The short answer to this question is no. Alcoholics Anonymous has been a successful program for many individuals with chemical dependencies, but it is no real substitute for a true rehabilitation program. The format of an AA meeting is geared to one particular discussion topic that all alcoholics and drug addicts deal with on a daily basis. Alcoholics Anonymous has always been particularly focused on help for those with alcohol dependency, and many times the groups do not discuss issue that are unique to individuals who are addicted to illegal drugs.
Rehabilitation programs are much more in-depth than any exposure an individual gets from an AA meeting. Going to AA with a serious mind set also involves doing what is recommended by the group, such as finding a sponsor and setting a meetings goal for a particular period of time. New members are encouraged to make 90 meetings in 90 days as a short term goal. The truth is that many individuals who begin sobriety by merely going to AA meetings will fail in short order in terms of clean time because they initially believe that sobriety is a matter of will power, but the truth is that the drive to really get sober is a function of “want” power. Going to treatment is a real example of individuals who are sick and tired of being sick and tired and want a real new focus on their individual life. All treatment facilities focus on the person in relation to the disease, and do not focus on the disease in relation to the person, which is exactly Alcoholics Anonymous does.
Treatment programs that require the individual to be housed in a community of dependent individuals creates an atmosphere that can help the patient realize that they are not the only person in the world. Many people who suffer from addiction get very self-centered and generally chase a false goal of fulfilling the chemical need. Living in a community of addicts helps the patient be aware of how we all are part of a larger society and that even small things can matter in terms of acceptability. Dealing with life on life’s terms is one of biggest problems that all addicts face across chemical dependency types. While AA groups can be very effective for some addicts, other individuals may need to enroll in a solid treatment facility to make the difference between merely staying sober or devising an efficient program for living with addiction.