“Every time I walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I’m reminded I’m a liar and a sneak.”

“Every time I walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I’m reminded I’m a liar and a sneak.”

These words are written by the AAer who wrote this column in the Reno edition of the News Review [The author of this column commented below to say that he is not, in fact, an AA member. Thank you for the clarification. — eds.]. They are a sad example of what Alcoholics Anonymous does to people. He goes on to write:

I think anyone who walks into an AA meeting and listens with an open mind will walk out feeling like they need to work on this aspect of their personality. There’s a different level of honesty required at these meetings, and even casual visitors can tell by the raw emotion that they’re witnessing an honest-to-higher-power spiritual activity.”

This is an interesting paragraph to examine, because it gives a sneak peak into the mind control tactics used by AA. Let’s take the first sentence:

“I think anyone who walks into an AA meeting and listens with an open mind will walk out feeling like they need to work on this aspect of their personality.”

Being open-minded is considered a good attribute, and most people want to believe that they have an open mind. In fact, the idea of open-mindedness is essential to our advancement in understanding ideas and scientific principles. A new person to AA will be told to “look at it with an open mind”, but what is really meant by this?

One example of this is when an AA newcomer, who may be hesitant at turning their life over to a higher power, is told by another member: “Until I fully gave myself over to my higher power, I could never embrace the idea of quitting on my own – but now that I have put everything in God’s hands (or the AA group, doorknob, or other higher power), I have remained sober.”

This is flawed logic. The AAer cannot fully explain their newfound resolve, so they automatically attribute it to their higher power. This is actually a contradiction. It states – “I can’t explain it ——-> therefore I’ll explain it”. That person will then expect the newcomer to accept their explanation, which is absurd, because being open-minded does not require a person to accept things unconditionally. Wanting evidence beyond a person’s word that a higher power helped curb alcohol cravings is not being close-minded. It simply means that they are open to the possibility, but want some supporting data to back it up. On the other hand, believing in something without question is by definition close-minded, and that is what the AA newcomer in this case is asked to be. This becomes worse when, as soon as a person in AA hears certain trigger words, they inaccurately label those who might challenge them as a “know-it-all”, with rehearsed slogans and clichés such as “none are too dumb for AA, but many are too smart”. So, what AA is asking a newcomer to do is not be open-minded, but to believe without question, which is the exact opposite of open-mindedness.

The last sentence in this paragraph reads:

There’s a different level of honesty required at these meetings, and even casual visitors can tell by the raw emotion that they’re witnessing an honest-to-higher-power spiritual activity.”

This goes back to the writer’s first sentence, where he says that he is reminded every time he walks into a meeting that he is a “liar and a sneak”. This is brutal honesty, and I don’t doubt the writer’s sincerity, but it is revealing about how AA works on a true believer with ego deflation. AA has an advantage over other cults, in that it accepts as members those who are already in a compromised state, and those who have done harm as a result of their alcohol abuse. No person who has had a drinking problem, including myself, can honestly say that they have never lied about their addiction – even if it is something as benign as the number of drinks we admit to having at a party. Virtually every alcoholic has done or said things as a result of their addiction that they regret, otherwise they would not be walking in the door to AA to begin with. What AA wants us to believe is not that we lied because we were drunk, but that we were drunks because we are liars – and that alcoholics contain character flaws not exhibited in the general population. This is an important distinction, because in the former we can do something about the problem (quit drinking) and move on, but in the latter, there is no exit strategy because we are inherently bad people, and AA is our salvation. The honesty that is being referred to in this piece is not honesty at all. If a person were to say in a meeting “I honestly cannot give myself over to a higher power” or “I am not a bad person”, they would be met with criticism; but if they were to say, “I now understand that I am a liar and a sneak, but thanks to AA I am a better person”, they would be met with accolades. Honesty in AA is simply admitting to personal frailties, whether real or imagined. AA honesty is ego deflation, and acquiescence to the group.

The rest of the article is an accurate description of what a person can expect see and hear when they attend their first meeting. I don’t believe this author is using his choice of words as a way to consciously manipulate those reading the article. I don’t doubt his sincerity, or his belief that AA has helped him and could help others. The words I have examined from that first paragraph are the way that AA was presented to him, and he has through conditioning and repetition, learned to repeat them and believe them. Thought stopping slogans are used because they are effective, and when this writer ended his piece with “keep coming back, it works” – he believes this to be true. I’m sure he is a nice guy. Mind control does bad things to good people.

