Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXII

Date: Tue, July 7, 2009 3:57 pm     (answered 17 July 2009)
From: "Eric B."
Subject: Another letter

Orange — I think your site is fascinating. Lots of great information.

I think you do a great service by raising many of the issues you do. In my own case, I could not stop drinking and stay quit. I finally became desperate enough actually to take the 12 steps as described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I acknowledge that in some groups the behavior you describe occurs (behavior not suggested in the Big Book). But the group I attended and where I found someone who had himself *actually taken the steps* did not and does not fall under your description. I met with my "guide" once a week and in 10 weeks (slow, I know) I reached step 10 and experienced what I can only describe as a spiritual awakening. I was not under the influence of belladonna or any other drug. The experience was in part, the sudden certain realization that the obsession that I had had for alcohol was gone. Now I had had this obsession for so many years I could not remember not having it. Attending AA meetings did not remove it. Trying to manage my anger did not remove it. Staying out of slippery places did not remove it. But taking the 12 steps as suggested in the AA Big Book did in fact remove it. The sudden absence of that obsession was quite an experience indeed. This occurred in the Fall of 1995 and I have been a free man ever since.

It occurs to me that perhaps you never really had this obsession from which I suffered. There are many people who simply drink too much and have difficulty quitting. But that is quite different from the alcoholic of my type.

Today, I have a relationship with the Creator which I am convinced has freed me from this terrible obsession. I never have to attend an AA meeting for the rest of my life if I don't care to. Meetings don't keep me sober and that is not what their purpose is. The purpose is simply so that an alcoholic, desperately in need, can hear me say — "look, I tried everything, but taking these steps as described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous worked for me. If you would like to try them yourself and would like some help doing so, you got it, and if you don't that's your decision."

Many people have taken me up on that offer. Some quit half way through, some are unwilling to follow the directions in the book, some decide to try another route, and some, like I was, are desperate enough to follow the directions and have been freed from their obsession. These are facts from my own experience.

All is imperfect and AA is no exception. But how can you argue with, or I deny, the fact that I am a free man today as the result of taking the 12 steps? I enjoy a full and useful life today and all I have to do is "maintain a certain simple attitude".

Thank you for the wealth of historical information you have gathered. It really is interesting.


Hi Eric,

Thanks for an interesting letter.

A key sentence in your letter is, "It occurs to me that perhaps you never really had this obsession from which I suffered."

Well, you know, it is impossible to really answer that because I can't look inside of your head and see what you were thinking. Nor can you look into my head. About all we can do is compare experiences.

What you call an obsession, I might call "living to drink, and drinking to live." Or even, "habitually drinking to die."

I did go through a sudden transformation, but I don't call it a "spiritual experience". I was so sick, and in so much pain, from both alcohol and tobacco, and so depressed that I figured that trying to quit drinking and smoking was pretty pointless because I would just backslide again, as usual, so I had resigned myself to death. I planned, "Just stay stoned and kill the pain until the bitter end comes."

And then, oddly enough, when a doctor gave me the news and a grim choice, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one.", I chose to live. It took me a month of thinking it over, and drinking on it, and thinking some more, but I decided to live. Suddenly, it wasn't a question of succeeding. I was going to do it, period.

And I did. That was 8 1/2 years ago, and I haven't had a sip of alcohol, or a puff of tobacco, or a hit of dope since. And it has been surprisingly easy to maintain sobriety, and to stay off of tobacco and drugs too.

Now I don't call that sudden change a spiritual experience, but it certainly was a major change in my mind-set, a sudden revolutionary change in my life-style. And I have no real explanation for how I could go through such a big change so suddenly, especially when I had already decided (I thought) that the situation was hopeless.

I can easily see how, if someone were praying for help when he made such a change, he could easily give the credit for the event to Divine Help, and call it a spiritual experience or a miracle.

Obviously, we have the ability to change ourselves, within us. We have great inner resources that we can draw upon to do great things, although we seldom do.

Now I'd like to learn more about how to use those inner resources and powers that we all have.

In my case, apparently, having a doctor tell me that I'm going to die is a major motivating factor, something that gets me to make changes. That's understandable.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A belief is not true because it is useful.
**        ==  Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821—1881)

[The next letter in this chain is here.

Date: Tue, July 7, 2009 7:54 pm     (answered 17 July 2009)
From: speedy
Subject: stinkin' thinkin' blog post


don't want to turn this missive into an all-out bit of sycophantic blubbering. still, i would be honored if you took the time to review & lend your thoughts to my blog post:

http://donewithaa.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/ a-modest-proposal-12-rights-for-new-comers-to-aa12-step/

your strength, clarity, perseverance, intellectual fortitude, & joy for life come through in your work. and word is getting out.

all the best,


Hi Speedy,

That's good. And you know those 12 Rights are going to go over like a lead balloon at the A.A. headquarters. Those rights will totally undermine the procedures for making newcomers powerless and dependent on the cult, and guilt-ridden and confused and fearful...

