Letters, We Get Mail, CLXVI

Date: Wed, March 24, 2010 12:54 am     (answered 28 May 2010)
From: "Steve H."
Subject: Thanks for all your hard work

I've been a dedicated proselyte of your site since I first came across it six or seven years ago I think. Just went back today to look for the research about the Herbert Spencer (mis)quote and the link is dead. I found a pdf of the article here so you might want to update your dead geocities link to this:


Truly, truly important work that you've done. I personally know of several others besides myself who were able to stop worrying about our difficulties with AA and finally understand they had nothing to do with our struggle for sobriety. Reading your site really helped us on that journey.

— Steve

Hello Steve,

Thanks for the link and the compliments. Coincidentally, we were just talking about that document here.

And a little while ago, someone else complained that the Geocities link was dead, and he wanted to read that document, so I put it online here too: Survival_of_a_Fitting_Quotation.pdf

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome?
**     It's simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.
**       ==  William Shatner

Date: Sun, March 28, 2010 11:09 am
From: "Peter C."
Subject: You Are Ignorant And Make Asumptions

Date: Tue, March 30, 2010 6:35 am     (answered 28 May 2010)
From: "Stephen C."
Subject: Thank you AO !!!!!!!!

You have made me see how I was being manipulated and beating myself up and tearing down my own self-esteem. I had it out with my sponsor over this, and now he is my former sponsor and I plan to do AVRT, like you suggest.

It feels like a great weight has been lifted off of me !!

Thank you !!!!!!

Steve C.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the thanks, and I'm glad to hear that you are escaping from the madness, and feeling better now.

By the way, I also recommend SMART. I'd go ahead and do both. (In fact, I did.)

So have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     According to a new study, women in satisfying marriages are
**     less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than unmarried
**     women. So don't worry lonely women, you'll be dead soon.
**         ==  Tina Fey

Date: Wed, March 31, 2010 6:40 am     (answered 28 May 2010)
From: R.A.
Subject: AA Site and "treatment centers

[ please do not post my email address or name]

Hi Orange,

Love the site and have blown way too much time in the last few days reading :) Your thoroughness in citations, references, etc is impressive. I've had very superficial exposure to AA over the years, and have been a practicing alky for 20+. It finally all blew up in my face with legal troubles in the last couple years, and I had an option of a stay in county jail or inpatient at a treatment center; so I opted for the later.

I knew it was a 12 step program. But didn't realize I was getting into one of (what I suspect is) the more extreme spiritual / AA / God / Christian / religious ones around. I managed to do my time, not get expelled nor brain washed, and escaped with my "certificate of completion." Maybe even got a *little* good out of the whole thing. But I knew a lot of it was contradictory BS. Unfortunately, I had no access to the Internet or outside reference material during the stint, so I tried to smile and nod, claim I'd said my prayers, and got through.

Anyways... wondering if you'd have any interest in publishing some forum or "directory" type listing of peoples' experiences at these places. Not the ubiquitous local outpatient things — just too many thousands I'm sure. But just inpatient — are there more than a couple hundred facilities around the country? For anyone considering entering such a program, it could be valuable information (that I could find scarcely little on beforehand) to determine which places would be a good fit or at least tolerable.

Take care,
-R.A. [ and again, please do not post my email address or name!]

Hello R.A.,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad that your mind survived the 12-Step prison system.

The idea of a forum where people can rate their treatment center, and post stories about their experiences there, is a great idea. I am currently working on getting a forum up and running — trying the Drupal free software — and that would be a great section to add to the forum.

I was recently looking at the ApartmentRatings.com web site, because people were posting ratings of the apartment building where I used to live:

A forum where people can rate treatment centers could be styled like that. And I'm open to other suggestions. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just playing it by ear.

So have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Thousands upon thousands of persons have studied disease.
**    Almost no one has studied health.
**        ==   Adelle Davis

Date: Tue, March 30, 2010 11:01 am     (answered 29 May 2010)
From: "Rehab Girl"
Subject: AA Rehab Dilema

Hi Orange,

Have been reading your site with great interest on and off for a couple of weeks now. I have been to AA groups around 10 times — mainly when I was quite drunk and feeling hopeless. A lady from AA drove me there about 3 times, the 3rd time she would only drive me if I agreed to remain sober until the meeting. I found this rather bossy but never mind. I stopped drinking on my own for 11 years and gradually — after much hard work — came to a happy place in my life. However 2 years ago my mum died and I have been unable to stop since. Or unable to get the help or motivation. At the moment I have a dilema.

After a year and a half of trying to find help — I've been working with a non AA alcohol counsellor, I have got funding finally from the local authorities to go into rehab. This is a huge relief. Since then I have been actively investigating what I can expect in rehab etc, and was really surprised to see all the different types, the various success of programs and came across your site. The rehab I have been accepted to describes itself as modified 12 step based with person centred counselling and also various complementary therapies. It is a 2 month program and steps 1-5 are worked on during that time. It is well repected in the UK and won various awards and commendations from social care inspectors.

