Letters, We Get Mail, CCXXX

Date: Tue, March 22, 2011 3:10 pm     (answered 29 March 2011)
From: "Kira A."
Subject: AA Cult Test

I am absolutely amazed and impressed with how much thought and work you put into your website. As an AA member I obviously disagree with chunks of your writings, however I do respect the time you've put into analyzing the organization.

It angers me that some AA members speak of AA as perfect (how many members I don't know because I pretty much tune them out). I hate hearing people say in meetings that AA is the only way, because that is not true, as you pointed out. There are plenty of ways to get sober and AA is only one of many. It saddens me that you, or people you've spoken to, have heard many of those "slogans." I've heard very few of the ones you've cited, which I am thankful for. It also frustrates me when I see sponsorship relationships where the sponsor is the know-all who attempts to run another person's life. I'm fortunate that my sponsor is basically a sounding board, the same as my friends.

You're definitely right about Bill Wilson being a jerk. He started a wonderful (in my opinion) organization but as a human being he was seriously flawed. Most assuredly had some sort of mental disorder and he certainly did have a thing for new women and cheating on his wife constantly. That's no secret to any person who has looked into AA; one meeting I attended we talked about that.

Certainly there are many points you've made that I strongly disagree with, but there's no point in going into them because I have no doubt you've been assailed by a million angry AA members already. I don't fall into the angry category — I fall into the 'how sad such things have occurred or been perceived' category. I do think it always has to be remembered that a lot of perceptions and harms caused stem from individual AAs and not always the fellowship as a whole. Likewise, the stories in the back of Alcoholics Anonymous (after the first 164 pages) are written by individuals.

The passage you wrote about how we always try to find our part (our side of the street) in harms caused is quite true. In troubled situations or poor relationships it is good for me to see where I am wrong because I can only change myself. I only have the power to change myself. The example you gave of a rape victim apologizing to her attacker is nauseating. Not nauseating in that you wrote it, but nauseating in that some people might actually believe that. In my, and my sponsee's, 4th Steps we of course didn't say we were at fault for somebody else's actions, rather we looked at the situation and decided if there is something we can avoid doing in the future (such as being the only woman in an isolated situation with 5 drunk men). How horrible if women are told to apologize to their rapist, that to me is beyond absurd.

Anyways, I'm sure you get a hundred emails a day so I'll cut myself short here.

Thanks for your website.


P.S. The book is Daily Reflections not Daily Meditations

Hello Kira,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the honesty. The only question in my mind is, "So why are you still in it?" I can only guess that you must like the social circle.

The big problem that remains is that for the general public, A.A. does more harm than good. A.A. does things like

So why bother? Why not just shut it down and replace it with something that does less harm?

May I suggest SMART or WFS or Lifering or SOS or RR?

You are quite right about the "Daily Reflections not Daily Meditations". In fact, I've got two copies in front of me now, so I can easily verify that. Maybe Hazelden put out a "meditations" book.

Yes, they did, now that I check: "The Promise of A New Day; A Book of Daily Meditations".

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells,
**     is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world
**     by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way.
**       ==  William James (1842—1910],
**             The Principles of Psychology [1890], Chap. 10

[The previous letter from Esm is here.]

From: "Esm L."
Subject: Re: hello letter about NA
Date: Thu, March 24, 2011 7:47 am     (answered 29 March 2011)

hello orange . thanks for care and answer my mail . i don't know is that right to say or not but i also think that NA is religion program .

Hi again, Esm,

Oh yes, N.A. is definitely a religious program too, just like A.A.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is
**     the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them. He is
**     the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his
**     throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the
**     globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to
**     happiness and heaven.
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835—1910

Date: Fri, March 25, 2011 3:51 am     (answered 29 March 2011)
From: Mark W
Subject: Why so angry?

