Letters, We Get Mail, VIII
by A. Orange



Dear Agent Orange,

      First let me say that I think this website is a breath of fresh air on the internet when it comes down to Alcoholics Anonymous. The work and how spot on your commentaries are make it worthwhile. My only problem with your page is that it can get rather repetitive in places where the same rant is posted on two to three different places.

Yep, that's true. Guilty as charged.
I have a problem with that. Knowledge isn't linear. Everything cross-connects to everything else. That is, just one goof-ball quote from Bill Wilson can be applicable as an example of propaganda techniques, and as delusions of grandeur, and as crazy religious beliefs, and as nutty beliefs about alcoholism, so it gets pulled into all the pages where I talk about those things. I am always debating whether to mention something again in another rap. Sometimes, I could just link to it, and suppose I should in a few more cases. But if I make a page nothing but links to other pages, then it becomes unreadable and incomprehensible... But I agree that a little less repetition may be better.

And you're also missing a page which talks exclusively about the horror stories of sponsors. Yes, you do mention them, but they are perhaps the *worst* thing that AA has to offer and they deserve their own section.

You are quite right, but that is actually a weak area for me. I have no experience there. I never had a sponsor. I just resisted the idea, and didn't like the available condidates, especially the nicotine fiend who offered himself, and ended up never getting one. (When I had six months off of both alcohol and tobacco, a chain-smoking sponsor wanted to teach me how to work the steps and free myself from addictions. I didn't take him up on the offer.) So what little I say about sponsors just comes from other people's experiences. But I definitely do mention them under the Cult Test item "Mentoring".

      I quit AA over 5 months ago because of a "sponsor." I put that in quote marks because this loser wasn't really a "sponsor" so much as a wannabe guru. Anyways, I'm a young guy. And about 13 months ago I noticed that my drinking was getting a little out of hand. I finally hit a "moment of clarity" when I was lost in the streets on the south side of Chicago after a bachelor's party while drunk. I don't know how I survived that night and got home, much less not getting arrested. This was the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back, so to speak.
      After about three days of agonizing guilt, I decided to call AA to find a support group to quit drinking. This was my decision. Now a little background. My father has been sick with terminal cancer for close to two years. I knew my father's time was limited. Not to mention that I had little self-confidence due to being a little overweight and that I was working a dead end job. I also have a family history of bipolar disorder and clinical depression. The crux was that I had no insurance. And I also had no driver's license due to a DUI I had earlier in life.
      So I call up AA and talk to this guy who says he'll take me to a meeting that night. I say I'm game so I go. At the meeting, about six guys come with me into a room and each shares some very private details about their lives. I had to admit, it worked pretty well because I started to confess things right there in my "first step meeting." I had no reason to doubt these people. And they were being real nice to me. Like everyone else, I heard nothing but good things about AA.
      At first it wasn't all too bad. I treated AA as a very loose social group, where I'd attend two-three meetings a week and generally try to talk about everything *but* alcohol. I don't know about other people, but I have many interests. I even met some really good people in those rooms. But after about two months into AA, I started to hit a downward spiral.
      First, I was laid off on my job. Second, my father's health began to deteriorate much faster in the spring and as a result needed 24 care (which I provided during the day while my mother was at work.) Third, my brother-in-law commited suicide. As if that wasn't enough, less than two months after my brother-in-law killed himself, my father passed away. Through *all* of this I never touched a drop of alcohol.
      Understandably, I'm going through a period of depression. I'm beginning to miss meetings because it's obvious most people don't care about my problems (which were *serious*.) All I kept getting were these "keep coming to meetings" bullshit. So, one night three weeks after my father died my uncle is throwing this party to try to liven things up for everyone. At this party, there was a lot of booze.
      Maybe I shouldn't have gone, maybe I should have. Either way, I did and I got drunk. And as everything is exaggerated when your drunk, I had a nervous breakdown and began to self-mutilate, causing second degree burns in my left hand. Don't ask me why I did it because I don't know. I was taken to the hospital that night and was referred to the Department of Mental Health. It turns out that I am bipolar and was going through one of my major depressions. As a result, I was put on depakoate.
      Right after I burned my hand, I hit "bottom". I decided to go to AA and ask for a sponsor. I asked this one guy I knew for several months if he'd accept and he got pissed at me because I "relapsed." Right from the start I should have told him to fuck himself, but I was in a sorry condition. He demanded that I go to meetings every day for 14 days straight and read a chapter of the Big Book. After all, I never read any AA literature outside of meetings anyway. He also had the condition that I call him everyday. As soon as this began, I noticed that things began to get *worse*, not better. This loser kept asking some very probing questions such as "what do you do all day?", wanting me to recall all the day's details. He wanted me to tell him everything I was going to do for the current day. What got me was that my parents had never talked to me like this. They didn't probe into my life too much. They'd ask questions, sure. But rarely did they treat me like "property."
      After about a week of this, I stumbled among your site. Actually, I should amend that. I came across your site when doing a web search on AA and checked it out 10 months ago. Back then I had just disregarded your page as "garbage." I really did see AA as a good thing. But after reading your site, I started to realize that the little voice in my head which told me there was something creepy and just not right at those meetings may actually be my gut telling me to run. It was like the gates had opened and I came to a realization: I needed to change my life. So I started working on my own steps:

1.) I enrolled into college, something I had put off for too much time.
2.) I got my license back.
3.) I started to get a circle of friends and support that wasn't AA related.

Congratulations. That's putting your life back together. That's real recovery.

I started to withdraw from AA slowly. I told everyone, including my "sponsor" that I was going to college. He thought it was great. But little did he know that I was planning my escape.
      About the week before school started, I began to tell everyone I wasn't going to be around anymore due to school. My "sponsor" asked me how many meetings I had gone to the week before. I told him flat out: zero. He told me that was "unacceptable." Unacceptable to *who*? Certainly not me. He also told me not to "forget what got me to college". I didn't. It was *me* and my *mother* (who helped a little with the bills) which put me in college. Such arrogance and inflated self importance this chump had.
      You see, he is a sales man who earns only commission for his job. The only goal he has for himself is going to other meetings. And he's a smoker who's destroying himself. The last thing he should be doing is dispensing "advice" on how to live when he still can't control his biggest weakness.

Yes, really. I feel like both laughing and crying when I see that. It's both tragic and funny. There is just something so ridiculous about somebody with a cigarette in his mouth handing out advice on how to live, and how to free yourself from addictions.

      On my first day back at college, I decided to give my "sponsor" a call. He asked me if I made a meeting the night before. I said no, of course. I told him I was hanging out with one of my friends who a.) wasn't in AA and b.) knew me longer than anyone in AA did.
      Then he asked me perhaps the most stupid question I've ever heard, "Are you looking for an excuse to drink?" I *don't need* an "excuse" to drink! I'm over 21 and I can buy my own liquor and drink it when I want to.

Yes, really. It's such a joke, "an excuse to drink." For me, I could drink simply because it was Friday. Or Monday, or Tuesday, or after 5 PM... And I could always drink because I just didn't feel quite as good as I might... I didn't need any excuses.

Never mind that I didn't drink the night before nor did it even cross my mind. This was yet another one of these countless guilt trips this loser tried to play on me. He then went on and asked me if I liked meetings and I told him no. He says to me, "I get in touch with my Higher Power there." Well my "Higher Power" tells me AA meetings are worthless and a waste of time. Especially for a college student.
      I have the rest of my life (I'm only 23) to look forward to. Why should I resign myself to sitting in church basements "faking it until I make it" for the rest of my life because there are no "graduates"? Besides, I'm a Deist who doesn't believe in grovelling on my knees for some Sky Daddy who demands you worship him or die an alcoholic death.

Indeed. The more I think about it, the more it looks positively unhealthy to spend the rest of your life saying negative things about yourself, like
"I am an alcoholic. And Bill Wilson says that alcoholics are selfish and self-seeking and resentful and prime examples of self-will run riot. And all alcoholics are dishonest and manipulative and just trying to get their own way all of the time..."
That's bound to eventually drive you nuts.

      My "sponsor's" last words to me were "I guess you haven't hit bottom yet." On my first day of getting my life back on track and he's telling me I have worse to expect? I tuned him out by that time and then the little lying snake told me to call him anytime as though me and him were friends. After that phone call, I've turned my back on AA and haven't looked back.
      I sometimes want to call that loser up and bitch him out, but it's probably not worth it. After all, a life well lived is the best revenge. The first semester of college and I pulled straight A's, put an application to getting an internship at a place I really want to work (with a good chance of being accepted), quit smoking, and am on my way to attempting my dream — to become a doctor, pathologist, specifically.

Hey congratulations on the grades. Congratulations on going for your dreams.

Double congratulations on quitting smoking. That one is really hard, but really worth doing. I quit two years ago, at the same time as I quit drinking, because I just decided to live, really live, and not just mess around with half-ways measures. (The Big Book, page 59, says: "Half measures availed us nothing." So, apparently, A.A. believes that you must be determined and thorough, and ready to go to any length (page 58) to overcome your addiction — except quit smoking (page 135). What a joke.)

      I did have a couple drinks since that time. I'm in college. Sue me. And my drinking was hardly "alcoholic" and it's so few it doesn't matter (I don't have much time when school's in, this just happens to be a long weekend.) Quitting AA has given me both hope and freedom. My only regret is that some very nice people are still in those rooms wasting their time.

Yes. That doesn't sound like alcoholic drinking.
And I also have some friends who are still in "the rooms", too. They stay for a variety of reasons, but the two commonest are the social club, and the fear that they will relapse and die drunk in a gutter if they leave. (That's the standard induced phobia.)

      Thank you Orange for being the light in the overwhelming darkness that is 12-Step recovery. Hopefully one day people like Stanton Peele will be more popular (whose book, "The Truth About Recovery and Addiction" is suprisingly not in your recommended readings section).

