Letters, We Get Mail, CD

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters400.html#Angela_L ]

Date: Mon, 5 May 2014 10:59:54     (answered 20 May 2014)
From: Angela Lambert
To: [email protected]
Subject: Great Drug Abuse information, very helpful, thanks!


My name is Angela Lambert and I wanted to write to thank you for the great resources on your page http://orange-papers.info/orange-links.html . You have really great Drug Abuse information on there. I'm sure I am not the only one who found it very useful :-)

I wanted to share an article with you, "Teaching Kids about Drug Abuse",
that would fit well on your page. As the author of the article, I would be honored if you could include it on your webpage. I'm hoping that it would be useful to your visitors. I'd love to check out your page update if you do decide to include it.

If you want to know more about me, check out our Twitter @morningside .

Thanks again for the great resources and I appreciate the work you do.

Have a great day,
Angela Lambert
[email protected]

Hello Angela,

Thanks for the tip, and thank you for the compliments. You know, I have a big problem with pages like that: They don't work. And they somehow totally miss the point.

When I was a child in school, I got all of the usual anti-drug propaganda. And propaganda is what it was. We got herded into a room where a movie was shown about a kid who first smoked marijuana and then, in a mere few weeks, was doing heroin, and then he lost his job because he was caught stealing cans of food from the store where he worked to finance his heroin habit. (I kid you not: he was slipping cans of beans into his backpack, and that was supposed to pay for heroin. Needless to say, the movie-makers were not terribly accurate or realistic.)

Then the junkie gets busted and we get the standard scene of him screaming in pain as he kicks his habit in a jail cell.

And what influence did that movie have on me? Well, of course I assumed that I would never do drugs. I was an honors student, straight A's and all of that, and not the kind of kid to get into trouble.

But later on, I turned into a hippie and have done every drug available, including shooting heroin and cocaine. So what went wrong? Well, the Vietnam War went wrong, and child abuse went wrong.

I was an abused child — abused mentally and physically. Never sexually. My parents weren't like that. But my father was an alcoholic military sargeant who thought that running his kids through 20 years of abusive boot camp was the proper way to raise children. And he was just plain mean and sadistic.

So when I rejected my parents, I totally flipped to the other side, and all of the anti-drug propaganda was irrelevant. In fact, the inaccuracy of the propaganda defeated it. A friend who wanted me to try heroin argued, "They said that if you smoked pot you would go crazy and rape and it would be awful. But you found out that it is wonderful. Then they said that if you took LSD that you would go crazy and commit suicide. And that didn't happen either, did it? Well, they are lying about heroin too. You can't get addicted."

Alas, my friend got addicted to heroin and disappeared into the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, never to be seen again.

Fortunately for me, I didn't try heroin at that time. At that age, I was too young and inexperienced to handle it. Several years later, I was mature enough to size it up and decide that it was a bad drug and walk away from it. Which I did. I haven't touched it in 40 years now.

The anti-drug information that really got me off of heroin was seeing what heroin turns people into. The people who had been doing it for a while were just plain wierd, and callous and unfeeling and didn't care about anything but getting another shot of smack. And I decided that I didn't want to become like them.

So what to tell the kids? I'd worry a lot more about what to tell the parents. Like, "Don't abuse your children. Don't abuse them mentally, or physically, or sexually. Don't put them down all of the time and tell them that they are failures, or that they are worthless. Build them up and make them feel good, and make them proud of themselves and make them glad to be alive. Then they won't need drugs to fix how they feel."

Now there will still of course be drug tragedies. Some people are born unable to feel right. People suffer from a variety of conditions like bipolar disorder (old name: Manic-Depressive Disorder), and they often self-medicate, just trying to fix what is broken. Those people need a doctor and better medications.

Another problem with trying to "tell children about drugs" is that you don't stand a chance against television advertising. The message that TV gives us is that drugs are good, very good, and they will improve your life. Have you ever counted the drug commercials on the evening news? It's non-stop drug commercials: Viagra, Lipitor, Boneva, Celebrex, Levitra, and on and on. The message that the evening network news gives us is that life is basically a drag, but it can be wonderful fun if you take enough drugs. Apparently, the real issue is not whether you should take drugs. The only question is which dealer you buy them from.

So what to tell the kids? I chose to tell the truth. My son was exposed to a lot of the drug culture, what with him being a child of hippies. He learned from the way that people talked that drugs were powerful things, and by the age of 8 or 9 he had memorized the names of all of the drugs, and what they do, and what the overdose danger is, and what happens if you mix drugs. I didn't encourage him to learn that stuff, I couldn't stop him. I just honestly answered his questions whenever he asked because I felt that his life was on the line, and lying to him about drugs would be about the worse thing that I could do.

Other than his older half-brother giving him a few hits of pot one day, he has never taken drugs. Thank goodness. Funny how that all worked out.

You can read more about that here:
Rat Park and Other Children's Stories.

Also see the study of the Cerebellar Vermis, where abused children have part of their brain stunted, and it keeps them from feeling right, and that often leads to excessive use of alcohol and drugs in their vain attempts to fix things.

Oh, by the way, the number one killer drug in the world is tobacco, and nobody goes to prison for selling tobacco to children. Now why is that?