Although Bill Wilson is very flawed, it seems that what he passed down from the Oxford group, experience of AA's early days, and "GOD" seemed to have helped millions of people recover from alcoholism that did not have a way out before. It seems to work. It may be interesting that GOD chose the man that he did to produce the message.? I guess the Christians and Jews have had to wonder why David was allowed to be King of Israel in spite of murdering a man to marry his wife. Or maybe the fact that polygamy was a part of biblical life kept philandering would not be an issue.? I have been sober for 28 years, my wife 23. We have had a wonderful life because of how we have learned to live in AA.?

It seems that you have some personal reason that you want AA not to be successful because the founders were human and wrote about ideals that they lived toward, even if they could not live up. "We are not Saints."?? For you to want AA not to exist??has to be one of the most narcisitic thought processes I have ever heard of .

'I don't want millions of people to get help from addiction because I disagree with how the message was conceived'.?

I have no problem with anyone shedding light on the inconsistencies of a movement or people in that movement. But, you just seem way too angry for this not to be personal. So, I hope that what ever it is that makes you dislike AA so much gets resolved. If not, don't go to meetings, don't read the book, but please don't plant seeds in the minds of people that could get help for their disease because you have a personal issue.?This would be?just as?hurtful to someone as getting hit on by a philandering ?AA member when they come to the program. Except that, the internet has the ability to reach, and hurt, a lot more people. How narcisistic is that.

Mark W.

Hello Mark,

Thanks for the letter. That's quite a rationalization for why cult religion is really okay.

Bill Wilson did not get something from the Oxford Group or God that "helped millions". That is just the standard A.A. propaganda — no truth to it. The simple answer to all of your arguments is, "Alcoholics Anonymous does not work."

And the lame excuse that it was okay for Bill Wilson to be an exploitative thieving criminal sexual predator because King David murdered a man is ridiculous. Two wrongs don't make a right.

The truth is that A.A. is a complete failure, not a gift from God. Competent doctors have tested A.A. and found it to be worse than no help at all:

  1. Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found that A.A. indoctrination greatly increased the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. People who were sent to A.A. ended up, after 9 months of A.A., doing FIVE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got no such help, and NINE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group that got Rational Behavior Therapy.

  2. Dr. Keith Ditman found that A.A. involvement increased the rate of re-arrests for drunkenness.

  3. Dr. Diana Walsh found that "free" A.A. just messed up a lot of alcoholics and made them require more expensive hospitalization later.

  4. This one is the most damning evidence of all, because it came from a doctor who loves Alcoholics Anonymous, and is one of its biggest promoters. He is (or was) also a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.. Doctor George E. Vaillant (who later became a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University), clearly demonstrated that A.A. treatment kills patients. For eight years, while he tried to prove that A.A. works, his A.A.-based treatment program had a zero-percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission, and worse, it had the highest death rate of any kind of alcoholism treatment that he studied. Dr. Vaillant candidly called the A.A. death rate "appalling". At the end of 8 years, the score with his first 100 A.A.-treated patients was: 5 sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking.

    But 5% per year is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics — what Dr. Vaillant called "the natural history of alcoholism". That's how many alcoholics recover on their own, without any "treatment" or "support group". A.A. cannot claim the credit for those recoveries, no matter whether they attend some A.A. meetings or not, and Dr. Vaillant clearly said that. So 5 minus 5 equals zero, the real A.A. recovery rate.

  5. And then, even though these items have not been surveyed and documented by doctors, there is plenty of evidence that the A.A. suicide rate and the A.A. divorce rate are big problems too.

That is not "helping millions".

In addition, A.A. does not even have "millions" of members. The most that A.A. can claim is two million members worldwide, and most of them will soon drop out. A.A. really only has a few hundred thousand hard-core members, and the rest is churn, newcomers shoved, sucked, and coerced in, and newcomers gone a few months later. Look here for the details.

Speaking of which, now it's time for the question that A.A. members have never answered honestly:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?
Or even several years later?
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever?
How about 11 years and 21 years?

(HINT: the answers are here.)

This accusation is pure bullshit: "I don't want millions of people to get help from addiction because I disagree with how the message was conceived".

