Letters, We Get Mail, XCIV

Two letters that came in rapid succession before I got around to answering the first one:

Date: Thu, September 18, 2008 8:17 am     (answered 3 October.)
From: "Bank Draft"
Subject: Question about Orange Papers


Your attack on AA seems rather oblique in places, especially the NAZI tie-in. I'm wondering if you are Jewish?

Bill D.

Date: Mon, September 22, 2008 6:49 am
From: "Bank Draft"
Subject: And you're not a kike?

  • — Ask Adolf Hitler. He knew how much bombing, shelling, and shooting it took to make a nation surrender.
  • — Ask Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi "doctor" at the Auschwitz concentration camp. He knew precisely how much torture was required to make his Jewish prisoners totally surrender.
  • — Ask the Romans who subjugated the Jews in the time of Christ. They found that nothing less than wholesale brutality and terrorism, mass killings, and crucifixions would make the Jews surrender. But that was okay. Crosses were cheap, and even reusable.

And you're not a kike? You fucks have been at the bottom of everything vile since the dawn of man. The entire work now becomes transparent.

Hello Bill,

No, I'm not Jewish. Not even a little bit. I have nothing against Jews, but I just don't have any Jewish ancestry. I have lots of other stuff, but no Jewish ancestors.

Do you imagine that someone has to be Jewish to object to what the Nazis did to the Jews during World War Two?

Do you imagine that someone has to be Jewish to object to fascism and lying propaganda that leads to wars and mass murder?

And do you imagine that someone has to be Jewish in order to object to quack medicine and cult religion being foisted on sick alcoholics?

The big question in my mind is, "Are you just an unusual character, or is there a growing anti-Semitic contingent in Alcoholics Anonymous that is returning to the original A.A. philosophy — the pro-Nazi theology of Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman?"

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."
**     == Adolf Hitler

Date: Sat, September 13, 2008 6:59 pm     (answered 3 October.)
From: "allan o."
Subject: thank you


I am a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Northern Florida, specializing in mood disorders and substance abuse. I myself have been sober for a long time, coming up on 23 years this November. Having started to write a book awhile ago on addiction/sobriety, I stumbled across your website and began reading.

What an amazing site! Your exhaustive research is staggering and noble. You've provided me an education of various aspects of AA that I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was unaware of. I did not know the depths of Wilson's sickness nor the sheer quantity of horseshit written into the Big Book. It's funny/scary how many things can fly in front of your face unnoticed when you're not paying attention.

Where are you in terms of writing your paper book?

As for my personal saga, I was a teenage screw-up, hellbent on oblivion with not much interest in lifespan. After getting tossed into rehab by my parents in 1985 (shortly before AA became a household word — at least in the northeast), I became a true believer. I was so relieved to be told that I could end my misery AND live, I might've joined a water ballet troupe if they told me to. The solution, they told me, was a lifetime of AA meetings to help me continually recover from a disease that I would never fully recover from. AA would help me get a daily reprieve from a disease that I wasn't responsible for until I admitted I had it and couldn't hope to do anything about unless I went to AA meetings and turned my life over to a higher power of my choice, which could be a cup. It made perfect sense! Although, I cringe a bit now, it really did seem to make sense back then, in my fragile state of mind.

I quickly became an AA poster boy, doing much volunteer work, speaking in schools, attending many meetings, etc.... as years passed, I began to wonder if I really DID owe my sobriety to AA. As I heard other members proudly proclaim that they "never could've done it without AA" and how they "owed it all to the group" a pilot light lit up in my gut. I began to realize that I was sober mainly because I wanted to be, because I made a decision to stop drinking. Gradually, more and more of the program began to make less and less sense. That was the beginning of the end of my blissful AA ignorance.

I tapered off my AA meetings and, lo and behold, there was no catastrophe! Many members scoffed. If I had a dollar for every time an AA member told me I was going to relapse... actually, many of the people who predicted I would drink again ended up relapsing themselves. I never reminded anyone of that but the more it happened, the more I asked myself, what's wrong with this picture?

After several sober, good (and largely AA free) years, I was living in NYC, living the chaotic lifestyle of a struggling musician. I had what I now know were several bouts of depression/hypomanic experiences and my life began to seriously unravel. Throw in some very bad relationship choices and I was just about cooked. I never did drink, however.

I moved out of the city, got into serious therapy, finally gave in and accepted medications (which produced an immediate change which lasts to this day), started grad school and never looked back.

