Letters, We Get Mail, XCIII
by A. Orange

And here's another gosling picture for you:
May 19, 2008: Still in the park; it's still day two.
The goslings are gathering around Sam, who is laying on a towel.

The goslings really took a liking to Sam. They cuddled up to her a lot. I'm not sure, but I suspect that they sensed that she was the only female among the three of us. I doubt if goslings that young can tell human sexes just from sight, but I think that they might have smelled female hormones or pheromones on a subliminal level. As in, there was just something about Sam that reminded them of their first mother. And Sam was very, very pregnant when this picture was taken, so she was loaded with female hormones.

So they sniffed me, and then they sniffed Sam. Then they sniffed me, then they sniffed Sam. Then they said, "We want Mama."

Either that, or they just liked her vibes.

Sam with goslings

The hand in both pictures is Sam's. In the lower picture, the left-most gosling is munching on a piece of whole wheat bread. That's good food for them.

Sam's hand with goslings

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Thu, July 31, 2008 6:30 am     (answered 29 Aug.)
From: "Gary N."
Subject: AA Research Query

Dear Orange

I am in the process of wading through your website — I doubt I will ever be finished. I started printing some of it and soon gave that up as I'm sure the entire contents would leave several rainforests looking like deserts.

Anyway, you have a wealth of information on studies that have been carried out into the effectiveness of treatment for alcoholism in the last few decades, including and excluding the effectiveness of AA.

I cannot find anything about similar research that has been carried out in the UK, which is where I live. It's all from the US. I am currently compiling a list of contacts for various agencies in the UK to ask them specifically — what research have they done or do they know about in the UK that studies the effectiveness of different forms of treatment for alcoholism, including treatment in AA.

I'm contacting you directly to ask if you know of any such research. I am still a "member" of AA, sober for over 16 years, and with the predictable history of mental illness and emotional instability since joining AA that I can now see is standard rather than exceptional. I am now married to an amazing woman, with two amazing children and in a good job (that I am currently not doing while I write this!). I would love to tell you more of my story to include on your website but, for now, could you just help with this query, if possible?

What is there here in the UK? Is there anything? Where do I find it??

Much appreciated,

Hello Gary,

Thanks for the letter. I know of just one good, medically-valid, study that was done in the UK — near London. It is the Orford and Edwards study of A.A.-based treatment. It was one of the biggest, longest, most expensive, and best tests of Alcoholics Anonymous-based treatment ever done.

Doctors Orford and Edwards did a true randomized test where 100 alcoholics got one of these two treatments for alcoholism:

  1. For subjects in one group (the "advice" group), the only formal therapeutic activity was one session between the drinker, his wife, and a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told the couple that the husband was suffering from alcoholism and advised him to abstain from all drink. That was the entire "treatment" — one hour, one time.

  2. Subjects in the second group (the "treatment group") were offered a year-long program that began with a counselling session, an introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous, and prescriptions for drugs that would make alcohol unpalatable and drugs that would alleviate withdrawal suffering. Each drinker then met with a psychiatrist to work out a continuing outpatient treatment program, while a social worker made a similar plan with the drinker's wife.
      Twelve months after the experiment began, both groups were assessed. No significant differences were found between the two groups. Furthermore, drinkers in the treatment group who stayed with it for the full period did not fare any better than those who dropped out. At the twelve-month point, only eleven of the one hundred drinkers had become abstainers. Such rates of improvement are not significantly better than those shown in studies of the spontaneous or natural improvement of chronic drinkers not in treatment.

So much for all of those expensive treatment programs that are based on Alcoholics Anonymous.

You can read a longer, more detailed, description of the study here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  One day two cows were chatting over the fence between their
**  two fields. The first cow said, "I'm telling you, this mad
**  cow disease is getting pretty scary! I've heard it's
**  spreading so fast that it's already on Farmer Bill's land
**  just down the road!"
**  The second cow replied, "So what? It doesn't affect us
**  chickens!"

Date: Thu, September 4, 2008 1:00 am     (answered 22 May 2009)
From: "Gary N."
Subject: Re: AA Research Query

Thanks for your help. I don't get a lot of free time to give to this but I may be in touch again with more questions and/or information, if that's OK.

To keep you going, thought you might find this interesting. It's from a treatment centre (UK spelling!) in Scotland.


Read the review (5th on the list). A barely concealed admission that this centre's main purpose is to get people to undergo a religious conversion in AA (on the last page). It is filled with lies and misleading half-truths (the Big Book was written by the first hundred members) and actually quotes out of context the same doctor you told me about who took part in that study in the '70s which revealed AA's ineffectiveness.


