Tearing Down The Ego In Alcoholics Anonymous

The primary objective of the 12-steps is not to rid people of their drinking addictions. Drinking abstinence is simply a consequence of an an overall character change. This is not a surprise to those of us familiar with the AA program, and even those who work the steps and happily profess the virtues of AA will say the same thing. AAs believe that alcoholism is a result of a spiritual weakness, which is a result of character flaws, which are largely the result of ego and self absorption – and working the steps will rid us of these character weaknesses, one of which is alcoholism.

The only way of achieving sobriety through AA is for a person to admit his or her powerlessness over alcohol. It is the first step, after all, and any AA – even those who don’t work all of the steps – will say that the first step is essential. Powerlessness of the individual is the cornerstone on which AA and the 12-step program is built, and it achieves this belief among its members in a number of ways.

The first, and most important way, is by working the steps themselves. Steps one through three serve as the foundation by the admission of powerlessness, and the idea that only God can restore a person’s well being. Steps four through eleven are used to help reinforce this by breaking down a person’s ego. Secondly, various tactics are used to breakdown individual thought, deflate a person’s ego, and force acquiescence to the group. Open confession to the group, the use of thought stopping slogans such as – EGO = Edging God Out, resentment lists, encouraging members not to think for themselves, and equating a questioning of the program or the group tactics with anger; are among them.

It is interesting that AA uses steps to change a person incrementally, as that is how our psychological growth as human beings develops naturally. Most of us studied Erik Erikson in college, whose theories on psychosocial development are the most widely studied and accepted. He wrote of the eight stages of healthy ego development, with each stage, beginning at infancy, being the resolution of two opposing conflicts. With the resolution of each conflict, the advancement to the next level of emotional development occurs:

· Trust vs. Mistrust
· Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
· Initiative vs. Guilt
· Industry vs. Inferiority
· Identity vs. Role Confusion
· Intimacy vs. Isolation
· Generativity vs. Stagnation
· Ego Integrity vs. Despair

An adult who has gone through a proper psychosocial development also has a healthy ego. An ego is not a bad thing, and is in fact, essential for normal societal function. Any improper resolution of any of the above conflicts can have negative consequences to an individual, and may contribute to such things as narcissism or sociopathy. Also, what is important to understand, is that these resolutions come about from both nature and nurture; and, just as they can be learned, they can be unlearned.

What do the steps do to normal social development? Let’s take a look at each stage, and how each is addressed through AA and the 12-steps:

Trust vs. Mistrust
For this, I thought I that I would bring up codependency – alcoholism’s tricky pal. From The Skeptic’s Dictionary:

“Codependency is a term used to describe a kind of addiction, a relationship addiction. A person is said to be suffering from codependency when they exhibit caring for a loved one who is suffering from a real addiction to drugs or alcohol. The behavior of the caring individual is said to hinder recovery of the real addict by enabling the addict to continue the addiction. Codependency makes it seem as if all caring for addicts is pathological.”

Codependency is an old psychological term that was re-coined by Melodie Beattie in her book, Codependent No More. Hazelden published the book, and created a cottage industry out of codependency, which is not recognized by the DSM, and is nothing more than a creation by the treatment industry (where it is alive and well). Not so ironically, twelve-step is the only treatment for codependency. Look around any AA table, and the chances are probable that many around you are self diagnosed codependents. Caring and trust of others is a basic human need, and codependency erodes that trust.
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
In AA, the individual is subservient to the group. This is exhibited in their traditions, and in how individuality is suppressed within the group. AA is built around the concept of original sin, and that we, as humans are inherently bad, and as alcoholics are inherently worse. Creating individual shame is one of the consequences of working steps four and five, and reinforced with steps six through ten. The ego is broken, and rather than being addressed and fixed by the individual, the group and person’s higher power™ steps in as the saviour.

Initiative vs. Guilt
A person with a healthy ego is able to take control over a situation, and exert self will to help solve a problem. When individual initiative is discouraged, a person develops a sense of guilt at taking charge, and they become followers with no initiative.

AA discourages individual initiative, and those who show individual thoughts or initiative are told they are “too smart for the program”, or that they got there in the first place doing their own thing. Any objection will be met with accusations of their anger, and a thought stopping slogan such as “take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth”. AAs are constantly reminded they they are not in control.

Industry vs. Inferiority
Those who show a strong initiative feel confident in achieving a goal. Those who don’t, have a feeling of inferiority. AA develops the latter with such things as moral inventories and resentment lists.

Identity vs. Role Confusion
A proper self identity is essential in a strong ego. In AA, group identity is the important thing. Read around the internet and see the reaction of AAs who meet a criticism of AA as a personal insult. Never will one see criticism of any other disease treatment met with such vitriol, insults and ad hominem attacks. Imagine someone commenting on the ineffectiveness of the drug zyban, only to have a former smoker come at the person pointing out that statistical fact with “you are just angry, bitter, self absorbed, too smart”. It doesn’t happen, and the reason it doesn’t is because the person taking zyban has some self identity, and they understand that is not a personal insult. AAs are a different story, and they see any criticism of AA as a personal insult, because they are so self identified with AA. Never, and I mean never, have I seen an AA say “I quit drinking, and I owe it all (or mostly) to myself”. It just doesn’t happen.

Intimacy vs. Isolation
Avoiding commitments or intimacy or relationships leads to isolation, depression, loneliness, despair. AAs are discouraged from having relationships in their first year, and are encouraged to avoid others who are deemed harmful to their recovery. Often, those people are the very ones who supported the alkie while they were drinking, and possibly the ones who talked them into seeking addiction recovery in the first place.

How does AA solve this conundrum? They step in as the new friend, and the people who truly care about the person. Then, of course, there is the 13th stepping of the newly recovering. For so many within AA, the fellowship becomes their social circle.

Generativity vs. Stagnation
Giving back to others is important in maintaining a healthy ego. Regardless of how selfless ones motives, giving back makes a person feel good about themselves. For many who live in the insular world of AA, their form of giving back is recruiting other alcoholics back into the group, so they can experience the spiritual awakening from the steps, as well. Prison visits, hospital rehab visits, and other forms practicing the 12th-step, is AA’s version of altruism.

Ego Integrity vs. Despair
This stage of ego development is developed in old age. As we look back on lives and our accomplishments, we are either satisfied with what we have accomplished, or regretful that we have accomplished little. Living a life of drunkalogs and confession of what tool you were while you were drinking, can play negatively on a person. The term “alcoholic” in AA is a pejorative. AAs are continually stereotyping themselves as less than normal people, and every share is begun with “My name is________, and I’m an alcoholic”.


Judith Herman, M.D. wrote the book Trauma and Recovery, in which she wrote “psychological trauma is an affliction of the powerless”. The powerlessness that AA instills in people creates that psychological trauma in many, many people – and does so by taking normally developed people, and dissolving the psychological foundation that is healthy, and that a person spends a lifetime achieving – and replacing it with unhealthy cult religion.

  • H

    One must ask: To what purpose? It is no accident that AA and a sponsor have a lot to gain by 'ego deflation'. AA rewards people with high control needs and a wish to dominate others. That is one reason why people leave AA — they do not want 'ego delflation' or 'good orderly direction'.

    Codependency is drivel. A person closely invoved with a drunkard/addict is in a difficult situation; and a strong ego and boundaries is needed. Not 12 step. In the real world, that is what usually occurs.

  • sherwoode

    Healthy adults develop a positive ego.You don't see much of this in AA.One must trust themselves and follow their own inner guidance,which is ridiculed and shamed out of AA members.AA is simple a dangerous cult that does more harm than good.

  • speedy0314


    h.l. mencken said it, not me. i just happen to agree with the sentiment & it speaks to the topic pretty neatly i think:

    "God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters."

    AA doesn't deflate the individual ego so much as it over-inflates a collective sense of group ego.


