Letters, We Get Mail, CLXX

Date: Fri, May 14, 2010 2:16 pm     (answered 14 June 2010)
From: "Gary R."
Subject: Experience

Hi Orange-

I'm a recovered alcoholic/drug addict and I will never coerce or demand or claim anything that isn't my own experience. I can see your point on some of the issues you address and the AA I've seen of late, is a great departure from that intended by our co-founders and the "First 100" and that which is in the contents of our Big Book. When I was attracted to the AA message, the man who is now my sponsor stated his experience not his opinion. The "First 100" recorded their experience (not their opinion) and they were very clear that their method was solely intended for the "real" alcoholic. One who has lost control as far as drink is concerned not whether I fell victim to a DWI, was arrested, divorced, lost my job, etc. The point is that the Big Book was their answer to their dilemma and if you have a better way their "hats were off" to you. They had tried many other means and were unsuccessful. They plainly stated, on several occasions, that they had no monopoly on how the alcoholic is to recover or on God, but that this 12 step program is what worked for them. I've experienced complete freedom and love from my sponsor and his sponsor they simply share their experience with me and if what they recommended didn't work for me they invited me to try something else, no strings attached. They didn't chase me nor did they coddle me.

I truly feel it is unfair for anyone to call AA a cult or any other derogatory expression when that has not been my experience. I warn newcomers to not be "sheep". I suggest to each and every one of my protégés that they question everything they hear. If it doesn't absolutely work to try something else. That's been my experience with AA which has been "roomy" and "loose fitting" and has shown me nothing but patience, kindness and love (sometimes of the tough variety as in the truth).

Soberly yours,


PS: As far as "evidence", the medical description of an alcoholic contained in my basic text, Alcoholics Anonymous, is entitled "The Dr.'s Opinion". The operative word is opinion and he was not an alcoholic himself. If alcoholics are claiming proof I'm not sure where they're getting it either. I believe what has worked and I'll continue to pass it on if a new comer wants to listen and read and take the spiritual program of action. BTW, I'm powerful in many areas of my life because I'm continuing to treat my alcoholism.

Hello Gary,

Thank you for the letter.

Well, they sure taught you a bunch of slogans and buzz-words, didn't they?

  1. The often-ballyhooed wonderful "program intended by the Founders" is a complete fantasy:
    ...the AA I've seen of late, is a great departure from that intended by our co-founders and the "First 100"...

    Actually, what "The Founders" William Griffith Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith really intended was coercive recruiting. Official A.A. literature documents how Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob arrogantly shoved their Oxford Group cult religion quack cure on sick alcoholics without the alcoholics' permission:

    ... they thought it a good idea to have a preliminary talk with his wife. And this became part of the way things were done in the early days: Discuss it first with the wife; find out what you could; then plan your approach. It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it.
    Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83.

    There is more on A.A. coercive recruiting, here.

  2. And "the First 100" is a myth too. Bill Wilson just made that phrase up to sell shares in the "100 Men Corporation", which was supposed to finance the writing and publishing of the Big Book.

    There were only 40 sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous in the whole world when Bill Wilson wrote up the stock prospectus for the "100 Men Corporation", so Bill was engaging in stock fraud there, claiming that his new method had cured 100 alcoholics who had recovered. (Notice the past tense there.)

    And there were only 40 sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous in the whole world when Bill Wilson started writing the opening chapters of the Big Book, and only 70 when he finished. And then half of the Big Book first-edition authors relapsed and went back to drinking.

    An alcoholic who was a doctor ["Doctor Bob", Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith] came to see me. He didn't talk like a preacher at all.
    This doctor had imparted his knowledge to just a few other men at that time — not more than four or five — and now they number more than 70 persons*

    * Written in 1939

    The A.A. "Big Book"Alcoholics Anonymous, Joe Doppler, "The European Drinker", page 235 of the 3rd Edition.

  3. This is myth, not fact: The "First 100" recorded their experience (not their opinion).
    The truth is, the stories in the first edition of the Big Book were just sanitized show pieces intended to get people to join Bill Wilson's version of the Oxford Group. They are loaded with opinions — and religious beliefs — and only pro-A.A. opinions and beliefs were allowed. — Like Bill Wilson would not allow Jim Burwell, the resident village atheist, to get his story in the first edition of the Big Book. Jim had to go through a religious conversion before his story was acceptable to the dogmatic Wilson, and Wilson put Burwell's story in the second edition.