Briefly, i did go back to AA because I associated my mood disorders with lack of meeting attendance! As I went to meetings, I found myself sharing and hearing myself say things that I didn't really believe. I was only half-aware of it at the time, but as my professional training increased I began to ask myself if I really believed that there was a direct causal effect between AA attendance/step work and my happiness, much less sobriety. The answer was, of course, no. In fact, the craziness of the NYC years confirmed the fact that not drinking has nothing to do with AA. As it dawned on me, I asked myself, what the hell was I doing in these meetings anyway?

By this time I was supervising the men's dual diagnosis unit in a psych. hospital. The men responded very well to my counseling, appreciating my "pragmatic, common sense" approach to recovery. I later realized that most of what the men were responding to in my counseling had nothing to do with 12 step recovery at all and had a lot more to do with Albert Ellis and REBT.

I realized that most of them welcomed being empowered. As they would speak of their sobriety in tentative terms, I would ask them if there were anything that would prevent them from staying sober the rest of their lives if they wanted to. They loved being reminded that they, being alcohol free, no longer had alcohol-ISM.

Now in private practice (which is going well), I have several patients sober without AA. The irony is that my patients with long term sobriety who are avid AA goers are some of my sickest. Sad.

As you can imagine, I have been attacked left and right, professionally and personally. When I told my former sponsor, now good friend that AA seemed more like a cult to me than anything else, he announced that I must be preparing to relapse. Colleagues have accused me of heresy. My criticisms of AA and the treatment industry's cult of failure may have been responsible for me being blackballed in one hospital, although I can't prove it.

I now use REBT with most of my patients (and myself for that matter). I feel it is a much more respectful and empowering way to treat people. I would appreciate any feedback you might have. Thanks again for you work. If you post this, I hope you don't mind removing my name and email address for professional reasons.


Hello Allan,

Thanks for the letter. And congratulations on your work to promote sanity and healing, in spite of the obstacles. Your letter reveals what an uphill battle it is for so many, to buck the system and resist 12-Step coercion — both for patients and therapists.

Have a good day, and keep up the good work.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid."
**    == John Wayne

Date: Tue, September 16, 2008 10:57 am
From: "Benjamin B."     (answered 3 Oct.)
Subject: hi there.

no hate mail here, Mr. Orange.

greetings- my name is ben. i'm 29. recently sober, have been off and on since .. oh, sometime around 2000 or so.

just wanted to say thank you for your website. i've had these opinions about 12 step programs and have had a chance to test them over the years. i'm skeptical and it pisses me off the more i think about it.. your site helps to confirm some of the same thoughts i've had looking at things from a different perspective [and now, losing face in amongst my sober peers- ah, well..]

do not currently own a computer, but look forward to it, as well as an internet connection so i can further read up. just wanted to say thank you for putting together what you have. it gives me hope that there are many other ways instead of only that with which i have been presented.

will write again-


Hello Ben,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your sobriety, and your sanity.

You mentioned that the sobriety is "on and off". May I recommend the web page on "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster"? I find that information to be an enormous help to me to avoid slipping back into "just having one", and relapsing. (It's like the Who song I Ain't Gonna Get Fooled Again.)

You might also check out a few of the books in the "Top 10" reading list, especially the Jack Trimpey's Rational Recovery and Dr. Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy stuff.

Have a good day, and good luck.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, October 9, 2008 4:14 pm
From: "Benjamin B."
Subject: Re: orange papers

hi, Orange-

thank you for the information; the lizard brained addiction sits very well with me, concept and all. as for the top 10 readings, i really appreciate the direction and so far the pros far outweigh the cons in what i have read. i look forward to further educating myself, irregardless of all of the hostility and criticism i've faced thus far. hope all's well on your end-


Date: Tue, September 16, 2008 8:05 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: "Chuck L."
Subject: Your book on AA

Hi, I read with interest your book on AA. It is very interesting. My question is, what do you recommend as an alternative? Thanks.


Hi Chuck,

Thanks for a good question.

There are so many ways to answer that question. I guess I'll start with, "You don't need an alternative. Just quit drinking so much alcohol."

That is, Bill Wilson promoted the idea that you were powerless over alcohol and couldn't just quit drinking on your own — that you must join A.A. and work the 12 Steps and surrender to "Higher Power", or you will die.

That is simply untrue. You do not need to "work a program" or attend meetings or have a "Higher Power" save you. Just quit drinking. Period.

The quitting seems to happen in three distinct stages:

  1. Building up the motivation to quit.
    This is often the gradual process of just Getting sick and tired of being sick and tired. You gradually come to see that drinking is causing you more pain than fun.

    Sudden crises can also boost motivation — like seeing a friend die, or having a spouse threaten divorce, or getting arrested, or getting fired and becoming homeless.

