Letters, We Get Mail, CLXXXVII

Date: Sat, August 7, 2010 12:10 pm     (answered 13 August 2010)
From: Bob O.
Subject: AA / NA are entertainment

Mister T,

Thank you for all you do. Some people at meetings "brag" about the destruction they have caused while drunk/stoned expecting a laugh. They should be ashamed. I am always encouraged when there is silence or only one new person laughs. It appears to me that people who are not addicts/alcoholics soon leave because they cannot identify.

I have been clean and sober since 1980 and I will never drink/drug again which begs the question why go to meetings? The answer is for the entertainment. I told a popular member of my AA men's group, with several years sober, about the Orange Papers and in a few weeks he agreed with you and stopped attending meetings. The members soon shunned me and carefully excluded me from a bus trip to a Yankees game. He returned to the group saying he did not drink but he had a difficult time and he has attended ever since. He and some others eventually shook my hand. I did not ask them why. That was last year and most of the people who attended the game are not at the meeting.

There is only one person who can keep me clean and sober and that is me. I went back to school and earned a BA in Economics in 1985 which has done me little good. I do not fault the education because I believe alcohol/drugs have caused much damage.

During the summer of 1967 on a beautiful Sunday I started at noon with two pills, went to a party that evening and ended the day in a coma from a motorcycle crash.

People should talk more about success in the fellowships. I have been to AA meetings where the leader will say he has never seen anyone recover without God. I raise my hand and point to myself but I am ignored.

I find NA on Long Island focuses on recovery much more than AA. I am rambling but I believe you understand. Some of the old timers I have spoken to agree with me but do not say so to others. They agree that recovery is minimal. One man says it is 100% for him. He has six years sober, is 68 years old and says he is satisfied. I will be 65 years old this October.

They believe there is a small recovery rate and none accepts the increased death rate as fact. I am surprised like-minded people near you do not offer to help you at least with housing. There may be house-rich old boomers like me near you. I get strange ideas. Would twelve readers cover your web expenses for one month each? I believe the cost is about $250 per month. Does that make sense to you? Would it be inappropriate to acknowledge them by name if they agreed?

When I joined AA in 1980 we gave a zippo lighter to everyone who celebrated their first year sober. Each year after a star was engraved on the lighter. I know you are trying to determine the success rate of AA by counting sales of key tags but we never had any key tags. I have not celebrated for many years in AA but the men's group only has a cake at best. The NA group I belong to is in contact with Intergroup and they make sure no one celebrates in more than one group. I have celebrated far fewer times than I have not celebrated. I did not get a lighter because I did not tell my group about my first anniversary in 1981 and I had stopped smoking by 1982. I sometimes say the group was on double-secret probation. I am out of space to type.

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. I am glad to hear that you are doing well. So you must have about 30 years clean and sober now, right? Wonderful. It really does feel so much better to not be sick all of the time, doesn't it?

And thanks for your determination to tell the truth.

About financial support: The housing is not a problem. That's a done deal. My VA pension covers that. It was just a problem of finding a good place to live, cheap, and then moving in. That is finally all done. And my storage locker is empty, finally, and I'm not paying rent on it any more. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm free at last. (Well, maybe for a little while. Then it will be something else.)

It's easy to find cheap bad places to live, or expensive good places to live, but getting the good and cheap combination really took some looking. It took moving out of the city center area and out to the boondocks. Which I actually prefer, and consider a blessing in disguise. That is, my months of homelessness gave me the opportunity to move to a much nicer place, one that I would not have found otherwise.

About the web site, the hosting does not run $250 per month. I got it cheap. It's about $200 per year. And actually, other expenses are far greater. Computers and books both cost a lot more.

The computer manufacturers seem to have really cheapened out the quality lately, because I've never seen so much gear fail as I have during the last few years. Like three years ago, I bought two brand new Viewsonic flat-screen monitors, and both died within two years. My fallback? I went back to using my dinosaurs: big 12- to 15-year-old Viewsonic CRT monitors. The new stuff dies within two years, and the old stuff lasts 15 years and is still working great. Go figure.

And then the little fans on the video cards of both of my main machines (AMD dual-core Athlons, one for Linux and one for Windows) froze up, so the cards melted down. Again, both dead in two years.

Then the ethernet ports on both Abit motherboards just spontaneously died within a month of each other.

And then a very large, 750 GB only-2-years-old Seagate disk drive died and took about 2 years of photographs and other data with it. I guess I need to get a tape backup, but those things are really expensive. The other solution is RAID — redundant disks, where if one dies, the other one still has the data.

And then I'm not even going online now. I'm so tired of getting ripped off by phone companies. A DSL line costs three or four times as much as the hosting for the web site. I was paying Qwest something between $70 and $80 per month for phone (which I didn't use but had to have for the DSL) and DSL (which I used 24/7). Qwest cut me off because I was letting neighbors get into my network through my WiFi, and piggy-back and get some Internet access, because they were too poor to afford their own DSL lines.) So the heck with Qwest.

