Letters, We Get Mail

Thanks for the good laughs, now why don't you get a copy of the big book and study it and find out what AA is really about.


I have two copies of the Big Book, and one of them is all yellow from my highlighting all of the quotes that I have put in my web pages.

Please tell me, which of my quotes from the Big Book or 12x12 [Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions] is incorrect?

He never answered back...

This conversation with Craig M. started in a newsgroup in November, 2001, with a question about the tacit conspiracy to stereotype alcoholics, described at the start of the "Us Stupid Drunks" web page.
> Agent Orange wrote:
> > Conspiracy? I think yes. Not like secret agents and James Bond,
> > or the assassination of JFK, but rather, a silent, tacit agreement
> > between people to shove a particular stereotype on vulnerable beginners.
> >
> > That stereotype gets the beginners wasting their time trying to fix
> > the personality defects of Bill Wilson, not their own problems.
> >
> > In the end, that stereotype kills people. It doesn't kill them all,
> > not by a long shot, but it kills enough people to make it a real tragedy.
> I guess I feel like AA is what it is, and its members are who they are.  Is
> it the best method?  I can't really say, but in a lot of areas, it's the
> only game in town.  When something better comes along, I'm sure it will gain
> popular acceptance and come into common utilization.  Until then,  we may
> just have to make do.

Is it a method at all? It doesn't look like it.
It is what it is? The same is true of any organization, including the Catholic Church, the KKK, the Taliban, and the Republican Party.

To say that it is the only game in town is only saying that it is a very successful organization, not that it is a good organization.
Likewise, if you wish to get yourself processed into being an "operating thetan", then Scientology is "the only game in town." It too, is very successful, with branch offices in every city...

We may have to make do with AA/NA? Why? With their immense zero percent success rate, there is no reason to "make do" with it. See:

> As far as the conspiracy of stereotyping, I wonder what you would offer as a
> solution.  We could tell the newcomers that if they truly set their minds to
> it, then they will surely be able to control their drinking or be able to
> stop completely on their own.  But it seems to me that drinking alcoholics
> are told that all along, from a variety of sources.  "If you would only
> (fill in the blank), then you could/would stop drinking"  That doesn't seem
> to have helped most folks too much.

The solution is very simple: start telling the truth. Alcoholics are all different. They are not all clones of William G. Wilson. What might have helped Bill Wilson is not necessarily good for everyone else.

The real solution is so simple that lots of people don't want to accept it:
People drink when they want to drink, and quit when they want to quit.
End of story.
They always control their own drinking.
Now they may not be controlling, or sanely handling, their desires, but that is something else, something very different. It's like the guy who says,
"Really, I can quit any time I want to. I just can't want to quit."
You can't make someone quit until they want to. That's why all of the drug and alcohol rehab programs have such horrible failure rates. They fail to make people *REALLY* want to quit. Obviously, you won't make it off of drugs or alcohol if you only "sort of" want to quit.

So how do you make people want to quit? Ah, now, that's the real problem. Can you? Can you exert such mind control over other people?

Lots of people are confused about what they really want. They say that they want to quit drinking or smoking, but they don't, not really. They just sort of think they want to. They want to quit until the withdrawal hits, and then they change their minds. At the minute that they reach for another cigarette and light up, or put that next drink into their mouths and swallow it, they are doing precisely what they want to do. They are not "out of control." Now someone might be "out of control" after 8 or 10 drinks, when he just keeps on blindly downing another and another until he passes out, but he was not out of control when he started drinking.

The whole A.A. first step is wrong:
"We are powerless over alcohol, and our lives are unmanageable."
Totally untrue.
Bill Wilson just couldn't come to terms with the fact that he felt cravings that he couldn't control. That is, he couldn't stop feeling the cravings. Neither can I. But we don't have to give in to those cravings, just because cravings are sometimes very uncomfortable. They pass... And the longer you stay quit, the more the cravings fade out.

But what about the people who want to drink themselves to death? It is hard to accept, but some people just decide that they would rather die, and just want to stay drunk or stoned until the end. There may not be anything we can do to fix that problem, other than perhaps declare them insane and lock them up... But do we want to do that? Just lock someone up for the rest of his life, because he will drink himself to death if we let him go?

> As far as "character defects" go, I suppose that each individual is free to
> choose the defects he's willing to claim as his own.

That is ridiculous cult dogma, and I'm not buying it.

The standard A.A. religious dogma says that alcoholics are just loaded with "moral shortcomings" and "defects of character", and that one of their common defects is that they are so dishonest that they will only admit to having ("claim") some of those defects. They deny the others (aka, "they are in denial"), and can only gradually admit just how bad they really are. And then the dogma also says that we love our defects (or sins, as Bill Wilson called them in 12x12), and we don't want to give them up. According to Bill Wilson, alcoholics are spiritual slobs who don't want to get too good too soon.

Notice how "claiming your defects" is a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" double-bind, just like a medieval witch trial:
1. If you "claim" a bunch of defects, then you are confessing that you are a defective, flawed sinner.
2. If you don't "claim" a bunch of defects, then that proves that you are a dishonest defective flawed sinner who is in denial and refusing to be truthful about what a bad sinner you are.

Bill Wilson declared that all alcoholics had huge inflated egos, and thought that they were the center of the universe, and they were too big and too good to need God. Wilson also claimed that they were all massively dishonest, manipulative, and self-seeking. That is not true of very many people, but it was very true of Bill Wilson with his messianic complex and his delusions of grandeur, and his theft and fraud. According to Henrietta Seiberling, he even ended up claiming that he was here to finish the work that Jesus Christ had not finished, and then, he claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

None of us have to buy into the idea that we have Bill Wilson's insane character defects. We don't have to "claim those defects."
I am not Bill Wilson, thank God for small favors!
That doesn't mean that I think I'm perfect, not at all. I just have other issues to work on than Bill did, VERY different issues. I simply do not have a messianic complex or delusions of grandeur. If anything, I suffer from an inferiority complex, but I'm getting better.

> Will working toward
> becoming a better human being keep one from drinking?  Maybe not, but it
> probably doesn't hurt much, either.

It would be nice if that is what the program did...
But why am I hearing all of this garbage about bad sponsors thirteenth-stepping the girls all of the time?
Why are the sponsors telling my friends not to take their doctor-prescribed medications?
Why are the fanatics telling the newcomers that the answer to everything is "Do the Twelve Steps, get a sponsor, and read the Big Book."

With all of the deceptive recruiting, thought-stopping slogans, irrational dogma, double-talk, and redefined words, members seem to grow more dishonest with Time, rather than "grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorously honesty". (See the Big Book, page 58.)

All of those self-improvement claims seem to be a smoke screen, covering up what the program really is.
Scientology also claims to be a wonderful self-improvement program, but it is really just an evil cult...

> It does seem that eliminating personal
> turmoil from one's life may reduce the excuses that a person might tend to
> fall back on in order to justify taking a drink.

That sounds fair to me.

> The thing is, it is easy to sit back and criticize AA from the peanut
> gallery.  It is a far tougher thing to affect real changes, either within
> the structure and fellowship of AA, or even in developing new, and possibly
> better, methods to treat and cope with the problems associated with
> alcoholism.  It you can offer any real solutions, Terry,  I'm all ears.

Excuse me, but I'm not sitting in the peanut gallery. Please quit being so condescending. (That's another hall-mark of a stepper: they love to be condescending.)
I'm in the front lines, watching my friends go down the tubes, watching people die, in spite of all of those 12-step meetings that we have all been sent to... It really gets old when you talk to a friend, part ways cheerfully, and then a couple of days later hear that he's dead because he got drunk and stepped in front of a car...

That's another standard AA dodge: "Don't criticize our cult religion unless you have a foolproof 100%-effective alternative cure for alcoholism."

I just got my one-year coin and keytag, AA and NA, and I'm happy to say that I never did the Twelve Steps, I don't have a sponsor, and I don't believe in the Big Book. And the only A.A. meetings I've been to in the last 6 months were to go pick up the coins as they came due, and to show that I was still making it... And Bill Wilson was clinically insane, suffering from delusions of grandeur, so I don't follow his "teachings" at all.

I am saddened by the immense number of friends and acquaintances who were in the program with me, but who didn't make it. One of the things that has been killing my friends is the lies of AA and NA, the immense amount of misinformation.

It really is like a horrible game of survivor. There are just three or four of us left out of about 100 of us who started a year ago. Now some of those people who relapsed and bombed out of the program are back in, trying again, so we might get a few more successes, but the "success rate" is still dismal, a really large failure rate. In the end, those few successes are just people saving themselves, not anything that the 12-step programs accomplished.

I am very much looking for any things that will work. Anything. Do you really imagine that I wouldn't do something to save the lives of my friends? Do you think that I would reject AA/NA if it did save my friends' lives? You have it backwards. I dislike AA/NA because I found out what it is by being in it and watching the program fail, and watching my friends relapse left and right, and even seeing a few die.

