Letters, We Get Mail, CCLIII

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Rachel_S ]

Date: Sun, July 31, 2011 6:43 am     (answered 2 August 2011)
From: "Rachel S."
Subject: Thank you.

I just stumbled upon your cult piece on AA while googling the words "AA" and "cult" after being blocked from a friend's Facebook page simply because I wanted to discuss how my thoughts on alcohol abuse had evolved since I left the AA program (which I was in for nine months).

I had left him a voicemail wherein I was doing a bit of stream-of-consciousness rambling about how I'd like to be really present and am therefore thinking of not drinking alcohol or caffeine for a few months, and instead of calling me back, he started to send me text messages about how I was basically telling a cancer patient that cancer doesn't exist because I don't want it to exist because I'm afraid I might have it.


I have seen people die of cancer.

I have also seen people die from substance-abuse-related issues.

I'm not saying that alcohol isn't a tool that we use to harm ourselves if we're feeling self-destructive. I'm simply saying that AA is not the route I wish to go.

The text war escalated, and he eventually blocked me from his Facebook! I have similar experiences whenever I try to discuss my feelings about self-improvement with anyone else in AA.

My sponsor, when I was in AA, told me to NOT see a licensed clinician for the first year or so of treatment. I had wanted to return to treatment with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. But no, my art dealer sponsor felt she was more qualified to help me with deeply rooted issues that I had suffered from since childhood, long before I discovered alcohol, than a professional.

AND, since leaving AA, while I have had too much to drink on one or two occasions, I have also enjoyed alcoholic beverages with moderation for several years, now, and didn't "relapse" but instead left the program to clear my head and was warned to not "die of AIDS" or "kill anyone in a car accident" when I left, as if those were my only two options.

I also experienced almost all of my AA contacts abandoning me.

I'm not coherent, right now. I was up all night arguing with this former friend and then was so wound up on emotions that I couldn't get to sleep.

But my point is simply to say THANK YOU for publishing your thoughts on AA and allowing me to feel empowered that I am NOT insane because some kid who identifies as an alcoholic and does AA thinks I am. I am NOT wrong for questioning the idea of alcoholism as put forth by AA. And while I still have many behavioral issues I'd like to improve, I have better places to turn than a cult.

I suggest AA be renamed TBLTB for The Blind Leading The Blind.

While I've seen people improve their lives on the steps, they've also amassed other addictions: exercise addictions, caffeine and nicotine addictions, sex addictions, addictions to meetings and 12-step speak, etc.

So, I say, I'm washing my hands clean.

Hello Rachel,

Thank you for the letter. I'm sorry to hear about the pain and suffering that you are going through, but I'm happy to hear that you have your head screwed on straight and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I wish I could say that your experience is unusual, but it isn't. Ostracism of A.A. dropouts and critics is standard fare. That is one of the common cult characteristics, and A.A. has it bad. A.A.'s inability to discuss the issues calmly, rationally, like reasonable adults, is proof that A.A. really is a cult. Deep down in their hearts, they know that their dogma is a bunch of bull, and that's why they can't stand any criticism of "The Program". That's why they can't objectively discuss the pros and cons of A.A.

And yes, they have an enormous amount of arrogance as they assume that they are qualified to treat a deadly "disease" without ever having gone to medical school.

Oh, and I think you are very coherent. Maybe very tired, but coherent. And thanks for the thanks. Sometimes I question my own sanity too.

Have a good day now. And a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If I say something like, "You know, penicillin isn't really very good
**  for treating staphylococcus infections, and it is totally useless against
**  things like MRSA staphylococcus and anthrax", people respond in a
**  sensible manner like, "Yes, you are right. If somebody has infections
**  like that, they are better treated with Keflex or dicloxacyllin or
**  streptomycin — anything but penicillin."
**  But if I say, "You know, Alcoholics Anonymous isn't really very good
**  for treating alcoholism," the A.A. true believers scream "You are
**  heartless and immoral! You don't care how many alcoholics you kill!
**  You are doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety!"
**  That alone is proof that Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult religion,
**  not a cure for alcoholism.

[The previous letter from UNNAMED is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#UNNAMED ]

Date: Sun, July 31, 2011 8:04 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
Subject: Re: When you quit successfully — a question

Your site remains the most valuable to me as far as all the on-line resources available to me. Staton Peele is another one. After writing

This is a somewhat long letter. I promise not to write like this again. Here goes

I want to describe a few things that are unique to this site for me that I feel may be valuable to others and what is working for me.

Reading about other people's struggles can make one feel better in that one is not alone and also make one grateful that one has not lost what others have. This is good. But honestly the thoughts and opinions of a critical mind that is OVER the emotional aftermath of addiction really gives a person that motivation that this can be done. Thank you Terrance.