  4. The "real" alcoholic vs. "not really an" alcoholic is a false dichotomy. Bill Wilson used that label to explain away those alcoholics (like me) who could quit drinking and stay sober without joining his cult religion. If they could quit without A.A., then Bill said that they weren't "real" alcoholics. But if they never quit drinking, then they were "real" alcoholics.


    • I was "a real alcoholic" when I got sick and homeless.
    • And I was a "real" alcoholic when my doctor told me to choose between quit drinking or die.
    • And I was a real alcoholic when a "treatment program" sent me to A.A. meetings.
    • But then I became "not a real alcoholic" when I quit drinking on my own, without A.A. So now I have 9 1/2 years of being a sober "not real" alcoholic.

    Click on this link for a discussion of definitions of "an alcoholic".

  5. Oh, and I also "fell victim to a DWI, was arrested, divorced, lost my job, etc."
    And you can add on homeless and sick and losing everything. We've all been to hell and back. A.A. members have no monopoly on suffering. But every so often, some A.A. true believer still insists that I'm not a real alcoholic because I quit drinking without A.A.

  6. Then you said, "They had tried many other means and were unsuccessful."
    Actually, it is not a question of "means", it is a question of will and motivation. Most alcoholics go through the experience of thinking that they want to quit, and giving it a half-assed try, and then going back to drinking when the desire strikes. They often do that several times before they really decide to really quit. They often don't really decide to quit forever until they get very, very sick. So, the alcoholics finally got sick enough to quit and stick to it, and Bill Wilson came along and said that "the other means" didn't work, only A.A. works.

    The truth is, there are no "means" to make alcoholics quit drinking. There is no "Program" that works. There is no mind-control program that works to make alcoholics quit drinking. Alcoholics quit drinking when they really want to quit, and not until then.

  7. Then you said, "they had no monopoly on how the alcoholic is to recover or on God, but that this 12 step program is what worked for them."

    The "no monopoly" rap is a bait-and-switch trick. Bill Wilson talked out of both sides of his mouth. In order to mollify outsiders and beginners, Bill made statements that sounded open-minded and generous, like "We know only a little", and "We have no monopoly", but after a guy joined A.A. and became a committed member, the story changed to "Work The Steps Or Die", and "A.A. is the only way".

    See these descriptions of those bait-and-switch tricks:

    Oh, and A.A. didn't "work for them", either. Fully half of the original Big Big authors relapsed and returned to drinking. There goes "the First 100". And today the dropout rate is just as bad.

  8. It is most assuredly fair to call Alcoholics Anonymous a cult. Have you actually read the Cult Test? Read it, both questions and answers. And why don't you try scoring A.A. on that test yourself? Just remember to be "rigorously honest".

  9. Alas, "The Doctor's Opinion" in the Big Book is worthless. Dr. William D. Silkworth was the incompetent doctor who used Charlie Towns' quack cure for morphine addiction and alcoholism on Bill Wilson, and poisoned Bill Wilson with belladonna, mercuric chloride, hyoscyamine, morphine, chloral hydrate, Podophyllum Resin and other junk, and made Bill "see God". Silkworth just wrote a testimonial for the Big Book that said that some alcoholics had quit drinking while participating in Bill's version of the Oxford Groups. Silkworth did not do any proper medical tests to see if A.A. really worked to make the alcoholics quit drinking, or stay quit.

Have a good day and a good life. And good luck.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Burn the libraries, for their value is in this one book." [i.e. the Koran]
**      ==  Caliph Omar, at the capture of Alexandria

Date: Fri, May 14, 2010 12:45 pm     (answered 15 June 2010)
From: "Stacy"
Subject: Codepencency

Hi Orange

[I don't know what the mechanism is for suppressing original name and email, so this is just from "Stacy". Also I'm aware that pasting into Yahoo mail from Word often makes the font come out very weird, but I guess you're able to correct that.]

Hello Stacy,

Thank you for the letter.

Right on both accounts. I actually delete people's last names and email addresses manually, so no worry there.

And yes, the font comes through strange. Specifically, all of the apostrophes and quotation marks turn into question marks. But a global search and replace fixes most of that.

