Letters, We Get Mail, LXXVII

Date: Fri, October 13, 2006 7:49 am
From: "John C"
Subject: Typo on website

Hi AO,

I like the website, although it's only for free thinkers. Solider ants that fall in line won't like it.

Anyway, I found a typo on your site at : http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-powerless.html. "Now you're GETTING it" or "Now you've GOTTEN it" ?

Other A.A.-booster literature tells stories like:
I said to my sponsor, "I really can't do this."
He said, "Good."
I said, "No, I mean, I really can't do this, all of the quitting and staying quit, and total abstinence. I just don't have it in me to succeed in a program like that."
He said, "Now you've getting it! That's what the program is all about. You must admit that you are powerless over alcohol."

Hi John,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

Yes, I think it is "getting it", present tense. The sponsor wasn't going to tell the sponsee that he had already learned it all, now was he?

The sponsor was only going to give the newcomer credit for having learned one little part of it, so far... The newcomer still had lots more to "get".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
**      == Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Date: Fri, October 13, 2006 8:46 am
From: "James G"
Subject: A couple of things that might interest you


New video asking why AA is so popular in the eyes of the public here

And a chat room transcript of mine exposing AA recruiting methods here

Hope you are well — it is getting mighty cold here already!!!

J a m e s G

PS: Took the Bond film down as I need to do some more work on it.

Hi again, James,

Thanks for the links. More good stuff.

And the weather here is just now turning rainy. We are still getting alternating rainy and sunny days. The days are getting cool, but not cold. I was still out in a T-shirt and shorts last weekend.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have the advantage of the Pacific Current — which brings warm water up from Mexico and Central America, which heats the place and keeps the winters from getting too cold.

The Pacific Current is a giant counter-clockwise circular current that covers the entire northern half of the Pacific Ocean — north from Mexico to Alaska, west to Japan, south to the Philippines, east to Central America. While it is warming us, it is freezing the buns off of the Japanese, bringing them frigid Alaskan water. Poor Japan. Lucky us.

There is a similar current in the North Atlantic, but I'm not sure how it works. If it also swirls counter-clockwise, which is likely, then it is warming you too. But England is actually much farther north than the USA is. So I can see how it could already be cold there.

Oh well, have a good day anyway — in some warm place.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Dogma is the sacrifice of wisdom to consistency."
**      ==  Lewis Perelman

Date: Sat, October 14, 2006 10:14 am
From: "Twitter"
Subject: Friends of Grace Slick

Hello Orange

Hope you are well. Writing you from new yahoo email, we've corresponded before, if you recall we discussed Grace Slick.

Hello again, Twitter. It's good to see that you are doing well.

Anyway, I am still detoxing from the cult. It's going on a year since I have attended. I occassionally run into the zombies, but I manage to keep them pleasantly at a distance. Suggested one or two read the orange papers, so here's hoping they leave zombie land behind.

I went on a 12 step chat to twit the true believers today, because I'm really bored. I don't miss the drams and cult bs, and I get really annoyed thinking about the years when I was younger and had more energy and could have gotten involved in a lot more things, instead of being shit on by the true believers and abused by criminals. I have a lot of guilt about why I would do such a stupid thing to myself, product of the dysfunctional family repeating history yada, yada. The other day, I was worried about something (I forget what, I was half asleep, maybe I was dreaming) and I started looking at the problem in the aa framework, I think I was automatically doing a sixth step or something, like I was still "trying" the program, it was a very surreal experience.

Okay, dump the guilt right now. It wasn't your fault. You couldn't have done anything else because you didn't know anything else at that time. And the Stepper true believers sure wouldn't tell you anything different, would they? Did they?

So dump the guilt and just accept that that was just the way that things were then.

Look on the bright side. You escaped from the madhouse. They didn't.

I find a lot of people out of the program just as nutty, and some of them are just religeous zombies of another ilk.

Yes. I learned that one the hard way years ago when I got shredded by some ex-steppers. Just because someone quits A.A. does not necessarily mean that he has been "restored to sanity".

