Letters, We Get Mail, LXXXI

Date: Wed, October 25, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Mike B."
Subject: Fwd: [12-Step_Coercion_Watch] Re: AA PAPER

Good Morning,
There has been a fairly interesting discussion going on over at the watch site, and I don't know if you follow them. Anyhow, this paper got posted as a result of it. He mentioned you in one of his previous posts, maybe thinking you to be a bit biased to post this letter to. I know you can respect that, but I also know you would find this take interesting on a personal level, so here you go.

Good to see you back on the plantation.

Take care, Mike B.

[12-Step_Coercion_Watch] Re: AA PAPER
Size: 42 k
Type: message/rfc822
From: "marcim308"

Court Mandated AA Attendance


In the late nineteen seventies the courts across the nation developed the practice of ordering persons charged and/ convicted of alcohol and drug related crimes to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and, to a lesser degree, Narcotics Anonymous. This mandated attendance was usually an adjunct to formal treatment provided by state approved treatment facilities located in the defendants home county. Today it is almost automatic to require AA attendance for all alcohol and drug related offenses, sometimes even prior to determining that the person, in fact, has an alcohol or drug problem.

The question before us now is: Just how effective is this practice and what are the effects on the person and the impact on the fellowship of Alcoholics. In order to answer this question, we need to take a look at the Fellowship of Alcoholic Anonymous.

The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in late 1935 by two men, William (Bill W) G Wilson and Dr. Robert (Dr. Bob) H Smith. Both men were, what was considered at that time to be, late stage chronic alcoholics. In late 1934, Bill W had been introduced to a fundamentalist Christian organization called the Oxford Group by an old drinking buddy, Ebby Thatcher. Bill gained his sobriety using the principles of this group. In May of 1935, Bill was in Akron Ohio, on business and experienced an almost overwhelming compulsion to drink and felt that he needed to talk to another alcoholic. By contacting an Oxford Group minister he was put in contact with Dr. Bob. They established an instant bond and a month later the fellowship was formed. The initial premise put forth by both Bill W and Dr. Bob was one "drunk helping another drunk" Both men were members of the Oxford Group and, to a degree drew on their knowledge of the organization in setting up the fellowship of Alcoholic Anonymous.

Initially Alcoholics Anonymous worked with the low bottom chronic alcoholic for whom, at that time in history, there was little hope. Most of the early members had experienced multiple failed attempts to maintain abstinence. In fact in the early years there were rules as to how sick a person had to be to qualify for membership. At one point a person was required to have at least one alcohol related hospitalization in order to qualify. Over the years the fellowship has expanded to the point were anyone with any degree of involvement with alcohol can access the program. As the third Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous states, "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking."

However, when one examines the history of Alcoholics Anonymous from inception to the present, three points are abundantly clear.

One: Above all else, Alcoholics Anonymous is a voluntary program. It simply has to be. From the book Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 5, this is made clear with the following; "Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps."

This is the meat of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. A person has to want what the program offers. They have to be willing to accept their alcohol dependency and acknowledge that they have lost control over their use of alcohol and need help. If the person is not at that point in their life, the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is going to be of little use to them. A paraphrase of the old "horse to water" adage would be; "You can force a person to attend AA but you can't make him participate." It does little good to force a person to sit in a meeting when that person pays little attention to what is said and done. Or worse, disagrees with everything said and can't wait to get a slip signed and leave. As a rule the individual sees this forced attendance as a punishment not as support or help and will develop an animosity towards AA in its entirety. Another adverse effect may well be that when a person does become willing to address their alcohol problem they may well avoid Alcoholics Anonymous due to the prior bad experiences.

Two: For multiple reasons, Alcoholics Anonymous is not for everyone. One size does not fit all. There are people who do very poorly in groups. They may have major trust issues and sharing is a large part of AA. They may have been raised to never disclose their feelings under any circumstance. There are those who reject the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy. Some people need a more cognitive approach. There are also those who do not envision themselves as being powerless. These people are not in denial. For the most part, they acknowledge that they have a significant problem with alcohol. They simply view things from a different perspective. Alcoholics Anonymous cannot and should not try to change that perspective. For what ever reason many people simply do not do well in the type of environment that Alcoholics Anonymous offers.

Three: Alcoholics Anonymous has a very religious flavor. While Alcoholics Anonymous is not, in and of its self, a religion, its roots are founded in the Christian faith. A god or a higher power of a person's own understanding is one of the key points of the program. The word God permeates the 12 step of the program and the book of Alcoholics Anonymous. While the fellowship does not demand that anyone believe in any particular thing, being or deity, some consider the pressure to conform to a specific belief system to be present. Many atheists and agnostics have successfully used the program; however, just as many people find the religiosity of the fellowship repugnant. Others find that the fellowship conflicts with their personal faiths, values and belief systems. When conflicts such as this arise very little recovery or support will happen.

While this may appear to paint a dismal picture of Alcoholics Anonymous, that is not the intent. Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent program with an excellent success rate, for those who choose it. However the success rate for coerced people is poor, with most dropping out as soon as the court mandate ends.

As noted above, the program is not for everyone and should never be coerced. Court ordered AA attendance is detrimental to AA as a fellowship because it tends to dilute the impact, and function of the individual AA group. While most court ordered people are not disruptive, they, for the most part, do not participate. An atmosphere of distrust can develop. It is not difficult to determine who is court-ordered at a meeting. Some AA members do not feel comfortable sharing when such people, those who do not want to be there, are present. This can distract from purpose of the meeting and can result in the needs of certain members not being met. This has been a concern in Alcoholic Anonymous for several years, to the point that many groups will not sign court attendance slips.

