Letters, We Get Mail, CCCXCV

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Greg_G ]

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:20:49 -0700     (Answered 26 March 2014)
From: Greg G.
Subject: Just another story

Hello! I am not an ex-AA person but rather the victim of an AA person. My long time drinking buddy suddenly decided a few years back that he was an alcoholic, which was probably true, and went to 12-step rehab and joined AA. He became the most horrible, mean, psychotic person on the planet. He was, indeed, sometimes an ugly drunk, so I thought not drinking might be for the best.. It turns out that sober he is severely mentally ill, and that the alcohol and drugs were keeping him somewhat in check.

He needed serious psychiatric help and probably medication, but AA convinced him that he had a disease he was powerless over and that all he needed to overcome his worsening mental illness was more meetings. He began seeing alcoholism in everyone, became hideously judgmental and vicious, and confrontational, especially with me, about drinking. He insisted I was an alcoholic who desperately needed AA, and when I said I wasn't and EVEN MY DOCTOR AND THERAPIST AGREED, he said I was "in denial". We finally ended up constantly fighting about it, but the fight came to an abrupt end when he sent an email to all of my friends and family members stating that I was a raging alcoholic who was a danger to myself and destroying my life and that unless I let him take me to AA immediately I would probably be dead within the year. He was astonished when instead of thanking him and telling me to do what he said as he expected, they all told him that his email was both unwelcome and inappropriate and to please never contact them again. He then began harassing me with texts (20-30 a day), emails, and phone calls until I finally just had to block him everywhere so he just couldn't reach me anymore. I was literally terrified that he was going to show up at my house with other AA people and try to kidnap me and force me to a meeting. Thank God he stopped and I haven't spoken to him since. 15 years of friendship gone in just 6 months with the 12-steppers.

Of course, my life has turned out fine. His, not so well. He lost his business and all but a couple of friends because he just could not shut up about his "disease". He somehow managed to work "I am a recovering alcoholic" into every conversation. His business failed because he had to go to a lot of events where alcohol was served and he either refused to go or when he was there just kept dramatically pointing out how disgusting everybody was for drinking and how he could "smell the booze" and he was worried that it was going to cause a relapse. Funny how the potential clients didn't react well to that. He threw a fit at a restaurant because a dessert had some rum in it that he had apparently not noticed on the menu and he swore that after one bite he was "tipsy" because he was "no longer used to alcohol of any sort.". He told the waiter that he would hold him personally responsible if he relapsed because of this dessert.

And AA encouraged his behavior every step of the way. They told him that he was right, and that everybody else was just out to get him because they were all in denial and they wanted him to return to their alcoholic lifestyle. I had always had my doubts about AA. I have always thought it was a religion by nature, and it had been my observation that most of the people I knew who went to AA came out worse in the long run. They either became all cult-like about it, or they returned to drinking but in the most horrible way possible, far worse than they were before they went to AA. Now I am not just kind of against AA, I am actively working to disabuse people of the notion that it is safe or effective in any way and your site has been most helpful. Anyway, I doubt any of this will surprise you but I just wanted to vent to someone who might understand.

Thanks for listening,


Hello Greg,

Thank you for the story. That is moving. I can really relate to that. Obviously, A.A. is not good therapy for mentally-ill people; in fact, it is some of the worse treatment in the world.

I'm adding this story to the list of A.A. Horror Stories.

At least you are okay. So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society.
**     If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test
**     people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance,
**     greed and love of power.
**       ==  P J O'Rourke

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Slew ]

Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 06:10:06 -0700 (PDT)     (Answered 26 March 2014)
From: slew

Gee...... if you don't like AA don't go to the meetings dude!

Hello Slew,

Thanks for the note. I don't go to A.A. meetings, and I haven't gone for about 13 years now, and I still have over 13 years of sobriety.

Just not going is not an answer for the people who got sentenced to A.A., and it isn't an answer for the people who got sold a "treatment program" that is really just "Introduction to Cult Religion 101". Those people need something better. And everyone needs to know the truth about A.A.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
**       ==  George Orwell

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#John ]

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 05:01:05 +0000 (03/24/2014 10:01:05 PM)     (Answered 26 March 2014)
From: John
Subject: Thank You


I've been reading you for over ten years now (I think. I'm too lazy to look up the specifics, but I think I first started reading the Orange Papers in 2004. Maybe 2005. Doesn't matter.)

The point is, I was once heavily involved in West Hollywood AA. West Hollywood has its own peculiar AA personality, full of new age types (who I count myself among, btw) talking about spirituality and staying off dope and booze. The thing that makes L.A. AA so hip is you get a ton of heroin addicts, including notable musicians and actors. I was popular in that scene, even in the 90's. I remember feeling so superior to so-called "normies."

Because they believe so strongly in their own anonymity, I won't reveal any AA celebrities I met, but I will tell you in a private conversation. You won't be surprised by any of the names, so probably no reason to ask.

My point, I suppose, is to thank you for the time and the effort you've put in to the Orange Papers. But beyond that, what I most appreciate is that you are not a nut, you don't respond with hysteria or drama, you simply have continued to respond, in your own reasonable time, to every query.

Please take care of yourself Terrance Hodgins, and if I'm ever in your neck of the woods I will buy you a root beer.

FYI the way I would describe myself is a String Theory Atheist. Make of it what you will.

Sent from Windows Mail

Hello John,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

The list of Hollywood celebrities who are A.A. members might be interesting, but the odds are that I wouldn't know who most of them are. I'm really bad on knowing Hollywood stars. I know that Charlie Sheen isn't a Stepper, and his father Martin is. And Mel Gibson is. Beyond that, I'm lost.

