Letters, We Get Mail, CCXLVII

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#iamnotastatistic ]

Date: Tue, July 5, 2011 6:52 am     (answered 5 July 2011)
From: "iamnotastatistic"
Subject: Dictatorships, religion and a cure

Hi Terrance,

Just going through some old files again and some quotes popped up which I thought you'd enjoy...

  1. The dictatorial ramblings of Bill Wilson in Alcoholics Anonymous comes of Age (AAcoA):*

    "We [A.A.] have the full benefits of the murderous political dictatorships of today but none of their liabilities."
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 105-106.

    Surely this cannot be the writing of a program of recovery from alcoholism? This is a fundamentalist, Christian, faith healing scam adapted from a cult and supported only by the ramblings of a psychotic, alcoholic, con-man!

    I would just love to know what, exactly, are the full benefits of a murderous political dictatorship and how they work for the benefit of the A.A. member? I would also love to know how A.A. guarantees that it does not have any of the liabilities of a murderous political dictatorship. Since each group is autonomous, what safeguards has A.A. or the G.S.O. put in place to ensure that no member is harmed by any of the liabilities of a murderous political dictatorship that may exist within A.A?

    "I hope and believe that we may yet see a wide effect of A.A. on the ever present problem of human nature and what we shall do about it."
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 270

    What exactly is the problem of human nature and why is A.A. so arrogant as to believe that it has to do anything about it? I thought that the only purpose of A.A. was to help alcoholics stop drinking.

  2. On the question of A.A. as a religious program:

    AAcoA, page 163: "the straight religious approach had worked [to cure alcoholism] in relatively few cases"

    In other words: Religion can't cure you, only A.A. can.

    AAcoA, page 233: "God saved us [A.A. members] from alcoholism"

    AAcoA. page 250: "we [A.A. members] have become, in fact, obedient servants of God"

    AAcoA, page 317: "effect a change in the deeper personality components, the influence of the program is not lasting."

    AAcoA, page 320: 'The organization of Alcoholics Anonymous calls on two of the greatest reservoirs of power known to man, religion, and that insight for association with one's fellows which Trotter has called the "herd instinct".'

    AAcoA, page 323: "The core of their [A.A.'s] whole procedure is religious."

    AAcoA, page 324: "these testimonies bear witness to religious reality, for Alcoholics Anonymous is deeply religious."

    AAcoA, page 324: "I have listened to many learned arguments about God but for honest-to-goodness experiential evidence of God, give me a good meeting of A.A."

    Frequently asked questions about A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 300M, 12/09:

    Question: Is A.A. a religious society?

    Answer: A.A. is not a religious society, since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition of membership.

    So, it is religious but it is not a religious society. When is A.A. finally going to admit that it is religious? When is A.A. going to admit that it is a faith healing cult?

  3. A.A. approved literature uses the term "cure":

    "a man from New York" [Bill Wilson] had just found a cure for alcoholism"
    Bill Wilson describing what Dr. Bob Smith, co-founder of A.A., said on June 11th, 1935.
    Alcoholics Anonymous comes Of Age, page 71.

    I have no doubt that a man who has cured himself of the lust for alcohol has a far greater power for curing alcoholism than has a doctor.
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 320.

It is truly amazing the amount of lies, contradictions and absolute garbage that can be found in A.A. literature.

Thanks Terrance,

Hello iamnotastatistic,

Thanks for the input. You make a bunch of good points there. And I have to agree: Yes, the A.A. literature is unreal. I especially like the quote about the benefits of murderous political dictatorships. I just coincidentally used it to answer another letter, above.

I can see this wacky vision of Bill Wilson and Adolf Hitler sitting around and comparing notes, discussing the relative benefits of murderous political dictatorships in America and Germany... Oh would it be fun to be a fly on the wall in that room.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate
**    among their dupes, but which no democracy can afford
**    among its citizens."
**       ==   William H. Beveridge, 1944

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Doug_A ]

Date: Sat, July 2, 2011 6:01 pm     (answered 5 July 2011)
From: "Douglas A."
Subject: I have never, ever, heard someone say in a meeting that Bill Wilson was really wrong, and that what he wrote in the Big Book is wrong.


Come along to any meeting I attend in Oregon!

It's hilarious. I'm a 35yr (on 6th July) years member of AA and entered it, and remain, a cynic and an atheist!

I find the ONLY reason to stay is that as various life crises have come upon me (far more in sobriety than when I drank) like divorce, the death of parents, the death of my son two yaers ago, there have been members who have been through the same thing, and coaxed me into sharing my anguish, grief anger whatever and saw me through it...

Other than that much of the program is, as must be evident to any with a whit of intelligence, pure hogwash!

