This is not a defense of AA, but yesterday I sat in an AA meeting and listened to the testamony of a 78 year old woman who's celebrating her 50th year of sobriety. I have 15 years. AA does not claim to fix all your problems. It just promises that if you work the program as suggested that you will be able to stay away from a drink, one-day-at-a-time. The rest is up to you, and many people in the program also seek therapy to deal with emotional issues that support their alcoholism.
An alcoholic is by DEFINITION, someone who is powerless over alcohol and cannot resist the compulsion to drink. Some one who is NOT powerless over alcohol, who can stick to one or two drinks, probably does not have the disease of alcoholism to begin with.
A recovering alcoholic is literally one drink away from being an active alcoholic, every day of his/her life. Every day requires vigilance and reliance on a Higher Power. It doesn't matter what that Higher Power is, (it can be a door knob if you like) it just matters that its not YOURSELF. Its about humility, a trait typically lacking in alcoholics, not about religion.
And attendance of meetings, on any basis, is simply a suggestion that has been shown to work in keeping the recovering alcoholic away from a drink. Yes it may mean attendance for life, but that commitment is preferable by many to the possibilty of becoming again enslaved to alcohol and the damage it brings to your life and those around you. I meet people every week who stopped attending meetings and started drinking again soon after. They are always welcomed back and encouraged to keep coming. But no one drags anyone to meetings against their will.
Mabe this IS a defense of AA afterall. I know it works for me and I would not want anyone who is struggling with the disease of alcoholism to be dissuaded from seeking help in AA. And if something else works better for them, thats great. The point is to be free of addiction, not how you get there.
"Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive,
Thought thats just what it cost to survive in this world,
...now I haven't got time for the pain... " -Carly Simon now 67!