Yes, Peele is good. I should add him to the recommended list. I have him listed in the Bibliography, and like him, and quote him a bunch, but had to pick just 10 books for the original list. That is, some professor at a university actually emailed me and asked for my favorite 10 books that I would recommend on alcoholism. Well, alcoholism led to A.A. which led to cults, so half of the list ended up being about mind-control techniques or cults. And poor Stanton sort of got squeezed out by cult books. But I can always stretch 10 to a baker's dozen (or more) since I'm just doing my own list now.

Keep preaching the truth,
Colin

Hi Colin,

Will do.

Another thought on the bi-polar thing: I monitor a mailing list of people interested in addiction and alcoholism called Addict-L (ADDICT-L@LISTSERV.KENT.EDU). Many of them are doctors or Ph.D.s in their fields. In the past few weeks, they have been talking about how many of the people diagnosed as alcoholics turn out to be Dual Recovery people, meaning that they have some mental or psychiatric problem (like depression) that they try to fix by self-medicating with alcohol (which doesn't work at all well, of course). When a doctor puts them on the right medications, the alcoholism problem disappears.

Obviously, such people are not really alcoholics at all. And the way that you mention being able to drink a little occasionally without going berzerk sounds suspiciously like non-alcoholic drinking. Now I don't know enough about you to be doing any diagnosis through email, and I'm not a doctor anyway, but really, this whole thing is sounding familiar.

In my web pages, I repeatedly mention my friend from "treatment" who has a brain chemistry problem that only Paxil fixes (the one whose sponsor tells him not to take his medications). He is also able to stay off of dope and alcohol as long as he has his Paxil to even out his mental functioning, and keep him from flipping out. That just isn't alcoholism.

At the risk of repeating myself yet again, I am a true alcoholic in the sense that I just cannot drink even just one drink. I get re-addicted immediately. (And I do not suffer from depression either. Alcohol just has a very funny effect on me.) I went out for 9 years the last time I drank just one beer. You are obviously not like that. You have a problem with depression, some hereditary thing. Well, fortunately, you were born in the right decade, because they now have some pretty darned good anti-depressants like the relatively new SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors), so that is a very treatable condition now.

Thanks for the letter. That's quite a horror story. And good luck on your new career.


[second letter from Colin, 19 Jan 2003:]

Dear Agent Orange,

      Thanks for the reply. I have a question. What exactly is the NRL (newcomer rescue league)? I heard it mentioned in your page about the effectiveness of the 12 steps (or lack thereof.) Are these people who go to AA meetings for the sole purpose of disuading people to go?

Hi Colin,

The NRL is a mythical organization. It's a joke, although it sounds like something that should exist. (Maybe I really should label my jokes more clearly.) I got the idea from a wise-crack somebody made in a newsgroup on the Internet. I forget where or when, exactly. The idea is just that it's a secret society of people who attend A.A. (or N.A.) meetings to save unsuspecting newcomers from the evil clutches of bad sponsors.

      As for the quitting of smoking, you are very correct in that it is the hardest thing to quit. Just last night I tried a cigar (didn't inhale though). I nearly got sick on it, so I put it out. But the first week after quitting cigarettes were by far the hardest, no doubt. It's the memory of that week as well as the *rising* prices of cigarettes motivates me to stay quit.

Yes, I've heard knowledgeable people say that nicotine is the most addicting drug on earth. I can't say for sure because I haven't been addicted to all of them, but it's the worst one that I know of. Quitting alcohol was easy in comparison. I've had three friends who were ex-junkies, who had successfully kicked heroin (without any professional detox center even), but who all still smoked cigarettes. As one friend said, "Heck, quitting smack wasn't too bad. I just laid in bed and sweated and shook for three days, and it was over it. But I just can't get away from these things..." And he had a cigarette in one hand, and a beer in the other.

      I don't really know if I qualify as an alcoholic. I get into trouble with it if I drink it a lot. Some nights I could control it and others I couldn't. It's just that life-long total abstinence from a substance that can be enjoyed sparingly and in moderation (as well as being so socially acceptable) is downright unrealistic for me. Abstinence on cigarettes is an easier concept because it really and truly is a nasty habit which makes you stink and an outcast.

I don't know if you are a "real alcoholic" either, but, actually, everybody gets into trouble with alcohol if they drink too much of it. Different counselors or psychotherapists have different ideas of what indicates "alcoholism". Some things that come to mind are:

  • uncontrolled drinking — unable to just have a few and drink moderately
  • great personality changes when drinking alcohol — the person becomes somebody else after three or four drinks. This includes the guy who gets mad and wants to pick fights for no reason, and the guy who goes from being happy to wanting to angrily resume old arguments. But it also includes the guy who becomes ecstatically happy when he drinks...
  • addiction
  • minimization and denial, and other warped thinking

Doctors have an entirely different viewpoint, and start talking about liver, kidney, and brain damage from chronic alcohol abuse.

      It's that and the label I would have to accept (addict/alcoholic) for the rest of my life just doesn't gel with my personal beliefs. I know people can get over their problems.

Indeed. The idea of saying "I am an alcoholic" in meetings twice a week for the rest of my life seems self-defeating. Steven Gaskin once said that the two most magical words in the English language are "I am". And he said that you should be *very* careful about what you put after those two words. You are defining yourself, and making yourself into something.

For example, I told one friend that I was an alcoholic. She said, "What?! I've never seen you drunk."
I answered, "That's true, because I've never taken a drink in all of the time that you've known me."
She said, "Hmmm... That isn't how the alcoholics that I know of work."

She had a point. I thought, maybe I should call myself someone who used to drink too much, or someone who shouldn't drink alcohol now because I tend to go non-linear on the stuff, and one drink always seems to turn into two six-packs every night for years...

My father, who would certainly qualify as an alcoholic in his 20's through late 40's, quit alcohol cold turkey four years before he died. He said he simply lost the taste for booze that he used to have. I mentioned this to folks at AA and I got one of two different responses:

1.) He wasn't dealing with issues (which is total nonsense because fighting two major bouts with cancer over a two year period, one being terminal, is perhaps the most *serious* issue one can deal with. My father would have more likely drank *more* in that situation, but he didn't.)

Yes, there is that arrogant attitude again. That's the same garbage as I got from my so-called "counselor". He said that my three years of not drinking any alcohol whatsoever didn't count as a period of sobriety because I wasn't dealing with any "issues". What bull. Anyone who lives through a week of real life is dealing with issues, lots of issues. Those steppers imagine that people aren't really dealing with issues or really living and growing unless they are practicing the "spiritual principles" of the fascist Dr. Frank Buchman — The Twelve Steps. That's a very cultish attitude.

2.) That my father wasn't a "real" alcoholic. Which is rather ridiculous because alcoholism is supposed to be a "self-diagnosed disease", right?

      I've noticed that many AA members play the little game that if anyone hints they can do it on their own, then they must not be an "alcoholic." They really do create a catch-22 (like the whole "if you deny it, you really *are* an alcoholic.")

Yes, don't you love it? It's the Witch Bouyancy Test all over again. You are innocent if you sink and drown, and guilty if you float and live. (So now you need to get burned at the stake.)

Or, if you confess to being a witch, then you are one. If you deny being a witch, then that proves that you are a witch who lies.

By that crazy logic, there must be about 290 million Americans, all of those people you see out on the streets, who are all alcoholics because they say that they aren't alcoholics.

I've had two recent Stepper emailers, Ken and Pamela, state that they didn't think I was a real alcoholic because I quit drinking without A.A.. But, as you say, if I denied being an alcoholic, then that would "prove that I was a real alcoholic."   :-)

      I have to agree with Stanton that addiction is more a continuum kind of thing where total abstinence is one side of the axis and full-blown drinking until puking/pooping/urinating on oneself and needing to have your stomach pumped every two to three days being the other extreme on the axis. Like as in many cases, *most* people would fit into the various shades in the middle. Which groups like NA and AA deny exist. Screw them and their black/white thinking on that issue.

Yes, and I would add that it isn't just a continuum, it's a multi-dimensional continuum. That is, alcoholism has many different notable characteristics (drinking too much, addiction, sickness, damage to liver, kidneys and brain, minimization and denial, emotional and personality changes when drinking, hostility and meanness, warped thinking, etc...) and different people display those various characteristics to different degrees. Dr. Jeffrey M. Brandsma, in his book Outpatient Treatment of Alcoholism, has a 42-question test for rating alcoholics on Social, Employment, Economic, and Legal scales (see appendix K).

      I also noticed many of these AA members seem to get rather defensive when you mention you have friends outside of AA. My "sponsor" was such a person. He just couldn't get it through his head that my idea of a good night did not always include going to meetings where I felt very uncomfortable. I took nights off because I want to have a wide variety of people around me.

Yep. That's the standard cult attitude of "You can't trust anybody but another cult member. Only another cult member understands. Only another cult member won't feed you bad ideas."

And it's also the standard cult characteristic of isolation — they want to isolate you from non-cult people, and just totally immerse you in the cult. That helps a lot with the brainwashing process.

      He also got rather defensive/offended when I hinted that my psychiatrist was helping me with my bi-polar. I was getting counselling with the mental health department one night a week and seeing the doc every two weeks. When I mentioned to him that I was being helped, he said "but it's not a meeting." As though that settles it. Damn right it wasn't a meeting. It was therapy which I seriously needed.

      Yeah, I know your site covers all this. I mention these things to validate it because others reading your pages might be on the fence. Seeing email which supports you shows others (especially your critics which attack you with smears) that you're not some simple crank which can be easily dismissed. As it's been said by others, the truth will set you free.

Well thank you.

      BTW- Yeah, it is rather ironic that there are many AAers dispensing "wisdom" on how to live and get free from addiction while smoking. What's even worse is that most of these same people are also addicted to meetings.

Yes, really addicted. I mentioned to Pamela D., in a previous letter, that there was such a thing as "cult withdrawal" She showed signs of it — she quit A.A. for a year, and was depressed and lonely, so she went back to "the rooms" and will probably be there for life. The funny thing is, steppers don't see that as an addiction; they see it as proof that the meetings are somehow magical. (Just like how junkies see heroin as magical.)