  • Theresa

    I am going to throw my two cents in on AA. I was brainwashed in AA and unknowingly became part of their cult. I came in with normal problems associated with the overconsumption of alcohol; mainly warped thinking, an inability to work, and a confused mental state. Being welcomed to AA was like a drink of water to a dying man, I had not been welcome many places in some time. I bought all their slogans, platitudes, absolutes, suggestions (or else), and the prospect of 90 meetings in 90 days, or jails institutions or death. I stayed sober 13 years and counting, I thank AA for the needed structure and support. Unfortunately, there are places where I hit major problems. One was sponsorship, and the other was the over simplification and minimalism of my problem solving process. The prospect of helping another by sharing my experience found me responsible for the failure of another. Simplistic sayings and rhymes will not effectively solve all life’s problems. Magically thinking “let go and let God” can be very dangerous advice. I also found myself being physically threatened by another with long term sobriety who has evidently become sicker due to prolonged participation. AA is a magnet for the mentally ill. I am grateful to AA for my sobriety and the bird’s eye view of humanity it showed me. I love God from the historical prospective. I believe a primitive people created the personification of God due to a lack of understanding in and a fear of natural law. Others in the program said that my life would get better with AA and it did. Now my life appears to be getting better without it. I am just not interested enough in controlling others to continue going except in the capacity of helping those who need support but cant comply to the ritual.

  • Anonymous

    Theresa, well said.

  • Noel Clifton

    "Drinking abstinence is simply a consequence of an an overall character change."

    There is no more incorrect statement. If all it took was a change of character, we would not have the HUGE problem with alcohol we have.

    I don't understand why some feel the need to attack with all their might what they "think" they understand.

    I hope you can find some peace.

    And yes at 52 AA saved my lifve and my marriage. (now 58 and happily clean and sober) I no longer attend regular meetings, but live by the principles and help others still suffering.

    If you can get sober some other way….more power to you and I and every AA member is thrilled for you.

    • Groovecat

      hello noel. you conveniently forgot to include the first part of the statement you were quoting. here it is in its entirety: ma said " The primary objective of the 12-steps is not to rid people of their drinking addictions. Drinking abstinence is simply a consequence of an an overall character change."

      bill the charlatan wilson said "At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us."(Big Book, page 77.) did you forget to read that page? um, "our REAL" purpose? i thought my real purpose of going to aa was so that i would stop poisoning myself with booze.

      yes, i said myself, for it is i who lifts the booze to my lips and ingests it. no one else. no mystical entity "the devil made me do it" why not i mean if you believe in gawd, then is it so hard to believe he has an adversary who is lurking everywhere just trying to get you drunk on demon rum so you can blame your bad behaviiour and stupid decisions on him?

      you said "If all it took was a change of character, we would not have the HUGE problem with alcohol we have."

      define your terms. who is "we"? us individuals here at this website, or society in general?

      me personally, don't have a problem with alcohol. i like it, i drink it on occasion, i get drunk on occasion, and i "handle my business." (meaning i take care of what needs to be taken care of).

      you are under the impression that anyone who drinks alcohol to excess is an alcoholic for life. that someone who is drinking to excess is also a lying thieving immoral person ( only heard this in aa: what do you get when you sober up a horse thief? a sober horse thief.) who needs to confess their sins be forgiven and then let some mystical big-daddy in the sky solve all their problems (let go and let gawd).

      i drank too much for a while, it caused me life problems, i dealt with the underlying issues as to why i drank so much, then i stopped.drinking so much. i know, you're gonna say i was just a heavy drinker. i guess i was such a heavy drinker i drank a pint of vodka a day for 10 years, lost cars, houses, jobs, wives yadda yadda yadda. i hate to qualify myself like that but i feel it is necessary in this instance to head this one off at the pass before someone says i was just a "heavy drinker " and not a "real alcoholic". i did not know how to make good decisions, i learned how to make good decisions on my own (finally) and to depend on myself and not some mystical entity,i stopped berating myself for every little mistake, i stopped questioning my motives constantly, i decided i didn't want to be a drunken ass and so i am not.

      • Scott A

        Right on Groovecat! I can relate to EVERYTHING you said. The thing that sucks for me is that my family has also been brainwashed by the cult and they all thought I was gonna start drinking like I used to back in the day. Right.

        I did what I did because I needed to empower myself and quit thinking there was something wrong with me. Living a life based in fear is horseshit.

    • speedy0314


      glad to hear about your salvation. and that's really the last i want to hear about it.

      this is obviously not a site you should frequent, nor is it a site you will be permitted to comment on if you insist on filling valuable web-space up with tired, empty, completely unverifiable step bullshit.

      stay clean, stay sober, and stay away from this site. whether you're attending meetings or not, visiting this site is neither good for your 'sobriety' nor is it anything original or compelling for most of the people who frequent the blog.

      keep your head in the clouds … but keep walking.



  • H

    Apparently, I should thank you.
    You live your life, I will live mine.

  • Cuda

    I didn't think you had what it took to offer a response.
    What I had to offer was meaningless but I was more interested in seeing what kind of a rise I could get out of you. Since you've never offered an intelligent response to anything I've ever posted as of yet, your reply this time was no surprise.
    Go ahead and continue with your silly little cause and I'll continue with mine.

  • H


    This poem is especially for you

    • VICTIM

      L A M E

    • Anonymous

      I have been met with nothing but insults here regardless of what I've said. Even though I have agreed with your positions on AA in a lot of cases the insults and name calling continues. I have admitted more than once here that AA has several issues that need to be addressed. Still more insults and verbal bashing continues to be the norm.
      Unfortunatley in this case you had to have someone else think up your insults for you.
      You must be very proud of your not so well thought out reply!


    Acceptance is the answer. When I accepted that I am an AA retard and began to focus on it the positive the solution grew instead of the problem.

    In the same vain, when I treat the new man who has not embraced your way of life as a sick friend, I get to feel superior and smug.

    Embrace the lameness, as long as you fight it you go deeper and deeper into their bowels.

    Yes, the bowels of lameness…

    Embrace them.

  • Pop Bottle

    A real solution
    hokus-pokus and superstition did not get me clean.
    AA's primary purpose is to "GET YOU" to god and to defend AA.
    not anywhere in the 12 steps does it say how to stop drinking.

    To all you 12 steppers, I suggest de-programing from all what is taught in the 12 step meetings and rehab, and look at alternatives with a real open mind, not that narrow visioned open mind AA teaches.

    Please forget about them telling you that "its the only way"
    Its not.

    • Tony J

      "not anywhere in the 12 steps does it say how to stop drinking"

      Not anywhere in any book does it say anything until you read it. That's the problem with books. If you only listen to what other people say about them, you don't actually know what's in them.

      But, since you seem even more mentally challenged then the others here, I'll give you a clue.

      The 12 steps 'are' the way AA suggests you stop drinking. That's why they say 'here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery'.

      You see ? No, I didn't think so.

      Now run along and deprogram like your anti-AA cult masters expect you too.

  • Z

    Once again, great post. Great list, and great citation of J. Hermann.

  • Steven

    It also states not to think for yourself.

    The Book was written around the steps

    the statement is, not anywhere in the 12 steps does it say "stop drinking".

    The real primary purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to get "you" to god.

    What do you tell all those dead non-religions non-conformist people that could not or would not buy into a pseudo spiritual, not religious program? Do you want to know how fast the hope I got in my first rehab left me as we were led like sheep into our first AA meeting and heard "god"

    Get your head out of the sand. AA 's solution is as bad as the problem it tries to treat.

    You, my dear friend have been "churched" by the non-religious but spiritual AA.

    Cant you see that AA has become a religious cult? A real "RELIGION in DENIAL"

    so my suggestion to you is "sit down, shut up and drink the coffee, drink the coffee, drink the coffee, drink the coffee……….


    I am sober after 16 years of suffering in AA because I was not a "believer"

    I got sober after GOD was removed from my life and program.

    That was 12 years ago.

    I would have died waiting for god.

    I cant wait for the canned AA responses.

  • Peele

    Looks like Tony J took the snake oil

  • tintop

    Steven, you will get few, if any, canned AA responses.  I am very glad that you got it done.  Kudos.

    peele, Tony J's business here is concluded.

  • chronicallyable

    Good grief people! Do we wish to have a meaningfull discussion about A.A and possibly have some interesting discourse with people in the program or are we just going to be *ss***oles, which is what many people seem to be accusing a.a. members of being. I have read some exchanges with A.A poster's, whose posts were rather innocuous, and certainly not offensive, only to see them be ripped a new one. I love the content on this site, but I find the hypocrosy on the part of some anti-a.a.er's (and incidentally, I firmly belong in this camp!) a real turn off. If you are going to talk about the self-rightous attacks of some A.A defenders, where do you get off doing the same?

