The Twelve Biggest Lies of A.A.

No one calls for justice;
No one pleads his case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;
They conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider's web.
— Isaiah 59:4-5

When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly perposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.
— Dresden James

How this file works is, click on any lie where you want to see the evidence, and the link will take you right to it.

  1. "RARELY have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path..."

    The Twelve Steps are an effective treatment program for alcoholism, one that rarely fails, because faith healing is really good medicine, and God performs miracles on demand for us Twelve-Steppers every day. And when people don't quit drinking, it's their own fault.

    In spite of all of its strange features, A.A. is still the best and most effective recovery program available, and the kindest thing you can do for an alcoholic is to force him into Alcoholics Anonymous.

    It is probable that more contemporary alcoholics have found sobriety through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous than through all other agencies combined.
    Alcoholics Anonymous, an interpretation, by Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., contained in Chapter 33 of Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns, David J. Pittman and Charles R. Snyder, editors, page 577.

    [Ignore the fact that Milton A. Maxwell was elected a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., and then the Chairman, as a result of such lavish praise of A.A.]

    Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step spinoffs have proved to be highly effective treatment.
    `Million Little Pieces' writer Frey has stirred debate in 12-step programs, By Michael Granberry, The Dallas Morning News,
    (Note that the author of the article, Michael Granberry, not James Frey, was praising A.A.)


    (Oh sure, by making you list and confess all of your sins and shortcomings and defects and wrongs over and over and over again, in Steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.)

  2. If you are having a problem with drinking too much alcohol, then you have a disease which only a spiritual experience will conquer. (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, page 44.)

    You are powerless over alcohol. You can't quit. Your life is unmanageable. There you are, facing ruin again, and still you can't stop. The more you struggle, the worse you get. Even if you quit drinking, we can prophesy that you will suffer from strange mental blank spots where will power and self-knowledge will be useless, and you will start drinking again without even knowing what you are doing. Your defense must come from a Higher Power. (The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, pages 59, 41-42, and 43.)

  3. Alcoholism is an incurable, progressive disease, often caused by an inherited gene, and a disease is respectable, not a moral stigma. (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Marty Mann, Page 227.)

    No, wait!
    We changed our minds.
    Alcoholism is a moral failing, one that is caused by:

    1. sins,
    2. moral shortcomings,
    3. wrongs,
    4. defects of character,
    5. self,
    6. selfishness,
    7. self-seeking,
    8. self-centeredness,
    9. more selfishness,
    10. self-will run riot,
    11. instincts running wild,
    12. instincts gone astray,
    13. The Seven Deadly Sins,
    14. natural desires warping us,
    15. resentments,
    16. desires that far exceed their intended purpose,
    17. a willful and irresponsible ego,
    18. how far we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us,
    19. nagging wives,
    20. nagging wives again, "throwing her husband into a fit of anger",
    21. defective relations,
    22. failure to practice religious precepts properly,
    23. failure to practice Step Five properly,
    24. holding something back in Step Five,
    25. faith that isn't accompanied by "self-sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action",
    26. serious character flaws,
    27. personal secrets that we have not confessed, and
    28. another unconfessed personal secret...
    — All of which must be confessed to God and your sponsor.

  4. We Alcoholics Anonymous members are so wonderful that we have saved millions of other alcoholics. We have a special ability to help alcoholics, and can fix cases that baffle even the most learned and distinguished of doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists:

    Here was a book that said that I could do something that all these doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists that I'd been going to for years couldn't do!
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.

    The relative success of the AA program seems to be due to the fact that an alcoholic who no longer drinks has an exceptional faculty for "reaching" and helping an uncontrolled drinker.
    So Moved, The Washington Post, no author, 06-09-2002, page B03.

