Letters, We Get Mail, XLVI
by A. Orange



Date: Thu, April 27, 2006 11:55
From: "Frank S."
Subject: Your AA Critique

I am a member of AA and I feel that I have an open mind, so I am not offended with your essay, but I do have to question what your motive is. Why would you try to take away a persons belief if it is not harming anyone?

Hello Frank,

Thanks for the letter.

First off, where do you get "if it is not harming anyone"? That is the whole problem with Alcoholics Anonymous: it does harm people, a lot of people. One member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous (World) Services, Inc., is Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant. He spent about 20 years shoving A.A. on alcoholics, trying in vain to prove that A.A. works. In the end he had to conclude that A.A. was completely ineffective, no help at all, and that its biggest effect was to raise the death rate of alcoholics. Vaillant called the A.A. death rate "appalling". Look here.

In addition, other doctors found that A.A. raised the rate of binge drinking, rather than lowering it, and A.A. also increased the rate of re-arrests for public drunkenness. And another doctor found that A.A. made a lot of alcoholics sicker so that they required more expensive hospitalization later.

I did not read your entire article but I did read many of the chapters. I feel the book (and the 12 steps) are not about "not drinking" it is about getting "out of your self-centeredness" these are just tools and if you practice them to the best of your abilities then life seems to go pretty well. Sure I could get these same principles in many different forms i.e. Budda, Christ, Native American traditions, they all have the same concept.

That is simply untrue. What the Big Book is about is how you must join Alcoholics Anonymous and convert to Bill Wilson's religion.

And who says that "self-centeredness" is bad?
That is just another standard rap of cults that want you to surrender yourself to the cult. Demands that you obliterate "self" is a standard cult characteristic, one designed to elicit obedience and compliance in the followers.

That you are not in control, so relax and enjoy the ride. What is wrong with that?

What nonsense. Not being in control, just relaxing and enjoying the ride, is how we drank too much for too long. What keeps me sober is staying in control of myself by not taking any drugs or intoxicants.

As for the big book, it is a jumping off point for many people that probably would not have gotten sober.

There is no evidence to support that statement. A.A. has a failure rate, not a success rate.

I know that I would not have listened to a priest or someone else telling me I could just quit. I know that I did quit on my own but it was the belief that I could that I did not posses.

But Bill Wilson says that you CANNOT "just quit". He wrote that your intelligence and will power are useless, and only surrender to "Higher Power" will save you. (Big Book, pages 41-42.)

And Bill said that you have to do his 12-Step cult practices, or else: "If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking" (Big Book, page 72.)

I know that I don't have to go to meetings and study the big book to stay sober, but I probably would be a miserable fuck and not very fun to be around because I would always be feeling sorry for my self or pissed off at you. The steps remind me that their are alternate ways to live, sure I may be able to find other groups or books that can get me to the same place, but I feel this is working pretty good for right now. (sober 14 yrs).

Sorry, but the Steps are just Frank Buchman's cult practices, dressed up in a poorer man's shabbier suit of clothes. They have no beneficial effects, and in fact seem to raise the suicide rate of alcoholics.

Frank S.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*                  Agent 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: Fri, April 28, 2006 10:45
From: "PIERRE P."
Subject: Gambler Anonymous

I love reading your stuff. Thank you.

I have been compulsively doing GA meeting during the last 5 years. (At least 1200 meetings ). I just cannot stop gambling. I did stop for a year and a half, but just went nuts with my sexuality during that time instead of gambling.

After initially going 90 days without gambling, I was told by a member that I could not be the secretary of a meeting, because I am an atheist! I felt like I was an outcast, that I really disturbed many people... in fact I am sure most members wanted me to slip to prove that I could not succeed.

The trustee of our region intervened and told me that the member who told me I could not be a secretary was wrong, I could. BUT, I could not be be in charge of the money collected!!! I guess being a atheist made me immoral and I would surely leave with the money from the group.

I slipped after that. I was able to stop gambling for 18 months, then slipped again. I felt bad and guilty and sub-par to other members. I slowly began to hear people judging me, telling me I had to get God in my life.

What really hurts me in GA is the way successful members are just not the type of people I would want to be. No empathy, no compassion to real suffering caused by childhood traumatic experiences. Most people that slip were victimized as children, be it sexual abuse, physical abuse and so on. They learned to be ashame of themselves as children, and continue to do so as adults.

I still want to stop gambling, but I cannot do it with GA. I will have to find another way.

Thank you

Peter

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the letter. It says a lot. And thanks for the thanks.

I am no expert on recovery from gambling, so all that I can do is offer my uninformed opinion: The impression I get is that you long for the rush of gambling, you have a built-in craving for the rush, and sooner or later the little addiction monster will be whispering in your ear that just one gamble, just a little fun, will be okay now. ("We have it under control. It's been so long, we have a handle on it now. One night of fun will be okay.")

That's what I have going on with alcohol and tobacco. I wrote a web page about that "addiction monster", here. Understanding that seductive voice and his mind games has been a life-saver to me for avoiding relapses.

Now I would suggest that there is some underlying reason why you crave the rush, and don't usually feel quite as good as you would like. Perhaps child abuse damaged your cerebellar vermis, or you inherited a genetic defect that crippled your dopamine receptors and kept you from being able to feel really fully satisfied. (Do you feel like you are never as fully alive as when you are "in the action"?)

I would consult with a doctor who really knows about such things, and see if there are any medications or treatments that can work on those things. — That's just a suggestion, not a diagnosis.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could
** touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started
** giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be
** broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries.
** This was all a scientific thing."
** === Nell Wing — PASS IT ON, page 370.
** (Nell Wing was an early secretary of A.A. and Bill Wilson.)
** Apparently, for treating alcoholics, LSD works three times
** better than cult religion.





Date: Fri, April 28, 2006 12:53
From: "Chuck D."
Subject: Negative

Who are you to criticize AA?? God's grace has been shed for people in recovery. You sound like a Pharisee of old who offers only condemnation and no other workable solution. AA has helped more people than your diatribes ever will.

In His love,
Chuck D.

