Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXXV
by A. Orange

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Catherine_K ]

Date: Sun, November 20, 2011 3:06 pm     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Catherine K"
Subject: Horror Story of 12 Step Eating Disorder Treatment

Agent Orange,

I really like your website. I was suspicious for a really long time about the steps but I couldn't really put my finger on what was wrong with them. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone. I wanted to share my horror story with you because I don't know where else to tell it, and maybe if it gets posted with your answered letters, someone else will find it and be able to identify with something in it.

I've never been in AA or NA, but I used to be very ill with an eating disorder and spent a long time in an inpatient treatment center for it. Like most easting disorder facilities, they claimed not to force any one particular treatment method, but to offer a variety. I found out in time that this was not true: the facility's operation had ideas from the 12 steps in basically all its treatments. One of the most emphasized groups was called "Addictions" which was really Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous. We used the ABA book, but despite this, they kept telling us it wasn't 12 step based. The first time I went to this group, the facilitator demanded that I admit powerlessness over my bulimia. I refused and told her that I was not powerless: I knew that I could learn how to control it, but just needed some help to know how. I had a lot of traumatic events in my past, so I went into treatment thinking they would help me learn how to deal with memories of these and then I would be able to stop the bulimic behavior. I was so wrong: this facilitator did not care about the fact that I had serious trauma to work past from having been raped and abused as a child. When I told her that this is what I came to the treatment center to work on, she said, "If that's what you want to work on, go somewhere else. We're here to make sure you don't binge and purge yourself to death. You can make it easier on yourself by just making your first step. Until you do that, we can't help you." I asked her what if the 12 step method isn't the right method for me (like the admissions associate had told me, different treatments work for different people), she told me I was in denial and headed for death. Another day during group, I challenged the idea that God can be anything in the 12 steps. I asked her, "If God can be anything, and we could each potentially have a different God, and God could be the group or the therapy dog or a paintbrush, doesn't that mean that a 'god' isn't really necessary for being well? Doesn't that mean you're just improving your habits on your own?" She responded by telling me again that I was in denial, and that I was wrong and would realize it in step 4, as one of the step 4 questions was "Do you judge the higher power of others in the program?" I tend to have a traditional Judeo-Christian idea of God, and someone else in the group told me that I should have a different higher power for ABA than my God for my religion. I couldn't believe it. What's that — spiritual schizophrenia? And of all things, the group leader told me that I needed to listen to what that girl was saying!

Here's the real horror story: after leaving the facility, I lost my job because of ABA and the treatment center. While at the treatment center, I became known as one of the worst rebels. I hadn't entered treatment wanting to rebel, but after I entered and felt oppressed by the staff and the crazy steps I started to demand what I knew I actually needed, and no one listened to me. I had signed myself into the treatment center with an agreement not to leave before 60 days, which was a huge mistake, and I spent my entire $60,000 savings on treatment because my insurance refused to pay, so I was pretty depressed upon leaving. As a fully grown adult with a successful professional career, I was appalled by the fact that I had wasted so much time and money not to have people help me, but to have people controlling my every move... and to believe that they were "helping" me because that's what they said they were doing. When I got out, I started to find that there were other ways of recovery from eating disorders. I started receiving excellent trauma treatment and getting better. But then my "sponsor" who I met at the treatment center started calling me and showing up at my work. The ABA program was forced on me, and I didn't even choose this sponsor. That awful facilitator had assigned her to me. This sponsor questioned the treatment I was choosing to receive and told me that if I didn't stop and begin coming to meetings, she was going to tell my boss about my eating disorder. She started telling my to try this weird treatment, called EMDR, which I later found out was quack therapy too. I spent $500 on EMDR sessions before quitting that. I tried to get a restraining order against this sponsor because she was trying to control me and was threatening to get me fired from my job. The judge didn't grant it because he didn't believe my story when I told it to him. So a few days later, when I told my sponsor to go to hell and that I had quit the EMDR and gone back to my other therapy, she freaked out, called my work, and told everyone at every level above me that I was "terribly sick and in desperate need of treatment for bulimia." She even made up stories about my stealing food from work — completely untrue. As a result of these lies, I lost my job. I confronted her about this, and she told me that she had to force my rock bottom to get me back into treatment. Deplorable.