Reading other forums where new abstainers vent about their emotional struggles and are answered by the equally lost is disheartening and heartbreaking. I more than empathize but it is not helpful in the end. Again your writing, your geese, your peace and self confidence without becoming a 'saint' that avoids confrontation is comforting and inspiring.

The Rational Recovery site especially the New Cure book has some invaluable information: The lizard brain as you call it. It does a more detailed job of describing how it operates in a variety of common situations as it was compiled by the author's personal experience and his years of working with people with addictions. However their on-line forum is actually brutal and they have reduced themselves to a template method of communicating such that one cannot ask questions without getting walloped especially with regards to depression. If you are honest and discuss the fact that you are still extremely . depressed after six months of abstinence and not feeling the 'abstinence commitment effect' you are really beat up and told not to go for psychological help. You are also told to put up with aggressive treatment by others because you deserve it for all the misery you have caused those close to you... never even taking into account the actual situation or what actual bad things you did to others. You have no idea how long it has taken those close to me to convince me that I am a very valuable and positive element in their lives and that their concern at this point is for my health.. I really got nuts after using the forum.

It is time for me to get off the impulsive research I do about this problem It of course makes me depressed. Over and over again ... am I a recovering alcoholic? Am I doomed to relapses? Am I doomed to be socially ostracized for life? Was I born genetically defective? Am I *100% at fault for the incorrect priorities I held repetitively for several years which are the true reason for my having acquired a strong psychological dependence to alcohol and now a mild to moderate one which I know will lead to** true hell not neurotic hell *if I ever decide to continue drinking compulsively? The nomenclature of this condition found both in the clinical psychiatric, and lay (AA) communities is a* fad*. US culture is famous for this. Think the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's. When it comes to behavioral traits each held its own theories and beliefs.

You are right *that empirical causality* or *strong, very strong correlation* should be required, no demanded, before any government or medical policy or treatment should be made regarding any scientific 'finding' regarding human behavior.

Why is everyone making so complicated the human brain's natural hard wiring that makes it vulnerable for addiction? And why the genetic obsession/!!! Let us just take dogs. This is plain common sense. Certain breeds are prone to more territorial behavior traits than others. This may be good or bad. If you are a farmer and need a dog to protect your sheep .. territorial traits are valued. If you want a love bunny dog that will require less effort on your part to bring up so that he is gentle with your kids you decide to get a different breed. But German shepherds can and do make wonderful companions for children when brought up correctly. Golden retrieves can be trained to be guard dogs. We are different from dogs in that we have the capacity to train ourselves. That is what makes us human. We also though difficult can retrain ourselves — coaching not psychoanalysis is the key here in most cases but not all. Furthermore, we are more genetically diverse than dogs. All this genetic obsession is frightening .. its direction is genetic engineering of human beings. Do we want this? Yes thirty years from now a couple can screen for certain traits and abort children that may be more challenging to bring up to fit their particular tastes? Do we as humans want this? Personally I have three wonderful dogs all rescued from the streets. 2 are mutts and one is a Dalmatian. Yes it was helpful to me to research the Dalmation's genetic predisposition for kidney stones but notice ... the dogs predisposition to this disease is the consequence of deliberate breeding! Our genetics are very diluted and let us keep it this way. The more the focus on genetics the darker path medicine may take us especially when it comes to *behavioral* vs. physical traits.

If one has too much difficulty coaching oneself, then sometimes a successful example or an actual coach helps. These are ideas are described in REBT — ideas coming from the group you went to called SMART. I don't have personal access to the group but it would be handy if attendance is for the short term or in those emergency panicky moments.

I found that one can get very lost with the wrong shrink that delves into childhood for years and makes me over-analyze myself instead of setting *realistic goals and priorities and concentrating on getting these done.*

And I do not need religion to make me feel a loser when I fail to correct my behavior 100% consistently and blame me for my lack of faith. I was once a devout, devout Catholic. While I still have affection for the faith ... as practiced OUTSIDE the US, it can't help me because I have grown too sophisticated to believe its theology... can't go back like I can't go back to believing in the tooth fairy.

What is working for me:

*What do I MOST want for myself? Then do it. My physical health is what I want. I want other things but my physical health must always come first.

**What distracts me. As I rid myself of the distraction I still follow sentence 2. Both at the same time always. Otherwise ridding myself of the distraction becomes another distraction that can become a preplanned permission to not do #1*

*See there is no method*!!!! Because what we want and what distracts us from what we want is individual.

