Letters, We Get Mail, CLXI
by A. Orange



Date: Thu, February 18, 2010 6:21 am     (answered 15 May 2010)
From: "Anon."
Subject: Deprogramming from the other side of the pond...

Hi Orange

Thank you so much for publishing so much and such detailed material. It has been a life-saver.

I am in London, UK and have been an AA member for about 2.5 years. It was an e-mail from my sponsor and a whole host of bad experiences in AA that prompted me to look for the other side of the story.

It sound like things are worse in the US — AA over here has probably retained a bit of 'Britishness' that makes it slightly more reserved. My experience is still of brainwashing, exploitation, dangerous advice and a very high failure rate.

I wonder if anyone else has written to you from the UK? If there is enough support I am really keen to start an alternative recovery fellowship over here that believes in true freedom. AA has a total monopoly at present.

There are many stories 'round here of vunerable newcomers being told to stop medication/therapy and then committing suicide. These are blamed on 'cult infiltration' by 'extremist' AA groups. Yet little can be done through the AA heirarchy to stop these groups (I have tried — when you e-mail GSO they brushed me off like a fly the second time, the first time I didn't get an answer.) Members gossip but do little else. I called a group conscience — all the gossips didn't show up to testify, I was a lone voice bar one other.

These are some of my experiences:

  • Old timer trying to tell me cleaning their house would be service to the fellowship

  • Old timer telling me to leave my relationship as I was 'not ready' at 2 years sober

  • Threatening phone calls and harrasment (by a member who had bullied me into taking a job working for her when I was a newcomer by telling me lies that she knew my current employer was going to go bust — these phone calls were then made when I became sick thru stress after only 6 wks of working for this crazy b*tch.)

  • being pressurised into secretary 'service' then bullied — pulled into the kitchen, being shouted at and told that I was saying the wrong. When I raised this, I was told I had a 'resentment'

  • I have other newcomers who have been told by their sponsor not to talk to other members, and email their feelings to sponsor everyday.

I could go on forever....

I personally have found the step work traumatic and humiliating. I would say to anyone who has any form of childhood trauma NEVER to do the steps at all. If you do make sure u have real psychotherapy.

My step 4/5 kicked off buried memories of childhood trauma that kicked off Post traumatic Stress Disorder — I virtually had a breakdown and no-one in the fellowship supported me, bar my sponsor who spoke on the phone a couple of times a week and, after I had done my step 5 which kicked it off — DIDN'T MEET WITH ME FOR ANOTHER 9 MONTHS.

I had no family support (I am an only child of VVVVVV disfunctional parent's) and doctors who couldn't have cared less.

I kept going back to AA in the hope of finding that loving, benevolent fellowhip that I was always being told about.

In fairness, meetings held me together in one way cos I didn't have much else left, but in hindsight I needed proper psychotherapy. My true friends outside of AA supported me more than AA friends.

I have found in AA that 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' they all turn up when they want you to do service. Thru all this time I was doing 'chairs' public confessionals as I was told they would help me. I kept doing teas etc.

My sponsor has helped me — mainly through her passing on therapy she has done around boundaries/co-dependance, rather than AA wisdom. Recently, however, the tables turn when I got myself better and started to get a life.

It sounds like you are awake to some of the wider political conspiracies that are occuring in our times. So am I, and have got involved in peace campaigning and raising awareness of things such as CIA complicity in 9/11.

My sponsor then started attacking my stance, saying I was 'extremist', 'childish' 'not taking responsibility for living in society' and 'disease is driving the bus' She said I should not campaign against the Iraq/Afghanistan wars because 'we are alcoholics and we have to be careful' and 'God has a plan and God has the monopoly on the truth.'

The war is NOT in my God's plan. It Might be in Satan's, but not God's.

This was the final straw. I have always wondered why AA people were the craziest and most Hypocritical I knew.. Now it is all falling into place. Their program of 'powerlessness' makes them like that.

I am a Christian and I totally see the Heresy in the steps. The ONLY 'God' who wants your will and life is Satan. God as I know him gives us free will and personal responsibility.

I emailed her a response explaining why I beleive what I do and why I take the stand I do.

