Letters, We Get Mail, CCCLXXIII

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#Eva ]

Date: Fri, October 25, 2013 10:01 pm (answered 30 October 2013)
From: "Eva C."
Subject: so thankful to have found your site

Hi Orange,

I have been sober now for almost 15 months, and an active member of AA. I did the whole deal, went through the steps, helped other alcoholics, etc.... But, as of lately certain things just seem to be catching my attention as red flags. One of the big things that has always bothered me: them always talking about the typical characteristics of an alcoholic, as you so listed in 'Us Stupid Drunks' Conspiracy. I have always hated how they constantly say 'that's typical alcoholic thinking'. ...um... really? Because I know a lot of people that are not alcoholics that think the same way. Most of the typical characteristic traits I can't even relate to! Not even close to my personality.

I finally realized, AA didn't get me sober... I got sober because that is what I wanted, I had a determination and a will to not drink again, (sorry my damn alcoholic, selfish, egotism is taking over here).

I am very, very familiar with cult like thinking I left a major religious cult 15 years ago... the discomfort I've been having with AA makes more sense now, I've already lived through this and escaped from another cult, never realized that I would have to go through it again. But like any cult AA got me when I was feeling low and vulnerable, that's what most cults prey on and then they 'love' bomb you, and promise a world of utopia so you can say 'I want what you have!' ;-)

Life has been great for me, I'm in the process of an awesome business opportunity, relationships have mended and of course I'm supposed to give AA credit for all that because hell, I would never have been able to think and actually motivate myself on my own! I have absolutely no desire to drink, I love being sober and having a clear head to think and wake up in the morning. With that said, I have decided to become a 'dry drunk', as I'm soon to be labeled.

Any advice as to what I should say to people that realize I've stopped attending meetings, especially my sponsor. I really want to stay respectful to their feelings and not start putting AA down as a cult, but I don't want them to get preachy about 'the relapse always happens before the first drink'....

Well, thanks again for putting this website together, you have really done your homework and have well referenced everything you said. Reading through your articles is exactly the way I've been thinking for the past few months. (Stink'n think'n ;-) )



Hello Eva,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Congratulations. And yes, of course you did the work yourself.

About what to say to the remaining A.A. members without hurting their feelings, that is a tough one. It seems like they are so emotionally committed that there is almost nothing that you can say.

  • If you say that you don't need the meetings any more, they will believe that you are going to relapse and die soon. So they will be very, very concerned for your welfare.

  • If you say that you don't like the constant put-downs in the 'Us Stupid Drunks' routine, they will insist that you are in denial and not being honest about your inner corruption.

  • If you say that the meetings make you unhappy, and you don't feel like going to meetings any more, they will insist that the answer is another meeting. The slogan is, "The time to attend a meeting is when you least feel like going."

  • If you say that the 12 Steps weren't really doing anything for you, they will insist that your sobriety proves that the Steps work.

  • If you say that you just don't believe in the teachings of Bill Wilson, they will really get upset. Now you are dismissing their holy faith as untrue.

  • If you say that you don't like a lot of the people at the meetings, they will repeat the slogans about ego and terminal uniqueness. "She suffers from terminal uniqueness." "An A.A. meeting is where losers get together to talk about their winnings."

  • If you say that you graduated and don't need A.A. any more, they will insist that is impossible. Nobody ever graduates. We never recover. We only get a one-day reprieve from our death sentence.

  • And if you try to let them down easy by saying that you discovered that you aren't actually "a real alcoholic" after all, they will probably again insist that you are in denial and doomed.

Everything that I think of contradicts at least one of their core beliefs, which is going to upset them. It seems like they have an answer for everything. There is just no honorable way out. Two of the core cult characteristics are:

And then there are also these things:

So to leave A.A. is to die (in their minds). There is no question about it. You can't just leave and stay sober and be happy and successful. It's impossible. You will relapse and die drunk in a gutter. (They say.)

Basically, you have come to the conclusion that A.A. is a cult, and its teachings are nonsense, and it isn't doing you any good, and you are better off without it (and of course I agree). That totally undermines their beliefs, so of course the committed A.A. members are going to be upset and have their feelings hurt. The words "freak out" come to mind.

The only thing that I can think of is to say that you have decided to do it your own way, on your own. You will of course immediately hear about "taking your ego back" (like you suggested), or "taking your will back". I can't say whether they will simply accept your decision. I know they are not likely to respect it. They even have a slogan for that: "Those that don't go to meetings aren't present to find out what happens to those who don't go to meetings."