I needed medication to offset horrific temporary emotional swings that the lizard brain inflicted upon me during the first 6 months of abstinence. The distraction was too crippling. I lapsed. Never relapsed but lapsed. Now I am back on track.

Thanks for letting me write this long letter.


PS: A suggestion

One thing that I really like about RR: Why do we not just get rid of the loaded words once and for all?!!!

recovered alcoholic, recovering alcoholic, sober (has a sad connotation to it: c.1300, "grave, serious, solemn," from O.Fr. sobre , from L. sobrius . The antonym is gay.) and just use *permanently abstinent*. It is an accurate term and is not loaded. I love the fact you congratulate people on their sobriety. But it would be better to congratulate them on their permanent abstinence.

Date: Mon, August 1, 2011 11:21 am
Subject: Re: When you quit successfully — a question

One more really loaded word that puts into question our ability to knock off killing ourselves with booze for life is IN REMISSION. This is NOT cancer. We must decide to poison ourselves. Using the term I feel is demoralizing for those taking on this endeavor an and grossly offensive to anyone who is actually battling cancer. That is it. No more to say.

Again Thank you Terrance for this unbelievably inspiring site. I know YOU ARE NOT IN REMISSION. YOU ARE DEFINITELY DONE WITH IT JUST LIKE MY MOTHER A CHAIN SMOKER IN HER 20'S NOW IN HER 70'S IS ALSO DONE WITH IT AND HAS BEEN FOR SEVERAL DECADES. Fad terms if we taken them in can only compromise our success.


Hi again UNNAMED,

Thank you for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well, and congratulations on your abstinence. And you don't need to apologize for the length. We don't have to pay for blank paper here on the Internet. And thank you for all of the compliments. I'm really glad to hear that you get something helpful out of the Orange Papers.

I also noticed how moralistic the Rational Recovery thing is. I've never been in their forum. I didn't know that they had one. It's a shame that they put you down so much that you can't stand to participate there. That is really my only big disagreement with Jack Trimpey. He says that alcoholics and addicts are immoral people who only care about their own feelings. While there is some truth to that, I think Trimpey misses the big picture: There is a reason for these things happening.

In my case, I was the abused child of a crazy, mean, alcoholic military seargent father who both physically and mentally abused us children. For 20 years, he told us kids how we weren't good enough. He never failed to express how unhappy he was with us. I came out of that really messed up and feeling rotten. When I discovered drugs, and realized that there was a technology that I could use to make myself feel better, I was hooked instantly. That was not my fault. That was as inevitable as the rising and setting of the sun.

And I am still working on overcoming the ill effects of such a childhood, now, at the age of 64. The damage from such childhood abuse never goes away.

Now, if I were to go back to drinking and drugging, now that I know what I know, I can see that as immoral. I've recovered, I've grown up, I know which way is up and I have a handle on the situation. I have conquered all of my addictions. And my health has improved enormously since I also quit smoking tobacco on top of quitting drugs and alcohol.

And now I also have some people depending on me for a little moral support and encouragement, and I think a few people might be hurt and become very disappointed and despair of their own lives if I were to throw all of that away now. It would sort of tell people that there is no way to win. That you will lose in the end.

Relapsing now would be monstrously stupid, and yes, even immoral. But just trying to fix myself at the age of 20 was not immoral. It was pretty inevitable.

When I see the inevitability of it all, I can throw away the guilt. It really wasn't my fault. I didn't control the world when I was a child, or even a teenager.

I do not condemn old Lizard Brain, or talk about how evil he is. That stupid little brain has done a very good job of keeping life going for about the last billion years. I occasionally laugh when I see old Lizard Brain doing his thing. For example, one year when I was at the Waterfront Blues Festival, and it was a hot sunny summer day and I was hot, tired, and thirsty, a beautiful young woman in a sheer summer dress walked by with a big mug of cold beer in her hand. Old Lizard Brain immediately said, "Both! I'll take both!" Yes, grab the girl, drink up all of her beer and then screw her. Sounds like a plan to me.

I had to laugh. Old Lizard Brain is such a schemer. All that I could say was, "No, we aren't doing that one today."

Public Television did a special about Chuck Jones the cartoonist called "Extremes and In Betweens". Chuck Jones was the director of a whole lot of famous cartoons like Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Elmer Fudd, and also Witch Hazel and Pepe Le Peu, and other less-known ones. Well, Pepe Le Peu is the cartoon character who best exemplifies the Lizard Brain. Whoopie Goldberg just nailed it, "Pepe Le Peu is relentless. He never quits, or takes no for an answer. He is just what you want your agent to be. But he's really just this horny little skunk."

Yes, and that is why life is still going after billions of years. I can't complain about that.

