Letters, We Get Mail, CLIV

Date: Thu, December 10, 2009 8:32 pm     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: "Tim J. S."
Subject: Happy Holidaze

Hi "Orange",

I hope the end of the year finds you well.

I'm on my tenth month of sobriety now, the longest for me since 1996 and it's great! This holidaze season will be a quiet one for me, as I have no family nearby and I don't really socialize with my co-workers (other than the occasional foray into Facebook, and staying away from alcohol isn't that big a deal. I finally got it through my thick skull that I needed to stop doing what caused me pain.

Just like the old joke:

PATIENT: Doctor! It hurts when I do this! [LIFTS ARM]

DOCTOR: Well then, don't do that!

A mini-horror story from when I was in inpatient "treatment": At the 90-day one I went through (completed twice and ran off after 2 weeks the third time) as a means of disciplining those who violated the rules, or offended the director in any way, the offender had to write out on notebook paper THE ENTIRE FIFTH CHAPTER of "Alcoholics Anonymous". After doing that, the pages were brought to the director, who then tore them apart. Luckily, I was spared such an indignity, as I was a "good role model" Sick stuff.

Anyway, stay warm and dry and keep up the Good Fight.

As always,


Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your sobriety.

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas too.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, December 10, 2009 9:13 pm     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: "member of A.A."
Subject: Injury, pain and sponsors

Hello Orange,

I can type this e-mail to you due to having taken, per doctor's prescription, a narcotic pain medicine prescribed this evening on an visit to a clinic following a bad fall to rule out broken ribs &/or a punctured lung. My ribs and lungs were ok but a muscle was so injured I could not help but yell in pain when it was touched and part of my body was numb and it was painful to move and breathe. I shared all of my medical history with the doctor, including the fact that I do not drink today because I am an alcoholic. I have another responsible adult person at home charged with giving me the pills so I don't take more than needed or take any longer than needed for the pain.

I called my sponsor this evening for our pre-planned chat time, The conversation was like this :

me : I had a slip last night — oh not like that sounds — I slipped in my sock feet and had a very hard fall. By the next day I was in so much pain it hurt to move and was hard to breathe. I went to the doctor and was x-rayed to rule out cracked ribs and to check my lungs and I don't have any broken bones and I am now wearing a brace. I was prescribed a pill for the pain and

"sponsor": What was the pill

me : Hydrocodone

"sponsor": I wouldn't have that filled

me : Well I did and I just took one. I was in so much pain and I told the doctor everything

"sponsor" : That is the time to call your sponsor. We don't have to take medicine for pain.

me : Well I was in so much pain and I don't have a cell phone

"sponsor" : Call me when you are off the pain pills. You should have called me first. Click.

My thoughts :

  1. May the bitch experience the injuries I did and worse and have someone tell her not to take anything stronger than Advil.
  3. I was prescribed a narcotic and am taking it under doctor's orders and under supervision by a responsible adult household member who understands the highly addictive nature of the drug. I don't anticipate taking it longer than 24 hours if that long. It is very nice to be able to breathe normally and move my arm without pain.
  5. I hate the judgmental cow-herd mentality of so many AA's who have built their social lives around "the fellowship" and parrot what others say rather than READ THE BOOK. And neglecting to study an AA pamphlet "The AA member, Medications and Other Drugs" which contains words of wisdom like "No AA member plays doctor" and surprise, surprise, "Alcoholics are not immune to other diseases".
  6. Some AA's take pain medicines and "slip". That is a result of their own lack of a spiritual connection with a higher power of their understanding and not a result of taking medicine AS PRESCRIBED.
  7. I will probably soon be praying to my higher power to put the sponsor I need in my life since my present one does not like the fact that she is not my God. My previous "show me where it says that in the Big Book" requests got responses like "I won't work with you if you have an attitude".
  8. I have seen so many people hurt by AA — not AA as presented in the Big Book but the "program" as presented through a bunch of sick holier-than-thou assholes. They are responsible for the death of some alcoholics as surely as the substance alcohol.

PLEASE don't use my e-mail or name — just call me a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Hello, "Member of A.A.",

Thank you for the letter. Of course you know that I couldn't agree more. Sponsors are not doctors. Sponsors are not legally permitted to prescribe or proscribe medications. Sponsors have no medical training.

The arrogance and stupidity of those fools to think that they can cure things with the 12 Steps.

Oh well, take care of yourself. Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== 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.

UPDATE: There is now an entire file of A.A. "No Medications" horror stories, here: A.A. "No Meds" Stories.