    God in His wisdom has selected a group of men to be the purveyors of His goodness. In selecting them through whom to bring about this phenomenon He went not to the proud, the mighty, the famous or the brilliant. He went to the humble, to the sick, to the unfortunate — he went to the drunkard, the so-called weakling of the world. Well might He have said to us:
    Into your weak and feeble hands I have entrusted a Power beyond estimate. To you has been given that which has been denied the most learned of your fellows. Not to scientists or statesmen, not to wives or mothers, not even to my priests and ministers have I given this gift of healing other alcoholics, which I entrust to you.
    Judge John T., speaking at the 4th Anniversary of the Chicago Group October 5, 1943.

  5. Since this book was first published, AA has released hundreds [thousands] of alcoholics from asylums and hospitals of every kind. The majority have never returned. The power of God goes deep!
    The A.A. Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, "To Wives", page 114.

    Bill Wilson actually wrote that lie in the original manuscript of the A.A. "Big Book", Alcoholics Anonymous, before the book was ever published. That was not just innaccurate, it was a blatant lie. Obviously, the book had not released hundreds of alcoholics from asylums before it was ever written and published.

    In the second edition of the Big Book, Bill Wilson changed the word "hundreds" to "thousands".

  6. We, of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know one hundred men [thousands of men and women] who were once just as hopeless as Bill. All have recovered. They have solved the drink problem.
    The A.A. "Big Book"Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, first edition multilith page 8 and the 1st edition hardback on page 27.

    Bill Wilson also shamelessly lied when he wrote that, because there were only about 40 sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous altogether in the whole world, including all of the members of the groups in New York, Akron, and Cleveland, when Bill started writing the Big Book in late 1938. Nevertheless, Bill Wilson grandly called them "The First 100". And there were only 70 sober members of A.A. worldwide when Bill Wilson finished writing his chapters in early 1939, and most of them eventually relapsed and returned to a life of drinking. They had not "recovered". They had not "solved the drink problem."

    Bill Wilson kept the first copy of the Big Book that came off of the presses, and it in, he kept track of the authors of the autobiographical stories, and noted who relapsed and who didn't. Francis Hartigan, Lois Wilson's private secretary, saw the book, and reported that fully 50% of the original Big Book authors relapsed and went back to drinking.

    The "hundred" number is a shameless self-promoting barefaced lie.12

    And again, Bill changed the "hundred" term to "thousands" in the second edition of the Big Book.

  7. We A.A. members are all fortunate people who are constitutionally capable of being honest with ourselves.
    We are naturally capable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. (The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Page 58.)
    We spend our lives selflessly seeking and doing the Will of God.
    We know what the Will of God is better than anyone else.
    We were Chosen By God for our special mission.
    Not only that, we are very humble, too.

  8. The A.A. program is wonderful new technology. It is not at all like the many temperance unions and religious quit-drinking societies that came before it. As one earlier member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., wrote,

    ... the A.A. group is to be understood as an unusually intimate primary group which sponsors, in a potent learning situation, a new way of life — a new subculture.
    Alcoholics Anonymous: An Interpretation, Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., writing in
    Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns, David J. Pittman and Charles R. Snyder, editors, page 582.

    [Ignore the fact that Milton A. Maxwell was elected a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., and then the Chairman, as a result of such lavish praise of A.A.]

  9. The A.A. program is perfect. The only reason that it doesn't work for 99% of the people who try it is because they are all disgusting sinners who won't give up their sinful ways and surrender to God or the Alcoholics Anonymous group. They are all unfortunate people who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. They seem to have been born that way. (The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Page 58.)

  10. A.A. and the Twelve Steps are the only way to survive alcoholism. Nobody can successfully quit an alcohol or drug habit without a "support group" and attending hundreds of meetings for many years, preferably for the rest of his or her life. Nobody can do it alone.

    And anyone who successfully quits drinking alcohol on his own, without going to A.A. meetings and doing the Twelve Steps, will suffer from a mysterious disease which will turn him into a "dry drunk."

    You are such a stupid loser that there is no way that you can quit drinking by yourself, or keep yourself sober. But a bunch of other similar stupid losers who are also incapable of quitting drinking or keeping themselves sober will keep you sober.

    The answer to all crises in life is, "Get to a meeting, quick!"

    And everyone who is recovering from an alcohol or drug problem is of course doing it with the Twelve Steps, in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, because there is no other possible way.