She admitted she had not read my response, instead attacking from another angle — that I was 'not putting recovery 1st.'

BTW, she has suggested I volunteer in an animal sancuary — that is ok.. I am allowed to help the fluffy bunnies but not the slaughtered innocent children....

She is 'concerned' that I am a peace campaigner — but didn't bother to come and see me for 9 months when I was having a step-induced nervous breakdown?

I did my last chair and the woman who had threatened me shared back how 'lovely' it was to see me. Hypocrite. That was my last confessional — I am OUT of the cult. I will not be told how to live my life, what to believe or what God wants from me. My sponsor is telling me that I must not stand against Gencide because I am in an AA program..... so should I support it? Or turn a blind eye like she does?

I have been on some other blogs/sites recently and you can really tell the AA members by the way they speak. They speak in slogans, and they can not take constructive critisism. they have become like AA.

I have stayed sober, but not easily. I have often thought how much easier it would be if I were not saying 'I'm an alcoholic' all the time.

God knows what I am going to do now, I have little in my life but AA. I can't bear it any more though, and it gives me hope that I am not the only one, and that you and others have stayed clean without it. I have been really feeling recently that these nutters would drive me back to a drink.

I am keen to start a website showing the other side of UK-AA and maybe one day an alternative support group. First I have to go about trying to de-program my confused mind.

Thanks

Ps keep my name anon.

Hello Anon,

Thank you for the letter, and it's good to hear from somebody on the other side of the pond. Sorry to take so long to answer — I've been going through housing difficulties that took up too much time and kept me offline for a while. But I'm back now.

Congratulations on thinking for yourself, and remaining sane in the madhouse. And yes, I've received some other letters from England, Scotland, and a few other parts of Great Britain. I have a few regular readers on your side of the pond.

You make a lot of great points. Let me start at the bottom, and say "Thank you" for your anti-war work. That is great, and a good thing to do. The argument that us alcoholics cannot get involved in such causes is a bunch of bull. We can and should do such things. (And if we don't, we will feel guilty about it years later.) We are not powerless, and there is much more to life than just sitting in meetings and only talking about alcoholism and sobriety. The "real world" is not an "outside issue".

Thanks for the horror story, and yes, it's often just like that over here too.

I totally agree that the Steps can cause real problems by dredging up memories of traumatic childhood abuse. And inducing guilt, and demanding that you "find your part in it", is even worse. Many alcoholics had alcoholic parents themselves, and they have a lot of bad memories that are either better left forgotten, or handled by a real counselor. Twenty years of hard drinking, and then several years of membership in a cult religion, does not make disturbed people into competent counselors.

Starting your own recovery group sounds like a very good thing to do. There is a lot to steal from, or borrow, or adapt, or even join:

I am sure that there are many people in those groups who will be happy to help you to get another group started over on your side of the pond. That would be good for a lot of people.

Above all, remember that you don't have to be perfect or know everything to start and lead a recovery group — you just have to be better than Alcoholics Anonymous, and that is pathetically easy to do. I know that you are already there. You can learn the rest as you go along.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**
**     My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy
**     (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control,
**     not whiskered men with bombs) — or to 'unconstitutional'
**     Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in
**     any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its
**     inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind;
**     and after a chance recantation, execute them if they remain
**     obstinate! ... Government is an abstract noun meaning the art
**     and process of government and it should be an offence to write
**     it with a capital G or so as to refer to people... The most
**     improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men.
**     Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who
**     see the opportunity.
**        ==  J.R.R. Tolkien, from 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien'





Date: Fri, February 19, 2010 1:58 am     (answered 15 May 2010)
From: "Sylvia"
Subject: letters...

Have you really not responded to any letters since December??? I check in now and then to read your letters and have sorely missed them over the past two months but when I go to your site, the last letters are from the end of December. Anyway, I'd really like to know.

Thanks
Sylvia

Hi Sylvia,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you enjoy reading the letters. I had a problem with being driven out of my apartment by a draconian new property management company that took over the building where I was living. Look here.

I was homeless for three months, and my computer network was in a storage locker, so I didn't get much done on the web site then. Too busy looking for a new home, and I insisted on finding a better one, too — no more living in a concrete and glass tower with dictatorial corporate bosses.