      Another word that gets bandied about in meetings is "codependancy." Books like "Co-Dependant Like Me" are often mentioned as "recommended" readings. The thing is, many of these people going to meetings are *codependent* on the AA fellowship. When I mentioned this on alt.recovery.aa, I'm told this isn't the case. This is classic denial. These people *most definitely* place so much importance into the AA fellowship that they say things like "I'd be dead if I wasn't here."

      That and the word "codependent" is so broadly defined in step groups that they claim that 94% or some such people are "codependent." Great, a word that means everything and nothing at the same time.

Yep. There is a book, "Selling Serenity: Life Among the Recovery Stars", by Andrew Meacham, that covers codependency quite well. It's one of the biggest hoaxes in America: invent a phony, non-existent disease, and then get the health insurance companies to pay for its "treatment".

And of course the "spiritual disease" of codependency will be treated by the same "counselors" as who make money by using A.A. meetings and the Twelve Steps to treat alcoholism... (They get paid for telling their patients to go to free 12-step meetings and get a sponsor.)

      Oh, and here's the most ironic thing I ever heard at an AA meeting: I was outside having a smoke when this step fundy (who loved to give other people lectures on how to live) came up to talk to me. He told me that I should quit smoking. Here's the kicker: he said this as he was lighting up himself! I said to him, "Did you quit smoking?" in a rather snide way. That's when his eyes dropped and he slunk away. It was obvious that he looked so very stupid.

That's funny.

      In any case, he still occasionally leaves messages on my answering machine asking me to come to meetings. One time he caught a hold of me and told me "you know you're going to drink and die if you don't go to meetings, right?" I hung up on him. But he still does call (along with a couple others) looking to try to convince me to keep coming iack. So certain AA members do keep tabs on former members. And they do try to keep you in the cult. It's not organized, mind you. It's just personal incentive to "save the heathens", I guess.

No, it isn't "organized", but it certainly is an orchestrated effort. Not random or accidental at all.

And yes, they just really love to fear-monger. That's another standard cult characteristic: Phobia Induction:
"Either work a strong program, or else your fate is Jails, Institutions, or Death."
Just a few days before I got your first letter, "Pitch Black" informed me that the Alcohol Monster was still going to eventually get me because I won't do things the A.A. way.

      Sorry for such a long email, it's just that I have a lot to say on the subject.

Hey, don't apologize. I love it. Write more. Feel free to write a whole book.

And it pisses me off that a lot of people I really liked (some who I thought were my "friends" but cut off all ties with me after I've left) are still going to meetings due to fear. I'm on the same page as Einstein: worship of God *should not* be done for fear of what would happen if you didn't worship she/he/it. If God does truly exist and is righteous, he most certainly would not send those who don't grovel for him to eternal damnation. One would think that the Supreme Being himself wouldn't have the exact same flaws that power hungry humans have.

Yes, it's such a tragedy. The fear-mongering and phobia induction really works. Good people really are afraid to leave the cult. And of course they ostracize you (and even fear you) once you have quit the organization — you might say something sensible against A.A. and contaminate their minds... (And that, they fear, will lead to their deaths.)
And I agree with your theological statements. I am also unable to believe in any God who is so eager to damn, condemn, and torture billions of people.

      But maybe I should quit my stinking thinking, start speaking only in slogans, and get some "serenity" and walk on the Heaven on Earth that is Bill Wilson's Broad Highway.

Heaven help us. Please don't. :-)


Colin

Thanks for the letter, and have a good day.

— Orange





[Drew D. wrote:]

I am a peripheral member of AA who sees a lot of the same BS in the organization as you do.

I agree with what you say on the web page mentioned in the subject of this email - for most people in AA its about bragging right, bossing other people around, a shitty source of half-assed spiritual direction that a lot of drunks were unwilling to find anywhere else, and all that other crap. But to say that AA doesn't work (it does for a lot of people who take it far more seriously than I will ever be able to) and that it's only for low-IQ people (which there are a lot of, but certainly not everyone in the fellowship is dumb and sheepish), is just wrong.

I try to take a rational approach to recovery (NOT an RR approach, mind you, but at rational one); I have a scientific perspective on the world, and what I am willing and able to take on blind faith is much slimmer set of ideas than it is for most people. I can't stand a lot of what AA stands for. But I can't stand for this statement of yours even more:

15) It cleans the gene pool. The Twelve-Step program gives stupid, gullible, superstitious, and obviously genetically inferior people something to put their faith in, something that will do absolutely nothing to help them stay clean and sober, thus increasing the odds that they will relapse and die drunk, or die from overdoses. In the very long run, this will benefit the human race by getting rid of a bunch of low-IQ individuals (hopefully, before they reproduce).

NOW, the 14 points that came before that seemed reasonable to me - and I agree with a lot of your observations. But this last one is a bigoted, misanthropic, cowardly and uninsightful rant. I hope some day you will see what a jackass you sound like, and how you do a ton of damage to your reasonable messages by ending with such a shitty, hateful piece of crap as this. And then remove it and stick with 14 points.

You know, as a peripheral member of AA who agrees with most of what you have to say, I have to say that your last point reveals to me that you could very well just be gigantic sphincter. But I'm not going to drink over it ;)

Hello Drew,

Sorry to take so long to answer. Your letter got buried under a ton of spam.

You are obviously reading the old web pages on the AAdeprogramming.com web site. They are very old and obsolete now, and I can't update, change, or fix them, because it isn't my web site and I don't have access to it. That gene pool remark was a joke, just like the stuff about Batman and Robin arguing about Doorknob Almighty opening up and talking. All of this addiction and death stuff is so grim that I can't help but feel like throwing in a joke now and then, to lighten things up.

Obviously, there is a certain risk in doing that, because some people can't sense the mode switch, or have no sense of humor. (Besides the fact that they just might not like my jokes.)

A few other steppers also failed to see that it was a spoof, and complained, so I moved it over to the jokes file (on my own web site), where it is clearly labeled as a joke, more than a year ago. Then I also expanded it into a bigger joke.

Oh, by the way, I never said that the A.A. program was only for low-I.Q. people. (Unless you are confusing that joke with my real statements.) I have repeatedly said that it was for superstitious people, and for people who like cult religion. There is a big difference there. Some very bright and knowledgable people, even doctors and university professors, love irrational cult religions. The Heaven's Gate cult attracted a bunch of intelligent young web-head techies who had watched too much Star Trek. At Jonestown, a doctor and a nurse actually mixed up the cyanide Flavor-Aid® drinks for everybody.

I stand by my statement that A.A. simply does not work. It has a zero-percent success rate, above and beyond the normal rate of spontaneous remission. It has even repeatedly been proven harmful, worse than no treatment:

  • The A.A. G.S.O. has published a summary of the triennial surveys that shows that A.A. has a very high drop-out rate:
    • 81% are gone in 30 days,
    • 90% are gone in 3 months,
    • and 95% are gone in a year.
    That means that A.A. cannot have a success rate higher than 5%. But 5% is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. Those are the people who will quit even if you do nothing and give them no "help" at all. So A.A. has no additional people quitting drinking. A.A. is not really making anybody quit drinking. Furthermore, not all of those people who Keep Coming Back to A.A. meetings actually stay sober.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma discovered that A.A. treatment caused five times as much binge drinking as no treatment at all, and nine times as much binge drinking as an RBT-based (Rational Behavior Therapy) treatment program, when he compared A.A. to other treatment programs in a five-year study.
  • Even Professor George E. Vaillant, a Class A member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., showed that Alcoholics Anonymous did not work, and did not help alcoholics at all, and it even had the highest death rate of any of the treatment programs that he examined in his own 8-year longitudinal test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics.
And there is lots more information like that. Read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment. The simple fact of the matter is that cult religion is not a good treatment program for drug and alcohol problems.

If you think that A.A. works "for a lot of people who take it far more seriously", then you are confusing causation with correlation. I would suggest just the opposite: that people quit drinking because they got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and then their new-found sobriety made them go to A.A. meetings. (They went because they had been fooled into believing that A.A. was necessary or "helpful" for maintaining sobriety.) Obviously, if they had not quit drinking, then they would not be wasting their time at A.A. meetings, would they? And, if they resume drinking, then they quit going to A.A. meetings, don't they? So it is sobriety that causes people go to A.A. meetings, not the other way around.

Warning: I am joking a little bit there, but the goofy logic of saying that "sobriety causes people to go to A.A. meetings" makes just as much sense as saying that A.A. meetings cause people to quit drinking, or that "A.A. works."

Have a good day.

— Orange


[second letter from Drew:]

Just a general observation - if you are claiming to be joking in some of your more blatant statements, you need to be more clear about the fact that you are joking (i.e., write to your audience, not to yourself). I'm not being too critical though - it's just not that easy to pull off sarcasm when you are otherwise expressing strong opinions.

So true.

I'd like to read a voice that debunks AA without being expressly ANTI-AA. I am not expressly anti-, maybe I can take on this task if I ever have the time. You aren't the first recovering alkie I've read who agrees with me about AA being largely full of crap - though you are one of the only one's I've come across who puts this much effort into debunking them.

Alas, that seems to be unlikely to happen — my being unemotional I mean. I admire somebody like Charles Bufe who can be calm and scholarly as he disects the facts. I'm too involved in "the recovery movement" or "the recovery community" or whatever you want to call it, to be able to be a dispassionate observer. I get mad when people I care about get fed a bunch of lies that hurt them. I'm really tired of people disappearing or dying, or both.

I have yet to find someone of this mind who also shares my feeling that it's Not A Big Deal. (Though I think the 'AA cultists' - who in my experience are a minority in the program's numbers but a majority in the program's voice - are A Big Deal. Without them I think AA would be almost OK ;)

Anyway, sorry if I was rude to you in my original message. I get a little of the 'anonymous web behavior' going, but I am trying to curb that in the interest of developing intelligent dialogs with people.

No problem. I really do need to be more careful with those jokes. You aren't the only one who got fooled, and took a joke as a serious statement. I've been thinking about at least printing them in a different color. What color are jokes? (Blue? I'm already using blue...)

When I have a chance I will re-check-out your site. I am interested in researching voices contrary to AA, since ultimately I need to know that I Am Not Alone in this, too ;))

Cheers!
Drew

Yep. Have a good day too.