Oh, and then, when Qwest closes an account, they have a bad habit of making up hundreds of dollars of phony charges that you do not owe, and then immediately sending your final bill to a collection agency. They do it to everybody. Read the Wikipedia page on Qwest. They are just a criminal outfit.

So I walk to the local library, where I get free WiFi. I have an old Acer TravelMate 2300 laptop computer that still works just fine (well actually, I bought it broken and fixed it), and I carry all of the web site updates inside of that, and upload them from the library. The only problem with that laptop is that it is often very slow. I really need to at least get more RAM for it. It has only 512 MB, and really needs 2 GB. Maybe next month.

The books really add up. I buy both good and bad books. The good stuff is the classics that tell the truth about alcoholism and recovery. And cults. And psychology. And on and on.

The bad stuff is the endless stream of books about 12-Step recovery, and "codependency", and similar cult nonsense. I have to "Know Thine Enemy" and all of that.

Well anyway, it's time to walk to the library and upload these updates. And definitely time to get out in the sunshine. We are in a heat wave, starting today. Lots of over 90 degrees days are coming. I love it. I'm from New Mexico, remember, and it doesn't feel like summer until the neighbors are complaining that they are dying in the desert. (Which I think they will be, this week. Complaining, not dying, that is.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     To err is human, but to really screw things up requires a computer.

Date: Sat, August 7, 2010 3:34 pm     (answered 13 August 2010)
From: "cappy a."
Subject: mad doctor-you're an asshole & a dink- Get a life-you must have very little to do.

Hey Dink-
Can't quit; too bad.

You have a good day too, Cappy.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
**        ==  Senator Patrick Moynahan

May 19, 2009, Tuesday: Day 19, continued:

Canada Goose family with goslings
The Family with Two Very Young Goslings, Napping

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Date: Sat, August 7, 2010 11:24 pm     (answered 13 August 2010)
From: "John G."
Subject: AA/NA

I am a person who has been going to these 12 step deals for 3 years. Honestly, this is not working out and lately I have been moderating my alcohol intake. That is just the way it is and total and complete abstinance is a pipe dream. I fired my 1st sponsor and now on a second one but I am seriously thinking about not going back.

The whole experience has left me kind of mind-f**ked, but I will manage. I wanted to be clean and happy, but I feel at times that I am more screwed up than when I first started going to meetings. I watched the youtube videos and read the material in orange papers. I was interested in Frank Buchman because I heard an old-timer mention about him. He confirmed it, but he never talked about it in meetings.

Well, I am just trying to get over this ordeal and hopefully move on. If you have any advice please reply. J.G.

Hello John,

Yes, I have a lot of things to suggest.

First off, it is highly possible that you are "more screwed up" now than when you started on A.A. Those Twelve Steps are nothing but a mind-fuck. The 12 Steps induce feelings of guilt and inadequacy, which does not help at all. Then they tell you that you drink because of "character defects", and "moral shortcomings", and "wrongs", which is simply not true at all. And they tell you that you are powerless over alcohol, which is even worse. Talk about a formula for failure. The 12 Steps are just Dr. Frank Buchman's standard practices for recruiting and indoctrinating new members of his religious cult. When Bill Wilson wrote down Frank's practices and called them the 12 Steps, all that Bill did was change the word "sin" to "alcohol", and suddenly, Frank's "cure for sin" became a "cure for alcoholism".

So personally, I wouldn't waste another hour on the 12 Steps.

Now, on to the good stuff. There are several non-cult recovery groups that are becoming increasingly popular, and they all seem to be quite good. So let me give you some lists:

  1. the list of non-cult recovery groups, forums, and methods

  2. The Top 10 reading list

  3. the short list of what works, and

  4. the longer list of what works.

  5. more talk about what works

  6. more advice.

In addition, I just got another book from the library yesterday, Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You, by William R. Miller and Ricardo F. Muñoz, PhD. I'm just starting to read it, but I can already see that it has a bunch of helpful and useful things in it.

Prof. William R. Miller either runs or works with (I'm not sure which) the Center for Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Addictions, Dept. of Psychology, University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, NM, and he is one of the leading authorities on alcoholism. In spite of his hefty academic credentials, he has written a non-technical book that is loaded with practical advice. And he clearly leaves the total-abstinence/moderation question up to you. And he has a bunch of techniques for reducing your drinking, rather than just totally quitting.

Since you mentioned that total abstinence is out of the question, then this may be just the book for you. If your local library doesn't have it, you can get it through an inter-library loan. If you don't have a library card, get one. They are usually free. Like I just got a card for the local library in my new home town, and all they asked for, in addition to I.D., was some mail like a utility bill, that showed my name and address. I didn't have one yet, so I showed them the lease. Good enough.

And then I put a hold on this book and they got it from another library. So a library card is a great thing to have. It will give you access to any of the books on the "Top 10" reading list.