Also as stated above, many if not most court ordered persons do not gain much from forced attendance. It has been this therapist's experience that many simply go through the motions, pay lip service to the steps and try to convince their probation officers, judges and counselors that they are getting something out of it. I have observed people that I know were court ordered, setting in the back of meetings reading a newspaper through out the meetings. The only thing that this type person might get out of an AA meeting would be the socialization with others.

Lastly, the legality of court mandated Alcoholic Anonymous attendance must be examined. Does the religious base of Alcoholics Anonymous create a constitutional issue? This issue is an on-going battle across the country. To date, no precedent has been set in many states or in the federal courts with in the Ninth District and several others.. However, precedent has been set in several courts, including the Courts of Appeals in the Second and Seventh Circuit. The ruling in all cases has been that, due to the religious nature, court mandated attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous violates the Establishment Clause and therefore is unconstitutional. In all likelihood this controversy will not be settled until the issue is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

How does this affect Deferred Prosecution? This appears to be a gray area in the state of Washington. RCW 10.05 requires attendance at two "self-help support groups" per week for the duration of the deferred prosecution program. However, deferred prosecution is entirely voluntary. The individual enters into a deferred prosecution treatment program with full knowledge of the requirements of the program and the consequences of failing to meet all of the requirements. So is the person being coerced? It can be argued both ways. Regardless, mandatory AA attendance should not be part of the criteria and requirements.

What is the solution? The major problem is that, in many areas, Alcoholics Anonymous is the only self-help support group available. There are several organizations which supply secular self-help. Smart Recovery, SOS (Secular Organization for Sobriety), LSR (Life Ring Secular Recovery), Women for Sobriety, and Men for Sobriety are all self-help groups for alcohol and drug dependent people. All are self supporting through member contributions. The problem is getting these organizations established nation wide with easy access to all. The ideal solution would be having all of these organizations so that the individual could then chose what type of self-help would be best suited for that individual. This would also allow AA attendance if the person chooses to attend AA. Having several options would give the person the latitude to change groups if they determined that their first choice was not what they needed.

With the choice available, this would allow for the availability of self-help support groups in conjunction with treatment without a specific type or group being court mandated.

In my opinion, the issue of self-help group attendance is best left to the individual and his or her therapist. Not everyone needs the additional group support. Some people do well with the support received through therapy and from family and friends. Others may need more. At the present time, the emphasis in treatment is being placed on individualized treatment plans. Therapists, recognizing that one size does not fit all, are now working towards meeting the individual needs of the patient. This should also include the necessity and frequency of self-help support groups. No self-help support groups should be court mandated.


Alcoholics Anonymous 3rd Edition 1976 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, New York, NY

Alcoholic Anonymous Comes of Age 1957 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services New York, NY

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Robert Warner v Orange County Depart of Probation Docket N0. 95-7055

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Kerr v Lind Docket No. 95-1843

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1. In re the Personal Restraint Petition of Ricardo GARCIA, Petitioner. No. 44769-6-I. June 11, 2001. As Amended Oct. 22, 2001.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the letter.

Jim Shirk has written quite an apology for Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course I totally agree with his conclusion that A.A. should not be forced on anyone. But I have to disagree strongly with some of his repetitions of standard A.A. propaganda.

  1. First off, A.A. is not a voluntary program and it has never been a voluntary program. Shirk's description of early A.A. recruiting in Akron in 1935 is inaccurate — it's just another repetition of the old A.A. fairy tale.

    The truth is that A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson, was recruited for the Oxford Group cult religion without bothering to ask him whether he wanted religious conversion. This is even documented in official "Council-Approved" A.A. literature.

    The book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers describes how Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson shoved their new "treatment" on A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson, when he was in the hospital, and forced Oxford Group religious conversions on other alcoholics, no matter whether they wished to be converted or not:

    ... they thought it a good idea to have a preliminary talk with his wife. And this became part of the way things were done in the early days: Discuss it first with the wife; find out what you could; then plan your approach. It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it.
    Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83.

    Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob were such arrogant Oxford Group recruiters that they actually felt entitled to shove their Oxford Group cult religion cure on sick alcoholics regardless of the patient's wishes or beliefs — the patient didn't get any say in the matter of religious conversion.

    The Hallmark made-for-TV movie "My Name Is Bill W" glossed over the cult recruiting routine, and repeated the fairy tale about how Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob were recruiting for some new unnamed "save-the-alcoholics" organization in Akron in the spring of 1935. No, they were recruiting for the fascist Oxford Group cult, and they were using the standard heavy-handed Oxford Group recruiting techniques, too.

    Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith were convinced that the Oxford Group had the answer to alcoholism, and that is the "answer" that they were shoving on sick alcoholics, without asking the patients whether they wished to get "changed" into Oxford Group members.

    And that was nothing new. Bill Wilson's own sponsor, Ebby Thacher, was recruited for the Oxford Group in a courtroom. Judge Graves handed Ebby over to Rowland Hazard and Cebra Graves as an alternative to 6 months in jail for habitual drunkenness. That was all just standard operating procedure for the Oxford Group. Alcoholics Anonymous just continued the "tradition".

  2. The Oxford Group was not "fundamentalist Christian". Dr. Frank Buchman often used words like "Christian" to describe his cult, but that was just for appearances. Frank Buchman made up his own religion which was fascistic and occult. It was so un-Christian that the Catholic Church banned it twice.

