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 a very odd choice for the 12-Steppers – especially since their slogans and truisms and bumperstickers all fall within one type of stinking thinking or another – or a few at the same time. The primary type of stinking thinking, elaborated on by Rosellini, is “Lip Service,” which has been sort of absorbed into Burns’ list, but is still very relevant. It’s something I hear quite often, and many of the slogans address it, and exemplify it. For instance, there are a bunch of slogans for dismissing someone who expresses that they feel “fine.” I guess “fine” is dangerous, because if you’re “fine,” then you’re not a hot mess, and if you’re not a hot mess, then you might start living your “life on life’s terms,” which is not possible. “Life on life’s terms” is like the word “recovering” – you pay lip service to it, but to claim you have achieved it will earn you a knowing, indulgent, condescending snort, and perhaps a “Oh yeah, we’re all F.I.N.E.: fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.”

I have a new theory that might help the 12-Steppers get their recovery rate up beyond the infamous 5%. It might be time to ditch the bumperstickers, the “truisms,” the thought-stopping slogans that, I believe, foster and encourage stinking thinking.  Now, you AAs, don’t get all defensive and in denial, because I’m just going to (tough) lovingly demonstrate how some of the cherished sayings you have adopted contribute to stinking thinking. There are several hundreds of slogans (400?), to meet every eventuality, so I would go blind trying to categorize all of them according to their correct distortion. But, hopefully, this will give you the idea, and you can carry on with this in your free mind. You’ll find yourself frustrated by the enormous overlap among the categories, but that will be good exercise for living life on life’s terms.

I have to say that I am tempted to add a few categories to this list, like Superstitious Thinking, which I would define as: You see your life as dictated by an arbitrary force that will favor you if you perform the correct rituals meant to coerce benevolent consideration. And if things don’t go your way, you blame your inept, dishonest supplications, and try harder next time. Focusing on a power outside yourself will leave you distracted from, and thus dishonoring, the creativity and free will that is your gift as a child of God, or as an autonomous being, on this planet. Also, many of these slogans easily fall into the category of “Lip Service.” Finally, I would have included “Tough Love,” because I agree with Bufe’s definition: “An excuse domineering people use to rationalize abusing others.” But, I’m going to work with what I have here, from Burns’ Stinking Thinking list:

1. All-or-nothing thinking:

You either are or you aren’t.

Around A.A. or in A.A.?

Half measures availed us nothing.

There are 12 steps in the ladder of complete sobriety.

Are you walking towards a drink or away from one?

Without A.A., it’s Amen.

Remember that alcoholism is incurable, progressive, and fatal.

2. Overgeneralization

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

Death, insanity, or recovery.

Why recovery never ends: The disease is alcoholism, not alcoholWASm.

3. Mental Filter

Anger is but one letter away from danger.

Analysis is paralysis.

The person with the most sobriety at a meeting is the one who got up earliest that morning.

Don’t drink, don’t think and go to meetings.

4. Discounting the positive

I am unique, just like everybody else.

The farther I get from my last drink, the closer I get to my next drunk.

Alcoholism is the only disease that tells you you’re all right.

5. Jumping to conclusions

Try it for 90 days, and if you don’t like it, we’ll gladly refund your misery.

We are without defense against the first drink, our defense must come from a power greater than ourselves.

Death, insanity, or recovery. (Alternately: The bottle, big house, or the box.)

6. Magnification

My best thinking got me here.

Don’t go in your head alone. It’s a dangerous neighborhood.

Why recovery never ends: the disease is alcoholism, not alcoholWASm.

I want what I want when I want it.

We are only as sick as our secrets.

7. Emotional Reasoning

If you wonder if you’re an alcoholic, you probably are.

Fear alone won’t keep me sober, but for a newcomer, it’s not a bad place to start.

I came; I came to; I came to believe.

8. “Should” statements (There are too many of these.)

Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.

You have to go to these meetings until you want to. It’s easy to talk the talk, but you have to walk the walk.

Don’t work my program, or your program, work THE program.

Don’t drink, don’t think and go to meetings.

You are not required to like it; you’re only required to DO it.

9. Labeling (and too many of these.)

K.I.S.S.—Keep It Simple Stupid

When you sober up a horse thief, all you have is a sober horse thief.

F.I.N.E.=Fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.

The definition of an alcoholic: an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.

A.A. works for people who believe in God. A.A. works for people who don’t believe in God. A.A. NEVER works for people who believe they ARE God.

There are none too dumb for the A.A. program but many are too smart.

Some of us are sicker than others.

10. Personalization and Blame [This is a tricky one, because what Burns means is that one will either take responsibility for something negative that was out of his or her control, or, alternately blame others for negative events that he or she is responsible for. In the instance of AA, we have the group taking credit for positive results where the individual is responsible, and attributing blame to the individual where the group has failed. God also factors in here, and it might fall under the “superstitious thinking” category that I invented.]

If it works, don’t fix it.

Keep coming back. It works if you work it.

If you want to drink, that is your business…if you want to quit and can’t, that is A.A.’s business.

Stick with the winners.

Willingness is the key.

A.A. is not something you join; it’s a way of life.

