Letters, We Get Mail, LXX

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 8:28 am
From: John M

Hello Orange,

Thank you so much for all your help these last 10 months. I came across your web site in desperate need of something last October. Thanks to this site I discovered James G, sf12, and an entire catalog of web sites that have given me the back ground information necessary to make an informed as well as instinctive choice on how to stay away from alcohol.

John M

Hello John,

Thank you for the letter and the thanks. I'm so glad to hear that you are benefitting from this stuff. James G will be glad to hear it too. (And I like his videos too.)

Congratulations, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have
**   is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.
**           Rabbi Harold Kushner

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 8:41 am
From: "Heather"
Subject: success

As I've gleaned from your website you probably get a fair amount of criticism, but please bear with me because I have a legitimate question.

I am familiar with the reptilian brain from Joseph Chilton Pierce's book, The Magical Child. I understand your concern with people learning to change their behavior in freedom. But what I can't quite tell from your site is do your proponents enjoy a fairly high rate of success? Bottom line, your take on things is very interesting, but I don't have a lot of time and I really need to succeed. I've heard from a lot of individuals anecdotally that AA is the only really successful program. If they're wrong, are you right?

Hopefully yours,

Hello Heather,

Thank you for a great question. The answer is very simple but difficult to take:

There is no "program" that works. None. Not A.A., not SMART, not R.R., nothing.

A.A. lies when it says that it has a great success rate, or even a good success rate, or that it is "the only really successful program."

The A.A. success rate is only equal to the success rate of other alcoholics who quit alone, on their own. In other words, A.A. has a zero percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission. A.A. just steals the credit for a few people who were going to quit drinking anyway.

SMART gets only a slight improvement on that success rate, maybe a one or two percent improvement above normal spontaneous remission.
But then again, SMART is not a program. It is more like a class or an educational project. There is no n-steps SMART program to do.

Rational Recovery is also not a program or a meeting group; it is a book and an idea of how to dispute the Addictive Voice. I do not have any numbers for the R.R. success rate, but would guess that it is similar to SMART. With both of them, it is still a matter of "It works great with the people who get the idea and quit drinking and stay quit, and not so good with the other people who don't quit drinking."

The whole idea that there could be some program that will make you quit drinking is just plain wrong. How could it? How could it control your hands and your mouth and your mind and keep you from drinking?

What the proponents of quit-drinking programs like the 12-Step program are actually saying is that they are able to exercise mind-control powers over their clients and change their clients' behavior and desires, and make them quit drinking and make them want to stay sober.

Obviously, they cannot do anything like that. They do not have any such powers or technology.

When treatment centers charge tens of thousands of dollars for a treatment program that will supposedly make people quit drinking, that is felony fraud. They are selling a hoax and a deception. It's a $6.2 billion dollar per year racket, just in the USA.

So what does work? It is individual people coming to the conclusion that they really do not want to die that way. That they don't want to suffer like that any more. And that if they drink any more alcohol — any at all — that they will suffer lots more, and it won't be any fun.

When you are convinced of that, really 100% convinced, then quitting and staying quit is easy. As long as you believe that you can nibble and just indulge a little and get away with it, quitting is extremely difficult.

When you really know that you cannot win the game, you will stop playing the game.

So how do you convince yourself of that?

Well, bitter experience is one good teacher, maybe the best teacher of all. Pain is a great teacher.

Something less drastic is trying to logic your way through it. Ask yourself questions like,

  1. "Was I happier when I wasn't smoking and drinking? Think back to your youth before you started drinking and smoking. Didn't I feel better then? Wouldn't I like to go back to feeling like that again?"

  2. "What happens when I drink? I wake up the next morning sick with a hang-over and feel like I smoked all of the cigarettes in the bar."
    "What happens when I don't drink? I wake up clear-headed, and don't feel so sick."

  3. "What happens when I drink? I drink far more than I intended to and I spend all of my money and don't feel good when it's over."
    "What happens when I don't drink? I keep my money in my wallet."

  4. And so on...

SMART teaches a technique for structuring those thoughts. Dr. Albert Ellis called it a "risk-reward ratio". Personally, I prefer the name "cost-benefit analysis", which is the name that business executives use for it. They use the technique to decide whether to follow a course of action in business. The basic idea is that you weigh the benefits of a course of action against the costs, and realistically ask whether it looks profitable.

