Letters, We Get Mail, CLIII

Date: Fri, December 4, 2009 11:25 pm     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "Alexandra C."
Subject: Twelve-Step Snake Oil

I stumbled upon your article recently, and I couldn't help but respectfully disagree with several statements regarding Alateen.

Hello Alexandra,

Thank you for the letter.

I have been a member of Alateen for two years, and I can safely say that I've hardly been "brainwashed" by the program. In fact, I've found a new grip on reality.

Hmmm... That sounds familiar.

The difficulties of living in the teenage world are ever-present, and it is a typical rite of passage for most people in American society. When paired with living in an alcoholic home environment, however, teens begin to feel jaded and hopeless. The principles taught in Alateen — anonymity, honesty, acceptance — are lost on high school campuses. We find a hope in our peers that we thought had been lost. There's an underlying foundation of unity that we can't find anywhere else. Cult or not, I wouldn't trade that for the world.

So your logic is, "It is difficult to be a teenager, so go join a cult religion"?

Beyond that, there seem to be some misconceptions with the program in your article that I have found present in Alateen propaganda as well as Alateen criticism. Firstly, though the twelve steps are nearly identical to those in Alcoholics Anonymous on paper, they are practiced very differently in Alateen. Specifics can be provided upon your request, but I will abstain from listing them for the moment.

Now this is curious: The very same words on paper, and yet you claim that "they are practiced differently?" Well then, you aren't "working the Steps properly", are you? I mean, the Steps are specific instructions to do things. Either you follow those instructions, or you don't.

If the Steps can be reinterpreted and changed and reworked at will, then the Steps don't really mean anything at all. They are just made-up nonsense. Everybody gets to change them as he wishes.

Secondly, one of the biggest challenges we face in Alateen is the fact that we are constantly being overshadowed by Al-Anon. There is a typical misconception that Al-Anon runs Alateen, that the teen meetings are just a place for the high school kids to "hang out" while their moms bitch about their husbands in the next room. We are a separate entity. We keep our own books, we organize our own events, and we write our own literature. Every year, we, as a group, with little to no influence by adults, organize a conference, where Alateens from all over Southern California gather. We meet, we get away for a weekend, and everything is done by our peers.

If I am not mistaken, Alateen is legally owned and controlled by Al-Anon. Al-Anon does more than "overshadow" Alateen. Furthermore, don't all Alateen functions have adult Al-Anon members supervising and chaperoning them?

The Alateen web site says:

Every Alateen group needs an active, adult member of Al-Anon to serve as sponsor. The sponsor is an active part of the group, guiding and sharing knowledge of our Twelve Steps and Alateen Traditions.

My last issue to address would be the sponsor, or "adult case manager," as you put it. Sponsors are NOT facilitators. More than anything, their duty is to serve us. They drive us all over the state just so we can get to events. They bring amenities to the meetings, and keep nosy Al-Anons from peeking their heads in and telling us how to run OUR program. Every sponsor is voted into our meeting after an appeal. They don't just get to come in and tell us how to live our lives. I mean, come on. We're teenagers. We're not about to let some jackass come in and act like they're superior to us. We wouldn't come back. More often than not, the sponsors stay silent during the entire meeting, unless their opinion is directly asked. Many sponsors are Alateens who outgrew the age range, and wanted nothing more than to be back and help others the way they were helped.

My collective point is this:

Both my parents are severe alcoholics. I live every day trying to heal from the damage that was inflicted ten years ago and yesterday. Before Alateen, I was utterly miserable; there was nothing to live for. Now, I know that there are people out there who feel the same way, and even if we're miserable together, I'm not alone.

If you are getting some feelings of comfort from commiserating with other children of alcoholics, then good. If you are practicing the 12 Steps, then not so good. Practicing Frank Buchman's old cult religion and wallowing in guilt and confessions is not a cure for having been abused. It is very bad mental health.

Alateen may be a "cult" by dictionary definition. Still, I'd rather be helping someone who doesn't think they'll be able to live through the hand they've been dealt than lying in the pool of blood, vomit, tears, and self-pity I wallowed in for five years.