Hi again, Gary,

Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check that out.

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    My enemies I can handle, but Lord save me from
**    those who would do unto me for my own good.

Date: Thu, August 14, 2008 2:56 pm     (answered 29 Aug.)
From: "Heath"
Subject: Thank you, thank you!

Hello from Montana. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this website. I really feel as if I was "born again" in the deprogramming sense, that is.

I've been sober since Feb. 2005 (am 39 now) but I started to question why the hell I was subjecting myself to the ongoing guilt induction of attending meetings 4 times a week when I felt worse afterwards..I really like my sponsor and several other "members" but holy buckets, it wasn't my imagination. it really is a strange group of hypocritical nonsense for the most part — where only time of sobriety is equated with one's standing or worth. What dreck, what propagandist ($ is that a word?! lol) horseshit! I always suspected Bill W. was a womanizing wackjob but never heard much about Dr. Bob than his saintly qualities and how he completed the ballyhooed and insidious steps in a week etc. I'm glad the "program" has helped millions of people and I'm glad it was there for me after my DUI and court-ordered sentence but surely it is time for a new point of view! Thank you for shedding some light, some truth and making me chuckle along the way.

You've done enough "service" work for this lifetime and many more in my book. You expressed so well what I secretly thought and I am grateful to be out from under that soul-crushing regime... I told my sponsor I am not going to meetings except one attended by favorite (not as hardcore culties) people. She understands I think...

I dated 2 guys in AA and they are both narcissistic predators (on newcomer women. what a shocker, eh!).

Again, thank you, Orange. You saved my sanity, friend.

Warm regards,
Heath (Bozeman, MT)

Hello Heath,

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

And congratulations on your sobriety, and your escape from the mad-house.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Life is like a grand staircase;
**  some are going up and some are going down.

Date: Sat, August 9, 2008 3:54 pm     (answered 29 Aug.)
From: "Russell L."

Do you have an answer........I doubt it. Have you earnestly considered the question......very unlikely.

Hello Russell,

Actually, I've considered that question a lot — especially since it is one of the favorite attacks that true believers in Alcoholics Anonymous parrot. (Although they never explain how telling the truth about A.A. will kill an alcoholic.)

I have also considered the question of how many alcoholics get killed by A.A. misinformation and bad counseling — like telling them not to take their medications — and I find that A.A. kills more alcoholics than it saves.

One way to gauge the success of your crusade is to be able to answer the question with a zero.

Actually, I don't have a "crusade". I just want to get the truth out there.

And so far, I guess that the answer really is zero. I have not yet heard of one alcoholic who instantly relapsed and drank himself to death because he heard the truth about A.A., Bill Wilson, the Oxford Group religious cult, or the actual A.A. failure rate.

The real reasons why people drink alcohol to excess are other things than that stuff.

Google and other searches throw up your website when searches for AA etc are made. Whatever you may think of AA, even you will have to accept that desperate people — even if only for short periods — find help there and survive that terrible time of despair. Some, accepting your view of AA, no doubt go on from that immediate survival to be misled and mistreated and may even lose their life because of AA. Others, just as certainly, are put off by you. Of these some will not survive, dying before they find buried in your website the helpful links to other life-saving sites.

Again, you are assuming facts not in evidence. You are assuming that A.A. helps alcoholics and saves their lives. You should read about the study done by Dr. George E. Vaillant, who is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous [World] Services, Inc., and one of the most enthusiastic promoters of A.A. that there is. When he tried to prove that A.A. works, he found that A.A. actually increased the death rate of alcoholics, and that A.A. didn't help the alcoholics to quit drinking at all.

Likewise, Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. attendance actually increased the rate of binge drinking.

So your claim that steering alcoholics away from A.A. will harm them or cause them to die doesn't hold any water.

And once again, I have to ask the question that A.A. members refuse to answer:

  • If we send 1000 randomly-selected alcoholics to A.A., how many of them will get a year of sobriety? How many of those 1-year medallions will you need to keep on hand to give out a year later?
    (Hint: See the answers here.)

  • And how does that success rate compare to the success rate that comes from sending 1000 alcoholics to the local Tiddly-Winks Society, or the Ladies' Home Garden Club, or the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Parlor?
    (Hint: the success rate there will be about 50 per thousand.)

Please answer those questions. They are very important questions, and reveal the whole truth about "Twelve-Step Recovery".

You should address this, even if it is only to avoid being sued. It might also save lives. I don't know which will influence you more.