  • SoberPJ

    Just come by to set things straight, eh? Give some input on our collective behavior? I like the “we” part. Interesting. Are you the voice of reason and restraint? I’m so glad you’re here. Ya know, between just us, these people are a little unruly and your admonishment of their behavior is long overdue. I think AnnaZed even swore once. This behavior simply has to stop ! Well, unless “we” don’t really give a shit about being reasonable with delusional wackjobs that are trying to suck us back into the AA faith. I have no tolerance for delusioned liars and manipulators – no matter how reasonable they may seem. This is an open and anonymous 12 Step industry muckraking site. You post what you want and I’ll post what I want.

  • Primrose

    chronically. You love the content of this site. If you have much of the content of this site, you must be aware that many, many members have been extremely badly hurt by this cult. And have given years of their life to this cult because they believed the lies. In aa, anger is proof of something that proves the cult right, can’t remember what, the details of some of the Alice Through the Looking Glass fancies goes past me. So people here don’t hide their anger. This cult destroys lives and kills people. People on this site may have lost friends to it. So I don’t think it is that surprising that they are angry. I’d say I am so angry, because what has happened to me personally, that I am calmish now. Have you read, ‘Why I left AA…’? Have you noticed the relief people feel when they find this site, or find the orange papers? How many years did you lose? How many friends of yours died? What would make you angry? If you have escaped relatively unscathed, please read some more and show some humanity towards people who are, quite appropriately, angry.

  • causeandeffect

    chronicallyable, I'm sorry if you don't like it but I will address these delusional whackjobs with anger if I choose to. You see, I have spent my whole life not expressing anger because I wouldn't give myself permission. AA told me I can't afford to be angry, and that's just a manipulation. I reject that wholeheartedly. I finally realized it IS my choice. So I will address someone with the same amount of dignity they address me or others. If someone comes here and addresses people with respect but says something ignorAAnt, I will respectfully disagree. But when someone comes here ranting and accusing those here of puking on their shoes, well, I'll just had their abuse back on a silver platter and laugh. From where I am right now, I feel it's absolutely pointless to engage them in any kind of rational conversation. I really don't care who it offends.

  • Yes


    The AA game is to reply to anger with love and understanding. This is a simple thing to do if it's only at meetings. The wackjobs are easy to dismiss, and if you can't handle a little BS in meetings, then you probably needs to be there.

    It's true that AA deserves nothing but lies and condescension. However, if you family is AA and AA dogs you around, which they do, they're going to take what is said in meetings, and how you were victimized in life, and hand it to you at all times. Until you calm down and accept this treatment and your lower social order, you're doing nothing but proving that you are an alcoholic in need of therapy.

    Remember, AA is a hidden social cult that relies on lies, which are easy to take, and manipulation, which is easily shrugged off. If that comes from your family, then it's a simple indoctrination.

    If you give me your situation or specific details, I will happily deconstruct them for you and show you who and what are acting as agents of AA.

    AA is not about sobriety and spiritual peace. AA is just to propagate AA, that's all it is. Once you understand this, it's easy to overcome.

  • Yes


    Most of the **sholes you see on the site are AA members. AA cannot work in the real world, so they create a fake world for it to work in. That's the whole point of AA. Not dealing with reality, or even internal dialog and spirituality. It's simple propagation of the cult, nothing more and nothing less.

    The most pertinent thing you need to remember about AA: If you are in it, you have likely been lied to your entire life, and the point is to create emotional disturbances which then will be played on in the AA meetings to provide fodder for older, recovering alcoholics. That's all it is.

  • Johnny Crash NYC

    As I read Melodie Beattie's website I can see blatantly how she is all about selling good's and products on her site's regarding co-dependence and ALANON .. she's all about the money … I wonder if she's a nonprofit and doesn't have to pay taxes on them …ya see the bottom line is she is all about the money the same way Wilson and Bob were all about the money …. and alot of other gurus and people I met …alll about the money want to see blatent thievery read the GSO financial reports of AA and the Pie chart they use …. 10 Billion dollar a year industry of course they want no ego … they want your money like every other cult in existence …. last I check no one on this site has asked me for a dime …

    Happy New Years ….

  • DeConstructor

    I think the group conscience of this site has decided to expose the AA faith for what it really is, a dangerous religious cult that recieves far too much unearned admiration and undeserved credibility.

    I also think it is a very important part of this site to expose the absolute failure that the substance abuse recovery industry is, and speak for the people (and most of us know some) who are DEAD because of this preventable FAILURE.

  • Gunthar2000

    @Johnny Crash…

    You mean you've been posting here and you haven't paid your dues?

  • SoberPJ

    Hi Ally.. I'm sorry to hear about your uncle and your story was well written. I'm glad you could find a place to post it where people will understand the tragedy of the situation without some bullshit about how he didn't work the steps or "really try". He seemed sick and needed real help, not somebodies made up, faith-healing cure-all.

  • causeandeffect

    AllyB, I'm so so sorry to hear about your uncle. I'm sorry he never got the help he really needed when there are so many other ways he could have been helped. It's one of the things I find so immoral about AA is that it actively deters people from seeking real help and people die because of it. It fails so many like your uncle but arrogantly will never ever look at why. I send you my condolences.

  • AllyB

    @ Primrose "I don’t know how you managed to get your husband away from AA without giving a degree level course in all aspects of its lies. Orange quotes a study from Harvard Medical School which says that ‘spousal support’ is the best help an ‘alcoholic’ can have."

    Umm, well I actually quoted that at him quite a bit. 😮 Whenever he'd get all preachy about shite he'd heard at meetings and how I needed to butt out I'd practically sing it at him. Whenever he'd get upset about how no-one could help him and he was all alone, I'd read him the study's conclusion. Whenever he was in a decent mood it would be a joke between us about how if I managed to help him get better I'd end up with a head the size of a small country.

    Tbf, he resisted AA for a long time, mostly because he really didn't want to admit he really had a problem, but in big part because of it's religious nature. He tried SMART and an NHS programme. But while on the NHS programme he did a 2 week inpatient detox where everyday they had AA meetings, which while not mandatory were seriously encouraged. After he got out he started drinking again immediately and decided he really did need AA. His sudden zeal for it was terrifying. Yet his drinking just got worse and worse. And he got more hopeless and more horrible to live with. He was honestly utterly vile at that point, but he was also clearly terrified. He would even fight with me for not attending al-anon, which I had done the year before but had decided early on that it offered limited assistance and that once I'd taken what it had to offer, I had no desire to ever go again.

  • where everyday they had AA meetings, which while not mandatory were seriously encouraged.

    That means shunning of anyone who does not participate, in subtle, nasty ways. And when (surprise) they drink again (either because they do not 'get it' OR (which I missed out in last post) that they are in 'denial'. This whole societal scam that the first thing the 'alcoholic' must do is admit their problem (by admitting to a cult that they have a disease that does not exist), means the person seeking help is not only refused help if they don't swallow the dogma of this cult ('the program') but is blamed and (not so subtly) mocked and humiliated. As is anyone who questions it.

    It is like some sort of Harry Potter film scenario, whereby if you struggle at all, its grip on you gets stronger. To someone in a cult, the fact that the sun comes up proves the cult right because you can only talk sensibly when the person affected knows that they are in a cult.

    I don't know the source but I have read on here or in the ops that most people drink MORE once they get involved in the cult. Until they either 'get it' and belong until the madness becomes unbearable (not many last 30+ years) or they leave and (I suspect) live with some of the brainwashing intact. And some of these die through what they think is an incurable disease. And guess what? That too proves the cult is right. Back down the rabbit hole!!

    I do know what you mean about the singing. I occasionally write big notices on the kitchen wall, with dates, so I can point to them rather than say the exact same thing again.

    I don't think you can walk away from the cult once you have been 'infected' (brainwashed). I think that once you have drunk the Kool-aid it is necessary to learn the facts and realise the extent of the brainwashing. Which is quite a task but, guess what? it does not involve life long membership of a cult that tells you not to think. The cure for everything about this cult is 'Inform Yourself'. But try getting a cult member to appreciate that. Put on the hard hat and wait for the attacks. And/or panicked avoidance.

    It sounds great that he is out. It is a fucking scandal that the NHS colludes in this cult dogma. Every patient should be warned about it. If someone asked me for advice about alcohol I would say that the most important thing is to be aware that you are the target of an evil cult and you should prearm yourself to be prepared to avoid its clutches and brainwashing of powerlessness and disease nonsense. The NHS should fund public warnings about AA.

    Why on earth did the BMA vote against homeopathy on the NHS but not cult nonsense?