Yes, I think I can relate to String Theory Atheist. I might be a Gravitational Mystic.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      ...the spectacle of a celebrity entering a drug and alcohol
**      treatment center, relapsing, then heading to rehab again
**      — and again and again — has become depressingly familiar.
**         ==  Bankole A. Johnson, The Washington Post,
**               Sunday, August 8, 2010; B03
**           Also see this information about Prof. Bankole A. Johnson of the
**            University of Virginia, here.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Dale ]

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:59:43 +0700 (03/24/2014 11:59:43 PM)     (Answered 26 March 2014)
From: Dale
Subject: So what?

So what? You may be right, you may be wrong, so what? I'm curious of your agenda? Thanks.

Hello Dale,

That's a good question.

  1. First, the goal is to get the truth out there. The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. There are a lot of sick people who really need the facts, and they don't need to be misled by fairy tales or old mythology or a deceptive cult religion.

  2. Secondly, I want to stop the coercive recruiting that is accomplished by getting people sentenced to A.A. That is illegal and unConstitutional because A.A. is a religion.

  3. Third, I want to stop the hoax of selling the A.A. cult religion as a cure for a "disease". That is quackery at its worst. Seventy-five percent of the "treatment centers" in the USA still sell the 12-Step cult religion as a cure for alcohol or drug addiction, and it is a total failure. The lying con artists who are doing that should be put in prison for fraud and practicing medicine without a licence.

I guess that will do for starters.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth
**       is not worth many regrets.
**         ==  Arthur C. Clarke

March 18, Tuesday, my yard in Forest Grove:

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Male Rufous Hummingbird

Male Annas Hummingbird
Male Annas Hummingbird
Those little guys really explode in colors when you get some direct sunlight on them.

March 21, Friday, my yard in Forest Grove:

Male Annas Hummingbird
Male Annas Hummingbird

Female Dark-Eyed Junko
Female Dark-Eyed Junko
You can tell that this is a female by the color of her head. It is just dark gray, or charcoal gray. A male Junko has a head that is jet black.

Female Dark-Eyed Junko
Female Dark-Eyed Junko
Another view of the same bird.

[More bird photos below, here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Chris_L ]

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:08:15 -0700 (PDT)     (answered 3 April 2014)
From: chris l.
Subject: Heya Orangie :-)

Not sure how to begin this but I wanted to drop in and say hi. I have been reading your site again today and it has been helping my stay sober. I had a big relapse recently and just got out of the hospital on Friday. I'm only 5 days sober today and in a lot of pain as you can imagine. Luckily most of the physical stuff is gone but it's all emotional and mental. My Post Acute Withdrawl is in full swing. (lol) Actually reading about it helps me realize I'm not going crazy its actually my brain healing. (lol go figure) Anyway I have all the major symptoms anxiety, repetitive thoughts, difficulty remembering easy things you know the whole array.

I wrote you when I had about I think 6 months sober in 2010 I'm trying to find the letter but I haven't yet, but I will. Anyway I had a little over 3 years sober and took a major dive (lol) I'm really trying not to beat myself up but its pretty hard not too. I was doing so well I went to community college and got my AA degree and then got into Cal State Fullerton for accounting/finance.

Anyway it was the basic story of I was at a party and decided to have a drink because everyone was having so much fun. Then the rest is kinda history. I'm an all or nothing kinda guy. I was balancing drinking work and school for about a month or so. Then I had a brief 3-day binder. But I was able to recover, and make it to work and school but then a week later it was a 7-day binder and that was the end. Anyway I lost my job which isn't too bad I can get another one in a couple of months it wasn't like a career or anything. The thing that bums me out is school, I'm obviously failing my classes now but I'm trying to stay positive because I'm seeing a psychiatrist tomorrow and I'm hoping I can get a note from him so I can get a W for my classes before the deadline instead of F's. I just need to get teachers signature s. Then I'll have the summer to heal and maybe I'll take a semester off and just start back in January. I guess I'm just trying to figure out where it went wrong. See for like the first year of sobriety I would read your site on and off and I would go to some life ring meetings and everything was good. But then I just stopped everything after that because I had such a desire to stay quit I figured no problem. So like for the last two years of sobriety I just went to work and school. I guess I just did n't have a reminder for too long. I'm not sure I guess its best not to think about it now whats done is done.

Obviously my family is yelling at me to go back to AA even though I have told them that is not how I get sober anymore lol. My mom and dad are both alchies and AA preachers. So I went today to appease them. However, I can't totally hate on them because even though I roll my eyes at most of the meeting I will hear an occasional good thing or two. I started reading here again and I remembered that you had a relapse after 3 years and then went on to have your sobriety now which I think you are still sober which is a long time. Or I hope so. So I'm hoping that turns out to be me too.

I had this scary thought today where I almost wish I never saw your site so I could still think AA was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Only for the fact that their meetings are everywhere and they are much easier to get too. There are almost no non-12 step meetings in my area and I don't like online as much I want to try and meet people because I'm shy. Anyway any advice you could give me would be great but I'm not sure what you could say other than hang in there. Since my relapse I'm constantly hearing about how relapse is a part of recovering and I hate that. Why does it have to be? I sometimes wish I was born like 200 years from now when they can fix our broken gene. lol

Anyway my step grandma is an awesome person and she is like what what triggered it and why? That kinda makes me sad too because its like "if I knew that I wouldn't have this problem". Anyway sorry for the length I just felt like I had to talk to someone. (your facebook friend Chris L)

Hello Chris,

Thanks for the letter, and don't apologize for the length. It's quite okay. One of the nice things about the web is that we don't have to pay for blank paper.