  • speedy0314


    very rational, broadminded, compassionate & genuinely useful suggestions. good work, great stuff, huzzah huzzah!

    of course, all your sharp, incisive suggestions will be summarily ignored by hardcore steppers & their 'go along/get along' acolytes or simply branded heresy.

    the very foundation of AA/12X12 is binary, either/or, us/them thinking (even false dichotimies have wormed their way into the vernacular: "spiritual, not religious"). granted, a vast majority apply more than a fair amount of elasticity to those either/or 'precepts' when the rubber hits the road, but that elasticity is not what's celebrated at meetings. doctrine & dogma is celebrated at meetings.

    a favorite slogan when i was a meeting maker making it was, "you're either moving toward a drink or away from one." i had the temerity once to ask the nitwit who threw that one at me, "but what if i'm simply sitting still?"

    evil eye; "you're too smart …"; yada yada yada … .

    neither a 'one' nor a 'zero', my response simply did not compute & step-boy blue-screened.

    the burns book is great stuff — just not conference approved literature & it doesn't carry a "the 12 steps for …" prefix. hence, it's a non-starter. (not to mention, it's CBT/REBT leanings which is virtual witchcraft in the 12X12 universe.)

    i took 4 goes at AA hoping to carve a semi-comfortable (or at least, semi-bearable) niche for myself within it. despite my sometimes voiced contrarian views, i was actually pretty popular — a second rung nyc AA kewl kid.

    but AA's a stagnant, static place. it can't see that even binary thinking leads to complexity & sometimes even negates itself. it's hopelessness that calls itself "happy, joyous, & free" in a spectacularly orwellian twist.

    it's a 'selfish program' … bent on crushing individual thought.


  • friendthegirl

    Thanks for the encouragement, Speedy. As I started on this post — which I have to admit, started as a snarky little idea — I realized that this premise could be teased out into a book-length epic. And, like I said, I started to go blind going through all the slogans (I guess that's what they're there for!).

    Another useless exercise would be to sit down with all the slogans and "suggestions" and list all the contradictions. Not that contradiction is necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, I believe it serves to keep people perpetually gaslit and "teachable."

    I agree with you about the Burns' book. I actually have it around here somewhere… It is very interesting to me how it is being used.

  • Anonymous

    That post describes it well. There is little to add.
    The solution for 'stinking thinking' is not to stop thinking and obey AA. That serves the interests of AA — not you. The solution is to improve the quality of your thinking.

    Perhaps that is the point of joining AA for many. One never needs to think again.

  • zenbear

    I am a recovered alcoholic who hasn't thought about a drink for many years. While I agree that AA is full of parrotts and sheeple, so is every other group with which I'm familiar. Kinda goes with the "group" dynamic. As for the slogans, I think your analysis is defective. Slogans of all kinds…..all "bumper stickers," so to speak, are most likely to be generalizations that are not always true….nor are they meant to be. They are designed as easily remembered reminders, which is why they are often so cleverly worded. They point out what may be a common error, behavior, way of thinking, etc., but to label them as all or nothing thinking is, in itself, all or nothing thinking.

    Slogans can be useful, especially for those whose thinking surely is (based on observation) distorted. Common sayings/slogans, such as "a stitch in time saves nine," are a short, concrete way of expressing a useful thought or principle,not necessarily a truism.. I suppose those who are attracted to fundamentalism might interpret them literally, and these same folks may very well read the Bible in the same manner. But I categorize things based on their purpose and usefulness, and these slogans are, IMO, very useful….whether or not they are accurate.

    One might accuse groups of "brainwshing," but the fact is, lots of brains NEED a good washing, being all clogged up with cultural, social and religious dogma.

    I suspect that one could just as easily make a comprehensive list of excuses and bizarre thoughts commonlly used by alcoholics or heavy drinkers….or addicts of all kinds (although I won't spend any time doing that). Perhaps the slogans are necessary to mark a path out of alcoholism….roadsigns, so to speak. Just because a street is named "maple street" doesn't mean there are maple trees there. But it's useful to name streets to provide directions.

    I think it is altogether too tempting to prove how superior and smarter we are than those struggling "misdirected" AAs, but one of their slogans that might apply is that "recovery" suggests that we "identify, not compare." Comparing is all about ego, and so is addiction.



    • friendthegirl

      "I think it is altogether too tempting to prove how superior and smarter we are than those struggling “misdirected” AAs"

      Thank you for joining the discussion, zb. I am only going to comment on this one observation of yours, because — while I am happy to have my arguments and positions taken to task, I prefer to speak for myself as far as my motives go.

      We put a lot of care and time into this blog, and if all we had in mind was proving that we're "superior and smarter" than AAs, the effort we put in would be ridiculous — not to mention complete overkill. Seriously, we're smarter than a lot of people. If all we wanted was to show off our big fat brains, we'd probably go for a much broader audience.

      Anyway, I think I made my motives pretty clear in a couple of posts that you can check out, if you're interested:


    • a. anonymous no more

      I have to question your honesty here, maybe just inaccurate written expression; but if you have thought of drinking in years…then your not thinking when your write drinking? I don't 100q% believe that is true either way.

      But I believe one of the overall goals is showing and discussing alternative to aa – those peoples experience in and out of aa.

      I believe that the AA and the steps set up people to loose their individuality altogether. Thus, set one up for depression and insecurity with ones basic emotions (anger is the dubious luxury of..). My yrs in AA i saw a lot of people die from intentional suicide. While living in a halfway house most drank because of depression or died from accidental overdose. But my experience is limited and my vision may be biased.

      It appears too that you have a disconnect that is very familiar to me…minimizing, deflecting and the ever present AA problem – disconnect.

      For instance the writing that one is a recovered alcoholic is pretty drastic and sets me apart from other people who addictions-why can't you just be a person who used to have a drinking problem?

      This is the kinda of dissonance which I need to be rid of also – maybe that's why i recognize it.

      I do believe mid-term and long-term AA is more destruction than helpful…for instance the addiction (or absolute reliance on a mtg or prayer or sponsorship) precludes one from the growth associated with someone who want to continually change for the better. Short MAYBE AA gets you on the right track but really a good professional therapist would be the same in my opinion.

      So basically I feel AA/Sponsorship?Steps is just another well maintained addiction….I don't want ANOTHER addiction considering the result of depression and insecurity. While AAis less negative it still is negative behavior for me and i need want positive…maybe i am still addicted to more?

      I intend no offense.

  • Pingback: Unofficial, Unoffical AA Slogans « Stinkin Thinkin()


    Dear Speedy,
    Have you tried fishing? Not you’re common or gardening angling, but “reel fishing”! Not with worms or artificial flies, but with “real meat”, likes the 12 STEPS or the BIG BOOK.

