Letters, We Get Mail, LXIX

Date: Fri, September 1, 2006 3:47 am
From: "Abdul H."

Dear Orange,

I can not thank you enough for your website. I have been battling the cult for a while now, but before I came across your website I had little information for my cause. I have seen and experienced the hurt and humiliation that the 12 step program causes, even in the so-called "old-timers". My main concern is my girlfriend of two years who waxing and wanning out of the cult (she is addicted to the cult). Any information on AA withdrawal would be great. Thanks again for your website.

Your muslim friend,

Abdul H.

Hello Abdul,

El illaha el il Allah. (Which Sufi Sam might have misquoted.)

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

The situation with your girlfriend is a tough problem. A very difficult part of the problem is that you want to change your friend's mind and beliefs. That is very tricky. On the one hand, any time anyone is trying to talk a friend into doing something different, he is trying to change a friend's mind.

On the other hand, when it comes to cults and changing someone's philosophy and religious beliefs, the changes are major, and are of the same degree as what a cult does to people. That may not be possible, and if it is possible, you have to be careful with it.

On the bright side, I would suggest Steve Hassan's book Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves. It contains a wealth of practical advice on how to get through to somebody whose thinking has been taken over by a cult.

On a more subtle level, you could also reprint some of my anti-A.A. jokes, and slip a few choice ones to her to plant a few ideas in her head.

And this is very important: I would ask, why does she like the A.A. cult? What is she getting out of it? What does she get from A.A. that she is not getting someplace else? Is it:

  1. Feelings of security, of being told that this is the safe way to save your life?
  2. The belief that this is a recovery method that really works?
  3. A social club of the "in-crowd"?
  4. The feeling that "we are special", better than the normal people? Even: "We are God's Chosen People, with a special mission"?
  5. The belief that A.A. is the best religion?
  6. Something perfect to believe in?
  7. Escape from fear of leaving and relapsing?

The answers to those questions will hint at what is needed to help her get a better life.

Also, remember that Alcoholics Anonymous has a humongous, sky-high drop-out rate. Lots of people become obsessed with it for a while, and then become disillusioned and leave. You friend will probably eventually just grow tired of A.A. and lose interest in it. I just hope they don't implant too many harmful ideas in her mind before she leaves, and that is where you can be a help, by simply injecting a few notes of the truth now and then.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  And the believers spake unto me, and they saeth,
** "If you want what we have, and are willing to go to
** any length to get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Fri, September 1, 2006 5:28 am
From: "ANDY O'H."
Subject: Thank you for your website

I have been going to to AA meetings for about 15 months and i am slowly weening myself off them. I'm down to one a week and thats only because i do the tea. Service, funnily enough hasn't given me the wonderful benefits I was promised, its just a pain in the arse. I said I wanted to give it up weeks ago but no ones come forward to do it. Typical.

Right from the start I haven't done any of the suggestions (sponsor, steps etc) because deep down it didn't make much sense to me. Why did I continue to go? Because I was full of fear that I might drink again, monster size fears. The monster has gone now thanks me thinking and not being so easily led. Your website also helped me feel less alone in my opinions.

I haven't shared at a meeting for monthes. Whats the point in talking about something I did 15 monthes ago? Do you have any good lines or stories I could share at a meeting that would really get people thinking in a meeting? All the lines I think of in my head sound bitter and twisted towards AA, which I am. I just want a parting shot really.

One final thing. I find that nearly all the really full-on taliban guru AA leaders have funny eyes. The kind of eyes that the snake in disneys jungle book has. They stare at you in a strange way. They're kind of glazed. Maybe its just me.

Don't stop questioning

Yours Sincerely
Andy O'H.
London, UK

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the compliments, and congratulations on your new freedom.

That's funny, the old gurus with snake eyes.
I had not noticed the eyes. But I did notice the personalities.
There are a lot of sad cases, seriously disturbed people, to be found among the true believers in "the roomz".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "If I saw a man beating a tied up horse, I could
**   not prove it was wrong, but I'd know it was wrong."
**      ==  Mark Twain

Date: Fri, September 1, 2006 10:58 am
From: "JEFFREY C."
Subject: Hi Agent

Agent O,

I've been doing some more reading of your website. It's fantastic! I especially enjoyed reading the letters of Paul Diener, very interesting proposals he makes about the use of spirituality as a tool for supression.

Since my childhood, I had always wandered around in different spiritual and religious landscapes looking for "the" answer to my problems. I am now venturing more into the secular and consider myself to possibly being on the path to becoming an athiest. It is though very hard to let go of my considerable background and I still consider the possibility of some sort of clockwork God; one who set the universe in motion and then went on vacation, or maybe set the universe in motion and then found out that it's too big for him to be everywhere at once. Oh well, like I was saying, old habits die hard.

After reading through a considerable portion of your website, I'm still not sure of your thoughts about the nature of existence. Perhaps it's something that you don't care to share, that's perfectly reasonable, or perhaps you stated your thoughts, but I just am not picking up on them.