    Whatever the cause, the desire to not suffer from the bad side effects of drink (or drugs) builds up inside you until you actually do something about it.

    Anything that helps to build up the motivation to quit can save you from a lot of pain and grief. SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) has "enhance motivation" as one of its four specific objectives. So I recommend some of that.

  2. Actually quitting, and perhaps going through withdrawal.
    This usually takes no more than a couple of weeks. In many cases, people actually quit in like 5 minutes flat. They just say, "This is it. I'm not taking this drink. No more." And they don't drink any more.

  3. Avoiding relapses and back-sliding.
    This is tricky — it is often the hardest part. Mark Twain joked that "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times."
    Quitting drinking is also just as easy, in the same way. Sometimes the quitting isn't so bad, but staying quit can be a real bitch. It's so easy to get fooled into "Just having one", or "Just one for old time's sake."

    Anything that helps to avoid getting sucked back into "having a few" can be a life-saver. I routinely recommend the web page on "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster". I find that information to be an enormous help to me to avoid slipping back into "just having one", and relapsing.

    Also see Jack Trimpey's book "Rational Recovery", especially the chapter in the back that describes a counselling session where Trimpey exposes "the Beast", the addiction monster that tries to con us into drinking or using again (really, the base brain desires).

You would do well to check out several of the books on the "Top 10" reading list. There is a bunch of good, helpful stuff there.

And if you like groups or meetings, or want to just chat online with other people who are also recovering, here's a list of the usual suspects:

  1. SMART,
  2. Rational Recovery,
  3. WFS (Women For Sobriety),
  4. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), and
  5. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)

You can also check out this letter, which gave a short history of alternative recovery methods and groups: An anti-AA history.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Success is simple. Do what's right, the right
** way, at the right time." — Arnold H. Glasgow

Date: Sun, September 14, 2008 12:22 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: "Claire S."
Subject: Thank you for your website!


I quit drinking ten years ago and was a fully indoctrinated member of AA for the first nine. I remember when you first put together your website (2001 or so?) and posted the link on the recovery forum on About.com. I recall that you were excommunicated from that forum post-haste. Nay sayers like you were NOT welcome!

Well, now, here it is, years later. It turns out that you were absolutely correct about AA and your website saved my sanity when I finally quit in disgust last year. Oddly enough I thought I was the only one who had ever questioned the program. I can't believe how brainwashed I was. I drank gallons of 12 step kool-aid before coming to my senses.

Anyway, I just want to thank you for the wonderful public service you've performed in setting up this website. When the AA crazies ask me why I left, I just sent them the link.


Hi Claire,

Thanks for the nice letter, and thanks for the thanks. And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The late-night TV infomercial said, "Learn to trade stocks like a pro."
**  So I bought the get-rich-quick scheme, and tried it, and quickly lost
**  all of my money.
**  When I complained to the salesman, he said, "You did trade stocks like
**  a pro. You used some crazy brain-damaged trading system and you got
**  totally wiped out, just like the real pros have been doing lately.
**  So now you should get in line to receive your Federal bail-out check,
**  just like the real pros are doing now."

From: "daniel b."
Subject: aa 'cult'
Date: Thu, September 18, 2008 7:42 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)

I am a therapist who treats people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. I find your extensive diatribe against AA to be misinformed, illogical, and irresponsible. Many of your claims are exaggerated, distorted, one-sided, or outright false. Your 'cult test' is based on...what exactly?

You claim certain elements indicate a 'cult', then you — without any counter argument — find those elements in AA, and therefore you have 'proven' aa is a cult?

I dont think there's a logical fallacy you haven't fallen into in this paper.

AA helps a lot of people. Most don't take it as gospel, but they get support and they get insight.

You attack AA's claims but never evaluate whether they are true; if they bother your sense of intellectual pride, you dismiss them. What if it's true that alcoholism is caused in part by errors in thinking? What if it's true that alcoholics are powerless over their condition without a higher power? But you dont evaluate the truth; you simply ridicule any AA claim that offends your sense of autonomy or pride. That's not logic, it's an emotional reaction.

Let me be clear: I dont think AA is right about everything, I dont think it's necessary for recovery, and I dont go to meetings myself (i have never had a drinking or drug problem). But the fact is that addicts who attend meetings have much higher success rates than those who dont. And it's also true that many AA tenets are borne out by research.

You even go so far as to ridicule the idea of self-examinaton, as if questioning one's beliefs and feelings is somehow stupid or means giving up free will or self-esteem. Do you think, however, that just MAYBE addicts actually need to examine and question their own minds and feelings? Isnt that a sign of maturity? It's certainly what is taught in therapy, and in philosophy.

