LUNATICS ANONYMOUS: I have been sober for two years today. You’re not sober, you’re just abstinent. OK, I’m just abstinent, not sober and I haven’t had a drink for two years. You might be abstinent but, you’re not sober. You’re just a dry drunk. OK, I’m just a sober dry drunk. No, you’re not sober. OK, I’m just an abstinent dry drunk. You might be dry but, you don’t have sobriety. I thought I was sober. You might be sober but, you don’t have good sobriety. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. There is abstinent sobriety but, you have bad sobriety. What, I have bad sobriety? Yes, because you are not in recovery. I thought I was in recovery whereas I haven’t had a drink in two years. You’re not in recovery, you are only around recovery. You never recover. I thought that because I’m in recovery that I was sober. No, you never recover, you’re just abstinent. But, I attend A.A. every day. That doesn’t matter because, you are only around A.A., and you’re not in A.A. But, I’m in the program. Yes, you’re in the program but, you’re not working a good program. OK, I’m only around A.A., working a bad program and not sober. But, I am working the 12 steps. No, you only think you are working the steps. I thought if I was abstinent and attending A.A. that I was in recovery. No, that’s your problem, you only thought you were sober. I thought that I had good sobriety as I was attending A.A. That’s another problem you have. You’re thinking, when you were told to sit down, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth. But, I can’t talk with the cotton in my mouth. That’s good, because you don’t know what you are talking about, just sit there for 90 days and don’t talk or think. But, I think I am sober. No, you’re just not drinking, you don’t have quality sobriety. What, there is good sobriety and bad sobriety and now quality sobriety? Yes there is and you don’t have either or. You’re just a dry drunk. How can I be drunk if I’m sober? I told you that you’re not sober, you’re just not drinking. OK. F**K this bullshit, I think I’ll go the bar and have a few drinks.

Re-posted with permission from Lunatics Anonymous

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I’m so sorry that the blog has been neglected for a few days. I have been focused on some actual paying work, Speedy is writing his magnum opus, and MA is at the Home Depot. Plus I read the July issue of Grapevine cover to cover, and I’ve been incapacitated, wandering around with a thousand-yard stare, ever since.

I wanted to write about this issue, because it’s the “Prison Issue – Sobriety Behind Bars: Staying Sober on the Inside,” and that seemed very timely, considering some of the discussion we’ve been having around here lately. But, it shorted out my brain. Seriously: fzzzzt…pop.

It’s just so packed full of crazy, I don’t know where to start. I sit down to write, and I just sputter. If anything can prove to me for good and all that AA is designed to trigger brain death, this issue of Grapevine can. (more…)

My Short AA Experience

by Samuel Ross 

I’m twenty-five years old and I have been an alcoholic and a drug addict for about five years.  I say I have been rather than I am because I do not believe these addictions are a disease that anyone must live with for the entirety of their life, regardless of what Alcoholics Anonymous indoctrinates its followers with.  When I felt I had hit bottom about five weeks ago my initial plan of action for my recovery was to join the local AA group.  I did this with the most positive and open-minded intentions I could have had.

I made it very clear at the first meeting I attended that I was an agnostic would not do the God thing and I was told by other members not to worry about it and that the God thing is not necessary.  All that was required was that I had a desire to stop drinking.  I continued to attend twice a week, which is the amount of meetings held in this town each week, for about one month.  I was told by other members that my progress was going great and that I was doing the right things in my life.  I just felt I was living my life without my addictions and I was happy because I was doing more productive things and feeling great.  I was enjoying learning a new way of living my life. (more…)

I just followed a blog link that AnnaZed provided, which reprints a BBC article about a study by Dr. Keith Humphreys from Stanford, which says that,

Problem drinkers attending the faith-based Alcoholics Anonymous groups are 30% more likely than others to remain sober for at least two years, according to research published this month. The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found their treatment also costs 30% less than conventional cognitive behavioural therapy. According to lead researcher Dr Keith Humphreys, based at Stanford University, this is because it requires fewer hospital visits and admissions.

These articles always publish “findings” without offering any relevant details of the studies: who are the participants? Are they people who have been through treatment and have joined AA as an aftercare program? How were they selected? At what point in their recovery does this study start? Are these “problem drinkers” different from “real alcoholics” as AA defines them? Leaving us with these questions is standard as far as these studies go.

Next case.

So, as I was looking around for the answers, I stumbled into a regular column published in the New York Daily News, by Dr. Dave Moore and Bill Manville. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself reading their creepy, watered-down, lifeless imitation of “Click and Clack” for the evangelical 12-step crowd. Their forced banter is utterly impossible to follow, because it’s not a real conversation and it has the same agenda every time (“OK, you say this and then I’ll say that, so that we can fit this slogan in and make it seem natural…”). But I guess that if they weren’t pretending to dialog, the column would look exactly like what it is: run-of-the-mill, bald-faced proselytizing for AA.