I still have a lot of thinking and reading to do. I will write again when I have more to say.


Hi Jeff,

Yes, Paul Diener was certainly a thought-provoking person who had an excellent grasp of history. Alas, I believe that he is dead. We were corresponding about various things, including talking about a collaboration, when he suddenly fell silent, and his email address went dead, and he made no more posts to the Addict-L mailing list or anywhere else. I had heard that he was old and retired and suffering from ill health; apparently it was true. I also got a query from Europe — his correspondents there lost contact with him at the same time too.

I'm glad that I got his permission to reprint his letters before he disappeared.

About my views on the nature of reality — it's pretty simple but difficult to explain.

I was a hippie through the sixties and seventies who got zoned into other dimensions of consciousness enough times that I can't ignore what I saw, so I can't ever be an atheist or agnostic.

I think the essense of it is the nature of consciousness itself. Not being aware of something else, but consciousness itself. We can make lots of electronic systems that respond to their environment, which do a good job of faking being aware of their surroundings, but we don't believe that they are truly conscious — especially not self-conscious. They are just computerized systems with sensors that react to external stimuli.

We are fundamentally different from a computer that responds to a button-push.

On the material plane, humans are merely a few buckets of water and air, and some dirt and rocks, well arranged. But humans are aware of their own existence. They have consciousness of external objects, and they have consciousness of themselves, and they even have consciousness of their own consciousness.

Where did that consciousness come from? From the water and rocks? From the arrangement of the atoms and molecules?

I don't think that arrangements of matter can create consciousness. Such arrangements can filter consciousness, and impose pictures on the consciousness, and make us aware of our surroundings (or unaware), but the brain does not actually create the raw consciousness — the fact of any kind of awareness. I think that it was always there, and is just as embedded in the fabric of the universe as is the law of gravity.

That one fact kind of flips the universe upside down and inside out. It is no longer a question of contacting some Higher Power or Supreme Awareness. We are inside it, and a part of it, and always have been.

Now of course people will immediately start talking about "the will of God", and ask what IT wants. Maybe It doesn't want anything. Maybe desires and wishes are just a characteristic of living animals who want food and sex and to get high and feel good....

Maybe the Universe is just enjoying a good light show.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The only way to achieve maximum openness is to arrive at
** every moment without a single preconception. Otherwise,
** we resist what doesn't fit our model.
** == Raphael Cushnir, from
**    365 Nirvana, Here and Now by Josh Baran

Date: Fri, September 1, 2006 11:34 am
From: "Ben H."
Subject: AA faults and an inverse perspective

Good Afternoon,

In the interest of keeping an open mind about AA and it's various critics, I felt the need to send the message below.

In no way to I disregard, or wish to minimize the horror stories that I've seen on your website, but I do feel that it's important to offer a well reasoned, and logical counterpoint to some of the issues that I've read about, specifically in terms of how the multitude of meetings that I attend contradict, at least in my own situation, some of the rhetoric.

1. I've seen several anecdotes where AA members are instructed by "Old Timers" that taking medication for other issues, such as depression, anxiety disorders, etc., is anathema to the program. Similarly, I've read stories about how members are discouraged, or outright berated for seeking non-pharmaceutical medical help/counseling, etc.

Conversely, in my experience, any time that something along those lines has been brought up to a meeting, individuals relating that situation, have _never_, from what I've seen and heard, been discouraged or instructed to cease their prescribed medication. If anything, it has been quite the opposite. In every case, they've been advised to continue with doctor's orders, as long as that physician is aware of their patients' history of alcohol/substance abuse.

Case in point — I have a prescription for Ativan for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I take only when needed. After an unfortunate incident wherein the drug sent me sky high (on the recommended dose), I was convinced that I'd had a relapse, and was starting from Day 1 all over again. After speaking with my sponsor, and several other "Old Timers," I was advised that if it was taken under Dr.s' orders, with a legitimate prescription, it _didn't_ count as a relapse in any way shape or form, but rather, that I should speak with my primary PCP, inform him of the results, and explore other "non-sedative" options.

Additionally, my Doctor has started me on a cycle of Campral, which physiologically assists in blocking the "cravings" that are so difficult to overcome, particularly in, but not limited to early sobriety.

We are encouraged, vehemently, within the meetings that I attend (over 2 districts) that a member should utilize any and all medical and psychological resources in order to combat their alcoholism. Without exception.

Hello Ben,

Thank you for the letter, and I hope you are doing well.

I'm glad that you have found a meeting where nobody tells you not to take your doctor-prescribed medications. My personal experience has been just the opposite. And this is personal experience, not hear-say, and something that somebody else said. This is what I have lived and seen and heard with my own eyes and ears.

As I described in another page, the very first friend of mine who needed psychiatric medications for his mental problems went to Dual Diagnosis Anonymous and was soon told not to take his medications by his sponsor and the other old-timers — that the 12-Step program alone could cure him. We were only one month into a treatment program and he was already getting the "no-medications" routine.