I go to SMART meetings just so I don't have to grit my teeth at the start of every meeting, while someone reads the lies about how "These Twelve Buchmanist cult religion steps are how we achieved sobriety." and "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..."

SMART is nice because you can tell the truth without starting a civil war. You can even question any of the tenets without being told slogans like "Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth."

One of the best things that has worked for me is recognizing the base brain (lizard brain) trying to talk me into drinking and smoking. Go read

And I'm working on other stuff. But really, I don't have and don't expect to have any magic cure-all. I don't think that there is any magic cure. That is the stuff of childish fairy tales, not real life.

— Orange


I am concluding that you choose to be anonymous, so I can't provide a proper greeting. This may be a little long, but I think you will think it has some points worth noting.

I have spent a good deal of time reading just about everything you have written here. I think it is excellent. I wholeheartedly commend you for thinking for yourself.

I am a person who quit drinking 24 years ago, starting with going to AA. I was a very faithful attendee till about the 12th year or so at which time I got busy and didn't go much. Then when I started to go back, I was in a new area, didn't know people and couldn't go often enough to really have the amount of contact required to really be an insider at the meetings. I think that is a critical point. You have to go a lot to the same groups to really be accepted or known.

The last couple years I moved again to a smaller city. I decided to check out the AA groups and found small friendly groups. I have been going but doubt if I will continue. I simply find that I don't think or feel like people seem to think and feel. And I don't feel any desire to try to be more like them at all. I feel warmth and fondness for the people. Of course, they are much impressed with the length of my non-drinking.

Not long after I returned I went to a meeting one night to note that some of the older members were in a rather stunned state. Another older member who attended a nearby group had commited suicide. They were baffled. They described him as an established member who always had something good to say... no clue... etc.

I thought I might understand. One of the things that stopped me from going is that it was completely pointless to go to AA if I really had a lot of pain or a problem. I never ever got an answer there. I got more pain, usually, or convinced that there was something wrong with me for having the problem in the first place. I just learned to quit bringing it up. That became especially obvious after I got more "time." People with less time are expecting a miraculous state of nirvana to enter their lives at some point and they are hoping it comes before they are sober as long as me. They sure don't want to think that someone with my "time" is all screwed up or having a bad time of it. They don't want to hear it and will resoundingly ignore it and me. I ended up feeling humiliated as well as alone. Talk about feeling alone! Better to be alone than be alone in a group where your expectations are for succor. Compassion is very rare in AA. It is reserved for unavoidable catastrophes and natural disasters and your grief better be brief.

So I guess I don't care to go because it just doesn't help to go.

I have also noted how angry so many of the "old timers" are. I have observed that closely and concluded for myself that the problem is that most people have a lot of grief in their lives and in a way, AA is always focusing on losses. At the same time there is nowhere to go with grief as it isn't allowed. So the sadness gets stuffed leaving only the anger to be dumped out in the meeting, usually aimed at someone who isn't getting the program or was foolish enough to tell the truth about their selfish life. Notice that sometime. Old timers in AA are often an angry lot: a mask of serenity with a seething cauldron underneath.

One thing I think you might consider as a positive for the 12 steps. My relationship with alcohol was obsessive. Whether I thought about it or tried to avoid thinking about it, I was always thinking about it. The great thing about the "powerlessness concept" for me was that I stopped OBSESSING about it and always thinking how I should stop or trying to stop. If I was powerless I could give up thinking about it, which ended the obsessing which helped me stop drinking.

I also wondered if you had ever encountered what I knew as the "Yale study" which tested people at college age and at five year intervals thereafter. Then they tried to see if the people who later became alcoholics had similar scores in the beginning. They found that the people had nothing in common at the beginning of the study but became more similar over time (presumably from the chronic effects of consuming a depressant drug on a regular basis). I wish I could find some reference to that study to send you a link or something. Even in the end, the similarities were fairly minor: similar on the depressive scale as I recall, which would make sense of you're ingesting one.

I would enjoy reading more of your articles. I really enjoyed them and found them very interesting and well done. I would enjoy corresponding with you as well.

best regards

...unfortunately from what I have seen, AA does little to clean up the gene pool. What usually happens is, say, I have six or eight kids in foster care, a man has a few that he never sees and doesn't pay child support; then we meet and get pregnant with more!!! [Usually while one or both of us is still married to the family we were supposed to be raising...].

When I have tried to point out the irresponsibility of such behaviour, you hear things like, 'well, I had to let my old family go... for the good of my sobriety'... Any ex-spouses who are not 'true believers' and totally immersed in 12 Step BS are just misguided, they don't understand us, we are so much more evolved... maybe that old spouse will marry someone else who 'drinks' and then we can really crow that THEY have a problem...

The truth of the matter is abandoned wives and husbands don't understand. While working 2 jobs, taking the kids to church, checking homework, doing laundry and making dinner; no they don't understand why the AA member's sobriety is 'threatened' unless they just sit in a room and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee two or three times a day for hours... The 'abandonee' doesn't understand because they are a mature adult, who lives up to adult responsibilities.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CLEANING UP THE WRECKAGE OF OUR PAST? Meanwhile those children your Mother raised while you drank are now being raised by her again, while you get sober!!

I can't believe the losers that have asked me out in AA; oh by the way, a date in AA means they buy you a cup of coffee, try to sleep with you and then probably move in, as most of the unmarried AA members I have met who are men, either live with their Mommy or in a halfway house... anyway, these creeps say they can't afford to divorce their former wives... well here in Jacksonville, Florida, at my courthouse, a divorce costs $168 to file... if you don't even have $168, why are you trying to start a new relationship?? What a bunch of wackos!!


Dear A. Orange:

Hello. My name is David and I'm a student at Northwestern University.

I ran across your piece on "The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps" and was particularly interested in your characterization of Frank Buchman. I had not heard much at all about his, albeit tempered, praise of Hitler and his fascist front against Communism. I am also intrigued by your characterization of his relations with women and his obsession with sexual purity. The allusions to his homosexuality and concurrent homophobia are also new to me. I would very much appreciate hearing more about your research and discussing your opinions of his movement.

You may be surprised that any of this is NOT new to me. I am, in fact, familiar with MRA's work around the world today, and in particular their work in racial reconciliation and community building in the "Hope in the Cities" campaign accross America. My confusion with your essay, begins with the absence, in my experience, of any sense of the organization as a religion, or cult. They are certainly not Christian-biased but rather multi-faith, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, etc. They also seem an incredibly open minded group far from any fanaticism and rather centered on causes that no decent person could disagree with. I suppose I am curious to know what knowledge you have of MRA today, which I believe is now becoming more known as I.C. or Initiatives of Change. Perhaps an understanding of the organization today might alter somewhat you're rather extreme take on their origins and history.

That said, please don't write off dialogue with me based on my apparent conviction of mind on this. I think it very likely that their founder had some, shall we say, serious issues. But I also believe he must have had some wonderful gifts, courageous conviction, and, yes, Wisdom. Wisdom that came from what he called guidance from God, but what you and I may just as easily understand to be meditation and reflection, the like of which could assist any leader or individual in their path of life. But my knowledge has been mostly limited to information filtered through MRA.

My main interest in communicating with you is exchanging our perspectives and knowledge so that we can both come out of it with a better education of what MRA and Frank Buchman is and what it was. I hope very much to hear back from you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Hello David,

I'm surprised to see that the old MRA gang is still around, and still making the same claims. Geez Louise, 70 years and they still haven't even made up any new lies? They are not building racial reconciliation in the cities or anything else. They aren't doing anything, really. For all practical purposes, the organization does not even exist. It's just a few old die-hards with delusions of grandeur.

And pardon me, but the Hitler-loving Frank Buchman did not have "Wisdom", and his claims of receiving Guidance from God were a fraud.

Nevertheless, I'd still be interested in hearing more about the current MRA.

— Orange

(Much later: I guess I was too harsh. That was the end of that. I never heard another word.)

To answer your question:

I just can't help but think that there must be some better way to handle such problems than a method that is obviously not working, the currently-used 12-step program. I can't help but think that a lot of people might be better off if they got some other treatment or therapy besides cult religion and voodoo medicine.

Do you know anywhere else a person can go to handle there alcoholic problem for FREE?

Who cares if it is a cult. It's FREE. What do they tell you in there? "There are no dues or fees". "The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking". Not a desire to obtain a religion. Look up in the sky on a clear night and try to count all the stars. I wonder who put them there? Keep it simple.

What do you want out of life?

My friend, guess what else is FREE? FREE WILL

Consequence costs money, FREE WILL doesn't.

The only reason why I stay in AA is because it is FREE.

Ya know what they say? "The best things in life are FREE"


You want free? Try SMART, SOS, WFS, MFS, or LifeRing on the Internet. They are all free, and they all offer some kind of help in recovery without cult religion.