The opposite of this introspection is ignorance, stupidity, shallowness.

Anyway, just wanted to share an alternative perspective to your extremely one-sided and unhelpful attack.

Not sure what your personal grudge is but you obviously have one.

I wish you well,


Daniel B., lcsw
long beach california

"It always seems impossible until it is done" — Nelson Mandela

Hello Daniel,

You were not very specific in your denunciations. "Just about every logical fallacy"? Can you quote specific statements that I have made that are untrue?

The Cult Test is based on years of research, and also my own experiences with the new cults of the sixties and seventies. See the bibliography, here.

I do not ridicule self-examination; I condemn cultish guilt induction.

Above all, what you have not done is given ANY evidence that A.A.-based treatment actually works, or helps the alcoholics in any way whatsoever.

You made this statement:

... But the fact is that addicts who attend meetings have much higher success rates than those who dont. And it's also true that many AA tenets are borne out by research.

Where did you get that? Please be very specific. What medically-valid randomized longitudinal study discovered that A.A. attendance improved the sobriety rate of alcoholics? Please give me the author's name, the article name, the date and page numbers, and the journal where the research was published, and I will go to the local medical library and get a copy of the research and see what it really says.

The fact that people sitting in A.A. meeting rooms drink less alcohol than the people who are sitting in bars does not mean that A.A. works.

All of the valid research that has been done so far has found A.A. to be a failure that actually increases the rate of binge drinking, and increases the death rate of alcoholics.

Please read the entire file on The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment.

What is the actual A.A. success rate? Please answer this question. Since you are a licensed, professional counselor who apparently promotes the 12-Step religion, you must know the answers to:

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many of them eventually pick up a one-year coin for sobriety?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many of them eventually pick up a five-year coin for sobriety?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many of them eventually pick up a ten-year coin for sobriety?
How about the 11-year coin? What percentage of the newcomers go on to get an 11-year coin?
How many success stories are there really, out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A.?

So how well does Alcoholics Anonymous really work?

Hint: the answers are here.

And how does the appallingly low nominal success rate of A.A. compare to the normal rate of spontaneous remission from untreated alcoholism? —Which is five percent per year. (Hint: they are equal. A.A. doesn't improve the situation at all. You might as well have the alcoholics play tiddly-winks or patty-cake, or dance around in a ballerina's tutu.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *

**    "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**    but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**       ==  Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**      Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**      Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**      and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**      1983, pages 283-286.

**     "It is difficult to get a man to understand something
**     when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
**         ==  Upton Sinclair

[There is a reader's comment to this letter, here.]

[And Daniel's response was:]

Date: Sat, October 4, 2008 10:23 am
From: "daniel b."
Subject: RE: aa 'cult'

can you be a little more specific? That page would take me ten years to get thru.

Daniel B., lcsw
long beach california

Date: Sun, September 14, 2008 1:45 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: "David B"
Subject: aa

Your are too funny & my guess is that you have serious problems & AA did not work for you because you, in all likelihood, failed to follow the simple plan as it is laid out or you are just as Wilson stated: constitutionally incapable of being honest. My guess is both. This is too bad & I feel sorry for you.

Tens of thousands of people worldwide have recovered & this simply cannot be disputed. AA actually has a 100% success rate for those that have "thoroughly followed our path". You cannot name one treatment center, religion or plan that has had more success. But Wilson does state that we have no monopoly on treatment & even goes on to encourage people to seek outside help. I believe that you are correct stating the success rate at roughly 5-10% nowadays for the simple reason that people are measuring their "success" in sobriety by the amount of time rather than "quality". But again, when the little plan of recovery is followed exactly as it is laid out???. it is 100%.

Bottom line: AA is the most successful way of treating alcoholism to date. Nothing comes remotely close to its success rate. And you must have way too much time on your hands. You sound & seem like a quack for sure.

Good luck in wasting your time tearing down the program. The odds are hugely stacked against you.

Hello David,

Well, starting at the top, you declared:

Tens of thousands of people worldwide have recovered & this simply cannot be disputed.

Sure, some people quit drinking. But there is no evidence that they quit drinking because they joined Alcoholics Anonymous, or "worked the Steps", or "surrendered to Higher Power". Alcoholics Anonymous does not really work to make alcoholics quit drinking. The A.A. promoters simply steal the credit from some people who quit by using their own intelligence and will power.

Then you indulged in Lying With Qualifiers:

AA actually has a 100% success rate for those that have "thoroughly followed our path". You cannot name one treatment center, religion or plan that has had more success.