Well, I got the new home — a better one, too — so I'm back to answering letters. Look here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is
**       constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other."
**           ==  Charles Dickens (1812—1870)





Date: Fri, February 19, 2010 3:05 pm     (answered 15 May 2010)
From: "John W."
Subject: The Cult Test Question 11

Insistence that the cult is THE ONLY WAY.

Are you saying that when Jesus Christ stated that HE alone was the only way to heaven that He was a cult leader?

John W.
Mesa, AZ

Hello John,

Thanks for the letter. You know, that line from Jesus Christ is one of the most misunderstood lines in the Gospels. When Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, the "Holy Spirit" entered into Him, and from that moment on Jesus had a dual personality where one minute he could be talking as Jesus, and the next minute as the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit or God. (Unfortunately, people get confused about who is saying what.)

For instance, as He died on the cross, He cried out, "My Father, my Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" That was Jesus talking, not God.

On the other hand, Christ clearly showed who was talking in your quote: "I am the Truth and the Light and the Way, and only through Me will you get into Heaven."

He did not say, "I am Jesus, and only by kissing my ass will you get into Heaven."

I can agree with the statement that you must go through the Truth and the Light to get to Heaven. That is not cultish. That is very universal. All of the major religions of the world strive to steer their followers into the Truth and the Light.

And consider the opposite: You sure won't get into Heaven by going through Lies and Darkness.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      God created man in His own image...
**      and man promptly returned the favor.





Date: Fri, February 19, 2010 3:09 pm     (answered 15 May 2010)
From: "Jeff B."
Subject: you rock

Quite a crusade you've put together. If you weren't so damned spot on with every subject, and so well written (not to mention LOADED with supporting ammunition), one might think that the seemingly endless literary juggernaut thrust upon the steppers could be misconstrued as the life's work of a maniacal demon. However that's stinkin thinkin and I apologize, and digress...

Your translation of Trimpey's work (The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster) was in my opinion, a brilliant and vivid portrait of a very logical plan. Although I am still confused about the theoretic differences between Peele's "anyone can learn anything" principle and Trimpey's "anyone can learn anything, but watch out for the beast" mantra, I now know that my options in the area of addiction are without bounds. I am free to think and speak and question without guilt, shame or the constant nagging feeling that if I don't hurry up and place my brain-dead soul in the hands of God (however that is done), I will die.

It's nice to know that my inner belief that this has been up to me all along has not been an exclusive thought. And while the basement dwellers bitch and moan about how their lives suck and will continue to suck, (but I'm sober TODAY, thank you Jesus) waiting for me to crawl back to their open arms in the shame that can only be felt by Hitler, Judas, John Wayne Gasey, and me, so that I may feel the grace of God wipe away my sins, and my thoughts. Teach me how stupid I am, because remember, I'm a short-timer again. Ripe to be treated like the dirty old bum that I am. Thank you fellowship. I'll try reeeeeeeeeal hard this time because I know I'm lucky to be alive, and next time I'll surely be dead.

Thanks for all you do!
Jeff.

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the letter, and all of the compliments, and the laugh.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**
**     "I'm not a dictator. It's just that I have a grumpy face."
**        ==  Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet
**
**     "At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves."
**        ==  George Orwell





Date: Sat, February 20, 2010 11:27 pm     (answered 15 May 2010)
From: "jamie g."
Subject: hi orange

Hi orange,

i wont go into big drunkalogues but wow thanks for the website. what an eye opener. I have been out of the 12 step madness for a good couple of months now and what a relief it feels.

I find that inducing fear seems to be one of their big points. When i first read your papers i have to admit i thought you were displaying a lot of anger but judging from what you have seen with your friends i cant blame you. i too am really quite bitter towards this so-called "help group", based on my own experiences with it. I run a SMART recovery over in England and what a breath of fresh air to be able to talk openly how you really feel without risk of been ridiculed.

I find it rather funny that any other illness that you recover from everyone seems to be so happy for you, yet the minute you say that you have recovered from alcoholism you get laughed at, sneered at, and told you're heading for relapse haha.