[third letter from Drew:]

Mr Orange (or can I call you Agent?):

TO expand my reply to you, now that I have some time. I am the one who's down with your concepts, but not so willing to say that AA is always bad (though I am willing to say that it is often, and maybe even usually, bad).

I guess I draw a distinction between the unthinking cultist rules-for-rules sake types and those whose motives are genuine & based on a desire to help and not to control. Granted, that's a subjective distinction, but I see it.

Definitely. Again, I don't believe in stereotypes. It would be just as unfair to stereotype all A.A. members as it is to stereotype all alcoholics. There has to be at least one saintly and wise sponsor out there somewhere. (I haven't seen him or her yet, but he/she must exist somewhere.)

I guess I can't bring myself to critize the faith and works of AAs like my mother and some her friends, who spend time working with some pretty down-and-out women, giving them some tools toward getting their lives together. This may not create a statistical advantage for these women, but on an individual basis some of these women are getting the support and love they may not be able to get from their own families. Yeah, I know, a lot of them go back to their addictive lifestyles before too long. But you can't fault the help when it comes without (or maybe, without much) judgement or coersion.

This is in counterpoint to former close acquaintances of mine whose valuation of my friendship hinged on my ability to toe the AA line. I don't have nearly as many close acquaintances like this as I had in the first 6 months after I stopped drinking. I actually heard one of these guys say, "there's a CULT of people who come to AA meetings to suck up the good vibes & get sober, but who WON'T DO THE STEPS." These people seem to convince themselves that they are experiencing growth as individuals through AA based on their ability to spout slogans and hold others accountable to them. Granted, I didn't know any of these people as drinkers, but if what they put forward is evidence of personal growth then they must have been some pretty repugnant individuals before they stopped drinking.

Now that's funny. But also all too true.

"A cult of people who won't do the steps..."
Now that's one I had not heard before. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Which brings me to a counterpoint to the condemnation of AA as a cult. AA is meant for the incorrigible ones. These people need kicked in the head a little. Being members of a 'relatively benign' cult beats having them continue to be the criminals and world-abusers that they once were. AA is for the worst drunks out there, and they tend to be the most vocal ones in the group ('sober' or not!).

I wonder about those assumptions. Far too often, alcoholics get stereotyped, because Bill Wilson started the habit of characterizing alcoholics as terrible people. The things that he wrote about alcoholics in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions were particularly twisted and hateful. Now even people who just get one DUI get sent to A.A. where they are told that they are selfish and self-seeking, and dishonest and in denial and manipulative...

I am extremely wary of those "tough love" programs that just "kick addicts in the head a little" because they need it. Such programs have not been shown to be effective at all. Quite the opposite, they kill people. See Children's Gulags for one take on them.

And I condemn A.A. as a cult because that is really what it is. See The Cult Test (soon to be new, improved, and expanded to 100 questions). I have often asked myself whether there could be some kind of a cult that would really help addicts and alcoholics — somehow use cult techniques to help them. But that idea doesn't seem to have ever worked right. Synanon was supposed to be such an organization, but it also degenerated into just another crazy nightmarish cult. Jim Jones' Peoples' Temple was also a great cultish tough-love drug and alcohol rehab program that got a lot of people off of drugs and alcohol...

And I don't know for whom A.A. is really appropriate. There is a veiled assumption there that A.A. actually works, or has a beneficial effect on drunkards. The very best that I've seen written about A.A. (from a valid scientific study) is that it gave a temporary improvement in abstinence that soon faded out, while quintupling the rate of binge drinking. It was as if A.A. simply made the alcoholics save up the desire to drink until they exploded. That was Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma's findings, from his 5-year test of A.A. treatment programs. (See Outpatient Treatment of Alcoholism, by Brandsma, Maultsby, and Welsh.) It's sort of like eating white sugar, or taking speed — a temporary energy rush, followed by a crash.

I don't know for whom that would be appropriate therapy.

BUT as applied to the 'garden-variety' types, AA is like putting a body cast on a skinned knee. I won't go too deep into this paragraph since it's not warranted. Though I doubt the garden-variety AAs would even understand that similie.

I agree.

Now your main premise - that AA is statistically no more successful than a placebo. I gotta think more on the meaning of this, and I should probably read the verification of this premise. Not that I doubt it, but my take on the meaning might differ from yours.

No more successful than a placebo, or even, no more successful than no treatment at all. We don't even need a placebo effect to explain the success rate of A.A. — just the normal rate of spontaneous remission alone will do it.

That's all in the file The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment

Anyway, I see you have reams of your own writing out there on the web on this topic. Some of it I can't view right now cos geocities blocked your site for overuse.

Yeh, that's a pain. I'm looking into getting another host.

I'd like to go through this stuff over time - I like most of your ideas for the most part, and I'd like to have a chance to analyse the body of what you've written. I see some project work here. If you are amenable to dialoguing with me I see the potential for turning what you've written into a something for greater consumption than a geocities site can provide.

Gotta get home & eat dinner. I'll look forward to hearing from you again.

- Drew

Have a good day.

— Orange





[Kevin wrote on 23 January 2003:]

Dear Sir,

I agree with you that AA has a really low success rate. I don't know the facts but the percentage of people who stay sober after entering those rooms the first time might be 1%-3% or something like that. Your low success rate is totally correct. YOU WIN YOU ARE RIGHT. Now I'm asking you to BE OPENMINDED and hear my point.

Chapter 5 (How IT WORKS) in the Big Book states the following: Rarely have we seen a person fail who has THOROUGHLY followed our path. (The 98% of people who fail in the program are the ones who don't THOROUGHLY follow their path.) The succsess rate of those who do THOROUGHLY follow the path laid down by Bill and Bob (daily for life) is close to, if not 100%. Now lets read line number two:

Those who do not recover are people who cannot are people who cannot or will not or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men or women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.

You see sir it's not the program or AA thats the failure ..."IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T DO THE SUGGESTIONS. It's the same with people who buy weights to build muscle.... 98% of home weight lifting equipment sits idle in homes across North America or is eventually sold. Did the barbells fail the people... NO the people didn't do the work.

Hello Kevin,

You have already answered your own question in the way that you keep stressing the word "THOROUGHLY" in capital letters.

When Bill Wilson wrote page 58 of the Big Book, he was pulling a very simple propaganda stunt: lying with qualifiers:

The program works, IF AND ONLY IF

  • People THOROUGHLY follow the program.
  • People COMPLETELY GIVE THEMSELVES to this simple program.
  • People are "constitutionally capable of being honest with themselves."

Anybody can perpetrate such a hoax:

I have a PERFECT program that NEVER fails to turn people into saints, if they THOROUGHLY follow my simple program, and COMPLETELY GIVE THEMSELVES to my simple program. NEVER have we seen a person fail, who has THOROUGHLY followed my simple program, except for those people who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates among us. It is not their fault; they seem to have been born that way.

And here are the Steps:
1.) You must turn yourself into a saint.
2.) The rest of the rules are irrelevant...

If you do not turn yourself into a saint, then you are not THOROUGHLY following my simple program, which NEVER fails if you do follow it THOROUGHLY.

That is, to put it simply, pseudo-religious bullshit.

The fact remains that the Twelve Steps are a formula for brainwashing people and converting them into cult members. That's what Frank Buchman created those so-called "spiritual principles" for. (They are really cult practices, not spiritual principles.) Bill Wilson simply copied them from Frank Buchman. See The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps for all of the gory details.

The Twelve Steps are not therapeutic, and they were not designed to make people quit drinking, or to make people spiritual, either. They were designed to grow Frank Buchman's cult.

So it doesn't matter how thoroughly you follow them; they won't make you quit drinking. They will just make you a true-believer cult member — a brainwashed Buchmanite, in fact.

The first sentence of your letter contains a glaring error. AA does not make the statement that people have been rarely known to fail. The way you portrayed AA in that statement is completley untrue. They know that the percentage of people who fail in their program is really high and they don't bullshit about it. They also know that when people THROUGHLY follow their program and COMPLETELY give themselves to it....... the success rate is outstanding. How do I know this, because I have seen, met and know people who have 1, 2, 5, 10 20, 30 and 40 years clean who do THOROUGHLY and COMPLETELY follow the program to the best of their ability and they do stay sober. Also the two% of people who lift their barbells, DO GAIN MUSCLE. Now that I've shown you that you've totally misquoted AA in the first sentence of your letter, I hope you will be THOROUGHLY HONEST WITH YOURSELF and admit that you have misquoted AA in writing it.

I don't know what letter you are referring to. I have searched my email, and I have no record of ever having had any correspondence with you before. Unless you have changed your name and your ISP, then there is no previous letter to you. Perhaps you are referring to a letter to someone else.

Nevertheless, to proceed in general terms: Nope, no glaring error. I know my Big Book quotations, and pages 58 and 59 of the Big Book contain some of the worst:

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are those who cannot or will not give themselves completely to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
...
At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, page 58.

That is just a stupid game of lying with qualifiers and "blame the victim when the program fails".

And Bill Wilson did bullshit about the numbers. He lied like a rug. See my examination of Bill's arithmetic problems.

Even people who have 20, 30, or 40 years of sobriety can be confused about what caused their sobriety, and A.A. old-timers usually are. It is very easy to confuse coincidence with causation, or correlation with causation. The Twelve Steps no more make people quit drinking, or keep them from drinking, than does a lucky charm save people from danger.

(A guy who escaped from near death while carrying a "lucky charm" will brag about his charm, while another guy who got killed while carrying a "lucky charm" won't say anything.)

Did you hear the one about,

      A man was sitting on a park bench, reading a book. When he finished a page, he would tear the page out of the book, rip it into little pieces, and throw the pieces to the wind.
      A bystander noticed this odd behavior, and, overcome by curiosity, walked over to the reader and asked him why he was doing that.
      "It keeps away the elephants," was the answer.
      The bystander asked, "What? Are you crazy? There isn't an elephant within 10,000 miles of here!"
      The reader smiled and answered, "It really works good, doesn't it?"