That is nonsense. That is just some lame word games to try to cover up for the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous is a total failure. Word games and deceptions like that do not help the alcoholics.

By using that same brain-damaged logic, I can just as easily declare that dancing around in a ballerina's tutu always cures alcoholism:

      "NEVER have I seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed my path. To follow my path, all that I require is that people quit drinking alcohol and never drink again, and then dance around in a ballerina's tutu whenever the desire to drink arises. No treatment center in the world has a better cure rate than my ballerina tutu cure, which has a 100% success rate (because if somebody drinks alcohol, then he isn't 'thoroughly following my path')."

And while you are claiming a 100% success rate for Alcoholics Anonymous, would you like to tell us what the real A.A. success rate is? That is, what percentage of the newcomers to A.A. get a one-year coin, or a five-year coin for sobriety? We were just discussing that in the previous letter, here, so check it out.

And have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "A well conducted professional study" showed that
** "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
** after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
** Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'"
** == Dr. Ron Whitington,  Chairman of General Service Board,
** AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

Date: Fri, September 12, 2008 6:28 am     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: joe
Subject: Job Well Done

Hey Orange,

I want to thank you for the great website you have put up with more information about addiction than any other site out there. The volumes of data and information you have gathered is a real asset to someone like myself who is interested in learning more about addiction and recovery. I have been a big critic of AA for a long time and I think that it's great that you are using your site to publish facts as opposed to spin or propaganda. I cannot tell you how many arguments I have had with people ranging from Doctors to drug counselors who think AA is the only thing that can help addicts. Interestingly enough, I have had conversations with medical professionals where after some discussion, they concede that AA has many cult like characteristics and that it's not for everyone but it's a shame that AA is one of the first treatment options by drug counselors (if not the only option) and it's the favorite punishment handed out by courts for DUI's. I am also a huge fan of Rational Recovery so I was glad to see that you mentioned it on your site as well. Keep up the good work.


Hi Joe,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."
**     == Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Date: Fri, September 12, 2008 3:57 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: "Richard C."

I don't doubt that everything you wrote is true. I am one of those twelve steppers you write about. My sobriety dated is 01/01/1994. I have encountered a lot of ups and downs in sobriety but have yet to find a reason to drink over any of it. Bill Wilson was to me just another alcoholic,but he had an incredible ability to describe my feelings. I so identified with his descriptions that by them I knew I was an alcoholic. I believe this life style probably aided him in being able to be so descriptive about the feelings. He probably never got away from the guilt and remorse. I will also mention that there are many women predators in AA as well as men. Alcohol does not discriminate between gender and neither does recovery.

Hi Richard,

Thanks for the letter. Glad to hear that you are doing well.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Do you remember how, during the 2000 elections, the Republicans
**  said that Bush would be good for the economy because he has an
**  MBA?      Hmmm...      That really worked out well, didn't it?

Date: Fri, September 12, 2008 11:29 am     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: Alan
Subject: Dear Mr. Orange

Around 1993 I read a book called "More Revealed" by Ken Ragge, and having been in college and in AA, began my own investigations in my college library, discovering some of the things you expose on your website. I've been in AA since 1989, and was probably always the odd fellow out as far as adoration for some of the cultish aspects of the program, Bill worship, etc. Anyway, really enjoyed reading your stuff, and have a greater perspective of the fellowship. I lifted some pics and quotes off your site for my AA blog that I share with local AA's.


Come to think of it, I'll throw a link to your site on it... knowing full well some idiot will threaten that someone may lose their sobriety over it.

Though I have used the twelve steps, AA for me is much more of a social event. It's where my friends are, and luckily any newcomers that come around, if they like the group, can get a very levelheaded approach, without all the emotional beating. For years I shared that AA isn't for everyone, and plenty of people quit drinking without AA... of course, most people think that's crazy... oh well. Nowadays, my spiritual life is my church, my friends are in AA, and my other bullshit is in the hands of a shrink.

Take care Mr. Orange


Hi Alan,

Thanks for the letter, and the viewpoint. I'm glad to hear that you are finding some happiness in life. And that's an interesting blog.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people
**  who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."
**  == Mark Twain

Date: Tue, September 16, 2008 2:04 pm     (answered 3 Oct.)
From: "anon"
Subject: Thank you for this site :)

Dear AO,

Having been exposed to AA for a just over a month, and constantly being "redirected" by my now ex-sponsor (for asking questions about the program), I began to think of AA very much as too cultish for my taste. (Not to mention that she told me that the pursuit of a degree sounded like "too much thinking for people like us" — AND that I would come to trust her "even more than [my] husband" — I mean, honestly, the nerve! How dare she be so damned presumptuous?!), I walked away just last week. I've since had to block numbers from my cell phone to stop the incoming calls from her and others.

