Letters, We Get Mail, CCXXXVIII

Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 10:08 pm     (answered 8 May 2011)
From: "dan e
Subject: Cult of aa


Your far right stance on aa implies you might have some koolaid for your followers to drink.

I am sure there will be some fatalities. Funny how it is so easy to ignore years of evidence and volumes of research and then to gather such trite info so as to twist the real truth. I propose you do experiments onyourself & loved ones. A double blinded study within the family where there is an aa control group and a egomaniac drunkard group. Runthe studyfor 12 years & let me know how functional your family is. I can predict the fall out & deaths.

What are you smoking? Prove something better. Lots of bad info born out of anger perhaps?

Open up your mind, go to samsha website or the. Nida...proofs in the pudding.

Free at Last

Hello Dan,

Thanks for the letter.

Those Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Studies have already been done, and the results were that A.A. failed badly. I described how you do such a clinical study here: randomized longitudinal controlled studies.

The results of the tests were:

  1. Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found that A.A. indoctrination greatly increased the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. People who were sent to A.A. ended up, after 9 months of A.A., doing FIVE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got no such help, and NINE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group that got Rational Behavior Therapy.

  2. Dr. Keith Ditman found that A.A. involvement increased the rate of re-arrests for public drunkenness in a group of street drunks.

  3. Dr. Diana Walsh found that "free" A.A. just messed up a lot of alcoholics and make them need more expensive hospitalization later.

  4. Doctors Orford and Edwards conducted the largest and most expensive test of A.A. in England. They found that having a doctor talk to alcoholics and their wives for only one hour, only one time, telling them to quit drinking or they would die, was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.

  5. This one is the most damning evidence of all, because it came from a doctor who loves Alcoholics Anonymous, and is one of its biggest promoters. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous [World] Services, Inc.. Doctor George E. Vaillant (who later became a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University), clearly demonstrated that A.A. treatment kills patients. For eight years, while he tried to prove that A.A. works, his A.A.-based treatment program had a zero-percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission, and worse, it had the highest death rate of any kind of alcoholism treatment that he studied. Dr. Vaillant candidly called the A.A. death rate "appalling". At the end of 8 years, the score with his first 100 A.A.-treated patients was: 5 sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking.

It is not possible to do a "double blind" test of Alcoholics Anonymous. What that term means is that neither the patient nor the doctor knows whether the patients are getting the real medicine or a placebo. (Another doctor or a pharmacist who won't talk puts the pills in the bottles, and only he knows who is getting what. That eliminates the power of suggestion from the test results.) Someone would have to be both blind and deaf to not know whether he was going to A.A. meetings. If he was, how is he supposed to hear the drunkalogues?

I know that there are a few flattering remarks about A.A. on the NIDA and SAMSHA web sites. The A.A. promoters never sleep, and never fail to get a plug in there for their favorite cult religion. I also know that the current attitude of the NIH is to demand results. They are demanding more and more evidence-based methods. A high-ranking official of the NIAAA — Mark Willenbring, director of treatment and recovery research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — recently declared that Alcoholics Anonymous teachings about alcoholism were "inconsistent with the evidence". (Look here.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**    but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**      ==  Dr. George E. Vaillant, formerly a member of the A.A. Board of
**    Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**    Anonymous, in "The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**    and Paths to Recovery", Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**    1983, pages 283-286.

Date: Sat, May 14, 2011 8:59 pm     (answered 17 May 2011)
From: "Lisa B."
Subject: May 21 Judgment Day

Hi Orange,

I thought you might enjoy this website with all of the May 21 Judgment Day hoopla going around right now. It's amazing what people have and continue to believe. I have not researched the organization promoting the most recent date of May 21, but I suspect they are a cult as well.

I hope you are doing well!


Sincerely, Lisa

Hello again, Lisa,

Yes, isn't that a laugh?

What is even funnier is that more than a month ago, a friend came over and invited me to a Judgement Day barbeque. According to the Terminator movies, April 21, 2011 was "Judgement Day" when the Skynet super-computers took over the world. So they planned to watch Terminator movies and munch hamburgers and watch Skynet take over the world.

Then, on the radio the next day, I heard that Familyradio.com was saying that May 21, 2011 was the end of the world. Wow. Exactly one month later.

But that cannot really be correct, because the Jehovah's Witnesses told us that the world is going to end in 1975, and only 144,000 believers are going to get into Heaven.

I guess we didn't make it.

