Letters, We Get Mail, CXV

Date: Wed, March 25, 2009 8:59 am     (answered 23 April 2009)
From: "AMY D."
Subject: Orange Papers

Dear Mr. Orange,

Thank you for publishing your papers on the internet. I have seven years of continuous sobriety and was 12-stepped into my first AA meeting. I was terrified about my drinking problem and had no idea how to quit. Although I am thankful to be sober, I've always felt uncomfortable with AA, its practices and teachings. At about 5-1/2 years of sobriety, I mostly quit going to meetings.

I was 47 when I went into the program and was married for 18 years. I have three children. At my first AA meeting, I met a "spirtual guru" who was well-liked in AA and was very kind to me. I fell for him. I guess I thought he could save me from myself. Although I had been in an unhappy marriage for years, I left my angry husband and three children in the home I had always paid the mortgage on and moved into an apartment. My ex would not move out. For fear that the courts would take my kids away anyway, I moved out. Since then, I've gotten divorced, moved back in with my kids and stayed sober. Anyway, enough history.

It it is amazing to me that so much of what you've written has described my exact feelings about AA. I was 13-stepped by this "spirtual guru" and found out after five years of dating that he was cheating on me. I find it impossible to believe that lying to people you care about is putting the steps and the principals of the program into one's daily living.

Date: Wed, March 25, 2009 10:21 am     (answered 23 April 2009)
From: "AMY D."
Subject: Thank you

Dear Agent Orange,

I just wanted to let you know that I've been reading your papers for several months now and am so glad that you have taken on this project. This information needs to be "shared." I have over seven years of continuous sobriety but have attended only a few meetings the last couple of years. I could never quite get it. I guess I am one of those unfortunates and must have been born this way. So much of what you have written has validated my feelings about AA. I was 12-stepped into the program and 13th-stepped after I got there. I was frightened and vulnerable in the beginning of my sobriety and I shouldn't have acted upon my attraction to a particular "spiritual guru" I met. As it turns out, he was cheating on me almost from the beginning. He is someone who is highly thought of by other members of the AA club. I became involved with [him] and I totally trusted him. Yes, I was left broken-hearted and resentful as hell. BUT I have never felt powerless or that lack of power was my dilemma. It's such bullshit.

Thanks again,


Hi Amy,

Thank you for the letters. It's good for other people to hear what they might really get at 12-Step meetings.

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   The finest structure can house the worst evil.

May 27, 2008: Still up on the roof, Day 10.

The goslings are sunning themselves on the roof.

Canada Goose goslings sitting in the sun

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Sat, March 28, 2009 9:41 am     (answered 23 April 2009)
From: BHama
Subject: I gave you Very Honorable Mention in ENEWSPAPER called The Examiner

In my article "He's just a drunk — because it's in his genes" at the site
I noted that your site was one of the mainstays in debunking the AA and treatment myth.

Tell your folks to have a look if you will.

Also of interest to you is my article "Mathematical high — those guys are stoned"

The Examiner is an E Newspaper peopled by "average' reporters.

Thanks for your work.

Free of AA and addiction.

Bryan Hamaker

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for the plug and the articles and the thanks.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Things are now in motion that cannot be undone." 
**     ==  Gandalf, Lord Of The Rings

Date: Mon, April 13, 2009 6:05 pm     (answered 23 April 2009)
From: "Miss Anonymous"
Subject: My Experience


I've been reading all of the info on your website and right now my head is spinning. I've been going to alanon on and off for the past two years. I think I knew something felt off from the very first meeting and my bullsit meter has been blaring ever since, needless to say I'm done and won't be going back. I think it's appalling the mind numbing, guilt inducing, EMOTIONAL ABUSE that they propagate. I started going because of being involved with an EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE, drug using, sex addict and alcoholic boyfriend who is also a narcissist. Apparently I just jumped from the fire into the frying pan. I am also the victim of child abuse and have done a lot of reading on the subject.