Write down lists of all of the plusses and minuses of drinking or quitting drinking that you can think of, in this kind of format:





Wild and Crazy Parties
Feels great
Tastes good
Social scene
Relaxed and confident
It's a pain-killer
Better dancer
Doing pitchers with the guys after work is a male-bonding ritual.
You find more brotherly love in a bar on Saturday night than you do in a church on Sunday morning.
There is just nothing in this world like the warm glow of fine, smooth, 80-year-old sipping whiskey going down the back of your throat.
Drunk driving arrests aren't fun
Hung over morning afters
Got really sick after years of doing it.
Takes your $
Lose jobs
Get behind on the rent and bills
Some chicks think drunk guys stink
Short-term memory loss
Burned-out brain cells
Health problems. Eventually, very serious health problems.
Get into fights
Big legal problems — jail, prison
Nothing ever seems to work out right when I'm drinking.
Worried that it's going to kill me one of these days.
The doctor says that it's going to kill me.
Can't seem to just have a few when I want to — I end up drinking more than I intended.
Things seem to be getting worse.


No DWI's.
No jail.
Saves $
Not sick the morning after.
My head is clearer.
Don't loose jobs so fast.
Not so painful to get up in the morning.
Wife doesn't bitch at me so much.
Not so worried about dying.
I get more stuff done.
There is more to my life than just drinking.
No wild parties
No getting whacked out at concerts
No drunken orgies
No ecstatic feelings
Feel insecure in social situations.
I miss getting high

And then you balance the plusses and the minuses — you weigh one side against the other — and you ask yourself, "What do I really want?"

One thing that I notice there is that the benefits of drinking are mostly short-term and disappear just as soon as you get sober {fun, relaxed, confident, good buzz, great parties}, while the negatives from drinking are long-lasting {legal troubles, sickness, lost jobs, serious illness, liver damage, brain damage, death}.
On the other hand, the benefits of sobriety all tend to be long-term, too.
So we just have to ask ourselves, what kind of a life do we want, over the long haul?

That is called "balancing short-term pleasure against long-term benefits".

(Here is another example of a cost/benefit analyses — this one is about quitting A.A..)

And then there is something that I like to call the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. Understanding the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster is a very big thing for me, and a huge help in avoiding relapsing. Click on that link, and read that.

It seems to me like recovering from an addiction happens in two distinct phases:

  1. In phase one, you just fight to get unaddicted, to go through the pain and discomfort and disorientation of withdrawal, and to get out of the habit and lifestyle of routine consumption of something addicting.
  2. In phase two, the mind games start. That little voice in your head starts whispering,
    "Oh, it's been so long since we've had one. We've got a handle on it now. We've got it under control. Just one will be okay now."
    If you believe that addictive voice for a minute you are screwed.

Understanding that, and not getting fooled again, is extremely important for staying clean and sober over the long haul.

Quitting is one thing; staying quit is another. It's like Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times."

So please, let's not quit drinking hundreds of times. Let's do it once and make it last forever.

You might want to print out those lists of lizard-brain lines and tack them up here and there, to read now and then, and remind yourself of all of those excuses for drinking that you will invariably hear going through your head.

You might want to consider going to SMART meetings to learn some more about the techniques that they teach. Also definitely read Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. And I would also read Rational Recovery by Jack Trimpey. He says the same thing, in other words.

For that matter, take a good look at that whole "Top 10" reading list. There is a lot of good advice there.

And you might want to check out this list of alternative groups. Talking with people who are doing it other ways can help. There are both face-to-face meetings and Internet online meetings available:

Good luck. If there is anything else I can do, let me know.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The more severe the pain or illness, the more severe
**     will be the necessary changes. These may involve
**     breaking bad habits, or acquiring some new and better
**     ones.  ==  Peter McWilliams, Life 101

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 10:15 am
From: "Mike H."

I have been going to AA meetings for about 8 months. I find it odd that you would attack a group that simply tries to get and keep people sober by following 12 simple steps, and leading a life of service to others rather than service to self. You say you are just exposing the truth, but anyone can find fault in any organization, why look for fault in a group of people with nothing to gain other than sobriety for themselves by helping others who are suffering.


The first big problem I have with A.A. is that A.A. lies about its success rate. That is a very big flaw, not a minor shortcoming. And no, you cannot find the same fault in all other methods of treatment.

And those "12 simple steps" are merely the practices of a recycled old fascist cult religion, not a program for either sobriety or spirituality. That is not a good thing, and that is why I criticize it.

And foisting an old cult religion on sick people is not "helping them".

AA has nothing to gain, I have not had anyone try to convert me, or get me to do anything other than reach out to another suffering person.

Actually, A.A. has a fortune to gain, millions of dollars to gain. We were just discussing the A.A. finances a few days ago, here. Check it out.

And the A.A. profits are nothing — just chump change — compared to the profits made by the treatment centers who are selling the 12-Step quackery that A.A. promotes. It's a $6 billion per year racket. As Senator Everett Dirkson might have said, "$6 billion here, $6 billion there... You know, after a while that adds up to real money."