Oh well, better luck in the next lifetime.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The biggest truth to face now — what is probably making me unfunny now
**     for the remainder of my life — is that I don't think people give a damn
**     whether the planet goes on or not. It seems to me as if everyone is
**     living as members of Alcoholics Anonymous do, day by day. And a few
**     more days will be enough. I know of very few people who are dreaming
**     of a world for their grandchildren.
**         ==  Kurt Vonnegut

Date: Sat, May 14, 2011 3:12 am     (answered 17 May 2011)
From: "Tom H."
Subject: If Only,If Only

For years and years I have begged Mr. Orange to quit being a pissed off grumpy, egotitical, angry asshole.

I,too, am highly educated about Alcoholic's Anonymous and have read every word Terrance has written.

I also very much agree with about 98-99% of the posted information on this site. I feel strongly that Alcoholic's Anonymous, without meaning to, actually lenghtens a person's alcoholic nightmare when the malady could be put to rest at early stages of alcoholism.

I do not think that A.A. was started as a evil cult nor do I think AA initself has a purposeful agenda to fuck over the suffering alcoholic. But AA simply does not work. I have recently traveled 22 states and attended hundreds of AA meetings with a very watchful eye. Some very nice sincere folks, but tons of old men with nothing better to do than to try and hit on women members with their long term wisdom status of sobriety. Most of these types have no where else to go, and at these meetings they feel they have a God given purpose. If AA would not have gotten involved in the court system, which semi-forces people into the program, I would not be so appalled.

My problem with agent orange is that I think he is doing a fine recruiting job for AA with all his anger and hostilities and unsettled psycholical problems. Charlie Sheen has strenghtened AA with his rants of the 5% success rate too.

I have begged Mr. Orange ( who I think has his heart in a good place and is probably a nice person) to try and attempt to stop being a asshole. I have failed and hope the number of people Terry recruits into AA is minimal. I do believe that AA is dangerous for many, many desperate alcoholic's seeking help. Agent Orange could be a well known authority on the dangers of AA via the news media, press and television, but he just cannot stop from being the insultive angry manic hippy asshole. I wonder how many people read his site and then attend a AA meeting and see how things are not quite as drastic as he illustrates. I sure hope I am mistaken on this. I really do.

Hello again Tom,

Thanks for the letter.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can think that if you are angry at criminals hurting sick people, there is something wrong with you. "Having a resentment" is not "axiomatically spiritually wrong."

I seriously doubt that my attitude recruits people for Alcoholics Anonymous. Heck, I don't think even Charlie Sheen's antics and craziness recruit for A.A. I think judges and "counselors" who send people to A.A. are far more effective at A.A. recruiting.

Oh, and I know that A.A. really did start as an evil cult:

"Early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and nowhere else."
William G. Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 39.

Where did the early AAs find the material for the remaining ten Steps? Where did we learn about moral inventory, amends for harm done, turning our wills and lives over to God? Where did we learn about meditation and prayer and all the rest of it? The spiritual substance of our remaining ten Steps came straight from Dr. Bob's and my own earlier association with the Oxford Groups, as they were then led in America by that Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.
William G. Wilson, The Language of the Heart, page 298, published posthumously in 1988.

Sieg Heil!

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are Obedience,
**     Endeavor, Honesty, Order, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness,
**     Sacrifice, and love of the Fatherland."
**      ==  Message, signed by Adolf Hitler, painted on walls of
**          concentration camps; Life magazine, August 21, 1939

May 22, 2009, Friday: Day 22, continued:

Canada Goose gosling
A gosling of the Family of 4, stretching out his neck

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Date: Mon, May 16, 2011 11:51 pm     (answered 18 May 2011)
From: "Jason"
Subject: My own AA experience . . . what else?

I haven't been to an AA meeting in about two months, and even before then I had only been in the program since last November. But it has taken me that long to muster up the courage to finally google the phrase "Is AA a cult?" Boy, am I glad I did. I was feeling kind of guilty about disappearing from the program and blowing off my sponsor (actually he blew me off once I stopped going to meetings), but after reading through the orange papers, I feel more relief than guilt.

I found myself thrust into AA through a military treatment program called SARP (I am former Navy). After my first and only alcohol related incident involving the military, still drunk, I broke down to my command chaplain; a Lutheran minister who I had always trusted and an O-5 (commander) by rank. To my surprise, he told me that he too had struggled with alcohol problems in the past, and had been something like 20 years sober thanks to a wonderful program called Alcoholics Anonymous. I automatically thought to myself, "now here's a man who cares; who will obviously stick up for me." WRONG. The next thing out of his mouth was a slew of insults aimed at making me believe how stupid and evil I was. He called me a liar, manipulator, and pointed out how screwed up I was in the head because I was an alcoholic. A minister of all people! I was so devastated, I immediately just put it out of my mind.