  3. Shirk wrote:

    "Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent program with an excellent success rate, for those who choose it."

    That is Lying With Qualifiers. He might as well say, "Alcoholics Anonymous works great on those people who don't drink any alcohol."

    Then he admits that A.A. does not work at all well on people who have it shoved on them.

    However the success rate for coerced people is poor, with most dropping out as soon as the court mandate ends.

    In truth, A.A. works poorly on everybody in general. The effective A.A. success rate, above normal spontaneous remission, is zero.

  4. Shirk wrote:

    "A person has to want what the program offers."

    That is another way of saying that A.A. only works on people who have already decided to quit drinking. Then A.A. will steal the credit for the alcoholics' hard work to quit drinking and save their own lives. A.A. does not work at all on alcoholics who don't want to quit drinking. A.A. cannot make alcoholics quit drinking, nor can it save their lives.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Emotional Coercion
**  Although we may be able to behave to some extent differently than
**  we feel, any successful coercion to feel other than we actually 
**  feel — even a coercion to fit some preferred version of ourselves
**  — will keep us at a distance from our true selves.
**     —  Robert Langan in "Psychoanalysis and Buddhism", from
**   More Daily Wisdom, edited by Josh Bartok, Wisdom Publications 
**    (http://www.wisdompubs.org)

Date: Wed, October 25, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "michael g."
Subject: AA Sayings

AA Sayings

If you've been around 12 Step programs at all, you've heard at least one of these.
Here's just a SMALL list of some of the saying you'll hear around the "rooms"

  • "When you're home by yourself you're behind enemy lines."

  • "If you share your pain you cut it in half, if you don't you double it."

  • "If you don't want what we have, go back out to what you had."

  • "There's no elevator, you have to take the steps."

  • "AA is not for people who need it, it's for people who want it."

  • "Part of compliance is defiance, but you must arrive at acceptance of the disease."

  • "I'm an egomaniac with an inferiority complex."

  • "My head is like a bad neighborhood and I shouldn't go in there alone."

  • "Religion is for people who are afraid they'll go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have been there."

  • "I'm not going to give anybody free rent in my head."

  • "I was hopelessly dopeful...now I'm dopelessly hopeful."

  • "I used to be a hopeless dope fiend, now I'm a dopeless hope fiend."

  • "I need to put things in perspective because I have a disease of perception."

  • "An alcoholic is chosen to find God."

  • "The quality of your recovery is proportional to the quality of your surrender."

  • "I'm a W.C.S. person. That's Worst Case Scenario."

  • "I'm basically a negative person, that's why I'm so happy."

  • "Untreated alcoholism without the steps on a daily basis will make my past my future."

  • "Uncover...Discover...Discard."

  • "Those who relapse are attending powerlessness graduate school."

  • "This program changes the way I relate to me. That's what I'm trying to do, change the way I relate to me."

  • "If you commit suicide you're killing the wrong person."

  • "If you're not moving away from a drink you're moving closer to it."

  • "I've been beating up on myself so much I feel like hitting myself."

  • "A critic is a person who goes onto the battlefield after the battle has been fought and shoots the survivors."

  • "AA is not a program to get sober...it's a program to live your life successfully and to be happy once you get sober."

  • "I'd never trade my worst day sober for my best day drunk."

  • "Being an alcoholic does not give me the excuse to act alcoholically."

  • "I worked my using hard, so now I want to work my sobriety hard."

  • "The shortest sentence in the Big Book is, "It Works."

  • "The power behind me is greater than the problem in front of me."

  • "When you're in fear you're not in faith."

  • "A fear faced is a fear erased."

  • "Every time I draw a sober breath I'm like a fish out of water."

  • "I was a scream in search of a mouth."

  • "I didn't make it all the way to the beach to drown in the sand."

  • "Drinking gave me the illusion that I might be alive."

  • "I am one drink away from never being sober again for the rest of my life."

  • "Praying is asking God for help, meditating is listening for God's answer."

  • "The reason I'm here is because I'm not all there."

  • "Put your chip under your tongue and if it dissolves you can take another drink."

  • "My biggest problem was bottles of the two-legged variety."

  • "My basic problem is that I flee from those who want me and I pursue the rejectors."

  • "When I live in the past, I live in regret. When I live in the future, I live in fear. When I stay in the NOW, everything's always okay."

  • "If I could drink socially I'd get drunk every night."

  • "There's no speeding in the trudging zone."

  • "Having a resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die."

  • "Courage is fear in action."

  • "Had the eyes no tears, the soul would have no rainbow."

  • "God will heal your broken heart, if you will give Him all the pieces."

  • "My life hereafter is from this moment on."

  • "We are attracted to people who share in our growth and progress and lose interest in those who don't."

  • "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

  • "Self will imprisoned me far more than bars ever did."

  • "I've definitely got the "ism" in alcoholism... that's incredibly short memory."

  • "I had to learn how to float in this program because I'm a sinker."

  • On relapse: "I never did anything in moderation... except maybe the steps."

  • "Bring the body and the mind follows."

  • "It's not the load that breaks you down... it's the way you carry it."

  • "When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil."

  • "If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."

  • "Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path."

  • "Life is not so much a matter of position as of disposition."

  • "Seven days without a meeting makes one weak."

  • Regarding hanging out at bars: "If you hang out at the barbershop long enough you're bound to get a haircut."

  • On relapse: "I never did anything in moderation... especially the steps."

