Letters, We Get Mail, XCVI

From: Dennis M.
Subject: Re: Links
Date: Wed, November 12, 2008 10:16 am     (answered 12 Nov.)


Could you provide me with any links outside of your site that verify the studies you cite, mainly the Vaillant one?

I'm in a heated discussion with a true-believer (it's on a personal note) and while your site is an invaluable resource, I know that the information will be dismissed and not considered if that is where I reference.

Thanks for any help you can give.


Dennis M.
Senior Consultant

Yes. The Vaillant quotes come out of his books, particularly The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, 1983, and The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, Harvard University Press, 1995.

(The same quotes are in both books, because Revisited contains all of the first book, plus additions.)

The other studies are all documented in sundry publications. See the file "The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment",

and in there you will find summaries of all of the studies and references to the publications that contain the reports.

Likewise, the bibliography lists them too, although they are harder to find in there.

Have a good day.

== Orange

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

P.S.: In your arguments with the A.A. true believers, don't forget to mention that Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant is STILL a member of the Alcoholics Anonymous Board of Trustees. He is one of the leaders of the organization, and his own books declare that A.A. failed to sober up the alcoholics.

Have a good day.

== Orange

Date: Wed, November 12, 2008 10:59 am
From: Dennis M.
Subject: RE: Links

Thanks! Actually, I already googled and provided links of where to get these books. He was criticizing me for not providing Internet links to back up my claims, as he felt he had...but get this: he only linked a Grapevine interview with Vaillant that cited no data whatsoever. And I was sure to point out that Vaillant is still a hard-core believer despite his own findings, and that gee, I wonder if a publication put out by AA's FOR AA's could be biased?

Ummm, yeh. Good question. And Vaillant is such a true believer that his new book, just published and on order at my local library is: (Get this):
Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith.

Vaillant is such a true believer that his zeal for promoting wacky religion wasn't even damped by his own proving that it doesn't work to sober up alcoholics.

As far as I know, I have the only web site that publicizes those pages of Vaillant's books. The A.A. headquarters isn't very eager to do it.

I have a friend that is going through a rough time trying to get off the sauce and on his feet. I hope he accomplishes this no matter what, but I was quite disturbed that someone else is insisting that AA is the only way. Having been in 2 treatment centers and several AA meetings over the last 20 years, it should be obvious that my friend needs a better solution.

Thanks again. I've been keeping up on your letters, love reading them. One recent lady hit the nail on the head when she mentioned her ex-husband's feelings of superiority.

Take care, Orange.

Dennis M.
Senior Consultant

Good luck with your friend.

And have a good day.

== Orange

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

P.S.: About this:

I have a friend that is going through a rough time trying to get off the sauce and on his feet. I hope he accomplishes this no matter what, but I was quite disturbed that someone else is insisting that AA is the only way. Having been in 2 treatment centers and several AA meetings over the last 20 years, it should be obvious that my friend needs a better solution.

The first thing that I would do is steer him towards the "Lizard Brain Addiction Monster" web page, here: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-addmonst.html

The information on that page is a big part of how I've stayed sober these last 8 years. (Wow, hard to believe — I just had another anniversary, and it's now 8 years.) The essential thing to understand is how that base brain yammers about wanting its feel-goods, and it does everything it can to convince you that its desires are your desires. So at the moment that a recovering alcoholic reaches for another drink and lifts it to his mouth, he isn't out of control — he just sincerely believes that this will make him feel better. He has been hoodwinked into concentrating on short-term pleasures and ignoring the long-term painful consequences.

Discovering how base brain plays all of those mind games to try to fool me into taking another drink was very liberating for me. Suddenly I saw how he was always going to be yammering like that, but I didn't have to do what he said.

If your friend likes that, he might get something out of Jack Trimpey's book "Rational Recovery", which teaches the same idea. It's listed in the "Top 10" book list, here:

Have a good day.

== Orange

Date: Wed, November 12, 2008 12:32 pm
From: Dennis M.
Subject: RE: Links


Absolutely. I have given him a copy of Rational Recovery, and discussed at length the concept of the Lizard Brain.

I have also mentioned your site and recalled how the "Play the tape to the end" idea from your letters helped me immensely while on a business trip. Unfortunately, he has no internet access.

You touched on it yourself quite well: Addicted people stop when they overcome the delusion that they can have the pleasure without the pain. Until they reach that point, AA, RR, or anything else is not going to be of any help. One must genuinely WANT to be sober...or at least realize that their misery won't stop until they are.

Unfortunately, this individual still thinks that if he can get a job, back on his feet with a place and gain some stability, he can return to drinking. This is despite the fact that he has conducted this experiment many, many times with no success, nearly dying once when his kidneys shut down. His mother happened to find him when he was probably a couple of hours from death.

He seems to be one of those that will chase this delusion to the grave. As we both know, it's completely up to him and no one can do it for him.

Dennis M.
Senior Consultant

P.S. again:
Wow. This statement:

"...this individual still thinks that if he can get a job, back on his feet with a place and gain some stability, he can return to drinking."

== is just such classic Lizard-Brain thinking. I have to add that to the list on that "Addiction Monster" web page. I remember thinking the same thing myself, before I quit drinking, back when I was unemployed and homeless: "I just have to get a job and a room, and get my scene together, then I can drink all I want, and nobody can stop me..."

That is some massive denial, where Lizard Brain ignores the fact that it's pretty impossible to keep a job when you are chronically sick and hung-over, and your brain is so cloudy that you can't even remember who you talked to a few hours earlier. Lizard Brain also ignores the fact that drinking is how you got unemployed and homeless in the first place.

Unfortunately, most of the studies that I've read indicate that it's a fifty-fifty coin toss whether any particular hard-core alcoholic will finally suddenly snap out of it and quit drinking, or die from it. About half of them really do decide to just keep on drinking until they die.

I think about what made me snap, and it was a combination of the chronic illness and wondering how much longer I had to live (I guessed 3 years), the unemployment and then homelessness, and finally, a doctor telling me to quit drinking or I would die. The thing was, I was so sick that I believed the doctor, and I knew that he was probably right. And I just decided that I really didn't want to die that way.

The stupid Lizard Brain still mumbled, "I know that things aren't really that bad. He's just trying to scare us to get us to do what he wants."