Notice that in the list of groups and methods, there is also the web site of HAMS, which is also about harm reduction, rather than total abstinence.

The whole question of moderation or total abstinence is a very personal one. It really depends on the individual person. Way back in 1978, the famous government think tank, the Rand Corporation, did a study of alcoholism and treatment, and they reported that half of all recovered alcoholics — that is, alcoholics who stopped self-destructive drinking — did it by tapering off into moderate controlled drinking. The other half did it by total abstinence.

The A.A. true believers exploded and screamed that such a report gave alcoholics an excuse to drink, and would kill alcoholics. Even Ann Landers got into the act in denouncing the report. Look here.

Nevertheless, it's still true. Some people just taper off into "normal" drinking, and "mature out" of excessive drinking, while other people do it by total abstinence. Whatever works for you.

Now personally, I have to do it by total abstinence, because when I "just had a few", it always turned into drinking way too much for too many years. Total abstinence is the only thing that works for me. But that is my problem, and my solution.

Your problem may be different. And that's what you have to learn. So you certainly can try moderation and see if it works for you. And Miller and Muñoz's book sure looks like a good place to start. There are also some other books on that "Top 10" list that give useful advice for moderating.

Have a good day and a good life, and don't hesitate to write back if you have more questions or whatever.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The secret of health for both mind and body is
**    not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future,
**    but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
**     ==  Buddha

Date: Sun, August 8, 2010 1:53 am     (answered 14 August 2010)
From: "Todd Q."
Subject: AA triennial survey argument on craigslist.
To: multiple people

I had a little discussion with an AA zealot on craigslist last night about the results of AA's famous triennial survey.

Please take a moment to look at the graph in Appendix C and follow the link to see the discussion.


The survey is attached to this email.

this guy almost had me believing him.

Please let me know what you think. I'd hate to think I got this wrong.


Size: 2.7 M
Type: application/pdf

Hello Todd,

Yes, there is some confusion about that graph. But don't feel bad, I was confused about it too, and so were some people before me, which is where I got the confusion from.

The first analysis of the graph that I got was the statement that the percentages that are shown in the graph are the percentages of newcomers remaining after the indicated number of months. But after a few years of thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it isn't so. That would require a "longitudinal study", which means that you have to track people through time, and keep track of how they were doing, and see if they were still going to A.A.

Several critics have pointed out that the graph merely indicates how many months the people had been in A.A. when the triennial survey was done.

So what really happened was, some group secretary announced, "Your attention please! All of you people with a year or less in A.A., listen up, because these questions are for you.
Now, how many of you are in your first month in A.A.? Let's see a show of hands."
And some hands go up.

"Now, how many of you are in your second month in A.A.? Let's see a show of hands."
And fewer hands go up.

"Now, how many of you are in your third month in A.A.? Let's see a show of hands."
And fewer hands go up.

And so on, until, "Now, how many of you are in your twelfth month in A.A.? Let's see a show of hands."
And far fewer hands go up.

Then they graphed the results as percentages of the total number of people counted. So the graph simply shows what percentage of the counted newcomers were in their first or second month, or seventh or twelfth month, or whatever.

Now some A.A. defenders have claimed that this chart shows really good results for A.A., like that 56% of the people who stayed for three months stayed for a full year. That appears to be true, but that is nothing to brag about, because the survey does not show a good retention rate for A.A., far from it.

As a way of measuring the A.A. retention rate, the way that they did the survey is fatally flawed. Here is the big gotcha: The survey did not count the huge number of people who dropped out before the survey was done. They never asked, "Will all of the people who are not here please raise your hand?"

They counted almost none of the people who came to A.A., and didn't like what they saw, and walked out after a few meetings, and didn't come back. Those people were not around to be counted in the survey. So the numbers are worthless for determining the A.A. retention rate.

For instance, the graph does not show what percentage of the newcomers actually stayed for three months. All we know is that a large number of people came to A.A. and then dropped out, and some small fraction of them were left still attending meetings three months later.

The numbers do have some limited usefulness for determining the dropout rate though. It's one of those funny mathematical things that isn't reversible. We can use those numbers to determine that the A.A. dropout rate is at least as bad as some number, or worse, but we cannot determine that the A.A. retention rate is any better than some number, just because of all of those uncounted people.

Oh, and reinterpreting the results does not improve the case for A.A., just the opposite. The results may be even worse for A.A.

We have discussed this a few times before.

  1. Here is a longer explanation of what I was just saying about the second way of interpreting the graph.
  2. Here is a continuing debate about that graph.
  3. Here is the graph and the first way of interpreting it.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "A well conducted professional study" (page 19) showed that
**     "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
**     after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
**     Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'" (page 2)
**       ==  Dr. Ron Whitington, Chairman General Service Board,
**        AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

[This is in response to Todd's previous letter.]