And as far as nobody converting you goes, it is apparently already done. You are a convinced true believer who parrots all of the correct buzz-words and catch-phrases.

I hope you find happiness with your "exposing of the truth". Even if AA has only helped one person that is one more than would have been helped without AA.

That is nonsense, and simply not true. Far, far more alcoholics recover outside of A.A. than in it. The Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of the alcoholics who successfully quit drinking did it alone, on their own. A.A. merely steals the credit for a few people who were going to quit drinking anyway.


Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  One Stepper declared, "My stability came out of trying to
**  give, not out of demanding that I receive." Serving humanity
**  is all fine and well, but what if you are humbly, lovingly,
**  spiritually giving out cups of cyanide koolaid?
**  No matter how generous and loving and unselfish you are
**  while you hand it out, it's still cyanide koolaid.

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 6:33 pm
From: "Denise B."
Subject: AA Chip Ritual

Hey Orange:

I've just read your discussion on AA chips. I believe that the chip system is one of the more harmful practices in AA. As your numbers reveal, less chips are given out for longer increments of sobriety which means most people don't stay continuously sober in AA, particularly during what is called 'early recovery'. For most, it is a particularly challenging time, both physically and emotionally, which leaves people vulnerable to drinking despite their best intentions. Giving chips to these people is risky and merely a set up for increased vulnerability.

The troublesome part of this entire ritual is the person who claims a chip and subsequently drinks. Having previously announced their sobriety.... what happens now? They may keep their failure private and ignore the whole chip thing, leaving them suspect! They may not return at all out of fear, guilt and humiliation. They can announce publically their failure and show their resolve to start anew by collecting another chip, but this usually elicits various discussions about failing to work a good program... more guilt!

Like most of AA, the chip ritual is a set up for humiliation and guilt. It does the new comer little good, it is merely an advertisement, a false one, that the AA program works.


Hi Denise,

Thanks for the letter. You make a whole bunch of good points there.

About the only thing that you didn't mention is how the coins (chips, medallions) are also a status thing for the oldtimers. Some people wear their coins like badges of rank, and fondle them during meetings.

It is even more obvious in Narcotics Anonymous, where people make chains out of the keytags, and even go to meetings with all of their keytags hanging off of their belt or off of a necklace. The guy with the longest chain wins, of course.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Only two things are infinite, the universe and
** human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
**     == Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 6:50 pm
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: Cooperation Is What Helps!!!

Hi Again, Orange!

Since those with chronically manic personalities have booze and/or dope problems, I'm now reading Treating Substance Abuse, by Frederick Rotgers, John Morgenstern, and Scott T. Walters. It has quite a bit to say about how the idea that alcoholism is the sort of disease that makes its sufferers "powerless," is gradually being disproved. This book has two chapters on the effects that both family members and friends, employers, etc., could have on pressuring alcoholics to get sober, "Theoretical Bases of Family Approaches," and, "Family Therapy Techniques." These techniques are called "interventions," but most of them are more subtle than what most people think of as "interventions." In essence, during their normal lives rather than a special organized intervention session, all are supposed to pressure the alcoholics to go into treatment, in a way that's both assertive and compassionate. This book says:

"Although the traditional perspective of Al-Anon emphasizes the inability of families to influence the alcoholic, research provides a different perspective."

"Although the problem of substance abuse exists within the family, the solution from [the traditional] perspective is for each family member to recognize that he or she has a disease, to detach from the substance user, and to engage in his or her own program of recovery."

"It is likely that many, if not most, substance users, seek treatment in response to some form of external pressure, as exerted by a spouse, other family members, a physician, the legal system, and so forth."

"Wives often withdraw from their drinking husbands because they believe withdrawal will encourage their husbands' abstinence, but empirical studies show that the opposite may be true. Research by Moos, Finney, and Cronkite (1990) and, earlier, by Orford et al. (1975) found that avoidance and withdrawal behaviors led to poorer drinking outcomes, while assertive and engaged spouse coping styles correlated with reductions in the male spouse's drinking. Thus, family treatment programs should perhaps emphasize assertive but supportive communication to address concerns about the drinking, rather than withdrawal." This "avoidance and withdrawal" that's supposed to be therapeutic, must be what Al-Anon calls "detaching with love." And, of course, if they don't "detach with love," then that would seem to be a symptom of their disease of codependency. They'd seem to want to control the alcoholics, punish them, rescue them, act melodramatic or poignantly toward them, play the helpless and/or victim role, etc.