Bill was a patronising so and so, who as an averred Christian had the temerity to pen 'we agnostics'.. today he would probably pen 'we gays' or 'we transgender anorexics' anything to get HIS view across with the spurious authority of his imprimateur? He also used science (when he 'knew but a little' to neatly scewer himself.. witness his electrons in his girder that go around in their rigid paths, showing the order in God's universe.. except of course they do no such thing.. they are bound by uncertainty and thus prove that there is NO absolute order and so (if one followed Bill's reasoning) no God? :-)

I have questioned why as an ostensibly non-denominational organisation, we say the Christian 'Lord's Prayer' for instance? Any deviation from the Big Book is considered heresy... one must agree, say the slogans, express gratitude or shut up... they even deny it's a self-help group, which is patently exactly what it is?

I now run a guerrilla campaign, using their own tactics against them. Having 35 years has to be worth something, and what it's good for is saying 'wait until you have been sober as long as I and then tell me your way of achieving it'. That always riles them (as if I cared, but apparently they do.) There's also the nonsensical 'time does not matter' which makes one wonder why they proudly collect annual tokens? The whole thing is a wonderful conflation of Catholic guilt, new age buzz-words and good old charismatic mind-control. Why do I still go? Well with their aversion (like all cults) to conversing with outsiders, one must subvert from within! lol

Most religions have at their heart a mixture of mental problems, or a person with more than one:

The obsessive compulsive (from whence flows the ritual, the superstition that any deviation from the 'rules' will lead to some disaster.)

The schizotypical personality — who marches to a different drum, and engages in 'magical thinking' seeing meaning and purpose in coincidence and happenstance

The temporal near-epileptic, who does not have full blown tonic-clonic seizures, but does experience 'aura' like that 'moment of clarity' that 'bright white light' of St Paul, or Moses' burning bush.

Each appeals to the lonely, the gullible, the weak and the desperate.. and so a cult / religion / Glenn Beck is born! lol

Doug A

SD 6th July 1976 and still without a 'God of my understanding' 'higher 'power' or blind faith! :-)

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Especially congratulations on keeping yourself sober and sane for 35 years. It sure beats the alternative, doesn't it?

You sound like another good candidate for the "Newcomers Rescue League", so welcome to the club.

And have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "The power of accurate observation is called cynicism
**      by those who have not got it."
**         ==  George Bernard Shaw

[The previous letter from ANONYMOUS is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#ANONYMOUS ]

Date: Mon, July 4, 2011 6:56 am     (answered 5 July 2011)
Subject: Re: Why is Alcoholics is no longer effective?

I am beginning to understand what you mean concerning a vote to pass anything of importance. I don't have proof of these figures, but we have 93 delegates. The number of voting staff of GSO The AA grapevine and trustees is 41. That is a total of 134. The way I see it, the 41 votes is pretty much a solid block of votes with much the same interests: to keep things as they are now. It would take 88 delegates to vote in a block to pass anything, (virtually impossible). Now that the AA Grapevine and the General Service Office are on an equal level, created by inserting a simple comma between the two. They share the same concerns: their livelihood. The comma can be found on page S 72 of the 2008-2009 AA Service Manual.

But you probably already know that. I only started this research about four years ago. You were a few years ahead of me.

I have a meeting Mon-Fri. 7-8 AM. I started the meeting four years ago. We have eliminated the HIW reading. We have NO chanting, and do not "Hold Hands and Pray. We had 14 this morning, and collected $24. I am going to try to get the group to stop sending funds to any service structure. Concept #7 tells us we can do that if we are not satisfied with our "leaders". We have some members who come to our morning, out of work and just getting well. But when they go back to work, they will go to other meetings. Honestly, there are no AA or NA meetings in this area that I would recommend. They are basically some kind of chanting, strange religion, with many Big Book Thumpers and step crammers. Many are in and out of "relationships". I am considering looking for an alternative to these "off the wall" meetings. Maybe I will find something. Use this any way you like. I suspect that you will do that anyway. But I really do wish to remain ANONYMOUS.

Hello again, ANONYMOUS,

Thanks for the letter. All of that information is interesting. And I didn't know about the comma on page 72, and cleverly changing the meaning of a line that way. I don't know everything. I also feel like I am still playing catch-up in trying to learn about all of the mechanations at the A.A. headquarters, and how they rewrite the rules every so often.

Doesn't it resemble the pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm? The pigs kept sneakily editing the rules that were painted on the barn wall, changing them to the pigs' advantage.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human
**     stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and
**     justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism
**     and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or
**     political idols.
**        ==  Aldous Huxley

[The next letter from ANONYMOUS is here.]

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

Canada Geese
A group of Canada Geese cruising
You can just see the peak of Mount Hood underneath the freeway, on the mid-right-hand side of the picture.
[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Vernon ]

[The previous letter from Vernon is here.]