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    As long as men are free to ask what they must — free to say what
**    they think — free to think what they will — freedom can never
**    be lost and science can never regress.
**        == J. Robert Oppenheimer

Date: Wed, July 8, 2009 1:31 pm     (answered 17 July 2009)
From: "Dick B." (A different "Dick B.", not the famous A.A. historian in Hawaii.)
Subject: Still Drinking?

Sounds like you have been drinking when you wrote the "12 secrets." Nice work.

Hi Dick,

You know, that is getting to be such a lame old over-used A.A. put-down. Whenever somebody says something that a Stepper doesn't like, he or she accuses the speaker of drinking, or of "thinking alcoholically", or of being a "dry drunk".

Why don't you at least think up a new line to use to denounce people who tell truths that you don't wish to hear?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Most ignorance is vincible ignorance:
**     we don't know because we don't want to know.
**         == Aldous Huxley
**     (Nothing is so ignorant as the ignorance of certainty.)

Date: 13.07.2009 13:23     (answered 17 July 2009)
Subject: About AA's failure rate
Sender: Parrish S. K.

Hi, again:

Wanted to float something past you that occurred to me regarding AA's terrible failure rate. Apart from everything else that's wrong with the AA approach, do you think it could have anything to do with the fact that meeting attendees are constantly sitting around talking about drinking? Granted, they're talking mostly about the bad parts of it, but even so, I can't help but wonder whether, if you spend so much time talking about drinking, it might simply serve to keep booze at the front of your mind. Kind of like the old joke, "I'll give you fifty bucks if you're not thinking of pink rats ten seconds from now."

I'm not an expert on psychology, but it seems to me that an important part of getting over something is mentally "putting it into your past", which means more than just that it was x months or y years ago, but that you really feel that it's no longer /with/ you, that your attention is moving on to other matters. Kicking booze means moving /away/ from the bottle, but perhaps for it to really work, you also have to have something to move /toward/. Constantly talking about drinking, which is what AA meetings are all about, simply shifts the alcohol into another frame of reference rather than attempting to actually expel it from the psyche. Rather than letting you mentally put alcohol into your past, it keeps alcohol in your present, even if you're not actually drinking. (Sorry if this is a little vague... as I said, psychology is a weak point for me, and I'm still sorting thru the idea myself and don't have a firm grasp on it yet.)

Hope everything is going well... TTYL, P

Hi again Parrish,

Yes, so true. I've personally experienced A.A. meetings making me want to drink, and N.A. meetings make me want to get high on drugs. And several people have written to me and said the same thing. We were just talking about that in a recent letter, here.

It's true that "proper" A.A. drunkalogues are supposed to stress the pain and misery of drinking, and moan and groan about how drinking was never any fun, but somehow the old Lizard Brain Addiction Monster manages to see through that sham. He ignores the memories of pain, and just recalls the pleasure of getting high. So the longer I hear people talking about drinking, the stronger the desire grows.

Isn't it funny that A.A. meetings have just the opposite effect of what they are supposed to do? No wonder A.A. yields such bad results.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   People who insist on drinking before driving,
**      are putting the quart before the hearse.
**        ==  G. K. Chesterton

Date: Fri, May 8, 2009 1:51 pm     (answered 18 July 2009)
From: "Erik L."

What do you make of the attached sobriety statistics from an AA group in Nebraska?



Size: 205 k
Type: application/vnd.ms-excel

Hi Eric,

Thank you very much for a good question and a bunch of numbers to chew on.

As presented, those numbers are problematic. They are a prime example of the propaganda trick called "The Semi-Attached Figure". It's like a TV commercial where someone says, "Our household cleaner kills 30% more germs on contact." Thirty percent more than what?

That spreadsheet also illustrates the propaganda trick of "Observational Selection" — "counting the hits, and forgetting the misses."

They say in the footnotes of the spreadsheet that they are presenting these numbers to show that "The Program" works, but those numbers don't prove any such thing.

In that spreadsheet, they give the numbers of people who are celebrating anniversaries, but they do not tell us the number of failures — the people who didn't get sober. We see that the Foxhall Group is a large group in Omaha, Nebraska, and they have roughly 350 to 400 people celebrating sobriety anniversaries each year. But they don't tell us what the total membership is. The percentage of members who are staying sober is the single most important number that they could show with that spreadsheet, and that's the number that they left out.

The number of newcomers is given over on the right-hand side of the middle section of the spreadsheet. As they explain in the footnotes, a newcomer will stand and introduce himself in his first 30 days, and then again at his 3- and 6-month points. Unfortunately, they lumped the 3-month and 6-month counts together, which, as they admit, distorts any grand total. It also hides the relapse and dropout rate. We cannot clearly see how few are left at the six-month point.

Something else that isn't clear is just when the newcomers stand and introduce themselves for the first time. Is it at their very first meeting, or after a couple of weeks? That makes a big difference, because many newcomers only come to a couple of meetings, and are so put off by the slogans and religiosity that they don't come back again. If the newcomers stand up and introduce themselves and get counted at any other time than their very first meeting, then not all of the "quick quitters" are getting counted. So just how many newcomers get counted, and what the dropout rate will appear to be, depends a lot on when they get counted.