I'm glad to hear that you are recovering and on your way back up. That sounds good, and it sounds like it's going to work out.

Yes, you are right about me relapsing once, and was it ever a doozy. Back around 1987 or so, I quit drinking after getting a DWI, and stayed quit for 3 years. I only went to 4 A.A. meetings, total, ever. I thought then that they were nice people, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my life sitting around talking about drinking. And I couldn't get any clear, logical explanation of how it works and what to do. When I asked one of the oldtimers how it works and what to do, he just grinned and said, "Keep coming back." I found that answer less than satisfying.

So I decided that I already had what I needed: I had already decided that drinking was bad for me and I didn't want to do it any more. So I just stayed quit for three years, and didn't go to any more A.A. meetings.

At the three-year point, I had a very dangerous thought. I completely missed the anniversary. I looked at a calendar one day, and realized that I had crossed the three-year point a couple of weeks earlier. I hadn't even been thinking about drinking or sobriety, and it just slipped by unnoticed. Then I thought, "It shouldn't be this easy." That is, A.A. had taught me that alcoholics are all desperately calling their sponsors every Friday or Saturday night and crying that they are about to relapse, and the sponsor comes over and holds his hand all night and keeps him from drinking. I did none of that. I didn't have even have a sponsor, I never went to A.A. meetings, I didn't work the Steps, and yet I still had three years of sobriety with little effort. I didn't even feel any cravings or desires after the first few months. So I thought, "It shouldn't be this easy. Maybe I'm not a real alcoholic. Maybe that counselor (for the DWI) was just trying to fill her monthly quota when she said that I was an alcoholic. (And actually, I had told her that I was an alcoholic.)"

I didn't do anything right away, but a seed of doubt was planted. I began to think that maybe I wasn't an alcoholic after all. I had it under perfect control so easily for three years. That isn't an alcoholic, is it?

Months later, a friend had a birthday party. It was wall-to-wall booze. There was a bottle of whiskey on every table and the fridge was full of beer. The only rule was if you took the last beer of a six-pack, you had to put another six-pack from the stack against the wall into the fridge to replace it.

I didn't drink for most of the night. But then, as it got late, I thought that I could have just one. I thought that I had it under control. Three years of perfect sobriety, I have it licked. So I can handle just one. And I did. And it tasted so good that I handled another one, and then another one. And then the party ended. But I still wanted more beers. The liquor store was already closed so I couldn't buy another six-pack that night.

My first thought in the morning when I woke up — my very first thought — was, "Go get some beer." I held out until noon, and then went and got a six-pack. I thought I would make it last for three days, having two a day. It was all gone by 4 in the afternoon. And the same thing happened the next day and the next. Suddenly, my attitude about sobriety changed, and I considered drinking okay, and didn't care that I had lost my sobriety. I thought that it would be fun if I just kept it down to a dull roar. I thought, "I can drink. It will be okay."

And that was the beginning of 9 more years of drinking, during which time things got really bad. I lost everything and was dying. Then I quit again in October of 2000, and I have 13 years of sobriety now.

(I'm glad that you quit again much sooner than 9 years. I'm sure that your health is better for it.)

There is also another description of that relapse in the autobiography that I wrote for SOS, here: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters303.html#John_McC

Okay, so that's how I relapsed. The error was thinking that I could nibble a little, and "just have one," and that I could handle it okay. Just like you said, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of guy. I seem to have no ability to moderate. I can either totally abstain, or I can drink myself to death, but there is no inbetween. So I just don't drink at all.

So the relapse was a lesson. It was a real tough lesson, and a very expensive lesson, but it was a lesson. I learned something from it. And I haven't relapsed at the 3-year point again. Or the 10-year point, or the 13-year point. And I don't plan to relapse at the 20-year point either.

Now, I can summarize that whole learning experience in one rule:

"Just don't take that first drink, not ever, no matter what."

Follow that one rule and you don't need any others.

...Although I do also follow this rule:

"Just don't smoke that first cigarette, not ever, no matter what."

That saves me from being sick from the addiction that killed Bill Wilson.

And I also follow:

"Just don't take that first hit of dope, not ever, no matter what."

I never had a problem with drugs. I took lots of drugs — heck, I lived on a hippie commune for years — but drugs were never a life-threatening problem like alcohol and tobacco were, but I'm still being careful. I worry that, after 13 years of not taking any drugs, I have no tolerance whatsoever, and if I was to get high on pot or LSD now, I would get so high that I'd want to have a cigarette and a beer to make the room stop spinning, and that would be a disaster. So I just don't take anything like that anymore, and I don't have any problem with it.

About learning some good things at A.A. meetings, yes, that can happen. Unfortunately, you can also learn some bad things that really mess with your mind and push you to relapse and binge drinking or suicide. I now regard A.A. meetings as downright dangerous if you take the dogma seriously. You will learn so much self-contempt and self-loathing, and learn to yammer on and on about your resentments and your insanity and your wrongs. That is not healthy. Like Aldous Huxley said,

Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing.
== Aldous Huxley

About the line "Relapse is a part of recovery", I also have troubles with that line. I think it's true that lots of people in recovery do goof or backslide sometime during their recovery, but I don't think that it's necessary. In fact, relapse is often a part of the death process, not the recovery process.

People often relapse one or more times before staying sober because changing from a habitual drinker to habitually sober is a learning process. And we often learn by trial and error. Now that isn't the only way that we can learn. We can also learn by watching other people, and seeing what they do, and what happens to them.

I'm reminded of an old Zen saying:

The inferior man does not learn from his mistakes.
The average man does learn from his mistakes.
The superior man learns from other people's mistakes.