Date: Sun, August 8, 2010 2:17 pm     (answered 14 August 2010)
From: "friendthegirl"
Subject: Re: AA triennial survey argument on craigslist.
To: "Todd Q."
Cc: "Terrance Hodgins" <[email protected]>

Hi. Hey, I just talked to MA, and he reminded me that he actually posted about that:



Hi Ilse,

Thanks for the link. That's a very enlightening page.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."
**      ==  Attributed to Mark Twain by Yates, Department of the
**     Interior and related agencies appropriations for 1984:
**     hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on
**     Appropriations, House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth
**     Congress, first session, Parts 9-10, 1983, U.S. G.P.O., 1983.

Date: Sun, August 8, 2010 5:43 pm     (answered 14 August 2010)
From: em

This may sound crazy, but have you heard of AA hijacking televisions ? I know it sounds stupid, but please write back.

Hi E.M.,

I'm not sure in which sense you mean, when you say hijacking televisions. If you mean grabbing control of a specific set and putting a new program on it, I don't think so.

If you mean influencing the channels of communication, and planting favorable stories for A.A., while censoring negative stories, they do that all of the time. Hidden members of A.A. just love to promote A.A. in violation of "The Eleventh Tradition".

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   It is better to be alone than in bad company.

Date: Mon, August 9, 2010 4:37 pm     (answered 14 August 2010)
From: "Stacy"
Subject: Hello again

Hi Orange

Just a little point of trivia to lift your day! You've sometimes mentioned the fact that AA has been shamelessly promoted in many mainstream TV programs, including Cagney and Lacey in the 1980s (gosh, we're getting old, aren't we?). Well, I distinctly remember the actor Sharon Gless (Cagney, I think) being interviewed by the BBC at some point — probably in the late 80s. As you remember, Sharon's character in the series was supposedly an alcoholic who went to AA — she didn't actually seem to be that much of an alcoholic, really, she just got wrecked when her dad died and started yelling at Lacey, a perfectly understandable thing to do in my opinion.

Anyway, in this interview with the actor (who had stopped drinking by herself in real life and was getting pissed off with people going on about it) she said that she thought going to AA was completely out of character for Cagney. "She's not a joiner," I remember her saying, "and would never have gone through that whole AA thing." I obviously can't quote verbatim after all these years, but it's interesting that someone who had stopped drinking herself in real life would have said that about her onscreen character.

I loved Cagney and Lacey. Cagney was the glamorous single one who had a string of useless boyfriends and a complicated life, and Lacey was the unglamorous mumsy one who always ended up shagging loyal hubby Harve after they'd had some kind of row about how her police work was affecting their family life. They don't make 'em like they used to!

On a more serious note, please keep up all the good work. It is so important. I think the message might slowly be getting through, but it's going to be a long haul yet.


Hi Stacy,

Thanks for the story. That's interesting. The lingering question in my mind is the script writer. Did he have an ax to grind? Was he a hidden member of A.A. doing 12th-Step promotional work? Or was he just another fool who thought that every dramatic series has to do an obligatory "recovery" story, and he heard somewhere that A.A. really works?

Speaking of showing our age, I was just remembering the first TV show that I saw promoting A.A. It was in the nineteen-fifties, and I saw it on a black-and-white TV when I was a kid. Some guy was having a drink in a restaurant and a concerned friend was saying, "I don't see you at the meetings any more." And the drinker was insisting that he didn't need to go to meetings, and he was okay having a drink now and then. The implication was of course that he wasn't okay. I have no idea what the name of the program was; that is just too long ago. But they sure have been working A.A. meetings into TV scripts for a long time.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Stupidity, like hydrogen, is one of the
**      basic building blocks of the universe."
**          ==  Frank Zappa

Date: Tue, August 10, 2010 8:37 am     (answered 15 August 2010)
From: chris a.
Subject: Thank you


I love your website. I have been going to AA since I was 14. At age 21 I decided to get sober. I followed the suggestions in AA bc it helped but the cult crap has been present all along. I have left AA and have gone along my own path. I am very happy but it has taken a long time to break from the mindless shit they talk about in AA and think on my own. Don't get me wrong, I've thought for myself all throughout but imagine leaving an institution after actively being involved for 10 years takes a little getting used to.

I did drink again and my sponsor promptly fired me. I went to my home group and talked about it. I'd been going to this group for 6 years every friday and not one person called or came up to me after the meeting to talk. So much for the "fellowship" they babble about.

Funny, I used to get so aggrivated when people in the program didn't call me back but no I realize that its bc their talk about fellowship is nonsense. 10 years in the program and I have one person that I would say was a friend. That's it. Its certainly not bc I'm not a likeable guy. Rather, I couldn't find anyone in the program that I respected and that could talk about anything else besides AA and program crap. The people in AA are not the kind of people I wanted to make friends with. Imagine hanging out with someone who refers to themselves as a "f@*king junkie, liar, and a drunk" who can only think of making 3 meetings a day to make themselves feel like they are a functioning part of society and has to call their sponsor to make even the most mundane decisions bc they "can't trust their own thinking"?!