I have also gotten plenty of letters from other people who have had similar experiences.

As Carl Sagan said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Meaning: just because you haven't personally seen something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, the crazy 12-Steppers' "no medications" routine is real.

A while back, I ran across a survey on A.A. members' attitudes towards medications, and it claimed that A.A. members were not at all dogmatic about medications — only 17% of the sponsors were against them. The author of that article was pro-A.A. and trying to put a smiley-face on the issue. What the writer of the article did not seem to be able to realize is: that meant that any person with both a psychiatric and a drug or alcohol problem had a 17% chance of getting a bad sponsor who just might kill him or her with stupid orders...

(See: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Use of Medications to Prevent Relapse: An Anonymous Survey of Member Attitudes. ROBERT G. RYCHTARIK; GERARD J. CONNORS; KURT H. DERMEN; PAUL R. STASIEWICZ. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Jan 2000 v61 i1 p134.)

Guess what 17% is equal to? That is almost exactly a one-in-six chance — the odds in Russian Roulette. Would you actually play real Russian Roulette with a Colt 45 six-shooter that had one bullet in it? Would you advise a friend to?

Would you go to a medical clinic where you knew that you had a one-in-six chance of getting a quack doctor who might do you great harm, or even kill you with his stupidity?

And it is a very strange clinic where the incompetents and the quacks can't be fired or removed from the staff...

UPDATE: There is now a whole file of "no meds" A.A. horror stories, here:
http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-no_meds.html == A.A. "No Meds" Stories.

2. In regards to the "cult aspect," I can understand and empathize with those who take issue with the advice that "AA is the only way," but, conversely, the meetings that I attend make it a point to advise that AA may not stop _every_ alcoholic from drinking. Instead, we are counseled that many do "fail" the program, and relapse repeatedly. These events do not instigate ostracism. Quite to the contrary. Members who have "gone out" again, but return, are welcomed back with open arms, and without judgement or criticism.

Excuse me, but you are mixing issues there. Of course A.A. does not cure *every* alcoholic. Nobody is arguing that. I never heard anybody make that claim, not even Bill Wilson.

My assertion is that Alcoholics Anonymous does not really cure *anybody* at all — that the few cases of recovery that happen near an A.A. meeting are the result of normal spontaneous remission. They are the people who were going to quit drinking anyway because they got sick and tired of being sick and tired. The fact that A.A. fooled them into believing that their success was due to A.A. doesn't mean that A.A. actually works.

And to say that people fail the program is another way of saying that A.A. does not work.
The A.A. program was supposed to somehow help people and free them from their addictions and cause them to quit drinking.
But then A.A. doesn't do that. Suddenly it is the responsibility of the alcoholic to quit drinking and "work a strong program" and not "fail the program". That is merely a bait-and-switch trick.

Who cares whether the relapsers are welcomed back with open arms? Of course the cult is happy to get more members, even if they are going to be chronic relapsers.
(In fact, the chronic relapsers are good for making the other members feel superior.)

Similarly, it is a constant theme throughout discussions, that members should "Use what works, and leave the rest." Nor are we counseled to work all the steps when confronting a major decision, unless we, as individuals, feel the need to do so.

Sorry, but that is another bait-and-switch trick.

  1. First, they will tell you that you can "Take what you want, and leave the rest."
  2. Then they will tell you that you must follow the formula exactly, or else it won't work.

Every meeting is begun by reading Bill Wilson's lie about

"RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

So you have to thoroughly follow Bill Wilson's path or else you will fail, and it will be your own fault because you didn't follow Bill's instructions and directions correctly.

3. Relating to the "group control issues" that have been submitted to your site. The phrase that these are "simply suggestions," is strictly adhered to. I have never, to date, heard anyone advise another member that they "must do step 3, 4, (or what have you), or they will drink again. We are advised, politely, to keep an open mind, and at the very least, make an effort to do the steps. If they work, wonderful, if not, as above, we are not criticisized for "not working the program" as it has been laid out. But rather, as mentioned above, we're encouraged to "use what works, and leave the rest."

Well, you sure do have a nice, easy-going group there. But that is not what I have heard from other people, and that isn't what I have heard in A.A. meetings.

4. AA, in my (albeit limited experience) recognizes that after time (which, of course, varies by individual and circumstance), members may not have to attend a meeting every day. Many times I've seen members drop in after years of not attending meetings, if only to say hello, and catch up on old times. I've never witnessed any derision towards them whatsoever. In fact, one of the primary lines of thought is that if they can make it on their own, we are happy for them, and bear them only the best of thoughts. It is only emphasized that we (AA) "are here if you feel that you need us."

That's nice, but it overlooks the fact that they don't need A.A. at all. If they only drop in once a year to pick up another coin, then it isn't A.A. that is keeping them sober.

And again, I've heard a lot more of the routine about "You must attend meetings, lots of them. Don't let anything get in front of your sobriety."

