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Wayne State College
Counseling Center
Student Center, Rm. 103
1111 Main St.
Wayne, NE 68787

Phone: 402.375.7321
Fax: 402.375.7058



AOD Information > Effective Abstinence


Alcohol is a part of our society and is often seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. Despite the negative consequences associated with misuse of this product, as long as it is available college students will continue to make it a part of their collegiate experience.  Given the prevalence of alcohol use on college campuses and the harm students experience, alcohol education is needed. It is prudent to provide students with information on a variety of options for dealing with alcohol in a responsible manner (8).

Alcoholics Anonymous is still widely used by the legal system and many counseling services as part of the treatment process for alcohol problems. If one wishes to work with AA, they must begin with Step 1 which states, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable" (3, p. 21). This step establishes that the person's fundamental problem is lack of control or powerlessness over alcohol consumption. According to AA, only when one accepts this powerlessness is one ready to accept help (1,4).


College students are in the process of leaving home and differentiating themselves from parents and from the parental control they have known all their lives and are seeking to "find themselves." If forced, either by court order or institutional sanction, to attend AA meetings, these students feel they have lost control. To give up their new freedom and control - turn their lives over to a Higher Power - can be a problem and lead to feelings of failure and anger (1).


The religious/spiritual nature of AA can be also be problematic (5,6,7).  Several steps of AA's 12-step program are clearly religious in nature and advocate devotion to God or a Higher Power (6). Acording to this model, individuals surrender control to a Higher Power, regardless of their beliefs, if they want help. Many problem drinkers reject the idea that they are powerless against alcohol without the help of a "Higher Being."


In addition to operating within a religious framework, AA may foster group dependence (1,3,8).  One might no longer drink, but attendance at meetings and keeping in contact with a sponsor is considered mandatory. It is possible that an addiction to alcohol may well be exchanged for an addiction to the group. Individuals are not supposed to make any life changes without first discussing it with their sponsor or the group (8,10).  For some, this belief may lead to a loss of autonomy and individualism, two life skills that are goals of higher education. Colleges and universities act as a bridge toward independence and their role is to encourage discovery, the testing of new ideas and experiences, and exploration (8).


Effective Abstinence (EA) is an alternative method to sobriety based on the concepts of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and Rational Recovery (1,2,6,7) that encourages independence and taking control of one's responsibilities through self-recovery and planned abstinence put into practice. Visit the WSC Counseling Center, Room 103 in the Student Center or call (402) 375-7321 for more information. Click on the links below to learn more about EA.

 Effective Abstinence Links:


 — Crash Course on Effective Abstinence

 — Committment to Abstinence



  1. Velton, E. (1996, Dec). The rationality of Alcoholics Anonymous and the spirituality of rational emotive behavior therapy. Journal of Humanistic Education & Development, 35 (2), 105-116.
  2. Bishop, F. M. (1994, Jan/Feb). [On-Line]. Rational emotive behavioral therapy: A non-AA option. Behavioral Health Management, 14 (1), p28, 2p. Available: EBSCOhost/Item Number: 9407071787 [Accessed 10-21-98].
  3. Ellis, A. (1992, Nov). Rational recovery and the addiction to 12-step therapies. [On-Line]. Humanist, 52 (6), p. 33, 3p. Available: EBSCOhost - Item Number: 9302143382 [Accessed 10-21-98].
  4. Gelman, D., Leonard, E. A., & Fisher, B. (1991). Clean and sober-and agnostic: Turned off by AA's religious aspects, new groups are leaving God out of the picture. Newsweek, 118, (2).
  5. McCarthy, L. F. (1991). Beyond A.A. Health, 23,(6), 40-44.
  6. Trimpey, J. (1994). The final fix for alcohol and drug addiction: AVRT. Lotus, CA: Lotus Press.
  7. Trimpey. J. (1996). Rational recovery: The new cure for substance addiction. New York: Pocket Books.
  8. Vick, Sr. R. (2000, Fall). Questioning the Use of Alcoholics Anonymous With College Students: Is an Old Concept the Only Alternative for a New Generation? Journal of College Counseling, 3 (2), 158-167.



Ron Vick, MA, LPC
Counselor / Academic Advisor
Int'l Student Advisor




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