They have new column out today called “Religion Isn’t for Everyone, But Spirituality Can Help in Recovery,” in which they pretend to be interested in some current events (Eliot Spitzer’s sex addiction). If you’re versed in AA coercion, the title of this article will be enough to fill you in on exactly where they are headed: AA is not religious, it’s spiritual, and here, let us help you skeptics define spirituality in a way that doesn’t freak you out. It could even just mean connecting with other people – that’s spiritual, isn’t it (yes, they actually trot out the old GOD = Group Of Drunks slogan)?

BILL: Anna David, author of “Bought,” a story of high-class Hollywood prostitution, tells me an addict “is someone who feels ‘I can’t stand what I’m experiencing right now and will do anything to change it no matter how terrible it makes me feel later.’ So recovery isn’t only about subtracting dope from your life,” she says, “but more important, learning to deal with your life so that you don’t ever feel the desperate need to get out of your skin or die.”

DR.DAVE: Which brings us to AA’s notion of spiritual values, doesn’t it? There are two 12-step programs I can recommend: Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous. Both put the same strong emphasis on spirituality as Alcoholics Anonymous.

BILL: Which — despite the great lip service accorded religion in everyday life — keeps many away from any 12-step program.

DR. DAVE: Don’t suddenly go shy on us, Bill. Didn’t you start out like that yourself?

Yeah, Bill, c’mon, tell us all about how a skeptic like you finally “got it.”

Their previous column is called “AA Alternatives: Do They Work?” The answer is “No.” In response to an “anxious wife” named Maude’s email to them, asking if there are viable options to AA for her alcoholic husband, Dr. Dave responds,

DR. DAVE: First of all, getting the facts right is critical. And a good place for Maude to start is the forthcoming September issue of Al-Anon Outreach Magazine. It will carry an article called, “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2010.“ It’s about the need to do more than just pay lip service to the fact that alcoholism is a family disease.

BILL: Maude needs facts, not just hope and hype if she wants to help her husband?

DR. DAVE. And help herself. For instance, she needs to know that alcohol does indeed relieve anxiety – so do Valium, Librium and the other anti-anxiety medications. Second, there are indeed treatment programs other than those that parallel the Minnesota Model 12-step philosophy.

BILL: I never thought I’d hear you recommend anything like that to our readers.

DR. DAVE: Bill, slow down. By offering an alternative idea, Maude sidesteps her husband’s denial, and opens the door to discussion.

BILL: Thus giving him a chance to compare different paths to recovery?

DR. DAVE: The 12-step “friendly” Minnesota Model helps the addict through remembering the pain of drinking; which is called covert sensitization. One popular alternative is called Chemical Aversion Treatment –

BILL: Which the ads call, “a Medical Procedure to overcome your cravings.”

DR.DAVE: Sounds great until you realize that the procedure is for you to drink alcohol, and then chemically induce vomiting. Every other day for ten days.

Did you get that? They promote acknowledging alternatives to AA as a bait-and-switch tactic, “By offering an alternative idea, Maude sidesteps her husband’s denial, and opens the door to discussion.” And Maude, armed with the “facts” she has culled from her Al-Anon magazine, will be prepared to lead this discussion straight into AA: “So, armed with these facts, Maude can help her husband see that these ten-day cures will not alleviate his basic ‘sense of impending doom.’”

What’s more, the only AA alternative they discuss here is some Chemical Aversion Treatment — which Dr. Dave calls “popular” — which requires you to vomit every other day. This is plain horseshit. They may as well say that one popular alternative to AA is to flap your arms and fly into the sun.

They have a limited space in which to completely invalidate any other recovery option, so they choose the most heinous of these, and still cannot make it sound worse than AA. Dr. Dave says, “the CAT program includes coming back for two-day follow-ups every six months the first year? That’s really something the addict can look forward to, isn’t it?” Yeah, two days out of every six months in the first year is so much more of an imposition, compared with 90 meetings in 90 days, regular meetings after that — for the rest of your life — relentless working of steps, service work, pairing up with some tough-loving, panty-sniffing whackjob of a sponsor, and no hope of recovery.

church1

Glenn Chesnut is a 12-step author. He gave speech to the Northern Indiana Counselors Association, which was later included in the book The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-believers. It gives great insight into how AA manipulates people into believing their dogma. This speech has everything from circular logic to bait and switch recruiting tactics, so I thought that it would be interesting to examine. I’ve taken selected parts of the text, but the full text of the speech is available here.