In the interest of brevity, I'll conclude this message now. I only wanted to offer a counterpoint that not all AA groups are simply adhering to Big Book messages, written decades ago. Critical thinking is encouraged. Some may disagree, of course, with the concerns raised, but it's never been (in my experience), a confrontational situation where "AA is _always_ right." It's simply viewed, by myself and others, as an established tool that, when presented in a reasonable and thoughtful manner, keeping the concern and care for the alcoholic at the primary, that can work, if one is willing to at least make an effort.

Maybe critical thinking is encouraged in your favorite meetings, but you really should read the arguments of the true believers who send me letters. They don't know the meaning of that phrase, "critical thinking".

Two things for the record — I am moving towards my 3rd month of sobriety. And the advice/counseling that I've described above has, without exception, been offered by members with no less than 5, and and many as 37 years of sobriety.

Excuse me here, I really don't like to pull ego games of one-upmanship, but 3 months of sobriety is just getting started. That does not make someone an expert on either A.A. or sobriety. That isn't even enough time for your head to clear.

I have almost 6 years now and I don't call myself an expert on sobriety — just another student on the path of life.

And the fact that you are getting "advice/counseling" from A.A. old-timers who have been dispensing the same advice for many years does not make it good advice.

The really important question to ask those old-timers is,

"What is the actual A.A. success rate?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many finally pick up a 5-year coin?
Ten years? Twenty years?"

Then compare those numbers to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics, which is about 5% per year. That is the success rate of people who go it alone and quit drinking by themselves, without any A.A. or other "help".

Not all AA groups are the same. Yes, I can stipulate that there are and have been unconscionable abuses, but I strongly believe that AA, when presented properly and with an understanding of advancing medical and psychological breakthroughs, can, and _is_ (in my case), an extremely valuable "core" of the recovery process.

Actually, the results of valid testing of A.A. are that it is not a good core of any recovery program. A.A. does more harm than good. Alcoholics Anonymous was actually shown to cause:

All of those facts were revealed by carefully controlled medical tests. Check out those links.

In conclusion, my heart goes out to those who have suffered abuse and indignity at the hands of other members, for whatever reason. It is my earnest hope that they can find a group or groups that is capable of recognizing the value of advancing treatment for alcoholism.

Who says that groups are the answer? Is group therapy the cure for diabetes, cancer or heart attacks? Then why for alcoholism?

For those who may be curious, I'm on day 68 of sobriety, and have attended 102 meetings over 2 districts.



Congratulations on your sobriety. Keep up the good work. I hope you make it.

Just for giggles and grins, why don't you write back in about 5 years and tell me what your experiences were, and how you feel about A.A. then?

And have a good day.

== 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.

Date: Fri, September 1, 2006 11:38 pm
From: PAULY H.
Subject: AA as a CULT?

I'm really curious — what has AA, or anyone in it, ever done to hurt you or anyone else you know? Why would you go to such lengths to slander an organization that exists only to give people a setting in which to help each other to overcome a terrible, debilitating, deadly disease?

Hello Pauly,

Well, you could start by reading the introduction to the web site, and then some other pages:

Just for the record, your article is the biggest load of crap I have ever read. It is full of misrepresentations, half-truths, twisted out-of-context "quotes", omissions, and outright LIES about what AA is, and what it means to the 2 million people worldwide who have benefited from it's suggested program of recovery. I won't waste my time trying to plead the fellowship's case — you've obviously made up your mind and don't want to be confused by the facts. AA would never even try to defend itself — it has "no opinion on outside matters." Your brand of perverse, twisted attack is exactly the reason members try to protect themselves by remaining anonymous.

The misrepresentation there is that A.A. has "benefitted 2 million people". That's the Big Lie of Alcoholics Anonymous.

And actually, A.A. "defends itself" constantly. A.A. has a huge propaganda mill that cranks out favorable articles and phoney faked "studies" that all proclaim that A.A. works great. Check out these pieces of propaganda, just for starters. There are a zillion more like them.

  1. A.A.-Booster Pseudo-Science: Spirituality: The key to recovery from alcoholism
  2. More A.A.-Booster Pseudo-Science: The Spiritual Dimension of Healing
  3. More Big Lies — A.A. Propaganda As Usual
  4. More A.A.-Booster Propaganda: the book Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion, by Marc Galanter
  5. The Humphreys-Moos faked studies at the Palo Alto Veteran's Center
  6. More so-called studies by Rudolf H. Moos

You've obviously spent a lot of time and energy in researching and developing your little treatise — too bad it's nothing but a self-serving, mean-spirited attempt to deny and degrade all the genuine good AA has done over the last 71 years. (In AA they call that "rationalization.") Why? Imagine what you could accomplish if you devoted all that energy to some constructive purpose. For myself, I will remember you in my prayers — if only to be relieved of my own resentment.

What good? What good has A.A. done in the last 71 years?

Please answer just this one simple question:

"What is the actual A.A. success rate?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many finally pick up a 5-year coin?
Ten years? Twenty years?"

Then compare those numbers to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics, which is about 5% per year. That is the success rate of people who go it alone and quit drinking by themselves, without any A.A. or other "help".

