Letters, We Get Mail, CI

Date: Fri, March 13, 2009 7:32 am     (answered 24 March.)
From: "Anonymous"
Subject: Spiritual direction in addiction treatment

I recently came upon and read with great interest your "pages regarding alcoholism treatment. I will provide only a brief outline my own story here, as it is the same as those of many other alcoholics — I became depressed, alcohol dependant, pathetic & self-indulgent (etc.), and then within a few years the physical effects of became life-threatening so I quit... — but that is not why i am writing you today.

I am a public health researcher in New Mexico. The University of New Mexico is home to William R. Miller, a scientist whose life work has been alcohol studies, and more particularly, the role of spirituality in "alcoholism" treatment. I wanted to call your attention to a paper that we recently published which found *no effect* for spiritual intervention in a large randomized clinical trial:

Spiritual direction in addiction treatment: Two clinical trials, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 434-442. W. Miller, A. Forcehimes, M. O'Leary, M. LaNoue

Please publish this email anonymously, if you choose to publish it.



Hello Anonymous,

Thank you very much for the tip about this new research. As you correctly surmised, I'm always looking for good new research on alcoholism treatment. I'll have to get over to the local medical university library and get a copy of that report.

It's a small world, you know. I used to live on the UNM campus. I mean literally ON the campus. I had one of the last privately-owned houses that was entirely encircled by UNM property. You know the northwest parking lot by the chapel? The northwest corner of that parking lot is where my house was. UNM bought the house out from under me and put it on a truck and carted it down the street. Yes, it's just like Joni Mitchell sang, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." If I remember correctly, it was 612 University NW.

I used to play roller hockey on that bricked patio in front of the library. That was a real kick. Heck, I used to skate everywhere. I'd just go out my back door, with skates on, and walk across the parking lot, and get onto that sidewalk by the chapel, and then I could skate all over the campus.

Okay, enough of a trip down memory lane. That was about 25 years ago. Funny how time flies when you are goofing off.

Thanks again for the notification about the research. I've quoted William Miller and his publications in several places on my web site, and I'll be quoting him some more.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "It is the friends you can call up at 4 A.M. that matter."
**    ==  Marlene Dietrich, b. 1901, German actress

May 23, 2008: On the roof, Day 6.

This day was rainy, so it wasn't a good day to go to the park. Still, the goslings insisted on going outside. So I took them up to the roof of Pacific Tower, where there is a rooftop garden, and let them run around there until they got cold and wanted to go back inside, which wasn't very long.

Canada Goose goslings

Canada Goose goslings with raindrops

This gosling has raindrops in his baby down.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Fri, February 6, 2009 10:13 am     (answered 24 March)
From: "Ritch"
Subject: AA as Religion

I found your articles on AA as Religion to be entertaining, amusing, and most importantly informative. I learned many things about the AA fellowship which I had always suspected: they are a religious organization, and not a spiritual one.

Many people lump Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and AA in the same group. It is my experience that they are most definitely 2 distinct organizations, and while there are many paarallels (steps, traditions, etc...), NA seems to have a much different, non-religious feeling to it.

I was wondering what your experience with NA is (if any) and your feelings about it.

Hello Ritch,

I also found Narcotics Anonymous to be slightly less overtly religious, but only slightly. But it was still just as irrational. In fact, it was at an N.A. meeting that I finally recognized the constant unspoken appeals to stop thinking and just become a true believer. Speaker after speaker would yammer on and on about how wonderful his sponsor was, and how things really started working right when he quit questioning the program and just did as he was told. The speakers constantly subtley exhorted the audience to just get a sponsor and start happily proclaiming that "It works. It really does. It works if you work it! Keep coming back!"

I was tempted, I was really tempted, to just give up and become a true believer. But I realized that I couldn't really do that. That moment was pretty much the end of any possibility of taking the A.A./N.A. program seriously.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  You can fool some of the people some of the time,
**  And that's enough to make a decent living.
**    == W. C. Fields

Date: Fri, February 6, 2009 8:23 pm     (answered 24 March)
From: "Diann W."     (answered 24 March)
Subject: AA cult

You are an idiot who knows absolutely nothing of what you speak! The AA program DOES work if you work an honest program. I suspect you didn't get what you were looking for because you couldn't be honest. If you really listen to what is said in the rooms of AA, things start to make sense. AA people are the bravest, most spiritual people I have ever been around. THey help each other and stay sober because of it. THere is a true fellowship and bond between the people in those rooms.

As I said before, You know nothing of what you speak. That many people can't be wrong!

Hello Diann,

That is just a stream of the standard cult slurs: "You aren't honest. You don't know. If you would just really listen then you would learn the real truth."

It's all been said before — many, many, times over.

Lastly, when you say, "That many people can't be wrong!", you are showing that you know nothing about history. That many people have been wrong countless times. Would you care to guess how many people once believed that the world was flat? How many people and priests believed that girls were witches who should get burned at the stake? How many believed that the cure for insanity is to suspend the patient in a snake pit? And recently, how many believed that Jews deserve to be exterminated in concentration camps?