  • "Tomorrow's a fantasy and yesterday's gone... there's only today."

  • "Thank you, God, for the beautiful day I'm going to have if I can just get rid of my fucking attitude."

  • "We're sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good."

  • "When you've got one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow, you can only piss on today."

  • "The only way to have gratitude is to live in the now, not in the past or the future."

  • "I didn't get my life back in this program...I got my life for the first time."

  • "I never had a problem that was worse than the old solution I found for it."

  • "What other people think of you is none of your business."

  • "If it wasn't for denial my life would be shit."

  • "Change only happens when the pain of holding on is greater than the fear of letting go."

  • "An expectation is a premeditated resentment."

  • "I used to shoot up and throw up, now I suit up and show up."

  • "If you can't love everybody today, at least try not to hurt anybody."

  • "The reasonable person adapts to society. An unreasonable person adapts society."

  • "Give us the fortitude to endure the things which cannot be changed, and the courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to know one from the other."

  • "If it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter."

  • "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Hi again, Michael,

Thanks for the list. There are some new ones there that I had not heard.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Cast off the shackles of this modern oppression and
** take back what is rightfully yours, because as William
** Shakespeare never wrote, 'Life is but a bullring, and
** we are but matadors trying to dodge all the horns.'"
**   —  Matthew Clayfield

Date: Thu, October 26, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "ltcs"
Subject: Glad You are on the Internet

Hi Agent Orange,

It has dismayed me for years that AA was the only option offered to people who wanted to stop drinking. I've had years of sobriety with and without AA. I would have to say I stay sober in spite of their rigid and absurd dogma. I use the meetings strictly as a reminder that drinking is bad for me and as a way to have contact with other people in the same boat. I reject virtually everything in their literature, slogans, and advice.

To me, every single Step is offensive. As a woman who runs a highly successful business, gives to the community, is happily married, has a beautiful life, how could I ever see the logic in declaring myself powerless, insane, and incapable of managing my life?

Reading through your site, I was glad to find the links to alternatives like Rational Recovery.

I like the concept of a support group for people who've decided to quit drinking, and it's a shame that AA dominates this. In my midwest college town of 80,000 there is no other alternative like this but AA! What a shame.

Yes the meetings are a revolving door. I see people come and go like crazy, and I wonder how many of them are thinking the same things I am. It's hard to know, because anything but AA jargon and parrot-talk is discouraged from meetings.

I'll be reading through your site for a long time.

Thank you!
Sober Despite AA

Hello, Ltcs,

Thanks for the letter. And I couldn't agree more. And it's a shame that alternative meetings are so hard to find in some places. Sometimes, there is no alternative but online meetings, on the Internet.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  One reason I don't drink is that I want
**  to know when I am having a good time.
**         Nancy Astor (1879 — 1964)

Date: Thu, October 26, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Andy M."
Subject: Court-enforced AA attendance

Hello Orange,

One of the things that has most disturbed me reading letters on your site is how commonplace it now seems to be for people in the US to be forced to attend AA meetings by the courts. This prompted me to try to find out what the situation is now in the UK . It looks like there's no cause for complacency here either. I found an AA-related website part of which offered to answer journalists' questions ([email protected]) and asked them if court-ordered attendance now occurred in the UK. Here's their answer. It strikes me as somewhat uninformative, evasive and defensive:

'Many groups of AA participate in the CHIT system passed by Conference in 1987. It was a way of proving that someone had attended an AA meeting. Many courts will now defer sentence on some people if they attend AA meetings. Many people have come for this reason and stayed for the right one'.

Does this sound like the same kind of coercion you and you correspondents are talking about is already underway here? I'm glad to really not be part of AA any more (I never did subscribe to the stupid 'program') but when this nonsense is lent credence and given power over people by courts of law it is truly worrying. I would be interested if any of your UK correspondents have any better info on this.

Anyway, it continues to be an education to read your stuff alongside the online books at morerevealed and aadeprogramming. It's all helping save my sanity!

Keep up the good work,
The first sponsor does the damage,


Hi Andy,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, that sounds exactly like the kind of coercion that is happening in the USA. Courts defer people who are charged with drug- or alcohol-related crimes to "programs" that include a whole lot of required A.A. or N.A. meeting attendance. And the people have to get slips of paper signed to prove that they attended the meeting.

In addition, people who sign up for drug or alcohol "treatment programs" also find that lots of mandatory 12-Step meetings are the "treatment" there, too. And they also have to get papers signed.

People getting those slips signed is so commonplace that it happens at every meeting. The custom is that when they pass the basket around, collecting money, the coerced people also drop in their papers that they need signed. It happens all of the time. I remember meetings where every single person in the room, except for the group secretary, had a slip to get signed.

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: Thu, October 26, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "bob"
Subject: 1 year of sobriety and counting........

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. THEY WILL ALWAYS MATERIALIZE IF WE WORK FOR THEM."

pg 83-84 Big Book

these are the promises of AA if you do "the deal" this will happen for you to.

Have a nice day orange!........... I hope one day you will have the peace and serenity that I have.

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your year of sobriety.

Yes, I know about the high-falutin' Promises of Bill Wilson, and discuss them here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**         "No damn cat, no damn cradle"
**          ==  Kurt Vonnegut

Date: Fri, October 27, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Gerard O'S."
Subject: Happy Anniversary!!


I believe you pasted an anniversary a few days back. Let me know if I am wrong. I just want to drop a line to wish you a Happy Anniversary! That is a big accomplishment. Feels good doesn't it?