Perhaps the readers can come up with some good suggestions. I know that the readers can easily come up with many dozens of snappy come-backs to the slogans (they make a game of it), but finding things to say that won't hurt the feelings of the true believers is a big challenge. I will post this question on the forum, and see what other people suggest.

The location of the question on the forum is here:

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There is no rational argument that can address the claims of
**     a group of people who claim absolute authority from an invisible
**     man whose voice is heard only in their heads.
**       ==  PZ Myers, biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#Jim_B ]

Date: Sat, October 26, 2013 4:14 pm (answered 30 October 2013)
From: "Jim B."
Subject: Re: Registration


I will say more later but for now know that 12 Steps To Destruction is online for free as an ebook. He has given me permission to use his book anyway I wish as far as copyright is concerned. I have also attached a non-humorous comic book to this email. I use you as a reference in it. I get these out daily to AA members and the public by riding buses with a sign and T-shirt that says AA is Dangerous. I stand in front of the courthouse (where Drug Court is held) with this too. Enjoy the comic.

Jim B.

Size: 16 M
Type: application/pdf

Hello again, Jim,

Thank you for your activism. That is good.

I got the comic book, and it's embedded in the web site now. Thank you. The link above brings it up. (I changed the file name a little bit, to remove spaces and parenthesis, which can sometimes cause problems in Linux or Unix operating systems. This new name with underscores will work on any and all modern operating systems that I know of.)

The comic is interesting and thought-provoking. Telling true-believer Steppers that the A.A. program comes from Satan is bound to raise a few hackles. Personally, I enjoy pointing out how similar surrendering your will and your life to an nameless "higher power" is to selling your soul to the Devil in trade for sobriety. I know that there is a good video or song or movie in there somewhere. A modern remake of Faust could be fun.

And yes, another correspondent (or was it you?) tipped me off to the location of the 12 Steps To Destruction ebook. It's on the Psychoheresy web site.

I have known about that web site for some years now, and it's listed in my links page. I look at it occasionally for some more ideas. They really take A.A. to task for being heretical. I didn't realize, or didn't remember, that they have the "12 Steps to Destruction" book online. But now I know, and have it. Now I have to read it.

Date: Sat, October 26, 2013 4:21 pm (answered 30 October 2013)
From: "Jim B."
Subject: Re: Registration


I just finished reading your response to my pamphlet. Thank you for the encouragement. You said that Drug Courts use false statistics. Do you have any proof of this? They make it sound like they have done the best studies that can be done to prove that "Drug Courts Work". Also, would you please put the comic book up on the forum if you approve of it? Thank you again.

Jim B.

Drug court judges routinely make sweeping generalizations like that "treatment works", and "A.A. works", "diversion programs work", and even "drug court works", without being very specific about their evidence, or saying just what studies or documents they are referring to. So I cannot get specific when they won't get specific.

Like here in Portland Oregon, there is a drug court judge who even went on the local public radio station and made similar sweeping statements in praising the work of his drug court, but he did not actually give the name of a single controlled study that could be checked for validity. In fact, I can't remember him giving any real hard and fixed numbers that could be challenged. It's just so easy to make vague sweeping declarations of success without giving any real numbers. That is unfortunately commonplace behavior.

In general, drug court judges who are pushing A.A. like to refer to bogus propaganda articles like the Moos-Humphries pieces that I mentioned in the last letter to you, here.

And the main menu page lists a bunch more of those false propaganda articles, here:

I had fun refuting those things. I can easily refute them when someone actually gives the name of the document that they are referring to. It's hard to prove their statements wrong when they just tap-dance around the numbers without getting specific, and saying exactly what they mean and where they are getting the numbers.

Date: Sat, October 26, 2013 5:39 pm (answered 30 October 2013)
From: "Jim B."
Subject: Drug Courts

By the way, Orange, I am in agreement with those who say that the government has no right to tell people what they can and can't put in their bodies, including drugs. It's none of their business. But they think it's okay to legally prescribe drugs that make people violent. Crazy, huh?


I quite agree. I guess I have a very hippy attitude about that. I'm almost a Libertarian when it comes to freedom to eat or consume whatever you choose.