Correction: The quote in the last paragraph that I attributed to the author of the referenced article – “Keep coming back; it works” – was actually the writer quoting the member of the meeting in which he attended and reported on. My mistake.

  • H

    All true. I think is a place where you hang out until: you get better, get worse, or stay the same.
    A beer hall without beer.

  • The only problem with this blog is that I'm not an AAer. You can count the number of times I've gone to AA meetings on one hand. I write a column on spirituality and religion (essentially church reviews), and this column should be taken in that context.
    I ended the piece with the paragraph, "The meeting ended with the Lord’s Prayer, followed by the words, 'Keep coming back; it works.' I knew as I left that some of these people would return, some would not."
    I ended it that way because that's how the meeting ended.

    • speedy0314

      so essentially your column was a 'church review' of an AA meeting?


      not being an AA member, i'm curious what faith (if any) it is you practice that doesn't bring you face-to-face with your own (self-professed) inherent dishonesty & tendency to deception. only AA does that.

      again, interesting.

      and you being "a liar & a sneak" & all, why the hell should i or anyone else take anything you write even remotely seriously?

  • friendthegirl

    Thank you for dropping in, Brian.

    On top of the active AAs, promoting AA, there are many non-AAers who write puff pieces on AA, just because the conventional wisdom is that AA is a good thing, unimpechable. Considering that you haven't been to many meetings and are not well versed in the ideology, you might be very surprised to learn how its jargon has become and unquestioned part of our culture.

    I hope you take some time to peruse our blog. Look especially at M.A.'s series on how AA Lies… Perhaps, if you ever approach the subject again, you might do so with a more critical eye. AA is not a spiritual program; it is, in fact, a religion in its own right. It is a plain fact that courts have ruled court-ordered AA meetings to be unconstitutional — a violation of the individual's right to freedom of religion.

    Best regards to you.

    [edited to make a correction]

  • Pingback: Another Puff Piece « Stinkin Thinkin()

  • TMD

    Hubristic semantical rhetoric and Bunk de-bunking nothing. Further, showing little actually in terms of understanding or knowledge of what people get beneficially from AA. The threat of AA as a religion to you betrays your real fear of thinking anything could be from outside your box and control.

    By the way; people(many) do get sober and recover from all sort of mental illness too through AA as a conduit for self examination which demand rigorous honesty. The AA cliche' are only mnemonic devices really (not cult chants) to reinforce and encourage new habits(acting as if) until they become new nature.

  • Hey, Thanks for dropping in, TMD. We were about due for a Serenity Rant.

  • Z

    "Honesty" as ego deflation and acquiescence to the group, definitely.

    "[H]how its jargon has become and unquestioned part of our culture" – yes, and it's a serious problem. Question, friendthegirl: are you also writing a book on this whole issue? I am thinking you should.

    TMD – I understand the idea of the mnemonic devices and I've used a few of Al-Anon's in my time, for instance "you didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it." But the thing is, for an organization that demands everyone undergo rigorous self examination all the time, it sure does dodge it for itself. I mean, every legit organization I know of, including churches, regulates itself and is regulated, and has open dissent, and so on. Yet in the 12 steps you aren't allowed to question a thing. And while you are on the one hand told to "take what you need and leave the rest," on the other, you are told that you have to "work the whole program" and stay in it your whole life. This is the sort of thing people mean when they say cultish.

  • Well, yesterday I met with a pastor to tell him he should not allow AA in his church. My reasons are Biblical, this is a new age religion with no small amount of mind control. The pastor, as it turns out, is an AA guy himself. At the very end he solemnly informed me I knew the Big Book better than the Bible, there was no Biblical basis to my assertion (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Galatians 1: 6-9), and that–here it comes–I was doing all this for my self worth.

    "That's always what AA does," I replied, "attack someone personally."

    I appreciate how you non-believers fight the machine. May He save each and every one of you.


  • SoberPJ

    @ John… ya know… that took some kinda courage. And you WERE doing it for your self worth. Standing up for what you believe is very empowering and I do it for selfish and non-selfish reasons all the time. I think it is healthy. I would like to do more of it and get even higher self worth. But, alas, I'm just a lowly powerless alcoholic with a broken brain that can't think for itself, so, what? I don't deserve to have self worth? Nonsense !!!

  • tintop

    ya think?