Hi Gerard,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, it feels great. And it's 6 1/2 years now, I'm so behind in answering email. It still feels great. I sure don't miss waking up sick and hung over. And I sure don't miss wheezing and coughing from smoking, either. There really is some truth to that old slogan about, "My worst day sober is better than my best day drinking."

I have been reading other websites like JamesG and aadeprogramming.org and I do agree with a lot of the info. I also downloaded the pdf file, "AA Timeline 2004-04-01 Public 04". I was surprised to read that Dr. Bob did not drink from 1914 until 1919.

5 years without a drink! How could he do that if there was no AA? He had already been hospitalized for his drinking, so it was definitely a problem for him. Interesting.

Very interesting. So what was he, a "dry drunk" for 5 years?
He must have been, because he wasn't "working the Steps", right?     :-)

All kidding aside, he proved that you can do it without A.A., didn't he?

Well, Happy Anniversary and have a great day!


Thanks for the good wishes, and you have a great day too.

== Orange

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

Date: Fri, October 27, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Tina"
Subject: Bait and Switch Orange Paper

Hi A.,

You put a lot of energy into your "Bait and Switch Con Game" article.

So much was out of context and I held my heart with thoughts of the alcoholic who can not get or stay sober. I'm sure you have had your share of replies in agreement and in disagreement.

Hello Tina,

Thanks for the letter. But I do not "take things out of context". I am very careful about how I quote things. We have talked about that before, here.

Yes, I'm a member of AA and I don't agree with a lot of what is said at meetings, but I do subscribe to the Big Book and other AA literature. It has worked for me after years of going in and out of AA meeting rooms. I finally went through the twelve steps as prescribed in the book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" and changes happened within me that I can not describe including not having the desire to drink for the last nine year.

Congratulations on your sobriety. You quit drinking and saved your own life. The Big Book and other ravings from Bill Wilson didn't make you quit drinking; your desire to be happy and healthy did.

My boyfriend is an alcoholic who hasn't drank since the mid-nineties and he never went to AA. He had his own personal religious experience and that works for him. Because, he's a fundamental Christian, AA may be a little too open for him as far as "God as you understand Him" is concerned.

Again, it isn't the 12 Steps or the Big Book that makes people quit drinking. Your boyfriend did it without A.A. or the Big Book or the 12 Steps. So did I.

Sometimes, I too, see the AA meetings as cultish and in some ways they can be damaging. I don't like when "they" at meetings lump us all as the same or exclude those who's thoughts are different than that particular group belief or "click". I've learned to tune out such stuff and be there for the new comer who needs support, rather than for the know-it-alls.

Good for you.

Following the directions as outlined in the Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was the only thing that worked for me. Everything else I hear at meetings I take or leave.

What worked for you was no longer putting alcohol into your mouth and swallowing it. That is the secret of success.

I haven't been to an outside AA meeting in nearly a year and just recently started with online meetings ... so I'm pretty de-programed in a sense .. but not as far as what I know made a difference in my life.

There is so much about what goes on in AA meetings that bothers me or that I see an unhealthy ... but I try to seek out and go to meetings that are in line to what is said in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous and are not into whatever fad is going on at the time. I don't like when "old-timers" rag on a new comer or exclude individual thought or get so socially political that the primary purpose is lost.

Alcoholics are not the same ... not even us who are members of AA. I wish I could express to you what has happened within my being as a result of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous ... but words just don't cut it.

I will not bore you with my long and dreary story of being a drunk, being a "revolving door" alcholic in the rooms of AA and of being a recovered alcholic today.

It just hurts me when I come across views and writings such as yours that condemn the program and principles that had literally saved my life and allowed me to at the very least rebuild the relationship with my family, especially my son.

Well, the 12 Steps are not "spiritual principles". They are the cult recruiting practices of Frank Buchman.

I remember the time after drinking heavily one night asking my teenage son, while I was hung over, if he thought I was an alcoholic. He said, "yes, mom, I think you are definitely an alcoholic". My next comment was, "Well, I'm not going back to those fu*king meetings".

I understand what you wrote and I appreciate it. If it helped you release whatever you needed to regarding your thought about the AA program of recovery, it's all good.

In the end, we all choose what works for us ... whether deemed healthy, unhealthy, right, wrong, or whatever. I just know I don't want to die of alcoholism or suicide and somehow those Twelve Steps and yes, God as I understand (and don't understand) Him seem to do for me what I am unable to do for myself.

I think you are still giving credit where it is not due. How healthy and happy would you be if you practiced the 12 Steps all of the time, and read the Big Book every day, and then drank alcohol?

What saved your life is your decision not to drink any more alcohol.

Until you made that decision, nothing worked.

After that, anything would have worked, including cult religion, eating ice cream, dancing in a ballerina's tutu, or playing tiddly-winks.

How you got to the point where you were really ready to totally quit drinking forever was by suffering through a lot of stuff, including too many hang-overs, and too many half-hearted attempts to quit drinking.

Right now, especially, it's all I have as I have made a bad business decision which will leave me totally broke and possibly homeless if I can't get any legal recourse.

Just another AA recovered alcoholic sap,


Sorry to hear about your financial difficulties, Tina, and I wish you well and hope you make it through it all sober.

And have a good day.