Who am I to criticize A.A.? Well, I am a person who has enough remaining brain cells to see that A.A. is massively dishonest and lies about its success rate, and just foists an old cult religion on sick people.

A.A. has not helped large numbers of people. That is the A.A. Big Lie. A.A. just steals the credit for people who were going to quit drinking anyway, claiming that it somehow "made them quit", or "helped them to quit", which is not true at all.

And then A.A. makes a lot of other alcoholics worse: they binge drink more and die sooner, and then A.A. even drives some people to suicide.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "As a matter of fact, the successful worker [A.A. recruiter]
** differs from the unsuccessful one only in being lucky about
** his prospects. He simply hits cases who are ready and able
** to stop at once."  Bill Wilson, quoted in 'PASS IT ON',
** The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached
** the world, page 252.





Date: Sat, April 29, 2006 8:52
From: "carol d."
Subject: Thank you!

My story is probably as funny as anyone else's and I plan to share the details soon but now I am curious about seriously stopping the lunacy. I found your site while trying to get info on AA and sponsors and such since as a condition of my release from a work mandated rehab program (yes, this idiot got caught drunk at work!) I had to prove I had faithfully attended meetings (4 per week was recommended) had found a sponsor AND (this was the kicker) had developed a meaningful relationship with her.

Anyway, not sure I'd be able to B.S. my way out of that without some details, I was searching the web and found your site!! YIPPEE!! I am not crazy after all! And as my rehab counselor correctly pointed out (meant as an insult) I _am_ too smart for the program!

But since my insurance company paid thousands of dollars for weeks of 'therapy', I was wondering if they would have an interest in investigating these 'rehab' centers. Since I was discouraged from going to my gym (interfered with going to meetings) and encouraged to smoke ('after all, you need something!' — and that's a direct counselor quote) I was thinking AETNA might frown on such advice.

Like so many of your writers, I found that excessive drinking was doing me no good and readily gave it up on my own but had to complete rehab to return to work. I am happily alcohol and AA free now and ready to challenge the myths that abound surrounding 'treatment'. I can't think of any way to curtail AAers damage but since $$ talks, perhaps health insurance is a place to start. Any suggestions or is this a lost cause? Thanks for any advice and keep up the good work.

Finally Free in CT

Hi Carol,

Yes, persuing the health insurance angle is a very promising approach. Personally, I find it amazing that the insurance companies are being so stupid as to pay billions of dollars for completely ineffective quack medicine. What's wrong with them? I mean, they were quick to start finding technicalities to not pay for the damage caused in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and yet they pay through the nose for 12-Step quack "treatment" of alcoholics and drug addicts? Go figure.

At the same time, the insurance companies are at least somewhat resisting paying for drug and alcohol treatment. It used to be that health insurance would readily pay for a 28-day residential program. Not any more. Now they only want to pay for outpatient treatment.

Still, I keep asking why they don't demand proof that the treatment is effective, and actually works. There is no sense in continuing to pay for treatment that doesn't work. That is one of the big points in my letter to politicians, here. (Oh, and please do send some emails like that to your Congressperson and Senators, too. I think that will help.) I want to harp on the point that if the politicians keep writing blank checks to the treatment centers, they will just continue to get failure disguised as success.

Those 12-Step-based treatment programs have never been shown to work. Never. What few statistics there are that seem to show that treatment works are the results of fraud and deception and numbers games. Definitely check out this letter to a guy who works at a treatment center who was complaining about just such things.

And I wouldn't hesitate to write to insurance companies, and complain, and tell them clearly that 12-Step treatment is a fraud. The so-called "recovery industry" has a lot of rich, high-priced lobbyists bribing Senators and Congressmen to keep the flow of money going to the treatment centers (they call it giving "fair treatment" to the alcoholics and addicts), but the insurance companies have big rich lobbyists too. Getting the insurance companies in our corner is a very promising approach, maybe the most promising one of all. We are not rich and powerful; they are. We can't afford to give large "campaign contributions" to politicians; they can and do. And we have a common interest in not seeing the "alcoholism treatment" hoax continue.

Oh, by the way — That bad advice about smoking that you got from your "counselor" was just like mine. I quit smoking 3 weeks after I quit drinking, because I was really sick and wanted to truly recover. I had bronchitis so bad that I couldn't both breathe and smoke, so I didn't really have a lot of choice in the matter, anyway. (And then that deteriorated into pneumonia.) So what did my coke-snorting, child-molesting counselor say about me quitting smoking?

"Don't put too much on your plate or something will spill off."

Fortunately, I ignored his "counseling" and stayed off of tobacco, as well as everything else. It's 5 years now, and I still haven't smoked another cigarette. Thank God for small favors. Free at last. Thank God Almight, I'm free at last. I sure am glad I kept my own counsel.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches
** pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people
** recovering their true sight, restore their government
** to its true principles.  It is true that in the meantime
** we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the
** horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public
** debt.  == Thomas Jefferson





Date: Sat, April 29, 2006 10:20
From: "Eric"

First off, let me commend your efforts on your papers. I am not sure who you are, what your background/education is, but you are obviously intelligent, well organized, and present your views thoroughly.

Hello Eric,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

I have been in AA for 13 years, and have maintained sobriety for that period of time. I am not sure I believe in the God-part of the program anymore, but I do know that I haven't had a drink in a long time, and my life is unbelievable better than it was 13 years ago.

Congratulations on your 13 years of sobriety. That gives you the credentials to speak for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Unlike your general view of AA members, I find I do not fit into your mold. (or at least what I think your mold is) I have a few questions and comments for you. If you have time to respond, I'd appreciate it.

I try to not stereotype A.A. members. I have repeatedly said that they vary widely. They cover the entire range from really nice people who want to quit drinking to ego-maniacs and sexual predators and dangerous psychotics.

In your introduction, you talk about an AA counselor, whom you later report was in fact a coke sniffing child molester. I don't dispute this, and if it is exactly as you described, hope he never sees the light of day. But, in 13 years involvement, I have /never/ been to an AA group therapy session, nor have I met an AA counselor. It has been my experience in meetings that I meet other people who are trying to improve their lives. Some are out and out nut cases, some are probably a little healthier than I am. But no counselors or group therapy sessions ever. Are you describing AA or are you describing some treatment facility which is not part of AA?