  • howlermonkey

    There's nothing remotely New-Agey about the Big Book or AA. While New-Agers tend to be vapid and gullible, I've never found them to cruel or hateful. But it's also true that some Stepping New-Agers supplement the self-hatred of AA with the uncritical self-worship of the worst of the New Age. It's how they live out their AA-induced "grandiosity."

    AA comes directly from a particularly dour branch of Protestant Christianity. Its roots are evident in every one of the 12 Steps and in the god of its understanding. Your pastor may not know this consciously, but he doesn't need to. AA feels right to him because it connects seamlessly to his job.

  • Mom

    ""“That’s always what AA does,” I replied, “attack someone personally.”""

    AA is an entity…made of of people. Some of whom may attack. Some of whom do not.

    Ive been attacked on a personal level in all kinds of places, yet I cant in good conscience paint everyone with the same brush.

    I belong to AA….but I dont believe I have attacked anyone here personally for their views, even if they differ from mine. I encourage open, healthy debate……but its hard for that to take place with untrue general statements.

    Heck….Ive been personally attacked by many elderly folks (nature of my job) yet I cannot say "Thats what old people do….they personally attack"

  • Mom, the basic principles of AA are personal attacks. It starts with the idea that an alcoholic is fundamentally different from other people and permanently diseased, even on a spiritual level. You're so damaged, in fact, that you can't be trusted to act of your own free will, and must "let go" and turn your will over. If you trust yourself, you'll end up dead. In AA you'll also hear that alcoholics are "impatient," "liars," "self-centered," etc. You have character defects that must be removed by an outside force…

    All this stuff is an attack on one's very core. Personal attack is the default in AA.

  • tintop

    ftg, that attitude is nothing more than verbal abuse.

  • Mom


    Those things didnt feel like personal attacks to me.

    They felt kinda true….

    An outside force didnt remove my defects in character…..I do that by practicing a set of spiritual principals.

  • Yeah, I have often heard that people find it a relief to hear that their behavior is beyond their control.

    As the superheros say, "With great power comes great responsibility."

  • MA

    What's your higher power, Mom? A tree? A chia pet? The wind?

  • Mom

    A chia pet? C'mon now…..I read in the FAQ's that this site was open to debate, but how can anyone take that seriously??

    A power greater than me takes many forms….it has strong ties with nature, so the wind wouldnt be too far off. 🙂

    Hmmmm…you know, its not too often that Im asked to explain my personal conception of a power greater than me. I somehow get the feeling that it would be scoffed at here though…..so I dont think Im willing to put my conception of a higher power on the chopping block.

    • MA

      Why is a chia pet a ridiculous higher power? We once quoted an AA here who made his higher power the Golden Gate Bridge. People are told that their higher power can be anything.

      I suspect your higher power is just as ridiculous, so I don't blame you for not telling us.

  • Gunthar2000

    AA, as an entity, attacks non-believers and verbally abuses them all of the time.

    "Let's look first at the case of the one who says he won't

    believe— the belligerent one. He is in a state of mind which

    can be described only as savage."

    ~12 steps and 12 Traditions – Page#25

  • Gunthar2000

    It's the american indian god "HAYAPOWA"!

  • true believer

    How is a person’s personal conception of god relevant here on this blog? I can see how it would be useful in causing heated debate. I can see how it could be used to separate people and blur the issues addressed here. Even in AA, personal higher power and specific tenants of religion are outside issues addressed in tradition 10.

    10.) No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues-particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.

    While many would not view Chia Pet or Doorknob worship as sectarian, the fact remains that they are because they are part of the AA quasi religious dogma.

    In addition, notice that the tradition states “The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one.” AA members please remember that when you comment here

  • Mom

    I am not an AA group. 🙂

    Im just an alcoholic named Jule. 🙂

  • true believer

    10.) No A.A. group or MEMBER should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues-particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.

  • true believer

    Mom says howlermonkey…..you are serious?

    10 years of AA here my friend…..and it led me OUT of self-hatred. My dependance is not on AA, or my group, not on my sponsor or even the big book.

    My dependance is on a power greater than me.

    It just baffles me….truely baffles me that you could say that AA id bad for everyone, when in my experience it has not been bad for me.

  • Mom

    You are misconstruing that tradition.

  • true believer

    Nonsense, my quote is in plain english from the 12×12.