Still, we can clearly see a very significant dropout rate there. To figure out how many people are left at the three and six-month points, the simplest thing to do there is just divide the given numbers by two and assign half of the total to each of the three-month and six-month counts. That is probably off by a lot, because many people will drop out between three months and six months, so the 3-month count should be a lot higher than the 6-month count. Maybe something like two-thirds or three-quarters of the count should go to the 3-month count, and the small remainder to the 6-month count. But perhaps we can fudge our way into some accuracy.

Let's look at November of 2008, the last month for which we have numbers. They state that the weekly average of newcomers for November — the "less than 30 days" count — was 7.0. Then the count of people with 3 or 6 months of sobriety was 2.3. Divide that in half, and we get 1.15 for the number of people still there at the 3-month and 6-month points. That yields an attrition rate of 84.6% for the first 3 months, and zero for the 3-to-6-month period.

Now obviously that is a little off. Most of the dropouts or relapses happen in the first three months, and fewer in the second three months, but the second number isn't zero. Let's try fudging in two-thirds and one-third. That is, assume that the count of newcomers remaining sober at the 3-month point is two-thirds of the total that they gave us, and the count of newcomers remaining sober at the 6-month point is one-third of the given total. That gives us 1.58 newcomers per week with 3 months of sobriety in November, and 0.759 newcomers left sober at 6 months. That is an attrition rate of 77% in the first three months, and 50% during the second three months, for a grand total dropout/relapse rate of 89.2% for the first six months. That looks about right. That is believable. And that is within four percent of the previous numbers that we had that said that 93% of the newcomers dropped out by the six-month point.

Ah, but there is one slight hole in this logic: In any single month, the people listed as newcomers with less than 30 days aren't the same people as the ones standing up and announcing that they have 3 months or six months of sobriety. Those later people are the newcomers appearing 3 or 6 months earlier in the chart, and the numbers are slightly different from month to month. So the best approach is to just use the annual averages, and let the averages smooth out the monthly variations.

Since the numbers for the month of December are missing from the data for 2008, we cannot know for sure how they "annualized" the average for 2008. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they managed to do it right.

They say that for 2008, the average weekly number of newcomers was 10.1, and the weekly number of people boasting of 3 or 6 months of sobriety was 2.7. Using the same methods as before, we divide the number of success stories into 1.782 with 3 months of sobriety, and 0.891 with 6 months of sobriety. That yields an 82.4% dropout rate in 3 months, and 91.2% dropout rate at the 6 months point. Those are essentially the same numbers as we were getting in the previous calculations.

Then we can do the previous year, 2007. There, they had an average of 8.1 newcomers per week for the whole year, and an average total of 2.3 remaining for the 3- and 6-month counts. Using the same method of calculation, we get 1.518 newcomers per week left at three months, and 0.759 of a person left at 6 months. That's a dropout/relapse rate of 81% for the first three months, and an average cumulative dropout/relapse rate of 91% for the first 6 months.

Again, those numbers are almost exactly the same was what we got from all of the previous calculations.

That means that they had 421 newcomers in 2007, and only 37 of them got 6 months of sobriety in A.A.
(That 421 is easy to calculate: They had an average of 8.1 newcomers per week, times 52 weeks per year, which yields 421.2 newcomers per year. Then 9% of 421 is 37.)

And we have no exact way of seeing how many of those few survivors managed to hang on by their fingernails and get to a whole year of sobriety, but we can get a very good hint:
The chart for 2007 shows that they had 96 people with "1 to 5 Years" of sobriety.
(Look at the "Grand Total" at the bottom of the middle section.)
The chart for 2008 shows that they had 106 people with "1 to 5 Years" of sobriety.
That is an increase of 10.
So they had 10 more people with one to five years of sobriety than they had the year before.
10 out of 421 newcomers.
(Oh, they may have gotten a few more 1-year successes than that, who are masked by some other A.A. members who had between one and five years of sobriety, and then relapsed. But the total sobriety didn't go up by much.)

Ten success stories out of 421 newcomers is a success rate of less than two and a half percent. Specifically, it is 2 and 3/8 percent: 2.375%. That is far below the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholism.

That is also exactly what Bill Wilson reported from his and Dr. Bob's recruiting efforts back in Akron, Ohio, 70 years ago:

"You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait."
Bill Wilson describing early recruiting efforts for Alcoholics Anonymous, at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

Seventy years, and nothing has changed.

That 10 per year number for remaining newcomers is the regular pattern, rather than the exception. When we look at the other time spans, we see 56 or 49 members (in 2007 and 2008) in the range of 6 to 10 years, which is a 5-year span, so they have roughly 10 members with each of those years. Likewise, they have roughly 100 for the next 10-year span: 101 or 93 (again, in 2007 and 2008) with 11 to 19 years. And they have 99 in the next 10-year range — from 20 to 29 years. They have been picking up only about 10 new long-term members per year for a long time. They have twice that many new members in the first column, the 1 to 5 years span, but half of them relapse or drop out before they get 6 years.