I have decided to accept the offer as my health is deteriorating quickly and my present environment is unhelpful at the moment.

My main point is that since I have been on your site and having looked into and read quite a bit about lifering and SMART specifically and also the biochemical causes of alcoholism and also watching Gabor Mate — I feel I have a wealth of actually relevant info now and I would like to spend my time in rehab getting my health back and having time to explore some of these and use them so that when I come out, I will effectively have healed myself or got on the right road. I am afraid now, that all the material I want to take with me may be confiscated or that I'll be discouraged from reading anything other than AA literature. I hope this is not the case and I hope I'm just being paranoid.

How would you advise someone in my situation to be able to stand up for what I feel is right or wrong in an AA based program without potentially being ostracized.

Also I'm afraid in a way of conforming just to please them. I have been doing this all my life due to shyness, insecurity etc and it always makes me feel so rotten. if I have to go in there and pretend its all peaches n roses and pretend its ok when someone answers me with a slogan etc, I'll be so mad at myself. I'd like to think that when I get my 1-1 counselling I'll be able to be honest. I just want to be prepared to be able to stand up for myself while also getting better.

In an ideal world what I want to happen is to use the 2 months to get my health back, reflect, and intelligently and in my own way accept that i can't drink anymore and come to peace with that idea.

Many thanks for a wonderful, and thought provoking site!!

Rehab Girl

Date: Tue, March 30, 2010 11:13 am     (answered 29 May 2010)
From: "Rehab Girl"
Subject: Re: AA Rehab Dilema

i forgot to point out that I am quite opposed to AA for similar reasons as yourself. When I first went I thought the stories were interesting, tragic, like watching a TV show. I guess thats how I was kind of drawn in a bit, but I never really wanted to go back cause I hated the idea of having to phone someone whenever i felt like drinking — someone not qualified to counsel but only qualified to listen and tell me to pour the drink down the sink and get to a meeting. And at first I felt guilty cause the 12 steps seemed so wierd and potentially tedious. And I thought when I started drinking again (even though AA had not crossed my mind for all those years) that maybe its because i hadnt worked the program. Rubbish!

Hello Rehab Girl,

Thank you for the letter and the question. I'm sorry for not answering it sooner — you can thank a certain property management company for keeping you from getting an answer sooner.

You are presenting me with a really difficult question. My first reaction is "modified 12-Step program" means 12-Step Program. The fact that they might add on a little bit of fluff and frills does not change the fact that it is a 12-Step program, which means that they are selling you the cult religion of Frank Buchman and Bill Wilson, and claiming that it cures addictions, which is pure quackery and fraud.

"Working Steps 1 to 5" means "Doing some cult practices that induce feelings of guilt, dependency, inadequacy, and powerlessness." That is not good therapy.

Now I don't want to tell you not to go to a rehab center. It sounds like you really need a break from your habits. It would be nice to imagine that a 28-day stay — or 2 months — at a rehab center will benefit you more than depress or harm you. But as long as they are shoving the 12 Steps on you and insisting that you are immoral and in denial when you disagree with Buchanism, I have serious doubts.

As far as standing up for yourself in such a 12-Step treatment center, I don't think that they will allow it, in general. Their policy is to break people down. (Look here.) They are sure that they know everything and that you know nothing. They are sure that they are superior to you because they aren't drinking, and you are. (Or maybe they really are drinking and doping, like my child-molesting 12-Step counselor was, but not admitting it.) They accuse all clients of "being in denial", and "resisting the program", and "not wanting to get sober".

The only real answer that I know of is, "Don't go to a 12-Step treatment center."

I wish I had a list of good rehab centers handy, but I don't. (Maybe some readers do?) And at this point in time, it is probably too late. You have probably already gone to the center, for better or worse.

But let me add a few comments.

Obviously, your problem is not anything that the Twelve Steps will deal with. It sounds like you went into a fit of depression when your mother died. That is not "a moral shortcoming", or a "defect of character". You may be suffering from a mid-life existential crisis — you have suddenly realized that everyone you love will die. And that is a hard one to handle.

I am reminded of a Zen story. A man went to the local Zen master, and asked him to paint a scroll for the happiness of his family.

The Zen master wrote:

Father dies.
Son dies.
Grandson dies.

The man was horrified. "What is this garbage?! I asked you for something about happiness for my family!"

The Zen master answered, "What I have written will give your family the greatest happiness. If the son were to die before the father dies, then the father will grieve that his son died too soon and his family will not live on after him. The same is true of the grandson dying before the son dies. But when the members of the family die in the order of oldest one first, leaving the younger ones still alive, then that is the natural order of things, and that is the easiest thing to accept. That will bring the greatest happiness to the family."

Now that still does not make it easy to accept the death of a loved one. All that we can do in such a situation is rejoice that such a person lived, rather than concentrate on the death.