Spreading misinformation about alcoholism and recovery, and selling them Frank Buchman's strange cult religion, is not helping people.

Lastly, I find it extremely interesting that you haven't even signed your real name to this piece — obviously anonymity suits your purpose, too.

Paul H.
Henniker, NH

Okay Paul,

You have had your say. Now please answer the most important question of all,
"What is the actual A.A. success rate?"
How many more people does A.A. sober up than the do-it-yourself method does?"

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

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

Date: Sat, September 2, 2006 8:49 am
From: "roger c."
Subject: why? whats your point?

I seriously want to ask you why all of this hostility towards a dead man? I am a member of a. I do not subscribe to the idea that I am bad, stupid, etc. I took the steps and I don't think that way about myself anymore. when I first came to a it was a safe haven for me. I felt bad, stupid an out of my mind for years before I came to a. alcohol was a temporary solution for those feelings and then I became dependant on it and it did not work the way it once had and I spent many years trying to cover up that pain of the past I would do anything because the pain made me crazy inside myself.I did not have a sufficient substitute that works for the long haul of my life. I am not a follower or dependant upon the person bill Wilson. I am dependant upon a God of my own understanding through taking the steps, and continuing to help others that want and ask my help. if they do great, and if they don't great. maybe they can get the help from someone that is better able to help them. God does that with us I believe. I make an effort on a daily basis to practice the principals that worked for me in my daily life. this has worked for me for years. I personally could relate to the big book and its various descriptions of alcoholism and the degradation I brought onto myself. everything I did in my past that was destructive was a result of the way I thought and felt about myself on the inside. there are many dynamics to alcoholism , just as there are many dynamics to any. life is not all black and white. nobody is totally pure and nobody is totally worthless. alcoholics as far as I see, and this includes me, has lived in extremes for most of their lives again as a result of our own individual thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world about us and our motives and judgments and neither is truthful. its like the two sides of a coin. yet there is a third side on coin. that I believe is where my truth is. I do not understand why all of this negativity towards someone that helped allot of people. sure he probably was like allot of us — not a saint- but he certainly wasn't that bad either. I think bill had good motives as well as some bad ones too. one more question what are your motives in all of this? I cant believe they are all good or all bad either. I cant wait to hear from you. this is interesting to me.

Hello Roger,

Thanks for the letter.

  • To start at the top, "why all of this hostility towards a dead man?"

    Because the dead man created a monstrous cult that has hurt a lot of people, and diverted people from other things that might have healed them. It is a despicable disgusting crime to lie to sick people about what medicine or treatment may cure them.

    I also have the same hostility towards L. Ron Hubbard, Swami Prabhupada, Rev. Jim Jones, and David Koresh.

  • It is nice that you have found a niche where people don't put you down. Obviously, you are doing a good job of ignoring the official A.A. dogma about what a sinful creep an alcoholic really is.

  • You have been indoctrinated into believing that the 12-Step religion is a good thing. I can't help you there. You have to do an immense amount of minimization and denial and reversal of reality to accept that nonsense as a valid religion. The fact that you have bought into it indicates that you are looking for something other than the truth.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically
**  indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the
**  world over."
**  "...in the absence of proven scientific efficacy,
**  critics are legitimate in suggesting that mandated AA
**  attendance may be criticized as a failure of proper
**  separation between church and state."
**  == A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant,
**  The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 266.

Date: Sun, September 3, 2006 12:40 pm
From: "Alan M."
Subject: Lots of good stuff here, ever consider indexing it?

Hi, There's certainly a ton of great material here. I can appreciate it from the viewpoint of a web designer too, because I know how much work it is to maintain an active site like this one.

Is there a master index somewhere here that I might have missed? If so my apologies for suggesting it, but have you given thought to cataloging the site somehow?

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the letter.

The Entropy search engine is supposed to catalogue the site, and help you find things. It doesn't work as well as I would like, but that's what is there.

As I've said, I understand how much work goes into these things, and compiling an index would certainly be a massive undertaking. But it would help casual visitors get to the articles of interest they need in a hurry.

The "Free Tibet" link was a nice touch. I think it's no coincidence that Agnostics like myself who are disillusioned with AA's mock spirituality tend to gravitate towards the Dalai Lama. Wilson just isn't in the same league with such a person.

No joke. They are literally in different worlds. I don't know how the Dalai Lama manages to control his anger and feelings of hostility when he sees the Chinese Army killing his people. I could do to learn some patience from that man.

Incidentally, the traffic to my web site dropped by about 15% when I put that "Free Tibet" banner on my home page. My ranking on Alexis dropped from being number 288,000 to 420,000 or so. The ISP/portal/gateway in Shanghai used to be one of my three or four biggest viewers. Now the traffic from there is microscopic, not even in the lists.
Thank you Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft for your loyal Communist censorship.

On the bright side, the traffic to my web site has been slowly climbing right back up anyway, so I'm not about to remove the banner.

