Here is a thread started over at the Sober Recovery forum titled “Where would I be without AA”. As I write this, it is an active thread, so we might be adding updates on this for a period of time. This is an interesting conversation to look at, because it contains a number of cult red flags.
It starts out with this post from “24hoursaday”:
i wonder from time to time.. but.. for myself i know the answer.. i would be dead and gone! sometimes when i see the court ordered folks come in and say how they have tried to stay sober in A.A. and failed.. i almost feel sorry for them.. but.. we all have our chances. i like my sponsor’s sponsor’s line.. “it’s pretty hard to pour a drink into a cup full of gratitude”
“i almost feel sorry for them”, she writes. Not quite, but almost. Although she isn’t compassionate towards them, she is grateful that they aren’t her, and she expresses this with a thought stopping slogan from her sponsor – “it’s pretty hard to pour a drink into a cup full of gratitude”.
Next, we get a couple of posts of emoticons (AAs love emoticons, by the way). Then we have “Pinkcuda” come in with this:
if it wasn’t for AA, where would we be driven to by this lash? I presume it would be to either the gates of insanity or death.
And TTOSBT writes:
It is doubtful I would be sober.
But I definitely would not have the peace and serenity I have today. And the friends, and the fun and, and….we could increase the list ad infinitum.
And this from “Justanothrdrunk”:
BEST case scenario without AA –
I KNOW, deep down in my heart, that if I pick up another drink (even just one), at a minimum I lose 4 years of my life. That’s a minimum, best case…
See a trend here? None of these people are praising sobriety, or patting themselves on the back for mustering the fortitude to quit drinking. They also aren’t praising others within the group for helping them quit drinking. All thanks go to AA. Without AA they would all be either dead, or dying. Not drunk, but dead.
check one of three places –
3) the great beyond
(plus i’m about 1000 times cuter sober… holla!
Don’t know but dread to think…..
Thank God for A.A
6 foot under pushing up daisys
Emimily,you are definitely cuter sober…
Next, McGowdog writes:
I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for everybody.
Even in AA, I had a hard time. It took me from 1984 (age 18) till 1993 (27) to just pull my AA book out for a second time and go “back” to a meeting. Then it took me another 10 years to get and stay in… and not let all those hours and hours and cups of coffee go to waste.
He tried AA and failed for about 20 years. Maybe he wasn’t ready to quit. Who knows. I won’t blame his failure on AA, just as I won’t credit them for his eventual success. Both were his own making. He continues:
I think I’m a hard case. I think there are some in AA who get and stay sober just going to meetings. Let’s just be hypothetical and say some of those aren’t even alcoholics. But they are something, and AA gives them a better way of life, even if others disagree or make fun of them. And they do. I never will again, because I better understand them. We can coexist because they don’t need to do exactly what I do and vise versa.
This guy is stepping out on a limb and saying that he believes some people become sober in AA by simply going to meetings, and not doing the steps. Next he writes, “Let’s just be hypothetical and say some of those aren’t even alcoholics. But they are something, and AA gives them a better way of life, even if others disagree or make fun of them. And they do.” There is a subtext here that those who know AA will understand. The common belief is that those who remain sober without doing the steps are not really alcoholics or dry drunks. Those who just go meetings and fail are held up as evidence that the steps are necessary. He writes that people “make fun of them”, by which I think he means they trivialize them. AA says “these are just ‘suggestions'”, but those who don’t do the steps are marginalized. He continues:
But I think I’d be dead if not for AA because I’ve met and need to stay around a few maddogs that do what I do.
That is what I truely believe out of my experience.
Let’s not stop at the mere program/recovery work in AA. What about the OTHER 12 spiritual principles we use that will hopefully “set the example” to that serene world out there… the 12 Traditions! It’s an upside down pyramid where power belongs to the people. What an awesome concept and how awesome it works. Do people want to pick us apart and tear us down? Who cares? By our own traditions, we don’t have to fight them (Ghandi) and because we don’t give or take money, they can’t tell us what to do and we can’t tell them what to do. Then there’s the 12 Concepts that takes like a lawyer or a PhD to figure out… but it’s another 12 Principles that can be used positively in the world. I wish some folks would chime in on their experience or observations of the 12 Concepts… in a practical experiential way.
He writes – “Do people want to pick us apart and tear us down? Who cares? By our own traditions, we don’t have to fight them (Ghandi) and because we don’t give or take money, they can’t tell us what to do and we can’t tell them what to do.”