Well, I don't know if I have answered any of your questions, really. But that's what I have to say on the subject.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Tobacco kills 440,000 smokers every year in the United States,
**     and secondhand smoke inhaled by bystanders claims another 50,000.
**       == New York Times editorial, "Ending Our Tobacco Addiction",
**            May 30, 2007.
**       http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/opinion/30wed3.html?
**             n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fEditorials

[The previous letter from Thomas_C is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters400.html#Thomas_C ]

Date: May 13, 2014, 11:44 AM     (answered 20 April 2014)
From: Thomas C.
Re: reply from Orange Papers

Finally the truth — you have an ax to grind, sorry AA works for those who work it, and it makes no claims of exclusivity of effectiveness.

You are just a nasty dry drunk who is lashing out at what you don't like because you don't understand the nature if the beast of compulsion.

I am not making a claim for anything but my experience.

Sorry for ruining your day, you can stay miserable if you wish that is your business.

But I have said a prayer for you that you get help for this viscous hatred you carry when no one harmed you.

For instance there are organizations that I don't agree with but I see a lot of people get help there.

Find Somewhere to get help.

Sent from my iPhone

Hello again, Thomas,

Thanks for the letter. It does not matter at all whether I have an ax to grind, or whether I am angry, or whether I have a resentment. That will not change the A.A. failure rate by a single percentage point.

By the way, claiming that I have a resentment, or that I am angry, is a standard A.A. dodge, to avoid discussing the true facts of the matter. Here is a list of similar attacks: Accusations of "You have a resentment."

Your personal attacks are standard cult behavior. It is described in the Cult Test here: 10. Personal attacks on critics.

And the answer for A.A. is here: 10. Personal attacks on critics.

When you say, "It works for those who work it", that is called Lying With Qualifiers, and it is another standard propaganda trick. The claim that "it works if you work it" is meaningless nonsense. It says that if you quit drinking, you will quit drinking. You could just as easily say that going to Baskin Robbins and eating ice cream works if you work it. If you always eat ice cream instead of drink alcohol, then you won't get drunk or be an alcoholic, will you? It works if you work it.

Then you wrote: "and it makes no claims of exclusivity of effectiveness."
Bull. That is a total reversal of reality. A.A. makes grandiose claims of being the only thing that works. Just look at the sweeping statements that Bill Wilson put in the A.A. holy books:

Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor for the foundering vessel he has become.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 35.

For most cases, there is virtually no other solution.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 43.

The AA member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles. If he deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies. At first he goes along because he must, but later he discovers a way of life he really wants to live. Moreover, he finds he cannot keep this priceless gift unless he gives it away. Neither he nor anybody else can survive unless he carries the AA message.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, Tradition One, pg. 130

For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, pages 14-15.

... you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.     ...
At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life — or else.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 44.

You can read much, much more of that in the web page on A.A. Bait-and-Switch tricks:
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.

The bottom line is that A.A. still does not work. A.A. raises the rates of binge drinking and death. A.A. also raises the divorce rate, and the suicide rate, and A.A. increases the cost of hospitalization of alcoholics.

And old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties is just not a good treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If only Bill Wilson had gotten the right medications,
**     we wouldn't have the 12-Step quack cure killing people today.

[The next letter from Thomas_C is here.]

May 18, 2014, Sunday, the Fernhill Wetlands at Forest Grove:

Canada Goose goslings
Mother with 4 goslings eating bread.

Canada Goose goslings
Mother with 4 goslings eating bread.

Canada Goose goslings
Mother with 4 goslings eating bread.

Canada Goose goslings
The Family of 4 is coming ashore.

[More bird photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters400.html#Josh ]

Date: Wed, 14 May 2014 18:53:31     (answered 20 April 2014)
From: Josh
To: [email protected]
Subject: logical question

Hi Orange,

Love the site. I've attended many AA meetings in my time, though not for a year or more now. I've heard all the slogans and observed the kind of cult atmosphere and group-think. And I agree with pretty much every critique you make throughout your site. It's a kooky religious cult and not a treatment for alcoholism.

I did however want to raise what seemed like a potential contradiction in the logic of some of your claims that I've come across. I don't have direct citations at hand of where you said each thing, but hopefully my description will be sufficient.

In several instances I've seen a Stepper write you saying something along the lines of, "Well, whatever you say, I know AA has worked for me!" And I have seen you respond saying that it hasn't worked for them. They're confusing correlation with causation. Your reasoning seems correct, based as it is on AA's failure to improve upon the spontaneous remission rate in controlled studies. The conclusion would tend to be that participating in AA does not actually cause anyone to achieve remission. If someone achieves remission while participating in AA that is just a coincidence or correlation and not a causal relationship. All makes sense so far.

But I'm not sure it's necessarily so simple. In another instance, I have seen you also say that the studies you rely on, or perhaps any other studies, could not prove what caused any specific individual to get better or not get better. They can only identify a causal link in the aggregate, or across groups. And in the samples the AA groups do no better than the no treatment or control groups. I wish i had a direct citation for what exactly you said here, but it was in one of your many Letters pages and i don't remember which.

So it seems there may be a contradiction here. Can you actually say that AA didn't help a particular individual writing you asserting that it did help him or her? It certainly doesn't appear like it could have helped them in the aggregate. But that could be misleading.

For example, let's take your standard "5%" 1 year remission rate, which more or less holds for AA and no treatment groups. That would indeed mean it is true that AA has not improved on the spontaneous remission rate, but, perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, it does not necessarily mean it did not help a particular individual achieve remission.

Let's say the sample is 100 alcoholics. The statistic above would suggest that about 5 people out of that 100 will have stopped drinking whether they go to AA or do no treatment. Right so far, but that doesn't actually mean that it would be *the same 5 people* in both cases. It could possibly be the case that if the 100 are sent to AA that a certain 5 individuals get better, but if the same group had done no treatment that a different 5 individuals would have been the ones to get better.

