Letters, We Get Mail, XVIII

[Tue, 25 May 2004, John wrote:]
Subject: Doing God's Work

I will not waste your time with the pap and pabulum of religious whimsy but if anyone IS doing God's work it is someone like you! I had a really foul time in "12-step recovery". I was about 13 yrs "sober" and started having some problems with recurrent nightmares and things that some call post traumatic stress, bla, bla, bla... I really wanted to feel differently (stop feeling bad) but I was going about it in a way that did not work so well... no matter how much I prayed, wrote, talked with a "sponsor", worked steps, ad nausium... I still felt haunted by some shit. I finally got very sick and tired of jerks giving me pat little sayings in answer to my queries as to why I felt so lost. I really like your web site; it has a lot of things that I personally can attest to the accuracy of.

I really hope you keep your strength and stamina to address 12-stepism as it should be addressed. My only question is: ARE THERE MORE FOLKS LIKE YOU? I am VERY familiar with professional fellows who address 12-step foolishness (like Stanton Peele, etc) but not "just plain folks" as you appear to be.

best wishes

Proverb:12:18: There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Hi, John,

Thanks for all of the compliments. Glad to hear that you are feeling better.

And as far as doing the Lord's work is concerned, I sometimes like to taunt the true believers, and joke by asking, "How do you know that the Lord didn't send me to clean the trash out of the temple?", although I actually make no such claims... :-)

About there being more of us, I think that the answer is a very large, emphatic "YES". Even the A.A. surveys show that A.A. has a 95% dropout rate in just the first year. The vast majority of the people find that they dislike A.A., and they vote with their feet, and leave.

You just don't see them or hear from them because they don't write web sites or books or create any publicity, while the true-believer Steppers do. The silent majority is silent. But just because the majority doesn't have the inclination, energy, time, or training to build web sites doesn't mean that they don't know or don't care. They do.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, 2 Jun 2004, Liz wrote:]

Dear Agent Orange,

The use of alcohol often stems from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and/ or psychogenic amnesia where sobriety prior to cure may render the person suicidal and worse off than if they continued drinking. I believe that accounts for the suicide rate among those who went to AA and got sober. AA may prevent a person getting cured by emphasizing symptom alleviation when such symptom alleviation makes the underlying illness worse. I am a living testament that sobriety prior to being cured of my underlying PTSD and ruptured psychogenic illnesses probably would have caused my death. I am cured now of my underlying PSTD and ruptured psychogenic amnesia. As a result of the cure, I just gave up needing or wanting to drink or take a drug. I haven't used anything for almost five years now. And I never went to AA after the first meeting years earlier where all I saw was despair. I never think about alcohol or a sleeping pill. I wake up and love my life every day knowing that this day belongs to me and I am free.

I write my story about the attempted murder/rape I endured and my struggle with my illnesses to not vilify AA but to help others, who like me, need medical treatment first before they can possibly give up their self-medication use of alcohol and /or drugs. I beg them to get to a PTSD expert to be tested first for this illness and if tested and found to suffer from this illness, to undergo the hypnotherapy treatment that saved my life. My doctors at Stanford never asked me to stop drinking while I was undergoing treatment although they told me to take no medications for sleep or anxiety and even advised me to not take aspirin. AA telling everyone indiscriminately that they have to stop drinking is not good. It can make a person worse.

I was subject to an attempted murder/rape in my late 20's. I had no memory of the attack in my bed at 3:00 A.M. When I awoke, I was on my bed on my stomach and paralyzed from the waist down. I managed to drag myself to the edge of the bed and fall off and then grabbing every fiber of the carpet that I could hold onto to drag myself with my dead legs to the kitchen to get ahold of a chair leg and drag myself up to call for help. I had to have plastic surgery on my face four times. No one in my family drank or used any drugs. I was an attorney when the attack occurred. I drank socially at the time. Over time I started drinking more. I became dependent on alcohol to sleep. Then it was not enough. I started taking sleeping pills. I had no idea that I had a serious illness. It was not alcoholism. Eventually I started to have seizures. I was not drinking when the seizures happened. I was trying not to drink when the seizures happened. I would fall down and not be able to see, hear, or talk. I fell into the hands of a quack-quack who talked about my mother for two years while I became worse to the point of wanting to try and kill myself. I would wake up in the morning and have no sound in my throat and be able to speak in only a whisper. There went my law career. Quack-quack referred me to AA. I went to one meeting. It was not the religiosity that turned me off. It was the despair. In retrospect I am glad that I never went back. I might have killed myself instead of getting cured of my illness which caused me eventually just to not want to take a drink or a pill. I did not and do not need these things to be happy. I am happy naturally now.

Somehow I finally got myself to Stanford Adult Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic. Within an hour I was correctly diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder and ruptured psychogenic amnesia. I knew what had happened in the attempted murder. I knew what had happened and gave myself amnesia to survive. The surgeon had told me it was too dangerous to remember when the police had wanted me to undergo what, in retrospect, would have probably resulted in my insanity, to wit, sodium pentothal. But the material over a ten year period of time had ruptured and was going to cause my death from my body physically reliving the attack and causing me seizures. That or I was going to kill myself from alcohol abuse and mixing the alcohol with sleeping pills. I was a real dead man woman walking. I had survived an attempted murder only to be dying from the illness it caused. I underwent 18 months of outpatient treatment two or three times a week for an hour and a half to three hours at Stanford with hypnotherapy with a PTSD expert psychiatrist. My three doctors knew from the first session that I had died during the attack. Because of posthypnotic suggestions given to me not to remember anything that my mind did not want to recall yet, I did not know that I had died during the attack until seventeen months later.

I did not stop drinking right away, but over time, I just did not need or want it. I noticed first that I would fall asleep real fast if I drank anything. That means that my mind is so calm now that I just sleep from its effect on me. It got to be no fun to drink as I would immediately fall asleep. I now sleep perfectly. I have no screaming nightmares. I am not in a constant state of anxiety. I guess you can say that I now have integrated the trauma into my memory and my life. But that is too clinical. I remembered that I would have to have a drink when I felt internally something cornering me, overwhelming me, something out of control, something fearful. I just had to have that drink to overcome the panic I felt. It wasn't anything objectively external. It wasn't anything actually happening to me. It could be something as placid as looking at a pleasant painting. I now know that there are reduction cues, or triggers, where something in the environment, like an electrical jolt, goes right to core of the untreated memory and rips it open violently so that the pain is just overwhelming. You have to self-medicate to avoid a heart attack or worse. So you have to get to the memory and treat it first — what I call a D & C of the brain — so that those reduction cues are of no import as there is nothing of pain for them to jolt into. You do no need the drink as you are in no pain.

When I had PTSD, I remember the world looked gray. Everything was a gray color. Now everything, even the color gray, is vibrant and alive with joy and peace. I hope that your readers will see the colors too.

Try medical treatment first and see if there is something buried in you that you need to know and see to feel safe. Do not go to a general psychologist or psychiatrist. Go only to a certified Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Expert and go with hypnotherapy first. Have no guilt. My advice is that if you feel lousy not drinking, then drink until you can find out what is making you feel lousy and get to the core of the problem and ignore its symptoms until you feel great not drinking.


