Letters, We Get Mail, CII

Date: Mon, February 23, 2009 7:44 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: "MJG"

How long were you in the program?


That depends on what you mean by "the program".

  1. If you mean being a true believer and thoroughly working the A.A. "program", the answer is zero. I never did the 12 Steps, I never had a sponsor, and I never believed in the Big Book or Bill Wilson, and I never surrendered my mind, my will, and my life to the cult.

  2. If you mean going to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings while abstaining from alcohol and other drugs, the answer is about 3 months. Then I discovered SMART, and didn't get to many more A.A. or N.A. meetings after that, other than to pick up coins and keytags as they came due.

  3. If you mean real recovery, where you abstain from all drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, and any illegal drugs, while taking the medications that the doctor prescribes, and also taking vitamins and eating good, and getting exercise and fresh air and a suntan, and developing new interests and really living, then the answer is 8 years, and I'm still "in the program".

And how good it is. The person that I am now hardly even resembles the person that I was 8 years ago. I must have looked a fright 8 years ago, because women would cross the street so that they wouldn't have to walk by me on the sidewalk. And no, that wasn't my paranoia. It was really happening. They were really doing it. They would see me walking up the sidewalk towards them, and take one look at me and cross to the other side of the street.

Then, after about 3 or 4 months off of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, I noticed that women weren't crossing the street to avoid me any more. And then a few of them would even smile at me as they passed me on the sidewalk. Yes, something was changing.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** As I see it, every day you do one of two things:
** build health or produce disease in yourself.
**         Adelle Davis

Date: Mon, February 23, 2009 11:08 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: "Michael A."
Subject: AA paper

I have been studying some of the available material on the subject of AA's effectiveness as a treatment program. The 12 steps are still overwhelmingly the most "perscribed" treatment programs in my area. I believe this is due, in large part, because by referring people to AA or similar groups, it saves a lot of money from a health care/political point of view.

While I admire the effort you have put into collecting some statistics in regards to the overall effectiveness of the program, I found my self trailing off in thought while reading your report. I found this curious, as the subject itself is quite interesting to me. Eventually it occured to me that I was losing interest for some of the very same reasons that you yourself use in an effort to discredit the 12 step programs: A vehement refusal to ascribe value to opposing points of view, in a way that suggests an overly emotional investment in the subject, rather than a factual one.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of facts in your paper, but there seem to be several incidents where you are willing to assert opinions without providing evidence to back them up, mostly when they support your point of view, naturally.

One such example is toward the end of the paper where you say something to the effect of " Shouldn't we be aware of the sexual exploitation and rape of sponsees by the sponsor?" To which one might ask the question: Is one more likely to be sexually exploited or raped in the 12 step setting than in the general population? If yes, can this be attributed to the program itself, or can it be attributed to the fact that one is likely to find a higher concentration of people with antisocial behaviors in a setting such as an alcohol and drug treatment program?

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the letter. I'm so glad you asked that particular question, because that one is so easy to answer.

First off, I really do go out of my way to make sure that everything I say is correct, accurate, and documented. I know that there are 12-Step true believers who are taking my web site apart with a magnifying glass, looking for any error to complain about. And they are quick to pounce if I make a mistake. ("Hah! You misspelled the name of Henrietta Sieberling! Now your credibility is blown. I'm not going to believe anything else that you say!")

The sexual exploitation example that you picked out is a jewel. That situation has gotten totally out of control. There are many A.A. or N.A. groups that exist solely to provide the leaders — the old sponsors — with under-age girls, money, and free slave labor. I've gotten reports of such groups from Washington DC (the "Midtown Group" of Mike Q.), California ("The Pacific Group" of Clancy I.), the Young People's A.A. of Phoenix, Arizona, a Midtown offspring group in Florida, more abusive groups in Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA, and more are popping up all of the time as the cult missionaries go out and either establish new groups or take over existing groups by invading in numbers and then voting the former leaders out. See this list of links for much more information on them.

I don't know the answer, and I am not asserting one, just asking the question. A reasonable question, don't you think?

Yes, a reasonable question, and I think I gave a reasonable answer.

I can find several other instances of unsubstantiated claims, emotion driven logic, etc. My point is this: I like the paper and the subject, and admire the amount of work that you have put into it. But if you really care about this issue, and want your argument to be taken seriously, you must subject your own opinions to the same kind of harsh criticism that you lay on the opposing side. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like just another propagandist with an axe to grind.