  • SoberPJ

    The Traditions are garbage anyway. They are ill-defined, broken and misconstrued regularly by AA members so they have very little meaning anyway. Billy boy was the worst offender …. It's kinda funny how you don't address the deceit issues mom … Every time you hear, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" you are hearing a lie. You are being told a lie. If you ever repeat it to a sponsee, you are lying. If you are the one reading it in the meeting, you are lying. That alone made me want to look deeper, because if there is one lie, there is usually more. And there are. Lots of them. The Big Book is riddled with lies. I had to ask myself, " Can I really endorse a program that claims rigorous honesty, but actually contains many lies? Can I truly have personal integrity if I endorse and repeat lies? Can I continue to defend a program of deceit ? " I have to admit, I have issues around honesty. I value it and hate those that deliberately don't value it. I distance myself from liars. I have distanced myself from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to get away from its lies. It took me 16 years to learn the truth, because I never looked outside the rooms until then. You seem smart, so my guess is that it won't take you 16 years to see the truth. Once you see the lies of AA, the truth about AA becomes very obvious.

  • ok this all makes me sick. I wrote to the paper in Portland on the College Campus
    that’s just down right scary!!!
    I told them that AA is NOT SAFE>

  • soberpj,
    I am going to bring back a radio show. Lets rip apart the Traditions ok.
    Wanna join me?

  • annonomous

    I attended AA meetings for 5 years in Mountain View, CA.
    Below are notes that I took after leaving AA.

    People at AA are afraid of leaving AA. They believe
    something bad will happen if they do.

    AA brainwashes you. I found my memories of 15 years of
    computer usage, friendships, my mom, etc. to break up. I saw memories
    disappearing in front of me. My mom and I don’t like each other any more. We
    had a close relationship before I joined AA.


    I chose to leave AA.

    Then something more sinister occurred at AA:

    The spirit of an old man at AA appeared in my house. It said
    that my drinking friend of many years “could not be trusted.” I was
    shocked to see the man I saw at the AA meeting appear as a spirit in my home.

    I became “infected” by the old man’s spirit at
    that meeting. I began to hear voices, see things, and feel possessed. I felt
    blobs on my fuace.

    I felt things drilling into my head at home when I was in
    bed. My head now feels like a crumpled up bunch of rocks. My cognitive
    resources have been affected. I believe that I now have brain damage.

    I saw the spirit of an old man “piggybacking” in
    my head and torso. This spirit is hiding in my spirit and looking for a way out
    of AA. This is possession. I identified the spirit of an old man in AA who was
    looking to swap his spirit for the spirit of another person. This is identity
    theft. The old man’s spirit told me to kill people. I tried not to listen to
    this spirit. The spirit of this old man extremely stupid. It never shuts up. I
    began to hear and see a man in his 60’s wearing a pink shirt with a big fat
    nose say, “Relate to Stupid Tuna.” over and over again. I called this
    man the “Pink Dumbo” because everything he did and said was insanity
    and he looked extremely stupid. He also appeared in the form of an “evil
    jerry’s kid.”

    People at AA also fight or try to steal other people’s
    ideas/spirit. They know how to kill your spirit. I heard a voice that said,
    “We’re killing your Liberal spirit.” I now feel crunching in my head
    after attending meetings. When I move my head around, It now feels like rocks
    crunching. I believe that my eternal spirit has been badly mangled because of
    AA. This is called spiritual damage.

    The spirit of the old man tried to get me to jack off. I
    believe that AA made him celibate and he was learning about sex again. He was
    to stupid to masturbate on his own.

    I call the old man “Stupid Tuna or Pink Dumbo”

    I caught the Stupid Tuna spirit possessing me with it’s
    dirty ooze eating spirit fear through me. The fear is orange-black and the
    Stupid Tuna spirit resembles a dirty old man. It is eating fear through me
    after possessing me. I believe that it eats fear through me in order to ruin my
    spiritual appearance.

    The old man’s spirit broke through my wall. Then it told me
    to erase the damming emails incriminating itself that I had written describing
    previous demonic activity.

    Then I saw a chewed up demonic face with bulging eyes
    through the wall saying, “Relate to Stupid Tuna. Relate to Stupid

    Then I saw a orange-red fear demon in the bathroom with
    elongated neck and the same round demonic head with buck teeth that I saw
    through the wall. This demon is the Stupid Dumbo Demon that is the old man in

    – The chester the molester goodyear blimp spirit mad-dogging
    me at Safeway.

    – the idiotic looking pink-headed octopus attacking me.