Date: Tue, July 5, 2011 9:45 pm     (answered 7 July 2011)
From: "Vernon L."
Subject: RE: AA (what else?)

Well, I must say, you are an excellent provocateur with a whole arsenal of pat, well rehearsed rebuttals, perfect for any situation. Were you by any chance on a debate team at some point?

Hello again, Vernon,

No, I was never on a debating team. I learned about debating from trying to tell the truth to Steppers. My "arsenal" of what you call "pat, well rehearsed rebuttals" are actually just facts. I collect facts like how some other people collect postage stamps, because I want to know what the real truth is.

Rather than getting into an on-line pissing match in which you are already fully prepared and I am shooting from the hip, how about you delete any and all of my e-mails? You do not have my permission to post our private communications on your hate site. (I suppose you have a pat, prepared response for that too.) Have a good day, now or whenever you choose to.

Letters to the Orange Papers, or to "Orange", are not private communications, any more than Letters To The Editor of a newspaper are private communications. They are very public communications, and it is absurd to expect privacy when you send a letter to the editor.

Now when people write to me and start their letter by saying, "PLEASE DON'T PUBLISH THIS LETTER", then I respect that wish, and I do not publish the letters. But it's a little bit much to demand that a series of letters be deleted after I have gone to the trouble of answering all charges and claims and accusations at length, and posted the letters on the web site, and then you responded with more arguments, and no objections to the publication. Just because you lose a debate isn't grounds for deletion.

And I do not conduct private offline debates by email. Such debates would be a waste of time, and they would not benefit or educate or inform or even entertain anybody else. ALL debates are public.

By the way, I still maintained your anonymity.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Of course we speak little of conversion nowadays because so many people
**     really dread being God-bitten. But conversion, as broadly described by
**     James, does seem to be our basic process; all other devices are but the
**     foundation."
**       ==  Bill Wilson's statements to the American Psychiatric Association
**           105th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, May 1949

[The next letter from Vernon is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters246.html#Chris ]

Date: Wed, July 6, 2011 10:12 am     (answered 7 July 2011)
From: "Chris B."
Subject: Aa

Do you have a bio you can link to?

I would like to know more about you.

Chris B.

Sober in aa for 11 years.

Hi Chris,

There isn't any one page that is "the bio". There are a bunch of pieces and things here and there. The best link is this one: How did you get to where you are? That answer includes links to "who are you?" answers and personal history and other relevant things.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it
**     than to consume wealth without producing it."
**       ==  George Bernard Shaw (1856 — 1950)

Date: Fri, July 8, 2011 12:42 pm     (answered 12 July 2011)
From: "Chris B."
Subject: Re: Aa

Many thanks for this.

Obviously aa is not to everyones taste and they are free to look elsewhere for answers.

I have chosen to stay with them.

You enjoy your day as well!


Hi again, Chris,

Good luck, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.
**     Take which you please, — you can never have both.
**        ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: Intellect

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Michael ]

Date: Wed, July 6, 2011 12:17 pm     (answered 7 July 2011)
From: "Michael O."
Subject: "Rose Colored AAs"


It's interesting to read some of the more benevolent accounts of AA from members who claim that they "NEVER see such things (13th Stepping, Sponsor Abuse, etc.) at THEIR meetings." In many of these people's accounts they have great, laid back sponsors who are like friends and are used primarily as sounding boards. Their meetings are comprised of reasonable nice people who want to get better and help others through their experience, strength, and hope. These folks are often the ones most likely to parrot the softer, friendlier slogans of AA ("We have no monopoly on recovery", "Take what you want and leave the rest", "There are no rules", "These are only suggestions"), sometimes even claim THEY are atheists or agnostics and have still found a way to make the program work for them. These are what I like to call "Rose Colored AAs" (we'll use "Rose" for short). Rose is often educated, has a good job, has basically a good if not perfect family, a nice home in the suburbs, will go to meetings in pleasant (often mainline Protestant) church basements in nice neighborhoods populated mostly people like themselves instead of clubhouses and treatment centers, didn't get into TOO much trouble with the law or with health consequences (though he/she will maximize their own story of struggle and bottom in their drunkalogue) and will often claim their bottom as a "spiritual" or "emotional" bottom as much as a physical one or one with tremendous outside consequences. Because of Rose's intelligence, sophistication, social skills, surroundings, and overall life skills he/she will instinctively know how to navigate away from dangerous, unstable, manipulative people and has enough outside support to not have to REALLY depend on AA by itself and will often have additional help in the form of psychological therapy, supportive families, and generally a good sense of self once they stop the destructive patterns. Basically they have an easier time succeeding simply because they have more to live for in the first place.