Why on earth are 12 step programs allowed to exist in such abundance? And go so unchecked?

I've spent a great deal of time researching emotional abuse and narcissism in an attempt to understand why I had been feeling so bad in my relationship with my alcoholic boyfriend and my family. Not having the money to spend on a therapist, alanon appeared to be the answer. I've come to realize I am codependent, and one of the most important steps to my recovery is to FEEL MY FEELINGS.

After reading your website for the first time I decided to be defiant and go to a meeting and talk about my anger and how I thought it was healthy if it helped me to remove myself from a situation that was dangerous to my emotional or physical wellbeing. Well after the meeting I was swarmed with long time female members wanting me to call them and giving the appearance of agreeing with me. One member hugged me very tightly and talked right in my face and quoted from The Courage to Change. That felt aggressive.

Other things I noticed were several long time members would appear to be noding off, so I question to myself if they are praying, but after reading the info on your site I think they must be listening for the word of God to give them instructions, to do what?!!!!!!!

Also a few months back I noticed that one of the long time female members who always talks in a shaky, sad voice had apparently endured a beating by the black and blue bruising on her face. It is possible her soon to be ex was the perpetrator but now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe it was a result of an attempt to leave the"group." Maybe I'm just being paranoid.

Another thing that concerns me is when I first started going I bought the book "Courage to Change" and paid by check so now they have my full name, address and banking number, SO I AM NOT ANONYMOUS. I'm not sure of what extents they will go to to try and control people.

Living fairly close to another huge nationwide cult, I've heard horror stories of how that cult makes it a mission to make the lives miserable of any member who tries to leave and will doggedly go after them. Do you have any advice for me since they have all of my personal info?

I quit going for several months in between and nothing seemed to happen so I'm hoping that will be the case this time. Have you heard of any tactics they use when someone quits?

Please do not print my e mail address. Thanks for providing all of this valuable information. I would like to know why you decided to reveal the truth about 12 step programs. Were you or someone close to you hurt by them?


Hi Miss Anonymous,

I don't think you need to be that paranoid. I certainly hope not. I've also heard stories of members stalking dropouts and trying to get them back, but no stories of violence. One not-so-funny story had the Steppers like zombies in Night of the Living Dead (here). I have heard of sponsors blabbing somebody's Fifth Step confession all over town as revenge for someone quitting the group, but no bank fraud. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

And if they even try to mess with your bank account, you can sic the FBI on them. Bank fraud is a crime that the FBI takes very seriously. It's one of the easiest ways to go to prison. Only fools try to rob banks.

You aren't really suffering from "codependency", because there is no such disease. "Codependency" is another 12-Step hoax. It's a made-up condition, like "dry drunk". Not real at all, in spite of the dozens of books that have been written about it. Andrew Meacham, in Selling Serenity: Life Among the Recovery Stars, described the codependency hoax as, "Invent a non-existent disease, and then charge a fortune to treat it." Also see my write-up of codependency here.

Now you may have some emotional problems that you could use some help with, but obviously the 12-Step cult is not the place to go for therapy or healing. I'm sure it's more emotionally damaging than healing.

I'd start with a real doctor, and if he doesn't think there is anything medically wrong, perhaps he can refer you to a counselor or therapist who could help you to work through some issues — feelings of paranoia for one, and the lingering damage from childhood abuse for another.

If financial conditions prevent you from getting help from a doctor or therapist, then at least go to some SMART meetings, and get a dose of rational thinking that way.

About the question,
"Were you or someone close to you hurt by them?",
the answer is yes, but that isn't the major motivation for the web site.

My real motivation is the knowledge that there is this cultish organization that is hurting a lot of sick people while bilking billions of dollars out of our health care system by selling quack medicine and cult religion as a cure for addictions.

Here in Oregon, the Oregon Health Plan was so broke that people were dying because their medications got cut off — literally dying — but the quacks were still collecting their checks for "treating alcoholism and drug addiction". I want the remaining money spent on Grandma's medicines, not wasted on the con artists' fraudulent schemes.