  • JRH. I agree with everything you have said on this board and I cannot think of anything to help you. It is impossible to tell someone convinced they are doing god's work to get to the listening stage. Everything in the universe proves the cult is right. It is heartening to hear Allyb's success but I would say usually it is probably more worthwhile exposing the cult (whichever one that it) than trying to rationalise with a cult victim. (victim or member? by definition a victim?)

  • Unfortunately, what I think may be needed is a book written along the lines of the Big Book that will last 75 years, and start a cult movement of it's own to combat this threat (I know two wrongs do not make a right). I realize that money is being made from AA ,but I think the main reason people join it is so they can control other people, it makes them feel good about themselves. The "miracle happens" when you graduate from being a sponcee to a sponsor. It builds the sponsors ego after they tear it down (I know they have a slogan to combat that argument). Why do you think sponsors always have that smile on their face?. What is needed is a doctrine to combat the Big Book, with its own slogans, rhetoric and dogma( I know that would be a self defeating purpose). I do know that if enough people think hard enough on this subject a solution will be found. This website, the Orange Papers and the various satellites emanating from it are a good start. If we work hard enough this movement will gain critical mass and can make changes.

  • AllyB

    @Primrose “This cult destroys lives and kills people. People on this site may have lost friends to it. So I don’t think it is that surprising that they are angry. I’d say I am so angry, because what has happened to me personally, that I am calmish now. Have you read, ‘Why I left AA…’? Have you noticed the relief people feel when they find this site, or find the orange papers? How many years did you lose? How many friends of yours died? What would make you angry? If you have escaped relatively unscathed, please read some more and show some humanity towards people who are, quite appropriately, angry.”

    I was just trawling through the site when I found this post. Strangely enough, pretty much at the exact time you posted this, my uncle died. Aged 52, leaving behind a 3 year old son and two older “stepsons.’ I haven’t heard the post-mortem results yet, but it was almost certainly alcoholism related. And I certainly blame the prevalence of 12-step bullshit for having a HUGE part in his death, in the fact that my cousin has no father and that I spent NYE holding my grandmother as she sat beside the body of her son.

    My uncle had an indescribably bad marriage and turned to alcohol to block out the shitness of his life. When his drinking became noticeably bad and my family tried to help him the obvious move was to get him to a rehab. None of us had, had any experience of addiction and had no opportunity to know anything about how “treatment” worked. He went in and out of a few places over the course of a year or so and actually eventually got to a place where he could have been ok. He came to terms with the end of his marriage, rented a nice apartment, still had his job. We all breathed a sigh of relief and thought he had a decent future ahead of him.

    When we he announced he was seeing someone we were all really happy for him, especially as she was a single mother and we knew he’d always wanted children. Knowing she was someone he’d met in rehab and was a former heroin addict was a bit worrying, but we figured if he could get better, she probably was too. When they announced they were expecting a baby we were all delighted for them.

    Sadly she’d never really stopped using, even throughout her pregnancy. She had good periods but while attending NA shortly after their son’s birth she was preyed upon by a drug dealer who attended meetings in order to make new customers. The strain of working, providing for all their bills, incl a heroin habit, keeping the 3 children happy and safe and living with an addict proved too much for my uncle. After several sober years he started drinking again. As their lives fell apart his mental state became worse. When his partner went into residential rehab and the children went to live with her mother he made a very serious suicide attempt. After release from hospital he was sent to rehab, which if I’d known back then how awful the “treatment” he’d receive was I’d have tried to get him something that was actually suitable.

    After they both came out of rehab they moved to a house nearer her mother’s, as she had temporary custody of the children. (This was several hundred miles from my family, who to a large extent followed al-anon advice about detaching, which the geography made easy.) We heard very little from them over the next nearly two years. They never visited, even missing another of my uncle’s weddings, occasionally my parents or one of my other uncles would take my grandmother to visit them, but that was the only real contact.

    Last summer he was admitted to hospital with diagnosable blackouts while he and his partner were back in (different) rehabs. Initially it was suspected to be neurological but it turned out he was drinking hand-sanitiser! Of course he ended up back in a rehab where he stayed for several months. After an initial positive few weeks after his release he sunk into a depression where he was drinking whenever he was awake. When his son went to see him on Christmas day he told his grandmother that his daddy was just crying because he has a sore heart. He died 4 days later.

    I can’t even really post this anywhere else, as I’ll just get accused of codependency. Never mind that I was a grown adult living hundreds of miles from my family at the point when his problems surfaced. Up until that point he seemed like an incredibly stable, happy guy. I feel this huge guilt that I couldn’t have helped him better, that when he needed help he got 12 steps, that when his partner needed help she got 12 steps. That a suicidal man was given 12 steps instead of genuine psychiatric help, that I heard that he was getting that type of “help” and didn’t know to fight for something better for him.

    The thing that feels massively ironic is that I found out about his death as my husband and I were coming home from a happy night in a pub with friends. My alcoholic husband, who I fought this summer and autumn with to get him away from AA, who I’d spent two years struggling to help get better, and I were spending a happy, relaxed, easily sober, evening surrounded by drinking friends, while my uncle died. Because thanks to those stupid, stupid steps, nobody fought for him.

  • I’m sorry, allyb. SO much about this entity is WRONG. If anyone is in it they are either brainwashed into believing these self-fulfilling prophecies. So many people seem to get together with fellow aas, or with people they met in rehab, both of which sets are already either brainwashed or dealing with their ‘denial’. They silence their members. You are only allowed to talk once you have confessed to having an illness that doesn’t exist. I doubt your Uncle was encouraged to talk about any deeper problems than this wacky ‘program’, a word that gets more and more sinister in this context.

    I don’t know how you managed to get your husband away from AA without giving a degree level course in all aspects of its lies. Orange quotes a study from Harvard Medical School which says that ‘spousal support’ is the best help an ‘alcoholic’ can have. Which rather puts al-anon’s ‘support’ into context.

    (Repeats ‘prayer’ of deep gratitude to be in the age of the internet. How could you know what this deeply deceptive and (until recently and I give it 5 years) powerful entity was really about? I wept when I found the Orange Papers on the internet. I had thought I was going insane. They try to make you feel insane if you disagree with them. It is a terrible abuse. How many people have died in the course of this cult’s existence, sincerely believing that they were insane because they didn’t ‘get it and died an alcoholic death under that impression? It chills me. Every person who has died whilst under the brainwashing influence of this cult should have a posthumous apology from any one who would ever be prepared to take responsibility. I think the rehab end sounds the worst. I would rather be chained to a radiator in Beirut than have my brain and my sense of self ‘re-programmed”

    Is codependency another little ‘malady’ that can only be ‘cured’ by (let me guess) life time cult membership?

  • I for one have been to the meetings and the rehabs and tagged as a “normie”. I put my wife in a Rehab for 28 days. I did see her change and I was glad for it at first. I saw my wife graduate from a house wife, who I will admit had a major alcohol problem, to one of the AA elitists heavily involved with the various intergroups and service work.

    I then found the evil side of this program. They broke her will and spirit, they explained to her that if they did not do what they said she would be doomed to jails, institutions or death. They manipulated her self worth to the point of attempting suicide. Then since she lived and they could not use her as a statistic to be talked about in the rooms as a drunkalog, they swooped down on her and love bombed her into submission explaining that the Disease of Alcoholism can never be cured and she will just try to commit suicide again if she did not follow their simple program.

    They isolated me from her. They went to closed 4th Step meetings and decided for her the path that she should take. I have seen first hand what these untrained sociopaths do to people. They wanted to break her down to the lowest type of person they could and then build her back up.

    They had other motives. My wife’s sponsor had taken on all of the Intergroup duties for many years and she groomed her to take them over from her. She does not do them any more, my wife does, albeit, under the watchful eye of her sponsor. Her sponsor now has a puppet to do her bidding for her. She can not carry on a simple conversation with out every third sentence coming form the Big Book.

    We used to be able to go on vacations a few times a year, go to the movies, have personal time. But I realized that every time we would plan on doing that, her sponsor would call up and have an AA emergency that only my wife could handle. She has been brainwashed and needs major help because of it. Unfortunately she is being held hostage by telling her she will die if they do not do their bidding constantly.

    Thank you Bill W.