That's where I am more and more seeing the wisdom of Jack Trimpey when he tells people to get out of the recovery groups and build a new set of friendships based on shared positive things, rather than on shared illnesses.

Some phony Christian in a literature group went off on her religion, I almost threw up, it was like having a flashback to the cult and I was afraid of being abused for being a human being and not a cult zombie. At least I was not in a roomful of enemies. THAT is progress. I got together with an ex (let's just call him Bozo) a couple of times who is still in the cult. He enjoys the comraderie of his fellow sexist pig Bill W wannabes and the opportunity to pick up confused, emotionally damaged women who can temporarily be duped into thinking he's a nice guy. At least I have real friends now who say "Just stay away from that loser" as oppposed to being hit with a lot of BS about "my part" and "being kind to him the fellow sufferer" and "pray" about it, etc., although I hate to say that stuff crosses my mind and makes things that much more difficult. Brainwashing is a powerful thing.

I gotta get a life, Orange. I don't want to be here waiting next time Bozo pops around again because he's bored, too. It's not easy, but at least I'm not going back to the cult for company and being abused for it. It's too bad the zombies clutter up your site with all their bs, it's clear they haven't even read the Orange Papers, they must have a group that gets together once a week to send you stupid e-mails. I prefer the letter from the escapees, I like to hear they are doing better without the cult and enjoying the more positive things life has to offer.

All true, but the email from the nutcases is also so educational. I remember one letter from a guy who said he was quitting A.A. because of the hate mail that I got.

And I warn the readers, "If you go to A.A., you might get this nut for your sponsor, posing as your spiritual mentor and telling you how to live."


Thanks for the letter, Twitter.

By the way, about building a new social circle to replace A.A., that subject has come up before in the letters, repeatedly. Like here and here and here and here and here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.
**        ==  William Shakespeare (1564--1616)

Date: Sat, October 14, 2006 2:11 pm
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: Fw: What's With All the Alkies in Congress?

Hi Again, Orange!

The following is an e-mail I just sent to some of the anchors at Court TV. I'd been explaining chronically manic personalities to them for some time, and some (especially one in particular!) have responded very favorably. One of those whom both I, and that other Court TV anchor very familiar with chronically manic personalities, have had a great rapport on this, is Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred. Lisa is also one of those who got this e-mail.


----- Original Message -----
From: Sharen K.
To: Open Court ; Jami Floyd ; Courtside
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 12:46 PM
Subject: What's With All the Alkies in Congress?

Regarding Ney's announcement that he's in treatment for alcoholism, as well as Patrick Kennedy and Mark Foley recently going into treatment, this really does make me wonder how many of our congressmen are under the influence when on the job! As Abe Lincoln (who was one of Us) said, "I believe if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice," so chances are that the smart people in Congress are unusually likely to be alkies.

Therefore, it just might be reasonable to enact mandatory random drug testing for them, to test for blood alcohol concentration when they're on the job! After all, plenty of high-consequence jobs have mandatory drug-testing simply because of the high consequences. Probably the percentage of nuclear power plant operators who are alkies, is a lot less than the percentage of congressmen who are, yet the nuclear power plant operators are randomly tested. If so many congressmen are helpless victims of their disease of alcoholism, then this would be a good thing, to save plenty more congressmen from this victimization.


Thank you, Sharen, that is priceless. How I would love to see all of the Senators and Congressmen peeing in a cup once a month.

It's only fair. Millions of lives hang in the balance. Drunk Congressmen kill a lot more people than drunk airline pilots do. I mean, we just can't allow whiskey-guzzling, cocaine-snorting draft-dodgers and deserters to run America, now can we?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Grounded on his colonel's say,
**   Lieutenant Bush won't fly today...
**   ...
**   Cocaine and whiskey feel alright,
**   Lieutenant Bush will fly tonight.
**   Yeh, Pilot Bush goes up tonight..."
**   == from "The Ballad of Lt. Bush", by A. Orange

Date: Sat, October 14, 2006 8:28 pm
From: "Joe B."
Subject: GBY

God Bless You

Well, I thank you, Joe. That is kind.

