aa22.jpg I am so happy to find this blog.  I quit drinking over 4 years ago.  I too was told that AA was the only way and that if I stopped going to meetings that surely I would drink and die.  

I never felt like I fit in, I hated the cheesy slogans that you hear over and over, I hated holding hands and reciting christian prayers, I hated being a lemming.  

 

When I moved to another state after 18 months of not drinking, AA seemed even worse to me.  My first 3 months of meetings and not one person offered me their number or welcomed me.  I was not disappointed, nor was I surprised.  But I was intrigued.  These people had no idea I wasnt someone who was trying to quit drinking, but surely I didnt look like I would fit into their little click.  

 

I stopped going, despite the fact they had armed me with the knowledge that “surely I would drink and die”.  Hell, I like to live life on the edge.  One month passed, two months passed, then three and four and I seemed to be sober AND happy.  In fact I noticed I was happier than when I was going to meetings.

A year after I stopped going to meetings, I went back to a meeting, just to see.  Before the meeting, I was getting all those pity looks and the incinuating question “Has everything been alright?” (aka. Did you drink!  ARRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGG!  I wanted to scream and I was feeling fiesty). I shared that I hadnt been to a meeting in a year and that I hadnt felt like drinking, my life was good and I was happy. Yeah……..I felt like stirring up a little trouble.  Nearly everyone who shared after me had some robotic comment about how I was setting myself up for a relapse, I was a dry drunk, I was fooling myself…….One woman however, went on and on about how she relapsed on vanilla ice-cream…you know, the vanilla extract.  She said she actually felt something. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I have since baked several things that require vanilla extract and never got drunk.  (You know, like I said, I like to live life on the edge.) 

 

After the meeting, not one single person acknowledged my existance.  I was the black sheep, for sure.  I left with a smug feeling, they werent going to win me over, they werent going to trap me this time, I wasnt going to play their cultish games anymore……….  

And  I wondered, as I walked away….how could these people actually speak about God and a higher power ? They didnt even know how to treat a fellow human being with kindness just because she didnt do exactly what she was “told”.  

Back on the east coast… my “friends” from my meetings back home would call me once in a while.  The first question out of their mouths was “How are your meetings?” I am not going to lie, I told them I didnt go anymore.  They all dropped away from my life. 

 

 I treated these people as family, letting them use my car, listening to their problems, we had dinner together, saw shows, went for hikes…….but since I stopped going to meetings, they have had nothing to do with me.  One even said, “call me after you have been to a meeting”.  I never went, so I never called, and I never will.

 

I feel sorry for these folks.  Most of them attend 3-4 meetings a week and have no time for anything but work and AA.  AA is just another addiction, but harder for some to quit.

It is tough to say if I would have quit drinking on my own, but I will certainly stay quit on my own.

 

I KNEW there had to be others out there like me.  Funny how the AA’ers tell you to “stick with the winners” and automatically assume that everyone who leaves AA drinks immediately.  What a loser thing to think…………….

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One of the most worrying aspects of the 12 Step ideology, to anyone of a thoughtful and enquiring mind, is its insistence that one must abandon the use of reason and the asking of legitimate questions, accepting AA’s assertions instead through some sort of leap of faith.
This approach is made clear at a person’s first attendance at an AA meeting. Typically, the newcomer is told to just listen to what is said by existing members, rather than take an active part or ask questions. They are also told to “look for the similarities, not the differences”. Thus they are advised from the outset to overlook things which are said which conflict with their own understanding and experience, which is already implicitly denigrated.
In practice, this leaves the newcomer with little to identify with beyond the bare fact that they have the experience of having drunk problematically in common with others present.
This instruction to concentrate on the similarities between what they hear at meetings and their own experience would really be quite unnecessary if a large part of the content of the meeting did not consist of the presentation of ideas which might affront their reason and common sense.
The advice “look for the similarities” is really a veiled admonition that newcomers should discard their critical faculties, and not ask awkward but pertinent questions regarding the true agenda of the meeting. Telling newcomers that they should only listen rather than speak helps ensure that no difficult questions are raised, for instance, regarding the obvious religiosity of the meeting’s format.
As newcomers continue to attend meetings (assuming they do) they become increasingly immersed in a closed world where critical thought is strongly discouraged by peer pressure reinforced with the use of thought-stopping cliches, and a sneering disdain for the intellect exemplified by the slogan “your best thinking got you here”, amongst many others.
The “drunkalogues”, in which members recount stories of the damage alcohol did to them, may remain the only “similarity” they can relate to, but they mostly end with an impassioned endorsement of AA’s program as the only thing which could save the speaker, and by implication other alcoholics, from certain destruction.