While I know many AAs (including many who fit into the Rose profile) would vehemently object to the generalizations I've laid out, my own experience has suggestions that one's "success rate" has AT LEAST as much to do with "outside" influences as it does the degree to which one buys into AA. Rose thinks his/her experience is typical of the "real" AA and that all these horror stories are simply abominable exceptions that don't reflect the TRUE reality. Their AA is the one of "sober" picnics and parties, dances, conferences, friendly meetings mostly comprised of benevolent old-timers like themselves. They naturally "stick with the winners" because they are winners themselves already. They really don't get why anyone who doesn't agree with AA doesn't just leave since it maybe just "isn't for them". They assume AA has helped "millions" because they themselves see success stories all around them.

My point is that if you have resources around you it will be easier to recover if for no other reason because you have more to work with. I like how Dr. Stanton Peele puts it,

"external factors... all have a tremendous impact on drinking and alcoholism. The idea that it doesn't bear any relation to your social class is wrong. In fact in the United States the higher your social class the more likely you are to drink but the less likely you are to have a drinking problem. So much information about people, their lives... has to be suppressed in order to shoehorn alcoholism into a disease category that it's totally unscientific and dysfunctional to try to do so."

Or to put it more succinctly, here's a quote from the song "What It's Like" by Everlast, "You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start."


Hello Mike,

Thanks for the letter. Your description of a certain sub-sect is so clear that it just has a ring of truth to it. I can just see the sober picnics (and in fact, have seen a few).

Your description of the Rose-Colored A.A. member is a neat addition to a discussion that is going on in the forum right now, about "Alcoholics Anonymous member classification":

I'll add a link there to this letter.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb
**     because it is dumb to his dull perceptions. The fact that man knows
**     right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other
**     creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral
**     inferiority to any creatures that cannot.
**       ==  Mark Twain

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Gary ]

Date: Tue, July 5, 2011 2:14 am     (answered 7 July 2011)
From: "Gary M."
Subject: hello a question

just been reading your stuff?! Was thinking of booking into the priory, (england). take it you would advise no then??

Hello Gary,

I don't know anything about the "Priory" in England. I had never heard of them before. But I just did a Google search for it, and found what appears to be their their web site:


I used the search box on the right-hand side of the page, and entered "12-Step", and got five hits:


One entry claims that they have

"rehabilitation approaches including therapeutic community, cognitive behavioural therapy, brief intervention and 12-step."

The mention of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and "brief intervention" sounds good. But other entries say:

"a 12-step programme that is divided into two stages that last between three and 12 months. Stage One: The first stage lasts four weeks and reasserts the skills learnt in the 28-day addiction therapy programme. Stage Two: The second stage combines workshops and classes that are tailored to the requirements of the individual and include: budgeting and debt management, maintenance..."

Another search result says:

"The programmes are based on the 12-step abstinence model and provide treatment for a wide range of behavioural and substance dependencies including alcohol..."

I am very suspicious. Anybody who can keep a straight face while selling 12-Step cult religion as a therapy or a treatment is a lying con artist and a quack. I mean, someone who can look you in the eye and say, "It works, it really does," while selling superstition and cult religion and quack medicine is simply not to be trusted.

I would definitely look for another facility, one that does not sell any 12-Step cult religion as a cure for addiction problems.

Try asking for something that is based on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), RBT (rational behavioral therapy), or REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy), or AVRT (addictive voice recognition therapy), or something like that which is sane and scientific, with some kind of medical evidence to back up the effectiveness of the treatment.

Good luck and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   How many diseases does modern medicine treat
**   with a "spiritual cure"?
**   If you get cancer, does the doctor tell you
**   to join the Pentecostals and speak in tongues?
**   If you get diabetes, is the fix to join the
**   Mormons and eat chocolate cakes?
**   So why, if you get "alcoholism", should you join
**   Alcoholics Anonymous and conduct seánces to
**   hear the voice of God giving you work orders?

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Lisa ]

Date: Thu, July 7, 2011 12:49 pm     (answered 8 July 2011)
From: "Lisa G"

Dude! Where the hell did you go to meetings at? The AA that you went to is not the one that I go to......I would NEVER tell or imply to anyone that AA is the only way or even the best way to get sober. Although it has worked for me....that does not mean its for everyone. I have used the spiritual principals in the steps to improve the quality of my life but that does not mean I blindly follow the sick and stop thinking for myself.

Have you been to meetings all over the United States? All over the world? Every region? Every culture? Researched the diffferent generations AA has impacted for the good or the bad? If not, how can you state what AA is or is not?


Hello Lisa,

Thanks for the letter. You may not tell people that A.A. is the only way, but plenty of other A.A. members do, including Bill Wilson. I'm not sure whether you saw the previous letter that talked about that question, but I just covered the issue there. (Click on that link.)