I'm also interested in the idea of codependency, having been on the sharp end and having been told by Al-anon members that I suffer from all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors and thinking because I was desperately trying to get emergency help for my husband, who was literally dying from alcohol abuse. (I was more or less told to let him get on with it until he came to his senses and discovered AA, even though even a few more weeks of doing nothing would probably have resulted in his death.) But anyway, I thought this from the recovery.org website might provide some further amusement (or dismay):

How can counseling help:

For people with codependency, individual counseling can teach assertiveness, listening, and communication. Counseling can help you become more aware of non-helpful actions/behaviors, and work with you on developing new, healthier coping skills.

In the case of codependency though, counseling only helps if the counselor is aware of their own tendency towards codependence, or if the counselor has some understanding about the addictive push in our society. Counselors, in the case of codependency, need to present good boundary setting and healthy living themselves during sessions with clients. If a counselor develops a working relationship with a client that has codependent qualities, again, the pattern is repeated, and therapy may not be as helpful. Some statistics show 50-80% of counselors have not addressed their own codependency issues. So one must be careful in choosing a counselor for this kind of support.

There are also self-help groups for codependency, called CODA groups. More information is available through local alcoholism services. If you can't find a CODA group, there's also ACA (adult children of alcoholics groups) that deal with similar issues CODA groups might deal with.

Counseling for this mythical disease could be a good idea, but wait!! Your counselor is probably suffering from codependency too!! So you're better off finding a 'self-help', i.e. a 12-step group!! (And I wonder where the 'some statistics' they're referring to come from')

That's a very good question. They make up a lot of fake statistics. Then, what is really funny is how many Steppers accuse me of misusing statistics when I talk about the A.A. failure rate. Suddenly they don't like statistics.

And I love their claim that the counselor has codependency too. Apparently, all that you have to do to catch codependency is rub against an alcoholic once or twice. Codependency seems to be more contagious than Bubonic Plague.

I am reminded of the letter about codependency just a little while ago, here. There, an authoress who was selling books on how to recover from codependency claimed that doctors who didn't agree with her ideas of codependency were themselves suffering from untreated codependency.

How on earth can anyone take this garbage seriously?

I dunno, but somehow they manage to.

Thanks for this site, which helped keep me sane when trying to fend off the 12-Step lunatics who seem to crop up all over the place like zits whenever anyone's trying to cope with the issue of addiction, whether you ask them to or not.

Thanks for the thanks.

I was sorry to hear about your homelessness problems and am very glad you've found a new home now — I hope you're enjoying it and settling in well. (OMG! I've just expressed some concern and interest in a fellow human being! Aaargh! I must be suffering from codependency! Get me to a meeting right now!).

All best


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

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**       The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
**          ==  Albert Einstein

Date: Mon, June 14, 2010 12:21 am     (answered 15 June 2010)
From: "Gary B."
Subject: Hi Orange — It's great to see that you're back (after your absence due to the dreadful fiasco you had with your housing situation)

Hi Orange

It's great to see that you're back! (My sympathies over the dreadful fiasco that you had with your housing situation.)

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the thoughts. Fortunately, I've ended up in an even better place.

Actually, that is what took so long. It was easy to quickly find horrible places to live. Take your pick:

  • Black mold eating out the walls, or
  • Junkies shooting each other in the hallways.
  • More concrete and steel and glass towers with dictatorial management companies.
  • Tiny over-priced places that the owner does not maintain...
  • Then there was the non-existent place whose "property manager" just wanted me to fill out an application that would give enough financial information for identity theft.
  • And then there was "Melissa Ryan" who just got called away to Africa for "emergency hospital work", and if I send the rent money to Africa, she will send me the keys to her house. Yeh, right. (Funny how Melissa couldn't speak or write coherent English very well.)
  • You sure do find a lot of garbage on Craig's List.
  • But I finally did find a good one there.

Well, anyway, I'm in a nice new place in a very nice small town far from the city center, and I don't plan to move for a long time.

What's the weather like where you are? It's been distinctly wet here in the north of England this month.

It has been very rainy here, all spring. The day before yesterday and today are the only two bright sunny days in a long, long time. Oops! Actually, the clouds are closing in again, now that I look. Oops again! Now it's raining. But the weather man is optimistic, and says that summer has finally arrived.

Anyhoo, onto the main subject:

Terry — I was just having a read through your letters section this morning and couldn't help but notice a series of recent letters from some person called "Mike" attacking you/trying to validate some misguided idea of moral superiority just because they'd observed that they were more wealthy than you. This person also took a lot of smug, sadistic relish out of your very recent hardship with you losing your home....