I'd really like to hear what those unsubstantiated claims are. I really do want every claim to be substantiated. And I do try to keep the rhetoric and anger down. And I know that I am emotional when it comes to my friends being deceived and harmed or killed with cult religion bullshit. I try to keep it down, but I am human, after all.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean
**    they're not out to get you.

Date: Tue, February 24, 2009 3:56 am     (answered 26 March)
From: "Andrew H."
Subject: this is a quick precis of what i think your treatise is — i agree almost entirely with it by the way!

Thank you for your persuasive, well researched, logical, thought provoking, evidence-based, scientific, and healthily sceptical analysis of AA. I will write a proper letter to you when I have the time.

In the meantime I have taken the liberty of re-writing the "AA steps" into a hastily drafted new sequence of actions for breaking free from alcohol addiction or dependence:

  • 1.. Accepted we had an alcohol addiction or dependence problem which was either detrimental or ruining our lives and realised we had the power to stop, either on our own, or by seeking help to overcome and break this destructive pattern.
  • 2.. Realised that we were not insane, but suffering syndromal symptoms of chemical addiction with some or all of its various physical and mental manifestations and could break the cycle permanently, by stopping independently — through rational choice, or seeking rational, professional and scientifically validated support.
  • 3.. Made a decision to ask sensible questions about scientific studies and data pertaining to addiction which had been published and reserved the right to question it, accepting it once we were satisfied that it was rigorous and had been peer reviewed openly.
  • 4.. Made a list of feelings which made us feel troubled and angst.
  • 5.. Discussed the above list with other people, if we felt overwhelmed by it and felt we needed help, preferably with people who are professionally qualified.
  • 6.. Were entirely ready to deal with our problems and difficulties.
  • 7.. Dealt with our problems and difficulties and learned new approaches and methods to deal with life's new problems which inevitably come to us.
  • 8.. This remains the same as AA's step 8
  • 9.. This remains the same as AA's step 8
  • 10.. This remains the same as AA's step 8
  • 11.. Sought to improve ourselves through engaging study or new activities, or picking up again on such studies or activities which were stifled due to excessive drinking.
  • 12.. Having regained control of ourselves, we tried to be helpful to other people who we came across who had an alcohol problem, knowing that they too can regain control of their individual lives, assuming they want to of course. All the best


Thank you, Andrew. That's neat.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
**   It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
**   == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

Date: Tue, February 24, 2009 2:06 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: Jennifer
Subject: "An Interpretation"



I'm a recovered alcoholic and just came upon your web site and found it to be quite interesting.

Hello Jennifer,

Thanks for the letter.

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable"

The above states we WERE — past tense. We couldn't control our drinking (past tense) and our lives were screwed up (past tense) as a result of our boozing.

But many A.A. members continue to claim that they ARE powerless, including the Big Book author Bill Wilson. Look here. The stupid slogan is, "I am powerless over people, places, and things."

Nowhere in the Big Book does it state we will ALWAYS be powerless over booze, and our lives will ALWAYS be a mess. Quite the opposite. It states that we can recover, get well, get sane, and able to manage our own lives (not the lives of others)

Bill Wilson talked out of both sides of his mouth on that one. He started off using the word "recovered", as in,

We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.
The Big Book, Foreword to the First Edition, William G. Wilson, page xiii of the 3rd edition.

But so many of his sober poster children relapsed that Wilson changed his story to:

We are not cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our daily activities.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 85.

That "recovered/no cure ever" item is in the bait-and-switch-trick list, here.

The steps were designed for the REAL alcoholic, someone who loses control when drinking, does a bunch of stuff while tanked that he/she would never do when not drinking, and can't recall it the next day.

Actually, "the steps" were designed by Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman as his standard procedures for recruiting and brainwashing new cult members. They had nothing to do with alcoholism. Bill Wilson just edited them a little, and patched the words "alcohol" and "alcoholics" into the first and last steps. (Click on that link.)

Real alkies don't have to drink every day to create the instances that cause unmanageability. It's not about how much a person drinks, or how often — it's about what happens to their behavior when they drink. So it doesn't necessarily have to do with not paying the bills on time. It's mainly about relationships with ourselves and others.

That sounds half-ways reasonable. Although "real alkies" do drink a lot, and whether someone often drinks to excess does have a lot to do with the diagnosis of "alcoholic".

Plus, the Big Book (which contains the program of AA in it's first 164 pages) does not profess to being the only remedy out there that can help people.

Again, Bill Wilson talked out of both sides of his mouth on that subject. In the beginning, in order to sound moderate and attract new members, Bill Wilson wrote that "we have no monopoly", and "we know only a little". But then he switched to saying that A.A. really was the only way. That item is also in the bait-and-switch list, here.