AAs are keen on saying that they don’t accept outside contributions as a reason to do as they please without criticism, somehow implying that they are a benign organization with no financial impact on me or you. Let me quickly dispel this myth. AA uses our court systems to attract to members, under the pretense that the offenders will be helped to overcome their addictions. They are not helped, and are in fact are often looked down upon (read the first post is this thread – “I almost feel sorry for them”), and used as an excuse among AA defenders as a reason for the 95% failure rate. “Most court ordered attendees don’t want to be there, so they increase the percentage of failures” is the standard line. If they don’t want to be there, why would AA accept them? It actually goes against their tradition of accepting as members “anyone with a desire to quit drinking”. AA actually helps to facilitate the revolving door of habitual drunk drivers, because these court appointed AAs wind up where they began. This costs you and me in tax dollars. Treatment centres who use twelve step facilitation (90% of all rehab centres), use AA as their aftercare programs. The high failure rate of AA translates into multiple relapses, paid for by insurance. Our insurance premiums go up because of their reliance on a Higher Power® and faith healing to fix a physiological ailment. Don’t think for a minute AA does not cost you because they pass around a collection plate.
Next, Jim chimes in with the best post in the thread. This one is deserving of 12-Step AAll-Star nomination:
“I think there are some in AA who get and stay sober just going to meetings.”
Last night myself and another member of my group took a meeting into one of the local detoxes. There were actually a couple of alcoholics in there. Usually it is all addicts. If that is the case, we tell them we are there as members of Alcoholics Anonymous, ask if there is anyone there who has a history of alcoholism. If so, we stay. If not we urge them to seek the fellowship that best addresses their problem and then leave.
We run the meeting as a panel, with each of us getting about fifteen minutes to share our combined knowledge and experience. After that, we open the floor up to questions.
One of the patients was a forty-three year old woman in bad shape. She asked me why AA didn’t work for her. So I asked the usual 12th-Step call questions and what I got from her that she had been attempting sobriety for years by simply attending meetings. She had believed the “meeting makers make it” crowd, and it hadn’t worked. We explained to her that sitting in meetings usually doesn’t produce any lasting sobriety for the true alcoholic and then outlined the program of action. Then we asked her if she truly wanted to stop drinking and if she wanted what AA truly has to offer, a life way beyond abstinence. She said yes to both questions, so we took her contact information and passed it on to a woman from our group who will contact her when she is released early next week.
We often talk about dying of alcoholism. Well, this woman is an example of an alcoholic dying of AA, or at least dying of the mythology that is spread in AA.
“She had believed the “meeting makers make it” crowd, and it hadn’t worked. We explained to her that sitting in meetings usually doesn’t produce any lasting sobriety for the true alcoholic and then outlined the program of action.”
This is an example of someone who has been deceived by AA. There comes a point in every person’s time at AA when they are told that the “take what you want and leave the rest” line in bullshit, and this is her time. Jim explains to her that in order to really get sober, she must work the steps. He even mocks those who just go meetings by calling them the “‘meeting makers make it’ crowd”. AAs don’t really believe that the steps are merely suggestions. That is just a bait and switch tactic. It is kind of like going to a “business meeting” set up by a friend, only to get there and find out he is trying to recruit you into Amway.
So, he tells her that “take what you want and leave the rest” is bullshit, and then goes in for the close:
Then we asked her if she truly wanted to stop drinking and if she wanted. She said yes to both questions, so we took her contact information and passed it on to a woman from our group who will contact her when she is released early next week.
And a cult member has been born. Notice the words “what AA truly has to offer, a life way beyond abstinence”. What AA truly offers is not sobriety. It is cult religion. It may take some more programming, but Jim did a fine job of laying the foundation for more brainwashing. AA has the bonus of not having to starve people or deprive them of sleep. They are already so messed up by alcohol when they get there, they are willing to try anything.
Nice job, Jim. Next we have McGowdog, who writes:
True Jim. Sounds like a solid approach. It sounds tedious, but solid.
I, on the other hand, go to these meetings as a lone wolf, am quiet until I get a chance to share my current ES&H, and go have a little talk with someone after the meeting. Sometimes, other recovered alkies are at the meeting with me. But we are under the understanding that we do AA and they may/may not.
But Jim, as bad as most of our AA meetings are for those that “AA doesn’t work for”, I think I plotted out a way to go to strong meetings and those other meetings don’t seem to do me any harm, so long as I’m clear on why I’m there and why they are there.
Would you agree?
McGowdog congratulates Jim on his bait and switch recruiting tactics, and goes into some other nonsense. What I want to point out is how he puts “AA doesn’t work for” in quotes. The subtext here is that those people don’t really work AA. AA didn’t really fail. They fail AA. They can’t fathom the idea of AA failing.
Now we have more people would surely be dead without AA:
“If I hadn’t had those who went ahead of me to show me and push me down the path and had there not been men and women in meetings that proved to me that one could get sober and stay that way, I never would have quit and I would have died at least 9 years ago.”
“without the program of action – dead, no question”
“I would either be wishing I were or I would be dead”
Makes it kind of tough to leave a group if you are going to die, huh? Seven out fifteen posters said they believed they will die if they leave AA. Others believe that their world will collapse somehow. Sure, you are free to leave AA at any time. But it isn’t really a choice, is it? Poor, delusional, bastards.