Urghh!!! How nasty and vindictive!

I'll tell you something, Orange, whenever — just out of sheer loneliness/isolation — I feel tempted to go back to A.A. all I ever have to do to dissuade myself from doing so is just to read the letters page on your website.

Characters like this "Mike" person remind me of exactly the type of mindset I'd be coming back into contact with again. "Uh-oh — no thank you".

Mind you, what else can you expect from an organization that has to validate its own existence by taking relish in the misfortunes of ex-members/"apostates".

Indeed, let's face it, their organization is quite odd in that IT ACTUALLY WISHES DEATH, FAILURE AND MISERY on ex-members just so that at some point in the future it can validate itself by literally dancing on your grave and using a person's tragic demise as a morbid reinforcement for their own cause.

So yeah, schadenfreude is very ingrained in A.A., isn't it?

Is it just me, or do 12-Steppers jump for joy at the news of an ex-member dying?


Well, I'll tell you what. if I only ever have one reason left for battling to stay sober.. then a good one is spite (i.e. to deny my old group that dubious pleasure).


Gary B.

P.S. Reading those letters actually put me in mind of my old sponsor who always liked to brag over and over again about how now that he's since he's become sober he's now a successful self-employed businessman. Yup, 12-steppers are the only types of people who actually "brag about how humble they've become", alright!

You are quite right, Gary, they secretly take joy in hearing about relapses, especially of A.A. quitters and non-members. The only way that they can feel superior is by somebody else being inferior.

They just hate it when I say, "I have 9 1/2 years of sobriety now, and I have done it without joining any cult religion. I just use common sense, clear thinking, and a little will power."

What that means is that they have been wasting their time with an unnecessary program and meetings, and their beliefs about "A.A. is the Only Way", and "Work The Steps Or Die!" are all wrong.

So they routinely respond with "You will still relapse. Somebody with a resentment as big as yours can't help but go back out."

And they really want to hear, "Terry quit A.A., and was found dead in a gutter a month later." That would validate some of their beliefs.

But you know, their eagerness to grab onto any little difficulty, like somebody having to get a new apartment, as proof of their spiritual superiority, just proves that they are really pathetic.

Oh, by the way, sometimes spite helps me too. Sometimes, in those moments when I think about having a drink, in my imagination I can hear the A.A. members braying like donkeys and celebrating, and I think, "No way in Hell am I going to give them the satisfaction."

Works for me.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Life is real! Life is ernest!
**      And the grave is not its goal.
**         ==  Longfellow, A Psalm of Life

May 18, 2009, Monday: Day 18, continued:

2 Canada Goose goslings
Two Canada Goose goslings, resting.
I'm not sure which family these youngsters belong to.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Fri, May 14, 2010 8:29 am     (answered 15 June 2010)
From: "Robin M."
Subject: AA

Just skimmed your site. Plan to read your website in fuller detail. I have a child who is an alcoholic and continues to oppose the practices of AA. He has embraced the 12 steps somewhat, but without fully adapting the program and practicing the 12 step plan. He has for the last year been seen by a counselor and has worked the 12 steps with the counselor, but refuses to go to meetings or obtain a sponsor. Do you have suggestions on alternative methods of therapy? He continues to cycle through relapse and is slowly killing himself.

Hello Robin,

Thanks for the letter. Sorry to take so long to answer; I've been very backlogged on answering emails because of having to move to a new home.

It is understandable that your son is not enthusiastic about "working the 12 Steps", considering that those steps are cult religion hocus-pocus nonsense. The 12-Step program does not work, so don't waste any more time on it. In fact, the 12-Step indoctrination has been shown to be very harmful, like raising the rate of binge drinking and raising the death rate in alcoholics.

There are many alternative — and better — ways to deal with habitual alcohol abuse. I have two lists for you: Discussions of what other people found helpful, and my regular list of better recovery groups and methods.