Eventually, I had to move to a new city to get away from all this. I have a new job, but I had to start from the very bottom whereas I had previously had a bright career. It has been three years and I still haven't built my way entirely back up the ladder yet. This is entirely the fault of ABA and that horrible sponsor. Hopefully someday I will have what I once had, but for now I'm just grateful to be out of the situation I was in before. And once I moved and kept working on the trauma, I actually recovered. I'd like to shove that in the face of all those at the treatment center, but for now I just want to be away for it all and actually live my life. I just want the world to know that the 12 steps can be really dangerous, and sponsors, in an organization with no formal hierarchy, can be dangerous.

Thanks for listening.


Hello Catherine,

Thank you for the horror story. I will certainly print it.

My first reaction was, "Sue the bastards." The so-called treatment center perpetrated a fraud and lied to you about the nature of the treatment and cheated you out of $60,000. You have both a criminal and a civil case against them. Now I don't know what the statute of limitations is there. I'd check that.

The so-called "sponsor" who made you lose your job is also a good candidate for a lawsuit for slander.

And yes, I hope other people will be warned by your story.

I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better now, and getting some treatment worthy of the name.

Have a good day now, and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     When they tell you that you are powerless,
**     that just means that somebody else gets the power.

[The next letter from Catherine_K is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Jimsky_D ]

Date: Tue, November 22, 2011 5:36 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Jimsky D."
Subject: Couple of questions...

Hi Orange,

Interesting and huge body of work you have put together. Clearly a passionate undertaking. I am interested if you have any references to enlighten other paths of recovery. I am especially interested in other, less "cult-like" approaches such as RR and their success rate. Your statistics indicate that those in AA will likely fall away. So what does a person do? I'd think one would want to be following a program that works. I know people who have seemingly benefitted from AA but then, your statistics indicate that this is a temporary condition.

What has your experience been with other approaches? I am told that AA's share their experience and talk about themselves. Do you have a story? I'd be very interested in hearing it. You clearly have thought a lot about this.



Hello Jimsky,

Thanks for the questions. And the answer is, "Oh yes."

I have a list of other, better, less cultish methods of recovery, and made it into a separate printable file, here:


Personally, I went to SMART meetings for a while, and found them to be a breath of fresh air, sanity, and sensibility.

You can read about my history, and what has worked for me and others here: How did you get to where you are?

Have a good day, and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "There is nothing quite like dying for convincing you that
**      you really need to take better care of your health."

[The previous letter from Al_C is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Al_C ]

Date: Tue, November 22, 2011 11:04 pm     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: al.c.
Subject: Re: Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult

I debated whether or not to reply to your latest email, and I decided that I wouldn't, but I felt that I had left some things unsaid.

You state that you are not an atheist or agnostic, but you clearly do not believe in God. Although you don't believe in God, you seem to have no problem playing God.

There is a God and you are not Him.

You talk to me about spirituality, and yet I wonder if you know what that is. I don't think there is anything spiritual in telling people that AA is killing people. Your intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds.

You got sober on self will....good for you, but that wouldn't work with the people I know and love.

Our group purpose is to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety, and we do that through love and service.

Perhaps that is what is missing from your musings about AA. I don't feel the love!!

Have a good day....unless you have made other plans.


Hello again, Al,

Well, you got just about every point wrong.

  • I do believe in God, in some kind of superconsciousness embedded in the fabric of the universe. I do not believe in the nasty Old Testament tyrant who murders non-Jews by the hundreds of thousands because they believe in the wrong god. And I do not believe in a Santa Claus who brings goodies if the children behave themselves. I think we can safely dispose of those grim old fairy tales. But I am neither an agnostic nor an atheist.

  • I do not "play God". What makes you think that I am "playing God"? The fact that I believe in self-reliance and thinking for myself, and using my God-given intelligence to save my own life?

