Thinking in Circles

When last we left off, we were taking an exam to determine whether or not we are real alcoholics. Among the things learned were, if a person can stop drinking on their own for a certain period of time, they are not an alcoholic:

This person….can also stop or moderate, although they may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention. Have you found a sufficient reason to quit and has that reason kept you sober or clean? *Note: If you can answer “YES” to this question, you are NOT an alcoholic or addict!

This brings us to Dave C., an AA and participant over at the Friends of Bill forum. Dave, who has been diligently working the steps, but has yet to have his own white light experience, asks:

“I have been wondering this for some time. I had a spiritual awakening, followed by a relapse 2 months later, followed by a 14 year dry drunk, got heavily involved in meetings and the steps and quiet times and can honestly say I havent [sic] felt my makers presence, but have had plenty of improved periods of perspective I’d call it, but no contact with H.P. Has anyone here had a long period of dry drunk after a relapse and had another spiritual awakening? I’d love to hear about it. I could use some advice in this.”

The most obvious piece of advice to me would be for him to take some belladonna. The second bit of advice should have been that he is not really an alcoholic, since he was able to quit on his own for fourteen years. Of course, that is not how it really works. In AA, if you can quit on your own for any period of time, you were never really an alcoholic. Unless, of course, if you come back to AA, in which case you were a ‘dry drunk’. Does this make sense? Of course it doesn’t. It is just another piece of circular logic one is subjected to when entering the rooms of AA.

  • DeConstructor

    So we have this peculiar little cult, that has declared "alcoholism" a "disease", even though their own prophet, seer, and revelator, Bill Wilson specifically stated it was NOT a disease.

    So we have a situation of a religious cult declaring someting a "disease" btw adding the terms "terminal, progressive, and incurable", selling this concept to alleged science based medicine, and in all reality, declaring they are THE ONLY CURE.

    I am still amazed that they have talked insurance to pay for 12 step "treatment",  and even more amazed with their ever changing apologist theology that they could ever get ANY church to let them use their facilities.

  • Mona Lisa

    Poor Dave C. He has a spiritual awakening that doesn't keep him sober. He stays sober 14 years without meetings, yet calls those years a "dry drunk"…why? Who convinced him that his sobriety was no good, that he needed meetings?

    I'm afraid someone is going to tell him that he didn't REALLY have a spiritual awakening, because he COULDN'T have had one, because you can only get one from working the steps, which he didn't do, so he couldn't have had one (but then again, Bill W couldn't have had one either, because he also hadn't worked the steps, because there weren't steps yet, and besides he was drugged out of his gourd).

    Wait a minute. My head is spinning. I think I am going to throw up.

  • This is an awesome post. And though yes it is ridiculous thinking/reasoning, I bought it almost 100 perscent for fucking years. Man, that Bill W, his spiritual awakening, the belladonna, the whole fucking thing. The fact that I was involved with this. Just fucking crazy.

  • SoberPJ

    @ML … omg.. I hadn't seen this post. You are soooo right and it adds one more huge fallacy to this shit. People have said, " you may not get a white light experience like Bill Wilson did from working the steps. Your's may be a gradual spiritual awakening from working the steps over time." Of course I can't get a white light experience, I didn't take Belledona ! That part I figured out myself, but your observation about how Bill's experience had nothing to do with the steps because they weren't written when he hallucinated had completely escaped me ! Ahhhhhhhhhh. So two questions –

    1. Why is a spiritual experience even necessary in relation to the program, because Bill's was way before the program.

    2. How does the program even relate to the white light experience he had before the program?

    Gawd… the reasoning seems to go something like, " I had a spiritual experience and I got sober. Now I need to create or steal a program that helps people have a spiritual experience so they can get sober." He didn't do a moral inventory to get sober or see the light. He didn't make amends to see the light. He made no lists or helped anybody else for his trip the light fantastic experience. He supposedly took a snake oil Belledona elixir and experienced a replica of his grandfathers spiritual experience. I wonder if the white light thing was bullshit too? I wouldn't be a bit surprised.. in fact, it would fit the pattern of deceit.

  • The American Medical Adssociation in 1956 declared addiction to alcohol and other drugs a disease. 250,000-500,000 doctors. The APA followed suit four years later in 1960.

  • Rick045

    “The American Medical Adssociation in 1956 declared addiction to alcohol and other drugs a disease. 250,000-500,000 doctors.”