I am describing both. The friendly little neighborhood meeting is like the smiley-face mask that hides the evil empire. The 12-Step treatment industry is most assuredly a part of the 12-Step empire. The treatment centers are staffed by A.A. true believers who spend their days doing 12th-Step work and recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. The only "treatment" for alcoholism that 93% of the treatment centers in this country offer is the 12-Step voodoo medicine. Alcoholics Anonymous has made that so.

In addition, you might want to look at the relationship between corporations like Hazelden and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.. Hazelden is the biggest and richest front group for Alcoholics Anonymous, and the biggest A.A. promoter, and the biggest publisher of pro-A.A. titles, and the biggest redistributor of A.A.W.S. publications. Legally, they are separate entities, but they are very much in bed together. They both exist to promote the 12-Step religion.

Pardon me if I missed the explanation. To my knowledge, AA is made up of people who are trying to solve their drink problems. Every single treatment facility, group therapy, psychologist, counseling center, etc, etc, etc, may use some of the AA ideas, but are in fact separate from AA itself. Please correct me if I am misinformed.

Yes, legally they are separate entities. But that is about the only way in which they are separate and independent.

From my perspective, most of the people I know in AA couldn't care less if you find another way to stay sober, work the program half-assed, believe or don't believe in a higher power, nor do they "actively recruit" newcomers into the 'cult'. (other than to say "if you want help, we'd love to be able to help you") I fail to see the motivation behind recruitment. I know I will not benefit financially for inviting a new member. Yeah, they might throw a buck into the basket, so there is a potential financial incentive, but who cares? I don't see the money, there is no pyramid scheme, and frankly a buck once a week ain't going to add up to much. There are some days I'd prefer the folks who aren't really interested in sobriety to not come to meetings. I'd like to be there to offer help and encouragement, as someone was there to do the same for me 13 years ago, but beyond that I have absolutely no interest in increasing our membership, recruiting another newcomer, or increasing our coffers. What do you see as the motivation behind this cultist mentality?

Not all cults are about making money. Some are, some aren't. A.A. is one that isn't. It's about getting more members, and getting more people to do the 12 Steps, and getting people to "come to believe".

"I came to the conclusion that Alcoholics Anonymous is really just a cult religion..."

No problem with your belief here, just isn't my belief or experience. If in fact religion is defined as the state of relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity, (according the Webster's) then since the higher power discussed in AA is one of our own understanding, then it cannot be considered an acknowledged deity, and therefore not a religion. Yes, maybe simple semantics, but I consider myself a member of AA, yet at this point in my life am also a contented agnostic. I know of others in aa who share this view. Does that mean I don't belong? Does it mean I am not a real card-carrying member of AA? Am I an aberration? What it means to me is that this isn't a religion.

Cult
  • 1 : formal religious veneration : WORSHIP http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/worship
  • 2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; /also/ : its body of adherents
  • 3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; /also/ : its body of adherents
  • 4 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health /cult//s/>
  • 5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); /especially/ : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

Based on this definition, I could say AA is indeed a cult, as is Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, etc. The term cult has a negative connotation. When I consider cults, the Moonies, Hare Krishna's, Jim Jones, Waco, etc are what readily come to mind. I may be wrong here, but aren't most of these systems for the benefit of a single leader or group of leaders? I find no one in AA, especially our leadership (if it even exists) benefit from increased membership.

I find that description of a cult too simplistic and limited. (See the Cult Test for a better description.)

Oh, and there is a huge difference between the established mainstream religions and cults. Claiming that all religions are cults is one of the standard Alcoholics Anonymous dodges when someone accuses it of being a cult.

Many of the most popular and powerful cults, like Scientology, the Peoples' Temple, and ISKCON (the Hari Krishnas), have dead leaders, so the cult does not continue for the benefit of those leaders. And the new leaders are shallow wimps compared to the founders, so the continuation of the cult isn't for their benefit.

No, what keeps the cults going is the desires of the members to continue the con game. The members want to continue to believe all of the things that they were fooled into believing in the beginning. They have a vested interest in believing that they didn't waste a lot of time and energy in a cult.

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
== Carl Sagan

In his classic study of con men, David Maurer tells us the same thing:

A mark, once hooked, is often most difficult to "unhook." If the operators once get his confidence completely, he is so sure of the deal in which he is involved that he will not listen to reasonable advice even if it is given to him.
The Big Con: The Story of the Con Man, David W. Maurer, page 128.

Also see this previous letter that discussed the question of why people stay in A.A. and perpetuate the organization.

And there most assuredly is a benefit in getting recruits: ego gratification. The new members make the the old-timers feel that what they are doing will live on. The organization will endure forever. "We have a kind of immortality. We are involved in a great movement that will live on." And the old-timers get to believe that they are wise old sages, nobly helping the youngsters. And they get to act as mentors and teachers. Ego, ego, ego.

In addition, there is the religious angle. A large benefit of getting more believers in a religion is that it assuages the doubts of the old members. "If all of these other people believe this stuff too, then it can't be wrong, can it?"

"I think the thing that really gets to me the most, the thing that angers me the most, is how almost everybody connected with the drug and alcohol treatment industry just assumes that the whole 12-Step program works great, and is the answer to everything, and really does help lots of people I just can't help but think that there must be some better way to handle such problems than a method that is obviously not working, the currently-used 12-Step program. I can't help but think that a lot of people might be better off if they got some other treatment or therapy besides cult religion and voodoo medicine."

But, what do you do until the better solution is found? I know I tried all sorts of ways to quit drinking, even toyed with RR which was coming of age back then, and none of those ideas worked for me. AA did. I don't mean to profess there is no better way, just that if there is, I haven't found it. And in fact, haven't heard of one either. As science and medicine progresses, I do believe there will be a permanent cure for alcoholism, but until then what else is there?

Now that is the logical fallacy of "Well, if we can't get something good, then you should be willing to settle for something bad."