I don't think that drinking alcohol or consuming drugs is a crime. But if someone does something bad while under the influence, then prosecute him for that. If we are going to give people the freedom to consume whatever they wish, then we cannot accept the excuse that someone was stoned or "temporarily insane" because of intoxication, so he shouldn't get punished for bad behavior.

With freedom comes responsibility. Freedom and responsibility come together in a package deal. You can't have one without the other.

If we are adult enough to drink alcohol and take drugs, then we should also be — and must be — adult enough to keep it under control and behave properly while under the influence. And if some guy cannot drink alcohol without flipping out and beating up his wife, then he shouldn't drink alcohol. And if he persists in drinking alcohol and beating up his wife, then throw him in prison. The crime is beating up the wife, not drinking the alcohol.

And if some people cannot keep their consumption of things down to a moderate level, then they shouldn't consume those things. There is no doubt that many people cannot moderate on alcohol or tobacco or heroin or cocaine or speed or something. Me, my weaknesses are alcohol and tobacco. I was never able to just moderately consume alcohol or tobacco. It always got out of hand and became downright life-threatening. Strangely enough, I could and did moderate with heroin and cocaine and speed, which just goes to show that different drugs hit different people in different ways. My current answer to the problem is that I just don't consume any of those things any more, and I'm much, much healthier for it.

The current laws about drugs and alcohol and tobacco are illogical and contradictory. Alcohol and tobacco are legal, and you can easily kill yourself on those conveniently-available things. Marijuana, on the other hand, is illegal in spite of its being less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco. The American people decided that they didn't want prohibition after the bad experiences with it in the nineteen-twenties and -thirties, and yet they still maintain prohibition over some other drugs. That is illogical.

But the times they are a-changin'. Washington State and Colorado legalized pot, and I think Oregon will pretty soon. I find it terribly ironic that they are going to legalize pot now that I've stopped smoking it. Sometimes I can't escape the feeling that there really is somebody up there with a wicked sense of humor.

We still have a long ways to go before we eliminate all drug prohibition and put it under the control of doctors, rather than cops or politicians.

Now I know that a bunch of people will kill themselves with drugs if we legalize those things and make them easier to get. But those people are already killing themselves anyway, so we aren't doing them any favors. The Elvis Presleys and Michael Jacksons of this world are still dying from drugs in spite of the illegality. And the non-rich addicts are burglarizing our houses to get the money for their drugs. The drug laws are hurting us. There is no doubt that crime will go way down if we legalize drugs.

When it comes down to a choice between having people legally consuming inexpensive drugs and not burglarizing our houses, or illegally consuming expensive drugs and burglarizing our houses to get the money, I'd prefer it if they consumed inexpensive legal drugs and stayed out of my house and kept their hands off of my favorite toys and tools, thank you.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power.
**      ==  J. G. Holland

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#Don ]

Date: Sat, November 2, 2013 4:06 pm (answered 5 November 2013)
From: "don"
Subject: Re:

Thank you orange.! This is all new to me... Been "sober" now a little over 3 years and I've been struggling the whole way! Recently ive been starting to see things differently (than the aa way) I'm not gonna lie... I'm a little freakkkkkked out because all I've been listening to is if I leave aa and don't work steps I will drink and die! Well... I haven't drank nor do I ever want to and in not dead... But its in my subconscious... Your site is very interesting and new to me..

Hello Don,

Thanks for the thanks. And yes, A.A. phobia induction can be frightening. They constantly harp on how A.A. is the only way, and if you leave A.A. you will die.

That is such standard cultish behavior that it's in the Cult Test:

That's how they keep people in the cult: Make them afraid to leave.

And the answers for A.A. to those test questions are:

Happily, that is all just fear-mongering, and there is no truth to it. I just enjoyed my 13th "birthday" off of alcohol and drugs, and in another week, I'll have 13 years off of cigarettes and tobacco, too. And I haven't been to an A.A. meeting in almost 12 years. And I know that I'm better off not going to those meetings and hearing all of that negative stuff about how I'm powerless and defective and can't do it alone.

I get more cheered up and encouraged by going and feeding the birds in my back yard, which I'm going to go do right now. And the squirrel will enjoy munching sunflower seeds too. Now that's a fun meeting. They often jabber such cheerful happy chirps when they see me pouring out the seeds.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than
**      sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
**        ==  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

September 15, 2013, Wednesday, Fernhill Wetlands:

Fernhill Wetlands
Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Goose goslings
Gus and two friends
The Wetlands are really empty. Most all of the ducks and geese have suddenly flown south for the winter. Only Gus and a couple of friends remain. Gus cannot fly, so he isn't going south. This couple of Canada Geese have just decided to stay for the winter. I don't know why.