    We used to do it every summer…well! It was your summer and our winter. You’ve probably gathered that I live in Australia.

    We’d hire this boat, quite a big one it was, Ethel and the kids, Bill 44 and Bob…he’d be 37 by now. We’d do a picnic basket – lovely it was, our 5th STEP, sobriety dates, drinking stories, a couple of bottles of lemonade and
    the 12 x 12.

    And off we’d sail over the reef. The sun would beat down, often the sea would be as calm….no calmer than the 12th STEP and we’d just drift.

    We’d put our lines over then and just wait – play AA TAPES, talk "crap," and ring our SPONSORS. Wonderful it was!

    Mind you, Ethel, didn’t care for the bait, it was the smell you see and the sight of HOW IT WORKS cluttering up the deck. “Micky”, she’d say! “The AA PROGRAM is putting me off my dinner”!

    Well, it didn’t bother me or the kids, it wasn’t like that, the, OXFORD GROUP had delivered it quite fresh but Ethel used to say that CHAPTER 5 “sneered” at her and made noises, offensive noises, when the gases escaped from its crap.

    The kids loved that “Mum”! they’d say when it did it –
    Well she didn’t like that, not Ethel, strict SATANIST, she was, thought it was very disrespectful. She would go into one of her sulks and it would last for “bloody hours”.
    Mind you, she did get a bit more excited when BILL shared his story.

    Well she had to with BILL "frothing at the mouth" and banging his fist against the side of the boat. And then there would be more….BOB got into the act, tearing chunks out of the 12 STEPS, "spitting everywhere," snapping at BILL.

    But I don’t think she really approved, not Ethel. She said it was senseless 13th STEPPING. Well I suppose it was if you look at it that way! But there are lots of 12 STEP PROGRAMS aren’t, there, Speedy?

    It went wrong when Bill did the 9th STEP! Huge it was, more like the 5th STEP, really. Again and again he raved on like a "psychopath," but he wouldn’t shut up. Clever “bugger”! He had learned you see.

    Well I was determined that I was going to do a personal INVENTORY. I threw the BIG BOOK, all the picnic stuff in the water.

    BILL went mad; I’d never seen him so upset. He tore the rod out of its restraints and hurled it in the water. I didn’t stop to think, that’s always been my problem, “being sober”BILL followed the rod!

    Well! He was gone in “two bites” and I didn’t catch the PROGRAM. It seemed to know; it sort of “grinned” at me and then just made off. BOB wasn’t too pleased either…he’d missed his "higher power!"

  • Tourain

    I'm a Twelve-Stepper and I don't buy everything that many know-it-all program gurus dispense. It is quite possible to take what one needs and leave the rest. The core of the program are the twelve steps adpated from the six steps of the Oxford Group. It's that simple. I admit powerlessness over alcohol, drugs and many other things in life without accepting powerlessness over everything in life. That is the meaning of the Serenity Prayer.

    I also enjoy hearing "normies" pick the program apart because it reinforces my conviction that it is a program of action not talk. It makes no real difference whether the logic of the program stands up under scrutiny, but whether or not it works. If someone gives you a tool that helps you do the job, why refuse to use it just because you can't figure it out? That's not wisdom, that's just foolishness.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
    –Hamlet, William Shakespeare

    • friendthegirl

      If you can take what you want and leave the rest, can you leave out admitting you're powerless over alcohol or any of the 12 steps?

      • Tourain

        You can do anything you want in life if you're willing to live with the results. I choose to live in California where it is sunny most of the year but the rent is extremely high. I could choose to live in North Dakota, where it is freezing half the year and the rent is cheap. And if I could afford to I could choose to commute back and forth. But if I could afford to do that then I could afford to buy a house in California and wouldn't have to commute to North Dakota.

        Similarly, I can choose to be sober in a twelve-step program or drunk without it. I could also choose to go in and out of the program, drinking part of the time and sober the rest. But why incur all the damage that comes from going in and out? It's simply easier for me to stay sober.

        As for slogans…slogans are a lot like poetry–their meaning is most significant when one is reading or hearing them. For most people in recovery, meetings are a place to decompress. What people say in the meetings usually has real-time signifance, not absolute value. People who are resistant to the twelve-step concepts don't understand this. They take everything that is said so literally that they develop the very binary attitude that they accuse people in recovery of having. The fact that there are not constant protestations in meetings among members who disagree with each other is a testament to the twelve-step principles of love, patience and tolerance, not to the idea of pie-eyed conformity.

        • friendthegirl

          Was that an answer to my question? Of course anyone can do anything they want. But, for an alcoholic to make AA work, can they really just take what they want and leave out, say, the first step?


          ___ no


          • "Take what you want and leave the rest is not an AA" slogan. It's just something some interlopers say when they don't do shit in the fellowship or the shit they are doing is incomplete.

            If you want to know genuine AA "slogans" make sure you get it from genuine AA members – and as you may be aware ONLY ALCOHOLICS can become members of AA. As you also know, people lie. I suggest you that if you are looking to absorb information about AA from others – as opposed to your own research – be prepared to receive flawed info. Folks fitting AA's description of the alcoholic are the only people I would ever rely upon for information about AA's program. And if I wasn't about to qualify them – them I would rely on my own research into the Big Book. NOT what I "heard in a meeting" because what I 'heard' might not even be coming from someone who is even qualified for membership.

            I'm taking the tongue out of my cheek now in realization that there is a lot of truth in what I just wrote – more than I had originally intentioned. Why do so many people get information about AA and take it as truth.

            Some drooling knuckleheads dragging their knuckles around form meeting to meeting or some sweet little old lady knitting a blankie in the back row at a church basement whose mouth could not melt butter tells you that "Take what you want and leave the rest" or "One Day At A Time" or even "drug is a drug" is an AA slogan and you believe THAT — the another person in AA tells you that AA is not a religion or that "One Day at A Time" is NOT an AA slogan and you selectively poo-poo THAT thought.