If you have already read that letter, then I ask, which of the quotes from A.A. literature do you dispute? And isn't it the same Big Book the world over?

You can also read these two items that I mentioned there:

  1. Bait and Switch: First, Bill Wilson declared that Alcoholics Anonymous was only one of many ways to achieve sobriety, then he declared that it was The Only Way.

  2. The Cult Test: Insistence that the cult is THE ONLY WAY

Again, which quotes from the A.A. literature are incorrect?

Lastly, why don't you go to an A.A. meeting and "share" the statement that you are going to leave A.A. and follow a rational recovery kind of program like SMART or SOS or AVRT, and see what kind of reaction you get? Will the other A.A. members congratulate you for following your heart and your own intuition and wish you well, or will they tell you that you are making a fatal mistake and try to talk you out of it? Try that experiment in several different A.A. meetings and see what happens.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot
**     change their minds cannot change anything.
**       ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#CS ]

Date: Wed, July 6, 2011 2:39 pm     (answered 8 July 2011)
From: "C S"
Subject: Children's Gulags article


On your article about abusive "correctional" facilities, you mention the coroner who was so incompetant that he remarked that the testes and prostate gland of Donna Faye Reed were unremarkable, then state that those body parts are found on males, not females.

I think the correct terms would be "biological females" and "biological males," and it should have been specified that Donna was a biological female. (That is, a person with a female gender-identity born into a female body.) A trans female might very well have an unremarkable prostate gland and testes.


Hello CS,

Sorry, but that is going too far for me. By definition — biological and medical definition — a female is a creature that has two X chromosomes, and as a result grows secondary sexual characteristics like ovaries, a uterus, a vagina, and breasts. A male has an X and a Y chromosome, and as a result grows secondary sexual characteristics like testicles, a prostate gland, and a penis. Declaring oneself to be a different sex, and cross-dressing, changes none of that. Even sex-change surgery will change only some of that. No kind of surgery changes the chromosomes.

A competent coroner or pathologist should notice, in an autopsy, that the deceased has the sex organs of the opposite sex from what the paperwork states should be there.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      "The only reason I need these gloves is 'cause of my hands."
**         ==  Yogi Berra
**      "The similarities between me and my father are completely different."
**         ==  Dale Berra said this when asked if he took after Yogi.

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

Canada Geese begging
Canada Geese begging for munchies
These geese are really good at scoping out boats that might hand out some bread or other goodies, and they mob boats that hand out stuff. Shaking down the tourists for handouts is their favorite hobby.

The goose families with goslings, like the ones on the left, fare especially well. Many people just can't resist feeding the cute little things.

Notice the small duck at the stern. They get into it too.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Pat ]

Date: Thu, July 7, 2011 9:49 am     (answered 9 July 2011)
From: "Pat"
Subject: not a horror story.....yet

Hi, I was reading your website and I wanted to write to you so I hope this works.

I have a son who has had addiction problems with alcohol, prescription meds (vicodin) and crack. The last time he went out on a crack binge, I told him that he had to go to rehab or leave my home. He went to rehab. I could not have contact with him for the first three weeks and then he could only have visitors if a family member went to their "Family Counseling" every week. I did not realize that their program was based on AA at the time. They do some cognitive behaviour therapy but it's mostly AA meetings. He wanted me to let him out saying "there must be a better way" but I refused to come pick him up to leave. I called back to speak with someone who worked there and she told me not to let him manipulate me like that. He IS very manipulative. So he wound up staying and I started going to their meetings which were basically the same thing as an AA meeting. Then I was allowed to visit him. The thing is, they DO treat them like children, as one woman said on your website. They take away cigarette privileges if they "misbehave", they have now taken away even their coffee....they said they were drinking too much of it. I even brought some in for the group but they wouldn't let them have it...the staff was drinking it. One guy from the office had the nerve to walk through the dining room during visiting hours carrying a large mug of coffee. All the guys were practically drooling. When they are outside, they can't smoke unless it's an official smoke break. He's been in there a little more than 60 days and has at least another 30 to go. He does seem to be better but I've been noticing that his conversations revolve around the 12 steps which he initially thought was a bunch of hooey. I myself didn't really have a problem with AA except for that "powerless" stuff. I personally think that we all have the power to do whatever we want, including not drinking but I thought well, maybe it will work for him. They do have an "us vs them" mentality in there and strongly dislike most of the staff.

After I read your website, I started to become concerned. I expressed my concerns to some friends and they said that I should not interfere with his "treatment". They said that it might work for him where nothing else has, but I'm not so sure right now. He is already a wreck and my friends think I would make things worse for him if I rocked the boat right now. He attends AA meetings 6 days a week with a sponsor, one of the counselors tells him that he should not be taking Paxil, which he takes for severe anxiety, because it's "all in his head and he is causing his own anxiety". He has social phobia anxiety and gets sweaty palms and heart palpitations whenever he's in a group setting. He is working on Step 4 right now and one of the counselors yelled at him because he thinks he got to Step 4 too quickly and that he was just faking it....I'm not sure what to do, but I'm very concerned.