  • causeandeffect

    Primrose said “the fact that the sun comes up proves the cult right” is so true. They have almost air tight excuses for every failing of the program. We all know what they are. And almost everything that proves them wrong is out of site and out of mind. Yet every once in a while something happens that baffles them– like when someone stays sober, works the steps for years, has a sponsor and sponsees, all that’s expected, yet still commits suicide. And it still doesn’t sink in that all the answers to life and happiness and sobriety are NOT in the big book. At some point, AA would look at itself and ask the question why these things are happening, but they simply refuse to.

  • SoberPJ

    The pat response that sooths it all over so they don’t have to look is, “there but for the grace of god go I ” Translation – I’m still alive so there is no problem here.

  • causeandeffect

    Actually JR there is a recent email to Orange that describes this exactly:

    “It’s all bullshit…. and I paid the price for this quackery for far too many years. Sitting in AA my skin was crawling. I pretended to be …”happy, joyous and free”…. really, the ONLY thing that made me feel good about myself during my AA years was the POWER I held over the women I sponsored. I am sure I was not unique. In fact my sponsor completely controlled my life. This gave me license to exert my complete authority over the women I sponsored (the smart ones fired me)…… AA is one messed up place….. I was one sick puppy who thought all of this crapola was normal, and the only way to recover. I honestly don’t know what I was waiting for??? I felt so bad all of the time. For over 20 years I did this.”


    Now THAT’S rigorous honesty!!!!

  • Mona Lisa

    I can certainly say that, for myself, I joined because I am temperamentally somewhat of a rule follower and–at least up until the AA fiasco–I trusted the medical community to know what it was talking about. I believed that my addiction to alcohol required medical treatment so I showed up at a rehab center. There, I was told (by a two hatter addictions counselor of course) that AA was a necessary part of recovery and that studies had proven that AA was effective.

    So like a good little girl I did what I was told and I bought the whole damn thing, hook, line and sinker. I was pretty desperate. I responded well to the love bombing. I never had so many friends in my life and it was very seductive to feel that popular. It didn't occur to me that they weren't really friends until I left the group and lost them all instantly.

    Speaking of friends…I've recently reconnected with a non-AA friend with whom I had a falling out a few years before I left AA. Scratch that: she was not just a non-AA friend, she was my BEST friend, and I dumped her because (among other things) she complained about the fact that I was ignoring her in favor of my AA friends. I'll never forget what she said to me during the fight we had…she said "Mona, these people…they aren't your friends….they don't even KNOW you…" and I was enraged at the suggestion and cut of all contact with her immediately! To her credit, this friend has been very gracious about reconnecting but the damage is irreparable.

  • tintop

    stillsober, sad and true.

  • Mona Lisa

    Yes, the isolation from the rest of society is dangerous. Not only does it keep you from having contact with people who might see things more clearly, but it provides a strong incentive to stay in the group even if you come to the point where you want to leave.

    I think the worst situation is where you become romantically involved with, or marry, another AA member. Leaving then becomes all but impossible unless you want to sacrifice your primary love relationship. I'm currently in contact with a woman who is in that situation and it is the saddest thing. She calls me up crying about how she is being treated in the meetings (she requires pain meds and psych meds for a variety of issues…you can imagine how she's treated) but her boyfriend of 2 years is in the program and she feels that she can't completely stop going or she'll lose him.

  • Mike

    The handful of friends I made in aa were people I had something in common with, no different than in the real world. I learned the hard way to be wary of insta-friends. These are usually socially challenged people who end up weirding out on you sooner or later.

  • Z

    JR Harris: “I think the main reason people join it is so they can control other people, it makes them feel good about themselves.”

    Yes. And this week I’ve decided that the main thing verbal abuse goes at is peoples’ integrity. This would be why they have to project “dishonesty” into everyone.

  • 'chronically' used the term 'we' to describe people who are behind the mission statement of this blog. There is no 'we'. General cult questionaires have a variation of the question, 'Do members of the cult think they are special or different from the rest of society?' I would give a big fat yes to this.

    There is no 'we' because this particular cult offends in so many ways that it draws a broad (wrong word here) church.

    It is a cult.

    In the US it is unconstitutional, as detailed all over this blog.

    It promotes the pschological terror which is the rehab ('tough love') experience.

    It destoys families.

    I destroys marriages.

    It COVERS UP the sexual predators who have taken so many victims, affected their lives forever.

    It masquerades as a substance abuse program, covers up its abysmal success rate with lies, and prohibits substance abuse programs that have documented success rates.

    It intimidates anyone who questions it, and accuses them of 'killing alcoholics.

    It is offensive to anyone who is a Christian because it promotes false gods (doorknob?)

    It uses up tax dollars and pounds which might be better used to promote public knowledge of its tactics, to reduce its potential victims.

    Insurance companies fund it. Shareholders of insurance companies should be aware of this.

    That is just of the top of my head. So anyone opposed to any of the above might be a supporter of the mission statement of this blog. So I don't think being anti-aa is a 'we' or a 'cult'. I long for the day that this blog is no longer needed. I think that supporters of this blog have strength in their diversity. Once it is exposed it will wither, and I hope the victims find real help and mutual solace. No 'we'. (And I hope 'we' can correct each other if we are going of on any sort of nonfactual tangent. Eg, AA members are not responsible for the predators who are sent their way. But they are very very much responsible for covering it up and not WARNING people about what they might very well expect. See Catholic Church in Ireland.)

    No 'we'. Lots of different reasons to expose aa. And prevent others experiencing what all the different people who want to expose aa have endured.

  • hulahoop

    JR Harris: “I think the main reason people join it is so they can control other people, it makes them feel good about themselves.”

    I think the reason they join is to find and receive help for a problem. I do believe the majority of people who go voluntarily have the purest of motives. It isn’t until they become caught up in it all that they doing the things some of them do.

  • Martha

    "Our traditions are key elements in the ego deflation process necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. The first tradition reminds me not to take credit, or authority, for my recovery. …Deferring my personal desires for the greater good of group growth contributes toward A.A. unity that is central to allrecovery. It helps me to remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (1)[Italics mine]"

    1. Daily Reflections, (New York, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., 1990) 39.

    I know that some doctors who are treating patients for depression have advised them not to use AA precisely to avoid ego deflation. The first step where you are brainwashed to accept the myth of powerlessness is also the first step in tearing down one's ego. You see, Diablo a certain amount of ego is a very good and positive thing which is why other programs help you build ego stuff. Self will is also a virtue that AA shuns. AA's approach is garbage developed by a 1930.s religious cult.

  • Gunthar2000

    No aggressive tearing down of the ego in AA?

    "ALL OF A.A.'s Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our

    natural desires . . . they all deflate our egos. When it comes

    to ego deflation, few Steps are harder to take than Five. But

    scarcely any Step is more necessary to longtime sobriety

    and peace of mind than this one."

    ~12 Steps and 12 Traditions Page #55

  • Martha

    Diablo, I take 100% of the credit for my sobriety. Please explain why I am wrong to do that.

  • Mike

    I think the people who stay long-term use the halls as their social outlet and to feel like they have meaning in their life. The status afforded by length of sobriety is an effective, albeit cheap, way of earning respect that would likely have to be earned through hard work in the real world.

  • diablo

    @Martha, "Wrong" would not be the word I would say, Martha. You can take 100% credit for everything in your life. I just don't think that is a reality. Because reality is elusive, we never really know what is true or not. It is all a process.

    I think you just want to take 100% credit because your pissed off at AA, how about your family, friends, husband (boyfriend, fiance) if you worship a God ect…..Do you really think you are responsible 100%.

    I'm not!!!

    Oh, stop confusing me with others, please. I never said give AA the credit.

  • diablo


    Com'on give me more credit then that. Please really read my posts. Let down your judgmental curtain of me. I am trying to explain "my" experience here.

    I will do the same. It takes two, I know.

  • Gunthar2000

    Back peddling now I see.

  • diablo


    Try a different dictionary. Yours is worn out. Dude you are bigger then this.

  • Gunthar2000

    Then this?

  • Martha

    I refuse to give into the bs that says we can never be 100% certain about everything. There is a lot we can be certain about in life. Reality can be elusive, but we have ways of figuring things out. I take 100% of the credit fir my sobriety because I am 100% certain that it is true. I do get validation and support from people around me, but in the end keeping myself sober is 100% my job. It is not relevant that you think I am not 100% responsible.

    I am matter of factually angry about what AA does to people and I am grateful that I never got sucked in that far. Also it will get you nowhere here to play the "you are just angry" card. Most of us accept that anger is natural, normal and healthy human emotion. It motivates us to make changes. I know the AA line is to discourage anger and tell folks it is wrong to be be angry. But you know what? I am 100% certain that it is okay to be angry.