            That is selectively being selective, no? Not to mention prejudicial and close minded.

          • a. anonymous

            genuine AA members – and as you may be aware ONLY
            ALCOHOLICS can become members of AA

            actually a member is anyone one with a desire to not drink. Or the original requirement was, I maybe wrong, a SINCERE desire.


          • a. anonymous no more

            Please at least stick to the facts

            genuine AA members – and as you may be aware ONLY
            ALCOHOLICS can become members of AA

            actually a member is anyone one with a desire to not drink. Or the original requirement was, I maybe wrong, a SINCERE desire.


          • Nonsense, anyone can be an AA member. Pedophiles, rapists, and other unsavory sorts are ordered into AA all the time by judges and parole authorities. The only distinction between "genuine" AA members and those I just mentioned exists only in your imagination. A member is anyone and everyone who parks their rear end in a meeting and says "I'm an alcoholic", regardless of drinking, or criminal history. References aren't checked, and the organization has no regulatory arm. Allahu akbar.

          • Groovecat

            here's what i heard: one is a member if one says they are a member.

          • a. anonymous no more

            This IS accurate too, maybe more so (in practice) than the honest desire. I think some go just because they like the stories.

            The answer to the original question could've been a maybe or depends. You can think like that outside AA.

            Thanks again for the site-this is fun, which is the opposite of both my addiction and the program, and mtgs and freak and fear-mongering sponsors. The program people can be fun too though they don't want to admit it

            I do feel, thanks in large part to to you all who make sense and are open willing and HONEST, that I am well recovered – my discussions are my own again. I have not felt this way in 10 years of AA, but for fleeting instances. And for active members to engage in controversy is a so FUNNY!

            Sorry probably should have started a new thread. I do feel a bit more responsible and I have begun to carry a new msg (more complete) which includes alerting people to medical professionals and other MODERN therapy techniques. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT msg to carry, IMHO, you can stop the cycle here's the tools i use today and in fact if you can pull them aside after mtg (outta respect to those have "wasted" their lives in countless hours of AA revivals, my opinion) and tell them the odds are against them if in fact the only do AA-1:1000 make 20 yr chip.

            Thanks again agent orange/friendthegirl and company!! Thanks x 1million! And my three daughters little daughters thank you tooooo, their daddy has more time to spend with them now. Not with the f####*ing steps outta fear of dying.

            Finally the part where AA hardliners always says sorry you had a bad experience don't be mad. Well I can be mad. But i choose not to be angry or hurt. Don't assume my feelngs for me any longer please.

          • McGown, If you want to talk about a post, talk about it on the board on which it was posted.

  • Tourain

    I can't speak for all alcholics.

    • M A

      Why are AAs slippery with their answers?

      • friendthegirl

        Because it takes an open mind to be a straight shooter.

    • friendthegirl

      Anyone reading this thread can see that answering the question doesn't require you to speak for all alcoholics. I'm only asking a simple yes or no question about AA: If you can take what you want and leave the rest, is it possible for someone (not everyone, just someone or some people) to be in honest recovery according to AA if they choose to leave out the first step?


      • Tourain

        I see. You're asking for a black-and-white binary answer. Sorry. I repeat–I can't speak for all alcoholics.

        • M A

          "I see. You’re asking for a black-and-white binary answer. Sorry. I repeat–I can’t speak for all alcoholics."

          Of course you can. Like you did with this comment: "It is quite possible to take what one needs and leave the rest."

          • a. anonymous no more

            If "you" can't speak fo all alcoholics then maybe M A should should write, 'Of course_I_ can. Like you did'…

            Just a "suggestion."

            I wanna play too:
            My answer is if you're working with a sponsor and are honest, NO I CAN'T.

          • speedy0314


            i can speak for all alcoholics & will.

            if you're working with a 'sponsor' then you're a fool who's given him or her-self over to emotional exploitation. so play with this: even if you're 'sober' (and that's a big 'if'), you're still a robotic, rhetoric-spewing imbecile. when you die (and hopefully that's soon), the world will be a better place.

            hugs & kisses,


            p.s. – a 'slip' before you go would make all your program friends insanely happy.

          • Scott A

            Speedy, do you have a newsletter? If so, I'd like to subscribe. Brah-Vo…

          • B

            I haven't posted here in awhile but I have kept reading the site just to to consider all my options. Just in case something hits me that makes me decide AA is not the right path for me. I thought I would take a look today, on my 1 year anniversary, before I head out to a meeting.

            Speedy, you and I have had an exchange on here regarding whether or not this site is a "recovery site". I referenced the first post ever to the site, which stated that it was not. Looking back, I believe it actually is. Maybe not the type I am used to, but a recovery site nonetheless. And I find some of the discussions here very interesting, whether or not I agree with the majority of postings.

            In your last post: "you’re still a robotic, rhetoric-spewing imbecile. when you die (and hopefully that’s soon).

            In my first posting to this site, I used the word "appalled" and then retracted it. Well, this time it's true. I attend AA meetings. I just began working with a new sponsor. I have never "13th stepped" anyone at a meeting. I have never exploited anyone in AA. None of my friends would call me a fool or an imbecile. I am also not speaking for all alcoholics, I'm speaking for myself.

            If you want this to be a recovery site, why not help people with recovery rather than wishing death upon them?

          • H

            No, B, it is not a 'recovery site' in the sense that you may mean it. It is a site to expose the black humor that is AA. AA is a nothing,a gasbag; at best, a placebo or a replacement therapy.
            It is edifying that you find this place 'interesting'. Which is a improvement over the fatuous 'insults' offered by bad comedians from AA.

            Keep coming back if you want. Your call.
            I hope that you get what you want; and, after you get it, you find that it is worth having. Seriously.