Sincere thanks to you for presenting this info. Keep up the good work!

Big Al M.

Thanks for the compliments, Al, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can
** erase our good deeds." — Siddhartha Buddha

Date Sunday, September 03, 2006
From: "Paul B."
Subject: Re: ?

Are you still drunk?

No. I haven't had a drink since October 19, 2000.

Have a good day.

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

Date: Sun, September 3, 2006 9:05 pm
From: "Paul B."
Subject: RE: ?

Anybody with a chip on their shoulder as big as yours will be back out.
It's only a matter of time.

Do you stick needles into voodoo dolls when you put little curses on people like that?

Date: Mon, September 4, 2006 8:05 pm
From: "Paul B."
Subject: RE: ?

Must have to get a sweet sweet reaction like that out of you! Keep it up killer. You'll be drunk soon.

You know, it's really sick to sit around and wait for people who say things that you don't like to relapse. Do you also pray for people to relapse, like Bill Wilson and the Bleeding Deacons did? (Big Book, 3rd edition, page 246 and 247 of the third edition; page 228 of the 4th edition)

In Jim Burwell's story "The Vicious Cycle", we read:

Much later I discovered the elders held many prayer meetings hoping to find a way to give me [a non-believer] the heave-ho but at the same time stay tolerant and spiritual.
Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 247.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Date: Wed, September 6, 2006 6:04 am
From: "Paul B."
Subject: RE: ?

I think the venom is based in the astonishment of finding your goals so petty and destructive. My wishes for your demise are more in the comic than the tragic. I have seen so many lives saved by AA that is gets me to see some prima donna spending all their spare time ripping into it. It's sick and crazy.

So many lives saved by A.A.? A.A. doesn't save anybody.

If you imagine that A.A. saves lives, then please answer this one simple question:

"What is the actual A.A. success rate?
Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many finally pick up a 5-year coin?
Ten years? Twenty years?"

Then compare those numbers to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics, which is about 5% per year. That is the success rate of people who go it alone and quit drinking by themselves, without any A.A. or other "help".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Being surrounded by a group of people who keep
** telling you that you are powerless over alcohol,
** and that your will power is useless, is not
** getting "support". It is getting sabotaged.
** With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

From: "Paul B."
Subject: RE: ?
Date: Sun, October 29, 2006 8:57 am


Apprehensive about opening attachments, especially from someone I've pissed off. Be glad to read, but send the link if you want me to see it.

I do not send viruses or Trojan horses, not ever. Such conduct would be a federal felony. Besides, it isn't nice or spiritual, is it?

And, because I run Linux, I cannot get infected with a Micro$uck virus and unwittingly spread it to other people.

Try this URL:

Search for "Paul" or "venom".

And have a good day.

== Orange

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

Date: Mon, September 4, 2006 7:00 pm
From: "Jonathon W."
Subject: Hello

Hello, I have been doing some research into AA and have actually attended a few meetings for personal reasons. I have definately had some problems with alcohol but by no means believe that I am powerless or my life has become un-manageable or that there is a higher power. Although I have only attended five or six meetings, I have spoken my beliefs and have explained how I do not agree with many of the steps outlined by AA. This has turned a few heads but has not prevented me from coming to more meetings. I have no intentions of going through the twelve steps nor do I ever plan on getting a sponsor.

I found your article very interesting and quite accurate. I have also attended a home based group which is primarily made up of professionals who do not wish to meet in church basements nor do they religiously follow the twelve steps. I have no intentions of quitting drinking for the rest of my life but rather taking a vacation from it until I can understand why I was binge drinking in the first place. Anyhow, I just wanted to comment on what you had to say on this topic as I myself hold very similar views. I was very surprised at the success rate you were outlining and did think that it was much higher than that. I do not plan on attending meetings for much longer and suspect that the only one I will be going to will be the home based meeting which isn't all that bad. I would appreciate any further insight you might have on this topic and really did find your writing to be extremely thoughtful and informative.

Jonathon W.

Hello Jonathan,

Thank you for the letter, and all of the compliments.

About the success rate: I am not sure whether you are referring to the A.A. success rate or the success rate of people who quit alone, by their own efforts.
Either way, it is only about 5% in the first year.
But then a big difference creeps in.
The do-it-yourself people keep on recovering a little bit more, year after year, while only a small fraction of the A.A. dropouts return to A.A. to eventually recover there.

The Harvard Medical School reported that eventually, slightly over half of the alcoholics do quit drinking, and of those successful quitters, 80% did it alone, on their own.

So that is a much better success rate than just five percent. There is reason for hope.

You are working on the key question: You want to "understand why I was binge drinking in the first place." Yes, yes, and yes! Solve that puzzle and you can win the game.

There are myriad answers to that question, ranging from biochemical imbalances or peculiarities in the brain that make people not feel quite good enough, to child abuse issues. Here are some links:

  1. Dr. Kenneth Blum, Reward Deficiency Syndrome
  2. Dr. Kenneth Blum, footnote
  3. Dr. Kenneth Blum, SOS interview
  4. Shriveled cerebellar vermises

And then there is a lot more that I could list, but don't have links for, like a bipolar disorder that leaves people feeling alternately giddy and depressed.

