Letters, We Get Mail, XII
by A. Orange

[Aug 19, 2003, from the newsgroup alt.recovery.addiction.alcoholism
This thread began by someone declaring that "experts at Stanford had found that A.A. worked better than rational therapy". Kai then posted some references to a summary of the study.]

> > "Kai"  wrote in message
> > news:bhnb2i$3db$1@phys-news1.kolumbus.fi...




[And my response was:]

That study by Humphreys and Moos was a hoax. The V.A. sure got cheated out of their money on that one.

That was not a randomized study. Humphreys and Moos hand-picked which patients would go into which program. They were cherry-picking.

For some real randomized studies, look at Brandsma,
and Orford and Edwards:

There was no control group. There should have been three groups:
1.) The A.A. and N.A. 12-Step approach.
2.) The SMART or other Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach.
3.) A Control group who got no treatment at all. The control group will show the level of spontaneous remission in the population. A treatment program must show better results than the control group to claim success.

Assignment of patients to those 3 groups must be random for the test to be valid. No cherry-picking allowed.

There must be follow-ups, preferably going on for years, to see what the long-term effects and success rate really are.

That is not how Humphreys and Moos did their "study".

The quality of the teaching of the rational behavioral therapy in that so-called "study" had to be terrible, because at least 7% of the "rational" class time was actually spent teaching the 12 steps instead of teaching rational thinking. Didn't you notice that nasty little detail?
What was going on there?
The 12 steps have nothing to do with teaching rational thinking.

The two approaches, rational thinking and the 12 steps, are diametrically opposed and cannot be blended together:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (like SMART) emphasize the idea that you will straighten out your thinking and learn to take care of yourself. Just because you made mistakes before doesn't mean you can't learn to do it right the next time.
    • A.A. pushes the idea that your mind is hopelessly broken — "Stop Your Stinkin' Thinkin'" — "Your best thinking got you here" — "You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem" — so you should just surrender and let your sponsor do your thinking for you.
    • A.A. teaches that you are powerless over alcohol.
    • SMART teaches that you are powerful and can learn to control your own behavior, and choose your actions. In addition, I tell people that the A.A. first step is a prescription for shooting yourself in the foot. If you really believe that you are powerless over alcohol, then how could you ever quit drinking? How could you not relapse and go on a binge?
    • The 12 steps teach belief in a ghost or "Higher Power" or spirits who will wield magical powers and change reality to suit you if you please them by performing bizarre acts like listing and confessing all of your "sins" (preferably on your knees).
    • SMART teaches no such supernatural nonsense. SMART teaches you to rely on yourself, and take care of yourself, and resist cravings yourself.

Any teacher who can stand in front of a class and recite the 12 steps and then say, "It works, it really does," is inherently unqualified to teach rational thinking to anyone.

Likewise, it's hard to tell the students that irrational superstition is wonderful stuff that will save your life, and then switch to endorsing rational thinking and teach them to think rationally. Which statements are the students supposed to believe?

With all of the groups getting 12-Step indoctrination, this was not a test of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy versus A.A.. It was a contest of A.A. versus a bastardized version of A.A.. And then Humphreys stuffed the ballot box by hand-picking the contestants. And then one of the versions of A.A. won. No surprise there.

The lead author, Keith Humphreys, is obviously, blatantly, biased. He's a true believer in the 12-Step cult. This is nothing new. Keith Humphreys has a long history of writing phony propaganda pieces to promote A.A.. Just a few:


Keith Humphreys; Rudolf H. Moos; Caryn Cohen.
Social and community resources and long-term recovery from treated and untreated alcoholism.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol, May 1997 v58 n3 p231(8)
==It says: "Several long-term studies (e.g., Thorpe and Perret, 1959; Vaillant and Milofsky, 1982) support AA's effectiveness."
Humphreys and Moos didn't bother to mention the important fact that in 1984 Prof. Vaillant, a member of the Board of Trustees of A.A.W.S., reported that A.A. did not work at all.

Keith Humphreys:
Professional Interventions That Facilitate 12-Step Self-Help Group Involvement.
Alcohol Research & Health, Spring 1999 v23 i2 p93
==How to force people into A.A..

Humphreys, K., Mavis, B.E., Stofflemayer, B.E. (1991).
Substance abuse treatment agencies and self-help groups: Collaborators or competitors?
Paper presented at the 99th annual convention of the APA.
=='Treatment facilities and A.A. should be friends.'

Humphreys, K., & Weisner, C. (2000).
Use of exclusion criteria in selecting research subjects and its effect on the generalizability of alcohol treatment outcome studies.
Amer. J. Psychiat., 157, 588-594. [Journal Article]
==How to cherry-pick.

Keith Humphreys; Rudolf H. Moos.
Saving money with Alcoholics Anonymous
Harvard Mental Health Letter, March 1997 v13 n9 p6(2)
==You can figure this one out for yourself.

Humphreys, K., Moos, R. H., and Finney, J. W.,
Two pathways out of drinking problems without professional treatment
Addict. Behav. 20:427-441 (1995).
==Guess which "non-professional" treatment program they recommend.

Humphreys et al.
Enhancing AA Participation: Effect of Type of Treatment Program
J Stud Alcohol 1999

I have many more such references. He's a one-man propaganda machine, and the team of Humphreys and Moos seems to be a Rogers-and-Hart-like song and dance team that is dedicated to proselytizing for Alcoholics Anonymous.


By the way, Humphreys loves to harp on the idea that "free" A.A. is very money-saving and cost effective. That is not what Dr. Diana Walsh found. She found that A.A. just messed up a lot of people and made them worse, so that they required much more expensive hospitalization later on. See:

In this piece of propaganda, Humphreys said of 12-Steppers teaching A.A. recovery:
"They tend to be people who really believe in the approach that they're teaching."

As if the people who coordinate SMART or WFS meetings don't believe in what they are doing?

Translation: the true-believer steppers who taught the rational behavior classes did not believe in rational thinking, and they even spent 7% of the class time teaching the 12 steps instead of teaching rational thinking. They believed in the 12-Step approach so much that they just couldn't let anybody get through their programs without having had the 12 steps shoved down their throats.

>> "They are more likely to say I can help you overcome your cocaine
>> addiction, because I overcame one."

Baloney. As if the people who facilitate SMART, SOS, WFS, and MFS meetings are not also recovering or recovered alcoholics and addicts.

>> Once the patients of these
>> programs are discharged, they can call on self-help group members
>> and sponsors that they met during their treatment, creating a mutual
>> support network that can in some ways mirror that provided by
>> professional counselors.

More baloney. As if you can't go back to a SMART meeting whenever you wish. (For free, of course.) Or SOS, WFS, or MFS, or get into LifeRing on the Internet.

>> Humphreys wrote:
>> "Graduates from the 12-Step-oriented
>> programs slice their long-term health care costs by more than half
>> by turning to community-based self-help groups rather than to
>> professional mental health services for support in the year after
>> discharge, say the researchers."

That is a false comparison. Of course paid professionals are more expensive than free A.A. meetings. But what about free SMART meetings? Or SOS, WFS, or MFS? Humphreys just pretended that they don't exist.

Also note that the A.A. members must have been relapsing and getting hospitalized or detoxed a lot, because it still cost half of the professional treatment programs' costs when the alcoholics went to the "free" A.A. meetings. A.A. is supposed to be free, so what cost so much?

And watch the verbal shell game very carefully. Humphreys said that it was more expensive to go to "professional mental health services" in the year following graduation from treatment, rather than going to "free" A.A.. But Humphreys didn't say that those expensive professionals actually taught the rational behavior classes, did he? They were obviously taught by inexpensive steppers who couldn't resist the urge to include 12-Step theology in the classes.