          • mikeblamedenial

            "If you want this to be a recovery site, why not help people with recovery rather than wishing death upon them?"

            Haven't you ever heard it said in the rooms that some of us must die so that others may live? Perhaps Speedy is merely trying to make that process a bit more selective. Besides, I don't recall anyone on the step-critical side of the discussion ever refer to this as a recovery site. This is clearly a step-critical site, with some more members a bit more outspoken and candid than others. Perhaps Speedy's diatribe will inspire some step enthusiast to stay sober, and stay alive, just to spite him. Some drink Kool-ade, while others make lemonade. Mike

          • B

            No I have never heard anyone in an AA meeting say that some of us must die so that others may live, let alone say they hope some people die. And as for te topic of "recovery site", I was specifically referring to an exchange I had with Speedy on here a couple months ago where he asked me who I was to define what "recovery site" means. And I believe the definition can be different for each person – which is why I challenged the idea when a posted a few months ago. Even though I consider myself a member of AA and appreciate what it does for me, I still visit a site that criticizes it. It all goes into the same bucket of information for me to process. Butthats just how it works for me.

            Of course, being told my death would be a good thing isn't going to help anybody. Speedy, now I'm curious if inspiraing me was your motivation.

          • a. anonymous no more

            if were voting on the whether it is said in mtgs 'some must die so others…" I have heard it more than once in mtgs.

            How it works for me, meaning what? that's one of those AA folk sayings, those always remind me of "polly want a cracker. Sqwuak""

            Finally I wish Christians and Christian Science(like) fuckers would stop inferring they are privy to info like death is a bad thing-don't you even believe in your own myths of Heaven and St Peter? So whats next you saying u i like Athena- Zeus will strike me with lightning? I am very amused you tried to pull the guilt card in the last paragraph-I am sure even Speedy couldn't make you curiously motivated…not to mention a little more creative than relying steppism..

          • speedy0314

            scott & b,

            i did not 'found' this site nor was i a contributor to any of the pages that might describe the philosophy for founding or keeping the site alive.

            the original admins have decided to go on what looks to be at least a semi-permanent hiatus & get what matters most in their lives in order. i wish them only the best.

            that said, i've toyed with the idea of requesting admin rights for the site just to keep alive the forum & a place for me to bark from time to time.

            let me make one thing clear: i don't give a f**k about 'recovery' — it's a 12X12 manufactured term used to delineate 'us' from 'them'; i care about humanity & i care about people & i care about loving when loving is called for & fighting when fighting is called for.

            further, i don't give a f**k if you're "appalled", insulted, mortified, or if (H[ocus] P[ocus] forbid!) you feel my words have jeopardized your 'sobriety', your 'spirituality', your 'recovery', or your faith in mankind. you are a grown-up reading the [decidedly & obviously sarcastic] opinions of another grown-up. i'm not here to love you until you love yourself or be your 'friend'.

            nor — and i absolutely love this bit of 12X12 irrelevance — is it incumbent on me to offer 'solutions' in lieu of 12X12. (is it incumbent on me to offer 'solutions' to phrenology?)

            congratulations on your year. go have a cup of coffee, a big piece of cake, all the tepid & empty emotional hogwash your 12X12 friends can manage to fish out of their closed minds & guileful hearts. whether you '13th step' or exploit anyone while trudging the happy road of destiny means less than nothing to me. (take a moment to think about that — you haven't used your 'sobriety' as a means for taking advantage of someone sexually and/or emotionally … and i'm supposed to see that as evidence of your inherent goodness?)

            good people don't hurt or exploit other people no matter the circumstances or situation. f**king period.

            so color me unimpressed with your appeal for 'recovery' & take your bulls**t back to the basements where you can 'share' it, most will ignore it, some may give you a pat on the back for it, & where it will disappear into the thin, impassive air of the universe.

            right now — in this moment — this is my action. there may have shoulders to lean on, a few aphorisms that got you over bumpy periods, some ethereal flights of fancy that distracted your baser instincts, but in the end YOU kept yourself sober. not bill wilson, robert smith or the philosophically stunted & retarded & medically invalid 'program' their buddy-system gone quasi-religious claptrap inspired.

            i 'help' people in very real, very tangible ways every day in my life (and, no, dipshit step trollers you're not going to get a detailed list of these things; suffice it to say, it brings more to my life than making coffee, putting out chairs, & contributing to the hot air before & after 'meetings'). if some pea-brained imbecile feels compelled to end his or her life because they read (again, a demonstrably sarcastic) comment on what you construe as a 'recovery' site, i'm not going to lose a whole lot of sleep over that. the rates of poverty & hunger in this country reached a 15 year high … & you seem to be well-adjusted enough to manage your despair over that with your expressed indignation over my very singular remarks.

            as for having a blog or website, stay tuned. i may weasel way back in here, clean house, serve H[ocus] P[ocus], kick ass & take f**king names.

            don't hold your breath waiting for my amends post,


          • OutinLeftField

            p.s. – a ’slip’ before you go would make all your program friends insanely happy.

            I love that Speedy0314! It is the only way it seems their "program" gets any validation.

          • speedy0314


            i'm feeling more than a little ornery & my rhetoric is reflective of that. you know what they say about those who can't take a joke … .

            that said, the AA/12X12 i experienced was absolutely in love with death — especially those of past & present members. every suicide, every over-dose or alcohol-related death was reason to collectively cringe before the great metaphysical awfulness of "this disease"; every member who went to the great beyond 'sober' (& who really knows what that even means — i knew plenty of dope-smoking & generally anti-social 'alcoholics' who passed while 'sober') are evidence of 'how this program works'.

            any organization that has its cornerstone the books "Alcoholics Anonymous" & "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" is an organization that is just plain broken at its core. the "take what you need" sophistry aside, 12X12 despises the human condition & is ultimately inhumane.