I've added those quotes to my website, since this looks to me like the Twelve-Step groups wanted to look at the question of personal responsibility, just as Schopenhauer and all those Wagnerian Germans who followed him. They have here, "the world as will and representation." Addiction, in general, is treated as if it's basically as uncontrollable as is the supposedly ineradicable aggression that the Krauts like to talk about. Therefore, the family members who are affected by it, are supposed to represent their ordeals to themselves as innocuously as possible, the sort of mental gymnastics that currently are called "cognitive therapy." The ideal would be for them to serenely accept what seems ineradicable, what mere mortals are powerless over, etc. If the victims don't try to do this, then that would seem to be their ignominious SELF-WILLS at work, desires to: control the alcoholics, punish them, rescue them... And this is the world as will and representation, not just trying to stop overreactions.

In that same book I found someone's proposed symptomatology of codependence, followed by a statement that said that no symptomatology on codependence has ever been found to hold water. I added that to my webpage that starts out my description of my encounter with the idea of codepedence, at
The impression that I get from the recent research that this book describes, is that these traditional beliefs were based on a desire to believe in Wagnerian absolutes of powerlessness over one's own destructive tendencies, serene acceptance of others' destructive tendencies, and treating those who don't have this serene acceptance as pathetic mollycoddles.

Probably a lot of addicts could have gotten a lot more help, if it weren't for this basically fascist worldview!


(Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk.)

Hi again, Sharen,

Thanks for the input. I wonder just how many families Al-Anon has messed up. It must be a lot.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Men and nations behave wisely once they
**   have exhausted all the other alternatives."
**        —  Abba Eban (1915-2002)

Date: Wed, September 6, 2006 10:31 pm
From: "Guy S."
Subject: The opinions expressed on your website

I am not agreeing or disagreeing with you and your views of AA. I am a member. I am also a rational, somewhat intelligent, interested in your opinions individual. I just do not see the cult ideology you see in AA. I think of it as a way that works. What is an alternate solution?

Hi Guy,

Thanks for the letter.

A.A. is not "a solution", so it makes no sense to talk about "an alternate solution".

You may think of A.A. as "a way that works", but it doesn't work.

I have tried many just as I am sure you try several solutions to a problem before finding one that works. There is no reason to vilify something that has brought so much love back to the lives of a group of people who felt empty and alone.

Again, you are assuming facts not in evidence. You are reciting a fairy tale.

What is the solution? I know you can diagnose a problem.

What is the problem? If you mean drinking too much alcohol, the solution is to quit drinking so much alcohol.

Cult religion does not help with that problem.

But a problem without a solution is only what it is, a problem.

That is more nonsense.

Where does all this anger come from?

It is a despicable crime to lie to sick people about what medicine or treatment might cure them. To foist completely ineffective quackery on sick people and yammer about how it works great and "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail..." is inexcusable. It is really inexcusable when you have years of experience in seeing the program fail again and again.

I find AA teaches us to have compassion and to care about others in a way I did not know possible before.

Then why don't you honestly tell them about the real A.A. success rate, if you love them so much?

"What is the actual A.A. success rate?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many finally pick up a 5-year coin?
Ten years? Twenty years?"

Why don't you recite those facts to the newcomers at the start of each meeting, instead of Bill Wilson's lie:
"RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..."?

Why don't you tell the truth to the newcomers, if you love them so much and feel so much compassion for them?

I am not brainwashed. You put so much energy into your hatred of a thing you say you are not even a part of. It is not fair to hate something you do not even believe exists.

That is gibberish. Of course I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous exists. It is a deceptive cult religion that exploits alcoholics.

IF it does not exist, if it does not do what it promises, then leave it alone.

No, I am not going to leave lying quacks alone. I am going to tell the truth.

Allow the program to help who care to have it help them.

The program does not help people. It hurts them. When A.A. was put to the test, Alcoholics Anonymous was actually shown to cause:

All of those facts were revealed by carefully controlled medical tests. The last test was even done by a leader of Alcoholics Anonymous. He tried for many years to prove that A.A. works, and he accidentally proved that A.A. does not work; it just raises the death rate of alcoholics. Check out those links.

I believe you are reading way too much into a fellowship of men and women who want to help each other.

Um no, I am just looking at the real facts, like the A.A. failure rate, and the A.A. death rate.

Maybe you are in denial . . .

No, it's you who isn't looking at the actual facts.

I wish you and your team the best. Hope you find all the love you need by attacking the sources of others.


Guy S.

I do not "find love by attacking the sources of others". (That isn't even good English.) I am just telling the truth about the recovery hoax because somebody has to.

Have a good day.

== Orange

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

Date: Wed, September 6, 2006 11:05 pm
From: NEK
Subject: Alcoholism

I have just read your article on the secrets of AA. I am impressed with your research. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who went to my first treatment facility at age 15. My drinking was that out of control. I will not go into my life story, you probably don't care. But you hit the nail on the head, you get sober when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I've been there, got better, back and forth.