Hello Pat,

Thank you for the letter and the question.

You know, I really hesitate to give out advice in situations like this. We will always be left with the "what if" questions no matter what you do:

  • "What if he had stayed and finished the 'treatment'? Would he be better off a year later?"

  • "What if he had left that prison earlier, would he be saner now?"

Still, I think there are some things that are pretty obvious:

  1. The inclusion of some CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is mostly for show. Lots of treatment centers do that, to create the appearance of a sane, balanced, medically sound treatment program, when in fact they are only selling cult religion. The inclusion of CBT is little more than name dropping. The treatment center is really selling the 12-Step cult religion.

  2. It is very disturbing that he is starting to yammer about the 12 Steps all of the time now. That means that the brainwashing is working.

  3. Such treatment programs have no success rate. That is, if you check on the patients (or "clients", as they like to call them) a year after "graduation", and compare the people who got the whole treatment program to other people who didn't, people who only wanted to quit but didn't get any treatment, the results are the same. Both groups of people will have the same sobriety rate. You get exactly nothing for your money.

  4. That so-called "treatment program" is really just a torture program. The resemblance to military boot camp is obvious. The staff are sadistic assholes who enjoy flaunting things in front of the patients, like drinking coffee in front of them when they are not allowed to have any coffee, or smoking cigarettes and denying the patients a cigarette. It's just so much fun to torment helpless victims and play God. (Lots of Stepper oldtimers are like that. It just seems to often be a side effect of practicing the Steps for years.)

  5. Screaming at him while making him do a Fourth Step is unforgiveable. First off, moral shortcomings are not the cause of addiction. There is no sane reason for him to do a Fourth Step and list all of his sins. The whole Buchmanism guilt-induction confession routine is something designed to break people's minds and convert them into true believers in a cult, not something that makes people quit addictions.

  6. You said that your son has an anxiety disorder and is taking Paxil for it, but the so-called "counselors" are trying to talk him into quitting it. While screaming at him and criticizing him. Now things are getting dangerous. They may well induce a psychotic breakdown, after which he will get shipped from the treatment center to a mental hospital. The "counselors" are practicing medicine without a license, which is a crime. Start thinking about criminal charges and sueing for fraud and abuse.

  7. Your son has obvious mental problems, which are the cause of his excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol. This is a very common story. Something like half of all of the people who get labeled "alcoholics" or "drug addicts" have such underlying problems, and that is why they drink and drug to excess, vainly trying to fix what's broken.

    The 12-Step religion is not a cure for such problems. Practicing the Steps just makes such people worse off.

Like I said, I really hate to give out advice in such situations, because I cannot predict the future, but if it was my son, I'd get him out of there. I would not trust sadistic slogan-slingers and cult religion members with my son's life.

If he really needs to be confined to a treatment center, I'd find something that does not involve torture, cult religion, and crazy sadistic staff members. There must be some good residential treatment centers somewhere.

Then again, does he really need to be confined? Maybe he needs a psychiatric medicine stronger than Paxil. I'm not a doctor, so I can't say, but if it were my son, I'd get him to a better doctor, somebody who is really good at treating such anxiety disorders. Try several doctors until you get one who has the right answer. It's just too easy for a doctor to simply prescribe Paxil for a multitude of problems, and it seems that the Paxil isn't helping enough, so I'd try to get something else that works better.

I'd also get him to some SMART meetings. Or SOS, or Lifering, or HAMS, or anything like that. Being surrounded by some relatively sane, non-cultish, recovering people can be a positive influence. This link will lead you to a list of such organizations, and also a list of letters about what has helped other people.

Good luck, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**     guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**     also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**     having any medical education or training.  They have never
**     gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**     residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**     life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**     is what you call quackery.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Robert_S ]

From: "Robert S"
Subject: entertaining site! coin question?
Date: Thu, July 7, 2011 4:50 pm     (answered 11 July 2011)

I may need to re-read that but do you consider that 1,000 coins might not entirely represent 1,000 newcomers who drop out, but also a number of people relapsing and constantly picking up additional 24-hour coins who might or might not ever make it to < 1 year milestones?

We could be talking about 200 unique members here, some of whom may drop out due to disgust or a return to alcoholism... and some of whom have just collected an awful lot of "desire chips" without it really "working" in spite of "coming back" ?

Hello Robert,

Yes, I've considered it, and we have talked about that several times, including here.

First off, I said that the dropout rate shown by the coins (or "chips" or "medallions") given out is not scientifically established or 100% accurate, but it is a good indicator of what is happening.