A.A. does not work. Every single time it has been tested, it has been found to be a failure. A.A. even does great harm to some alcoholics. It even kills them. Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. increases the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. increases the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness, and
  3. makes alcoholics sicker and makes their hospitalization more expensive, and
  4. even raises the death rate in alcoholics,
  5. and there is also a lot of evidence that A.A. raises the suicide rate of alcoholics.

You have 13 years of experience in watching A.A. fail to sober up thousands of people. You know that the A.A. clubhouse has a revolving door on the front of it. The newcomers come, the newcomers go. The percentage of people who actually get sobered up in A.A. is pathetically small. The fact that you quit drinking and you like the A.A. meetings does not make A.A. a good thing for other people.

The whole idea of "a cure for alcoholism" is fallacious. Alcoholism isn't a disease, it is behavior. It is often compulsive behavior, but it is still behavior. Now we might get fixes or cures or treatments for damage to the cerebellar vermis, or inherited genetic defects that cripple people's dopamine receptors, or mental illnesses like bipolar disorder which is a common cause of alcohol overconsumption. But that is a cure for an illness that causes people to drink too much, not a "cure for alcoholism".

As far as a better way goes, there are many. Any kind of therapy or treatment or training program that just tells the truth about everything is a huge improvement. Here is a list of alternatives for both meetings and socializing and talking:

Oh, and by the way, something that A.A. fooled you into believing is that "support groups" are necessary — that you need "a group" or "a program" or "a way" to quit drinking. They are not necessary. The Harvard Medical School reported that slightly over 50% of all alcoholics eventually quit drinking, and 80% of the successful quitters did it alone, on their own. That makes sense, because really, nobody but you will hold your hand every night and keep you from drinking.

I have just stumbled across your papers, and am just starting to explore it. Maybe all these concerns/comments/questions of mine have been addressed and answered. If so, I apologize for taking your time. I imagine you get tons of mail daily, and will understand if you cannot respond. Thanks for your ideas. Can't say I believe all of them, but I admire your compunction to post them publicly

Eric
Michigan

Well, it took a few weeks, but you got a response, Eric.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent 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: Sat, April 29, 2006 10:38
From: "Toni B."
Subject: We have a cult problem ourselves

We need help and advice on breaking up part of our family that has a cult mentality. I myself had constant exorcisms with them among other things, and we believed that we were above normal rules and followings that belong to anyone else. We are planning on doing some sort of intervention very soon with the law backing us up, and would love some input if you could. My step brother is a retired police officer, and wants to use the law to force counseling, but I was hoping that we could try an intervention type thing first, mabey bring someone in who they will listen to. Please help.

Thank You-
Toni B.

Hi Toni,

Sorry to take so long to answer. I didn't realize that this letter was more important than usual.

My initial reaction about a forced intervention is DON'T. The reasons are many:

  1. Who could you use as an interventionist or "exit counselor"? Ted Patrick (who liked to call himself "Black Lightning") was sent to prison for kidnapping, false imprisonment and cruelty. There are few or no competent, honest, exit counselors who will participate in a forced intervention.

  2. What gives you the right to force your religious beliefs on your other family members?
    Now I'm sure that you think that question unfair, because your nutty true-believer relatives are trying their best to shove their beliefs on other people, right? But it cuts both ways.

  3. And you say that your goal is to "break up part of your family". What does that mean, really?

  4. You say that you will have the law backing you up. That is vague. Ordinarily, the courts do not get involved in religious disputes and force one family member's beliefs on another. The courts don't want to touch that. We theoretically at least have freedom of religion in this country. Even Tom Cruise is allowed to walk the streets and praise Scientology and rave about bad psychiatrists and tell mentally-ill people not to take their medications.

    If it's a matter of child abuse, then it is a given that the child should be removed from the bad environment and custody given to someone better. But that is not an "intervention" — that's just rescuing a child. And that will be legally done by child welfare, with the help of police, not by some relatives and an ex-cop.

  5. Another reason for not doing an intervention is because they often fail, and even do lots of damage. (After abusive deprogramming, one girl just sat in her bedroom and stared out of the window for a year.) How do you plan to break the will of your family member and change his or her mind? What methods of torture will be used?

    Do you really imagine that just having some "counselor" talk to your relatives for a day or two will make them suddenly convert to your religious beliefs and quit being so crazy?

    And that's what we are really talking about here. You consider the beliefs of your other family members to be crazy and unrealistic. They probably are. (People who do exorcisms are a pretty nutty, whacked-out, scary bunch.) Still, it really is a matter of somebody deciding that "My beliefs are better and saner than his beliefs, so he should change his mind and start to think my way." The laws of the U.S.A. say that you can't do that by force. We have freedom of religion even for the crazy religions.

  6. Lastly, what we learned from our collective experience with the cults of the sixties and seventies is that most of the cult members eventually "come out of it" and quit the cult all on their own. The few who don't quit will probably be lifers that you won't be able to save or convert anyway.

Now is there anything that can be done? I hope so. But it's tough. Crazy true believers in a cult religion really like their crazy beliefs. They have an intense desire to continue to believe for a variety of reasons.

Wanting to believe is perhaps the most powerful dynamic initiating and sustaining cult-like behavior.
The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society, Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., page 137.

You should check out Steven Hassan's book, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, which gives a lot of advice about how to get loved ones out of a cult.

Here are some places in previous letters where we discussed Hassan's ideas for how to get people out of cults:

  1. Don't give up
  2. Use indirect criticism of the cult
  3. Phobia induction

Also see these previous letters:

Again, if you are seeing a situation where children or any other minors are being abused or mistreated by a cult religion, then you have every right and even the duty to do something and rescue that child. Contact the local Child Welfare Agency or Human Services Department or whatever it is called in your state.

But if it's just some family members who are crazy as a loon and going off the deep end with a cult religion, well, legally, they have that right. You can try to talk sense to them, but you don't have the right to make them change religions.

