humanspirit talks about Al-Anon

Humanspirit just posted this in the comments, but I want to turn it into a front page post, because it is an important perspective that’s been missing from this blog. Thank you, humanspirit. –ftg

My name is humanspirit, and I’m not an alcoholic. But I am appalled at the way the AA 12-Step program is allowed to stand in the way of anyone’s attempts at get real help for alcoholics or addicts. It is disgraceful that AA, with its worse than useless program and cod religion, has managed to establish itself as the only organization to help alcoholics or addicts.

So, not being an alcoholic, why do I feel so passionately about this? It’s because the man that I love descended so deeply into chronic alcohol addiction that he could hardly function. Because he knew he was dying, and would die if he carried on much longer and was crying out for help – any help – which wasn’t forthcoming despite our best efforts. It’s a long and very sad story. I moved out of our mutual home because there was no way I could cope with it and could still carry on going to work, etc. He wasn’t violent; he wasn’t nasty – just hopelessly addicted. The sight of him, sitting in the garden in the early morning light, clinging to his bottle of wine in a silent, confused daze, day in, day out, absolutely broke my heart.

I went to an Al-anon meeting, naively hoping to find some support, and maybe some practical suggestions. Forget it. The first 20 minutes were spent with each attendee reading out one of the 12 Steps and 12 traditions in turn, as though we were 6-year-olds just learning our ABCs. There was no discussion or questions allowed about the 12 Steps or traditions themselves. Then there was an incredibly trite reading about ‘live and let live’ (in my case, and at that point, it was literally ‘live and let die’, i.e., if someone didn’t do something soon, my partner would die). And then there was a discussion in which each person was allowed exactly five minutes to whine about how hard it was to live with the drinker in their lives and then to declare how the 12-Step program had made them incredibly happy. Fine, but it was all TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to the issue of helping people overcome addiction.

I talked to some Al-anon people on the phone, out of desperation. My concern for my partner was dismissed as either ‘controlling’ or as ‘co-dependency’ (whatever that very odd concept might be). ‘Live and let live’, I was told again. Well, this is a reasonable principle to follow in everyday life and in normal circumstances. But in this case, such an attitude was hugely unhelpful. I tried to do all the mind-fuck rationalizing I could for a short time, hoping that in some way it could make any sense and could help. But then I just cut through the crap, did the age-old trick of putting myself in the other person’s shoes, and asked myself: If it was me in this situation, where I really couldn’t help myself, wouldn’t I appreciate having some loving people around trying to do something? Instead of those people just having the indifferent attitude of ‘live and let live’ and then leaving me to die? The answer is obvious to any normal person with an ounce of humanity.

But clearly, this is also a hugely dishonest attitude on the part of Al-anon. The idea of anyone trying to ‘help’ an alcoholic is treated with absolute derision, unless your desire to help leads people to AA and their ridiculous programme. You’re definitely allowed to ‘help’ in those circumstances – none of this ‘let and let live’ crap applies then. And once you’re in their clutches, absolutely no-one allows you to ‘live and let live’. You are not even allowed to define yourself or your loved ones in any way that makes sense to you or gives credit to your own experience. I was told I was ‘in denial’ about my partner being an alcoholic (er, no, actually) because I mentioned what a great guy he was in the majority of years I’d known him when he wasn’t drinking too much. I was assured I was kidding myself. He was an alcoholic who hadn’t found the 12-Step program and hadn’t had a spiritual awakening, so how could he ever in any way have ever been a ‘great guy’? Ever. In his whole life. (They didn’t think to ask why on earth I would have been in a relationship with him in the first place if he wasn’t.)

I was told by Al-anon members that I should ‘detach’ myself (as if moving out, at huge regret and extreme sadness to myself, wasn’t ‘detachment’ enough). But the thing that really got me about this mind-fuck was that I was told that if I still cared about my partner, I had an ‘obsession’ myself. Whatever happened to the idea of pure natural human love and compassion for a fellow human being? AA defines such love and concern as a ‘disease’. If the person you care about is an alcoholic, you are as ‘diseased’ as the alcoholic himself, the line goes. And the only way you can cure yourself of this disease is by (surprise, surprise, folks!) entering into the 12-Step programme and practising the steps for life!

Which would all be absolutely fine if it had any effect whatsoever on anyone’s drinking and would help them overcome their addiction, but it just DOES NOT.

Where exactly is the bit in AA’s big book or in the 12 step programme that gives any advice on how to stop drinking? Please let me know, because after several readings I still can’t find it.

I’m sorry about this long rant, and thanks for anyone for reading it. I’ve posted at other times about the rehab place we eventually managed to get my partner into and how I was absolutely terrified that, after all we’d been through, all the religious rantings he was then subject to would seriously hamper his chances of recovery.

And yes, I’m fucking angry. Because this was to me a serious matter of life and death. Far too serious a matter for it to allow a bunch of fringe religious nut-jobs to even get a look-in, let alone rule the show.

  • DeConstructor

    Thank you for posting that.

    Never forget that there are many, many people who share your view, although we historically been shouted down by the members of the AA faith, and  the recovery industry.

    People do recover, many times in spite of the misinformation and disinformantion promoted by the AA faith.

  • I'd like to ask Humanspirit for permission to post this from the beginning to this part…

    "Where exactly is the bit in AA’s big book or in the 12 step programme that gives any advice on how to stop drinking? Please let me know, because after several readings I still can’t find it."


  • mikeblamedenial

    Thanks for the post. Some topics cannot possibly be covered in a paragraph, or fourteen or fifteen frames in a Youtube video. Yours was exactly as long as it needed to be. Powerful stuff.  Yes, DeConstructor those critical of the 12-step industry have long been shouted down, but we keep shouting back.

  • Margaret

    FTG, where was this originally posted?  It's an amazing post, tell humanspirit I want to hear more.

  • @ humanspirit,

    I'd like to post this, from the beginning up to…

    " Where exactly is the bit in AA’s big book or in the 12 step programme that gives any advice on how to stop drinking? Please let me know, because after several readings I still can’t find it."

    On the Expose AA website.

    Request permission to do so.

    Waddaya say? Pleeeease?

  • humanspirit

    Well,  OK – as you ask so nicely 🙂

  • DeConstructor

    This link might explain more of the Al-Anon, and 12 step faith.

    • MA

      Codependency is a Hazelden creation. Here is a a good link about it in the Skeptic's Dictionary.

  • DeConstructor

    One may want to add to the "codependency" myth is the fact that Melodie Beatty, professional steptard and author of many of the codependency books (she makes her living from selling this misinformation) will NOT answer emails.

    She made an appearance on the message board for the A&E show "Intervention" and again failed to answer real questions about her bogus ideas.

    My counselor in rehab always refered to herself as a "recovering codependent" when we sat in the circles and introduced ourselves by the particular "disease" that became our label and new identity.

    It is unbelieveable that many people consider this credible, and I blame the psychological community that has blindly entrusted the 12 step faith based solely on the anecdotal screaming of the congregation on how well the faith works as an alleged "cure" to an alleged "incurable disease"

    There is NO credibilty to this profitable cult.

  • MA

    DeConstructor – Here is a link to a post we made last year, where we mention codependency and how it works in synergy with some of the other pop psychology adopted by Hazelden and AA.