And the math is difficult. I am reminded of a line from a movie rerun that I saw recently. Some gang of killers was trying to kill a guy. He had survived several attempts on his life but was still in danger because they were still coming after him. A friend said, "You need to be right every time. They only need to be right once."

The logic is the same with recovery. You can resist temptation a hundred times, and you still only need to slip once in order to relapse. That does make it difficult. But not hopeless.

And fortunately, it does get easier as time passes. Not drinking can become just as much an ingrained habit as drinking once was.

These might be your previous letters:

Have a good day now. And a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Found in a fortune cookie: "Among the lucky, you are the chosen one".
**     I got this the day I left drug rehab, knowing most of those I was
**     in the hospital with would relapse shortly.
**        == 15 yrs Sober, Brooklyn NY. ==
**           Written in a blog, January 16th, 2008 4:26 pm

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Clint_G ]

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:10:28 -0700     (answered 3 April 2014)
From: clint g.
Subject: List of cliches


LOVE the website. I have for years.

I found a list of 400+ sayings that are common in meetings that I now am unable to locate on contents page.

Please help direct and...KEEP IT UP!!! You are doing GOoD's work!


Hello Clint,

Thanks for the compliments.

The long list of A.A. slogans is here:


And happily, the list has grown a lot. Today it is 902 items long. Enjoy.

And have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A.A. slogan: "Untreated alcoholism KILLS, with or without a drink."
**     What nonsense. How can "alcoholism" kill you if you don't drink alcohol?
**     How can you even have "alcoholism" if you don't drink alcohol?
**        Think, think, think!
**        Stop your stinkin' thinkin'.
**        Utilize, Don't Analyze.
**           ==  A.A. slogans
**     I am a real guru because I can parrot 900 slogans.
**     Ask a candid question, get a canned answer.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Scott_C ]

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:06:28 -0600 (03/28/2014 11:06:28 PM)     (answered 3 April 2014)
From: Scott C.
Subject: What?

Get real! What the hell are you talking about? Talk about a god complex, your it. I guess you just got to cut someone down so you can feel better about yourself

Hello Scott,

What am I talking about? I'm talking about how A.A. is just a rehashed old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties that does not cure any so-called "disease".

You think I have a God complex? What if I were criticizing Scientology, and saying that it does not work to "clear" your mind, and that the Scientology founder Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was a raving lunatic? Would you believe that I had a "God complex" then? Don't you agree that Scientology is a fraud and a hoax, and their "Narconon" cure for alcohol abuse and drug addiction doesn't work?

Well then, why does criticizing A.A., which also doesn't work, and whose founder William Griffith Wilson was also a raving lunatic, give me a God complex?

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, declared that A.A.
**     was a "bridge" to unquestioning faith.
**     (The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Page 53.)
**     Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, sold Scientology
**     procedures as a "bridge to total freedom".
**     Gee, in cults, everybody wants to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

March 21, 2014, Friday, my yard in Forest Grove:

Male Annas Hummingbird
Male Annas Hummingbird

Male Hummingbird
Male Annas Hummingbird

Male Dark-Eyed Junko
Male Dark-Eyed Junko
You can see that he has a jet-black head.

Male Hummingbird
Dark-Eyed Junkos
That is a female on the left, and two males on the right. She has a dark gray head, while the males have jet-black heads.

[The story of the birds continues here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#William_R ]

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2014 17:14:22 -0700     (answered 3 March 2014)
From: William R.
Subject: You really

Are a crack pot.

Sent from my iPhone

Hello William,

There's just nothing like a cogent argument, backed up by facts, evidence, and logic, is there?

(Ad Hominem attacks prove nothing, and educate no one.)

Oh well have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Some people want to know the truth, and some don't.
**     He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
**     He who has eyes to see, let him see.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#Mark_R ]

Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2014 11:53:17 -0500 (03/30/2014 09:53:17 AM)     (answered 3 April 2014)
From: Mark L R.
Subject: May God help you

I'll pray for you. AA saved my life, but you seem to be on a misguided mission to discredit it. What's your true reason for posting this garbage?

Hello Mark,

Thanks for the sentiment. Alas, there is zero evidence that A.A. saved your life. Your belief is no more evidence than someone who is convinced that God gave him a miracle and cured him of cancer or paralysis. People are easily fooled by appearances, associations, coincidences, and wishful thinking.

A.A. simply does not work as a cure for alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction, so there is no reason to believe that A.A. saved your life. It is far more likely that you quit drinking as a matter of choice. You saved your own life by choosing to quit drinking, and then really doing it. Congratulations for a job well done.

My true reason for doing this web site is to get the truth out. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I'm one of those people who believe that Jesus was right when he said, "Learn the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

I also answered that same question in a longer way just a few letters back, here:

Have a good day now, and may God help you too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith
**     does not prove anything.
**        ==  Friedrich Nietzsche

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html#George_R ]

Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 08:16:09 -0700 (PDT)     (answered 5 April 2014)
From: George R.
Subject: Your critique of Alcoholics Anonymous

Hello Orange,

I discovered your site only yesterday and have been reading it with interest: your book and the pieces on Clancy, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and others. It has been just over thirty-three years since my last drink and I have been a member of AA the whole time. I enjoy a quality of life; peace, purpose, and a degree of happiness never before known to me: and it would appear that having said all that, that I would be a staunch defender of AA, but no; much of what you say is disturbingly accurate. I have spoken at meetings throughout the years and have always maintained that I recovered from the disease of alcoholism because of the groups I've belonged to, the meetings I've attended, and the people I've known in the program: and despite some of the groups I've belonged to, the meetings I've attended, and some of the people I've met in AA.

