthy, productive life, then, when they are relying on certain substances to keep them happy (albeit temporarily), or are addicted to harmful substances? These topics (and more) are covered in the podcast below, which features acclaimed Hollywood producer and Golden Globe winner Scott Steindorff.

In Episode 32 of the Rescue the Rescuer podcast, Steindorff shares his personal journey battling cocaine addiction and alcoholism. Approximately 34 1/2 years ago, Steindorff became sober. But before that, he struggled heavily with getting clean.

Like most creative individuals, he had a hard time acknowledging his emotions, allowing them to pass, then working through them. Because of this, he began using cocaine and alcohol to feel better. Steindorff explains that he didn’t feel “on top of the world” when he began abusing both substances. Rather, he relied on them because he felt defeated and overwhelmed by life.

Over time, he recognized that he needed help. So, he checked into numerous rehabilitation centers. There, he had an awakening of sorts. “What that dealt with was, you know, a real understanding of who I was and that I had the capability to change my life,” said Steindorff. “It was in rehab where I had a shift in my consciousness. I realized I was going to die (I was overdosing).”

“Something shifted inside of me where I wanted to live: self-efficacy,” he added. While checked into Meadows Rehab, Steindorff learned about the Twelve Step program Alcoholics Anonymous. He was attracted to it because everyone was open-minded and very helpful.

As Steindorff learned to cope with life, he became very involved with AA. At one point, he was sponsoring a handful of young people. But, approximately three years ago, he noticed a change. All of a sudden, “young millennials” stopped attending meetings. He learned that they felt the program was “outdated” and too “religious.” So, he began research alternative ways to heal addiction.

His findings led him to create the Life Renewal program. ”It’s about helping people self-efficacy. Helping them realize resilience (how to bounce back from defeat or disappointment), and then learning life skills,” he said of the program. “You need to really learn, which is the fundamental basis of all of this, how to express emotions and feelings, because all of us in overcoming substance abuse (eating disorders, alcoholism, opioids, relationships, etc…) it’s all about our emotional lives.”

Why don’t AA and other Twelve Step Fellowships don’t work?

According to Steindorff, addiction stems from the habit of suppressing emotions. AA and other Twelve Step programs teach people to rely on a source outside of themselves for healing, guidance, or willpower. The producer, on the other hand, believes everyone has the power within them to change their own lives. He says, “I can’t rely on a power outside of myself to change my life, there has to be a power within me to change my life. That’s called self-efficacy.”

12 Step programs also teach people to treat their “condition” as a disease. This outrages the producer, who says that “Nobody has proven that addiction or substance abuse is a disease — because it is not!”

He explains: “I wasn’t born an addict. It was because of circumstances in my life that created me to feel less than, and I’m not enough, and I have all these unresolved emotions, etc… there was no expression of love, and I was taught not to feel. ‘Don’t cry, don’t get mad, don’t get upset, don’t get over-excited.”

He began to drink because he suppressed all of those feelings. In order to not feel emotions when they arose, he numbed himself. This is what most people do nowadays, and it is why people who rely on AA or other Twelve Step Fellowships do not usually overcome the root cause of addiction.

We highly recommend you listen to the podcast (above) to learn more.


Steindorff is a highly-acclaimed producer. He has produced the forthcoming western Jane Got a Gun, was Executive Producer on John Favreau’s “Chef,” and was Executive producer of “Open Road.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

Source: Rescue the Rescuer

Image Copyright: peerayot / 123RF Stock Photo

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