The list of "what works" discussions is:

  1. A 20-year oldtimer gives his methods
  2. suggestion 1: just don't drink
  3. get over drugs and alcohol
  4. Cost-Benefit Analysis
  5. Lizard Brain Addiction Monster
  6. one woman finds WFS very helpful
  7. not powerless
  8. what is the answer
  9. more suggestions
  10. Just don't drink any more alcohol, not ever, not for any reason.
  11. quit now and save a brain cell
  12. my 'Four-Step program'
  13. the one-step program
  14. better than A.A.
  15. what's helpful
  16. do it yourself
  17. more suggestions, groups
  18. do it yourself — the most successful program
  19. do it yourself some more
  20. more of what works
  21. the phases of quitting
  22. More advice here
  23. more advice.
  24. more advice.

And the list of alternative groups and methods is:

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

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

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

  4. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)
    LifeRing provides live, online meetings on the Internet, and they are also starting meeting groups in various cities.

  5. Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support (HAMS)
    HAMS is peer-led and free of charge. HAMS offers information and support via a chat room, an email group, and live meetings — as well is the articles on this web site.

  6. Moderation Management

  7. And then there are these forums and chat groups:

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

Now, you spoke about having your son go to a counselor, but you didn't mention a real medical doctor. Have you ruled out problems like a Bipolar Disorder, or Schizophrenia, or Clinical Depression? The big question is, "Why is your son drinking like that?" People do not drink in extreme self-destructive manners without some reason or other. You and your son need to learn what that reason is.

If that counselor whom your son has been seeing is selling 12-Step recovery, then he is a superstitious quack. Get rid of him and get a real counselor who has something valid to offer.

Please don't hesitate to write back if you have more questions.

Have a good day, and good luck.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Tomorrow will I live, the fool does say;
**     Today itself's too late; the wise lived yesterday.
**        ==  Martial, (Full name, Marcus Valarius Martialis, A.D. 42?—?102),
**            Latin epigramist born in Spain, Epigrams (Cowley translation)

Date: Sat, May 15, 2010 10:17 pm     (answered 16 June 2010)
From: "jenny k."
Subject: My Lizard Brain

Hey A.Orange-

I love the Lizard Brain information on your AA Hater site! I wonder if you feel that this way of looking @ addiction somehow helps you with your crusade to prove that AA is bad, wrong, a cult, evil, unsuccessful and deadly — among other things?

Hello Jenni,

Thank you for the letter.

I am not running an "AA Hater site". I am running a site that is dedicated to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Period.

And I do not censor A.A. members who say good things about A.A. And I even praise some of the people who go to A.A. meetings to help the beginners — the Newcomers' Rescue League.

For me it does the exact opposite. I heard a CD of Dr. Kevin McCauley talking about the Lizard Brain and it helped me understand what is called "plain insanity" in the AA text,"Alcoholics Anonymous". Bill W describes this type of thinking by comparing it to a person with a passion for J-walking. He can't stop even though he keeps running out in front of traffic breaking bones and landing in the hospital.

What a funny coincidence. I have a joke about a 12-Step organization that is for jay-walkers. But it's just a joke.

The truth is, we are not powerless over the urge to jaywalk. And we are also not powerless over the urge to drink alcohol, or the desire to get high on drugs, either.

Bill Wilson's analogy is a bunch of bull.

The idea that this drive to drink/use destructively comes from the mid brain makes perfect sense to me.

No, it comes from the base brain. There is a big difference there. The midbrain is large and intelligent. The base brain is a walnut-sized lump at the back of your head, right on top of the spinal cord, that is very stupid, but very important. It controls your breathing and heartbeat, and keeps you alive. It also constantly tells you to survive and eat and have sex, and to do whatever feels good. Unfortunately, after the base brain learns that drugs and alcohol feel good, it is very hard to get it to shut up and quit insisting that we should take some more and get high again.

By the way, did you know that the dinosaur Brontosaurus had a walnut-sized brain? Brontosaurus was as big as a house, and yet it just had a tiny walnut-sized brain. And yes, we still have that same darned walnut buried at the bottoms of our brains. And that walnut has not learned a single new thing in 60 million years. Now that's stupid.

CORRECTION: I have been informed that the Brontosaurus was a big mistake. There was no such dinosaur. It seems that the skeleton of the Brontosaurus was assembled from pieces of other dinosaurs. Well anyway, there was some big old dinosaur back there who had a brain the size of a walnut.

It echoes what Bill W says on page 24 of the same book about being unable to bring into consciousness with sufficient force the awfulness of what happened last time drinking/using wreaked havoc to deter the alcoholic from another bender. For me, the research on the addict-brain McCauley spoke of proves that they were onto something when they wrote the book in 1939. I'm sorry your experience with AA was so terrible that it has caused you to be driven to go to such great lengths to tear it apart — it must have been really bad!