  • AndyM

    I checked out alanon when I was very worried about my brother (now sadly deceased).  I was shocked by its general callousness of attitude and  the lack of any real empathy for  "alcoholics" or those who cared about them. I thought it especially insulting that just caring about a loved one with an alcohol problem was seen as a reason for pathologising people and tagging them with a disease label. There seemed to be nothing positive on offer there, just negativity, defeatism and counsels of despair. I didn't stick around. Worrying about someone you care about drinking themselves to death is depressing enough without the "support " of these Job's comforters.

  • I had an experience like that a couple years ago… I was worried about a friend of mine who was in such severe, chronic pain that her doctor purposefully addicted her to pain meds — and she was on so many medications that I was sure she was going to OD. When I brought it up, this AA (who is like one of those AA Priestesses — an "addictions counselor") landed immediately, saying that I was being co-dependent. It seemed like such a non sequitur response… but it was immediate and unequivocal. She had no idea what my relationship to this friend was, but it didn't matter: The only thing she needed to know to proclaim her diagnosis of co-dependency was that I was concerned about a friend who was on an elephant's dose of opiates. And the answer was: there's nothing I can say or do or suggest. The very idea that I'd want to help my friend find an alternative was evidence of some dysfunction.

    (My friend died a few weeks ago, by the way.)

  • tintop

    co dependent is normal human behavior.  No apology for that.

  • FayeP

    I just stumbled onto this googling for resources that were not Al-Anon or 12-step related, for support in getting over a terribly upsetting end to a relationship with an alcoholic.

    I could not agree more with this post and thank you so much for making it. It seems to me that the codependency movement is based on pathologizing compassion and concern for one's loved ones, and castigating people who would put someone else's serious needs before their own self-focused concerns. Besides the reeling hypocrisy in that, it also strikes me as mildly sociopathic and – most ironically of all – very un-Christian. I am not Christian myself, but it seems to me that a great deal of the recovery movement is rooted in Christian tradition and for them to ridicule selflessness, generosity and compassion just seems flagrantly self-deluded.

    I don't quite know how I am going to get through some of the difficult feelings I am having in the wake of my relationship. It feels like a lot to manage alone. But I do know that alone would be better than in the grips of a disingenuous, religious group that trades in hypocrisy, narcissism and judgment.

  • tintop

    again — co dependency is normal human behavior.

    Faye — you got it  — dead solid perfect.

  • Carrie

    According to al-anon tradition #5, two of the three ways al-anon groups are supposed to help families of alcoholics is by 'encouraging and understanding' alcoholic relatives.  Another is by 'giving comfort to families of alcoholics'. Encouraging, understanding, comforting…aren't those synonyms for empathy?

    Doesn't sound like the group you met did any of the above.  Some groups are really weird, but I've been lucky to find a small al-anon group with a more than a few atheist members,  where it's ok to doubt, be pissed-off, laugh, rant, and be your honest self. You need support at a time like this, so I hope you can find a group that feels right, whether 12 step or not.

    I love my alcoholic husband (who still drinks) and I encourage him to keep looking for answers.  But, there is no formula for becoming sober or for helping someone else become sober, and that has been a hard thing to accept.  I believe you when you say your partner is a great guy.  You're living up to your name by continuing to see his human spirit rather than labeling him a lost cause. If you can detach from obsessive worry about him without detaching from caring about him, and get the space you need to live a sane life, you'll be better able to help him, as well as yourself.   I don't think it's codependent to want to help someone who needs help, as long as you also remember to take care of yourself.


    • MA

      According to al-anon tradition #5, two of the three ways al-anon groups are supposed to help families of alcoholics is by ‘encouraging and understanding’ alcoholic relatives. Another is by ‘giving comfort to families of alcoholics’. Encouraging, understanding, comforting…aren’t those synonyms for empathy?

      Hi, Carrie.

      Citing an al-anon tradition is no different than citing an AA tradition. They are empty words, and have nothing to do with the overall reality of how how al-anon as a whole conducts itself. It doesn't matter what is supposed to happen in al-anon, or what was its original intent. What matters is what actually happens, and in reality, al-anon is a cesspool of co-dependent thinking. I believe you when you say that you don't act this way, and even when you say that your group doesn't behave in this manner, and that is great. We often hear AAs make the same argument with, "That is not my AA". They may be sincere, as well. So what? That is like an armed robber asking us to ignore all of the banks he stole from, and to focus on the one he did not rob.

      Have you found any answers for your husband's drinking problem, or suggestions from other al-anon members that were anything other than 12-Steps? Email us and we can suggest some alternatives.

  • humanspirit

    Thanks to everyone for your replies. It’s taken me a little while to get back because it’s been a holiday weekend here in London and I’ve been out enjoying the traditional May holiday weather (cold and wet!). I must admit I was a bit nervous about you putting my post above the line at first, friendthegirl, as I’m no authority on anything, but the responses have been tremendously reassuring.

    MA & DeConstructor– Thanks for the links and more info about co-dependency. Very interesting. It’s extremely worrying what a grip this idea has had on popular perception and the way it has become a mainstay of many ‘self-help’ books (apart from the recovery industry). I seem to remember a similar idea used as way of making abused spouses feel guilty and complicit if for whatever reason they found it difficult to leave, even if those reasons were purely practical (like having no money and nowhere for them and their kids to live). I guess AA uses it as yet another way of making people lose confidence in themselves and of reinforcing the idea of personal powerlessness, ‘disease’ and submission to the programme.

    FayeP – What you’re going through is extremely tough. It’s a horrible, horrible reason to have for ending a relationship. There’s not much anyone can say except to send you all best wishes for brighter things in the future. I’m impressed by your selflessness in posting on here when things are still so raw for you, but you’re absolutely right that what you absolutely don’t need right now is to be surrounded by a bunch of people telling you you’re dysfunctional because you have normal human feelings. ‘Mildly sociopathic’ is a great way of putting it – though the ‘mildly’ might be a bit of an understatement. And you don’t have to be religious to appreciate that all the good human values that christianity and many other faiths traditionally teach, like love, loyalty, compassion, etc. have been completely twisted and pathologized by AA to suit its own cultish agenda.

    Carrie – I completely agree that there’s no one formula for getting sober or helping someone get sober, and I don’t think that’s hard to accept at all. It is obviously true, as each person is a unique individual and their levels of physical or psychological addiction, reasons for drinking, motivations for quitting, etc. will all be different. But as this is self-evidently the case, why does AA insist that its ludicrous programme IS THE ONLY FORMULA for getting and staying sober, and how on earth have they managed to convince the majority of people in the recovery industry and elsewhere of this?

    Your group may be civilized and fairly OK, and I’m glad you’ve found some people around that you find supportive. But just check out some of the al-anon-related message boards for evidence of the callous and hugely insensitive way that genuine posts are often responded to, with their accusations of ‘addiction’, ‘obsessions’, ‘enabling’, ‘controlling’, etc. when the original posts don’t actually show signs of any of those things. Obviously the god of AA has given al-anon members unique insights into the minds and behaviours of people they don’t even know, and the ability to confidently diagnose them as having deep psychological problems on the basis that they are concerned about someone close to them or are not coping well in an extremely difficult situation. (I’m not accusing you of this personally, by the way.)

    Finally, can I just say that the chapter To Wives in the ‘big book’ is the most pious, condescending, badly-written, insulting piece of useless sexist drivel I’ve ever read in my life. Comparable in its extreme awfulness only to all the other chapters.