At the time I began the program, I had also decided to begin therapy to deal with past issues affecting my present (and exacerbating my desire to drink). The same sponsor urged me to stop therapy because all of my "issues" would be "dealt with in the rooms" — and that I needed to just begin identifying myself as an alcoholic, because I was "just like her"... these things she said, barely knowing me more than two or three days. Never mind that I hadn't even decided IF I was an alcoholic in the first place... though, at first, it sounded *okay*, because well — wasn't I drinking too much? Maybe she has a point... What's strange is that I discovered my therapist is also an alcoholism/addiction specialist who encourages the 12-step program (I learned this after I began therapy with her — by reading her business card). Even she has raised her eyebrows at some of what the ex-sponsor has told me.

At this point, I'm still fully (though newly) sober — and looking at other, more rational approaches to sobriety maintenance than conformity to some mind-bending all-or-nothing collective. I am grateful for the alternative sites you mention in your site, though I am admittedly skeptical and guarded about them after my AA experience. I have not yet decided on which, if any, I will use — or if I will just stick with therapy and trust my own rational mind. Getting back to the strange thing about my therapist, I am actually quite wary of mentioning to her that I have left AA and the 12-step program (I'm "stuck on Step 3" — because I can't swallow the Higher Power part)...even though I am completely sober with no "relapse" in my foreseeable future. Do you have any suggestions on that? I was scrolling through the letters, and I didn't see anything that addressed that. I am troubled by the idea: If I mention to my therapist that I have decided to not go to meetings, will she try to force me back into them under some sort of threat? And...if yes, is there any legal recourse?

Thank you so much for this site and all the work you put into it.

(preferably anonymous — without the aid of AA — LOL!)

Hi Anon,

Congratulations on your sobriety. Thanks for all of the compliments.

Sorry to hear about your nutty sponsor. But that seems to be about par for the course.

And the thing about not wanting you to go back to college and finish your degree — that is just such standard A.A. balony. That is really what they do to people. I wrote about that before, here.

Yes, I have some suggestions. First off, you don't really NEED any "program" or "group". I mean, you are already sober and maintaining it without A.A., so it isn't like you are desperately in need of a "support group".

But sometimes some company can be a comfort. And sometimes it can be helpful to talk things out, or ask for advice. If you feel so inclined, you can check out any of the usual links:

  1. SMART,
  2. Rational Recovery,
  3. WFS (Women For Sobriety),
  4. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), and
  5. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)

Three of them don't even have meetings in your local town. Only SMART and Women For Sobriety have actual face-to-face meetings like A.A. does. You can only read the book for Rational Recovery — there are no R.R. meetings — and SOS and LifeRing are mostly online meetings, to the best of my knowledge. (Although there is also the SOS book to read.) And SMART and SOS also have online meetings.

None of them demands a big commitment, or your life and your soul. And NONE of them pushes cult religion as a cure for alcoholism. SMART just asks that you try three meetings before making a decision about SMART. It isn't anything like "Do 90 meetings in 90 days", and stay in the cult forever. So you don't need to be so wary, or reluctant to check them out.

And for the online meetings, you can just go there and register and join in, and ask questions, or comment, or whatever. Obviously, they can't force you to "keep coming back".

I don't know how your therapist could force you back into A.A. meetings, unless you are under court-ordered therapy or counseling or something. I would consider switching therapists in any case. Even if you are ordered to get therapy, I don't think it has to be "therapy" from someone who recommends quackery. There are other therapists around who use more rational techniques, like Rational Behavioral Therapy (RBT), or Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), and none of them would ever pressure you to go to A.A. meetings. I don't have a list of such therapists, but you could get some references or recommendations from any of the groups listed above. There are plenty of other people around who have gone through what you are going through.

For other suggestions, I just wrote another list in a previous letter, here.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== 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.

And here's another gosling picture for you:
May 19, 2008: Still in the park; it's still day two.

Canada Goose gosling standing

This needs no explanation. It's just another picture of a beautiful child. This little guy is six or seven days old.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Tue, September 30, 2008 3:38 pm     (answered 4 Oct.)
From: "Jennifer W."
Subject: Dear Orange—

Dear Orange,

May God richly bless you for the wonderful work you are doing by exposing the powerful and destructive cult that is AA. I thought there was something terribly wrong with me because I "couldn't get the program", because I objected to foolish and contradictory sloganing, to men who thought I was at the meeting to have sex with them, people of both (or perhaps various) genders who really enjoy taking advantage of others — I could go on. I used to sit in the car outside of meetings, scared to death to go in, and I would leave feeling worse than I came in — and usually would go drink. It is so good to hear that others have had the same experience!