Meanwhile, the aspects of AA ideology which the newcomer found unreasonable or unacceptable, and was disingenuously advised to overlook, are being gradually absorbed, almost by osmosis, through repeated exposure to them within an enclosed group of mutually-affirming true believers. In this environment, reality can be effectively re-defined for the duration of the meeting and beyond.

Despite himself, the newcomer is now becoming saturated with messages he may have found unreasonable and unacceptable on a frequent and regular basis, if he follows the injunction to go to thirty meetings in thirty days. When he reads AA literature (as he will have been strongly urged to do) he again encounters an aggressive anti-intellectualism, coupled with a belligerent insistence that the only insurance against an alcoholic death is the acceptance of a perverse and wayward form of religious practice. The sneering and dismissive tone adopted towards anyone with reservations about adopting the doctrine elaborated in the “Big Book” is shown by this quote from “Doctor Bob” Smith:

“If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you”.

One has to ask why AA has such a strong anti-intellectual bias. I think it can only be because it sees critical and analytical thought as threatening to its precepts. In other words, AA’s message simply does not stand up to rational examination, hence the intellect is treated with scorn and contempt to try to preempt such examination.
Fear of the intellect, as well as hatred and contempt for it, to the extent that the very word “intellectual” is a term of abuse, are typical of totalitarian states from Nazi Germany to Maoist China. They are also well-documented features of totalist cults.

“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us”, writes Bill Wilson on page 92 of “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”.  Well, this statement certainly disturbed me the first time I heard it read out at an AA step meeting about 17 years ago, and it still does.

My dictionary defines an axiom as “a self-evident truth or universally accepted principle”, yet I have never encountered this idea of Wilson’s, either in my early religious upbringing as a Catholic, or in my fairly extensive reading in the areas of comparative religion and philosophy as an adult.
Jesus Christ would certainly stand condemned by this “axiom” of Wilson’s as having a great deal wrong with him spiritually, judging by how “disturbed” and angry he was over the self-righteousness and hypocricy of the Pharisees and the behaviour of the money-changers in the Temple, according to the gospel accounts.
Historically, everyone from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, who felt sufficiently strongly about injustice to want to right it, would be characterised as spiritually defective, according to Wilson’s way of thinking.
On a more everyday level, people who suffer distress as a result of abuse or social disadvantage beyond their control are implicitly deemed, according to Wilson’s “axiom”, to be somehow responsible for their suffering themselves. This is a contemptible message, and is indeed cause for a thinking and feeling person to be disturbed.