Fernhill Wetlands
Fernhill Wetlands

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#Melissa_T ]

Date: Mon, October 28, 2013 11:25 am     (answered 9 November 2013)
From: "Melissa T."
Subject: Thank you

Hello. I just wanted to day thank you. I've just finished reading the "AA secrets" portion of your website and I feel an awesome sense of relief that other people feel the same as I do about this "program".

To put it lightly, AA has been forced down my throat for the past two years (at least) and all I can even say at this point is.... I am absolutely exhausted.

It's not really in my nature to go off about myself (which is apparently the norm for people in recovery) but, to whoever reads this, I'll give some background. Long story short: I went to treatment in February and am now living in a sober living facility. I never bought into AA even before treatment as I tried it and didn't really think it was for me. Well, you sure as shit can't say that, or anything remotely like that in treatment. Especially when you're there for 90 days!

Anyway, I feel like I've pretty much wasted the last almost year of my life trying to play this game with my family and everyone involved in my "recovery". I have to be clear here and say I am incredibly grateful for what my family has done for me and their support. I never will go back to the horrible place I was. That being said, yes I needed treatment to clear my head and realize how shitty things had become, but my god. This is just ridiculous. I have been at this sober living facility for 5 months now.

The only problem remaining is that I can not yet financially support myself without my parents support. I also really don't want to lose the progress we have made. In their minds, I am doing so well (yeah pretty much the same issues as always, just dealing with them sober. Score.) because of this program.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you. I can't tell you how much I needed to read that. Stay in this brainwashing shit long enough and you think you're losing it. sure. If I'm surrounded by the same people 24/7 that buy this shit I'm going to eventually think there figured it out and I haven't.

Thank you.

Hello Melissa,

Thank you for the letter. That says a lot. And thanks for the thanks and compliments.

My first reaction was to your problem with your family. I understand that they want the best for you, and they are very concerned, and unfortunately, they have been misinformed. Someone lied to them and told them that 12-Step recovery works great, which it doesn't. Not at all. The salesmen who sell 12-Step-based treatment programs merely lie and take the credit for a few people who quit drinking anyway, in spite of the fact that the treatment does not work. It's a $20 billion per year industry, just in the USA. There is plenty of good money to be made by selling quackery and fraud. And please tell your family that I said so. You can direct their heat at me.

Your family should hear that I now have 13 years of sobriety. That is 13 years off of alcohol, drugs, and even cigarettes. Not bragging, that's just the facts. That's just how it worked out. And I did it without the 12-Step religion. I totally rejected the 12-Step nonsense. I haven't been to a 12-Step meeting in almost 12 years, and the last ones I went to, I only went once every 6 months or a year, to pick up sobriety coins as they came due. I only went to A.A. meetings regularly for about three months before I concluded that A.A. was just another cult religion, so I stopped going. But I still stayed sober and drug-free, and even tobacco-free, for 13 years. I did it in spite of the so-called "treatment program" that I received at taxpayer expense, not because of it.

To be completely honest, I wasn't totally meeting-free. Because the program that I was in required that I attend some kind of meetings, I switched to going to SMART meetings for a few years, and I liked them. And I still recommmend them. Nonetheless, I still give the real credit for my sobriety to the simple decision to not die that way. And sticking to that decision.

Likewise, I was also in "sober housing" for years, but that was not the cause of my sobriety either. The people there died like flies. They relapsed constantly. It was like the Bataan Death March. It's highly disconcerting to hear that the guy across the hall died from an overdose during the night, and I wasn't even awakened by all of the commotion as the Emergency crew came and took the body away.

The real cause of my sobriety was that I decided that I wasn't going to die a miserable death from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. And that was that.

And you have made the same choice. I believe you when you say that you are not going back to that miserable addicted lifestyle. Who needs that kind of suffering?

Then the almost unbelievable end of the story was that my "counselor" at the "treatment center" was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, possession of child pornography, and possession of cocaine in his house, his car, and even his office at the "treatment center". So the treatment program was worthless, just the jabbering of a criminal who told us to have a "Higher Power" in our recovery programs, and go to at least three A.A. or N.A. meetings per week, and get a sponsor, and then he went home and snorted cocaine and looked at child pornography and then screwed his step-children.

