[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters329.html#soberlawyer ]
OP ED: 16 October 2012
Laura Tompkins recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post, criticizing A.A. for being too negative:
A "sober lawyer" named "Dick" attacked Laura and defended A.A. in his blog:
Dick's response is just loaded with A.A. slogans and misinformation. I want to respond to a few of his statements (in quotes):
"Ms. Tompkins ... offers some truly frightening advice as well — that some alcoholics may indeed be able to drink in safe moderation under the careful guidance of a — you guessed it — a certified addiction specialist such as herself."
That is true, whether Dick likes it or not. Many years ago, way back in 1980, the famous government think tank, the Rand Corporation, found that the successful people who had stopped self-destructive drinking were evenly split between total abstinence and tapering off into moderate, controlled, drinking. So total abstinence is not the only way. It all depends on the individual person.
When that Rand Corporation report was published, the A.A. true believers had a hissy-fit. They screamed that the Rand Corporation was killing alcoholics by saying that. Ann Landers indignantly printed a denunciation and said that it was irresponsible to release such information. As if alcoholics are too stupid to handle the truth. (Remember Jack Nicholson screaming, "The truth? You can't handle the truth!")
But in my experience, alcoholics are not a separate species of stupid sub-humans. They are as intelligent as the rest of the people, and they need more true information, not less. (What a vicious, insulting stereotype of alcoholics A.A. really spreads.) See:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-bibliography.html#Rand_Corp1
"Ms. Tompkins is not an alcoholic and therefore has no idea what it's like to be one.Baloney. That is the typical A.A. arrogance where they think they are the only ones who know anything about alcohol abuse or addiction or recovery."
Now I am an alcoholic who has 12 years of sobriety — 12 years off of all alcohol, tobacco, and drugs — and I've been to a bunch of A.A. meetings, too, so even by Mr. Dick's standards, I know what I'm talking about. And I agree with Laura Tompkins. She is telling the truth.
"And like most critics of AA, she offers zero alternatives or "solutions" to what she perceives as the problem with AA — other than "don't go to AA. It sucks."
Actually, she did offer alternatives, and Dick just listed them in his complaint: SMART and Rational Recovery. Also, counseling and moderate, controlled, drinking.
Besides which, when criticizing crimes like fraud, quackery, and medical malpractice, it isn't necessary to offer alternatives to committing the crime. I don't have to offer an alternative to Tom Cruise's crazy idea of Scientology psychotherapy defending us from interplanetary cooties and the nasty Galactic Overlord Xenu, do I? And I don't have to offer an alternative to doing the practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties. The answer is just stop doing it. You don't need a substitute cult to replace the one that you are dumping.
"First, there is no requirement in AA that you announce yourself as an alcoholic, although"
...False. I've seen it with my own eyes, plenty. When a newcomer speaks without saying, "My name is XXX and I'm an alcoholic", someone quickly jumps on his case and instructs him to introduce himself "properly". And the same thing happens at Narcotics Anonymous meetings if people fail to say, "...and I'm an addict."
Chelsea Carmona, a writer for the Washington Post, also recognized the requirement to identify oneself as an alcoholic or an addict, and she described the harmful effects of such self-labeling this way:
In my case, labeling myself an alcoholic paved the way for me to take on the "addict" persona, and I got much worse before I got better. After treatment, I traded in my college friends for the criminal ones I met in recovery, and in turn, I gained access to a variety of hard drugs.That is perhaps the most disheartening aspect of 12-step recovery and inpatient care: Because most of their AA colleagues are older, the adolescents I met in treatment found more drug connections, party buddies and rehab romances than they did mentors, counselors and long-term sober friends.== CHELSEA CARMONA | Special to The Washington Post, Published: July 16, 2012Chelsea Carmona is the West Coast regional manager of the Op-Ed Project, which works to bring underrepresented voices into opinion writing
The fact that "Dick" really liked the Hazelden cult religion training (A.A. Steps One through Five) does not make it a good course of treatment for alcohol addiction. The fact that confession makes him feel good and he thinks it's "amazing" is no justification for promoting quackery. I am reminded of the words of William James, on whose philosophy Bill Wilson claimed A.A. is based: ** 'If merely "feeling good" could decide, drunkenness** would be the supremely valid human experience.'** == William James (1843—1916), U.S. psychologist,** philosopher, in "The Varieties Of Religious** Experience", lecture 1, "Religion and Neurology" (1902)
"The second paragraph is just pure inflammatory rhetoric. No one in the rooms would ever call anyone a dishonest and unfortunate idiot — unless they deserved it!"