Fortunately, I didn't believe old Lizard Brain that time. (By the way, I really do notice the similarity to Gollum/Smeagol in Lord of the Rings.)

But what will make somebody else snap out of it? I don't know, and I've pondered that question a lot over the last 8 years, because I know I could save a few lives if I could find some good way to make people snap out of it and wake up.

So I'll keep on thinking about it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, December 4, 2008 12:00 pm     (answered 10 Dec.)
From: "Anon"

Dear Agent Orange,

I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you. A little over a year ago, I thought that I was doomed because, try as I might, I just could not make myself believe in the program. It made no sense to me. I found the Big Book was just poorly written and filled with logical inconsistencies. More worrisome to me was the fact that the people seemed absoulutely obsessed with alcohol, just not drinking it. Despite all of the protestations of "these are only suggestions" and "there are no musts," I was getting more and more pressure to conform.

And the fear! The fear of relapse if I missed a meeting or didn't do coffee or didn't make 20 calls to AA people a night. I just couldn't bear living with the constant fear-mongering.

Reading your website
1) convinced me that I was not imagining the cult-like tendencies of the program and
2) got me to go to SMART recovery, which has been amazingly helpful because it actually makes sense to me.

Today I am sober. Today I don't live in fear. I also rarely think about alcohol; as you say, there are many more pleasant ways to spend my time.

As I see that you have a fondness for geese, so I have attached a picture of my daughter delighting in the company of a Canada goose down by the river while her happy, sober Daddy looks on.

Canada Goose and human child

Many thanks again.


Hello Anon,

Thanks for the letter and congratulations on your liberation. And your sobriety. It's good to hear that other people are doing okay too.

Seeing children interacting with the Canada Geese is funny. Here, the young geese may be frightened by children, but the older, more experienced geese are hardly fazed by children approaching them, or even chasing them. The geese clearly understand that those little people are just human children, and they can't run very fast, and they can't swim worth a darn, and they can't fly at all, so they aren't much of a threat. When chased by children, the older geese just run in a circle — they don't even bother to fly away — and the children quickly tire of the game. Then the geese go back to munching the grass.

Have a good day, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Alcoholics Anonymous and Scientology could get together and do
**  a joint venture: They can declare that alcoholism is caused by
**  interplanetary cooties — that is, by the ghosts of unhappy
**  aliens who were dumped into a volcano here 60 million years ago,
**  and who are now flying around and biting people and making them
**  drink alcohol. And the cure is to give all of your money to an
**  Alcocon Treatment Center®, which will perform a 12-Step
**  exorcism and tin-can confession session to help you to get rid
**  of those bothersome ghosts, but only if you really try and
**  thoroughly follow our path.

May 21, 2008: In the park yet again, Day 4 now.

Two of the goslings are eating bread that I'm holding for them, while the other three are diving for treasures in the water bowl. They are funny that way. First, they grab a mouthful of dirt and wash it in the water bowl, mining crop stones. Then they notice that there is mud in the bottom of the water bowl, so they have to go poke through it to see if they can find a worm or a nice lump of algae. They don't have the brains to realize that they just put the mud there, and that they have already gone through it, filtering out crop stones. Oh well, it gives them something to do.

Canada Goose goslings and me

What a small world it is. The building in the background is the old Customs House, which will be used as the "Portland Police Department" building in the TV show Grimm a few years later.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 7:23 pm     (answered 10 Dec.)
From: Shar
Subject: bashing without facts

Dear Agent Orange,

It is quite clear that you have a problem with 12 Step programs and you offer some valid points for consideration.? Fine with me- I encourage everyone to educate themselves.

You mention?SMART and WFS, etc. as alternatives to 12 Step meetings. Fine, but try to find a meeting in this area [northeastern US]. As for online meetings, or books, you are obviously not familiar with people who are illiterate, and/or poor, as are many of the people I have been working with for many years. I went to some Rational Recovery meetings in the past and?they were?all just AA-bashing sessions and did nothing to help my sobriety. So if I followed your reasoning I would criticize any and all programs based on Rational-Emotive Behavior Theapy. No, I actually support the use of REBT principles for those people who are able to understand and use them.

I just celebrated 20 years of sobriety, and I have a number family members and friends with years of sobriety, who have been involved in AA.?I believe AA has helped me in my sobriety. That doesn't mean I think it was only AA that helped me; it was many things and people. That also doesn't mean I agree with everything in AA. No organization made up of people is going to be perfect.?You take people who attend 12 Step meetings and lump them all in the same group- but then talk about the importance of individuality.

You also lump all addiction?counselors in the same group and say that they are all terrible and that they are all in recovery — incorrect on both points. And where is the research to back up your counselor-bashing? Hey, there are a lot of bad doctors, so I guess?no one should ever go to a doctor right?? Funny, you go on and on about the importance of facts, but obviously didn't bother to check the facts about some addiction counselors- pretty hypocritical. I am?a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of Connecticut. This licensure requires a master's degree, 6000 hours of work experience, 360 hours of specific education and training, a written exam and oral exam. This is what qualifies me to deal with individuals with substance dependence and substance abuse disorders, not my personal recovery. Years ago, programs were very 12 Step based, but as a professional in the field I can tell you that most programs are recovery-oriented, using principles of relapse prevention?and giving people many different alternatives to choose from for their recovery. I deal with?sick and suffering people every day as well as the lack of workable options to help them.?I tell people about all the alternatives I know of that are available to help them and I educate them on the realities of a program like AA, if they choose to use it. I include religion/spirituality as an option for individuals who are so inclined; while you seem to reject religious/spritual avenues altogther, which is also hypocritical.??

It really makes me angry when people spend all kinds of time sitting on their butts, feeding geese,?and criticizing others, while they are doing nothing to improve the situation. So until you and all the other 12 Step bashers come up with a treatment/program/organization that is 100% successful and accessible to 100% of the people, I will continue to offer 12 Step programs as one option of?a list of potential alternatives to those seeking help with addictions.


Hello Shar,

Thanks for the letter.

First off, I wish that there were more recovery meetings like SMART in every city in the USA. It's coming, but slowly. A.A. has a 70-year head start. The fact that there are more A.A. meetings doesn't make A.A. a good thing.

