It's about time someone told you the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous
A second perspective on AA's slow demise
AA-Canada's 2014 membership estimate shows 20 years of stagnation.
According to the most recent Summer issue of Box 459, AA estimated that there were 5,129 AA-groups and 93,565 AA-members in Canada. By contrast, the January 1, 1994 estimate for AA in Canada had been for 5,287 groups and 96,500 members. In the twenty years between 1/1/1994 and 1/1/2014, there have been three instances when AA's Canadian membership was estimated above 100,000. Estimates from five of the past seven years have hovered in the 93,000s. The ongoing trend shows stagnation at best, and a diminishing AA-population at worst.
AA-membership in Canada had been increasing from the mid-1980s into the 1990s. In 1998, the Canadian AA-membership reached 102,499 members before declining; although AA-Canada only lost a few hundred the following year, through to 2006, the Canadian membership estimates showed greater losses than gains.
In 2006, AA wildly over-estimated its Canadian membership at 110,449 members. This was a one-year gain of 14,465 new AA-members, and a full 15% over its 2005 estimate of 95,984. It should have seemed too good to be true: Canada's 2007 estimate was for 95,443 AA-members. In other words, those 14,465 AA-Newcomers had disappeared, and they took with them another 541 AA-members.
In the seven years since 2007, only twice has Canada's AA-membership been estimated in the 94,000s. Estimates from 08, 09, 12, 13, & 14 range within 93,071 to 93,986.
The ongoing trend shows no membership growth in AA-Canada. As mentioned earlier, AA-membership had been estimated at 96,500 on January 1, 1994; there are now 2,935 fewer Canadian AA-members than twenty years ago. From its membership height in 1998, AA-Canada has 8,934 fewer members now than it had sixteen years ago.
In conclusion, AA in Canada cannot attract and retain enough Newcomers to offset its ongoing membership losses.
AA gained only 381 new members in the United States during the 2013 calendar year.
According to the Summer, 2013 issue of Box 459, the newsletter published by US/Canada General Service Office, AA had estimated its US membership at 1,295,656 as of January 1, 2013. The 2014 Summer issue estimated 1,296,037 members as of 1/1/14.
381 new members added to a nearly 1.3M population represents 0.03% membership growth.
According to its own literature, Alcoholics Anonymous is in decline. Their most recently published membership survey, titled "Alcoholics Anonymous 2011 Membership Survey" copyrighted in 2012, provides the following demographic information about AA's membership.
48% are older than 51; 39% are aged between 31-50; 11% are aged between 21-30; and 2% are under the legal drinking age of 21. The average age for an AA member in 2011 is given as 49 years old.
17% are Retired; 6% are Disabled; and 10% are Unemployed. In other words, 33% of AA members do not have part-time employment.
Also worth noting: "Retired" is the most frequently cited occupation with 17% of the membership; tied for 3rd are "Other (including self-employed)" and "Unemployed" with 10% each. 5th among 17 categories is "Professional/Technical" with 8% of AA members.
2011 Lengths of Sobriety:
27% have less than 1 year.
24% have between 1 and 5 years of sobriety.
48% have more than 5 years: 12% have between 5 and 10 years, and 36% have more than 10 years of sobriety.
According to this 2011 membership survey, "the average length of members [sic] sobriety is almost ten years." In other words, the 36% with "more than 10 years of sobriety" are likely to have accrued considerably more than 10 years in order to skew the overall average to "almost ten years."
For comparison, here is the same demographic information from AA's 1989 Membership Survey published in AA's "Comments on A.A.'s Triennial Surveys - 5M/12-90/TC" (please see < http://www.orange-papers.org/triennial.pdf > for the full 24-page COTS publication).
23% were older than 51; 56% were aged between 31-50; 19% were aged between 21-30; and 3% were under the legal drinking age of 21. The average age for an AA member in 1989 was 42 years old.
7.7% were Retired; 3.1% were Disabled; and 6.7% were Unemployed. In 1989, 19 categories of employment were listed, and the most frequently cited was "Professional/Technical" with 22.9% of surveyed AA members choosing this category. "Retired" had been the 3rd most-chosen category in 1989.
1989 Lengths of Sobriety:
35% had less than 1 year.
36% had between 1 and 5 years of sobriety.
29% had more than 5 years: 17.2% had between 5 and 10 years, and 11.6% had more than 10 years of sobriety. The average length of the members' sobriety was about 50 months, or just over 4 years.
The 51-and-older population has more than doubled: 23% to 48%.
The number of Retirees has more than doubled: 7.7% to 17%.
Those with more than 10 years of sobriety has more than tripled: 11.6% to 36%.
About the survey methodology:
According to AA's own publications, only about two-thirds of selected groups participate in these triennial memberships surveys. For the soon-to-be-published 2014 survey, AA Area Delegates have been reporting that one-third to one-half of the AA groups in their areas selected for the 2014 Membership Survey have folded and therefore cannot be surveyed.
In conclusion, AA is able to retain its most ardent followers, but increasingly, AA is a club for dinosaurs which does not have a replacement generation.