Well, about a month later, I found myself in mandatory treatment. The SARP facility wasn't all that bad. The counselors seemed nice, and the group therapy was actually quite helpful. Part of the treatment program, however, was attending an AA or NA meeting every evening by government shuttle. My "nice" counselors, I would later find out, were all die hard AA-ers themselves. I thought I might have a problem because I liked getting drunk just for the sake of getting drunk (who in the Navy doesn't?), but I didn't think I was an alcoholic. Well, after about two meetings, I was already admitting that I was. It just seemed like the thing to do in order to fit in. Not to mention, I was practically barred from the outside world at this point, and these meetings were my only taste of freedom while in treatment on a Navy base. Naturally, it all seemed very appealing.

While in treatment, I got a sponsor; not an old timer, but a name I had heard mentioned repeatedly around the meeting rooms. Obviously, anyone who was going to sponsor me had to be well known. He seemed like a really good guy, and it sounded like we had a whole bunch in common. Even after I got out of treatment (28 days later), I kept going to meetings, got my 30 day chip, and still called my sponsor every day. I had no trouble with the first three steps as I was raised Presbyterian, never really had a crisis of faith, and am happy with being just that. But when it came to the fourth step . . . let's just say I didn't really get it. Not only did it take up a huge amount of my time, but I also just couldn't comprehend how writing down all of these resentments that I honestly didn't even feel I had could be beneficial in any way, shape, or form. I kept asking my sponsor how detailed I should get with my list, yet never got a straight answer. No, it was always, "Read the Big Book!" In fact, any question I ever had, it seemed like the answer was always somewhere hidden on the same 2 pages of the Big Book that my sponsor just had me read over and over again. He had me highlight things that meant nothing to me, but through some sort of twisted logic made perfect sense to him. But of course I wouldn't understand, right? I am alcoholic, and can't think for myself . . . or so I was told.

Well, need I say that it wasn't very long after my first relapse when I started observing strange behavior in members of the group. I noticed that people who once thought I was the coolest thing at any meeting wouldn't even come over and say hi anymore. And those who would acted very awkward in my presence. My sponsor began telling me that I wasn't ready to embrace the program yet because I still wanted to do it on my own. Then he started asking me for money. It was then that I began to look and listen even more at the craziness that I was embedded in. For example, my sponsor and I were out to lunch one day. We asked for separate checks as was the norm, and both of his credit cards got declined. Well, he spent a good ten to fifteen minutes kind of muttering incoherent gibberish under his breath while checking his bank account over his phone, and then just busted out in a freakish laugh about how he didn't take his meds that day. I have to admit I was kind of scared. So I offered to pay for his lunch so we could just get the hell out of there and call it day. Turns out, the dude had nowhere near the amount of success that he claimed AA had given him. Not only was he living on a check from the government every month, but was practically homeless, kicking around at his mother's every once in a while (I never really figured out where his permanent address was). He even tried encouraging me to learn how to cook so that he could come over for dinner at my place.

Other AA members, likewise, began giving me the creeps. People whom I had heard speak up during meetings. thinking they were oh so wise, turned out to be blithering crackpots one on one. I'm talking about the kind of random thoughts being handed out on leaflets in pre-Giuliani Times Square about international Jewish banking conspiracies, John Lennon's death, and Princess Grace sightings. On a more specific occasion, I received a text message from a female AA-er telling me that it was about time she and I had sex with one another. . . shortly after I had found out that she had beaten the crap out of her boyfriend's car with a baseball bat. Then there were the meetings after the meetings where we would go out the dinner or something, and the incessant talk about being an alcoholic. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "we are not a glum lot" after some extended laughter session over nothing. Yes, these people were sick alright, and I was beginning to feel like maybe I didn't really want what they wanted after all.

So I stopped going to meetings and stopped calling my sponsor. I honestly haven't heard from him since. I continued to abstain from alcohol for the next couple of weeks, but then one night while I was out to dinner with a client, I ordered a cocktail . . . just one . . . and just one is all I had. The second night out, I ordered a cocktail . . . again, just one was all I had. The third night out, I ordered a Coca-Cola and left it at that. Whoa! Perhaps I can control my drinking! What a concept, right? Since then, I have been having one drink with dinner at most, and am getting along just fine. My roommates threw a party with 25 — 30 guests and a female stripper the other night, and I only had three drinks over the course of the whole evening. My friends have told me how proud they are of me, and how they are even prouder that I am able to control my drinking on my own in social situations (drinking alone wasn't a problem because I never did it anyway) instead of compulsively going to meetings all the time with strangers who were trying to change me completely.