--- Denise wrote:

Read your piece, "The Funny Spirituality of AA," and just wanted to tease out some fundamental differences between smoking and alcohol that allude you. As for your other comments re: Bill W's spirituality, et al, I have no comment. Nothing you wrote struck me as particularly eye opening, but neither did I find it off base.

That's good. I don't really view anything I'm saying as new. Most of it has been said by others before. I often feel like I'm just a librarian, gathering up a bunch of information into one place where people can find it easily...

No one — not Bill Wilson, not Lois, not Dr. Bob, nor the Surgeon General — seeks to minimalize the dangers of smoking to the body. Let me take that back: In fact, in his day, Bill and Lois and the good Doctor were actually less aware but that's beside the point. The enormous difference between these two highly addictive substances is in the areas they affect: Cigarettes affect the physical body and some physiological processes rather dramatically. Alcohol aids and abets the deterioration of soul and mind, in that order. I guess it boils down to a determination of which center, body or mind, most represents this entity we call Person. My belief is it is that person's essence, soul, Being, and that area is most clearly affected by alcohol.

That's the big thing: In the long run, I believe that tobacco does the same thing to people. It did to me. It just takes longer. But I smoked for 33 years, and when I add it all up, I see a ton of stuff that I'd like not to see, like all of the times I wouldn't go out and play ball with my son because I felt a little too sick and tired from the effects of tobacco... Or all of the times I was dragging my ass doing something until my wife got pissed off at how hard it was to get me to do things... After 10 or 20 years, that stuff really affects you. I guess I'd have to say that it changes you. (Yeh, it kills you.)

In the long run, I can't help but feel that I was simply a different person on tobacco, someone other than the best person that I could be, or wanted to be. And that is exactly the problem with alcohol or heroin, too.

The predisposition to "outsiderness," "depression," "loneliness" that is the trademark of the alcoholic is exacerbated and then, ultimately, CAUSED by the alcohol, and then is simply the no brakes vehicle to complete insanity. Estrangement* from one's fellow men unequivocally causes a spiritual and emotional bankruptcy so severe as to render that person inhuman. Cigarettes merely kill the body. I say "merely" because at least as they are killing it, that person has the luxury of a relatively intact mental, emotional, and perhaps even spiritual life.

Yep, again, the killing just takes longer. And there is no doubt in my mind that tobacco causes depression, too. The attitude towards life like, "Oh, well, what did you expect? It's all a drag anyway. Life is just a pain because that's how it is," is caused by tobacco. Now that I have a year and a half off of tobacco, I watch the people standing outside of the buildings during smoke breaks, and see the drawn, gray, looks on their faces, and listen to how they talk, and it's all so obvious.

(*estrangement as distinct from separation. I am not referring to the Henry David Thoreau school of thought here, but to a critically impoverished state of mind)

Personally, I am having increasing difficulty figuring out where 'physical' leaves off and 'spiritual' starts. Something that sickens my body so that I can't or don't do the good things that I would like to do certainly has spiritual implications...

I just wanted to weigh in with these thoughts. This is rather rushed as I am at work. Thanks for listening.


Well, thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

Your points, the few that I have read, have some validity. The things I have read are about the dry drunk, the "killjoy cover up", and the bit about AA members thinking they have better medical advice than doctors.

The dry drunk one I figured out on my own from the beginning. Such arrogance some people exhibit when declaring someone else's sobriety of low quality because they got sober in a different way. Where is the humility there?

The lack admitting that alcohol consumption was fun you are not totally correct in saying that it is doctrine or totally through AA. Many people in AA share about the good times. Although I have been to some groups that are depressive and seem to "kill joy." I generally do not go back to those meetings. Personally my situation per remembering the good times was no problem before I came into AA. I would wipe the memory of drinking problems out. Then blame my drinking related problems on anything from a full moon to a girl friend to Ronald Reagan. That was denial. My sponsor told me he had to watch out for what he called glorifying a drink. I did and still do have to remember why I stopped drinking in the first place. My alcoholic brain would like me to forget.

As far as the medicine goes I like to remind those old timers about the "singleness of purpose" and question them on how much drug they are taking as they mass consume coffee and cigarettes.

There is one thing I know for certain and that is that there are days in my sobriety that I would have picked up a drink if not for actively being a member of AA. For that I thank God.

sincerely, Rik

— Betsy wrote:

(the 5% success rate is so bleak)

One question today....... does anything I do make any difference? You know, Al-Anon is big on pulling spouses in to "get well," which may then steer the alcoholic towards recovery, but ONLY if you are indifferent to such an outcome. I did Al-Anon sporadically for a time but got tired of it — and all the cigarette smoke!

At the risk of sounding simplistic, the rate for your husband won't be 5%. It will be either 100% or zero, depending on whether he wants to quit. That seems to be the big thing to me — actually, really, wanting to quit. If he doesn't want to quit, the success rate will of course be zero. If he REALLY wants to quit, the odds of success are very high.

The more I look at the whole treatment industry, and whether a program will "really work" to make you quit, the more it looks like a joke. It's like you are paying somebody else to make you want to quit. No wonder it doesn't work.

The Al-Anon approach looks like another sad joke. Bill Wilson just couldn't stand his wife Lois nagging him, so he pushed this policy of "Only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic. The wives should just shut up and just call the A.A. men to come and solve the problem."

Anything you can do? Yes. The first thing I'd do is steer him to the file, Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. It is about the base brain and its cravings for alcohol and tobacco.

For me, understanding that the little voice in my head that demands a drink or a smoke IS NOT ME helps a lot. I can see that the Addiction Monster has his own agenda, and he will do anything and everything he can to get me to smoke and drink, but he is not really me, and his thoughts are not my thoughts.

That's important: His thoughts are not my thoughts.

Also, His wishes are not necessarily my wishes.

Understanding that may not make your husband instantly want to quit, but if he understands what is really going on in his head, he may not succumb to the thoughts like,
"They are all being so unfair to me. They are trying to keep me from having a good time. They want me to give up all of the simple pleasures in life. Well I won't do it. I refuse to be anyone's slave."

But that's the addictive voice, the thirsty little frog brain, talking, and when I listen to it and let it run my life and dictate my consumption habits, I am most assuredly being somebody else's slave. Understanding that has been a big help to me, in quitting and staying quit.

What else? Just letting your husband know that he is really hurting himself, and doesn't have to. For a while, I was sick, and in a deep alcohol- and tobacco-induced depression, where I thought I would never be able to quit. I thought just what A.A. teaches, that I was "powerless over alcohol." That led me to think that trying to quit was pointless, I'll just fail anyway, so might as well just stay stoned until the bitter end comes... When I found out that I really could control alcohol, rather than vice versa, and also really control tobacco, that was very empowering and cheery. So I would do my best to communicate the idea that recovery (and recovery without a cult) is possible. Nobody is powerless and the situation is never completely hopeless. (Well, unless he's dead...)

I would also just try to keep communicating how much harm alcohol (and tobacco) are doing. While I was drinking, I could not clearly see how huge the price tag was. I only saw some of the down side, and some of the expense and damage. The longer I stay quit, the clearer my head becomes, and the more I see the rest, and the more determined I am to not go there again...

Well, good fortune. (I was tempted to write, good luck, but I don't think luck has anything to do with it.)

Don't hesitate to write back. I don't feel like I have all the answers, but I might have one or two.

I forgot to mention that the 5% success rate is per year. That is, 5% will quit this year, and 5% of those who are left will quit next year, and 5 the next, and so on... So the odds are better than just one single 1-out-of-20 chance.

At the same time, there is a one to three percent death rate happening, so it's a race condition — quit drinking or die. Eventually, one way or another, they all quit.

It's just like a joke a friend used to tell me:
"Death is just Mother Nature's way of telling you that it's time to quit smoking."

The same applies to alcohol, too.

(Later) —
I later went to a SMART meeting, and said that I was feeling rather inadequate, because a woman had asked for help and I didn't really have any magic bullet to offer her. The facilitator said, "She wants to buy something that will make her husband quit drinking. If you could put a package like that together, you'd be a millionaire. All of the wives would buy it."

Alas, yes. That really seems to be the big problem with the whole "recovery" industry. They can't make people want to quit. They pretend that they can, and take people's money, but then they don't deliver the goods. And even though I occasionally get accused of being angry, I have to say that I find that behavior to be contemptible, and even criminal fraud.

Well, have a good day anyway.