I am not unsympathetic to your problem. I was the abused son of an alcoholic military sergeant father myself. And I can assure you that joining a cult religion that gets you confessing all of your "moral shortcomings" and "defects of character", and "finding your part in it", is not an answer to the bad memories, or to the hopeless feelings when trapped in such a family. I already had 20 years of a father listing my "defects of character", and I don't need any more of that.

So, my question to you is this: If Alateen isn't the answer, than what is?

How about some organization or club that does not foist old cult religion on suffering children?

How about something that uses Rational Behavioral Therapy or anything else that is sane and logical?

How about an organization that doesn't make you think it's okay to be in a cult?

If you are really sincerely looking for an alternative to Alateen (which I seriously doubt), I would ask about support groups on the forums of things like SMART, WFS, SOS, Lifering, and the like. There is a list of them here.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Man had achieved freedom from — without yet
**     having achieved freedom to — to be himself,
**     to be productive, to be fully awake.
**        == Eric Fromm

Date: Sat, December 5, 2009 3:28 pm     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "Marcos J."
Subject: no 12 steps


Hi again, Marcos,

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the
**      world in jeopardy.
**          ==  John Dewey

Date: Sat, December 5, 2009 3:24 am     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: VisualThinker
Subject: Great Work. Your research is amazing.

I'm still a 'member' of AA, but I've known for years that nearly every doctrine is blatantly false. The others are vague enough to have some value for some people. But NONE of them are true, or apply to everyone. I needed a structured way to look at myself. I rewrote the first step to say:

1. Am I powerless over alcohol? If I'm not powerless over it, why did I drink the way I did?

This led me onto a path of self analysis, rather than the mindless obedience that Wilson tried to get by browbeating people into admitting 'complete defeat'. I still enjoy some of the meetings, though.

Hello VisualThinker,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you have your head screwed on straight. You sound like you are doing okay. Congratulations.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Tain't what a man don't know that hurts him;
**     it's what he knows that just ain't so.
**        ==  Frank McKinney Hubbard ("Kin Hubbard")

May 17, 2009, Sunday: Day 17, continued:

Carmen's siblings == Canada Goose goslings
Two of Carmen's siblings

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Sun, December 6, 2009 11:46 am     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: Art P.
Subject: orange-papers

I was searching the web for info on the oxford group and found your web site.

Even though I find a lot of factual information on your web site, you come across as having a lot of anger. If the 12 steps don't work what do you suggest?

Finding Peace Everywhere

Art P.

Hello Art,

We have discussed that question many times, so I'll point you to the lists, starting here.

By the way, it isn't a matter of "If the 12 steps don't work..." The 12 Steps do not work at all as a program for quitting drinking and staying sober. They are ineffective and even harmful. The 12 Steps are just the recruiting and indoctrination techniques of an old cult religion, not anything for sobriety.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable
**    ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.
**       ==  Henry David Thoreau (1817—1862), American naturalist and essayist

Date: Mon, December 7, 2009 5:57 am (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "Al"
Subject: Agnostic AA?

I just went to my first meeting of agnostic AA where I openly criticised some aspects of AA and was well responded to. Can you give me your thoughts on this. I am new to recovery programs and want to put myself in the best situation possible.

Thanks and thanks for the site.


Hello Al,

All that I can say there is that your mileage may vary. I hear different things about different agnostic or atheist groups of A.A. You might like some.

You will of course always be a leper in the eyes of the regular believers in A.A., and they will always want to convert you, and make you come to your senses and believe "the right things".

The single biggest problem that I have with the agnostic or atheist A.A. "program" is that the 12 Steps are magical solutions where a "Higher Power" (God) supposedly answers your prayers after you confess your sins enough, and grants you sobriety. They claim that you cannot do it yourself — you are "powerless over alcohol" — so you must surrender yourself to God and hope that God will save you.

They aren't very clear about how that will work if there is no God who will save you.

They mumble things about "G.O.D. == Good Orderly Direction", but don't explain how surrendering my will and my life to "Good Orderly Direction" will make somebody stop drinking.

And if "G.O.D. == Group Of Drunks", no way do I want a bunch of drunks taking control of my life.