And you have a good day too. And God Bless You Too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The spiritual virtue of a sacrament is like light, although
**  it passes among the impure, it is not polluted.
**      ==  Saint Augustine  (354--430)

Date: Sun, October 15, 2006 10:59 am
From: "Vince C"
Subject: RE: "The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment"

Thanks for publishing this article, it illustrates what I've suspected all along in that the only person that can stop a habit is that one person and no one else.

Your analysis is insightful and eye opening.

Hi Vince,

Thanks for the compliments, and yes, you understand.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Plato wrote that we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of
**  the dark.  The real tragedy is men who are afraid of the light.

Date: Sun, October 15, 2006 5:01 pm
From: "john m."

Just curious. If someone with a drug or alcohol addiction goes to any other type of method of quiting, such as AVERT, and does not stay sober, does that mean that they did not practice 'a program?' Does this mean that the other methods to get sober, are really only cults in diguise?

Hi John,

AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Therapy) cannot be a cult for a whole lot of reasons, starting with the fact that there are no meetings and no groups. AVRT is also not "a program". It is a technique for watching your own mind and recognizing the base-brain addiction monster yammering at you and trying to talk you into drinking or doping or smoking or over-eating, or whatever. —And then refuting his arguments, and saying "No" to the urge to indulge.

For a more complete description of what constitutes a cult, see The Cult Test.

So other modalities or methods for treating or dealing with alcoholism (or drug addiction) are not "really only cults in diguise".

Now talking about failure rates is valid. If we send 1000 alcoholics to A.A., and 1000 to AVRT training sessions, and 1000 to SMART classes, then it is fair and valid to later ask what percentage of the alcoholics quit drinking in each of those modalities.

It is also fair and valid to compare their success rates to the success rate of another group of alcoholics who got no "help", "treatment", or "support groups", to see how many of them got themselves sober, alone, on their own, and how much better than normal spontaneous remission any "method" or "modality" really is.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The baby boomer generation will feel the wrath of the young.
**  Forget about reforming social security. The time will come
**  when a younger generation says, "Look what you assholes did
**  to our world — now crawl off and die."
**  ==  James H. Kunstler, http://kunstler.com/mags_diary12.html

Date: Sat, October 28, 2006 3:43 pm
From: "john m."
Subject: Re:

I am not trying to say that 12 step stuff is 'superior'. it just seems that what is being put out by the counter 12 step stuff on the computer, is that these are the only alternatives. Fact is, I have rarely seen anyone stay clean for any length of time in any other recovery program.

Where were you looking?

Date: Sat, October 28, 2006 3:51 pm
From: "john m."
Subject: Re:

Oh, one more thing. I do like going on the NA sites and give rebuttals to their 12 step logic. It is so much fun!

Date: Sun, October 15, 2006 6:41 pm
From: "Tom H."
Subject: I am now convinced


You are simply a bi-polar type. Hopefully you take lithium. You still seem to want to save the world from this horrible cult of AA. You want to be the bearer of the TRUTH because you so care about your fellow man. ( what a joke) Typical bi-polar stuff. No one reading your site knows ANYTHING factual about you at all, except for what you write about in your typical cryptic manner.

Ah, good morning Tom. Hello to you too.

I could NEVER get an answer out of you if you were a honorably discharged veteran. I could go on and on, but I dont have the endless time like you do to sit and babble on for thousands of hours.

Yes, honorable, and those veteran's benefits sure do help an old guy.

You actually enjoy the hate mail !!! ! It gives you a PURPOSE and whiners like you need a purpose.

Actually, no, the hate mail becomes tiresome after a while.
Although it is revealing and educational. To think that those minds are The Real A.A....

You will not tell your readers if you are on medication or if you are on some form of welfare.

I am not on medications, other than minor stuff like vitamins, aspirin, calcium tablets, a muscle relaxant, and a cholestrol-lowering pill. I get a small Veteran's Administration disability pension.