Get real. A.A. sponsors do it to sponsees all of the time. Try reading my list of A.A. horror stories for many descriptions of even worse abuse:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters121.html#horror_list
Just a few examples from that list:
I get my first sponsor (what am I thinking) and our first meeting of the minds, I get in her truck with her to run errands and talk. She starts screaming at me because she knew I took medication for some mental illnesses I have. She knows some oldtimer who had what I had was healed with the steps. Well, folks, that was the end of that relationship.The rest of the story is here.Well, need I say that it wasn't very long after my first relapse when I started observing strange behavior in members of the group. I noticed that people who once thought I was the coolest thing at any meeting wouldn't even come over and say hi anymore. And those who would acted very awkward in my presence. My sponsor began telling me that I wasn't ready to embrace the program yet because I still wanted to do it on my own. Then he started asking me for money.The rest of the story is here.After I gave birth I had severe postpartum depression. I had not healed from the birth and my sponsor told me not to take any medication. ... My sponsor had said that god would heal me and when god wanted me to sleep I would.The rest of the story is here. ANYTIME I don't follow a direction, no matter how small, I get yelled at and lectured and told repeatedly that I'm not willing and haven't had a real bottom. There are no choices, it's an illusion. It's really controlling.The rest of the story is here.An A.A. sponsor describes her sponsee as a retard who "has a serious spiritual disorder and also one inside his head".The rest of the story is here.That's the problem with having ignorant, untrained, unprincipled, uncertified sponsors acting as amateur doctors, amateur psychiatrists, and amateur priests.
"Ms. Tompkins should know that alcoholism is an incurable, progressive, terminal and ultimately fatal disease that lasts one's lifetime."
Wrong. That is mythology. There is no such "disease" as "alcoholism". The American Psychiatric Association recognizes alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence as mental illnesses, but the "spiritual disease" of "alcoholism" is just a myth. Addiction is a choice.
Furthermore, most people recover from alcohol abuse and addictions spontaneously, by themselves, without joining a cult religion.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, performed the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. For it, they interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:"About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."The Harvard Mental Health Letter, from the Harvard Medical School, reported:
On their own
There is a high rate of recovery among alcoholics and addicts, treated and untreated. According to one estimate, heroin addicts break the habit in an average of 11 years. Another estimate is that at least 50% of alcoholics eventually free themselves although only 10% are ever treated. One recent study found that 80% of all alcoholics who recover for a year or more do so on their own, some after being unsuccessfully treated. When a group of these self-treated alcoholics was interviewed, 57% said they simply decided that alcohol was bad for them. Twenty-nine percent said health problems, frightening experiences, accidents, or blackouts persuaded them to quit. Others used such phrases as "Things were building up" or "I was sick and tired of it." Support from a husband or wife was important in sustaining the resolution.Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction — Part III, The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 12, Number 4, October 1995, page 3. (See Aug. (Part I), Sept. (Part II), Oct. 1995 (Part III).)
"A true alcoholic can never, EVER, drink in moderation or safety. Those folks Ms. Tompkins refers to were never true alcoholics in the first place. Maybe "problem" drinkers, but not real alcoholics who are powerless over their consumption of the spirits."
Wrong. We just covered that. Half of the alcoholics who recover do it by tapering off into moderate, controlled, drinking. And yes, they are "real alcoholics". Mr. Dick is trying to use the Real Scotsman Logical Fallacy: "They aren't real alcoholics if they recover without A.A.... They aren't real alcoholics if they can eventually drink moderately." See: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-propaganda.html#real_Scotsman
"Ms. Tompkins ends her critique with a self-serving argument about confidentiality and sponsorship. Your sponsor is not a "complete stranger." For most AA's, their sponsor is one of the closest people in their lives and will surely respect the confidentiality."
That is wishful thinking. I have received many stories of blabbermouth sponsors, even sponsors who vindictively gossiped people's personal secrets all over town in revenge for someone quitting A.A. The list of A.A. horror stories contains many stories of egregious breaches of confidentiality like:
I walked away after members of this group went to friends of mine outside of A.A. and spread lies, ruined my reputation and cost me dear friendships.Look here for the rest of that story:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters328.html#Michelle_C
She also had plenty to say about sexual abuse in A.A., which is a subject that Dick carefully avoided talking about.
And then there is the story of Sarah and her sponsor:... as soon as I told my sponsor to mind her own business and realize that just because I don't follow all of her advice doesn't mean I am relapsing... she took it upon herself when asked where I was at to tell everyone that I had indeed relapsed and that I'm very ill and that I'm beyond hope and help because I wouldn't do what the program required (demanded) of me... wow... talking trash because I wouldn't jump through your hoops? What sort of bs is that? And that follows their "traditions" how? Look here for the rest of that story:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters216.html#Sarah
And then there are stories like:I felt ashamed that my son's father had left me and was starting to question aa. I then slowly started going back. I got a new sponsor and after about 6 months found out that she was best friends with my son's father's new girlfriend. I was appalled she was defending him and telling him what was going on with me. I said it was a conflict of interest and fired her. I was pretty disgusted with aa at this point. Look here for the rest of that story:http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters241.html#horror
"As the literature makes clear, you don't have to believe in God. The suggestion is to find a Higher Power other than yourself.A "Higher Power" who isn't "God"?"