    If that bothers you, then you are merely promoting the old Nazi God of Frank Buchman. The Nazi philosophy declared that the average man was unfit for thinking for himself, and he should just obey the orders of his superiors. Is that what you are pushing? "God" as der Führer? And thinking for yourself is "playing God"?

  • Please define "spirituality". And please tell me what is so "spiritual" about foisting an old pro-Nazi cult religion on sick people and lying to them about how well it works as a cure for alcohol or drug addiction.

    Personally, I think that is pretty Satanic.

    Please notice that there is a huge difference between "spirituality" and "superstition".

  • Yes, there is something spiritual in telling people that AA is killing people. That is the truth. Those are the facts. Even your own trustee, Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant found that A.A. produced an "appalling" death rate, the worst death rate of any method of treating alcohol abuse that he studied. Frank Buchman's cult religion just does not cure alcohol abuse. It makes things worse.

  • RE:
    Your intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds.

    I work very hard at making sure that everything I say is accurate and true. Most of my statements are documented by reliable sources, or by A.A. council-approved literature. Bill Wilson is actually the single-most-quoted person in the Orange Papers.

    You think that I am lying? Well then, why don't you tell us what your opinion of the truth is? And tell us where you get your opinions? I mean exactly where — book or journal name, date, author's name, page number, and why should we believe that author?

    It's easy to make sweeping accusations like "intellectual dishonesty", but how about some solid facts? Why don't you tell us what the real A.A. cure rate actually is?

    What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

    Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?
    Or even several years later?
    And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever?
    How about 11 years and 21 years?

    (HINT: the answers are here.)

  • You say that self-will would not work with "the people whom you know and love".
    1. Oh really? And how did you determine that? Have you ever done any clinical tests to determine what works and what doesn't? When and where were the results published?
    2. So what does work? The practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties? How do the practices of Frank Buchman's cult "work" to make people quit drinking alcohol? Please explain that in plain English.

  • RE:
    Our group purpose is to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety, and we do that through love and service.

    That is just some slogan-slinging. Lots of glittering generalities. If you really loved alcoholics you would give them something that works, not old disproven superstitions from the nineteen-thirties.

  • Lastly, you think that "the love" is missing from the Orange Papers? No, it isn't. What about "the love" being absent from A.A.? There is nothing loving about foisting quackery on sick people and lying to them about how well it works to cure their sickness. And then spouting a lot of grandiose self-congratulatory slogans at them like "love and service". The most loving thing that you could do for the sick alcoholics is tell them the truth about everything. That's what I am doing.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Henry David Thoreau on his deathbed, when his aunt
**     asked him if he had made peace with God:
**     "Why, I did not know we had quarreled."

May 23, 2009, Saturday, back to Carmen's time:

Canada Geese cruising
The Geese, Cruising
That is the Hawthorne Bridge. Behind it is the Morrison Bridge, and way in the background is the Steel Bridge, a double-decker bridge with railroad on the bottom level, and cars, busses, and electric streetcars on the upper level. That is three bridges in one photograph. Portland has quite a few bridges.

Another Festival. I believe this would be the Rose Festival.

The Sling
The Sling
This is for hard-core thrill seekers — zero to 60 MPH in like one second.

The Sling
The Sling
And up they go.
There is even have a videocam mounted on the rig, so that customers can buy a videotape of themselves experiencing the rush.

The Sling
The Sling

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Steve_C ]

Date: Wed, November 23, 2011 9:58 am     (answered 28 November 2011)
From: "Steve C."
Subject: Hi Orange

Here's a 12-step friendly (ugh) website where commentors mention you once in a while:

The site makes those horrid meetings sound so chic... (ugh)

I was wondering. When I had to rehab I searched Bill's awful book for any reference to a "sponsor" or "sponsorship" and didn't find any. Sponsors certainly aren"t mentioned in 12 practices. Is there a link on your site that details the history of the whole sponsor thing?

Hello Steve,

Thanks for a good question. I don't have one web page just about sponsorship, but do have a bunch of odds and ends references and tidbits.