My purpose in contacting you is to be not at all critical but to share my personal experience in recovery with you that this information might be helpful to anyone coming to AA seeking help. The program worked for me and it is all too true that there aren't may of us with long term recovery, but I believe Alcoholics Anonymous would have a much better record of recovery if it were not for the many inhibiting factors that have been introduced into it by people who are not ready . I am an alcoholic because unlike a problem drinker, when I quit drinking I didn't feel better — I felt like the world was coming to an end. Without some plan for living, a program to follow, I always went back to the bottle. Normal people drink to quench thirst: the more I drank the thirstier I became. I still can't eat just one potato chip. But my point is not that I recovered in AA but how.

First of all, I'm an atheist and do not conceal the fact. I don't believe in the invisible, angry white man in the sky. and praying is a waste of time as well. I think it was Malcolm Muggeridge who said: Prayer is the urgent request that the laws of nature be temporarily suspended on behalf of an unworthy supplicant. As you may well guess I am not always regarded with the "love and tolerance" that is "our code." But I stayed with the program, not to be driven away despite the distance some members keep from me and and the resentments they hold, although they vigorously deny the fact. I do have friends in the program, people who admire my success and wish to know more about it. When these people ask me about being an atheist I point out to them that being so doesn't mean I have no beliefs; I just don't believe in dogma (beliefs for which no evidence exists). On page 46 I found mention of the Spirit of the Universe and that became my Higher Power. I didn't care about strengthening my faith in [God] but rather to acquire faith in myself. I respect your view that AA is a religion but I offer that is was never meant to be. Religion has encroached on the program, being imported by newcomers already irreversibly indoctrinated in this nonsense from well before they had the mental acuity to doubt. The Jesuits say: Give us children in their first six years and they will be in the church for life. Religion is all about mind control, subservience, and fear, and it does inhibit the possibility of recovery to a great extent. Bring up the topic of Spirituality and the majority of members fall into the lockstep that includes church, religion, and God as a mindset. For me, Spirituality is the personality I present to the world outside: I'm friendlier.

One final note in closing. I did not recover by thoughtlessly accepting everything I heard in meetings. There is much I do not agree with about AA, not the program itself (though I do have misgivings about some of it) but with the way that it is interpreted by self styled "authorities", among these: that the steps have to be taken in the order in which they are listed in the book, that the Tenth step has to be written out every night at bedtime, that you have to find a sponsor right away. I always turn people down who ask me to sponsor them because alcoholics usually regard sponsors as authority figures. I am willing to work with a newcomer, but make it clear that their progress is up to them. As for Bill Wilson's character, or lack thereof, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous offers real hope regardless. Even Hitler made millions of people happy with his idea of the Volkswagen.

I'll send further comments by your leave and hopefully have some insights to offer that will benefit others.

George H. R.
Dallas, Texas

Hello George,

Thanks for the letters, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. And I quite agree with you that the progress you have made is your own choice, not the result of some "program", and especially not the result of prayer. I like the way that Malcolm Muggeridge put it: "Prayer is the urgent request that the laws of nature be temporarily suspended on behalf of an unworthy supplicant." Indeed. I am appalled by the people who think that God is Aladdin's Genie, and He has to grant you three wishes any time you rub his lamp. And I'm not even an atheist. I just don't believe that you can get what you want in this world by begging a ghost or demon or spirit to do magical favors for you. (The proper name for that routine is "Black Magic" or "witchcraft" or "demonology".)

Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 13:54:23 -0700 (PDT)     (answered 5 April 2014)
From: George R.
Subject: Critique of Alcoholics Anonymouns II

Hello Again,

I must say, Orange, that I'm truly impressed by the time and energy you've devoted to your book. Just finished chapter 2 and I feel like I've just been run over by a Panzer Division: all those statistics and expert testimonies by doctors are mind boggling! But what do they prove? That AA has a poor success rate? We know that and I have personally known thousands of people who drifted through the program and presumably didn't stay. I can't say what happened to them but I'm sure some of them returned, at a later time and a different group. I did. I attended my first AA meeting in April of 1966 and spent fifteen years relapsing. There may have been some members of the group I attended in Connecticut, the five in New York, and the three in California, who may have shaken their heads when I went back out. But on March 1, 1981 I called for help and have been in recovery ever since. And you are absolutely right: I did stop drinking before returning to AA but for the first time I truly wanted help and AA was there. It was then that I realized the truth; that Alcoholics Anonymous is useless when it comes to helping people stop drinking, but it does offer help to those who wish not to start again. But please be assured: I'm not arguing with you, just hoping that my experience may soften the obvious resentment you feel toward AA. I may be wrong but I can't help feeling that you must have tried the program and were grievously disappointed, and I'm afraid that you are a member of group of like-minded individuals who population is many times that of AA. The program isn't for those who need it but for those who want it.

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious movement, members are encouraged to develop their own concepts of a Higher Power. I didn't need such a power when I got back as I already had several; cops, judges, psychiatrists, doctors, staffs at the three insane asylums of which I'm an alumnus. And money! Let's not forget that one. I'd sell my children for the price of a drink when the horrors took over — and believe me, they did. And that's aside from just wanting to have lots of money so I could feel secure and buy lots of cool stuff to impress the world with how well I was doing. Whether Alcoholics Anonymous is a religion or not, there is one litmus test that applies to all: I don't believe it is. I no longer have too many opinions, everyone has them. I contemplate things that affect me and either accept or reject them, and those that I take in are my beliefs — and it is these principles that guide me. When playing showdown my beliefs trump opinions every time.

I would say, however, that comparisons with Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and Chuck Dederich are just a trifle extreme. Like hunting squirrels with a bazooka, but I do commend your restraint in not including Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Nicolai Lenin, and Augusto Pinochet.