I really commend you for intellectually rigorous way you address this issue, and the kind and loving attitude you display toward hardcore AA fundies — especially those poor souls who seem to write you in order to curse you out, and then leave their phone number, in case you should want them to be your "sponsor"! It just goes to show where a real spiritual awakening has happened, and that's with you, dear Uncle Orange. Mind if I call you that? You posted a few pictures of yourself a while back, and all I could think was — with your avuncular white beard and kind eyes, why can't this guy be in my family? We could kick the can around on the deck while our real families are inside being insane on holidays. Sound good? :-)

I'm currently going for my master's in social work, and taking a class in dual diagnoses. I'm doing my bit to raise awareness about what AA is really like, but it hasn't been well received. In my first paper for the class, I mentioned that "...this writer is personally aware of rape victims and battered women who have been asked to 'find their part' in their situations", (and I do), and the pro-AA instructor simply replied that this "diminished my credibility" — no questions or concerns about the situation — just don't question hegemony!

Right now I'm blowing off a paper for that class, so I should get on with it.

My very best,


Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the story and all of the compliments. "Uncle Orange", now that's kind of funny, but okay. At Christmas I sometimes pass myself off as Santa Claus. You know, dress up in a red suit with a Santa hat, and go to the shopping mall and wow the young children. And "kicking the can around" sounds like fun.

About your instructor claiming that criticizing A.A. blows your credibility — it never ceases to amaze me how entrenched the incompetent fools are. (But I have to guess that it's really no different than all of the university professors who were sure that the world was flat, and who insisted that Columbus was crazy.) Your instructor is a prime example of what Bill Wilson criticized as, "Contempt prior to investigation." Now Bill Wilson was of course trying to talk people into uncritically joining a cult religion, but the slogan works both ways. How can someone reject criticism of A.A. without viewing the evidence to see if the criticism is valid?

And glossing over problems like A.A. 13th-stepping, and blame-the-victim as a way of handling rape cases, is simply inexcusable. That alone is enough to disqualify A.A. as any kind of a helpful therapy program for women.

About your feelings before going into an A.A. meeting: yes, I've heard that a lot, and even felt it myself. I can remember A.A. meetings where everybody was jittery and nervous before the meeting began, and you could almost read people's thoughts: "Oh, I hope they don't call on me to speak."

I have also noticed that A.A. meetings made me want to drink, and N.A. meetings made me want to get high on drugs. I'd be fine before I went to a meeting, but the desire was strong when I left the meeting. I don't know if I was just soaking up other people's desires by osmosis, or if it was the power of suggestion and the natural result of spending an hour strolling down memory lane, talking about old bad habits. Whatever the cause, the effect was undeniable. I find it much easier to stay clean and sober by not going to meetings. And it's also easier to maintain my tranquility, too.

Have a good day.

== 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, September 26, 2008 11:54 pm     (answered 5 Oct.)
From: "Ashley W."
Subject: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-coffee.html

I read your article at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-coffee.html

I was thinking at the beginning that you were making a good point. I have seen a couple of people in AA (I am a member) tell other people about the dangers of taking prescription drugs, etc. A very small percentage of people around here speak this way. On the contrary, taking medicaiton for depression or other mental illnesses is not only talked about in meetings, but whatever is bothering a person in recovery is an acceptable topic for an hour of discussion.

Hello Ashley,

Thanks for the letter.

There are still far too many sponsors who recommend against medications, and also recommend against getting a real doctor's care. That has killed a lot of people, even if only a small percentage of the A.A. sponsors do it.

A while back, I ran across a survey on A.A. members' attitudes towards medications, and it claimed that A.A. members were not at all dogmatic about medications — only 17% of the sponsors were against them. What the writer of the article did not seem to be able to realize is: that meant that any person with both a psychiatric and a drug or alcohol problem had a 17% chance of getting a bad sponsor who just might kill him or her with stupid orders...

See: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Use of Medications to Prevent Relapse: An Anonymous Survey of Member Attitudes. ROBERT G. RYCHTARIK; GERARD J. CONNORS; KURT H. DERMEN; PAUL R. STASIEWICZ. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Jan 2000 v61 i1 p134.

And another letter that just came in is also about the no-meds issue. There, the author points out that even official A.A. literature on the official A.A. web site admits that A.A. sponsors have killed their sponsees by telling them not to take their meds. Check it out here.