Now, in medical or statistical terms that still means the AA "treatment" is worthless. Perhaps it helps 5 people to recover, but it accomplishes this only by hurting 5 people that would have otherwise recovered, but now didn't because of AA. It's a wash, but there are actually particular individuals for whom "AA helped me!" is actually true. It also could be more complicated still in that maybe it's not all 5 one way or the other. It could be that 3 of the 5 would be the same success story in either case, while 2 of the individuals change from one group to the other.

Why this would happen isn't clear exactly. It would have to mean that there are certain people, albeit a small percentage, that just happen to "click" with AA for some reason and actually are helped by AA, while at the same time there would have to be a similar corresponding small percentage for which AA "treatment" actively prevents and hinders their efforts. They would have gotten sober on their own, or with some other non-step program, but were stopped by AA indoctrination. But then these groups would cancel each other out and get hidden in the aggregate statistics.

None of this would be good news for AA overall, but it would cast doubt on your response to individuals who write in asserting "It helped me!", where you basically say no it didn't help you. It seems possible, if still perhaps unlikely, that they could actually be right, in their particular case. Maybe this is something that Project Match was hoping to try to get at. If you can get people into the different treatment types that particular individuals happen to "click" with (programs that can help that individual), and likewise get people out of treatment types that those particular individuals don't "click" with (programs that may actually hurt that particular individual), then you could possibly improve on spontaneous remission.

If I remember correctly, that Project Match experiment basically failed to yield the hoped for results, but still it seems rather hard to rule out the claim that a particular individual was helped by 12 stepping. It seems like that could conceivably true for a particular individual and you could at the same time still get the kind of failed results for AA that you point to from the Vaillant paper and others.

You always seem to try to be very logical in your arguments and in this case it seemed to me that you may have a logical contradiction. So I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Hello Josh,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments and some good questions.

The reason that I pretty much blanket reject all claims that "it worked for me" is because of the complete failure of A.A. as treatment for alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction. You quite correctly point out that I often reject such claims on the basis of Confusion of Correlation and Causation. That is often what it is.

And I reject anecdotal stories for the same reason as the FDA does: they are completely unreliable, and not valid evidence of anything. People are easy to fool. Dr. David Duncan wrote about that problem in a letter:

That some of the people who receive ineffective or even harmful treatment will recover anyway and will in most cases credit the treatment for their recovery is the rule rather than the exception in all areas of treatment.
That is why researchers like myself are totally unimpressed by patient testimonials. Effective treatments and ineffective treatments are equally likely to produce ample numbers of satisfied patients, some of whom really have recovered, whether because of or despite the treatment they received.
David F. Duncan, DrPH, CAS, FAAHB
Duncan & Associates
Clinical Associate Professor
Brown University Medical School
Council on Illicit Drugs
Nat'l. Ass'n. for Public Health Policy

I have received so many stories where people say things like, "I have not had a single drink since my first A.A. meeting."
What they don't seem to realize is, A.A. could not have made them quit drinking. They had already quit drinking before they walked into the A.A. clubhouse. They quit drinking without doing the 12 Steps, or reading the Big Book, or even attending one A.A. meeting. A.A. did not make them quit drinking.

I'm tempted to ask such people,

  • "How many beers and fifths of whiskey did you bring into the A.A. clubhouse for your first A.A. meeting?"
  • "What, none? You weren't drinking when you went to your first A.A. meeting?"
  • "Were you drunk when you went to your first A.A. meeting?"
  • "No? Well then, you had already quit drinking before you went to A.A., hadn't you?"
  • "So what was the real cause of you quitting drinking? What made you decide to stop drinking? What happened before that first A.A. meeting?"
    • "Was it the pain and sickness and realizing that alcohol was killing you?"
    • "Was it the threat of losing your job or your spouse and family?"
    • "Was it all of the troubles piling up? DWI? Fired? Homeless?"
    • "Was it a doctor lecturing you and telling you to quit drinking or you would die?"
  • "What really happened to make you quit?"

I rarely get realistic answers to those questions. Unfortunately, a lot of people would rather believe in fairy tales and repeat slogans than think carefully about what actually happened.

In my case, it was the being sick to death and having the doctor lecture me and literally say, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one." I thought it over for a while, and drank on it some more, and then finally decided to quit. And I was already two weeks sober before I walked into my first A.A. meeting (second time around) in November of 2000.

Another reason why I reject claims that "it worked" is because those enthusiastic believers cannot explain how "it works". I ask simple honest questions like, "Exactly how does confessing your sins in Step 5 make you quit drinking alcohol? When was that ever shown to work?" They give me double-talk answers like, "Well, all I know is it worked for me." That is not evidence of efficacy, that is evidence of gullibility.

The very idea that alcoholics drink alcohol because they have unconfessed sins is just Frank Buchman's and Bill Wilson's insane cult religion nonsense. They claimed that unconfessed sins separated us from God, the Good Life, and happiness, and all that we had to do to be saved was to get down on our knees and start confessing. But it never worked. Not for salvation or sobriety.

I have never heard of any alcoholic who drank too much because he had unconfessed sins. Personally, I drank too much for many years, and I never once said, "I have some unconfessed sins, so I need to go to the bar and get smashed." Never. I often said, "I am all upset and unhappy, so I'll have a few to calm down." And I said, "I'm in pain, and need something to kill the pain." And I said, "I just want to get righteously ripped and have a good time." But I never drank because I had unconfessed sins. So the 12 Steps attempt to fix a non-problem as the solution to a real problem.