Hi Liz,

Thanks for a great letter.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Tue, June 8, 2004, Angelle B. wrote:]

A good rant. You probably feel so much better.

Hello Angelle,

That is the standard propaganda trick of Sarcasm and Condescension

Who cares whether A.A. is spiritual or religious, it just works.

Well I care whether it is a cult religion, and No, it doesn't work. A.A. kills more alcoholics than it saves. That is the whole problem with it.

And that is not just my opinion. Many doctors, including Prof. George E. Vaillant, a Member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., have found through long and careful testing that A.A. does not work at all. Vaillant did an 8-year-long test of A.A. where he tried his best to prove that A.A. worked, but in the end he had to report that A.A. "failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism". Meaning: that A.A. did nothing good; that it didn't help the alcoholics at all. Zero improvement; zilch. All that A.A. did was kill the patients. A.A. had the highest death rate of any kind of treatment for alcoholism that Vaillant studied: "our death rate of three percent a year was appalling"

If you think that A.A. works, then you should go read the whole file on The Effectiveness of 12-Step Treatment, very carefully. Especially try to understand spontaneous remission.

It is amazing what lengths people who might have a problem with alcohol go.

Wrong. Once again, you show what a cult A.A. really is. That is standard cult characteristic number ten: Personal attacks on critics. If someone criticizes your favorite voodoo medicine, you respond by declaring that he just doesn't want to quit drinking. You won't for a minute consider that he might have a good reason for the criticism.

(FYI: I did quit drinking and smoking 3 1/2 years ago.)

The real issue is whether a person is an alcoholic and needs help.

No, the real issue is whether A.A. actually works to cure or treat alcoholism.
You are trying to change the subject. That is the propaganda technique called "Divert Attention".

Well, A.A. doesn't work. A.A. is just a cult religion masquerading as a treatment for a deadly illness, just like Scientology claiming to cure mental problems.

A.A. offers one of many solutions.

No, A.A. does not offer a "solution" any more than Synanon or Jim Jones' People's Temple offer working solutions to the problems of alcoholism and drug addiction. A.A. has a zero percent success rate, above normal spontaneous remission.

(Well, actually, the People's Temple did offer a "solution" — cyanide koolaid...)

It's sad that someone who might need help might see your website and feel totally validated that A.A. is not the way.

It is not sad; it's great. It might save their lives. You should work on fixing what is wrong with A.A., if you want it to be a creditable help to alcoholics.

I hope you got the help YOU need. You seem very angry.

I'm doing just fine, thank you anyway.

By the way, being angry at a gang of criminals who deceive and hurt people by foisting quack medicine on them is not "a spiritual disease", like Bill Wilson wrote, so I don't need any "help" for that.

The idea that you should not feel your feelings is yet another standard cult characteristic — especially the idea that you should not be angry at all, except at "enemies" of the cult. It's just Bliss, Serenity, and Gratitude all of the time in Happy Valley...

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

[Fri, June 18, 2004, 2nd letter from Angelle:]

Thank you kindly for the information. I am not an angry person; quite the opposite, but it is necessary to choose my battles and yours was one of them. A.A. is a support group to me but not the be all and end all. Alcoholism is only a symptom of other problems and so the studies cannot define alcoholics in black and white terms. It is one of the ways in which it saved me from a miserable existence. Alcoholics Anonymous has helped me stop drinking and live a life not just go through the motions. For me, it is important to know that I am a spiritual being striving for goodness. I abhor religion for myself but would never judge anyone else if that is the support they need.

Hi Angelle,

It is all fine and well that you enjoy the A.A. social club, but it is of course a religion, and a rather crazy dogmatic cult religion at that. See definitions of the word "religion" here.

Remember Bill Wilson's ravings in the Big Book about how you simply MUST believe in his version of God, or else:

  • "it had to be a Power greater than ourselves"
  • "an All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence"
  • "a Power beyond ourselves"
  • "a Supreme Being"
  • "Creator"
  • "our Maker"
  • "Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things"
  • "the Realm of Spirit is broad"
  • "God is everything"
  • "the Great Reality"
  • "God was going to be our Director"
  • "He is the Principal"
  • "He is the Father"
  • "We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe"
  • and then alcoholism is "a spiritual disease", "which only a spiritual experience will conquer"
  • "... you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer."

And then Bill Wilson laid it on even thicker in his second book:

I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way. All of them will tell you that, once across, their faith broadened and deepened. Relieved of the alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 27-28.

Excuse me, but A.A. was supposed to be an "acquire sobriety" program, not an "acquire faith" program.

That is a religion, no matter how much some members yammer the double-talk about "It's spiritual, not religious." See the file on that.

That is also a bait-and-switch trick, where first the beginners are told that no beliefs are required, but later belief in Wilsonism is declared to be essential for survival.

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested [MY required] Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to [MY] spiritual principles [cult religion practices].
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 174.

I don't believe for a minute that A.A. has helped people to their death;

Sorry, but it doesn't matter what you believe. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Trustee, Professor, and Doctor, George E. Vaillant proved that A.A. kills patients. You should read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve Step Treatment

the statistics show the perceived "success" rate which I believe cannot be measured so why can't it show the natural rate whereby people would have died anyhow?

Excuse me, but that is confused gibberish. What statistics? Whose statistics?

Of course success and failure can be measured. It isn't hard to tell whether patients are sober, drunk, dead drunk, or simply dead.

There are some statistics that do show both the success rate and the failure rates. The first that come to mind are the Harvard Medical School, which declared that slightly over 50% of all alcoholics eventually quit drinking and save their own lives, so the other almost 50% die of complications due to alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. That is clear and easy to understand. And 80% of those winners who successfully quit did it alone, on their own, without any "treatment" or "support group". That is also simple and easy to understand.

Another set of statistics that come to mind are those of A.A.W.S. Trustee Prof. George Vaillant. Using an A.A. treatment program on his alcoholic patients for 8 years, he got a 95% failure rate, and a 5% success rate. But 5% per year is just the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics, so the real A.A. success rate, above and beyond normal spontaneous remission, was zero.

Then there are the statistics of Doctors Brandsma, Walsh, and Ditma, all of whom found A.A. to be a failure, too.

But that's enough of this. I am so glad you quit drinking, in any way you needed to. It's too bad you've spent your time and energy debunking A.A. It doesn't matter as long as you're happy and have a quality of life.

Why is it too bad? Isn't debunking harmful cults a good thing to do? Is it also unfortunate that I debunk other cults like Scientology, the Moonies, Hari Krishnas, and children's torture camps?

Three fingers pointing back at you regarding anger.

Thanks for repeating yet another brain-damaged A.A. cult slogan. (There are so many.)

You are also repeating Bill Wilson's insane nonsense about anger — that you can't be angry:

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about "justifiable" anger? If somebody cheats us, aren't we entitled to be mad? Can't we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us in A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 90.

Well guess what? I am one of those people who is better qualified to handle anger. I can do something useful with it, like use the energy to build a web site that tells the truth about some nasty cults.

I wanted to voice my opinion about your website and obviously you don't like people disagreeing with your opinion. But that's YOUR problem.

Not a problem. I allow even my harshest critics their 15 minutes on the soap box. Read the files of letters.