Date: Mon, December 7, 2009 3:02 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "Al"
Subject: Good luck

with the apt bozos. I hope you can answer this. I have been reading into rational recovery and liked what I was seeing until I found the blog. I am politically quite progressive and putting the words of the extreme right into something which is basically teaching me to reprogram my way of thinking scares me a lot. Are there any similar programs without such agendas that you feel are good?


Hi again Al,

Yes, I do hear that some people are put off by Jack Trimpey's attitudes or more radical statements.

But there are plenty of good alternatives.

Check these out:

  1. SMART: Self Management And Recovery Training.
    Rational, sane, common-sense recovery techniques. Based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, the brainchild of Dr. Albert Ellis.

  2. WFS (Women For Sobriety) also has online chat groups:
    For local group meetings in your area you can also call 1-800-333-1606.

  3. SOS, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a.k.a. "Save Our Selves".
    SOS is an alternative recovery method for those alcoholics or drug addicts who are uncomfortable with the spiritual or superstitious content of widely available 12-Step programs.

  4. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)
    LifeRing provides live, online meetings on the Internet:

  5. http://xsteppers.multiply.com/ — X-Steppers, have moved from MSN and found a new home on Multiply.

  6. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/12-step-free — Self-described as: 'This is a large yahoo group of ex-AA and ex-"XA" (meaning any "anonymous" program based on the 12 steps originally created by AA) people. It is very open to debate and free thinking, but it's main point is for those needing to be free of the 12 steps.'

  7. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/without_aa/ — Without A.A.

  8. http://groups.google.com/group/alt.recovery.from-12-steps/ — the newsgroup alt.recovery.from-12-steps
    (This one is problematic, in that many 12-Steppers lurk and troll and attack posters.)

  9. You can also get some more links from the start of the links page.

Also see these discussions of what has helped other people. The lists start here.

Especially see the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. That is my single favorite. It's been a life-saver to me. It is not a program, but rather a technique, and knowledge of how cravings for drink or dope work in your head.

That is essentially the same thing as learning to recognize "The Beast", as Jack Trimpey calls it. That is what Trimpey is teaching now at Rational Recovery — http://www.rational.org/

So you can learn a technique without accepting a package of politics or attitudes.

(By the way, Trimpey wrote two books about recovery. The first one — "The Small Book" — covered all of the various rational recovery modalities, like SMART, Rational Behavioral Therapy, and the rest. But then Trimpey declared that was all obsolete, and just pushed Addictive Voice Recognition Technique as the panacea in his second book, "Rational Recovery".)

About the apartment and moving: I am still packing. I wanted to be out of this apartment this weekend, but the weather people are predicting freezing rain and ice up to four inches thick all weekend, which makes driving a loaded truck around not too good. So I pack and box and pack, and answer another letter while I'm resting. And then go to the library and use the free wifi to upload web site updates, and then collect more boxes on the way home. I'll get there yet.

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Nature gave man two ends — one to sit on and one to
**     think with. Ever since then man's success or failure
**     has been dependent on the one he used the most.
**        ==  George R. Kirkpatrick

Date: Mon, December 7, 2009 3:19 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: morgs
Subject: Interesting

I have read through most of your info on AA and found it to be typically one-sided, as a liberal living off of the taxpayers would be.

Hello Morgs,

Thank you for the letter. Nothing like opening with an ad hominem attack. So let's get down to facts. Do you have any study, poll, or survey that shows that disabled veterans who are "living off of the taxpayers" have "bad" or "liberal" politics or attitudes? Or are you just making stuff up?

Your notion that AA teaches that it's program is the only way to stop drinking is hogwash. There are some individuals who may espouse this, but then again people with alcoholism have a mental illness. If you doubt that, you ought to write the government (that pays your disability) and tell them to stop all the misinformation about alcoholism being a disease.

"A.A. doesn't teach that it is the only way"? You are ignoring a lot of stuff.