And, "What we have done will not be lost to all eternity." I think Buddha said that.

And, the best way to get revenge on death is to live fully in the here and now, and be the best people that we can imagine being. As one poster says, "Living well is the best revenge."

Have a good day, and a good life.

P.S.: Of course you already know that I routinely recommend SMART and AVRT (a.k.a., understanding and watching "The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster") I hope that they can help you, regardless of whether you went to that rehab center.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."
**       ==  Pancho Villa, last words.

[Our letters crossed in the mail. I recieved this third letter from Rehab Girl as I was sending off the answer to the previous two.]

Date: Sat, May 29, 2010 6:26 am     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Rehab Girl"
Subject: rehab help!!!!

Hello Orange,

I wrote to you awhile back but can appreciate that you have a backlog. I just wanted to update what I wrote in my last email and clarify a bit. (I signed myself rehab girl under a different email addy than this one)

I have been accepted to a rehab place here in the UK which is being paid for by the local authorities ie state funded. I went to an interview at the place — in which they presumably wanted to find out my motivation for giving up and more about my problems. I knew beforehand that they offered treatment using a modified Minnesota Model so I made sure not to let them know my prejudices against AA. That may sound wierd, why would I want to go there in the first place. Well basically it was the only place on option. I have an alcohol counsellor (who uses motivational interviewing and person centred counselling) whose agency fought for me to get a place in rehab. When I finally got a place I was thrilled and so was he. But then I found it about its AA basis — ie primary care is 8 weeks in which you work on the first 5 steps of AA. I have found out more recently that it does offer CBT, gestault therapy etc too. But still the basis is AA.

I then researched the various places which accepted state funded clients (ones within 100 miles of where I live — and found one which offers choice in type of treatment (ie it will help people get to AA meetings if they so desire, but they aren't compulsary since the centre is more up to date ie it used to be AA based but decided to keep up with the times and the latest research and only offer that as an option). I was told that our local authority only has the funding to send people from our area to the MM place as they buy a certain number of places (discount bulk booking) in advance each year. So after all my research, I was told — no I don't have a choice. Its there or nowhere unless I can cough up the cash — which I can't.

A bit of history about myself. I drank from age 18 to about 33. Stopped for 11 years and started again 2 years ago after a death in the family. Haven't stopped since then and lost pretty much all I had built up during those 11 years. Usual story. Trips to A and E and suicide attempts getting more frequent. 2 weeks ago the police bought me to an emergency psychiatric ward where I stayed 5 days and detoxed. I felt brilliant afterwards. There was a great team there, after 3 days I was doing art, going on walks, trips. My self esteem started shooting up. Eating better. Enjoying people. I wondered to myself, why doesn't the local authority just keep me here a few weeks. The occupational therapy and confidence building it offered, to help stay sober, was so what I needed. Visiting hours everyday — so my son could come and see me when he had time away from his studies. I could read what I wanted and I could talk about my AA and rehab worries in an adult to adult way. With no judgement. And wouldn't keeping me in there have been A LOT cheaper than sending me to an 'exclusive' rehab — and more productive. My alcohol counsellor could have visited me there. I could have had short visits home like some of the longer term patients. etc etc

But because I did so well so quickly, they sent me home after the requisit 5 day detox. And I drank again the next day and went into a 2 day blackout. OK, I do agree it was me who picked up the drink. I do take responsibility. I just found it absurd to just be sent back to the same environment just like that. With no support. The whole thing seems absurd. Only if they saw I had a serious underlying tendency to want to commit suicide or a serious underlying mental illness, could I have stayed in longer. But I was so happy and healthy so quickly that they sent me on my way. By 'they' I only mean the system in general — no-one specific.

Anyways, after that experience I am dreading the rehab place. Because I only want to get better and I have had a glimpse of something that can really help. I feel that I am going to have to spend half the time making sure I don't get brainwashed and worry that because its so intense, I may just take the easy route and let them carry me away into it all. ie Be the people pleaser and go along with it just to keep the peace. Which is something I've done all my life and is one of the reasons I drink. So I don't want to be taught things like 'fake it, to make it', or listen to people go on about how people pleasing was one of the reasons they drank because they didn't know who they really were — and then have AA decide for us who we are. Uuuuuughhhhh!

In the interview, I really had to bite my tongue. One lady asked if I knew much about the 12 steps and I said 'Oh yes, I'm very aware of them'. She then said 'oh good'. But then I said to her 'but I'm also aware of Lifering and SMART', and she said oh yes they all have their place. Then I talked to the admissions officer and one of her questions was 'have you ever been to an AA meeting', and I said loads of times, but usually when I was drunk and desperate'. She just laughed and said 'ha ha dont worry, we've all been there'. I held my tongue.