Millions of people believed those things.

And how many believers in Scientology and the Moonies are there right now?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
**   ==  Mark Twain quotes (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

Date: Sat, February 7, 2009 4:05 pm     (answered 24 March)
From: "Stephen J."
Subject: AA?

Are you the one who wrote the "Bait and Switch" article, or web-page stuff? Whoever you are, PLEASE get a life!!! What an entire waste of time.

Happy, Joyous and Free!!!

Yep, that's what I like: a carefully-thought-out, well-reasoned argument that really addresses the core facts of the issue.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

Date: Sat, February 7, 2009 10:14 pm     (answered 24 March)
From: Persephone
Subject: Re: To Argente T., from Orange Papers

First thank you for answering.I've been through a terrible loss my home burned down and there was very little insurance on it. I don't care about anything much else right now.As for AA — there's a*holes there and there's wonderfuls there — and I am still sober. I can't give you proof, hwat I mean is that those already unsure, or having gone to one meeting that didn't work for them read your words and actually believe AA is a cult or worse. If someone, maybe someones even, odn't want AA — fine. Let them decide for themseves. I don't care to sell it.

But neither should you keep pushing your opinion imo.There *are* no real clinical samples of who is sober in AA or not. I was in the businss of counseling and I worked in homeless shelters with sunstance abusers and the statistics there arey one thing — but there's no way we can say who is going to "make it" or not. I'm talking about AA or any form of recovery. For heavens sake how is AA killing anyone?

It worked real well for me, — I do know those who have left — one who thinks he is'nt an alcoholic — that's fine. Most that I know personally don't continue with the work and a spiritual approach, facing themselves etc., after several yrs and get discouraged wiht life so while they may not be drinking or using drugs — their attitude sucks. But again — that's *their* business.

Ther's no more I have to say. I was angry when I wrote what I did because you sounded like all you talked about was anti-this and anti-that — like cultures who discuss what terrible folks we are here in the West. But what do they believe for themselves aside from hating the USA or Europe?

I apologize for calling you a jerk. I tried to tell you what I knew — not rhetoric — what I know and all you said was the same thing. But I'm sorry I said that.

I really don't see why you bothered with all your hateful words.I really don't.

Sincerely, K.

Hello again, Persephone,

Sorry to hear about your house burning down.

The single most important question that I see in your letter is: "For heavens sake how is AA killing anyone?"

Well, the answer is:

  1. Telling people not to take their doctor-prescribed medications. This is a quick killer. A.A., N.A., Al-Anon, and Dual Recovery Anonymous are all guilty of telling people not to take their medications. When the medications are psychiatric medications, people are often in the hospital or dead within two weeks.

  2. Telling people that they are powerless over alcohol (or powerless over drugs, or whatever). Why bother to try to quit if you can't do it because you are powerless? And why try to resist temptation and avoid a relapse when you can't possibly win?

  3. Telling people that they are sinful and weak and disgusting and selfish, etc. Years of Fourth and Fifth Steps are enough to cause serious depression and drive people to suicide.

  4. Telling people that they cannot ever recover. Again, it's enough to drive people to suicide.

  5. Giving people a bogus program that does not work, and lying to them and telling them that it works great and it's their own fault that it doesn't seem to be working. Again, it's enough to make people despair of their lives, or give up on recovery.

  6. Giving people a mess of misinformation about alcoholism and addiction that actually makes recovery harder and less likely, like telling people that the reason why they drink is because they have "character defects" and "moral shortcomings".

  7. Teaching people to expect a "Higher Power" to magically remove the desire for drink, without any thought or effort on their part, and to take care of their wills and their lives for them.

    We will seldom be interested in liquor.   ...
    We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given to us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.
    The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, pages 84-85.

    Can you think of any other A.A. teaching about alcoholism that is more stupid and guaranteed to fail?

  8. Old sponsors thirteenth-Stepping the cute young women and girls who come to A.A. seeking help for a drug or alcohol problem. Such exploitation often drives the girls away from recovery and back into addiction.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "The best cure for drunkenness is whilst sober,
**  to observe a drunken person"
**   == Chinese Proverb

Date: Mon, February 9, 2009 1:53 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "Rick H."
Subject: AA

Hi There, Have been reading with great interest the things you have to say about AA. I have had 16 years of continous sobriety, and have attended AA on and off for much of that time. It may seem strange to you that an atheist that doesn't believe in the disease concept of alcoholism would find AA helpful.... but I have. I guess I have always found ways to use what I wanted, and disregard the rest. Personally, I always interpreted the steps (not that I ever really got into them) in a metaphorical way, and saw them as being all about accepting responsibility for ones actions.

Apparently not everyone sees it this way! But I also was blissfully unaware of what I am now reading about Bill Wilson, and the bad experiences that some people have had with AA. To say that it is off putting is an understatement. Anyway, I would enjoy discussing all this in a friendly way with anyone that is interested.