Which brings me, orange, to my final point. I didn't really catch a whole lot of this on your website, but perhaps I missed it. While I was attending AA, I received a lot of pressure to ditch my old friends and pursue new friendships within AA (which I never really did because I thought most of them were losers anyway). This was especially brought up time and time again by my sponsor. What can I say? I've always been a fairly popular guy. I told my sponsor that there was no way AA could ever socially compare with my old time circle of friends. "But these are the people," he told me, "who will tempt you to drink again." I heard this preached in meetings all the time that members who have stuck with AA eventually disassociate themselves with their old friends in favor of other members of the cult. This, I think, terrified me most of all towards the end. If I had to give up my old friends in favor of these lunatics, then yeah, I could probably see myself succumbing to their brainwashing even more so. But that was where I drew the line. And incidentally, might I add, throughout all of this not one of my old friends . . . not even the heaviest drinkers among them . . . ever once encouraged me to take a drink. I received such support from these guys that some of them even refused to drink around me at all.

Well, that concludes my dreadful experience. All in all, looking back on it, it was all quite surreal. I hope you found it helpful. And as they say in AA . . . Thanks for letting me share! Oh God, did I really just say that? Just kidding.

Sincerely yours,

Jason D.

Hello Jason,

Thanks for a wonderful letter, and congratulations on your escape from the cult and return to sanity. Life is good, isn't it?

First off, the way the U.S. Government personel and facilities pressured you into the 12-Step cult is blatantly illegal and unConstitutional. It is now possible to sue them for that, thanks to the legal case of Inouye v. Kemna.

The Federal Appeals Court in Hawaii, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, September 7, 2007, in the Inouye v. Kemna case, ruled that any "coercing authority" can be held individually, civilly liable for the 1st Amendment constitutional rights violation that they perpetrate on people unwillingly and involuntarily forced to go to 12-Step programs. Meaning: you can sue a judge, a prison warden, a parole officer, a "counselor", or anyone else in a position of authority who forces you to go to A.A. meetings.

Then you encountered a bunch of the standard cult characteristics like:

Then, the way that they wanted you to stop associating with your old friends who are not A.A. members is classic cult behavior. I hear of that one often. They didn't want you associating with any non-members who might contradict the A.A. nonsense and talk a little common sense into you. They rationalized their behavior by arguing that non-members are a threat to your sobriety.

Scientology does the same thing too, you know. At a certain point in a Scientologist's training, he is informed that he must cut all ties with non-Scientologists, including parents, spouses, siblings, old friends, everybody. Those other people must either join Scientology or else they get black-listed and ostracized. Scientology argues that those non-Scientologists are insane and mentally defective and unethical and will infect the new Scientologists with bad thoughts.

That is really very common cult behavior, and it's listed in the Cult Test. Here are some relevant items, first the Cult Test questions, and then the answers for A.A.:

And the answers for A.A.:

Lastly, it is entirely possible that you are not an alcoholic and never were. Lots and lots of people tie one on now and then. Most everybody who drinks has had a few experiences of getting really blasted on a few occasions. That is what you call being human.

There are also lots of people who drank too much in their youth, and then just matured out of it. That isn't "alcoholism".

What I call an alcoholic is somebody like me who cannot moderate his drinking at all. One drink leads to six which leads to a case or a fifth, real fast. And then it becomes my lifestyle and I'm drinking too much every day, until the doctor tells me to quit drinking or I'm going to die. I can either totally abstain from alcohol, or I can drink myself to death, but there is no inbetween. I tried for 20 years to keep it down to a dull roar, and it didn't work. So I just don't drink at all.

Note that I can still control my drinking — by not drinking a single drop. I just don't seem to be able to control my drinking after I get three or four drinks in me.

Alcoholics Anonymous actually uses several different definitions of the word "alcoholic", and mixes them up, which really confuses the issue. See the definitions here. An alcoholic might be somebody who drinks too much, or an alcoholic might be someone who is hyper-sensitive to alcohol, or an alcohol might be a selfish, manipulative sinner. So when A.A. insists that you must call yourself an alcoholic, they aren't even being clear about just what an alcoholic is.

Gee, you say that you have a problem with drinking more than you intended, and the next thing you know, they are telling you that you are a sinner, selfish, manipulative, a liar who is in denial, and you have gotten too far away from God.

Oh well, I'm glad that you left that behind. Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "WHEN a pretension to free the world from evil ends only
**     in a new proof of the danger of a fanatic to the commonweal,
**     then it is not to be marveled at that a distrust is aroused
**     in the observer which makes sympathy impossible."
**          ==  Sigmund Freud

Date: Mon, May 16, 2011 4:52 pm     (answered 18 May 2011)
From: "Trish R."
Subject: "Housing First" tempest reported in Portland Tribune

Hi Orange,

Sorry in advance this is so long...