Sorry, but that is all mythology, fantasy, and fairy-tales. They were not onto anything. Dr. Frank Buchman, the founder and leader of the Oxford Group cult religion, taught that you were powerless over sin and had been defeated by it, and the only answer for you was to surrender your life and your will to God and let God make a well-behaved little puppet out of you.

Bill Wilson took that and just changed the word "sin" to "alcohol".

AA is cram packed with sick people — including Bill Wilson! There is some horrible stuff that goes on there and the worst perpetrators waive the banner of "RECOVERY" while they do it. I know — I see it — it is shameful.

Yes, it is most unfortunate. Now you do understand, don't you, that going to such a group of criminals and mentally-ill people, and letting one of them be your sponsor and tell you what to do and how to live, is a suicidally stupid thing to do, don't you?

I also hate that the court system forces AA on people as a punishment for being caught driving while intoxicated. It makes people think we are affiliated with them — which we are not. There are many meetings that do not sign court cards in order to weed out those who don't show up solely because they want help to stop drinking.

I agree that the coercive recruiting is terrible. Unfortunately, I have never seen, or even heard of, an A.A. meeting that refuses to sign attendance slips, or accept coerced members. Would you care to get specific about which ones, so that I can tell people about them?

The bottom line, for myself, is that AA has helped me and many other people who I know personally recover from addiction. AA introduced me to the idea of God — not religion.

That is a common false dichotomy — God vs. religion. A.A. teaches that it is a superior religion, because it isn't a religion. And A.A. claims that it has the real teachings about God, which the regular mainstream religions do not have. That is all just another game of spiritual one-upmanship. Cults do that all of the time.

And your claim that "AA has helped me and many other people who I know personally recover from addiction" is not supported by the realistic studies of what A.A. actually does. It is easy to assume a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists.

I have been seeking God and staying sober for 11 + years. (God, not a doorknob or a Group Of Drunks!) This has been an amazing and comforting thing for me. I was a shuffling, self centered drunken junky — a slave to the Monster....I needed God bad! I love AA and my recovery from the Beast that lived in my brain. I have changed(I believe) by God and learned to handle situations differently by taking the actions that the 12 steps suggest. I'm glad I stayed — even if it is a cult.

Good luck on your quest! Have a nice day!
Jenny K.

Congratulations on your years of sobriety. So you finish by saying that you really love and enjoy your favorite cult religion. That is hardly helpful to others who are trying to save their lives from addictions.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "I count it blasphemy for Dr. Buchman, or anybody else, to pretend to
**     testify to what God has done for him while humanity is at this moment perishing."
**     Rev. John Haynes Holmes, quoted in The New York Times, July 16, 1934, page 9.

Date: Sat, May 15, 2010 9:26 pm     (answered 16 June 2010)
From: "Ryan L."
Subject: Another email

Hello there, I have read much of your website and found it very interesting. I suppose I should say give a brief history of my own experience before I ask my question, so that you may better understand it. At 17, I recognized a problem with drugs and alcohol that had been forming for several years. Not knowing what else to do, I asked my parents to put me in rehab, and they obliged. After my 16 days in an in-patient facility (where I learned a lot) I decided to go to NA. NA, in my area, had many more people my age at the time, who I thought I could relate to. 4 and half years later I had remained physically clean and sober, but hadn't done anything asked (not demanded) of me. Thus, I found an excuse to drink, and did for a few months. When I was ready to try again, I came back to AA, and immediately took the suggestions of sober members who had what I perceived as being happy sobriety. I am happy to report that it has been over 6 years since, thanks to the fellowship and the program of AA.

Hello Ryan,

Thank you for the letter. You are assuming a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists. There is zero evidence that "taking the suggestions of sober members" — as orders — caused you to not drink alcohol.

What really happened is, you quit drinking alcohol for a while, and then, after four years, you thought that you could drink with impunity, but you learned the hard way that you could not. So you decided to really abstain from drinking alcohol forever. And so far, you have.