You love to judge Bill Wilson for his dishonesty and bullshit and you are just as ego ridden as he was.. At least he spoke in front of live audiences. Of course he was a sack of shit. Duh ! But you want to help your friends and the rest of the world and save them from this killer cult called AA.

Ego? You simultaneously complain that I practice humble anonymity and do not publicly grandstand, and also scream that I am egotistical. You can't have it both ways.

What a crock of shit you are. And the real problem is that you BELIEVE what you are doing as you manically type away.


PS I have read your site for years and you have gotten worse mentally.

Yes, Tom, I do believe in what I am doing.

So what medications are you on, Tom?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  George Bush says that we must stay in Iraq to honor the
**  memory of the soldiers who have died there.
**  How? By getting more American soldiers killed there?
**  And then we can get even more American guys killed to
**  honor the newly dead guys... And on and on, forever.
**  It's a race, a contest, you know.
**  Who do you think will kill more American soldiers?
**  Al Qaeda, or George Bush?

Date: Mon, October 16, 2006 4:25 am
From: "Gordon"
Subject: propaganda and debating techniques

Hello again Terrance, greetings from Gordon in Glasgow, Scotland.

I have an addition to your marvellous list of techniques, it's called the "opposite test". When someone makes a claim, ask yourself: would anyone, in any circumstances, ever say the opposite? If not, the claim is vacuous and irrelevant.

For example, "my higher power keeps me from drinking". Since nobody would say, "my higher power makes me drink", the claim is meaningless.

Another example, politicians say things like, "I stand for optimism". What rival politician is going to fearlessly lay claim to pessimism!!

Best regards, Keep up the good work, hope to meet you some day, Gordon.

Hi again, Gordon,

The opposite test. Yes, that is good. I'll definitely have to add that.

Thanks and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Before the war is ended, the war party assumes the divine right
**  to denounce and silence all opposition to war as unpatriotic and
**  cowardly."   Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855--1925)

Date: Mon, October 16, 2006 4:57 am
From: philip
Subject: Questions?

I am writing to you from Amsterdam.

Hello, Philip,

It's good to hear from Amsterdam. Nice city. I was only there once, but I liked it. All of the Netherlands was a real joy. I especially remember the Kukenhoff Gardens, and the best cup of coffee that I ever got. (That was 1964, and I still remember that coffee.)

My girlfriend of 2 years has been attending A.A. meetings and been sober for just over a month now. I am really happy and encouraged by this. Prior to her attending AA we were both drinking regularly and she does now admit to being a alcoholic. I will only admit to being a "heavy" drinker myself (is that denial?) and have not joined AA, having only attending one open meeting with my girlfriend. I have happily stopped drinking to support my girlfriend and am having no difficulties or desires to start drinking again.

I am really thankful that since joining AA my girlfriend has managed to so far stay sober. I do attribute this to the fact that she has found a social group to provide her with moral support she needs. I think her motivation is not so much to attend meetings — which she is happy to do everyday — but the social (non-alcoholic) drinks she has afterwards with her new friends. She has not yet started "working the steps" and I question whether her character and personality will be sincere or honest enough to do this properly?

However, from the outset I have had an uneasy feeling about the AA and its methods. This has driven me to trawl the internet to find out more about treatments for alcoholics and the AA program in particular. I think it is important to listen (read) to viewpoints from both opposite sides of the spectrum — and from the moderates in the middle — so that a balanced opinion can be reached. As such it seems my own leaning is towards becoming "anti" AA.

With the above in mind I would like to ask you a few questions;

(playing Devils Advocate)
Members attending AA meetings do seem to achieve long periods of a abstinence — 3 months, 6 months, 1 year even 3 years. Even if they do eventually "fall off the wagon" (and binge drink in quantities acceding those before AA attendance), is not these periods of abstinence better for the alcoholic than if they were to continue drinking?

The periods of sobriety are good, very good, but there are "gotchas". The biggest problem that I see is that quitting a second or a third time is much harder than the first. It's like you exhaust your motivation for quitting each time you quit. What works to make you quit once may not work twice. So anything that leads people to relapse could be very bad.

