“I gave up drinking for good on 12 September 2002. The earth did not crack open and give forth fire-breathing three-headed dogs, no trumpets sounded in the sky, and I didn’t get a telegram from the Queen. I tried Alcoholics Anonymous because lots of people said I should, but it didn’t work out. Disturbingly, a well-known media figure, who is a recovering alcoholic, refused to give a cover quote for this book, not because they thought it was bad (they didn’t, apparently), but they felt it was critical of AA. This appalled me. That kind of collusion, that kind of self-censorship, is simply wrong, and no one can persuade me otherwise.
For the record, AA has helped many, but it was not for me. I had work to do on myself. When I was newly sober, I wasn’t interested in anyone else’s problems. I had basic survival to think about. And there was too much tormented male sexual energy in the counselling rooms that I saw to be any kind of a safe space, especially for a woman. The 12 Steps in themselves are useful, and can be applied to almost any situation in life, but you don’t have to be “in the programme” to do them. I’m aware that what I’m saying is terrible heresy. But I’m disturbed by the fact that some long-term members take on a faintly creepy mantle of priesthood that is intolerable to be around; the same kind of people who told me that my sobriety “wasn’t real” because I hadn’t been going to meetings.”