I don't want millions of people to be hurt by a lying cult religion that just raises the death rate in alcoholics — while also raising the rate of binge drinking, and divorce, and rearrests, and suicide. That includes Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Scientology and Narconon, the Moonies, the Hari Krishnas, and any other cult that claims to have an answer to addictions.

My "anger", as you call it, is irrelevant. It just does not matter whether I am "angry". (That is such a lame attempt at dodging the important issues.) My anger, or lack of it, will not change the A.A. failure rate by one single percentage point.

Lastly, telling people the truth through the Internet is not hurting them. Once again, another 12-Step true believer claims that telling alcoholics the truth hurts them. Welcome to the list. If people learn the truth, and decide not to waste their time on Alcoholics Anonymous superstitious practices that don't help them and will actually hurt them, then that is a good thing. Alcoholics Anonymous is quackery, not a working treatment for a disease.

Oh, and my objections to A.A. killing people with quack medicine is not a "personal issue".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    There are some remedies worse than the disease.
**      ==  Publius Syrus, Maxim 301 (First Century B.C.)

Date: Fri, March 25, 2011 7:06 am     (answered 29 March 2011)
From: "Tom R."
Subject: Big Bill & Little Bill

Big Bill, Little Bill

I was a big Bill. For 33 years I went to meetings at least 5 times a week. I neglected my family. I became addicted to the meetings. I think that being addicted to the meetings become a much more serious mental illness than alcoholism. I wrote this about 2 years ago. Read it and we will talk more about AA meetings. I think this is good.

Big Bill: Is a man/woman who attends AA meetings regularly, and abstained from alcohol/drugs for 20 years or longer.

This person usually starts meetings, will lead meetings or will choose who will lead the meetings. This person loves control. He has learned to express himself through certain facial mannerism using his lips, hands and eyes. From this mannerism the other members can recognize whether or not the Big Bill agrees or disagrees with what is taking place.

Sometimes he tries to stay in the closet, but let someone disagree or make a negative comment against the philosophy of AA and he will always jump out.

The Big Bill's love to make wise comments, "Live and let live", "One day at a time", " Keep it simple stupid", "All around a pigs ass is pork". Sometimes he makes up little books and passes them out for members to read. That's right, for over 14 years I was Big Bill.

Little Bill:
Little Bill is usually a pigeon of Big Bill. He has not abstained from alcohol very long, has made 90 meeting in 90 days and loves to brag about it. He volunteers for all sorts of duties. The steering committee, coffee maker, group treasurer and welcomes people as they come in the door. He will bring donuts, at his own expense to meetings because he thinks that everyone will love him for it. Little Bill has a huge need to be loved and will do just about anything for praise from Big Bill. Little Bill will memorize the "Preamble" and the "How it works" in the big book and will usually volunteer to recite them from memory.

He usually does this to perfection and he takes great pride in himself when he pulls it off. If Little Bill misbehaves or acts in a way contrary to Big Bill, he will be criticized. Little Bill will usually go out and get drunk. Big Bill will go rescue him and from then on Little Bill will stay sober and act right. He will now surrender to the AA religion. Once he does this and is sober 20 years or more he becomes a Big Bill.

There are only two types of alcoholics that have continuous sobriety in AA. They are the Big Bills and the Little Bills.

They have become addicted to meetings. The reason is not because they feel that it is morally wrong to take a drink, but it's the attention they get from the other members who are unable to do it.

There are meetings in which each person will announce his sobriety date and every one applauds. The Big Bills and the Little Bills will usually gets the biggest applauds.

Everyone else in AA will get drunk, or will drink off and on for the rest of their life. In the mean time they attend AA meetings. How do I know this? I have watched it happen over and over again and again in over 10,000 meetings in the last 34 years.

There is never a decision to stop drinking. Their abstinence is based on the next 24 hours, and is contingent on the attitude of their so-called higher power.

If the so-called higher power loves them, and approves then they are permitted to start over again the next day based on another 24 hours. This is the type of life they ask for when they start each AA meeting. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

What a hell of a way to live.
The Lone Rat

Hello Tom,

Thanks for the essay. That is very revealing and informative. And it is good. And also a little depressing, but what the hell.