Bill Wilson engaged in double-talk in the Big Book, and pulled a bait-and-switch trick when he first claimed that they only knew a little, and had no monopoly on recovery, and A.A. wasn't the only way to recover, and then later changed the story to "A.A. and the 12 Steps are the only way to avoid death". See the bait-and-switch tricks of:

And even today, the A.A. propagandists publish articles that make sweeping statements like:

One way or another Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a similar Twelve-Step program is an integral part of almost all successful recoveries from alcohol or drug abuse. In fact, it is widely believed that not including a Twelve-Step program in a treatment plan can put a recovering addict on the road to relapse.
The Recovery Book, Al J. Mooney M.D., Arlene Eisenberg, and Howard Eisenberg, pages 40-41.

(More on that article here.)

About the government, the NIAAA — specifically, Mark Willenbring, director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is a division of the National Institutes for Health — just declared that A.A. is wrong about alcohol abuse. Look here:

http://reason.com/blog/2009/11/19/niaaa-official-says-alcoholism? utm_source=feedburner&utm;_medium=feed& utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reason%2FHitandRun+%28Reason+Online+-+Hit+ %26+Run+Blog%29&utm;_content=Google+Feedfetcher

And here is a video of Mark Willenbring talking about alcoholism:


Also see: U.S. Government (NIH) Endorses Alternatives To AA

I know many cases of individuals who went to AA and decided that it wasn't for them. Some got involved in their churches and stayed sober, some I never heard about again, some died of esophageal hemmorhages or liver disease, some went to jail.

Yes, I have seen similar things. And the point is?

What I really find interesting is your absolute loathing for AA. Most people who write about AA in a negative light run drug and alcohol rehab centers. I do understand your fear of cults, which may be the reason for your vicious attacks. The fact is, I know many people from AA who think for themselves. They do what they want, and have to accept responsibility for their actions.

I am not afraid of cults. Please do not try to put words into my mouth. I despise cults because I am a child of the sixties, and I've seen many cults. In the 'sixties, a lot of young people were seeking something better, something new and spiritual and enlightened, and a bunch of lying con artists came over here from India and Korea and Japan and elsewhere, and cheated them. And more cockroaches came out of the woodwork here in the USA, and we had a whole bunch of all-American cults too. And they all mislead and disillusioned a lot of kids.

When the two "Perfect Master" brothers were arguing over who got the title of "The One and Only Perfect Master", and sued each other in a court in India, the judge said something like, "There is no greater crime in this world than to deceive men in the name of God. Both of you get out of my courtroom." Yay Judge! I feel the same way too.

I know that there are some sane people in A.A. who think for themselves, and I have said so repeatedly. I even call them "the Newcomer Rescue League". Also look here and here and here and here and here.

That does not change the fact that the overall effect of A.A. is to make alcoholics worse off. The actual effects of A.A. involvement are: raising the rate of binge drinking, and raising the rate of rearrests for drunkenness, and raising the death rate of alcoholics. But how could you expect anything else from practicing a cult religion?

The government spends millions (probably billions) of dollars a year on drug and alcohol addiction treatment with very little success. People don't quit until they really want to quit. That is the reason for so many people not getting coins in AA. Even if AA is 'fooling' a person into thinking that God is relieving them from the drink problem, it doesn't matter, if they stay sober and live a better life.

Your whole argument hinges on that last "if". Well, A.A. does not work to get alcoholics sober or keep them sober. So that argument is worthless.

I agree that alcoholics and addicts don't quit until they want to quit. And that is one of the big reasons why A.A. does not work.

You talk about the leadership of AA in New York. Why don't you go there and talk to them in person before saying you know so much about it? Scared to find out something that doesn't fit into your 'cult theory'?

Well, it would be expensive to go to New York. If I were to go to New York, what I would really want is to get into the locked and sealed Alcoholics Anonymous secret historical archives, and get some more real facts. I can get misinformation from the A.A. headquarters here for free, like this.

What I really find surprising is the fact that I wasted so much time writing to you, when you're probably a bitter old man who is set in his ways and can't possibly think with an objective ego. Maybe you can start doing something positive for society instead of trying to slander people who are actually trying.

More ad hominem attacks. Don't you have any facts in your toolbox?

We have talked many times about what really works, and what helps people. Start here.

Oh yeah, congratulations on always being correct about everything. I'm sure that makes you a fun person to be around.

And that is the propaganda and debating trick of sarcasm.