Actually, it is the treatment centers who are selling 12-Step cult religion as a quack cure for alcoholism who are in great danger of getting sued.

Having read your introduction, I only skimmed the rest of this pseudo intellectualism. I was put off by your rage. I was also put off your PS concerning the now-disgraced councillor. If there is one thing worthy of note about that incident it is not some self-aggrandizing gloat over the downfall of a sick man but pity and sympathy for the wretched victims of his act. And for him too. That seems to have escaped you. For that and other reasons it seems likely that I will not get a reply to this email from you.

I did not "gloat" over his downfall. I was very surprised, even mildly shocked, to discover what was really going on. It left me with a feeling of, "Hmmm. Maybe that explains why he gave me the creeps."

And his downfall didn't leave me feeling good about it. It left me feeling appalled that sick people — fellow alcoholics — who are really seeking help get such B.S. shoved at them, and it is financed with our tax dollars.

So be it. I hope your experience of AA has only soured your thinking about AA and that you are otherwise a whole and healthy person. I would be surprised, but there is always hope.

Good wishes for your recovery.
Russell L.

Good luck with your recovery, too, Russell.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know,
**  it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
**     == Mark Twain

Date: Wed, August 27, 2008 3:14 pm     (answered 3 August.)
From: "chloe
Subject: I just found your site

Hey, I just wanted to tell you I read (most of) your argument against AA — your research is good, and I can't argue against your opinion. Funny enough, I stumbled upon it while looking for some online insight into my first step work! : )

You know, I can't really cipher AA in a purely logical way right now, what with my new sobriety — I've only been clean for 17 days — but I am happy at this moment. Drunk, or drinking, I am out of control and hate myself. So far, AA has given me some dignity back, some friends and most importantly, hope. I understand AA is not for everyone — I just feel so lucky to have found a fit for myself. What I've noticed is that the most successful (sober) people in AA are those who do the work and continue to maintain it with service inside AA, such as sponsoring new people and chairing meetings.

You mention that AA is a cult, and I disagree. My sponsor has suggested that I go to a meeting a day, and I do that. I also give a dollar, or whatever I have, each meeting, to support the program. I don't think these things are unreasonable. My work is my choice — I am not required to go to 30 meetings or make coffee (though I would) or get a divorce or any of the other crap that goes on with real cults. If I fail, I will be welcome back if and when I am capable of sobriety again. Again, I'm new, so I should give it some time.

I assume you've had problems with drinking too, otherwise you wouldn't be writing this. Or you know addiction. Whatever helped you find sobriety, good job and good luck. : )


Date: Wed, August 27, 2008 3:34 pm     (answered 3 August.)
From: "chloe"
Subject: Re: I just found your site

Oops! I only read the page on "Powerless over Alcohol" — NOW I'm reading the rest of your site. Duh.

Hello Chloe,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your 17 days. (Hopefully it's now 27 days.)

The first few weeks and months are the hardest, and then it gets easier, so congratulations on your first 3 weeks. The longest journey begins with a single step.

I'm glad to hear that you haven't encountered objectionable cultish behavior in A.A. yet, in 17 days. And I hope it doesn't happen to you in the future. Just keep your eyes open, and if somebody tells you to quit taking your doctor-prescribed medications and just trust the 12 Steps to heal you, run for the door.

Also beware of raps about how you should have sex with some old sponsor so that you can learn how to have sober sex...

Also beware of the constant put-downs that are damaging to your dignity and self-esteem — the dignity and self-esteem that you are just starting to get now. By the way, YOU gave yourself that new dignity and self-respect, not A.A., because YOU quit drinking. A.A. didn't do it for you. (And notice that A.A. will not give you any respect or dignity if you take a drink.)

Because you are so new in your sobriety, the one thing I'd really like you to read is the web page on "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster". That essay is not a criticism of A.A.; I don't think it even mentions A.A. more than one indirect reference. It's about how to not get fooled by the mumbling and grumbling of the lower brain as it demands its feel-goods. In other words, it's about how to not relapse.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  If you have to pray for some "Higher Power" or "God" to save you
*  from alcoholism, why is that called a "Self-Help Movement"?

Date: Fri, August 29, 2008 8:50 am     (answered 3 Sept.)
From: "Chris M."

Why spend so much time tearing Bill W down. He was a morally bankrupt guy who created one extraordinary thing....AA. Why go to such extraordinary lengths to prove that Bill was a very flawed person. It does not matter if you like him or not, his program has saved lives, doesn't that outweigh one mans philandering? I hope you find peace in your life.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the letter.