People quit for various reasons, like that they are horrified at seeing how the alcoholism is progressing, blackouts, sickness, shame, lost jobs, messed-up relations, and so on. But after a while the horrifying things are no longer so scary. What made me quit drinking the first time wasn't enough to get me to quit drinking a second time. I had gotten used to those things, and accepted them, and kept on drinking. Things had to get much worse for me to quit the second time.

For example, earlier in my drinking career, I was horrified to see myself slipping into blackouts. The morning after, I was afraid of what I might have done, that I couldn't remember. Years later, after quitting and staying sober for three years, and then going back to drinking, it didn't horrify me at all. My memory loss got so bad that I could never remember what I did the night before, but I just shrugged my shoulders and said that if the police weren't banging on the door to arrest me for what I did last night, then it couldn't have been too bad, so don't worry about it.

The unthinkable had become thinkable. The horrifying was no longer scary enough.

The same thing applies to a lot of the other parts of the alcoholic lifestyle, like the progressive sickness, shame and disgrace, pennilessness, etc... The unacceptable gradually becomes acceptable.

I didn't quit the second time until a doctor told me point-blank: "Quit drinking or die. Choose one."

Now the question is, will Alcoholics Anonymous cause people to relapse, and waste some of that motivation to quit and stay quit? The evidence says, "Yes".

There has not been nearly enough really good testing of Alcoholics Anonymous, but what has been done shows A.A. to be a real disaster. When A.A. was put to the test, Alcoholics Anonymous was actually shown to cause:

All of those facts were revealed by carefully controlled medical tests.
The last test was even done by a leader of Alcoholics Anonymous. He tried for many years to prove that A.A. works, and he accidentally proved that A.A. does not work; it just raises the death rate of alcoholics.

Just the "powerless" doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous is very harmful. Teaching alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol and cannot quit drinking by using their own will power, intelligence and determination is crippling. If somebody really believes that, then they have no reason to try to quit.

Worse yet, the powerless doctrine provides a perfect "morning-after" excuse:
"It isn't my fault. I couldn't help it. I am powerless over alcohol. One of those strange mental blank spots hit and I was drunk before I knew what was happening. It isn't my fault. I have a disease."

Why is AA is the most popular and accepted treatment for alcoholics? Just look at the number of meeting and members they have worldwide — probably more than all the rest of the self-help groups put together?

A.A. is a very old and popular and successful cult, even more popular and successful than Scientology or the Moonies. Those other cults also have lots of meetings in cities all over the world, but they don't cure people's mental problems or get people into Heaven, either. None of them deliver on the promises that they make. But they still manage to attract and keep members whose job is to then go recruiting and get some more members.

What about the claim that AA will work only after all treatment attempts by other programs have been unsuccessful? I.E. Try other programs and only after you have found them to fail then come to AA?

They want to get people who are in their most vulnerable state, who have little resistance or self-confidence left. People who are really sick, confused, and broken-down are easier to manipulate and brain-wash.

To put it in more technical terms:
Back in 1960, the famous doctor and psychiatrist Dr. Edgar H. Schein saw that Alcoholics Anonymous was a mind-control or thought-reform program. Schein described brain-washing in terms of "unfreeze-change-refreeze" the victim's personality. Some kind of abuse is usually necessary to shatter an adult's solid personality, and make them fluid and changeable. Both torture and alcohol poisoning will do the job:

Certain organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) do not deliberately unfreeze an individual but refuse to take anyone under their care who is not already unfrozen. Thus a person does not become eligible for care by AA unless he has really become desperate, is dissatisfied with himself, and is prepared to turn his fate over to some greater power.
Coercive Persuasion: A Socio-psychological Analysis of the "Brainwashing" of American Civilian Prisoners by the Chinese Communists, Edgar H. Schein with Inge Schneier and Curtis H. Barker, page 272.

(my personal worries)
As I am considered a "dry drunk" and most probably anti-AA will my girlfriend not be encouraged to disassociate herself from me?