God Bless You (ha, yep I'm sure if there's a God He loves you too)

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.
**        ==  Bertrand Russell

Date: Tue, December 8, 2009 9:16 am     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "bill"
Subject: Thanks!

Orange, thanks for all the work you've done to help people.

Here is a site I think should be on your list of useful reading.


Hello Bill,

Thank you for the compliments and the link. I'll go check it out.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

LATER: Okay, now that I've had a chance to go check it out, I see that it is "Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support". Okay, yes, there is a place for that. I'm sure that it can help a lot of people.

I have to insert a caveat here: "But it's not for me." That is, I'm one of those people who just has to totally abstain from some things, particularly alcohol and tobacco. With those things, I can't "just have one". So moderation isn't for me. Total abstinence is. More on that here.

I am reminded of the famous Rand Corporation study that found that about half of the alcoholics who quit their self-destructive drinking did it by total abstinence, but the other half did it by tapering off into moderate, controlled drinking. So, apparently, HAMS can help at least half of the alcoholics. Well, that's good. That is a lot of lives improved.

So, I'm adding this to my lists:

Again, have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve.
**        ==  John Keats (1795—1821)

Date: Wed, December 9, 2009 7:29 am     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "James B."
Subject: What's the point?

You seem to be putting quite a bit of effort into convincing everyone that AA doesn't work.

Bottom line is......what does it matter, and who really cares?

Hello James,

Thanks for the letter. It matters a lot to the people who are dying of alcohol abuse or drug addictions. And to their wives and children and other loved ones.

Fact is, it does work on some. Not all....just some.

No, "IT" does not work. A few people cure themselves, and A.A. steals the credit. But A.A. never accepts the blame for the huge number of failures.

The overall effect of 12-Step treatment or involvement is very negative. When it was tested, A.A. raised the rate of binge drinking, and raised the rate of rearrests for drunkenness, and raised the death rate of alcoholics. A.A. also made later hospitalization more expensive. And Doctors Orford and Edwards found that having a doctor talk to the patient and his wife for just one hour, one time was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.

Additionally, it doesn't cost a dime. It's not like anyone is benefiting financially or gaining fame and fortune based on the amount of attendance at meetings.

Actually, 12-Step treatment centers are not free. They charge anything from $1700 to $40,000 for a 28-day introduction to Frank Buchman's religion.

It's free, it's altruistic, and if it doesn't work for anyone they are free find something else that does.

A.A. meetings are free, but the rest isn't. And people who are sentenced to A.A. meetings are not free to go elsewhere. And when quack medicine, like the 12 Steps, harms people, that isn't "free".

So, my question again is why are you exerting so much time, energy and effort into trying to convince everyone AA doesn't work?

To get the truth out.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I hope I shall possess firmess and virtue enough to maintain
**     what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character
**     of an honest man.
**        ==  George Washington (1732 — 1799)

Date: Tue, December 8, 2009 8:24 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "R. J."
Subject: A New World

Dear Agent Orange,

I can't begin to tell you how blown away I am by your site and the Rational.org website of Jack Trimpey. It's funny how life flows.

I'm 60 years old, and I've been to a Chemical Dependency program twice in my life; once in 1985, when I was 36 years old, and once this year. Both were 12 Step Programs and A.A. based.

When I went into rehab in '85, I was pretty screwed up at the time. I was working seasonally as a Class 1 Truck Driver in the Central Valley of California. I had a lot of time on my hands during the offseason and soon found some guys into meth. I hadn't used it since my younger days in New York, during the Woodstock era, but once I came across it again in 1980, I really really got into it.

After 5 years of heavy use, and numerous trips to the emergency room, I came upon that fateful day, when I got called back to work, and couldn't do it. There was no way I could go drive a big rig. I couldn't function, so I got up one morning and sat there looking through the yellow pages for help. My wife saw me, and told me she knew of a place called The Phoenix Program at St. Joe's Hospital. Apparently, she was ready for this day.

I packed a bag, and went in. I was elated that I was actually asking for help, until the head counselor told me, "This is only the beginning." That kind of deflated me, but I went with the flow, did what they wanted me to do, and then went to a year's worth of aftercare meetings one day a week.