Then of course there is Carl Sagan's classic line: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." To claim that practicing an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties cures alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction is a very extraordinary claim. A.A. has not provided even a little standard evidence like properly-conducted Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Studies to prove that A.A. actually works and makes alcoholics get sober. Never mind extraordinary evidence. They have had more than 70 years now to demonstrate that A.A. works, and they haven't done so, so I have no reason to believe that A.A. makes alcoholics get sober.

You bring up some other interesting questions, like, "How do you know whether the 5% who quit in A.A. are the same 5% that will quit without A.A. or treatment?" The truth is, we cannot tell that for sure. The best assumption is that they are the same people. But we cannot conclusively prove that they are the same people. It is logically possible that A.A. encourages a different five to quit, while killing the 5 who would have quit without A.A. Now that is highly unlikely, but it is possible.

We know that it is possible that A.A. is helping one person to recover from alcohol abuse while hurting five or six others. Dr. George E. Vaillant got such a result from his 8-year-long test of A.A.-based treatment. After 8 years of A.A., the score with his first 100 patients was 5 continuously sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking. That is almost a 6-to-1 killed to recovered ratio.

Now in all fairness, we know that some of those alcoholics would have died anyway. Undoubtedly, some of them had already wrecked their livers and kidneys and brains and lungs and health before they started treatment. Still, when Dr. Vaillant compared the A.A. results to the results from other treatment methods, A.A. had by far the highest death rate.

We know that A.A. kills people by telling them not to take their medications. A.A. also tells people not to see a doctor, just trust the 12 Steps to heal them. That is quackery and faith healing at its worst.

A.A. also pushes people over the edge into binge drinking by teaching them that they are powerless over alcohol. And once you have taken your first drink, you have already lost all of your sober time and have to start over collecting coins with the aluminum "Just For Today" coin, so you might as well really tie one on and make it worth it.

What I have seen is that there are just a certain number of people who will fall in love with cult religion and become true believers in it, at least for a while. But even they eventually drop out. The odds of a newcomer becoming a 20-year oldtimer are less than one in a thousand.

Even if A.A. does help some person who just loves the cult religion atmosphere, that doesn't justify allowing A.A. to harm 5 or 6 other people in the process. "Treatment" should be better than that. The FDA would never approve a medicine that harms 5 out of 6 patients.

About Project MATCH: one of the goals of Project MATCH was to establish whether a certain kind of alcoholic would do better in A.A. or under professional treatment, thus justifying a mix of highly-paid professional therapists and free A.A. sponsors. The question was much like the one that you are asking, "Will some alcoholics recover better in A.A., while others might do better under a professional therapist's care?" Alas, Project MATCH failed to produce any such results. All of the groups did equally well, which means that all treatment was equally effective — or, far more likely — equally ineffective. Because the Project managers failed to have a control group, all of the results were meaningless and none established what success rate any method of treatment really got.

In such a study, the obvious next question should have been, "What about the people who will do better with no A.A. and no treatment?" The corrupt quacks who administered Project MATCH did not want to hear that question, because they wanted to believe that they were essential to the recovery of alcoholics, and they definitely did not want to prove that A.A. treatment was ineffective and useless.

Well, that sort of answers your questions, but doesn't answer it, does it? Really, we simply cannot say whether the people who recover in A.A. are the same ones as would have recovered without A.A. All that we can say is that the recovery rate is the same, with or without A.A. To know for sure if it would be the same people would require two parallel universes where identical people got different treatments. We can't do that, given the current state of physics. We can only do Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Studies to establish whether a group of people does better or worse with any given treatment.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Many fields of human endeavor are plagued with misinformation,
**     misconceptions, superstitions, and irrational beliefs.
**     Some fields are better than others. Manufacturing, for example,
**     has little use for mythology and superstition and misunderstandings.
**     Either a manufacturing process works correctly and efficiently,
**     or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, then it is soon replaced with
**     something better. Medicine is generally good, and there is now little
**     tolerance for quackery. Medicine is not perfect however, as shown
**     by the proliferation of 12-Step quackery in the field of addiction
**     treatment. By far the worse fields for misinformation and
**     deluded beliefs are politics and religion. There, you have little
**     need for actual facts or logic or reason. There, people just
**     believe whatever sounds good to them, with few or no facts to
**     support such sentiments. And in religion, people actually brag
**     about having given up their sane, rational minds, and having
**     become mindless true believers. They are so insane that they
**     imagine that mindlessness and blind faith are improvements, and
**     that God will love them more if they are unthinking idiots.

May 18, 2014, Sunday, the Fernhill Wetlands at Forest Grove:

Canada Goose goslings
The Family of 4

Canada Goose goslings
The Family of 4
These geese are actually quite trusting, bringing their babies ashore near me. They are still very wary, and don't want me getting too close, but they already know that I don't intend to harm their babies. They are okay with me standing a ways away and photographing them with a telephoto lens. (Sigma 100-300mm F4 on a Canon 5D body)

Greylag Goose
And of course Gus is coming over to get his share of the munchies. His wife is right behind him.

Greylag Gander + Canada Goose
Gus and Mrs. Gus

[The story of the birds continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters400.html#Jonathan_D ]

Date: Fri, 16 May 2014 22:27:37     (answered 21 May 2014)
From: Jonathan D.
To: [email protected]
Subject: FAA sponsored cult induction

I am a pilot in the FAA HIMS program. I would like to share my history with you. I have been abused. There is some good in the program and BOAF has helped me but AA has damaged me psychologically. The attachment is a letter I recently wrote to my FAA HIMS sponsor physician. Thanks for reading. I enjoy your blog.