And yet, I still have 13 years of sobriety now, in spite of such a crazy "treatment program". Sobriety is an individual choice. It has very little to do with the treatment or "support group". (Remember that the relapsers around me were not helped by my sobriety, and I wasn't brought down by their relapses.) You can tell your family about that.

Your family should know that three-quarters of the treatment centers and "sober houses" in the USA are merely selling an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties. I know that is almost unbelievable, but it's the truth. It's just like how Scientology is now trying to take over drug and alcohol treatment by selling (Scientology founder) Lafayette Ronald Hubbard's crazy science-fiction quackery as good treatment for mental problems. Well, Scientology didn't succeed at that, but Alcoholics Anonymous did. Members of the 12-Step religion basically own the "recovery" franchise, and courts sentence people to A.A. meetings, and city, state, and Federal programs pay 12-Step facilities and residences for "treating" alcoholics and addicts. (That is, of course, illegal and unConstitutional.)

Your parents might wonder how the frauds could get away with it. How could 75% of the drug and alcohol treatment centers in the USA use ineffective quackery? Doesn't the government regulate medical treatment? No. The FDA regulates medicines, but they don't test treatments for addictions. The FDA has never tested A.A. or "12-Step facilitation" to see if it actually works. Never.

The next thing that you can tell your family is that 12-Step treatment causes a lot of negative results, and drives many people to drink or worse. A.A. and 12-Step religion often make people much worse off, not better. When A.A.-based treatment was tested by doctors, it was a failure:

  1. Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking.
  2. Dr. Ditman found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness.
  3. Dr. Walsh found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive.
  4. Drs. Orford and Edwards found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour, telling him to quit drinking or he would die, was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.
    (Maybe not coincidentally, that is the real treatment that I got, and maybe it worked. If any "treatment" had anything to do with my recovery, that was it.)
  5. Dr. George E. Vaillant the A.A. Trustee found that A.A. treatment was completely ineffective, and raised the death rate in alcoholics.
  6. Then there are the young women who get sexually exploited in A.A. See
  7. And there are the people who get told not to take their medications, often with very bad results. See their stories here: A.A. "No Meds" Stories.
  8. And then there are the A.A. suicides.
  9. And there is the excessive A.A. divorce rate.
  10. And you can finish with the list of A.A. horror stories.

That's a lot of harm. The simple unavoidable conclusion is that an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties is not a good treatment or therapy or "self-help group" for people who are drinking too much alcohol.

Undoubtedly, your family will want to see you doing something good. That is, they want you involved in some kind of "sobriety program". Well, happily, there are some good things around. SMART and SOS and WFS are increasingly popular, and you may be able to find some of them in your city. Here is the list of addresses:

And if your family wants to hear about how I got sober, and stay sober (without A.A. or the 12 Steps), this letter is good: How did you get to where you are?

Have a good day now, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their
**     spells dissolve, and the people recovering their true sight, restore their
**     government to its true principles.  It is true that in the meantime we are
**     suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long
**     oppressions of enormous public debt.  But if the game runs sometimes
**     against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we
**     shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost,
**     for this is a game where principles are at stake."
**         ==  Thomas Jefferson

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#C ]

Date: Mon, October 28, 2013 11:39 am     (answered 11 November 2013)
From: "C."
Subject: Re: why the strong emphasis on abstinence?

Okay... while my previous letter showed a certain amount of self-restraint to not write you a long boring letter, I've now drank about 300ml of Tanduay Dark and I'm demonstrating a bit less social sensitivity and I will regale you with more tales. [P.S.: 150ml. Even as a guy who is good at math, I forgot how to calculate 3/4th of a 200ml bottle. Blame the demon rum for my less than perfect math skills. :) ]

I suspect part of the reason you've put AA in your crosshairs is that you had a particularly heinous encounter with the treatment industry. While I realize such experiences are not unusual, I don't think they are necessarily representative.

My own experience was a bit more mixed. The Psychiatrist who first bumped me towards AA was certainly not a fanatic, and he was a man I continued a professional and somewhat personal relationship with for many years.