In the final analysis, all that Humphreys is really saying is, "Free A.A. meetings cost a little bit less than highly-paid professional therapists."

>> Humphreys wrote: "The cost difference was due 
>> to the fact that the men who were enrolled in the
>> 12-Step oriented approach were significantly more likely to attend
>> meetings of community based self-help groups after discharge, and
>> were less likely to call on traditional medical professionals to
>> help them avoid relapsing."

Note the message that health care providers can save a lot of money if they teach the alcoholics not to go to professional healers — just go to the inexpensive amateurs who use faith healing, like the A.A. sponsors. I wonder how the V.A. reacted to the idea that they could save money by sending the veterans to cheap quack doctors.

And the *only* mention Humphreys made of actual success is this line:

>> "The 12-Step oriented programs
>> were not only cost-efficient, they were also effective nearly 46
>> percent of the men who had been in these programs were abstinent one
>> year after discharge, compared to 36 percent of those treated in
>> cognitive-behavioral programs. This may be in part due to the fact
>> that staff members in the 12-Step oriented treatment programs are
>> more likely to be recovering addicts who strongly endorse the
>> 12-Step treatment."

Or the 10% difference in abstinence (46% vs. 36%) may be due to cherry-picking the patients. Humphreys stated that he hand-picked which patients went into which program.

Or it may be due to the fact that the rational classes were taught by 12-Step true believers who also taught the 12 steps in the rational classes, and who clearly showed their disdain for rational approaches, and who did a very poor job of teaching rational behavior.

Note that Humphreys did not say how many of the patients were still in trouble with alcohol. People who have recovered and are drinking moderately are counted as failures in A.A. programs, along with the rest of the non-abstainers and relapsers. The *only* measure of success that Humphreys gave was total abstinence. He didn't say anything about health, legal issues, employment, rearrests and imprisonment, deaths, divorce, relapse rates or intensity, or anything else. (Getting locked up in prison counts as abstinence, doesn't it? So does committing suicide.)

This so-called "study" was nothing more than a propaganda stunt to try to make the 12-Step cult look good. It wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

And lastly, note that when all of the groups got 12-Step indoctrination, Humphreys could have pointed to the winners, no matter who did better, and announced that people who got at least some 12-Step training did the best.

What a joke.
And he actually got the V.A. to fund that garbage?
Clever, very clever.

Unfortunately, all of the pro-A.A. "tests" and "studies" turn out to be equally useless pseudo-science. I say unfortunately because it really would be wonderful to have a program that works as well as A.A. says theirs works.
But A.A. doesn't work.
And there is not a single valid randomized longitudinal controlled study that shows that A.A. works.
Every time A.A. is put to the test, it flunks.
Not even Prof. George E. Vaillant, Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., could make A.A. show any success. See:

*               Agent Orange              *
*	 orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*	 http://www.orange-papers.org/	 *
**  Being surrounded by a group of people who keep telling
**  you that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your
**  will power is useless, is not getting "support". It is
**  getting sabotaged.
**  With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

UPDATE: 2011.07.11:
The International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction also analyzed the so-called "test" of A.A. versus CBT at the Palo-Alto Veterans' Center, and they found that the Humpheys-Moos study was invalid, erroneous, badly done, and downright deceptive and faked. They concluded that A.A. did more harm than good, and responsible health care professionals should not refer clients to A.A.

Look here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters247.html#Clark_M

[8 September 2003, Dean E. wrote]:

Thanks for your article "The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster" and the other Orange Papers. I enjoyed the pragmatic tone of the piece, with its sense of humor and muckraking desire to get to the root of a story.

I had begun to come to a lot of the same conclusions that you have, although I have only been to one 12-Step meeting.

Thanks for your thoughts. They are much appreciated.


PS A little background about me: I find myself confronting the issues of addiction and dependence for the first time. I was raised Mormon, but am now a spiritually oriented but essentially nontheistic and nonreligious person. I am highly educated, with degrees in mathematics from Caltech and UCLA. I decided to become a professional performing artist, and have worked as a freelance, professional opera singer for the past 9 years.

Hi, Dean,

Thanks for the thanks, and have a good day.

— Orange

[8 October 2003, Dean P. wrote]:


just visited most of your web page. Very intriguing, and interesting.

Are you an alcoholic? Are you in recovery (or recovered)?

I'm too young to have known Mr. Wilson. Did you know him? You have a lot of insight into his way of thinking. Did you live near him?

best regards,

Dean P.

Hello Dean,

Thanks for the letter.

I am also too young to have known Bill Wilson. He died Jan 24, 1971, when I was 24. At that age, I had not even started the habit of having one beer a day after work. That didn't start until I was 29, so I never had any reason to know Bill Wilson while he was alive.

Any insight into his character that I have just comes from years of studying his writings and the history of his cult (as well as the cult of his guru, Frank Buchman). And also maybe from growing up the son of an alcoholic father, just like Bill Wilson did.

Am I an alcoholic? Yes. But watch out for the definitions. A.A. uses three very different definitions of the word "alcoholic", and freely uses them interchangeably:

  1. An alcoholic is someone who habitually drinks far too much alcohol.
  2. An alcoholic is someone who is hyper-sensitive to alcohol, almost allergic to alcohol, perhaps a genetic alcoholic; someone who cannot drink even one drink or his drinking will spin out of control and he will become readdicted to alcohol.
  3. An alcoholic is an insane sinner who is full of disgusting character defects and moral shortcomings and resentments and barely-contained anger, and is a prime example of self-will run riot and instincts run wild and selfishness and self-seeking and the Seven Deadly Sins, although he doesn't think so... etc., etc., ...

  1. By definition 1, I stopped being an alcoholic three years ago.
  2. By definition 2, I will always be an alcoholic.
  3. By definition 3, I was never an alcoholic. I was always a nice drunk. People liked having me at their parties because I was so much fun to have around when I got high. (But, as one friend said, "Even nice drunks die of cirrhosis of the liver...")

Have a good day.

— Orange

[10 October 2003]:

Agent Orange,

Just a note to say, that even as an AA member for about 25 years, I enjoy your site as well as aadeprogramming. Your site I especially like because you list your sources. As any supposed anti-aa (for lack of a better term right now) it does seem that once the ball gets rolling it can not stop. In that I mean that just as so much of the aa logic is flawed much of the anti-aa logic becomes flawed.

For example the first step gets a little bent, in my opinion, by both sides with neither seeing the step just as it is word for word. When I am in a first step meeting it suddenly becomes "We were powerless over everything," "We admitted we were alcoholics" and "our lives are always unmanageable." And then a lot of people get pissed when I state that the Big Book does not tell me I have to admit I am an alcoholic. Lol

The real reason I do especially like your site as well as aadeprogramming is because I realize AA is not for everyone. I get more alternatives thru your sites and I have passed much on. Much I have already known such as all the perps the roam our tables. Even I was 13 stepped and he was real smooth too and not one in that group would help me. I got shit like well, that is between you two and well, he does have a lot of sobriety, and it went on and on. I should add I am male as well so that criteria was met and neither of us were/are gay. And so, in the spirit of aa (lol) I do my best to pass the message and help those newcomers that are vulnerable. To which I was told the word vulnerable was not in the Big Book. I have even suggested to a few that they try a treatment center to make them into a social drinker as they met the basic criteria for admittance. There just is so many alternatives out there if one can only be open minded enough to learn them and not be locked into AA is the absolute. As my sponsor/shrink would tell me when I would piss and moan about my nearing psyche degree, near completion of a 2 year chemical dependency program, and all my extension credits in family issues; "that"s for other people, AA is for you." And so it has been. I am AA in spite of Bill Wilson and all of AA faults.