And I have seen so many people turned off by the so-called "treatment", with its required 12-Step meeting attendance. They morosely say, "It's a cult", and drop out of the treatment program. The general public isn't really as stupid as A.A. likes to make them out to be.

And I won't for a minute accept the A.A. excuse that it's their addictions talking, and they just want to get high, and they aren't spiritual enough, and they can't be rigorously honest, and they were just born that way.

Look here for more of the story:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. Bait-and-switch treatment
  3. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense
  4. who are you
  5. who are you, again

Have a good day.

== Orange

Date: Mon, April 13, 2009 6:24 pm     (answered 23 April 2009)
From: "Miss Anonymous"
Subject: What About Investigation?

I forgot to mention, I like you didn't do the steps or get a sponser either, Thank God, no pun intended. I'm just now reading your personal experience in AA. This is just so sad that they really do have a hidden agenda and their techniques can be very damaging. I just hope the women that were in the group I attended weren't hurt or coerced into having sex with the dominate male members. Can't the FBI or some investigative organization plant someone in the program to see what really goes on?

Hi again, Miss Anonymous,

That is tricky. The police in Washington DC and Maryland are investigating Mike Q.'s "Midtown Group", but they cannot legally infiltrate and spy on meetings because that would amount to spying on a church service, since so many judges have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religion. There are very strict laws that limit police powers in the USA. The police would love to nail the elder sponsors in the Midtown Group for statutory rape, but the girls keep on declaring that they are 16 or older, and the police can't quite get the goods on the criminals.

Another problem is that the FDA regulates medicines, but not treatment. You can set up a clinic that declares that yoga and a strange diet will give you prolonged life, and the FDA can't bust you for it. (But if you sell "eternal youth pills", then they can and will arrest you for selling quack medicine.) And you can set up a clinic that declares that a bizarre old pro-Nazi cult religion has the answer to alcoholism, and the Feds can't bust you for it. In fact, you might qualify for Federal funding for "helping addicts".

What we can do though is keep on bugging our politicians, at both the state and Federal level, and get them to insert clauses in funding bills that require proof of efficacy for drug and alcohol treatments. That is, before those quacks get paid by the city, state, or Federal governments, and before those quacks get any health insurance money, they must prove that their treatment is significantly better than the alcoholics getting no treatment at all.

So far, A.A.-based treatment has never passed such a test. Just the opposite. A.A. failed every time, and proved itself to be very harmful — much worse than no treatment at all.

So demanding proof of efficacy looks like a very promising approach.

And above all, just keep writing to your state and Federal Senators and Congresspersons, just to keep them aware of the fact that somebody cares, and somebody is watching, and the voters are concerned about the issue.

Here is another letter where I also talked about what to do.

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: Thu, April 16, 2009 11:57 am     (answered 24 April 2009)
From: "Thomas C."
Subject: AA and the Big Lie

I agree with AA has become a cult. And the Cult mentality has bred a more dangerous ground for people seeking a solution to drug and alcohol addition. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water. I was fortunate enough coming in and out of AA for 5 years to find someone who had some success, what not cultish and who was able to give me the guidance I needed to become centered through a spiritual awakening. AA had as much success as the 5 rehabs prior to my enlightenment. AA is full of sick degenerates who prey on one another, but there is light in that darkness.

Hello Thomas,

Thanks for the letter.

When you say, "But don't throw the baby out with the bath water", I don't think there is any baby in that bath water.

It is great that you got a wonderful mentor to help you with your problems, but A.A. has no monopoly on good mentors. In fact, your odds of finding such help in A.A. are not too good. You were lucky, very lucky. I've received letters from people who had to search for years to find a sane mentor in A.A., going through very unhappy experiences with nutty sponsors time after time before they got lucky.

The majority of A.A. is mentally disturbed people who need help, not wise compassionate gurus ready to give sane help.