Thank you for taking so much time to show me the intricacies of what you think about A.A. I agree with a lot of points but I don't have to agree with them all. I hope one day you don't pick up that drink because you are stubbornly doing it on your own and don't need support from anyone.



The whole song and dance about how you must have a support group is just another standard piece of cult dogma. "Nobody can do it alone." "You can't make it without the cult." "The cult is THE ONLY WAY"

I just mentioned that the Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of those alcoholics who successfully quit drinking and stay quit for a year or more do it alone, on their own.

So don't worry about me, I'm doing just fine anyway, thank you.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, June 24, 2004, 3rd letter from Angelle:]

Three fingers pointing back isn't from A.A. It's from codependent recovery.

Hi Angelle,

Sorry, but it is. It is a very old A.A. slogan, one that dates all the way back to the Oxford Group cult roots of A.A., back in the early nineteen-thirties. Frank Buchman's Oxford Groups had the slogan,

"When I point my finger at my neighbor there are three fingers pointing back at me."
See: Gösta Ekman, Experiment with God, page 26.

Bill Wilson copied the slogan from the Oxford Groups, and then your codependent recovery organization copied it from Alcoholics Anonymous.

I guess if you need to channel your anger, your website is a harmless way to do it. Me, I'd rather work on the anger and not have it and I'd rather experience life than just talk about it. There certainly is a need for anger. There is a lot of injustice in life but I'm living proof I don't need to drink over it.

I don't need to drink over it either, but I have chosen to do something besides sit on my duff and do nothing while a dishonest cult misleads, misinforms, and harms people.

I've been involved with several "programs" dealing with sexual abuse, spousal abuse and none of them brainwashed me. I do not let anyone brainwash me.

So far, everything you have said here shows that you have been well indoctrinated with the standard cult dogma. You show no signs of being able to think independently. You just parrot one A.A. slogan after another, as if they were the answer to everything, and then you use the standard cultish propaganda and debating techniques like sarcasm, ad hominem attacks (kill the messenger) and create a diversion to avoid discussing the real issues like the A.A. failure rate and death rate.

Have you even bothered to read what Prof. George Vaillant, A.A. Trustee, wrote? Mentally blanking out and refusing to even look at information that contradicts the standard group dogma is another sign of having been brainwashed.

You really should do a searching and fearless mental inventory...

Still glad you're not taking that drink but I have to wonder about your quality of life but that's your business. I'm finished with this. It's tiresome. Hope after you're done debunking all your causes, you can put effort into your own recovery. If you put as much effort into yourself as you do your webpage, you'll do well, Mr. Orange.


You have a good life, too, Angelle. I hope you recover some day.

== Orange

[Mon, June 7, 2004, R.G. wrote:]

Sir Orange !



(and I will pray for your soul)

Hello R.G.,

This is getting repetitious. See the previous letter.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Mon, June 7, 2004, Nancy wrote:]

dear orange,

i am delighted to hear that you are embarked upon the Spiritual path- albeit from the viewpoint of "self-righteous Rebel couched in AA indignation"- that is where I was once.

nomatter, God is patient and tolerant - especially toward HIS/HER/It's intolerant lost sheep.

The power of anger is a mere wisp of polluted air compared to the fragrant gusts of Truth and inner peace that comes from working a progressive 12-step program.

peace & love,

Hello Nancy,

As Jerry Seinfeld liked to say, "Yada, yada, yada...."

Honestly, what does any of that flowery baloney have to do with the fact that A.A. is ineffective as a treatment program for alcoholism, and even harmful to alcoholics?

See the previous letter.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, June 9, 2004, Alan R. wrote:]
Subject The only requirment for AA membership

Is a desire to stop drinking.

Hi Alan,

So? What does that have to do with anything? Why are you repeating that "Tradition" at me?

Second AA is for people who want it. It's not for people who need it.

That's some interesting double-talk. Most A.A.'s tell me just the opposite — that A.A. is for those who desperately need it.

A cult is a group of people who are CONTROLLED by one individual.

Totally wrong. You are picking out just one characteristic of a cult, and then claiming that because the charismatic leader/founder of A.A. (Bill Wilson) is dead, that A.A. is not a cult. Wrong; bad logic. That is the propaganda and debating trick of The Fallacy of One Dissimilarity.

There are many dozens of bad characteristics that define a cult, and A.A. displays that vast majority of them. Read the Cult Test.

Sounds like you have a resentment towards AA as a whole.

Well of course. It is a harmful cult, just like Scientology or the Moonies. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with "having a resentment" against something that is harmful and evil, in spite of Bill Wilson's lunatic ravings about resentments.)

95 percent of those who have been diagnosed with this disease. die from alcoholism. It's a fact and has nothing to do with AA.

That is totally wrong. Where did you get those numbers?

What the Harvard Medical School says is that more than half of all alcoholics will eventually quit drinking and save their own lives, and that 80% of them do it alone, on their own, without any "treatment" or "support group". In other words, without A.A..

I read the story on your Web site about how a woman had divorced her husband becuase he was going to soo many meetings. Gee I wonder How many nights he was out drinking and comming home drunk. Now he's comming home clean and sober and she leaves?

The problem was that he was even more obnoxious as an A.A. member than he had been as a drunk... She could tolerate him being a drunk, but fanatical A.A. member was just too much.

You are very angery at AA WHY?
Did you lose a Close friend to Drinking?
Did your Drinking friends who left you and sobered up through AA leave you

Read the introduction, and also this bait-and-switch trick, and also this.


Answered above.

OR are you a Big Drunk who's afraid to sober up.

There you go again. That is standard cult response number ten: Personal attacks on critics, and it is also a standard propaganda and debating trick: "ad hominem".

When someone criticizes A.A., you answer that he is just afraid to sober up (rather than actually consider what he is saying). See the previous letter for the very same behavior.

FYI: I have 3 1/2 years off of all drugs, alcohol, and tobacco now. I didn't start writing about A.A. until after I got clean and sober and smoke-free without it, and in the process saw what a mess A.A. really was.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Tue, June 22, 2004, 2nd letter from Alan R.:]

Thanks for your response. I was wrong, about attacking you. "are you a big drunk who's afraid to sober up"

Since you are attacking AA. DO you offer any advice or suggestions to help those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism?

Here are the facts about alcoholism.

Hi. There are no easy answers, and no magic bullets, unfortunately.

About your references, those are not "the facts about alcoholism". Be very wary of propaganda that comes from the NCADD. Remember that it is just a front group for A.A., founded by Marty Mann for the purpose of promoting Alcoholics Anonymous.

When they demand "parity" and "fair treatment" for alcoholics, that is just a veiled demand for more money for A.A. counselors who want to force more people into the A.A. cult. The vast majority of treatment centers in the USA are just A.A. recruiting centers. Specifically, a National Treatment Center Study, done by Paul Roman and Terry Blum, Institute for Behavioral Research, Athens, Georgia, 1997, says that 93.1% of all treatment centers in the USA utilize the 12-step approach. So "more money for treatment" really means "more money for stepper recruiters and proselytizers", whose answer to alcoholism is to send all of the patients to A.A. meetings.

But since treatment is ineffective, it's all just a waste of money.