Oh, and congratulations on both your many years of sobriety, and your enlightenment.

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

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It is not the man who has too little,
**     but the man who craves more,
**     that is poor.
**       ==  Seneca [8 B.C. — A.D. 65] 

From: "Tom W."
Subject: inquiry
Date: Fri, March 25, 2011 9:12 am     (answered 29 March 2011)

I want to know who you are and where you are *coming from*
Please write to me
Tom W..

Hello Tom,

You will find links to all of the autobiographical information here:
How did you get to where you are?

About where I am "coming from": Well, I just have this crazy idealistic idea that it might help some people to know what the truth is, so I'm telling it.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
**     To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.
**       ==  William Shakespeare  (1564—1616), The Rape of Lucrece, Line 939

From: "LD Pierce"
Subject: aa history censorship
Date: Fri, March 25, 2011 7:04 pm     (answered 30 March 2011)

longtime editor writer about aa history

LD Pierce has been blocked from participating in the aa history lovers yahoo group proving aa history lovers believes and operates like the cult of AA hahaha

see main page of website
have up date but my ftp is not working

Censorship in AA and Censorship in AA History

Glenn Chestnut moderator of A.A. History Lovers does not permit any posts by those with whom Its moderator Glenn Chesnut, disagrees.

Glenn Chestnut Bans LD P (17 years sober) (editor of this website) banned from Yahoo AA History Group

You have been banned from this group by "the group moderator" (Yahoo! ID banned: diazeztone). You may not join the group AAHistoryLovers.
I had participated in this group for 12 years. Now I am banned because i like and enjoy writings of AA historian Dick B of Hawaii

Reason:?? Asking (SENDING POST TO GROUP) that message be published to group announcing Dickb AA Historian's plans to GIVE AWAY 350 CASES OF AA HISTORY BOOKS

Glenn and his Group are fearful of Dickb 's religious and spiritual meaning in AA History. however they will fully cover and discuss same message from Mel B or Bill Pittmans Books.

This is Censorship and fear plain and simple. (indirect contradition to our motto: There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation)

dick b and myself will be posting and writing more about this soon I will post he full emails he send me'

agent orange I can sent you all the emails if you want to post about this or write about this on your website

LD Pierce editor aabibliography,com

Hello LD,

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, but I'm not at all surprised. Another friend of mine also got banned from the AA History Lovers yahoo group for mentioning bits of history that they didn't want to hear about, like the 100 Men Corporation.

The AAHL group isn't really a history group, it's a mythology group where they demand that people repeat the old legends and myths in the approved orthodox manner, or else.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Things are now in motion that cannot be undone."
**     ==  Gandalf, Lord Of The Rings

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 12:29 pm     (answered Sat, March 26, 2011 3:47 pm)
From: "Dickon L."
Subject: The Effectiveness of Twelve-Step Treatment

Hi there,

I have skimmed with interest your "The Effectiveness of Twelve-Step Treatment" article: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.html

I am a member of staff at drugs-forum.com who works in the recovery and addiction section of the site and wonder if I could use the material as a topic there (obviously attributed and with a link to your site). Our site is not-for-profit and is only funded by the donations of members so there is no commercial intent.

Could you please let me know if this is ok or not



Hello Dickon,

Yes, you may. Please do. Let's get the truth out there for all to see. Oh, and please emphasize the fact that this material is not just my opinion — I'm quoting the doctors who did the best (and only) valid studies of the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. And I'm also quoting the founders and "pioneers" of A.A. too, who clearly declared that it didn't work worth a darn.

Have a good day now, and good luck.

== Orange (aka Terrance Hodgins)

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

[The next letter from Dickon_L is here.]

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 3:45 pm     (answered Sat, March 26, 2011 3:53 pm)
From: "Riley L."
Subject: Citing you

I am writing to ask permission to use your paper
as a reference in a paper I am writing, and I would like to know how you prefer I do so.

I am currently citing it as:

Orange, A. (2010, December) *The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Program.*
Retrieved March 19, 2011, from https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.html.