I find that one of the biggest tools to obtain in recovery is a positive self esteem and lots of confidence. AA certainly does not give you that, rather they like to tell you you're powerless etc. what a joke.

Talking about the brain washing part when people say, "yeah but i needed brain washing" or "at least they are sober". Why dont they go tell this bullshit to people who have lost family memebers and loved ones to this brain washing?

Like i once got told, orange, "If this is a disease, it's the first disease you can go and buy from a shop." etc. lol.

Anyways orange, many thanks for the website. We need more people like yourself who expose this cult for what it really is. Like you say, i too aint really bothered if a load of burnt out alkies wanna talk about their war stories and how they were so much worse than any other person, but surely we can do better than sending people to this place.

Anyways orange, as this was my first message and its 7.24am at the moment here over in England. i havent gone into too much but i certainly am gunna keep in touch.

Once again orange many thanks and keep up the great service you provide.

jamie

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments. I'm happy to hear that you are free, sane, and healthy.

You said about SMART: "what a breath of fresh air to be able to talk openly how you really feel without risk of been ridiculed."
That was exactly my reaction to my first SMART meetings, too. Literally. Even the same words. Look here and here.

It's great that you are running a SMART meeting over in England. I'm glad to hear that they managed to jump the pond and get started over there. I just got a letter from a woman in England who wants to start some kind of sane meetings, because she too is fed up with A.A. (Look here.)

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The moment one gives close attention to anything,
**     even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
**     indescribably magnificent world in itself.
**          ==  Henry Miller





Date: Mon, February 22, 2010 8:44 am     (answered 16 May 2010)
From: "Mitch S."
Subject: Great Articles

Hi there A. Orange,

Your web site: http://www.orange-papers.org/ is awesome. I only discovered it in the past 2 days. What I really like about it is that your articles about Mind Control and deprogramming not only apply to AA, I honestly believe it applies to anything related to mind control.

In my humble view, a vast majority of Americans are brain washed. They do not under stand that their freedom and their rights have been taken away from them.

In checking out your web site I did not see your name there. My name is Mitch.

You can check out a radio show I help produce called THE AMERICAN FREEDOM REPORT, it might be great to have you on as a guest sometime.

www.americafreedomreport.com/

Best regards,

Mitch S.

Los Angeles, California

Hello Mitch,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And yes, I have to agree that there are a whole lot of brainwashed people out there, and the sheeple are being sheared of their rights, one by one. (Now, it's to "save us from terrorists.")

And yes, all of those mind-bending brainwashing and propaganda techniques are widely applicable, and common to most cults and also most radical political organizations. A.A. did not invent anything new. Bill Wilson just copied it all from Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult, and Buchman, in turn, had copied his stuff from his mentor Prof. Henry B. Wright of Yale University, who had found "the four standards" in the writings of Robert E. Speer. And Heaven only knows where Speer got the stuff... (See: Wright, The Will of God, and, Speer, The Principles of Jesus.)

My birth name is Terrance Hodgins, and I'm now living in Forest Grove, Oregon, close to Pacific University.

By the way, I just found an obscure old biography of Adolf Hitler at a Goodwill. The author was really sharp and perceptive. The book is Der Fuehrer, by Konrad Heiden, published in 1944, while Hitler was still alive. Thus, the book concentrates on Hitler's rise to power; his end was still unknown. I just typed in a long quote about Hitler's propaganda techniques, for the Propaganda and Debating Techniques web page, here. Check it out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      The Democrats lament that 50% of the American people
**          have below-average intelligence.
**      The Republicans rejoice, and celebrate:
**          "That's our core constituency!"





May 17, 2009, Sunday: Day 17, continued:

Canada Goose
A Canada Goose stretching its wings

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





Date: Tue, February 23, 2010 10:50 am     (answered 17 May 2010)
From: "Lisa N."
Subject: wasted energy