Jonathan D.

Formerly Jonathan D.
Dr. xxx,
The following letter is a brief history of my alcohol abuse. I hope that the letter will convey the necessary information to you about the struggles that self medicating with alcohol has given me over the years.

My first drink occurred on the night before Halloween in 1988, also known as 'mischief' night. In the town of Zionsville Pa, also known as Hosensack, the youth had fun throwing corn at cars, toilet papering houses and also throwing eggs. On this night, one neighborhood kid got into his parents liquor and boasted of a bottle of wine while drinking it. My friends and I had several sips and then hid the bottle under a large pine tree. Later I returned to the pine tree and drank the rest of the bottle. When I went home, the room was spinning and I was very sick and eventually vomited. During a sophomore party I drank an entire bottle of Southern Comfort. When the cops came I sprang out of the house and crawled my way through sticker bushes to gain my freedom. This was an exhilarating experience.

Some of my fondest memories of my adolescence were shooting bow and arrow with my father. My father was the head of the Old Testament department at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and also an ordained Presbyterian minister. We went bow hunting for deer in the country surrounding our home. One day my father left to set up his tree stand and never returned. I knew approximately where he set up his stand and began hiking into the woods after dark to find my father dead next to his tree stand; the result of a massive heart attack.

After graduating I began pumping gas at the local airport where I soloed (1N9). There were numerous underage 'garage' parties where my friends and I would consume vast quantities of Shaffer beer that only cost $5 dollars a case. These were some of my happier times and the alcohol flowed freely. I went to Penn State Allentown the summer after graduation. My grades were very good at first but soon became very poor after my father died. I drank on and off for the next ten years getting laid off from different airline jobs; working the ramp and ticketing. During this time period I would describe my drinking as very moderate. I was interested in flying and I knew that one DUI would ruin the career I wanted so I never drank much when I was out and usually stopped after two or three drinks. There were occasions where I had more but this was not very common. In the summer of 1999, I worked for United Airlines as a baggage handler in Allentown. Soon the RJ's began to take over mainline routes and United and Delta moved out the 737 and MD-88 and brought in the RJ. These planes had actually been flying for several years but soon began to take over routes causing the station to close. I decided to stick with United and moved to Fort Myers Florida where there was a job as baggage handler. Soon I was sent to load planning school. I did load planning for LTU, Condor, United and America West, etc...I worked on my commercial license when I had the money to take lessons. This was at a little known flight school in Venice Florida called Huffman Aviation. There was a loft in the flight school where there were study cubicles and a pool table. Above the pool table hung a plastic model United 767. One day, while studying in the cubicles, two men were whacking the plastic 767 with their pool sticks like it was a piñata. I did not know it at the time but now I am pretty sure these men were Al Qaida operatives named Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehi.

After 9-11 my co-workers and I were instantly laid off and called back some two weeks later to search the airport for knives and other contraband material. I worked as a GSC at the checkpoint before the TSA took over and met a young woman named Shannon. Our courtship did not last very long. Soon, the most ridiculous government agency took over airport security. These people had no idea what they were doing and were the butt end of every airport joke. Shannon was hired by the TSA and began sleeping with her boss. She got a fairly large pay raise. Soon United was in bankruptcy and all the work groups gave large pay cuts. The pension and some other benefits were also given away in bankruptcy. I began to hate the union, the greed of the company and the incompetence and corruption of government agencies. I approached my boss at United to request an educational leave of absence to continue time building for my commercial license. I was told that corporate would not grant an LOA because I was a union employee and my intent was to acquire skills to work elsewhere. I had four hundred hours of sick time. I used all of this and then resigned. I wanted to fly for United. I began drinking more.

I had saved very earnestly for years in order to buy an airplane. Finally that day came in the summer of 2002. I paid cash for a 1973 Aerobat. That summer I flew the airplane all the way from Minneapolis to Venice Florida where I lived. I logged hours flying my airplane from my ramp job in Fort Myers home to Venice. Often this was late at night when I was done with my shift and it was very peaceful to be the only person on the radio at 2AM. I felt very fortunate but deep down I was a very sad young man and very sick inside.

I flew as fast as I could in order to make last call at the local bar. I would put my Cessna in the hangar and leap into my car usually making it to the bar at about 1:50 AM. I would order as many drinks as I thought I could manage and drank them down in rapid succession. Occasionally, I kept bottles around the house for the occasions that I did not make it for last call. This turned into some day drinking and, on rare occasions, I drank at work.

I began getting sick in the late 1990's and early 2000 time frame. I did not know what was wrong with me but I often had horrific abdominal pain and a low grade temperature. I feared going to the doctor because I did not want to find out I had an illness that would ground me. I had one singular focus during this time and that was becoming an airline pilot.

After 9-11 I thought I had been infected with SARS. My shift work had me doing heavy cleaning on a 757 late at night so it seemed logical that I should go and get checked out. I always had a sore throat, a low grade temperature, and horrific pain in my abdomen. This got progressively worse and I found out I was bleeding internally. I eventually landed a job with American Eagle airlines. I remember drinking bottles of Pepto-Bismol in order to keep from bleeding during my new hire training in Dallas and during IOE at O'Hare. While based in Dallas, my condition got worse. I went to numerous doctors in Dallas one of which prescribed me prednisone and pain killers. Ten months after being hired at Eagle I resigned one day with no notice. This was the day of my probationary check ride. I was very anxious about the event as numerous other probationary new hires had been fired in the simulator prior to completing a year of service. The memory of many of my new hire classmates being terminated was still fresh. I had only been out sick twice due to the medication I was taking but the anxiety of the event and the large doses of prednisone made it seem logical just to quit. I don't know why I did that but four months later I found myself in training at PSA Airlines in Dayton Ohio. I finally went to see a gastroenterologist and was diagnosed with crohn's disease.