Date: Sat, December 12, 2009 1:51 pm     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: "John"
Subject: 'Bless' You

I know you have heard this before, but you articulate almost all of the critical thoughts I have had about AA since my first indoctrination in 1995. I spent nearly countless hours in meetings with the feeling that something just wasn't right. The problem is that, as you so eloquently reveal, AA has an (usually bogus) answer for anything you can throw up against it. I particularly identify with your descriptions of the redefinition of the past. When I got done with my last fifth step, I felt dirty and dishonest. I had been encouraged in the previous six months of treatment to greatly exaggerate my history to fit the AA model. As a result, my fifth step really didn't square with reality and I just knew I could not go on with the program any longer. Just the reference to "the program" should be a red flag for anyone who has even a vague understanding of cult terminology.

Anyhow, keep up the good work. I finally extricated myself from my neck of the cult, but I need to get into some sort of rational therapy and there is very little here in Mississippi. Fortunately, I am headed out your way (Seattle) and hope to find some help there. Will write more later. Hope your move went well. Please keep my e-mail anonymous. Thanks.


Hello John,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you escaped from the madhouse, and I hope that you are doing well.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

P.S.: the move is still just beginning.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     He who will not reason, is a bigot;
**     he who cannot is a fool;
**     and he who dares not is a slave.
**         ==  Sir William Drummond (1585—1649)

Date: Sat, December 12, 2009 7:41 am     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: Joe
Subject: Thank you

Thank you for your very enlightening and truthful article. It's obvious that you did a lot of research on AA.

I have been sober two months. Recently, I voluntarily attended an intensive outpatient program, at the Booker Mental Health Center, in Shrewsburty (New Jersey) for alcoholics and narcotics addicts (though I have never used narcotics) that is sponsored by a local hospital, here in New Jersey (paid for by my health insurance). I have also, as recommended — indeed strongly insisted upon — by the addiction counselor (in group sessions) attended dozens of local AA meetings, of all types (discussion, step meetings, big book meetings, speaker meetings) during this time and, again, at the urging of the counselor, obtained a sponsor.

As an agnostic (and a secular Jew), I have been very uncomfortable with the constant references to "spirituality" and the AA (obvious, to me, anyway) linkage to religion at the meetings. Particularly, I have found the institutionalized employment of the "Lord's Prayer" at the end of almost every meeting very disturbing. It is hypocritical of the AA people to claim that everyone may interpret "a higher power" in their own way, but then incorporate a direct reference to "The Lord" or "God" in their meetings.

I have also been uncomfortable with the AA claim that one must accept the notion of being "powerless," in the face of an addiction, which would have me surrender sovereignty over my life to a dogma. I simply refuse to do this. I am an artist and artists can only truly express themselves through their individuality; we are by nature not part of the "herd." I know that I will not drink again. I don't need AA to help me do that. I like the feeling of waking up in the morning and not feeling strung out; I also, as a rational man, realize that my health will deteriorate if I continue to drink ( I have a couple of health problems now, which would only be exacerbated by the continued use of alcohol).

Again, thank you (I intend to show your article to anyone who appears open minded on the subject).


Hello Joe,

Thank you for the letter, and thank you for the compliments. And I am glad to hear that you are thinking for yourself, and I hope that you are well. Congratulations on your sobriety.

Of course I have to agree with your points, especially the ones about God and powerlessness. Of course they are trying to push a particular kind of patriarchal micro-managing God Who delivers miracles on demand. The claim that you can have any God you want is just a smoke screen to hide their real beliefs. And powerlessness? If I were really powerless over alcohol, I would have died long ago.

So have a good life, and Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Question with boldness even the existence of God;
**     because, if there be one, he must more approve of
**     the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
**         ==  Thomas Jefferson (1743—1826)

Date: Sat, December 12, 2009 12:22 pm     (answered 12 December 2009)
From: "Carol"
Subject: hello

Hello Orange,

I think more people should share their deprogramming experience. I quit AA a little more than 2 years ago. During a meeting my gut instinct screamed at me to get out of AA now and I listened. It was the best thing I could of ever done for myself as far as recovery is concerned.

After finding the anti-AA on the net, I started deprogramming. Even if other people's truth helped me to deprogram it really is a process a person has to want to make alone. It takes deprogramming yourself from a group of people who are sick and want to be diseased forever. They all want you to be diseased forever. It takes seeing all the misinformation for the deception that it was all meant to be in the first place.

It isn't hard to realize that AA is a place full of predators. It took reading a lot of material about recovery that was not AA literature and made more sense. It was painful for the first year, because of how deeply involved I had become. The second year was a little better.