I know that many people collect multiple 1-Day coins. They relapse two or three times or more times, and each time they come back, they get another 1-day coin. But at the other end, oldtimers who are collecting the 10-year or 20-year coins pick up multiple coins because they just love to hear the crowd cheering and applauding for them. One very revealing peculiarity of the numbers of coins given out is that the number of coins given out steadily declines from 2 to 9 years, and then suddenly spikes back up at the 10-year point, and then continues to decline after 10 years. (Look here.) The A.A. groups actually give out more 10-year coins than 8- or 9-year coins. Mathematically, that is an impossibility if everybody is just dutifully collecting one coin as it comes due. A correspondent wrote in and advised me that what I was noticing was the people who drive all over town, from meeting to meeting, to collect another 10-year coin and hear the crowd cheering and applauding for them again and again.

As I explained in that previous letter, one single 20-year old-timer picking up a second coin will offset 1000 newcomers picking up a second 1-Day coin. Do you understand how that math works? The ratio of a thousand to one for the newcomers versus the 20-year oldtimers will not change. And if a 20-year oldtimer picks up two extra coins, he offsets 2000 newcomers getting a second coin. And so on.

Now lets consider the worst-case possibility. Taking your number, let's assume that instead of 1000 people dutifully picking up their one-day coins, we have only 200 who average picking up 5 1-day coins each. And lets ignore the oldtimers picking up multiple coins. You know, that will hardly change the numbers at all. Instead of only one in a thousand people making it for 20 years, we will have 5 oldtimers making it for 20 years. Only 5 out of a thousand. That leaves A.A. still being a total failure that doesn't sober up people for the long run.

Another thing to notice is the other declines. We know that many beginners pick up multiple one-day coins, but how many people have you ever heard of who pick up multiple 1-, 2-, or 3-year coins? Or 5-year coins? I honestly have never heard of anyone who repeatedly got 5-year coins, and then relapsed and started over with the 1-day coins, and then got up to five years, and then relapsed again, and started over again, and again, and again.

The decline in numbers of coins still continues, steadily, in all year brackets. The number of 5-year coins given out was 16.29 per thousand, but the number of 11-year coins given out was 7.58 per thousand — less than half. So it would appear that A.A. is not even keeping the oldtimers sober. More than half of the 5-year guys are gone by 11 years. And most all of them are gone by 21 years. The number of 21-year coins given out was miniscule: only 0.76 per thousand 1-day coins. So the 5-year rate of 16 per thousand declined to less than one oldtimer per thousand newcomers by 21 years. Completely ignoring the newcomers for the moment, we still see that A.A. loses 95% of their sober members from 5 to 21 years. And they lose more than 99.5% of the 1-year success stories by 21 years. The 12 Step program just doesn't work to keep people sober.

All that A.A. does is suppress the desire to drink, and also suppress and bottle up anger and frustration (because you can't have a "resentment"), until people explode in a drinking binge. A.A. is very unhealthy psychotherapy, and it is even counter-productive, meaning, worse than no therapy or treatment at all. Another reader just sent in an article from the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction that found that A.A. was not only a failure, but counter-productive. (Check it out.) The so-called "studies" that found A.A. to be a success were flawed, fraudulent, invalid, and faked. (There is plenty of good money to be made by selling an old cult religion to the suckers.)

The small details of the mathematical analysis of the coins given out might be a little inaccurate, but the big picture is undeniable: A.A. is not getting the alcoholics sober, or keeping them sober.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "A well conducted professional study" (page 19) showed that
**     "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
**     after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
**     Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'" (page 2)
**     == Dr. Ron Whitington, Chairman General Service Board,
**     AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Clark_M ]

Date: Sun, July 10, 2011 2:13 pm     (answered 11 July 2011)
From: "Clark M."
Subject: 12-Step research

Thought you might be interested in this attached paper. The citation is: International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 2008. (6) 568-576.

Keep up the great work.


IJMA 2 (APA) in press.doc
Size: 90 k
Type: application/msword

[Also see updated version of the document, here:
Local copy here:

Hello Clark,

Thank you for the information. That is great, and I would never have found that myself.

In Press in International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

12-Step Treatment for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Revisited: Best Available Evidence Suggests Lack of Effectiveness or Harm

The essence of that paper is: The previous so-called "studies" that declared that A.A. worked great, and much better than CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) at a Veteran's Administration center were flawed, fraudulent, and (dare I say it?) downright faked. And guess who did that faked V.A. study? The notorious Humphreys-Moos team of professional A.A. propagandists.

The names of the authors of this paper were not given, so I can only assume that the editors of the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction must have written this paper. If so, this is big news.