            12-step is not a celebration of life; it's the systematic & deliberate repetition of one's inherent flaws for just being human & ultimate condemnation to [a very carefully articulated] hellish death should you yield to them.

            i will not apologize for openly expressing derision of that despicable philosophy.


          • a. anonymous no more

            a slip, ha! insanely happy they are.

        • friendthegirl

          I'm not asking you to speak for all alcoholics. Just some alcoholics. Do you think that just repeating an untruth will make it so? This isn't AA, you know. That kind of thing doesn't work here.

          I'm asking about AA, and what you said about it. You said, "Take what you want and leave the rest." If you're not willing to speak for all alcoholics, then why would you even say that? If you think that answering my question requires you to speak for all alcoholics, and if you believe that's something you cannot do, then by this logic, how can you justify saying, "Take what you want and leave the rest…"? Apparently, you believe "take what you want and leave the rest" applies to all alcoholics. Why is it that making this statement is OK, but answering a question about it is not?

          If it's the case that leaving out the first step could work for some alcoholics, then why not say that? Like, "Well, I don't want to speak for everyone, but yes, some alcoholics can leave out the first step and still work an honest program."

          Or perhaps you do not actually believe what you said, in which case, answering "NO" to my question would, in fact, be speaking for all alcoholics, and I can see why you wouldn't want to go there.


          • friendthegirl

            [I think this is the part in the conversation where the AA get a little passive aggressive, and pretends not to be stomping off in a huff, by forcing a rhetorical grin, telling us they don't understand why we're so angry, and then wish us all the best with whatever works for us.]

          • Tourain

            Actually, I was out of town.

            The fact is I assume most people can "take it or leave it" when it comes to any school of knowledge in the world. If you want to know what the steps say, then yes, one needs to accept complete defeat, i.e. powerlessness over alcohol or whatever other drug they are struggling with if they intend to stay sober. As for whether an alcoholic can skip this step and stay sober…once again, I cannot speak for all acoholics.

            Just because someone says they've worked as step and accepted its terms doesn't mean they have or that they've even interpreted it the same way as someone else.

            Some people consider themselves good Christians while permitting themselves a beer or two on the Sabbath. Others consider themselves very patriotic although they've never read the Constitution. So, is it possible to be a good Christian and drink on the Sabbath? Is it possible to be a true patriot and never read the Constitution? Is it possible to take what you want and leave the rest when it comes to admitting powerlessness over alcoholism? When you've figure out the answers, let me know.

            By the way, what's with the personal attacks? I thought we were discussing the issue, not the person.

  • Groovecat

    hello i know this is off topic, but i've been trying to contact the authors and can't seem to make it work. could one of you email me or perhaps describe how i may contact you? i've been using the contact button at the top, but it just kinda puts me in an endless loop and goes nowhere. kinda like aa itself…

    k thanx!


    • speedy0314


      i was a 'contributor' to the site with very little editorial/admin. control. i took myself off the masthead & off the site a few weeks back after it became clear that the admin's had decided to go on a permanent vacation & i would rather eat steppers alive than engage them in 'constructive dialogue'.

      both admins are busy "living life on life's terms" (i.e., getting shit done that pays the bills rather than wasting valuable time railing against a failed institution), so i can't fault them for that — i can only wish them the best of luck in hard times.

      i've been in contact with ftg & toyed with the idea of asking for admin. rights & re-claiming the site. i'm in some pretty dire financial straits myself these days & venting against 12X12 is kind of low on my priority list. my output would be minimal at best — but at least the site would stay alive. it's clear just from my checking in on a semi-regular basis that keeping the site alive is in at least a few people's better interests & that's something.

      may be my way of doing 'service' [/snark].

      stay tuned.


      • Groovecat

        speedy–thanx. i just wanted to contribute my synopsis of an article i discovered in the local newspaper which i feel needs to be its own topic.

  • Groovecat

    "if you’re “fine,” then you’re not a hot mess, and if you’re not a hot mess, then you might start living your “life on life’s terms,” which is not possible".

    well, how else are you gonna live your life?. unless you're in prison or the hospital or in the mental ward or somewhere else where someone besides yourself dictates how you spend your time, you are living life on life's terms. or who else's terms?
    gengis khahn's? the leprechaun 's who lives in your closet and tells you to start fires?

    just sayin'.

    • mikeblamedenial

      The statement "Living life on life's terms" has always struck me as a non sequitur. It makes no sense.

      • speedy0314


        absolutely right — a big, fluffy mouthful of 12X12 nothing. what other 'terms' is it possible to live life on? irrational behavior is still 'living life on life's terms' — it's just doing it in an irrational manner.

        i love the phillip k. dick quote on the matter [paraphrasing]: "Reality is the thing which refuses to go away even when I stop believing in it."

        that the 12X12 community offers this pablum up as the wisdom of the ages (the rock upon which to re-build [or 'recover' … uuggghhh …] your life) & flatly refuses to look with a critical eye at its inherent meaninglessness is indictment enough against it.

        there's nothing wrong with 12X12. but if you look at it with even the smallest bit of skepticism, there's nothing terribly 'right' about it either.


  • Groovecat

    b said "No I have never heard anyone in an AA meeting say that some of us must die so that others may live, let alone say they hope some people die."

    i was in the cult of aa for 7 years, and heard "some of us must die so that others may live" quite a few times. and i also recall one bitter angry passive-aggressive old-timer guru saying this about someone:in aa he didn't care for: "i hope he goes to heaven. and soon!" sure sounds like he hoped that person would die,

    • speedy0314


      maybe 'B' is being 'rigorously honest' in his commentary. but like you, i did 7 years in the rheums & i heard it (or something very akin to it) more times than i could stomach.

      don't know where 'B' lives, but if he's any where near the NYC area then he might think about taking himself to the PAX meeting (6:45 PM Mon, Tues, Thurs @ 155 East 22nd Street) from time to time. there's a much revered old-timer there by the name of 'mike' who simply loves to tally up the death toll whenever he regales the room with his 'wisdom'. his 'qualification' (which i've heard enough times to have done permanent emotional scarring) is a virtual exercise in verbal necrophilia. all of it delivered with that smug, quasi-toughguy AA blithe 'humor'.

      the idea of him 'slipping' & ending up bound to a hospital gurney does not displease me at all.