  • humanspirit

    PS  Carrie – I've just noticed that you're advising me to 'detach from obsessive worry' about my partner. Actually I'm not worried about him at all now because he's stopped drinking (no thanks at all to the evangelical AA nutters he was unfortunate enough to encounter along the way) which is surely the ultimate and only aim. Interesting that you interpreted my attitude in my original post as one of 'obsessive worry' . . .  I certainly don't want to be cruel, but doesn't this just prove my point that immediately diagnosing 'obsessiveness' or some other dysfunctional thinking is the knee-jerk reaction of anyone in al-anon to anyone who mentions their alcoholic partner at all, and proof that they make this diagnosis without bothering to take the time to pay any proper attention to what any individual is actually saying?

  • tintop

    humanspirit  —    to be quite blunt about it: the concept of "co dependency"  is bunk. 

    What is called 'codependent" is normal human behavior.   I do not need to know why some people turn normal behavior into pathology. 

      Life is hard and, frequently, quite unfair; deserve has nothing to do with it.  So, we are , all, often faced with difficult situations.  Situations that are difficult to work through.  Sometimes, forebearance is the best that can be done.

    There are ways that things can be worked through using: compassion; forebearance; love; loyalty; wit and wisdom.  One can speak truth with love and get positive movement.


  • Good to read all of this.  Thanks for your story, Humanspirit.  I appreciate your note about "To Wives" being sexist drivel.  I noted this time and time again, and was told by AA members that I was just thinking my way outta the program. I had another woman–who was maybe twenty-five, ten years my junior, tell me I had huge issues in my recovery b/c I had the nerve to bring this up at open AA.  These are people who said this to me, not robots, actual people.  It was a chilling experience to say the least. When I was in the middle of it. I knew strongly that something was wrong.  But I could not really say it.  I did not have the words. ANd I did not have the courage.  After all, I thought that if I left AA, I would come to the infamous: "jails, institutions, or death."

  • Just wanted to say here, too (and I think I wrote about this on Expose AA) that I was actually asked to leavean alanon meeting for asking somebody to stop glaring at me.  The person who asked me to leave was  a former AA sponsor–one who admittedly had DID.  Yikes.  I think the DID  was in fact self diagnosed and maybe talked about for attention, but I will never truly be sure.  It was in the meeting that I basically started making a case for not attending meetings.  They were causing me the things that AAers and its sister programers say that your disease brings you… FOr a few months I wanted to express that I was right and that they were, well, insane.  BUtI am over this now.  You cannot argue with crazy people.

  • Jeannieburga

    I love the Big Lie that holds these addicted people addicted, trusting that AA will always be their hope, their false hope. By this I mean the statement that tells addicts that they can never be cured. That's BS. These AA know it alls, don't know it all. I love the way they call God their higher power. This is the reason that they'll never be healed. I've never heard of a higher power ever healing anyone, have you?  I DO have a big book of my own at home which shows me many instances of healings. Alcoholism and all addictions are the result of sin. Somewhere way back when, the addicted nature in ALL addicts came to be as the result of him or her choosing to go their own way versus God's. It's that simple. The lives of these people are tragic, affecting their loved ones. I DO feel for them, truly. But the healing is their's for the taking and it's simple. Not easy, as the layers of hurt and damage to those around them, as well as themselves needs to be forgiven. The addict needs to be forgiven, which they will if God is asked to do so, with them coming  to the throne with the right motive in the addicts mind and heart.  Doing so requires one to believe, trust, and ask. He is the only program needed. Really, everyone has their thing. We fill a void w/ alcohol, drugs, sex, food, shopping for things we can't afford. We may feel happy and good for alittle while, until the next crisis, when we fill that void again. That void is intended to be filled with one thing. I know, it's hard to comprehend. It's beyond human understanding, but it's True! Fill your void with Him, I promise you'll begin to see things as you never had before. He promises to free us of ALL the bondage we've allowed ourselves to get enslaved in. Yes, that's right, we've allowed Satan to bring us to this dark place called addiction. Make the right choice and end your misery, the only way to truly be cured from your addiction. Don't do it until you are ready though, cuz it's just lip service until you your mind and heart are ready for a major overhaul. God knows what's in your heart, what you think and do when you're alone and in the company of others. So don't think that you can fool Him, cuz you can't. I've tried. He's waiting for you to get serious about your life, that He's right there waiting to fill that void in your chest. What are you waiting for? That next AA anniversary where you might meet the next love of your life, only to later be disappointed because he or she is as screwed up as you are. It's a vicious circle when you keep doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different result. Get off the merry-go-round and get real. It's scary, I know, but I'm telling you, if you want real change, to be happy, purposeful in this life, enjoying the endless blessings  He intended for you, then call Him by name and He will answer. He promises.

    • MA

      It’s scary, I know, but I’m telling you, if you want real change, to be happy, purposeful in this life, enjoying the endless blessings He intended for you, then call Him by name and He will answer. He promises.

      Thanks, Jeannie. Tonight I’m asking Him to fill in my bald spot, and that the Dodgers cover the point spread tonight. We’ll see how that goes.

  • bald spot


  • humanspirit

    Only one answer to that, ftg – denial!

  • JPR

    What a truly brilliant phrase………..after “sticking with the winners” (not!) and “sick of being tired and tired of being sick”(not really either), I must remember that one. “You cannot argue with crazy people.”  That sums up AA totally. I’m still getting AA’ers ringing me asking if I’m ok, I shouldn’t feel embarrassed to come back (why?), and that I obviously need to share my experience in the rooms. The condescending tones…….!
    AA stands for Arrogant Arseholes.   

  • Sarah

    I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Count Chocula and Frankenberry are my higher powers. Now if they could just cure my obesity!

    La la la la la, I can't hear you Jeannie.

  • sunny



  • I guess you could say it's a spot… if you're looking from space.

  • humanspirit

    Jeannie – I presume that you have a hotline to God and he has told you exactly what his thinking is on the matter of addiction?   And he has chosen you, out of the 6+ billion people on this planet, to tell us what his latest policy is?
    Sorry, everyone – this is cheap shot against someone who’s clearly ill. It would be funny if it didn’t echo what so many steppers believe, even though Jeannie seems to disapprove of even the most god-bothering AA people.
    MA Bald spot? You don’t know you’re born! I’ll be asking the Almighty to rid me of 20 pounds of excess body fat immediately and for my soccer team to win tomorrow, giving them a place in the European championships next season. Let’s see which one he thinks is more important.

  • JPR

    Alcoholism and all addictions are the result of sin. Oh dear me. Here we go again. The Big Book becomes the Bible or was it the other way round? Same old story that this is all my fault again and bin the medical rationale and logic for more witchcraft.

  • There is still this twisted, f-ed up part of me that thinks the AA GOd is coming to get me for having conversations like these.  "You will be fine–as long as you do not drink and ask your HP for help," Says AA.  I say, "Dear HP, um, you suck if you let groups like AA continue to abuse and manipulate vulnerable people."  Jesus, at least if I had gotten involved with the Moonies, I could tell my story to every1.

  • Susan

    That void is intended to be filled with one thing. I know, it’s hard to comprehend. It’s beyond human understanding, but it’s True! Fill your void with Him, I promise you’ll begin to see things as you never had before.

    See, now, that just makes me think all kinds of inappropriate things…

  • humanspirit

    <cite>Susan</cite> says <!–.vcard–>

    That void is intended to be filled with one thing. I know, it’s hard to comprehend. It’s beyond human understanding, but it’s True! Fill your void with Him, I promise you’ll begin to see things as you never had before.

    See, now, that just makes me think all kinds of inappropriate things…


    And I thought it was just me that had that kind of mind . . . 🙂

  • Mona Lisa

    I don't know which scares me more, AA's absurdities or the rantings of fundamentalist Christians.  They both really creep me out.