It appears that you are an intelligent person that has lost his focus on dealing with positive life lessons. So much energy was put in your paper discrediting something that is good for people. You seem to miss the mark. If this program was not helping people why is it worldwide. Why is it still working for countless of other. Something must of happened to you to cause you so much hate for something that is proven to save so many lives. Maybe you lost someone you loved that the 12 steps did not keep alive. If that is the case I am sorry for you loss. But you must understand that not everyone is capable of getting honest with their self and leave the past behind. In such cases many do falter and sub come back to their drinking or drugging behavior. Those are the one that don't make it. I have had many relatives that could not get honest with their self and let go of the past, many that died in their disease. 5 in their early 50's, 1 in his 40's, 2 in their 30's and the worst was 1 in his very early 20's. The 12 steps to them are what it is to you. all I know is it saved my life, I was at the brink of death. I give God and the 12 step program all the credit. I would not be succeeding in life being a productive member of society, business owner, and counselor if it weren't for A.A. and the 12 steps. I am truly sorry that you fill compelled to take something good trying to make it bad. I'm sad for you.

My thoughts and prayer are with you to better focus yourself on positive things of life. You appear to have so much to offer, but is being dragged down with the negativity of life. Peace be with you and may you find the true meaning of life and the ways to find that meaning. Love, kindness and forgiveness.

P.S. there is so much negative things going on in the world, leave alone what is good for so many. The truth is, people who are living the 12 step lives is none of your business.

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for the letter and congratulations on your sobriety. Unfortunately, you have made a large number of grossly wrong assertions and assumptions in your letter. Starting at the top:

  1. "...something that is good for people. ... Why is it still working for countless of other."
    A.A. is not "working". It is a fraud and a hoax. A.A. harms more people than it helps. That is why I criticize it. Read about The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

  2. "If this program was not helping people why is it worldwide."
    For the same reason as Scientology and the Moonies are worldwide. And Transcendental Meditation, and the Hari Krishnas (ISKCON), and the "Initiatives For Change" successor of Frank Buchman's Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament cult...

  3. "all I know is it saved my life,"
    Well then, you don't know very much, do you? It is easy to confuse causation with coincidence. Just because you were doing something like playing tiddly-winks, eating ice cream, or attending the meetings of a cult religion when you quit drinking, does not mean that those things caused you to quit drinking.

  4. "I have had many relatives that could not get honest with their self and let go of the past, many that died in their disease."
    I'm sorry to hear about the deaths of your relatives. But the answer to addiction is not "get honest with their self and let go of the past". That is just A.A. dogma, totally untrue. The real reason why they died is because they refused to quit drinking alcohol. And "alcoholism" is not a disease, either. It is habitual behavior — a bad habit.

  5. "I give God and the 12 step program all the credit."
    So which is it? God and the 12 Steps are very different things, not the same at all. In fact, the 12 Steps are heretical, unBiblical, and anti-Christian. Read The Heresy of the Twelve Steps.

  6. "I would not be succeeding in life being a productive member of society, business owner, and counselor if it weren't for A.A. and the 12 steps."
    Actually, you would not be all of those things if you had not quit drinking alcohol. Again, you are confusing causation with correlation.

    What shape would you be in if you faithfully went to A.A. meetings and did the 12 Steps and constantly fervently confessed all of your sins, while still routinely drinking many fifths of whiskey?

    And you are a counselor? Does that mean that you collect money for "counseling" sick people, while actually foisting the 12-Step cult religion — your favorite religion — on them? That's quite a serious conflict of interest and ethical violation, isn't it? Now I can see why you are so desperate to defend Alcoholics Anonymous. You have to convince yourself that you are not doing anything wrong by selling Steppism to your clients.

  7. "...leave alone what is good for so many. The truth is, people who are living the 12 step lives is none of your business."
    Again, A.A. harms more people than it helps. And it is my business when A.A. perpetrates a fraud and harms my friends.

    You should read the other letters that I get, with the stories of their A.A. experiences. You can start with just the last half dozen letters, here. Then, a list of A.A. horror stories is here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Carl Sagan's rule: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
**    The far-fetched claims of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's cult religion 
**    could cure alcoholism have not been backed up by even a little ordinary 
**    evidence, never mind some extraordinary evidence.





Date: Tue, February 23, 2010 3:36 pm     (answered February 23, 2010 5:04 pm)
From: "Valerie C."
Subject: Analysis of an Argument

Hey there,

I am writing a paper on an argument and I am using one of your articles. "The Twelve Biggest Secrets of Alcoholics Anonymous Or, What they Don't want you to Know"

I was wondering if you could help me out with where you got your percentages on Page 18, It states that "Most people recover from alcoholism, 80% do it alone"

I need to research that and be able to cite my sources.