  1. First off, sponsorship was an Oxford Group practice. In the O.G., your sponsor was the person who recruited you into the cult and "changed" you. It was mentioned here, in Beverly Nichols' stories of the Oxford Group:

  2. Bill Wilson avoided using the term "sponsor" in the Big Book because he was hiding the similarities between Frank Buchman's cult and Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill wanted people to believe that A.A. had just magically sprung up from nowhere, or had been just magically handed down from God, or that Bill had just spontaneously invented it, or discovered it. No way did he want people to know that A.A. was just a copy of the disreputable pro-Nazi Oxford Group cult, so most of the Oxford Group terminology was eliminated or renamed or hidden. All references to sponsorship were censored from the Big Book.

    Sponsorship was not mentioned, but it very much existed and continued in A.A.

  3. When Bill Wilson (and Tom Powers) wrote his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, thirteen years later, Bill dropped the pretense and talked about sponsorship a lot. He raved about how the sponsors were wonderful wise teachers who carried the message and preserved the spirituality, and on and on.

    We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 22.

  4.       At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors come to the rescue. They can do this, because they are the carriers of A.A.'s tested experience with Step Four.
          The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are confronted with quite another problem.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 46.

  5. Our next problem will be to discover the person in whom we are to confide [the person to whom to make the 5th Step confession].   ...   This may turn out to be one's sponsor.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 109.

  6. Bill Wilson had a sponsor teaching that people should stop thinking:

    "... all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind."
          The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case. I had a scientific schooling. Naturally I respected, venerated, even worshiped science. As a matter of fact, I still do — all except the worship part. Time after time, my instructors held up to me the basic principle of all scientific progress: search and research, again and again, always with the open mind. When I first looked at A.A. my reaction was just like yours. This A.A. business, I thought, is totally unscientific. This I can't swallow. I simply won't consider such nonsense.
          "Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A. showed results, prodigious results. I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It wasn't A.A. that had the closed mind, it was me. The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can't say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.'s program as enthusiastically as I could."
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 26-27.

    By the way, that story was a total fabrication.

  7. Bill Wilson declared that after someone did Step Eleven, and allegedly heard the Voice of God, telling him what to do, the A.A. member should submit the received Guidance to his sponsor for approval:

    If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren't still self-deceived? How could we be certain we had made a true catalog of our defects and had really admitted them, even to ourselves?
          ... what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is. Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 59-60.

    Note that "checking Guidance" was also an Oxford Group practice:
    After "hearing the Voice of God", good Oxford Group members had to submit their received messages to their sponsor or other group elders for approval. In that way, the group elders got to say what God really meant, and what God really said, and what God really wanted the cult members to do. Bill Wilson merely copied the Oxford Group again.

  8. http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_a3.html#ca_mentoring == the sponsorship system described in the Cult Test.

  9. The one test that I know of that tested the effectiveness of the sponsorship system found that newcomers getting sponsors did not help them to get off of alcohol or drugs at all. In a controlled clinical test, sponsors produced zero improvement.

  10. Then monsters like Mike Quinones and Clancy Imusland turned the sponsorship system into a system of sexual exploitation of the newcomers.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**     guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**     also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**     having any medical education or training.  They have never
**     gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**     residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**     life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**     is what you call quackery.

Date: Tue, November 29, 2011 12:27 pm
From: "Steve C."
Subject: Re: Hi Orange

Thank you. Nice compilation!

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Peter_F ]

Date: Thu, November 24, 2011 2:59 am     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "Peter F."
Subject: good piece

I just read this. Good article.


Peter Ferentzy, PhD
Author of Dealing With Addiction — why the 20th century was wrong

Hi Peter,

Yes, I also like the way that James writes. He makes such cogent points.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     One day Mara, the Buddhist god of ignorance and evil, was
**     traveling through the villages of India with his attendants.
**     He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up
**     in wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground
**     in front of him. Mara's attendants asked what that was and
**     Mara replied, "A piece of truth." "Doesn't this bother
**     you when someone finds a piece of the truth, O evil one?" his
**     attendants asked. "No," Mara replied. "Right after
**     this they usually make a belief out of it."