Some doctors that I know of consider ALL cases of alcoholism and drug addiction to be dual-diagnosis cases. That is, there is an alcohol or drug problem now, but underneath that is a causative disorder that made the patient into the addict that he is now. They always try to find the underlying causes of the alcoholism or drug over-consumption.

That strikes me as a smart approach to the problem.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  A wise man should consider that health is the greatest
**  of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought
**  to derive benefit from his illnesses.
**  ==  Hippocrates (460 BC - 377 BC), Regimen in Health

Date: Mon, September 4, 2006 7:32 pm
From: "tristan"
Subject: ex- a.a.'er

i hope you are still out there....

i have spent a good deal of my adult life in or around a.a. I am now 36 years old, and have been "relapsed" for about a year and a half. i have never felt better. I grew tired of the same old b.s. i heard in meetings, but the real motivation for my departure was that i realized that nobody wanted anything better for themselves.

i came in a homeless heroin addict, and in 1 year i was completing my B.A. in English Education, and was not encouraged by anyone in the program, not even friends. There is definitely a negative force in A.A. that subtly acts upon your ambition. I could go on for days.

The bottom line is that I am interested in doing more research on the A.A. model, and debunking the thing. I see the program make fanatics out of once-reasonable people, etc. etc.....

I would like it if you contacted me, I would like to know a couple of things about you (if you were once "sober", etc.).

I want someone I can discuss these things with. Most people that "relapse" don't really understand why, or feel confident enough in their own judgement to think it out for themselves. I, on the other hand, am quite interested in taking some action to promote healthier options, or at least to dissolve the negative stigma that a "relapser" is forced to endure.

Please feel free to respond,


Thank You for your postings, I really appreciate your opinions!!!!

Hello Tristan,

Thanks for all of the compliments.

Yes, I am still sober. I'm only a couple of weeks short of 6 years now, and don't intend to ever drink alcohol again. My life is just so much better without it. And better without tobacco or other drugs, too. (And happier without A.A., too.)

You call yourself a "relapser". Maybe the words "moderate drinker" might be more accurate. (And maybe "A.A. dropout", but not "failure" and not "relapser".)

Not everybody who decides to not follow a lifestyle of absolute abstinence is a relapser. I think it really depends on the individual. Some people who have written to me have discovered that they can limit their drinking to just a few at Christmas and New Years. I don't count that as either "relapse" or "slip". That sounds like recovery and a return to normality.

Other people (like me) simply cannot drink moderately. It's always all or nothing, self-destruction or total abstinence. (I can't smoke tobacco moderately, either.)

In the case of somebody like me, relapse means one beer becomes three followed by a six-pack (within 24 hours), escalating into a 12-pack a night in a few weeks, leading to 9 more years of excessive drinking, until the doctor tells me that I'm going to die. That is obviously something very different from somebody who has a few now and then, and doesn't care to follow the A.A. rules.

Oh, and you said that your big problem was heroin. Well you know, I don't believe in the cross-addiction thing very much, where taking one thing will allegedly cause a relapse on everything else. I have known ex-junkies who can drink alcohol moderately with impunity (but who cannot touch opiates).
Conversely, I am okay with the opiates that the doctor gives me, but I don't dare to touch alcohol. Just which chemicals really push your buttons and awaken the dragon is a very personal thing, and seems to depend on your own brain chemistry.

Sure, we can correspond. Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  The Sagan rule: "Extraordinary claims require
*  extraordinary evidence." The far-fetched claims
*  of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's cult religion
*  could cure alcoholism have not been backed up
*  by even a little ordinary evidence, never mind
*  some extraordinary evidence.

From: "Debbie S., RN"
Subject: AA
Date: Mon, September 4, 2006 10:11 pm

Why did you decide to write the Orange Papers?


Hi Debbie,

The truth is, I didn't decide to do it. I was just going to write one paper, like a term paper, that would be maybe 30 or 40 pages, double-spaced. I wanted to organize and clarify my own thoughts, and explain why I felt that foisting A.A. on alcoholics as part of a treatment program was just plain wrong, and ineffective too.

I did that, and then wanted to add just one more thing, and then another, and another...

One thing led to another, and here we are, with a lot more than 40 pages.

Oh well...

These links give you the basics of the story:

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work;
** I want to achieve immortality through not dying."
**     ==  Woody Allen (1935-)

Date: Tue, September 5, 2006 6:47 am
From: "David de V. M."
Subject: B. Banana

The dissenting voice is to be welcomed not for the message that it brings, but for the reaction that it awakens within us.

By examining that reaction, we can learn much about ourselves.

Bill's refusal to change his 13th Stepping behaviour was wilful and wicked. I like Eminem's judgement of an extramarital affair — "What? She tripped, fell, and landed on his dick?" (Guilty Conscious, The Slip Shady LP, 1999).