  • Susan

    The similarity between the two is one of the big things that tipped me off that AA was BS. Mostly just strikes me as humorous now though, it has no power any more.

    @humanspirit right on 🙂

  • Susan , I know you have said this b4, but i have forgotten: how long were u in and how long have u now been out?  It is losing it hold on me, but it is taking some time.


    Also, @FTG, I would love to know the story on how you and the other person brainstormed to start this blog.  And would love to know your story.

  • Susan

    hi violet – not nearly as long as most around here. In for 5 months, out since whenever I showed up around here, maybe two or three months ago? Still have friends in the program though.

  • Hi violet, I don't know if this will make much sense, but I think it would be difficult for us to throw down with the details of how we came up with this blog without hurting/exposing people we care about. In fact, we started the blog because we felt like we needed a venue for really digging into this subject without tearing apart and disrupting our community (of both AA and non-AA people who are quitting or have quit drinking).

    I'm sorry to be so vague, especially since the story is not really very interesting at all! Maybe MA and I will get together one of these days and bore everyone with it.

  • sounds good.  i thought maybe the people in your community/yer fam/etc. had zero idea about the blog.  you know what i mean…

  • our favorite little kleptomaniac gets her acting groove back with this dopey little role on the HALLMARK (???) channel:

  • Oh yuck.

    The Huffington Post never met a 12-Step shill it wouldn't publish.

  • Jamie

    Thanks for this forum…my husband is an alcoholic and I do love him…him not the drinking.  He recently started going to the local recovery outpatient center which offers counselling to the addict and families.

    I have been directed to Alanon for over a year now by this organization and have spoken to their counsellors as well.  They keep wanting to talk about my co-dependence and my denial of my co-dependence.

    I  admit I see a professional counsellor for some private issues that I have been battling with and a depression I have been diagnosed with but I have battled it off and on since childhood and has had little to do with my husband and his addiction other than perhaps adding more stress. My own professional therapist has not discussed my "co-dependent" issues and finds it an overused term.

    However, my issue here is and my confusion lies in that the local recovery center uses both AA and Alanon as supplemental resources and tout the AA & Alanon philosophies as if they are the specialists and the center is only providing the detox for their program.

    So where do you go for unbiased, intentional help where people will speak respectfully to me regarding this issue without trying to re-diagnose me  ( since apparently my therapist doesn't have a degree or know what he is talking about since he does not agree that I am co-dependent but rather appropriately concerned for my husband) so how do I get informed help when they are the only formal resource in town and believe me I have tried.

    I have talked to several private counselling firms who have directed me to the local recovery center who direct me to their counselling service who redirect me to Alanon who then want me to examine my codependency…. I feel like a hamster in a wheel going no where meanwhile my husband is in effect killing himself. I feel terrible to see a beautiful, intelligent,fun,caring man when sober fill his life with alcohol and turn into a mean spirited, beligerent and hurtful man who is losing weight, and self respect and possibly his life and everyone keeps telling me there is nothing I can do and I need to work on my co-dependent issues. I have never made an excuse for his drinking- I have generally expected him to fix any issue his alcohol has caused us with misspending the money to the hurtful things he says when drinking to the pain of the broken promises.  I do not now nor have I ever accepted that I was the blame or the reason he drinks.  I am concerned with the amount of money he wastes, the lack of concern for the bills and my health ( as I do battle a debilitating degenerative disease that requires proper medication and therapy) and I expect him to be responsible when he has ignored his family- his children  and his mother and take no blame for the broken promises he makes to them.  I work at building the best relationships with people I can.  I have not done the things they say co-dependent people do. I have not ever phoned an employer and made an excuse for his being absent and I have never lied to an employer if they have called the house.  So I don't understand why they keep talking to me as if I have done these things but they actually look at my funny like I am lying to them and I am not so it gets exhausting talking to them and I have had no problem admitting to my therapist the issues I do have and have needed to work on to live a healthier life so this is not denial.

    I do not see any rationale to their "help" and believe it has very little to do with watching the man you love and married to dying.  Yet if I mention he needs help  I am codependent and if I mention I want to be a positive support system and want to know the best way to hep him with his recovery I am told it is none of my business and that I am obsessed with his life and should be more concerned with mine….whatever happened to loving your husband, being a life partner and generally caring & if he had cancer or diabetes I would want to know how I could better assist him and be their in a supportive role so why I am told I am defective for caring about my husband which ( and yes I am Christian) but Christian ethics, beliefs aside I feel that when you love someone you are supposed to care about them and want the best for them….I have never ever written on a blog or forum before and this is my very first time so please forgive me going on but this was the first place I saw anyone say what I had been living this last year and I felt like the people I was being sent to see for help were actually driving me crazy….(a bit of an exaggeration but certainly for me not helpful and very frustrating)….so where do I go from here…any suggestions??? Please and thank you.

  • Oh, Dear, Jamie. Welcome to the blog!


    I guess the first thing I want to mention is that "co-dependency" is not a real. They have to convince you that you have SOMETHING, because that's how they justify their existence and their program. And the problem — as you are experiencing — is that this lunacy is about ALL WE HAVE. It's what's available, and it is not based on anything at all.

    My suggestion to you is that you seek out private counseling, with someone who is educated in addictions and who steers clear of the 12-Step programs. Interview counselors — and be clear about what you need, and what you won't tolerate. If you go to the Psychology Today website, you can look up conselors in your area, and contact them. You can use their listings to see what their focus is, and you can email them with questions about their practice.

    You're dealing with a bunch of thoroughly deluded and misguided people. Keep reminding yourself that it's NOT YOU who's nutty; it's them.

    I am sure that humanspirit will be around to follow up with you, too. Her insight into this issue is excellent — as you can see by this post. Also, you are very welcome to post here, and on the message board, and we will support you however we can.


  • tintop

      Jamie,              Co dependent is normal human behavior.   Determine what is right; then, go ahead.  FTG is right; I think that you should find a good therapist/counselor that understands the situation and you can work with.

    HUmaspirit, as FTG says, is wise and compssionate and helpful.

  • McGowdog

    I told my wife to try alanon and see if she liked.  She came home pissed off and said "What about a bunch of losers.  If you pulled any of that crap, I'd beat you with a golf club and burn all of your stuff and send you packing.  I'll never go to Alanot again."

    Well allrightythen.  I think the only codependent is Melanie Beatty.

    I've learned some alanot lingo, check it out!  "He took a drink and I felt better."

    Now can I tell y'all about the new Alanon Doll?  You heard this one already?  Would it be in bad taste for this venue?

  • Tippy Katz

    My liver specialist told me that he didn't really care if I went to rehab or not, that some people go to rehab and keep drinking and some people don't go and stay quit, and that the only thing that he really knows to be conducive to quitting is a supportive partner. A nurse at the hospital said something similar; the thing we know that helps for sure is an understanding spouse. I really hate Al-Anon.

  • McGowdog

    Ok, well if you hate alanon, you'll love the alanon doll.

    You throw it against the wall and it says, "I still love you."

  • JPR

    Quite a funny observation, which maybe explains a few things. Many of the people I used to see in AA were all training to be "counsellors"……….having been praised in the rooms for their skills at teaching the 12 steps. So it's hardly surprising that we get the results we do! I must admit, at one point in my AA deluded recovery I even considered it myself, I mean lets' face it……..take money from desperate people for teaching a "spiritual" programme with no recourse for failure. Luckily when I quit the rooms I realised my recovery had nothing to do with AA whatsoever…………….