Recently all sorts of AA members have attempted to contact me and it is creepy. Each one of them was creepy in their own little AA way. The AA dogma sticks out like a sore thumb. Through deprogramming I am able to see it for what it really was. It is very sick indeed to be reduced to thinking and speaking by the terms AA does brainwash its members with.

Personally, I am glad that I never really did "get it" and that it didn't "work" for me. AAs seem to all get each other, but I don't find it intellectually stimulating or funny. It is annoying to talk with AA members, and I did not encourage them to attempt to contact me in the future. Knowing that the net is full of people who have been intentionally harmed by the cult of AA during a vulnerable time in their life is what keeps me centered and strong inside. Just to know that I am not alone in my distaste for what really goes on inside of AA and all of its affiliations that it denies having. AA is one big lie and knowing the truth is what honestly sets a person free ...


Hello Carol,

Thank you for the letter and your experiences in deprogramming. I'm glad to hear that you too have escaped from the madhouse.

One phrase that really stood out for me was, "a group of people who are sick and want to be diseased forever."

I was immediately reminded of something that somebody told me years ago: Hospital staff become pretty skilled at seeing who is recovering and who isn't. One of the big indicators of a patient who is recovering is that he/she stops hanging out with the sick people and starts hanging out with the healthy people. Which is just what A.A. does not want you to do.

Oh well, have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Health is the greatest of all possessions;
**     a pale cobbler is better than a sick king.
**        ==  Isaac Bickerstaff (1735—1812), English dramatist

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

Carmen + sibling == Canada Goose goslings
Carmen and a brother
Carmen is on the right. The boy has a noticeably larger body.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Sun, December 13, 2009 12:13 am     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: "Steve H."
Subject: Belated thanks

Agent Orange,

I am very grateful to you for your site. I may have written once a long time ago but can't recall right now. The information you've researched and posted really helped me in my battles both with substance abuse and the steppers who claimed to be trying to help me with that.

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. I'm glad to hear that my web site helped you in some way.

It's been over 23 years since my first AA experience and I have 11 months clean and sober now. Back in my 30s I had 9 years and I'm still not clear on how much of a role the negative reinforcement of the 12-steps might have played then. I knew that if I drank or used again I would have to go back to those goddam meetings and I didn't want that. Sometimes I feel like they still owe me 8 cakes but oh well, I'd have had to show up to get them. Back surgery, pain meds and a nasty divorce took me out and kept me out for years — it's been quite a struggle getting back. Several times I was surrounded by a choir of other old LA punk rock musicians who are at this point unrecognizable to me with all the higher power/surrender crap they say. They asked me who of our set was alive and still using and it really depressed me to realize how almost all the old friends who survived are now respected elders in this spiritual freak show. Some have even become born-again christians after talking about their god in meetings for so many years. Gah.

Congratulations on your sobriety, and for keeping up the battle too.

Yes, it's really sad to see the old radicals burning out. I feel the same way when one of my contemporary hippies throws his logical thinking mind into the trashcan and just buys a package of nonsense. Oh well, so it goes.

I just saw the film Susan and God (1940) and I can't find the link on your site about it but I think I learned of it here? If so thanks but if not you should see it. Joan Crawford plays a hypocrite socialite member of a spiritual temperance group that's based on Buchman's MA. It was so good for me not only to see a hated program archetype well played by Crawford, but also to realize just how many people saw right through this crap from its inception.

Yes, that search engine is a problem. It's the only one that my web hosting company, HostMonster.com, provides, and it has problems.

The easiest way to search within a page is just use a slash. That is, in Mozilla or Firefox, just type a slash ('/'), and a search box opens at the bottom of the page. Just type in the phrase that you are looking for. I think it works the same way in Micro$uck Internet Explorer and most other browsers.

So what I do is use Google to locate the right page, and then use slash to search within the page.

Yes, I have a couple of links to "Susan and God", like here. I find the satire of the Oxford Group/Moral Re-Armament meeting to be very biting wit.

For some reason the search function on your site isn't working for me and the google code for searching within a site is escaping me.

I don't know any Google code for searching within a page, either. I just use the slash.

You once had an article called something like "Where Are All the Oldtimers?" that pointed out that there should be a lot more of them in attendance if things worked as swimmingly as AA claims. Maybe you can tell me where that is on the site.

That "Where Are All the Oldtimers?" question actually came from a Michael, who contributed an analysis of the A.A. numbers, here.

Also your list of What's Good About AA was a lot of the things I've been concentrating on lately as I still attend a weekly We Agnostics AA meeting here in LA. Most of the members there have sorted out those things you list and that's what we go there to practice. Almost the only time we hear about steps or sponsorship is when we share our disdain for them. Actually there are some guys there who claim atheism and also work the steps but I still haven't heard any of them explain that to my own satisfaction.