== Orange

[another letter from Tina]

Date: Fri, October 27, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Tina"
Subject: Still reading and have a question or two

A. Orange,

How then are you doing? Is what your doing working for you? I read your Intro, because I got curious to as to what prompted your website and campaign. Your into cleared up a lot, but then I wonder ... Okay ... what do you suggest for the alcoholic who can't get sober ... who is dying .. who is so screwed up he/she can't tell which end is up and has no mind power to stay off the sauce.

Hi again, Tina,

I am doing great. I have 6 1/2 years sober now, and it's good. But there isn't really any "what I am doing". That is, there is no "program". There is no bunch of steps to follow, or things to do.

About all I do is follow these three rules:

Just don't take that first drink, no matter what.
Just don't smoke that first cigarette, no matter what.
Just don't take that first hit of dope, no matter what.

As long as I follow those three simple rules, I don't need any program.

It also helps me a lot to watch my mind, and see what that stupid little Lizard Brain says to try to get me to indulge in something intoxicating and unhealthy. Read about the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster here.

You are asking about "the alcoholic who can't get sober ... who is dying .. who is so screwed up he/she can't tell which end is up and has no mind power to stay off the sauce."

I reject the word "can't". Substitute the words "won't", and "doesn't want to". Alcoholics are not powerless over alcohol. Some are just so stubborn that they would rather die than quit drinking alcohol.

Now a sick alcoholic may say that he wants to quit drinking, but he doesn't, really. What he wants is the pain to stop. He wants the joy of drinking, the fun of intoxication, without the pain. That is, of course, terribly unrealistic. We know that nobody gets it that way, because alcohol is a poisonous chemical.

So he will quit drinking for a few days, and then go back to it when the mood strikes him. And often as not, he will be repeating one of old Lizard Brain's lines about how it's okay and will be fun...

If someone is so screwed up that they are sick and dying then I think it's fair to hospitalize them and detox them. But that still won't necessarily make them want to quit drinking.

And neither does Alcoholics Anonymous. We both know about the revolving door on the front of the A.A. clubhouse. They come; they go; very, very few newcomers become sober old-timers. The odds of an A.A. newcomer becoming a 10-year old-timer are only 12 chances out of a thousand. And only 8 out of 1000 pick up the 11-year coin.

A.A. simply does not work to make alcoholics quit drinking.

Now what works? Well, nothing really "works" — meaning, "makes them quit drinking".

What might help?
Anything that gives alcoholics the truth about alcoholism and death.
Anything that will build up their will power, and clear up their thinking, and encourage them to see what is happening.

We have talked about "what works" elsewhere, here.

I've told people in AA meetings that AA is not the only way and perhaps something like Rational Recovery would better suit them. I then looked into Rational Recovery to find that it does a lot of raggin on the AA program. I'd still recommend it ... whatever it takes.

I'm not trying to attack you. In fact, I thought the thing regarding the misquoted or quoted error of Herbert Spencer quite interesting. I knew that others could not find that quote from any of Spencer's writings, now I know why.

You are right ... AA is a dirty little secret that recruits people to believe in a God of creation. Because I had that belief all ready .. it didn't miff me so much. And, I'm not a Christian per what Traditional Christians subscribe to. In fact, I dislike the use of the term Christian ... me and my fundamentalist boyfriend have some core differences ... but I know what offends him and just focus on what we commonly believe in a general way.

I have no problem with people believing in God. But I do object to making sick people believe that a Santa Claus will magically solve all of their problems for them. That is grossly unrealistic. Also read the file on The Heresy of the Twelve Steps for more of my objections to Bill Wilson's theology.

Your account about your fallen counsellor that prescribed the 12-steps and then was later facing sexual abuse charges and have gone back to cocaine ... it didn't surprise me. I've known a few drug/alcohol counsellors who went back out. I don't understand how one can talk about spiritual matters and are abusing children.

Me neither.

I agree that the political system, jails, courts, and treatments centers should not prescribe AA. It saved a few and embittered probably many others. The system needs to come up with something else that works for the alcoholic/addict .. or at least give them a selection of various non-drinking type programs to go to such as Rational Recovery. The system should be non-biased in such programs.


The drunk that is going to drink again is going to drink again and the one that isn't, won't. Personally I like the metaphysical, Higher Power, approach of AA ... so I guess I'm fortunate ....

... but if you have a way that works for you and you are happy ... why not emphasie your solution based upon your own personal experiences rather than just dogging AA. I think alternatives are important.

Again, I don't have "a way". The idea that you must have a "program", or "a way", to not drink any more, is one of Bill Wilson's crazier ideas.

It is so simple: Just don't drink any more alcohol. Period. End of story.

Well, guess I'll get back to reading. I actually like your site and I can't tell you why, because I obviously disagree with 95% of it.


Okay, Tina, you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**  "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**  and beg for an invisible "Higher Power",
**  like a leprechaun, or Cinderella's Fairy
**  Godmother, to solve all of your problems
**  for you and grant all of your wishes.

Date: Fri, October 27, 2006     (answered 13 April 2007)
From: "Aaron S."
Subject: hows life?

I went to your site and it was one of the most well organized argumentative papers i have ever seen. I have a couple of questions if you would get back to me. Im writing a paper for my english class and wanted to use your site as the focus.

Hello Aaron,

Well, I've been so slow in answering this letter that you have probably finished your course, but here goes anyway.

What made you decide to put so much time and effort into proving AA does not work? Did you go to AA? Why did you yourself go to treatment? Are you sober? Are you a controlled drinker, if so how much do you drink a day/month/year?

