Archive for 20 March 2009

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Is a Cult

big-bill2This being the first post in this blog, I was not exactly sure where to begin. This is not a recovery site, although we hope to touch on some of the alternatives to alcohol addiction recovery that I am sure many of you reading this have tried. Sadly, because AA and 12-Step treatment centres have such a lock on the treatment of alcoholism, there is far too little research and alternatives out there. This is what happens when we rely on faith, religion and pseudoscience, rather than real science, to be the prevailing way of treating a physiological affliction. Still, there is some promising research, as well as other methods of approaching a drinking problem besides 12-Step hocus pocus.

If you are like most people who have no experience with AA, the chances are that you have a positive image of the organization. It is, after all, the prevailing method of treating alcohol addiction. Most of us have friends or family members who have had drinking problems, and used AA with varying degrees of success (or lack of). Still, we remain ignorant to how AA conducts itself as an organization, and within each particular chapter. Greater still is our ignorance of how effective AA is in sobering people up, and if you are like most people, you assume that it has an effective track record with supporting empirical data. Why else would it be the primary source of court ordered treatment for alcoholism, for example. Or, why would most treatment centres base their treatment model on the 12-step approach? There are answers to both of these questions, and neither has to do with broad conspiracy theories, or the fact the AA works. We will no doubt get into this in future posts.

I decided to make this first post on the cult aspect of Alcoholics martiniglassbardecoralcholicbeveragewallart1Anonymous. It is the catalyst for starting this blog; and it is the reason so many people’s lives have been harmed as a result of AA. Search the net and you will find many horror stories on AA, and even some sites solely dedicated the harmful experiences from AA. Several have been written on the subject. AA considers alcoholism a disease, and there is some merit this argument; but if it is a disease, it is the only one out there where the predominate method of treatment is to convince those suffering from it that it is caused by a hole in their moral fiber, and it can only be treated by a god of their choosing (whether that be Allah, the Christian God, a door knob or a housecat). In my case, I have seen these tactics played out first hand. I was even an unwilling accomplice in some of this manipulation because, like most people, I had drank the kool-aid as to AA being not an option – but the only option for someone wanting to recover from a drinking problem. If you have ever participated in an intervention, or if you ever reiterated the point that a friend or loved one was drinking because of some sort of character flaw, then you, too, are complicate in this type of manipulation and mind control. For this reason Al-Anon, the the support group for friends and families of alcoholics, is as harmful as AA.

For anyone who has experienced AA’s brainwashing first hand, and was then lucky enough to have separated from the church, the cult aspects of AA are readily apparent, and no formal definition of what a cult is needed for comparison. Just as you don’t need to know exactly how much someone weighs to tell whether or not they are fat, a person who has experienced the manipulative mind fuck that AA provides does not need to know the tenets of a cult to understand what they experienced. Still, it interesting to see what the experts think. There are several sets of criteria for what a cult is, with each having similar components. One example is from Chaz Bufe, who listed seventeen criteria in his book Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?, where he concludes that AA is “cult like”. These criteria range from “dogmatism being the ultimate truth” to “mind control techniques” to “a charasmatic leader”. There are fourtteen others, and AA meets the criteria for most. Here is what Jack Trimpey wrote about each bullet point.

We will no doubt go into more detail on each of the tactics used by the flock, but for now, I thought I would post this video that was put together several years ago as a cult awareness training video. It is not specifically about AA, so the captions at the bottom of the screen were put there to illustrate how it applies to Alcoholics Anonymous. Enjoy!

– MA

Part I


Part II