I get far more stories of people being exploited and abused by psychos than happy stories of good helpers. In fact, just a few letters back, a woman was telling me about how her "spiritual" mentor 13th-stepped her and then deceived her and cheated on her for five years. And do I have to mention the Midtown Group again?

Then you assume that your success and spiritual experience or spiritual awakening was due to Alcoholics Anonymous. That is normal, but wrong. People often go through one negative experience after another as they try to quit a bad habit, failing time and again to break the habit because they aren't really resolved to quit it, until they finally get so sick and tired of being sick and tired that they really do quit. And they work themselves into a highly suggestible mental state that Dr. Edgar H. Schein called "unfreezing", where the personality is fluid and changeable. They often go through profound transformational experiences in the process. Then they erroneously attribute the experience to whatever they happened to be doing at the time. Whatever program they were in at that minute gets the credit.

A former Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., recognized this tendency (before he became an A.A. Trustee):

      Another root of Professional-AA strains consists of the very human tendency to be loyal to the therapy which has been successful in one's own case — and rather uncritically to adopt the ideological framework within which the help has come. We see this phenomenon in other areas. For example, the benefits of religious faith and personal integration can come through many different theological frames of reference — Roman Catholic, Pentacostal, Christian Science, Theosophy, Zen Buddhism, you name it. And, so often, the help found is taken as absolute proof of the truth of the accompanying theological framework. Or, witness what happens when a patient has shopped around from doctor to doctor, and finally finds one that helps: he becomes very loyal to the successful therapist — and to the successful therapeutic program. Why should the behavior of alcoholics be so different? I've been in alcoholism clinic and hospital settings where I've heard: "I tried the 'cure' over there. I tried AA. None of it worked. But this place has got the answers." And I've heard alcoholics talk who had boxed the professional compass and finally made it in AA. In either case, the reason for the success of the particular treatment may have been due more to the patient's by-now greater pain and desperation than to the nature of the treatment or the context of beliefs. But few patients can see this at the time and they become loyal to the "successful therapy" — and, unfortunately, sometimes antagonistic or unfavorable in their attitude toward other therapeutic programs. Now, I submit that this is quite standard human behavior. But it is one of the roots of misunderstanding, distrust, and strain in AA-professional relations.
PROFESSIONAL and ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS RELATIONS IN OREGON; An Exploratory Study Report, Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., 1965, page 10.

The fact remains that A.A. is rotten at the core.

  1. The theology is illogical, heretical, and just plain wrong.
  2. The ideas about alcoholism are just plain wrong.
  3. I would say that the psychology is also wrong except that there is no psychology — it's just cultish superstitions like "the dry drunk" and "codependency" and "the need to surrender", and "you drink because you have unconfessed sins" and "you drink because you have defects of character and moral shortcomings", and "you drink because you have a nagging wife".
  4. Then of course there is the falsified history and the refusal to speak the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous and Bill Wilson.
  5. Then the constant put-downs are very harmful and depressing and occasionally drive someone to suicide.
  6. Then there is the lying about the success rate, and trying to hide the fact that A.A. basically does not have a success rate.
  7. And then there is the giant problem that the actual results of 12-Step treatment of alcoholism are very negative — A.A. raises the rate of binge drinking, and raises the rate of rearrests, and increases the costs of hospitalization later, and raises the death rate in alcoholics. You are really betting your ass when you go to A.A.

A few good mentors don't make up for all of the fatal flaws and evils of A.A. Those few good mentors would do well to move to another organization like SMART or SOS or LifeRing or WFS where they can tell the truth and dispense some more logical advice.

Since A.A. doesn't want to be reformed, the best thing to do is shut it down and keep it from harming more people. It's time for A.A. to join the medical relics of history like blood-letting, leeches, the snake pit, and Freud's psychoanalysis couch.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the 
**   time when the quo has lost its status." 
**      —  LJ Peter

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Last updated 4 August 2012.
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