I guess the reason I am writing is, I have decided to go to this place. But I need advice of how to make the best of it and get the most I can out of it. Part of me knows I'll have to bite my tongue a lot of the times (which pisses me off as its supposed to be a program of honesty) — however we do get loads of 1-1 sessions with a counsellor (CBT etc) so I will definitely voice my concerns with him/her. I don't want to have to face situations where I have a concern and then I get a feeble AA slogan in reply. I do like that on the program they include tai chi, yoga etc. I don't like that the first thing in morning is a morning reading. Before breakfast. Which I assume is some crap from the Big Book. A simple quiet meditation (zazen) would do me.

I could go on for a long time about all this. I go into the place in 10 days. Visiting is only 3 hours on a Sunday. And on the program it states that family visiting hours can also include a family lecture. But no way is my son going to some lecture. 3 hours just me and him walking through the beautiful grounds of the place would do me and probably him. How humiliating to have him at some lecture, with me and him there, and the people telling him what is wrong with me. Bo**oxs as they say over here.

Anyways, sorry about this long rant. I have read through most everything on your site and it is brilliant!!! Just basically wondering if you have any advice so I can do this in the most positive and self empowering way. I will let you know how it goes when I get back, as we arent allowed on the internet when we are there. I appreciate you may not be able to answer this before I go in, but it may help someone and maybe I can find a way to get on the internet after a few weeks.

Keep up the good work,

***Please keep my name and email anonymous. And the name of the rehab I'm going to is called ************************ in the UK. But please keep the name of the rehab anonymous for now as I don't want this letter showing up in searches for ******** ***** in case they identify me. Just in case your interested for your own research.

Many thanks,

Rehab girl

Hello again, Rehab Girl,

It sounds like you understand the situation very well. At most any 12-Step-based rehab center, they are going to say a lot of untrue things and foist a lot of bullshit on you.

You only have three choices:

  1. Do something
  2. Do nothing
  3. Leave

(That list actually comes from SMART. That is the standard list of possible responses to just about any problem.)

So you can either speak up, and argue with the Stepper staffers, or grit your teeth and remain silent. Or you can walk out.

  1. If you argue with them, there is very little chance that they will learn anything. Like any typical cult members, they are sure that they have all of the answers, and you know nothing. And they will probably get nasty and declare that you are "resisting the program".

  2. If you don't argue with them, you have to listen to a bunch of untrue declarations and acquiesce by silence.

  3. If you walk out, you don't get the "treatment program", for what it is worth.

I would ask, "What do you really want out of it? What do you expect to get? What benefits can you get from a stay there?

I understand the idea of a place where you can essentially get a supportive environment, one that is alcohol-free. That sounds like a good idea. Maybe two months of a clean and supportive environment is worth the price of having to tolerate the parrotting of a bunch of Frank Buchman's and Bill Wilson's cult religion beliefs. I can't really answer that question for you — that's a value judgement, and it's your values.

On the bright side, I think that you know which way is up. I don't think that they can really brainwash you and make you into one of their clones.

Above all, I would keep in mind the idea that the real question, and the real problem, is why you drink too much. And it isn't any of that Stepper nonsense about moral shortcomings and defects of character. What is it that you want from drinking? What are you thinking just before you start drinking? You may have the opportunity to work on that.

Please also see this other letter, here. I'm answering almost the same question again, at the same time, in another letter.

Good luck, and please keep me informed. And above all, have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It has been my experience that people who have no vices
**      have very few virtues.
**         ==  Abraham Lincoln

Date: Tue, June 1, 2010 6:36 am     (answered 1 June 2010)
From: "Mm Nottingham Uk"
Subject: None 12 Step Support UK


In reply to Rehab Girl's email dated 30th March, there are many non-12-step Rehab Centres in the UK

In addition both SMART Recovery and Moderation Management (MM) are now operating in the UK

I will gladly correspond with any UK person desiring non-12-step support whether complete abstinence or moderation/harm reduction at:-

[email protected]

MM Nottingham UK

Thank you Lawrence. I am forwarding this message to her, too, now.

Have a good day, and we must talk some more.

== Orange

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

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

Cackling Goose
A Cackling Goose, one of the miniature geese from Alaska

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Sat, March 27, 2010 6:35 pm     (answered 29 May 2010)
From: "Vincent C."
Subject: Landmark Education

Dear Sir,

You really need to look at an organization called Landmark Education. Everything I have heard about the group and what they have done to critics tell me it is a cult. It acts just like one.

Hello Vincent,

Thank you for the letter. And you are absolutely right. It is a cult. "Landmark Education" is really Werner Erhard's renamed "est" cult. And "Werner Erhard" was really named Jack Rosenberg. Imagine a Jew taking a Nazi alias so that he would sound cooler and tougher.

Do you remember that "est" "human potential" thing from the 'seventies?
"You are all assholes and you can't go to the bathroom."
"Take responsibility for making your life work."
"You have to get IT."
"Take responsibility for ending world hunger. Give me your money (which I will keep)."