I got tired of the heirarchy of knowing someone as having more or less time than you. If they have more time, there's an unwritten rule that you call me, I don't call you. But its amazing how many call when they wanted me to help them move houses or something like that. Oh they'd call right away or make sure I had a flyer on hand about their 33rd birthday celebration or whatever.

Coming off my relapse, I got a new sponsor. At that time, his mother was in hospice and was soon to pass away. I stopped by the hospital to give my support, even though I barely knew the guy. A week later, I was broke as shit and my car ran out of gas on the side of the road, so I called my sponsor for a few bucks for gas. Simple, just 5$ to get me going and he could go with me to the gas station to fill the can, just to make sure I wasn't up to no good. The guy tells me as a matter of fact, "I don't loan out anything to people". It was then when I realized that I have absolutely no connection to these people. We have nothing in common. What the hell was I doing showing up to the hospital to show my support.

They talk a lot about giving back what was given but the truth is that the well only pumps one way with these people. I've never gotten an amends from anyone in the program, despite their reassurances that they are died in the wool liars and thieves who have found a new way of living. I certainly did my part and for that, I pride myself. I actually followed the program suggested and I got a lot out of it but I know now that I am an exception to the rule, no matter how much they profess otherwise. Reading the letters that these people in AA send you only confirms this. All the sarcasm and hatred from a program of" love and tolerance".

I am a firm believer that 99 percent of people in AA aren't alcoholics to begin with. I think a lot of them are just worthless and gullible, need to belong and have someone tell them what to do bc they truly can't think for themselves. But for all the truth in the world, they will continue to see someone willing to tell it how it is as having "resentments" and is obviously a "dry drunk".

Here's a thought: if alcoholism is but a disease, then why does every AA asshole talk about "drinking is but a symptom"? Wouldn't that point to some kind of moral failing? There's no logic in that but consider the source: a group of people who want me to "keep it simple stupid". The only thing that seems stupid to me is the absolute refusal to use your mind for what its meant for.

I moved on to another sponsor who had me meet with him once a week to go over the big book. We started at the dr's opinion. After 10 years in AA, I know dr silkworth's letter in and out. This was an attempt to "right-size" my ego. I don't believe in the ego and I don't believe that alcoholics are any more or less self-concerned than anyone else out there. An alcoholic will do whatever it takes to make drinking easier and more readily available. Once he stops drinking, he can resume a normal life. He is not a man or woman in an adult body stuck with the mentality of an 11 year old or whatever age they began drinking. This is just another way of belittling someone who just has difficulites with alcohol, to constantly reinforce the idea that they can only be normal if they attend a lifetime of meetings in order to keep in check this invisible boogeyman who really like pushups.

I got fed up with the guy and told him I wanted to go on to the 4th step to clear up some wreckage. He said sure but was a little put off that I might know what I need to do for my sobriety. Five minutes later he calls back with a very different attitude, telling me the steps are in order for a reason blah blah blah. Obviously the guy had gotten his new found attitude after he ran my decision by his sponsor and apparently his sponsor loaned him the AA family balls to try and tell me what time it was. I'm a big man and even worse, I fight in MMA. Nobody talks to me that way and he knew it, that's why he hid behind the telephone. At any rate, I told him he wasn't of any use and that was that.

A lot of these AA dickheads spend so much time in meetings that they don't really know much of anything else. They kind of lose touch with reality. AAer's talk about anger being a liability but to me? Its one of god's greatest gifts, it gets a lot done. AAer's know only one world and they suck at even doing that.

Some of my favorite meetings are the 4th step inventories bc without fail, some pervert will always steer the discussion the "sex inventory". This is supposedly theraputic to openly talk about your sexual perversions in front of a group of people, getting honest but really its violating poeple in the guise of recovery. I remember a guy who got married to a woman in the program and had all the people from AA show up to his wedding. A year later, he's bawling in the meetings talking about his wife cheating on him. Very manly and honest to discuss the fact that his wife cheated on him, everyone admired his openess, but he was really just "assassinating her character" with the full support of everyone who hung on the depravity and the drama. Another guy I know got married in the program to a woman in the program and naturally had issues like in any other relationship. The difference was that every nuance of the relationship was out on the table by both the guy and his wife.

Hello Chris,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. Your letter says a lot. That's quite a description of life in the cult.

I can see how it would take some time to get over "the program" when you have been in it since the age of 14. Wow. Well, welcome to freedom and fresh air.

So have a good day, and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God
**     who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect
**     has intended us to forgo their use."
**       ==  Galileo Galilei

May 19, 2009, Tuesday: Day 19, continued:

Canada Goose family with goslings
The Two Very Young Goslings and Their Mother

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[The previous letter from Fred is here.]