During my aftercare, I went back to College, got a degree and a Certificate in Electron Microscopy, and got a good job in the Semiconductor Industry in Silicon Valley, CA, bought a house, and raised a family. I never went to one single A.A. meeting and stayed clean and sober for 12 years. I literally got on with my life, and forgot all about drugs and alcohol. I've never touched street drugs since then, and only used pain pills when I had a serious hip injury once.

One day in '97, I stopped on the way home from work (it was a 90 mile ride on Friday), and had two beers. I wasn't depressed, sad, didn't have money troubles, I simply thought it would be ok. I did that for about 5 years, and then lost my job in 2002 to outsourcing. I worked out of the house from then on, and slowly but surely started drinking until health issues once again caught up to me over the last couple of years. So, I decided to go into rehab, get 30 days behind me, and put a final end to drinking.

On the day I arrived at rehab in Nov of this year, one of the first lectures I went to was "Alternate Methods for Recovery". He had both of Trimpey's books in the front of the class. My roommate took one out, and read it and told me about it. I read it after him, it was "The Small Book".

It was as if everything I ever thought was found in this little book. For the last week I was there, any time we had a book study meeting I would read from The Small Book. I knew I was pushing the limit, and that they were getting a little nervous about what I was doing, but they all respected me, and let me say what I wanted to. My counselor said I "walked a fine line, but did a very good job of it."

After I got out, I read "Rational Recovery" and my same roommate told me about your site. Needless to say, this whole thing is amazing to me, and I am grateful for what you and Trimpey have done. You opened a new world to me. Who knows, last time I quit drugs, I made a new life for myself. Maybe this time I will too.

I'm struggling a little with whether or not I'll ever go back to Alumni Meetings at my last Rehab Center. I know they will want me to talk, because I always did. I'm trying to think what I could say. I'm not so sure I can walk that fine line anymore.

It's still a work in progress, but here's my first attempt. I'm open to suggestions:

Hi, my name is Robert. I graduated from here on Nov 26th 2009.

Twice in my life I quit smoking, and twice in my life I quit drinking/drugs. The first time I quit smoking was in 1979, I lasted 6 years before I started smoking again. I started smoking again on the day of the first time I quit drinking/drugs in 1985. The first time I quit drinking/drugs I lasted 12 years. I never even thought about drugs or alcohol after the first couple of years, let alone use them, I was too busy going back to school and getting on with my life.

During that time I quit smoking for the second time (in 1989) and I haven't smoked since. It's been 20 years since I last smoked.

Aside from the time I was here and the time I was at my first Rehab Center, I've never been to an A.A. Meeting or any 12 Step Meeting of any kind.

After 12 years of abstinence, I started drinking again, first just a couple of beers a day, but later heavily. I made the mistake in '85 of not realizing I had to quit for life back then, so I left the door open. Plus, I thought a couple of beers couldn't hurt me, if I didn't use drugs (which I didn't). I was wrong.

In 2009, I quit drinking for the second time in my life. If my experience with smoking is any guide, this should be the last time I have to quit drinking, because I most likely will never drink again. (AV [Addictive Voice] still hedging "its" bets a little here).

Now, I certainly wouldn't call myself a "smoke-aholic". That would be silly, wouldn't it? I'm an ex-smoker. Logically then, I'm also an ex-drinker/user. No? True, I was an alcoholic, but I quit, so now I'm an ex-alcoholic, or better yet, a person who once had a chemical dependency but no longer does.

I was never really an addict, even though I almost killed myself on numerous times taking meth and cocaine. To be an addict, I would have had to admit that I wanted to quit, but kept on using anyway. I never did that. The first time I really knew I had to quit, I did. That makes me an ex-chemical dependent for drugs also.

I'd like to tell you how I did it. How I quit, I mean...

Right about here I'm guessing the crowd would be getting restless. This is definitely not your typical drug-a-log.

Take care for now Agent Orange. I still have a lot of your site to read, so I'll be around for awhile. Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about what to do with my next 12 years.


Hello R.J.,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And thanks for the story. I hope and trust that you are doing well now.