A.A. and The Twelve Steps keep people from drinking just like how the torn pages keep away the elephants. The thing that really keeps the elephants away from the USA is the Atlantic Ocean, of course. And the thing that really keeps A.A. members from drinking is their desire to live.

The fact that you see a few A.A. old-timers around does not mean that there is anything special about A.A. or the 12 Steps. Scientology, the Moonies, and the Hari Krishnas also have a few old-timers to show off, and they all swear that their cult is God's gift to mankind, too. (Or some such thing. Scientology doesn't really believe in God, per se. They believe in L. Ron Hubbard.)

Obviously you really believe what you've written here and are sincere in your statements. But after reading what I have written here (if you are completely honest with yourself) you will have to admit, YOU WERE SINCERLEY WRONG. Having said that, AA has changed somewhat from the orginal program Bill and BoB started. To see what that orginal program was be OPEN-MINDED and check out these websites. www.dickb.com and www.sponsortosponsor.com

Not only have I checked out Dick B.'s web site, but I have communicated with him, and he has even sent me a bunch of his books. Thank you, Dick.

But I strongly disagree with your claims that the original program, as created by Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob, was great, and it has simply been corrupted in the following years. A.A. was corrupt and dishonest from day one, because Bill Wilson made it corrupt and dishonest. It has been as phony as a three-dollar bill since the very beginning.

Read chapter 1 of Ken Ragge's book More Revealed (free on the Internet) for an interesting story, straight out of the official A.A. history books PASS IT ON (pages 207-210) and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age (pages 174-175), that describes how Bill and the other early members locked up one A.A. member — Morgan Ryan — who was going to do an interview on Gabriel Heatter's radio program to tell everyone how great Bill's new spiritual cure for alcoholism was. They had to lock him up to keep him from being drunk when he was supposed to do the radio broadcast. So how great was the A.A. recovery program if they knew that Morgan was likely to be drunk — unless they locked him up and physically prevented him from drinking? They knew that Bill's "spiritual" program wasn't working, and wasn't keeping the members sober at all, but they still went on the radio and declared to America that it was working great. That's dishonest. That's phony. That isn't spiritual. That isn't ethical or moral behavior at all. They were lying to the nation in matters of life or death. And they are still doing that today.

And Bill Wilson lied about the success rate of A.A. from the very beginning. He even claimed, in the stock prospectus for The One Hundred Men Corporation (which was founded to write and publish the Big Book), that his "unprecedented" new "spiritual approach" had a 50% success rate. That was totally untrue, so Bill was even guilty of felony securities fraud, deceiving prospective investors about the worth of the company's assets — a book about recovery from alcoholism.

And speaking of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, go read my page that analyzes excerpts from that book that are related to the finances and publication of the Big Book. You will get more information about dishonesty and cheating the investors there.

When people followed that orginal program THOROUGHLY the success rate was high. Having said what I've said here I wish you all the best in your life, with good health and happiness. I've judged other organisations, fellowships and people before myself and I too have been SINCERLEY WRONG and I admit that...

yours truly
Kevin K.

Again, no, the original success rate was not high. It was just as bad back then as it is now. Bill Wilson was just engaging in some Enron-style accounting, cooking the books, hiding and discounting the failures, and just flat-out lying about how great his program worked.

Again, all of this talk about THOROUGHLY following the program is just a stupid word game, one that is intended to leave an escape hatch for blaming the individual A.A. members for the failures when the program doesn't work:
"The program never fails; people just fail the program."

Have a good day.

— Orange





--- Michael (no_never_met_him@hotmail.com) wrote:
> Hi Agent Orange,
>
> I know we have corresponded at some point in the past. I thought
> you might like to see my new gallery devoted to lampooning AA.
>
> http://www.geocities.com/sanegallery/
>
> Hope you get some laughs out of this. I expect the site to grow
> over the coming months.
>
> -Michael
>

Hi. Yes, I remember you well. I got a great quote from you, at:
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#AA_numbers

I love your new art work. It's funny, too. I'll pop a couple of links to it in my web site.

Have a good day.

— Orange





[john e. wrote 21 Jan 2003:]

I can't help but write this to you to express that I am not only intrigued by the thoroughness of your article, but by the content. I read your article on the effectiveness of the 12 steps as a possible source of inspiration for an article that I have to write for a local detox hospital's alumni association that I am a member and officer of. After reading your article, I, in effect, now feel inspired to NOT write an article for the detox center's alumni association. No doubt, my first impression of AA and the effects that it had on me was that AA was a cult and that I was essentially being brainwashed — but ultimately, I allowed the brainwashing to complete it's cycle on me and am now participating in perpetuating the brainwashing cycle. I must say that I currently am happier than I have ever been before and can't imagine my life without AA and the support group I have been developing since Oct 2001.

A brief bio on me: sober since October of 2001 — was my first and so far only time in recovery and my first exposure to AA \ attend 5 AA meetings a week \ worked all 12 steps \ I am a sponsor

The information on sponsors not being helpful to newcomers and that newcomers of AA are 5 times more likely to binge is not only very disturbing, but also very true from what I can tell in my limited experience. I have been asked by 8 guys to be their sponsor since July of 2002. Currently, only 1 guy is still sober and is about to finish his 12th step, but the other 7 are gone. So many times I have thought that I have been harming these guys more than helping them — and it was simply a gut feeling that I was harming them. One of them keeps coming into and out of treatment — and keeps asking me to sponsor him — he wants to quit sooo bad but he doesn't want to do the AA things that I normally advise him to do. AA is all I know in regards to recovery. I truely do want to help this guy find a workable way to get sober — not harm him.

I have pondered over the notion that recovery thru AA is very labor intensive and not very realistic — that someday, there will hopefully be a more successful and realistic way to stay sober — I say this in light of the fact that my life is much better and ultimately much less labor intensive because of the time I put into those meetings, my sponsee, the steps, etc... but I have had problems understanding why God doesn't help every person that asks for help to stay sober. Why am I one of the lucky ones whose prayers for help in sobriety have been answered but not others? Is it just that there is something about me that God likes? Maybe, but it would also hold true with every other person that has asked for his help in sobriety. Also, why does God help me with sobriety but not with other things that I am impulsive about — like money — I have asked God to help me overcome the impulse to spend all my money when I have it, yet I have not been relieved of that impulse yet in sobriety... and it's not like I am asking God to give me 30 million dollars to spend in 30 days like in Brewster's Millions — which I actually believe would fix my impulsive spending habits... but I would have to win the lottery for that to happen and I am not holding my breath... I have asked him to help me better handle what money I have got — that isn't such a TALL ORDER — and it would make life better for me, the people I owe money, and my creditors etc...

Some powerful arguments you made that I will give more thought to: if you believe in steps 1,2,3,7, your in danger of relapse and have left yourself no way out. Most of my defects of character haven't been removed, my cravings have returned at times, and I still want to feel good just as much as I did when I was using drugs. I still have lust, I still lie, I still hold on to some resentments — basically, I am still just me, just as you stated === and the real difference does come from the fact that now, when I have a craving and want to use and come dangerously close to using, NOW I remember how much of a drag my life got when I used before and that it will get me right back to not being fun again or worse. I remember this now and the memory is powerful enough to prevent me from using because: In less than 2 years of drug use, which I started doing at 28 and quit right after I turned 30, I lost my job, all my money, my wife, didn't care if I ever saw my father again and ended up in the emergency room. Most people that go thru detox haven't seen their life get that bad that quick. — the sick and tired of being sick and tired method of recovery. AND the one guy that is sticking with the 12 steps has the incentive of 5 years in a state prison if he doesn't stay sober — which is one hell of an incentive to stay sober — which is an incentive that most people don't have.

Anyway, I appreciate your perspective on recovery. I plan on looking into modern those modern scientific methods of coping with cravings: AVRT and REBT as well. If you have any advise on that one sponsee of mine that keeps relapsing, I am all ears. Thanks again!!!

Hello John,

Thank you for the letter. Sorry about the pain you are going through. I am reminded of the A.A. saying,
"Take what you want and leave the rest."
That's what I did with A.A.. The best thing that I got from A.A. was,
"Just don't take that first drink, no matter what."

(I know, some old-timers will say, "Hey! I didn't mean you could leave! Take what you want and leave the rest? Since when is A.A. a cafeteria?")

When you ask,
"Why am I one of the lucky ones whose prayers for help in sobriety have been answered but not others?"
that really strikes a bell with me. I ask myself essentially the same question a lot. Oh, I rephrase it in some different words, like:
"How is it that I seem to have the mind-set to be able to be rational and realistic about dope and alcohol, and resist the temptation to relapse, while all around me, people are relapsing, and even dying, while saying, 'Oh well. I guess I'll quit when I'm ready' — as if that day will ever come..."
But it's still really the same question.
And then again, I have to remember that for the 9 years before I quit, I didn't have the right mind-set, or wasn't blessed with any clarity. Even when a friend was screaming at me to quit, I just resented his "unreasonable meddling", and kept right on drinking until I got really messed up.

So it seems like we just wise up when we wise up.

As far as advice for the sponsee who keeps relapsing, well, I don't really feel like a guru, or any all-knowing wise man, but I will toss out two suggestions:

1. He has to really want to quit drinking. He should get clear about what his desires and intentions really are. If he only sort-of wants to quit, then he won't quit. He'll just abstain for a while and then sort-of just have a few...

Maybe some SMART meetings might help him to sort of his thoughts. One of the things that they like to do is a cost-benefit analysis of drinking, like this:

Write down lists of all of the plusses and minuses of drinking or quitting that you can think of:

 

Positives

Negatives

Drinking

Fun
Wild and Crazy Parties
Feels great
Tastes good
Social scene
Relaxed and confident
It's a pain-killer
Better dancer
Doing pitchers with the guys after work is a male-bonding ritual.
You find more brotherly love in a bar on Saturday night than you do in a church on Sunday morning.
There is just nothing in this world like the warm glow of fine, smooth, 80-year-old sipping whiskey going down the back of your throat.
Drunk driving arrests aren't fun
Hung over morning afters
Got really sick after years of doing it.
Takes your $
Loose jobs
Get behind on the rent and bills
Some chicks think drunk guys stink
Blackouts
Short-term memory loss
Burned-out brain cells
Health problems. Eventually, very serious health problems.
Get into fights
Big legal problems — jail, prison
Nothing ever seems to work out right when I'm drinking.
Worried that it's going to kill me one of these days.
Can't seem to just have a few when I want to — I end up drinking more than I intended.
Things seem to be getting worse.
Alcohol is actually a rotten drug — it's really just a poisonous chemical.

