Archive for April 2009

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Sentenced to AA

Recently, a guy was shot to death while trying to rob an AA group in South Carolina. The shooter was an AA old-timer. An attorney who has remained sober since 1981, who was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon, and I think rightfully defending himself. The first question that came to my mind was why this AAer felt he needed to carry a gun to that meeting in the first place. It seems to me that if God helping this guy fix up his character flaws and stay away from the sauce, the least he could do was protect these steppers from being shot in a meeting. Couldn’t he have just added “please don’t let me get shot today” to his prayer and meditation?

This story, along with the story the FTG postedgot me thinking about what type of people attend AA meetings. Most people I know in AA are nice folks, even those zealots who have drank the religious kool-aid. AA’s policy is that they will accept any person who has a desire to quit drinking, which really should be amended to include the many AAers who have been ordered by the courts to attend. AA is free, so it costs nothing to send a person convicted of a crime to AA – at least not in terms of fees. It does cost in terms it being ineffective, and as a result those who attend to receive treatment wind up back where they started, and back in the court system. The revolving door of AA costs society an unthinkable amount of money.

Most AA meetings will include those who are not there by choice, but are there to get their “cards signed” as proof that they attended, and fufilled their sentencing requirement. One might assume these consist mostly of those convicted of impaired driving, but that isn’t the case. AA has become a dumping ground for criminals of every stripe, from wife beaters to off duty cops who beat the hell out of a fireman. Often, AA is used as pre-sentencing condition to prove to the court that a defendant is serious about getting help, as with this man who raped a 13 year old girl. The abuse excuse is alive an well in the courts, and AA has become the catch-all anecdote to just about any crime. Drunk drivers, wife beaters, muggers, robbers and a host of others have all found their absolution in AA. Blame it on the booze and you are almost certain of lessening your accountability, but you will ironically be forced to attend AA, who will hold you accountable for everything.

Some of the old-timers are among these scoundrals who were sentenced to AA and found religion. With time, these people become the leaders of various AA chapters. People who have failed at everything in their lives can thrive in AA. They become the sponsors, the arm twisters, the 13th steppers of the group. People who would never be allowed a license to become a therapist are counted among those who manipulate and control the lives of others. One might also think that there is shame in being sentenced to AA, but that is not always the case. Drunkalogs among the old-timers often become a pissing match as to who was the biggest scumbag before they found the religion of AA. This is when I have to actually agree with one AA slogan – “Take the alcohol out an asshole, and you still have an asshole”.

I don’t own a gun, and I’m not a big gun guy – but I don’t blame this guy for packing heat in his meeting. With AA, you never know who you might run into.

Sentenced to AA

"It's in the book"

Bullshit slogan of the day:
It’s in the book

Translation – any answer to any question or objection can be settled with a quote from the ‘Big Book’. The ‘Big Book’ is the bible of AA, and its authority is unquestioned, which is baffling when one considers its origin. This is nothing more than a compilation of stories put together by a group of religious zealots with no scientific understanding of alcoholism, many of whom actually failed in their own sobriety. AAs study the book as though they are holy scriptures, no different than a group will study The Bible in Sunday school. It is considered infallable. The final word.

The Pseudoscience of Alcoholics Anonymous

Mario Bunge is a physicist who has written on the characteristics of pseudoscience, science, and how to tell the different between the two. Below are some characteristics of pseudoscience according to Bunge, and how each characteristic applies to AA:

A field of pseudoscientific research is made up of a pseudo-community of researchers, which is a group of believers rather than an association of critical thinkers.

Research into the effectiveness of 12-Step programs is almost non-existent within the insular community of treatment centres and researchers who already believe in the AA approach. Much like a “creation scientist” reaches a conclusion (the earth is six-thousand years old and is created by God), and then fits their data within that framework; research that is done into the efficacy of 12-Step programs is done by 12-Step advocates who presuppose the idea that 12-Step treatment is effective. None are randomized, and none compare the effectiveness of an AA approach to recovery to other approaches, or to no program at all.