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and good luck.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** It may be difficult to determine where religious
** beliefs end and mental illness begins. — Elaine Cassel


[2nd letter from Toni:]

Date: Fri, May 19, 2006 12:10
From: "Toni B."
Subject: Re: We have a cult problem ourselves

Thank you so much for responding. I wanted to clarify a few things though. We weren't going to kidnap anyone, of course. We found out that I can still press charges of my own child abuse that happened to me. The exorcisms would go for days sometimes, until I admitted I had demons and asked God to forgive. I know it's hard to believe this is abuse, but it went on for about 2 years.

After me came so many others, and it still goes on. You have no idea how much mental damage it causes. They take every thing you do and make it evil, quoting even from the Bible. We were going to use the law in that they have a choice: counseling or jail.

Please tell me with this updated version of a intervention some advice. I was thinking along the lines of meeting with lawyers and the preacher of the real church we used to go to as a family, and all of us kids. It just hurts watching them and worrying about who they hurt next.

They have another child living with them now, and as usual they train a lot of kids with their horse ranch. Some of the kids in the past actually formed a support group online for a while. They don't seem to know they are hurting others and themselves, that they're predators not preachers.

I just want to help them somehow. It's hard to walk away, like with any family member who's messed up. Please write back and tell me your honest opinion, I hope it's more clear what I'm trying to do.

Toni

Hi again Toni,

Ah, okay. In this letter, things are sounding a lot better. I'm really glad that you weren't thinking of a forceful "intervention". That's what Steppers do occasionally, and I'm against it. And it is of course what the anti-cult people used to do — kidnapping and deprogramming — and I think they did more harm than good.

As far as pursuing the child abuse charges, that sounds like a very good approach. Really, it's the only thing that you have.

And I do believe you. In my years of studying cults for this web site, I've read some pretty awful stuff, even worse stuff. It boggles the mind, the depths to which some people can sink.

Perhaps you have read the Children's Gulags web page. It also describes some abusive camps where children supposedly go sailing and horse-back riding.

You say, "it still goes on."
That alone is enough for me. If they are still doing that to other children now, then throw their asses in jail.

I don't have any faith in "counseling". All too often, it's just talk, and nothing changes.
(Now in all fairness to counselors, I think they can help borderline or moderately normal people who just have some simpler problems that they need to work through, but counselors aren't going to change vicious psychotics with just some pleasant chats. It's just like how repeat sexual predators are not reformed by "treatment".)

In general, I feel very pessimistic about your chances for any kind of an amicable settlement. Those nutcases believe that what they are doing is right, and almost nothing will change that.

What you are actually trying to do is undermine their entire world-view, their idea of reality. They actually think that they live in a grim fairy-tale world of demons and devils, and they see themselves as knights in shining armor, fighting for God and Truth. They imagine that their lives are grand epic moral melodramas, where they are heroes bravely battling against the Dark Forces.
(And I imagine that they suppress any recognition of the sadistic side of their actions. They probably won't even honestly admit to themselves that they enjoy beating and tormenting devils out of children.)

They will not give up that heroic image of themselves and accept the image of "child abuser". They will probably insist that they are right until the day that they die.

The only thing you can do now is stop them from hurting any more children.

Do it. Do it by any means that you have at your disposal. Shut them down. Put an end to it. And filing charges for child abuse is the sharpest sword in your armory.

It's a shame that your online support group went offline. But there are others. Some of the non-religious children's boot camps were just as bad, and there are groups for them.

You might want to check these out, and see if you find some kindred spirits there:

I'm sure that there are a zillion more support groups and chat groups. I just haven't compiled a good list yet.

Also see the child abuse links on my links page.

Oh, and just for giggles and grins, look at these crazy religious fanatics picketing the funerals of soldiers who were killed recently in Iraq: here. Those religious cult wackos are really something else...

Alas, I don't think that just counseling will change them. That is pretty self-evident.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             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."
**   — Orange as a young hippie, 1968
**
** "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done
** it unto one of the least of these my brethren,
** ye have done it unto me." — Jesus, in Matthew 25:40





Date: Sat, April 29, 2006 11:17
From: "Heather"
Subject: maybe you had a bad experience

I am not an AA member, but I have seen AA work for many people to stay sober. AA as a whole does not claim to be the sole recovery for alcoholics; the fact is they say right in the big book few have failed who thoroughly follow our path. I think you might be confused with the actions of certain AA groups vs. AA as a whole. People who are sick in the mind (Alcoholism is a disease that affects the brain) are never going to act 100% well. The symptoms of alcoholism manifests itself through behavior sick behavior. So some groups out there are very sick and I know for a fact run in a cult like way and certainly people should steer clear of those groups, but AA as an organization does not endorse or recommend such behavior. It is in the traditions of AA that each group is autonomous. Meaning a group can declare themselves as AA provided that they offer the AA program to members but beyond that they may conduct themselves in anyway they please. This means that groups can limit membership according to their own guidelines and maintain their own criteria for joining and some might demand money, threaten people, or try to get people to detach from their families. That doesn't mean that is AA. That is certain groups distorting the purpose and principles for their own personal agendas. Telling people it is all a cult is a lie, because not every group would endorse such behavior. It is a spiritual program and every AA group I have seen in practice would never claim to be the only way or the only solution or they will kill you etc as you claim. People come and go as they please of their own free will. I have seen people get clean and sober using other treatment programs and religion as well and AA would recommend this to anyone who couldn't find the help they need within AA and in fact does in AA literature. If you had done your research a lot better you would know that, but you didn't. You don't know how the world wide organization runs vs. how groups run. Putting that out there like you know for a fact is false and can keep people who need real help from finding it if they can within AA. I have seen AA say that it is not for everyone, but few who diligently follow that path fail to stay sober. As staying sober is the only way to arrest alcoholism it isn't a cure, there is no known cure in fact.