The problem is just that sometimes our intelligence lets us get ourselves into trouble. For instance, no other species on this planet has the intelligence to go find just the right kind of clay, and fashion it into pots or jars with lids, and then cover those things all over with quartz sand for waterproofing, and then fire them in a huge blazing hot fire for hours. And then put a mess of berries or cooked grain in the pots and jars with some yeast and then seal them up and wait. And then open up the containers and get drunk.

Nothing else on Earth can think things through that far, and carry out such a plan. Not the apes, not the dolphins or whales. Now that isn't Lizard Brain at work; that is the higher brain. Lizard Brain isn't good at thinking beyond tonight. The problem is when the higher brain lets old Lizard Brain do the thinking, and make the plan, Lizard Brain's answer is often, "Let's feel good right now and don't worry about tomorrow." That is a prescription for disaster when we are talking about feeling good from drugs or alcohol.

About the question of whether we are "genetically flawed", the jury is still out. That debate is still raging. Many people have stated that the genetic component has been disproven, that there is no evidence for an alcoholism gene. But then there is this: a researcher who found a gene for the tendency to abuse alcohol stated that there is evidence that "A Functional Neuropeptide Y Leu7Pro Polymorphism [is] Associated With Alcohol Dependence in a Large Population Sample From the United States". He explained it this way:

"This is only the second specific genetic mechanism ever identified that modulates risk for alcohol dependence."
(See: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59:825-831;

I like that careful terminology: Modulates the risk for, not causes, alcohol dependence. Having the gene increases your odds for having a problem with alcohol, but does not necessarily cause you to drink alcohol.

My father was a drinking-to-die alcoholic, and his mother was an alcoholic before him. (I don't know about my paternal grandfather, because he was killed in a car accident when my father was only 2 years old. Drunk driving? Don't know.) Then I had a big problem with alcohol for nearly 20 years. Yes, I think that there is a genetic component to it.

Then, when you pile on the child abuse, you have a really toxic combination and a guaranteed problem.

Then, there is something else. I know that it isn't just a matter of one gene causing people to be alcoholics. I'm sure that there are at least three, and maybe half a dozen genes that are involved. And who knows what else those genes do? In my case, I was born gifted with a very high IQ. What if the same genes that contribute to a tendency to abuse alcohol also contribute to intelligence? Both of those characteristics involve the brain, and how it is structured, and how it works. Then it won't be a matter of just get rid of the bad genes, and all of our problems will be solved.

It's tricky, it's complicated, and there are no simple answers right now. I hope they do a lot more research, and figure it out.

Oh well, I guess I've written enough. You aren't the only one who writes long letters.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#A_Nony_Mouse ]

Date: Sun, July 31, 2011 11:19 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "A Nony Mouse"
Subject: Interesting info

Here is a tidbit for you. Please, this is anonymous. Do not say where you obtained this.

A. Nony Mouse

Size: 138 k
Type: application/pdf

Hello A. Nony Mous,

Thank you very much. That is very interesting. That is the first official admission of 13-Stepping in 12-Step groups that I've ever seen. The document is from the "General Service Board, Subcommittee on Vulnerable Members in A.A." Ah, so they have such a subcommittee, huh? After all these years of denials and statements that "We have no opinion on outside issues." The document admits that sexual exploitation of underage girls in 12-Step groups has gotten so bad that professional therapists won't send people to A.A. any more.

What is appalling is how A.A. members still say that they can't report rapists to the police because it might "break someone's anonymity". What a perfect world for a criminal. Be anonymous and give a phony name, and do anything you want to anybody, and then the victims can't tell anybody about it because that would be "breaking anonymity". (Oh and it would also be "having a resentment".)

The solution that the subcommittee proposed is grossly unrealistic. Just run background checks on Alateen sponsors? And who is going to run those checks and either give approval or kick out the sexual predators? The old-timers? What that GSB subcommittee is missing is the fact that many groups, like the Midtown Group, are dedicated to sexual exploition, and it is the old-timers who are doing it. That is why they are old-timers. A.A. is a happy hunting ground for them, and they've been doing it for many years. There is no way that the leaders of the Midtown Group are going to reject themselves and declare that they are unfit to rape underage girls.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Buy a Hallmark Christmas card and help A.A. to rape underage girls.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Captain_Britain ]

Date: Mon, August 1, 2011 3:03 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Captain Britain"
Subject: book

hello again terrence

i know you must have been asked this question over and over again but why havn,t you turned the orange papers into a book? i understand you have an offer to publish i think it would be great to have a solid real book i would buy it and buy more copies to give to people it would be a best seller i,m sure of that terrence please please please publish my friend .