The very first friend of mine who went to Dual Diagnosis Anonymous ended up in the "lucky" 17% — he got told to quit taking the Paxil that he really depended on to keep his head together.
Of course I told him to ignore those fools and just stay on his meds.
But still he was saying, "Yeh, but I wonder if I can make it without meds."
You see, they had planted the idea in his head that he would have better recovery if he wasn't taking psychiatric medications. (Which is total bullshit.) And he was tempted to quit his medications.

I haven't been able to keep track of him to see how well he fared.

So we are stuck with the situation that A.A. sponsors occasionally kill a newcomer by telling him or her not to take their doctor-prescribed medications, and to avoid getting treatment by a real doctor. At the same time, Alcoholics Anonymous is a total failure at getting alcoholics to quit drinking. A.A. does not improve the sobriety rate in alcoholics at all. A.A. merely steals the credit from a few people who quit by using their own will power and intelligence.

So, A.A. ends up being an organizations that kills a few and helps nobody — it kills more than it helps. That's why I criticize it.

I thought I was going to read an unbiased article, but I was wrong. It sounds like you have a lot of anger and fear. I hope since you wrote the paper your AA issue is no longer having an emotional effect on you. Living with stress is stressful.

Ashley, I'm doing great. Don't worry about me.

Going into recovery means feeling. Feeling the good and feeling the bad. And that is good news. Powerlessness is the good news. I don't believe you understand the principles involved. You know, the spiritual principles that have been around for at least 10,000 years and are embedded in many religions past and present. Maybe I am wrong, and if I am, that's all right.

The doctrine of powerlessness is not a good thing — it is a very bad thing that has caused a lot of people to fail to get sober or stay sober. Teaching alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol gives them a ready-made excuse for failure, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prediction.

Besides which, alcoholics are not powerless over alcohol. Hundreds of thousands of them quit every year, just by deciding to quit.

The doctrine of powerlessness is just another one of the pieces of garbage that Bill Wilson got from Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion. Frank Buchman declared that everybody was powerless over sin, and had been defeated by it, and that the only way to get saved was to join his cult religion. Bill Wilson merely substituted the word "alcohol" for "sin" when he copied Frank Buchman's cultish dogma as "The Twelve Steps".

By the way, Frank Buchman's theology was not, and is not, "spiritual principles that have been around for at least 10,000 years". (That is just a grandiose cultish platitude.) Frank Buchman sold a peculiar, particularly insidious, brand of cult religion — something that is quite heretical to Christianity, and Bill Wilson just copied it.

You said, "Going into recovery means feeling."
That is just another thought-stopping platitude. That slogan implies that drinking alcoholics don't feel anything. That is nonsense. I felt plenty of stuff before "going into recovery", and lots of it was painful. In fact, I felt so much pain that I ended up quitting drinking.

I just hate seeing an intelligent person such as yourself going on in life with a "grudge". Maybe your experience in AA is much different. Perhaps in your area people give advice, but in general they do not around here. If I went to a meeting and such advice was being given, I would go find another meeting, plain and simple.

Well, you have to understand that I "have a resentment" against fools who harm my friends with quackery, lies, and cult religion.

And I think that such a resentment is a good thing, not a bad thing. It gives me the energy and the fire in the belly to do something about the situation.

And I, personally, may be able to "find another meeting" — or even better, just quit going to A.A. meetings entirely — but other friends do not necessarily have that choice — like those who are in treatment programs or those who are court-ordered to go to A.A..

So somebody has to tell the truth about what is going on.

Take care, Orange

You have a good day too, Ashley.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Rev. Jim Jones said, "Drink the red koolaid. It
** has cured millions. RARELY HAVE we seen it fail...
** But then again, the green koolaid is good too.
** Take what you want, and leave the rest."

Date: Sun, September 21, 2008 1:42 pm     (answered 5 Oct.)
From: "Roast"
Subject: re: death/injury due to AA's words


A recent letter to you presented anecdotal examples of how AA/NA has resulted in death or injury and noted the need for scientific study into the matter. AA, in fact, acknowledges in their own conference approved literature that AA has resulted in deaths. Their conference approved pamphlet, "The AA Member — Medications & Other Drugs", on page 13 states "AA members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by AAs to throw away the pills, only to have the depression return with all of its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide."


Given this admission, additional study is definitely needed to help determine the size of the body count.


Hi Roast,

Thank you very much for that reference. I didn't know about that particular document.

And it comes in quite handy as another letter that just came in declares that the "no-meds" issue isn't a problem.

Have a good day.

== 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.

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Last updated 7 June 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters94.html