Heather


[2nd letter from Heather, sent at same time:]

Date: Sat, April 29, 2006 11:32
From: "Heather"
Subject: cults aa

Perhaps you or someone you know had a bad experience with a group, it doesn't mean that the organiztion of Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult. Cults break people down, leave them feeling worthless without the cult, take people's money, isolate them from their families and friends, give the promise of something in return for all their monetary wealth etc. Cults want something from members in return for their so called promises that is the bottom line for a cult. They want something in return for what they give, in every cult I have heard of it has been all the worldy possessions of the person that joins or as much as they can get from them. Correct? AA does not do this. They are self supporting declining outside contributions, but I bet a real cult would take money from anyone... People are not encouraged to give large sums of money and no property. There is a reason, because at a certain point it becomes all ego or pride that drives that sort of giving. AA doesn't need that. If AA were a cult all members would believe the same thing, that isn't true for AA. All groups would follow the exact same guidelines and principles and run each group the same; that truly isn't done. Every group is autonomous even if they claim they are an AA group the groups can call themselves an AA group provided that they offer the AA program, but no one has to follow it and can in fact impose their own rules etc. So while some groups might be threatening and some might try to control members which is unhealthy, not all do that. As a whole AA doesn't claim to have all the answers. It is right in the big book of AA. It encourages members to seek help elsewhere if needed and no one has to sever ties with family or friends, but if they choose to that is most likely because that might be a trigger for them to drink. AA is simply designed to help people get sober, there is no hidden agenda and nothing AA can gain. There are no leaders either. You can't have a cult without a leader that benefits.

Hi Heather,

Thanks for the letters.

I hardly know where to start, so I guess I'll just start at the top.

You say, "I have seen AA work for many people to stay sober."

Actually, you have seen no such thing. What you have seen is some people quitting drinking. You don't know why they quit. Even if you asked them, and they said that A.A. did it, that does not mean that A.A. did it; it just means that they think that A.A. did it. Quack doctors and fake healers routinely take advantage of such confusion to sell every kind of bad medicine and fraudulent treatment imaginable.

I addressed the whole problem of gullible people getting fooled and giving testimonials for quack cures, here.

In addition, you are ignoring the fact that lots of alcoholics spontaneously quit drinking because they just get tired of the pain and suffering — they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, so they just quit. And the Harvard Medical School says that 80% of the successful quitters do it alone, on their own, without any "treatment" or "support group".

Worst yet, you have also seen a great number of other people who did not quit drinking, and you are ignoring them, and not counting them as A.A. failures. That's cherry-picking. You count the sober people as A.A. successes, but don't count the drunk people as A.A. failures. The least you can say about that method of counting is that it is inaccurate. Disingenuous too, I think. That is Enron-style accounting.

So the few people whom you have seen quit drinking do not in any way prove or even suggest that they quit drinking because of Alcoholics Anonymous.

To assume that people got sober because of A.A., just because they were occasionally around A.A., is like this goofy logic:

  • A bunch of people went to a Baptist church for years.
  • During those years, many of the women got pregnant and had babies.
  • That proves it: Going to Baptist churches causes women to get pregnant and have babies.

Not!

How can I be so sure that A.A. does not work to make people get sober? Simple: Every time A.A. has been tested in a good valid unbiased test, it completely failed. It even caused the alcoholics to drink and die in greater numbers. Look here and here and here and here and here, just for starters. Then you could read all of the rest of that file, too.

RE: "I think you might be confused with the actions of certain AA groups vs. AA as a whole."

Nope. I am looking at the whole mess.

RE: "...some might demand money, threaten people, or try to get people to detach from their families. That doesn't mean that is AA. That is certain groups distorting the purpose and principles for their own personal agendas."

That is the standard cop-out: "The bad stuff that happens isn't the real A.A... Only the good stuff is the real A.A."

It is ALL the real A.A..
Whatever A.A. members do in A.A. meetings is the real A.A..
Whatever a sponsor does to a newcomer is the real A.A..
Whenever an old-timer rapes a newcomer, that is also the real A.A..
Whatever misinformation about alcoholism and recovery that A.A. is spreading around now is also the real A.A..
It is ALL the real A.A..

RE: "Telling people it is all a cult is a lie, because not every group would endorse such behavior."

No, it is a fact. Please go read the Cult Test, the whole thing, questions and answers, to see why I say that A.A. is a cult.

RE: "It is a spiritual program..."

What does that mean? Please define "spiritual". How does this "spirituality" differ from "superstition"?
Is it a spiritual program if someone prays to Santa Claus? How about a doorknob or a bedpan?
Is playing with a Ouija board and conducting séances "spiritual"?
Is it a spiritual program if someone sells his soul to the Devil in trade for sobriety?
Is it a spiritual program if the recruiter deceives newcomers to get them to join Alcoholics Anonymous?

RE: "People come and go as they please of their own free will."

Uh, no. People are sentenced to A.A. every day. Nearly two-thirds of the A.A. membership got there by being shoved into it by the legal or health-care systems. The November 2002 issue of the AA Grapevine, pages 32 and 33, summarized the results of the latest General Service Office membership survey, and it reported that 61% of the current members were pushed or coerced into A.A. by the courts, criminal justice system, health care systems, employee diversion programs, co-workers, or families. So "coerced" or "forced against their will" describes a lot of what the real A.A. really is...

RE: "I have seen people get clean and sober using other treatment programs and religion as well and AA would recommend this to anyone who couldn't find the help they need within AA and in fact does in AA literature. If you had done your research a lot better you would know that, but you didn't."

Oh yeh? Please show me one official council-approved A.A. publication that recommended that sick alcoholics go somewhere other than Alcoholics Anonymous to get sober. I keep hearing that A.A. is the only way.

Now I know that Bill Wilson yammered a few lines like, "See a doctor", and "We know only a little" and "A.A. isn't the only way..." but that was just a bait and switch trick to sound moderate while recruiting. After Bill got them in, the story changed to "A.A. is the only way."
More on that bait and-switch trick here and here and here.

RE: "You don't know how the world wide organization runs vs. how groups run."

Actually, I do know. Look here.

And by the way, you began your letter by saying that you were not a member of A.A., and yet you keep claiming to have much more expertise about Alcoholics Anonymous than I do. Where did you get all of your "knowledge" about A.A.?

I know that you are a member of A.A., or a member of another 12-Step cult like Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon. You just parrot A.A. dogma and misinformation and propaganda tricks constantly.

RE: "Putting that out there like you know for a fact is false and can keep people who need real help from finding it if they can within AA."