I don't know if you've seen the May 12, 2011 Portland Tribune [still available on the steet til this coming Thursday]. There's a front page story "Homeless and Addicted: On the streets or off?", that I thought you might find interesting. Apparantly, the policy in Portland's subsidized housing for the past few years has been that they no longer demand abstinence pledges from anyone who goes from homlessness to subsidized housing. People identifying themselves as "advocates" for alcoholics/addicts people paid to enroll people, I'm assuming primarily homeless, into alcohol/drug treatment] complained about this policy — one says he's "given up on Portland's public housing as a way to help the mentally ill and addicted" [sheltering them isn't help?] and another claims "I'm not against this kind of housing, but what we're really lacking is capacity for people who want to enter recovery and significantly change their lives." [are they forbidden to NOT drink in these units?] Another says "persons currently abusing illegal drugs and abusing alcohol get a preference over persons coming out of an alcohol and drug treatment program or stepping down from a mental health treatment center." [If they don't forbid an activity, can they ban people who don't do the activity? Really?]

I might be hopelessly naive, but I would think an advocate on behalf of a group of people would be glad for any help for the persons they claim to advocate for, however piecemeal that help. And, unless the subsidized housing units literally require tenants to chug like frat pledges — and that the policy is just that drinking isn't verboten — a person's having just left treatment shouldn't influence their eligibility for a subsidized unit. Also, unless the goal of the Recovery Movement is getting all alcohol out of America, the fact is that every person entering recovery will, sooner or later, have to face the fact that they live in a world where other people will consume alcohol and drugs [and in law-abiding ways, like prescriptions for chronic pain or the occasional visit to Amsterdam].

I also have to wonder what sorts of "help" or "techniques" treatment/recovery actually give to their clients to improve their ability to live in a real world where there will be people choosing to drink [who aren't ruining their lives], people who don't drink & aren't in AA & aren't mean ole "dry drunks", and where wine & beer are in supermarket aisles. Seriously, if people who are freshly in their "recovery — having just made the decision to quit, attending meetings, and experiencing the powerful social influence of being welcomed into a group of people with the same stated goal — if people whose "recovery" is being so reinforced by such powerful influences on humans are living in a state of abstinence that is so fragile that the idea that someone else in the building wouldn't be thrown out for enjoying a beer [either quietly in their own room or in some restaurant or bar during their tenancy], I just don't see what use these "treatment" programs are, either for the individual or for society.

I also have to ask, why would it even be an issue for treatment program recruiters whether subsidized housing requires all tenants ot refrain from all alcohol [and drugs]. If the treatment offered is the same, whether the client is homeless or has a place to live — and the latter are more likely than not to live in apartment building or neighborhood in which other residents are lawfully imbibing some amounts of alcohol — wouldn't it be better for the physical health of an individual embarking on quitting alcohol or drugs to have a warm, stable place to live? Subsidized housing units for homeless people are about getting people who don't have homes a stable place to live. Not every person who lacks housing is necessarily a candidate for alcohol/drug treatment, and it seems to me that treating all of them like they can't handle their liquor is not justified or fair. I also have to question whether someone who has decided for whatever reason to quit alcohol believing that they should turn down subsidized housing because of what other tenants may or may not do [especially in the context of a legal activity like drinking alcohol] might have been brainwashed into doing something that isn't in their best interest.

According to the Tribune, this article was 2nd in a series, but using their search engine & "browse archives" I couldn't find the first article in the series [maybe when I get a chance to mosey to a brink & morter library in the next couple of days I can find a paper copy...]

Another thing I find alarming, as I think about this article, is how the alcohol/drug addiction industrial complex has glommed on to the mentally ill — as in "Mental illness/addiction" specialist [or counselor or activist]. While I'm sure some mentally ill people might have issues that in some way involve alcohol [self-medicating with alcohol instead of seeing a doctor, alcohol interacting with medications — or being labelled an alcoholic/addict when their real problem is schizophrenia, or bipolar or depression], how much overlap is there, really in what mentally ill persons need, as opposed to people who want to quit alcohol/drugs? I mean, schizophrenics can decide to quit drinking booze, but they can't decide to stop hearing voices. If they decide to stop meds, their voices & delusions can't be controlled by an act of will. Whereas even someone who has overimbibed so much alcohol that they've developed cirrhosis or even brain damage can still decide to quit drinking [and according to the studies your site quotes, probably has a better chance of succeeding even at that late state without some sort of treatment/rehab/recovery. Even a person with as constricted an intellect as GW Bush managed to quit without "working steps" going to meetings or sleeping in a $35,000 a month rehab bed.

Another thing I heard recently that made me question the whole concept of "addictions": I saw a former FBI profiler on TV, who actually said that a serial killer was "addicted" to killing people. It's starting to seem like any activity that a human might enjoy, however harmeless [sugary breakfast cereal] or antisocial [killing people one has never met] is being classified as a "disease." Like, maybe human existence is just a collection of different versions of the same "disease." This is probably a great way to expand the market for something that a lot of people are really willing to sell....