Again, thanks for your site..fantastic work (obviously a labor of love)

Bruce J.

Treatment taught me there is nothing worse than a drunk with a heedful of AA. Experience has taught me there is nothing worse than an AA with head full of treatment.

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for the thanks. I always find it interesting to hear from A.A. oldtimers (when they don't want to crucify me... :-)

Have a good day.

— Orange

[12 October 2003]:

Medicine is amazing. You can get a new heart. Diabetes is under. Asthma and allergies have solutions. Polio is gone. And other Vaccines for all sorts of disease. Bone Marrow transplants. Moon landings. Computers. Science galore. But when it comes to addiction we are still in the 1950's with AA 12 step program that works for maybe 5%. Why even HIV and STD's are faring better. Perhaps what we need is all of us to come out of the closet and have addicts pride week and addicts political action committees in order to get the government to spend money on scientific solutions to pain and addiction.


Hi, thanks for the letter. I couldn't agree more.

And about political action, I am writing to my Congressmen and Senators now, starting a real campaign of writing and sending essays, explaining why we should not bother with Rep. Jim Ramstad's (R-MN) "HEART" bill. That's "Help Expand Access to Recovery and Treatment", House Bill H.R.2256. It's co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) as Senate Bill S.1138.

I know that it can't be just a coincidence that Hazelden is located in Minnesota, and that this bill would get lots more money for Hazelden. How much did Hazelden contribute to those guys' campaign coffers?

Oh, and Jim Ramstad is a non-anonymous member of Alcoholics Anonymous who talks about being a 20-year old-timer.

The "HEART" bill is just another thinly-veiled attempt to route more money into the 12-Step cult, by laundering the money through "treatment facilities", 93% of which use 12-Step programs to "treat" alcoholics and addicts. The bill will force health insurance programs to pay for more 12-Step "treatment" for addicts, and will give the 12-Step quack healers "parity" with real doctors when it comes to getting paid. As if some 12-Step true believer who has been off of drugs and alcohol for a few years is just as well-trained and qualified as a real doctor who spent 8 years in medical school and even more years as an intern and resident...

At a time when they are talking about Medicare going broke, and health insurance costs are going through the roof, and health insurance is simply becoming too expensive for the average family to afford, we don't need to be spending a billion or two on completely ineffective voodoo medicine, faith healing, and quack medicine to make the 12-Step cult happy.

How is it that we are still stuck in the dark ages as far as treating addictions is concerned, and so many people think it's wonderful?

One of the things I am recommending is that any alcoholism or addiction treatment programs that health insurance programs are forced to pay for must be tested by the FDA in real honest valid RANDOMIZED LONGITUDINAL CONTROLLED STUDIES, and be shown to actually work and be good, effective medicine (just like how any other medicine or treatment gets tested). A.A. has flunked that simple test every single time it has ever been done, because A.A. doesn't work. And we must look at the success rate at the end of a year, not a week after the "treatment" ends, to see what the real, lasting effect of the "treatment" is.

Oh, and I have to mention that 5% is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. That's the success rate you get if you do nothing to help them. Those are the people who heal themselves and save their own lives.

When you subtract the normal 5% spontaneous remission rate from the A.A. 5% success rate, you get zero for A.A.'s real success rate. A.A. doesn't make any more people recover than would have recovered anyway without A.A. "help".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[12 October 2003]:


Why do you go to all this trouble? what the heck did AA do to you?

A cult has to have people who will follow without question. And you disproved yourself all ready, if nobody says sober then the is no cult?

Besides you can't get to drunks to agree on anything most of the time.

Best regards,

Why do I go to all that trouble?
Maybe I just like to get the truth out.
Maybe I'm just tired of seeing friends getting misled and deceived when they are trying to save their own lives.
Maybe I'm tired of seeing people driven away from recovery by cult fanatics.
Maybe I just don't like cults.
Maybe I just don't like liars.
Maybe I believe that true spirituality really does require grasping and maintaining a style of living which demands rigorous honesty. (The Big Book, page 58.) So let's be rigorously honest, and tell the real truth and the whole truth about alcoholism, addiction, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Bill Wilson.

Your logic about cults is flawed and erroneous.
You say, "if nobody says sober then the is no cult".[sic.]
You are mixing apples and oranges. Whether people do or do not stay sober has *NOTHING* to do with whether A.A. is a cult. Go read the Cult Test.

Likewise, the success of A.A. in recruiting new members has little or nothing to do with the success (or failure) of A.A. in keeping those people sober. Several doctors and other investigators have noticed that many A.A. members just relapse repeatedly. A.A. does not, in fact, keep them sober, in spite of all of A.A.'s McDonald's-style claims of "millions served". Heck, I've seen for myself that relapse and drop-out is the usual A.A. member behavior. They die like flies. Not one newcomer in a thousand makes it to be a sober 20-year A.A. old-timer.
(That is part of the reason why A.A. has to be so aggressive in recruiting new members. If A.A. did not have the criminal justice system and health care systems shoving millions of people into 12-Step meetings, then A.A. would really shrink.)

Did you bother to read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve Steps? First off, many alcoholics will simply quit drinking and stay sober, both in and out of A.A. — mostly out of it. That is called spontaneous remission. There are always people who simply spontaneously recover from all kinds of diseases and ailments, ranging from the common cold to cancer. That's the body naturally healing itself. With the common cold, the spontaneous remission rate is nearly 100% — everybody survives the common cold, even without a doctor's help. With cancer, on the other hand, the spontaneous remission rate is low.

The Harvard Medical School stated that over 50% of all alcoholics eventually quit drinking, and that most of the successful quitters — 80% to be exact — quit alone, on their own. Only a small fraction of the sober alcoholics quit while in a treatment program or a support group.

And the reasons why they quit are the obvious reasons — to not die, to not be sick, to improve their lives and have a saner lifestyle. They simply get sick and tired of being sick and tired, so they quit. And stay quit.

Then A.A. manages to snag a few of those successful quitters — or people who were about to quit anyway — and convert them into true-believer cult members. A.A. even manages to convince some of them that they quit *because of* A.A., which is not true at all. (Why do people go to their first A.A. meeting? Very often, it is because they have already decided to quit drinking. Nan Robertson reported in her book, Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, that the majority of people who came to A.A. had already quit drinking.) And A.A. manages to fool some of them into thinking that they have to stay in A.A. or else they won't be able to stay sober.

The Scientologists, the Moonies, and other cults also manage to snag a few of them, and convince them that their cult is the cause of their salvation.
Is it?
Why not?

Your statement,
"Besides you can't get to drunks to agree on anything most of the time"[sic.],
is just another repetition of Bill Wilson's stereotype of "The Alcoholic".
It is completely invalid, and is just another sign of the cultishness of Alcoholics Anonyous. Go read the file on "The Us Stupid Drunks Conspiracy" for a description of that stereotype.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[from newsgroup alt.recovery.addiction.alcoholism, 18 October 2003]

Hi Bobby, thanks for a great letter.


For many of us (that I know personally), it was not the only program we tried. It was just the first one that provided some level of measurable extended success. For me I tried counselling and a church based recovery program, but neither had any lasting success. In truth, it likely was not the program. Perhaps, it was more a case of "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I finally reached a point where I was teachable. Perhaps, at that time, had I gone back to those other programs they may have finally worked also. But alas, I did not. I chose AA. And it worked. I could see it was working for those folks when I first arrived and I see it working for folks today - some several years later. I am also comfortable with the way it worked and continues to work — for me.