— Agent Orange

--- Kari Ann Owen wrote:
> I have been sober since 1975, and have recently left AA.
> As a handicapped woman who requires the assistance of a trained
> assistance dog, I am tired of the abuse and harassment by cruel and
> ignorant AA members, and of the criminal and aggressive persons,
> both
> men and women, in a program purporting to be loving and spiritual.
> Please continue in your work,
> Most warmly,
> Kari Ann Owen
> —
> Web Site: http://pwp.value.net/penomee/penomee.html
> My Icelandic horse and I are teaching the disabled to ride!
> http://www.equiworld.net/uk/ezine/1201/kao.htm
> Latest interview: http://www.artlas.net/newsinfo/interview-KAO.html
> Latest article, urgent: "Terror is Not Islam"
> http://jews-for-Allah.org/muslims-against-terrorism/islam-refutes-terrorism.htm
> Latest award: Moondance International Film Festival 2002 Stage Play
> Winner! http://www.moondancefilmfestival.com

Hi. Thanks for the message. Will check your links later, got to run now. Have a good day.

--- g g wrote:
> I have personally seen activity in A.A. that range
> from extreme political involvement to neo-pagan
> worship. After browsing your website I see there must
> be others who see that there is a hidden side to the
> group. How do I make contact with them and share
> notes?
> Looking for answers, g g
Hi. I don't know. I usually just run into people who are grumbling about being forced to go to meetings by a counselor or advisor, and they complain that it's just a stupid cult... But as far as a network or club, who knows?

You might try a SMART meeting. I go there, and sometimes it degenerates into a few minutes of A.A. bashing, even though that isn't what the meetings are supposed to be about...

SMART is on the internet:

You should be able to find the time and location of a local group through their web site. Then you will probably be able to connect with like-minded people through them.

P.S.: I don't mean to slight SOS, WFS, or MFS. I hear good things about them, too. They just don't have any meetings around here, so I can't report on them.

Oh, and there is also LifeRing on the Internet.
And there is the Yahoo group 12-Step-Free.
And there is the newsgroup alt.recovery.from-12-steps.

--- Vern wrote:
> What, are you drunk? I just viewed your web site.
> You should spend all that 
> energy on something constructive.
> Regards

I am doing something constructive. Telling people the truth is constructive.

--- Rev. Allyson K. D. wrote:

Dear Ag,

I felt like I wanted to write to you because the vitrol of your piece against AA is palpable. You seem overly concerned about AA. Did you try to stop drinking or using drugs and relapse, and now like many people I have known in the past 19 years, you turn your self hatred outward to AA and the millions of people who are alive as a result of it? Clearly you have a bone to pick. The other thing I can think that you might be doing is writing for a project in a college Philosophy class, maybe a thesis? Given the scope of your work it appears you are interested in scholarship. Perhaps you might concider the bias you bring to your work as well as the biases of those you write about. This idea is among the many logic tools that a mere freshman would hopefully learn. You sound as if you are young. Is this scenario apt?

Yes, the vitriol is real. If you read the cult test,
you will find that I have the same vitriol for Scientology, the Moonies, the Hari Krishnas, Synanon, Rev. Jim Jones and his People's Temple, 'David Koresh' and the Branch Davidians, and Marshall Herff Applewhite and his Heaven's Gate cult.

And there is a reason for that. I call those groups evil organizations, and I imagine that you would agree with that. The main reason that I call them evil is because they hurt people, a lot of people. Even if the people at Jonestown, Waco, and San Diego had not died, I would still call The People's Temple, the Branch Davidians, and Heaven's Gate cult evil organizations for lying to and deceiving people, for wasting their time and actually keeping them from any activities that might have really enhanced their spirituality.

Rev. Jim Jones was not God and did not perform miracles, like he claimed. Vernon Howell, a.k.a. David Koresh, was not the Son of God, obligated to impregnate all of the women and girls in his church to produce the "Grandchildren of God", and Marshall Herff Applewhite was not really teaching his followers how to get to Heaven.

And Alcoholics Anonymous is not a wonderful organization that has made millions of alcoholics quit drinking.

A.A. has too many faults to ignore. I think I could summarize my gripes against A.A. as:

  1. A.A. is massively dishonest. A.A. lies about its history, about what Bill Wilson really was and really did, about the effectiveness of A.A. "treatment", and what A.A. is now. You can go read the "A.A. Lies" web page for the list, at:

  2. The A.A. program does not work. The 12 steps are not a formula for recovery from alcoholism; they are a formula for building a cult religion. Professor George Vaillant, a member of the board of trustees of A.A.W.S., spent 8 years testing A.A. as a treatment program for alcoholics, and found that it does not work, and in fact raises the death rate.
    See the web page "The Effectiveness of the Twelve Steps" at:

  3. A.A. is a religious cult, not a self-help group. Read the cult test:

  4. A.A. is using its influence and hidden members to illegally and immorally force people to join it. A.A. uses the criminal justice system and the recovery industry to coerce people into A.A.. The Little Red Book of Hazelden specifically instructs A.A. members to do their 12th-step work by:

    11. By telling the A.A. story to clergy members, doctors, judges, educators, employers, or police officials if we know them well enough to further the A.A. cause, or to help out a fellow member.
    The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 128.

    Then that book even goes on to tell recruiters to teach the judges, police, doctors, and other officials just what kind of people A.A. wants coerced into attending its meetings:

    By educating doctors, the clergy, judges, police officials, and industrial personnel regarding the type of people A.A. can help, we will avoid flooding our ranks with an unwieldy preponderance of nonalcoholics.
    The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 137.

    So much for the lie about how A.A. can't help it if the judges and parole officers force people to go to A.A. meetings.

    And, before you protest that Hazelden isn't A.A., and A.A. is not responsible for what Hazelden does, note the "eat-your-cake-and-have-it-too" relationship that A.A. enjoys with its front groups and satellite organizations: A.A. benefits from the propaganda that Hazelden publishes, but if anyone criticizes it for things like backstabbing and undercutting other religions, then A.A. protests that A.A. has no control over Hazelden. That is also untrue. A.A.W.S. has a representative on the board of directors of Hazelden, and Hazelden is one of the biggest customers of the books that A.A.W.S. prints. So they are very much in bed together. And, above all, they are all members of the same 12-step religion, and they all have the same goal: to grow the cult.

    You, as a Reverend, surely must appreciate the American Constitution that protects religion from the laws of Congress. Freedom of Religion is a cornerstone of the American system. But to keep our Freedom of Religion it is imperative that no religion become state-approved or state-encouraged, never mind state-enforced. All of the other religions would lose out, of course. Well, forcing people to go to A.A. meetings violates that separation of church and state.

    Before you protest that A.A. is not a religion, go read the "Spiritual, Not Religious" web page at:

Lastly, you asked if I was young, a freshman in college or something. I guess I should take that as a compliment, because I am really 55 and all gone gray.

I told the woman who was my first sponser in AA that I believed that AA's were just fascist Christians who were brainwashing me. She agreed and invited me to think about my current ability to think and what my great intellect had brought me. What a trick question that was. This great lady lived her life helping far more then the 50 women I currently know, save their lives, and go on to myriad of meaningful careers, lifestyles of value, and mental and physical health. Would you like more data? Jackie died recently, sober for 36 years. I wonder if your life work will hold as much meaning as hers. Her legacy lives in the hearts and lives of so many many people. She knew the truth. I know the truth. AA is facist, Christian and uses powerful techniques to save some of the most miserable lives on the planet, including my own. What a terrible thing.

The mind game that your sponsor pulled on you is typical:
"You made a mistake once, so your thinking is hopelessly defective.
Stop your stinkin' thinkin'.
Your best thinking got you here.
Just obey my orders."

I know you are just being sarcastic, but I don't really find it terribly funny that you don't take seriously the idea that A.A. really is a fascist Christian organization. (Fascists don't really march around wearing Swastika arm-bands any more.)

Or, if A.A. is not "Christian", then it is Buchmanite, the cult religion of Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman. It is surely not Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Jewish, American Indian, or atheist.

I assume that you must have read the web page about the "Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps". I don't know which version. The version on AAdeprogramming.com is old; please check out:

When Big Brother or Big Sister insists that you are not qualified to think for yourself, and you need to be bossed around by someone else, that is a big part of the fascist philosophy. It is the mortal enemy of democracy, because democracy believes that people are qualified to think for themselves and make their own decisions, and run their own lives, and vote accordingly.

Just because you made a mistake before, just because your thinking got messed up and "you tried it your way" once, and it didn't work, doesn't mean that you can't learn to do it right, and still live free, and still think for yourself.

I have really pondered the question of whether some people really need, and would really benefit from, something like a benevolent fascist cult that would just force them to quit drinking or drugging and start living healthy. Alas, all of the evidence shows that the answer is no. Again and again, all of the fair, unbiased testing that has ever been done shows no benefits from fascist cults. The truth is that people quit when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and don't quit before then.

And, when fascist recovery cults have been tried, like Synanon, The Seed, or Straight, Inc., or any of its clones, the results were disastrous. See the web page on Children's Gulags.

The lady whom you describe may have been a great soul who helped a lot of people quit drinking, but they still quit drinking. That is, they quit drinking. She didn't do it for them. Everybody has to do it for themselves. You may believe that a tough-love, highly-disciplined program forces people to quit and saves their lives, but it doesn't. Again, all of the fair and unbiased testing that has ever been done shows that such a program does not work. Go read the page on the Effectiveness of A.A. again. Also read about the children's gulags for stories of children killed by such a "tough love" approach to recovery.