...simply because I do not have any more information about the author or the work. If you would like it referenced in another way, please let me know.

Thank you,

-Riley L.

Hello Riley,

Yes, you may. Please do. Let's get the truth out there for all to see. Oh, and please emphasize the fact that this material is not just my opinion — I'm quoting the doctors who did the best (and only) valid studies of the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. And I'm also quoting the founders and "pioneers" of A.A. too, who clearly declared that it didn't work worth a darn.

You may refer to me by my real name, Terrance Hodgins, simply because that carries more credibility with most people than a pen name or "handle".

About the question of more information about me, this link will lead you to all of the autobiographical stuff:

Have a good day now, and good luck.

== Orange (aka Terrance Hodgins)

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

[The next letter from Riley_L is below, here.]

May 21, 2009, Thursday: Day 21, continued:

Dragon Boat
A Dragon Boat practicing for the Rose Festival

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Blog Note, 2011.04.04:

McDonald's has announced a big hiring plan: They will hire 40,000 new employees this month. Now all of those college graduates can learn to say, "Would you like fries with that, Sir?"

News Note, 2011.04.04:

THE FORUM IS UP. Either of these URLs will work:



So go ahead and register and give it a try.

== Orange

Date: Sun, March 27, 2011 11:43 am     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "alex d."
Subject: treatment

Dear A. Orange.

I'm thankful I came across your website as it has enlightened me about "the program" and made me feel I have the right to ask many questions, questions that deserve real answers. Not slogans and blind faith. Someone close to me is currently in treatment for the third time in two years. I have done everything I can to be supportive, including attending al anon and nar anon, which I no longer do because there really is nothing in the literature or meetings about building a healthy relationship. I have discovered SMART and prefer to attend those as it benefits me as a non addict/alcoholic and gives me much insight into the struggles of those who are addicted and trying to cope with practical, daily frustrations in the real world. Al-anon and its offshoots seem to focus on separation and dependence on meetings, their "solution" is passivity and helplessness, and the meetings seem to be populated mostly by women who, in the case of romantic relationships, seem to bounce from one addicted partner to another all while "working the steps.

I've had some solid frienships over the years with good (not perfect) people, I trust my judgement when it comes to who to put my trust into, who's a good person. It's served me pretty well and I don't appreciate suddenly being told that I'm sick or have a disease for using every resource at my disposal to help someone I care about.

Hello Alex,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks, and I couldn't agree more. You are not "sick" because you care about someone who is in trouble. What a strange, twisted philosophy.

It sounds like you have your own situation well in hand, and I don't need to give you any advice.

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

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Dictators: Do your subjects exhibit Oppositional Defiance Disorder?
**     Do your rabble show disrepect, defiance, or disobedience?
**     You can participate in this new study where your trouble-makers
**     will receive free treatment — a $500 value — in
**     exchange for just a little of your oil.

[The previous letter from Riley_L is just above, here.]

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 8:19 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Riley L."
Subject: Re: Citing you

Oh wow, I've just got to say, I find your papers intrigueing. I wanted to cite your paper in an application paper for a social work university program here in Alberta, and from the looks of things, if I get in, I'll be using you quite a bit more.

I work at a homeless shelter/detox/pre-treatment house, and although my employer seems to use the 12 steps a lot, I have never been very fond of them myself (although I've never had any addiction problems, and haven't had to rely on them at all).

One thing I've noticed about your stuff, though, is that you seem to key in on certain people quite a bit. I find the Midtown group absolutely appaling, but the way you refer to it so often almost seems akin to associating Christianity with the Westboro Baptist church, or the often-cited association between Islam and Al Qaeda. I consider myself atheist, and I don't necesssarily support any religious groups one way or another, though I do think that some aspects of religion, as with some aspects of AA, are of considerable help to some people. The clients I work with are required (house rules) to attend one AA/NA/CA meeting per day, and while I often hear about the sharing time they have at the meetings, I almost never hear them talking about how much they love the 12 steps.