Many counselors are alcoholics who went through AA themselves and drank the kool-aid. Aftercare is nothing more than an assignment to a local AA group, and being assigned a sponsor who has no training, and who might be a psychological nutbag himself (or herself). Not only do they not promote critical thinking, they actively rail against it, and shut down any person who dared to come up with an original thought.

The society in which it exists supports it for commercial reasons, or tolerates it while simultaneously marginalizing it.

Alcoholics Anonymous positions itself as a benign, non-commercial, neutral organization. This cannot be further from the truth, as the rehab industry acts as AA’s commercial spokesman. AA is the lifeblood of the treatment industry, and the treatment industry is the lifeblood of AA. They feed off of each other, and are essentially one in the same. Organizations such as Continue reading The Pseudoscience of Alcoholics Anonymous

"13th-Stepping:" Why Alcoholics Anonymous Is Not Always a Safe Place for Women

Below is an abstract from a survey study of 13th Stepping in AA. It was published in the Journal of Addictions Nursing.

“Thirteenth-stepping” is a euphemistic term used among members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to refer to people (particularly men) who target new, more vulnerable members (typically women) for dates or sex. Previous research suggests that women frequently experience sexual harassment in AA meetings and even in chemical dependency treatment settings. The objective of this survey study is to describe the frequency of various 13th-stepping experiences in a sample of women involved in AA.

Fifty-five women, aged 17-72 years, completed an anonymous survey to describe their experiences with 13th-stepping by men in AA. Results showed that at least 50% of the participants had at least occasionally experienced seven of the thirteen 13th-stepping behaviors listed in the survey. Also, compared to women who had never attended a female-only AA group, women who had attended such groups reported more 13th-stepping experiences from their attendance at coed groups. Two of the study participants volunteered that men they met in AA had raped them.

It is important that chemical dependency treatment providers be aware of 13th-stepping in AA, particularly when treating women. Especially vulnerable women, such as those with histories of sexual abuse, should be referred to female-only groups when possible. When women’s groups are unavailable, women should be adequately prepared to protect themselves from 13th-stepping.

AA: Addicted to Addiction

Here is an nice editorial from someone in the UK who was able to escape Alcoholics Anonymous:
AA: Addicted to addiction

I particularly liked his last paragraph:

Too often, meetings were infused with a rigidity, repetition and joylessness that I contrasted unfavourably with the fun-loving, flexible and empowering ambience I began to discover in Buddhism. Though they are by no means perfect, I was relieved to find that Buddhist communities take basic goodness rather than original sin as a fundamental starting point, and consider identity to be fluid rather than fixed. I began attending 12-step groups for “co-dependency”, and was then persuaded – against my better judgment – to identify as an addict of various kinds. Having the strength to stand up for myself and stop going is, I think, one of the least co-dependent things I have ever done.”

What You Can Look Forward to If You Stab Someone In the Head While Drunk

From CTV in Montreal:

She was stabbed in the head. Her cheek, jaw and eye socket were smashed. She spent two months in a coma and sustained brain damage.

On Monday, a judge ruled that her attacker– a man who pleaded guilty– will not spend any more time in jail.

In September 2005, Marcia Langleib, then 52, was waiting for a metro at the Snowdon station when Peter Nidzielsky, then 27, tried to sexually assault her.

He was severely intoxicated at the time. He slammed her face into a wall and stabbed her in the head. Five people intervened and were attacked as well.

“I’m not allowed to work, I walk slower,” Langleib told CTV Montreal earlier this month. “He took out a tooth; he broke my jaw.”

Now she sports a scar on her face that winds from the bottom of her left eye down to her chin. She used to work as an esthetician; since the assault she has not been able to concentrate long enough to read a book.

Well, it turns out that Mr. Nidzielsky isn’t going to jail for this. He’s going to serve 2 years of house arrest, with allowances for work and AA meetings. Apparently, by the court date, he had proven himself by attending meetings for his alcoholism and anger issues, and the judge was impressed:

He used his time between the first and second sentencing to get help for a drug addiction and anger management problems. By the time he was in front of the judge for the second sentencing he appeared as a rehabilitated man.