Hi Rick,

Sure, we can discuss things. You seem like a reasonable fellow.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away
**  their brains!  that we should with joy, pleasance, revel,
**  and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
**    ==  SHAKESPEARE, Othello, (1604-05), 2.3.291

Date: Wed, February 11, 2009 9:11 am     (answered 24 March)
From: Renee
Subject: Thank You Orange

Hi Orange! I just wanted to thank you for setting me free. I stumbled across your work back in the summer of 2007.... my life has never been better, or the same

I was a Big Book Banger, Super Sponsor, Wanna be Circuit Speaker, Service Working.... AA Nazi!

I was recruited into the cult back in 1984..... In 1997 I found a Clancy Imislund (California, Homeless Shelter dude) clone who took me under her wing and turned me into an AA robot. I spent almost 10 years polluting the minds of newcomers and having my own brain twisted into knots.

For some reason in the summer of 07' I had a "spiritual awakening"..... not that kind, the real kind, my eyes were opened! I had been questioning myself for a few years about AA tactics. Maybe it was the fact that I had just recently told a sponsee that it was time for HER to look at HER part in the child abuse she had been a victim of when she was 11. Maybe it was my sponsors advice that graduate school would NOT be a good idea.... that it would distract me from AA, (at this point I had been sober many years.) Maybe it was my sick aspiration to become a circuit speaker (like Clancy himself) that got me to question my sanity, and what I was doing with my life.

I typed in the words anti-AA....found your site and it changed my life.

I cut off ALL contact with AA.... BUT they tried to get me back,through intimidation tactics and fear. They called my husband, came to my front door in groups, sent me e-mails,phoned me.... they were relentless. I kept running into them in the neighborhood stores where they would come up and give me unsolicited hugs.

This went on for months.... I took matters into my own hands and eventually the harassment stopped. This "pursuit" of me was unbelievable and was further proof that AA was indeed a cult.

Today if I see "one of them" I walk right past as if I never knew them. I sent them all mass e-mails with your site attached. I stopped answering the phone, and I blocked my e-mail. They are gone now....but it took major effort on my part.

I believe AA is a dangerous cult. I am in Graduate school now..... I was going to go into teaching (Library)..... but have since changed my mind. I am working on a masters degree in Community Counseling, and am already encountering the 12 step mobsters. Hopefully I will not get kicked out of school. I have one Professor who is sympathetic to my cause, but told me work in the field will probably be hard to come by due to my anti 12 step stance. I don't believe that.... I think the world is beginning to hear the truth. I want to be one of the Truth Spreaders.... like you, I saw too many die while in the clutches of AA

We will prevail..... and yes unfortunately, I was one of those who thought Bill Wilson was inspired by God.

Take Care.... and Thank you! Renee

p.s. I have used your work in my papers.... cited of course!

Hello Renee,

Wow. Thanks for the letter, and thanks for all of the compliments. And congratulations on your new-found freedom. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling happier and are living your own life now. Your new career sounds good.

So have a good day now, and a good tomorrow too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** A wise man should consider that health is the greatest
** of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought
** to derive benefit from his illnesses.
** ==  Hippocrates (460 BC - 377 BC), Regimen in Health

May 23, 2008: On the roof, Day 6.

Canada Goose goslings

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Thu, February 12, 2009 4:24 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "Gerald S."

Orange —

You make a lot of sense. But you have underestimated the sickness that one finds in the "rooms" of AA.

A friend

Hi Gerald,

Thanks for the note. I wonder about that. I think I've pretty much seen the whole range of sickness — both in the rooms, and in life. (And what really bothers me is not the sick people in the A.A. meeting rooms — it's the sick people in positions of power — economic power and political power. Want another unnecessary war, anyone?)

I get the impression that you think that many of the people in A.A. are too sick to recover on their own. That may well be true. The Harvard Medical School gave us a rule of thumb that says that almost 50% of the alcoholics don't break free. They stay with their addictions until their addictions kill them. The thing is, A.A. doesn't save them either. Those unfortunate sick people will self-destruct in A.A. or out of A.A., just the same. A.A. is useless. It would be nice if somebody came up with a panacea that will save them all, but nobody has done it yet.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Look to your health; and if you have it, praise God
** and value it next to conscience; for health is the
** second blessing that we mortals are capable of, a
** blessing money can't buy.
**    ==    Izaak Walton (1593 — 1683)

Date: Sat, February 14, 2009 5:00 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "DougB"
Subject: Thanks

2. Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power
Did they, in fact, use 'Higher Power' back then? I thought that they used "god" for sometime and it was changed much later.

Hi Doug,

Quite correct. Bill Wilson originally used only the word "God" in the 12 Steps, the same as the Oxford Group slogans. There wasn't any "Higher Power" or "As we understood Him" language in the original version of the Steps. It was all just "God" or "Him".