Hello David,

Now that's funny.

To stop drinking is to abandon the impulsive behaviour of reaching for oblivion each time one is exposed to a stressor. Giving drunks a medication like Anabuse is a negative reinforcement, yet every training method works far better with positive reinforcement. The promise of the 12 Step Programme is that choice and reason are restored.

I agree with the first part — I don't take anything like Antabuse, and never did. The obvious flaw in such an approach is that those who wish to drink alcohol will simply stop taking the Antabuse.
If you have enough will power to make yourself take Antabuse every day, then you have enough will power to not drink alcohol.
Besides, from what I hear, Antabuse is very toxic. I have enough problems already.

The last sentence of that paragraph is something else: To assume that the 12-Step program does anything good for people is a huge unsupported assumption.

The evidence is that the 12 Steps are better at brainwashing people and inducting them into a cult than for making anybody quit drinking alcohol. After all, Dr. Frank Buchman developed those practices (cult practices, not spiritual principles) to grow his Oxford Group cult religion. They were his recruiting and indoctrination techniques. All that Bill Wilson did was edit out the word "sin" and replace it with "alcohol" in a few places.

In a strange way, recovery within the AA environment does offer the advantage of a "safe" place to integrate with other people, after coming out of the cloud of addiction. The character of each AA group is so different: there are groups that are excellent for the newly sober, where the "metal obsession" and "physical allegy" are drummed into the individual much as basic drill commands are drummed into the recruit. However, these same groups (the so-called AA Nazis) do enforce a uniformity of thought, and that uniformity is usually governed by the attitudes of the dominant personalities within the group. This can be very unhealthy, as the group identity completely swamps the individual in a cult-like fashion.

There are also other groups, where the leading personalities are not dependent on the AA for their view of self. Mostly, these individuals have successful lives outside the rooms of AA. The freedom of any individual to associate with any AA group of their choice is respected.

One of the early "friends in the medical profession" — Dr Silkworth — wrote how tubercular and cardiac patients also relapsed if they ceased to follow medical advice. The recovered alcoholic may benefit from continued involvement in AA by witnessing the acute suffering of the newcomer, to remind the person with long term sobriety just how terrible it is to be trapped in addiction. All pain recedes with time. A prime example is that of women that remember the pain of childbirth, but it is only during a subsequent confinement that they remember: "this is what it felt like!" Working with others therefore reminds the recovered alcoholic of their own behaviour.

All of that — the friendly social club and the group support — would be fine and well if A.A. had any kind of a success rate — if it actually worked. But it doesn't.

As it is, the A.A. success rate is zero percent above the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholism. So to talk about how this works or how that helps alcoholics is pointless, and is simply assuming facts not in evidence.

If you could attend some of our meetings in South Africa, you may decide for yourself whether the fellowship of AA does not also provide an answer for many individuals who are otherwise without any resources whatsoever. Some of our greatest nation builders have been members of AA, and their continued activity within the fellowship serves as a wondrous example to the newcomers. By having the faith to change, and taking steps to change, many things are possible.

I know that there are some meetings that are more friendly and less dogmatic. I've been to some of them. But they still push, ever so subtley, the A.A. theology, doctrines, and dogma. And misinformation about alcoholism and recovery. They still start the meetings by reading Bill Wilson's lies from pages 58 through 60 of the Big Book, don't they?

And A.A. still has a zero percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission.

And it really doesn't matter who — what "nation builders" — go to A.A. meetings. That still doesn't make A.A. work, or show that it works to help anyone.

On the matter of permanent abstinence: the Prophet Mohammed also taught abstinence for the entire society. We have many Muslim members in South African AA, who found the 12 Steps and the AA a vehicle to restore them to spiritual and physical health. We also have many Jews, Christians, Agnostics and Atheists. We are fortunate to have a history of religious tollerance in South Africa, and this may contribute to the difference in experience.

That is the same thing as the previous paragraph. No matter who likes A.A. and its 12 Steps, it is still a failed program for sobriety.

I read your page once every month or two, and will continue to do so, as there is much which is true where the behaviour of some individuals is concerned. It will also be interesting to see of your tone becomes less angry over time, and I hope that this will be the case as the confrontational approach rarely works in conflict resolution. In the mean time, I must keep my eyes and ears and heart and mind open, open, open.

Okay, see you then.

Alcoholism is a health issue of great importance to South Africa. UN AIDS studies suggest that the HIV infection rate is four times higher among migrant miners that drink than among abstainers. Active alcoholism and drug abuse spread HIV through the irresponsible attitudes to sex that are wont to prevail during intoxication.

That is highly believable.

I suppose this will go into the trash — but it was a good experience to convey my opinion to a citrus with only a generic name.


Nope, not into the trash. I really do not practice censorship. I try to give everybody his say. I am an idealist that way, and really do believe in the free marketplace of ideas.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "A lie gets halfway around the world before the
**   truth has a chance to get its pants on."
**       == Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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