I did exactly the same thing. I quit drinking alcohol successfully for three years, no cheating whatsoever, and then, at a friend's birthday party, I thought that I could just have one beer, and it would be okay because I had it under control now and I could handle just one. Well, one beer turned into three, which turned into a six-pack the next day, which turned two sixpacks a night within weeks, which turned into drinking for another nine years, until the doctor told me "Quit drinking or die. Choose one." So I quit all of my bad habits, all at once, and now I have 9 1/2 years off of alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

The only difference between your story and mine is that I didn't waste any time doing the practices of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In both your story and my story we decided to REALLY get sober and stay sober, so that we wouldn't die that way. And that is the magic that does it.

I'm not saying that AA's way to recovery is the only way (nor should anyone who's read the big book... pg 31 says "If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!") but it has worked for me.

Yada, yada, yada. That is just Bill Wilson's bait-and-switch trick to sound reasonable to outsiders and newcomers: First, Bill Wilson declared that Alcoholics Anonymous was only one of many ways to achieve sobriety, then he declared that it was The Only Way.

And again, you are assuming that "it" worked for you. You could just as easily assume that eating bacon for breakfast is what worked for you.

Obviously, I am on one side of the fence and you are on the other, and neither of us can really expect to change each others mind or opinion. That being said, I do not wish to incite an argument, rather simply make my point.

In an email from "Adam" on February 9th, you responded citing the New York Time's recent report that drug and alcohol rehab was a $20 billion per year industry. Since A.A. has been in existence for 70 years, that is a lot of years of raking in lots of billions. In the last 20 years, they might have raked in $300 or $400 billion or so, and much more in the years before that. That rivals the recent Wall Street thefts.

If you would allow AA's 12 Traditions to be used as "guidelines" for how AA should work, you will find that AA does not endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise (6th tradition) and also has no opinion on outside issues (10th tradition). But, thanks to the great country of ours, just about anyone can make a buck doing just about anything, and rehabs have decided to cash-in using the AA name. That is the rehab's decision, not AA's.

That is just standard Minimization and Denial. Of course A.A. and the treatment centers are working together. Look at the cozy relationship between The Hazelden Foundation and A.A. They have been helping and promoting each other for 50 years.

All I really wanted to make your readers clear on is that AA is a non-profit organization, and always has been. No one is ever obligated to put a dollar in the basket. The long form of the 8th tradition says "Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we may otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12th Step" work is never to be paid for."

Declaring oneself a non-profit, and then making a lot of money, and taking it all home as "salary", is a common way to dodge corporate income taxes. Look at the A.A. finances:

  1. A.A. finances for 2004
  2. Response to above letter from former A.A. EDP manager Lillianna Murphy: the A.A. headquarters is filing false financial reports with the IRS
  3. more discussion of finances
  4. links to A.A. financial reports
  5. Use Guidestar to investigate the General_Service_Board

Of course I can't make excuses for any particular persons behavior, or how the traditions are interpreted by others. I am dissapointed to hear that some of AA's members have given AA such a bad name. It makes me give pause to how I might not scare away a newcomer — as I have found AA's way of life most joyful.

I appreciate your time, and I hope you find whatever you're looking for.

Ryan L.

It's funny how many A.A. members end their letters with a line like: "I hope you find whatever you're looking for." — as if I had not already found it.

Variations include:

— all of which are of course condescending veiled put-downs that try to declare that I have not found spirituality or happiness or tranquility or serenity or whatever.... Why, I must be a real spiritual slob. And insane and miserable too.

It seems that a lot of true believer A.A. members just have to keep telling themselves that I am not happy, because they can't quite bear the thought that I might actually be both sober and happy without spending years going to A.A. meetings and "Working The Steps".
"Oh no, that can't be true. I can't have wasted so many years in a cult religion. I can't have been wrong when I told so many newcomers that A.A.'s Twelve Steps are the only way to keep from being a dry drunk. So Orange must be very, very unhappy."

FYI: Actually, I have made my peace with God and the Universe and everything, and found happiness and serenity. And also sanity and clarity. I am not "still seeking". Still working on getting better and higher, but not "still seeking", or "hoping to find".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**       Nature never did betray
**     The heart that loved her.
**          ==  Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

Date: Sun, May 16, 2010 9:17 am     (answered 16 June 2010)
From: "John G."
Subject: who are you?


Hi John,

I've answered that question so many times that I'll just point you to the list of links, here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to
**     have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself
**     in now and then finding a smoothe pebble or a prettier shell than
**     ordinary whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
**         ==  Isaac Newton (quoted in Brewster's Memoirs of Newton)

Date: Mon, May 17, 2010 11:25 pm     (answered 18 June 2010)
From: "Ryan J."
Subject: Hello!