When I first became concerned about my drinking habits, I sought him out, based on the recommendations of a trusted friend who used to be an admin at the behavioral health department of a very well respected multidisciplinary clinic in Seattle Washington where he was one of the co-directors. For about nine months, I saw him periodically, and he helped me a lot, without pushing me towards AA or treatment or anything.

He was not a fanatic of any kind, but a thoughtful and dedicated healer, who dedicated substantial time to keeping up to date with the literature. He was a Vietnam vet, who got drafted (as all "baby docs" did in those days) to be a "field surgeon", which he described as a glorified medic.

I later learned that he was a mild-Christian of some kind, maybe a Presbyterian or something, but definitely never drank much koolaid... although he did get pretty psyched when his baroque choir got to sing at the bigass party that Seattle threw last time the Dalai Lama came to town.

In any case, he gave me some gentle and kind guidance, helped me realize how much my divorce had fucked me up emotionally, helped me get sober, helped me get a hot new girlfriend and finally land my dream job writing OS code for Microsoft.

But at MS, I went back to the bottle, and by the time I left, I was a basket case, and my relationship with my best friend and musical partner got really fucked up when I told him about some ancient misdeeds when I was loaded one night. So things got super-insane, every morning I would swear I was going to swear off liquor because there was no pleasure any more, nothing but pain.

So after a particularly heinous night, I sobered up, and made an appointment to see him. I was a week or two sober when I finally got my appointment with him, and it turns out his department had just started a "state of the art treatment program" and he thought I should try it. I told him, nawww, you know I'm an atheist, I don't think I could do anything AA related. He said something like, "just try it, see if you can find any value in it. You don't have to accept everything they say."

In any case, I graduated with flying colors from his treatment program, as I was already a month sober when I entered... and the counsellors were not too fanatical, one of them was even a "normie", and eventually I ended up at AA, because RR meetings were so limited and hard to get to. Hahahaha.

He was never a huge fan of the modern treatment paradigms. I ended up being his patient for many years thereafter. One time he let his guard down and started ranting about how wrong it was to put these teenagers who had a couple of escapades with booze into a room and make them confess they were alcoholics. He said something like, "There are no hard statistics, but in rough numbers, a third of them will just mature out, by their mid 20s they will never have an alcohol problem again. Roughly another third will develop some real problems but end up getting abstinent. And the last third will have some real life-threatening problems."

After the death of my wife (who was a bit more hardcore about AA and credited it with saving her life — she did have 20 years off the needle at that point), I decided to try alcohol again, and did not enjoy it the first time. A few months later, I tried again, and found that I enjoyed it much more, and have been able to moderate MOST of the time over the last three years.

I believe that the key is to realistically evaluate the benefits versus the harm, and so long as the former outweigh the latter, it is rational to continue drinking.

So I'm wondering if you could comment on this point?

Anyway, here is another story for you, about one of my early AA buddies. He was a gifted lawyer, and concert pianist. He had a taste for IV drugs, and had a hard time staying sober, despite daily aa meetings.

He got in some legal trouble, and to keep his bar licence, he had to go to a particularly intrusive kind of treatment. One time the "counsellor" was giving him shit about how he wasn't "opening up" during their sessions. He said, "Wait, you aren't a real counsellor right, anything I say to you will be reported to the court. So you are an agent of the court. And you and the court and the bar association expect me to open my soul to you if I'm going to keep practicing law? Well, that's not right, and I'm leaving."

Eventually he got his license to practice law back. He is living in a communal community out on the Olympic peninsula, smoking pot and drinking beer moderately. His original wife left him, but he has a new girlfriend now who supports him emotionally and encourages his music. He takes on a few pro-bono cases for the indigent and for environmental causes, but mostly he builds these super-ecological houses out of straw bales. And he is happy and fulfilled. :)

Okay.... too much sharing for a guy I don't even know. :)

ps: you mentioned thoughts of relocating to the philippines, and as an american ex-pat who has done just that, i can tell you that a dollar goes much farther here and life is much to my liking. However, the fact that good cigarettes cost about $0.60 a pack, and a pint of decent dark rum costs a little over a dollar, tends to remove the financial disincentives to using these substances.


Hello C.,

Thanks for the letter and the story. Let's see, starting at the top:

  • I don't think it would be accurate to say that I had a particularly horrifying experience with rehab, and that's why I have A.A. in my cross-hairs. Now I did have an appalling experience, but it was nothing compared to the horror stories that other people have written in, describing anything from a month to a year of imprisonment in a rehab center where they were lied to, financially exploited, sexually exploited, denigrated and put down and sold an old cult religion.