Hello again, Captain,

The reason that I haven't published a dead-tree edition is just a matter of distractions and workload and the fact that it's a lot more fun to lay on the beach and feed cute goslings than it is to slave over a hot computer on a beautiful summer day.

I'm still thinking about it.

By the way, you can make and give away CDs. The entire "e-book" works off of a CD just fine. Instructions for how to burn CDs are here:

Have a good day now. I will. Summer has finally struck with a vengeance in Oregon, and we get a week of no-rain 80-degree weather. Oh yeh. The heck with computers.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Be kind to pigeons — a statue may one day be made of you.

May 23, 2009, Saturday: Day 23. continued:

drum circle in North Waterfront Park
Drum circle at North Waterfront Park
[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Cindy_G ]

Date: Tue, August 2, 2011     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Cindy G."
Subject: Re: thank you

I would like to link your article on the Hazeldon coffee wars to my facebook page, I spent decades off and on in AA until learning I had Celiac disease and depression. I could no longer tolerate attitudes and comments about antidepressants and quit A.A. a few years ago.

(I have not had a drink of alcohol since 1998 — when I began taking Prozac)

Your article heralds a momentous paradigm shift and is like a candle in the darkness to me.

Thankfully Yours,
Cindy G.

Hello Cindy,

Thank you for all of the compliments. Yes, do link, please do.

And have a good day now.

== Orange

P.S.: Please send me your link. I'd like to see what you have to say.
Oh, and congratulations on your sobriety.

*             [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.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Trey_P ]

Date: Tue, August 2, 2011 11:06 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Trey P."
Subject: just curious

What motivated you to do all this writing about AA?


Hello Trey,

Thanks for the question. It was the stunning realization that quackery and cult religion were being sold as "treatment" for drug and alcohol problems. Start with the introduction, here. Then continue with Who are you?, which tells more of the story.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot
**     change their minds cannot change anything.
**       ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Lisa ]

Date: Tue, August 2, 2011 5:55 pm     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Lisa"
Subject: Thank you for your hard work.

I was indoctrinated at an early age into the cult of AA. I have found a group that has successfully kept me sober on two occasions and am now into my 10th year. I do look at it more rationally like you, however, a bit more balanced in a positive direction. My experience with having a different opinion, then the other group members, or the literature and its "leaders" has been met with violent hatred, these people have tried to destroy my life this time. My opinion of AA this time, as this is my second time at long term sobriety, is that it is a mental institution, created by the inmates. That it is a mental institution that you get to go home at the end of the day, however it does keep me sober, LOL. What else is there for us? When the government is done with it they will get rid of it.

Having spent my live time speaking my mind, I have a lot of respect for you.


Hello Lisa,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. And congratulations on your sobriety.

You know what I suspect? That you are actually keeping yourself sober. The group isn't doing it for you. The group is, as you noticed, a mental institution.

A.A. is great at claiming that it is keeping millions sober, but when you look at the facts, there are just a few sober people, and they are keeping themselves sober, by using their own intelligence and will power. Some of them have been fooled into thinking that A.A. has some kind of magical power that keeps them sober, but it doesn't. One of my favorite sayings is, "Nobody holds your hand every Saturday night but you."

What else is there for us? Actually, there is a lot of good stuff. I just reprinted the list again, so I'll point you to it here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance
**     is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators,
**     but names and customs.
**        ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803—1882], Self Reliance

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Erin_B ]

Date: Tue, August 2, 2011 9:15 pm     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Erin B."
Subject: Who are you and why are you causing so much doubt in those that do believe and that it does work for

Hello Erin,

Thanks for the question. First off, the end of that sentence is erroneous: A.A. does not work. A.A. does not sober up the alcoholics. That has been established again and again, even by a doctor who became a Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous, who was trying to prove that A.A. works. I just reprinted the list of medical studies that found A.A. to be useless or worse, so I'll just point you to it, here.

A.A. is just good at fooling some people into believing that A.A. works.

So why would I cause doubt in those who do believe in A.A.? For the same reason that I deliberately cause doubt in the true believers of Scientology, or the Moonies, or any other cult religion. Wasting your life yammering cult religion slogans and nonsense dogma is not a good thing. Cults hurt people and waste years of their lives.

But even worse is when the cult religions go recruiting, and suck in weak, disoriented, confused, sick people, and put them through years of hell while telling them that the cult is doing them a big favor.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who
**       falsely believe they are free."
**         — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749—1832),
**           German poet, dramatist, and philosopher

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Jim_R ]

Date: Wed, August 3, 2011 12:56 pm     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Jim R."
Subject: A little resentment orange

Sent from my iPad

Yes, isn't it wonderful how a little resentment can give you such energy to fight evil?