Hello, NEK,

Congratulations on your sobriety.

AA is not a cult. I have a life, thanks to the spiritual principles the 12 steps have given me, but AA is not my life.

Actually, yes, A.A. is a cult. The "12 Spiritual principles" are really just a repetition of the cult practices of the Oxford Group cult religion.

Alcoholism and drug addiction have been proven to be a disease.

No way, shape, or form has alcoholism been "proven" to be a disease. Where are you getting that?
Look here for a discussion of two A.A. front groups writing the definition of alcoholism for the AMA.

Where have you been? Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from this disease?

It is not a disease. It is behavior — the habitual consumption of too much alcohol.

I hope you give me the same respect by reading this email as I did you reading this article. I once believed the statistics you have put out there,,,and it kept me sick.

What is that supposed to mean? What statistics, and how did they keep you sick? When was this? I want to hear all of the details.

Realize you have people's lives in your hands before posting an article such as this.

That is the typical Stepper tactic of claiming that it is irresponsible to tell alcoholics the truth, because those poor feeble-minded old alcoholics just can't handle the truth.

Some people die from this disease so some of us can make it.

That is some of the absolute worst cult propaganda that A.A. puts out. Do you honestly really believe that some other alcoholic has to die so that you can enjoy sobriety? Please explain how that works.

Yes, alcohol and drugs kill. That is not by the hands of AA.

That is not what the A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant found. He found that A.A. did raise the death rate of alcoholics. A.A. had the highest death rate of any kind of treatment program that he studied.

Those are people who are insane, meaning they had a solution to their problem and walked away from it, or they repeated the same mistake expecting different results. And as many people who don't make it, it is sad. I hope they don't read this article. They could find no hope, and die.

You are doing it again: "Don't tell the truth about A.A. and alcoholism. The retards can't handle the truth."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
** guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
** also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
** having any medical education or training.  They have never
** gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
** residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
** life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
** is what you call quackery.

The next letter from NEK is here.

Date: Thu, September 7, 2006 1:21 pm
From: "John M."
Subject: problems with statistics

Not that there is anyway that you could ever come up with accurate statistics about the actual sobriety rates but there are some obvious problems with medallion counting; I can't offer any better way of figuring out A.A.'s actual success rate or ways of avoiding the medallion counting problems but figured that I would list some of the more obvious reasons that this is not necessarily accurate;

1) People die! this is the only problem that is in A.A.s favor, less people have long term sobriety since people often join A.A. later in life, often in ill health so the chances of them collecting 10, 20 year chips etc.. drop off at the same rate as they die off.

2) People lie! I know way too many people who have relapsed but not told A.A. since the official stance of A.A. is that if you relapse, even for one day, nothing that you did prior to this counts. And if I know people who have told me that they have relapsed and not told A.A. then there must be lots more that tell no one.

3) People have spontaneous remission! from the cult of A.A.! I have been told by people that they quit going for one reason or another and realized that it made no difference in their ability to stay sober and so reassessed their prior beliefs.

4) People attend A.A. for a year or two and really don't believe in it but want to get some time under their belts, they collect a few chips then start going less and less often eventually quitting entirely but still staying sober (A.A. would probably try to claim both number 3 and 4 as success rates, but not following the program, not going to meetings etc. means the person is no longer in A.A. which the A.A. people would insist if these same people relapsed)

5) People are sentenced to A.A. by the court and collect chips during the period of time that they have to attend and then quit going; this is especially sad in that the courts routinely send anyone with a DUI to A.A. one drunk driving incident does not make you an alcoholic! Even if the court ordered person is an alcoholic they may stay sober on there own after leaving A.A.

6) People relapse! a lot! even if someone relapses one day then they are back to the newcomer chip; so you end up with the same people collecting chips over and over for the same time periods. A.A. considers this to be a failure, personally I think that if someone relapses and uses the lizard brain model you describe they can learn from their mistakes to avoid repeating them; A.A. just dismisses these people as being constitutionally incapable of telling the truth or as people who just didn't do the program the way they told them to do it.

By the way welcome back. I have totally quit attending A.A. now and am fine.

Again thank you for your website as I believe that it helped me immensely to clarify my own thinking and the inherent dangers of A.A. even as a social outlet.

John M.

Hi John,

Thanks for the letter and thanks for the thanks. And congratulations on your new freedom.

You are doing some clear and cogent thinking yourself there.
I can't argue with a single one of those points. They are all right on.

The only comment I can make is that while using the sales figures for medallions does not provide a very accurate way to measure the A.A. attrition rate, it still does give a reasonably clear picture of immense decline in membership over the years.