Now I know that they keep on yelling that "treatment works". They have to. They would lose billions of dollars if they admitted that it was all ineffective quack medicine.

The NCADD web page on "The Number One Problem"
ended by claiming that "treatment works", and then they listed some statistics that they were quoting from a couple of "studies". Out of the entire world of studies and reports, they hand-picked just two studies that seemed to report positive results from treatment — one from Ohio, and one from California. How were those studies done? Were they valid tests, randomized tests with control groups that could really show what the success rate was? Probably not, almost invariably not. A.A. propagandists almost never cite anything like a valid, fair tests, because the few valid tests that have been done have shown that 12-Step treatment is completely ineffective and just a big waste of time and money.

The footnotes on that NCADD web page cite:

13.  Ohio Dept. of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, New Standards, Inc., St. Paul, MN, 1994.
14.  Gerstein, et al, "Evaluating Recovery Services: the California Drug and Alcohol Assessment," Sacramento, 1994.

The first one is ostensibly a report by the State of Ohio "Dept. of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services". But it appears that the document was actually written by "New Standards, Inc., St. Paul, MN". Now that is strange. Who are they? What do they know? What do they have to do with Ohio and its treatment of addictions? Why are the authors located just down the road from The Hazelden Foundation, the world's biggest A.A. propaganda agency in Center City, MN? (That is not idle conjecture. There is another such A.A. promotion agency in St. Paul that appears to be another front for Hazelden, or a Hazelden subcontractor. Remember that the "recovery industry" is a multi-billion-dollar game.)

The publication of the second document is uncertain. They don't say who published it (maybe the California state government). I'll see what I can do to track them down and see what they really say, and whether they were anything like valid tests of treatment programs. (Probably not, because valid tests get published in peer-reviewed journals.)

Remember that when government agencies report on the success rate of their programs, that they are passing judgement on themselves. So of course self-serving bias kicks in and they find that their work is pretty darned good, with lots of great results and success stories....

UPDATE: 2010.05.21
I was looking at this page again, and realized that I had never gotten around to tracking down that article by Gerstein. I used a Google search for it, and the results were interesting, to say the least. It seems that those same two articles from 1994 are repeatedly cited by treatment centers that are claiming that "Treatment Works!", while providing no other evidence for that claim. Look at these three hits:

  1. http://www.strategies4change.org/pages/ab_values.html == a Sacramento treatment center, 2 locations. Indeterminate fees. They have the gall to request donations to pay for them foisting more quackery on sick people.

  2. http://www.daacinfo.org/treatment_works.html

  3. http://family-drug-intervention.net/alcoholism.html == this one is especially good. It is Scientology selling their "Narconon" scam, where they claim that the ravings of the paranoid schizophrenic Lafayette Ronald Hubbard will cure drug and alcohol problems. Look carefully at the bottom of the page. See "ARCONON" in the photograph? See the menu box next to it that sells "Narconon". That is Scientology.
    So Scientology is using fudged studies that had nothing to do with Scientology to claim that "Narconon" treatment works.

That still leaves the giant question of "Well, what does work?"

Tough as it is to hear, the first thing that works is spontaneous remission. Just let them recover by themselves. They will do it when they feel like it, and not until.

Rational approaches to recovery have shown small positive results. Rational Behavior Therapy (RBT), and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) (like the SMART meetings) have shown good results in some tests. In Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma's test, RBT scored better than no treatment while A.A. scored worse than no treatment for reducing binge drinking in alcoholics.

Still, the bottom line is that there is no easy answer and no magic bullet, and no treatment program that produces great results. And funding 12-Step treatment is just funding voodoo medicine and quack medicine. And it is government support for, funding of, and promotion of, a cult religion.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Tue, June 15, 2004, Keith Y. wrote:]

I just got finished reading your little deal on the first step and the AA cult. You are not an alcoholic are you? Maybe if you were you might understand the age old saying that one is too many and a thousand is never enough. The obsession and compulsion. Alcoholics are sick people with the disease of addiction. I wonder if you philosophy would work for people who suffer from OCD? Oh well, just goes to show that some people will see in things that which they want to see. I look at AA and see a program that has saved countless lives, families, and friends- you look at it and see a cult.

Keith Y.

Hi Keith,

First off, yes I am an alcoholic and the son of an alcoholic who drank himself to death. I very much understand the compulsion, etc.... I also have the problem that one is too many and a thousand is never enough. Read the introduction, and also this bait-and-switch trick, and The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster.

You are parrotting standard A.A. dogma. Alcoholism is not a disease — at least, not a disease like tuberculosis, cancer, or diabetes. You cannot stop dying from cancer just by abstaining from eating fats or white sugar or something, but you can stop dying from alcoholism just by not drinking any more alcohol. Obviously, alcoholism has more to do with behavior than anything else. Cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes do not.

Now there is a genetic component to alcoholism that lots of alcoholics have, including my father and I. But that gene simply makes us unable to drink "normally". It does not force us to drink, and it does not make us powerless over alcohol. Drinking is still a choice. I simply choose not to drink alcohol any more, and, apparently, so do you.

There is no evidence that A.A. has saved countless lives. The A.A. claims are gross exaggerations at best. The fact that you see some sober people sitting in a room does not prove that the room or the meeting made them get sober. And it really wasn't the Twelve Steps poster hanging on the wall. You might as well give the credit to the rug or chairs or the paint on the walls.

Bill Wilson's claims of great success in sobering up alcoholics were lies that he told because he wanted to sell the Big Book and grow his cult so that he wouldn't ever have to work again — which he didn't. Bill stole all of the money and the copyright of the Big Book and made A.A. support him for the rest of his life.

Those people who quit drinking are those who were going to quit anyway. There is such a thing as spontaneous remission. People do "just get over it". Go read The Effectiveness of the Twelve Step Treatment.

And yes, it is a cult, a cult in the truest sense of the word. Also read The Cult Test. — If you are really interested in the truth, which most cult members are not.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Mon, June 14, 2004, Kelly wrote:]


i have gone to a.a. for 25 years, and have not had a drink in that time... most of what you say is true, and widely known among my other a.a. friends... in fact, i once used the phrase "ravings of a madman" to describe something that was in the big book... so, a.a. has free thinkers who understand our precarious beginnings... if bill had approached me, i would have kept drinking.

i stopped drinking spontaneously, and still go because most of my friends are in a.a., and i have known them for a long time. i cringe at the big book fudamentalists who do seem to think the big book is inspired literature... boy, did i get the looks from a lot of people when i went into my impersonation of bill getting the first big book from the hand of god... so, you are right, and a lot of us know it.

sometimes at meetings i even ask out loud how western civilization managed to bumble along without the big book... sobriety is in my heart and the hearts of my sober friends... the meeting and "the program" are poor comparisons to real sobriety... unfortunately they are the only things many people see... going to a.a. meetings is about the same as going to an empty ballpark to see a baseball game...

thank you for your thoughts...they are valid.

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for the thanks. It helps to get feedback like that now and then, just to reassure myself that I haven't completely gone off the deep end. :-)

Oh, and congratulations on your 25 years of sobriety.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Mon, June 14, 2004, Steven wrote:]

Congratulations on your sharp analyses and courage in writing this essay.