This is Part One of three parts that I will post here in our blog:

From Glenn Chesnut’s speech:

“…at least 95% of alcoholics are totally hostile to organized religion in all its forms. Many of them are outright atheists: “There is no God, and the whole notion is a piece of absurd superstition, a crutch for the weak and ignorant.” Others are agnostics: “Well, maybe there’s a God, but I dunno. I’ve heard arguments both ways.”

How does he come with the figure of 95%? He just pulls it out of thin air. He actually has his figures ass-backwards. Alcoholics are no different than people within the general population who have no drinking problem, and the majority of people (Americans, at least) believe in God – a full 92%.

“My first observation is that no one — absolutely no one — learns to work the twelve-step program well, who has not cut the umbilical cord connecting them with their childhood religious beliefs. As an adult, you cannot truly go back to your childhood religious beliefs. Some people, when they begin the twelve-step program, make the mistake of trying to get a better grasp of the spiritual dimension of the program by going to church services or synagogue services, or reading the bible, or something like that. At best, this is totally ineffectual but comparatively harmless. But a lot of people who try it this way end up going back out and going back to their addiction…”

“…a lot of people who try it this way end up going back out and going back to their addiction….”

This true. In fact, most will – just as most will go back to their addiction who work the steps, but he does not mention this. What he also does not mention is how this perception plays out in the world of AA. Those who do not work the steps and fail, are held up as examples of the consequences of not working the steps. Those who do work the steps and fail (the overwhelming majority) are ignored, or brushed off as though they don’t exist, or are explained away as not being “fully honest” or “giving entirely into the program”. (more…)

Bullshit Slogan of the Day:
Take What You Want and Leave The Rest

One of the tactics cults use is to bait a person in under false pretenses. Step 12 dictates that an AAer is obligated to recruit others into the fold, and in so doing they use tactics employed by such fine outfits as Amway or the Church of Scientology. One slogan one will hear over and over is “Take what you want and leave the rest”. It is often accompanied with the phrase “These are just suggestions“.

This slogan comes in handy to use on a new recruit, because to a newcomer who has not yet been beaten down by the dogma, the strange rituals and traditions are intimidating – particularly to someone who is either not religious, or who’s religious beliefs lends itself more to freewill than a hands-on god. Any objection to any aspect of the program will most likely be countered with this slogan. It is highly effective.

Once that person is safely in the fold, however, things begin to change. The pressure begins to build, and any questioning of the dogma is rebuked with other trite slogans, such as – “take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth” or “God gave you two ears and one mouth”. In other words shut the hell up and let us tell you how it works. Then other, contradictory slogans are used on the person in order to force the steps:

– Be “in” AA, not “around” AA
– It only works if you work it (the steps)
– You are not required to like it, you are only required to DO it.
– The first step only works if you work the other twelve.

The list goes on, and they are beaten into a newcomer relentlessly. It works, too. A newcomer who is attending 90 meetings in 90 days begins to get worn down by dogma, until the idea of “take what you want and leave the rest” is replaced with “Do the steps or die”. It is like thinking you are going on a golf weekend, only to walk away having just bought a timeshare. It sucks.

Bill Wilson wrote in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions that someone who simply quits drinking (step 1) and promotes AA (step 12) is “two stepping it”, and called it a two step illusion. He also wrote …we temporarily cease to grow because we feel satisfied that there is not need for all of AA’s Twelve Steps. In other words, the only way for growth is to do the steps. Other AAers take this and use it to pressure the very people who were told “take what you want, and leave the rest”.

There is a term for a person who does not work the steps: Dry Drunk. A person is not considered to really be in recovery unless they are working all of the program. This is taken from the AA Canada website. It explains what one should do to correct becoming a Dry Drunk:

“Go To Meetings. Those undergoing a dry drunk lead impoverished lives. They experience severe limitations to grow, to mature, and benefit from the possibilities that life offers. They lack the freshness and spontaneity that genuinely sober alcoholics manifest. Their life is a closed system, attitudes and behaviors are stereotyped, repetitive, and consequently predictable.”

It goes on:

“Needed is self-discipline in honesty, patience and responsibility towards the recovery process [and acceptance of their disease]. [To improve long term goals of sobriety be aware of mental stressors, get more involved in the recovery program, get active in the 12 steps, get and use a sponsor, talk things out.] Hopefully. they will begin to appreciate the ironic folly of those alcoholics who think life has suddenly become manageable again; whose sanity is beyond question; who see no need of turning their lives over to a power greater then them- selves; who find personal inventories unnecessary since they are seldom in the wrong and are no longer subject to the embarrassing need of repairing the wrongs they have done.”

This manipulation is but one example of the mind fuck that is AA. The newbie is told to take what they want from from the program, and that the steps are simply a suggestion. Then they are subjected to a tightening of the screws and told that if they do not work the steps, then they are not truly sober, that they are impovershed, living a “folly”. Amazing.