    – in one of my dreams, I was trying to have a drink with a
    police officer. The cop was actually a young pink tuna trying to gain my
    approval and acceptance and thus accept it’s pink tuna spirit.

    – do not accept anything from the pink tuna demon. it is

    – By my front door a thick green vine appears. After, the
    dirty beetle appears.

    – The piggybacking dirty beetle hiding in my body. It is
    leeching knowledge from me.

    – The dirty, hairy blob in the air with a stupid little
    bright part connected to it. The blob pushing itself into people’s faces trying
    to get their attention yelling wildly, “Relate to stupid tuna! Relate to
    stupid tuna!”

    – The evil spirit chewing on my my spirit.

    – The pink tuna appeared over the kitchen stove leading his
    followers against me. They are looking at the “leaving the fellowship
    fear” which stops me from escaping AA.

    – the pink dumbo fathead realizing that it looks really out
    of place with liberal spirits and then floating away.

    – the salivating evil pink fat dumbo walking down my mom’s
    steps leaving my mom’s house after doing damage to me.

    – The little pink tuna which looks like a pink Casper the
    friendly ghost trying to jack me off making that little sound. It is
    unsuccessful. Then it says in a upset voice, “I don’t want to talk about

    I saw a evil spirit that could have been from AA chewing on
    my own spirit. It was trying to eat my spirit.

    Pink Dumbo set me up to ingest the Pink Dumbo’s green nasty
    spirit. The Dumbo was planning to steel information from my Hollywood life to
    “improve” it’s spirit while leaving me with it’s evil Jerry’s kid
    green spirit.

    The old man wants the green stupid spirit in my face so that
    I will eventually “take” to it. He say’s “I am taking your
    spirit(switching spirits with you) and there is nothing you can do about

    The AA people “piggyback” (possess you) their
    spirits into unsuspecting people to gain knowledge from them. AA people are
    leeches. They break away from people once they are done using them.

    Stupid Tuna put something in the center of my head which it
    uses to speak through. It does this to make me think that I am the one
    speaking. It is something like a micro speaker in my head. ST uses this to
    insert thoughts into my head.

    AA Nazi attached his spirit into the focus of my eyes, my
    swallowing, and my breathing. It used these connections to terrorize me–manipulating(exploiting)
    my fears against me. The spirit smacks up against my head constantly. This
    condition has led to a massive fear to overtake my head. My head has become a
    ball of fear.

    The AA Nazi uses his “AA salvation” as a base to
    recharge himself. Then he darts out to attack people outside of the program. He
    confuses them with various tidbits of information. He gains their trust and
    then attacks them verbally(mentally/spiritually). This is called “Ha Ha
    Fooling.” He does this to destroy other people’s spiritual appearance.

    The victims spirits look like disgusting blobs of dirt after
    the attacks.

    AA nazi old man is “Chester the Molester”

    The guy in AA, Pink Dumbo once suggested that I look at
    child porno. Stay away from that criminal.

    Don’t take any deals from AA people. Do not speak to AA
    people. They are not your friends. These people will try to be your friends and
    get you into the AA program. Tell them to fuck off.

    Get a medical marijuana subscription. Go find some
    exstacy/MDMA and go dancing somewhere. Drink micro-beers.

    I hear the stupid tuna’s voice around my mom’s house. It
    say’s, “I am evil, please accept me.” I believe that the old man in
    AA is projecting his spirit around my mom’s house. This satanic attack need’s
    to end. I also noticed that weak points in the atmosphere are being used by his
    spirit to terrorize me and my mom. I have also been ingesting a sick greenish
    ooze substance which I believe to be the old man’s spirit. It makes me ill. I
    cough frequently. I have also seen his spirit looking through my own eyes as if
    the old man were in control.

  • massive

    Hard to believe so many years have passed since I first found ST!!! I love you guys and Im reading your book one page at a time !!!

  • massive

    You know you all helped me leave AA in May of 2011 for good.

  • Excellent! You said it…being open minded does not mean that one must accept every belief without reserve. AA isn’t open minded, although it demands allegience from its members. Newcomers are always tossed that famous line about having an open mind, yet when a newcomer says something to the effect that they’re “just checking it out” and “not sure if AA is for them” there isn’t an open mind in the house. They are accused of being in denial. All one has to do is walk into a meeting and he or she is tagged by the group as one of them, before any knowledge of the individual’s personal life is even established.