And at the same time, while they were picking up 10 new members in the 2007 to 2008 time span, the total number of people with 6 to 10 years of sobriety dropped from 56 in 2007 to 49 in 2008. So it wasn't a matter of all of the people with 5 years graduating to the next category of "6 to 10 years sober".

And the number of people with 11 to 19 years also dropped from 101 to 93 from 2007 to 2008.
The number of people with 20 to 29 years of sobriety stayed flat, with 99 for both years.
And the count of people with 30+ years increased by only one.
So it isn't like their members were staying sober and all shifting into the higher-numbered categories.

No, from 2007 to 2008, they processed in 421 new people, and they ended up with 4 fewer sober people to show for all of their efforts — 4 fewer sober people after all of the meetings and prayers and recruiting and sponsorship and talk about God and resentments and powerlessness and surrender and Big Book study and Working The Steps...

Well, those numbers do not prove that "The Program" works. They prove that "The Program" fails to sober up the vast majority of the newcomer alcoholics, and "The Program" isn't doing a very good job of keeping the other alcoholics sober, either.

What those numbers show us — especially those rows of numbers across the tops of the spreadsheets for 2007 and 2008 — is that they have a big club in Omaha where they have a bunch of old people who are happy with the routine, and who keep coming back year after year, and they are steadily getting older and older, and getting more and more years of seniority, but "The Program" benefits few other people.

Actually, their club has a serious problem with aging: If we are to believe their numbers, 27% of the membership now has over 20 years in A.A. It's a dinosaur clubhouse, and they aren't retaining many newcomers. Consequently, the average age of the members, and the average sobriety time of the members, will keep going up until the average member is in the grave.

Oh, and guess what we haven't even mentioned: dishonesty. We — both us and the Omaha group — have been assuming that everybody is telling the truth when they declare that they have months or years — many years — of uninterrupted sobriety. I'm not even going to try to guess how many of them are really just "faking it until they make it".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have
**     carefully considered what they do not say.
**         ==  William W. Watt
**     (Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.)

Date: 12.07.2009 02:51     (answered 19 July 2009)
Subject: narcissistic abuse
Sender: Lewis S.

Hey orange,how are you?

I came across your site doing google search for narcissistic personality disorder and emotional trauma. Kind of ironic if u believe in irony, I personally dont. Anyways I just wanted to ask you have you seen the similarities in what goes on at AA meetings as compared to what goes on in abusive narcissistic families... I personally became involved with AA when I developed a drinking problem. I was using alcohol to ease the pain I was suffering as a result of being in a toxic relationship with a narcissistic woman... Anyways, I decided I'd had enough and just quit. About one week before I quit I was involved in a boiler explosion at work and suffered what I thought was a nervous breakdown, I made it to my doctor and was told correctly that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and that I should stop drinking so that he could get me on some anxiety meds... So i did... Now I never bought any of that AA crap, but come from a family did, so Guess what they tell me after I've already quit drinking for a month and was being treated by a doctor and a psychyitrist and a support group for trauma victims? They start telling me that I am an alcoholic who is on a dry drunk. I argue back that I am a trauma victim, not an alcoholic. Well I decided to check it out. Maybe they knew something I didnt. Yah, I drank the koolaid...

Anyways, I got really involved with these assholes. They really seduce you at first, just like someone with narcissistic personality disorder does when they are looking for their supply. But then as the relationship progresses, the constant devaluing begins, as you are only there to give them what they need. Then ultimately, the victim is depleted and discarded.

My experience with AA was so similar to narcissistic abuse, in my eyes anyways, the resemblance is uncanny.

Anyways, I also wanted to say thank you. Your site and the letters you post have been very helpful. Unfortunately I returned to drinking to ease the pain of my recent separation from my wife. But I will never again turn to aa.

Hello Lewis,

Thanks for the letter. I hope you are feeling a little better now.

I have at times noticed the narcissistic aspects of A.A., and assumed that it was the lingering "Bill Wilson effect". That is, Bill Wilson was an outrageous narcissist, and A.A. was essentially heavily contaminated with narcissistic behavior, right from the very beginning. In spite of all of the slogans about "We Have No Leaders", A.A. was always a cult of personality — Bill Wilson's personality.

And now I hear that a whole new crop of narcissists have taken Bill's place.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Date: 12.07.2009 05:31     (answered 19 July 2009)
Subject: more of my story
Sender: Lewis

hey orange,

sorry for the acting like I know you...
Its just that after studying your website and reading the letters that you post and hearing the way you try to rationalise with people, even with the irrational assholes who bash you... I cant help but feel some connection..