A.A. is not "one extraordinary thing", not unless you also consider Scientology and the Moonies to be "extraordinary things". They are all just dishonest cults.

And the A.A. program does not and has not "saved millions of lives". We've been over that endlessly.

See this recent previous letter where we discussed the same thing.

Also see this rebuttal of the "saved millions of lives" claim.

The reason I bother to tell the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous is because it has hurt a lot of people, and it isn't the safe haven that it claims to be, and it doesn't work like they say it does.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

Date: Tue, September 9, 2008 9:06 am     (answered minutes later.)
From: "Lee J."
Subject: Re: A near brush with AA

Dear Orange,

Thanks for a wonderful website on the dangers of AA.

After an injury last year and the resulting problems with pain meds (and too much alcohol) I ended up in the hospital with a serious heart malfunction. After it was taken care of I was approached by a local treatment center that, supposedly, wanted to help me make sure it never happened again. Well, the red flags went up when they mentioned the cost, the length of time it would take and the requirement that I attend AA regularly (they were all AA members). When I said no thanks, they started hurling insults and accusations and I walked out.

Today, I'm healthy and happy thanks to a lot of research, Rational Recovery and sites like yours.

Please keep up the good work. You're saving lives if people will only take the time to read and learn.

Lee J.

Hello Lee,

Thank you for the letter and the story. That really brightens up my morning cup of coffee.

And congratulations on your escape.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*          orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      http://www.orange-papers.org/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.
Now, later, all kinds of questions occur to me. These would be questions for the next person to ask the recruiters (not you, because you already escaped from their clutches, and they won't answer your questions now). Questions like:

  1. What is the "treatment", really? Please be very specific about what constitutes "treatment".

  2. What disease or condition or illness are you treating? Please be very specific. Is that disease listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

  3. How well does the treatment work? Specifically, what percentage of those people who start the program — pay the money and start the treatment — are still clean and sober a year later?
    Don't let them only count the "graduates" and only talk about the graduates' success rate. (That's cherry-picking.)

  4. What guarantees do you give? Do you offer a money-back guarantee for when the treatment doesn't work?

I find it appalling that salesmen of quack medicine are allowed to come into hospitals and hawk their wares to the patients.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Date: Wed, September 10, 2008 4:29 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "Dennis"
Subject: AA and Dr. Tiebout

Interesting article, but if people who go to AA quit drinking....then who cares?

Well, Dennis, unfortunately, people who go to A.A. do not quit drinking in any greater numbers than the people who go anyplace else. So a lot of people care.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence
**  over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
**  ==  Richard Feynman

Date: Wed, September 10, 2008 3:31 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "C. J."
Subject: hi

Dear Orange,

Thank you for the web site Orange-Papers, very informative and what a lot of research you have done here!

I was able to begin sobriety in 1974 in Canada through AA.

I don't go to meetings anymore. Since the early 80's I found that going to meetings did not help my sobriety, or should I say, my state of mind ... peace of mind.

If anything, AA meetings began to contribute to restlessness, compulsive eating and insomnia. I've managed to keep sober without meetings and gave up the smokes about the time I stopped attending AA regularly. Its great to breathe fresh air.

A few times I have attempted to 're-join' by attending a meeting or two, but I sense that AA is getting worse and worse.

Your site gave me some clues as to why I kept away from AA. The sharp comments and bossiness from the AA members toward newcomers would have made me walk out even though I was desperate to gain sobriety if it had been like that when I began.

The groups I went to originally in Alberta seemed to be filled with really helpful and very nice people; and in those days the treatment centres were just beginning to invite AA members to take part in recovery programs that they offered and we didn't actually feel comfortable affiliating with them and the counselors who treated addictions.

I remember being in the grocery store and having an 'old timer' AA woman literally hounding me all around the store about my bad attitude and how I should attend more meetings, that was about the time I was cutting back getting to AA.

I rarely have heard of anyone going to AA these days who hasn't attended a treatment centre having a counselor, and there are those who have had their families and friends attack them through an 'intervention' assisted by a hired 'professional' AA. I doubt I would be sober if I had to attend aa meetings as they are now and go through hearing all of the psycho babble that they preach.

Your site offers hope to alcoholics who can't stand AA and that's good!!!

Have a wonderful day.

C. J.

Hello C.J.,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments. Your story does a good job of expressing the frustration that some people go through in trying to get sobriety in spite of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Congratulations on your recovery, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "If you think you are too small to be effective,
**  you have never been in bed with a mosquito."

May 19, 2008: Still in the park; it's still day two.