What statistics are available for relationships or marriage break-ups of couples where one person, with a drinking problem, has joined AA, whilst the other partner — whether drinking or not — has remained out of AA or any other 12-step program?

Alas, I don't know of any statistics. I have anecdotal evidence that the breakup and divorce rate is high, but I don't have any hard numbers. Many of the letters that I get from people describe marriages that went on the rocks because of Alcoholics Anonymous. I've also talked to such people personally. Even the A.A. propaganda movie "The Days of Wine and Roses" showed the guy abandoning his wife to an alcoholic death for the sake of his own sobriety.

(a moderate view)
What about this article;
Its title is — AA Works Best, study says Experts unsure why AA is more effective.
I am no expert but it does seem that any group support will help the alcoholic? Because AA is so widespread and well known it is only natural that alcoholics find there way to these support groups first — before they have really research or evaluated exactly what AA really is or looked at any alternatives. In any case can you really expect someone with a severe drinking problem to really be able to make an informed decision?

What you are seeing is some more A.A. propaganda. They have a whole lot of "experts" who crank out phony "studies" that show that A.A. works great. It is all a fraud. A.A. does not work best. A.A. does not work at all.

Studies like that assume a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists, and they even reverse a cause-and-effect relationship. It's like this:

  1. People get really sick from alcoholism, so they go to a detox center to quit.
  2. The Steppers who work at the detox center force all of the patients into A.A. meetings, and tell them that they must go to A.A. meetings forever, or else they will relapse.
  3. Months later, the people who decide that they would rather drink do so. They also stop going to A.A. meetings. They go to the meetings at the bars and pubs instead.
  4. The people who want to stay sober do so. And those sober people who have been fooled into believing that A.A. is necessary for sobriety continue to go to A.A. meetings.
  5. After a while, some A.A. promoter and talking head notices that the people at the A.A. meeting are drinking less than the people at the local bar. He wrongly concludes that A.A. keeps people from drinking.
  6. The A.A. promoter writes a paper that says, "A.A. Works Best".

See these examples for more garbage from the A.A. propaganda mill:

  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 A.A.-Booster Propaganda: the book Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion, by Marc Galanter
  4. so-called studies by Rudolf H. Moos
  5. so-called studies by Keith Humphreys
  6. More Big Lies — A.A. Propaganda As Usual
  7. Answer to a George Vaillant Speech
And that is only the tip of the iceberg. A.A. has a huge propaganda mill that is constantly publicizing A.A. and trying to convince everybody that A.A. works great and is the best thing.

You website is really informative if not inspirational. I really appreciated have found it.

Yours Sincerely
Phil R.

Thank you for the compliments, Phil.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** When you can't tell the difference between patriotically
** defending America at home, and killing thousands of
** children in a foreign country with "Shock and Awe"
** bombing, you are officially crazy.

Date: Mon, October 16, 2006 3:54 pm
From: "David A."
Subject: Please advise

I've read your website with great interest. I am a member of an AA group, and certainly identify with all the objections that you raise — although my problem with my home group has more to do with the person-to-person cult-like dynamics than with the religious aspects of the group. But no matter.

What my question is, is what are the viable alternatives. It seems that the two choices I have are stick with the people I know in AA (who only hang out with each other, all the time — and in order to be fully accepted by that peer group, one must do the same) or to be around my old friends, who are all still drinking.

Hello David,

Obviously those are not the only two choices that you have for a social circle. Make some new friends who are both sober and sane. Develop friendships that are based on shared positive values, rather than on shared illnesses.

As far as "alternatives" go, you seem to be speaking about a social circle rather than a treatment program for alcoholism.

We have been talking about the new circle of friends a lot lately. Check these links: here and here and here and here and here.

As you mentioned at one point, I believe, the ideal for me would be to have lots of friends who did not drink, but otherwise lived normal lives and were not controlled by an AA heirarchy.

Correct. Exactly correct. Think of all of the healthy and positive things that you like to do, and then go find some more people who also like those things.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Pay your taxes so the rich don't have to.