— Steve

Yes, I couldn't agree more.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    I am a man, and whatever concerns humanity is of interest to me.
**       == Terence  (190—150 B.C.), Roman comic poet

Date: Sun, December 13, 2009 7:47 am     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: "ben i."


I am writing to you as a very confused person. Please bare with me, i imagine that you get alot of email from angry aa'ers and the like, this email is far from it, i come to you for an opinion and some advice.

I have been in AA for 13 months now. I wasnt an every day drinker, but i did have little or no control over my drinking when i drank, and it left me in some terrible situations and in a terrible way, i also developed a prescription drug problem. The culmination of these things led me into aa after i woke up needing to do something, which is how i found my way into aa.

Around 2-3 weeks in i got a sponsor, i went through the steps in around 2-3 months and took service positions at 2 of the three meetings i attended weekly. Im now the secretary of a newcomers meeting on a Monday evening. Things seemed to get alot better, i got on my knees daily, took step 10 every night and did and to some extent said the right things.

Lately for some reason i just dont feel right. I cant explain what this is about or how and when it exactly came about. The other evening i was in a meeting and i had a case of mild anxiety. I suddenly felt that if i tried to leave this group, or move away from the people around me something terrible would happen to me. That seemed to be the drop that started the waterfall over the last few days. I dont know where this feeling came from, it just did and its caused me to ask questions.

I was aware that i had started to share positively and talk about the programme and how great it was, even though i didnt feel that way. i wasnt sure why i was doing it. I was scared to share negatively in front of people, in case they think im weak, unwell or 'not getting it'. I had started to judge other peoples recovery. To judge other people. I was aware that i am sharing absolutely everything with my sponsor, even the most private of things as secrets keep you sick so i was told. It seemed to be that if i got angry, over sensitive, frustrated or agitated i was patronised or sometimes laughed at by my sponsor and simply told to pray. I feel like these are normal human emotions. I know too much of anything is a bad thing, but i feel these are normal human emotions just as it is normal to have an opinion on people around you and the things they say or do as sometimes it effects you. I feel like if i stop all this and move away from AA I'll be labelled unwell, not really an alcoholic, not ready, sick or in denial — even though i have faced my darkest demons. For some reason, and this is going to sound crazy, i feel like if i walk away from this, i will be struck down by god. I feel like if i dont pray every day i will be deemed ungrateful, or like im taking the piss, and bad things will happen to me. I dont know why i have had these feelings input into me. I dont know how this happened. I like to think of myself as fairly streetwise and clued up, yet i feel like there is some hold over me, and though its not been done obviously, i feel like im caught up in something that has a hold of me. My girlfriend is worried. She says i do too much in AA, im there 3-4 times a week and as a result our relationship is suffering. People in AA say that AA comes first. Perhaps its me, and i obsess over AA like i did drinking and drugging, but have this awful feeling that i have been brainwashed into believing things that may not be true, and its really confusing me. I dont think any of this has been obviously done, perhaps subtly. No one seems obviously trying to control me, but i feel just like im being conditioned what to think, say, behave and do, and its turned my brain upside down.

There are some glaringly obvious things that go on which i am told not to talk about, or rather 'dont worry about him, worry about you' — seems to be there are alot of ambiguous meanings and sayings in AA, which wrapped up as good advice, actually deter you from questioning certain things you see and hear. There seems to be an individual who runs the show. He seems to sponsor alot of people i know and not only blatently doesnt practice what he preaches, also seems to operate a 'do as i say' operation. I agree with patience and tolerance, but i find it hard to get along with this person. Surely one man sponsoring everyone means you get only his message. I have seen people who havent worked the steps, who are chronic relapsers stand up and do chairs about how great aa is — in front of new people who are sat there believing it. I cant help but think thats bullshit. Its hypocritcal, and if we are on an honest programme how can that be honest. How can that be relaying 'the message'.

I dont think everyone there is dishonest, i think some people are genuine, but i wonder if they dont know any better. I like the fact im trying to let god into my life, but i also have this terrible, underlying feeling that im being controlled in some way, and that if i stop going to aa, i will meet a terrible fate and end up dying.

I dont feel i can explain this all to people that dont go to AA. They will think im even more mad than when i first went in.

I do my recovery in the UK, i wont specify where. I am well read up on other websites such as cultwatch.co.uk, where i agree with some — not all — of the things i see written there, especially around some groups. I have also had 4 articles put on their website as i believe strongly in choice and being open about what goes on.