      • a. anonymous no more

        Spurred by this site I have been again looking at alternative treatments for addiction and found some staggering statistics at the Harvard/Cambridge site. The statistics for repeat DUI offenders and the incidence of personality disorders, my guess brought on or made more acute by drinking/drugging and to think of how many times i've heard "just work the steps" make me nauseated.

        Maybe the first step mtgs should include the "suggestion" to get a full physical and a complete psychiatric evaluation – the incidence in females according to the statistics are very alarming (I am a father and compassionate human being) what AA does to females according to these studies by not alerting them of the high probability of personality disorders should be criminal. And all these so called mental health professionals who are in the program not alerting us all to these probability is and should be civilly punishable.

        It's ridiculous if not malicious to say surrendering these real diseases to a power, any power other a medical professional and getting positive results, will get you better. Yeah i got a broken leg and you want me to keep working steps one tow and three and its my own fault i keep falling. So keep coming back. You don't need a doctor we'll love to health. F that! You steppers defending this shit should be held financially responsible and make amends immediately for all the shit you've spewed to me in that than thou attitude in 7-8 yrs of mtg makers make it crap.

        Here's the best part the f**kers that are so so sober and brainwashed end up in traditions mtg and big book studies discussing the intricacies of Bill's beautiful literary style and the holy light which shines through the words they so artfully craft to blame be for being mentally ill, making me rework steps which have NOTHING TO DO WITH GETTING drugs out of my life and that it is my fault i can't cure me through God. Blow me.

        I was at the weekly traditions mtg last night and there was the sponsor i had just fired for telling me i just gotta have FAITH! I was dressed much more nicely than normal because i decided to manage my own life, by getting out of a shithole job (7yrs) which when told the dozen or so sponsors have told me to quit being ungrateful and just hang on, and had a job interview with a very nice company for a bit bit less money but where they actually GREAT health benefits. He looked very disappointed and said very few words to me. Its like they need my constant remissions to valid themselves. And have almost always had this feeling when working with sponsors that I was more or less canon fodder for THEIR sobriety. You know he had NOT ONE word of encourage me nor any concern of the last weekend where i was suppose to call himn twice a day…my youngest daughter stole my phone and promptly lost it. Yeah, real concern there huh?

        Thanks speed and agent orange for showing me a valid statistically proven path back to taking responsibility for my own life and quit buying into this flipping confession thing if my mentally disorders take me out for a couple quick hits every six months or so. At least now i have some tools to go to the medical professional who i have found to be more helpful than a dozen or more 20+ year AA god freaks.

        So my goal is now to attend very few mtgs and mention these valid statistics and to verbally kick the shit of the freaks who tell first-timers to just keep coming back and read the doctors opinion every fng night.

        Basically who pays the price if I go out, me. Who pays the price if they are all full of shite-me. Not anymore by golly.

        And do wish to be held accountable for all my actions and do feel a bit bad for not finding you all sooner, and i feel really bad because AA does a real awful disservice to woman and for the they should be responsible and the hand of AA shold be duly slapped the fuck outta!!
        Thanks speedy and co!

        • a. anonymous no more

          Oh also, I do feel I have a duty to go to mtgs just to help folks like myself. Maybe thats stupid but finding people like you all and my new mentor who finds all these things i've learned very interesting and tells me just try to be a nice person when and that you can go to too many mtgs and why don't you stand up and tell these folks the way you see it because he sure does appreciate the new research and information.

          Because i do feel life is about realizing our interdependence and having a good laugh at my expense and at yours while not humiliating others to find my humility. And being comfortable and the freedom to show alternative ways to get and stay happy and not use and have to feel i need to report in jsut to stay alive especially not a fuggin day at a time. It really kicks me to see someone like Darren Littlejohn, a buddhist, or Kevin Wallace , stand up and give me permission to have the consequences of my own actions and then show me how the twelve steps apply to buddhism. Talk about grasping and cling!ing!!

          Sit with that brainwashed f****rs your as bad as all those counselors in AA that eat up the riches of my toils and then point to me as being the problem and spreading the disease, what the f is that? BE ACCOUNTABLE! You have a greater DUTY TO BE HONEST if you advertise yourselves to be buddhist , or spiritual counselor, and sell books – you have a duty to be completely informed otherwise YOUR SPREADING SHIT!

          Wow i got an opinion and am expressing it! My very own opinion- YEAH!

          ::::FLAME OFF:::::

  • H

    well, anonymous no more, if one person out of 50 takes in what you say you are doing very well.

  • Z

    Again, what I don't like about the 12 steps is the assumptions it makes about people –assumes that people are pretty base and need the 12 steps to get them to not experience things like road rage. (All the al-anons, in the meetings I used to go to, said they used to have road rage and also to yell at the television, before they started 12 stepping; I didn't get it. I mean: I have anger in me at certain things but I don't think anger is a sin the way the 12 steppers seem to, and I don't have this random aggression they all seem to say they had before they stepped.)

    It seems you have to claim you were formerly "negative, blaming, and chronically dissatisfied" and if you don't, you are "in denial." Now, you can never criticize anything. If you point out the poor logic in that, they say triumphantly, "the key is the wisdom to know the difference." So the whole thing is this use of slogans in a big one upmanship game, in which people compete to see who can win by saying the most submissive things. It is really weird.


  • Z

    OK, one more point and I'll stop ranting. The thing about changing your attitude. This is another empty platitude. I could go on, but I've said more than enough and it's late. Great site.

  • Z

    @a.nonymous no more and anyone else – I'd make this a into a formal, more eloquent post on my blog but my father, the person in question, reads that; I don't want to make him uncomfortable although on second thought he'd probably like the post.