That is a standard A.A. ad hominem that A.A. attack dogs use on anyone who criticizes Alcoholics Anonymous: "You are doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety" (by telling the truth about A.A.).

You are actually a true-believer 12-Stepper, aren't you? Why are you denying it?

RE: "I have seen AA say that it is not for everyone, but few who diligently follow that path fail to stay sober. As staying sober is the only way to arrest alcoholism it isn't a cure, there is no known cure in fact."

We already covered the "A.A. isn't the only way" bait and switch trick.

Then you parrot the standard misinformation about "alcoholism can't be cured; you have to stay 'in recovery' (in A.A.) for the rest of your life."

Well alcoholism is behavior, not a disease, so of course there is no cure for a non-existent disease.

And now you are using Bill Wilson's trick of lying with qualifiers:
"...few who diligently follow that path fail to stay sober."

As in, "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path..."

If they don't quit drinking, it is all their own fault because they didn't "diligently follow that path" and they didn't "thoroughly follow our path." ... "The program is perfect, it's just the people who are imperfect."

Yeh, right. The Program is as infallible as the Pope. It's only the humans who are imperfect.
(But then why does The Program have a 95% dropout and failure rate?)

On to your second letter. You declare,
"Perhaps you or someone you know had a bad experience with a group, it doesn't mean that the organiztion of Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult."

That is another standard A.A. line, just another routine minimization and denial propaganda trick.

Why can't you imagine that someone could feel like telling the truth about a fraud that is hurting people, no matter whether he had a "bad experience"? Are you incapable of understanding any other motive?

RE: "Cults break people down, leave them feeling worthless without the cult, take people's money, isolate them from their families and friends, give the promise of something in return for all their monetary wealth etc. Cults want something from members in return for their so called promises that is the bottom line for a cult. They want something in return for what they give, in every cult I have heard of it has been all the worldy possessions of the person that joins or as much as they can get from them. Correct? AA does not do this."

That is a fair description of Alcoholics Anonymous. The only part that does not fit is that A.A. does not take people's money — directly. They let the 12-Step-based "treatment centers" do it for them.

But since you claim to know something about cults, you should know that lots of cults do not take all of the members' money. They just want people's lives, minds, hearts, and souls.

About false promises, haven't you ever read Bill Wilson's "Promises"? Check out this cult test item: 79. Promised Powers or Knowledge

Then you continued with more of the same:
"They are self supporting declining outside contributions, but I bet a real cult would take money from anyone... People are not encouraged to give large sums of money and no property."

Are you really totally ignorant of the fact that the leadership of Alcoholics Anonymous is so evil, dishonest, corrupt, and greedy that they are even committing perjury and getting A.A. members sentenced to prison to get more money? Look here.

RE: "If AA were a cult all members would believe the same thing, that isn't true for AA."

So far, you are doing a great job of parrotting the A.A. party line. I haven't seen an original thought anywhere in there. I hold up your two letters as 'exhibit A' for the cult characteristic "group-think".

RE: "Every group is autonomous even if they claim they are an AA group the groups can call themselves an AA group provided that they offer the AA program, but no one has to follow it and can in fact impose their own rules etc."

That isn't true either. The city and state councils will de-list any group that they don't like. Your group had better toe the line, or else. Like one A.A. ex-member said, "A.A. groups are no more independent than McDonalds fanchises are."

RE: "As a whole AA doesn't claim to have all the answers. It is right in the big book of AA. It encourages members to seek help elsewhere if needed and no one has to sever ties with family or friends, but if they choose to that is most likely because that might be a trigger for them to drink."

We already covered that bait and switch trick.

RE: "AA is simply designed to help people get sober, there is no hidden agenda and nothing AA can gain. There are no leaders either. You can't have a cult without a leader that benefits."

Alcoholics Anonymous was not "designed" as any such thing. Alcoholics Anonymous is simply a renamed branch of Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion. Frank designed his cult to support him in comfort for the rest of his life. Which it did. A.A. did the same for Bill Wilson.

And there most assuredly are leaders. Haven't you ever heard of the Alcoholics Anonymous national headquarters in New York? They have a Board of Trustees who make over $70,000 per year, and a President who makes over $125,000. They have two corporations: Alcoholics Anonymous [World] Services, Inc., and the General Services Organization. There is also a national council, state councils, and local councils and committees. There is even a committee that reads books and decides whether they parrot the official dogma enough to be labeled "Council Approved". A.A. is loaded with leaders.

CORRECTION (2011.03.28): It turns out that the trustees are not paid. But other people get lots more. The President and General Manager of A.A. Greg Muth gets $125,000 from both AAWS and the GSB (General Service Board of A.A.), for a total of $250,000 per year. And then his friend Thomas Jasper gets $469,850 for being a "Senior Advisor". And many others get salaries in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 each. Look here.

And then on the very local level, the leaders of each group are the old-timers, the ones who can brag about their zillions of years....

And obviously, A.A. is totally organized, in spite of Tradition 9 which says, "A.A., as such, ought never be organized..."

And lastly, you declared, "You can't have a cult without a leader that benefits."

Wrong, totally wrong. Cults usually start around a charismatic leader, but not always. As it is, A.A. started with Bill Wilson and (somewhat) Dr. Robert Smith. Bill Wilson was the rich, lazy, lying, thieving, philandering cult leader who never worked a straight job again.

There are lots of cults that don't have rich pompous leaders any more. The leaders have died. Check out Scientology, the Hari Krishnas, and the People's Temple, just for starters. And Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob died too, so now A.A. is just another cult that worships dead founders.

Oh well, have a good day anyway. And please, why don't you practice a little of that A.A. "rigorous honesty" (Big Book, page 58), and admit that you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, or at least a true-believer Stepper, and have been for a long time?

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The finest structure can house the worst evil.





Date: Sun, April 30, 2006 0:46
From: JILL

There aren't any alternative recovery groups in the UK. What can be done about this?

Hi Jill,

Thanks for the letter. That's a tough one. In the long run, I'd recommend that you start a local group, perhaps either SMART or WFS (Women For Sobriety). That isn't easy, but might be worth it.