Your friend,

Hello again, George,

Taking the last item first, alas, the comparisons are all too relevant and valid. The only difference between Chuck Dederich and Bill Wilson is that Dederich went a little further into his madness. Both claimed to have wonderful new cures for addiction that involved putting people down and using brainwashing techniques on them. Both claimed to have the only way that really works. And both were crazy. Dederich just went a little further in getting into violence and attacks on people.

The others were just increasingly extreme people who did get into murder. They crossed the line that Dederich tried to cross. (Dederich's murder attempts failed.)

And Hitler, oh yes. Remember that Dr. Frank Buchman, the theological father of Alcoholics Anonymous, was a hard-core Nazi sympathizer who went to Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies and Sieg-Heil!-ed Adolf Hitler year after year. And he hung out with Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Gestapo and the author of the Holocaust. And Buchman went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the personal guest of Heinrich Himmler, where he praised Himmler as a "wonderful lad" (to a British member of Parliament). Then Buchman came home to New York and thanked Heaven for giving us a man like Adolf Hitler.

The kicker is that while this was going on, Bill Wilson, Dr. Robert Smith, and Clarence Snyder were all enthusiastic members of Buchman's Oxford Group, and they did not quit in protest over the Nazi connection. In fact, they never even criticized Buchman for it. They just kept on recruiting new members for the Oxford Group and declaring that Frank's "spiritual program" was the cure for "the disease of alcoholism".

I've been searching for about 13 years now for one letter or page where any of them condemned Buchman for his disloyal Nazi attitudes and ways. There is nothing. Not one statement, not one quote, nothing. You know that the A.A. organization would be printing such a letter or statement widely if it existed.

The best that they have ever come up with is a report from the Gestapo on the Oxford Group. Himmler was suspicious of Buchman, so he had the Gestapo investigate him and the Oxford Group. The Gestapo report said that Buchman was not to be trusted, and the German Oxford Group members might be more loyal to Buchman than to Hitler.

That's it. That's all we get.

The bigger problem is that the 12 Steps are all just Dr. Frank Buchman's recruiting and indoctrination mind games and brainwashing techniques. They were not designed to "cure alcoholism". They were designed to create new true believer Oxford Group members.

Now, for your other statements: You said,

I may be wrong but I can't help feeling that you must have tried the program and were grievously disappointed, and I'm afraid that you are a member of group of like-minded individuals who population is many times that of AA. The program isn't for those who need it but for those who want it.

I didn't "try" the A.A. program. I signed up for an outpatient treatment program for alcoholism and was shocked to learn that "treatment" consisted of three "group therapy" sessions per week that were conducted by a crazy pedophile who declared that we must have a "Higher Power" in our recovery programs, and who then ordered us to go to at least three A.A. or N.A. meetings per week. And that was it. In the twentieth century, "treatment" of drug and alcohol problems was "Go to the meetings of an old pro-Nazi cult religion." (That is described in the introduction.)

Then you wrote: "Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious movement,.." Sorry, but it obviously, most assuredly is. Six of the 12 Steps refer to God, or "Him", or a "Higher Power" who turns out to be "Him". And you know from personal experience that many members have very low opinions of you for not believing "properly". And the whole A.A. program is based on the crazy idea that if you confess and grovel enough, God will take pity on you and save you from alcohol. That is a religion.

Yes, it's true that A.A. is there and offers moral support and companionship. The problem is, what comes with that "fellowship" is so toxic that it increases the death rate. That is why I recommend that people who want some moral support and companionship should go to any of the other recovery organizations, no matter whether it is Lifering or SOS or SMART or MM or WFS or whatever. None of them pushes a crazy magical cure for your problems. And none of them gets into self-flaggelation and confession sessions.

Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 07:47:55 -0700 (PDT)     (answered 5 February 2014)
From: George R.
Subject: Critique of Alcoholics Anonymous III

Hello Orange!

Just finished chapter three and want to start out by congratulating you on your abstinence from alcohol without AA. You say you quit on your own before and are doing it again. What happened? Sounds like somewhere along the line you experienced a little power failure. Or did you choose go hit the bottle again? If so,wouldn't that be insane? And it it wasn't insane, why are you "on the wagon" once more?

When asserting that you are not powerless over alcohol you say that deciding to drink again is My Choice. I, on the other hand, am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous — and that's my choice. You do what you do for your reasons; I do what I do for mine. I do not judge or condemn you because I know better than to attack your beliefs and am more than happy to Live and Let Live. You don't belong to AA? Fine, I couldn't care less; if you're happy then more power to you — but there seems more to it than that. I have been a member of a couple of fraternal organizations in the past, a Moose Lodge and an Eagle Arie. I don't belong to them any longer but haven't found it necessary to write a book about the things I didn't like about them.

Unfortunately, much of what you say about AA is true, in practice rather than concept. This is because the movement has been diluted by people released from treatment centers and the court systems, not low bottom drunks such as I was. It's true that the atmosphere these people enter into may be described as a cult, but that is due to the misinterpretations of the program spun by self styled gurus who have no idea what they're talking about. I'll give one example;

Many years ago I attended a Sunday morning Steps 10, 11, and 12 Meeting. One of the high profile members kept going on about the importance of doing a "written Tenth Step". When my turn came I said that I don't do that; the step actually says "continued to take personal inventory, setting right any new mistakes as we go along." But this fool kept insisting that he was right and I searched for an argument to shut him up once and for all. Finally, I was given the answer: "The other day I saw a cockroach walking across my kitchen floor; got up and killed it. Now, if I just waited until bedtime to make a list of all the cockroaches I saw, in no time at all I'd have a stack of lists a foot high and a house full of cockroaches." This was greeted by gales of laughter and a deep, abiding resentment on the part of my antagonist. From then on he devoted his life to spreading malicious gossip about me, all for nothing as he is dead and I am happy.