Also remember that the Harvard Medical school reported that 80% of all alcoholics who successfully quit drinking for a year or more do it by themselves, alone. That really brings into question the issue of just how necessary or useful the A.A. program really is.

You wish to present me with a list of the 50 people who will swear that they quit while — and because of — being sponsored by Jackie. That is the standard propaganda stunt called "proof by anecdote". Everybody, including Scientology, Synanon, and TM, trots out a short chorus line of poster children whose testimonials "prove" that their program really does work, and has vastly improved their lives, and is just the greatest thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately, it isn't so. Obviously, someone else could come up with a list of hundreds of people whom Jackie did not help, but that also proves nothing.

The fact that she spent years coaching people to quit drinking, and may even have helped a few to succeed when they might not have otherwise succeeded is admirable and to be commended, but it does not prove that A.A. is a good organization, any more than the activities of Oskar Schindler proved that the Nazi Party was a good organization. (See the movie, "Schindler's List".)

What you witnessed was some people quitting drinking while going to A.A. meetings, and perhaps also doing the Twelve Steps and brainwashing themselves into believing that the Twelve Steps actually make people quit drinking. And you ignored all those others who did not successfully quit.

You came to believe that the Twelve Steps made the quitters quit. Do you also still believe that the stork brings babies?

Speaking of which, I used a similar illustration in that "Effectiveness" web page:

A bunch of people went to a Baptist church for years.
During those years, many of the women got pregnant and had babies.
That proves it: going to Baptist churches causes women to get pregnant and have babies.

That goofy logic is the same logic as A.A. uses to insist that it's a proven fact that going to A.A. meetings and doing the Twelve Steps causes people to quit drinking.

Many people will insist that A.A. caused them to quit drinking, that they could not have done it without A.A.. I always have to ask, "Which A.A.?"

A.A. is different things to different people:

  • For some people, it is a circle of friends who hold your hand and give you moral support, and cheer you on, and give you little coins at each milestone of sobriety, like 3 months, 6, 9, a year... That is good stuff, I heartily recommend it. (At least, it isn't likely to hurt.)

  • For other people, A.A. is a system of pop psychology, transmitted in slogans:

    • Easy does it.
    • Live and Let Live.
    • Resign from the debating society.
    • Just don't take that first drink.
    • Just don't drink, no matter what.

    That isn't too bad, as long as you stay away from the vicious negative slogans, and it can be very helpful to some people.
    That "Just Don't Take That First Drink" rule is so good that if you just follow that one rule, you won't need any others, and you won't need any twelve steps or any Wilsonism cult religion.

  • For some people, A.A. is a collection of helpful home-spun simple wisdom, like "Well, bad as it is, you still don't have to drink over it."

  • And for some other people, A.A. is a mind-controlling religious cult with some very strange theology and lots of misinformation. It features intense indoctrination bordering on brainwashing, deep immersion (90 meetings in 90 days), ego-destruction through self-criticism and confession sessions, guilt induction, wallowing in guilt, shame and self-contempt, suppression of your feelings, pretending to get positive results ("Fake It Until You Make It"), and confessions of powerlessness, insanity, sinfulness, selfishness, resentments, and many other things. That can be very harmful. It has even driven some people to suicide.

Please feel free to rip at my sentence structures, identify my fallacies, and gleefully and sarcastically point out my lack of intellectual understanding of what was presented to me.

Such sarcasm is unnecessary. When did I ever criticize your grammar?

Frankly, I am going to bed and sleep well knowing that when you are ready there is a chair waiting for you among all of those hopelessly possessed minions of the false prophets of AA. When you have lost more of your heart, developed an even greater spectrum and rationale for your anger, when most people find you a bore (no matter how clever and funny you think you are), and your compassion for others is matured through humiliation, the people of AA will not reject you. You may need them. Until then...

Reverend Allyson K. D.

That's quite some blessing. It sounds more like a Gypsy curse. What church are you a Reverend of?

By the way, I'm not bitter, I'm not unhappy, and I am not lacking in friends. And I'm also not drinking.

And I give whatever help or moral support I can to anyone who is working on quitting. But I never claim that I made someone quit, or even "helped them quit." I don't want to steal other people's thunder. They do the quitting, and I cheer for them.
(It's always the same old truth: "Nobody holds your hand every Saturday night but you.")

And, I don't go to A.A. meetings, I don't have a sponsor, and I don't do the Twelve Steps of William Griffith Wilson.

I work for free, telling people the truth as I see it about the whole recovery cult problem. I even tell jokes to lighten things up. Call it "unselfish, constructive action", my Twelfth-Step work.

*           Agent Orange       *
*     [email protected]    *
*   AA and Recovery Cult Debunking  *
*    https://www.orange-papers.info/    *
* Heisenberg said, "I'm not really sure if that even was *
* Shrödinger's cat. I think he might have used somebody *
* else's cat...                     *

The "Hazelden Coffee War" was hilarious! Other Hazelden wars are not so funny.

In recent news releases, Hazelden Foundation researcher Carol Falkowski condemned the FDA approval of GHB to treat cataplexy, which is the most debilitating symptom of narcolepsy. Ms. Falkowski's campaign to reverse the approval of GHB betrays more than two hundred thousand U.S. narcoleptics who have waited decades for an effective cataplexy drug. Like many others narcoleptics, I have been denied employment, health insurance, and most other aspects of a "normal" lifestyle for over twenty years.

Ms. Falkowski is concerned that American teenagers will abuse GHB. Since GHB will be released as a tightly controlled Schedule-I drug, her concern seems focused on a renegade minority of American teens, the same minority subculture that dominates crime statistics and has made a mockery of legislated countermeasures to substance abuse. Pathetically, Ms. Falkowski seems unconcerned about folks like me. I may collapse twenty times a day from cataplexy - twenty unpredictable and total collapses, lasting from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, but each episode seems like an eternity when your voluntary muscle system shuts down while panicked onlookers gather around your limp body.

This scenario may resemble what occurs when a shopping-mall crowd gathers around an overdosed drug abuser. The difference is that one victim knowingly broke the law, probably in more ways then one, while the other victim prays for any miracle that will enable him/her to rejoin productive society. Ms. Falkowski's empathy for drug abusers and callous disregard for narcoleptics is analogous to characterizing Nazis as "victims" of the Nuremberg Trials and dismissing the Holocaust as a tragic footnote in history.

Furthermore, with respect to GHB, Ms. Falkowski exhibits more passion than knowledge. GHB is not new or rare. For many years, GHB has been an ingredient in several common industrial compounds. This, in part, explains why the illegal drug culture gained easy access to GHB long before FDA approval. In the big picture, FDA approval of GHB will legally channel insignificant quantities of GHB to narcolepsy victims. Reversing GHB approval will not deter illegal drug producers or disrupt underground supply channels to drug abusers. Unless she is a novice researcher, Falkowski ought to know that her campaign to ban medicinal GHB is a prophylactic measure that will help few but hurt many. Very few drug abusers will even be inconvenienced, but all narcolepsy victims will be forced to suffocate inside Falkowski's useless condom.

Experience is a great teacher if we listen. Several years ago, asthma and narcolepsy patients were victimized when ephedrine became the target of "drug abuse professionals" like Ms. Falkowski. The efficacy of ephedrine as a treatment for mild asthma symptoms has never been disputed. Ephedrine dilates bronchial passages, accelerates metabolism, and has relatively few contraindications. Ephedrine is still the primary active ingredient in over-the-counter remedies for asthma symptoms. However, for many years, clinical grade ephedrine was also available without prescription at commodity-like prices. Because ephedrine was cheap and available, it effectively regulated the price of brand name remedies for asthma symptoms.

In order to combat involuntary sleep attacks, narcolepsy patients also used ephedrine because it was inexpensive, and the side-effects are negligible compared to Ritalin, Desoxyn, and other prescription speed drugs. Many narcoleptics preferred ephedrine simply because the buzz-saw-like side effects of Ritalin and the amphetamines were nearly as intolerable as the sleep attacks. All of these benefits disappeared when misguided social campaigners persuaded lawmakers that methamphetamine abuse could be controlled by restricting the legal distribution of ephedrine. Quite predictably, drug company lobbyists succeeded in protecting their brand names while unadulterated ephedrine was reclassified as a controlled substance and a prescription drug.

The consequences of this reclassification were many, but none of them curtailed methamphetamine abuse. Illegal "meth labs" propagate so easily that vigorous police enforcement efforts have been unable to measurably interdict supply or inflate the street price of methamphetamine. Meanwhile, the price of legal ephedrine skyrocketed. Before reclassification, the price of a 20mg tablet was less than a dime. As a prescription drug, the same ephedrine tablet costs more than a dollar, and drug companies quickly seized upon their opportunity to drastically inflate the price of their unregulated asthma remedies. As a result, over-the-counter consumers are being gouged, and the price of ephedrine by prescription is beyond the means of many who need it most: victims of poverty and senior citizens on fixed incomes.