  11. Alcoholics Anonymous is not a cult.

  12. Alcoholics Anonymous isn't religious, it's spiritual.

    It isn't a religion. You don't have to believe in God. You can believe anything you want to believe, and you will still get miracles on demand.

    A.A. is not an irrational cult religion, it's only "a spiritual fellowship".

    Ignore the fact that, after indoctrinating many beginners, A.A. founder Bill Wilson wrote,

    "From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter ... would presently love God and call Him by name."
    (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 109.)

    Also, just ignore Bill Wilson's declaration that:

    At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, page 77.

    Never mind all of the state Supreme Court Justices and Federal District Court Judges who have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religion, or engages in religious activities. We'll just ignore them too.

    Also ignore Bill Wilson's speech to the American Psychiatric Association:

    Of course we speak little of conversion nowadays because so many people really dread being God-bitten. But conversion, as broadly described by James, does seem to be our basic process; all other devices are but the foundation.
    Bill Wilson's statements to the American Psychiatric Association 105th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, May 1949

  13. Bill Wilson was a paragon of sanity, a living saint, and a genius who worked selflessly to help other alcoholics, while taking nothing for himself.

    When Bill Wilson wrote something that was totally insane, he wasn't really insane, it was just an expression, and you don't understand what the words really mean anyway.

    And Bill Wilson was living proof of the fact that you could drink two or three bottles of Prohibition's infamous "bathtub gin" every single day for many years and still not suffer any brain damage at all.

  14. You can believe in any God you want, or none at all, in A.A. You can have any Higher Power or God you want, including a Golden Calf or a bedpan or a motorcycle, and praying to such a Higher Power will restore you to sanity and take away your desire to drink. That isn't irrational or crazy; it works, it really does.

  15. Alcoholics Anonymous is completely compatible with Christianity; it's just the perenial philosophy.

  16. You must be an agnostic or an atheist if you object to faith healing, superstitious nonsense, and voodoo medicine as your alcoholism recovery program.

  17. It's okay to lie to newcomers, and deceive them about the true nature of A.A., if it will keep them coming back. Also, we shouldn't openly tell the whole truth about the religious nature of A.A.; it might confuse the newcomers.

    "To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach. We might prejudice them."
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, pages 76-77.

    "There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are."
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, page 93.

    You have to dole out the truth about A.A. to beginners by "teaspoons, rather than by buckets" because "they simply do not want to get 'too good too soon'."
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William Wilson, page 75.

    Bill Wilson described the writing of the Big Book, hiding the religious nature of Alcoholics Anonymous, in order to deceive the newcomers, this way:

    Fitz wanted a powerfully religious document; Henry and Jimmy would have none of it. They wanted a psychological book which would lure the reader in; when he finally arrived among us, there would then be enough time to tip him off about the spiritual character of our society.   ...   As umpire of these disputes, I was obliged to go pretty much down the middle, writing in spiritual rather than religious or entirely psychological terms.
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age (1957), William G. Wilson, page 17.

  18. If you're not ready to quit drinking completely, there's nothing you can do about a drinking problem. Nobody can just cut back and drink in moderation.

  19. Nobody can quit drinking until they hit bottom and are ready to surrender to the A.A. program. People who refuse to surrender to their sponsor and the group and do what they are told should go back out and do some more research on the subject.

  20. Surrendering and being a slave of A.A. makes you free. Dependency on A.A. makes you independent. Dependency on A.A. is wonderful and produces no baleful results. Confessing powerlessness makes you powerful. Apologizing for your behavior your whole life, and confessing everything and feeling guilty and humble about everything will give you self-respect.

  21. You need this. You need us to shove our religion (that we won't call a religion) and its strange beliefs and practices on you, because you will die if we don't. Right now, your thinking is so messed up that you think you don't need this program, but you will thank us later.

  22. In A.A., nobody has any power over anyone else. In A.A., everybody is equal (but some people are more equal than others).

