Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alcoholics Anonymous...Behind The Mask

After over twenty-five years in, out of and around a vast number of AA groups, I can assure you that what most onlookers perceive AA to be, and what AA truly is are two separate realities.

What they say:

AA is purely voluntary, and its steps are but suggestions..."Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:" (from AA's "Big Book", chapter: "How it works")

The Truth:

If you enter "the rooms" as a member or potential member, you will be told time and again that the 12 steps are your ONLY way to salvation. It's also written into their literature: "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program...they are not at fault, they seem to have been born that way."  (from AA's "Big Book", chapter: "How it works")

"They seem to have been born that way"? What a gross and irresponsible condemnation!

Notice the contradiction in the two quotes? 

The first impression upon opening the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a friendly, suggested solution. That changes quickly. Notice how the program presents itself, in the latter quote, as the only solution? If you sift through their literature and sit at enough 12-step tables, one thing becomes abundantly clear-they are no more a suggested program of recovery than a bible belt faith healing church is a mere suggested doctrine to its masses; if you do not accept the AA program, there is something wrong with you! That second quote is an ultimatum, and in reality, serves as a major influence on the harsh, often behind-your-back judgement that plagues AA circles. Go to a meeting and tell the kind folks that you disagree with their program, whether in part or in full. You will likely get a smile or two, perhaps a polite rebuttal. You may be approached after the meeting with a request for a one-to-one intervention. You will also light up the coffee shop gossip like a Christmas tree. Common gossipy condemnations: "He'll be drunk in no time" "She doesn't want help!" "It's his disease talking."  Yes, apparently our "disease" is a living breathing entity within us. You will be ostracized and left on the sidelines. You will be verbally attacked by hard-nosed evangelical old-timers. If you continue to attend meetings and speak in them, you'll notice people looking away when it's your turn to talk- fidgeting, looking at their watches, offering not-so-subtle sighs, and generally ignoring you. Think I'm exaggerating? Think again.

The smart people get out. I've seen groups all but dismantled as a result of gossip and hard-lined preaching. I've seen groups taken hostage by old timers and their chosen circle of disciples. I've witnessed people leaving in despair after learning that they were the subject of slander and gossip. I've seen groups broken into factions, each clique with its own unique, exclusive slant on recovery, keeping at bay anyone who did not share their self-inflated views. I've seen groups close down for all of these reasons. I only wish that more groups would close down.

Why do faithful steppers act so sensitive, hostile and cliquish? This is just a hunch, but I'm not alone in my conclusion...you are dealing with very insecure people. They're clinging to this rubber raft of a program to save themselves from drowning in their addiction. When you start roughing up the waters, you are no longer an individual with a voice of your own, but a direct threat to them. If they're so secure in their salvation, why the need to react?

"Their argument is that those who depart are bound to fail altogether, since theirs is the only road to recovery. Within AA groups themselves, people who leave the program are ostracized by their former "soul mates" who predict -- some might even say they hope for -- the prodigals' failure and demise. That is, unless they return to the fold." (Stanton Peele, "AA is ruining the world"-Huffington Post)


Thousands of  people each year find themselves mandated by the criminal courts to attend AA as the result of a conviction.  AA is a religious and dogmatic cult, however loudly 12-step devotees cry that they have no religious interests. Church and State must remain separate! This is a reckless imposition on behalf of our legal system. It violates a citizen's personal rights and freedoms, and it is clearly evidence of how blindly AA is trusted by outsiders. That said, we are gaining ground-check out this court transcript:


What they say:

AA takes no stance on religion.

The Truth:

"For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience." (From the 12 traditions of AA) To expand on that, it is common practise for members to hold hands after each meeting and recite the Lord's Prayer. If you want to fit in, you'd better join the circle.

"But there is one who has all power-that one is God. May you find Him now!"  (from AA's Big Book, chapter: "How it works")

Not a religious organization?

They will tell you that your personal god can be anything..a tree, a lamp, a Christian god or a Buddhist god...as long as you find some entity to believe in beyond your own strength. (You are NOT an individual, you are a helpless drunk, and you will accept this and take the medicine they're offering you.) Go ahead and tell them you're not looking for a god...they'll help you find one quickly. The very 12 steps are laced through and through with the notion of salvation being found only through a god.

They devote an entire chapter in their Big Book Bible to agnostics (those who are uncertain about the existence of God) and atheists. The motive of the chapter is to steer the reader into accepting God as the only guide through the 12 steps. One cannot remove God from the 12 steps without the steps falling flat. Their claim to have no religious interest is a mere sales pitch to attract members who are not looking for a religious solution. It's the good old bait and switch routine.

In my experience, if you attend AA meetings long enough  as a self proclaimed agnostic or atheist, you will be in for some pretty cold stares, corrective verbal assaults and again, you'll be the subject of after-the-meeting gossip. At this point, their "suggested" program of recovery takes on all of the momentum of a hard line baptist church service on a speeding train.

What they say:

"If anyone who is showing the inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him." (From the "Big Book" of AA)

Allow me to add to that thought: If anyone who is showing the inability to control his drinking can find an alternative path to success in either moderating or stopping drinking, who is AA to question it?

Yet they do...

The truth:

There are some damning and well worn lines around the 12-step tables...ones often thrown out in utter contempt at an unsuspecting newcomer. Usually such a verbal lashing comes after a newcomer tells the group that they are "checking it out" for now, and that they're not entirely sure that AA is for them just yet, or that they're not sure if they have a problem or not.

"People who don't need this place don't question whether or not they have a problem. You need to be here or you wouldn't have showed up!"

Some members get their noses right in the mud:

"If you're going to lie to yourself, we can't help you."

"You're not fooling anyone!"

"No-one's forcing you to be here, but if you leave, you'll be back."

You cannot be kicked out of AA, as they are bound by their 12 Traditions, one of them being: 
"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking". That said, unless you're willing to tow the party line, you won't want to stick around very long. Bullies have ways of keeping their playground segregated.

I cannot emphasise enough just how deeply threaded and widely accepted this utterly crass and condemning behaviour is within AA!

I could go on and on, but chances are if you're reading this blog, you already suspect foul play within Bill Wilson's boot camp.

For related reading, check this article out:



  1. Everything you have written here is painfully true. There are however, many 'smart' people who have been thoroughly brainwashed by this cult religion. This 'program' is so manipulative that even people like Phillip Hoffman became indoctrinated. Poor guy might have had a chance if not for this dangerous group. In fact, have I told you that months before Heath Legder died, Hoffman started taking him to AA/NA meetings? He learned he was 'powerless' and obviously bought it. Yep. Connection? You bet your fucking ass.

    1. I agree. The tragedy of Hoffman struck a chord in me. It is a result of cult conditioning. I lived through it, and luckily LIVED through it. When one is told he or she is a powerless, hopeless soul, and that "there are such unfortunates, they seem to have been born that way" then that person is going to see personal failure as a death knoll and grip his vice unto all out destruction. I guess my comment about "the smart people get out" referred more so to the fortunate ones who see through Bill's bible belt beat down and head for the door at last. But you are right, and we've talked about this..I was astounded at just how deeply they had rooted into my wife's mentality when they conditioned her to stay away from me. I didn't give her enough credit through that. They did that to her, and she trusted them.