Sobriety

No DWI's.
No jail.
Saves $
Not sick the morning after.
Healthier
Don't loose jobs so fast.
Not so painful to get up in the morning.
Wife doesn't bitch at me so much.
Not so worried about dying.
I get more stuff done.
There is more to my life than just drinking.
Increased pride and self-respect for winning the battle against the bottle.
Boring
No wild parties
No getting whacked out at concerts
No drunken orgies
Lonely
No ecstatic feelings
Feel insecure in social situations.
Cravings
I miss getting high

Then you balance the plusses and the minuses, and you ask yourself, "What do I really want?"

One thing that I notice there is that the benefits of drinking are mostly short-term and disappear as soon as you get sober {fun, relaxed, confident, great parties}, while the negatives from drinking are long-lasting {legal troubles, sickness, lost jobs, serious illness, liver damage, brain damage}.
On the other hand, the benefits of sobriety all tend to be long-term, too.
So we just have to ask ourselves, what kind of a life do we want, over the long haul?

2. Have him read the file "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster" a couple of times, and then, once a day, read out loud the list of Famous Last Words at the end of the file.
"I can do just one now. One won't hurt anything. It isn't like one will kill me. It's been so long since I've had one, I've got it under control now. I can handle it. Just one for Old Times' Sake..."
The idea is that he will almost invariably have some of those thoughts going through his head before a lapse or relapse. If he learns to recognize them for the bullshit that they really are, instead of believing them and taking them seriously, then that might help him to fight off the temptation and avoid a slip.

(I made separate files of just the Famous Last Words, for easy printing. You have your choice of HTML format or plain old ASCII text format.)

Now mind you, that isn't any magical cure-all or any panacea. Those are just suggestions of something to do, something that might help.

I really wish there was a magical one-size-fits-all fix for alcoholism. But there isn't. And that's one of the big problems with A.A..

Thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

— Orange


P.S.:   A friend remarked, get the guy checked out and make sure he doesn't have any mental problems and doesn't need any medications.

Yes, really. I was giving out that advice just a few letters earlier, and didn't even think of it in this case. That is very important. I was just assuming that your sponsee was rational and able to keep from succumbing to temptation and cravings. But that is often not the case. Many people drink too much because they are trying, unsuccessfully, to treat a psychiatric problem like depression by self-medicating with alcohol. See what a doctor has to say before making any assumptions.


[second letter from John E.:]

Thank you for the reply... it ultimately may be a moot point though as I haven't heard from him for over 1 1/2 weeks since his detox girlfriend met him at the rehab establishment, and they left together to go on a crack run — which I am sure will cause depression/paranoia/bi-polar/add/odd/ and a vast array of other maladys. Every one of the rehab establishments that he has gone to, required a Psychiatrists diagnosis — so if he really did need other medication, he would have been put on it — at least I hope that he would have !!!!

I wanted to add one of my unusual experiences to your list of experiences that if you have the time and inclination, I would like for you to read... if not thanks for the info!!!

If so, here ya go:

Roughly 4 1/2 months into recovery, I resumed treatment for ADD by taking a daily dosage of Adderall — 60 mg a day. This obviously didn't fit into the AA framework, but my sponsor, my father, and my psychiatrist that saw me thru detox all were aware of it and that same psychiatrist agreed to put me back on the medication. This was risky for obvious reasons — Adderall is a combination of 4 amphetamines, requires a triplicate perscription, and has high potential for abuse — even if you have ADD, the right body chemistry, and no history of drug abuse in your family. I am coming up on a year of being on adderall now — and have had so much success with it, that my sponsor, who also has ADD is considering getting on it — as there are just some things that AA doesn't help with — and I truely believe that I wouldn't be sober today if it weren't for being on Adderall — not that Adderall was the only reason, but it was an important facet in the whole equation.

Now, just to curb any skepticism on the whole ADD thing, my psychiatrist required that I got "properly" diagnosed as having ADD if I want to continue being perscribed Adderall. I took this test thru my insurance — it is called a "neuro psych test for adult ADD" as Etna calls it. It required hours of testing that was administered by a psychiatrist who was an authority in the field — his hourly rate was 260.00 an hour — thank god I had insurance!!!

The tests that were initially done on me were difficult enough even on Adderall, which, had I known the interview was part of the test, I wouldn't have taken any adderall that day — the doctor thought the same thing but proceded with the initial testing anyway — the testing seemed similar to the testing done to the kids on "Southpark" when they did the episode on Ritalin and ADD — I had to do and remember things that just seemed a little excessive — and if I didn't, it strengthened the diagnosis for ADD — which goes against my whole point of curbing the skepticism — hell, I don't know, but I do know this — the test was done in 2 parts, which took months to schedule due to paperwork issues with Etna, I only finished the first part of the test and by that time had been on Adderall for 5 months without any problems — actually, life was better than it had ever been.

At that point my psychiatrist said that I had past way beyond the point of no return had I experienced any abuse problems with Adderall — meaning that if I was going to abuse Adderall, I would have done it by now — and that he didn't see any point in me pursuing the 2nd part of the test — he has prescribed Adderall to me since then. A good part of my drug addiction was probably me just trying to medicate my ADD and not even knowing I had it until a co-worker who was a member of AA and also had ADD mentioned to me that I seemed to have problems with concentration, emotional impulsiveness etc... and that I should look further into it. I am glad that I did, because not only did I find out that I did have ADD, but that I also had a substance abuse problem.

So what's my point? Glad you asked... I have a few points actually: my point is that I agree with taking what you want and leaving the rest — there are some things that AA just doesn't help with — and for those things, you need to seek a 2nd and 3rd and 4th opinion — preferrably by someone who has been there and had success overcoming it... Another point is that because of your article about the effectiveness of the 12 steps, I am enjoying AA more now than ever before — I don't take it or myself so seriously now — which has allowed me to get more out of going to meetings and being a sponsor — you could say that I have "tweaked" my program of recovery. I had felt a certain sense of guilt and fear that it would be found out by my support group that I was on Adderall and that I would be exiled from the group — that my recovery was based mainly on Adderall and that I really didn't recover at all — or that some people in the group, who's drug of choice actually is Adderall, would think that because I could take Adderall successfully, that they could also — and end up hurting themselves worse.

My sponsor and I discussed this very thing when I started taking Adderall in recovery — he said to not volunteer the information. If when directly asked if I tried Adderall or was taking it, to not lie about it — just say that I did and that I wanted to keep it to myself for the very reason that if I could do it, then you might think you could also — which may not be true — I just happen to have the right body chemistry — and above all, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired — Adderall doesn't make me crave opiates, it does the opposite, it helps me remain vigilant in my recovery and to abstain from them!!!

When I first met my sponsor, and I first realized all the work involved with working the 12 steps, I DID BALK!!!! It was too much of an order for someone with untreated ADD — and my sponsor said that he had ADD also, and that he been sober for 2 1/2 years now without treatment for ADD. Now, after seeing the success I had with treatment for ADD, he is considering and realizing that he too will need to "tweak" his program of recovery. I didn't and currently do not hold any resentments against him for his initial comment on ADD — and I am glad that he is willing to consider treatment — I just hope it doesn't make him "go back out"

John E.

Hi. Thanks for the story. Once again, we see that a simplistic one-size-fits-all treatment program is not the way to go. (But then again, any good doctor will tell you that.) Glad to hear that you are feeling better now. And I totally agree about seeking a 2nd opinion, or a 3rd or a 4th.

Have a good day.

— Orange





--- "Hendrik C. Spruit"  wrote:
>
> Dear Mr. Orange:
>
> http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-pseudo2.html
> Many thanks for putting this information on the internet.
> Thanks to it (and some other similar sources) we have
> just avoided doing work for one of Moon's schemes
> ('The World and I'). Long live the web.
>
> Yours,
>
> Henk Spruit
>

Hey, you just made my day! That's great news. Thanks
for the letter, and you have a good day too.

=====
*               Agent Orange             *
*        orange@orange-papers.org      *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking    *
*       http://www.orange-papers.org/      *
* Heisenberg said, "I'm not really sure if   *
* that even was Shrödinger's cat.   I think  *
* he might have used somebody else's cat..." *





[ 31 January 2003, becsounds wrote: ]

You or a close person must have been unwilling to let the program work. The proof is in the pudding. Present evidence of a program that saves more lives. In the meantime, find something healthy to do with yourself.

Hello becsounds,

I seem to be answering the same few questions over and over again. It looks like A.A. members don't read things before complaining. Read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

I agree that the proof is in the pudding.

Perhaps you will be so good as to tell us what the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous actually is. The last A.A. old-timer who broached the subject of A.A. successes flat-out refused to say what the A.A. success rate was, even though I repeated the question several times. In your experience, out of each 100 newcomers who come in the door looking for help, how many will actually become sober old-timers? Please do not just repeat a McDonalds-style "millions served" claim — please don't just say that A.A. keeps millions sober. Please tell us precisely what percentage of the new-comers achieve lasting sobriety.

The proof is in the pudding, but unfortunately, A.A. treatment has proven itself to be worse than useless. The doctors who tested A.A. treatment of alcoholism saw that A.A. simply does not have a program that works. It has a success rate of zero percent above the rate of normal spontaneous remission, or even less, which means that A.A. is actually hurting people, rather than helping them to recover.

The people that you see staying sober are just those people who were going to quit anyway, because they decided not to kill themselves in such a painful way. That phenomenon is called "spontaneous remission". In any typical group of alcoholics or drug addicts, approximately 5% per year will just quit, rather than die, because they just get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Those people quit, and save their own lives, and then A.A. takes the credit for their hard work. That's the only success you are seeing in A.A..