Now that I knew what I was dealing with, I managed my medication and fulfilled the duties of a first officer at PSA. Narcotic pain medication was readily available due to my diagnosis. I took these frequently in order to manage the pain. I never sought medication by illicit means and long periods of remission were also characterized by long term periods of sobriety from narcotic pain medication. Simply put, when I filled a prescription for pain medication, I often took more than was prescribed.

My attendance record at work was less than exemplary and frequent notices from management in my mail file about my use of sick time began to accumulate. I filled out the paperwork for FMLA and continued this practice before grounding myself this last January to go on Remicade infusion. A few check airmen at my company began to treat me differently during re-current events and impromptu line checks. Once, I was chastised in the simulator for continuing a takeoff at 5 knots prior to V1, after losing the airspeed tape on my side. My reasoning was that center ISIS was accurate and Captain side tape cross checked the same. I felt I acted appropriately but I was easily rattled in the simulator. I went to Dayton for upgrade training but I found the ground school to be disorganized and unprofessional. I asked to be sent back to the line as FO. I knew I was not ready for this and the training was inadequate. I was dealing with trauma in my personal life. I was told that the company considered this a failure so I pressed on and passed the captain oral with an FAA examiner. Upgrade simulator training at PSA consists of 4 simulator events and a check ride. I had a few good days in the sim and a few bad days. Very little training actually occurred. This was checking and not training. My sim partner and I were told on day one of simulator training that he would have failed both of us on the oral. I decided I did not want to risk failure so I went back to the line as an FO and never took the check ride. Seven out of nine of my upgrade classmates received pink slips. I got pulled off the line once for not having the Freeport low altitude en-route chart in my briefcase library. When this happened, I put myself out on medical for the Remicade infusion. Remicade was very effective. I took myself off pain medication in February of this year and over the preceding six months began to see a moderate increase in my alcohol consumption. This was goaded by financial and emotional abuse during a long term relationship with a woman I loved. It's not her fault I drank. I drank just to go to sleep and forget the pain. I drank to forget.

I always knew I could drink more than a normal person. This theory I tested at my crash-pad in Charlotte. Some of my tenants, virtually all mainline pilots, would occasionally drink and bring alcohol. I drank more than them most of the time. This was just a special gift I had. I was cautioned by a past friend that I should only drink beer. I attributed this to having a high tolerance for alcohol but never really realized this could be alcoholism until it began to affect my work. Several times over the past few years I woke up in hotel rooms surrounded by cans of beer and little liquor bottles not really realizing how this had happened. Things were said and done the night before that I did not remember and were cause for great embarrassment.

I began self medicating more when my ex girlfriend moved into the crash pad, began acting out, and insisted that I close it down. I had carefully built a nice business and was networking well. Many of my tenants were mainline training captains. I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be a part of mainline and I hated my identity as a regional airline pilot. The nine beds I kept neat and tidy. I was very proud of this accomplishment and the business income made my low wages more endurable. I longed to be a part of mainline and I hung on to this hope with the greatest enthusiasm. Any day now, I would receive a call for a class date. The call never came.

One morning I slept through my alarm and finally woke up when the hotel clerk started banging on my door. I was over an hour late for my show time and my crew had stuck their neck out for me. This is when I called Darren J, my HIMS rep, and officially entered the HIMS program.

I knew that my binge drinking was abnormal. I rationalized that, by abdicating my name from the seniority list, I was doing my part to stop the abuses that occur at regional airlines. I reasoned that, by continuing to work there, I gave my tacit approval for the abuse to occur in the first place and the only voice I had was my feet. I used them. The company was run by fear and intimidation. Our schedules were built to maximize pain during contract negotiations. On many many occasions I flew my last leg having been awake for twenty one hours and we were intimidated by management for being fatigued. Schedulers were abusive. We had no means to modify our schedules. The company was caught several times changing block times in crew track to "make us legal". I flew 100 hours a month and my pay never reflected the effort I put in. By this point I hated regional airlines and everything they stood for. I hated my identity as commuter trash. I wanted to be a part of something larger than myself. I wanted to be a part of mainline. I wanted the benefits of mainline training and schedules. I wanted to be able to pay my bills and have something left over. My male role models during this time were the many J4J furloughs that I cut my teeth with. They taught me to hate the company I worked for and to engage in job actions such as burn extra fuel, and cancel or delay a flight if you could. I went along but I did not participate in this.

I entered into Fellowship Hall in Greensboro NC on August 2, 2012. I learned about the disease of addiction. This was my first introduction into AA. I was a preacher's kid. I naturally embraced the spiritual principles and made progress in my step work. Some mainline pilots from US Airways came for a picnic and visited with me. Instead of interpreting their visit as encouragement, their visit reminded me that I was not a mainline pilot. I was not a part of [that] and I did not belong.

The underlying message I received from lectures and meetings at Fellowship Hall was not one of hope for me. I interpreted much of what I was taught to mean that I was defective, sick, and that my predicament in life was a result of my sin and godlessness. I became confused. I had always believed in God. I was always cognizant of my sin and character defects. I had always cleaned house when it was due and tried to help others. The God of my understanding's forgiveness was always implied.