Steven unanonymous

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the praise. Have a good day.

== Orange

[Sun, June 20, 2004, Dfrom wrote:]

Can I please ask why you would put so much energy into bashing AA in your web site ?

Hi Dfrom,

Because I feel like it. I enjoy collecting facts and telling the truth.

I don't think you know what an alcoholic is ! did you know that drinking is not the problem, but it is the the way your brain handles social skils and causes people to drink BECAUSE of this. did you know that you are three parts, physical (your body), intellectual (brains such as school work) and your soul ( what makes you what you are). Did you know that AA helps you with your soul and if you seek help with your soul God will help you not to drink !!, did you know that an alcoholic can NOT process out his or her problems by them selfs.

Yes I do know about alcoholism. I know all about it, because I am an alcoholic who drank too much for the better part of 20 years. So don't try to pull that phony "you don't understand alcoholism" act on me.

A.A. does not help anyone with their soul. (Not unless you consider selling your soul to the Devil to be "help".) A.A. is just another cult religion that does not tell the truth. Period.

Have you ever had a girl friend that you were very much in love with, however all your friend KNOW she is dating someone else too. When they confront you with this you just can't beleave them. every one around you knows the right answer but you, this is what happens in a discussion meeting.

Excuse me, but what do your problems with your girl friend have to do with the treatment of alcoholism?

The bible tells us to confess your sins, and tell your problems to each other.

No, actually "the Bible" does not say that, exactly, and Jesus Christ certainly didn't say anything like that. St. James wrote something vaguely like that —

"Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
(James 5:16)

— But the early Christian church found that the practice of public confessions in church services created all kinds of horrible problems, including corrupting the children, and people taking pride in their sins, so they banned the practice of public confessions.

And it is a great stretch to go from that one line that St. James wrote to making a circus and a public spectacle out of confessions. This is old hat — a 2000 year old mistake.

Notice that the Catholic Church has people confess to an ordained Priest in private, in sworn confidence, in a confessional, not in public. There are a number of good reasons why the Church has a ban on public confessions.

The Oxford Group cult, from which Bill Wilson derived the practices of A.A., had the same problems. Frank Buchman just resurrected a very old mistake, and then Bill Wilson copied it from Frank. Read this and this and this for more about the problems with the Oxford Group practice of confessions in group meetings.

did you know that God had given Bill W. AA in a dream as a gift to us all, same as moses to rescue his people.

Baloney. Bill Wilson had a hallucination from the poisonous effects of belladonna while detoxing from alcohol. Then he became a criminal, setting up a cult religion and robbing and exploiting people every way he could.

did you know when Jesus removed Demons from people he was removing alcoholic and drug addiction.

No. It doesn't say that in the Bible at all. Where did you get that nonsense?

In closing there will never be a pill to help alcoholics, because it has nothing to do with drinking, drinking is what an alcoholic does to TRY to solve his problems,

Never say never. You can't predict the future, can you?

I agree that SOME alcoholics drink to try to solve their problems, but that isn't the whole story. Others drink because they feel bad and want to feel better... Others drink to kill pain, or to forget, or to dance, or to have sex... And some others drink because they are mentally ill...

psychology itself has NEVER worked for anyone because it was never given to us by god.

Baloney. Where do you get that?

If you continue pursuing this path you will have to answer to your maker some day!!

You spout gross heresies and then threaten me with the wrath of God? You are really something else.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Mon, June 21, 2004, Sherron wrote:]

Good morning — I visited your web site for the first time today and spent over 3 hours there. Finding you was like finding a sane voice in the midst of the babble of nonsense. Will you tell me who you are and why you have taken such an antithetical stance against the sacrosanct AA? What are your credentials to challenge this "pillar" of group therapy?

I am nearly 3 years married to a man who boasts of 18 years of sobriety. I've known him for nearly 9 years and knew he was a "former" alcoholic early on. When we became a couple, he told me right up front that he went to meetings twice a week without fail, and that his participation in AA was not to be questioned by me. I've respected that and never complained when he left for his Tuesday and Thursday night meetings, sometimes not having time to eat dinner with me beforehand. I did not complain when I was very ill and in cancer treatment, too weak to move from the couch or bed, and still he never missed a meeting. I even accompanied him to an AA meeting when we were in Florida over Christmas holidays in 2001 and bit my tongue about my impressions of it.

In the course of adjusting to our marriage and each other, differences of opinions and stubbornness on both our parts brought up some emotionally unpleasant times, especially this past holiday season, once again in Florida. After returning home, I decided I would accompany my husband on Thursday evenings and attend Al-Anon meetings while he went to AA. He was very pleased at my decision. I was curious to see what it was all about and I wondered whether it would help me better understand alcoholism. Let me say here that my father was an abusive alcoholic, as was his father. My oldest younger brother (I had 4) died in 1999 at 51 after a lifetime of alcoholism. He wanted to be just like dad, and he was. My first husband died at 52 of diabetic complications exacerbated by his alcoholism. Then, I hooked up with an abusive alcoholic boyfriend. (You'd think I'd run the other way.) After him, I disappeared into a platonic marriage of too many years to a man who didn't drink but was narcissistic and devoid of emotions. In 1992, my only child, my 29-year old son, was killed by a drunk driver. So, you can see, alcohol has been a prominent factor throughout my life. I chose not to drink.

From the first Al-Anon meeting, I knew I did not belong there. I am above average in intelligence, prefer the company of people with whom I can share ideas and be understood, and I am not interested in group therapy. After my son's death I attended Compassionate Friends only a few times until I realized that there were people at those meetings whose child was 20-years' dead and they still wanted to sit there crying and telling others about it. Those meetings kept me from healing and getting back into life, albeit a different life without my son. I would leave feeling as if scabs had been ripped off the wounds of my heart.

Anyway, my impression of Al-Anon is that if those people were paying $100 an hour for weekly counseling they would soon pronounce themselves cured of what ails them. Instead, I hear them speak of Al-Anon as a "life program" and how grateful they are for that. One woman brags that she has been coming to meetings for 22 years! She has no life but to attend as many meetings as are available in a 50-mile radius, and her husband is a psychologist! I've never attended a class or seminar that didn't offer some sort of hope of change and growth if not a cure, spiritual or physical. The first night at Al-Anon, I was taken aback by their rote recitation of the Lord's Prayer. I don't need a church or a new religion. I am a student of the Tao and there I was adrift in a sea of Baptists. Every week I've heard the same "poor me" stories from people who scarcely know the King's English. I recognize that there is a benefit to opening oneself without fear of judgment or criticism to other people who understand the insanity you are living with. But I do not see any attempt at healing at Al-Anon. After all I've been through with alcohol, I'd sooner get the hell out of a relationship than to ever put up with a drinker's bad behavior again. Some at the meetings speak of their tribulations with the tone of martyrdom. They say their lives are out of control because of "their alcoholic." They just don't let it rile them any more.

More than one new person has come to an Al-Anon meeting but never returned. One was a young woman with two babies and a frightening, desperate home situation. The 22-year veteran brought her as a "guest." The girl never uttered a word. Instead of any helpful information on how to deal with her active-alcoholic husband, she heard the group talking about US taking a moral inventory of ourselves and making amends to those we have hurt, as if WE need fixing to improve our marriages. She was clearly afraid for her safety and that of her children. She needed to go to a shelter instead of Al-Anon.