Then, A.A. often says that the first step in curing a problem is recognizing that you have a problem. Well, somebody has to tell A.A. that they have a problem. So the critics are doing A.A. a service.

You criticize me for saying that most counselors in treatment centers are themselves ex-addicts or ex-drinkers in recovery, and then you declare that you are a drug and alcohol counselor with 20 years of sobriety, and you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. That doesn't make much sense.

And why, with all of your education, are you promoting cult religion as a quack cure for alcoholism?

Your demand for an alternative program that is 100% effective is absurd. There is no such thing, and you know that. (That's the propaganda and debating trick called Making Unreasonable Demands.) Alcoholics Anonymous has no more than a five percent success rate in the first year — even letting them steal the credit for the 5% normal rate of spontaneous remission of alcoholism — and then it gets worse as the sober members relapse and leave A.A.. Fewer than one in a thousand A.A. newcomers gets 20 years of sobriety. Congratulations on your 20 years. You are one in a thousand.

What is the success rate at your treatment center? And please don't play numbers games like declaring what percentage of the graduates are sober a month after graduation. How about ALL of the people who start the program? Out of all of the people who pay the money and start the treatment, how many of them have a year of sobriety one year later? Five years of sobriety five years later? What is your real success rate? And how does that success rate compare to the normal 5% per year rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholism?

Besides, who said that PROGRAMS are the answer to alcoholism? The idea that you need a program and a lot of meetings is just another misconception that is spread by Alcoholics Anonymous:

Most successful ex-drinkers do it alone. DO IT YOURSELF is the single most successful "sobriety program" in the world. The Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of the successful alcoholics who quit drinking for a year or more did it alone, without any treatment program or support group.

If you are a good counselor who causes hundreds or thousands of alcoholics to stop drinking and stay quit, then congratulations. You have achieved something that nobody else has achieved.

But I still maintain that the vast majority of drug and alcohol counseling in the USA is just expensive fraud, no more effective than Freudian psychoanalysis where you lay on a couch and talk about sexual fantasies.

Lastly, the one thing that you have not mentioned — the elephant in the living room that you are ignoring — is HARM. You just assume that A.A. is "helpful". You "believe" that A.A. helped you in some way. But you don't even look at the bad side of A.A. — the 13th-Stepping, the raping of underage girls by old sponsors, the cultish indoctrination and guilt induction and fear mongering and spreading of superstitions. And the practice of telling newcomers not to take their doctor-prescribed medications, which has resulted in numerous deaths and suicides.

When Dr. Prof. George E. Vaillant, a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., tested Alcoholics Anonymous-based treatment in an eight-year longitudinal study, he found that the A.A. death rate was "appalling" — that was his word — and that A.A. produced a much higher death rate than the other treatment programs that he also studied. Nothing else produced as high a death rate as Alcoholics Anonymous treatment.

The first rule of medicine is, "Do No Harm." That's in the Hippocratic Oath. And yet we have a huge number of "counselors" who routinely send sick people to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous while stubbornly ignoring the negative side of those organizations and pretending that it doesn't exist — while they also pretend that the 12-Step organizations have a good success rate. That isn't right. That must change.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If you get bubonic plague, do you go to a club composed of
**  other victims of bubonic plague, or do you go to a doctor?

Shar's response to my response is here.

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 7:10 pm     (answered 10 Dec.)
From: "david l."
Subject: Love your site

Dear Orange,

I recently discoverd your web site and I must say it has confirmed all my doubts and misgiving about the AA program. Then I read your story about Soka Gokkai — holy shit man I was caught up with those bastards from 1972 to 1976 then about 87' I walk into AA and got wierd vibes about the "Program"(remember the "Practice" from NSA? Wow!) I wondered what kinda crazy shit I had gotten myself into this time! Well I rationalized it was OK because my friend Rich was there and he didn't seem like a fanatic to me so I gave it a try and went along with it and because I had a genuine desire to quit — — well here I am 2008 and in St Louis for the last 2 years and really wanting to kick the AA habit. Your research is fantastic. I knew some of the crazy shit about Bill W but you really blow the lid off. Just wanted to say thanks.

Dave L.

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and congratulations on your awakening.

For kicking the A.A. habit, I'd recommend that you work on expanding your social circle, finding other friends who are also non-drinkers. The single biggest thing that long-time A.A. members lose when they quit A.A. is that social circle, and loneliness can be a real problem. So find activities where the people don't normally close out the evening by stopping in at a bar. What activity is strictly up to you and your personal tastes.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If the spam email subject line says, "Take off inches instantly!",
**     it's for the wife.
**  If the spam email subject line says, "Put on inches instantly!",
**     it's for the husband.

Date: Tue, December 23, 2008 5:03 pm
From: "david l."
Subject: Re: Love your site

Indeed, planning to go to The Ethics Society around here and find some new friends there also signing up for a French class for the heck of it and spending more time at the gym. Thanks again Dave L.

Ah good, yes, that sounds good.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches
** pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people
** recovering their true sight, restore their government
** to its true principles.  It is true that in the meantime
** we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the
** horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public
** debt.  == Thomas Jefferson

Date: Thu, November 27, 2008 7:27 pm     (answered 10 Dec.)
From: "Carol"
Subject: hello


I just wanted to write and thank you for saving my life. I could write a novel about my AA horror story. I could write all of the same ideas, thoughts, and feelings that everyone has expressed on your website in my own words. Same horror story, same confusion, same conclusion, just a different person.

The most important thing for me to tell you is that your website saved my life. It helped me to "deprogram" from the death cult of insanity. Every single AA member that write you with their program insanity helps me to reclaim my gut instincts that they have no intelligent knowledge about the truth. AA is the most unethical, criminal, and dishonest program and fellowship that I have ever met in my entire life. In the BB when it says toward the end of your drinking we sought out sorted people and places for companionship and understanding speaks for AA itself; to anyone who enjoys making the horror associated with addiction really funny without any realistic solutions to any problems associated with addiction in a group of the most unrecovered dysfunctional people you will ever meet: there is a mtg on every corner. Tell vulnerable people to take a leap of faith into living in the 4th dimension where God solves "all" their problems if they ignore them and "fake" being recovered is insanity.