Here is some material about Werner Erhard and "est":

  1. est graduates

  2. Adelaide Bry wrote a book that glorified Werner Erhard, and Werner approved of it.

  3. the chorus line of celebrities

  4. the Hunger Project rip-off

  5. Adelaide Bry praises Werner and his clones

  6. Superhuman Perfection

  7. Werner Erhard felt entitled to control and prohibit the sexual activities of his followers, while he enjoyed a life of unlimited non-stop sexual indulgence himself.

  8. Werner Erhard was a vicious woman-hater with an unstable personality

  9. Werner the megalomaniac

  10. And then there was this letter, ostensibly from one of "Werner Erhard"'s followers, Jack Rafferty disputes story

When the heat got to be too great — when there was a good chance that "Werner Erhard" would be indicted for fraud and grand theft, he sold his operation to one of his women followers and fled to Europe, taking the money with him. The last I heard, he was living a life of luxury in Europe and enjoying his ill-gotten millions.

Werner Erhard is gone, but his racket is still continuing under the names "The Forum", "The Landmark Forum", "The Landmark Educational Forum", and "Landmark Educational". They like to specialize in so-called "corporate training".

So where did you encounter that racket?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Grand Prize Winner of the 2007 Darwin Awards:
**     When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim
**     during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would-be robber
**     James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered
**     down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

Date: Tue, March 23, 2010 7:03 am     (answered 30 May 2010)
From: "Dan S."
Subject: AA's institutionalized Schadenfreude

It seems to me that "keeping it green" amounts to institutionalized Schadenfreude among far too many AAs, on the pretext that, like so many other egregious practices, their lives depend on it. Over the years I spent in and out of AA, I always felt there was an unhealthy interest in those who came back to AA broken and beaten down after a binge. In my own case, I went back at the end of 2008, in good health and spirits, and was nearly ostracized by people I used to consider friends. I do not drink, and have no intention of doing so, with or without AA.

For a time, the "wiki.answers.com" answer to the question "Is AA a cult?" was my take, but it's been recently replaced with a definition of "cult" followed by comments to the effect that AA does not qualify. My objection to AA is primarily that it is little more than a quasi-religious cult where the sharing on putative spirituality invariably degenerates into de rigueur bashing of organized religion by a majority of members. This raises the question of what personality traits typify AA members, which I believe accounts in greater measure for AAs appeal than anything to do with "recovering from the disease of alcoholism," which notion itself contains three highly questionable conjectures that are at the core of AA's approach.

I have attached a PDF of the wiki answer if you're interested in reading it, and would appreciate your feedback if you have the time.

I don't know how to categorize the look I've gotten from members when I've questioned AA's principles or practices, but it's something like a "control look," where their demeanor goes nearly blank, as if they'd been brainwashed like the Manchurian Candidate — and this from friends as well. There's an indefinable frenetic mania that I've observed before and after meetings which I cannot account for since meetings are generally anything but "happy, joyous, and free," and I'd say that the demeanor during meetings is more like like "angry, grim, and morbidly obsessed."

In my wiki answer I tried to convey the contradiction between AA's slogan of "principles above personalities," since in my experience, institutionalized sponsorship creates nothing if not a cult of personality, and so much so that one's standing in a group mirrors the standing of one's sponsor. Sponsorship "genealogy" provides endless opportunities for power-tripping among the oldtimers, of course, and one fellow in his 60s in the group had been making a jackass out himself trying to assume the mantle of his highly esteemed sponsor who died the year before. I also noted in my answer that, in regard to "working a 4th and 5th Step," one's sponsor was not only not an ordained minister or priest, but practically a complete stranger, and quite possibly a mental unstable voyeur. I say this because that cadre of AA zealots who pounce on newcomers, sometimes almost demanding to be their sponsor, strike me as mentally unstable, and I worried for the newcomers that their sponsor migh have more than another's reformation on their agenda — if only to play the AA guru thing with the weak and vulnerable.

Another oddity that strikes me is that much of the criticism of AA is based on its putative spirituality, while the tenor of sharing on spirituality is santimonious invective against organized religon if anything, and the confirmed atheist will find it a ready soapbox for expressing his views. I am a regular church goer, and it was AA's self-idolatrous New Age-ism that primarily drove me away.


Is AA a Cult.pdf
Size: 3.1 M
Type: application/pdf

Thank you for the letter and the insights.

And thanks for the PDF file. Wow. That's quite a document. A real indictment of A.A. I'm glad to have it online.

And the editting of Wikipedia is just what they do. There are A.A. members who vulch on Wikipedia and quickly edit out and erase anything that they don't like — meaning: the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous, or the 12 Steps, or recovery, or the Oxford Group, or Bill Wilson, or the history of A.A., etc... I don't even bother with Wikipedia. Why waste my time writing things that will get erased in an hour?