Right now i dont know what to think and what to believe. I am going to end my 2 commitments and start taking a step back and seeing what happens to me.

Am i going mad? Has anyone else ever written to you feeling like this?


Hello Ben,

Thank you for the letter. I hope and trust that you are well.

No, you aren't going mad. Just the opposite. You are waking up and coming to your senses. The immense facade of misinformation is cracking, and penetrating rays of light are shining through. You are seeing that you can't really tell the truth in A.A., even though you are in a group that is supposed to be "rigorously honest".

And of course you cannot criticize A.A. or it's dogma or theology. Cults do not allow such criticism. But they claim the right to criciticize you. And yes, if you leave, they will say bad things about you, and put labels on you.

You are quite right that you should be allowed to feel all of your emotions. Limiting people to half of the spectrum of emotions cripples them (which is just what the cult's intention is). That is really standard cult fare. The Cult Test question for Don't Feel Your Own Feelings is here, and the answer for A.A. is here.

The only irrational part there is your fear of leaving the group. That is normal. That's what cults do to people. It is called "Phobia Induction". Cults routinely implant fears of leaving. They teach their members that people who leave the cult will go to Hell, or succumb to evil, or go insane, or lose their ticket to Heaven, or relapse and die from drugs or alcohol, or something. See the Cult Test question for Phobia Induction here, and the answer for A.A. here.

This paragraph seems to explain the whole thing:

Perhaps its me, and i obsess over AA like i did drinking and drugging, but have this awful feeling that i have been brainwashed into believing things that may not be true, and its really confusing me. I dont think any of this has been obviously done, perhaps subtly. No one seems obviously trying to control me, but i feel just like im being conditioned what to think, say, behave and do, and its turned my brain upside down.

To which I can only say, "Yes, that's how it works." If the pressure were too obvious and overbearing, the newcomers would all walk out (rather than just most of them). So the pressure is subtle but constant. Routine and repetition have their effect. And the goal is to make you believe things that are simply not true.

I think that you should listen to your girlfriend when she says that you are spending too much time at A.A. meetings. And don't believe them for a minute when they say that A.A. comes first. They want to own you. (And that's another standard cult characteristic.)

I suspect that you are going to make some changes in your life. If you are looking for a new sobriety society, here is a list of possibilities.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      The true proof of the inherent nobleness of our common nature
**      is in the sympathy it betrays with what is noble wherever
**      crowds are collected.  Never believe the world is base; if
**      it were so, no society could hold together for a day.
**           ==  Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803—1873), English novelist

[William N.'s previous letter is here.]

Date: Mon, December 14, 2009 11:23 am     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: "william n."
Subject: The Halfway House Blues

Hi Orange,

Hey, I hope your apartment search is going ok. Sorry to hear you had to move out of your digs. It's great that you've been putting out letters recently, despite the impending move. I always await them eagerly. I particularly like the ones from the snobby, snotty 12-steppers who leak their real "spirituality" all over the place as they drub you for telling the truth. It's like Bizarro World.

By the way I received the upshot from the VP's upstairs at my job for challenging their support of a certain halfway house. I listed a number of reasons why they shouldn't, not least of all because they played fast and loose with their purported recovery numbers. I cited chapter and verse how their reporting methods were screwy and downright misleading, and how the halfway house suddenly decided to bestow their highest award (made-up) to our chief operating officer. The whole business was like dealing with a crime syndicate, I swear.

Anyway, one of the VP's e-mailed me and said they were going to ask the halfway house to consider providing other means of treatment to its residents besides the 12-step program. Of course, the halfway house could simply say no, but since my company gives them around $50,000 a year maybe just maybe they'll make a few changes. That's about as much of a win as I could ask for.

I attended that halfway house back in the mid 90's. I recently remembered a nickname they gave me while I was there: "Intellectual Bill," because I used to think too much. Isn't that the height of snobbery and anti-intellectualism? For months they challenged me about the questions I asked, the doubts I had, my struggles in making it all make sense to me, and in turn they made snide, snarky remarks to me about me. For months I had to sit in a special chair in the center of the living room during our daily and nightly group-ups so that I was the center of attention. At the time I had awful self-loathing and self-consciousness issues.

To make me do that was plain evil and ignorant. And who made me do this? Why, the skilled 12-step counselors who were hired by the place. Those sadistic bastards weren't counselors; they weren't schooled medically or academically; they were simply guys who had gone through the halfway house's program a year or two before I got there! THAT was their qualification. Can you believe that?