Yes, I went to A.A. Read the introduction. I voluntarily went into an outpatient "treatment program" and was shocked to see that cult religion and quackery were being sold as "treatment" for alcoholism and drug problems.

I am sober. I don't do controlled drinking. I totally abstain from alcohol.

The only problem i see with your site is you dont go into detail about your solution or how you have dealt with your drinking problem. (Keep in mind I have only visited orange-papers.info, you might discuss this in another site). I noticed the 4 alternative's to AA, but the detail was nothing like what was given to showing how AA does not work.

The organizations or methods that actually help alcoholics, like SMART and WFS (Women For Sobriety) and SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) all have their own web sites, and they publish their own books.

I am mainly writing about Alcoholics Anonymous here because it is a fraud that is hurting a lot of people. But if any of those other organizations, like SMART, WFS, or SOS, were foisting a 6 billion dollar per year fraud on the American people, then I would be writing a lot more about them, too.

Its easy to poke holes in any subject. But if there is not a better solution it doesnt matter how full of shit AA is. If you dont want judges to send people to AA, you must show a better solution. Simply saying that the same amount of people quiet drinking with or without AA is not going to get a judge to quit sending people to AA.

Actually, no, I don't have to show a better solution. That is bad logic. If someone is selling witchcraft as a cure for AIDS, I can obviously denounce and criticize him for his fraud and quackery without having my own working cure for AIDS to offer as an alternative. The same goes for Alcoholics Anonymous.

My responsibility here is to tell the truth. I don't have to also cure everybody.

But we were just talking about what works in a previous letter, here. Also see this list of "what works", here.

I do attend AA i dont want to withhold that and seem manipultive. I dont think your site should be band, and i was angry when i read your articles, on yahoo censoring your page, and aol screwing with your email. Thats idiotic. My general consensus was your paper was very thourough and had good points. I just dont agree with most of them. I go to AA because it works for me. I personaly dont care what people do to quiet/moderate their drinking. I dont want people to be miserable.

I would suggest that what works for you is not drinking alcohol. That is the key to success.

I have to say in my experiance, in Knoxville, TN. Ive yet to hear anyone tell anyone not to take medications. The response i have heard everytime (inside and outside of meetings) is talk to your doctor. That is what is in the aa book and the general talk ive heard. One thing to keep in mind is that AA is comprised of human beings. Some people are idiots, im sure someone, some where has told somebody not to take medications. But personaly i have not heard it yet. OK im done for now, and remember; "Resentment is the #1 offender!" Just messing with ya. A response would be cool, oh and i just thought, you proubly can recite the AA "big book" better than most AA's, funny stuff.

Well, I have personally seen the "no medications" instructions foisted on a friend, and so have lots of other people.

p.s. sorry if any psycos wrote ya hate mail, your opinion is just as valid, even if its wrong

Okay, Aaron, 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: Fri, April 13, 2007     (answered 14 April)
From: "deleted"
Subject: phoenix young peoples aa

hello and greetings agent orange you will have to forgive me if this email ends up being long. but i wish to come out and talk about phoenix young peoples aa namely my time in it and those running it and what is really going on with it. i won't be naming any names but i wish to get all of this off my chest in hopes that something is done.

to start off with i came into the rooms of aa back in 2000 i was a lot younger back then 18 years old and my mother told me it was aa or getting kicked out of my home. i will say that i do know i needed some help at the time not just with drinking but with drugs as well. the meeting i went to was filled with a lot of older people around 40 and up. one of the men at the meeting i went to told me his son was in a younger peoples aa group called the dr nightmare and that i should give him a call. so i gave him a call the next day and he told me about some of the young peoples meetings and how there was one of the bigger things called 'ascpaa' about to happen in another month. i didn't think about it back then but it sounded like he was trying to sell me on young peoples aa still i started going to the meetings.

the dr nightmare is a meeting that has been going on in tempe az for a number of years now. i was told it was the longest running young peoples aa meeting in the valley. it's still going on and from what i've heard it's still the same people or the same kind of people running it. i started to make friends with the guys and girls going there. at times it was a lot of fun just hanging out with them, we'd hit this coffee shop in scottsdale called jamaican blue. i want to note that now jamaican blue is a full blown bar, yet some of the so-called 'ypaa leadership' hangs out there.

it was at ascpaa and another big one called wacpaa that i started to find out more about the ypaa leadership and how things worked in the phoenix ypaa.

first and foremost it was like high school. you had to watch your back and stay on your toes and not say anything bad about the wrong people. the crew you just did not talk about at all we called the scottsdale leather jacket crew. the guys that were in it were players if you will. they loved going after girls that just came into the program, would have sex with them and then drop them when a new one came along. everyone knew what they were doing but no one would speak out about it or stop it. that's where the so called 'ypaa leaders' should have come in. the one guy that was the over-all leader just didn't do anything about it, in fact he told me to never bring it up to anyone. two of the other 'leaders' were dating and could care less. one of the other ones played poker and worked with them doing sales, when i told him about it he pulled me aside and told me that if i opened my mouth to anyone he'd make my life a living hell.

at wacpaa that year i talked to some of the young people from other states and found out more about how messed up phoenix ypaa was. they had stolen a banner from one of the other groups that year and made t-shirts of them with it to sell. the leather jacket crew went around picking up on any girl they could. thankfully the people from the other states would cut them off. but cuz of that they claimed san fran ypaa where wacpaa was that year sucked and would die. it just got worse in 2001 and 2002. i should note that some of the girls that the leather jacket crew went after were 17. as one of the 'leaders' of aa told me "this is about cars, pussy, and money after you get your first year sober." this was the same guy who told me he'd make my life hell. but he became 'buddys' with me and yes i did some of it too. i didn't think about it back then, but now i am ashamed of what i have done.