I do not know who you are but the above web page was very well done.
[Orange: I think he must be referring to the "Dr. Harry Tiebout, Fascist doctor" web page. There is a short mention of the abuses of Dr. G. Douglas Talbott at the bottom. Either that, or it's the reference to Talbott in the discussion of Professor Vaillant's writings in the page on the effectiveness of 12-step treatment.]
No doubt you have seen Peele's reference, I was a witness at this trial and hoped that the trial would help put an end to these abuses...:

In May, 1999, just after Talbott stepped down as president of ASAM, a jury awarded Dr. Leonard Masters, of Jacksonville Florida, a judgment of $1.3 million against Talbott, his daughter-in-law Morrison, and other Talbott associates for malpractice, fraud, and false imprisonment, based on Masters' stay with Talbott in 1994. Testifying at Masters' trial that he was not in fact alcohol dependent, as he had been diagnosed by Talbott et al., was Anne Geller, the president of ASAM prior to Talbott. Talbott's attorneys quickly settled with the plaintiff before the jury decided on punitive damages against Talbott and his colleagues (an amount which is usually a multiple of the compensatory damages that had already been awarded).

Despite this legal setback, Talbott has faced no professional repercussions. Indeed, the ASAM has neglected to discuss the case at all in the year since the Masters' decision in its newsletter or at its Web site. And ASAM and Talbott continue to bask in their roles as the premier medical advocates for and caretakers of addicted individuals.

What you will not get from the news reports is that the judge was so impressed with Talbott's ability to intimidate those who testified against him that:

  1. No witnesses were sworn in by name! Witnesses were introduced as "the doctor from Pennsylvania" or the "veterinarian from North Carolina"! Thats all... no name. Sometimes the doctor's wives got to testify to confirm the threats made to the families.
  2. After the trial the trial transcripts were "sealed". Perhaps to protect the witnesses, but this move, unfortunately, also protects the public from ever knowing the abuses that the witnesses spelled out to the jury.

Want a photo of the T shirt they sold at TMRC? The joke was that it says "I'm only here for a four day evaluation" Everyone was encouraged to buy one... perhaps as a symbol of submission. In fact almost no one left TMRC in less than 4 months (not days)

I began to research the effects of incarceration there and came across the paper listing ten ways cults add influence to their brainwashing. I'm sure that paper, and that list of techniques, was a key tool for Master's attorneys.

Hopefully your web page information will spread and save others much grief.


--- Steve K. wrote:
I have never read such an in depth review of the AA Big Book. It scares the hell out of me. I am a member of AA and I tell you that I too have had so many of the same thoughts and analogies as you describe in your text. But I'm really at a loss. I know there are other treatments out there but, of course AA is the cheapest and most accessible for most people. I got sober back in November of 2000 in AA and started other activities in my life. I found very quickly that I had out grown AA but I was concerned about new members and the Nazi techniques that some of the "old timers" used on them. I began to openly admit in meetings that I DID NOT want what most of the "old timers" had and was not willing to go to their described lengths to get it. I told them that I had to grow in my own way. I do really love some of the people at AA meetings though and a lot of them gravitate toward me because I am so open and brazen about the so called "AA Philosophy". Most of the new comers really need someone just to listen to them and show some understanding for their fucked up life style. I do understand it and also know that if I allow myself to grown spiritually (outside the program) I get happier and healthier everyday. I know this makes me sound like a hypocrite but I believe that the new comers deserve something better than an indoctrination into the Nazi style Philosophy that the "old timers" preach. Man, thank you for your research and the immense amount of time it must have taken to put this study together. I'm not going to go to a meeting and just try and tear apart everything that has been built in my home group but you have given me so much insight into the program that now I am better prepared to combat the constant verbiage recited from the Big Book. I do want to continue to help alcoholics and your paper has given me some knowledge and courage to continue to do that.
Stephen K.

Hi. My first reaction is that there *are* other self-help organizations for free: SMART, SOS, and WFS/MFS, that I know of.
Maybe I should explain the acronyms:
SMART = Self-Management and Recovery Training
SOS = Secular Organizations for Sobriety
WFS = Women for Sobriety
MFS = Men for Sobriety

Of the four, the only one I've been able to attend is SMART, because it's the only one in this town. But I've heard good things about the others.
SMART is sort of what you might get if you took A.A. and kept the fellowship but threw away Bill Wilson, the cult religion, and the illogical nonsense.

I don't think your remarks are hypocritical. I too believe in some kind of spirituality, although it is very difficult to define. It's sort of like the judge who ruled on "art" by saying, "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."

One of the few things that I am pretty sure about is that spirituality is not people parroting illogical cult religion slogans... :-)

You might find that some SMART meetings could help just to lower the feelings of frustration. One of the commonest reactions people have when they first attend SMART meetings is great relief to get away from the atmosphere of only being able to say the "right" things...

The URL for SMART is:   http://www.smartrecovery.org/
They list many state and city offices where you can get the times and places of meetings.

Also see: Women For Sobriety (their web site is down, try calling 1-800-333-1606),   http://www.womenforsobriety.org/
and SOS,   http://www.sossobriety.org/

You might find a meeting in your area. If not, then definitely also check out the SOS and WFS/MFS. Those things are growing, so you can find at least one of the four in more and more towns.

Have a good day, and enjoy your sobriety. I sure am enjoying mine. A.A. or no A.A., life is still better when you aren't sick, isn't it?

One other thing: when you are going to meetings like SMART, you will find that meetings have personalities, just like how different A.A. meetings have different personalities. If you don't like the first one you visit, definitely try others.

In this town, there are 3 SMART meetings close to me, and they are very different from each other. One is run by a college professor and is stiff and formal. Another is run by some graduate students, and while they are nice kids, I just never sort of "click" there. Maybe it's just age-ism on my part; I have a hard time taking some kids seriously when they've never been dopers or drunks, and I could be older than their father... But the third meeting is perfect: One visiting facilitator called it "the wackiest ship in the Navy", definitely the loosest and most informal, unstructured meeting in the city. So anyway, that's what appeals to me. But other people have other tastes... It's all okay. So anyway, don't hesitate to shop around, and don't assume that if you've seen one meeting, that you've seen them all.

I just finished reading your articles on the AA deprogramming site... well done.

I especially liked 'The Heresy Of The 12 Steps.' It reminded me of William J. Murray. Mr. Murray, by the way, is a prominent Christian evangelist. He is also the oldest son of the late Madeline Murray O'Hair, the atheist activist.

Prior to his Christian conversion, William Murray was a world-class boozer. He began attending AA meetings. However, the experience made him ask himself; what god DO I worship? He did the smart thing; he abandoned AA. At last report, he still doesn't drink.

I'm not trying to convert you to evangelical Christianity; i'm not one myself. I thought you might find his story interesting, though.

Well, that's all. Write more articles, if you would; I'll read them-bye.


"... in ancient times material progress was painfully slow. The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research and invention was almost unknown. In vthe realm of the material, men's minds were fettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas. Some of the contemporaries of Columbus thought a round earth preposterous. Others came near putting Galileo to death for his astronomical heresies.
"We asked ourselves this: Are not some of us just as biased and unreasonable about the realm of the spirit as were the ancients about the realm of the material?"

In the first paragraph, Bill Wilson points out that superstition, tradition, and fixed ideas were at fault for rejecting the logic of two skeptics who based their conclusions on the evaluation of hard data. He then implies, therefore, that skeptics are at fault for rejecting superstition, tradition, and fixed ideas (and most of all, his totally unscientific personal philosophy). The syllogism (I think that is what it's called) would be:

  • Non scientific thinking rejected skeptical thinking.
  • Non scientific thinking was incorrect.
  • Skeptical thinking rejects Non scientific thinking.
  • Skeptical thinking is therefore incorrect.

And so, on it goes with the first 150 some pages of philosophical rambling and sloppy thinking of the Big Book.

The chapter on "We Agnostics" is especially illogical. Wilson makes reference to some scientific theories (in an attempt to make a stronger appeal to skeptics), but totally butchers the theories with suggestions of electrons having some sort of intelligent knowledge of what they are doing, and the self evidence of a prime mover.

The chapter title implies that he was once an agnostic; a title for which he never qualified. Most AA members have a strong predisposition to religious ideas, and it is doubtful that more than a handful were ever truly agnostic. It is even more likely that a smaller percentage still could be labeled skeptics (skeptics being defined as those who reject beliefs based on the lack of evidence).

We Agnostics ends up as a patronizing attempt by Wilson to imply he understands the logical thought process of true skepticism or agnosticism. As a result, it is an insult to the very people he is trying to reach, and had he comprehended the depth of his lack of understanding of skepticism, agnosticism, and the scientific method, it would have been an embarrassment to himself.