I mean, only 12 out of a thousand newcomers make it to 10 years?
Even if that number were off by 100%, 24 successes out of a thousand would still be a disaster.
Even 36 successes out of a thousand would still be a disaster.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Decartes' famous line is, of course, "I think, therefore I am."
**  Only a rather foolish young man who was putting on airs of being an
**  intellectual could have written such high-falutin' drivel. A wiser,
**  older, man would have written, "I ache, therefore I exist."

Date: Fri, September 8, 2006 2:54 pm
From: "Steven G."
Subject: Enjoy that anger buddy

Did someone from a 12 step program hurt you?

Might want to reconsider using James Frey as a notable source.

Enjoy that hate filled day of yours

This doesn't even really warrant a response, so I guess I won't.

Date: Sun, September 10, 2006 2:07 pm
From: "Tim"
Subject: I'm quite interested

I must say I have been absorbed in your material for most of the day today. I have read your backstory about the terrible person you had as a counselor and fully understand how off-putting that experience must have been. I'm sure it was very satisfying to have your initial misgivings affirmed by his subsequent arrest and incarceration.

Hi Tim,

Actually, I was more surprised than anything else, and had to ask around to get verification, because I found it so unbelievable. I mean, the guy gave me the creeps and I didn't like his style, but I never dreamed that he was like that.

I know a lot of awful people in AA. I know a lot of awful people in the world also. I know Bill Wilson was a notorious womanizer and had many defects of character. I have no desire to change your mind nor to have my own mind changed, but as you have taken so much time and effort to share your position I have a couple of questions.

First, I presume you spontaneously recovered from alcoholism? I presume you consider yourself to be a former alcoholic as you had physical withdrawal symptoms when you stopped. I think that's wonderful, if so. What advice would you give to a person who had a similar experience and wanted to stop using drugs and alcohol but found it to be difficult or impossible on their own?

Yes, I guess "spontaneous remission" would be the proper term, although those words seem so flat. They do not begin to indicate the pain and suffering that leads to finally quitting.

I answered the "how to quit" question very recently, just a few letters ago, so let me just point you to that answer: What works?

Second, you seem to say that AA is fine if you want to join a religion, specifically a prostelyzing cult, but that you cite many studies saying that AA is even worse than no treatment in curing chronic alcohol use. The core of your objection (ignoring the ad-hominem attacks against various AA illuminaries) seems to be that AA is a sham, a religion in the guise of a treatment program. This is fascinating to me. I have in many instances felt the same way about it. I am curious. If AA were to repackage itself, as a religion which required abstinence from alcohol and drugs instead of the other way around, would you still object?

Um, no, I don't think that A.A. is an okay cult religion. I think it does a lot of harm to people, what with all of the guilt induction and confession sessions and crazy dogma and misinformation and self-denigration. I simply recognize people's right to religious freedom, and the law of the land says that people are free to join any religion that they wish to.

As far as repackaging A.A. goes, it has already been done but never caught on. There has been at least one, maybe two, obscure 12-Step religions that openly declared themselves to be A.A. as a religion — something like "The Church of 12-Step Recovery". I still think that it's going to be a harmful cult.

Thank you for taking the time to assemble such a well-documented body of fascinating material.


You are welcome Tim, and thanks for the thanks.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Treatment centers based on Alcoholics Anonymous concepts
** routinely advised their patients to find a "higher power"
** or take a "moral inventory", untroubled by the contradiction
** between giving such advice and providing insurance-funded
** treatment for medical diseases.

Date: Fri, September 8, 2006 10:46 am
From: "Dana S."
Subject: Re: R U still out there?

I have been reading a lot of your writings and am wondering if you are still sober and leading a "normal" life.

Dana S.

Hi Dana,

Yes, I am just fine, and still sober. I have simply been doing other things for a month, and getting behind on answering email. See the top of the page
for a description.

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

Date: Mon, September 11, 2006 10:17 am
From: "Dana A."
Subject: RE: R U still out there?

Well I feel better knowing that I am not the only one who does not believe all he reads in the Big Book.

Every time I hear an "Old Timer" says: "That if is in the Big Book, it's the truth." Well I am a graduate engineer who likes to think outside the box.

I have been an engineer for over 30 years and just have a problem with being told that this or that is true.

I did read that a person will usually quit on his own (if he/she don't die first) when he is in his 50's or so. Well I did quit at age 57 (I'm 60 now.) AA was there at a time when I needed to get it together. But, I got sober and didn't get a lobotomy. I don't do cults, but it does give me a place to hear what others are doing. I do a BB meeting once a week and interject what I have been reading on your site. I just love the eyebrows it raises. But what can the group do, throw me out. The rules say all you need for membership is a desire to stop drinking. When I give names and dates, it just blows people away. In Bill's Story, the line "Twenty-two, and a veteran of foreign wars,....." just pisses me off. I am a Vietnam-era veteran. Sitting around in England getting drunk for a year does not make you a veteran of foreign wars.