So I'm curious if you've found some passages in the Big Book that state the opposite — that we'll always be sick; we never get well, blah, blah, AA is the only way, etc.

Yes, I just listed them. Click on those links.

I'm very happy I found your Agent Orange web site, and I hope you respond. In the meantime, I'll continue perusing your stuff.

Jennifer C.

PS: As far as Step 2: "A.A. claims that the current meaning of this line is just that you can believe in anything, including a doorknob or a potato, a mountain or a motorcycle, a bedpan...."

Ummm.....no. The program of AA (which is the 12 steps) does not claim you can pick "anything". You won't find that BS in the Big Book. And I know you obtained a copy of the BB at one point, or borrowed someone's to get the direct quotes.

Actually, I have about 7 copies of the Big Book now, both 3rd and 4th editions, along with all of the other "council-approved" publications that I've been able to get my hands on.

Chances are you heard that from a "group of drunks" in some screwed up AA meeting filled with AA gurus, psychobabblers, where the blind are leading the blind, and the sick lead the sick. Or you perhaps read it in some ridiculous literature. I'd like to see how someone would be able to rely on a doorknob to stay sober-HAHAHA!!!!

You are correct in stating that such heresies as "pray to a bedpan" and "You can use anything as your Higher Power" is not written in the Big Book. It is partially documented in other A.A. literature, but the story that you can use anything as your God is really one of those things that is passed along by word of mouth. Although the story of a freshly-converted A.A. member praying to a bedpan was published in an official council-approved A.A. history book. I'm trying now to remember which one.

Bill Wilson laid the groundwork for the heresy here:

Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 93.

That is, of course, sheer nonsense. An atheist is not going to "believe in a Power greater than himself" who will grant miracles on demand. There is more on that here.

And Wilson declared that you could use your Alcoholics Anonymous group as your God:

"I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith.   ...   You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.'
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 27.

But above all, remember that Bill Wilson was playing mind games on people. He put on airs of being very easy-going and tolerant of other people's religious beliefs — "You can believe anything" — in order to hide his real intolerant and dogmatic attitudes.

So check out these links:

  1. The "Anything As God" Heresy

  2. First, prospective new members are offered a tolerant, open-minded "spiritual" program, but then they get narrow-minded demands for belief in Bill Wilson's teachings.

  3. First, you can keep your own religion, and then you can't.

  4. First, it's "any God as you understand Him", and then it's "You don't understand God. You are 'confused' and 'prejudiced'."

  5. First, declarations of Religious Freedom, and then demands for Religious Conformity.

  6. First, a loosely-defined "Higher Power", and then an explicitly-defined "God".

  7. Redefine God. First you get one God, then you get a different God.

Please don't fall for the assumption that AA meetings are THE program of AA. Most meetings today are filled with sick people trying to tell newcomers how it really works.

You bring up an interesting question: "What is THE REAL A.A."?

  • When I criticize the 12 Steps, someone always writes in and says, "No, the 12 Steps aren't the real A.A."
  • When I criticize the Big Book, someone always writes in and says, "No, that isn't the real A.A."
  • When I criticize the meetings and the bad advice you can get there (as well as sexual exploitation), someone always writes in and says, "No, that isn't the real A.A."
  • When I criticize the Founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob, and the insane things that they said, someone always writes in and says, "No, that isn't the real A.A."

So what is the real A.A.? What is the real core thing that someone must absolutely do, in order to "Work A Strong Program"?

— Besides "don't drink alcohol". But that is not "a program"; that is a command.

I know of a guy who uses the Goodyear blimp as his HP. That surely explains why this dude is full of gas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Okay, you got my response.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "My name isn't 'your Higher Power'."   **
**              == GOD                       **

Date: Sun, February 22, 2009 7:21 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: "michael mcc."
Subject: Some Quotes For You

Hi Orange,

I always see quotes at the end of your letters and wanted to send you some of my favorites. You have my permission to use my quotes, depending on if you like them or not. If you do post them, you have my permission to show my full name on your site. Take care and enjoy the quotes! :)


"Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it."
— Andre Gide

"Why keep your opinions to yourself? That's like dying with a million dollars in the bank."
— Michael T. McComb

"Never let your mother brush your hair when she's mad at your father."
— Unknown

"Criticism is the medicine that keeps the world alive."
— Michael T. McComb

"Good God! If our civilization were to sober up for two days it'd die of remorse on the third!"
— Malcolm Lowry

"Marijuana is self punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world what worse punishment could there be?"
— P.J. O'Rourke

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction."
— Blaise Pascal

"The boy who smokes cigarettes need not be anxious about the future. He has none."
— David Starr Jordan

"What is the favorite food of all the starving people in the world?"
— Michael T. McComb

Thanks Michael,

Those are good. And some of them are very funny.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography"
**       — Ambrose Bierce

May 24, 2008: Back in the park, Day 7.