I can not believe that professionally educated people in the health professions endorse this cult. It makes me wonder what is being taught at these Ivy-league colleges. The economy is a reflection of the stupidity of the people, probably because millions of them recovered in the 4th dimension thinking God is going to clean up the mess if they ignore it. Time & money? Oh, don't worry about those things — just keep looking for suckers to take through the 12-steps so that we can either have more revenue or kill them. It still makes me sick all of the abusive jokes AA laughs at.

I still am interested in filing a civil lawsuit againt AA. If there ever is the opportunity I want to be on the list, because I have real damages emotional, mental, physical, sexual, financial, and spiritual that I can prove.


Hello Carol,

Thank you for the kind letter and all of the compliments. Honestly, I think you really saved your own life, but if I was able to help a little bit, then great.

It's a funny coincidence that shortly after your letter came, another letter came from one of those professionals of whom you speak — a college-trained counselor who recommends A.A. to patients. And of course, she is a 20-year A.A. member herself. (Look here.)

As far as suing A.A. goes, or 12-Step-based treatment centers, I'm surprised that it hasn't happened already. I think it will happen sooner or later. I don't know how such an organization can continue to promote and sell quackery to sick people and get away with it. If it were any other "disease", they would have been shut down and put in jail long ago.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== 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 A.A. Big Book, page 96.

The next letter from Carol is here.

Date: Sat, December 20, 2008 1:54 pm
From: [email protected]
Subject: Reason's Greetings from Mark @ The ARID Site!

Hello Orange! :-)

It was a couple of nights ago that I started watching the "Lord Of The Rings" film trilogy again (the extended cuts on DVD). And, dare I say, you bear a striking resemblance to Ian McKellen's portrayal of Gandalf! So I was reading your most recent E-mail responses on your web site and saw the photo of you feeding your ducklings. And that was so damn cool it really made my weekend so far. I get that same feeling when I'm with my cats.

Anyway, I just got some shopping done and plan on having a great weekend with my family and my awesome girlfriend. One detail of note to at least make this E-mail relevant to our work against the pro-addiction cult is that she quit drinking decades ago. She and her daughter also came very close to getting sucked into the sickening Step Syndicate for her daughter had some drug problems and is now totally free of them on her own without any programs whatsoever. My girlfriend (her mother) did go to Al-Anon and noticed that they seemed a bit "off" in those rooms too. It's when they found a kindred spirit in me that they realized that they weren't alone anymore and had someone with a lot of access to information as well against this corrupt system.

To cut to the chase my girlfriend and I had numerous late-night talks on the phone about what's so wrong with the entire recovery group movement and addiction treatment industry. Better yet we have that bond in which I, for maybe the first time in my life, feel as though have zero secrets to hide. I am open about every single kinky and controversial detail about my life with her and she loves me for that candor. Plus we have an extraordinary silly sense of humor and we can get very, very silly! So while we can be serious we have so much fun together! It's as though we were meant for each other and, when in very tender moments, I have been known to shed a tear now and then. Those are tears of joy and I've never had that happen with anyone else.

So it's very interesting how we do have our differences but that bond of love and honesty is so strong that we just know we have found something truly special in each other. And we don't drink, don't do any moronic "programs" or waste time at meetings (well, I may infiltrate meetings again just for the sake of exposing the cult some more). Imagine that: An atheist and a Christian who love each other for their own minds and openness! It's very hard to describe but sometimes in this wacky world opposites do attract. And when you find that special someone who digs you as much as you dig them by all means take that chance with romance! :-) :-) :-) And I neither want to nor have a desire to change anything about her.

I can't help but compare and contrast to the other relationships I've had with True Believers and I find those previous ones so counterfeit. When I think of who I am now I realize that all I really had to do in the end was to throw caution to the wind, take that chance and just be myself. I'm not getting any younger so why not? I'm just lucky I discovered all of this early yet wish I found it all earlier. A minor regret.

Anyway, "Gandalf", I hope you have an awesome winter solstice holiday season! Reason's Greetings, be well and live well one LIFETIME at a time! ;-)

Mark D. B.
Editor of The ARID Site * http://www.thearidsite.org *
<The Addiction Recovery Information Distribution Site>
** Addiction counseling and groups are total frauds **

Hello Mark,

A merry Christmas to you too. And yes, I occasionally get called "Gandalf". Or, this time of year, "Santa". Especially when I put on a red coat and a Santa hat.

Date: Sun, December 21, 2008 3:12 pm
From: [email protected]
Subject: Chronic Victimhood

Hello again Orange a.k.a. Gandalf! :-)

I've been engrossed by your reader mail again. Another thing jumped out at me from the second letter from Injoyon dated Fri, October 14, 2005:


> I have had personal experience with Narcissistic
> Personality Disorder — It's not something you should
> throw around lightly. These people are shells of people —
> they are incapable of admitting any fault. To actually
> look at their part would cause a puncture to their NP that
> is too great to withstand.

Should it be any of our problem if someone can't handle the truth? I don't. But Injoyon wants to have people like you and me to just shut up lest any bad things should happen to those very fragile egomaniacs within "The Rooms".

Yes, that sounds like a funny kind of ploy, now that you mention it. Phrased another way, it might say, "I'm crazy, so you can't say anything that might disturb me."

And what is "a puncture... too great to withstand"? It reminds me of this quote:

Narcissistic vampires' greatest fear is of being ordinary. God forbid they should do something as mundane as making a mistake. Even the smallest criticisms feel like stakes through the heart. If you reprimand Narcissistic vampires, the least they'll do is explain in great detail why your opinion is wrong.
If you're right, the situation will be much worse. They will melt before your eyes into pitiful, dependent infants who need enormous amounts of reassurance and praise just to draw their next breath. You can't win. There's no such thing as a Narcissistic vampire being objective about his or her faults.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 137.

I used to be a True Believer until one day the crushing weight of the truth left me begging and giving up attempting to defend the system. I so wanted to believe that there had to be something, if anything, but there isn't. And the best advice anyone can give is that one has the choice to make: To continue or to quit.

It's also known as a "Brief Intervention": Simple advice that tops Hester & Miller's list as to what truly works. But you knew that (I have the book and was worth the $70 just to hold it and have it in my personal library). I can scan and E-mail you the list if you need a copy for posting.