Yes, when the student is ready...
You cannot just assume a cause and effect relationship between quitting drinking and A.A.. You are describing a learning experience where you failed in your first few attempts to quit, but you learned what didn't work for you (things like "just having one"), so that you finally got your act together. The same thing happened with me.

When you say that "AA worked...", do you realize what you are saying?
A.A. would have to be some kind of a mind-control program that keeps you from choosing to drink. Or a body control program that turns you into a little robot or puppet and keeps your hands from reaching for a drink.

How, really, could working the 12 steps of a cult religion possibly keep anybody from drinking?

The truth is, you quit drinking. And you deserve some congratulations. Nobody quit for you. Nobody but you holds your hand every Saturday night and keeps you from drinking.

In addition, A.A. is different things to different people.
It may sound like a strange question, but what do you mean by "Alcoholics Anonymous"?
That is not a joke, or a trick question.
A.A. is different things to different people.
What was the "A.A." that "helped" you?
For some people, A.A. is a meeting where people tell stories about alcoholism and recovery.
For other people, A.A. is a cult religion that induces feelings of guilt and inadequacy mixed with delusions of grandeur.
For others, it's a non-drinking social club.
For others, it's "group support" where people encourage each other to get and stay sober.
And for other people, A.A. is an intense one-on-one relationship with a sponsor (for better or worse).
And for others, A.A. is a package of old superstitions and misinformation about alcoholism.

And above all, the fact remains that whenever anybody has done a valid test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics, to see what kind of improvement in sobering up alcoholics A.A. produced, the results ranged from "zero help" to "really good for killing alcoholics".

  • Professor George E. Vaillant, who is a non-alcoholic member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., got that "AA kills" result when he tried for 8 years to show that A.A. works.
  • Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. QUINTUPLED the rate of binge drinking.
  • Dr. Ditman found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness.
  • Dr. Walsh found that the "free" A.A. program caused many alcoholics to require more expensive hospitalization later.
It's all in

Those very negative effects are part of the reason for the zero percent success rate of A.A. As we all know, statistics can be true for groups, but invalid for individuals. It is not possible to prove or disprove that one individual person was helped or not helped by A.A.; it is only possible to show that A.A. did or did not help A GROUP of people become more sober than another group who didn't get any A.A. treatment.
Individual alcoholics either quit 100% or 0%, not 5%.
But 5% of the groups quit.

A.A. treatment has never passed a single valid controlled test.
Unfortunately, it has flunked every test.
It has never shown positive results.
(And I say "unfortunately" in all sincerity. At one time, I thought A.A. was great stuff and would help alcoholics. Alas, I was misinformed by A.A. publicity.)

I have searched this world for every valid test of A.A. that I could find, and I haven't found a single one that showed that A.A. produced even one tenth or one twentieth of the successes that the A.A. public relations machine brags about.

Just recently, we had a flap here over Keith Humphrey's piece of propaganda about 12-Step programs producing better results than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It was just another hoax — a rigged test — just another piece of institutional dishonesty.

But to give the A.A. program the benefit of the doubt:
Hypothetically, it is entirely possible that A.A. group support caused some guy "Joe" to successfully quit drinking, but the "powerless over alcohol" doctrine caused some other guy "Fred" to go on a binge and die.
So the A.A. program did make Joe quit drinking, but it killed Fred. Save one, kill one; the averaged-out success rate is zero.

It is possible that Prof. Vaillant saw something like that, because he got a zero percent success rate accompanied by a 29% death rate over the course of his 8-year test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics. The A.A. death rate was much higher than any other treatment program that he examined. Vaillant called the A.A. death rate "appalling."

(It would be nice if only the "Joes" could then be sent to A.A., but nobody has found a way to predict the future... That was part of the idea behind Project MATCH, matching patients to treatment programs, but it didn't work, either.)

I strongly encourage those who still have a choice to try other recovery programs. From my experience they are easier than some of the tasks I have been asked to do in AA. I stress "asked" as in suggested. No one forced me to do any of these things. Nobody berated me into or through the steps. I realize that has not been the experience of all AAers, but there is little I can do about that. I accept that sometimes recovery alcoholics are just self-centered enough to believe they still control the lives of others and have found the answer for all. I also accept that simply is not the case. AA is not a cure-all, nor is it a cure-for-all.

Actually, a lot of people are forced into a lot of things that include A.A.. The treatment industry and the legal systems are still routinely forcing 12-Step programs on people, in spite of the fact that it is now illegal on religious grounds. That is one of my biggest complaints about the current system.

I know of a drug court judge who is really sold on A.A. and N.A., and who gives public speeches praising it, and who uses 12-Step groups as punishment. That is, people he is happy with can go to either SMART or AA/NA. People he is mad at get mandatory 12-Step AA/NA only, or else.
He knows full well that he is violating the law by doing that, but he can get away with it.
Now why is he doing that?
The most reasonable answer is that he is misinformed, and actually believes that 12-Step programs work and produce some good results. So he is "forcing people to be good."
I hope that eventually judges like him will read some of my web pages on that subject, and learn something.

I suggest that AA is one of many roads to sobriety and for many of us the steps do not take us someplace we do not really want to go. It works for us. Although it may not work for others. If it does not work for you then I suggest you try something else (plural you). To say it does not work at all — that it is all a fallacy, or just voodoo, is simply not supported by what I have seen nor by what I have experienced.

What have you seen? A hundred new people come into a room, and a year later 5 of them are sober, and the rest of them are gone, right? Five percent is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. That is the same result as you get if you do nothing at all for a group of alcoholics.

(Or maybe the results are even worse than that — 300 or 400 go through the rooms, and 5 are left sober a year later... Even the successful quitters drop out of A.A., for a variety of reasons.)
As you said, when the student is ready.... he will quit. Until then, he won't.

A.A. is simply taking the credit for the people who are going to quit anyway.
The real evidence of that is the fact that 4 out of 5 of all alcoholics who successfully quit drinking for a year or more do it ON THEIR OWN, alone, without any "treatment program". The Harvard Medical School said that. See:

It reminds me of the old "Silent Majority" slogan of Lyndon Johnson in the sixties. Most of the alcoholics who quit drinking don't tell anybody that they are an alcoholic who is quitting. Why would they want to embarrass themselves like that? They just quit drinking, silently, alone. So they are *really* the anonymous alcoholics.

The alcoholics who recover in A.A. are only a small minority of those who recover.

My observation is that people quit when they want to quit, and don't quit otherwise. And basically people don't REALLY want to quit until they become convinced that drinking is causing them far more pain than pleasure.
When you are really totally convinced that drinking alcohol is going to kill you with a long, slow, painful death, then it becomes easy to quit.
As long as you think that you can nibble, and just have a few now and then, quitting is very difficult.

And I know it sounds drastic to say that A.A. does not work *AT ALL*, but that is what everybody from Prof. Vaillant to Doctors Brandsma, Ditman, and Orford and Edwards found. Again, just because somebody sobers himself up while going to A.A. meetings doesn't mean that the meetings necessarily did anything. When many more people sober themselves up without the meetings, then you know that the meetings aren't doing it. And when the vast majority of the people who go to the meetings do not get sober there, then you know that the meetings aren't doing it.

Again, seeing cause and effect relationships between A.A. meetings and people quitting drinking is the same old logical fallacy as:
A bunch of people went to a Baptist church for years.
During those years, many of the women got pregnant and had babies.
That proves it: going to Baptist churches causes women to get pregnant and have babies.

I have seen your site and read many of your posts here and I have found a vast array of information that has little or nothing to do with Me — Today. I am not dedicated to learning the entire history of AA, I understand Bill W was hardly the saint many would paint him be and I truly believe that parts of the reading material is dated.