As u can tell I am pretty computer illiterate,
i dont even know how to see if u recieve this.
I am however an intelligent, rational man.
I dont however, spell or use proper grammer very well.
I probably should have sent this letter first.
I am a christian who does not go to any church or belong to any religion.
I just never read any where that Jesus asked us to do so.
Try explaining that to some Jesus freak religious maniac.

Thats how I view Dr Bob, by the way.
But Bill, he was a whole other story.
I hear U when u say that that man suffered from npd, people should educate themselves.
That bullshit is all around us. Anyways, im drunk and not making much sense..
I do however hold a lot of info in my
higher brain that could be helpful to somebody else who might be able to use it.
If u can catch ne sober some time id be happy to discuss it.
My cell number is xxx xxx xxxx.

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the letter. Don't worry, grammar and spelling and computer literacy are not all there is to life.

Have a good day.

== Orange

Date: 13.07.2009 05:26     (answered 19 July 2009)
Sender: Lewis S.

hey orange,

one other thing i wanted to point out... Just something i learned by observing some of these assholes. Its actually what got me off the koolaid and convinced me that what i was doing was pure evil.

These guys that i was running around with were systematic dude. Its a cult of personality... There's usually, in any given area, one or two strong speakers, they draw people in like flies, anyways there's a certain type of guy who wants what they have... It's like being a rockstar or something... So these guys start hanging around the speaker, get sponsored, start learning, going to the same meetings, hear the same story a hundred times... Pretty soon their story becomes one with the sponsor. Next thing u know u got 20 guys with the same story taking over meetings...

Here's how they do it... They show up at an unsuspecting open meeting. They wait their turn. Then one of the cult brings up a topic. Then another jumps in and tells his fuckin tale. Then they start calling on each other... works every time...

After the meeting they're all taking numbers... like rockstars signing autographs... most of them young pretty girls... easy prey.

well like i said, just one topic... i've got plenty more... this shit is sick...

ps, ask me sometime what happened when i confronted these mindless clowns about bringing up a topic on faith and works... and then turning their backs to the wall during the Lords Prayer. U see the hypocracy dont u? They can preach with authority about Bible topics and then deny the true God of the Bible... Fuck that... God's pissed about that...

this i know. I would rather die a drunkard saved through Christ than a fool any day.

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the letter. It's interesting to see how they work the system, and manipulate it for their own ends. Ah yes, cults! Aren't they wonderful?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Idealists ... foolish enough to throw caution to the winds ...
**     have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.
**         ==  Emma Goldman

Date: 12.07.2009 19:46     (answered 19 July 2009)
Subject: BRILLIANT !
Sender: Michael_G.

Hi There

I left AA 6 years ago and it took A LOT OF WORK to undo the damage that AA caused me... Your website is just incredible — so well written and I love the methodical de-construction of the spiritual & disease arguments....

I spent 7.5 years in AA and left when my ex-girlfriend and best AA friend started hooking up. I had gotten healthier and was seeing more and more dysfunctional sickness in "the rooms". Initially I had heard third-hand how I was out getting blind smashed all the time. I guess God forgot to mention to them that I was actively retraining myself to drink moderately — but that's another story!

I'd love the opportunity to tell my story of "RECOVERY FROM AA" one day — perhaps I could send you my story?

Anyway, Thanks again for such a great read !

Michael (Moderate drinker and Ex-AA cult member !!)

Please consider our environment before printing this email.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for all of the compliments, and yes, I'd love to hear your story.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     As life is passion and action, it is required of man that he should
**     share in the action and passion of his time, at peril of being judged
**     not to have lived.
**       ==  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Date: 12.07.2009 19:08     (answered 19 July 2009)
Subject: I am still waiting Mr Orange
Sender: Tom H.

If I realistically thought what you claim about AA killing people I would be assisting you full-time. I have been reading and writing about your site for many years and I still have not seen any verifiable medical doctors or psychologists agree with your views. And yes, I have read every letter you have and your entire site. There is also not one verifiable minister or Pastor that has endorsed your writings. You enjoy arguing and debating. You feel you are "saving' people from the damage from AA. Stick to one point and don't start yet another debate on the constitutionality of our court systems and forced treatment.

As I have stated before.....

You love to hear yourself talk.


PS And as you know well, I HATED Alcoholics Anonymous

Hi again, Tom,

Still waiting? Waiting for what?

As far as verifiable doctors or reports, did you bother to read any of the reports that I listed in the file The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment?

Is Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant of Harvard University not verifiable? (Prof. Vaillant, who also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., for many years.) Try reading his book, The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery (Harvard Press, 1983). Especially look at pages 283 to 288.

Or, if you can't find that one, get the sequel, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995), and look at pages 349 to 354.

Most of Dr. Vaillant's writings are, in one way or another, advertisements for A.A., or justifications of A.A., or apologies for A.A., or some attempt to promote Alcoholics Anonymous. While working at Cambridge Hospital, Dr. Vaillant was trying to make A.A. look good, and prove that it worked, but the results of 8 years of A.A.-based treatment of alcoholics were a zero-percent improvement in their sobriety, coupled with an "appalling" death rate — the highest death rate of any way of treating alcoholism that Vaillant studied.