So have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.
**     I just watch what they do.
**        ==  Andrew Carnegie

Date: Wed, December 9, 2009 5:20 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "John McC"
Subject: "Hope" DVD by AAWS

Hey Orange,

Here is something to add a little "audio-video commentary" to your "Orange Papers" site. AAWS has produced a 16:22 minute DVD called "Hope" (I showed it to my DUI group last night-and a SMART Recovery DVD as well). AAWS sent it to me for free, and if you can get one, maybe you could put it on your site with YOUR insightful commentary on what the DVD does NOT reveal about AA (e.g. that the 12 Steps are NOT "suggestions", that there is nothing said about needing a "sponsor" — who will "know you better then you know you" — that IS on the DVD!). It would be a great way to upgrade your site with one of AAWS's OWN produced DVD's, as you have done with all their other publications!

Hope things are continuing well,

John McC., M-RAS, NCAC-I

Hi again, John,

Thanks for the note. I shall have to check that out. But alas, putting it on my site might be a violation of copyright law. I'll have to check on that.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Virtue has always been conceived of as
**     victorious resistance to one's vital desire.
**        ==  James Branch Cabell

Date: Thu, December 10, 2009 10:39 am     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "david p."

was just reading some letters on people saying aa dont work,thats becouse they dont no what aa is,and if their still drinking ,and they dont wont to,i no why tell them to email me and stop slaggin aa of ,they dont no that they dont no and thats ok,

regards David .P

Hello David,

Thanks for the letter. A lot of people who do know what A.A. is say that it doesn't work. Look here.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     An old error is always more popular than a new truth.
**        ==  German Proverb

Date: Wed, December 9, 2009 9:48 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: brian
Subject: AA Article

Read your article on AA. I have found it interesting that in my 25 years in the program that few people I have known have died of alcoholism. This includes those who still attend meetings and those who do not. Many have drank again and many sober up from time to time but few have died from alcoholism. I also have asked other members and they admit that they do not really know many members who have died from alcoholism. I have seen some suffer for many years but again not great evidence that points to the death rate I often hear about. I have to think many alcoholics live into ther sixties and sventies and beyond.

Thanks Brian

Hello Brian,

Thanks for the letter. I know that a lot of people get over alcohol abuse and recover their health (including me). The Harvard Medical School reported that "at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated."

But just glancing around at your meeting and seeing few deaths is too casual of a survey to provide meaningful or reliable data. It is too small of a sample. Other people look around at their meetings and see deaths all over the place, like here and here and here.

And then there is the problem of the "official" cause of death. Often, when a person both drinks heavily and smokes heavily — which most alcoholics do — the tobacco often kills him before the alcohol does. So the death certificate says something like "lung cancer" or "heart attack". But the alcohol was partially responsible for the chain smoking. Nevertheless, alcohol gets a pass, and isn't listed as the cause of death.

And then there is the problem of visibility. People who are staying in A.A. and keeping themselves sober show up at meetings. People who went back to drinking don't bother to come to A.A. meetings. So of course you don't see those deaths.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "People always come up to me and say that my smoking
**        is bothering them... Well, it's killing me!"
**           ==   Wendy Liebman

Date: Wed, December 9, 2009 9:15 pm     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: "mike h."

Hey Orange,

First off I would like to say that your site is very detailed, and you are quite the resourceful fellow. I personally am unbiased regarding AA (I know there are flaws, but try to see the good in all things), but always appreciated and enjoy delving into the prehistory of things. I especially liked all the information on other sub-culture extremist groups, that in all honesty, I had never even heard of before!

This brings me to why I emailed you, and I apologize, it doesn't have anything to do with alcoholism or addiction, and may or may not have anything in relation to a cult. Do you have any extensive information on Free-Masonry? I am currently kind of fascinated and obsessed with finding out as much as I can about this organization, simply for the sake of learning. I can't find anything online beyond the typical vague analysis. Anything you can offer is greatly appreciated!

Warm Regards,
Michael H.

p.s. Congrats on your 8+ years sober, I am also a recovered alcoholic. Stay well Orange!

Hi Michael,

Thanks for all of the compliments. And congratulations on your own recovery too.

Alas, I know almost nothing about the Free-Masons. They are just outside of my realm of experience. The only information I've gotten about them is that one of the co-founders of A.A., Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, was a Mason. (Look here.)