That's what I do: challenge those who spread the disease instead of carrying the message. I've done the steps at several groups, relating my experience in recovery and killing some "sacred cows" in the bargain. They love me but never invite me back. Of course they don't want me telling them that the steps do not have to be worked in order, even though I did just that as my approach to the Fourth Step. They don't want to hear me tell their members that I don't recommend getting a sponsor, but instead just get someone to work with them. This especially rankles when I tell them that I don't have a sponsor and haven't had one for the past 28 years; the Big Book tells us that we can learn to stand on our own two feet. They don't like it when I tell them I don't know what the hell "working the steps" means; the Twelfth Step says "practice these principles in all our affairs." I speak to literally dozens of members who claim to have the best sponsors (nobody ever brags about having the second-best anything) but don't have a clue what the principles actually are. They are content to conjure up a set of principles that sound about right. To the willing I furnish a list, a principle for each step. They are;

  • 1 Honesty
  • 2 Hope
  • 3 Action
  • 4 Courage
  • 5 Integrity
  • 6 Willingness
  • 7 Humility
  • 8 Brotherly Love
  • 9 Self Discipline
  • 10 Perseverance
  • 11 Spiritual Awareness
  • 12 Service

This often causes sponsors apoplexy as it torpedoes the claim to omniscience. The main thing wrong with sponsors is their possessive attitude with newcomers. I heard one say that he would drop any pigeon who didn't do exactly what he told him. One point in closing (another thing that most of the rank and file hate to hear) is that Steps Two and Six do not call for any work. The former merely describes the process of recovery, and number Six is a checkpoint: Am I entirely willing?

So long for now, and I do enjoy the reading.
Your Friend,

Hello again, George,

Thank you for all that you do to spread the truth. You are obviously very interested in the truth, and not at all interested in being a true believer who parrots a bunch of crazy dogma and superstitious beliefs. That is big, you know. That is very important. That will shape your whole life, and for the better, too.

Now, starting at the top: You asked about my relapse 22 years ago. Coincidentally, another fellow just asked about that experience a few letters back, because he had the same experience: Had a drink at a party after three years of perfect sobriety, and that led to a full-blown disastrous relapse. So I described the whole thing at length there.

You should also see the autobiography that I wrote for the SOS newsletter, where I also described the relapse in detail:

Now I would not describe that event as "a little power failure". It was something else, several things, really:

  1. My experiences didn't match the A.A. stereotype of "the alcoholic" at all, so I began to doubt that I really was an alcoholic. A.A. taught me that alcoholics are forever calling their sponsor and crying that they are about to relapse, and the sponsor comes over and holds the guy's hand and keeps him from drinking. I never did that. I didn't even have a sponsor. And I wasn't crying that I was about to relapse.
  2. Because I had been sober for three years, without even one little slip, I thought that I had it under control and could drink in moderation.
  3. And again, because I had such a perfect track record, I doubted that I actually was an alcoholic who couldn't control his drinking, and who couldn't quit without "Higher Power" doing it for me.
  4. After I started drinking, I liked it so much that I wanted to continue it.

That wasn't a "power failure", that was confusion about just what it means to be "an alcoholic", and what the condition does to you. And confusion about whether I could drink in moderation.

Then you said that you didn't feel the need to write a book about what is wrong with the Moose and Eagle Lodges. Ah, but those lodges don't practice coercive recruiting and deceptive recruiting, and lie to sick people and tell them that they have a cure for a fatal disease, do they? They don't use judges to sentence people to their meetings. They don't use so-called "counselors" and "therapists" to tell people that they must go to their meetings or else they will die. They don't tell sick people not to take their medications. They are not very harmful organizations that are responsible for a great number of deaths, divorces, and suicides. And they don't harbor and protect pedophiles and sexual predators.

About all of the flack that you have gotten for telling the truth at A.A. meetings: Yes, that is one of the big problems with A.A.: You can't tell the truth. That is a standard cult characteristic, you know.

Also, I notice how many of the people who hate you for telling the truth are not mentally healthy, nor are they honest. The idea that a sick alcoholic should go to people like them for moral support and counseling is crazy. No wonder A.A. has an elevated death rate.

About your list of 12 "spiritual principle" buzz-words that you associated with the 12 Steps: It is questionable whether those things are "spiritual principles". Some of them are obviously not, like "hope, action, willingness, and perseverence". They are nice-sounding words, but not "principles".

"Honesty is the best policy" is a spiritual principle. "Confess all of your sins to your sponsor" is a cult practice.

In fact, those words are so vague that I am reminded of the Nazis again. Sorry to keep coming back to that, but it is relevant. They are just an extreme example of a religion that "wasn't a religion", "just a spiritual organization". They loved to bandy about grand words like "spiritual", "loyal", "self-sacrifice", "service", and "noble". Anybody can use words like that to try to make their activities sound very good. But the Nazis totally perverted the meaning of those words.

I am reminded of a BBC television program that explored this subject. An unrepentant widow of a senior SS officer, Frau Florentine Rost von Tonnigen, talked about Heinrich Himmler's "spiritual vision" at the castle that he built with slave Jewish labor, the "Wewelsburg":

"Himmler was a man of vision and out of this vision came the Wewelsburg. The SS is the true absolute elite of all that has been. The world today considers us criminals, but there is no purer, more intense, and intellectually higher body than the SS. Thank God there are still a few German people who know something of the Wewelsburg."
The BBC TV program Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail

She actually imagined that they were a bunch of noble, spiritual people, because they jabbered high-falutin' "spiritual" language while conducting a program of mass murder. You can read some more about that here:

I found that show somewhere on the Internet and downloaded it. I don't have to URL handy, but perhaps a Google search will find it. I think that it was a Bittorrent download. I recommend it; it's informative, and it gives another view of people imagining that they are very spiritual while they do unholy things.

