AA was a mandatory component

More on the AA Doesn’t Work story:

Wood was working as a registered nurse on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside when he was diagnosed with substance use disorder after a psychotic break in the fall of 2013.

His professional college was informed, along with his union and Vancouver Coastal Health, his employer at the time.

He was referred to a doctor specializing in addictions, who created a plan that Wood would need to follow if he wanted to return to work. AA was a mandatory component.

As an atheist, Wood suggested alternatives to the 12-step program, including secular support groups like SMART Recovery and LifeRing Secular Recovery, but his doctor rejected them, according to emails Wood provided to CBC News.

He also asked to see a new doctor but the union told him nope, it’s 12 steps or nothing.

The AA meetings didn’t help, Wood said, and he lost his job as well as his registration as a nurse when he stopped going.

Since then, he’s been fighting to get his job back while dealing with his addictions using a drug called naltrexone, which blocks the intoxicating effects of alcohol and opiates. He says he is healthy and no longer meets the criteria for substance use disorder.

Better living through chemistry, that’s what I say.

While many people say AA has been instrumental in their recovery from addiction, scientists have long questioned the overall effectiveness of the program, and say choice in treatment plans is key to recovery.

Wood’s complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal was bolstered by letters of support from scientists, doctors, psychotherapists, lawyers, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. Humanist Association, and the Centre for Inquiry Canada, an Ontario-based humanist charity.


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