When I was 13, I was afraid to dance with my first love because I was afraid this was sinful. At 24, I slept with a married woman because I was tired of being a sexually repressed virgin. The assertion that my sex conduct and wrongs needed to be confessed to another man was most bizarre to me. God's forgiveness is implied. I had not been in a steady relationship with a sex partner until my early 30's. I believe my religious upbringing left me sexually frustrated, ill equipped, fearful, and unprepared to handle life. The message I received during my adolescence was that my hormones were sinful. I was making progress towards abandoning much of this dogma and believing in the God of my understanding when along came AA to re-enforce the very shame based dogma that I could not relate to in my youth. God gave me hormones! I am glad he did.

I began to view AA principles as shame based religious dogma. The net effect of AA has been to lower my self esteem, to make me fearful, shameful, and self loathing. What I needed most was to be empowered and to have my self esteem restored. I began to feel that AA was damaging me psychologically. My first sponsor was bullying. He and my former grand sponsor would make demeaning remarks which mirrored much of the big book text. My sponsor and grand sponsor also told me I could not be in a relationship for a year.

After several weeks at Fellowship Hall, my mother was being given invitations to attend a family wellness weekend. This was a costly program. My mother was treating my initial inpatient as though I was graduating from college. She was making preparations to drive all the way from Florida to attend and plan a family picnic afterwards. I did not approve this. I did not want this. I was not proud to be there. I wanted to quietly leave without any fanfare. This was the last shred of dignity I could grasp onto and Fellowship Hall was taking it away from me. I was not fond of the fact that I was living with my mother at 38. My economic circumstances at the time dictated this be the case. I did not approve this and did not want this. My mother is elderly and on a fixed income. I asked the program director not to invite her but the invitation was made without my consent. I asked to use my cell phone in order to call my mother. The request was denied. I became angry and demanded to use my cell phone. I told the nurse that I wanted to use my cell phone or I wanted to leave. The nurse called a cab. She told me to get in the cab or they would call the police. I got in the cab and went to the hotel. I drank. The next morning I drank. I went to the airport and drank more. I got arrested at the gate and thrown in a jail cell in downtown Greensboro. I was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment for public intoxication. I was wrecked and I wanted to die.

The next day, the prison chaplain agreed to take my debit card to the ATM and get some cash for me to make bond. I am thankful that this man helped me. I bought a ticket and flew home to southwest Florida. I was told to attend many AA meetings while I waited to see if I could get into another 28 day program in Naples, FL called the Willough.

I checked into the Willough on 28 August 28, 2012, my birthday. I finished reading the big book and attended all scheduled meetings. A typical day at the Willough consisted of sitting in a classroom in a modified 7-11 store and filling out pamphlets. We were seldom given time with medical staff and counselors. We were told to conduct AA meetings in the evenings. These meetings were self proctored. There was a tech who would occasionally come in and make sure we were reading the literature. I found this therapy completely ineffective. There was active prescription trading among the patients and several were sent away or arrested after failing drug tests. I graduated and received my Willough AA medallion. I learned more about illicit narcotics and hepatitis C than I ever wanted to know.

I went home to Venice FL and got involved in the local AA group, chaired meetings, got a sponsor, worked the steps, and made coffee. My disability check did not cover my bills. People in AA told me to "let go and let god" and "not to worry about getting a job right now" My credit began to fail as my bills went unpaid. I did not have the money to pay the doctors and therapists. I had to fight with the insurance company every month in order to get them to send the tiny check. They required doctors notes for treatment with psychiatrists I could not afford. Again, the message I received was that my character defects, sin, and godlessness were the reason for my pain. I worked all the way up to step 8 with my sponsor but I found the insistence on attending meetings and the shaming that occurred to be damaging to me psychologically. I was told things like: "the problem is between your ears", "take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth", "If you stop attending meetings and don't work your program you will drink and die" I began to dislike AA. Attending lots of meetings did absolutely nothing to positively impact my resolve not to self medicate.

I had long term sobriety (sixteen months) and was still making good progress on the steps when the insurance company stopped paying me and PSA cancelled my health insurance. I was told I was welcome back to PSA. I did not want to return there. When I told my company HIMS rep that I did not want to work for PSA, that I did not trust the training department, and that I wanted to be a mainline pilot, he told me I was self will run riot, delusional, and a dry drunk. I still had hope and that sustained me. I might be delusional but I have my dreams. My dreams sustain me.

As time progressed I became increasingly unable to pay for my recovery. I took a job out of state with a Christian friend of mine. We made voice and wave chips for analogue synthesizers and restored vintage keyboards in a small shop in Arrington TN. My AA, HIMS experience was not pleasant. I did not have the means to proceed. I did not have a flight pass anymore. Its my fault but I gradually lost hope. Cannabis smoking was tolerated amongst some AA members. I had not smoked cannabis in twenty years but I got my hands on an ounce. It helped me sleep and helped with some of the psychological pain but all I could think about was flying airplanes. I became more and more depressed. I eventually had some social drinks. One drink on one occasion. One drink several weeks later and then one drink a week after that. Eventually I stopped by a liquor store and bought a bottle of rum and drank to excess. A couple of days later I drank a six pack and another one several days after that. One night I took a couple of Ambien, drank several beers and smoked some cannabis. I was deeply depressed by this point and began to fashion that I might kill myself. All I wanted was to fly for mainline. I called Darren J and shared this thought with him. I had no money.