Date: Mon, October 16, 2006 4:42 pm
From: "Walter L. B."
Subject: And I Thought *I* Hated AA

Dear Agent Orange,

As an ex-drunk who gives absolutely NO credit to AA for my getting un-drunk, I was tickled to stumble upon your website. Provided you have no objections, I do believe it (or a link thereto) is going to find a place on my own site, Misanthrope Manor, on the Inevitable Links page, the next time I make some changes.

Cheers & be well,


Misanthrope Manor
The point at which you veer off course.(tm)

"Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, the two most efficient virus
propagation utilities ever devised by human intellectual failure."
-Thomas C. Greene, The Register

"[Internet Explorer] is a fruit of the poisonous tree of Microsoft's
illegal conduct."
-Tom Greene, California assistant attorney general

Hello Walter,

Thanks for the letter and the laughs. Linking is just fine.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Give the dead their due. After all, they
**   have worked hard to elect a whole host of
**   Congressmen, Senators, and even Presidents.
**   But now even the jobs of the dead are being
**   replaced by machines — Diebold voting machines
**   will determine the winners of future elections.

Date: Mon, October 16, 2006 5:17 pm
From: Dave
Subject: Thoughts from a psychologist


I have begun to read your gathered materials with considerable interest. So far, I am impressed that you have done your homework. Interesting facts are emerging about Bill Wilson that certainly make sense to me. Sorry to hear that he was such an unfaithful guy. That is an important point for me.

I too have insisted that many of my clients go to AA, as part of court mandated treatment.

I don't do that type of work any more. Very few stayed with it after they didn't have to. I guess I think of treatment of any sort as slow, limited and temporary. Sad but true.

I really doubt that alcoholism has a 50% spontaneous remission rate. Can't support it with numbers, just doesn't seem to fit with my clinical experience. Further, if AA has such a dismal success rate, how is that consistent with a 50% rate of spontaneous remission?

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the letter.

I think that the confusion is in the time scale. The rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics is only about 5% per year. If you observe a population of alcoholics for only a year or two, you will only see a 5 or 10% remission rate. But if you watch them for 13 or more years, you will see the remission rate creeping upwards towards 50%.

A.A. is a different thing, however. It has a steady attrition rate. Apparently, many alcoholics drop out of A.A. and then go on to later quit drinking by themselves, alone, their own way.

I think this may be a diagnostic problem. I drank in an abusive way in my 20s. Drunk a couple of times a week routinely. Drank and drove all the time. Curtailed this dramatically when I went to graduate school at 30 and haven't had a drink in 12 years.(55) I don't think I have had a spontaneous remission. AA didn't save me because I never went. I made a decision to stop by myself.

That is precisely what a spontaneous remission is. If you get "treatment" or A.A., then it isn't spontaneous remission. Spontaneous remission is what happens with the people who go it alone and quit on their own, without any "help".

Nobody in my immediate family used drugs other than in the strictest definition of social drinking and never to intoxication. I just don't think I am alcoholic, according to the conventional definition. Probably denial, eh?

Hard to say. Really hard to say when we haven't clearly defined just what the word "alcoholic" is supposed to mean. Check out these definitions.

I am in Al-Anon, basically an atheist and a skeptic about everything, but I like the changes that I have made in my life after joining and have found a supportive community.

I will keep you posted on my impressions as I go. Perhaps you will enter into a collaborative discussion with me as I learn from you.

Okay, sounds good.

Is there data supporting the efficacy of SMART recovery? I attended one meeting of Rational Recovery in my area and found it to be too social and disorganized. I am curious about how your information will change the work I do with my clients. Now where is that picture of me standing in front of the Wilson House......

I don't have any really good data on the SMART recovery rate. The closest thing that I have is the three-way test that Dr. Brandsma did: testing A.A., Rational Behavioral Therapy, and a control group. (SMART uses a variant called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy.) A.A. did the worst, RBT the best.

Rational Recovery is now history. Jack Trimpey disbanded the organization. Try some SMART meetings, and see if you like them. Also note that there is a lot of variation between groups there too, so try at least 3 different groups before you form a set opinion.