I think I've got it. This is in the list of links:

And brief intervention is number one, and A.A. is number 38.

And you know, I do believe that "Brief Intervention" is what the doctor did with me. We had a half-hour interview where he was reading a script part of the time, questioning me about my drinking, bringing out out all of the ugly details, and he ended it with the statement, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one."

Well, it worked. I thought it over for a few weeks, and drank on it and thought some more, and finally decided to live. A month after that interview, I quit drinking, and three weeks after that I quit smoking, too, so I could really recover. And I'm still quit 8 years later.

At the time, I didn't think that I was getting anything that could be called "treatment" — it was just an interview and diagnosis and advice, and a blunt statement of the grim medical facts. If that's "Brief Intervention", then score another success story for that technique.

These True Believers really need to let go of an old idea: That A.A., a.k.a. "Twelve Step Facilitation" (euphemistically referred to as "treatment") "works". It doesn't. It never did. It would be hypocritical of them to keep clutching desperately at such a falsehood.

Be well and live well one LIFETIME at a time, Gandalf! ;-)

P.S. I don't know if you have watched "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. But Gollum is the perfect incarnation of the addiction beast. It was that facet which made the trilogy resonate within me. I wouldn't mind hooking you up with an edition if you start a Wish List on Amazon. I'll gladly send it your way.

Mark D. B.
Editor of The ARID Site * http://www.thearidsite.org *
<The Addiction Recovery Information Distribution Site>
** Addiction counseling and groups are total frauds **

Oh yes, I love Lord of the Rings. That trilogy is one of my all-time favorite movies. (Or 3 movies.) Now that you remind me, that would be a good Christmas video marathon.

And thanks for the kind offer, but I've already got all of the disks of Lord of the Rings. I found them at the local Goodwill for $4 per disk, so I gleefully got the whole set.

And it's a funny coincidence, I just mentioned the similarity of Gollum to the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster in a recent letter, here.

One of the neat things about Lord of the Rings is how Tolkien put in so many classic archetypal personalities. He really knew how to weave an epic tale. The characters in LOR aren't just flat two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. And the degeneration of Smeagol into Gollum is a tale that should entertain any psychiatrist.

Gollum with his ring obsession does look like a depraved addict who cares for nothing but his drug. I've seen a heroin addict who was a lot like Gollum leering "My precious..." as he handled a cap of heroin and got ready to shoot it. (And that guy was just as doomed as Gollum; he didn't live long after that. He got killed in a dope deal gone bad. Some other addicts had the same obsession as him, and they decided that they'd prefer to kill the guy and keep the dope for themselves, rather than deal straight. Geez what a nightmare world heroin is.)

I like the way Tolkien depicted Gollum/Smeagol as a split person, with Gollum being a totally evil obsessed demonic personality, somebody who had completely given in to the dark side, while Smeagol was the small remaining shreds of an ethical person. And the two argued about what to do, and Gollum kept insisting, "Kill that thieving Hobbit and take the Ring back", while Smeagol would hesitate, "Oh, I don't know if I want to do that..."

That really is the human predicament, especially ours, as Lizard Brain says, "Let's just get smashed, high as a kite, and have fun", while the higher brain says, "Oh no, we don't need any more of that kind of suffering." And the internal debate goes on and on.

Sometimes, the Lizard Brain seems like one cold, evil monster: "I don't care about the consequences, or who gets hurt — I want my feel-goods now." It's easy to see how Medieval people believed that humans had an angel and a devil inside, fighting it out.

Just as a by-the-way, a friend who likes to study trivia about things like Tolkien tells me that Tokien created the entire Hobbit and Middle Earth world and five books, The Hobbit, the LOR trilogy, and The Silmarillion, just so that he could create several new languages. Tolkien's real love was languages and philology, and he was a professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University. Tolkien actually wrote a large scholarly tome describing and defining the Middle Earth languages. Now that is one wacky genius.

Have a good day and a merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
**  "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
**   ==  Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

Date: Mon, December 1, 2008 6:08 am
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: Revealing the truth about AA

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that I appreciate your work and am enjoying your site. There's a lot to read, of course, and I've only just begun, but there is one thing in particular that you mention in a few places:

Steppers claim that AA is the only way that alcoholics can become sober. If you show them any examples of people who quit drinking without AA, they typically respond by saying that obviously those people weren't really alcoholics.

The first thing that went thru my head when I read that was: can you say, "No True Scotsman"?

I'd guess you've probably pointed this out already somewhere on your site, but I thought I'd mention it to you, just in case you haven't.

Hope all is going well with you...

Best, Parrish

Hi Parrish,

Yep, it's the The Real Scotsman logical fallacy.

Date: Fri, December 5, 2008 11:20 am
From: "Parrish S. K."

I have some more serious questions and thoughts that I'll be getting back to you with in a bit, as I said, but a couple of quick things that occurred to me today...

First, the indoctrination program of the steps bears a fair amount of similarity to the brainwashing that Winston Smith went thru in 1984. The only major difference is that Steppism is somewhat more subtle; e.g., no blatantly explicit physical torture, instead head games, telling people not to take their meds (which is another kind of torture, if you ask me), and so on.

Second, I also happen to be childfree. Some of us have a game called "Breeder Bingo", where we print up a Bingo card, and each square has a saying on it that we hear from breeders sometimes: "don't be selfish" would be one square, "you'll change your mind when you're older" is another, and so on. It's a form of black comedy that we use to deal with the idiots who are always after us about the fact that we don't want children.

I'm currently on "Letters 37", and it occurs to me that you could just as easily create a "Steppist Bingo" card. "You have a resentment", "You're not a real alcoholic", "It works if you work it", et cetera. A standard Bingo card has 25 squares. You've probably got enough material for several (just as the childfree do).

Back to work with me... hope all is well. Best, P

Funny that you should mention that. Last year, somebody wrote in talking about "Bullshit Bingo", that was played at A.A. meetings (well, maybe). See it here.