    Only by a vote after years of intense lobbying by AA members and front groups. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with what the AMA originally said about the big book in 1939,

    “JAMA Big Book Review, 1939
    From The Journal of the American Medical Association
    Oct.14, 1939
    The seriousness of the psychiatric and social problem represented by addiction to alcohol is generally underestimated by those not intimately familiar with the tragedies in the families of victims or the resistance addicts offer to any effective treatment.
    Many psychiatrists regard addiction to alcohol as having a more pessimistic prognosis than schizophrenia. For many years the public was beguiled into believing that short courses of enforced abstinence and catharsis in “institutes” and “rest homes” would do the trick, but now that the failure of such temporising has become common knowledge, a considerable number of other forms of quack treatment have spring up.
    The book under review is a curious combination of organising propaganda and religious exhortation. It is in no sense a scientific book, although it is introduced by a letter from a physician who claims to know some of the anonymous contributors who have been “cured” of addiction to alcohol and have joined together in an organisation which would save other addicts by a kind of religious conversion. The book contains instructions as to how to intrigue the alcoholic addict into acceptance of divine guidance in place of alcohol in terms strongly reminiscent of Dale Carnegie and the adherents of the Buchman (“Oxford”) movement.
    The one valid thing in the book is the recognition of the seriousness of addiction to alcohol. Other than this, the book has no scientific merit or interest.”–big-book–review.html

  • causeandeffect

    HI Francis
    Are you aware of how alcoholism was declared to be a disease?

  • Interesting website you have there, Francis.

    I wonder if the AMA stands behind everything it declared in 1956.

  • Martha

    “Some of us had already walked far over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith. The outlines and the promise of the New Land had brought lustre to tired eyes and fresh courage to flagging spirits. Friendly hands stretched out in welcome. We were grateful that Reason had brought us so far. But somehow, we couldn’t quite step ashore. Perhaps we had been leaning too heavily on Reason that last mile and did not like to lose our support.”
    Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, “We Agnostics”, Page 53.

    If you just sop using reason you will get the program.

  • hulahoop

    Francis McAnarney says The American Medical Adssociation in 1956 declared addiction to alcohol and other drugs a disease. 250,000-500,000 doctors. The APA followed suit four years later in 1960.

    Hi Francis. Are there any figures on how many of those doctors would stand to gain in some way (like financially) if addiction to alcoholism and other drugs were declared a disease? Are there any records on financial donations made by AA members (anonymously of course) to these foundations? Did these foundations or organizations accept contributions back then? I don’t know and I am asking if you do. I don’t know what happened back in the day. Do you think it is on coincidence or on purpose that AA and the American Medical Association and the APA (American Psychological Association) declared addiction to be a disease? Why did you spell out American Medical Association while abbreviating APA ( American Psychological Association)? Why do the majority of doctors and psychologists contine to send people to a program that does not work for the majority of people who try it?

    What I do know is rehab and AA are big business now. Big, big business now. A lot of the reason people like me ended up walking through the doors of AA is because my health insurance provider will not pay for rehab. Okay…truthfully they will. My copay is $500.00 American dollars a day. That is a lot of copay for someone like me. I called a non twelve 12 step program recently that is highly recommended only to find out they charge $12,500.00 for a six week program. That is small potatoes compared to most of the others I’ve seen.

    It seems like both organizations had a crystal ball or ouija board back in the day to tell them what the future would bring.

  • AnnaZed

    I am not sure if I would consult Francis for spiritual guidance but I really like her wig.

  • AnnaZed

    I wonder though how uncomfortable it must be to wear a wig and two hats all at the same time:

  • Martha

    Which other diseases get treated by attending meetings, Francis? Also if it is a disease why not acknowledge that we now have a very effective pill, Nalexarone to treat it? IMHO drinking and alcoholism is a behavior. It is a choice over which nobody is powerless. Once you have stopped drinking you have achieved sobriety.

  • AnnaZed

    Interestingly, this licensing body (the Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board or MSAPCB) has her on a list of Professionals No Longer Credentialed by the MSAPCB a thing I have never even seen or heard of. Usually these 2-hater credentialing entitles will happily lend a veneer of professionalism to any 12-step slogan spouter with $110 dollars and a dream. I wonder what on earth you have to do to get uncredentialed by one of them?

  • Martha

    Correction: Naloxone

  • hulahoop

    @ Anna I wonder though how uncomfortable it must be to wear a wig and two hats all at the same time:

    I’ll admit at first I did not click on the link because my Internet connection SUCKS (did I mention it SUCKS?). I couldn’t help myself after your snarky comment about her wig because I do love snark and bad wigs as long as I am not wearing one myself.

    Please, in the name of charity, tell me what her deal is. What is she trying to sell? What is the deal on linked in? I do not have fifteen hours of my life to devote to this. That is appoximately how much time it takes for a new webpage to load.

    Thanks in advance.

  • hulahoop

    PS…can you post a link to the wig?

  • AnnaZed

    I think I might have to venture into snaky territory and conjecture that given that Francis began her secondary education in 1971 that picture of the sexy woman in the blond wig could not possibly be a picture of Francis herself.

    True, it took Francis until 1988 to graduate, but that doesn’t actually make a person younger than her peers who graduated in 1978.