The easiest quick solution to the problem is to use the Internet and join on-line chat groups. That isn't ideal, and isn't the same as neighborhood face-to-face groups, but it's better than nothing.

Check these out:

  1. SMART: Self Management And Recovery Training.
    http://www.smartrecovery.org/
    Rational, sane, common-sense recovery techniques. Based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, the brainchild of Dr. Albert Ellis.

  2. WFS (Women For Sobriety) also has online chat groups:
    http://www.womenforsobriety.org/news_conferences/chat.html

  3. LifeRing provides live, online meetings on the Internet:
    http://www.unhooked.com/chat/Chat.html — the Unhooked chat

  4. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/12-step-free — Self-described as: 'This is a large yahoo group of ex-AA and ex-"XA" (meaning any "anonymous" program based on the 12 steps originally created by AA) people. It is very open to debate and free thinking, but it's main point is for those needing to be free of the 12 steps.'

  5. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/LSRmail/ — a Yahoogroup, "LifeRing Secular Recovery"

  6. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/without_aa/ — Without A.A.

  7. http://groups.msn.com/X-STEPPERS/welcome.msnw — This is an ex-stepper group on MSN.
    UPDATE: They moved. The new URL is:
    http://xsteppers.multiply.com/

  8. http://groups.google.com/group/alt.recovery.from-12-steps/ — the "un-12-Step" recovery newsgroup

  9. You can also get some more links from the start of the links page.

Have a good day, and good luck.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** One reason I don't drink is that I want
** to know when I am having a good time.
**         Nancy Astor (1879 - 1964)





Date: Sun, April 30, 2006 12:17
From: "Dwayne P."
Subject: ursite

I've found ur site very informative and well researched. I'm currently in a facility teaching the recovery dynamics treatment program which is just an intense AA twelve step program. I'm trying to identify the good parts of this program so that I can leave and start a support program that doesn't have all the baggage of AA. Keep up the good work

Hi Dwayne,

Thanks for the letter, and the compliments.

I have thought a lot about the goods and bads of A.A., and tried to figure out what could be salvaged from A.A. to make a better program or group or something that would help alcoholics and drug addicts.

In particular, I've wondered if a "good cult" could help. Could we take the clubby atmosphere and the group feeling (and group-think) and the common idea that we all need to quit drinking, and make a beneficial organization or therapy?

That's what Professor Vaillant says A.A. is — a good cult that does more good than harm. I see it the other way — much more harm than good.

Also see the file, "What's Good About A.A." for a longer list of (maybe) good points.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The finest structure can house the worst evil.





Date: Sun, April 30, 2006 19:55
From: Jennifer
Subject: Great Web-Site!

Orange-

I have spent the last two days reading your website,& am enjoying it immensely. I was active in aa for four years — from '81' to '85' — leaving in '85' because I thought 'aa was getting too weird for me'. Little did I know! They were weird from the get-go.

Actually, I quit over those damn 12 steps — I couldn't stomach them & my sponser kept nagging me about going to 'step meetings' — so finally I fired her & aa. You are doing an excellent & much-needed job.

Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for all of the compliments. Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** When terrorists threaten America, will George Bush...
** A. Schedule a meeting about it sometime next year?
** B. Cut funding to the anti-terrorism agencies?
** C. Go on vacation in Texas and ride his bicycle?





Date: Sun, April 30, 2006 23:25
From: "Steve B."

Dear A,

I recently came across your site, and have enjoyed reading the articles, and I can't say that I disagree with anything I've read so far.

I've been sober for 26 years, and I did get my start in AA, which I still attend at times. I prefer going to my SOS meetings, but we have only four regular members, so now and then, perhaps to entertain myself — I'm not even sure why — I will go to an AA meeting.

When I go to AA, sometimes I will tell the group that I stay sober without working the steps, and that a "higher power" has nothing to do with my recovery. Some of the group members, for some strange reason, don't take kindly to my contributions to the discussions, and have reacted with comments like: "God placed you in this meeting to teach me patience and tolerance," or "I'd take you outside and beat you up if you weren't so old."

Some people get overly emotional when someone offers an alternative opinion on how best to get sober, and it's interesting to note that nobody gets bent out of shape when discussing how to quit smoking. This difference is likely due to the cultish atmosphere in AA. And, if reliance on God really works to end the problem of alcoholic drinking, then why don't these AA true believers rely on this all-powerful being to enable them to quit smoking too? Surely this god isn't a one-trick pony good for relieving only one kind of addiction.

That's all for now.

Steve B

Hi Steve,

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

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently
** stable world at peril.





Date: Mon, May 1, 2006 4:07
From: "Karen H."
Subject: mystery solved

Dear Sir

Been reading your stuff and found it most interesting. I was a member of AA for about 3 years per enforcement. To start with I had to go to a clinic which did not offer any other option but to go to 3 meetings per week. After I left the clinic I carried on with meetings faithfully as I honestly believed I would die from alcoholism if I did not. Throughout my time in AA I felt very uncomfortable and continuously relapsed. The more I relapsed the more they made me feel like I was a nobody.

I left AA for good and now have nearly 1 year sober. Throughout this time I was worried that perhaps I should go back to AA, as I was almost brainwashed into believing, that perhaps I am just a dry drunk, waiting to relapse. I also started looking at alternatives and found your Orange papers site, suggested to me by a SMART member. Ah well, hopefully I do not ever have to go back to AA!

Best Regards
Karen

Hi Karen,

Thanks for the letter, and the story. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. And I also hope you don't have to ever go back to A.A., either. (Heck, go to SMART or something if you want a meeting. :-)

With a year of sobriety now, you are over the hump. It isn't like you are crawling the walls for a drink every night now. Not any more.

If you want my two cents worth, I'd suggest the web page on "The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster", just as a sort of maintenance lesson. I don't get cravings much any more, and when I do, they only last a few seconds, so they aren't a problem. But old lizard brain still yammers now and then about how we have it under control now, so just one drink would be okay now... And wouldn't it be fun to get really smashed tonight, just for one night?

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "The best cure for drunkenness is whilst sober,
**  to observe a drunken person"
**   == Chinese Proverb





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