Date: Sat, December 6, 2008 9:46 am
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: Continuing to work thru your site

This letter is probably going to be rather disjointed, because it's going to consist of a variety of observations and comments and so on that aren't really related to each other. Fortunately, as I've learned from browsing thru your email archives, you're not averse to receiving that kind of communication. *grin*

I have to thank you again for your site. I was a reader of AA Deprogramming before it went under, but that site didn't really make as clear as yours does just how much of a cult AA really is.

My own first experience with Steppism was actually in NA in 1986, and I had problems with it almost right away. It took only three or four meetings for me to start saying to myself, "Hey, you know, this seems an awful lot like a religion — instead of Ten Commandments, Twelve Steps. And they start each meeting by reciting this one same passage, almost as though it were Scripture." The only reason I kept it up was that the Steppist propaganda machine had been (and still is) so successful and perpetuating this myth throughout our entire society that Steppism is the only alternative to drinking. Or drug use. Or overeating. Or compulsive gambling. Or, or, or. Or my favorite, sex addiction. (Yeah, let's get the alleged sex addicts into their own Twelve-Step program, what a great idea! Let's see. For alcoholics, the first thing they're supposed to do is admit they can never drink again, so I guess for sex addicts, that must mean... uh... hmm. We may have a recruitment problem...)

I was always darkly amused as well by how many of the Steppers smoked. Admittedly, my experience is only anecdotal, but if it's any indication, it appears to me that these "recovering addicts" have a much higher rater of tobacco use than the population in general. At any meeting I was at, over half the attendees were smokers (heavy smokers, too). I occasionally thought about mentioning this in group, but those little niggling doubts that were already at the back of my mind told me that that would probably not go over well.

Anyway. I went in and out of NA, and, occasionally, AA, and it never worked out because the whole religious aspect of it just REALLY turned me off. I was fairly young at the time and exploring various doctrines and ideologies... I was an atheist at first, then I went thru a few different types of "New Age-ism", which was big at the time. None of that, obviously, fits in with Steppism, but I couldn't understand what the problem was that I was having: how they could say that I could choose any higher power I wanted, but wasn't able to incorporate whatever ideas I was studying into the program. I certainly get it now, though... like you said in one of your letters about what Ford said about choosing the color for your Model T.

My drinking and pot use came and went in waves. Pot eventually seems to have "burned itself out" in me... It reached a point where I'd smoke, and instead of feeling good, I just got paranoid. After a few months or so of that, I realized that that was going to be a permanent reaction, so I stopped... it's almost like pot quit me, rather than the other way around. My drinking continued off and on until I got involved in my first serious relationship. Drinking caused some pretty serious trouble there, of course, and I nearly lost her. I never raised my voice or got physically violent (praise be), but it did make me say a lot of things I'll never be able to forgive myself for.

Fortunately, she was a very patient and understanding woman, and when I finally confessed to her that I had a drinking problem, she stayed by my side. Once I was able to talk to her frankly about when I was drinking or having urges, it became a lot easier to deal with, and after a short time, I quit completely. It was either quit the booze or lose her, and that fear was actually enough to get me to stop. (Contrary to what Steppists would almost certainly say, which is that I'd have to lose her first and do anything else to "hit bottom" before becoming sober.)

She was very helpful and understanding during the "bottle battle", and she was actually the one who first enlightened me about Steppism being a cult. Once she sent me the link to AA Deprogramming and I started reading everything there, the nickels really started falling regarding why Steppism had never worked for me and why it always gave me an uneasy feeling. Lots and lots of nickels. In fact, I don't think the Treasury Department ever even minted that many nickels. :^) I see now that the whole thing was just a big brainwashing thing, and I've never been easy to brainwash — even less so since I majored in philosophy (which required studying logic).

As I continue reading the materials on your site, I'm almost tempted to start going to Steppist meetings again to see whether I might be able to undo some damage, or maybe at least prevent more from happening (the "Newcomer Rescuers League"). I just might, after I've spent some more time reviewing your site and others like it.

Just got done reading those passages from the alleged "Native American recovery story" and just about busted a gut. I'd ask you whether you were making that up if I didn't already know better. That's got to be one of the most embarrassing things I've ever heard of from Steppist literature. Could they have possibly made that any more ridiculous? "Tall Man never forget how Great Spirit save him from bad magic in firewater. Heap big gum damage and liver cirrhosis. Now Squaw read 'We Wives' section as Tall Man thank paleface narcissist for Steps." Sheesh!

One minor correction: "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette" is not by Johnny Cash. It was written by Merle Travis and originally recorded by Tex Williams, although a number of artists have covered it. Johnny Cash, as far as I know, isn't one of them. The version I have on my iPod is by Commander Cody.

I'm going to go back to browsing thru your email archives, but before I sign off, I did want to offer one more observation, at the risk of sounding petty: I can't help but notice that the AA supporters almost always have pretty serious problems with spelling, grammar, and punctuation (not to mention logic, of course, but that goes without saying), whereas the detractors generally have good writing skills. It does appear that cults have better success at brainwashing inductees who are less educated.

Hope all is going well with you.

Hi again, Parrish,

Yes, all is going well with me.

Thanks for the letters, and the story.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "People unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it
** — are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an
** attribute of a 'have' type of self. It says: leave me
** alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities.
** The desire for power is basically an attribute of a 'have
** not' type of self." == Eric Hoffer

Date: Thu, December 18, 2008 1:50 pm
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: Here's an interesting one for you...

A court in Arizona ruled in May of '08 that AA is not required to obtain a permit to hold meetings, as most organizations are — because AA is a religion.


Note, in particular, that the attorney for "Safe Harbor" (the AA group) itself argued that it should be exempt from the permit requirement for that very reason.

I can't think of anything to add — it speaks for itself. However, it's not showing up high in Google, and I don't recall having seen mention of it on your site, so I wanted to mention it to you, being sure you'd want to post it on the Orange Papers.

Hope all is going well... Best, P

Hi again, Parrish,

Yes, I am fine, and I trust that you are too.

Thank you very much for that story. I had not seen it before. That is really quite important. It has so many repercussions.

Quoting just a few of the most relevant paragraphs:

The case, which pitted the City of Prescott against Safe Harbor, involved the city's attempt to gain a permanent injunction against Safe Harbor's operation of its center in the north Prescott neighborhood. ...