    The co dependancy issue is  terrible and from what I've seem leaves people full of guilt and remorse for abandoning their partners and friends just when they really needed them most…..what's that phrase…….ah yes….."in sickness and in health,"    

  • Ez

    Jamie, if I may, please check this book… heck, there is even a used version of it for about 4 dollars 9my experience with used books at Amazon is they sure look new).

    You might want to check this out as well . The above book is authored by the guy who set up CRAFT. To quote from a post at the SMART on line forum:

    "An alternative to Al-Anon's 12-Step tradition and detactment recommendations and the Johnson Institute's confrontational interventions, the CRAFT program is based on non-confrontational and proven behavioral principles like finding and rewarding positive behaviors. It is a program congruent with SMART Recovery.

    The book gives the reader tools and instructions for changing their interactions with their loved one, which in turn changes the loved one's behavior. In repeated clinical trials, CRAFT's approach proved twice as likely as the Johnson intervention and six times as likely as Al-Anon to get a loved one into treatment.

    With CRAFT, arranging for one's own safety and finding a happier life for one's self takes priority. Getting a loved one to moderate, choose sobriety, or go into treatment are then offered as roads to a better relationship.

    CRAFT was developed by Robert Meyers, Ph.D. Dr. Meyers has been in the addiction field for 33 years with 23 of those years being at the University of New Mexico. He is currently the director of Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D. & Associates and a Research Associate Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of New Mexico's Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addiction. He has been involved in over a dozen clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health, including Project Match and the Clinical Trials Network. "

    So hang in there, things can change and they can change for the better.

    p.s. "codependent"…what a load of rubbish.

    <!– / message –><!– BEGIN TEMPLATE: ad_showthread_firstpost_sig –><!– END TEMPLATE: ad_showthread_firstpost_sig –><!– sig –>

  • tintop

    Tippy Katz, good post

    The doctor is correct

  • Jamie

    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.  I am feeling more hope today.  I appreciate your time and I am going to contemplate all the information received and work it all through.  I have read some on the Meyer's approach and have been looking at other studies that have tried other methods.  I am no fool what works for one may not work for someone else and we all have our own quirks so maybe.  Thanks again.

  • Jamie

    It is interesting I just re-read what you all had to say and today I tried something new with my husband- new for me and after I was done talking with him he got up and I asked where he was going and he said I am going over to the treatment center to talk and get help.  I had not insisted or demanded or even asked.  I told him I loved him and I needed to do some things to protect my feelings and our finances as we have some things coming up with our grandchildren and his youngest son is getting married  in hawaii and if we wanted to go then I felt I needed to adjust our financial arrangement.  He sat and thought for  a while and he saw I was in pain (arthritis) and he said he knew the stress his drinking and the nasty things he says when drinking aren't helping me or him.  Anyway,the point is I have not read about the other approach just decided to try something new today- now I am curious and will look into it.  He went and asked for help on his own.  It is a step but an important one I feel for him and I am thrilled.  I realize it is just a step but a mighty one for a man who said he had no problem with alcohol and it was my imagination a month ago.  Thanks for the support.  I will keep you posted.

  • Ez

    Well that's some good news and it is a positive start.

  • Jamie, That is really good news. I do think the best way to make positive changes in your relationship is to just start making them on your own — like you did. Your partner may or may not start taking cues from you, but, ultimately, you are improving your quality of life. I am glad to hear your husband is following your lead.

    Very best to you and your family. And definitely keep us posted.

    (After your first post here, I was inspired to spend a little time on the CoDA website, and, really got a bad case of existential nausea. I think those people have it worse than the AAs themselves.)

  • Z

    Great post; I have essentially the same issues/questions about Al-Anon and the attitudes it supports. They're incredibly interventionist themselves, but they recommend being sadistically unhelpful in emergencies.

    I do know the type of person to whom the Al-Anon ideas are directed: my Mom! She doesn't accept that if you decide to have an aperitif and give one to my Dad too, he'll drink it and will then pass out during dinner, which will ruin dinner if the whole point of having it was to have it with him. You have to decide ahead of time whether you want the aperitif or the dinner with him, because you won't get both.

    But: the other month he fell down due to drinking + arthritis, couldn't get up and she couldn't get him up because she's old and had a weak foot at the time, healing from osteoporosis related break; so she called 911. I'm glad she hadn't been going to Al-Anon because they might well have recommended she just cover him and let him sleep it off.

    The people I know who most love Al-Anon really do have the negative personality characteristics it criticizes, but say that's OK because they have a "disease" the rest of us should be understanding of. It's ridiculous.

  • poetwomyn

    Jamie, I admire you for sticking to your guns and taking the road less traveled.  My ex-partner read that stupid book of Melanie Beatty's and completely shut down from me permanantly and it destroyed our relationship.  This was long after I had gotten sober.  I wonder how many other marriages that book and CODA have ruined.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with caring and genuine compassion toward another human being.  As tintop said, "It's normal human behavior;" anything else is just simply selfish and bound to make the problem worse.  I wish you and your husband well.

  • tintop

    "codependency"  is a buzzword.   What is stigmatized as 'codependent' beavior is normal human behavior.   It can be quite difficult dealing with people who are deeply troubled.   CRAFT appears to be a good approach.


  • humanspirit

    Oh my god. Oh my god, everyone!!. I’ve just been browsing the Al-Anon message board. The callousness and complacency of the people on there is truly chilling (in the old-fashioned, scary sense of the word).


    The worst one was a post called “husband sober but still lies”. This woman’s husband had been in rehab and has stopped drinking, and she discovered he’d been hiding something “not like Viagra” but some kind of herbal equivalent delicately referred to as “male enhancement” (Hairier chest? Abnormal tendency to watch sports on TV ? A fondness for being addressed as Dave?). They have apparently been married for 32 years, so we’re not talking teenagers here.


    Christ, this poor, poor man. He’s obviously very worried about not being able to get it up – not an uncommon worry with men of a certain age – and is understandably keeping any anxieties he might have to himself. And then his wife goes and tells the world about it, broadcasts it on the Internet, presents it as ‘dry drunk lying’, gets an approving chorus for her “honesty” , and a whole lot of other stepper poison about how alcoholics, even abstinent ones, will continue to lie


    Lying and wanting to keep personal things private are two very different things in my book. And I wonder if she had been “honest” with him about the fact she’d broadcast this very personal matter for the whole world to comment on?


    On the other hand, he might well be cheating on her (but is obviously still worried about getting it up). And although I don’t approve of infidelity, if I was married to such a convinced steptard, that person wouldn’t see my arse for dust (quaint British expression).


    Please, please will someone from Stinkin Thinkin tell me they posted this as a joke, or I will lose the will to live.




    PS. I just noticed that she got a reply saying: “ The drinking is just a symptom of the disease. You can take the drink away, but you can't take away the thinking. Only through their will and effort and working their program will the alcoholic change their thinking and behaviors. It takes time if they're honestly working their program to change their behaviors.”


    I have now actually lost the will to live.



  • tintop

    Blind kittens.   Arrogant and foolish.   A bad combination.     be glad that you have gotten shut of that poisonous  drivel.

  • Z

    tintop nails it again:

    "'codependency' is a buzzword.  What is stigmatized as ‘codependent’ beavior is normal human behavior.   It can be quite difficult dealing with people who are deeply troubled."

    Very good series of articles, drywall.

  • joedrywall

    Here are some good articles by jack marx.