“You’re taking your life in your hands; you showed remorse,” said Justice Isabelle Rheault in court. “It won’t change much for Mrs. Langleib, but my job is to put everything on a balance.”


12-Step Virus Cure


Hi. I’m MA, and I feel like shit.

You know how you feel in the morning when you wake up after a night of raising hell and drinking cheap booze all night? Of course you do. I wish I felt that good. Which is to say I am feeling like shit. No, I didn’t get liquored up last night, but I think I may have picked up this swine flu that everybody is talking about. I can’t breathe very well, and my head feels like it weighs ninety pounds. This is why I haven’t posted anything here in a couple of days.

I could just lay around and complain about my affliction, but I have decided instead to test the effectiveness of the 12-steps on this bug. I admit that I am powerless over this thing. Nothing I have done has really helped to relieve my misery. So step one is done. I’m unable to do anything about the flu on my own. Next I had to select a higher power. I first considered using my bottle of Nyquil as my higher power, but I think that might make me fall victim to a placebo effect. So, I instead made it my dog, Fenway.

I’ve done my moral inventory, and after looking at it, I have to admit I am a bit of asshole. So, I already told Fenway, and now I am telling you good people. This takes care of steps 4 and 5. Now I’m waiting for Fenway to do something for me, but at this moment he is licking his balls.

I’ll stick around the house and wait for step 6 to kick in, but Fenway looks happy doing what he is doing, so I guess I should move on to getting a sponsor. I think I’ll make my sponsor you folks – the readers of our blog. Any advice or suggestions as I work my way through the steps toward flu recovery will welcome.

Thanks for your support.

Stinking Thinking

A recovering alcoholic in AA has to be vigilant or risk relapse (That makes me wonder why they use the term “recovering” at all, as “recovery” is the logical conclusion of the process, but, in AA, the word has no logical conclusion; perhaps “remission” might be more honest?), and the first sign that one is headed “out” is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or Stinkin’ Drinkin’ Thinkin’. Nip that in the bud.

In 1985, Gayle Rosellini published a 24-page tract through Hazelden called Stinking Thinking, in which she says, “Attitudes are either a path to healthy and happy recovery or the road to relapse. It’s that simple.” And she goes on to say,

Unfortunately, those of us who are recovering from chemical dependency too often suffer from what A.A. members call stinking thinking. Stinking thinking is a bad attitude. It’s being negative, blaming, and chronically dissatisfied. And it’s sneaky. […] Stinking thinking is a major symptom of chemical dependency. We all suffer from it at one time or another and it doesn’t go away with thirty days of treatment. It can dog our heels even when we’re sober – wrecking our recovery.

Since Rosellini published her tract, the telltale signs of Stinking Thinking have evolved beyond the four types she proposed, and the definition has become both more broad and more specific and detailed. Broadly, stinking thinking is explained well in this 12-Step Workshop handout:

Without the meetings and the fellowship, I’ll begin to think that the problem is anything other than Powerless. And, I’ll forget what the solution is… the 12 Steps… and come up with all sorts of solutions of my own. In A.A., we call that “stinking thinking” and as alcoholics, we cannot afford the luxury of “stinking thinking” because stinking thinking produces “stinking results.”

This highlights the kernel of stinking thinking, which is, essentially, any deviation from the program – and, while deviation might be the result of one’s own dumdum justifications for going back to drinking, it could also generate from one’s utter dissatisfaction with the program for any number of logical and sound reasons.

And, to get more specific and detailed: “The Top Ten Types of Stinking Thinking” adapted from David D. Burns’ book, The Feeling Good Handbook, seems to have become the go-to list on many AA websites and blogs. This is a definitive list of distortions in thinking, which make a lot of sense. Because they make sense, it seems Continue reading Stinking Thinking

Moses' Suggestions