*             [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.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Tom_M ]

Date: Wed, August 3, 2011 7:42 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Tom M."

I found this in todays Independent (UK) newspaper, in an article about "addiction treatment", following Amy Winehouse's sad death:


Narconon's residential drug rehabilitation centre is located in St Leonards-on-sea, near Hastings. A key difference is between its programme and some other drug rehabs is that Narconon doesn't substitute the use of one drug with another. Because users often have a depletion of vitamins and minerals, its experts recommend natural nutrition to assist the body's repair, including providing patients with a "drug bomb", a specially blended formula of certain vitamins."

No mention of L. Ron Hubbard in that. But it must be the same Narconon that you refer to on your website. I bet they get a "Scientology bomb" too, 28 days of hardcore indoctrination into Tom Cruises favourite bat-shit crazy cult.

Is there any modality of treatment that achieves significantly better results than the 5% rate of spontaneous remission for drug and alcohol addiction? I know that 12-step treatment is worse than useless, as your webpage The Effectiveness of 12-step Treatment makes clear, but are there any ways that can improve on the 5% rate.

I doubt it, once the disease model of addiction is dismissed, it seems that it comes down to individual choice and will-power, responsibility shifts back to the patient from caregiver, it seems to me.

My favourite type of treatment is the one that you describe in one of the scientific studies you cite: get a medical doctor to sit down with the addict for an hour and tell them straight what will happen to them if they continue drinking or taking drugs, and tell them they have a choice, life or a slow demise.

Hello Tom,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, that is the Scientology con "Narconon". Their quack cure features lots of steam baths and sweats and megadoses of vitamins. And of course the clients get introduced to Scientology. Here in the USA the Surgeon General says that Narconon is a hoax and completely ineffective and very dangerous to your health, and it may kill you.

I think that there actually is something that improves the situation. I recall that when Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma did his three-way controlled study, comparing 1) A.A., 2) CBT, and 3) no treatment, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) did the best. Now it wasn't spectacular, but it was an improvement. They gained a few percent more success stories, while A.A. drove the clients to drink. Literally. After 9 months of "treatment", the A.A. people were doing five times as much binge drinking as the no-treatment group, and nine times the amount of binge drinking that the CBT group was doing. So the CBT group was doing less binge drinking than the no-treatment group.

So the situation isn't totally hopeless. Some things do help.

And you know what really helps? Good mental health treatment. As so many people have remarked, A.A. meetings are like a mental institution, just full of mentally ill people. The lunatics are running the asylum. I remember that a couple of psychiatrists found that 90% of the A.A. members had mental problems. Well, those people need real mental health treatment, not some goofy cult religion that tells them that they have "the disease of alcoholism". Drinking too much is a symptom of their mental illness. I find it appalling that the Republicans are opposed to universal health care. Having large numbers of mentally ill people wandering the streets and committing crimes costs this country far more than their proper health care would. And it's cheaper to treat them than to put them in prison. That's a no-brainer.

Still, I agree with your statement that it all comes down to individual choice and will power. Nobody holds your hand every Saturday night but you.

And speaking of Brief Intervention — having the doctor tell the guy to quit drinking or die — we were just talking about that a few letters back. (Well, actually, I was lecturing and the other guy probably didn't want to hear it.) There, Professors Reid K. Hester and William R. Miller (Center for Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Addictions, Dept. of Psychology, University of New Mexico) rated a whole lot of different treatment modalities, and Brief Intervention scored Number One, while A.A. and "12-Step Facilitation" scored 37th and 38th, with a negative rating.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Dennis_M ]

Date: Mon, August 1, 2011 10:44 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: "Dennis M."
Subject: Updated Essay

Hi Orange:

Hope all is well with you. I have been working a little more on my "Growing Up" essay and thought I'd send it to you again. I have a feeling it will be a work in progress for a while.


Size: 38 k
Type: application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

Hello Dennis,

Thank you for the story. That is quite a story, and says a lot.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You start with a full bag of luck, and an empty
**     bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag
**     of experience before you empty the bag of luck.
**     If you succeed you win the game.
**       ==  author unknown

May 23, 2009, Saturday: Day 23, continued:

drum circle in North Waterfront Park
Drum circle in North Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

BLOG NOTE: 2011.08.04:

Have you noticed how silent the Steppers have been on the subject of Amy Winehouse lately? Since the tox screen came back negative, showing that Amy Winehouse did not die of a drug or alcohol overdose, they suddenly have nothing more to say about her. No more yammering about "the disease of addiction" and how it will kill you. No more veiled advertisements for treatment centers. The silence is deafening.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters253.html#Bob_O ]

Date: Tue, August 2, 2011 4:38 am     (answered 3 August 2011)
From: Bob O.
Subject: The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited

Mister T,

Please review, if you have not already, the
discussion of "The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited". It appears to go both ways on alcohol abuse. Is it the "Cliff notes" on the subject?