The next day was sunny, so back to the park we went. Here, the goslings are just hanging out at the water bowl.

Canada Goose goslings

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Sun, February 22, 2009 5:00 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: Susan
Subject: Lizard Brain Addiction Monster

One of the best things I have ever read. It helped a lot — thank you!

Susan N.

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the thanks, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently
**   stable world at peril.

Date: Thu, February 26, 2009 10:35 am     (answered 26 March)
From: "Tom H."
Subject: The Other Women

Normally I don't do things like this, but I was very disturbed by your website. What possibly could be your motive to write something like that? Whether it was true or not makes no difference. It is obvious that you have some kind of resentment toward AA to write that.

Hello Tom,

Why would I post a thing like information on Bill Wilson's sexual exploitation of women who came to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings seeking help and healing? To show that Bill Wilson was not a messenger from God, which is what some true-believer A.A. members claim — that he was, in fact, a very sick man who exploited all of the people around him.

Worse yet, such exploitation is still going on. Look here for information on the current sexual exploitation of under-age girls.

AA has saved thousands of lives, I don't condone anything that Bill W. did, but it is hard to dispute the impact the man had on one of the most hideous deceases of our time. I have always been taught to check my motives whenever I am about to do or write something negative about a person, you obviously don't adhere to these principles and for this I feel very sorry for you.

"AA has saved thousands of lives"?
But A.A. claims to have 2 millions members. Apparently, the odds of getting saved by A.A. are only one in a thousand.

No, A.A. has not "saved thousands", or "saved millions". A very small minority of the people who come to some A.A. meetings quit drinking by using their own will power and intelligence, and then A.A. steals the credit for their sobriety. That's all that is happening there.

And of course I noticed the little ad hominem where you question my motives and my principles. That is really standard cultish behavior. (Look here.) You didn't supply a shred of evidence that anything I said was wrong or in error — you just complained that I told the truth, and questioned my character.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a
**   constant struggle"
**     — George Orwell

Date: Fri, February 27, 2009 7:12 am     (answered 26 March)
From: Pete L.
Subject: Great!

I appreciate you giving me a voice by posting my letter. I was thinking that Seattle, not too far away from you, has a huge hempfest in August and somebody should have an anti-12step booth there. I actually met the guy in AA who coined the witticism that substituting a drug like cannabis for alcohol is 'changing seats on the titanic'. The problem with that statement is that it is untrue of course. Having already been through treatment, I did not find anything like rigorous honesty until Seattle's first hempfest. Time to carry the message.

Later, Pete

Hello Pete,

Hempfest. Now that's an interesting thought. But I know that I won't be there.

I don't really advocate smoking pot. I'm kind of neutral on the subject. I think that if you must get high on something, that pot is one of the best choices. And if someone were to ask whether I would prefer to see my son drinking alcohol or smoking pot, the answer is of course that I'd rather see him smoking pot. Pot does not kill 100,000 Americans per year like alcohol does. And pot isn't addictive like alcohol is, and pot won't destroy your health and your body the way that alcohol will.

Still, personally, I'm retired from that scene. I haven't had a hit of pot in 8 years, either. I got sober without doing a substitution routine of using pot instead of alcohol. I just totally quit everything that was bad for my health — even just a little bad. Now espresso coffee is my big kick.

One reason that I don't smoke pot any more is because my lungs can't tolerate any smoke any more. Thirty years of smoking tobacco burned out all of my spare lung capacity and I don't have any lung cells left to spare. I'm really lucky that I don't have emphysema or lung cancer. I like to joke that I'm saving my remaining lung cells for marriage. So I just don't smoke anything at all, and I don't like to be in other people's clouds of second-hand smoke.

Another reason that I don't smoke pot is because I am really enjoying the clarity that I have now. I have 8 years clean and sober, and this is the first and only time in my adult life that I have ever been smoke-free, alcohol-free, and drug-free for so long. And I like it, and I don't want to go back to getting stoned.

And one more reason that I don't smoke pot is because I don't want to start down that slippery slope. If I were to smoke some good pot now, after 8 years of being clean, I would get high as a kite. I obviously have zero tolerance now. You'd have to peel me off of the ceiling, I'd get so high. That might be so much fun that maybe I should boost it with a little bit of something else and keep on tripping... Just a little, you know... And then I might have to take a few hits of something else to calm down and make the room stop spinning...