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Kristina_T ]

Date: Thu, November 24, 2011 8:11 am     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "Kristina T."
Subject: Interesting website

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I am a bit perturbed, though, about your rant on Bill Wilson and AA. Sure, you have some very plausible evidence on his delusions, but I have met so many people where AA has helped them recover from drinking themselves to death. I have heard many people say after attending AA and in recovery that admit the Big Blue Book is outdated, but they read it with that in mind and take the steps with success. Do you have some sort of solution that works just as well? My mother is drinking herself to death right now, which is how I found your website. She is 64, and just had her first grandson 7 months ago. She does not want help. I didn't read all 24 pages of your website, so maybe you did have a solution?


Hello Tina,

Thanks for the letter. Last item first, there are not 24 pages in my web site. More like 423. I don't know what you were reading. Perhaps some archived old copy of the web site, somewhere.

Alcoholics Anonymous has not "helped millions". That is the standard lie that A.A. tells. They are forever claiming great success when they actually do not have any. What you have seen is some people get a grip and take control of their bad habits and save their own lives. That was their own choice, and they saved themselves by using their own will power and determination and desire to live. A.A. had little or nothing to do with it.

And it does not matter how much some people have been brainwashed into believing that A.A. saved them, and how much they parrot the poster-child speeches about how nothing worked until A.A. saved them.

You also did not see the people whom A.A. did not help, and who died or disappeared, so that creates the illusory appearance that A.A. seems to help people. You see nothing but the true believer "success stories" who "keep coming back". That is the propaganda trick called "observational selection" — counting the hits and ignoring the misses.

The best single file for you to read about the A.A. success rate is: The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment. In that file are the summaries of many clinical tests and controlled studies of A.A. that found that A.A. just raised the death rate in alcoholics, while failing to improve the sobriety rate in alcoholics at all. A.A. also raised the rates of binge drinking, and arrests, and cost of hospitalization, and divorce, and suicide. A.A. is just a fraud and quack medicine.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother drinking too much. It's very difficult, nearly impossible, to get someone to quit drinking when she does not wish to quit. Also, few mothers welcome their daughters running their lives for them. And sending her to a cult religion won't help any, either. Notice that A.A. will just rationalize their failure to help her by claiming that she didn't "really try", and she didn't "thoroughly follow our path", and she didn't "work the Steps right". A.A. is quick to steal the credit for all success stories that happen in the neighborhood of an A.A. meeting, but they disavow any responsibility for the failures. That is also observational selection.

But you can try to help her. Talking sense about the damage that alcohol causes to her might help. Talking about the costs of drinking versus the benefits of drinking might help. That is one of the tools that SMART teaches. Also ask yourself why she is drinking so much. Has she decided that her life is over? Is she just old and lonely? Is she depressed about something? Is she in poor health? Does she have an ulcer? Does she smoke cigarettes? Has she been checked out by a doctor?

You might get some practical hints and techniques from members of the non-cult recovery groups, listed here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-alt_list.html

And here is a list of what has worked for me and other people: How did you get to where you are?

Good luck, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**   An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast;
**   a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
**      ==  Buddha

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#A_L ]

Date: Thu, November 24, 2011 12:48 pm     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "A. L."
Subject: The self esteem issue


I would like to ask you about the self-esteem. I've been sober for 3 years. The first year I went to Na meetings a LOT, the last 2 years I just go randomly once in a while. After the first year I started to see so many disturbing things, such as my sponsor who was younger than me, told me how to live, whom to date or not to date stuff like " The first year you buy a plant, the second year you get a job, the third years you can have a cat, and the fourth year fix your economy and the fifth year you can go on dates" For cry it out loud, I was 40 years old when I got sober! Ok, then my therapist always told me to Believe in yourself, DO what you feel is right for you, we are all individuals. But my sponsor said, I do not have a sponsor anymore, as I feel better without any! ( as do a lot of Na people: Its your disease talking, there are no special cases, we addicts are all the same!

That is SUCH BULLSHIT! We are ALL special and NO one is the same. This is in my opinion really really bad things to say to other people that already have o low self-esteem.

