Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just The Facts

Loyal steppers carry their cause with a war cry: "AA is the answer!" Then again, many different groups in society fiercely defend their position. Some of these causes...the Catholic Church, the Pentecostals, the Bible-Belt Baptists, the Moonies, the Mormons, the Jehovas, the Nazis, the KKK. Without exception, each of these movements professes to have the only real solutions in life...the majority of them, in the name of god.

It's worth noting that the majority of AA culters claim that not only will the 12 steps work for alcoholics, but they will work for anyone in any life circumstance! It's a "program for living." they profess. Good information to know...I can't get my beagle under control for the life of me. Step 1: Admitted that we were powerless over our beagle, that our training had become unmanageable. Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore our beagle to sanity. Step 3....Quackery; a circus medicine show!

Let's look at the steppers' claims for a moment...

What They Say:

Alcoholics Anonymous is God inspired.

There's a popular little story that circulates around the AA tables, with slight variations as it travels:

God looked down at the alcoholics and didn't know what to do with them, so he stuck them all together, created AA and said: "You guys figure it out."

It's a cutesy and cuddly little nugget, I must admit. Did God also look down at Adolf Hitler and grant him the power to destroy life? Addy claimed that yes, God did just that. Did God grant the Catholic church his blessing in their historical inflictions of selling salvation to frightened sinners, forced conversions and torture/murder?Apparently so.

So why does AA boast such saving grace?

It's a simple truth that when like-minded people get together, whatever the common bond may be, they find an inner strength that on their own they would not experience. It's good therapy for 12 steppers to share their common issues and seek out solutions.

It's also healthy for anyone to look inward and change harmful thinking and behaviour. AA paves the way for such an exercise in the case of alcoholics, although their path is a very steep slope; they claim a direct line to God. They insist that every member tap into that line, and cease all efforts at self-sufficiency ever after.

There's one passage in the AA "Big Book" that should urge a reader to close the book and never open it again:

"Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way."
(Page 58, Chapter 5)

If God drafted those words, I don't want to know him. This passage however is all the evidence most die hard steppers need to believe that they've cornered the market on recovery and that God serves them in a very unique and privileged fashion.

In the first part of that arrogant gospel, the program is setting itself up as the only solution for alcoholics. It cannot be read any other way. It's too bad that we have to endure four chapters before this bomb is dropped on us.

The latter section of that passage is perhaps one of the most judgemental and all out condemning presumptions to be found in AA literature; if you cannot accept the AA program, it's not AA's fault...you have a problem! But don't be too hard on yourself...you were likely "born that way". You are one of the "unfortunates". It's bad enough that AA insists that the alcoholic has some inherent "disease"...now to heap one more weight on a member's back, they claim that certain people have an even uglier condition known as denial.

This is the point where one should get out of the cult, and fast. The reality is that millions of people buy into this passage wholeheartedly. In fact it's read aloud at the beginning of most AA meetings. If a member stays sober and stays in AA, they almost always take the pedestal and look down on those who "will not completely give themselves" to their simple program. If one leaves AA and ends up drunk again, he or she will most likely adopt an impenetrable sense of guilt and self-loathing, believing themself to be an utter failure, as a result of the conditioning process imposed by AA. This is proven time and time again, as many, like I did, begin a cycle of going in and out of AA for years on end. They are neither convinced of AA's claim to saving grace, nor are they convinced that AA is entirely wrong. The fact that "they seem to have been born that way" only heightens their despair and keeps them trapped in a personal hell. Any hope they have of changing their lives is ultimately dissolved in another drink. It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of this cult. People have committed suicide because they believed that they had failed AA and thus failed at life.

I  welcome any stepper who can offer a sensible rebuttal. Fire away. But while I'm waiting...

What they say:

Only God can relieve you of your burden of addiction. (of course, god through AA) 

"We turned our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him..." 
(the 3rd step of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Though claiming to be non-religious, AA ultimately demands that one find God. Culters also insist that people cannot sober up through alternative religious associations or approaches; true salvation can only come from their unique approach to god. Remember, God wrote the 12 steps. Atheists and agnostics do not fare well; they always come under heavy attack by ever vigilant steppers. Bill's Big Book has a chapter targeted directly at such folks. Their argument is that you cannot change of your own accord; you don't have it within you to change. You must look beyond yourself for help, because you are truly a helpless human being. If you don't accept this, you won't be invited for coffee after the meetings, unless they have a good ole double dose of the holy ghost planned for your sorry ass.

In reality, atheists and agnostics can and do  recover from addictions with equal success as those of faith! If there is a god, that god is not an unreasonable autocratic overlord, demanding blind worship! We have the tools to change our own lives installed on our personal hard drives! Certified professionals also have tools to help us if we choose to go that route.

I'll say at this juncture that I do have a personal belief in God, but I'm not speaking, as AA does, of some sort of mystical faith healing.

If there is a God, he gave us what we innately possess...an underlying moral code of conduct toward our fellow man (unless you're a serial killer) and the ability to find and apply practical, scientific solutions to life problems. This ability is written into our blueprints, whether we believe that it came from God or not. AA would have you believe that you posses NO such instincts, but rather a "disease" that rules your every decision. They will tell you that you simply need to remain neutral, ignore your inner voice of reason, and depend only on group and god to cause change in your life. If you have severe chest pains, do you have people pray over you or do you get yourself to a hospital?