    There were also other things, like seeing people get no real help, and relapse, and disappear or die. That's what really got to me. I saw a lot of the so-called "recovery community" for several years, and I saw that the 12-Step religion just was not helping people, and the people who sold Steppism as a cure for a "disease" were lying and making lots of money at it.

  • It is good that you found a sane psychiatrist who didn't try to shove a lot of quackery and religious dogma on you. That is most fortunate. Of course I have reservations about him "nudging" you towards A.A. I can only guess that maybe he didn't have anything else handy to recommend.

  • I share your skepticism about a "state of the art treatment program". That is also what they called the garbage that I got. It seems like every treatment center has the greatest, the newest and most modern and enlightened treatment. (Need I mention the fact that 75% of them actually sell an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties as a "treatment" for a "disease"?)

  • About: "I graduated with flying colors from his treatment program, as I was already a month sober when I entered..."

    Oh yes. I did the same thing too. I had already quit drinking two weeks before I started the treatment program, and I just never had another drink again. Not ever. I had gotten so sick that I decided that I didn't want to die that way, so I quit drinking and smoking, and I stayed quit. And I'm still quit. So of course I "graduated" with honors. And the treatment program claimed the credit for another person sobered up.

  • About:

    "There are no hard statistics, but in rough numbers, a third of them will just mature out, by their mid 20s they will never have an alcohol problem again. Roughly another third will develop some real problems but end up getting abstinent. And the last third will have some real life-threatening problems."

    Well, he is mostly right there. I do believe that he has the right idea. Actually, there are some better statistics now, and the numbers are a little different, but he still definitely has the right idea.

    The Harvard Medical School stated that about half of the alcoholics will eventually sober themselves up. That "half" would include the third your psychiatrist described as those who just mature out, and part of those with "real problems" who eventually sober themselves up. But apparently, almost half don't ever get it together, although I would like to believe your psychiatrist's number that 2/3 eventually sober up.

    The Harvard Mental Health Letter, from The Harvard Medical School, reported:

    On their own
    There is a high rate of recovery among alcoholics and addicts, treated and untreated. According to one estimate, heroin addicts break the habit in an average of 11 years. Another estimate is that at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated. One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated. When a group of these self-treated alcoholics was interviewed, 57% said they simply decided that alcohol was bad for them. Twenty-nine percent said health problems, frightening experiences, accidents, or blackouts persuaded them to quit. Others used such phrases as "Things were building up" or "I was sick and tired of it." Support from a husband or wife was important in sustaining the resolution.
    Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction — Part III, The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 12, Number 4, October 1995, page 3.
    (See Aug. (Part I), Sept. (Part II), Oct. 1995 (Part III).)

  • I'm sorry to hear about the death of your wife. Divorces and deaths are often events that start periods of more intense drinking.

    When you say that you "have been able to moderate MOST of the time over the last three years", that tells me that you are not a compulsive drinker. That is not the behavior of a drinking-to-die alcoholic. That sounds pretty normal. There are countless millions of people like that.

  • About this:

    I believe that the key is to realistically evaluate the benefits versus the harm, and so long as the former outweigh the latter, it is rational to continue drinking.

    So I'm wondering if you could comment on this point?

    I agree. It's called a "cost-benefit analysis" in accounting, and SMART calls it the "Risk-Reward Ratio". You add up all of the plusses and the minuses of doing something, the potential gains and the losses, and see which is greater. I described the technique a couple of times in previous letters, here:

    If drinking a little alcohol makes you happier, and does not mess up your life, then why not? I must caution, however, that alcohol is still a poisonous chemical, and it does do some damage to the body, and messes with your mind, even in moderate amounts. And the damage is cumulative, and increases over time. And many of us, including me, do have the problem that once we start down that slippery slope, there is no stopping. But it sounds like that isn't your problem.

    Way back in the nineteen-seventies, the famous government think tank called The Rand Corporation did a study of alcoholism that found that half of the alcoholics who successfully stopped self-destructive drinking did it by total abstinence, and the other half did it by tapering off into moderate controlled drinking. The point there is just "Different Strokes for Different Folks". "Alcoholics", or excessive drinkers, or whatever you want to call them, are not all alike. And they sure don't fit the stereotype of "The Alcoholic" that A.A. pushes.