The Journal authors found that the previous studies that claimed that A.A. worked great were invalid for all of the following reasons:

  1. No control group. There was no group of alcoholics who got no treatment at all, to see how the 12-Step treatment compared to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. You know, the guys who just quit drinking because they finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  2. The CBT group (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was polluted with 12-Step teachings. In fact, the "counselors" who "taught" the CBT program were actually believers in the 12-Step cult religion who couldn't resist the temptation to teach 12-Step theology in the CBT classes.

  3. Cherry picking. The sickest and worst-off alcoholics were either not included in the study, or were eliminated from the study when they relapsed. That created the appearance that the A.A. failure rate wasn't as bad as it really was.

  4. Alcoholics who relapsed and disappeared or died after the program ended were not counted as failures in the follow-up studies.

  5. The pro-A.A. studies ignored that fact that A.A. often just transferred peoples' addictions from alcohol to other things that were also deadly addictions, like tobacco and over-eating, but which are legal, so they were not counted as addictions.

  6. Unrealistic environments. Telling a bunch of alcoholics in a V.A. treatment center that they are in a study and being watched closely is a very different situation from somebody just wandering into an A.A. clubhouse and getting the standard A.A. routine. The authors of this paper wrote:

    ...while clients in the VA study were aware of participating in a study and were provided intensive services in a residential setting, individuals voluntarily accessing 12-Step programs through self help groups reportedly have very high rates of attrition.

  7. The follow-up programs, after treatment, were all 12-Step-based, so the comparison of A.A. to CBT was invalid. The fraudulent studies were really comparing A.A. to another version of A.A. As this paper said, "there was no intact cognitive-behavioral treatment group". And, "clearly there was no scientifically valid evaluation of C-B versus 12-Step approaches."

  8. Self-reporting. The studies that claim that A.A. works great based their conclusions on a bunch of alcoholics just declaring that they have not been drinking lately. But when such alcoholics were tested by urinalysis, 20% of them were lying. That is to be expected. Nobody wants to go to A.A. meetings and confess that he is drinking again, and that the 12 Steps aren't working for him, and he isn't "spiritual".

  9. A.A. is counter-productive. Telling alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol produces very bad results. Telling alcoholics that they drink because they have character defects and moral shortcomings is wrong and counter-productive. The authors wrote:

    ...12-Step approaches utilize and instill moral culpability, deviance and labeling. In contrast to the therapeutic factors of enhanced self-efficacy (e.g. Bandura, 1982; Miller and Rollnick, 1991) and internal versus external locus of control (Borkovec & Sharpless, 2004), the 12-Step approach inculcates participants with a sense of powerlessness and dependence on an external force for change. The disease model of addiction, central to the 12-Step approach, pathologizes individual clients, and in doing so distracts attention and efforts from social and intrapsychic stressors that may underlie addictive impulses. At the same time, the disease concept provides clients an escape from personal responsibility for choices (e.g. the client in treatment for alcohol dependence, who upon beginning participation in AA began repeatedly asserting, "It's not Tony, it's the disease." to explain his history of spouse battering.).

  10. Bad math. The authors of this paper had to correct the calculations in the previous studies to include negative factors that bring down the claimed A.A. success rate.

The authors concluded that A.A. was worse than no treatment, and that, on the principle of "do no harm", health care professionals should not send people to A.A.:

The corrected outcome results (likely 0 to 15 percent remission for substance abuse) support the conclusion that the type of realistic community 12-Step based intervention described is at best ineffective and likely less beneficial than no treatment.

As applied to practice, these results appear to obligate professionals in the helping fields, on the principle of nonmaleficence, at the least to avoid referring clients to 12-Step-based treatment programs. Under the principle of informed consent, professionals appear obligated to inform prospective clients that empirically based research suggests that 12-Step based treatment for abuse of alcohol or other substances is at best ineffective.

I hope this gets published far and wide.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   How many diseases does modern medicine treat
**   with a "spiritual cure"?
**   If you get cancer, does the doctor tell you
**   to join the Pentecostals and speak in tongues?
**   If you get diabetes, is the fix to join the
**   Mormons and eat chocolate cakes?
**   So why, if you get "alcoholism", should you join
**   Alcoholics Anonymous and conduct seánces to
**   hear the voice of God giving you work orders?

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Mona_Lisa_S ]

Date: Tue, July 12, 2011 7:39 am     (answered 12 July 2011)
From: "Mona Lisa S."
Subject: Better copy of research provided by Clark M

Clark gave you a preliminary copy. I believe this is what was actually published:


Hello Mona Lisa,

Thank you very much. Now that is more complete, and we have the author's name.

Local copy here:

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscience
**     The word "pseudo" means fake, and the surest
**     way to spot a fake is to know as much as possible about
**     the real thing, in this case science itself.
**       ==  author unknown

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Last updated 19 January 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html