I don't want to make friends with any of the people I've met at the Al-Anon meetings or coming out of the AA meetings. Outside that building we have absolutely nothing in common. I love my husband more than I've loved anyone I wasn't kin to, but I cannot attend another Al-Anon meeting nor can I say anything supportive about his involvement in AA. I won't bitch about his attending meetings, but I will no longer let it inconvenience me or subvert my plans. He is good and intelligent and I am honestly proud of his strength and conviction to overcome the obstacles of his life. He says AA saved his life, and that he goes to meetings to be an inspiration to the new people. When we were stressed out with each other, I found the words to convey to him that it was not AA keeping him sober but the strength of his life decision to be sober. He thought about that for a moment and said he liked that.

I've not read everything on your web site but will keep going back to read through more of the material. It is wonderful that you have the courage to speak out against what is, in every sense of the word, a cult. Why are there no expose' television programs about AA?

Thank you for being there for those of us who also think "the emperor has no clothes," when it comes to considering the validity of AA.

Sherron, in Kentucky

Hi Sherron,

Thanks for a great letter, and thanks for all of the compliments.

As far as who I am, that is a tough question because I am many things.

  • First off, I'm an old hippie from the sixties who has taken everything under the sun, only to end up getting addicted to alcohol and tobacco — the straight people's drugs. Go figure.

  • I'm also the son of an abusive alcoholic father, so I've been educated about alcoholism all of my life.

  • I am also somebody who is "in recovery", as they call it, working on rebuilding my health and growing a few new brain cells. And I've been to a bunch of A.A. meetings in the process, and that is what actually started this whole thing.

  • I'm also somebody who has spent years reading about and studying alcoholism, as you can see from the bibliography.

  • I am also someone who has enough native intelligence to read doctors' scientific reports and understand what they mean. I started off studying biology in college, but ended up being a computer programmer.

  • The introduction, this description of "treatment", and the file "Rat Park" also give a bit more autobiographical information.

You described how you came from a family with a history of alcoholism and then married another alcoholic, and said, "You'd think I'd run the other way." Yes, that is the hell of it. I also came from an alcoholic family, and married a girl who came from an alcoholic family. And I wasn't even drinking at that time. She thought that I was a non-alcoholic. (Well, I was at that time. Hippies weren't into those old people's drugs...) Oh, and her previous husband had been an alcoholic too... Years later, she cried to me that every man in her entire life had been an alcoholic.

It's like birds of a feather. The sons and daughters of alcoholics are attracted to each other because there are all kinds of subtle ques, clues, attitudes, mannerisms, body language things, that come from being part of an alcoholic's family, that all say, "He or she is one of us." The prospective partner just feels familiar and comfortable, one of us, somehow, in some indescribable way... even when he hasn't even started his drinking career yet.

I knew another girl who was the daughter of an alcoholic who never got into relationships with any men except alcoholics. She knew that she was just buying herself an endless river of grief and troubles by doing that, but she couldn't seem to help it because she felt that non-alcoholic men were just boring.

Why are there no honest TV programs about A.A.? That's a good question. It seems like maybe it's a combination of laziness and cowardice. The closest thing I've seen lately was John Stossel's ABC News 20/20 TV program, "Help Me, I Can't Help Myself", April 21, 2003, which questioned the standard myths about addiction and "powerless over alcohol".

The A.A. propaganda machine continues to plant favorable references to A.A. in TV programs like ER, but nobody wants to stir up a hornet's nest by telling the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. can be just as punishing as Scientology when people criticize it. That came up in a previous letter, here

Also see attack campaigns against critics, and Front groups, masquerading recruiters, hidden promoters, and disguised propagandists.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, June 23, 2004, 2nd letter from Sherron:]

Dear Orange —

Thank you for your candid response. I appreciate you and what you are attempting to accomplish. AA is for the sheep of the world. We rams just keep butting heads with the madness. I want no part of any group — religious or secular — that tells me what to think, what to believe, or how to behave. The scary thing is, so many others buy into letting someone else do all their thinking. "It's a Life Plan. Neato!"

After my son's death, I spent a lot of time in grief counseling that included going over other aspects of my life. My counselor helped me to understand that I had sought out what had been "modeled" for me in my childhood — i.e., the dysfunction, tension, and misery born of alcoholism and inflicted on the entire family. I was drawn to men like my dad because it was "familiar," I knew what to expect. Knowing that, accepting that, and forgiving myself for my stupid mistakes, empowers me to face life with less fear and more self-determination. At this stage, I'm not willing to take anything abusive off of anybody. That is no way to live. If people can't live together as friends and in harmony, what's the point!!? I'd rather live alone. I am grateful for every day I have and I don't intend to waste another one. As much as I love this dear man I am with, it would be a deal-breaker if he started drinking again or became abusive in any way. My days of being a martyr or "rescuer" are long over.

At least I've learned my lessons. In an Al-Anon meeting, after talking about all the hell she'd been through with her late husband and recent boyfriend, a women stated matter-of-factly that she would not hesitate to get involved with yet another alcoholic. She found them "interesting, exciting." I found her masochistic and pathetic.

Keep doing what you're doing. Don't let the turkeys get you down. Meanwhile, I'm adding you to my short list of heroes — right up there with Depak and Wayne.

Warm regards to you,
Sherron, in KY

Hi Sherron,

That is so flattering that I don't know what to say, other than, "Have a good day, and a good life."

== Orange

[Mon, 21 Jun 2004, Henny P. wrote:]

Hello AO,

      There is a thread on a nursing forum that I thought you might find interesting. The topic is 12-step coercion. The thread was started by Tommy Perkins (owner of 12-step Coercion Watch) after he gave a presentation to the North Caroline Board of Nursing regarding the unconstitutional practice of mandating nurses to participate in 12-step programs. As you might expect, the steppers and AA apologists have come out of the virtual woodwork to defend their sacred program and propagate the lies and fallacies that are the foundation of AA. You don't need to be a member to read the posts, but you must register to reply to any post. You do not have to be a nurse to register. I would love to see someone like you, who has all of the statistics and resources at his fingertips, blast the hell out of those ignorant nurses who defend AA and endorse mandated participation. The discussion is at:

I post under the screen name "Quailfeather" on that forum.


Hi Henny,

Thanks for the tip. That sounds like fun. I'll have to go check it out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Tue, June 22, 2004, Phil wrote:]

I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association. There have been articles favorable to AA in our monthly magazine. Let me explain that the UU (our denomination) is extremely liberal with very little in the way of church dogma. This makes it very easy for AA to "worm its way in".There is now an addictionology counselor who doubles as a UU minister in Newton, MA. From here he is launching an "Addictions Ministry". The irony is that the UU is supposed to be a religion for sophisticated, formally educated, liberally minded individuals. The subtle sophistry of AA is scary. It can literally appeal to desperate intellectuals just as easily as it can to those with shallow minds. It berates one group of people for their intelligence (which couldn't solve their drinking problem) while it rewards others for being anti-intellectual. In the end I am offended by a minister in my own denomination who spreads the message that recovery is not about taking the moral resposibility to resist temptation. I quit drinking 8 years ago. I've been to AA, and it was worthless. I just quit on my own. So can anyone.