While trying to prove that A.A. works, Dr. Vaillant accidentally proved that A.A. kills.

And then there is Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma, who also wrote a book about his experiences in treating alcoholics: Outpatient Treatment of Alcoholism; A Review and Comparative Study, Jeffrey Brandsma, Ph.D., Maxie Maultsby, Jr., M.D., and Richard J. Welsh, M.S.W.
University Park Press, Baltimore, MD., 1980.

In a controlled study, those doctors found that A.A. involvement increased the alcoholics' rate of binge drinking by five times. The A.A. members were doing five times as much binge drinking as other alcoholics who got no treatment or "help" at all, and the A.A. members were doing nine times as much binge drinking as other alcoholics who got Rational Behavioral Therapy. Binge drinking kills alcoholics, too.

And then there was Dr. Diana C. Walsh, who tested G.E. employees, and found that "free" A.A. involvement messed up a lot of alcoholics and made them require longer and more expensive hospitalization later on. Being that sick kills alcoholics too.

Dr. Walsh published her report in the New England Journal of Medicine, so it's verifiable:
The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 325, pages 775-782, September 12, 1991

As far as ministers or preachers go, yes, they are noticeably absent from the debate about Alcoholics Anonymous morality and heresy, aren't they? Moral cowardice?

About: "Stick to one point and don't start yet another debate on the constitutionality of our court systems and forced treatment."

I'm not about to ignore that issue. "Sticking to one point" would be foolish, when there are so many things wrong with A.A. and mandatory A.A. and A.A.-based "treatment".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Care more for the individual patient than for the special
**    features of the disease.
**        ==  Sir William Osler

Date: 13.07.2009 10:41     (answered 19 July 2009)
Subject: WH0 ARE Y0U
Sender: Dave H.

Mr. orange,

I have an open mind, and found some of your writings interesting... but our small fellowship does not... rape young girls... force you into labor, or do some of the things that you so eloquently point out. Everyone has free will and is welcome to stay or go as they please. the program has help many people i know stay sober 1, 5, 10, 20, years and more, and to that i say Hurrah! What ever works, to each their own. ..I find your bias as rabid as the Hardcore AA'ers... my main question is who are you and what are your credentials why do you hide behind A. orange?


Hi Dave,

I hate to disillusion you, but yes, your "small fellowship" is doing all of those horrible things.

Last year, there was a big flap over the sexual abuse of under-age girls in Mike Q.'s "Midtown Group" in Washington, D.C. The story was repeatedly verified and reported by NBC4 News in Washington, DC, and Newsweek magazine, as well as other local and national newspapers and magazines.

Even worse, when people complained about Mike Q.'s Midtown Group's criminal behavior to the Alcoholics Anonymous leadership in New York City, they refused to do anything about it, copping out with the excuse that "every group is independent". So you can set up any kind of criminal enterprise you wish and call it "Alcoholics Anonymous", just as long as you insist that you desire to quit drinking while you commit your favorite crimes.

And in reponse to that story, I received many more reports of sexual exploitation in A.A. all around the country: Phoenix, and California, and Miami, and Minneapolis, and Bainbridge Island, Washington.

And yes, I have received numerous letters about the rest of it, like sponsors using sponsees as cheap labor. And many newcomers are not free to leave — especially not those who have been sentenced to A.A. meetings, or to an A.A.-based treatment program, or to an A.A.-based halfway house.

Your assumption that A.A. has made some people stay sober for many years is just that — an assumption. There is zero evidence that A.A. increases sobriety. A.A. has flunked every valid test that it was ever put to.

Just because some people quit drinking and then go to A.A. meetings does not indicate that A.A. made them quit drinking, or that A.A. keeps them sober. Even when people quit drinking after going to some A.A. meetings, that doesn't prove that A.A. made them quit drinking.

It's just like how girls get pregnant after going to church for years, so going to church must have made the girls get pregnant, right?

And as usual, you claim the sober A.A. members as A.A. success stories, but you were silent about all of the failures, the dropouts, and the chronic relapsers. Why don't you talk about how many hundreds or thousands of people you have seen not kept sober by A.A.?

I am not "hiding behind A. Orange". My birth name is Terrance Hodgins and I live in Portland, Oregon. You can read the usual autobiographical information here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.
**        == Francis Bacon (1561—1626)

Date: 14.07.2009 17:41     (answered 19 July 2009)
Sender: Heather R.
Subject: former member in Georgia

First of all, I want to thank you for your efforts. I have been struggling with this program since I entered in as a young adult. I met my former partner through the "fellowship". It was enough to keep me hanging around for over 6 years. After a relocation, I drifted away from everything. I left my partner and unfortunately due to outside stressors and other things (namely adverse prescriptions for anxiety) I had a minor slip. I feel because of the doomed nature I was taught within the rooms, I went on a more extravagant bender than I would had I never been a member of organization such as this.