I was especially struck by your description of the sponsorship system:

"In every group there is a cadre so devoted to A.A. that they actively recruit newcomers for indoctrination and, critically, vouch to the group at large for the newcomer's conversion. ... One's standing will mirror the standing of one's sponsor."

And if you won't get a sponsor, you are just not a part of the in-crowd.

I remember the guy who tried to become my sponsor. I went to an A.A. meeting and picked up my 6-month token, and had to speak at the meeting. I talked about how happy I was to be sober, and how much better it felt. But that wasn't well received by some members. They wanted tears and confessions and dirt. One old-timer in the room knew that I didn't have a sponsor just by how I shared without grovelling and moaning and groaning about how bad I am. I also didn't mouth the slogans like how I owed it all to wonderful A.A.

He attached himself to me when we went outside after the meeting, and he started giving me the rap while smoking cigarettes. I had just also shared that I had 6 months off of cigarettes, too, and really liked it. Apparently he ignored that, so I just stayed upwind from him. Then he took me for a cup of coffee and described how he sponsored people: "I start them right in on the fourth Step. They don't waste any time on the first three Steps." Ah, so he wants people to start finding fault with themselves and start writing their confessions immediately.

I didn't take him up on the offer of sponsorship. I found him to be rather creepy, really.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "There are some people that if they don't know,
**      you can't tell 'em."
**        ==  Louis Armstrong

Date: Tue, March 30, 2010 5:22 pm     (answered 30 May 2010)
From: "Terry L.C."
Subject: Orange papers helped restore me to sanity

Thank you, Orange, for your diligent work. I have been sober for six years, after ten years of alcoholic drinking, without the "help" of the AA cult. I left in the first month because those people scared the hell out of me. So far, I have managed to avoid jails, institutions, and even death — pretty good for a dropout.

Hi Terry,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Isn't it nice to do it yourself, and not have to yammer about how you depend on a cult to keep you alive?

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Be happy. It is a way of being wise.
**         ==  Colette

Date: Tue, March 30, 2010 9:25 am     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Steve W."
Subject: Seeking something you don't have

My you poor thing... you missed completely the whole point about A.A. You spend so much time on berating a wonderful org. that you can't look into your heart and see what the real problem is.

You know what it is, and who hurt you. It wasn't A.A. it was someone

Steve W

Hello Steve,

You are mouthing standard cult platitudes and slogans. The "Real Point" of Alcoholics Anonymous was supposed to be to get alcoholics to quit drinking. To claim that the point is now something else, like to get "spirituality", or to get "serenity", is just another bait-and-switch trick.

I am not missing the point. The point was to get alcoholics to quit drinking, and save their lives. A.A. fails to get the alcoholics to quit drinking. A.A. is no better than no help at all. A.A. often makes things worse, like raising the rate of binge drinking, and raising the death rate.

And there is increasing evidence that A.A. raises the suicide rate, and increases the divorce rate too.

Lastly, your statement that something must have hurt me is yet another standard A.A. dodge. When someone criticizes A.A. for being quack medicine, Steppers answer, "Someone must have hurt you", as if that were an answer to the complaint that A.A. fails to sober up the alcoholics, and lies about it. It is really just another kind of ad hominem attack, claiming that "We don't have to listen to what you are saying — you aren't qualified to have an opinion — because you got hurt."

Of course I have been hurt. We have all been hurt, at some time or other. Still, that is no excuse for promoting quackery, or accepting quackery, or not objecting to quackery.

What you don't seem to understand is, it does not matter whether I was hurt by somebody. My motivation in criticizing A.A. does not matter either. What matters is: Alcoholics Anonymous still fails to get the alcoholics to quit drinking.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     God is ashamed when the prosperous boast of his special favor.
**        ==  Rabindranath Tagore

Date: Thu, April 8, 2010 5:08 am     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Timothy B."
Subject: OK

Very Sad, hope your life is as grand as mine. You have nothing better to do with your time other than bash a fellowship of men and women living happy sober lives. By the way we sure as hell don't push quitting drinking on anyone. Shielded in your armor, you are a rock.

Hello Timothy,

Happily, my life is just as grand as yours, maybe even better.

I have lots of better things to do with my time than discuss Alcoholics Anonymous, but I seem to have gotten stuck with the job. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

To describe A.A. as "a fellowship of men and women living happy sober lives" is really glossing over a lot of problems, not the least of which is the fact that A.A. does not really work to make alcoholics quit drinking. And then there is the problem that the 12 Steps are Frank Buchman's guilt-inducing confessional religion that is really very unhealthy. But you already knew that, didn't you?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If we are not our brother's keeper, let us at least not be his executioner.
**         ==  Marlon Brando

Date: Thu, April 1, 2010 8:27 pm     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Jo Jo"
Subject: You should be awarded the Pulitzer Prize !

I am in the process of reading your exhaustive breakdown of the two lunatick founders of the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous. You have give the world the Truth as to the behavior and real meaning behind these goofballs lives.