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the letter. I couldn't agree more.

Maybe you should show the file, The Heresy of the 12 Steps, to your minister. I find it rather amazing how many churches are happy to have the 12-Step religion meeting in their basements, without ever examining the theology of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, June 23, 2004, Kari wrote:]

Who the hell do you think you are? Needless to say, I only read a few paragraphs of your little opinionated document, but you clearly are not a member of AA.

Hello Kari,

So you didn't bother to actually read what I wrote, but you just have to criticize it anyway? That shows your level of involvement with facts and the truth....

If you would do a little more research into the subject...for example, how many thousands of lives that blue book has saved, you might realize the impact that it has.

I have done a lot of research. You should read the bibliography. Just read the entire list of books, not all of the books listed there, like I have. That's how much research I've done. How many books on the subject have you read? Let's see your list.

Notice that the Big Book is the first book on the list, closely followed by Bill Wilson's other delusional ravings like 12x12 and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age.

Yet insted you decide to pick and tear at every small detail that might be askew.

I insist on telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

You have no idea how it REALLY works.

I have a very good idea of how it doesn't work. Read The Cult Test and the file on The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment.

Also read the information about the A.A. failure rate that comes straight from the A.A. headquarters. The GSO published a summary of the triennial surveys that showed that A.A. had a 95% dropout rate in the first year. That only leaves 5 percent who could possibly be success stories. But 5% per year is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. That's the people who get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and just quit drinking and save their own lives, usually alone, without any so-called "treatment" or "support group". Well 5 minus 5 leaves 0. Zero is the real A.A. success rate. A.A. does not increase the amount of sobriety in the world above and beyond those people who were going to quit anyway. A.A. just takes the credit for people quitting and saving their own lives.

Also read the work of Dr. Prof. George E. Vaillant, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. He shoved A.A. treatment on his alcoholic patients for many years. After an 8-year-long test of A.A. treatment, he reported that A.A. did nothing except raise the death rate in alcoholics. It didn't help the alcoholics to get and stay sober. The A.A. treatment program had the highest death rate of any treatment program that Vaillant studied.

And that information comes straight from a leader of A.A.. (Nevertheless, Vaillant is such an intense religious nut that he wants to shove all alcoholics into A.A. anyway, even though he admits that it doesn't work, to "get an attitude change" by "confessing their sins to a high-status healer".)

Just because you can gather a bunch of sober people in a room does not prove that the room or the meeting made them get sober.

The level of spirituality is up to the individual, the big book gives us the oppurtunity to stay sober long enough to see that.

The talk about "the level of spirituality" is absurd. You should read the file on The Heresy of the 12 Steps.

The Big Book is a hodge-podge of propaganda tricks, double-talk, deceptions, and lies. It offers an opportunity to become confused and misinformed, nothing more.

And slowly but surely every one of those promises that are mentioned are coming true in my life.

The Promises, huh? So now God is your servant and is doing for you what you "can't" (won't) do for yourself? How did you get God to be your slave and grant your wishes?

There is nothing in the Bible says that God will be your servant just because you practice the cult religion of Frank Buchman, which is what A.A. theology really is. (Bill Wilson just stole it all from the Oxford Groups.)

And there is nothing in the Koran, the Talmud, the Bhagavad-Gita, or Buddhist texts that says that God will be your wish-granting servant, delivering miracles on demand, either.

So continue on with your crusade, but you are missing the point. Try going to a meeting and being open-minded... because to me it sounds like you are the typical hypocite. You say you're open minded, but the truth is you are only open to your own mind.

Kari K.

No, I am not missing the point. You are. The point is supposed to be to save people from death by alcoholism. A.A. totally fails to do that. A.A. is just a cult religion.

And if you would become just a tiny wee little bit open-minded and actually read what I have written (rather than criticizing before reading), you would see that I have been to a lot of A.A. meetings. Start by reading the introduction to the web site.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Thu, June 24, 2004, Bill H. wrote:]

A. Orange,

I've been to several AA meetings and even a few NA meetings. I remember being blown away by how much help these meetings are to the addicted people who participate in them. The truth I learned in these meetings helped deliver me from alcoholism and drug addiction. They were even helpful in starting me on my own journey that ultimately ended with a personal relationship with Christ.

I don't know what is at the root of your bitterness, but I prey that one day you discover it and are released from it. Life is too short...

Bill H.

Hi Bill,

If some people are enjoying A.A. meetings, then fine. Let them. It's a free country (supposedly). People have a Constitutional right to meet. But there is no evidence that A.A. meetings actually help people to achieve or maintain sobriety. The real evidence says just the opposite: that A.A. kills and A.A. increases binge drinking. Check out those two links.

You are, as usual, confusing correllation with causation. Just because some sober people gather in a room does not mean that the room or the meeting made them get or stay sober. The real reason that people quit drinking is because they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and don't want to suffer like that any more.

And if you think practicing A.A. is practicing Christianity, then you should read the file on The Heresy of the 12 Steps.

I know it was just a misspelling, but it's almost a Freudian slip: You said, "I prey that one day you discover it and are released from it." Preying is what predators do. Preying on innocent and confused people is what cults do. Preying on sick people is what A.A. does. And that is why I criticize it.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[June 30, 2004, 2nd letter from Bill H.:]

When we think we are in control of our own lives we are living in denial.

That is just another dumb A.A. slogan. That is completely untrue. Like so many cults, A.A. likes to teach its members that they are weak and powerless, their minds are defective, and they can't make it without the cult.


We're all just one heartbeat away from being totally disabled or dead.

So what? Welcome to life. As Jim Morrison said, "Nobody gets out of here alive."

Do you have the power to prevent your own untimely death? What if a random terroist attack was aimed right at you?

That is just some lame fear-mongering. See Cult Test item 34: The Cult Implants Phobias. Fear of death will not make me join Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA just tries to put alcoholics in touch with the great mystery of life, that is why many became alcoholics... because this world just didn't offer enough without God in it. When we come to the end of ourselves "ego" we will all realize this. "Every knee will eventually bow". However, it is better to gladly realize this now, and get on with the plan that God has for our lives.

Okay, now you have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult religion, not a treatment program for alcoholism.

You have the right to belong to any religion you wish, but you do not have the legal or Constitutional right to shove that religion on sick people while telling them that it is a cure for alcoholism (or a cure for any of a zillion other "spiritual diseases", either).

Also see:

Lastly, you are mistaken about the causes of alcoholism. There are many different causes, ranging from child abuse to genetic defects to mental illnesses. You are trying to declare that alcoholism is just a religious problem, that people become alcoholics because they don't have the right relationship with God. That is again just Bill Wilson's ravings about God and religion.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Sun, 23 May 2004, Suzanne wrote:]

Secret Agent Orange,

I greatly appreciate your writings. I am an alcoholic and addict, who first got sober over 20 years ago. I have had a problem with relapse, and AA has never worked for me, and I have never believed in it. Although my relapses have been short, lasting anywhere from 1 day to 3 or 4 weeks, they are always tragic. I have lived MOST of the past 20 years sober. You got any suggestions for someone who relapses every 2 to 5 years? Any writings on this? Any suggestions?