If it were just history, then it would be somewhat irrelevant to recovery today. Certainly people can quit drinking without knowing anything about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous.

But the 12 steps simply are Frank Buchman's cult religion — channelling God in Step Eleven, surrendering to "God" or the cult in Step Three, making confessions in Steps Four through Seven, and "making amends" in Steps Eight and Nine, and declaring yourself insane and powerless in Steps One and Two, and spending your life as a slave of God in Steps Three and Eleven....
The whole so-called "spiritual" A.A. program is nothing but repackaged Buchmanism.

As long as those 12 steps hang on the wall of the A.A. meeting room, then people are still practicing the Buchmanite cult religion.
As long as people read the first 164 pages of the Big Book, they are reading Bill Wilson's interpretation of the Oxford Group's theology.
So the history of A.A., the Oxford Groups, Bill Wilson, and Frank Buchman is very relevant. Buchmanism is still being sold as a cure for alcoholism by 93% of the treatment facilities in the USA.

And I think it is good to understand what Bill Wilson was and what his game was (getting supported in comfort for the rest of his life by gullible alcoholics).
Then one can understand why the A.A. program does not work, and never did. We also need to know that Bill's claims of great success in sobering up alcoholics were lies. Then people will understand that A.A. has not "gone downhill" since the days of Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob. So there is no way to return to the "good old days" when 12-Step treatment worked, because it didn't.

Last but not least, knowledge of the history of A.A. and the theology of Frank Buchman upon which it is based is becoming more relevant, not less. George W. Bush is now pushing "faith-based" programs as a panacea. He is also under the misimpression that cult religion is actually an effective cure for addictions. Guess who has been selling that idea for the last 60 years.... (Hint: The Friends of Bill.)

And on Bill Moyers' show tonight (17 Oct) we saw Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN), a not-anonymous member of Alcoholics Anonymous, scheming to get more money for 12-Step treatment facilities. It's called "HEART", "Help Expand Access to Recovery Treatment".
The idea is that quacks should be able to treat addictions with 12-Step faith healing and get just as much money as a real doctor who treats cancer with real medical treatment.

A.A. ideas, which are really Frank Buchman's ideas, pervade our society more than is healthy. Over the last 60 years, A.A. has done an excellent job of proselytizing and spreading Buchmanism around, while claiming to be promoting recovery from alcoholism.
People should be aware of what those Buchmanite ideas are and where they come from.

A.A./Buchmanite ideas are getting blended in with fundamentalist Christian ideas in a lot of people's minds, including G. W. Bush's. You have probably heard on the news the last couple of nights about Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin, who while in uniform went to churches and delivered speaches/sermons where he declared that he saw the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism as a holy war between Christianity and Islam, and the real enemy is not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, it is Satan; and in his opinion, God, rather than the American people, selected G. W. Bush to be the President.
[Well, he's right about one thing: The American people did not elect George W. Bush President.
(Al Gore got the majority of the votes, both nation-wide, and even in the state of Florida, when all of the votes were finally counted, several months after the Supreme Court stopped the vote counting. --The New York Times reported that.)]

That strongly echoes Frank Buchman's fascism and love of theocratic dictatorships. Just like Frank Buchman, Gen. Boykin is ready to abandon democracy and have a "God-controlled" country.

Do you think Gen. Boykin will be fired for such conduct?
Or relieved of his command?
Or disciplined for conduct unbecoming of an officer?
I don't.
G. W. Bush likes such talk.
The George W. Bush who finds such conduct acceptable is the same G. W. Bush as whose top drug policy adviser, Dr. Andrea Barthwell, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, used Bill Wilson's birthplace, the old family house in East Dorset, VT, to promote a new faith-based drug and alcohol treatment plan:

Bush officials use AA founder's home to promote treatment

Associated Press

EAST DORSET, Vt. - One of the top drug policy advisers to President Bush used the birthplace of the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Monday to promote a new drug and alcohol treatment plan.
      Dr. Andrea Barthwell, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Gov. James Douglas on Monday toured the former hotel where AA founder Bill Wilson was born "in a room behind the bar."
      The $600 million three-year program, which is being considered by House Appropriations Committee, would allow health care providers, faith-based and other community organizations, workplaces and schools to help addicts find treatment.
      Barthwell said she was a recovered addict. She was accompanied by Molly Potter, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate from North Carolina who took her first drink at 12 and was a full blown alcoholic by age 15, and Susan Rook, the former host of the CNN television program "TalkBack Live" who now describes herself as a recovery advocate.
The Charlotte Observer, Mon, June 9, 2003.
See: http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/6050012.htm

In fact, Bush agrees with so much of the A.A./Buchmanite theology that I still wonder whether he really is a hidden A.A. member, someone who is truly practicing anonymity. He says, for instance, that God told him to invade Iraq. That's A.A. Step Eleven, listening for God to give you your marching orders. That is also Frank Buchman's practice of "Guidance".

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

Also notice the very strange fact that, in spite of George W. Bush's constant yammering about faith and spirituality, he does not bother to go to church.
Why not?
What is his real church?

I have read your introduction and I am trying to understand your perspective versus my experience. If in fact what you propose is correct, then we do not need recovery programs at all. In fact, none us do or ever did. Those who will recover will and those who will not recover will not. That seems to be the logic you are supporting.

It is certainly possible that we don't need treatment programs — at least not the current ones, which do not work anyway. And we certainly do not need the kind of inpatient treatment that Senator Ramstad is pushing. Doctors Orford and Edwards clearly showed that a doctor talking to alcoholics for just one hour, telling them to quit drinking or die, was just as effective as big, lengthy expensive treatment programs that included A.A. meetings and 12-Step "therapy". At the one-year point, the group that got minimal treatment (one hour) and the group that got maximum treatment, full access to all of the hospital facitilites, in-patient treatment, and a zillion A.A. meetings, scored just the same. There was no difference in outcome, no matter how much money was spent on the alcoholics.

Like you said, when the student is ready...
Otherwise, forget it.

Some kind of educational classes can certainly help people, and I am not opposed to some kind of a "support group" where people help each other with encouragement and advice.
I think that can be a good thing.
But it is essential that the information given out in both of those things be true, not some superstitious old cult dogma and fallacies about alcoholism.

As I have said so many times, I personally recommend SMART. Also check out SOS, WFS, or MFS if you can find them in your area. (Also read Trimpey's stuff about the "Addiction Beast" or my rap in "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster":
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-addmonst.html )

But I do not expect any great success rate from them either.
There is no panacea. There is no easy answer.
If they get just one or two percent more successes than the spontaneous remission rate, so that they get maybe a 6% or 7% success rate, then that would be great.
That is still some lives saved, so it's worth the bother.
And, if we can get people to quit a few years sooner, to reduce the damage to brain, liver and kidneys, that would be great too.

But note that SMART is not a "program".
There is no N-steps routine to do.
It's just like how high-school biology is not a program.
It's a class that you go to until you learn the stuff, and then you walk out the door and get on with your life.
With neither SMART nor high-school biology do you spend the rest of your life in meetings.

Now if people want to spend the rest of their lives in the meetings of a social club, then that's okay. I have no problem with that. But the social club should not be telling people that they cannot ever quit the club or they will die drunk in a gutter. That is a cult talking.

Plainly you have offered up what you feel to be your truth on the need and purpose of AA, but you have offered little if anything as an alternative. What do you have to offer that will assist someone who is in recovery or more importantly someone who feels they need some assistance in controlling or arresting their drinking habits? Surely you have more to offer than the hope for spontaneous remission.

Bobby L

Yes, I actually work very hard at making sure that everything I put up there is true. I have seen friends basically killed by bad information, and I've seen people driven away from recovery by "Step Nazis" and fanatical true believers.