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We are told at the beginning of “Alcoholics Anonymous” (“The Big Book”) that alcoholism is an illness and, by implication, nothing to be ashamed of.  This idea is not supported with any evidence, only with a brief piece by Dr William D Silkworth, who treated AA’s co-founder Bill Wilson for alcoholism.  Silkworth speculates that alcoholism may have something in common with allergies,but offers no evidence, and the idea is not explored in any depth.
There is no further discussion of alcoholism as a medical problem. Instead, the discourse shifts abruptly to discussing alcoholism as a matter of alcoholics’ supposed lack of contact with God, and of their moral shortcomings. Thus it is, by definition, presented as a cause for shame after all.
There is then a blatant attempt to convince the alcoholic reader of the need to develop a spiritual orientation, with the odd proviso that the nature of the spiritual power believed in remains so undefined that it may take any form which appeals to the individual, from some personal conception of a supernatural “power greater than himself” to AA itself.
The thinking behind this idea may be summarised as follows:
because alcoholics are supposedly powerless to do anything about their problem themselves, they must develop a belief in, and reliance on, a “power greater than themselves, which can and will do for them what they cannot do for themselves.  What is implied, though not explicitly stated, is that this “higher power” must be amenable to entreaties to solve alcoholics’ drink problems, being somehow crucially interested in their welfare in this specific respect.
When the book goes into detail about how the “higher power” is to be approached by alcoholics, it becomes clear that what is really required of them is belief in a God who must intervene at their request to relieve them of their alcoholism, and who is bound to remove their “defects of character” on demand. Thus not only has the supposed need to believe in God been intruded into what was at first presented as the discussion of an illness, but the nature of the belief required, involving God having to perform miracles on demand, is seriously at variance with all mainstream religious faiths. It really constitutes a peculiar occult religion in its own right.
The subject of this book shifts far from its original ostensible theme, rendering it not only logically inconsistent and self-contradicory, but disingenuous.  The pretence that the “recovery” doctrine offered does not ultimately entail a very specific (albeit religiously heretical) conception of God is downright deceptive. Under the guise of offering a plan of recovery from a medical problem, this book introduces a superstitious form of religion by stealth.

When I began attending AA meetings I was led to believe that AA was a source of mutual support and encouragement for people who had been addicted to alcohol and shared a common goal of abstinence.  I hoped we could help one another rebuild self-esteem shattered by years of destructive drinking.
I was disappointed to find instead that there was a pervasive emphasis on individual powerlessness, not only with regard to alcohol, but in all areas of life.  Fatalistic defeatism seemed to be an article of faith to AA members. It was expressed in stock sayings, which were repeated at meetings like mantras:
“I’m powerless over people, places and things”
and
” I know I’m in trouble when I start thinking I can run my own life”
were just two of these sayings thatI heard counless times.
It was evident that those voicing these self-sabotaging sentiments were repeating some kind of received wisdom. Their source became clear over time.  They derived from AA literature, and in particular from the writings of AA’s co-founder “Bill W”.
I tried hard to ignore these disempowering messages and only listen to the minority of people who honestly expressed their own thoughts and feelings in their own words.  In practice, however, the format and tone of the meetings paid such reverence to the morbidly sanctimonious writings of Bill W that those who did not parrot his words were forced into the position of AA heretics, who were at best barely tolerated, and were commonly treated with overt condescension and contempt.
I later discovered that this creed of powerlessness, as I call it, was derived from a now forgotten religious movement in which the founders of AA were involved.  It was  started early in the twentieth century by the Rev Frank N D Buchman, and over time went under the different names of “First Century Christian Fellowship”, “The Oxford Group Movement” and “Moral Rearmament”.  Buchman aroused hostility amongst leading Christians who considered his ideas heretical and occultist.  He also became notorious for his far right-wing sympathies, and especially his widely publicised praise of Adolf Hitler in a newspaper interview.  Nowhere in AA’s main text, “Alcoholics Anonymous” or “The Big Book”, is this debt to Buchman acknowledged, probably because of his notoriety.
A creed of individual powerlessness has obvious attractions for those drawn towards fascist ideas, and it certainly gained Buchman plenty of financial support from weathy businessmen of extreme right-wing political persusion, who welcomed the preaching of a “spiritual” message which told the underdog he must not question his place in the world.
However, the implications of this creed of powerlessness have wider and graver implications than those of narrow class politics. If this ideology had gained universal acceptance historically (as Buchman insisted it must) then it would have prevented all advances in human freedom, including the abolition of slavery and child labour and the emancipation of women.
When applied to people already suffering from damaged self-esteem and psychological problems, it imposes a particularly insidious kind of learnt helplessness.  When framed as a “spiritual” solution to a potentially life-threatening problem such as addiction, it constitutes a form of oppression and disempowerment which I think is best described as spiritual fascism.