    On the issue reality being elusive please listen to a part of this poem by Tim Minchin where he demolishes the myth that we really cannot know what is certain:

  • stillsober

    The most dangerous aspect of AA was the isolation from the rest of the world. The group I was in encouraged me to cut all ties with my friends and family and rely completely on the group. Obviously, it’s a good idea to stop hanging out with drinking buddies when you’re getting sober, but that doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from everyone else in your life.

    Most people who come into AA are pretty vulnerable, and at first it seems like a great idea to let someone else run your life for you since you’ve obviously completely screwed it up. However, it’s a dangerous game to completely hand over control of your life, and I think sponsorship is well-intentioned but seriously flawed.

  • diablo

    @ Martha,

    I don't play any AA tapes in my head, when I am talking. On the other hand you seem to be immersed in the lingo. Just from a basic Psych 101 course would lend you to believe you are not 100% responsible for anything. There are way to many contingencies to deal with. It is all well an good that you want to say this though.

    I am not sure about your rant on anger. AA was never really talking about anger I felt. It was uncontrolled rage, self-loathing I thought they were talking about. You are absolutely right anger is a normal emotion, like love. It was when it morphs into something perverted that we see consequences.

    So I won't be playing any cards.

    Martha, you keep jumping to conclusions about me, stop with your brainwashed, cult speeches, please. You sound so scripted it is freaky.

  • Martha

    Oy vey, Diablo what an amateur attempt to undermine me. Obviously your correspondence course in psychology did not teach you very much. I have more responsibility in my life than I could explain to you and I have more self confidence in the tip of my finger than you have in you whole body.

    We are succeeding in our efforts and your attempts to derail us will not work.

  • Mike

    Boy meets girl on AA campus, double the drama, double the neurosis. )-:~

  • Tony J

    Martha :

    "We are succeeding in our efforts and your attempts to derail us will not work."

    Yes you are,


    Muckraker :

    1.(US) One who investigates and exposes issues of corruption that often violate widely held values; e.g. one who exposes political corruption or the poor conditions in prisons.

    You are certainly muckraking.

    What you are not doing is providing a solution to the alcoholic who still suffers.

    At the end of the day , AA will be there for those who need it.

    Of course if you can filter out some of the moderate and heavy drinkers for us, that would be fine.

  • Tony J

    C+E :

    Maybe, but no one here ever seems to talk about them.

    If you did that instead of attack people you might get some respect.

    And even if not, you'd manage to help someone.

  • diablo

    @Martha, you know what. I get it, you think you are on to something here big or at least it is going to be and you don't want me to undermine it.

    Well let me help you right now, I am not trying to start a conspiracy here or a invisible revolution, OTAY.

    I have been here 4 days just sharing some thoughts. Got rude with RJ, apologized and moved on. I am getting ready for the more intellectual debates coming hopefully as soon as I can get my data base up to snuff with my links.

    Please lets not make this personal (even though it is, I know) lets not take it personal.

    I do not have this secret mission to disrupt this site, all I am doing is presenting a different view.

    That also doesn't mean that I won't agree with you on things, I probably will. I to have stopped going to AA, for my reasons.

  • hulahoop

    I’ll never forget what she said to me during the fight we had…she said “Mona, these people…they aren’t your friends….they don’t even KNOW you…” and I was enraged at the suggestion and cut of all contact with her immediately!

    I said that to someone very recently. Friendship, like any other relationship, has to have time to develop. Otherwise they are acquaintances. Yep, AA is an instant cure for being lonely. Instant friends, instant love, instant empathy and sympathy. The people who actually stood that by that person, who actually truly loved that person, end up getting the short end of it “because they don’t understand.”

    It is most frustrating to try to get someone to at least ponder the thought that all those wonderful, groovy people who are their new friends will drop them like a hot potato if they leave. What else do you have in common with them anyway when it really comes down to it?

    I had my eyes opened when a lady who wanted to be my sponsor invited me to an AA event. She said she would call later that week with the details. I was excited about it and really wanted to go. I never heard from her. She did email to apologize. My attitude was “if you want to be my sponsor you must show me you have something I want. I do not want someone who does not keep their word to be my sponsor.” I know it seems like a minor issue. She repeated this same behavior a few more times. She wasn’t the only who didn’t follow through on what they said they would do. I am a huge believer in people keeping their word and following through. It tells me a lot about a person when they don’t. It’s easy to talk all that smack in the rooms because most people have no idea how you really act when you out of them.

    Also, I travel for a living. I am on the road pretty much all of the time. When people ask me what I want to do for my vacation, I say, “Staycation. I want to go home.” Anyway, people would be all over me the first time I attended a meeting in a new place. As soon as they found it wasn’t my first rodeo and I wasn’t going to be back in a few weeks, it was over. What possible benefit could I offer when I was just blowing through town? Everyone was nice to me. But it wasn’t the same.

  • AnnaZed

    "If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the

    brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal

    men, but for alcoholics these things are poison."

    ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 1st. Edition,

    How It Works, pg. 66~

  • tintop

    Those poeple are not your friends. They are strangers. At the very best, they are well meaning strangers who do not have bad intentions. Most of them are too concerned with their own problems to have very much time for other people.
    Also, they are quite unlikely to give good advice.

    In that respect – and other respects – AA is like a beer hall without beer.

  • Rick045

    @MonaLisa, I wasn’t necessarily much of a rule follower, but I was extremely naive when it came to trusting those professionals in the medical community. It was always their advice that I remembered whenever I had doubts about what I was encountering in the rooms, (and I always had some degree of doubt). I did many of the same things you describe, including replacing those old friends with insta-friends in the rooms.

    I can’t blame those professionals for the vulnerable shape I was in when I turned to them, but I do blame them for taking advantage of that vulnerability. I don’t know of any other disease that gets treated by turning people over to a room full of rank amateurs who have no interest or expertise in anything except indoctrinating others into their particular belief system.
    It took me a few years to find my way to a competent therapist that led to a proper diagnosis of my depression. It was only then that I began to fully appreciate the difference between a competent professional and that peculiar breed of scum known as a two-hatter.

  • Mike

    Free of anger? I guess Jesus was being his old dubiously luxurious self when he overturned the money-changer's tables in the temple. I hope he called his sponsor later that day.

  • hulahoop

    I don’t know of any other disease that gets treated by turning people over to a room full of rank amateurs who have no interest or expertise in anything except indoctrinating others into their particular belief system.

    With no supervision required.

  • I missed out the fact that the medical community have a great deal to answer for. Who is not brought up to respect the doctor?

  • Martha

    @AnnaZed some of the steppers are incapable of rigorous honesty. even when you postv proof with links that say AA wants to deflate egos, demonize anger and even brainstorms (thinking) they try to deny it.

    @ Tony saying that we will harm people by diverting them from AA ignores AA's less than 5% success rate. Not to mention the tremendous harm done by spreading the myth of being powerless.

    Can one of the AA defenders just try to justify the idea that alcoholics should not be angry or why alcoholics should refrain from brainstorms. Talk about stinking thinking!

  • Acacia H


    Did'nt you know that alcoholics are unbalanced, so therefore we can't afford that luxury of anger. Apparently it will lead to drinking.

  • causeandeffect

    JR, there are also the members who work the steps, have a sponsor, sponsees, do all that's expected of them, and still commit suicide. Their death will be dismissed as not having been honest, holding a resentment, or some other trivial excuse. Since the claim is that the big book holds all the answers to life, they are looking for answers where really are none that address their specific nightmares. I'm sure many times it's because they are supposed to find their (invariably) part in something they really couldn't have any control over such as abuse when they were children. They never feel good about themselves in AA. It's tragic.

  • causeandeffect

    Diablo, I have seen it. I don't pretend to know why they commit suicide but I'm pretty sure it's not that they didn't work a thorough 5th step. It was the flippant attitude that it was treated with in AA that I objected to. Have you never heard people say "All the answers to life are in the big book"? It's a common slogan that's said everywhere. I was almost a casualty when I was told to quit taking my doctor prescribed meds. Perhaps that's not sensational, probably most would not have noticed me gone that early in the game. I'm not here just to complain about myself, I really can handle some abuse. It's preventing others from being harmed that I'm concerned about. I assure you, it's about concern and bringing about change, not about bitching about my experiences.