As far as hope goes...
You know, the bottom line is still that people quit when they want to quit and don't quit until then.
So I feel rather pessimistic about "treatment programs".

We can cajole and encourage people to quit drinking or drugging; we can recommend things; but in the end it is still just a matter of "People will do what they want to do." That is what is going on now; that is why treatment doesn't work.

And until we have a horrendous totalitarian science-fiction dystopian world where somebody has some effective electronic brain control technology that he can use on other people, I don't think we will ever be able to force people to WANT to quit.

When I think about my own idea of an ideal treatment program, I think about things like take them out in the country, up in the mountains, give them a month (or maybe a lot longer, maybe a year) of being way out in the boondocks away from temptation, just some time to get out of one rut and into another rut. (It's called "building a positive, balanced, life-style".) Breaking habits is hard, and such a change of environment can help. Throw in a lot of classes that offer good, true information — not 12-Step dogma — and sure, have some group discussions.

That doesn't sound much different from a lot of current treatment facilities, does it? But barring the 12-Step cult would be a very large departure from the status quo. And also bar any Synanon-style "tough love" treatment. The camp is supposed to be help, not punishment. The boot camp approach didn't work either, it just killed children. See:

Still, the bottom line is that such a facility will not do anything for someone who does not really want to quit. I would say, "This program or camp or class or whatever you want to call it will not make you quit drinking or doping. You will quit if you want to quit, and you won't otherwise.
The program doesn't work. YOU WORK. Or you don't work.
The best that we can do is make quitting a little easier for you, and teach you a few helpful things. Nothing more than that."

The reality is that many people just want to want to quit.
They don't really want to quit.
They just wish that they really wanted to quit.
They just wish that they were already quit.
They just wish that they weren't feeling the negative side effects of drinking or drugging.
They would like to be quit if it were convenient and easy.
And that's why they don't quit.

If we can help to nudge them from wanting to want to quit over to really wanting to quit, then that could make a big difference. In SMART that is called motivational enhancement: keep talking about all of the good reasons for not killing yourself. Keep emphasizing the negative side effects of drugs and alcohol. Build up some motivation. Build some desires for health.

If you are lucky, a few people will say, "Hmmm... Maybe I really should just quit and stay quit.... Maybe life will be better."

As far as my ultimate hope is concerned, I hope for some medical advances. When people feel so bad that they are killing themselves with painkillers like alcohol and drugs, then something is very wrong. Some of the recent advances in the field of alcoholism and addictions involve the recognition that many alcoholics and addicts have underlying medical or psychiatric problems that cause them to want to kill their pain with whatever they can get.
Some doctors now consider ALL addiction cases to be Dual Diagnosis cases. They look for the reason why someone had to use painkillers (including alcohol) until they got addicted.

You are probably aware of Dr. Blum's research on dopamine receptors.
(See the Hazelden Coffee War page,
http://www.sigmaxi.org/amsci/articles/96articles/Blum-full.html [Dead Link] )
He discovered that many alcoholics and other addicts suffer from a "Reward Deficiency Syndrome" because of a broken gene — the gene that is supposed to build the dopamine receptor in the brain. The defective receptors made it difficult or impossible for people to feel good enough to be happy.

In other words, it is just like the Rolling Stones song, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction, though I try, and I try, and I try..."

I don't know if we will ever be able to fix congenitally-broken dopamine receptors, but maybe someone will find a chemical that patches the problem. That would go a long ways towards solving society's drug and alcohol problems.

Thanks again for a great letter. You are obviously somebody who is interested in the truth. And have a good day.

*               Agent Orange              *
*        orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*        http://www.orange-papers.org/      *
** Bill Wilson wrote that you cannot quit drinking by using
** your own intelligence and will power; that you must have
** a "Higher Power" doing the quitting for you.
** When I asked God about that, He said, "Screw Bill Wilson.
** I'm not gonna quit drinking."

[October 18, 2003]

Hello Agent Orange —

I feel compelled to write to you after visiting your website every day for the past week or so.

You see, I am the one who recently started the thread titled "Is AA the only way?" on the newsgroup recently. Buried somewhere in the overwhelming responses I found the link to your site.

Thank you, kind sir, for investing the extreme amount of labor it took in researching the subject of AA and presenting it hear for all to read!

I had decided on my own (for many of the reasons that you present) that AA was indeed a cult, or at the very least, "cultish". Seeing my thoughts and beliefs expressed by others was the final awakening for me: I was able to see that my gut feelings were right all along, and that only I was responsible for my drinking (or not). Realizing that has made my journey into sobriety an incredibly easier task! I had come so close to going back to drinking after being convinced that I was "powerless over alcohol", and must spend the rest of my life in a room with a bunch of wackos. Not only was I expected to be at meetings AT LEAST once a day, I was also to call my sponsor every day, and also 3 other alcoholics. Even worse, AA meetings and anything my sponsor "suggested" was to be given priority over, among other things: my career, my marriage, my child, my love of certain hobbies. According to my sponsor and other AA members, I would lose anything I placed ahead of AA. Sorry, dying an alcoholic was a more palatable choice for me, and since AA was the only way.....


Man, abstinence is SO MUCH EASIER for me now that I realize (as I really had all along) that it is MY choice to drink or not. And I choose not to, thank you. That's it, nothing more, nothing less, I choose not to drink.

Thank God I woke up and came back to my senses after only a few months exposure to AA.

Again, thanks for all the great research and for the great website!

Mike R.

Hi Mike. Thanks for all of the compliments, and congratulations on your sobriety. It's people like you who make this Orange Papers project worth the effort.

Have a good day.

*               Agent Orange              *
*        orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*        http://www.orange-papers.org/     *
**  Being surrounded by a group of people who keep telling
**  you that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your
**  will power is useless, is not getting "support". It is
**  getting sabotaged.
**  With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

[18 Oct 2003, from the newsgroup alt.recovery.addiction.alcoholism]:

>> Isn't your problem with AA the fact that the terrible "G" word (God) is
>> mentioned.....
>> — Cartman

Not, the big problem with Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12-Step clones is not the "G" word God, it is the "C" word Cult.

I love God, but I cannot say the same thing for cults like
L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology,
Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church,
Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada's ISKCON (Hari Krishnas),
Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman's Oxford Group Movement,
or Bill Wilson's Alcoholics Anonymous.

See The Cult Test,
and The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps,

*               Agent Orange              *
*        orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*        http://www.orange-papers.org/      *
*  True information, human intelligence,   *
*  and Reason are the mortal enemies of   *
*  cult leaders...                        *

[25 October 2003]

I imagine anyone that wants their view to be heard or READ can twist anything to their thinking. your quotes are inaccurate. You have used the words of the big book out of context. you annhialte the big book and call it a quote. or OBSESSIVE. It must be nice to have enough time do write this many pages on why people should not like or listen to something. I wonder what it is like to be so obsessed with hating something. Maybe you should have a drink and think about it. Who knows it make you feel better


Hi Tami,

Once again, we have an angry true-believer stepper recommending that I relapse and drink alcohol. Isn't 12-Step spirituality wonderful?

You know, that cry of "you are quoting out of context" is such an old propaganda trick that I have it listed on the Propaganda Techniques web page, under "Minimization and Denial". It's a very common cheap shot — whenever someone quotes anything that you don't like, claim that it is an unfair quote, taken out of context.

Not every quote is a quote taken out of context. Do you even know what it is to quote out of context?

It's like this:
Suppose that the police are questioning a guy about a bank robbery. He says, "What? Are you trying to claim that I shot the bank teller?"

If you lift just the five words "I shot the bank teller" out of that sentence, it turns the question into a confession of guilt. It completely reverses the meaning of the words. That is quoting out of context.