Fat chance. That is just another bait-and-switch trick. First, as a recruiting trick, A.A. says that you don't have to believe anything, but then, later on, you do. Bill Wilson had a lot to say about how you had to "find God" or you would die:
Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, pages 58-59. When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, We Agnostics, Page 53.If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within.The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Working With Others, page 95.... we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word... Rather vain of us, wasn't it? We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. ... People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about.The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, We Agnostics, page 49.I had been brought up to believe in God, but I know that until I found this A.A. program, I had never found or known faith in the reality of God, the reality of His power that is now with me in everything I do.The Big Book, 3rd Edition, The Housewife Who Drank At Home, page 341.To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach. We might prejudice them. At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William G. Wilson, Into Action, pages 76-77.Bait and switch. Don't reveal the truth to the newcomers.
Finally, Wilson wrote that the goal of the Big Book was:Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. ... [That] means, of course, that we are going to talk about God.The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, We Agnostics, page 45.
"In my experience, no one is vilified in AA for not completing the steps."
Baloney. Bill Wilson himself sarcastically sneered at people who didn't do all of his Steps that he copied from Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion:
We are sober and happy in our A.A. work. Things go well at home and office. We naturally congratulate ourselves on what later proves to be a far too easy and superficial point of view. We temporarily cease to grow because we feel satisfied that there is no need for all of A.A.'s Twelve Steps for us. We are doing fine with just a few of them. Maybe we are doing fine with only two of them, the First Step and that part of the Twelfth where we "carry the message." In A.A. slang, that blissful state is known as "two-stepping." And it can go on for years.
The best-intentioned of us can fall for the "two-step" illusion. Sooner or later the pink cloud stage wears off and things go disappointingly dull. We begin to think that A.A. doesn't pay off after all. We become puzzled and discouraged.
Then perhaps life, as it has a way of doing, suddenly hands us a great big lump that we can't begin to swallow, let alone digest. We fail to get a worked-for promotion. We lose that good job. Maybe there are serious domestic or romantic difficulties, or perhaps that boy we thought God was looking after becomes a military casualty.
What then? Have we alcoholics in A.A. got, or can we get, the resources to meet these calamities which come to so many? ...
Well, we surely have a chance if we switch from "two-stepping" to "twelve-stepping," if we are willing to receive that grace of God which can sustain and strengthen us in any catastrophe.Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 112-113.And once again, Bill Wilson declares that you must find God or you will die.
"Of course, Alcoholics Anonymous has survived since 1935, and will continue to survive and grow, despite such criticisms from the likes of Ms. Tompkins."
That is the logical fallacy of asserting that something is good because it is old. The Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and the Ku Klux Klan have all survived even longer. Does that prove them right?
And A.A. is not growing, it is shrinking. The last several Triennial Surveys have revealed that the A.A. membership is declining. It's over. A.A. is just an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties that has run its course. It will eventually join the "Shakers" and the "Dukhobors" and "Russellism" and other forgotten oddities of cult religions.
Look here for much more about the A.A. "growth rate", or rather, lack of it:
A spreadsheet from the Omaha, Nebraska Foxhall Group.The_Mathematics_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous_-_Part_1.pdf — Analysis of the mathematics of Alcoholics Anonymous, using A.A.'s own published documentsThe_Mathematics_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous_-_Part_2.pdf — Analysis of the mathematics of Alcoholics Anonymous, using A.A.'s own published documentsThe program speaks for itself.No, actually, guys like Dick speak for it.
And you know what Dick did not say? What the A.A. success rate really is. If we send 1,000 randomly-selected alcoholics to A.A., how many of them will be clean and sober a year later? How well does A.A. really work?
It turns out that A.A. works no better than no treatment or help at all.
What is the REAL A.A. success rate? Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?Or even several years later? And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever? How about 11 years and 21 years?
No qualifiers are allowed, like, "We will only count the people who worked the program right, or we will only count the people who really tried, and kept coming back." Everybody counts. No exceptions.
No excuses are allowed. When the doctor gives a patient penicillin, and it fails to cure the infection, the doctor doesn't get to say, "But he didn't work the program right. He didn't pray enough. He didn't surrender. He held something back in his Fifth Step." No excuses.
So what's the actual A.A. cure rate? At best 5%...which is the rate of spontaneous remission: those who quit a behavior on their own. AA is a pack of lies.