Date: Tue, August 10, 2010 8:14 pm     (answered 16 August 2010)
From: "Fred"
Subject: Re: Powerless

Yeah ya did miss the point. You got caught up in the great delusion........BTW, I am 23 today. Happy Birthday to me. The seemingly cult works, even for simpletons, seemingly such as I, not you. Ya know, not everybody gets it..........Don't worry, you're still free in your own mind, I mean, in your delusive stinking thinking, power on dude. You're gonna change the world.

Hello again Fred,

Well, starting at the top, missed what point? You didn't make any point about "powerlessness".

And what "great delusion"? You use these buzz-words without them having any real meaning or context. What are you talking about? What are you really saying? Do you have a point?

Congratulations on your twenty-third birthday. I assume that you mean that you have 23 years of sobriety, not that you have been of legal drinking age for two years. You did it. No cult religion did it for you.

Which leads to: Your years of sobriety do not prove that A.A. works. They just prove that for 23 years you have controlled your own hands and not picked up a drink and put it in your mouth.

If A.A.worked, then people who go to A.A. should quit drinking in far greater numbers than they do. We have already established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the vast majority of people who go to A.A. do not quit drinking. A.A. does not work as a sobriety program. It works great as a cult, though.

To claim that A.A. works great is no different from Tom Cruise jumping up and down on the couch and claiming that Scientology knows more than all of the psychiatrists in the world. Scientology really "restored him to sanity", didn't it?

And what do Tom Cruise's many years in Scientology prove?

And even more to the point, when Scientologists insist that Scientology's NARCONON drug-and-alcohol rehab program really works great, do you believe those claims? Why not? They have faked statistics, just like A.A.'s, that show that NARCONON works great.

Why would you doubt their word when they say that Scientology is the only valid, working cure for drug and alcohol problems? And don't you believe the Scientologists when they say that people who don't succeed in NARCONON are just "down-scale" and "unethical"?

The claim that "not everybody gets it" is more evidence that A.A. is a cult. Cult members love to proclaim that "We are special", and "Only our group really understands", and "Only our group has the secret knowledge."

The talk about "getting it" reminds me of Werner Erhard's est scam, where everybody had to "Get It", even though he never said what "It" was (as he stole food from the mouths of babies).

And of course, lastly, you just had to use a little ad hominem put-down, accusing somebody who criticizes your organization of "stinking thinking". That is also standard cult behavior.

Scientology does it too. The Scientologists declare that anybody who criticizes Scientology is just a "suppressive person" who is so mentally crippled by "engrams" that he is wasting his life trying to keep the human race enslaved to the Evil Galactic Overlord Xenu.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

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

[The next letter from Fred is here.]

Date: Tue, August 10, 2010 3:12 pm     (answered 14 August 2010)
From: "Frank M."

I've read a lot of your website, and I fully understand where you're coming from...

But your discussion of this paragraph has lost me a bit:

Now let's ponder the need for a list of the more glaring personality defects all of us have in varying degrees. To those who have religious training, such a list would set forth serious violations of moral principles. Some others will think of this list as defects of character. Still others will call it an index of maladjustments. Some will become quite annoyed if there is talk about immorality, let alone sin. But all who are in the least reasonable will agree upon one point: that there is plenty wrong with us alcoholics about which plenty will have to be done if we are to expect sobriety, progress, and any real ability to cope with life.

To avoid falling into confusion over the names these defects should be called, let's take a universally recognized list of major human failings ? the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth. It is not by accident that pride heads the procession. For pride, leading to self-justification, and always spurred by conscious or unconscious fears, is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress. Pride lures us into making demands upon ourselves or upon others which cannot be met without perverting or misusing our God-given instincts. When the satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security, and society becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses.

All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right. Then fear, in turn, generates more character defects. Unreasonable fear that our instincts will not be satisfied drives us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for sex and power, to become angry when our instinctive demands are threatened, to be envious when the ambitions of others seem to be realized which ours are not. We eat, drink, and grab for more of everything than we need, fearing we shall never have enough. And with genuine alarm at the prospect of work, we stay lazy. We loaf and procrastinate, or at least work grudgingly and under half steam. These fears are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build.

The trouble is that this is an unbelievably accurate description of what I turned into in my last few months drinking and drugging. I went on the yoga path to try and escape my addictions and got pretty close to becoming completely crazy.

My pride was so great I thought, just like Bill W, that I was the reincarnation of Jesus... I really and truly spent 3 months on my own in India, believing this, trying to hear voices talking to me to tell me what spiritual practices to do to achieve enlightenment and become like Jesus.

In fact, I have AA to thank for teaching me that I am not God... for the path I was on before was quite insistent that I Am God. Regardless as to the deep down truth of this, I am much safer to believe that I am not God!!!

After my first day and a half reading your site I was moving away from AA, but now my attitude has adjusted from "I'm going to AA because I need to" to "I'm going to AA because I want to".

Hello Frank,

Thanks for the letter.