Likewise, Step 7 originally read, "Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings — holding nothing back"

Wilson changed the wording because atheists like Jim Burwell complained about the fundamentalist sound of the 12 Steps, and said that the Steps would drive away many of the alcoholics whom they hoped to help.

Look here for the original version of the 12 Steps.

Anyway, I want to tell you how much help your Site has been to me. I spent many years in the 'program', but I never felt right about any of it. Your Site brought my feelings and thoughts about AA/NA into focus and helped wipe clean the brainwashing that had been occurring. I was wondering about others who've gone through the same thing. Is there a Site, or Board out there where I can talk with them?


Thanks for the compliments. There are several groups, with varying degrees of focus on ex-Steppers.

  1. There is a Yahoo group called "Twelve-Step Free": http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/12-step-free/
    This one is moderated by Ken Ragge, who is known for his books about Alcoholics Anonymous like "The Real A.A.", and "More Revealed".

  2. The MSN group "X-steppers", http://groups.msn.com/X-STEPPERS/welcome.msnw
    UPDATE: They moved. The new URL is:

    And then most of the "alternative recovery groups" have forums, with varying degrees of activity and focus:

  3. SMART,
  4. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety),
  5. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)
  6. WFS (Women For Sobriety),

And lastly, with any luck, I may have a forum going here in a while, when I get the software worked out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "God, please save me from your followers!"
**          ==  Bumper Sticker

Date: Sat, February 14, 2009 6:08 pm
From: "Robert H."
Subject: The Orange Papers

Discovering your website in 2006 changed my life , I wish more people knew of your work.

The Orange Papers is one of the best books I have ever read, you really should publish it as a book and then work the media storm to change the way people think about AA forever. The Orange Papers rescued me from the dark tunnel my life had become in AA.......

You need to publish The Orange Papers because every day, more and more people are sentenced to AA where many of them are mindfucked into in life of endless AA meetings.....

Hello Robert,

Thanks for all of the compliments. I'm still thinking about publishing the thing in paper form, but it's so much work...

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can
** alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.
**   ==  William James (1842 — 1910)

Date: Sun, February 15, 2009 10:16 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "johanna s."
Subject: AA KILLS?

FROM YOUR WEB SITE... "Not only does the A.A. 12-Step "treatment" not work, but it kills as many people as it saves. "



Date: Sun, February 15, 2009 1:53 pm
From: "johanna s."
Subject: HEY


Date: Sun, February 15, 2009 2:57 pm
From: "johanna s."
Subject: HELP


Hello johanna,

Coincidentally, I just answered your question about how A.A. kills in another letter, a few minutes ago. Look here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**  guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**  also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**  having any medical education or training.  They have never
**  gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**  residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**  life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**  is what you call quackery.

Date: Mon, February 16, 2009 5:27 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "herb l."
Subject: aa early effectiveness

Hi Orange

I recently returned to AA meetings after about a 3 year absense. The group that I am attending is going through a group inventory. It was my suggestion about 4 years or so ago that the group have an inventory which it did and shortly after that I stopped attending. The group is following a format found on the jaywalker site.

Anyway when the question about AA's turnover rate came up I spoke my mind and it upset people. I seem to be at odds with a couple of members who think that the original AA was highly successful (I think that the AA big Book claims 75%) but personally I don't think that that can in anyway be proven, and that AA has NEVER had a higher success rate than 5%. Just my opinion.

If you had any evidence that could state the so-called success of early AA I would very much appreciate any feedback that you could give me, it is because of this type of deception why I left AA and I think I will leave it again.


Hello Herb,

Coincidentally, I was just asked the same question a little while ago, here. Especially notice what Bill's wife's secretary, Francis Hartigan, had to say about the original success rate: 5 percent, and then half of the success stories relapsed.

I have a section on the original success rate, and Bill Wilson's grossly exaggerated claims of success, in the web page on The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could
** touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started
** giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be
** broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries."
**    ===  Nell Wing — PASS IT ON, page 370.
** (Nell Wing was an early secretary of A.A. and Bill Wilson.)
** Apparently, for treating alcoholics, LSD works three times
** better than cult religion.

Date: Tue, February 17, 2009 10:16 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "Sarah"
Subject: You are wonderful

Thank you for "saying" what I have been trying to say for 30 years!

My parents sobered up with AA in the mid '70's. It only took them about 2 years to realize that they did not need the AA bull@@@@ to stay sober. They both died (God rest their souls), sober... 30 years later. My soon to be ex-husband, (STBE), has been sober through AA since 1988. That is a good thing... the sober part... the AA part is what has ultimately broken us up. I am a staunch believer that Bill Wilson was a hypocrit and snake-oil salesman... and have been for over 25 years. I have seen far too many 13th step issues, and heard tales from my parents and friends, to not believe that this thing is a farce. If it keeps you sober... great. It will not, however, make you sane or morally honorable. Your section in the Orange Papers about "To The Wives" tells it all.

Thank you for your honesty and research!