    Anyway, he is a major drunk but none of his kids are, and nobody turned into a radical teetotaler, either. I used to think this was normal, you don't have to imitate your parents, but one sister in law pointed out it was unusual, and this got me thinking, how did he do it?

    My thought is, he didn't go in for irrationality otherwise, and his information was normally reliable to almost uncannily good. This, I think, was why it was possible to believe his "do as I say, not as I do" about drinking. I'm not saying the whole situation was always the greatest, but I do think it was better than the befuddledness that you get from 12 stepping doublespeak…

  • chronicallyable

    Wow, you know I fundamentally and whole heartedly agree with many of the the criticisms presented here about A.A, the trashtalking by some poster's on both sides of this debate really brings the usefullness of this site down. If we're going to be accusing A.A'ers of personal attacks against anyone who disagree's with them, then might we not want to turn around and do the same? N0? Just sayin'.

  • SoberPJ

    I hear ya… and when somebody creates a site with rules of engagament like no profanity, no personal attacks, strick censorship and full disclosure..well,.. it won't be any fun 🙂

    I fully concede that I attack those that I think are spouting AA non sense. That is honest. Let's see the AA manipulacons admit they are attacking to defend the AA faith. Like our recent buddy JD. Somehow, they can't see or admit what they are doing. I find that curious and sometimes humorous. Dickb won't even admit that he swings by here to drum up business. It's obvious to everyone else, but not to him. Oh, were those attacks? Or, voicing my opinions about wackjobs that come by here? Oh, was that an attack? Or, are they really wackjobs? Just sayin 🙂

  • Ben Franklin

    @Sober PJ, Ditto.Ditto. Ditto. When I first went about "debating" steppers I tried to my best ability to be nice and reasonable. Then BAM. Ad Hom Ad Hom Ad Hom. Really . I just got so fed up with it that I don't really care to be reasonable any more. If a stepper wants to be reasonable-yeah okay- but 9 times out of 10 they will attack you and not your argument. That is a conservative estimate.

  • Martha

    Ben Franklin, sometimes I think steppers make a conscious effort to provoke us ans bring us down to their level. The rest of the time they just parrot the AA party line that we are just angry dry drunks with resentment issues. I get so tired of hearing that crap and it does not occur to them that they sound like robots on a repeating tape loop. The ones who post and run are I think motivated by fear. They have bought the AA doctrine that says their grasp on sobriety hangs by a thread for every 24 hour period. The existence of this site and people who got sober without AA frightens them. We are living proof that AA is not the only way and our example shows that we keep ourselves sober. It is actually easier to take the cop-out route and blame drunken behavior on a disease. The idea of personal responsibility brings out the worse in them. When I was drinking I did some irresponsible things that I must own. When I decided to stop drinking it is a decision for which I give myself credit. In the long run the AA way is the softer way because it absolves them from any role in drunken behavior and ending that behavior.

  • causeandeffect

    @Martha, "In the long run the AA way is the softer way because it absolves them from any role in drunken behavior and ending that behavior." Yes, I agree. And to the extent they are taught to believe that they have inherently bad behavior that causes them to be alcoholics, (stinkin thinkin even from childhood) they continue to have bad behavior even in sobriety. They can barely contain their bad behavior. They have terrible two's style temper tantrums. I don't blame them as individuals, I blame AA. But I must admit, I will meet them at their level, although that's really not my style. I think its all they can understand, having never behaved like an adult.

  • Martha

    Sometimes I will meet them at their low level, but there are other times that I try address their attacks in a way that might give some insight to new readers of this blog. I get tired of being labeled a dry drunk and sometimes I make snide remark. Other times I keep in mind that we need to educate others that there is no such thing as a dry drunk. There may be some people reading this who we can influence and I don't want my own visceral response to get in the way. The term dry drunk itself is an oxymoron. It is designed to deflate the ego of a person who has stopped drinking on their own.

    I understand the point that chronicallyable is making about how we engage with hostile steppers, but I disagree that we ought to walk on egg shells. Steppers frequently see themselves as having the high ground and that "normies" should show them deference. As part of our efforts to expose and undermine AA we should avoid feeding into the idea that AA has some special insight that makes their members special.

  • causeandeffect

    Point taken. I will shut up.

  • wacko

    If one is not attracted to the program, then why waste time bashing it??

  • Mr Tobytwirl

    Night falls fast. The shutters will be down and fully locked soon.

  • PersephoneInExile

    I hear about this idiocy in detox/rehab centers far too often, really, above and beyond what I’ve seen. I realize you here are more than aware of this, but increasing numbers of people entering these “treatment centers” are people who’ve been overprescribed prescription opiates and other pharmaceuticals such as benzodiazepines–many of them for chronic pain conditions, injuries, or simply by psychiatrists concerned with alleviating anxiety.

    I’m sorry, but in those cases, saddling someone suffering from horrible pain, especially younger people, with a NEW notion that they have not only pain they can now not be treated for (OR DIE!!) but also that they are defective people with another incurable disease is promotion of “stinkin’ thinkin'” and less-than-positive states of mind in these frequently unwilling participants! How can anyone truly think these people will actually react positively to being told they must submit to strange attempts to beat them down further using utterly bizarre jargon, as this post certainly illustrates perfectly, while suffering a MEDICALLY proven rebound effect of being (usually cold turkeyed) thrown off their pain medications? Of COURSE they have negative thinking, how wouldn’t they?

    OK, off my soapbox for now. I was lucky myself, my injuries healed and I’m old enough to not be as socially vulnerable as well as no longer needing medical care for pain. But I’ve met 18 year old girls in this boat.

    Thanks for letting me rant a bit there! Human nature is not a defect of character, not always.

  • yahoo

    So what happens when a priest or a pastor goes into AA, did they have a so-called spiritual malady? The 12 steps are a crock of shit.