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There is no failure except in no longer trying.
**        ==  Elbert Hubbard

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:52:23 -0800 (PST)     (answered 11 December 2009)
From: Marcos J
Subject: site link etc...

Hello Orange,

Thanks for acknowledging my existence... the no 12 steps site is the latest in a war i can't quit fighting... 24 out of 45 years in and around the rooms will do that to you... IF YOU CAN THINK... it was upon finding your site while doing further research for the latest most thorough 4 step that my eyes began to open... the truth that i might as well have been a moonie was tough to swallow at first, but i'm becoming more at peace with it... however, often it does seem as if i'm all out here by myself since of course i have no aa "friends" left... which is fine by me for the most part but still stings... BECAUSE I BELIEVED... almost...


PS: i respect and admire the effort you've put in to the Papers... if i had 1/2 your brain i might be dangerous...


Hi again, Marcos,

Thanks for the compliments. You have a good day and a Merry Christmas now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     For us, patriotism is the same as love of humanity.
**        ==  Mohandas Gandhi

Date: Fri, December 11, 2009 8:40 am     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: "Ruth D."
Subject: Your Orange papers.


It doesn't seem that these links in your paper are active.

Hello Ruth,

Thanks for the letter. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing which links you mean, or which page you are reading, or even which web site you are looking at. It helps immensely if people give exact URLs and quote something so that it is clear what they are talking about.

I have been attending AA on and off for 20 years, I have never heard of the 'Midtown Group.' AA isnt a cult. if someone doesnt want to go to AA, they dont have to go! If the so-called Midtown Group exists, it's not something AA would endorse , I' sure, and sounds like they violate the 12 traditions.So, it's a bad group. So what? People can go to a different group. The program is the steps, which are suggested only.

Those are all standard cult slogans. You are just minimizing and denying.

And yes, the Midtown Group most assuredly exists. Look here. And so does the Pacific Group, and the Young People's A.A. in Phoenix, and the Bainbridge Island Group, and the sexual exploitation society in Minneapolis... And the one in Miami Beach...

As far as "violating the 12 Traditions" goes, the Traditions are a joke. Bill Wilson violated them all of the time. The 12 Traditions are just 12 more rules that Bill Wilson made up one day, and then didn't bother to follow himself.

I question your motive for conspiracy here.

?Motive for conspiracy? You mean the A.A. conspiracy to continue bilking billions of dollars out of sick people by selling them old cult religion in "12-Step treatment centers"?

There doesn't seem to be any. Alcoholics just aren't that organized! The program is the 12 steps , which are 'suggested'. And you know, there are 'bad' therapists, ''bad' ministers, 'bad' teachers, 'bad doctors, etc,etc, etc, in every group in every walk of life! If one doesn't work, try another.

That is more rationalization, and minimalization and denial. You are trying the propaganda trick called Escape via Relativism — "there is bad everywhere — your mileage may vary — there are bad teachers everywhere."

You keep saying that "the 12 Steps are just suggested". That is another bait-and-switch trick: First, they will tell you that the Twelve Steps are only suggested as a program of recovery, but then you hear the slogan "Work The Steps Or Die".

At some point, people need to decide for themselves. The 12 steps are to help people get sober. After that, what they want to do with their life and their soul is whatever they want to do! And again, getting sober with or without the steps, IS A CHOICE.

The 12 Steps are actually cult recruiting and indoctrination tools that were created and popularized by Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman in his "Oxford Group". Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith learned them when they were members of that cult.

I agree that people have to decide for themselves when to quit drinking. And that's why the 12 Steps don't work to make people quit drinking.

It just seems you need to find something constructive to do, this seems to be a waste of time.

If you have better options to offer, quit being so negative, and share hope and other options, not this negative waste of time. Because the underlying message I hear, is that you are not a happy camper. And if you are 'sober', then why should people listen, unless they want what you have?

For some lists of hopeful, positive discussions of what really works, start here.

By the way, it isn't necessary to have another cure in order to criticize quack medicine and fraud.

Best wishes! RD

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas too, Ruth.

== Orange

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

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Last updated 22 October 2011.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters153.html