AA in the News

Really, that’s the title of the article.

Alcoholics Anonymous may have pioneered the concept of alcoholism as a disease, but will scientific research that proves the point eventually make AA obsolete?

Hilarity ensues…

(For instance, here’s a good one: “We learn in various ways and one of them is by seeing somebody else do something. There’s a specific neurological system called mirror neurons involved in this kind of learning. So AA newcomers get to see what sober people are like,” he said.”)


Hey Uberdog,

Get after it, man!

This is Part Three of Steve Orma’s “Alcoholics Anonymous: A Critique of the 12-Step Model.

Here is Part One.

And here is Part Two.



When news of the economic crisis hit, pundits took the term “recovery” to its most inane and obvious conclusion by suggesting that what we need is to institute a fiscal 12-Step program. There’s nothing clever about this analogy; it’s just the first thing that came to mind, and they went with it – because people have to have something to say about every last little thing before they even have time to process it.

But what this easy analogy displays is that, generally speaking, the 12-Step, model as an effective recovery treatment, is credible. That’s the given. It’s acceptable in public to take AA as a given, but it’s not going to work to suggest, for instance, that Scientologists take over the economy. No one with any play said that we should get Zen about it.

There’s a piece up now on the Huffington Post which takes this analogy beyond the pale. The author compares our “culture” itself to an alcoholic, and frames his apocalyptic scenario with AA.

The conventional wisdom in Alcoholics Anonymous is that alcoholism is a ‘disease’ of the ego — self-centeredness. Basically the alcoholic becomes trapped in his or her own point of view and denies any other perspective on ‘reality’. The alcohol is a symptom of a loss of control and choice — a condition of cognitive blindness and a self-destructive pattern of behavior.

I have distinguished that culture works the same way. That is, the ego is to the individual what culture is to an organization or society — a self-referential structure of interpretation (a worldview) that blinds us to possibilities, robs us of any semblance of choice, and eventually results in some form of ‘hitting bottom’. The belief in AA is that no one really ‘gets it’ and does what needs to be done to sober up until this happens. The only question is where is the bottom?

I introduce this analogy because it has become obvious over the past few years that our way of life (as we’ve known it) is changing radically and at a pace that was unimaginable not long ago. Every day we see more and more evidence that this is nothing compared to what’s coming.

I actually like the analogy he makes between our culture and the ego. It works well in a limited way, but works only outside the AA model. Within the model, his whole construction disintegrates, because alcoholism is not a disease of the ego. It’s a disease of the soul. The ego’s influence is a symptom of the soul’s sickness.

Unraveling this kind of fast-and-loose is important, I think, because people generally do not understand what AA is all about. A post like this, published in a prominent place, is indicative of the fact that people are, as a rule, uninformed about AA. It’s yet another ass-mined article presenting AA as a benign, enlightened organization that has something to offer.

You will notice, when you peruse the comment(s) that no AA will throw down to correct this writer. AA’s will let this stand, because it’s a nice plug. And the general public doesn’t have the knowledge to question the analogy. I think it would be so interesting to take this guy’s analogy, and using actually AA, take it to its logical conclusion. If our culture is our soul… If hitting bottom is necessary…

There’s this article in the Sacramento Bee  featuring the drug program at the El Dorado, CA court. It’s a pretty innocuous article — a puff piece, featuring a success story. I wanted to post about this article, because I found a couple of points interesting. The first is their “success rate” which they place at 49%:

So far, 250 people have successfully completed the program since it started in 2005 in El Dorado Superior Court. That’s a 49 percent success rate, county data show – above the statewide average of 35 percent.

What was interesting to me about this quote is that it doesn’t mean anything. It seems their only standard for success is graduation from the program. So, among people who would have ended up behind bars and opted (dur!) for the drug program, 45% stuck it out for a year and a half — with the threat of bars hanging over their head. And what does the 35% refer to?

And then, on the day our success story graduates, we learn this:

On the same afternoon that Phimister praised and rewarded Nicole Tennis and a dozen participants for progressing well, he also sent several people to jail for trying to circumvent the system.