If you could help me out that would be greatly appreciated.

Regards and Many Thanks!
Valerie

Hi Valerie,

Go to:
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#Harvard_Mental

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         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: Tue, February 23, 2010 7:43 pm     (answered 18 May 2010)
From: Anon.
Subject: question about AA

Hey Orange,

I came across your site when researching Sam Shoemaker and the Oxford Movement. Very interesting stuff. I wanted to ask your opinion on something I've been thinking about as I read over some of your papers. (Feel free to re-post this in your letters if you want; just take my name and any identifying marks off of the e-mail.)

I got sober a little over a year ago. I'd been drinking more or less since I was 17 (since 1988), but I guess I feel like — looking back — I think my drinking really reached epic proportions only when I lived 2 years in Germany from '04 — '06. In January 2009, having continued this trend after I returned to the States, I totally cracked up (perhaps this wasn't only from drinking, I'm not sure), had a nervous breakdown, and ended up in a Psych ward first for about a week and then a short rehab/dry-out for a week after that. The doctors diagnosed alcoholism and Bi-polar 1. I didn't have any sort of probate hearing (although I'm told I made a big fuss coming in), and no one sentenced me to AA, but it was highly encouraged, and seemed to be the way to get out of the detox, so I picked up a chip and was released to the care of my sister who had come down from up north to help me out.

Anyway, what I'm thinking is this: After a year in AA, I see how a lot of what you're saying is true, e.g., about the bait-and-switch tactics, the whole problem with the notion of powerlessness, etc. Yet I feel like that first year (and especially that first half-year) in AA got me something, because it did make me think about the things that I'd left undone because of alcohol, or had done in a mediocre fashion, things I had screwed up because of my drinking, and ways in which I'd been really selfish and just wasteful of my talents. It showed me the ways that alcohol was damaging my life, in other words.

I feel like these weren't things that I would have gotten on my own (especially given all of the pills they were throwing at me back then, which kept me in a permanent haze). Now that the haze has worn off, of course, I feel more inclined to your opinions about these things, but I wonder if there isn't some sort of middle way.

For me, I don't have any major problems with religion. I was raised Catholic and I don't really see any problem with notions like belief in God, confession, and reparation. When I read the 12 steps, I saw just something like the Catholic way of life (with the exception of the bit about powerlessness, unmanageability, and insanity): believe in God, examine your conscience every now and then, confess your sins, ask for help to be a better person and make it up to those you've done wrong to.

I realize that may sound all a bit naive — to each his own — but the thought I've been having in reading your website is that there is a way to go about freeing myself (or, more accurately, remaining free ) from alcohol that incorporates a religious dimension (not Buchmanism, but one that I find congenial) while at the same time recognizing that it's up to my free will to pick up a drink or not.

Anyway, sorry to go on at such length — I'd just be curious to hear your response to that train of thought, because it seems like you're someone who has thought a lot about these things. What do you think? Can that work? Is your objection to AA mainly that it tries to hide its religious / cult (Buchmanite) motives, instead of admitting them openly...? Please respond when you have a moment — there's no rush,

Sincerely yours,
anon

Hello Anon,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations for your sobriety. Sorry to take so long to answer, but I was unavoidably distracted.

Starting at the bottom, and working backwards, I have a lot of objections to A.A. The hidden religious aspect is actually one of the least of my worries. If I had to pick out one thing, it would be: A.A. hurts people. A.A. hurts people in quite a variety of ways,

  • ranging from giving them misinformation about alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency,
  • to telling them that they are powerless over their problem,
  • to telling them that self-reliance is a bad thing,
  • to inducing feelings of guilt and inadequacy,
  • to telling them not to take their medications.
  • I don't know if I should even mention the sexual exploitation of newcomers. Some groups do it; some don't.

For the list of my objections to A.A., this web page is a good one: What's Not Good About A.A.?