Gosling with hair

This gosling is fighting with a hair. For some odd reason, they eat all of the hairs that they find. I was forever finding them with hairs hanging out of their mouths. When a gosling gets a hair halfways into itself like this, you have to either pull it back out, or, if you cannot do that because it seems to be snagged inside, clip it off short and let the little turkey pass it.

Later, that hair-eating would turn into a real problem.

From: "Ekun O."
Subject: Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult Scorecard, Answers 41 to 50. by A. Orange
Date: Sun, September 7, 2008 10:31 am     (answered 9-11.)

I read the article described in the subject above. First of, I'm neither acting on behalf of AA nor agree or disagree with AA methods. I do however found that this article is grossly misleading. Most of the quotations from the big book and AA comes of age are taken out of context. I found that your views are totally bias.

I do have three questions for you though:

  • 1, What is your solution for alcoholism (this assumes that you have any)
  • 2, Are all religious organizations (such as Christianity, Islamic, Buddhism etc.) cults as well?
  • 3, What are the differences between spiritual and religious organizations

I must say though that you did a lot of work on this article. Unfortunately, it is a lot of work with a biased (if not hatred) look at AA


Hello Ekun,

Thanks for the letter.

Well, starting at the top, I do not quote out of context. That is a common attack, but it just isn't true. I am very careful not to distort or change the meaning of things that I quote. We have discussed that accusation before, several times. Look here.

Quoting out of context is a debating or propaganda trick where you extract a few words in a manner that changes the meaning of what you are quoting. (Look here.) I challenge you to show me even one example where I incorrectly quoted something out of context and changed the meaning of the words.

Just quoting things isn't "quoting out of context".

Now, your other questions:

  • 1, What is your solution for alcoholism (this assumes that you have any)

    Stop drinking so much alcohol. If you can't cut down and keep it down to a dull roar, then quit drinking alcohol entirely (like I had to do).

    If you want some company or advice, there are many groups or organizations or web sites that you can join or attend or visit for a while:

    1. SMART,
    2. Rational Recovery,
    3. WFS (Women For Sobriety),
    4. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), and
    5. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)

    You could also try reading some good books on the subject. Check out the Top 10 reading list.

    And especially read the web page on "The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster".

  • 2, Are all religious organizations (such as Christianity, Islamic, Buddhism etc.) cults as well?

    No, not at all. Read the Cult Test for a list of characteristics of a cult. Then you can compare those mainstream religions with cults like the Moonies, Scientology, Heaven's Gate, The People's Temple, The Branch Davidians, and Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • 3, What are the differences between spiritual and religious organizations

    None. It's just a word game. When this question was asked in a Federal Circuit Court, the judge answered:

    Alcoholics Anonymous materials and the testimony of the witness established beyond a doubt that religious activities, as defined in constitutional law, were a part of the treatment program. The distinction between religion and spirituality is meaningless, and serves merely to confuse the issue.

    — Wisconsin's District Judge John Shabaz, in the case of Grandberg v. Ashland County, a 1984 Federal 7th Circuit Court ruling concerning judicially-mandated A.A. attendance.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically
**  indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the
**  world over."
**  "...in the absence of proven scientific efficacy,
**  critics are legitimate in suggesting that mandated AA
**  attendance may be criticized as a failure of proper
**  separation between church and state."
**  == A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant,
**  The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 266.

Date: Sun, September 7, 2008 2:02 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "John McC."
Subject: "Ethical" Conflicts of Interest


What all is in your web-site (which is too numerous to plod through- accurate as it is!), that covers the OVERWHELMING "conflict of interest" between "12-Steppers" that are also certified (or licensed) AOD counselors?

I am interested in EXPOSING those certified AOD counselors that are also "12-Steppers" (as 90% of them are!), that they CANNOT be loyal to both the "best interests of a client" (requiring INDIVIDUAL consideration!), while at the same time have the LOYALTY to "12 Step Principals" (i.e. 12 Steps and 12 Traditions), where an individual is COMPLETELY NEGATED!

I know Jack Trimpey touches on this, but I am wondering if you do as well.


John McC.

P.S. When ARE you getting this site into book form? ;)

Hello John,

It's good to hear from you again. I don't have any one item or paper on the conflict of interest between true-believer Steppers and AOD counselors who are also the true believers. It's kind of just implied and spread out throughout the whole web site.

There is, of course, an obvious conflict of interest there. Is the counselor really doing what is in the best interests of his clients, or is he simply pushing his own crazy cult religion on other people?