When members find themselves struggling with their program (usually as a result of their logical and reasonable instincts not able to digest the outrageous tenets of AA) they are told time and again to *"go back to the 3rd step, and do it properly." At this point the hopeless one is handed needless guilt, and in an ironic twist, is drawn closer to the program. This is cult conditioning at its finest. With 25 years of AA in me, (and finally out of me) I can assure you that this is exactly what happens.

In joining AA, you must leave your inherent sensibility at the door. The process of evolving through the twelve steps is a process wherein one abandons any and all free thought. One's own ideas and approaches to life are rejected as "self-will". AA meetings are filled with constant affirmations that an alcoholic is a "diseased" individual, and therefore powerless to change on his or her own strength. This "disease" is a lifetime condition; a member can never expect to live successfully without AA.

*3rd step..."We turned our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood him..."

A disease of denial

AA World Services forbids scientific research and clinical studies of its members. One can somewhat justify this stance I suppose, in the interest its members' anonymity as well as AAWS's refusal to link itself to outside interests, but their closed door policy only solidifies their cult status.

Speaking of cult status, check out my blacklist...what AA World Services doesn't forbid is any form of lunacy perpetrated by its members!

All that said, every three years AAWS conducts its own membership studies. According to their humble findings, a mere 36% of the people who walk through the doors remain active and sober members for more than one year. (It's up for debate whether or not it's even that high) Devout 12 Steppers have a cliched response to this reality:

"It's the only disease that tells you that you don't have a problem; it's a disease of denial" 

Thus they easily write off the 64% who leave and never return. We can tie their twisted logic directly to that tidy little sentence in the Big Book that accuses untold millions of lacking the honesty to "completely give themselves to this simple program."

"Prior to alcoholism as defined by AA, the only other “social ill” for which denial was considered a symptom was in the Middle Ages. In the “diagnosis” of witches, a sure sign of a woman being a witch was that she denied it. It was based on common sense. A real witch would deny it. It must have been as difficult for someone accused of witchcraft to argue their way out of it as someone today who, once accused, can’t help but “prove” their alcoholism by denying it. It is important to point out that AA members really believe that alcoholism is a disease with the specific characteristics mentioned here. Much of the reason for this is entirely semantic.

self-proving definition: the disease of alcoholism

By defining alcoholism as a disease and attaching each of the elements of the disease theory to that definition, it proves itself. Just like the basic assumptions about witchcraft proved to almost everyone’s satisfaction the existence of witchcraft in the Middle Ages." 

(A Critical Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps by Ken Ragge)

It's a fact that people who overcome their addictions, whatever course of action they take, are successful because of one reason alone...they made the decision to stop or moderate their drinking. Period. It's a fact that many problem drinkers learn to successfully moderate their drinking (Clinical studies show us that 50% of problem drinkers adopt healthy moderation.) Through a wealth of research, we learn that more people have quit drinking on their own than those who have used AA. Team Bill's take on that...if you quit drinking on your own, or you claim to moderate your drinking, surely you're not truly happy. With torch and pitchfork in hand, they'll call you a "dry drunk". AA members may believe that it was only through the twelve steps that they were able to change their lives. On one hand, it's a natural response on their part that they tie their salvation to the last place they looked for help...to AA. They were ready to quit when they joined AA, and subsequently credit the 12 steps for causing this life transformation. Had they stepped into an addictions counsellor's office when they were ready to quit, the counsellor would have gotten the credit. Had it been a church, then the church gets the accolades. The point is, they were going to quit, regardless of where they landed in their efforts. Their lofty sentiment can also be accounted for by the very cult conditioning that AA imposes on its members. At its very best, Alcoholics Anonymous is simply a support network of non-professionals who have some good ideas and many not so good ideas.

As I mentioned, I was involved in AA for 25 years. I've been to meetings in roughly 20 different cities. I've been to conventions and I was an AA "sponsor". I can assure you that certain beliefs are threaded right through the fabric of their society. For example, if you say, at an AA table, that you aren't sure whether you have a problem or not, you're instantly told that yes, you do in fact have a problem. This is a patent response across the board, regardless of demographics or regions within AA. You need never say another word about your life beyond that. Nobody will ever ask you to elaborate; it's obvious to them at that point that you're simply in a state of denial. You showed up there, and according them,

"People who don't think they have a problem don't walk into AA meetings".

I may think I'm having a heart attack, and thus get myself to the emergency room, but no doctor in his right mind is going to strap me to a gurney and cut my chest open without first determining my condition!

Alcoholics Anonymous is a highly archaic and close-minded organization. They refuse to be scrutinized by society on any level. They reject medical findings and scientific approaches. Members who have difficulty in absorbing the doctrine are accused of over-analyzing (using logical thought) and ducking the truth. AA has a rich history of badgering newcomers, judging anyone who opposes them, and condemning anyone who leaves the group for greener pastures. As proof-in-point, simply go to the world wide web and you'll find countless steppers breaking their own anonymity and engaging in all out ungodly verbal warfare in defence of their turf in the face of anything that puts the 12 steps under scrutiny. If they were being paid to operate in the manner that they do, the ethical breaches would tie up court rooms for decades.

If you believe that Alcoholics Anonymous is God-inspired, and if you accept 12 steppers' claims to have experienced a new "lease on life" and a "spiritual experience" then you must also accept that God himself is intolerant, judgemental, controlling, demanding, gossipy, slanderous, one-sided, closed minded and unrealistic-these are the fruits of the 12 steps. History has proven it. Just the facts.

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