Now then, on to your main question: About getting some good things out of A.A.: You can do that. A.A. is not all bad. There are some true things that get taught in A.A. meetings, now and then. And once in a blue moon you may have the luck to run into a wise old-timer who can truthfully answer your questions and give sage advice. Look here for some of them:

  1. Newcomer Rescue League, here.)
  2. here
  3. here
  4. here
  5. here
  6. here

The problem for you, of course, is to sort out the good and true stuff from the bullshit, while avoiding getting hurt or misled. Sometimes that is very difficult, especially when you are just recovering from an alcohol-induced fog.

Oh, and please do remember that you can also learn a lot of the same good things in a variety of other groups like SMART, Lifering, or SOS. So you have some choices.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Forty years ago, the Rolling Stones moved from Britain to France
**     to avoid the crushing income taxes in Britain. In an NPR interview,
**     Bill Wyman declared, "I don't have any trouble with the language.
**     I don't speak French." (NPR News, Morning Edition, 2010.05.17)
**     By the same logic, I don't have any problem with alcohol;
**     I don't drink it.





Date: Wed, February 24, 2010 12:46 pm     (answered 19 May 2010)
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: *ping*

Heya:

As has been expected, you haven't updated your site in a while due to your relocation, but I just wanted to touch base with you and see how you were doing and whether everything was OK. I hope you've found a new place and that all is going well... TTYL, P

Hello Parrish,

PING! back. Yes, finally, I have my new place, and am getting caught up on email.

Thanks for the good wishes.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our
**     own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life Who
**     dwells within the essence of every creature and in the core of
**     our own souls.
**         ==  Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation





Date: Tue, February 23, 2010 10:34 pm     (answered 19 May 2010)
From: "Frank L."
Subject: What About Tiger???

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23ther.html?em

So, did Tiger get into a 12 step program?

Hello Frank,

That's a darned good question. When I heard that Tiger Woods was in "treatment" for "sex addiction", I kind of raised an eye-brow. What kind of a treatment program could that be? (And does it really work, or is it quackery? Is Tiger confessing his sins in SAA meetings?)

It's odd how so many things now require "treatment". It really does remind me of Stanton Peele's phrase, "The Diseasing of America".

Everything is a "disease", and everything requires "treatment".

Next, I suppose we really will have children in treatment for "Ice-cream-itis".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die
**     even the undertaker will be sorry.
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835—1910





Date: Tue, January 12, 2010 5:45 pm     (answered 19 May 2010)
From: "Julie D."
Subject:

I was wondering where I could get some more information such as you have on your site. I was also wondering what the statistics are for marriages that go under while one partner is in AA and the other refuses to play by their rules. Thanks for any more information you can give me. Why is there not more information out there?

Julie D.
Medical Transcriptionist
Webmedx

Hello Julie,

Thanks for the question. It's a good one, and I wish I had the answer. I do not have any solid statistics on the A.A. divorce rate. I know that it is high; I get plenty of letters talking about the marriages that A.A. has destroyed, but I just don't have any hard numbers for it. And I don't think that anybody else does either.

For a sampling of stories, look here:

Why are there no better statistics? First off, A.A. actively resists the collection of embarrassing statistics. They have even stopped asking the embarrassing questions that I ferretted out of their triennial surveys. When the surveys revealed the A.A. dropout rate, they avoided those questions in the next survey. When the surveys revealed that 61% of the membership had been coerced into A.A., they stopped asking about that.

Then, they declare that they have no membership list, and everybody is anonymous, so it isn't possible to calculate things like the A.A. divorce rate. Likewise, they supposedly also cannot figure out the A.A. failure rate, or the dropout rate.

Isn't it odd that there are so few valid statistics that tell the truth about the "treatment program" that is used by 93% of the "treatment centers" in the USA?

What is even stranger is that health insurance companies still pay for such quackery.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**
**      Said a clever quack to an educated physician: "How many of the passing multitude,
**     do you suppose, appreciate the value of science, or understand the impositions of quackery?"
**     "Not more than one in ten," was the answer.
**     "Well," said the quack, "you may have that one, and I'll have the other nine."
**          ==  author unknown
UPDATE: Psychology Today magazine reported that A.A. has a 25% divorce rate in the first year when one partner joins Alcoholics Anonymous. That is sky-high.