And the problem isn't just A.A. and N.A., either. I notice that there is the same conflict of interest with Scientologists who are selling "Narconon" as a cure for alcohol and drug problems.

Good luck.

Date: Wed, September 10, 2008 9:24 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "John McC"
Subject: CA bill AB 239
To: stanton@peele.net,jack@rational.org
Cc: orange@orange-papers.org

Attached is a memo to Governor Schwarzeneggar OPPOSING AB 239 (which will be presented to him with dozens of other bills after the CA state budget is signed!).

John McC., M-RAS, NCAC-I

Okay, I'll have to send a letter too. I have a story of a counselor — you know, the one who was snorting cocaine and screwing his step-children while teaching classes in a "treatment center" how to get clean and sober....

And other readers, you could also write, expressing your own opinions, and telling of your own experiences with "treatment" and "counselors". Please do.

You can email the Governator from the web page http://gov.ca.gov/interact

And his mailing address is:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Treatment centers based on Alcoholics Anonymous concepts
** routinely advised their patients to find a "higher power"
** or take a "moral inventory", untroubled by the contradiction
** between giving such advice and providing insurance-funded
** treatment for medical diseases.
**    (== I think Ken Ragge wrote that.)
DATE: 09/14/08
TO: Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar
RE: Why you SHOULD VETO AB 239

AB 239 will be presented to you soon (presumeably after the state budget ever gets passed, and signed!), and IT NEEDS TO BE IMMEDITELY VETOED FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.) The counselor certification "process" has not even been around long enough (since 2005) to work out all the "glitches", questions, and un-resolved issues, as evidenced in the minutes/notes from the March 5, 2008 Counselor Certification Advisory Committee (and these same sources want LICENSURE?).

2.) There is an OVERWHELMING CONFLICT OF INTEREST in those AOD counselors who are "certified" yet, still "in recovery". How can it be justified in ANY instance that an AOD counselor should get A STATE LICENSE in this field, when these same people are more then likely prone to RELAPSE with the addictions that they allegedly are supposed to "counsel" (and diagnose!) people with? A review of the state of Arizona's AOD Counselor licensure revocations would be a good place to look to see what the state of CA would be setting itself up for! Licensing people "in recovery" to "counsel" and "diagnose" people "in recovery" is BEYOND WRONG!

3.) CAADAC, the counselor certification organization that is behind sponsoring this bill, believes that getting AOD counselors "licensed" will somehow "raise the pay" of counselors in the field, yet CA addiction treatment facilities that employ most counselors, utilize those who are FORMER CLIENTS OF THE FACILITIES of those very same facilities! Additionally, those same facilities are NOT going to want to pay higher wages to "licensed" counselors, when they barely employ licensed clinicians and professionals (e.g. Psychologists, psychiatrists, LVN's), etc. These facilities are IN the addiction treatment field FOR THE MONEY! They do not want to spend MORE on "licensed" staff unless they HAVE TO!

4.) THIS STATE CANNOT AFFORD TO "ADVANCE" EVEN $1 to get this bill "implemented". The idea that any "licensing implementation cost" will be paid by the people that are eligible for, and QUALIFIED TO BE "LICENSED" implies that there are enough people that meet that criteria! THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE! A review of the 9 counselor certifying organizations will show you that most of them have more people only "registered" with them, and NOT EVEN AT A CERTIFIED LEVEL, to say nothing of the EDUCATION, and EXPERIENCE NEEDED in the AOD field to qualify for the "licensure" this bill attempts to enact.

For the above reasons, VOTE NO ON AB 239! DO NOT "ENABLE" the addiction "treatment" industry to add even MORE DYSFUNCTION TO AN ALREADY DYSFUNCTIONAL FIELD, as evidenced in the above examples, and more too many to list (that you do not have time to read anyway!).

Date: Fri, September 12, 2008 10:01 am
From: "John McC"
Subject: Re: CA bill AB 239

Hi Orange,

The entire bill can be accessed at (and printed from): http://www.leginfo.ca.gov

(Click on "Bill Information", and once there, enter "239" in the "bill number" box, and choose "Assembly" from the drop down menu. That will give you the ENTIRE BILL (click on the "Enrolled" link for "html").

It's a piece of SHIT it is! "12-Steppers" trying to get themselves "validated" with a damned state-recognized LICENSE to practice "12 Steppism"! Hopefully, the "governator" will see right through it, and VETO IT! Everyone who opposes "12-Steppism" needs to e-mail, fax, and snail mail Governor Schwarzeneggar NOW!

Thanks for the response! :)

John McC.