My therapist was really shocked when I told her. Ok, i have a lot of stuff to tell, but I think you know these things already, I just wanted to share. Or i.e how can it be a disease when in the next line they talk about moral shortcomings?

In my opinion I had a lot of problems and mental health problems that I self medicated with alcohol and drugs, but I do not believe that I suffered from an addiction before I used anything, that it was in me. I think addiction is built up slowly, and you can also get rid of it. And I do not believe that every addict have to attend 5 meetings/week for the rest of his life to stay sober. Fine if someone wants to, but I have a lot of funnier stuff to do with my life.

I hope you leave my name and e-mail out if you publish my letter! I also know you get a lot of post, so I get it if you do not have time to reply to everyone.

Thanks for great information!

Best wishes,

A-L from Finland

Hello A.L.,

Thank you for sharing. Of course I totally agree with you. I especially like the line about:

... how can it be a disease when in the next line they talk about moral shortcomings?

Ah yes, you noticed that little gotcha, didn't you? How indeed? What's with all of that jabber about moral shortcomings and wrongs and defects of character if it's really a disease? I don't recall the doctors talking about sins and wrongs and moral shortcomings when somebody catches the flu or gets diabetes or coronary disease or cancer...

You also bring up the important point that use of too much alcohol or drugs is often caused by some other underlying condition. I've read essays that asserted that at least 50% of all of the people who get labeled "alcoholics" are actually people who have some other illness or condition that they are vainly trying to fix with alcohol and drugs. Those patients have the right idea — fix what's broken — but they are using the wrong medications (often because they are the only things that are available).

I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better, and recovering without the cult.

Have a good day, and a good life, now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     If someone has cancer or diabetes or coronary disease,
**     we don't use a quack doctor to treat those sick people —
**     a quack whose only qualification is that he used to drink
**     too much alcohol or take too many drugs, and who is now
**     a member of a cult religion. But with the so-called
**     "disease" of addiction, the standard treatment is
**     to have former alcoholics or dopers dispensing their
**     platitudes and slogans, and insisting that "spirituality"
**     is the cure.
**     The fact that it is difficult to break established bad habits
**     does not mean that those bad habits are diseases.

[The next letter from A_L is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#A_B ]

Date: Thu, November 24, 2011 6:54 pm     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "A B"

i wonder if you think it is a waste of time trying to tell an AA member that his ostensible reasoning is actually illogical. i find myself pretty frustrated b/c it seems there's no way to have a rational discussion with someone with whom I was involved who pathologized me, denied he did so, did it again, and then told me not to contact him b/c i made him feel bad and look where i was in my life. it was a bunch of nonsense, and it has stuck in my craw. probably better to simply let it go and move on — esp. since i suspect that he'll show anything I write him to his aa therapist, aa sponsor, and aa friends.

Hello A B,

Thanks for the letter. Sorry to hear about your frustration. I certainly understand it. I cannot predict the future for sure. I can't say whether the situation is totally hopeless, or whether the odds of making that person see the light are merely the same as the chances of a balloon in a pin factory.

People who have "drunk the koolaid" are pretty locked into their belief system, and they see everything in terms of their ideology, and getting them out of it is unlikely. (It's called "apophenia", and we talked about it here.) Now some of them do eventually come to their senses, but it can take years, and you probably cannot hurry the process any. Yes, I think you will be happier if you just move on.

See the signature below for Carl Sagan's take on it.

Have a good day now. And a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not
**     based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe.
**        ==  Carl Sagan

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Will ]

Date: Fri, November 25, 2011 1:10 pm     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "Will"
Subject: Paper on NA newcomers and sponsorship

A few months ago I read an article on your site about how NA had no effect on the abstinence rate of newcomers, although charity work and sponsorship did have an impact. I cannot find which article that was, so I can't find the citation for the study you used. Would you mind passing along the citation so that I can look at the original paper?