“Unfortunately, we seemed to have a pandemic of dilution,” Phimister said.

He chided one tearful woman for diluting her samples, then sentenced her to 210 days in county jail: “You’ve played with the system. You’ve taken advantage of people who tried to help you.

Yeah, I know, you can lead a horse to water… But if we’re talking about people with a “disease” over which they are powerless… OK, here’s what I think: If you are going to take the position that addicts are powerless over their disease, and based on this assumption, you are going to offer them a recovery program instead of jail, then doesn’t it also follow that you will treat a relapse (which is just evidence of powerlessness) as part of the recovery process? And, thus, take punishment off the table completely?  

Well, I checked out the comments over there, and saw one lone voice of opposition, so I got his back, and it seems I’ve poked the hornets’ nest.

[Edited to fix the url]


We’ve been talking a lot here about what AA actually is and for whom it’s appropriate. If I consider both pop-AA (h/t Danny, essentially, what you can expect from any random AA meeting) and fundamentalist Big Book AA, I cannot see any incarnation or variation of AA that would be appropriate for minors. Even groups that are strictly for minors, I find the fundamentals of AA (spiritual illness, moral failing, character flaws, the impossibility of recovery…) to be inappropriate for kids. 

Here’s an interesting article. I am very interested to hear what people think about this.

Oh, the normies will judge, but we know that we are powerless over our rapism.

OREM — Police arrested a Provo man who they say raped a woman he met through Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The woman came to police Tuesday to report that she had been assaulted by a man she met a month earlier in her AA meetings, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.

The woman said the 29-year-old man came to her apartment while she was sleeping and woke her up and began to fondle her breasts, according to the affidavit.

She told him to stop and tried to push him away, but he held her down and kneeled on her already broken ankle while he sexually assaulted her, police said.

The man was contacted by police and agreed to come in for an interview, according to the affidavit. He allegedly admitted to having sex with the victim and even admitted that she told him to stop, but told police he didn’t do anything wrong, according to the affidavit.

He was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of rape on $10,000 cash-only bail.

Take your own damn inventory, suckah!

If all of human history were represented on a clock, then 17 years would be so fast it would look like the earth was spinning in reverse. You have to put things into their proper context.

Question: What is the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous? I have never seen it published.

Answer: Every few years, Alcoholics Anonymous does a survey of its members.

In 1992, a random survey of 6,500 A.A. members in the United States and Canada revealed that 35 percent were sober for more than five years, 34 percent were sober from between one and five years and 31 percent were sober for less than one year.

Ira Bevins shot his mom, then set her house on fire. He was out on bond, awaiting trial for rape:

The shootings came one month after Washtenaw Circuit Judge David Swartz discontinued required alcohol testing of Bevins at the request of Bevins’ public defense attorney, who argued that he had passed all the tests in the months after his arrest on the rape charge.

Bevins was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, stemming from an incident that occurred on the late night and early morning of Aug. 4 and 5, 2008.

According to testimony from the victim, she and Bevins had become reacquainted at Alcoholics Anonymous events. On Aug. 4, she and her 4-year-old daughter visited her deceased mother’s house, located around the corner from Bevins’ house.

The victim testified that over the course of the evening she and Bevins drank. She said she doesn’t remember much more about the night, other than that she woke up without her shorts or underwear on. She went to the hospital and had a rape examination.

Driver who hit bicyclist had twice the legal blood alcohol limit.

Kevin Lee Babcock had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, twice the legal limit, when his car crashed into 19-year-old bicyclist Curtis Jacobs and caused fatal injuries, court records show.


He took part in a substance abuse program in 2007, completing an “intensive outpatient program” and Alcoholics Anonymous. He told the bond screener he is no longer involved with AA.

Councilwoman Arrested for DUI

Charleston, SC – A City of Charleston Councilwoman crashes into a ditch before being arrested for driving under the influence on Friday afternoon.

According to the police report, Morinelli told officers she had just left an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting Friday morning, then drank two bottles of wine.

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