Hello Sarah,

Thank you for all of the compliments, and you have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Success is simple. Do what's right, the right
**   way, at the right time." — Arnold H. Glasgow

Date: Tue, February 17, 2009 12:55 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "Ken W."
Subject: comment

I can't believe it!

There's a guide to getting oneself out of the rabbit hole!

Anyways, that was my impression after copying the book, which I only discovered from looking up pix of the Mitford girls. [ checking out who knew who etc ] Imagine my surprise of finding this!

Looks like a goldmine for the mind.



Hi Ken,

Thank you for all of the compliments. I'm happy that you find the information useful.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Be careful about reading health books.
**   You may die of a misprint.
**        ==  Mark Twain (1835 — 1910)

Date: Tue, February 17, 2009 5:11 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "Eric L."
Subject: Tobacco


Orange — You never mentioned if you quit smoking. I've been trying (off and on) for 18 years. Sometimes I'm more motivated than others, but I'm feeling that desire to quit again after reading your story.

I've been sober for 19 years, and "in and out" of Alcoholics Anonymous during that time. I read your site when I need a little inspiration to help other alcoholics.

Oh, and I really liked the pictures of you with the ducks.

Thanks and happy sobriety (or whatever you call it when *you* don't drink)


Hi Eric,

Thanks for the letter, and thank you for the compliments.
Yes, I quit smoking. I don't want to discourage you, but it took me about 30 years.
I'll bet that you can do it much sooner than that.

I didn't finally quit and stay quit (8 years now) until I got really sick with about 5 kinds of colds and flus, one after the other, for 6 weeks straight, non-stop sick, and I also got bronchitis which then turned into pneumonia. But I finally did quit.

I used the patch this last time around. I was in the funny situation where I was saving up my one ticket to freedom. That is, the Oregon Health Plan, which I was on, had a rule that they would buy the patches for you once and only once. So my doctor said, "Don't get them now. Wait until you are 100% sure you are ready to do it for real, because you only get one chance."

Things worked out in a funny way. After quitting drinking, I didn't get healthy. I got sick, extremely sick. It was like *everything* caught up with me at once.

Three weeks after I quit drinking, I was so sick from colds, flus, and bronchitis that I couldn't even smoke a cigarette. One puff and I would go into a 5-minute coughing fit and the cigarette would go out. I'd relight the cigarette and try to take another hit off of it, and I'd go into another 5-minute coughing fit, and the cigarette would go out again. After half an hour of that, I still hadn't smoked the cigarette and I was still having a nicotine fit. At that point I said, "This is hopeless. Might as well quit." So I went to the doctor and said, "Okay, I'm ready. Let's do it now." And I got the patches and the rest is history.

Now the patches won't make you quit. You have to be totally ready and determined to quit. The patch just splits the withdrawal into two halves, which are a lot easier to manage than going cold turkey all at once. I don't mind going through withdrawal, but the withdrawal from cigarettes would literally drive me crazy. Splitting the withdrawal into two halves, and doing one half at a time, made it much more manageable. And that's all I asked for. That's all I needed.

  1. First, when you start using the patches, and don't smoke cigarettes, you detox from all of the strange things that are in cigarettes besides the nicotine. And there's a lot of poisonous addictive chemicals in there.
    I went through incredible physical changes in the first 3 days off of cigarettes. Part of the time it was like I was tripping (on psychedelics).
    Then my skin turned pink. I mean so pink that it looked really strange. Well, strange to me, because I was accustomed to my skin looking gray. I turned so pink that a friend asked me if I had noticed the change in my complexion.
    I said, "No."
    He said, "Better go look in the mirror."
    I did, and was shocked by the strange color of the fellow in the mirror. My face was pink, my hands were pink, and when I opened my shirt, my chest was pink. That was a color I had not seen in many years. I looked like I was alive, not like a cadaver.

  2. Then, in the second phase, you cut down on the nicotine by using weaker and weaker patches until you are getting nothing.

The doctors imagined that I would be on the patches for about 2 months. But I cut to the end fast. I really wanted to get detoxed and healthy as soon as possible. I was only on the 21 milligram patches for a few days before I noticed that I was getting a foul metallic taste in my mouth, which was a nicotine overdose. So I switched down to the 14 milligram patches, and then, after a week or so, down to the 7 milligram ones, and then just stopped using them. I was only on them for about 2 weeks altogether. And I was free.

Well, physically free. And then the mind games started. That little voice in my head, the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster, would start yammering about how much fun it was to smoke, and what a good time we could have by hanging out and laughing and joking and smoking with the boys.

And, "Oh, we've got it under control now. A whole month without a cigarette. We've got it licked. We can relax and just have one now..."

Fortunately, I had been through the routine enough times that this time around I wasn't fooled again. This time, finally, I was able to see through his conning and wheedling and not buy into the seductions. I learned a lot about how old Lizard Brain works and how he had fooled me so many times.

In fact, that experience — seeing what was really going on there — is what prompted me to start the web page on The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. Please read it. It was super helpful to me to understand the stuff on that page. — A life-saver, in fact.