Well, let me say that is only part of the story. After having regained my footing, I entered back into the rooms in which I first came. This time as the walking failure, the one that did not truly follow the path. The program could not fail, only I could. For several months of scrutiny, bad mouthing, absolute lying of the members — I fell victim to group think and headed out to prove these people right. I might as well enjoy myself as people scrutinized my "false" behaviors. I guess if people say the same thing over and over again, then it becomes truth.

Well, a light bulb went off during this time. I began researching "group think" and cult behavior. Your site had shed the perspective of what my instincts had been telling me all along. Something isn't right here. That is when I really started experimenting with my "fellowship" friends. I quickly was able to decipher those who were entrenched in the cult and those that were slightly tolerant of some "free will".

I probably don't have to tell you that the tolerance was at a small percentage. While my so-called "friends" fell off the planet, I was doomed for utter FAILURE because this time around I REFUSED to drink the kool aid disguised as coffee. And, so much for a program that boasts "patience and tolerance".

The beauty of researching the flip side of this program and trusting my gut instincts is this:

  • I have gained my freedom of thought back.
  • I actually have developed a spiritual life — it just doesn't revolve a weekly testimonial!
  • I have been able to identify my true "friends" who are able to accept my decisions and go about their life as they want in the program.

We are all unique and priceless human beings. Some may agree or disagree, but I applaud those like yourself who are willing to take a bold approach to make sure everyone is educated before getting involved in anything.

There are so many of us that fail to do research on the things we involve ourselves. Before we know it, there are consequences that affect our lives forever. The confusion, the exploitation and the pain I had to go through to be "well" was at a great price. The next time I will be certain to research all angles before diving into anything, be it social, political, spiritual and educational. That is what our free will is about — so we can make the right decision for our unique needs.

Perhaps there is a parallel to this forward (picture below) I received today: As a program based on attraction rather than promotion. The government is doing for AA what they could not do for themselves — and most of the members believe it's their "patient and tolerance" attraction that is making it work! Regardless of any type of political views, I am very pleased to be able to share a free thought with you this evening.

Thanks for your work and perspective.

I like my reclaimed self will run riot — I tend to be a lot more open to new ideas!

Hi Heather,

Thanks for all of the compliments. And congratulations on your newfound freedom.

I have to comment about this line: "There are so many of us that fail to do research on the things we involve ourselves."

Really, welcome to the club. I didn't do much research back then, either. I got loosely involved with a bunch of cults back in the sixties and early seventies. At the time, we thought that they were all just neat new-age philosophies, or Eastern Perenial Philosophy. We had no idea that the "gurus" coming over from the Far East, and the "geniuses" coming out of the woodwork in the USA, were actually con men and frauds who would set up cults and rob and exploit a lot of people. Even the word "cult" was not in such common use then. We thought they were just "different" religions.

It took a lot of years before it became painfully obvious just how many of those so-called "teachers" were fakes, phonies and thieves. And it took many more years for even a lot of the good ones to fail, succumb to temptation, and be defeated by lust for power and sex.

I was lucky in that I'm just sort of skeptical and independent, and a little distrustful too, and not really "the joiner type", so I never got all of the way into any of them. Little did I know what I was avoiding. All that I knew was that it didn't quite feel right, or some of it didn't make sense, or some of it was stuff that I just couldn't agree with, so I walked on down the road.

If I have any advantage over you, it is just that I started my involvement with cults a lot earlier, like 40 years ago, so I've had time to learn just what a cult is and what those bozos are doing. And I've had enough time to watch a bunch of them go through their whole life cycle from birth to death.

So this time around, when I saw A.A. and N.A., it quickly became obvious that this was just another cult:

  • We have the special magic that nobody else has.
  • Our magical solution always works (if you work it right).
  • We are special people. But we are also really bad.
  • We are really lucky to belong to this special group.
  • Throw your thinking mind in the trash can and just believe. Get rid of all doubts.
  • Don't criticize the group's teachings. They are all correct, and you don't know anything.
  • Isn't it all so wonderful?
  • You must spend more time with the group.

So it goes.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Hush, little bright line, don't you cry.
**     You'll be a cliché by and by.
**        ==  Fred Allen

Date: 11.07.2009 15:26     (answered 20 July 2009)
Subject: Hello
Sender: "George"

Dear Mr Orange,

Greetings from England! As you may guess things are no better over here. It's either our way or the highway. These so-called caring folk turn their back on you at the drop of a hat if you care to question or have an opinion of your own. I'm grateful for the help I've had from those who genuinely care but they are few and far between.

I can no longer bear to sit in meetings and listen to the same old bullshit over and over and over again. You are spot on when you talk about saying "I'm XXXXX and I'm an alcoholic"; it is indeed a self-fulfilling prophecy. I may well say I'm an airline-pilot, racist or astronaut, and one day I'll surely believe it's true. I also have a big problem with all the hugging and blaming everything on the illness.