Often, the A.A. and N.A. members are confused about what caused their sobriety or abstinence, and they will claim that the Twelve Steps somehow magically "made" them quit drinking or doping, but the evidence says otherwise. It is common for the victims of quack medicine hoaxes to be fooled into sincerely believing that the fake medicine is really great stuff.

I just described, in the previous letter to Drew, the studies done by doctors who found that A.A. has a zero-percent success rate.

And even one of the trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., Professor George E. Vaillant of Harvard University, found that A.A. treatment didn't work, it didn't help the alcoholics at all, and A.A. treatment had the highest death rate of any treatment program that he examined. After 8 years of A.A. treatment, 29% of his patients were dead. Literally anything else was better than A.A., and killed fewer patients. And that is one of the leaders of A.A. speaking.

So it is very easy to come up with another program that is just as good as A.A.: no program at all, no treatment, nothing.

And if you want something that shows signs of being much better than A.A., try SMART or any program that is like SMART. Dr. Brandsma found that a treatment program based on RBT — the Rational Behavior Therapy of Dr. Albert Ellis (which SMART is based on) — caused less binge drinking, rather than more, like A.A. did.

Lastly, I have something healthy to do with myself. Telling the truth is healthy and energizing, and sometimes even entertaining.

Have a good day.

— Orange


[ 2nd letter from becsounds, 5 February 2003: ]

Actually, The success rate of AA compared to other types of treatment available, ie..drug therapy and counselling is incredibly high.

Excuse me, but where on earth are you getting your data? Show me the documentation for your claimed success rate. I want to see the proof.

Have you read the file "The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment"? What part of that file is incorrect?

What gives you the idea that A.A. has any kind of a good success rate? Where have you seen any cure rate greater than normal rate of spontaneous remission?

Even the Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Organization reports that A.A. has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. That only leaves 5% of the newcomers who could possibly be success stories (if they all stay sober, which they don't).
Is that what you call an "incredibly high" success rate?

Lastly, remember that 5% is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. Five percent of the alcoholics just quit drinking each year, when they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, even when you give them no treatment or program at all. When we subtract that 5% spontaneous remission rate from the 5% A.A. success rate, we get zero percent for the real effective cure rate for the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
Is that what you call an "incredibly high" success rate?

There are few medications out there that work with one treatment so it is unfair to judge success of aa by how many members become old timers. How many successfully treated cancer patients stay cancer free.

That logic is broken in several ways:

  • How many treatments it takes some unspecified medicine to start working has absolutely nothing to do with whether A.A. is a cult religion that practices quack medicine and faith healing.
  • The current state of the art in treating cancer has nothing to do with the current state of the art in treating alcoholism.
  • The remission rates of cancer and alcoholism are independent variables.
  • It is not a matter of whether A.A. meetings and the Twelve Steps require just a few or many hundreds of doses to start working — the A.A. 12-step "spiritual" program does not work at all, period. It doesn't work in 1 week, or 3 months, or 1 year, or 5 years, or 8 years.

Also it might be wise to consider the secondary problems that arise and often cause death of recovering people such as liver disease, hiv, mental illness, and just overall poor health conditions.

Say what? What does that have to do with the A.A. program not working? (And do alcoholics usually catch HIV or AIDS? I never heard that one before.) You are simply trying to obfuscate the simple fact that Bill Wilson's "spiritual method" for treating alcoholism does not work at all.

In any fair, randomized, controlled study of the effectiveness of A.A. treatment, an equal number of alcoholics in both the A.A. group and the control group will die from such causes, so such illnesses will cancel out, and not affect the A.A. success rate, or lack of success. You do know how to do a proper randomized controlled study, don't you? Check out this description.

Still the "proof" I speak of is the quality of life ofd these sufferers who now pay their bills, parent their children, and are of service to their community. By the way, I am not in AA. I am a doctor and the widow of a man who died after a relapse. My son now 5 (was 2) and I survive him. He was almost dead and then entered AA. He lived sober for ten years before a well meaning psychologist convinced him that aa was a crock. First, he seemed alot more normal, then he had a beer... then a week later he was dead.

That logic is broken in several ways:

  • It is wonderful that your husband quit drinking and stayed sober for ten years. But you have not presented any evidence that A.A. actually had much, if anything, to do with it. Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. Most people quit drinking when they realize that they will die if they don't. And they quit when they get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Most people who stay sober do so because they desire to live, not because the Twelve Steps or A.A. meetings make them stay sober.

  • The purported fact that some stupid "psychologist" allegedly killed your husband by telling him that he could drink alcohol does not necessarily make A.A. a good or a bad organization. There is no connection between those two things.

  • That psychologist apparently really told your husband two very different things, not one:
    1. "Alcoholics Anonymous is a crock." That is true, if by "crock" you mean that it is a cult religion that practices deceptive and coercive recruiting, and pushes irrational dogmatic religious beliefs and superstitious quack treatment of alcoholism.
    2. "You can drink alcohol with impunity." That was false, and that is what allegedly took your husband's life. I have no idea why that so-called psychologist told your husband that it was okay for him to drink alcohol. Do you? Are you sure that he told your husband that? Did you then sue for malpractice?

  • Your husband died from drinking in a week? That sounds very far-fetched, unless he already had other very serious, life-threatening medical problems. What else was seriously wrong with his health? Was he going to die anyway? That sounds all too much like some typical A.A. fear-mongering — "You will die drunk if you leave the group" — "You will be dead in a week if you drink one beer."

  • How could your husband have believed what the psychologist allegedly said about how it was okay to drink alcohol? For ten years, your husband knew that he had to abstain from drinking alcohol, or else he would die. Then, just one single fool comes along and tells him that it is okay to drink alcohol, and suddenly, your husband goes out and kills himself on alcohol in a week. Do you really expect me to believe that?

  • Also note that ten years of A.A. membership didn't help at all. It was all counter-acted by just one "psychologist" talking to your husband a little bit. Say what? That wasn't a very strong A.A. program, was it?

His is not an isolated instance. Many AA's die under the errogenous direction of doctors.

Now that is a fascinating statement. Please explain it.

  • Where did you get your information?
  • What evidence do you have that doctors kill "AA's"?
  • In your opinion, do doctors kill A.A. members more than "normal" people?
  • What surveys were done, by whom, and when and where? I definitely want to see those studies, so that I can add them to my file "The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment".

Are you really a doctor, or just another lying stepper pretending to be a doctor?

  1. Almost all real doctors know what the word "erogenous" means.

  2. Steppers are the only people that I know of who are such outrageous paranoiacs that they fear that they will be killed by their doctors' failure to understand just how wonderful Alcoholics Anonymous really is.

  3. And steppers are the only people that I know of who brag that they know more about alcoholism and drug addiction than the real doctors do.

  4. And steppers are the only people that I know of who arrogantly claim that they are far better at treating alcoholism and addiction than the real doctors are.

    Here was a book that said that I could do something that all these doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists that I'd been going to for years couldn't do!
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.

    [Actually, now that I've had a few days to think about it, I remember that there are also the Scientologists who are members of Narconon, who swear that they can fix your mind much better than the real psychiatrists can.]

  5. And if you are really a doctor, then you should be aware of the fact that psychologists are not doctors. Psychiatrists are.

With all the recent headway we have begun to make in biological psychology, it is clear that many treatments will be discovered to treat symptoms of addiction.

That's a bunch of typical stepper pseudo-science.

The headway that we are really making in treating addiction is discovering that a great number of alcoholics and addicts suffer from underlying psychiatric or neurological disorders, which the patients have been unsuccessfully trying to treat by self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs. Get those people on the right medications, and the drug and alcohol problems disappear.

The field of "biological psychology" would be the study of the minds of dogs, cats, apes, horses, and birds and bees, not the study of human addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Furthermore, your description of "treating the symptoms of addiction" tells me that you don't know what you are talking about.
Like most steppers, and just like Bill Wilson and Marty Mann, you don't even know the difference between the symptoms of a disease and the signs of a disease.
The goal of medical treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction is not to treat the symptoms; the goal is to end the addiction so that there will be no further symptoms or signs of illness.

You aren't really a doctor, are you? You don't know beans about medicine. I know more about medicine than you do, and I'm not even a doctor. Is any of the rest of your sob story true, or is it all a fabrication? You know, the husband dying in a week because of a non-stepper psychologist, leaving you widowed with a little child...? Are you even really a woman?

The type of help that makes families like my own lead healthy productive lives in the midst of a deadly disease like addiction, is found in the twelve steps... which by the way were not written by Bill Willson.

Ah, so now you reveal your true colors.

  • So you believe that the Twelve Steps are good religion and good medical treatment, do you?
  • Faith healing is the best treatment for the "disease" of addiction, is it?
  • You really think that spending the rest of your life confessing your sins to your sponsor is the cure for alcoholism and drug addiction, do you?
  • You think that dabbling in the occult, praying and meditating until you hear voices in your head, telling you what to do (Step Eleven), is a good religious practice, do you?
  • You think that doing the so-called "spiritual practices" of the fascist Hitler-praising cult leader Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman will get you into Heaven, do you?

And you are claiming that you are not a member of A.A.? Well you are surely a member of some branch of the 12-step religion.

And, just out of wild curiosity, who, in your opinion, wrote the Twelve Steps, if not Bill Wilson?

  • Rev. Sam Shoemaker? Nope. He was the leader of the American branch of the Oxford Groups. Sam Shoemaker was also the leader of the New York group — the people who told the alcoholics at the 23rd Street Calvary Mission not to go to Bill Wilson's Clinton Street Oxford Group meetings because "Bill wasn't 'maximum'" — those same people who (according to Lois Wilson) kicked Bill Wilson and his alcoholics out of The Oxford Groups. So Rev. Shoemaker was not going to then help establish a competing cult religion by writing Twelve Commandments for them. Besides, only Frank Buchman had the authority to make up such Oxford Group church doctrines, and Sam wasn't going to go behind Frank's back to help a recently-banished group of alcoholics set up their own religion.