And you know where that can lead.

But maybe somebody else would like to "carry the message" to the Hempfest.

Have a good day, and a good time.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "What a long strange trip it's been..."
**      == The Grateful Dead

Date: Sat, February 28, 2009 3:00 am     (answered 26 March)
From: grace
Subject: The Orange Papers

Hi Orange,

I just read much of your online book about AA. I don't agree with it all, but I do think much of what you say is ON TARGET. I laughed out loud at the jokes and a lot of the serious stuff too because I was giving Bill W such a place of honor in my mind and for all we know, he may well have been delusional. LOL

The reason I found your book is because I was searching for what a "sponsor" is supposed to be in AA because I was starting to get red flags regarding my sponsor's behavior and words to me. I have always strongly disliked any kind of manipulation and control techniques. Coming from a history of church, I could never stomach pastors trying to guilt people into giving money, or attempting to control people's behavior. The way that I am, one could say, would protect me from ever being indoctrinated into a cult. Well, AA has been beginning to really get under my skin in such ways. I was beginning to feel I was expected to become a cookie-cutter replica of my sponser, who I was beginning to see was a harsh angry person. (Do what I say, not what I do) Was my individuality — and my freedom to think and feel — expected to disappear for the good of the group? I'd been wondering.

I kept trying to tell my sponsor that I didn't understand certain things about the steps. I did NOT have the major white light experience with doing them as I was TOLD I DID. (Hehe — I actually WAS told with suggestive ways of speaking — ways that salesman are taught to use to sell products.) And as I was expected to TELL OTHERS I DID. I could never go on blabbering lies and therefore, I declined to speak when asked tonight, because I knew if I did speak, I would have to be honest, despite the incredible spoken and unspoken pressure to say what was expected, and I would have to say:

"I did the steps and it wasn't anything great, I didn't have the obsession to drink anyway, so no, it wasn't removed, it was ALREADY gone from the day I stopped. I'm not even sure exactly what I did when I did the steps, so I can't really explain it to you, since I didn't have a real experience with them myself. There was no great revelation or new knowledge that I didn't already have from my Christian background. I also want you to know that my drinking years were not all terrible. I loved drinking and don't deny it. Actually, it saved my life for many years!! I'm sure there were times that I probably would have done myself in if it wasn't for alcohol that relieved the incredible pressure.

"AA for me is a place where I don't have to be alone anymore and there are people with similar pasts, but the truth is that I'm beginning to feel like I'm in a very unhealthy atmosphere, here. It's beginning to feel cult-like if you can appreciate that. My sponsor already DEMANDED that I do NOT tell any of my personal story because I should not be trying to be a Hollywood star! I was told that was just my EGO when I was only thinking that someone hearing may relate to my individual story, which is a part of who I am today. I'll be damned if I'm ever going to get up here and bullshit you all like so many of you are probably already doing. ...And another thing, Bill Wilson was probably suffering with delusions of grandeur, I mean what is the Big Book, the Holy Bible? I don't think so. What is Bill, a messiah? I only have one Messiah. I don't even know why I come here anymore, I think I'll just find a good church where I can be who I am — because I was accepted by God before I got here, and I was doing alot more sinning then. Well that's enough out of me, would anyone like to share?"

That's probably what I would have said. Haha That would've went over well, huh?

Well, I enjoyed reading your writing. It was very interesting. I really, really see what you mean about the parallels between AA and a cult. I've been disturbed by it to the point that I spent HOURS reading your online book tonight and now it's almost 6am. But it was worth it.

I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but I know I'm getting more clarity on what's been nagging me about AA! And that's a good thing.

Best Regards,

Hello Grace,

Thanks for the letter, and the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well — and seeing clearly.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    And the believers spake unto me, and they saeth,
**   "If you want what we have, and are willing to go to
**   any length to get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

May 24, 2008: In the park, Day 7.

Canada Goose gosling sitting in grass

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Sat, February 28, 2009 6:32 am     (answered 26 March)
From: "Stephen N."

I read some of your AA analysis. I did find it very interesting and well researched.

It points to the Program if AA as having credit for keeping someone sober, when in fact, any sober alcoholic who is working an honest AA program will tell you that it is God (or whomever they call God) that keeps them sober. So I can wipe out every page or your report and sum it up as.. God save my life and AA helped me find God.

I appreciate the research you did, but its mostly irrelevant to those who have achived spritual sobriety through the work of AA. I found little meaning in it for me.