My HIMS doctor told me to sell everything I had and I could sign over the deed to a real estate lot in Florida in order to attend his treatment center in Palm Beach. The real estate lot was in my mother's name. This was done because I owed my mother ten thousand dollars and my credit was bad. My mother told me she felt the real estate lot was all I had left and she would not agree to sell it. I decided I would resign from PSA in order to gain access to 401k money to pay for treatment. I did this and moved back in with my mother. I had very little in my 401k and this went fast. I worked at a part time job I found on Craigslist but my sponsor told me not to work there anymore because the owners of the business smoked cannabis. I did not drink, smoke, or take anything after Dec 4, 2013. This became my new sobriety date. Darren and I frequently became argumentative. He would call me demeaning names and tell me I was self will run riot and a dry drunk.

I was told to continue going to AA meetings. I did as I was told but found AA re-enforced low self esteem, learned helplessness, and engaged in cult like behaviors. I also believe that this gave me a great deal of false hope. Darren J, called one day and told me that he had been hired at American. He told me that, if I did everything I was told, some people were going to try to get me a job. My HIMS doctor told me that the owner of his facility in Palm Beach would be willing to work with me and to come check in on a Tuesday.

About this time I met a young lady who works as a parole officer. She does not drink and encourages my abstinence. We carried on a correspondence for over a month before deciding to meet on Valentines day 2014. My HIMS doctor suggested I check into the facility but I had made plans to meet my friend already. I asked if I could come a few days later as I had made plans to spend Valentines day with my lady friend. He agreed to this. After meeting my friend, I went to check into the treatment center in Palm Beach. I had done intake on the phone and was told I was welcome at any hour. My flight landed late at night and there was a message on my phone from my HIMS doctor. He seemed angry. I called him and he told me to get a haircut and basically accused me of drinking. I had not had any substances since Dec 4th 2013. I told him that i intended to get a haircut just as soon as I got an interview for a flying job but that I liked my hair long, my family likes it, and so does my lady friend. His tone was angry and he said: "do you want to look like a rock star or an airline pilot" I responded that I was not an airline pilot. The doctor told me that the treatment center in Palm Beach would not let me in. He told me to meet with them the next morning. I spent $150 dollars on a hotel room at 2AM and got up early the next morning to drive to the treatment center.

Once there, the staff told me that there was no funding for me to attend and that I had to leave the property because I was not admitted. There was general confusion between the Dr. and the owner of the facility and I was turned away. I did not spend much money to meet my friend but I felt this was important. I have felt very abnormal since entering into the HIMS program. For a brief few days I felt normal in the company of a friend.

I went home again to Venice and became depressed and the feeling of hopelessness began to set in again. I did not use anything. I don't really even like alcohol. I reached out to the Birds of a Feather when God sent someone to help me. Before I knew it I was approved for a Birds of a Feather scholarship and was on a flight to Baltimore to attend Father Martin's Ashley. I found this treatment center to be very different from the others. The staff really seemed to care but I was resistant to the assertion that my predicament is because of my sin and godlessness. Upon completing Father Martins I came home to Florida and got a part time job at Home Depot. I started another 90 in 90. Gradually I began to get hopeless again as I do not have the funds to pay for my treatment. One of my sponsor's in Birds of a Feather told me they could transfer me into a different company's HIMS program but this has not materialized and I cannot afford any more false hope. I had a sponsor who was a bird but we did not make any progress on step work. I have come to the realization that I am not powerless, AA meetings have no effect on my resolve not to self medicate, shaming and brow beating with AA slogans does nothing but lower my self esteem, confession of my sex inventory is nobody's business but my own, I have not done a great deal of harm to others, I regularly clean house and have always helped others when I could, AA meetings do not keep me sober (I DO) I do not have the money to pay for the HIMS program. I did not have the money when I was still receiving insurance. I do not believe in the god of the Oxford group. AA is quite possibly a cult started by a delusional narcissist with a penchant for preying on young women. I had always worked the steps in my life. They are not called the steps in the Presbyterian Church. Religious fanaticism and the AA program are at odds with the establishment clause of the constitution. What I needed was to be empowered and to have my self esteem restored. HIMS and AA has been ineffective in strengthening my resolve to remain abstinent from substances. I have been abstinent for five months and life will get better if I work hard at making a paycheck instead of attending meetings. If I leave AA I will surely not die. My ego did not need to be smashed.

I still want to fly but I may never be able to.

Today I am not drinking because I don't like alcohol and I choose not to. I wish I could afford a cup to pee in.

Kind regards,


Hello Jonathan,

Thank you for the letter and the horror story. That sounds just so typical. Twelve-Step treatment is often just such a total screw-over. In my case, I got a cocaine-snorting, child-raping, Internet child pornographer as my "counselor" at a "treatment center." The very idea that an old drug addict or alcoholic is a wise spiritual advisor who will teach you how to live is insane.

I'm adding this story to the list of A.A. Horror Stories.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A flawed idea that AA is built upon:  The idea that a deeply flawed person
**    will cure another deeply flawed person.  A dynamic fraught with peril.
**      == Anonymous

May 18, 2014, Sunday, the Fernhill Wetlands at Forest Grove:

Mallard Drakes
Mallard Drakes, just hanging out.

Canada Goose goslings
The older Family of 2, using a ditch as a convenient waterway.

Canada Goose goslings
The younger Family of 2, hanging out in a grassy marshy place.
That is basically the favorite natural habitat of these geese. They love marshy grassy areas close to water. They eat the grass, and run to the water for protection from predators.

Canada Goose goslings
The younger Family of 2, hanging out in a grassy marshy place.

[The story of the birds continues here.]

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 16 December 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters400.html