Having said that, I have to be very careful what I say with the clients here — most of them get really on edge, and for good reason, when they start chatting about their recovery with someone who has never had addiction problems.

Also, the people I work with are quite often homeless, so they don't really have a social network to get back to once they quit drinking. For this reason, I think AA is a very useful resource, it provides them with other people to associate with, without forcing them resort to their old friends and lifestyles.

Anyways... I don't really know where I was going with this, or indeed if I was going anywhere at all. Though I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me in the future! Thanks a ton, keep it up!


Hello again, Riley,

Thanks for the compliments. And I sincerely hope that you use a whole lot of that information.

When you say,

I find the Midtown group absolutely appaling, but the way you refer to it so often almost seems akin to associating Christianity with the Westboro Baptist church, or the often-cited association between Islam and Al Qaeda.
— yes, I do refer to Midtown a lot. I get the impression that you think I am painting with too broad of a brush, over-generalizing, trying to imply that all of A.A. is like that.

The problem is that even A.A. at its best is still a failure that just raises the death rate in alcoholics. Even when the doctor who conducted the tests of A.A. was in love with Alcoholics Anonymous, and even when he spent 8 years trying to make A.A. look good, he still had to admit that A.A. did not work at all — that it just raised the death rate of the alcoholics.

I am speaking of Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, of course — the guy who went on to become a member of the Board of Trustees of A.A. If he couldn't make A.A. produce positive results, who could?

I know that some groups are more extreme than others. Just before reading your letter, I was reading a blog page about another fellow's experiences in the Foxhall groups in Minneapolis and other midwestern cities (look here), which are full of Clancy Imusland's sponsees, and they too specialize in sexual exploitation of newcomers and sponsor worship and telling sick people not to take their medications. There is a lot of it going around.

Now I know that there are some very mellow groups where such things do not go on. But the problem is, even the nicest of A.A. meetings are still A.A. groups that sell the 12-Step philosophy. Different groups may have different flaws, but they all have the problem that they are selling an old cult religion as a cure for alcohol addiction. From the moment that they start the meeting by reading pages 58 through 60 of the Big Book out loud, they are repeating lies, and not giving out helpful advice for recovering from alcohol addiction.

About the issue of people getting fellowship and helpful advice at A.A. meetings, I have found that A.A. is just about the worst way to do it. I am reminded of a meeting that I was at, New Years day, 2001. It was actually a non-meeting. That is, I was at an A.A. clubhouse where they were running a 24-hour marathon session to keep people from relapsing during New Years. (Which is a nice thing to do, yes.) I went because it was just something to do, and was a place where nobody was drinking. I was a couple of months sober at that time.

Several people were sitting in an otherwise empty meeting room because there was no meeting scheduled for that room for that hour. We were between meetings, and just hanging out, and just talking, and sharing our experiences.

One girl was afraid to tell her story, but she just took the plunge and said that she had been in a mental hospital, and if we thought less of her for it, so be it. I responded by telling her that it was no big deal, and that if the truth be known, probably half of the people in the room had been in an institution or hospital, at least for observation, at some time or other. I said, "Heck, everybody who is anybody gets some time in there, sooner or later." Then I told her about my experiences of being in for observation, because of LSD consumption. Some other people in the room spoke up and said that they had been in a hospital or clinic too. She was surprised and immensely relieved to find that she wasn't such a leper after all.

Then one of the authority figures walked into the room. That is, she was a woman who had some status in the clubhouse, and was entitled to run meetings. She was visibly annoyed that people were just talking and giving feedback, and sharing "experiences, strengths, and hopes". She stopped the communication by starting up a formal A.A. meeting, where we all read the plastic-laminated dogma from pages 58 through 60 of the Book, and then we recited our stories, without "crosstalk". That was useless. The real communication was over.

Later, the young woman remarked that she had gotten more out of our half hour of informal talk than she had from months of A.A. meetings.

So I'm all for fellowship and communication and group therapy and sharing experiences. I'm sure you can figure out a way to do it without the A.A. rituals interferring with actual communication and feedback.