It may, however, keep those who think an institution, cult or club (things run by people for people) can cure them or save them, so for that I thank you.

AA doesn't keep people sober, you are absolutely correct. Thanks for reminding me. Now I need a meeting.

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the letter.

You bring up all kinds of interesting questions.
What about all of the A.A. members who do not credit God with saving them from alcoholism?
What about the people who insist that A.A. saved their lives?

What about Bill Wilson's claims that:

Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 26.

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Foreword, page xx.

And what about the A.A. claims that even atheists can "work the steps" with a goofy non-God "Higher Power" (G.O.D. == "a Group Of Drunks"), and "The Program" will still work?

It seems like somebody is always pulling a switcheroo. When I criticize the heretical spirituality of A.A., somebody insists that A.A. isn't religious and you don't have to believe anything. When I criticize the A.A. program for not working, somebody else insists that it isn't the A.A. program, it's God, that saves people from alcoholism.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

P.S.: Why do you need to go to an A.A. meeting? Shouldn't you go to church?

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Bill Wilson wrote that you cannot quit drinking by
** using your own intelligence and will power; that you
** must have a "Higher Power" doing the quitting for you.
** When I asked Jesus about that, He said,
** "Screw Bill Wilson.  I'm not gonna quit drinking."
** ==more jokes at:
** https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-jokes.html

From: Gary N.
Subject: Passages
Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 12:53 PM

Hello again,

There's a new show coming on the Living Channel soon called Rehab. I looked it up and it's about ex-celebrities (D-listers for the most part, by the look of it) who have been through rehab at a place called Passages in Malibu. At first I thought this was going to be another 12-step publicity stunt, but when you check out their website (Passages) you find out that they are among the 7% (or whatever it is currently) of US treatment centres who don't use the 12-steps. They have some very interesting things to say about why 12-step treatment doesn't work. Check them out here, if you haven't already.


I didn't check the prices — not sure most of the people I've met in AA in the last 17 years would be able to get there. A bus to Gateshead is usually a stretch. But looks interesting.

Incidentally, do you know the results of AA's latest triennial survey (2008)? I can't find them anywhere — must have fallen through a gap at the back of Google . . .

Hi Gary,

I don't know where the triennial survey results are either. I suspect that the headquarters has grown tired of being embarassed by the results. The critics of A.A. always manage to analyze the numbers and ferret out information that the headquarters didn't want to reveal, like the dropout rate, and the people coerced into A.A., and the aging A.A. population. So maybe no more triennial surveys will be published.

Keep it up, I look forward to my reply next month sometime.

Cheers, Gary (UK)

PS. Congratulations on your new president.

Yes, thanks. That really is a bright note on the horizon, isn't it? Now we have a ton of work to do to repair the damage that George Bush and the Neo-Cons have done, but at least we have a chance, or half a chance.

From: "Gary N.
Subject: Fw: Passages
Date: Sat, February 28, 2009 12:11 pm     (answered 26 March)


Following on from my last email: I have now seen some of this series. I was dismayed to see that the founder of Passages is an absolute fruit-loop. If his methods and philosophy are portrayed fairly in the show, and if they are indicative of the standard of the 7% of addiction treatment centres in the US that are non-12 step based, then this is bad news indeed for those who seek viable alternatives to the 12 steps in a residential treatment setting. Perhaps there are non-12 step based treatment centres in the US that take addiction seriously and don't try to treat it with stale 1990s New Age bullshit, but Passages is not one of them.


Thanks for the report, Gary. It helps to be kept informed about what is going on out there (I can't do it all myself).

So have a good day.

== Orange

P.S.: For the information of readers, Passages in Malibu is one of the most expensive rehab resorts in the world. It's where all of the Hollywood stars go, and it costs $40,000 for 28 days.
What cracks me up is their advertisements on the web page "Why People Choose Passages".
Included among the wacky "reasons" is: "Reason number 17: No scrubbing floors or washing toilets."
We can't have pampered movie stars washing toilets, now can we?

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   The so-called "recovery industry" has more quacks
**   than a flock of ducks.

From: "george d."
Subject: hope can work.
Date: Sun, March 1, 2009 5:54 am     (answered 26 March)

I get why you are not happy with the AA message it is killing your friends. As far as Bill W. is concerned I dont really give a flying sack of poo if he was a nut or not. He was not my problem and is not my solution. If his teachings brain washed me then so be it. I am truly happy today. The fundamental problem with AA today is many AAs seem to think that all problems could be solved by the 12 steps. This is the absolute pinnacle of arrogance. No wonder your friends are dying. AA is for the problem of ALCOHOL not anything else.