You said: The AA group is obviously a social group...

The AA phenomenon is indeed perplexing. I've come to the conclusion that its success (success meaning it's popularity and longevity) has more to do with its social and quasi-religious aspects than with alcohol treatment. It's true that it does provide a helpful support group for those wanting to quit drinking, but I tend to see that as a somewhat secondary function. Of course, it is never stated that way, but in reality, the social and religious aspects are the drawing card that keep bringing people back.

The negative side of this is that the social and religious aspects tend to obscure and neglect the more important issue of alcohol treatment. While not so stated, the focus is wrong. Alcohol treatment should be the primary concern. The problem is that AA claims that its purpose is alcohol treatment, but in reality it gets sidetracked.


I stumbled upon your web page and just thought I'd send you a note saying that if you really understood the effectiveness of humbling yourself and realizing that there are characteristics of one's personality that only serve the ego you might understand what the twelve steps are about. I can't attest to the use of the twelve steps by any other group but AA, but it doesn't really sound plausible that any group purported to help victims of crimes would place blame upon the victim. But I can see where victims might carry around feelings of shame or anger that could very well be effecting their ability to carry on useful and prosperous lives. And frankly, that's what I understand the purpose of the twelve steps to be; To give me the opportunity to confront and release those attitudes I hold that are getting in the way of my living a happy and useful life. And wouldn't you agree that even incest survivors want to live happy and useful lives instead of living in the shadow of what happened to them. To move beyond the pain and have some joy in their lives? I encourage you to sit down and read the text book "Alcoholics Anonymous"; at least the Roman numeral pages and the first 164 regularly numbered pages of the book.

Take Care

Hello, Steve,

Your first mistake is the line,
"there are characteristics of one's personality that only serve the ego..."

Who says that the ego is bad? (Besides Bill Wilson and most cults.) Who says that we must renounce ego and self? Cults and renunciate religions. But is that good?

We have long been taught that it is holy to mumble masochistic, grovelling prayers like those of St. Francis of Assisi or Bill Wilson's Third Step Prayer... "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy will... Free me from the bondage of Self..." But does that really do us any good? Does it work?

The whole idea that renunciate religions produce saints is open to question and debate. I just read The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. It is quite revealing, quite good. One of the big points that they make is that renunciate religions began with the Upanishads in India about 3000 years ago, and the idea has continued in Buddhism and Hinduism, (and to some extent in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,) and in all of those millennia, they have not made India any more peaceful or spiritual, or any less self-seeking, than non-renunciate societies. In fact, the bitter squabbling between India and Pakistan, both of whom have renunciate religions, threatens us with nuclear war. Likewise, the renunciate Moslems and Jews in Israel and Palestine haven't been enjoying any renunciate peace lately either, have they? (Did you know that even the word Islam means "surrender"?) Some of the true believers are so renunciate — they surrender to the will of God so much — that they even renounce their very lives, as well as their egos, and become suicide bombers. (Remember September 11.)

So just how good are the philosophies and religions that tell us that we must renounce ego and surrender to the Will of God?

Likewise, the Church that produced St. Francis of Assisi also produced priests who burned millions of girls as witches, guys as heretics, and Jews as Jews. So where are the benefits of thousands of years of hating and denouncing ego? Jesus Christ said that you will know a tree by the fruit that it bears. Where is the sweet fruit of renouncing ego? For every Mother Teresa living a saintly renunciate life of service, we have hundreds of priests molesting the alterboys and burning the girls at the stake (and then feeling guilty about it, and confessing it, and then going and doing it all again)...

Personally, I feel a lot safer when surrounded by hedonists with healthy egos and libidos, normal non-renunciate people who just want to get high and get laid.

Now I am not recommending that everyone suddenly turn into an arrogant ego-maniac like Bill Wilson. But after considering the situation carefully for a lot of years, including spending many years working on getting rid of ego myself, I find the constant demands of many churches and cults that we erase ego and get rid of "self, selfishness, and self-seeking" to be just another cult mind game designed to oppress people and turn them into slaves of the cult. See Surrender To The Cult, and Demands for Superhuman Perfection.

Now I know full well that you can get a temporary rush, a temporary feeling of inner peace and serenity, from pretending that you have rid yourself of ego and surrendered to the Will of God. But it does not work for long. Reality intrudes again. Like water seeking its own level, people return to their own versions of normalcy, and the self-deluded people find themselves back in the real world, with all of their usual problems, again. And then, often, they become discouraged and relapse.

And I also know that it is possible, while in deep meditation, if you are skilled and lucky (maybe blessed), and if the time is right, to put yourself into a state where you are truly ego-free for a short period of time. It is a wonderful, life-transforming experience. But you do not and will not get that experience from grovelling in a cult, wallowing in guilt, and yammering about how you have to get rid of ego. That simply never works.

And alas, the real purpose of the 12 steps is to convert you into a good subservient member of Frank Buchman's fascist cult religion. The Twelve Steps are a formula for building a cult religion like Buchmanism, not a formula for spirituality, and not a formula for quitting drinking.

You said,
"it doesn't really sound plausible that any group purported to help victims of crimes would place blame upon the victim."
It may not sound plausible, but that's what Bill Wilson did. And it's because A.A. is a cult, not a self-help group. Page 58 of the Big Book clearly says:

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are those who cannot or will not give themselves completely to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 58.

Groups actually habitually read that lie out loud at the start of every meeting, blaming the victims of a non-functional, ineffective, treatment program right at the start, before anybody can even say anything else.
And they also say, "The program never fails anyone; people just fail the program."
And, "The program is perfect. It's just the fellowship that is imperfect."

A.A. is non-stop 'blame the victim'. If someone succeeds in quitting drinking, A.A. takes all of the credit, and says, "See how good the program is! See how well the Twelve Steps work!"
But if someone relapses (which is what usually happens), then the alcoholic gets all of the blame for the failure. The true believers start yammering about how he must have held something back in his fifth step or something... None of them will say, "Hmmm... Maybe the 12 steps don't really work..."
A.A. is playing "Heads I win, tails you lose" with people's lives.

You wrote,
And frankly, that's what I understand the purpose of the twelve steps to be; To give me the opportunity to confront and release those attitudes I hold that are getting in the way of my living a happy and useful life. And wouldn't you agree that even incest survivors want to live happy and useful lives instead of living in the shadow of what happened to them. To move beyond the pain and have some joy in their lives?

The Twelve Steps are a formula for changing (controlling) people's minds and converting them into cult members. The goals of the Steps are:

  1. To induce feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, incompetence, and weakness. This is particularly accomplished by Steps 1 and 2:
    You must admit that you are powerless over alcohol, and you can't manage your own life.
    You are insane, and only God can restore you to sanity.
  2. To induce feelings of shame and guilt by making people constantly list and confess all of their sins, "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings" (in Steps 4 through 10), which leads to:
  3. Surrender to the cult. Step Three: We turned our wills and our lives over to "God as we understood Him". And Bill Wilson added the note that you can surrender to the A.A. group if you don't want to surrender to a supernatural "Higher Power." That is Surrender to the Cult, pure and simple.
The story that the steps are somehow supposed to make people able to "live happy and useful lives" is a lie, period. The Twelve Steps won't do that for you any more than practicing the weird psycho-babble nonsense of Scientology will "restore you to sanity" and make you immortal. The Twelve Steps are not a therapeutic program.

(By 1950, after 15 years of "working the steps", Bill Wilson was in the middle of an 11-year-long case of crippling chronic clinical depression so bad that all he did was sit in his office and hold his head in his hands all day long. — Or not even bother getting out of bed at all — just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling all day. Ironically, that is when Bill Wilson, with the help of Tom P., wrote his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, which Wilson said was a book that would tell people how to be happy. What a pathetic, tragic, joke.)

Lastly, you say:
"I encourage you to sit down and read the text book "Alcoholics Anonymous"; at least the Roman numeral pages and the first 164 regularly numbered pages of the book."

Why is it that so many true believers seem to be completely incapable of seeing that I have heavily quoted the Big Book in my web pages, especially the first 164 pages? Is there something the matter with their eyes? (Unless they just don't even look at my pages before they start criticizing my writing, which is what I suspect is going on...)

I feel like I've typed half of the first 164 pages myself. I have most assuredly read them, and reread them, and then dissected them, and then typed big chunks of them into my web pages, and then discussed them, and criticized them...

And then I still get these suggestions that I should read the first 164 pages "to find out what it's all about."

Do you believe that what is in those pages is so brilliant and magical that if you could only just get people to read them, that people would be instantly converted into True Believers in Wilsonism?

I have read and reread the first 164 pages of the Big Book, and have found them to be some of the stupidest, most brain-damaged and dishonest literature in the English language. Read my web pages on

for some criticisms of what's in those first 164 pages.