And for a better social network for the clients, may I suggest SMART or WFS or Lifering or SOS? The list is here.

Have a good day now. And good luck with your work.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A touch of science, even bogus science,
**     gives an edge to the superstitious tale.
**       == V. S. Pritchett, "An Irish Ghost,"
**        The Living Novel & Later Appreciations (1964).

[The previous letter from Dickon_L is here.]

Date: Sun, March 27, 2011 1:23 am     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Dickon L."
Subject: Re: The Effectiveness of Twelve-Step Treatment

Hi Terrance,

By the way I'm curious. Are you someone who spent some time in 12-step meetings but didn't get on with it? You seem to have done an awful lot of work on this. One suggestion: I think some of what you wrote could be improved by dropping the emotive language, such as when you talk about sponsors doing better than average in meetings because they boss about wimpy newcomers, because that comes across as having an axe to grind rather than being objective.

Here is the link on the site just so you can have a look if you want:
I have edited out the pictures so as not to steal your bandwidth.

Hello again, Dickon,

Yes, I have gone to a bunch of A.A. meetings. It wasn't that they didn't work. I was already sober before I started going to the meetings. And I stayed sober in spite of the meetings. It was that I gradually came to the dawning realization that I was attending cult meetings.

I had volunteered for an out-patient "treatment program" for alcoholism in order to get out of being homeless. I was shocked to find that "treatment" consisted of twice weekly "group therapy" sessions run by a cocaine-snorting child-pornographer child-molester, and getting sent to at least three A.A. or N.A. meetings per week. (We didn't know about the cocaine or child pornography or child-raping at the time, of course, but that was what he was doing. He went to prison for it the next year.)

It was just really a shock to find that city, state, and Federal funds were being spent on such a hoax, somebody selling cult religion as a quack cure for alcohol or drug addiction. So I decided to talk about it. One thing led to another. I started off intending to write a single 30- or 40-page paper, and 10 years later, I have both ten years of sobriety and a nearly 10-year-old web site.

You can read all of the gory details through the links here.

I agree that discarding some of the emotional language may come across as more official or objective. But sometimes, that emotional language is really more accurate. I mean, the obnoxious sponsors really do get their kicks ordering around the wimpy newcomers.

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The hardest thing to cope with is not selfishness or vanity
**     or deceitfulness, but sheer stupidity.
**       ==  Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954), 210.

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 10:31 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: AA rubbish all mashed up with ... psychoanalytic rubbish — feh!

The author is a psychoanalyst — and member of A.A. —who lives in Cambridge MA. Eeech.

Richard B.

Hi again, Richard,

Somehow, the author and title got lost in transmission. Now you have me curious.

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 10:33 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Straight, science-based, and in a nutshell — and a million miles away from AA dogma

A blessed antidote to my previous send.

Do you think you might steer readers of Orange Papers towards this site? I think it's first-rate.


Richard B.

Date: Sat, March 26, 2011 10:52 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Things to Avoid in Treatment


Okay, Richard,

Thanks for the tips.

And have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy.
**     Let a man be one thing or the other,
**     and we then how how to meet him.
**       ==  Aesop, "The Hound and the Hare",
**       Fables, (5th c. B.C.?), tr. Thomas James

Date: Mon, March 28, 2011 6:08 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Chuck R."
Subject: Oh Boy !

I've been fascinated reading your e-book. Thank you for all the time you put into it and the research. I didn't touch a drop for about 17 years and have a painful disease that the doctor wouldn't treat aggressively, or at least the pain. It got so bad, that I tried alcohol again and found that I don't have the need to keep on drinking after I had a couple. I've since had a few over the past 3 years and the same thing! I was brainwashed! Since then I've got the right pain med and after that was able to get off the antidepressants too, which I started taking because I was so depressed from the pain and not being able to do all of the physical things I'm used to doing.