  • diablo

    Hey, guess what???? If you don’t want to feel isolated switch your group, stand up for yourself, read the Big Book, stop being dependent (obsessively) on people, move, find friends that endorse “you” ect……
    Ya know I have been to meetings/groups I thought were seriously deranged, I left and never went back, i found another meeting/group. The one I liked that favored my type of personality.

  • diablo

    If you want to understand your ego and its function, i would not suggest you go to AA.
    As far as AA tearing down your, “Ego”. There can be a valid point made I presume. Though if you were to read the book AA , I don’t believe there is any aggressive tearing going on concerning the ego. Now, if you want to gather all your information about AA through the social activities of AA, Yes I could see how, “a tearing sensation” would be felt.

  • Gunthar2000

    Hey, guess what???? I just decided to leave AA entirely and be done with all of the crazy fuckin’ people period.

    Fuck your book!
    Fuck your religious cult!
    And fuck you!

  • diablo

    Martha, that is a perception you have and the same to Gunthar. I did not feel that way while reading AA’s material. Once I stopped reading and began to mingle with the people of AA, well I met all types.
    I separated AA unconsciously at first then with reason later on. I went to Speaker Meeting, Big Book studies and Step meeting exclusively. I wanted to learn and I was ready. The actual material AA supplied for learning was limited in it’s professional teaching. Every learned person knows this but it gave me a foundation to build on.
    I had limited friends and stayed out of the politics and personal activities of AA.
    Bill and Bob found something that could work with the alcoholic, yet Churches, 30-90 Treatment Centers work also and the “old fashion epiphany” works too.
    It is easy to get caught up in all the “people” in AA, sponsors, chair people, service type folks, old-timers ect…and let them influence you with there “opinions”. Everybody knows the secrete to a successful life, as a drunk.
    There is a large number of people today in AA that have come from a Treatment Center that was based on AA. This language you folks speak of, to be honest I have not heard most of it. But then again I did not live in AA. I also did not go through a Treatment Center. I came in off the street under my own will, I made the decision to stay and I made the decision to leave 23 years later. That was 5 years ago.
    I never once felt or understood at any time that my ego was being torn down or under attack.

  • Gunthar2000

    Why would anyone bother to read anything diablo has to say?
    This person is just a troll who needs attention. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give it to him.
    The only thing trolls get from me is a big fat FUCK YOU!

  • causeandeffect

    Diablo said: “I never once felt or understood at any time that my ego was being torn down or under attack.” Perhaps it’s because bill wilson’s stereotype fits you.

  • diablo

    @Martha, that was awesome thanks. Heard about this Tim Minchin guy but never took the time.
    ….and yes I get it!!!!1

  • causeandeffect

    There are addiction recovery resources on the right side of the page

  • Acacia H

    Few people have been more victimized by resentment than have we alcoholics. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well nursed -grudge could make us miserably ineffective. Nor were we skilful in seperating justified from justified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely. These “dry benders” often led straight to the bottle.

    As Bill sees it, pg. 179

  • Acacia H

    Speak for ya self BW!

  • One of the attractions to AA is the low monetary cost it provides to the member, but does that identify the real cost? Market forces dictate that it must have a some form of “cost” associated with it. This “cost” can be measured in many other ways than money. AA does make people feel good about themselves and that is where the “cost” comes in to play because the “cost” is eventually converted in to a “payback” for someone. Per AA literature “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship”, “Sponsorship also offers the satisfaction that comes from assuming responsibility for someone other than oneself”. The “cost” which comes as a form of “payback” for the Sponsor and originates as a “cost” to the Sponcee. It is this “cost” that can be higher than any monetary value because it could be someones life.

    The rooms are full of stories about people who quit the program and end up killing themselves or dying in an Alcohol related manner. Relapse is expected for many members. They are not counted in the success rate column of AA. There is no way to tell what the success rate really is. For the Sponsor to receive his “payback” from the “cost” paid by the Sponcee, each Sponsor must have many Sponcee’s to support them. This is usually when the Sponsor says he “gets it” and the “Miracle” happens.

    The Sponsor is practicing psychology with no training, they do not know if the Sponcee is Bipolar or Schizophrenic. There is a real danger that they will make a mistake and push them over the edge. It will then be blamed on the fact that the Sponcee is an Alcoholic and did not “get it”. They do not look for any other reasons. Since they do not look for any other reason they can not stop it from happening again if it was caused by the actions of the untrained Sponsor’s attempt at psychology.

    When a person goes into a Rehab, they realize that the person may become suicidal and have processes in place to prevent that. They are licensed and trained professionals and are held responsible. If anything happens to the patient, they will loose their license and be sued. There will also be a full investigation into the death. In you have Sponsors practicing psychology without a license, so they can not loose it if they make a mistake. The AA member who died is automatically labeled an “Alcoholic” and there is no or minimal investigation. AA circumvents the law by stating it is a self help group and they are not practicing psychology.

    I think what is needed is that AA and Sponsors in particular, should be made accountable for their actions. This will force them to put checks and balances in for what they do. It would only take one or two arrests or lawsuits for Practicing Psychology without a License to put a quick stop to these practices.

  • diablo

    @JR and causeandeffect,
    It says a lot about the both of you when you can so flippantly talk about suicide and what causes one to commit the act.
    This is one of the most irresponsible posting logs I have seen in some time. Neither of you have any idea why someone would commit suicide nor as it seems have any citation to back up what your so cavalierly saying.
    Who or what claimed the Big Book has all the answers.
    Is this the kind of posting I can look forward to, Ben Franklin, the guy who said, “we back up what we say”.
    Come on folks we can do better then this sensationalizing.

  • I don’t see anyone treating the many (and unrecorded) suicides in this entity as any thing other than profoundly tragic. What other organisation would not feel any responsibility for at least RECORDING the suicides of their members? Would anyone disagree that suicides are a feature of this program?

    I would particularly like to know more about the number of suicides in rehab. And the role of whichever step it is where one person has to read out their ‘sins’ and face a group criticism session. Known as ‘tough love’ in the entity, but ‘destruction of self’ under other brainwashing headings.

    If everyone would agree that suicides under any circumstances is profoundly tragic, why do AA not even keep accurate records of them?

  • causeandeffect

    Prim, I wouldn’t have even been a statistic. Nor would have JR’s wife if she had succeeded.

  • causeandeffect

    I’m out

  • diablo

    what I hear people say in AA at times is of no consequence at times just like at work or other gatherings.
    I will not argue with you about some people who happen to attend AA saying irresponsible things. I will say this and I quote,” never in any of my homegroups did anyone tell someone else to stop taking any medication”. We understood we are not doctors and to tell on myself, I took anti-depressants.
    I to have witnessed the aftermath of a suicde and have gone to funerals. I don’t know if I am flippant or I have become de-sensitized. AA can do that I’m sad to say.

  • AllyB

    @ diablo "It says a lot about the both of you when you can so flippantly talk about suicide and what causes one to commit the act.

    This is one of the most irresponsible posting logs I have seen in some time. Neither of you have any idea why someone would commit suicide nor as it seems have any citation to back up what your so cavalierly saying.

    Who or what claimed the Big Book has all the answers.

    Is this the kind of posting I can look forward to, Ben Franklin, the guy who said, “we back up what we say”.

    Come on folks we can do better then this sensationalizing."

    Just checking, but yup, this is the thread on which I posted about my uncle's death. his suicide attempt, the appalling treatment he received after he survived it, the more and more damaged he became as he came to believe in his powerlessness. How his partner was preyed upon in her groups, how nobody there ever held anybody accountable. How my toddler cousin has been left fatherless.

    I think that you need to go take a looooooonnnnng, hard look in the mirror dude. Because the way you've been talking so flippantly, as if your experiences and abilities invalidate the realities of those who died or had their lives ruined, says a lot about you.

  • Mike

    @diablo, aa has gotten even worse since you left 5 years ago. I suggest you go back and see for yourself. Try 45 meetings in 22.5 days.

  • Gunthar2000

    @Martha… It amazes me how many people are coming forward with the truth about AA.

  • Martha

    The steppers watch powerlessly as this site continues to grow. On the one hand they are dismissive and on the other hand they say we are harming people by validating their doubts about AA. They lose sight of the fact that many doctors now send people to SMART and other resources and that AA is dying because of its inherent flaws.