So all of you out there reading this please beware of what could happen to you or a loved one if you get into any legal trouble with alcohol or drugs. You might very well be required to attend a 12-step recovery place like the one I was sentenced to. Very often you are not being treated by people with any degree of competence or expertise. More often than not you will be handled by former convicts or criminals who become "counselors" because they can't do anything else. You might be humiliated, scorned, shunned, and criticized unmercifully as a means for you to "surrender" to 12-step treatment. And you can't even question why this is happening. It's very scary.

Sorry to be so negative but remember: We all hold the answer. We can all stop our addictive behavior without subjecting ourselves to the above. It just takes a little discipline and self-awareness. It can be done. Heck, I'm doing it and it's freeing and rewarding beyond belief.


Hi again, Bill,

Thank you for the letter and the update.

I think you are right. Getting the donors to at least ask for alternatives to 12-Step quackery is a victory, and maybe the most you could hope for now, considering the immense intertia of the system.

And yes, it really is incredible, almost unbelievable, how criminals and cons get to become "wise counselors" and "therapists" just by yammering the dogma of a cult religion. It is some of the most outrageous quackery in America. (And I would repeatedly point that out to the powers that be at your company.)

By the way, I was just searching for information on the Internet a couple of days ago, and learned that my "counselor" at the "treatment center" got out of prison, and is now under the "Community Supervision" of the Multnomah County Sexual Offenders Office here in downtown Portland, Oregon, just a few blocks away from me. Yes, it was just a small matter of cocaine, child pornography and a couple of counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor (his step-children). That's quite the spiritual counselor, just the kind of man to teach people how to live sober lives... And can you believe that the Oregon Health Plan paid for him to "treat" hundreds of alcoholics and addicts? No wonder it's broke now. And no wonder the treatment center — PAAC, the Portland Alternative Addiction Center — that he used to work at has such a terrible failure rate.

Years ago, I promised a woman that I would reveal the name of that sex offender counselor when I broke my own anonymity. Well, since I just found the documentation online on a VINES web site, I guess now is the time. Here's the VINES public record on my 12-Step "counselor".

Offender Record
Offender ID: 4361274
Offender Name: HARRY R KETCHUM
Date of Birth: 10/17/1950
Age: 59
Custody Status: Community Supervision
Scheduled Release Date: 05/16/2011
Reason: Community Supervision
Date: 12/27/2006
Race: White
Gender: Male

Oh well, have a good day and a Merry Christmas anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Heroes have gone out, quacks have come in; the reign of quacks
**    has not ended with the nineteenth century. The sceptre is held
**    with a firmer grasp; the empire has a wider boundary. We are
**    all the slaves of quackery in one shape or another. One portion
**    of our being is always playing the successful quack to the other.
**       ==  Thomas Carlyle (1795—1881), English essayist,
**             historian, biographer, and philosopher

[The next letter from Bill_N is here.]

Update: April 3, 2012:
My former counselor is back in the news: Arrested for failure to register as a sex offender. The story is here.

Date: Sun, December 13, 2009 3:41 am     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: "Steve"
Subject: I was reading your page on the funny spirituality of Bill W

I was wondering why you sem so angry about AA and Bill Wilson...Do you have a problem with alcohol? do you overdrink ?

just curious why you are doing your very best to rip apart the aa program? I have been sober for 15 years in AA..i am not a big book thumper but the spirituality and friendship alone was easy to get sober with...I hardly worked the steps and got sober and people knew and no one shunned me?? alot of what you say is drivel...


Hello Steve,

Thank you for the letter and the question.

I no longer have a problem with alcohol, and I no longer "overdrink". I have 9 years clean and sober now.

I criticize Alcoholics Anonymous because it is a sick crime to foist cult religion and quackery on sick people who are trying to save their own lives. And elevating the ravings of a certified madman to the level of holy teachings is also insane.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Out, you imposters; quack-salving, cheating mountebanks;
**     your skill is to make sound men sick, and sick men to kill.
**          == Philip Massinger (1583—1640), English dramatist and poet

Date: Sat, December 12, 2009 8:44 pm     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: john d.
Subject: Truth about AA — Please add my article if you wish

Feel free to critique my article if it makes you feel better.
now #7 in yahoo search "AA not cult"

John D.
Newark, Ohio

Hello John,

Thank you for the letter. And I will comment on some things:

  1. This is wishful thinking:
    "So, I studied various religious and cults, but today I know that a real spiritual relationship will stand out from a counterfeit one."

    Unfortunately, you didn't say how you can distinguish a real spiritual relationship from a cult-induced one. That is assuming a lot. Successful cults are very skilled at generating false spiritual experiences.

  2. This is standard pseudo-religious jabber:
    "I know that before I gave up alcohol my faith wasn't working, it was never put it to the test."