It was very revealing. This single work work utterly destroy A.A. I have always suspected the so called Founding Fathers were complete frauds. Your work should be read by all the idiots that spew their ignorant cliches and venom.

What is amazing is how the health insurance, medical/hospital/treatment/court/criminal/psychological industries are all on board with this idiotic philosophy! How did this happen?

Orange you rule.
jo jo

Hello Jo Jo,

Thank you for the letter and all of the kind compliments. The Pulitzer Prize sounds great. But, never having gotten one before, I have to ask, "Is it useful? Do you get a statue trophy, or a cup? Can you drink coffee out of it?" I want something that makes a good coffee cup.

About, "How did this happen?" Ah, that is quite a subject. I suppose I should devote an entire web page to that story, sometime. To make a short story out of a long story, Bill Wilson began promoting his cult back in 1935, before he even had his own cult, actually — back when it was still part of the Oxford Group. From 1937 on, Bill expended a lot of energy promoting his racket. He gathered endorsements from everybody that he could, ranging from his doctor and his psychiatrist, to celebrities and magazine writers. He learned that technique from Frank Buchman, and he had learned his lesson well.

When Bill got Jack Alexander, the famous Saturday Evening Post writer, to do a very favorable article on A.A., Bill rationalized, "Good publicity does not manufacture itself." (So much for "attraction, not promotion".)

Then Bill spent four years on the road, selling A.A. nationwide.

Bill Wilson was a very clever propagandist, right up there with the likes of Adolf Hitler. He tailored his message to his audience, just like how Adolf Hitler did. When Bill was speaking to the conservative true believer A.A. members in Akron, he said that A.A. was of course teaching religion, and selling religious experiences. When he spoke to conferences of doctors, he said that alcoholism was a disease that needed treatment. When he spoke to the National Catholic Clergy Conference, he declared that alcoholism was not a disease — that it was a sin. Then when he spoke to the American Psychiatric Association, Bill declared that he was doing religious conversions.

Then Bill's followers worked for 70 years to promote A.A., and spread the myth that it was the best way to treat alcoholism. They are constantly writing books and articles that proclaim that A.A. is the best thing. And they put plugs in TV programs, and they do movies.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a failure as a treatment for alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction, but it is a fantastically successful publicity machine, really a world-class racket. Many other cults, ranging from Synanon to Scientology, have learned much from Alcoholics Anonymous, and they copied parts of it.

Now as for the health insurance companies continuing to pay for 12-Step-based "treatment", that really mystifies me. You would think that they would wake up and realize that they are paying a lot of money for quack medicine. Perhaps the Paul Wellstone Act will help in that regard. That is, that act routes more money in the direction of "mental health treatment", which the 12-Steppers interpret to mean "12-Step treatment", but it adds the requirement that the treatment must be shown to be effective. A.A. treatment has never passed that test.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, April 1, 2010 9:23 pm     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "W."
Subject: best wishes

Hi Orange,

You were homeless again?? Wow, that sucks. I had no idea. I do hope you find a new home as soon as possible. I have been following your site for a while and I am really impressed. I'm in Olympia, WA, not so far from you. I guess my question is this: how can one detox in a safe fashion and avoid getting sucked into the whole 12-step thing? I am too scared of the withdrawal symptoms to try the DIY method. Problem is, my whole family is convinced that AA is The Only Thing That Works (because of family history — I'm sure you've heard it all before). Any advice would be welcome. Please do not use my e-mail, just sign me W.

Hello W.,

Sorry to take so long to answer. Yes, it took a lot longer to get into a good place than I thought it would. But I'm finally in my new home, and everything is fine.

So how are you? That is the question.

Detoxing alone is just too dangerous. You can't do that, not if you are really addicted. You can go into convulsions, and go into shock and die. You can also suffer a heart attack. No, no detoxing alone.

I accidentally did that, many years ago — like 21 years ago now. I wasn't even very addicted, just a little habituated.

I decided to quit drinking because my ex-wife was demanding that I quit for the summer, or else she wouldn't send my son to stay with me for the summer. I didn't think it would be any big deal. I never dreamed that I was addicted, or habituated to alcohol.

But 48 hours without alcohol and all of a sudden all hell broke loose. I started getting very antsy and jumpy and frantic. I kept attacking the refrigerator and yanking the door open, as if I would find something vital in there. There was just Coca-cola. I had several of them.

I decided to just go to bed, relax and cool out, and sleep it off. But instead of going to sleep, I suddenly started buzzing like mad. It was like I was on acid. I started seeing swirling sheets of energy in the air. Then I started shaking and jerking and twitching. I wanted to get out of bed and call for help — like call A.A. and ask if this was normal. (I was misinformed at that time, and thought that A.A. had all of the answers.) But it was hopeless. I couldn't get out of bed and crawl to the phone in the living room, and look up the number in a phone book, and dial the number on a touch-tone phone. I was shaking too badly. Impossible. My fingers would never hit the right numbers seven numbers in a row.