I worry about these issues as a citizen, and a taxpayer, in a time when our country can't even come to an agreement that providing medical care to citizens suffering even physical ailments beyond the control of their own behavior [birth defects, infectious diseases, accidents, diseases of ageing]. And when we do talk about concepts like universal health insurance [basically buying health care we can predict citizens will need for a better price via economies of scale, and maybe agreeing it isn't fair that 85% of the bankruptsies in the U.S. are triggered by medical bills for illnesses for which the party was insured at the time they developed the illness]. But, because of the fact that there are people who are salaried "mental health/addiction" specialists/activists/counselors/advocates lobbying for "mental health parity" bills that would include requiring health insurance to cover costs of sleepover rehab to the same extent they cover, say, cancer surgery/chemo, I worry that the moment we do get some form of single payer system [whether national or state-by-state], there still won't be sufficient funds to cover physical and mental health treatments because they won't be able to say no to people who think that they have a disease that can only be treated by hanging out in a group of people who've been forbidden to read anything but the ramblings of BillW & maybe a bible, and not going to work. I don't think it would be at all unfair for a national health program to require scientific evidence that the alleged "illness" that someone wants payment to treat actually exists — and by scientific evidence, I mean an actual lab test that distinguishes with a reasonable level of accuracy, who does and does not have the disease, not counting how many people are willing to say "I know this is a disease". And, before our tax dollars pay for a treatment, it would be fair to require scientifically reputable evidence that the treatment actually works better than chance, doing nothing, or placebo.

Sorry for the long rant, but the Trib only takes letters to the editor under 250 words and the above-mentioned article was just such a juicy topic for dissection...


Hi Trish,

Thanks for the letter, and you don't have to apologize for the length. It is not a problem. Fortunately, we don't have to pay for blank paper here.

As you probably know, I went through that same Portland, Oregon, housing program when I quit drinking ten years ago. I saw all of the problems that you talk about.

I had a relatively easy time of it. I had gotten so sick that when my doctor said, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one.", I believed him. It was obvious that I was dying, and I knew it. After thinking it over for a while, I decided to live. So I quit drinking. I quit two weeks before my so-called "treatment program" started.

At that time, the deal with housing was that you had to be 100% clean and sober. If you relapsed, meaning, showed up drunk or stoned even once (which is not really a "relapse"), you had one hour to gather up your belongings and hit the street. Any possessions that you left behind would get bagged and tagged and stored for a month, and then thrown out in the trash. I saw a lot of people's possessions bagged.

What bothered me about all of that was that the people who needed help the most got the least. Somebody like me who could get a grip and change his behavior got the best of everything. People who were really sick and out of control, even mentally ill, got kicked out on the streets and cut off from any help. They were just homeless again. And if they had been in some kind of a program, they invariably quit the program when they were kicked out onto the streets. Proving: If you want them in "treatment", the best way to keep them in treatment is to keep them in housing.

One of the big problems with Portland's programs at that time was that they had two conflicting goals:

  1. Get the homeless people off of the streets.

  2. Get the alcoholics and drug addicts to be clean and sober.

When they made being 100% clean and sober a condition of getting housing, they guaranteed that the sickest people would be back on the streets very soon. They guaranteed that the hard-core addicts would not get into housing. In fact, I knew one junkie who would not even apply for housing or try to start any program. He knew the routine, and knew that it would never work out. The last time I saw him, he was still homeless and has been for all of the 10 years that I've been sober.

Some time ago, somebody published an article about the "One-hundred Thousand Dollar Man". I seem to recall that it was about housing the homeless alcoholics in Seattle. The title was a bit of a spoof on the old TV series "The Million-Dollar Man", but the subject was serious: Some sick homeless people manage to wrack up nearly $100,000 in medical costs by repeatedly almost dying on the streets. An ambulance is called and they get taken to the hospital and treated and put back together enough to be released, and then the alcoholics and addicts repeat the cycle again and again, until some nearly become $100,000 men. That name is only a slight exaggeration. The article mentioned some old alcoholics who had wracked up $60,000 or $70,000 in medical costs.

Well, Seattle decided that it would be much cheaper to give them housing and let them drink in their SRO rooms. The Puritans screamed, of course, and said that Seattle was catering to alcoholics, and making it too easy to be an alcoholic. They made sarcastic remarks about "The Alky Hilton" and "free alky hotels".

And there we again see the conflict: Is the goal to get the alcoholics and addicts off of the streets, or is the goal to force them to quit drinking and drugging? Experience teaches us that we can't have it both ways.