  • Father Edward Dowling? It can't be him, because he didn't come into the picture until after the Big Book, with the Twelve Steps, was published. It was reading the Twelve Steps in the Big Book that brought Father Dowling to Bill Wilson.

  • Dr. Frank Buchman? Nope. He created all of the so-called "spiritual principles" (really, cult practices) that Bill Wilson copied to make up the Twelve Steps, but he surely didn't write the Twelve Steps for Bill Wilson.
So who wrote the Twelve Steps, if not Bill Wilson? I'm curious. What's your opinion?

Also, the truth does not need big blue letters. 

Say what?

I wish only peace and RECOVERY for you.

I actually wish you good health and sanity, too. Have a good day.

— Orange


[ third letter from becsounds, 7 Feb 2003: ]

--- BECSOUNDS wrote:
> How can you ask for data to prove what courts all over america
> trust when in
> fact you show no data yourself.  Site your sources please!
> 
Read the file,
The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment:
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html The sources are all there.


[ fourth letter from becsounds, 8 Feb 2003: ]

--- BECSOUNDS wrote:
> they dont jive
>
What's that mean? How about some actual facts, instead of lies about being a doctor?





[ 1 Feb 2003, Christie wrote: ]

Thanks for this website. A total failure I am at AA, and yet so programmed, I feel like I HAVE to go back.

I have always had the greatest repugnance to the disease concept being presented along with the moral inventory handmaiden.

Now can you just imagine me asking someone with a broken arm to write out the moral inventory that got them there.

Ridiculous. You are or you aren't.

Christie

Hi Christie,

Right on. Thanks for the letter, and have a good day.

— Orange





[2 Feb 2003, Ted H. wrote: ]

I have been going to AA for two years. I went to treatment before that for 3 months. I was not able to stay sober prior to any of this. Drinking Daily ect. Do you really think I would be better off for not doing AA? Your work is exhaustive, and while seems kind of angry at AA it obviously is a passion of yours. Are you a drunk? Are you sober now? Just curious.

Keep up the work.

Ted H.

Hi Ted,

First off, let me congratulate you on your sobriety. No matter how you got it, it is worth getting.

Your letter displays a typical confusion of cause and effect with coincidence or correlation. Just because two things happen together, or one just after the other, does not mean that one caused the other, any more than the rooster's crowing makes the sun rise.

Steppers routinely confuse coincidence or correlation with causation. For one example, look back four letters to Kevin's letter, for a method of keeping the elephants away. Also see Brian's letter that described Dumbo's Magic Flying Feather.

You have not considered things like:

  • You were never able to quit drinking alcohol before you really got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • You were never able to quit drinking alcohol before you finally drank enough of it to see that it had become more pain than fun.
  • You were never able to quit drinking alcohol before you spent three months in a treatment program that made you think a lot about just how serious your situation really was.
  • You were never able to quit drinking alcohol before you made yourself sick enough to became convinced that drinking alcohol really was going to kill you.
Only then were you able to quit.

None of those items has anything to do with going to A.A. meetings for the rest of your life, or imagining that the voices in your head are the voice of God, telling you what to do (Step Eleven), or making long lists of all of your sins (moral inventories).

You seem to be overlooking the fact that you are surrounded by a group of people who are working very hard to convince you that their program is keeping you sober.

Your letter asks, "Do you really think I would be better off for not doing AA?"

I believe you would be better off if you would find something else to do with your spare time, something that is saner and healthier. If you want a support group that will remind you of why you don't want to relapse, you could try SMART, MFS, or SOS.

And I would ask you, "Do you really think that you need a cult religion to keep you from committing suicide?"

And I would ask, "Do you think that the United States will be better off if we simply abandon Freedom of Religion, and just force all problem drinkers and dopers to become members of the Twelve-Step Religion?"

And: "Will the American people be better off if we promote the misinformation about alcohol and drugs and recovery that comes out of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous?"

"Will justice be best served by having misinformed judges forcing people into recovery cults like A.A. and N.A.?"

"Will medical practice be best served if we have doctors yammering the 'spiritual disease' theory of the lunatic Bill Wilson?"

Oh, and last but not least, I am not drinking. I have over 2 years totally clean and sober now. But that has absolutely nothing to do with whether A.A. is a deceptive cult religion, does it?

Have a good day.

— Orange





[ another letter from Snorks, 8 Feb 2003 ]

Hello it's me, Snorks again.

Your mail is fascinating.

Hi Snorks. Yes, I've been noticing that it's fascinating, too.

The argument with Pitch Black can be settled quite nicely by a Civil War Buff, of which there are plenty. About Carl Sandburg's books on Lincoln, they are good but apparently Lincoln scholars have found more information that Sandburg did not have at the time. (I read Sandburg's books BTW.) Too bad PB didn't go to the library, because the shelves are filled with the lastest in scholarship. Also, there are net sites devote to Lincoln, Grant, and everyone else. Too bad PB didn't cite any of those.

However, the fact still remains is that Grant had a drinking problem. He also did not drink when he was waging war or when his wife was with him. He drank when he was alone. He and Sherman formed a close friendship, in which both benefited from. Sherman perked Grant up, Grant calmed Sherman down. Also, when he was dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memiors to repay his debts. Does that sound like a 'stupid drunk'? A dying man who repays his debts? A man who was magnamous towards his enemies? He greeted Lee as an equal when Lee came to surrender. Is that the drunk that B. Wilson hated so much? What did B. Wilson do that approached Grant's greatness of spirit? (My information about Grant comes from his memiors, reading, visiting battlefields, and attending various Civil War Roundtables.)
-------------

From John E.'s letter:
"I had felt a certain sense of guilt and fear that it would be found out by my support group that I was on Adderall and that I would be exiled from the group — that my recovery was based mainly on Adderall and that I really didn't recover at all — or that some people in the group, who's drug of choice actually is Adderall, would think that because I could take Adderall successfully, that they could also — and end up hurting themselves worse."
-------

>AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!

"My sponsor and I discussed this very thing when I started taking Adderall in recovery — he said to not volunteer the information. If when directly asked if I tried Adderall or was taking it, to not lie about it — just say that I did and that I wanted to keep it to myself for the very reason that if I could do it, then you might think you could also — which may not be true — I just happen to have the right body chemistry — and above all, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired — Adderall doesn't make me crave opiates, it does the opposite, it helps me remain vigilant in my recovery and to abstain from them!!! "

-------
>What tommy rot!!! So He is not going to be open and honest about his meds. SO much for the 12-step Program. They require rigourous honesty, and his sponsor and he is going keep quiet about something that helps him? This is what AA tried to do to me — make me question my meds and recovery. ARGH! Make people who need meds believe that if they take them, they will be addicted! My son takes neurontin, adderal, and respirdal for his rage seizures. They are all addictive meds when used by the street user but for people who brains need them.... What are AA people afraid of? Irresponsible use of meds? Isn't that what the police are for? The narcs are susposed to do that. Who appointed AA types to be narcs? When did they become an arm of the U.S. Drug Czar's office?
-------------

becsounds writes:
"Still the 'proof' I speak of is the quality of life ofd these sufferers who now pay their bills, parent their children, and are of service to their community. By the way, I am not in AA. I am a doctor and the widow of a man who died after a relapse. My son now 5 (was 2) and I survive him. He was almost dead and then entered AA. He lived sober for ten years before a well meaning psychologist convinced him that aa was a crock. First, he seemed alot more normal, then he had a beer... then a week later he was dead. His is not an isolated instance. Many AA's die under the errogenous direction of doctors."
---->

You are right, whoever wrote this letter is a fake. This story is so improbable, that I had to believe it was one of those Urban Legends. One beer and you are dead. What was in that beer — snake venom? How many AA's die under the errogenous direction of doctors? Well in my 20-some year experience with mental health types, I have never heard of a death coming from a doctor convincing someone to stop going to AA. I knew quite a few people who committed suicide. I knew people who had a few narrow escapes from death either someone stopping their suicide or someone found out they took the wrong meds.

RE: "How many AA's die under the errogenous direction of doctors?"
I really wish I could be there to see the look on her (or his) face when she/he looks up the word 'erogenous' in the dictionary...   :-)

And the sixty thousand dollar question is: WHERE WAS THIS WOMAN WHILE HER HUSBAND WAS KILLING HIMSELF? Did she call 911? Did she call a hot line for help? WHAT DID SHE DO TO STOP HIM? Have him committed? WHAT DID SHE DO TO SAVE HIM? Yes, I know death cannot be stopped but if you love someone enough you do all you can to keep them safe. Anyway, I think with you, that the letter is a fake.

Excellent point. I wish I'd thought of that myself. What did she do, just twiddle her thumbs while he committed suicide? And she claims to be a doctor? Doctors don't usually just ignore it and do nothing when they see their spouses committing suicide. Nor do they just wring their hands and cry that they wish they could do something, but they don't know what to do...

I am going have to stop reading your site. It gets my blood boiling over how many people are being hurt by this program that claims to save people. I guess I care too much to stand by. (I joined the 12-step free group, BTW. And have decided to work on the courts to offer people alternatives to AA meetings. I know the County Clerk of the Court.)

Take care,
Snorks

Yes, I have that problem too. I keep wishing I could just feel serenity and happiness, but I get mad when I see those stepper fools spreading such massive amounts of misinformation about alcoholism and addiction and recovery programs. I see so many people in "the recovery community" who are relapsing, disappearing, and dying of overdoses or something, and jerks like Pitch Black and Becsounds seem to think that it's all a big joke, and telling lies about recovery is funny, and deceiving people about what works is a real lark.

Alcoholics Anonymous sure is one hell of a spiritual program of rigorous honesty, isn't it? It's right down there with the priests diddling the alter boys. (And that's what my true-believer stepper counselor actually did with children.)

Oh well, have a good day anyway. Thanks for the letter.

Oh, and that court work sounds like an excellent idea. Better to light just one little candle than to curse the darkness, and all of that.

— Orange



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Last updated 18 January 2015.
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