    The days when AA went unchallenged are over. What ST and the OP does actually can save the lives of people who AA has failed. When a newcomer in AA does not “get it”, when the steps fail for them AA says they are doomed. These counter AA sites give them hope where once there was none.

    Here is on letter to Orange from a few days ago that shows the positive impact of sites like this one:


    I’m Sarah and I’m an adult Alcoholic with the capacity to CHOOSE whether to drink or not drink

    Thank you so much for telling the TRUTH about AA.

    I have been sober over a year now.. I was ordered into alcohol treatment and AA by the courts after a drunk and disorderly charge. My drinking was never a daily occurrence but when I did drink.. I always binge drank. I knew before I ever got into trouble that I had a problem so I will give credit for the trouble leading me to finally being sick of it and stopping my drinking… I STOPPED MY DRINKING… not AA… not the courts… not treatment. The only role those played in my stopping was keeping me accountable through meeting slips and piss tests… otherwise I did the work and I make the choice… oh… but according to AA I’M WRONG!”

  • Found this is a great article… Summarizing the break down process. The codependency issue I feel is highly important as belief in it strips the natural support systems away precisely when it is needed most. One of the most hurtful and idiotic beliefs out there is that it is wrong to care or a disease to love.

  • hulahoop

    Martha says, The days when AA went unchallenged are over. What ST and the OP does actually can save the lives of people who AA has failed. When a newcomer in AA does not “get it”, when the steps fail for them AA says they are doomed. These counter AA sites give them hope where once there was none.

    Yes ma’am. Gives me hope too. Good lord, let them go to AA if they must…but let them know there are plenty of great alternatives. AA is not the only game in town and should not be treated as such. My hope is the real alternatives will gain favor in the court of public opinion and contine to grow. AA deceives people on a daily basis.

  • Matha- I just read your story on orange-papers. I am so glad you have found yourself here to ST. I love your fiesty way!
    Welcome! Yea. I am so happy to be here too.
    Im going to have an ex -stepper support meeting really soon. Sue…Reader… are you ready?

    HI Im Massive and I’m a survivor of AA. LOL No Sexual Predators Allowed. Period.

  • Sue


    I just saw your post. The answer is “Yes”.

  • wramoic

    HI – I’ve been in AA for 17 months or so and just recently filed for divorce after many failed attempts with marriage counselling –
    Since I filed for divorce I have been drinking and its all about my ego
    I am an engineer and paradoxically succeeding (professionally) during this – although my outer being is a shell – my ego is supporting it for appearances only
    I understand this disease and am promising myself I won’t drink after this business trip – I expect to be in court for my DUI and divorce around the same time – what a fucking perfect example – I hate I am alcoholic – they should abort us on birth (yeah I think its genetic)

  • humanspirit


    I’m not entirely clear what you’re saying here. Do you really think that the fact you’re drinking and getting divorced is all about your “ego”, or are you being ironic? If you really think you should have been aborted (which obviously would have had to happen before birth) it sounds as if your ego needs some serious bolstering. It also sounds as if, whichever way it is, AA is not doing you much good.

  • SoberPJ

    wramoic .. I have seen this before in AA. You are confused. You are a well educated and intelligent person that is going through a rough patch in life. Get out of AA and go somewhere that will empower you, not feed your depression. Studies have shown that AA causes depression and that may be happening with you. It is very subtle. You are not powerless. Were you powerless when you achieved your degree, or resolved huge and thorny problems on the job? I’ll answer for you- No! It has nothing to do with your ego. It has to do with ingesting an addictive substance that causes depression. Make a decision to stop drinking now and stick to it. Find a SMART meeting or get online and start talking to people that aren’t powerless or believe that bullshit. You can do this !

  • Hi wramoic,

    I don’t know your story, but I have researched heavily what happens when an AA member finds a “high value” “functional alcoholic” which may apply to you. See if this fits, you don’t have to reply. Just look for the similarities, not the differences.

    – The functional alcoholic is identified as a prospect by another member of AA or courts.
    – The AA members find out everything they can about the prospect, usually through the spouse.
    – It is suggested through the spouse that the functional alcoholic will end up in jails,institutions or death if they do not help them and they should join AA or Al-Anon.
    – The spouse starts to question the relationship with the help of AA or Al-Anon.
    – The prospect is made to think up all of the possible consequences of their drinking and usually tries to apologize to the spouse.
    – What was functional, now becomes un-functional because of guilt and the spouse is told that the prospect will end up in jail, institutions or death if they don’t follow their instructions.
    – Possible 28 day Rehab is discussed, if it is taken it is a financial hardship on the family unit and causes more problems.
    – The prospect relapses due to guilt and may even get a DUI causing the family unit to be weakened even more.
    – The AA members “suggest” (but they will never admit it) that a divorce is in order.
    – A Divorce Lawyer is “suggested” (but they will never admit it) that knows Alcoholics.
    – A Real Estate Agent is “suggested” (but they will never admit it) that knows Alcoholics to estimate the value of the home if there is one.
    – The prospect becomes forever grateful to AA and looks for their own prospect to do the same thing to so they can “help” them, because you can’t have it unless you give it away.

    Like I say this may not be your story, but it is the common one. If this is you, would it have happened this way if you never found AA to “help” you, or would you still be a “highly functional” alcoholic with a wife, house and money? Did you start drinking more after AA, or did they just tell you that you never got caught?

    If this profile fits you, you have been made to “hit bottom” by the spin dry manual, the “Big Book” by Bill Wilson and you are not alone. Run from AA and please do not do this to anyone else to “help” them.

  • wramoic,

    It’s not genetic. It’s possible to be predisposed, but you are not born with the “disease of alcoholism.” You are born with a healthy free will and a strong life force. And AA’s teachings on the “ego” are crazymaking, debasing and soul crushing.

    I hope you can find a counselor right away who has no ties to regressive 12-Step recovery quackery, which seems like it is exacerbating your despair. There are sane people out there who can help you regain some perspective on your situation and guide you through this. Please look at our list of resources. Maybe something there can help point you in a good direction — something that makes sense to you.

  • Swamibedpan

    here is a list of three things whose existence has never been proven.
    The spiritual disease of alcoholism.
    AA has failed to provide a single shred of evidence for the existence of such a thing as a spiritual disease for going on 7 decades. I suggest it never existed anywhere except within the demented imaginations of the founders of aa.
    If you tackle the drink problem with the common sense of an engineer I am sure you will overcome it.

  • Betty

    I agree with what the others have already said. You are not diseased, powerless, or hopeless. AA wants you to believe that you have no control over your own life, cannot make your own choices, and can never achieve any level of success without them. You can and you will if you get out of there. Find something that can help you regain the power, beauty, and self worth that has been taken from you in those rooms. Of course you feel depressed and without hope and of course you are cursing your existence right now…the horrifying, soul crushing mind-fuck of AA coupled with the depressant alcohol is the reason-not your ego. You have the power to change course. Make a decision to stop drinking and get the hell away from AA.

  • disclosure

    I came here after 15 years in AA and tried HAMS harm reduction. (love it)
    AA’s feed on each others weakness and find comfort in the insanity act. I used to buy into that crap with the overdone introspection self examination game.
    Watch out if you stay in AA. A guy with a job is quite a catch around some of those AA clubs. And remember one in every three AA members has an STD.
    Just sayin… Don’t let that power greater than yourself be a bad rash.
    Also, ask yourself this; who would benefit from you keeping your ego small?

  • wramoic says

    dont drink the koolaid. Your not powerless. Listen to Hams Harm Reduction. Smart REcovery for sane choices.

  • causeandeffect

    wramoic, here’s some information you desperately need to know right now. Please pay attention to this.




    Please keep in mind that there are many here who have spent decades in AA who completely agree with what’s in the above links. Please don’t resort to superstitious faith healing for a situation as serious as what you are going through. AA does not have any real answers for you. Wishing you the best.

  • Kurt

    And this is an educated person who wrote this article?

  • MidWestWingedOne

    My husband uses AA and meetings INSTEAD of relating to his family. He says he’s going to meetings 5 times a week for the rest of his life. I’m glad he’s not drinking – but 25 years of AA – you’d think we’d see some behavior changes at home. He still rages, still uses sarcasm & insults, argues at every little thing, is short tempered. He retreats to a mtg at the drop of a hat. His sponsor is keeping him sick and he’s entire social circle is AA meetings only – we tried meeting these people and inviting them into our home and family – with bad results. AA is not this way – I think it’s his sponsor possessing him.