Date: Sat, January 9, 2010 4:47 pm     (answered 19 May 2010)
From: "Kevin G."
Subject: Relapse and the Steps

You know what really upset my mind with AA when I first got to thinking about it (the BIG sin right?). If you have been drinking everyday for 3 years straight, and you are able to quit and start dealing with your problems, but then you "relapse" and drink for a couple of days, for some reason, you have to start at the beginning. Do not pass go, Do not collect $200. You are back at the beginning. Which, through the language of the steps, means that in 2 DAYS your life has become unmanageable and you can not bring yourself back. That makes no sense to me. Dealing with the problems and feelings that got us to choose drinking or using is a marathon. It takes time. You have to deal with hiccups and small set backs. How else will you learn? If you know you have problems, and are dealing with them, have a hiccup, you are not at square one, because I guarantee you have learned something about yourself that you did not know before.

AA, on the other hand is a marathon with no finish line. Its no wonder that people who continue to go and not question eventually give in. They tire and HAVE to give up. In AA, if you relapse, you have obviously learned nothing. But if you have learned nothing, then what is the point in doing the steps? You're not going to learn anything anyway? What is the point in a treatment that doesn't let you graduate or fix your problems for good? Sometimes, I have heard Alcoholism (a word I hate to use) is like Cancer. However, if you successfully go through treatment, whether chemo, radiation, or surgery, you return to your former life. Yes, you keep an eye on it, but you don't stay on the treatments. What would be the point in chemo if you had to stay on chemo for the rest of your life? Guess what! IT WILL KILL YOU!

That's all I have to say. Changing isn't going to happen over night, but it will happen. If you make mistakes, it does not mean you have to start back at zero. It means you just have to learn from them. "Alcoholism" isn't a disease, its a symptom, and the only way to deal with it, is to deal with the problems and neuroses we have and not to add more by becoming ignorant and superstitious.

Thanks for your site,
KG

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for the letter and thanks for the thanks. You make a bunch of good points. All that I can do is agree.

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You can fool some of the people some of the time,
**     And that's enough to make a decent living.
**        ==  W. C. Fields





Date: Wed, February 24, 2010 5:16 pm     (answered 19 May 2010)
From: "Carmel M."
Subject: 7 Weeks to Sobriety

Hello Agent Orange

First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the initiative to write, maintain, and educate the masses with your website. I do honestly believe the "program" does more harm than good.

I could go on and on with my story....but the jist of it is that my father died of alcoholism while I was in the "program" and we shared "the steps".....it was really traumatic (really long story short).

It did prompt me to do some of my own research on alcoholism. I noticed on your list of best reads you did not list this book "7 Weeks to Sobriety" Personally I found it to have some of the best REAL information on alcohol addiction out there.

I also found some stuff relating alcoholism in Indians to low-blood sugar....which I believe there is some truth to. I can't give you references......it was a long time ago. I grew up in New Mexico with a high populous of Indians and saw first hand how it affects Indians. ....I don't know.....maybe I should do more and contribute more to your crusade. It's been nice just leaving it all in my "history" and not having to think about it.

I had a post on facebook bring it back to my consciousness....so I decided to take a peek at your site and re-hash old frustraded feelings with AA and NA.

My decision to write though is mostly about that book....it really gives good information about different types of alcoholism....it is a good read....good information. I even concidered contacting her and starting a treatment facility with her ......then I decided I just wanted to move forward.....and leave it all behind. That is why I especiallly commend you for your efforts!!

Mahalo and Aloha!
Carmel

Hello Carmel,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. I will definitely have to check out 7 Weeks to Sobriety. Somehow, I think I've heard of it before but never got around to reading it.

Ah, New Mexico. I spent over 20 years there, 1969 to 1992. I still feel like a recent transplant to Oregon.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**
**  This battle never ceases to amaze me. People seem to be much
**  more inclined to believe what they hear from non-experts
**  because it's what they'd rather hear.
**     ==  Prof. Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University,
**            speaking about global warming
**         New York Times, Dot Earth, "Experts: Big Flaw in
**           Will's Ice Assertions", 27 Feb 2009
**
**  (And "recovery" seems to have the same problem.)





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