    Faith does not "work". Faith is not a machine like a car or a computer that is supposed to work in a certain manner and do a particular job. How do you imagine that your faith was not working before, and how is it working now? What is it doing? Faith in what?

  3. Can you provide some statistics to back up this statement?
    "The vast majority of psychologists and counselors, in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction, embrace AA's 12 step program of recovery."

    I know that the vast majority of treatment centers use the 12 Steps, but the treatment centers usually use inexpensive graduates as counselors, not real psychologists or psychiatrists. We were just talking about that problem in a previous letter. My 12-Step counselor just got out of prison. He was busted for cocaine, Internet child pornography, and two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor (his stepchildren).

    The fact that lots of men like him endorse the 12 Steps is not much to brag about.

  4. "The critics are very smart, and have put a great deal of energy into discrediting AA."

    That is just paranoid anti-intellectual bunk. Spoken like a true Bible-beating fundamentalist on television who condemns "elitists" and urges people to "just have faith" and "don't be misled by those clever people" who see through the lying preacher's sham.

  5. This is mischaracterizing of the critics of A.A.:
    "Clearly, the fringe religious people think AA is not religious enough, that the church should be the place alcoholics find recovery. The fringe psychologists think AA is too religious,..."

    My biggest criticism of A.A. is that it is quack medicine and it doesn't work. And A.A. lies about that a lot.

  6. "Perhaps their anger was inspired by some mandatory AA attendance, or maybe they had an alcoholic parent who was unable or unwilling to get sober in AA."

    No, actually, the anger is inspired by frauds and con artists who foist quack medicine and superstition on sick people. That is a crime beneath contempt.

  7. First, "AA has no opinions on outside issues..."

    What that means is, "We don't want to talk about it." For example, the A.A. headquarters has no opinion about Mike Q.'s Midtown Group in Washington DC being a sexual exploitation society that takes advantage of the young girls who go to an A.A. meeting there. The A.A. headquarters just doesn't have anything to say about it. They just can't be bothered with having an ethical or moral opinion on such an important issue.

    By the way, sexual predators in A.A. meetings are not "an outside issue".

  8. Cults demand time and money, but AA has no dues or fees, accepts no outside money, and limits annual donations from wealthy alcoholics to one thousand dollars per year of sobriety."

    Wrong. Not all cults are money-grubbing. Most are, but not all. Furthermore, the issue of money is just one out of a hundred Cult Test questions. There is much more to a cult that just a few simplistic questions like whether they have a charismatic leader or take all of your money.

    And the real money is in the 12-Step treatment centers. Those things charge from $7000 to $40,000 for a 28-day stay and introduction to 12-Step religion. That's how professional Steppers make their livings.

  9. This is just plain wrong:
    "AA has never had a charismatic leader; not even when the founders were alive. Bill Wilson did not like being called "Founder", as he felt any AA who had been around a while was a founder."

    Bill Wilson was most assuredly the charistmatic leader, and he went out of his way to get people to admire him. See this Cult Test item: A Charismatic Leader. Also see Bill Wilson's immensely inflated opinion of himself and his importance.

    "Bill Wilson, converting a fawning moron."

    Bill Wilson posing for a staged "Man On The Bed" publicity photograph, where Bill allegedly performed miraculous faith healings, making the drunks "pick up their beds and walk."
    Notice the cross on the wall. This photograph was very carefully staged for best effect.

  10. This is wrong:
    "The Disease of Alcoholism, in AA, is a self diagnosis."

    "Alcoholism" is not a disease. Alcohol abuse is a bad habit.

  11. This is also untrue:
    "Part of the trouble understanding AA comes because we have no set of religious beliefs, yet encourage faith in God. ... A literature states that, "As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way." However, faith is not a requirement, and there are no references to religion."

    You most assuredly have strong fixed religious beliefs, like that God can and will remove all of your moral shortcomings and defects of charcter if you confess and pray enough. That requires a particular kind of meddling, micro-managing "God".

    Six of the twelve steps actually demand miracles from God, so it had better be the kind of God who can and will deliver miracles on demand:

    • Step One says that we are powerless over alcohol, so God must control our drinking for us, or else we will die. And Step One also says that our lives are unmanageable (meaning: we cannot manage our own lives), so by implication, God must manage our lives for us.
    • Step Two says that we are insane, and that only God can restore us to sanity, so we are demanding that God do that for us, too.
    • Step Three says that we are turning our wills and our lives over to the care of God, so God has to work for us and take care of us from then on, or it blows the whole 12-Step game.
    • Step Seven demands that God remove all of our "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings". And Bill Wilson also wrote in the Big Book that God will also remove our desire for drink "That is the miracle of it.   ... We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us."
    • Then, in Step Eleven, we pray for God to make us understand Him better, and to give us our work orders for the day, and then to give us the power to carry out those orders. One of the fundamental beliefs of both Buchmanism and A.A. is that God will reveal himself to us if we truly seek Him, so He had better do it.
    • And finally, in Step Twelve God is supposed to give us a "spiritual experience" or a "spiritual awakening" as our reward for having done the preceding eleven steps.