Hello Will,

What you are thinking of is here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#sponsorship

It refers to this study:

Examined the relationship between sponsorship and abstinence in 12-step treatment of injection drug users. 500 former and current injection drug users (median age 39 yrs) reported sponsorship in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) at baseline and at 6-mo and 1-yr follow-ups. Results show that having a sponsor in NA/AA was not associated with any improvement in 1-yr sustained abstinence rates compared to non-sponsored controls. However, being a sponsor over the same time period was strongly associated with substantial improvements in sustained abstinence rates, even after controlling for involvement with community organizations, NA/AA meeting attendance, marital status, employment, participation in drug and alcohol treatment centers, and HIV status.
See: "The effects of sponsorship in 12-step treatment of injection drug users", Byron L. Crape, Carl A. Latkin, Alexandra S. Laris, Amy R. Knowlton (all of the Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA), [Journal of] Drug & Alcohol Dependence, Vol 65(3), Feb 2002, pp. 291-301.
URL: http://www.elsevier.com/inca/publications/store/5/0/6/0/5/2/

So newcomers getting 12-Step sponsors did not help them at all.

Note that the sponsors were a self-selected group. That study did not test whether making randomly-chosen members into sponsors improved their rate of sobriety. The study merely noted that those committed members who chose to be sponsors drank and drugged less than other not-so-involved members.

There is room to argue that acting as a wise, honored, know-it-all teacher really does help some people to stay sober — they can't stand the idea of being embarrassed in front of their students by relapsing, so they stay clean and sober to keep up appearances. That does of course suggest a really grim question: "How many newcomers should they sacrifice to keep the oldtimers clean and sober?"

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Wonderful little our fathers knew,
**     Half their remedies cured you dead — 
**     Most of their teaching was quite untrue.
**       ==  Rudyard Kipling, Our Fathers of Old, Stanza 3

May 23, 2009, Saturday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Balloon Man
Jeff, the Balloon Man, and a girl getting a balloon hat

Balloon Man
Jeff, the Balloon Man, and a girl getting a balloon hat

A Sternwheeler, made into a maritime museum

Carnival ride
Another ride

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Mike_A ]

Date: Fri, November 25, 2011 10:51 pm     (answered 2 December 2011)
From: "Mike A."
Subject: Wow.......

That's a huge amount of information to collate. It seems you have dedicated your life to tearing down a program of recovery that has helped millions. I hope you get eveything you want out of it. As for me, I think I'll stay sober another day and live my life the way my higher power intended-free of addiction.

I just have to comment on your opinion of step twelve. Our traditions state it is a program of attraction rather than promotion. We certainly don't go recruiting. I lead by example. People see that my life has gotten better in the last 8 years, certainly beyond anything I thought possible. If they want to know how I was able to turn my life around, I can show them. If they don't want to know, that's fine too.

Good luck in your search. By the way, this at the bottom of your rant says it all:
Mike A.

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your years of sobriety. Yes, your life does get better when you quit drinking to excess. The same thing happened in my life too.

Well, your last line seems to be missing. I don't know what "bottom of a rant" you tried to quote.

You started off with the Big Lie of A.A.: that A.A. has "helped millions", or "saved millions", or "sobered up millions". No it has not. A.A. is a total failure that merely steals the credit for a few people who sobered themselves up by using their own strength, intelligence, and will power. A.A. does not sober up alcoholics any more than Scientology restores people to sanity.

We have discussed the "millions" claims of A.A. many times before.

  1. "It saves millions of lives. Doesn't that matter to you?"
  2. "...if it has saved millions, can it be so bad?"
  3. Alcoholics Anonymous never saved millions of alcoholics — that claim has been Bill Wilson's fraudulent claim from the very beginning.
  4. "Over two million worldwide ain't too shabby."

There are a zillion more, but I guess that will do for a start.

About Step 12: Of course I know about the phony "tradition" that says that A.A. is a program of attraction, not promotion. I also know how hypocritical A.A. is as they gleefully take in all of the coerced people from the courts and treatment centers. And who do you think told the judges that sending those prisoners to A.A. meetings was a good thing? And who works at the treatment centers and tells all of the patients that they have to go to A.A. meetings? (You can read about my child-raping 12-Step counselor here.)