in 2003 things went more down hill as most of the guys started up an energy drink. they turned the ascpaa that year into one big ad for that drink. and where was the leadership? a few of them were having sex with newcomer girls; a few of them set up tv's to play halo for the xbox on. this drink ended up dying by the end of the year, but they had a new one up and running in 2004. in fact one of the leaders did get karma getting up to him, as he worked at a treatment place out here and they found out he was sleeping with some of the girls he was there to 'help'.

i left aa last year. i was sick inside and just didn't want to play the games anymore. they say aa is like a cult. maybe older aa, but young peoples aa out here in phoenix is more like the mob. i still have a few friends in it, most of the old leadership is gone, save for one of the guys and he just spends his time at the blue and swingers clubs. however i've heard things are still the same way they were. girls come in and if they don't sleep with any of the guys in the first few months they get ran out if you will. i hear there are groups of aa kids going back out every six months or so. some of them do die.

after reading your site i just want to know, why do we let aa do this? phoenix young peoples aa shows what most of the guys are. they are just after money and women and really don't care about anything but themselves. from the stories i've been reading, this happens all over and now thankfully i've heard newsweek is doing a story on a group that does the same things.

please do not post my email, but still after seeing what aa is like from the inside i believe it needs to be shut down.

Hello (deleted),

Thank you for the letter. It is really good for the world to learn what is going on inside the A.A. organization. Such exploitation of young people is simply unforgiveable.

Why do we the American people let it go on? Because they don't really know what is going on. Most people have just heard a few lies from the A.A. publicity machine, and think that A.A. is a great self-help group that has saved millions of alcoholics. It's all they ever heard, so it's all they know, or think they know.

People like you speaking out and telling the truth will help to counter-act that river of lies. Thank you.

And 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.

[Also see the letter from a survivor of Mike Q.'s Washington DC "Midtown Group", here.]

Date: Tue, April 3, 2007     (answered 14 April)
From: "Just Me"
Subject: I Got Out Alive

Hi Orange,

I got out alive, but just barely. I have been indoctrinated with Alcoholics Anonymous for nearly four decades.

I am staggered. I am in shock by what I let the 'AA fellowship' do to me. I have thought for some time now that AA was a cult. I thought it harmless. About 6 months ago, I realized (again) that this thing was killing me. Three months later I walked out of a meeting and said, "I'm done. Members and their shame/their slogans/their steps/their God/their authoritative sponsors/their utter abandonment/their dishonesty/ their selfishness/their denial/their program and most of all their low regard for human beings are going to kill me if I do not get out." I defected that night. I cut all ties. I don't think I'll ever regret that decision.

THIS IS NOT A HARMLESS PROGRAM THAT HELPS SOME PEOPLE. It is harmful. It is a dangerous cult. The program and its PROGRAMED members PROGRAM people. It hurts people. Some die.

I have a glimpse of the life I never had a chance to live because of my years of active involvement in AA. I feel tremendous grief.

I am working with someone experienced in cult de-programming. I will find my way through this.

I have a great deal of history and a strong voice. When I get this off of me, I will post my story and speak LOUD.


PS. Orange, thank you for this stringent on-going work. It is of highest importance. It empowers me to know there are other defectors, heretics and protesters. I have lived through 38 years of AA indoctrination and studied AA history. I can find NO FLAW on the orange-papers site. The detail and supporting evidence is impeccable. My history pre-dates Bill Wilson's death and Marty Mann's death as well. I hope my experiences and old documents will contribute this pertinent cause.

What is the average length of time that defectors stay in AA before defecting? How many leave after plus 20 years of involvement? Of those that defect, how many leave in protest of the cult and how many just leave quietly going on about their lives?

PS. Orange, It is fine to post the above message if you would like. I would like to exchange some email with you that will not be posted. Is that possible? I am not ready to go public yet. I will and it will be bold. We could discuss posting it at a later date.

Hello anon,

Congratulations on your new freedom. I'm glad you got out alive. And thanks for the compliments.

Yes, it is possible to carry on an unpublished conversation.

These questions are tougher:

  1. What is the average length of time that defectors stay in AA before defecting?

    Not very long. 95% of the newcomers are gone in a year. At least 98.8% are gone in 10 years, and 99.2% are gone in 11 years. Look at the chart of coins handed out, here.

  2. How many leave after plus 20 years of involvement?

    Apparently, most of them. Or else they die off. Again, sales of coins indicate that there is just one person out of a thousand who makes it to 20 years. —Actually, one and a fraction: 1.52. But that declines sharply. There is only 3/4 of a person (0.76) per thousand remaining at 21 years, and only one-third of a person (0.38) left at 25 years. Only 1/6 of a person (0.16) per thousand at 30 years, and much less at 31 years: 0.045 of a person. That's less than 1/20 of a person.

    Now that is just the sales of coins, and not a scientific and 100% valid way of measuring the dropout rate, but it gives us a pretty clear picture of what's happening.

  3. Of those that defect, how many leave in protest of the cult and how many just leave quietly going on about their lives?

    Alas, that is impossible to say. I've never seen any kind of study or survey that asked that.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The A.A. Plan: "Search out another alcoholic and
** try again. You are sure to find someone desperate
** enough to accept with eagerness what you offer."
** (The Big Book, page 96.)

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