I don't do that. I am very careful not to confuse or change the meaning when I quote things. I challenge you to show me even one quote where I did such a thing. Often, I quote entire paragraphs, or even entire pages, just so that there will be no confusion about what is being said.

It seems to me that you are simply upset by someone exposing just how dishonest, goofy and crazy Bill Wilson's preaching really was. That's Bill's fault, not mine. Maybe he should have told the truth.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[27 Oct 2003]:

I went to a meeting one day a bit late late. I was the only newcomer there. It had been decided not to hold a regular meeting because there were no newcomers. I sat at the table with a bunch of toking smokers who had been around the program for a while. I stated I did not understand how they could smoke if they were leading spiritual lives. I can't remember what was said in response, but I can tell you they belittled me and laughed at me. These people say they are in the business of saving lives. But I guess not their own. Smoking is a terrible addiction, but I hear AA's say complete abstinence is the only way, yet they smoke & smoke & smoke then say they have given their will and lives over to the care of God. How could anyone's God say It is ok to smoke and commit slow suicide? Even most people's self-made Gods wouldn't do that, it seems to me. I quit A.A. because I can't be honest there. The smokers won't allow it, and the others will turn the truth around because it is the way of A.A.. Who can say most of their members are addicted and committing slow suicide? I learned a lot from A.A. and thankfully today I am a free person. I do not belong to any religious groups because I see too much separation of people instead of love and bringing people together.

Signed Kathy C.

I guess you can say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.

By the way, D.T.s gave me the realization I dont want to drink — I am sober over 2 years now. I like your site and plan to read more.

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for a great letter. I couldn't agree more. There is just something so funny about someone claiming to be an expert on addictions, and claiming to have the answers, while he compulsively puffs on a cigarette non-stop.

The Big Book, page 59, says, "Half measures availed us nothing." Nevertheless, I have heard so many A.A. and N.A. members rationalize their smoking by giving an excuse like, "Well, I've got to keep something." So, apparently they do believe that half measures will avail them something.

I really know what you mean about not being able to be honest in an A.A. meeting. That is probably the single biggest reason why I don't go much any more, either. What's the point if you have to just say what they want to hear, and can't really tell the whole truth about everything? (Oh sure, I suppose I could go ahead and start a civil war, but what's the point?)

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[30 Oct 2003]

Hello AO,

      First of all, I would like to thank you again for your website. I wrote to you nearly a year ago and expressed my appreciation for all of the dedicated effort you put into your work. At that time, I was being coerced into attending AA meetings as a condition of my contract with a nursing diversion program. I have successfully completed the program (I learned to "fake it 'til you make it") and no longer attend AA. I now belong to several web groups that are anti-AA. It is my way of giving back what was so freely given to me, HA!

      In addition to your website, I always enjoyed visiting Apple's AADeprogramming site. However, I have noticed that her site no longer exists. Can you shed any light on that? No one in the Yahoo 12-Step-free group seems to know what happened. I checked over at the Google alt.recovery.from-12-Steps and didn't see anything there about it either. I was hoping that you might have some answers since you were/are affiliated with that site. AADeprogramming is where I found the link to the Orange Papers. I credit both sites for giving me the information and validation that I needed to finish my "sentence" in diversion without going stark raving mad. I would hate to see all of that valuable information just up and disappear when it could be so helpful for the next AA victim who is seeking the truth.

Henny P.

Hi Henny,

Thanks for all of the compliments. I don't have a clue about what happened to AAdeprogramming.com. I haven't had any communications with Apple in a long time; I was just off doing my thing and she was doing hers, and we had no need to communicate.

The disappearance of her site comes as a complete surprise to me too.

I also like the articles she had up on her site. I have saved copies of most of them, and would happily mirror them if I got an okay from her. Alas, the only email address I have is like apple@aadeprogramming.com, which is now dead along with the domain name.

So if anybody gets in contact with her, please let me know.

And have a good day anyway.

== Orange

LATER: It's back up. She was thinking about letting it expire, but popular demand was too great, so she brought it back.

[5 Nov 2003, Jeff C. wrote:]

Subject: Hey Dick Head

You don't have alcholism do you?

Since you have so much free time to fuck with people who are really trying to help somebody, why don't you use it to go fuck your self?

Jeff C.

Hi Jeff,

Yes, I am an alcoholic. Does it shatter your belief structure to hear that alcoholics can quite successfully and happily quit drinking without Alcoholics Anonymous?

If you were really so interested in helping others, you would show at least a passing interest in studying what works and what doesn't work to help them, rather than just attacking those who say something with which you disagree.

Your demonstration of A.A.-style spirituality is something else. I really like the unconditional love, complete acceptance, and rigorous honesty that you exhibit. The "serenity and gratitude" is pretty good too.

Behavior such as yours convinces me that A.A. really is a cult. Jeffrey Schaler, Ph.D., wrote in his essay "Cult Busting":

One way of testing the cult nature of a group is by challenging the ideology binding the group together. We can discover something about the nature of a group by how well its members tolerate opposition to the ideology that holds the group together. How well do members tolerate difference of opinion, opinion that challenges the very ideological heart of the group?

Members of the cult are like a colony of insects when disturbed. A frenzy of activity and protective measures are executed when core ideologies are challenged. The stronger the evidence challenging the truthfulness of the group ideology, the more likely members of the cult are to either lash out in a more or less predictable fashion, fall apart, or disband into separate cult colonies.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[5 November 2003, Eric R. wrote:]

"everybody connected with the drug and alcohol treatment industry just assumes that the whole 12-Step program works great" Do you think that you are doing just what you complain of, lumping?

All right, I should tone down "everybody" to "almost everybody".

My oh my. You sure spend a lot of time on this. At least a good AA (which I am not) doesn't take any time to criticize you.

So my A.A.-member critics are not good A.A.'s, huh? I'm sure they will love to hear that. I find it rather amusing myself.

I personally feel that like the idea of sending people to twelve step recovery programs is bogus. There is enough information available to people who want to stop drinking but drink anyway to find aa or a clone, so they don't need to be sent.

I agree that it is bogus, but the A.A. true believers will not stop doing it or promoting it. People get sent to 12-Step meetings every day, by either a judge or parole officer or treatment counselor, and it is usually not voluntary. There is usually the threat of adverse consequences for non-compliance. It is
"Either go to meetings, or you go to jail."
"Either go to A.A. meetings and get a sponsor who turns in good reports on you, or you get your parole violated and you go back to prison."
"Either go to meetings, or you get kicked out of this treatment program (with attendant losses). Meeting attendance is a requirement."
The "attendant losses" can be anything from the loss of the many thousands of dollars that the "treatment" costs to the loss of employment or housing.

And A.A. members have been practicing such coercive recruiting for nearly 70 years. Heck, Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob started it in the spring and summer of 1935 in Akron, Ohio. They felt entitled to shove their Oxford Group cult religion alcoholism cure on any sick alcoholics who were handy:
"It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it."
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83
See the Cult Test item Aggressive Recruiting.

Now there are some enlightened counselors who recommend that some people go to SMART or WFS or some other non-12-Step program, but they are rare. 93% of all treatment facilities in this country still use 12-Step "treatment".

AA's take advantage of the no rules thing to make them, making it easy for more aggressive people to dictate.

Yes. That's one of the big problems with the whole A.A. program. It's called "the tyranny of structurelessness". A number of cults have bragged that "Everybody is equal. We have no structure; we have no rules. Character is the only rank." (That was a slogan of Synanon.) But in the end you will find that they do have unwritten rules, and there really is a boss. You just cannot challenge the rules or the boss, because they ostensibly do not exist. I quoted Elayne Rapping on that before:

If it weren't for your promotion fewer people would read your bitter testimony, but of course you're welcome to your opinion, whatever that is. I presume that it is that you are very smart.