    Also, the A.A. leaders are but trusted servants. They do not rule, and would never engage in lawsuits to punish A.A. members who do legal things that the leaders don't like.

  23. A.A. is not organized.

  24. A.A. is a program of attraction, not promotion.

  25. The Twelve Steps are all about quitting drinking.
    • Never mind the fact that the Twelve Steps never tell you to quit drinking, or to help anyone else to quit drinking either.
    • Never mind the fact that the Twelve Steps don't contain any of these words or phrases:
      • "quit drinking,"
      • "abstain from drinking,"
      • "drink less,"
      • "recovery,"
      • "abstinence,"
      • "sobriety,"
      • "health,"
      • "happiness,"
      • "prosperity,"
      • "compassion",
      • or "love."
    • Never mind the fact that 6 of the 12 steps refer to God, and surrendering to God, confessing to God, begging God for miracles, praying to God, and seeking and doing God's will, and getting power from God. The Twelve Steps are still all about quitting drinking, not religion.
    • For that matter, also never mind the fact that 7 of the 12 steps — Steps Four through Ten — are designed to make you feel guilty: They are all about you listing and confessing all of your sins, character defects, moral shortcomings, the exact nature of your wrongs, and everyone you ever harmed or offended. The Twelve Steps are still all about quitting drinking, they say; the Steps are not the mind-bending guilt-induction routines of a cult religion.
    • And never mind the fact that Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps, and Frank Buchman's procedures from which Bill derived those steps, strongly resemble the Red Chinese program of brainwashing, with all of its guilt-inducing "self-criticism" sessions.

  26. You really are stupid and evil. You are far too stupid to be able to quit drinking by yourself. Your thinking is all messed up, and you can't trust your own mind. Your character is full of defects. Your thinking is alcoholic. You are selfish and self-centered and manipulative and unspiritual and you just want to be happy and feel good. Your true innermost nature is that you are inherently sinful and disgusting.

  27. Treating people badly is how you make them be good.
    Tough love programs really work to save the lives of alcoholics and drug addicts.

  28. Everything good that A.A. members do is Alcoholics Anonymous, but the bad things that A.A. members do is not really A.A... If a sponsor does some despicable thing that is not council-approved to a sponsee, then that doesn't count.

  29. The wives of the alcoholics wrote the Big Book chapter "To Wives".

    When Bill Wilson wrote on the first page of the To Wives chapter:

    As wives of Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We want to analyze mistakes we have made.
    The A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, chapter 8, To Wives, page 104.
    — that wasn't deceiving the readers. And when Bill began the next chapter with the words:

    Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal.
    The A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, page 122.
    — that wasn't a lie either.

    And when page 51 of Big Book Unplugged; A Young Person's Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, a condensation of the Big Book that targets teenagers, tells us that:

    Chapter 8 is written by wives, but you don't need to be a wife to benefit from the authors' advice.

    Hey! That's the gospel truth, too. You can bet your children's lives on it.

  30. Bill Wilson was a stock broker. He said so in the beginning of the Big Book:

    The spark that was to flare into the first A.A. group was struck at Akron, Ohio, in June 1935, during a talk between a New York stockbroker and an Akron physician.
    The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, page XV

  31. Bill Wilson never cheated on his wife. He said so in the Big Book:

    There were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment. There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.
    Big Book, 3rd & 4th Edition, Bill's Story, page 3.

  32. Alcoholics Anonymous was fantastically successful in the beginning. They had a great success rate in sobering up alcoholics. A.A. has only gone a bit downhill just recently.

  33. No reasonable person would criticize A.A., because A.A. is a wonderful organization that has saved millions.

  34. "Nobody is ever too dumb to get the program, but some people are too intelligent."
    "Some people just don't get the A.A. program. They are just far too intelligent to be helped."

What? That isn't twelve? Oh well, close enough. It's still more accurate than saying, "It isn't religious, it's spiritual."

* "It works — it really does." — The Big Book, page 88.

2. Conceptions:
that is bad English, "conceptions" are women getting pregnant; "concepts" are the ideas in your head.

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Last updated 4 July 2014.
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