  • DeConstructor

    The "importance of sharing" of deeply personal matters would be considered quite differently if one knew the person sitting next to them was a murderer, child molester, rapist, thief, or identitiy stealer.  It is also my experience that many of them could use a bar of bath soap.

    One might not that particular individual to be a sponsor.

  • Primrose

    Yup, al-anon is pretty scary. As far as I know, z and hs are al-anon refugees, possibly because they have some sort of sense of humanity, or other such nonsense.  Al-anon to me means, 'Look, no conscience!'.

  • Rick045

    @humanspirit, My experience was in AA, not Al-anon, but I’m not surprised by any of that, and have no reason to doubt that it’s probably quite true. When I first started in AA, I was surprised at all of the inappropriate sharing that took place about deeply personal matters, and it always made me uncomfortable. What bothered me more than the sharing itself was the ready willingness of some members to jump in with answers, usually contradictory, and often just plain idiotic. I knew of several occasions before or after meetings, where women would try to talk about their sexual problems with men in the group, even while their partners were sitting in the next room. If a person is lucky, someone might pull them aside, and straighten them out on what is or isn’t appropriate, but that’s rare. Many of these people have no clue about healthy boundaries in the first place, and the program itself teaches nothing about such things, and in fact, it discourages their development with the constant emphasis on the evils of keeping secrets, and the importance of “sharing”.

  • Z

    "Al-anon to me means, ‘Look, no conscience!’."

    Yes, there's a lot of that. It also seems to be about passive aggression, avoidance tactics, and holding patterns.

    (I think it does help people who DO take on too much responsibility take a step back, and helps some disordered personalities keep themselves in check. But there HAS to be a better way of accomplishing those things.)

  • seeker

    we are all betting our lives on something, that we are right about something, all i hear from this blog is "they are wrong, they are wrong", but what are you betting your life on, how do you help those in pain, actually help rather than swap platitudes for generalizations …….

  • seeker, what exactly are you asking?

    Our members are betting on themselves — on their power and agency and wholeness — as opposed to "powerlessness" and "chronic disease." They have been harmed by AA, and here on this blog, they support each other while they deprogram, connect with people after finding that their "AA" friends aren't speaking to them anymore. They reach out to others in who are blinking into the light after years of 12 Stepping. And we are all fighting for a change in the treatment industry.

    "swap platitudes for generalizations" is a cute (meaningless) turn of phrase, but we are very, very specific here.

  • Ben Franklin

    Seeker WTF, who said you have to bet your life on anything. This is a muckraking blog. We muck rake here and in the process help people who are too smart for the program. Some people are in pain from employing pretzel logic to fit into some kind of contradictory,debasing full of shit 12 step bamboozle. I fucking hate AA and love that I fucking hate AA. It's antiscience ,antithinking ,morally bankrupt existence and undeserved place in treatment of disorders makes me ill. This is progress. This is being right about something. Telling people they don't have to believe in bullshit helps people in pain. They might even quit drinking. I did when I found out the truth.

  • SoberPJ

    @ seeker.. if you really are a seeker, seek the truth. Learn EXACTLY what Buchmanism is and learn why the beginning of Chapter 5 is a total lie that you have been conned into believing and maybe the door of reason will crack open for you too. It did for me… It works, it really does 🙂

  • seeker

    Thanks for pointing that out Ben F and I apologize for my mistake. At first glance the site looked like a real attempt to peek behind the myth and mantra; to somehow distill something of value I could take away – which quite frankly, muck raking and naysaying, while fun and all, does not really help me with.

    I am not advocating you endorse alternatives, as much as provide a list of options for those "too smart for the program".

    For what it is worth, I may be operating with dissimilar assumptions as it seems to be different here down under. While the stair climbers are indeed numerous, they are by no means the only game in town for those looking for treatment options.

  • seeker

    Sober PJ, putting aside for a moment your assumptions of who I am and what I believe, I am genuinely interesting in how your crack in the door of reason creates a result; other than an opposing view of course.

  • seeker, there's a list of links to recovery resources on the right sidebar…

  • tintop

    seeker, a "crack in the door of reason" as you put it begins the process. You may wish to keep seeking. Of course you do not need to.

  • SoberPJ

    S ,.. For me, one result was realizing I was in a downward spiral created by trying to believe lies that were creating a cognitive dissonance that was becoming unbearable. Once I discovered the truth about where I really was and what it was doing to me, I reached out for like-minded people that had found the courage to leave a dysfunctional and dangerous organization. I found those courageous people here and elsewhere and didn't even know they existed for my 16 years in the program. With their help, I have crawled out of the cesspool that is the 12 Step ecosystem and find that I feel much better now that I am out. The 12 Steps are faith-healing mumbo jumbo created by a lunatic – Bill W. – to further the agenda of another nut job – Buchmann. The program is chock full of lies and reality distortions that I couldn't see while I was under the its spell. In addition to an opposing point of view, is a much more confident, free and happier human being. I no longer have to pay penence for behavior that is 20 years old and re-live it daily so I don't "forget where I came from" and I am not in any fear of jails or institutions and I have a normal and healthy fear of death. I've been there and done the 12 Step horseshit and I have done hundreds of hours of research with an open mind and an additional result is knowing the truth about a faith healing organization that, in its aggregate, does far more harm to society than it does good. The open minded research only leads to that conclusion. The truth is all around the rooms, just not in the rooms. If you are a stepper, you should try it – real, brutal research into the efficacy and honesty of the entire 12 Step ecosystem, it is very enlightening.

  • JPR

    The very fact that the "pro AA'ers" and "12 steppers" visit this site and indulge in the discussion says to me that they're not truly convinced that their course of recovery is not the right path…..?

    I mean if I actually believed that the programme and steps worked I wouldn't bother arguing my belifs on here, would you?

    I don't see any of my AA "friends" anymore. Not even had a phone call from any of the group members. These were "my Family" and yet once I'd decided it wasn't for me not so much as "a how are you" phone call. So that says it all to me really.

    Now, to turn this around, I am actually generally interested to learn how some of these other people are doing, which I think is quite normal human behaviour.

    You get my drift and how the programme works as a closed cult that doesn't really care for the problem drinker/alcoholic?

  • humanspirit

    I'm not any kind of marketing person, but it always struck me that the slogan "No-one's too stupid for this program but plenty of people are too smart" doesn't really inspire confidence. It suggests that if you're thick as pigshit the program can be OK, but if you have a modicum of intelligence it's not for you. I'll suggest that line to our product promotion people at work and see what they think . . .

    @seeker What is it that you're "betting your life on"? Are you really betting your life on "being right about something"? Seems a very strange approach to life to me. Much better to approach life in a spirit of understanding that what you think is right is not necessarily so, and be open to other possibilities – which is what people on this site generally try to do. Not an attitude encouraged by diehard 12-steppers, of course, who are convinced they are right about everything and have all the answers – is this because God told them the answers or was it Bill Wilson?

    @ftg : “swap platitudes for generalizations” is a cute (meaningless) turn of phrase, but we are very, very specific here.


  • tintop

    seeker did a drive by rant

  • humanspirit


    "I mean if I actually believed that the programme and steps worked I wouldn’t bother arguing my belifs on here, would you?

    I don’t see any of my AA “friends” anymore. Not even had a phone call from any of the group members. These were “my Family” and yet once I’d decided it wasn’t for me not so much as “a how are you” phone call. So that says it all to me really.

    Now, to turn this around, I am actually generally interested to learn how some of these other people are doing, which I think is quite normal human behaviour.