Oh, and The Cult Test has a lot to say about them, too.

— Agent Orange

Just wanted to tell you that I've enjoyed your essays on the AAdeprogramming site. My ex husband is an AA cult fanatic and so fat he doesn't seem to be determined to live like the derilict ex drunks he now has for "friends". He is a prime example of AA as the great enabler, enabling him to avoid the real world and getting a real life.

One correction that I would like to make however is regarding ol' wet brain Bill W's experiences with LSD. He thought it was VERY useful for the treatment of alcoholism but it was considered too controversial. He stopped experimenting with it when he feared a bad reputation. A shame too because he might have taken enough to think he could fly and jumped out a window thus making a mockery of his religion.

Thanks Again,

> So what is the answer? I went to AA and I am now wondering what is
> the answer?
> Teena

At the risk of saying something really stupid, I would ask, "What is the problem?"

If you mean that you are having a problem with drinking too much alcohol, then the answer is to stop doing it.

Almost any means of achieving that goal is okay, short of grossly illegal or immoral means.

The whole idea behind the "recovery movement" is bogus.
They hint that they will make you stop drinking, or make you want to stop.
They cannot do either.
Only you can quit, and only you can want to quit.
You will quit when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
You will quit and stay quit when you become totally convinced that you cannot drink even a little bit because it just starts you back down that slippery slope again.

Now something that breaks the routine can help. Going camping in the mountains, 20 miles from the nearest source of alcohol, for instance, may work for some people. But if you are badly addicted, then detox is necessary.

And hanging out with other people who are quitting, or have quit, may help some people to quit and stay quit. You might like the company of the people you find at SMART, SOS, or WFS/MFS. Or you might even like some A.A. people, if you can find some who are not intent on shoving cult religion down your throat.

[One other thing that helps me is watching the tricks that the Lizard Brain tries to pull on me to get me to relapse.]

But the real answer is that there is no answer. That is, there is no panacea. There is no magic one-size-fits-all cure. That is the myth that A.A. has been pushing for 60 years, and it is simply not true. Cult religion and becoming a religiomaniac never was the answer.

Good luck. Don't hesitate to email again if you wish.

*               Agent Orange             *
*            [email protected]         *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking    *
*   https://www.orange-papers.info/  *
* Heisenberg said, "I'm not really sure if that even was *
* Shrödinger's cat. I think he might have used someone *
* else's cat...                          *

--- Robert W. wrote:
You have really twisted things to make your point. A is not a cult, nor is it a religion. It is just a group of drunks trying to stay sober one-day-at-time. No one pushes anything on anyone.

Totally wrong. Judges, parole officers, and "counselors" in "treatment programs" do it every day. Can't you see all of those people getting those pieces of paper signed? Those people are coerced.

Whether you want to accept it or not, AA works best for most. Bill Wilson was hardly a religous man. He was a stockbroker on the fast track. Religion was not in the picture.

Wrong. A.A. does not work best for most. That is the Big Lie of Alcoholics Anonymous — a lie that is the exact opposite of the truth. No treatment at all is what works best for most. A.A. works for only a tiny minority, at best, if it really works for anybody at all.

(And Bill Wilson was not a stock broker, either — that was another one of Bill's lies. He was merely a Wall Street hustler who touted stocks to speculators.)

Religion was huge in the picture:

  • Didn't you read "The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps"? The Oxford Group cult converted him.
  • Read "A.A. and Religious Faith" to see what they did to his mind.
  • Heck, even just read the fourth chapter of the Big Book, "We Agnostics", where Wilson raves about how we must all abandon Reason and human intelligence, and just "have faith".
  • Also read the second chapter where Wilson generously announced that A.A. was not the only way to "acquire faith". — Which means that the goal of the A.A. program is to acquire faith.
  • Read the appendix to the second through fourth editions of the Big Book, Appendix II, "Spiritual Experience", (page 569 of the 3rd edition), where Bill Wilson declared that the goal of the A.A. program is to induce religious experiences so intense that they will permanently change the personality of the alcoholic and make him quit drinking forever.
  • For that matter, read just about any of the much-ballyhooed "first 164 pages" and look at all of the talk about God and how God will solve all of your problems, provided you become a slave of God. That's religion. The fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters come to mind as being particularly obnoxious.
  • Further on in the Big Book we find:
    Dr. Bob always emphasized the religious angle very strongly...
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 292, and 4th edition, page 263.

But he had a problem with alcohol that he could not solve on his own.

Actually, he did solve it on his own. He had already decided to quit drinking before he went to Towns Hospital for the last time. That's why he took Ebby Thacher's suggestion and went to Sam Shoemaker's Calvary House mission where he "gave himself to God." And that's why he then went to Towns Hospital where he got Dr. Silkworth's Belladonna Cure. I'm sure that the DT's and belladonna helped to warp his mind, as did the Oxford Group members who indoctrinated him while he was stoned and hallucinating, but he still did the quitting and the staying quit himself. And he did it without the Twelve Steps, which he didn't write until 4 years later.

I glad that you were able to do that. Some can. But most can't. 9 out of 10 never make it. I assume thats the 90 to 95% you refer to. But those are not the numbers for people who make it to AA.

Wrong again. The Harvard Medical School says that more than 50% of all alcoholics eventually quit, and 80% of those successful quitters do it on their own, alone, without A.A. or any "treatment program" at all. The 95% number is the A.A. drop-out/failure rate, as published by the A.A. G.S.O. (General Service Organization).

You refer to the 12 steps. I suggest that you read the 12 traditions.

I've read them, many times. I even own a copy of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (and criticize it in the "Us Stupid Drunks" web page). I've also read Mitchell K.'s essays on alcoholism.about.com about how the current organization is not following the traditions.
Go to the file "What's Not Good About A.A.", and about 1/4 of the way down the file, you will find a set of links, under the item about the gross dishonesty of A.A., which also discusses violations of some of the traditions.

You will see that you are way off the mark. Moreover, you are doing a real dis-service to many people who are trying to get sober.

Bob W. MD
Proud member of AA

No, I'm not. A.A. is doing a great disservice to those people. Read about the effectiveness of the 12-step treatment. Read what The Harvard Medical School says.

And even the G.S.O. (General Service Organization) of Alcoholics Anonymous reports that they have greater than a 95% dropout and failure rate. (You say you're a doctor — can you imagine the FDA approving any treatment program that has more than a 95% failure rate on the intended patients?)

Even Professor George Vaillant of Harvard University, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., proved with his own research that A.A. doesn't work, and doesn't help alcoholics at all. After 8 years of testing A.A. on his patients, Dr. Vaillant wrote: "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism, but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
— Really appalling. After 8 years, 29% of his A.A.-treated patients were dead.

So it is A.A. that is wasting people's time with cult religion, and doing them a gross disservice by giving them a lot of misinformation and voodoo medicine that does not work. A.A.'s insistence that it is the best or only way to recover from alcoholism is hurting people and keeping them from other things that might work better.

Read the file.

Again, forcing cult religion on people is not helping them.
And yes, it really is a cult religion.

[ 2nd letter from Robert W.: ]

I have no idea why you have such strong opinions about AA. What happened to you?

What happened to me is what you read in the introduction: I saw a bunch of true-believer Twelve-Steppers illegally and immorally using public tax money and health insurance money to foist their cult religion on a lot of people who were seeking some kind of genuine help to save their lives.

It does not matter whether your research is correct or not.

It matters a lot. Only in a cult religion is the difference between the truth and a lie considered a minor, unimportant, trivial detail.

The people who find that AA works for them are very happy, and they do not feel like they are "in a cult" If other people get sober on their own that is great. Whatever works.

Does that mean that it is also okay for Scientology to take public tax money and health insurance money to "fix" alcoholics' and drug addicts' minds the *Scientology* way? (You are aware, aren't you, that Scientology has a branch called "Narconon" that supposedly uses Scientology "principles" to cure drug and alcohol addiction?) And if the newly-brainwashed members of Scientology happily declare that they really like Scientology now, does that make it all okay?

Should we then instruct the parole officers, judges and counselors to start forcing people to go to Scientology offices to get audited, and to get their minds processed into new "Operating Thetans"?

How about Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his gang of Moonies? Can they go into the business of faith-based "recovery treatment" at public expense?
The Hari Krishnas?
Transcendental Meditation?

For that matter then, when is cult religion not okay?
Only when they commit mass suicide?

Should we declare that it is now okay for any cult to take public tax money and health insurance money to indoctrinate and brainwash people into being true believers in their religions? (All done, of course, in the name of drug and alcohol rehab.)

I do not try and recruit other people "into the cult". I simply state that this is what worked for me.

I would question "what worked", and suggest that you are confusing cause and effect with things like correlation or coincidence. It's the "women getting pregnant because they went to the Baptist church" again. Have you read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve Steps yet?


--- Robert W. wrote:
I'm resigning from the debating society.

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Last updated 15 December 2012.
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