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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“Bill W was a modern day prophet sent to us from God.

I cant believe the terrible things that are said on this site.

Shame on you all.”

Murray, an AA, commenting on this blog

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…)

Imagine that!

Dr. Dave and Bill have another article up today.

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.

We are so glad to have you!  Since you have put so much careful time into deconstructing MA’s “Fun with the Wackos” post, we’re going to respond to you properly, here on the main page. It seems such a waste to bury your comments at the bottom of an old post. You’ve really given us a lot to chew on, and our work is definitely cut out for us! We’re game.

Just to be clear, we don’t argue with AAs, especially not in an attempt to change their minds about AA. It’s pointless to argue people out of their faith. However, we do feel duty-bound to offer up the facts for those who are questioning AA, in the process of deprogramming, and for people who are exploring alternative addiction recovery programs.

So, I’m going to start at the beginning, with your first comment:

What’s up, MA?

Glad we could be of service to you.

If you haven’t noticed, I am pro-AA. I do think there’s a difference between actually working the steps and just paying lip service to it. I can’t describe in words why that is other than… I’ve just seen the results in it and it’s helped people get back on their feet and get lives again. Some people are too lazy and are socialized in AA.

What’s so hard to believe about that? Oh, and tell me how AA works in affiliation with the courts? Does AA demand the judge to send potential alkies to AA or does AA put the finger on them to do so?

And, since you address the court connection again in a more recent comment, I’ll just add that in as well:

AA doesn’t have much to do with the sentencing of drunk drivers. In fact, they have absolutely nothing to do with it. The harder somebody tries to control the drunk, the worse they seem to fail.

Now, you kick off your fillibuster with a strawman “Oh, and tell me how AA works in affiliation with the courts? Does AA demand the judge to send potential alkies to AA or does AA put the finger on them to do so?” Do you know what a strawman is? It’s when you pretend someone said something they didn’t say, and then argue your point based on that pretend premise. This is a perfect example: we say “AA has an affiliation with the court system” and you turn that into a “AA demands the judge…”

If you’re trying to set the record straight about AA, then kicking off your argument with such intellectual dishonesty is no way to do that. Plus, it simply underscores our position that AA members employ gaslighting tactics, which may work very well for you in the rooms, but not so well among the reality-based population.

And yes, AA does actively pursue an affiliation with the court system. It’s called 12-Stepping, and you can read about it here, from the A.A. Guidelines: Cooperating with Court, D.W.I and Similar Programs, published by the G.S.O.

WHEN AND WHY A.A. BEGAN COOPERATING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
In 1942, members from San Francisco brought the first A.A. meeting into San Quentin Prison at the request of Warden Clinton T. Duffy. This example led to A.A.’s cooperation with court systems, including direct communication with judges and parole and probation officials. The sole purpose of this Twelfth Step work, then and now, was to carry A.A.’s message to the still-suffering alcoholic. To fulfill that purpose, A.A.s have learned how to share A.A. information within court systems.

Here’s more:

Many A.A. members are not aware that this kind of Twelfth Step work is available and that they can participate in it.
In some locales, this service is coordinated by the Committee on Cooperation with the Professional Community (C.P.C.). Often ongoing Twelfth Step work within the court system leads to a subcommittee connected to the district or central office/intergroup.

Once again, we welcome you and look forward to addressing your points.