I understand the concern over medications but as a sponsor I never tell any newcomer to ask me for medical advice. If they need to detox I say go to the hospital. If they have funny thoughts I say go to a therapist. If they cant sleep I say try a pill if you want. I also tell them if they start to become dependent on their medications to tell the doctor. I do not do accounting but I suggest that newcomers pay their bills if hey can. If they dont like the message of AA then I say try another program I really dont care about how many steps or the philosophy behind the program just try whatever it takes to be sober and free. I am just an alcoholic not a guru or god.

AA worked for me so I am a full believer in faith and religion and magic if you want to call it that. I was blessed with a bunch of AAs who said all we want to do is HELP you to stay sober. They did not make personal promises to carry me through every day one day at a time. They said this is what worked for us give it a try. If you dont like it you can leave.

They did not need to tell me that I was going to die from Alcoholism many in my family all ready had. So I was willing to try.

I am recovered today. I love my creator and accept my will as his. My guidance comes from an overwhelming sense of happiness I found through AAs program of action not from anywhere else. I tried everything from Jesus to transedental meditation to find that happiness I only found it in AA.

I only ask that you dont belittle my experience because it is mine alone and you are not my judge. I truly mourn for you friends in a deep way and mean no disrespect here as to do so would belittle their memory. I also respect your right to express your views and commend you an a herculean effort. I can only imagine where you find the time. The most important thing on you site is your sober status. In that to we are fellows so I would shake your hand if we met.

While Bill W. may have ben a completely nutty fellow I and my group are not Bill W.

George D.

Hello George,

I'm glad that you are sober, and happy that things seem to be working out for you.

You must be aware, of course, that the vast majority of people who come to A.A. for help find neither sobriety nor happiness.

When you say,

"My guidance comes from an overwhelming sense of happiness I found through AAs program of action not from anywhere else. I tried everything from Jesus to transedental meditation to find that happiness I only found it in AA."

That is chilling. That is classic, really quintissential, cult talk. That's what dedicated true believers invariably say about their favorite cult. It doesn't matter which cult — the language is the same. It's always,

  • "Oh, I never knew happiness until I found this wonderful group which has the really special sacred knowledge..."
  • "I got religious teachings when I was a child, but I never knew God until I joined this group."
  • "Religion never meant anything until I found this group."
(See the Oxford Group for more examples.)

And members of Alcoholics Anonymous gave the same kind of testimony in the Big Book:

I had been brought up to believe in God, but I know that until I found this A.A. program, I had never found or known faith in the reality of God, the reality of His power that is now with me in everything I do.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 341.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  If you have to pray for some "Higher Power" or "God" to save you
*  from alcoholism, why is that called a "Self-Help Movement"?

From: "John S."
Subject: Update
Date: Sun, March 1, 2009 12:45 pm     (answered 26 March)

Good day Mr. Orange...

Just thought I would take a moment to thank you again for the incredible work you have put in to revealing the truth about AA. I have written to you in the past describing my experience when I made the break from the cult about a year ago. My ex-sponsor told me I was "out of my fucking mind" and that I "would die in an alley with a needle in my arm". He said this after a meeting in front of several other people. Talk about embarrassing.

I decided to leave when he began implying that I should quit taking my zoloft. When I told him I didn't think that my taking a non-narcotic medication as prescribed by a mental health counselor was his business, he came back with "See, I touched a nerve, there must be something there".

The hardest part about leaving AA has been the comraderie with other addicts and alcoholics. Fortunately, I have been able to remain friends with a lot of members and still get invited to weddings, birthdays and funerals, but other than that I don't waste an hour out of my day anymore pretending that I'm powerless over something I'm not.

Thank you and please keep up the good work.


Hi John,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the compliments, and congratulations on your new freedom. And I'm really glad you had the strength to tell your sponsor to flake off when he tried to get you to stop taking your medications. Those sponsors kill more people that way.

For comraderie, do check out SMART, and SOS, and Lifering. Maybe they have a group nearby.

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: Sun, March 1, 2009 4:22 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: "Jan C. O."

My wife is in AA, she is lost in the cult and I feel quite lost, she's been bainwashed and there is not a dam thing I can do about it, she is being coached by AA sponsors on how to treat me. Dam them.

Hello Jan,

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I am getting more and more reports like this. Alcoholics Anonymous sure is breaking up a lot of marriages.

I don't know if it will help any, but here are some previous discussions of A.A. and N.A. breaking up relationships:

  1. relationship destroyed by N.A.
  2. rehab romance destroys relationship
  3. a discussion of how treatment centers destroy relationships

I would tell you to have a good day, but somehow that sounds shallow and stupid in this context.

