Here is an interesting article from the New York Times about about belladonna and its use in treating alcohol addiction. Bill Wilson used it when he had his famous “white light experience”. For any AAs out there who are working those steps with rigorous honesty, and have still not had their spiritual awakening, you might consider tossing a bit of belladonna into the mix. That picture of Jesus or chia pet or pine tree or whatever you happen to be using as your higher power, is sure to come to life:

On the second or third day of his treatment, Mr. Wilson had his now famous spiritual awakening. Earlier that evening, Mr. Thacher had visited and tried to persuade Mr. Wilson to turn himself over to the care of a Christian deity who would liberate him from the ravages of alcohol. Hours later, depressed and delirious, Mr. Wilson cried out: “I’ll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let him show himself!” He then witnessed a blinding light and felt an ecstatic sense of freedom and peace. When Mr. Wilson told Dr. Silkworth about the event, the physician responded: “Something has happened to you I don’t understand. But you had better hang on to it.”

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“I have to say I had a few experiences that were VERY questionable, but the one that took the cake was taking a sponsee through a fifth step. She shared she was afraid to go back to meetings because she had shown up very drunk for a meeting, shared that she needed a safe ride home and was taken home by an “old timer” and fucked.

Months later, he sat on sex and dating panels at our young people’s conference. His friends knew what he was doing and never called him out. People nodded when he spoke in meetings and told him he was so insightful. And he was full of shit.

I’m now about 9 months into AA “deprogramming” and have completely flipped my life. Lost friends, new social scene, new habits – It’s shitty, but I’m finally being genuine. I can love myself, question what people tell me, and know that I never was an alcoholic.”

“Skye”, former AA and reader of this blog, commenting on an article about predators in AA

“… Here’s some further stats for you ~ those who claim AA doesn’t work, are typically boozers who don’t want to work the program, because like it or not, that program works if you work it…end of story.”

Live n Let Liv, AA, responding to a review of the book The Heart of Addiction by Lance Dodes

Among our regular readers of this blog is a fundamentalist Christian, John, with an interest in the heresy of AA and the 12-steps. He is a nice guy, and though he does not comment in the public forum, I have received regular correspondence from him since we started a little less than a year ago. I don’t doubt that after reading this blog for a year, he believes that we are headed toward eternal damnation, and after reading his blog, I feel he is off the charts, batshit crazy. That’s OK, because we still like each other, and we have an understanding – and though we agree on few things, we have a common disdain for Alcoholics Anonymous – albeit for different reasons. (more…)

Yesterday, one our readers wrote:

“As to “corporate AA”, I think it would be hard for me to care less than I do. I tried Amway about 15 years ago and ditched it when it became apparent that it wasn’t about selling soap; it’s about getting other people to sell soap for you. The analogy breaks down at that point because I don’t see a significant money trail in AA, but again, I don’t really care. The only money I’m expected to put into AA is the 50 cents in the piggy bank if I want a cup of coffee.

In my experience, AA meetings are a place where I can be with people who used to be desperately sad, hope-less drinkers who couldn’t stop their self-destructive behavior. And now we aren’t like that any more. And some poor schlub who is *now* where I was *then* might ask me how I got from there to here, and I can tell him.”

We appreciate the comment, and sincerity and thoughtfulness with which it was written. I wanted to highlight it, because I know that Amway has been compared to a cult, much like with AA. Cult expert Steve Hassan does not have Amway categorized as a cult (nor does he label AA a cult), but he does believe there are disturbing practices, and he shows how it fits into his BITE model. Like AA, it doesn’t meet all of the criteria, but it does meet most. Read through Hassan’s description of Amway, and see if you find any similarities.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Amway to AA, and in the process I found this analysis of Amway as a cult, written by a former Amway distributor. This person uses the criteria of a destructive cult, set by Robert Lifton. It is plain scary how similar the groups are to one another. Below I’ve taken some relevant parts of this analysis to compare to the AA experience: (more…)

“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.”

– Tania Glyde, author of the book Cleaning Up: How I Gave Up Drinking and Lived, from this piece in The Independent.


One of our readers e-mailed us this link from debate.org of a couple of people debating whether or not AA is a cult. It was interesting, and included most of the points that have been discussed here ad nauseum. Of course, it was slightly different in tone, as neither person spewed any racial slurs or aphorisms.