About some of your other points: I never felt like having people around me who were sneaking a drink was any threat to me or my sobriety. And yes, I knew about some of that happening. I just decided for myself that I was not going to drink any more, no matter what other people chose to do with their lives. So I don't buy the argument that having a drinker in the housing threatens the sobriety of all of the other people.

Now if they were having a block party with kegs lined up, that might get tempting to a lot of alcoholics, but that wasn't what was going on. Well, except for the Waterfont Blues Festival, which is exactly what was going on. Still, I went to that party nine years in a row and never drank.

Obviously, it is not possible to remove all temptation. Anybody who decides to quit drinking is just going to be surrounded by people who still drink. Welcome to reality.

If somebody is really going to quit drinking, they have to just really quit drinking, even though they are surrounded by alcohol. Which they always are. When you quit drinking, you suddenly become acutely aware of just how many bars there are on the street.

I agree that it is both unfair and stupid to treat all homeless people like they are alcoholics or addicts. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the majority of the homeless people actually have untreated mental illnesses that they are trying to fix by self-medicating.

Speaking of which, I never saw a single counselor or mentor or supervisor who was qualified to treat mentally ill people. Not one. Not ever. Not even close. Almost all of the "counselors" and "managers" that I saw were just former alcoholics or addicts who had allegedly gotten a few years clean and sober and also joined the 12-Step cult. Even though a few of them were nice people, none were qualified to treat anything. Heck, my main "counselor" was a cocaine-snorting Internet child porn freak who went to prison for criminal sexual penetration of his own step-children. So much for "the program". And so much for his "counseling".

I'm glad to hear that Portland is coming to its senses and realizing that if it wants to get the homeless people off of the streets, that it has to make that goal unconditional. It can't demand that the homeless people also become tea-totalers. That just never worked.

I'll also see if I can find those articles. That will be some interesting reading.

Oh, and lastly, I totally agree that labeling everything a disease is flat-out crazy. Stanton Peele wrote a book called "The Diseasing of America" that criticized such nonsense. Not every unpleasant thing is a disease. But there is really a plot afoot to call more and more things "a disease" because then somebody can make money treating it.

My favorite non-disease is "Codependency", which is a strange spiritual or psychological malady that is caused by the spiritual cooties that you get from rubbing against an alcoholic. You can pay a fortune to get your Codependency treated, and you can even get expensive in-patient treatment. And the treatment is an introduction to A.A.'s 12 Steps. And some health insurance companies were crazy enough to actually pay for it.

Both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have recently expanded their definitions of "disease" or "illness" or "addiction" to allow charging health insurance for treating more conditions. Of course such shenanigans will bankrupt the health care system. The system will just have to stop treating some people or some conditions. We really will end up with death panels that decide who will live and who will die. (Actually, we already have such panels. They are part of the health insurance companies. It will get worse.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The Puritan western Europeans have never had much tolerance for fun.
**       == Folklorist Alan Lomax, Fresh Air, NPR/OPB, 2:11 PM 7 January 2011

May 22, 2009, Friday: Day 22, continued:

Canada Geese with goslings
The Family of 4
The goslings are stuffed with rice, and ready to take a nap. The pigeons are helping themselves to the leftovers.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[The previous letter from Renee is here.]

Date: Wed, May 18, 2011 12:02 pm     (answered 20 May 2011)
From: Renee
Subject: More Pixels Please

Thanks Terrence (Orange) for offering to download the pictures in a more printable version. The most recent letters you posted last week has the picture of the mallard sort of from behind with him reaching towards his back.....that is the one that caught my eye, although ANY of them make for a beautiful framed portrait.

I am a duck lover too.... we have a little place in Michigan that our family has had for years..... I have been watching the ducks all of my life and have in the past made some vain attempts at photographing them to hang in our cottage. Needless to say I have an inadequate camera, and an even worse knack for photography....so your pictures would be a wonderful addition to our little family cabin in the woods by the lake....

Hi again, Renee,

Okay, here you go. What you are seeing on the screen now is the low-resolution versions of these pictures. But if you click on the pictures, you will get the hi-res version in a new window (or tab, depending on how your preferences are set). Then you can save that large version to disk, and print it. These versions of the pictures have been cropped, but not scaled down. The original pictures were landscape orientation, 4x3, wider than tall. I cropped off the extra sand and rocks on the left and right, so they now have a portrait orientation.

Mallard Duck
Mallard Duck

Mallard Drake
Mallard Drake

By the way, these two were a mated pair. And they are both very good-looking ducks. They came over to see what munchies they could get from me, and hung around for a while to see what else I might have in my bag.

That's one of the reasons for my success in getting some great shots — just feed the ducks and geese all of the time, and eventually you become just one of the flock, and they will hang out around you as if you aren't even there.