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: Sat, October 28, 2006     (answered 24 April 2007)
From: Dave
Subject: Re: Thoughts from a psychologist

Hello Orange,

Thanks for the reply. I am going to think about this some more. Now that I have a cartridge for my printer, I am going to print out your 'voices' that lead to relapse to discuss with clients. I think of this as relapse prevention.

Just one more thought about spontaneous remission...
There are some fairly consistent definitions of alcoholism that include:

  • Loss of predictability. If someone's intention is to drink moderately on an occasion and then drinks to excess, particularly if there are consequences that one could reasonable expect, I think this is diagnostic of what is called Loss of Control (predictability). Non alcoholics don't typically experience this sx.
  • Tolerance: If you can drink everyone under the table, after a long career of drinking, this is tolerance. Social drinkers rarely experience this.
  • Third, is amnestic periods or blackouts. Loss of recall for events during a drinking period. Social drinkers never experience this.

I believe too that there are Abusive drinkers, who are not alcoholic necessarily.

I am sure that I fit into that category in my 20s. In that respect, I did not have a spontaneous remission, despite not having treatment. I was never alcoholic.

I watch too many people struggle to get a year clean, despite desperate efforts, to believe that I put 12 years together without a whimper and was still an alcoholic. I would be more than happy to be alcoholic. Good for business. Just never fit the criteria, despite years of abusive drinking. Never had tolerance, never had loss of control, and never had a blackout and don't have any first order relatives who are drinkers. No success story here. Just got older and had a reason to curtail my old habits. I am compulsive about cookies and pistachios, but a 6 pack, or a bag of weed, or an ounce of coke would sit on my coffee table for a year and still be there. The cookies would be gone in an hour!

I wonder if the dropout rate in AA is fundamentally different from the dropout rate for Bally's or Powerhouse? I will bet 90% of those who get religion in January aren't going to the gym in March. Flaw in the gym? Having a trainer and accountability improved my odds, much like a sponsor would improve the odds of success in AA.

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this. I will learn from you regardless if you agree with me or not. Trying to clarify my thinking, not convince you.


Hi Dave,

Thanks for the letter.

Well, I had all three of those signs of alcoholism, to the max. The memory loss got so bad that I could never remember what I did the night before. I just got used to it, and stopped being frightened by black-outs. Blacking out each night was normal. And then it got to the point that, even while totally sober, sometimes I couldn't even remember what I had done earlier in the day. Big chunks of days were disappearing. I was flirting with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Your point about the dropout rate at Bally's is a good one. I suspect that you will also see the same dropout rate at Weight-Watchers and all kinds of self-improvement programs. I think that is just human nature. People are unclear on their motives. They think they want something, but then it turns out that they don't. Or they don't want it enough to really work and sacrifice for it.

Alas, that doesn't let A.A. off of the hook. What that really means is that A.A. is ineffective and just claims the credit for the few people who are determined to succeed, and who will do whatever it takes.

The one study that I know of that asked whether sponsors (in Narcotics Anonymous) helped drug addicts to quit their addictions found that the answer was, "No." The sponsors didn't improve the situation at all. Addicts who got sponsors did no better than ones who didn't. (But the sponsors did better. Apparently volunteering to be a sponsor helps someone to stay clean and sober.)

About your question about whether you personally are or were "an alcoholic", I am reminded of the Rand Corporation study that found that half of the alcoholics who successfully stopped self-destructive drinking did it by total abstinence, and half by tapering off into moderate controlled drinking. The point there is just "Different Strokes for Different Folks". Alcoholics are not all alike.

Now I am one of the people who has to totally abstain from drinking alcohol. I know that from many years of experimentation and bitter experience. And yet, staying totally sober is almost easy for me. That may seem to be counter-intuitive, but that's how it is.

At the same time, I am acutely aware of how few others around me have succeeded. In fact, I hear that I am the sole survivor out of my class at the "treatment center". That's sad. Some of those people were my friends, and I was rooting for them.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
**       == Yogi Berra

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