So I laid in bed and rode out the storm. The seizures got to be so violent that I nearly ripped the thigh muscle tendon off of the femur at the knee on one of my legs. It hurt there for years afterwards.

Then things got spooky. I started believing that there were evil spirits hiding in the dark corners of the room, and they wanted to get into my mind. I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought that if I lowered my guard, they would get me.

Finally, mercifully, in the wee hours of the morning, I passed out and slept it off. And woke up alive the next morning, feeling pretty okay.

But then, around noon, it all started again, with terrible stomach cramps, so bad that I thought my liver was going to burst. And the shakes again. I alternated between agony and ecstacy. All that I could do was lay on the couch and go through it.

When the pain let up, I felt like I was tripping on cloud nine. My head felt like it was expanding to be as big as the room. But then the painful cramps and shaking would start again, and I'd be back down into it again.

Then, at a moment when the pain let up and I got high again, Robert Palmer's song "Addicted to Love" came on the radio:

Your lights are on, but you're not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat
There's no doubt, you're in deep
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe
Another kiss is all you need

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff,
oh yeah

It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough,
you know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love

I had to laugh. Just substitute the word "alcohol" for "love", and that was a perfect description of what I was going through. "Might as well admit it, you're addicted to alcohol." I had to admit it.

In some perverse way, that has become one of my favorite songs.

Then back down into the pain, then up, then down, and up and down, like a yoyo. That went on for the rest of the day. But the worst was over. That night, I was able to sleep without shakes or seizures.

It turns out that all of that pain and suffering was unnecessary. With proper medical care, including some medications, you can be spared from that kind of withdrawal. But I just didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have a clue. I was just a beginner at the detox game.

So no detoxing alone. The do-it-yourself method is for later, when you find that you don't need a cult to keep you sober. I recently read somewhere that 25% of the people who go into D.T.'s alone die. So no detoxing alone.

Now, how to avoid getting dosed with the 12-Step cult dogma. That is tough, when 93% of the treatment centers in the USA use 12-Step quackery.

The "treatment center" that I went to also used the 12-Step method in surreptitious ways. Like the "counselor" xeroxed off parts of a Narcotics Anonymous training manual "First Step", which we were supposed to fill out as an exercise. It was really more like a Fourth Step — a confession of all of our faults.

And of course, there were the slogans on the walls, Easy Does It, One Day At A Time.

And there was the strong implication that we needed a "Higher Power" in our "recovery program".

And then there was the problem that the "counselor" was really a child-molesting, cocaine-snorting Internet-child-pornographer criminal. (Although I didn't know that at the time. I just didn't like the guy for some odd reason. I just tolerated him because that was the price of not sleeping in the rain.)

My method was to just go with the flow, and don't believe everything you hear. Try to get at what little truth there is in the jabber, and don't take the Stepper theology and false psychology seriously.

Sometimes, you have to just tolerate unpleasant situations, and less-than-ideal conditions, and this seems to be one of those times. Hopefully, you can get something positive out of it.

I did. In spite of the large amount of untrue information, I got:

  1. The idea that relapses do not just suddenly happen — that there is actually a build-up, a sequence of changes in thoughts and attitudes that lead up to deciding to resume drinking.

  2. A supportive environment where I was surrounded by a bunch of other people who were also interested in getting rid of their addictions and living better lives. I spent a lot of time in "clean and safe rehab housing".

That's it. Not much "treatment", huh? But that environment was a real help.

As far as how to avoid getting brainwashed, I think that you are pretty safe. You already know too much.

I would caution about getting too close to other victims of the hoax — fellow prisoners, I mean. See these two letters about a disastrous rehab romance, and a clear understanding of how such things happen, here, and here.

Incidentally, I am also simultaneously answering another letter that is asking a very similar question to yours. See it here.

Have a good day, and good luck.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And then Cinderella's Fairy Godmother visited the A.A. meeting,
**     and waved her magic wand, and Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo!,
**     they all quit drinking.

Date: Tue, June 15, 2010 4:24 pm     (answered 24 June 2010)
From: "W."
Subject: Re: best wishes

Hi Orange,

Thanks for your reply to my previous e-mail. I have still not decided what I am going to do. One thing I am sure about, however, is that I don't want to sign on to the faith of a Nazi sympathizer. I like the faith I was raised in (i.e. Judaism) just fine. If there were a Jewish approach to rehab, I'd embrace it. However, I don't think there is, because of the widespread perception that Jewish alcoholics simply don't exist. Thanks for letting me vent, and I hope you are doing OK. Again, please sign me "W".

Okay, W.,

Yes, I am fine. And I hope you are too.

So take care, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     All are but parts of one stupendous Whole
**     Whose body Nature is, and God the Soul.
**        == Pope, Essay on Man, I

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Last updated 19 January 2014.
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