I tried the Jack Trimpey (he was a member of AA too) way after AA "failed" but then Jack started getting greedy and closed down all the meeting places and demanded that we all give him our money for his books, tapes, disks, etc. His "Small Book" (Ration Recovery) was a good read, but I didn't make it to sobriety that time.

I also read your Chip story attached to this e-mail. I don't think that was that most scientific thing I have seen. The main reason is that the people with 20+ years start dying off and stop getting chips.

I have my own chip thing going too, I take the brass/bronze chip, remove the lacquer & black stain and then I polish them to a mirror finish. I have given out 221 chips to both "newbie's" and some oldies. I do keep a tally of the years they all have and that comes to 1458 years. Of the 221, 16 of them have gone back out.

That give me a 92.8% average. That's a better average than the "rehabs" have. Granted, this is not a scientific study and I have only been doing this for about three years. I just feel that I am a pretty good judge of character. There sober time range from 6 months to 36 years.

Just wish I had more time to study the history of AA like you have, but whatever, I know that I can, not drink today (note the placement of the comma?

Dana S. in Maryland

Hi again, Dana,

It's good to hear from you. Congratulations again on your sobriety.

About the statistics of chips (coins, medallions, whichever name somebody likes):
I know that they don't give accurate numbers for the A.A. dropout rate, just a general indication of what is happening.

But I know that we can't ascribe the attrition to just death, or else A.A. would have about the highest death rate of anything in the country:
95% dead in a year?
99% dead in 11 years?
99.9% dead in 21 years?

Ouch! Get me out of here! I'd be safer in Iraq!

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Oh, and I agree that you must be a good judge of character. You are successfully cherry-picking those people who will stay sober, and giving them a coin. That's a nice thing to do, but it doesn't even hint at what is really keeping them sober.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Ask not what your country can do for you,
**   But what your government can do to you.

Date: Sun, September 10, 2006 10:32 pm
From: "Ian W."
Subject: Fw: London, Ontario

Hi there. You mentioned something about your parents being from London, Ontario. London is where I have been living sober for over 23 years now.

I have enjoyed your site. It is always good to hear viewpoints from people on both sides of a debate. You do make some valid points.

I attended my first AA meeting over 23 years ago and have not touched a drop of alcohol since. I don't see myself as a fanatic or cult member of any sort. People that know me would say that I am a well-balanced, dependable, reliable, nice guy. I go to my friendly neighbourhood AA meeting once a week and I feel it helps make this staying sober a whole lot easier.

I feel lucky that I was never recruited into a treatment centre for a 28 day stay. I reaped the benefits of being encouraged to stay sober by good people (free of charge,and no expense to the taxpayer). I was also fortunate to steer clear of the fanatics, and find a reasonable healthy circle of new friends at my AA meetings. I really don't think I could have succeeded without them.

So, you may have to alter your AA success rate statistic at least a tiny fraction.


Hello Ian,

Thank you for the letter, and congratulations on your sobriety.

Alas, I can't agree about the cause of your sobriety. It is really easy to assume a cause and effect relationship where none actually exists. The situation is even more difficult when you are involved with a group of people who want to convince you that you are staying sober because of the group.

It is all fine and well that you enjoy your circle of friends, but the cause of your sobriety is probably something else, like that you got really sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decided that you didn't want to die that way, so you resolved to quit drinking and go to some A.A. meetings. (And then the people at the meetings started "educating" you and making you see things their way.)

The only reliable way to determine if A.A. really makes people quit drinking and stay sober is to do a controlled test where you take a bunch of alcoholics and randomly divide them into two groups, and then send one group to A.A., and send the other group home, free to drink all they want.

Check up on them months or years later to see how they are doing. If A.A. actually worked, the group that goes to A.A. should be drinking less than the other group that gets no "help" or "treatment".

That test has been done, repeatedly, and the result was that A.A. didn't work at all. In fact, it usually made the problem worse.

Alcoholics Anonymous was actually shown to cause:

All of those facts were revealed by carefully controlled medical tests.
The last test was done by a doctor who is on the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous [World] Services, Inc., and who loves A.A. and was trying hard to prove that it works.
Check out those links.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** 'If merely "feeling good" could decide, drunkenness
** would be the supremely valid human experience.'
** William James (1842—1910), U.S. psychologist,
** philosopher, in "The Varieties Of Religious
** Experience", lecture 1, "Religion and Neurology" (1902)

Date: Thu, September 14, 2006 11:44 pm
From: "Ian W."
Subject: Careful

You are letting way to many clues about your identity and whereabouts out! If I could figure it out so easily some crazy may be able to as well. Just a heads up.