Now, what you didn't talk about is the single most important fact: What is the actual A.A. cure rate? (Look here.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

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

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Kurt ]

Date: Fri, November 25, 2011 11:08 pm     (answered 3 December 2011)
From: kurt
Subject: I almost died laughing at this one...

Hi Terrance,

I really enjoy your web site. I was reading tonight about the what seems like hundreds of offshoots from AA...

and then I found this blog about Adulterers Anonymous:


My favorite line in the short discussion was:

I just don't think it is wise to get people together who have a weakness for sex in a room, introducing them to one another. You know what I mean? After the meeting, do you want to go out for coffee and a BJ? I mean, come on.

I nearly died laughing!


Hi Kurt,

Thanks for the tip.

Hmmm... He does seem to have a point, doesn't he? :-)

It gives a whole new slant on "support group".

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**  It is better to be alone than in bad company.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Cheri_R ]

Date: Sun, November 27, 2011 6:08 am     (answered 3 December 2011)
From: "Cheri R."
Subject: AA

You're funny.


Hi Cheri,

Thanks for the compliment. At least, I think it was a compliment. I'll take it as a compliment.

If you like humor, you should especially like the jokes page, here:

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Gandalf said, "The little orks don't like humor. They
**     cringe in pain at the sound of laughter. And they really
**     can't stand it when you poke fun at them. So they howl and
**     growl and scowl and get all bent out of shape."

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters275.html#Anthony_C ]

Date: Sun, November 27, 2011 3:31 pm     (answered 3 December 2011)
From: "anthony c."
Subject: Thank You! Great Site!


Excellent web site indeed!
Kudos to all the work you put into it — professionally done — well done!

I've been reading the information on your site, but lately I've been spending more time reading letters from your readers. It's quite obvious when I read them (the negative) that they come from people with static intelligence. And I have to admit, I read them for a bit of free comic relief. I know that's a little twisted but they are entertaining none-the-less.

My story is not different then some. I attended a few AA meetings some time ago. The best way to describe my experience was my "Spidey Senses" were tingling, and bad... a most uncomfortable experience. I was surrounded by sheep. I couldn't ignore my instincts. My relationship ended with AA, abruptly.

I have completely obtained from alcohol for quite some time now, simply because I chose not to drink any more. I did it on my own.

To keep myself in check, I've been studying rational self behavioral therapy, what I like to call "Tools for the Thinking Man" via. SMART based on the REBT system...I think you may have made mention to it somewhere, I think.

Now I haven't read everything on your site yet, so this suggestion you may want to throw out the window. I apologize if you have already, or if you have reason not to. Perhaps you can provide your readers some links or book suggestions related to behavioral modification. I've not only found it helpful when addressing alcohol or drugs, but I find these tools useful for other aspects such as understating other behaviors and emotions.

Thanks once again for the great site and keep up the good work, it's most appreciated.


A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take away everything you have... Thomas Jeffers

Hello Anthony,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. And congratulations on your recovery.

I totally agree about SMART and rational emotive behavioral therapy. I've mentioned them, and recommended them, a bunch of times, but I don't mind mentioning them again.

First off, SMART is at the top of the list of non-cult recovery programs, here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-alt_list.html

Then, the "Top 10" reading list (http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-top10.html#Ellis) includes:
When AA Doesn't Work for You, Rational Steps to Quitting Alcohol, by Albert Ellis, Ph.D., and Emmett Velten, Ph.D.
Dr. Ellis is of course the founder of SMART, and he teaches REBT techniques in his book.

I went to SMART for a while myself. That was several years ago, but I still have 11 years clean and sober now. And that is in fact the path that SMART expects and recommends. You don't devote your life to the group. You just go to meetings until you have learned all that you are going to learn, and then you walk out and get on with your life.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Every last one of the great philosophers has told us that things are
**     not what they seem. Every last one of the great scientists has assured
**     us that there are worlds within worlds. And every famous metaphysician
**     has insisted that our conditions, our surroundings, and our world are
**     fashioned by the thoughts we think and the way we think them.
**       ==  Marcus Bach

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