    And should God refuse to do any of those tasks for us, then it sort of ruins the whole Twelve-Step program. If God won't play along, and Work The Steps, and do what we wish, then how can the Twelve-Step program possibly work?

    The simple undeniable answer is, "It can't."

    And since the A.A. God is so powerful, He could have cured your "alcoholism" any time he wanted to. So why did he let you and your family suffer for so long? Just to see you crawling on your knees to Him?

    And please don't tell me that God was waiting for you to surrender and come to Him of your own free will. If you are really powerless over alcohol, then you don't have any free will.

  12. "There is also a lot of confusion surrounding AA's two fold disease concept. Alcoholism is a compulsion of the Mind, which makes us feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof."

    That is Bill Wilson's delusions of grandeur, not the average drinker. Again, A.A. is pushing stereotypes of "the alcoholic".

  13. "AA has been labeled a cult by some fringe religious people who think AA should have a particular brand of religion. They are zealots who are more concerned about saving a soul, than saving a life."

    And that is a standard cultish ad hominem attack on critics. That's more evidence that A.A. is a cult.

  14. Wow! I mean, WOW!!! Talk about rewriting history:
    "AA's most recent forerunner, the Oxford Group aspired to a kind of a 1st century Christian experience where its members repented of their sins and made amends to those they had harmed."

    Frank Buchman's Oxford Group was a really bad fascistic religious cult that admired Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, and promoted a Nazi social philosophy. Reinhold Niebuhr, the author of the Serenity Prayer, said so.

  15. This is a game of spiritual one-upmanship, declaring that the Church of Alcoholics Anonymous is better than all of the other churches:
    "Many churches talk about getting ex cons, gang members, prostitutes, and addicts to attend their fellowships. Sadly, when they come, they often do not fit in. To reach out to these people in love, I need go no farther than my local AA meeting."

    That is the standard cult characteristic of Denigration of competing sects, cults, religions, groups, or organizations.

Okay, I guess that's enough. I could do more, and refute most all of the sentences in your apology for A.A., but what's the point? You won't listen, and the other people already know the stuff.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     He who attempts to make others believe in means which he himself
**     despises, is a puffer; he who makes use of more means that he
**     knows to be necessary, is a quack; and he who ascribes to those
**     means a greater efficacy than his own experience warrants, is an imposter.
**         ==  John Caspar Lavater (1741—1801), Swiss theologian

Date: Tue, December 15, 2009 4:32 pm     (answered 15 December 2009)
From: "Y. L."
Subject: Thanks


I have been feeling like shit for the past six months. I have been in how they say "the middle of the AA boat" since I walked into those rooms in January of 2008. I learned and learned and got my brain washed into unity, service and recovery. I feel different after some how finding these papers. I feel as if I have NOT been true to myself, I feel as if I have truncated my true nature for the sake of group acceptance and support that I am not sure I had in the first place.

At 4 months sober I was seduced by a person who works a program and has 14 years of sobriety. After 2 months I was able to see that this was wrong. No one ever warned me about him. I continued with the cycle allowing myself to get sucked into the sickness.

Anyway I found myself using the AA speak, thinking I would die without AA meetings and the fellowship and falling for another spiritual man.... all kinds of crazy things happened.... all the while I had to look at my part. My sponsor told me I had to start all over, to see how powerless over people, places and things I really am.... and I became MISERABLE! I got tired of hearing the jargon and all that stuff.

I know now that I can and will stay sober without the psychological fascism and with websites I keep finding like yours. Thank you for helping me to see that the guilt induced cult-like bullshit is not productive and really just wrong. The fundamental dishonesty of AA needs to continue to be exposed. Anyway Thanks Again


Hi Y. L.,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. And I'm glad to hear that you got something good out of the web site.

You know, you just supplied about the best answer to some questions that I've been getting lately. Steppers write and ask, "Why so angry? Why are you angry at A.A.? Why so critical? Why you are doing your very best to rip apart the aa program?"

Well, you just gave a very good answer to those questions. What more do I need to say?

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth,
**     and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.
**        ==  William Shenstone (1714—1763), English poet

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