And about half of those "famous last words" in the list of "Lizard Brain thoughts" at the bottom of the page came from years of attempts to quit smoking. (And of course the other half came from alcohol.)

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation
**  myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,
**  and never to refrain from smoking when awake."
**  "It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times."
**   ==   Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835—1910)

Date: Wed, February 18, 2009 11:45 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "Dolan"
Subject: You are very interesting.................

I've read most all your stuff and you would be better wasteing your time fishing!! or better yet "really" doing something good for someone besides yourself.

One day it will happen for you and your eyes will open.

Sleep well, May God protect You!!

Hello Dolan,

Ah yes, once again, the standard cult claim that the cult has some special sacred knowledge that critics of the cult don't have.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And do you think that unto such as you
**     A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew
**     God gave a secret, and denied it me?
**     Well, well — what matters it? Believe that too.
**         == The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
**           (Richard Le Gallienne translation)

Date: Thu, February 19, 2009 4:27 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "Gary B."
Subject: How many people who "recover" in A.A. don't actually have a really addiction to alcohol in the first place?

Hello Agent Orange!

Having found your website both informative and engrossing (I just love the letters pages!) over the last couple of years, I felt prompted to ask your opinion on something that an addictions therapist here in the UK recently said to me.....

To explain: I've had a compulsive alcohol problem for the best part of two decades now (I'm 36) and, upon lamenting to my therapist that I've found it quite hard to snap out of despite witnessing a few other people that I had previously met (when I was in A.A.) just spontaneously stopping, my therapist said something very interesting......

.....She said, "Don't beat yourself up too much. A real long-standing alcohol problem often takes a lot of repeated attempts to conquer. In my opinion, the few people who you witnessed go to A.A. and get magically cured after their first meeting or two probably didn't have much of any kind of addiction to start with".

"As much as they might be lauded as 'successes', they probably didn't have much of a problem to recover from" she emphasized.

I zoomed in on this straight away. I was fascinated by this statement. "Go on...", I said.

"Well..... in my line of work I see a lot of people who aren't actually real "alcoholics" — even though they'll argue that they are — to the point of going overboard and histrionically exaggerating how bad they are — no, in actuality, they're in denial about just going through a bit of a bad phase in their lives (marriage breakdown/bereavement/job/financial difficulties, etc) and are seeking some sort of short-term solace in a bottle" she said. She went on: "Such people are quite different to the other individuals that I come across who do have very real and usually quite-long standing alcohol addictions".

Very, very, interesting, eh???

So: does this mean that all of the time I was as sick as a dog in A.A. and was berated for obviously "not working my program thoroughly enough" could it actually be (SHOCK! HORROR!!!) that A.A. isn't much use for someone with a genuine, raging addiction?!???

Also, considering what my therapist said, I think that what sort of rings true to me is that although I'd always never dared to openly question what individual group members disclosed about themselves and their addictions in their "shares" (with the weird contest that always seemed to go on with regard to "Who can tell the worst horror story"), I don't know whether it's just me, but I'd always had this persistently nagging feeling that a degree of creative licence goes on over the length of someones' tenure in A.A. (i.e. their shares alter over time to the point that a stepper's previous drinking history prior to their sobriety reads quite differently).

What do you make of these observations, Orange? Do you — like my therapist — think that there's many self-deluded pseudo-alcoholics in A.A.?

If "yes", what do you think they get out of attendance? Do you think it's a social thing — I mean, are some people actually attracted to cults like A.A. (despite the fact that they're not really addicted to alcohol)? Why on earth would someone who wasn't really an alcoholic seek to validate such a horrible, horrible label to themselves and others?

Anyway, Orange, I've ran out of steam. Hope you haven't found my questions to be either ridiculous or (worse yet) boring.

Best regards


Hello Gash,

Now that is interesting. Definitely not boring. And believable. The people most likely to "recover" from any disease are the people who aren't really sick at all. And the next most likely are those who aren't very sick.

I am reminded of what Cora Finch wrote years ago, about the exaggerated "success rates" of treatment centers:

It comes down to two things, baseline and outcome. Both can be defined in a variety of ways, or left undefined.

The "best" numbers come from studies with the highest baseline. Take highly-paid professionals who have had a DIU and get a lot of hangovers. In 1940 they would have been considered ordinary people. But now we can count them as alcoholics and put them in a diversion program with the threat of losing their jobs and — Wow, what a success rate!

And that answers part of your question of why people who aren't sick would be in the A.A. meetings: they are coerced. They are forced to be there by the "recovery commissars".

And then there are the nut-cases who just love the cult life-style. They make up the backbone of all of the cults. They just want to believe that they are in something really special, that they are in with the in-crowd, that they have access to the secret sacred knowledge. And they will do the most unbelievable crazy things to be part of the group — even drink cyanide koolaid.

Then you noticed that "shares" change over time. Yes, and that has been going on for a very long time too. Again, I'm reminded of something really old: the way that Oxford Group "sharing" became rehearsed, stale, and routine: The Oxford Groups routines became the Alcoholics Anonymous routines, so it's an old problem.