Date: Tue, September 29, 2008
From: "John McC."
Subject: AB 239 was VETOED

I am pleased to report that AB 239 was VETOED by Governor Schwarzeneggar yesterday, 09/28! His reason in his veto message is that there should NOT be a "two-tier system of alcohol and drug counselors in California based on ability to pay". The governor's veto of this bill with the veto message is on his site at: governor.ca.gov

Hopefully, the next "counselor licensure bill" that is as badly written as this one was will not make it as far next time!

Thanks to all for helping if you "e-stalked" the governor as I did!

John McC., M-RAS, NCAC-I

All right. That is good news. Thank you.

And have a good day.

== Orange

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

Date: Mon, September 8, 2008 4:32 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "Michael B."
Subject: 50/50


I found your website by searching google for "AA success rate". I knew from studying (not as much as you by any means) that the success rate is very low. I have been in the program since 12-13-04. I grabbed 2 years right away and then had problems with relapse. I really fuck myself up with alcohol, but pot is my drug of choice. I am a true alcoholic. not a problem drinker. I love many aspects of AA.

But I seek truth, so i always study lots of stuff. I wanted to commend you on your website. Although I disagree with alot of what you say, not because of blind dogma,but because , for me The Big Book describes ME. I am the ego manic with an inferiority complex. I am a liar, I do steal, i do cheat. (or did for all those flaws) I am chronically selfish. This is not something i needed to be convinced of.

Well actually i was so caught up in self that, I would have told you " I have a good Heart" and i do. But my heart is inside me and people dont get to see it. So i need more then a "good heart".

I belong to no organized religion, No one has ever tried to convert me. I have met some of the finest people I have ever met in 32 years. I don't believe AA is the only way, but for me it fits. I needed a moral overhauling, I'm not all better or anything but much much better. It is cool to be able to hang out with people that are like me and Most, not all, are. I would be quite lonely.

Anyways I wrote you because The history aspect you have put together is "super" important. Bill was A very sick dude. You opened my eyes to some truths about the big book i was not aware of. I don't like your opinion of AA but I don't have to.

Thanks for putting this together. I will send my friends that have open minds here for the historical aspects.


Hi Michael,

Thank you for the letter, and thanks for all of the compliments.

The one thing that really stands out in your letter is how much you beat up on yourself. You don't have to do that any more. In fact, you will be much better off if you don't.

What you used to be isn't what you are now.

I can suddenly hear Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singing,
"Do not let the past, Remind us of what we are not now..."


Several years ago now, I told one woman 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...

Just using the generic word, "alcoholic", with its various different definitions, is getting to be too inaccurate. That's really not who I am any more.

The idea of saying "I am an alcoholic" in meetings once or twice a week for the rest of my life seems self-defeating and harmful. And constantly proclaiming that you are selfish and a liar and a thief is even worse. That can really mess up your head.

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.

(And it really works. It works on your head, and you really can turn yourself into something else.)

I think it's time for you to start saying that you are essentially a good person who had a bad time of it for a while, but that's over. That's way in the past. And you are doing better now.

So have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    I used to be a creature of the night.
**    Now I'm a creature of the light.

May 19, 2008: Still in the park; it's still day two.

Goslings in dirt hole

The goslings discovered that there was a hole with loose dirt in the middle of the field. They squeeled with delight when they found it, and dug right into the dirt. I'm pretty sure that they are digging for crop stones. They want to find a bunch of just the right little stones to swallow and fill their crops, which they use to grind their food (because they don't have any teeth, and can't chew their food).

Goslings in dirt hole

Date: Mon, September 8, 2008 1:53 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "Paul N."
Subject: Freedom From The Steps

Well, I have not been to a meeting for over one year now, and guess what? I am still clean and sober! I am still grateful for finding your website two years ago. I still have friends that go to meetings but most are too far gone to have a discussion with about AA/NA. One even told me that he had "resigned from the debating club". I was thinking that if alcohol had never been invented/discovered that there would not be one individual that could be identified, diagnosed or otherwise characterized as being an alcoholic!! The cause of the so called disease of alcoholism is alcohol.

Anyway, glad to see you are responding to letters again. Oh by the way the goslings are cute, however here in East Tennessee we do not view them as such due to the influx in their migratory habits. They have become a nuisance.

Thanks Again — Nip

Hi again, Nip,

It's good to hear from you. Congratulations on your successes — both the escape from addictions, and the escape from Steps.