What promotion? I'm not using judges, police and parole officers to sentence people to read my web pages. And I'm not a counselor telling people to do 90 meetings in 90 days. And I'm not planting phony dishonest A.A.-booster articles in all of the magazines and professional journals that I can, like the A.A. promoters do. I'm not running commercials on late-night TV, like A.A. has been doing on and off for the last several years. I'm just writing some web pages where I tell the truth as I see it. You are free to turn the computer off, or click over to some other web site.

Go see the cult test item "Aggressive Recruiting" for more examples of A.A. being a program of promotion, not attraction (in violation of the 11th Tradition, of course).

Your counsellor did not follow tradition, and was rather judgemental in assuming that you had not addressed any issues since you became sober (dry). What a jerk he sounds like!

Yes, he was a jerk. Such a jerk that they put him in prison. He had 6 years of clean and sober time in A.A./N.A., but he had apparently really just switched his addiction from whiskey and cocaine to screwing children. Nevertheless, he faithfully parroted the 12-Step dogma, and I'm sure he believed it too, and the treatment center thought he was spiritual enough to be a recovery counselor and teach the rest of us how to live.
(You know what's funny? Three years later, he's in prison and I'm free, and now I'm the one who is more qualified to teach him how to live a spiritual life. And I do not recommend 12-Step "spirituality".)

UPDATE: 2012: It turned out that my counselor had massively relapsed and was doing all of the above: Snorting cocaine and looking at child pornography on his computer, and then raping his step-children. See: Harry Ketchum busted for not registering as a sex offender.

My Numbers:
1."But why am I hearing all of this garbage about bad sponsors thirteenth-stepping the girls all of the time?

2. Why are the sponsors telling my friends not to take their doctor-prescribed medications?

3. Why are the fanatics telling the newcomers that the answer to everything is "Do the Twelve Steps, get a sponsor, and read the Big Book.""

1. this is not "approved AA".
2. This is not "approved aa"

That is the standard A.A. minimization and denial tap-dance — just claim that all bad features of A.A. are not "The Real A.A." because they are not Council-approved activities (or because they are against "the Traditions"). I already have it listed on the Propaganda Tricks web page. And I said there, and will say again,
Actually, everything that A.A. members do at an A.A. meeting or in a sponsor/sponsee relationship is "the real A.A.".

And I should add,
"And everything that is done to patients at a 12-Step-oriented treatment facility that is staffed by A.A. and N.A. true believers is also 'The Real A.A.'."

"And whenever A.A. members tell judges to force more people into A.A. meetings, that's The Real A.A., too. "

"And whenever A.A. members proselytize and promote A.A. with fraudulent pieces of propaganda and other misinformation, that's The Real A.A., too. "

"The Real A.A." is not some lofty ideal that exists only in Heaven or only at the A.A. headquarters; the real A.A. is what is really happening right here in the real world. The real A.A. is what the A.A. members are actually doing (not what they are supposed to be doing). And that includes

That is all the Real A.A., regardless of whether the Council approves of it or not, and regardless of whether it is against Bill's fake Traditions. (Bill's traditions were always phony because he was always breaking them, both before and after he got the Council to approve of them. A.A. has always been a program of promotion, not attraction, and Bill Wilson was never anonymous, and Bill happily took outside donations from John D. Rockefeller Jr. and put them in his pocket, etc...)

In fact, the A.A. Council has become ineffective and irrelevant. The felons at A.A.W.S. do whatever the hell they please, including committing perjury in Mexico and Germany and putting A.A. members in prison for carrying the message to other poor alcoholics, and the Council cannot or will not do anything about it. If the A.A. Council had any guts or morals, it would fire the Trustees of A.A.W.S., but it doesn't and it won't. As any kind of a moral force, the A.A. Council is dead on its feet.

3. The fanatics.?
That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say. Here you go again. People who tell newcomers to read the Book, get a sponsor, and do the twelve steps are not fanatics, necessarily. If they say that this will answer everything, they may have some indication of being fanatic.

Yes, "the fanatics". Someone who can say such a thing — "The answer to all such problems is read the Big Book, get a sponsor, and do the Twelve Steps" — to desperate people who are seeking help to avoid death from alcoholism, is obviously either monumentally stupid or a fanatic (or maybe both). People who fixate on irrational simple-minded panaceas become fanatics.

The very core of fanaticism is its indifference to things of the mind.
== The Bishop of Durham
Quoted in The Group Movement, 2nd Ed., Oxford University Press, p. 4., and
The Groups Movement, by the Most Rev. John A. Richardson, Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing Co., 1935, p. 40.

One of the best definitions of a fanatic that I heard was, "A fanatic is someone who, when he tries to do something and fails, tries to do it the same way again, just twice as hard. And, when that doesn't work, then he tries it the same way yet again, even harder, ... and harder... and harder...." People who keep on recommending the 12 Steps, year after year — even forcing them on other people — in the face of A.A.'s obvious massive failure rate — qualify as fanatics.

And that fanatic was one of the people who inspired these Orange Papers. (My pedophile counselor being another.) And the girl who got that advice relapsed and disappeared (twice) and I haven't seen her around in more than a year. I don't know what happened to her, but I know it isn't good.

Based upon my reading of your website, not in total, I have became bored with your subject. When I was a rocket scientist we had a saying: If you can't be a part of the solution, don't be part of the problem. Thank you for your time. You may win agruments but I suspect you are a boor.

"Boredom" is often a mask to cover suppressed anger.

The line about "If you can't be a part of the solution, don't be part of the problem" is just a variation on the old "Either/Or" propaganda slogan:
"Either you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem."

We used that slogan, too, back in the sixties and seventies, in the anti-war movement. But you know what? It was actually a stupid dogmatic thought-stopping slogan back then too. (Live and learn...)

Now I like your variation better. It at least allows some middle ground. There is, however, a lot of condescension in that statement, accompanied by the unfounded assumption that A.A. is somehow helpful to alcoholics — that it actually helps them more than it hurts them — that it is a solution. There is no evidence to support such a belief. The real hard evidence says that A.A. is worse than worthless — that it kills more alcoholics than it saves. It is a cult religion, for Heaven's sake. You don't really believe that a cult religion is going to cure alcoholism, now do you?

I feel that I am a part of the solution. Telling the truth about the whole A.A./12-Step "recovery industry" mess is the first requirement for making things better.

And you know what you haven't mentioned in your letter?

Any of the important stuff, like whether A.A. and its 12-Step program actually works to reduce deaths from alcoholism, or whether Bill Wilson was a raving lunatic who just created a clone of Frank Buchman's fascist cult religion.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

*                 Agent Orange                *
*            orange@orange-papers.org       *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Being surrounded by a group of people who keep telling
**  you that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your
**  will power is useless, is not getting "support". It is
**  getting sabotaged.
**  With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

[23 Dec 2003, 2nd letter from Eric]

Thank you for your comments. That photo of Charles Dederich looks remarkably similar to a man I know. I appreciate your posting of my letter to you in it's entirety.

Character being the only rank reminds me of a short story for which I cannot find ereference called The Gray World, where everyone was humble, as a sign of rank, such that there was one group that went so far as to have pride in their humility.

Your mind is very analytical and your arguments are persuasive. I am glad that you are doing this project rather than things which may be harmful to society. Sorry about your queer counselor, I hope you recover.

Regards, Eric.

Thanks, and actually, the biggest recovery problem I have right now is just that flu that is going around. But I'm okay.


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