The sincerity of those adherents of the Groups who spend weeks and months, and in some cases, even years, in traveling from place to place in the interests of the Movement will not be called in question. No thoughtful person can doubt, however, that their repeated sharing for witness before large public gatherings must strain that sincerity severely. A mechanical element enters into the telling of the same story over and over again, and it becomes stale in its recital. Instead of a spontaneous witness to victory won, it tends insensibly to become a routine performance, and the sincerity of the confession diminishes. "It would be less than human," as it has been said, "if, in such circumstances, the story should not become exaggerated and embroidered."
      Hilarity, moreover, has been almost exalted as a virtue by the Groups, and, if the press reports of the meetings are to be believed, a jocular element enters not seldom into the sharings, bringing with it a danger of which many public speakers with a gift of humour are well aware — the danger of making the real end of the story the laughter that it provokes, instead of the truth that it is intended to tell.
The Groups Movement, The Most Rev. John A. Richardson, pages 68-71.
Morehouse Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wis., 1935.

Marjorie Harrison saw the same problem:

      You will seen an instance of how "changing" can be for the worse, if you go to a Group meeting when new converts are asked to testify. These people are very touching in their complete sincerity, humility and deep reverence. Then hear the various members of the "Teams" — the same type of people after they have had an intensive training in Group methods and have recounted their sins at many public confessions. There is no longer any ring of sincerity; they are glib. There is no humility; they are smug, complacent, and insufferably priggish. And the reverence is gone completely.
Saints Run Mad; A Criticism of the "Oxford" Group Movement, Marjorie Harrison (1934), page 91.

Another problem was how people took pride in their sins. Group members actually bragged about what big outrageous sinners they were before they "saw the light". Buchman even had a slogan for it: "Interesting sinners make compelling saints."

So now Alcoholics Anonymous speakers like to deliver entertaining drunkalogues that recount their wild and crazy ways before A.A. rescued them from their fun.

Nothing is new under the sun.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "We AA's have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically
**   speaking it is not a disease entity."
**   ==  Bill Wilson,
**   speaking to the National Catholic Clergy Conference On Alcoholism.
**   April 21, 1960, in New York City

Date: Thu, February 19, 2009 11:54 pm     (answered 25 March)
From: "John S."
Subject: Sober House (Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew)

Hi Orange,

Usually when I think of emailing you I resist the urge because I assume you are inundated, and it feels like assigning you one more task, ha. But tonight I was watching "Sober House" and I was compelled to write. I feel like I'm in an unusual position to comment on this show after attending several THOUSAND meetings and being very involved with AA for years — I was a true beliver, for sure.

These days, it's unsettling to watch the odd, "everybody's playing a role" quality of the steppers in the house — but that's nothing new — I was spouting the same robo-speech, the same fake gravitas...ew.

But what I'm writing about is a comment that Dr. Drew made. Dr. Drew seems like a nice-enough guy, I've got no specific beef with him. But this was too good — so, they're talking about the very real possibility that an addict will end up dead.

And Dr. Drew says: "I bury a lot of my patients."

Completely unaware of the obvious question: why not try a new treatment? Why not rewrite that God-awful (in the truest sense of the word) Big Book?

So then the show goes on with all the familiar and completely unfounded cliches: "Resentments make alcoholics drink." "He's not responsible, he's got a disease."

And it struck me so funny that I used to be one of those people who did not see a contradiction AT ALL between "I bury a lot of my patients" and "The first 164 pages must not be changed."

I'm so glad that nonsense no longer seems rational to me — all that cognitive dissonance is tiring.

Thanks for the site, been reading you for years — you have made a real difference. I am sober using SMART now.

Please do not list my name or email address if you post this; the last thing I need is barely coherent nasty-grams from true believers written in all caps.

Hi John,

Thanks for the input. I didn't know about that show. (I don't get cable.)

It really does sound like more of the same old Stepper slogans. "Resentments cause drinking." Jeez Louise.

And yes, why don't they change the treatment? Any competent, sane, doctor changes the treatment in a flat minute when it doesn't work, and he keeps trying different treatments until he fixes the problem. But not in the wonderful world of "recovery". There, an 80-year-old cult religion is the only cure.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
** a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
** it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

From: "Nathan W."
Subject: AA
Date: Fri, February 20, 2009 2:43 am     (answered 25 March)

you are tremendously uninformed about alcoholism

Gee, Nathan, 20 years of alcoholism, 8 years of sobriety, and I don't know anything, huh?

And is that because I say things that you don't agree with?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
**    than standing armies."
**     ==  Thomas Jefferson

Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 23:12:43 -0800
Subject: Re: FW: hope this one makes it through

Dear AO:

Hopefully this email will not be rejected as my previous one was. To be brief: there is a show on the cable network A&E called Intervention which seems to be almost a propaganda piece for the twelve step philosophy. Have you seen it and what are your impressions? Same question for VH1's Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab and a new show called Sober House.