All I can say is, I wish you the best.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Permanent marriage breakups and separations, however, are unusual in A.A."
**    ==  William G. Wilson, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 117.

May 24, 2008: In the park, Day 7.

Canada Goose goslings

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Sun, March 1, 2009 9:01 pm     (answered 26 March)
From: "Denise E."
Subject: Sad

I am appalled at your "bashing" of AA. Hopefully not too many will die when they come across your writings and believe it.. Sober 5 years now, I give credit to my lifestyle change to the support of the fellowship of AA. It was impossible without the people of Alcoholics Anonymous. Understand please that writings such as yours do not help the alcholic/drug addict. If you do not wish to believe it works fine but please dont push your views on those of us who need the program to stay sober. Granted anyone can get clean for a day on thier own. Staying clean is the hard part. I wholeheartedly believe your report is wrong and quite frankly hope you never need our help. But if you do, we will be there to help. One alcoholic helping another-it works, it really does.

Hello Denise,

Congratulations on your sobriety. You did it. Nobody else did it for you.

And thanks for another carbon copy of the standard A.A. grumble. You have all of the regular lines in there:

  1. "You are bashing A.A. (by telling the truth)."
  2. "I give credit ... to AA"
  3. "Your writings do not help the alcoholic."
  4. "We are so generous that we will let you come back to our cult when you relapse (which we hope you do real soon now)."
  5. "it works, it really does."

  6. But best of all is, "please dont push your views on those of us who need the program to stay sober."

    Apparently, you cannot see the difference between people getting sentenced to A.A. meetings, and people voluntarily reading my web pages.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Being surrounded by a group of people who keep
**   telling you that you are powerless over alcohol,
**   and that your will power is useless, is not
**   getting "support". It is getting sabotaged.
**   With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

From: "Stephen M."
Subject: wow
Date: Mon, March 2, 2009 3:01 am     (answered 26 March)

You just reminded me that I need to go to a meeting! You obviously are dealing with your own insecurities and pain in a way that is helpful to you. Good luck, seriously, because without God it is all "luck". One quick question: Is it lonely on the top of your "papers"-mache mountain? Please write me back so I know that you are real. I would be disappointed if you weren't.

Just remember that sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze. J



Hello Steve,

Isn't it wonderful how people can get a special hot-line to God just by drinking too much alcohol?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is
**    the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them.
**    He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts
**    his throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard
**    of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path
**    to happiness and heaven.     ==   Mark Twain

Date: Mon, March 2, 2009 7:20 am     (answered 26 March)
From: "Rob W."
Subject: greetings — question


Why spend so much time trying to debunk an institution that has helped so many people?


Hello Rob,

Well that's the thing — A.A. has not "helped so many people". A.A. just lies about its success rate a lot.

All the gory details are here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "I have sworn, before the altar of God, eternal hostility
**  against any form of tyranny over the mind of man."
**    == Thomas Jefferson

Date: Tue, March 3, 2009 7:17 am     (answered 26 March)
From: Morgan L.
Subject: AA Rape Case.

Hey AO,did you see or hear anything about this AA "volunteer" rape case in Pennsylvania? I found it while doing a search of Alcoholics Anonymous on Google News...


...thought you might find it interesting.

Hope all is well with you!


Subject: P.S.
...oh yeah, and don't you just LOVE how he says that he'll "pray for her" ...WHAT A CREEP!

Hello Morgan,

Thanks for the tip. No, I had not heard about it. That is really outrageous. A woman calls an A.A. helpline, and the A.A. "helper" invites her to his house and gives her wine and screws her. That's A.A. spirituality and sobriety at its finest.


AA hotline volunteer acquitted in rape case

by MATT MILLER, Of The Patriot-News
Wednesday February 25, 2009, 5:58 PM

After deliberating for six hours, a Cumberland County jury this afternoon acquitted Alcoholics Anonymous hot line volunteer Russell C. Mentzer Sr. of charges that he had raped a female caller.

The woman claimed during Mentzer's three-day trial that he had her come to his home in November 2007, prodded her to drink wine and had sex with her when she blacked out. She said she couldn't recall the sex, however.

Mentzer, 45, of Middlesex Twp., said he and the woman had a consensual sexual encounter.

The woman declined comment on the verdict. Mentzer applauded it and said he will pray for his accuser.


Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    There are some remedies worse than the disease.
**      ==  Syrus,  42 B.C.

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 29 July 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters102.html