Suzanne H.

Hi Suzanne,

Brother do I have something to say on the subject. The same thing happened to me.

Well, let me rephrase that. I only relapsed once in my life, but it was a doozy, after a long period of sobriety.

I quit drinking about 15 years ago, and stayed quit for 3 years, and then relapsed and drank for another 9 years, until I really got messed up. (So now I have 3 years of sobriety again, and I'm determined to not make the same mistake again.) I've spent a lot of time thinking about that, and what happened, and how it happened, and how to keep it from happening again.

When you say that you relapse at the 2 to 5 year point, I immediately think of the brain-damaged logic (lizard-brain thinking) that fooled me:

  • "It's been so long since I've had one; I have it under control now."
  • "Three whole years of not drinking, and no cheating whatsoever, I've got a handle on it now. I can drink one beer and it will be okay."
  • "Oh heck, you're strong, you're smart, you aren't really an alcoholic. Not like those poor fools who are always crawling the wall for a drink and have to call their sponsors all of the time... Not like those alcoholics who keep relapsing all of the time..."

One of the things that tripped me up was the belief that because the second and third years of sobriety were so easy, that I was not really an alcoholic. Indeed, according to the A.A. stereotypes, sobriety isn't supposed to be easy for an alcoholic. You are supposed to be white-knuckling it all of the time and always craving a drink. In fact, you are supposed to be so hopeless and so powerless over alcohol that only Higher Power can save you.

Well that stereotype is totally wrong. It is grossly unrealistic. It is just another one of Bill Wilson's stupid ideas that declare that you are weak and only joining his cult will save you from an alcoholic death.

My doctor explained it much better: He said that alcoholics have great control over their sobriety; they can stay sober for years at a time. They just don't have any control over their drinking. Their drinking will spin out of control very rapidly.

I find that I am also very vulnerable to nostalgia. It wasn't so much a factor in the alcoholic relapse, but it fooled me for the better part of 20 years when it came to relapsing back to smoking cigarettes:

  • "Oh for the good old days, when we could just kick back and relax and have one..."
  • "Let's just have one for old times' sake..."
  • "Oh yes, the good old days, back when we could do anything we wanted to..."
  • "Wouldn't it be nice to just have one and relax like we used to?"
  • "Remember what it was like to smoke in the beginning, how good it tasted and how you weren't addicted? Well, after all this time not smoking, it will be like that, if we just have a few..."

But what is going on there? Especially, who is "WE"? (As if you have fleas or something?) That little voice in your head keeps saying "we":

  • "We should have one."
  • "We should just sneak out and smoke a quick one."
  • "We can have just one; one will be okay. That won't hurt anything."

Well, "we" is old base brain and the higher centers of the brain. That is, old lizard brain and you. We have a node in the base of our brains, right at the top end of the spinal cord, that is basically just a hungry horny little animal that hasn't changed much since the days of the dinosaurs. It is totally relentless when it comes to "survive and reproduce, no matter what." The funny way that evolution sometimes works is that once Mother Nature gets a good, working design for something, she just keeps it, and then adds new stuff around it later. Well, our brains are like that. The higher brain centers are just piled on top of old base brain. The higher brain centers are very intelligent and able to think rationally and logically, but old base brain is still the same old dumb horny lizard as lived 60 million years ago.

But the base brain isn't a bad thing — The base brain handles lots of critical functions like keeping us breathing at night while we sleep, regulating our heartbeats, and it also drives us to survive — "Eat, feel good, have sex". We can't live without base brain.

Base brain isn't bad, it is just stupid. It cannot understand things like, "You shouldn't drink a bunch of beer and feel good now because you will get readdicted and end up drinking far too much and you will feel terrible in the long run. It will wreck your health and mess up your life." Base brain does not understand "tomorrow" at all. For him, everything is right now — "food now, sex now, feel good now". Base brain is the original "instant gratification" animal.

The really nasty kicker is that base brain learns very fast when it comes to learning that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs can act as painkillers and can make you feel better, sometimes even ecstatic. Base brain is all for that, and he is too stupid to understand that getting quicky feel-goods by short-circuiting the system with brain-altering chemicals usually has some very nasty side effects in the long run. So we can end up in a situation where the upper brain is logical and rational, and making sane, sensible choices, while the lower brain is complaining, "Screw that noise. Grab the goodies. Feel great right now." And old lizard brain is really great at screaming. It has an endless supply of lines, like the ones above, that it will try out on you, to get you to do what it wants whenever you decide to do something else.

I wrote a whole web page on this, "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster". Check it out for the rest of my rap on old base brain. Enjoy.

One last note on the lizard brain thing — I find it extremely helpful to understand that the lying, scheming, thirsty little animal brain is not me. It's a part of my body, but it isn't really me. Old lizard brain is just doing his thing, always scheming to get me to smoke or drink, as well as to eat, have sex, and feel good by taking care of myself. (So it's both bad and good...) Recognizing that allows you to detach and not feel guilty about what is going on. Sometimes I laugh when I see what he is doing, and how he is thinking.

It's like a couple of summers ago, I went to a blues festival. It was a hot sunny summer day, and in the middle of it an attractive tall slinky young woman with a big foaming cold beer in a mug walked by, and old lizard brain immediately said, "Both. I'll take both." (Yeh, grab the girl, drink up all of her beer and screw her. Sounds like a plan to me.) I just said, "No, we aren't doing that one today."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Sat, June 26, 2004, Anonymous wrote:]
Subject: Miller Newton/Straight, Inc.


I wrote you a few months ago regarding my experiences in Straight, Inc. I was so glad to see that you posted it. The tragedy of the Teen "Help" Industry needs the light to be thrown on it and if Miller Newton and Mel Sembler get what they really deserve it will be a perfect world.

You said that I piqued your interest. I'm glad. I hope you still interested. There is a new website being set up by a someone that I was in that hellhole with. It's one of the easiest sites to follow about Straight. It's still under construction, so please bear with her.


The name is derived from the fact that Straight condensed the 12 Steps of AA into 7 new and improved steps.

It amazes me that this is still going on. I had no idea how widespread it was until I entered Straight into a search engine a few years ago. It's branched out into so many different areas that I really can't believe it sometimes. There's boarding school/treatment center/behavior modification school for anything and everything. Whatever a parent doesn't like about their teen, they can fix it. By force if necessary. Read this.


The money that these people make off of the suffering of God knows how many kids is truly disgusting. And there are no words and there is no forgiveness for Miller and Mel and the rest connected with that place and how they continue to boast about their "successes" in the War On Drugs. The people that run these places and perpetuate this insanity need to be stopped. Quite a few of us who have been through these places call ourselves Drug War P.O.W.s. I think it's appropriate. I was one for two years of my teenage life.

Keep up the good work! If you decide to publish this, again, please do not use my name or email address.

[name withheld by request]

Hi. Yes, you piqued my interest, so I got a book by Newton Miller on how to "help" children with his style of counseling. It was rather chilling. I added a section about it to the web page on children's gulags, here.

Enjoy, and have a good day, and you keep up the good work too.

== Orange

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