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  • Escaping from The AA CULT!..pass it it on!

    After joining AA when I WAS 19 i felt I would die a member of AA..im now so gratefull i will not!..im 45 now and a very happy x member of AA..the mind set of the members were the same where ever I went from the middle east to the south Pacific.. YOU ARE A LOSER IF YOU DRINK..OR YOU ARE NOT A REAL ALCOHOLIC IF YOU DRINK AGAIN AND ENJOY A LIFE!…When i was going on 20 years of not drinking I so wanted to drink just so i wouldnt feel like a loser having to say i was in AA for 20 years!! im just so thrilled at being able to a drink or leave it…wish i had done this after 5 years in AA as the big book should have recommended. This is the first time i have come accross such an excellent web site to help people that did get caught in the AA CULT…though I have met many people enjoying a full life after escaping from The AA CULT!..pass it it on!
  • I found this link from the boards of IMDb for the movie 28 DAYS.

    I’m an addict to alcohol and am leaving next week for rehab. I rebuked all “Hot Line” help that pushed centers that either were AA oriented or a psych ward! My reason, which I was eventually shunned by them, was the religious and cult aura of AA. It just wouldn’t work for me. It was kind of funny when I told some operators on the hot-lines that I found a place that wasn’t AA, 12 step, and religious, that I should attend a meeting of AA when I finish my six weeks. No “I’m glad you found a place” or “Good luck”. I guess I’m not in the club.
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    In desperation, I had decided to give aa another shot, not believing that there was any other way. I was greeted warmly into the “fellowship”, which meant a lot to me, (as most people don’t care much for ex-hookers and aren’t comfortable with the knowledge that I may have blown their husbands). Immediately, I began to feel uncomfortable with the dirge-like use of cliches that were supposed to explain everything. Outside of these cliches, there were no answers. When I expressed concern, as an atheist, about turning my life over to a higher power that I did not have, I was directed to “stay open minded”, believe in a different god other than the god of the bible, or to read the chapter on the agnostic. My lack of belief means as much to me as the beliefs of a devout follower of jesus or mohammed and I had, nor have no wish to change. somehow, my position was not respected and I became an outcast, yet again. Now, as I attend the meetings I am forced to by my (aa based) program, I watch these people in wonder. I truly believe that the program is a cult and it’s only success comes from the new high and exhultation one recieves from belief. Count me out. From the Chieftest of Sinners
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  • About True Tales From AA

    Once upon a time I used to spend a lot of time getting very, very drunk. I wasn’t pleased with myself for getting drunk so much but I couldn’t stop. Someone then told me I was an ‘alcoholic’ and that the only way I could stop drinking was to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.

    So I joined AA and spent a lot of time in church basements drinking powdered coffee and eating cheap biscuits trying to get rid of the ‘defects’ in my character, the defects that AA told me would keep me in the mess I was in.

    In AA I was introduced me to many concepts, and many ’suggestions’ were made to me. The concepts that I was supposed to work the hardest at were surrendering myself to a ‘Higher Power’ which would ‘awake’ me spiritually and in the meantime, while waiting for that Higher Power (or GOD) to take over, I should pray and pray and pray to get rid of those defects.

    Because, they said, if I didn’t get rid of those pesky defects I’d drink again and die.

    That was lie number One.

    This site is for people who didn’t have such a good time in AA or don’t believe any longer what AA told them. If attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous has been suggested to you as a possible treatment for a drinking problem, then only you’ll be able to decide whether meetings might help you.

    I, like many, many others have decided the meetings no longer help me.


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