Well, that particular sermon is still one of Bill Wilson's most insane diatribes. It is not a valid or accurate description of "all of us" like Bill Wilson wrote. The ONLY similarity between Bill's rap and a disgusting alcoholic who desperately needs a drink or a desperate junkie stealing to get a fix is the fact that someone who has allowed his addiction to totally take him over and run his life can become a really disgusting creep. It's like someone who has sold his soul to the Devil. Or a Dr. Jekyll—Mr. Hyde character who has allowed the murdering Mr. Hyde to totally take control. Grim, determined addicts prowling for a fix don't care whom they hurt or what damage they do in their single-minded pursuit of another fix. They are lower than animals. Really. I might be tempted to call them animals but that would be an insult to the animals. The Canada Geese that I love to photograph are animals, but they take very good care of their babies and they are nice creatures, and they are operating on a much higher level than a junkie looking for heroin or a totally gone alcoholic looking for a drink.

Bill Wilson's sermon there is the ravings of a lunatic. It is just a bunch of words strung together without any real coherent logical meaning. It sounds like it means something, but it doesn't. It is not a description of "what I turned into in my last few months drinking and drugging", as you described it.

Bill Wilson started off by saying that it was a description of "the more glaring personality defects all of us have in varying degrees." All of us. Nope. I'm not buying it. Bill is just trying to do some guilt induction there, and make everybody feel inferior. He did not say anything about alcoholics or addicts needing a fix, or sinking into the depths of depravity and addiction. Bill said "all of us".

Well, I don't want to brag, but that description does not fit me at all. I never sold my soul to the Devil. Almost, but not quite. At the end of my drinking career, I sank to homelessness and eating out of Dempsey Dumpsters, but I never sank to mugging little old ladies for drinking money or burglarizing houses, or committing any crimes to feed my addictions. I collected empty cans and bottles and returned them to the store to get another 40-ouncer, and picked up cigarette butts to feed the tobacco addiction. It's not fun to remember those days, but still, it is not the kind of monstrousness that Bill was describing.

Bill Wilson harped on pride there a lot. That is wrong. Just plain wrong. Pride does not lead to all of those other Deadly Sins that Bill was talking about.

And what you described is not "pride", either. When someone believes that he is the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ, that is Delusions of Grandeur, a genuine mental illness, not pride. (The American Psychiatric Association includes Delusions of Grandeur as one of the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.)

There is nothing wrong with having some pride. I, for instance, am proud of the fact that I have almost ten years free of alcohol, tobacco, and any other drugs now. That pride does not make me suddenly start committing the Seven Deadly Sins. In fact, that kind of pride is good for me, and makes me behave better. Such pride helps me to stay sober because I don't want to loose the good feeling that I have about myself, or my new self-respect.

Bill's rave is nonsense, just a stream of illogical words from a diseased mind. Bill Wilson was in the middle of an eleven-year-long bout of Clinical Depression, and he was under the care of two psychiatrists, Dr. Harry Tiebout and Dr. Francis Weeks, when he wrote that crazy sermon.

Like I said in my previous discussion of Bill's insane lecture, pride does not lead to committing all of the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride does not lead to self-justification. Doing something wrong, and then trying to rationalize it, is what leads to self-justification. Pride does not lead to all of those other "sins", either.

Note that Bill Wilson did not denounce excessive pride, or false pride, or arrogant pride, or boastfulness; he just said "pride".

In fact, there is nothing wrong with having some pride in yourself. It is not a sin to pick your face up out of the mud and say, "I'm good at what I do. I'm nice to other people. I don't have to be a doormat and feel guilty about everything." Bill thinks that is a big sin, The Mother Of All Sins, in fact. From Bill's point of view, the real problem with having a little pride, or a little self-respect, is that if you still have some pride in your good qualities, then you won't totally give up on yourself and surrender your will, your mind, and your life to Alcoholics Anonymous.

So Bill wants to crush your pride, just like how he says he wants to crush "self-seeking" in the Big Book. And just like how he wants to crush "self-reliance" and make you dependent upon Alcoholics Anonymous.

The "Not God" thing is another piece of crazy Alcoholics Anonymous religion dogma. Alcoholics do not drink too much alcohol because they think that they are God. They drink because they feel bad, and want to feel good. They also drink because they want to get really high and have fun. They may also drink because they have a Bipolar Disorder, and are trying to self-medicate and get their head on an even keel. They may also drink because they are sick and in pain. But I have never ever, not once ever, heard an alcoholic say, "I'm God, so I can drink all of the alcohol that I want to." Never.

Now I can understand how you could think that you are God while taking LSD. That happens, occasionally. Of course, by then, the meanings of the words have totally changed. Experiencing oneself as part of the Cosmic Consciousness is very different from a drunkard with delusions of grandeur. Such a psychedelic state has nothing to do with drinking too much alcohol. Now I know that the "Not God" thing is really holy sacred A.A. religious dogma, and Ernest Kurst even wrote a book titled "Not God", which supposedly teaches the sacred wisdom that alcoholics must learn that they are not God in order to quit drinking. Which is of course more ravings of a lunatic.