During a December 2006 court hearing, Safe Harbor and its attorney Gil Shaw emphasized the spiritual nature of AA's 12-step program and maintained that federal statute bars governments from interfering in religious matters without a compelling interest.

... [Judge Douglas] Rayes' ruling stated, "the city's effort to 'zone' the AA members of Safe Harbor out of the property is a land-use regulation which imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of the AA members of Safe Harbor and of AA..."

Yes, as you said, the lawyer didn't hesitate to claim the protections of a religion for Alcoholics Anonymous. When faced with legal difficulties, A.A. is suddenly a religion. A rehab center equals a church.

Once again we get the double-talk where they play both sides:

  • A.A. is not a religion when the judge is sentencing drunk drivers and drug offenders to 12-Step meeting attendance,
  • and A.A. is not a religion when it comes to criticizing the other churches and claiming that A.A. is better than the other religions because "A.A. is spiritual, not religious",
  • but A.A. is a religion when it comes to tax deductions and getting the privileges and protections of a religion.
  • And A.A. is a religion when it comes to having a public reputation for encouraging disgusting alcoholics to pray and get some faith...

It will be interesting to see how the appeal goes. This is worth watching. If the Arizona Supreme Court ultimately rules that A.A. is a religion, then that makes it harder for 12-Step-based rehab and treatment centers to argue that they are offering non-religious (but "spiritual") "treatment" and "therapy", and are eligible for government funding for their programs.

That also makes it a little more difficult for judges to sentence people to 12-Step meetings (although they seem to be having few difficulties with that so far).

On the other hand, if A.A. is judged to not be a religion, then there go some privileges. The A.A. headquarters will keep the tax deduction by simply declaring that they are an "educational" organization (which I think they already do).

Have a good day and a merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** An alcoholic is a fellow who is "trying to get his
** religion out of a bottle... when what he really wants
** is unity within himself, unity with God...."
** "There is a definite religious element here."
**  ==  Bill Wilson at the Shrine Auditorium in
**      Los Angeles, in March, 1943

Date: Fri, January 9, 2009 3:23 pm
From: "Parrish K."
Subject: Re: Hi, me again. :-)

Wanted to offer a quick suggestion: regarding the Arizona case I sent you a while back (where the attorney for AA claimed religious protection for AA).

You might want to include it on the "It's Spiritual, Not Religious" page, since it indicates that it's no longer simply a case of AA claiming it's not a religion and the courts denying their claims. AA is now itself claiming that it's a religion. Admittedly, they're only doing that when it serves their purposes, as you pointed out, but even so.

That's a good idea.
Thanks, and have a good day.
== 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, December 26, 2008 3:56 am     (answered 30 March 2009)
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: Quick thanks

Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for responding to my letters and for posting them on your site. I'm glad I was able to give you some more information that you hadn't had (the case in Arizona). I wonder whether that might be an indication that Steppism is resigning itself to the fact that it has been legally identified as a religion and trying to make some lemonade from the lemons that the courts have given them. Probably not... more likely it was just opportunism on the attorney's part. But who knows.

I'm continuing to go thru your site and have some other thoughts that I want to share with you, but I'm holding off a bit until I've made a searching and fearless inventory of all the material (hee!) because it looks like just about everything that's occurring to me has already occurred to you (e.g., the "No True Scotsman" thing I wrote about a while back) and I want to keep your extraneous traffic to a minimum. I've already started a couple of other emails with observations I've had, but later scrapped the emails after finding that you've already observed those things yourself. I think my favorite is "if you haven't worked the steps, you can't know what they'll do for you." Uh huh. I've never shot myself in the head with a twelve-gauge, either, but — call me crazy, call me arrogant — I think I have a pretty good idea what it would "do for me". Actually, the result in both cases would be about the same. I wouldn't be able to think for myself anymore.

Off to get my day started... please say "hi" to the ducks for me the next time you're at the river. Happy Boxing Day. :-) TTYL, P

Hi again, Parrish,

And a belated thanks. That line about the shotgun is good, and funny.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "I can't go back to yesterday — because I was a different person then."
**    Lewis Carroll (English Logician, Mathematician, Photographer and Novelist,
**    especially remembered for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 1832—1898)

Date: Tue, December 23, 2008 8:54 pm
From: "stacey j."
Subject: hi orange!

Merry Christmas, and a Very, Very, Happy New Year.

I CANNOT EMPHASIZE how much better my life has become since finally leaving AA, and your site (which I began reading at least four years ago) was the primary catalyst.

The negative energy in meetings, the pervasive oeuvre of self pity, dogma, doom, and despair is what led me to find your site in the first place. I'd been unhappy and uncomfortable in AA for a long time without understanding why, and had dwindled my meetings down to about (3) a year, "just in case."

The final catalyst came while volunteering full time for the Obama campaign in Florida (yes, we did!) Not that we didn't have our moments (trust me) but we had one common goal, one point of focus, one reason for being together, and a super-groovy, excellent "group conscience."

Somewhere during that time — I realized I'd finally had it with AA. I'd had it with the selfishness, I'd had it with the self-righteousness, I'd had it with the (subtle and not- so-subtle) delusions of its members, I'd had it with their wacky hypocrisy, and I'd had it with their self judgement and finger-pointing judgement of others.

So, this January, my dear Orange, I shall celebrate my (22) years of sobriety (finally!) COMPLETELY OUTSIDE the mental, physical, and spiritual prison of AA.

Thanks and love,

Hi Stacey,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are doing so well. News like that does brighten my day.

And congratulations and thanks for the work on Obama's campaign. Yes We Did!

Unbelievable, you know. The historians will write a lot of history books about that campaign. Obama really accomplished the nearly-impossible. (With a little help from zillions of his friends, like you.) And he carried out his campaign plan with such intelligence and care and competence and cool confidence that it is stunning.

Now, if he can be just half that effective in solving the monumental problems that he will get stuck with on January 20th, there is some hope for our country yet...

Have a good day and a merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Give the dead their due. After all, they
**   have worked hard to elect a whole host of
**   Congressmen, Senators, and even Presidents.