I understand how the Canada Geese are considered pests or nuisances in some places. As the human population explodes, they build on everything and occupy all of the land, and don't leave a lot of room for the wildlife. So the wildlife just moves right into where the people are. Collisions and conflicts are inevitable.

Here in Oregon, we have big rivers where the geese are at home, and they aren't quite such a problem. Still, some people really get annoyed by the geese.

My favorite laugh is seeing some guy park his horrendously-expensive yacht at the marina, a huge glistening white thing that cost millions of dollars and is three stories tall. Then some big honking goose flies all the way up to the very top, up on the roof of the topmost deck and bridge, and then just stands up there and shits on the boat. And the owner just glares at that goose. And the goose just honks back at him.

I'm not sure if the goose is expressing his opinion of the yacht, or if he just doesn't give a damn.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Age does not protect you from love.
**   But love, to some extent, protects you from age."
**   ==  Jeanne Moreau

Date: Mon, September 8, 2008 4:11 pm     (answered 9-11.)
From: "X."
Subject: death/injury due to AA's words

Dear Orange,

In your response to a recent email, you said that there's not way to know how many deaths can be attributed to AA [in the context of how anti-AA words could kill someone]. Of course, a scientific study would be the best way to determine this, but one would need willing participants, double-blind and no "reinterpreting" data later to make AA look better. In the absence of such conditions, anecdotes can indicate areas where research is necessary.

I have a couple of anecdotes on the subject:

  • A friend's child, who'd refrained from using speed for 12 years, and had a heart condition, was told by their NA group that "no doctor" would take them on as a patient because of their "drug history". Note the person was wanting permission to have treatment for this known heart condition. Untreated heart disease killed this person at the age of 42.

  • Another person I know had had intestinal surgery. This person called me and said "my addictive brain is playing tricks on me", making pain meds not work to convince this person to take more drugs. In the morning, I took the person to see the surgeon, who discovered that *the colon had prolapsed*. This person, fortunately, survived thanks to timely medical intervention, and has not taken up recreational drug use in the wake of this episode.

  • I also think AA/NA has so poisoned the medical community's attitude about pain treatment that far too much pain is undertreated, even in people with no history of abusing any drugs. For example, Discovery Channel has done several programs about kids from foreign countries being taken to the US for serious surgeries — for example, a girl from Ireland having her face reconstructed. The kids are often shown in pain while in the hospital, and comments sometimes made about how much pain there is. Compare that to a recent surgery in India, to remove 4 extra limbs from a little girl, after which the doctor told her parents not to worry about their daughter being in pain when she woke up, as they'd given her plenty of medicine to take care of that. When I think of how many kids with chronic & painful conditions who are currently being taught to "live with the pain", I want to cry.


P.S. If you post this email, please don't use my name — I don't want any friends/relatives/acquaintances of the above people knowing who sent this.

Hello again, X.,

It's good to hear from you again.

Thanks for the letter, and the anecdotes. They do illustrate problems with A.A. — the same old problems that just never seem to go away.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
**     ==  Albert Einstein

Date: Thu, September 11, 2008 11:14 pm     (answered 12 Sept.)
From: <gypsy>
Subject: how many people have LIVED because of your website?????

Greetings Agent Orange!

I believe I wrote you back in about February thanking you for your website. I found the site in the middle of a long, sleepless night... I was sitting up because I could not silence the confusion in my head; AA (and the coke snorting looser that dragged me to it) had twisted all of my thoughts into such a mess, I could barely think past the little voice crying "this doesn't make sense!"

I find it hilarious that so many people accuse you of murdering the innocent drunks who google your site. Last time I checked this was still a free country... Anyway, I would like to thank you again for giving me my life back. Or at least the means to take it back myself. I stayed up all night that night reading your cult test — it is absolutely accurate. I quit AA, stopped accepting constant sexism and criticism, and ditched the man that convinced me "I had a problem." I don't touch drugs, and I honestly don't believe that one occasional glass of wine with dinner will kill me. I landed my dream job, and am overwhelmingly happy with my life.... I am out living my life instead of sitting in meetings with a bunch of sick, unhappy people.

I'm AA-free for 8 months and have never been happier!

Thank you again :)


PS... my name should not appear with this email, if it does, please delete it? I would prefer to just be "gypsy."

Hi Gypsy,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and I'm glad to hear about your successful escape from the madness.

So have a good day, today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next...

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "I was feeling very depressed, and thinking about suicide. So I called
**  the local Suicide Hotline. My telephone call was rerouted to an answering
**  service in Pakistan. The people there were very excited when they heard
**  my story. They asked if I could fly an airplane."
**    == author unknown

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