I've also found that I hadn't really dealt with the issues of abuse and incest in my family, and wonder just what the percentage of alcoholics or addicts have these issues they haven't ever dealt with, especially since they were required to find a way to forgive the perpetrators. I thought I'd forgiven my dad for what he did after I confronted him back in 92, but just used work as a way to stuff it and ended up having chronic shingles because of stuffing the nervous tension. I have permanent nerve damage from the shingles, and am disabled from it. If I'd only known! Any questions?


Hello Chuck,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better, now that you got a doctor who will treat the pain.

About the other issue — child abuse, I don't know if you ever get over it. I haven't. I'm okay, but I'm not "over it". And about "forgiving", I'm not sure what that word is even supposed to mean. If it means that we will just forget about it, and say that it is okay, well, it wasn't okay and it still isn't.

Now the last time my father and I met, we were very civil to each other, and just avoided mentioning any of the ugly stuff. But that doesn't make it just all go away.

I don't think the damage ever really heals. (See the study about stunted cerbellar vermises.) We just have to learn to live with the scars.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Someday, maybe there will exist a well-informed, well-considered,
**      and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all
**      possible sins is the mutilation of a child's spirit.
**         ==  Erik Erikson

Date: Mon, March 28, 2011 8:59 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "john h."
Subject: orange papers

dear a. orange,

your article is comprehensive and extremely informative. i have been in and out of the rooms of aa for a number of years. i recently joined an online group in which i used a sponsor to go through the 12 steps and was in the process of sponsoring others. i just couldn't do it — i think something inside of me just didn't believe what i had been taught and was in turn trying to teach. i didn't add up to me.

i did a general search on the net for 'criticisms of AA' and came accross your article which has highlighted to me the many logical reasons for my misgivings. i am grateful to you for that.

i would also be interested if you recommend any additional reading and or if there are any other recovery systems (rational recovery?) out there that you think are valid.

kind regards.
john h.

Hello John,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and the questions. I hope you are doing well.

Yes, I have some additional reading. See my "Top 10" reading list, here. There are several books there that will teach you a lot about other, better, saner, approaches to recovery.

And yes, there are many other systems, too. You have your choice. The Top-10 list has books that describes some of them. I just printed the list of alternative groups and methods again a few letters back, so I'll point you to the whole rap, here: How did you get to where you are? That includes raps about what has worked for other people, and the lists of methods and groups.

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      There is a tide in the affairs of men,
**      Which taken at the flood, leads onto fortune.
**      Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
**      Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
**      On such a full sea are we now afloat,
**      And we  must take the current when it serves,
**      Or lose our ventures.
**        ==  William Shakespeare (1564—1616) 

May 22, 2009, Friday: Day 22:

Canada Geese families
Canada Geese families, the Family of 9 and the Family of 5

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Tue, March 29, 2011 5:00 am     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "John M."
Subject: A bit off the beaten path

Remember the Craigslist scandal about the adult services having more kiddies than a Justin Bieber concert? Well, turns out that wasn't the case.


I wanted to send this to you, though, for the response from the Shapiro group. It's almost like they went down your propaganda and debating techniques and said, "that's a good idea that's a good idea, oh that's a REALLY good idea."


John M

Hi John,

Thanks for the tip. Yes, that is interesting. Blatant fraud and faking of the numbers.

What gets me is how often con artists are allowed to get away with it. If it's what the politicians want to hear, it seems like nobody questions the numbers.

Like I don't recall ever having heard a government official challenge A.A. claims of success. Well, not until Mark Willenbring, director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — recently declared that Alcoholics Anonymous teachings about alcoholism were "inconsistent with the evidence". (Look here.)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== 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: Wed, March 30, 2011 4:51 pm     (answered 5 April 2011)
From: "Amanda R."
Subject: hey

this is a crock of shit I think u were just BORED!!!! needed to stir up drama bc it didn't work for u...prolly cuz ya didn't work it!!!! Piece of shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello Amanda,

I decided very early in the game that I wasn't going to be doing the practices of an old cult religion. Nevertheless, I have 10 years of sobriety now, anyway.

You have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed.
**       ==  Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751—1816), English dramatist

[The next letter from Amanda_R is here.]

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Last updated 8 March 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters230.html