    You get my drift and how the programme works as a closed cult that doesn’t really care for the problem drinker/alcoholic?"

    Yes, it is very strange that so many steppers come to sites like this to tell others that they are wrong (though I'm glad they do). But why? Can only think it's a feeble attempt to carry out their 12th step. Which as far as I'm concerned is the most insidious step of all – you're not working your personal program enough (for which the consequence is insanity or death) if you don't recruit other people, so you have to keep doing it. What exactly is the "message" of the 12th step? To stop drinking and stay stopped? Don't think so somehow.

    The rest of your post just proves that you are a normal well-functioning person with natural and genuine concerns about other people. And yes, it says it all.

  • SoberPJ

    I think seeker will be back …

  • humanspirit

    I hope so.

  • Primrose

    JPR, don't put AAs off coming here. We want them to come, don't we? The non-ranters are especially welcome to me. I hope AoC and Seeker tell all their cultie-mates to have a look at this site.

  • becca-sue

    My bf has been in AA for 3 yrs now. Our distance, we live 900 miles apart, and the fact we've been great friends for many years has afforded me the opportunity to watch his fall and rise from drinking to becoming a sober functioning adult.

    He believed that AA was his only choice. Once in, it was drilled into his head that this was the only way to stay alive. Meanwhile, I kept my mouth shut and was simply a cheerleader for everyday he had sober.

    My personal take is that drinkers choose to drink. They also choose to quit. Making poor choices is not a disease. Take some responsiblity for yourself. However, its his life, if these are the strategies he needs to employ to stay sober – so be it.

    So yesterday he tells me he's been talking to his sponsor and his wife, and he thinks al anon would be good for me. The wife says its really helped her with her control issues. What? Why are you talking about me to strangers? And about my control issues? And now you want me…ME!? The cheerleader, the support, the best friend through thick and thin to become part of your alcoholic nightmare!? I don't think so!! I'd worked very hard to let him be a drunk, let him get help, let him relapse, let him get sober again. Like I said, it was his life.

    So I said 'um I don't know about that'…long pause then he said 'would you go to an alanon meeting with me sometime?'

    I said I'd think about it…it kills me to think that he's become so blind to the real reasons for being and staying sober. Its all his choice.

    Plus, the whole mentality that I need to be part of this AA bullshit so that I can be more helpful to him in his recovery?

    Like I haven't done enough?

  • SoberPJ

    Yep, its a swirling sucking vortex that wants to get everybody who breaths under its spell. It is a religion and "if everyone would just adopt it and do the steps, and live by their spiritual principles", the world would be just peachy. Not buyin it.

  • Z

    Becca-Sue, he's 900 miles away and has had all sorts of problems, and now wants to involve you in the 12 step vortex. Maybe you're better off going back to just friends?

  • Primrose

    Becca-Sue, Z has plenty of experience of al-anon, and the deep problems it brings. I cannot advise you any more strongly to step aside. Step aside. You will end up admitting to having character defects that have contributed to the problem. Glad you have found this site to enable you to read about the 'benefits' of this 'recovery' program.

    You are absolutely right that it is not a disease. But your bf will probably have been well brainwashed by now into believing it is a disease, not a choice. Put your foot down. Or be good friends. I don't think there exists a problem that can not be made worse by joining a cult.

  • Mona Lisa

    Becca-Sue, I was in AA for many years. Before the shade went up, I tried mightily to get my husband to join Al-Anon. He absolutely, steadfastly refused to do so; he wouldn't even try one meeting. At the time I was annoyed with him–I wanted him to "join the fold" in the only way that "normies" can–but now I'm absolutely thrilled that he refused to give in and become the same sort of drooling zombie that I was. His calm and rational influence was one of the things that helped me come to my senses.

  • AllyB

    Becca-Sue, I went through a lot of this about 6 months ago. My husband was going to AA and all of his new "buddies" were insisting that I needed to go to al-anon. It was really upsetting.

    I actually went to al-anon when I first realised how bad things were getting with his drinking, nearly two years ago. I was lucky enough in that I never experienced any of the horror stories I heard from others and I went knowing that AA programs are largely full of crap but figuring I could just skip the parts I didn't like. (In fact I would always show up 20 mins late so I could skip the Mexican Wave of steps and tradition reciting.) I found it reasonably helpful at first. I had spent years not truly facing the fact that my husband's drinking was getting worse and worse so actually going to a group like that meant that I had no choice but to stop hiding from the problem. And if you are dealing with an alcoholic who is still convinced their drinking is fine some of the advice is helpful. – For example leaving him to wake up on the floor in a mess after he passed out instead of putting him to bed.

    But once he accepted he really did have a problem but still couldn't stop drinking the advice starts going looney tunes. What is the point in detaching from someone who is out of control and freaking out about it? What good does it do to let him hit rock bottom or screw up his career? What exactly was wrong with the fact that we'd agreed when he was sober that I'd put our savings in my name and limit his access to our current account? (This had nothing to do with controlling him and everything to do with protecting our future financially, he'd spent 10s of 1000s in a very short period of time and ballsed up his credit rating. We also both work freelance and because of this and his credit rating we are hoping to buy a house mortgage-free in 3-5 years so our savings are important.) But trying to manage our finances was a sign of "my disease." They tell you to detach from "your" alcoholic but you are hardly very detached if you are sitting in a room with a bunch of other people with alcoholic loved ones supposedly talking about yourself, are you? Some of the people I met had divorced their alcoholic spouse nearly a decade before and others had partners who hadn't drank problematically in years and were still attending. They scared the hell out of me, tbh. I reached a point where I was getting a lot more from relaxing on my couch and watching movies in the evenings than I was from those meetings, so I stopped going.

    Then a year later my husband in desperation decides try AA. Within about 3 weeks I was constantly hearing that X said I really need to be in Al-Anon, Y thinks I'll never be able to get better if you don't go to Al-Anon. I knew I'd feel worse if I started going back to meetings but that was my disease talking. The worst thing was my husband got worse and worse while he was in AA, he'd had bad periods before but nothing like how utterly out of control he got while he was going to those meetings – while at the same time becoming a sanctimonious twat. Perhaps if he had been getting better while attending AA I'd have gone back to Al-Anon but it was clearly not working for him so why would I subject myself to such nonsense too? I do not have a disease (well I might come down with Ménière's at some point as it runs in the family), you do not have a disease, you don't need to go to those stupid, stupid meetings. Because it's not a support group, even though some of the people there are lovely. It is a weird illogical, nonsense spouting group, which convinces so many vulnerable people that they have something pathologically wrong with them because a person they love is drinking too much.

  • Primrose

    Round of applause and Mexican wave for AllyB telling it like it is.

    Because it’s not a support group, even though some of the people there are lovely. It is a weird illogical, nonsense spouting group, which convinces so many vulnerable people that they have something pathologically wrong with them because a person they love is drinking too much.

    Amen. I do hope that has saved you some years of disentangling your brain from this nonsense. Some of us have to go through it so that innocents like you may avoid the headsplode.

  • wow AllyB, I hope what ever you're doing in life now is OK. I hope your man–I could not tell from your post–is no longer in AA. OR, if he is, you're abl eto survive it. And that is pretty badass that you're buying a house martgage free.

  • Mona Lisa

    Oh, by the way, my EX-husband (both of us have remarried) started going to Al-Anon regularly AFTER I left him. My understanding is that he still goes, even though all of "his" alcoholics (me and his mother) have been sober for years (12, 18).