Thank you for all you do.

Bob O.

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the letter and the question. And thanks for that link. I didn't know that Wikipedia had a page on Dr. Vaillant's second book.

Yes, Dr. George Vaillant goes both ways on the subject of A.A. and alcohol abuse. That is one of the strangest things about him.

On pages 349 to 352 of Revisited, Dr. Vaillant described in detail how he tested A.A. for 8 years, trying hard to prove that it works, only to find that it did not work at all and just raised the death rate of alcoholics. But then four pages later, George Vaillant was raving about the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. At which point, I had to scratch my head and wonder what planet the guy was from.

In both his first book and the sequel Revisited, Dr. Vaillant reported:

After initial discharge, only five patients in the [A.A.] Clinic sample never relapsed to alcoholic drinking, and there is compelling evidence that the results of our treatment were no better than the natural history of the disease.

Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism, but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling.

Once again, our results were no better than the natural history of the disorder.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 283-286.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, pages 349-352.

Then, in Revisited, George Vaillant also declared that A.A. was a cult:

"...AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the world over. ...in the absence of proven scientific efficacy, critics are legitimate in suggesting that mandated AA attendance may be criticized as a failure of proper separation between church and state."
== A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 266.

Then, Dr. Vaillant raved about "the success of Alcoholics Anonymous":

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous — and its reasonable facsimiles which are continuously being rediscovered — probably results from the fact that it conforms so well to the natural healing principles that Frank outlines and with Frank's general prescription for therapeutic group processes.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 288-291.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, pages 354-357.

What success?

Personally, I came to the conclusion that George Vaillant is insane. Not just a little funny in the head, but really seriously delusional. I don't know of any other way to explain how he can report in detail how A.A. totally failed to help alcoholics, and just raised their death rate, and then switch to raving about the wonderful success of A.A. four pages later.

In fact, you can quote Dr. George Vaillant on both sides of many subjects related to alcohol abuse. For instance, Dr. Vaillant also said that A.A. is the best way for alcoholics to recover, and then he declared in the Grapevine that 60% of the alcoholics got sober without A.A.

Yes. ... [It] doesn't hurt at the level of GSO for AA to have humility and understand that 60 percent do it without AA.
AA Grapevine magazine 5/2001

And Vaillant's numbers were wrong. The NIAAA's 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:

"About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."

The Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of the alcoholics who got sober did it alone, without any treatment or meetings or anything.

Then Vaillant declared that sobriety isn't even really the goal:

Finally, and most important, it must be remembered that abstinence is a means, not an end. It is a puritanical goal that removes but does not replace. It is justifiable as a treatment goal only if moderate drinking is not a viable alternative and only if sight is not lost of the real goal — social rehabilitation.
== former A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 277.

Sobriety is not the treatment goal? Well, in both of those books Dr. Vaillant also declared that A.A. was wonderful, in spite of its failure, because alcoholics could get an "attitude change" from "confession of sins to a high-status healer":

Recently the Annals of Internal Medicine editorialized that "the treatment of alcoholism has not improved in any important way in twenty-five years" (Gordis 1976). Alas, I am forced to agree. Perhaps the best that can be said for our exciting treatment effort at Cambridge Hospital is that we were certainly not interfering with the normal recovery process. How can I, a clinician, reconcile my enthusiasm for treatment with such melancholy data?

Frank's prescription for an effective "placebo" therapy (that is, for a modern-day Lourdes) has as its goal to raise the patient's expectation of cure and to reintegrate him with the group.
The sanctioned healer should have status and power and be equipped with an unambiguous conceptual model of the problem which he is willing to explain to the patient.
The common ingredients of such a program include group acceptance, an emotionally-charged but communally shared ritual, and a shared belief system. Such a ritual should be accompanied by a cognitive learning process that "explains" the phenomenon of the illness. The point is that if one cannot cure an illness, one wants to make the patient less afraid and overwhelmed by it.

Frank's prescription for attitude change is initially interrogation by and confession of sins to a high-status healer.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 286-288.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, on pages 352-354.

But when A.A. does not work, and does not heal the alcoholics, an A.A. sponsor cannot be a "high-status healer".

Apparently, Dr. George Vaillant's real goal is the transformation of people through his favorite cult religion. And he does not seem to be particularly concerned about the danger that the treatment might kill them. If Dr. Vaillant has his way, the alcoholics will die "less afraid".

You can read more about Vaillant and his books here.