The problem remains that the 12 Steps are Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion recruiting and indoctrination practices, not spiritual principles. The 12 Steps teach self-doubt and self-contempt. They induce feelings of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency. That is not healthy; it is very counter-productive. And that is another reason why I have written a whole book about A.A. and what is wrong with it.

Now in the list above, you said that the Steps are associated with:

  • 1 Honesty
  • 2 Hope
  • 3 Action
  • 4 Courage
  • 5 Integrity
  • 6 Willingness
  • 7 Humility
  • 8 Brotherly Love
  • 9 Self Discipline
  • 10 Perseverance
  • 11 Spiritual Awareness
  • 12 Service

That list has very little connection to reality.

  • Step 1 does not produce "Honesty". It teaches people that they are powerless over alcohol and cannot manage their own lives. That isn't even realistic, never mind honest. The vast majority of alcoholics who successfully quit drinking do so alone, on their own, so they are not powerless, and they can learn to manage their own lives.
  • Step 2 doesn't give "Hope". Step 2 says that "we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves would restore us to sanity." That is the same old prayer delusion that you spoke about above. You are supposedly insane, but a higher power of your own choosing will restore you to sanity. Now how does an insane person pick the correct "higher power"? And who says that "Higher Power" will obey your orders and do it? What if "Higher Power" made you insane for a reason, and He still wants you to be insane?
  • Step 3 doesn't produce "Action". Step 3 says that "we made a decision" to surrender control of our wills and our lives to "God", who could be "a Group Of Drunks". That is surrender to the cult, pure and simple.
  • Step 4 doesn't produce "Courage". Step 4 makes people list all of their sins and "wrongs", and "moral shortcomings", which is great for guilt induction and inducing feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
  • Step 5 doesn't produce "Integrity". Step 5 says that you must humiliate yourself by reading your list of sins to your sponsor (who is not sworn to secrecy like a Catholic priest is).
  • Step 6 doesn't produce "Willingness". Step 6 is a do-nothing step so that there will be 12 Steps, not 11, for reasons of numerology. Step 7 alone will do the same stuff.
  • Step 7 doesn't produce "Humility". Step 7 says that you can demand a miracle from God and demand that He removes all of your defects, and God has to obey you and grant your wishes. That is delusions of grandeur, not humility.
  • Step 8 doesn't produce "Brotherly Love". Step 8 is another guilt-inducing list-making routine where you list everybody you ever hurt, offended, or pissed off.
  • Step 9 isn't about "Self Discipline". Step 9 is where the good A.A. convert must go around apologizing to everybody in the Step 8 list.
  • Step 10 is sort of about "Perseverance": It says that you must do the preceeding Steps forever. And again, it says that you will be wrong some more.
  • Step 11 does not produce "Spiritual Awareness". Step 11 is the most superstitious Step of all, where the A.A. member conducts a séance and imagines that the voices in his head are the Voice Of God. Bill Wilson didn't bother to tell us how to tell the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the demons and evil spirits that came to him during his "spook sessions".
  • Step 12 isn't about "Service", it is about recruiting new victims for the cult. Recruiting people into a cult is not doing them any favors. And Step 12 is also about supposedly getting a "religious experience", or a "spiritual experience", or an "educational experience" as a result of doing the preceding 11 steps.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You just got out of detox, and you are all cloudy-headed and
**     confused and spun-out from alcohol wrecking your brain, and
**     you just want to save your life and live, and along comes
**     this grinning con artist who says, "You tried it your way,
**     and it didn't work, so now you have to try it God's way. You
**     join our religion that isn't a religion, and believe in a God
**     who can be anything, and He will save your life and keep you
**     from drinking. It works, it really does! And remember, you
**     are not God."  That is raving insanity, worse than anything
**     that you thought while you were drinking.

[The next letter from George_R is here.]

April 2, 2014, Wednesday, my yard in Forest Grove:

Squirrel on birdfeeder
Fat-Tail the Squirrel is raiding a bird feeder.

Squirrel on birdfeeder

Notice the black dots on her belly. Those are her tits. You can see them more now because her breasts are swollen. And her belly is big, and she is ravenously hungry. Yes, she is pregnant. Very pregnant. And she is eating for three, or four, or five. Ordinarily, she would flee and climb way up a tree when I came around, but today, she just looks at me, and figures that I'm not trying to get her. She eyes me warily every so often, to make sure that I'm not hunting her, and not getting any closer, but she won't let fear of me deter her from stuffing herself with seeds.

I suspect that she is beginning to get used to being photographed. Day after day, I point that glass eye at her and make clicking noises, and it never hurts her, so she might just be getting over her fear of me. Plus, her hunger is pushing her to ignore her fear of me.

And yes, I guessed correctly (finally). Fat-Tail is the female of the pair. Well, she just sort of looked more like a female after I had looked at them for a while. And I think what I interpreted as obesity earlier was really her just fattening up in preparation for pregnancy. Now all of that fat will quickly turn into babies and milk.

Squirrel on birdfeeder

Squirrel on birdfeeder
She is eyeing me warily as she comes back for more.
She is amazingly agile for how pregnant she is.

[The story of the birds continues here.]

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 17 December 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters395.html