    Many people do just "mature out" of excessive drinking, and become moderate, controlled drinkers.

    Each of us excessive drinkers has the problem of figuring out which half we are in.

    I learned the hard way that I'm in the "total abstinence" half. You seem to be in the "moderation is okay" half. There is your 50-50 split.

  • Thanks for the story about your lawyer friend. That rings so true. I've received several stories from people who were in "diversion programs" and "employee assistance programs" who reported similar abuses.

    The powers that be, like "professional standards committees" and boards of certification send people to "treatment programs" (often 12-Step based) with "group counseling" where it is totally fake therapy, and might better be called an inquisition, because there is no medical confidentiality, and anything that you say can be used against you. Such sessions are legal interrogation masquerading as therapy. Your lawyer friend just nailed it:

    "Wait, you aren't a real counsellor right, anything I say to you will be reported to the court. So you are an agent of the court. And you and the court and the bar association expect me to open my soul to you if I'm going to keep practicing law? Well, that's not right, and I'm leaving."

    Some of the horror stories that I've received described months or years of suffering in bogus "programs" because someone was too honest with such phony "counselors" and "helpers".

    By the way, you see that it isn't just A.A. that is in my cross-hairs. It's the whole phony "treatment industry", with all of its illegal coercive tactics to force more paying customers into their facilities. The 12-Step cult religion is just part of the racket.

  • It wasn't me who was talking about going to the Philippines, it was another correspondent. I have no desire to leave the USA right now. You are right about the problem with alcohol and cigarettes being super-cheap there. The lack of expense can be a real danger to some people. There is lots of temptation and little cost. Something that often happens with old American veterans is that they go down to Mexico when they retire, and then drink themselves to death because the booze is so cheap that they can live like kings down there, and party non-stop. Alas, it doesn't matter whether you are in the USA or Mexico or the Philippines, your liver can only take so much.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     My enemies I can handle, but Lord save me from
**      those who would do unto me for my own good.
**        —  "Orange" as a young hippie, 1968

September 21, 2013, Saturday, my back yard in Forest Grove:

Bird at feeder
I think this is some kind of sparrow, but none of the sparrows in my bird book has that fleshy growth above the beak, so I'm not sure what it is.

(P.S.: On second thought, after looking at more photographs, that does not appear to be a fleshy growth above the beak, it's just a protruding tuft of feathers.)

UPDATE: I think this is a Savannah Sparrow.

But I have lots of them. My bird feeders are so popular that often 20 birds squawk and fly up into the trees when I walk into the back yard. "Eeek! Run! The giant is coming!" But they come back, real soon. They know the feeding routine, and they sit up in the trees and talk about it as I refill the feeders and sprinkle seeds and rolled oats around. Then they just wait for me to walk away and they swoop down to get the goodies.

Sparrow cracking Millet.

Sparrow cracking open a sunflower seed in his beak.

[More bird photos here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html#Peter_F ]

Date: Tue, October 29, 2013 1:30 pm     (answered 11 November 2013)
From: "Peter F."
Subject: Dr. Peter Ferentzy — Recovery, Redemption and Professional Wrestling — One-Dimensional Scoundrels and Mystified Addicts

Dr. Peter Ferentzy published a new article on The Huffington Post

Dr. Peter Ferentzy

I'm a huge wrestling fan. No, I don't mean the proper Olympic sport. I mean the show: good versus evil, heroes versus villains and, for the purpose of this post, redemption versus infamy...

To comment on this post, follow the link below:


Hello again, Peter,

Thank you for the humor. And you have a good point.

Speaking of melodramatic performances, doesn't the reformed addict at a recovery show-and-tell, "sharing" the story of his miserable life as an addict, and his wonderful recovery, praising his sponsor and his Program, resemble the reformed "saved" sinner speaking at a revival meeting, and bragging about how Jesus saved him from a life of misery?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The instinctive need to be the member of a closely knit group
**    fighting for common ideals may grow so strong that it becomes
**    inessential what these ideals are.
**       ==  Konrad Lorenz

Date: Tue, November 12, 2013 5:42 pm
From: "Peter F."
Subject: RE: Dr. Peter Ferentzy — Recovery, Redemption and Professional Wrestling — One-Dimensional Scoundrels and Mystified Addicts

Yes, it's all a lot like a revival meeting.

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Last updated 27 December 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters373.html