Back to that Wikipedia web page: There are important factual errors there. For example, it says:

At the end of the 8 years, 34% of subjects had achieved stable abstinence, 29% had died, and 26% were still abusing alcohol[50]

But footnote 50 references "Vaillant 1996, p 158.", which is a later magazine article that contradicts what Dr. Vaillant reported in his books:
"Vaillant, George E.; Susanne Hiller-Sturmhofel (1996). "The natural history of alcoholism". Alcohol Health & Research World 20 (3): 152-161."

And only two sentences later, that web page says:

In fact Vaillant reports the dismal fact that fully 95% of the Clinic sample had relapsed at some time during the 8 year study period.[53][54]
53. Vaillant 1995, p 350.
54. Note that the figure of 95% — the number of clinical patients who relapsed at any time during the 8 year study — has been quoted on some personal websites as evidence that AA is ineffective.[1]

(Gee, I wonder what web sites those might be? It couldn't be mine, because the Orange Papers is not a "personal website". Notice the condescension: "personal website", as if it's just one man's opinion.)

The number of 34% achieving "stable abstinence" is a faked number. In his book Revisited, page 191, Dr. Vaillant plainly stated that he counted dead people as sober in order to improve the A.A. numbers. He also moved the goalposts: Alcoholics didn't have to be 100% sober in order to qualify as in "stable remission".

Just because somebody quits drinking before he dies does not make him an A.A. success story. We have all know about the routine: Some guy drinks like a fish until he is dying. He gets so sick that he goes to the doctor who says, "I'm sorry sir, but you have destroyed your liver and you are going to die. Alcoholics aren't eligible for transplants. But we can put you in a nice hospice where you can die in comfort."

That scares the hell out of the guy, so he quits drinking and becomes a devoted A.A. member. He attends meetings all of the time and works the Steps and parrots the propaganda. But he still dies. Maybe in a few months, or maybe he actually lasts a couple of years. But he dies from what alcohol did to him.

Then A.A. crows that he died sober and isn't it wonderful how A.A. saved him?

Also, first, Dr. Vaillant recognized the normal spontaneous remission rate of 5% per year in alcoholics when he declared that A.A. did no better than the natural history of the disorder. But then, in that magazine article, Dr. Vaillant tried to claim the credit for the natural spontaneous recoveries for Alcoholics Anonymous. When you have a spontaneous remission rate of 5% per year in alcoholics, after 8 years 34% of the alcoholics will have recovered all on their own, without any help from A.A., or any treatment program, or anything else. They just quit on their own. That is people's natural desire to avoid sickness and death at work. Eventually, a lot of people just get sick and tired of being so sick and tired all of the time, and they quit drinking in order to avoid sickness and death. (I fall into that category, too.) That has nothing to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, and A.A. is not due the credit for that. It's funny that in his later inflated claims of A.A. success in his magazine article, Dr. Vaillant's claimed A.A. success rate was 34%, which is exactly the result that 8 years of normal spontaneous remission yields. (But if Vaillant had to inflate the A.A. success rate by counting dead people as sober, then was the real A.A. success rate less than the natural rate of spontaneous remission? That would mean that A.A. was killing people who would have otherwise recovered.)

We debated all of that before, quite a while ago, here.

I strongly disagree with Vaillant's claim that unhappy childhoods do not cause alcoholism. That is one of the primary causes. Girls who were raped have a much greater chance of becoming alcoholics or drug addicts than the non-abused girls. Abused children commonly turn to drugs and alcohol to kill their pain. Forty percent of all alcoholics and junkies were abused children. Sometimes the parents were alcoholics, sometimes dopers, sometimes just insane. Sometimes insane vicious religious nuts, or insane cruel alcoholic military sergeant fathers. Sometimes insane first, and then they used alcohol or dope to kill the pain of their insanity. Often, those abusive parents had been abused children themselves, and they were just passing it on. For whatever reason, they then abused their children, physically, or mentally, or both, and the children responded by using alcohol or dope to kill their own pain.

Also see the study of the Cerebellar Vermis for information about how childhood abuse physically changes the brains of the abused children.

I don't know how Dr. Vaillant could miss that. Well, unless he just wanted to emphasize how sinful those alcoholics are. And "self-centered, immature, dependent, resentful, and irresponsible". Dr. Vaillant was just selling the standard A.A. "Us Stupid Drunks" stereotype again.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Carl Sagan's rule: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
**    The far-fetched claims of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's cult religion
**    could cure alcoholism have not been backed up by even a little ordinary
**    evidence, never mind some extraordinary evidence.

[The next letter from Bob_O is here.]

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Last updated 21 April 2015.
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