    I wonder what the purpose of posting the picture of the pretty air-brushed young woman in the wig on her home page even is. Is it some sort of fantasy 13-stepping maybe?

  • hulahoop

    @ Anna – Snaky or snarkey? I don’t like snakes much but I do enjoy snark more than a person should.

  • AnnaZed

    That would be “snarkey.” I stand corrected.

  • Lucy

    In a lecture in my treatment centera, one of the counselors put up a slide of a normal brain beside an alcoholic brain. The counselor pointed to the alcoholic brain’s quite obvious lesions and told us that those lesions were why we drank.

    A few months later, I saw a neurologist about my lifelong migraines. I told her migraines ran in my family and she did a CT Scan which did indeed show some congenital problems associated with migraines.

    I was so afraid to take drugs that would “make me” drink that I confessed my alcoholism and told her about those slides I saw in treatment. I told her that the professionals had said that alcoholics have abnormal brains.

    She picked up a book which had the very slides that counselor had used and showed me that under the slides it said. “Normal Brain” and “Brain with late stage alcoholism.”
    She said that the lesions in the slide were caused by drinking. The lesions didn’t cause the drinking.

    It’s that kind of blurring of facts that AA members use to take a grain of truth and bend it to suite their own picture of reality. It’s also the anecdote I remember when a drug and alcohol counselor talks about treating a “disease.”

  • Martha

    Some of the people who claim to be certified as addiction specialists have their reading of the Big Book and an ability to spout slogans as their only qualification. The ones I met have very thin skins and are more intolerant of questioning the AA religion than the average stepper. These are the people who if they work in a rehab facility will power trip, gaslight and manipulate others and treat them like inmates in a prison. As control freaks go these are among the worst and most dangerous.

  • Martha

    BTW it was one of these so called “certified” types who tried to convince me that I was “sicker than I admitted” and that I need God to take over for me. When I told him that I am both genetically and philosophically a non controllable human being he said “want a bet?” This creep worked at a rehab center.

  • Lucy

    Hula – if you can’t see the wig, just imagine the godawful 70s shag hair of Florence Henderson in the original Brady Bunch, have Billy Idol dye it, and place it on top of (not really on) the head of a teenager in Children of the Corn.

  • Just in case anyone was really wondering, that’s not Ms. McAnarney… It’s just the picture of the lady on the WebSite Tonight ™ template…

    Click “get started” then choose “health and fitness” — it’s the template on the top right.

  • Lucy

    You mean I could use it for my Gravatar?

  • I think they have it so that you can’t pull the image off… but if you have photoshop?

  • hulahoop

    I am in Internet hell. Is there a meeting for that? Never mind…I am certain there is.

  • Lucy

    I’m just kind of stunned that anyone would want to use it.

  • AnnaZed

    I’m with Lucy in sheer amazement that one would sally forth with wig lady as one’s image, but Francis is probably about 64 years old and has been ejected from the MSAPCB so cut her some slack.

  • You mean I won’t look like that if I go to AA? Feh.

  • Jcal

    SoberPJ says; Bill’s experience had nothing to do with the steps because they weren’t written when he hallucinated
    Jcal; Bill never had a spiritual awakening using his own steps and Dr. Bob never had one either according to his daughter Sue Smith. The funny thing is they talk in the BB about putting the cart before the horse and here is a perfect example of that. This epiphany was one of the reasons I couldnt stay in AA any longer. So many people saying that they have worked all the 12 steps and because of this they have had the joy of experiencing a SA. All of them think that Bill and Bob have had one through the same path of course.

  • mfc66

    Great description of the wig Lucy !
    A site full of corny phrases
    SHAAAG. S=Sad, H=Hurt, A=Angry, A=Afraid, A=Ashamed, G=Glad. !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Where did that come from! It has a rather different meaning here!

  • AnnaZed

    Ah, Francis seems to have gone back into her hidey-hole, more’s the pity.
    I was so longing to have deep philosophical and spiritual dialog with her.

  • Johnny Crash NYC

    Other than this, the book has no scientific merit or interest.”


  • Mona Lisa

    You know, you kind of have to wonder about the intellectual chops of someone who would come here and post that the AMA declared alcoholism a “disease” in 1956. I mean, duh.

    Does she think we don’t know this? Does she suppose that we’ll read her comment and say “dang, now that Francis pointed that out, that makes my years of experience being abused in AA utterly meaningless! I’d better go to a meeting immediately now that Francis has set me straight!”

  • Martha

    @ Mona Lisa that is exactly how Francis expects us to act. The so called addictions professionals are used to having their way and in treatment centers they can punish patients who don’t act exactly as they are told. Francis may be catching on that in this venue she is utterly powerless and will need to turn it over. She is probably contacting the higher-ups in AA to get them to do something about us, but of course they are as powerless as Francis.