I've read (and enjoyed) reading your writings on Orange-Papers.org, and I was curious as to what your motivation was for creating your site.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Hello Ryan,

That question has been coming up often, lately. I just answered it again a little while ago, so I'll point you to that answer, here

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**        ...Some things...
**      arrive on their own mysterious hour,
**      on their own terms and not yours,
**      to be seized or relinguished forever.
**        ==  Gail Godwin (1937— ), American writer

Date: Tue, May 18, 2010 10:05 am     (answered 18 June 2010)
From: "jamie g."
Subject: hi

Greetings Orange,

Hope all is well with you its good to hear you have found some were to live looking at the pics of your new home it looks like a nice little place for settling... Out in the open surrounded by the wilderness i am a big lover of nature and the outdoors.

A bit more about myself — i am now into about 1 and a half years sober now and like you life's just great. i love waking up in a morning without wrenching my guts and shaking like mad relying on a bottle of cheap cider just to make me feel "normal".

Just to let you know the SMART meetings i'm running over here in England are going really well. i even had 14 members turn up to one meeting the other week. I currently run 5 at the moment which is quite demanding but at the same time very rewarding. I like the CBT [Cognitive Behavioral Therapy] aspect of it all.

i am currently booked 5 months of 1 to 1 Cbt with a psychologist as my underlying issues are OCD, and alcohol dependence is my secondary issue, although i'm not dependent no more.

I can't understand why people want to say they are alcoholics even years and years of abstinence. Its like them folks in AA use the term like its such a glamerous lifestyle. it was probably the worst period of my life literally....

The way i see it is i used to have a drink problem and if i were to drink again i would turn out an active alcoholic, but i believe there's so much more to a person than a label. Like you have said in your papers nobody can even really define what an alcoholic really is.

I did a hospitized detox back in december 2008 i was 26 at the time and spent my 27th birthday in there i was diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis which i think was the scare in which i thought right enough really is enough... I went through a day care rehab which was 12 step based. I was there about a year. I also did AA for about 9-10 months solid, got a sponsor, did service, bigbook, etc etc... Now i can actually think rationally and it has taken sometime, believe me. Your papers ring home so much of the truth i was thinking before. I was just so screwed up and didn't know where else to go. I thought I'm gonna have to stick this AA out... I actually heard of SMART through this website. So a big big thankyou to you. Really I mean that. :)

I think you should publish this into book format, As i said in my last letter, we need people like yourself telling the TRUTH about the mess the recovery industry is in. Anyways orange i am sure to keep in touch. I love reading these papers whilst having my tea. lol lol. I never seem to get bored of them, even stuff i have read before...

All the best with yourself and its good to hear life's treating you well.

Your friend from over here in England

Hi again, Jamie,

It's good to hear from you again. I hope your health is good and you are feeling well. And congratulations on your sobriety.

First off, thanks for facilitating those SMART meetings. That's good — it gives other people a way out of the trap — both traps: the alcohol trap, and the 12-Step trap.

About people calling themselves alcoholics for so many years, I was reminded of the woman friend who squawked when I called myself an alcoholic:
She said, "What?! I've never seen you drunk."
I answered, "That's true, because I've never taken a drink in all of the time that you've known me."
She said, "Hmmm... That isn't how the alcoholics that I know of work."

She had a point. I thought, maybe I should call myself someone who used to drink too much, or someone who shouldn't drink alcohol now because I tend to go non-linear on the stuff, and one drink always seems to turn into two six-packs every night for years, until I get really sick...

I mean, how many years do you have to keep on calling yourself an alcoholic? I also haven't smoked a cigarette in 9 years, and I don't call myself a nicotine addict, or a smoker, not any more. I just say that I used to smoke, and I was really addicted to it and sick, and I don't want to go back there again.

The last time I called myself an alcoholic, which was just a few letters ago, it was solely to make the point that I do understand the suffering that alcoholics go through, because I've been there and done that too.

But yes, there is definitely a time to move on and adopt a new ego. (Oh, and ego is not a dirty word, either. Your ego is just what you think you are. You can take one ego off and put a new one on, just like changing out of a set of dirty old clothes.)

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.
**        ==  Sophia Loren (b. 1934), Italian actress

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 28 September 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters170.html