Date: Thu, December 25, 2008 6:11 am
From: "Paul"
Subject: Your comment in the New York Times

Hey there,

On 22 December, you commented on a story that appeared in the Times about the ineffectiveness of addiction treatment centers. Here's the link to your comment: http://community.nytimes.com/article/comments/ 2008/12/23/health/23reha.html?permid=47#comment47

Your comment appeared just above mine and I found your website through the link in your comment. I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading the Orange Papers all morning and I am impressed. I went to an AA meeting every day for a year at the behest of my sponsor before I'd had enough and went off on my own to find some meaning in my sobriety. Of course I was branded an apostate immediately and very rapidly shunned by my AA "friends" who avoid me to this day. It's interesting that in their eyes I'm not only not sober, but that I am a threat to their sobriety. As an apostate I can see that the real threat I pose is a threat to their AA indoctrination. It would be amusing were it not so damaging. Damaging to them of course, not to me.

I have come to my conclusions about AA on my own and devised ways to keep myself sober and happy about it on my own. I got a lot of help by reading a lot about RET, but for the most part I've been on a tremendously rewarding path on my own. I've come to believe that AA is a cult and a dangerous one at that and I'm thrilled to see that I'm not alone in that. Your website has given me plenty of reading material and plenty to think about and I wanted to send you a salute for being out there.

So you have a great Christmas day and know that you've made a fan in St. Pete Florida.

Paul A.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

I have some experience with "REBT" — Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy — which is what SMART teaches. I think it is practically identical to RET. And yes, I agree that it is good stuff that can help you to straighten out your thinking and stop driving yourself crazy.

I also like the Rational Recovery approach, of recognizing the "Addiction Beast", or Lizard Brain Addiction Monster, as it wheedles and tries to talk me into having "just a little..."

In that New York Times article, I was surprised to see that the state of Oregon had finally switched policies, and was now demanding some actual evidence of effectiveness of the treatment programs that they were paying for. Back in the year 2000, when I went to "treatment", it seemed like any quackery was acceptable. "Stick acupuncture needles in them and send them to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings... whatever. And then bill the State Health Plan for treatment." I'm glad to see that the powers that be have become a little more discriminating. But then again, they have to be. The Oregon Health Plan is now broke. The quacks had a free ride for a while, but that seems to be over now.

The next thing that we have to do is work at the Federal level. I just learned that the "Paul Wellstone Equal Access Act" was passed by subterfuge. That act declares that mental patients must get medical treatment that is equal to what someone might get for physical ailments like cancer or a heart attack.

Now that sounds fine in theory. I'm all for mental patients getting good treatment. But now comes the fraud: Alcoholism and drug addiction are labeled "mental illnesses", and the 12-Step treatment centers declare themselves eligible for payment for "treatment of mentally ill persons".

The way that they passed the law was outrageous. Remember the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street? The House refused to pass it. So the Senate wanted to pass it. But there is a Constitutional rule that all appropriations bills must originate in the House. The Senate cannot write and pass spending bills by itself. So they took the Paul Wellstone Act that was intended to fund mental health care (and covertly fund Alcoholics Anonymous), and appended a small $700 billion for Wall Street addition to the bill, and passed it. Then the House finally approved that version of the Paul Wellstone Act.

Hey Presto! 12-Step counselors can now claim that they should get paid by everybody's health plan.

The solution I see is to demand that the treatment programs prove their actual effectiveness in valid Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Studies. That has never happened, and I don't expect it to ever happen, because 12-Step treatment doesn't work.

Unfortunately, the Federal Food and Drug Administration tests medicines, but not treatments. So the FDA won't be busting the "addiction treatment centers" for fraud.

So, everybody, time to put some pressure on your Senators and Congressmen, and demand that quackery not be funded. Make the so-called "treatment providers" prove that they are actually providing good effective treatment. Don't let the quacks suck billions of dollars out of our health care system while harming more addicts than they help. (Oh, and that New York Times article gave the number "$20 billion per year" for how much this country spends on addiction treatment. I had been using the number of only $6 billion per year. That is a whole lot of quackery, and there is lots of money to be made in failing to cure addicts.)

Thanks for the letter, and have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== 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.

Date: June 7, 2008     (answered 25 Dec. 2008)
From: "J. Scott Tonigan, Ph.D."
Subject: feedback


I did not read your website in detail, and hence my remark may not be fully accurate. I do feel, however, that the thrust of my comment is accurate. Advocacy without scientific proof is misguided. Most of the comments you level against Humphreys and Moos miss the mark badly. What is portrayed as a rational counter-argument to their findings is, in fact, irrational and emotional rage. I do hope that NIH money will support the investigation of non 12-step mutual-help programs, and I also hope that they are found to be effective. It is always good to have evidence-based alternatives.

Cordially, Scott Tonigan

Hello Scott,

Thanks for the letter. It's good to hear from you. Sorry to take so long to answer this letter; it got buried.

You say that "It is always good to have evidence-based alternatives."

Why do you talk about "evidence-based alternatives"? Alternatives to what?

Why would you consider sensible treatments alternatives?
Why should we have anything but valid treatments that are based on facts, rather than superstitions?
Why should fraud, quackery, and cult religion be given equal billing with real medicine?

While you may feel that my criticism of Humphreys and Moos is wrong, feelings aren't enough. I would like to see some actual facts and solid evidence to refute my statements. Do you have any?

Like how about some actual Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Studies that show that the 12-Step-based treatment works?

Oh, and what is the success rate of Alcoholics-Anonymous-based treatment? If we send 1000 randomly-chosen alcoholics to 12-Step treatment, how many of them will be clean and sober a year later?

Or, if we just send 1000 randomly-chosen alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (skip the "treatment"), how many of them will pick up a one-year medallion, ever?

And how does that compare to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics?

Oh well, have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   How many diseases does modern medicine treat
**   with a "spiritual cure"?
**   If you get cancer, does the doctor tell you
**   to join the Pentecostals and speak in tongues?
**   If you get diabetes, is the fix to join the
**   Mormons and eat chocolate cakes?
**   So why, if you get "alcoholism", should you join
**   Alcoholics Anonymous and conduct seances to
**   hear the voice of God giving you work orders?

Date: Fri, December 26, 2008 7:37 am
From: "J. Scott Tonigan, Ph.D."
Subject: Re: feedback

Thank you for the courtesy of sending your reply.

Scott Tonigan

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Last updated 29 January 2015.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters96.html