I'm not popular when I suggest that those that marry and have kids in AA are downright irresponsible if it is indeed an hereditary illness as they claim.

I've grown in the last 9 years, I've moved on and I'm happy today and I wish the same to you.

Thanks for taking the time to offer another point of view.

Regards, George.
(Please call me George or Barack or whatever if you print this.)

Hi George,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And congratulations on your growth and liberation.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The principles of Washington's farewell address are still sources
**     of wisdom when cures for social ills are sought. The methods of
**     Washingtons's physicians, however, are no longer studied.
**         == Thurman Arnold

Date: 15.07.2009 19:08     (answered 20 July 2009)
Sender: David G.
Subject: 12 step ooga-booga

Hi Orange-

Been a fan of your site for a few years now. Spent many years in and out of A.A. and engaged in promiscous rehabbery, did no good. Went to prison for eight years, they tried to get me back into the 12 step fold while I was on parole (and by "they" I mean the parole agency) and I had to go to meetings but never bought into all the nonsense, instead I got some tools from SMART and just did it on my own. Been sober around two and a half years — more than I ever had in A.A. — have a good life now off of parole, staying out of trouble and taking care of my wife and stepchildren. Things are so much better now that my head isn't all gummed up from chemicals or cult ideology.

Don't mind all the kooks who give you shit, Orange. You provide a real and much needed service with your site and I wish you all the best.

Also, I get the feeling you run either Linux or BSD, probably Linux. That gives me an even higher regard for you. Keep Tuxxing!

— Dave

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and it's good to hear that you have your life together now.

Yes, I run Linux. On this machine, at this moment, I'm trying out Ubuntu. AMD Dual-core Athlon, and all of that. On other machines, I run Debian. I have one lonely Windoze XP machine for running those programs that just won't work on Linux. From what I've seen of Vista, I wouldn't take it for free. Just a few days ago, one of my friends erased Vista and installed old Windows XP on his newest, biggest and best computer so that things would work right.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    In a heirarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of
**    incompetence. ...  Work is achieved by those employees who have
**    not yet reached their level of incompetence.
**        == Laurence J. Peter (Author of The Peter Principle)

Date: 16.07.2009 08:47     (answered 20 July 2009)
Sender: Captain

I've been reading your site for about a month now and have found all the information very useful and quite eye-opening.

A few years back I had been coerced into attending AA/NA meetings as part of an out-patient program I was coerced into for drinking/cocaine use, and had realized right away that there was "something weird" about this bunch, but for the life of me couldn't put my finger on what it was.

To make a long story short, I haven't used any cocaine since walking out of the NA meetings, mostly because I didn't ever want to go back to those meetings. I do still drink, responsibly, and have a much better life these days. After reading a lot of the articles that you've posted, I came to realize that my case isn't particularly special, just that I fit into that group of people that realized that drinking to excess wasn't as much fun as it used to be. I recently began seeing a psychologist to deal with some underlying issues, and he suggested that I do some research on AA to see "if it was something that would work for me".

During my research I came across your site, and ended up pointing him to your site to research on his own. He hasn't mentioned AA again, and doesn't recommend it for his other patients anymore either. Your article on the Lizard Brain was a particularly salient point for me, as I realized that after getting past its initial screaming about making it feel good, that it really does switch gears and look for other inputs that make it "feel good" and starts to hound you for those things instead.

I really appreciate your site and the extensive research that you've done in order to make sure that your point is not only eloquent and informative, but also in line with the facts available in the world. In 12-step organizations, it seems that they're particularly reluctant to say that their original course of action (i.e. "The Big Book") can be fallable in any way. I've never met a person that gets behind the wheel of their car, sets the steering wheel to some direction and mashes the gas pedal because they're sure that their first direction is going to get them to where they want to go, and then ignore all the people that they run over because they're "driving a good course".

Since getting a handle on the bad behaviors I've learned software programming in more languages than I care to know, learned 3 foreign languages, riden over 50,000 miles on my motorcycles, become an accomplished woodworker, bought a second home, and earned a Private Pilot certificate (all within 4 years). It's amazing all the things I have time for now that I'm not spending my time getting too wasted to do any of the above.

Captain :-)

Hi Captain,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are really living now. I know that feeling. I haven't wracked up nearly all of the accomplishments that you have, but I am definitely doing a lot more with my life than just laying around sick and wasted. And it feels great, doesn't it, to be alive and functioning and on your feet and doing stuff, clean and sober, and with clear breathing? Just walking through the park with the sun beating down on my skin is like heaven on earth compared to where I used to be.

And I'm really happy to hear that your psychologist is open-minded and can learn, and has discarded A.A. and "12-Step therapy". I hope that more professionals will do the same.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The vast wasteland of TV is not interested in producing
**    a better mousetrap but in producing a worse mouse.
**        ==  Laurence C. Coughlin

May 13, 2009, Wednesday: Day 13:

These are two of Carmen's siblings, eating oatmeal:

Canada Goose goslings

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

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Last updated 17 May 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters132.html