I'm not willing to go out and test the theory that "alcoholism is a progressive disease", but I'm willing to believe that it is, since any time I went out before it always got worse.

I agree there. I'm not willing to do any more experimentation either. The last time that I "just had one", I ended up drinking for nine more years, until the doctor told me to quit drinking or I would die.

But that does not mean that "alcoholism" is a "progressive disease". It just means that you build up a tolerance to alcohol (and any other drugs too), and it takes more and more to get the same high, which causes more and more damage to your body and deterioration of your health.

When a junkie continues to shoot heroin, he requires larger and larger doses to get the same kick, because he is building up a tolerance and becoming increasingly addicted. At the same time, his health is deteriorating because he isn't eating right or doing much of anything to take care of himself. So he is progressively sicker and more addicted and requires larger and larger doses of heroin, but that does not mean that there is a "progressive disease" of "heroinism".

Alcoholics and junkies are certainly sick, but that does not mean that they have "a disease". The "disease of alcoholism" strongly resembles the "disease of candyism", which is the sickness that children get from eating too much ice cream and candy.

Regarding the suicides coming from AA... in my 14 months in AA I've met a large number of people who attempted suicide before coming to AA. And yes, I've heard of a small number of cases of suicides of AA members. But all in all, if a lot of people who previously attempted suicide are now around and talking about it, that must be a good thing that they are still alive.

Yes, I'm sure that lots of people commit suicide before A.A., or completely independently of A.A., and they continue to commit suicide in A.A. too. Now the question is, does A.A. decrease or increase the suicide rate? Dr. George Vaillant, who became a Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous, found that A.A. treatment increased the death rate in alcoholics. No other method of treating alcoholism yielded such a high death rate. Unfortunately, Dr. Vaillant did not separate out the deaths from suicide from the other deaths, so we cannot know for sure whether the suicide rate went up or down in his patients. (But the most reasonable guess is that it went up along with the rest of the death rate.)

There has never been a good study that tracked the A.A. suicide rate, not that I know of. I wrote a web page on the subject of A.A. deaths and suicides, and commented then that there was no easy way to get any good numbers.

One thing is certain: Telling alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol, and are just a bunch of disgusting defective sinners, is not going to improve things.

Also, you may be interested that I took the drug Ibogaine to try and get rid of my addictions. I imagine it is similar to the belladonna treatment. And like Bill it caused me to think I was very special. Any big spiritual experiences I've had were all under the influence of drugs — I suspect you've had similar experiences yourself.

Yes, I've had similar experiences, but I never got the opportunity to test Ibogaine. I suspect that it is very different from Belladonna though. From what I hear about Ibogaine, an African fisherman under the influence can stand in a river motionless for hours and yet be crystal clear and totally awake and sharp, and can react instantly and spear a fish when one finally swims by. Just the opposite of "stoned". With belladonna you are totally disconnected from reality and completely incapacitated, and too busy talking to your ancestors and flying through the sky with weird animals to notice what is going on around you. And yes, you can even "see God".

With regard to the 11th step I would never try to hear the voice of God again. For me, this step is about a gradual process of improving my thinking. There are definite moments when I notice the right thoughts come into my head. 15 months ago, hellish thoughts were appearing, as if an outside force was implanting them in my head. That has happened almost never since giving up drink and drugs, just the odd one in the early days. Obviously my thinking is not perfect, but it is improving. It was definitely defective before, I could write you a laundry list of all the stupid decisions I made!

I am all for introspection. I credit watching my own mind with learning about the scheming of the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster, and seeing how he was constantly inviting me to relapse on alcohol and tobacco. But like you, I don't imagine that the whispering voices in my head are The Voice of God. Sometimes there is the voice of experience, warning me that something is about to go wrong, and sometimes it's the Lizard Brain wanting his feel-goods, but The Voice Of God seems to be on vacation. And yes, sometimes a little voice tells me the right thing to do. Again, I credit that to the voice of experience and education.

I also had some pretty goofy thinking at the end of my drinking career. That is just what alcohol does to the brain. Alcohol kills brain cells by the millions. It's a wonder that our brains survived at all.

It has also taken me many years to get my short-term memory back, and for my mind to get clearer and more tranquil. Recovery from alcohol is painfully slow.

Anyway, thank you for your view point, and I'd prefer if you didn't post my full name or email address.

Best wishes!


Okay, Frank, I never post people's full names or email addresses, unless they want me to (with the sole exception of a fake self-proclaimed doctor lying and dispensing quack medical advice on the Internet).

Have a good day now, and good luck.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     An error gratefully acknowledged is a victory won.
**       ==  Caroline L. Gascoigne

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 6 November 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters187.html