Or the kids will mob you and grab the bread out of your hands before you even offer it. They know why you are there and who the bread is for. Then the problem gets to be focusing on them. I put a telephoto lens on the camera that can't focus closer than five or six feet, and the goslings climb into my lap to get the bread out of the bag that I'm holding. Needless to say, I don't have any in-focus shots of them in my lap.

Oh and yes...you are correct. Metabolism is really not the right word to use for alcoholism or its causes. When I wrote that I was digging into my deep dark past and, maybe even wrongly remembering the old "Chalk Talk" movies with the priest. Do you remember those? His explanation had something to do with the differences in the way alcoholics metabolize alcohol down more slowly than non- alcoholics.... Why that came to my mind ??? I also was thinking about "Asian Flush" which is also considered a defect in the way the alcohol is metabolized in roughly about half of the Asian population. I had a dear friend in college who was 1/4 Asian, and this happened to her. She didn't drink much because of it...

Yes. They used to use that "metabolism" word a lot. And I think the Asian flush does actually have something to do with metabolism of alcohol. But that isn't my problem.

Oh well, maybe someday the truth will come out. If you read the link I sent to you about ADD, it is already happening. The research is being done, lets hope it continues.

Yes. I think the truth is getting out, but far too slowly. The Big Lie has the momentum of the Queen Mary. It takes a long time to stop.

Oh.... and one more thing. I don't drink at all anymore. Whatever I used to think it did for me has no appeal. Since I have been properly medicated and am in therapy the "impulse" to drink is just gone! Hey, I am on the very dark side of 45..... drinking too much makes you look old, AND feel crummy! So anyway, if I see any new research I will send it off to you!

take care....and thanks once again for the ducks!!!

Renee.....the one who got away.

Okay, you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how
**      deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo. We need
**      a boundless ethic which will include the animals also."
**        ==  Albert Schweitzer, physician/Nobel Laureate.

Date: Fri, May 20, 2011 2:08 pm     (answered 20 May 2011)
From: Renee
Subject: Thanks

Just a quick note to say thanks!! I love those Mallards, they are so beautiful, or I guess handsome may be a better word.

oh and thanks for the picture tips, I will keep trying!

Take care,

Oh, by the way, my photography tips are definitely weird. I doubt if many other nature photographers would approve. They seem to think that feeding the wildlife is cheating or violating the wild critters' purity or something. :-)

Of course, when I ask the ducks and geese, they say that I should feed them even more. Especially munchies like sweet sticky cinnamon rolls. The goslings go crazy over those things. They think that bread is manna from Heaven, but sweet sticky cinnamon rolls are the food of the gods. They love the different tastes of things like cinnamon. And they love sweets.

Proving once again, that the goslings are children, and not much different from human children that way...

Have a good day and a good End of the World. (Hah!)

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
**     It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
**       ==  Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

Date: Sat, May 21, 2011 5:57 am     (answered 23 May 2011)
From: Renee
Subject: Re: Thanks

Cinnamon rolls....leftover cinnamon donuts. When my kids were little they would go down to the pier and feed them the cinnamon donuts that everyone hated.

And yes I will see you on the other side sometime later today! LOL

I actually heard the leader of that cult on the radio yesterday. He really is certifiable.

Take Care...

Hi again, Renee,

I think the thing about cinnamon is that they just like a variety of tastes. The geese's natural diet is just grass. Grass, grass, grass. Grass for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now and then they pick the grass seed off of the grass for something a little more nourishing, but it's basically just a steady diet of grass. Cinnamon is something that they can never get in the wild because it only grows on the other side of the world.

Well, the geese are only human, and they like a little variety in their diet too. They like to experience different tastes. So they like people bringing them other stuff, no matter whether it is bread or rice or candy bars, cookies, corn chips, or french fries, or whatever. Just a little something to break the monotony of the grass.

I don't give them much junk food, but a little doesn't hurt them any, and they enjoy a taste treat now and then.

Have a good day.

Oh, by the way, about the end of the world, I heard that the guy made millions in donations. He just might be crazy like a fox. What a racket: "The world is going to end tomorrow, so send me all of your money today." Yes, some people will believe anything.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."
**       — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

[The next letter from Renee is here.]

BLOG NOTE: 2011.05.20:

Happy end of the world everybody. And have a good Saturday even if the world doesn't end tomorrow.

Oh, by the way: I heard that the world is supposed to end at 6 PM. But 6 PM in whose time zone? The theological implications are staggering. It makes a huge difference whether New York, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas gets to determine the time of the end of the world. If Las Vegas — Sin City — gets to do it, that would be, as Opus once said, an aesthetic disaster of Biblical proportions.

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