Take care,

Hi again, Ian,

Sooner or later I will drop the anonymity, so it doesn't really matter.

Have a good day.

== 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.

Date: Mon, September 11, 2006 11:34 am
From: "Cliff Y."
Subject: Bicycle Riding....

Hey, Orange! Bet you're surprised I still read your web site... I am certainly glad you are on the Internet and you've stayed back on. While I am very sorry about your friend; I am glad to see you are doing good and out riding.

Hello again, Cliff,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. Just to clarify: I was not riding; I was on foot, doing stuff to help the riders.

My friend had almost talked me into getting a bicycle and becoming a rider. It would certainly be a much freer and more mobile lifestyle.
I was just about convinced to get a bike when he was killed.
And then, it seems like just about every time I start thinking about it again, I turn on the evening news and another bicycle rider was killed. They are really having a bad time of it this year.

I'm still thinking about it.

Since my letter a few months ago; I have read almost all of your site often. I have paid particular attention to your personal story. Whether or not I agree with everything you say; I now feel you are real. You have done a LOT of work and research. Your site can be a valuable forum for alternate views. You have indeed brought out things which have happened... that should have never happened concerning AAWS.

Your effort was even cited on Dick B's site which blew me away! Most importantly; You talk about the many avenues for people to get sober other than AA. I neglected to say before that I have always believed there are indeed many ways to get and stay sober.

Your "blog" of 09/01/06 touched me and prompted me to write this... Many good wishes to you, Orange!

Cliff Y.

Thanks for the good wishes, and the same to you.

Ah, so Dick B. links to me, huh? Cool. I link to him, too. The thing I like about Dick B. is just that he tells the truth. You can trust his historical research. (Dick B. also sent me a bunch of his books, some of which I still have to read. Thank you, Dick.)

We agree to disagree about how holy the Oxford Group was. He views the events in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 as a gift from God. I could easily make a Hollywood horror movie out of it where the Devil pops up out of the ground in Akron and taps Bill Wilson on the shoulder and whispers in his ear, "How would you like to start a new church, just for alcoholics, and you can be the leader of it?"

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "George, George! Osama bin Laden is going to hijack jet
**  airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center!"
**  "Ho hum. I think I'll go vacation in Texas and ride my bicycle."
**  "George, George! Hurricane Katrina is going to flood New Orleans!"
**  "Ho hum. I think I'll go vacation in Arizona and go to a
**  birthday party and pretend to play the guitar."
**  "George, George! Your huge deficits are threatening
**  to crash the US dollar and destroy the economy and
**  bring on a world-wide depression."
**  "Ho hum. I think I'll give the oil companies another
**  tax cut and then go ride my bicycle some more."

Date: Mon, September 11, 2006 11:43 am
From: Mark
Subject: Powerless.....

Hi Agent !

Wow ! Have been reading material on your site for about a week now. Yeah, I'm a cult member and will be celebrating my twentyfirst year of sobriety on September 15th.

Actually, I used to hate AA. The thought of going to meetings all the time and then going out for coffee after the meeting was too much ! And then on a big weekend you might even go out of town for a meeting and then go for coffee !

I by the way, am NOT powerless over alcohol ! In fact, I do not have an alcohol problem since I do not drink. When speaking at a meeting, making that statement is akin to holding up a cross to a room full of vampires ! I once was powerless over alcohol, but only when actually drinking it. I found that once I started I did not seem to be able to stop, until I passed out or was arrested. In fact, the first step says it all:

Hi Mark,

Thank you for the letter.

I agree totally. I am only powerless after alcohol after I get a six-pack or two in me. Then the odds of me drinking moderately are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery.

"We (plural) admitted we were (plural,past tense) powerless over alcohol..." If you transpose the sentance to singular it would read as follows, "I (singular) admitted I was (singular, past tense) powerless over alcohol." End of argument, for those who can read anyway. :)

Alas, Bill Wilson also wrote in the Big Book that you just could not avoid relapsing and drinking now and then — that you would suffer from strange "mental blank spots" where you would think some stupid thought and then you would be drunk before you knew what was happening. (That's why you have to "surrender to God", and hope that God will save you.) Look here.

I support your right to stay sober any way you choose ! Congratulations on your sobriety and I wish you continued success, happiness, harmony and prosperity.

Mark, AA member since 9/15/85.

Thanks for the good wishes, and you be happy and healthy too.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   The Department of Homeland Security, trying to figure
**   out what the heck they are supposed to be doing:
**   "We recognized upfront that to gain synergy among the
**   various stakeholders and jurisdictions involved in HLS
**   planning, it was key to have agreed upon Guiding
**   Principles to guide the overall framework."

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Last updated 29 July 2014.
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