I would write a longer email but fear your system will reject it again. Take care.


this one came through. I haven't ever seen the A&E thing, as I don't subscribe to cable.
Could you tell me about it?
Have a good day.
== Orange

Date: Fri, February 20, 2009 6:21 am     (answered 25 March)
From: "Aaron F."
Subject: RE: hope this one makes it through

Yes, it's really an awful show where they profile people with drug and alcohol addictions and fool the participant into thinking they are going to be on a documentary about addictions. Then when the person thinks they are going to a hotel room for their last interview they spring the whole intervention group on them, consisting of many friends, family members and a "professional" interventionist (They have 3 different ones that they use). The person is then given the "choice" of forced 12 step inpatient treatment or becoming destitute, homeless and friendless or possibly in jail, as his family and friends tell him/her that they will cut them off completely in every way and in addition report to the police any illegal activities the person may be doing, unless that person agrees to go, that day, that hour, to get on a plane and go to a twelve step treatment facility. It's been on the air for a couple years now and I believe it's one of the network's more popular shows.

Recently they have also profiled and forced into 12-step treatment people with bulimia, diabetes, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. It is really sick, and is completely propaganda for these treatment centers and interventions and forced treatment in general. It portrays them and their processes as the only possible treatments (even for DIABETES and OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER) and portrays the addictions/problems as being moral/character failings of the subject. The families are also repeatedly told the death jails or institution w/out the program lie.

There are also two programs on VH1, Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab and Dr. Drew's Sober House that completely conform to the 12 step model and show various "D-list" celebrities going through 12 step inpatient programs and then living in 12 step "recovery" half-way houses. It makes me very angry and sad to watch these programs (especially Intervention) and see these people lied to and put through ridiculous degrading and silly processes that in the end leave them used and abused and still not able to abstain from drink or drug, and probably more feeling more hopeless than ever. On Celebrity Rehab they even have a goofy looking group therapist the refer to as "Dr. Bob"!

To sum up, You gotta get cable!!!! :)

Sometimes you have to keep a sense of humor I guess. Take care.


Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the letter and thanks for all of the information.
It seems like you just gave me another good reason to not get cable... :-)
100 channels of garbage and commercials for only $100 per month. Who needs it? I hope that the Internet will replace cable TV.

Coincidentally, somebody else also just emailed some comments on Dr. Drew's "interventions", here.

The "intervention" racket is a major crime. Con a sick person into signing a contract on which he will owe tens of thousands of dollars for ineffective quack treatment and introduction to cult religion. That's fraud, blackmail, and extortion. Somebody should go to prison for it.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The question is: "Are you someone who just listens to the
**  lies and takes them as true, or do you think for yourself
**  and analyze the situation?"
**  == posted by "Fate", in Washington Post "Energy Wire", 2 Aug 2008.

From: "Frank C."
Subject: Hi Orange
Date: Sat, February 21, 2009 2:10 pm     (answered 25 March)

Dear Mr Orange

I had a brief stint with 12 step recovery and various offshoots and pretty much echo yours and others here sentiments.

We in New Zealand are probably a little slow, and a betty ford type clinic has only just opened its doors here in 08...

One area I am ambivalent about is the centering on Bill and Dr Bob, oh and Frank B too.

Also the comment 'society in general is a cult'

My view is thus:

Before AA were organizations that did almost the same, except AA corporatized varies dogmas and recovery structures into their packaging and called it their own. Its a bit like criticising the chimp instead of the system that produces presidents like that.

Also if someone is into this or into that in life... like british motorbikes, surfing, footheads, hummers.... whatever.... you will generally fall into a cult like group of proponents/followers who will expouse their doctrines and ridicule all else.....

Gangs and ugly mobs seem to be a left over of a primitive past... with a head man or alpha male leading the charge... these are very prevalent from my reckoning....

I have been wanting a group or family type thing (my own was poor) that is a bullshit free zone but alas I have found that they all consist of power abusing erroneous leaders and compliant serving followers.

I am without such hope anymore, and have resigned myself to the life of the solitary mystic... 'cough' ....who now finds satisfaction and self completion/actualization in the little things....

Its really quite a shame..... We could be a great people with a great planet but.....

Thanks for all your fine efforts Regards :)

Hello Frank,

I've also wondered whether we are stuck with the primitive caveman nature of humans. Cults exploit human weaknesses that are already there — they don't create the human failings.

I still feel optimistic though. I think that maybe we can rise above our primitive natures — at least, a lot of us can.

I investigate Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, and Frank Buchman to show what they actually created, and how they did it. And to counter the often-repeated fairy tale about how they created "the greatest scientific and spiritual discovery of the century", and other such grandiose nonsense.

Have a good day.

== Orange

If you want somebody to talk to who won't be too obnoxious, you might try these groups. I think most all of them have forums on the Internet.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it,
**   and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.
**      ==  Blaise Pascal

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