    I'm convinced that his Al-Anon attendance has done nothing positive for him; he has learned the concept of "detachment" so well that he alienated himself from both our children when they were going through their teen years. "Detachment" can be a good concept when you're talking about leaving a drunk in his own vomit, but not when you're talking about abandoning people when they don't meet your expectations.

  • humanspirit

    @Becca-sue and @Allyb

    Both wonderful posts. As in AA, you really can't win as far as Al-Anon is concerned. It doesn't matter how well-balanced and normal you actually are, you're either a "controller" (= you try to get the person in your life to stop killing him/herself with booze) or an "enabler" (= you don't try to get the person in your life to stop killing him/herself with booze) . If you are concerned about that person, you have a 'disease' and are 'addicted' yourself. And the people telling you all this know nothing about you at all!

    AllyB – Yes, what you say about 'detachment' is so true. Basing your whole life around the fact that a loved one drinks too much (or used to) and sitting in meetings obsessing about it is the complete opposite of 'detachment'. Now that kind of behaviour truly is weird.

    Al-Anon would have had me and his family leave my partner to die a miserable, preventable and lonely death if we'd taken any notice of them, because he was way past the stage of being able to help himself. But I guess that wouldn't have mattered because they would have managed to recruit a few more people to the 12-step faith.

    They probably don't realize what complete callous bastards they are. But they are anyway.

  • AllyB

    The thing that bothered me most about when my husband's AA "buddies" were telling him I should be in al anon is that at first I naively assumed it was their way of showing concern for me. I would explain that I was okay and I had gotten as much good from al anon as I could imagine getting and I was much better off actually doing things I wanted to.

    But no, the urges to go to al anon had nothing to do with me and what I might need. The "concern" was I wouldn't be any use to my husband unless I was doing steps too and dealing with my issues. It couldn't possibly be that my issue was concern for my husband and annoyance with the fact that he was getting worse and worse while spouting nonsensical phrases at me.

    Violet he's not in AA any more, he only lasted a few months. I think he got so bad because he knew AA was a lot of crap but he was so frightened that it made him desperate so he was trying really, really hard to fit in with them and copy the people who'd gotten sober. He also had a counsellor who we thought was not a stepper but turned out to be and he just added to the crazy. He's trying baclofen now, which he's having good results with, and using the My Way Out forums for peer support.

    (The house buying thing isn't so impressive, were still a long way off from that and it's only something we might manage because house prices in Ireland are falling far, far faster than we can save. But the banking system is so broken here we'd never get a mortgage as freelancers.)

  • humanspirit

    @Allb "But no, the urges to go to al anon had nothing to do with me and what I might need. The “concern” was I wouldn’t be any use to my husband unless I was doing steps too and dealing with my issues. It couldn’t possibly be that my issue was concern for my husband and annoyance with the fact that he was getting worse and worse while spouting nonsensical phrases at me."

    Of course. Being told to go to Al-Anon is nothing to do with any concerns about you as a person. Several steppers got mightily pissed off with me (especially those in the rehab centre my partner was in) because I said I had no intention of going to Al-Anon. Why should they get so pissed off about it if it was ostensibly for my own benefit?

    I was fortunate in that my partner never bought into the stepper nonsense. If he had, I think that really would have been it!

    But be under no illusion that while your husband was in AA, you would not have been viewed as anything but a malign influence because you refused to buy into the 12-step crap yourself. This is how I was viewed by the steppers in the rehab place my partner was in (I mean, FFS, I was the one who got him that 'help' in the first place!)

    My partner was fortunate in that the follow-up counselling he got was good and the counsellor assured him that all his reservations about the 12-step approach were completely rational. He has only just told me that while he was in the rehab centre he was told not to trust any non-12-step counselling he might get afterwards. (These people have absolutely got to be stopped from peddling this insidious and completely counter-productive nonsense!)

    Any chance of your husband getting some kind of decent counselling?

  • AllyB

    His plan counselling wise is to look in to counselling for specific issues rather than an alcohol "specialist" It's just a big fear that once you say alcohol issues the pressure is on to go to AA because most people assume it's a force for good with great results.

    At the moment it's not possible because he is working really long hours, which isn't ideal but it does satisfy him in a way nothing else could, his job has always been a vocation for him rather than a means to earn money. I'm very, very glad that he managed to inflict minimal damage on his career during his heavy drinking periods. If he'd hit "rock bottom" and lost his work I honestly think he would be lost. How anyone thinks it's easier to rebuild your life from tatters than it is to rebuild it when it's still quite functional is beyond me?

  • humanspirit


    Yes, the myth of having to hit "rock bottom" is yet another one. It's like, you can't ever begin to stop yourself drinking till you've lost absolutely everything and are living on the streets. This is clearly ludicrous. I guess the really "rock bottom" people are those that AA are more likely to recruit from though. (Unless they're dead, obviously, which is the ultimate rock bottom.)

    And haven't most studies shown that it is when people still have something to lose that they have much more motivation to stop drinking or drugging? Makes sense to me – if you've lost everything already, why bother? The possibility of losing your wife, or your job or your kids is surely what gives a lot of people a huge motivation to quit,

    I don't think the counsellor my partner went to see was specifically an 'alcohol' counsellor – which was probably a very good thing, If he was, he didn't know much about the 12-step programme, and was quite fascinated by what my partner told him about it from a professional point of view (he was very interested in cults, apparently!)

    It was actually being made redundant, in middle age, after having worked all his life in a well-paid professional capacity, that eventually led my partner into the downward spiral of hopelessness and drinking. And yes, I'm pretty sure that if he had still been working, it wouldn't have been that way. Of course another person might not have reacted to serious depression like that, and I'm sure not everyone does. But the idea that external circumstances might have anything to do with a person's drinking is absolute anathema to steppers. Which just goes to prove how little they know about human beings.

  • Hope

    Last night I was looking for some information on topics for Al-Anon. I was chairing the meeting and the topics were Step Eleven and Attitude. In doing the google search, I came upon this site. As i started to read it, I realized that I would not be getting anything in the way of information on my topics. I did not have time to continue reading as I needed to leave to go to my Al-Anon Meeting. However, this morning I began to thoroughly read all the postings on this site and I am appalled. Iniitially, as I am reading, I felt a sense of surprise and then disbelief, then I began to feel insulted, and then I began to feel anger and dismay. And now, I have decided to put my own feelings out there. I started going to Al-Anon a few months ago when I finally acknowledged that a family member was an alcoholic. It had been staring me in the face for a while but I had so many other stresses going on for the past few years that i was not totally myself and I was barely hanging on myself. Most of these stresses had nothing to do with the Alcoholic but maybesome of those stresses were affecting him and pushing him in the direction of drinking. I went to Al-Anon initially because I wanted somebody to give me instructions on how to stop the drinking. Well, needless to say, I did not get that! instead, I found a group of people who were loving and caring. They were not judmental or critical. If you needed to talk, they listened. If you were crying, they held your hand or gave you a hug. They did ask me to come back and to try this for at least 6 weeks before making a decision on whether this programme was right for me. I felt no pressure, no one tried to influence me. they just held their group meeting and talked about the steps and traditions and they shared their own thoughts about their experiences and challlenges. At a time in my life when I was sinking and almost drowning in my desperation with nowhere to turn, going to Al-Anon has been a life-saver. It is working for me and I am extremely happy that I was able to find it. My whole perception of myself and how I was in the past is beginning to change. Al-Anon is not there not was it ever there to help the Alcoholic – it is there to help the person affected by the alcoholic. Most of us desperately want the alcoholic to stop drinking. What we realise is that none of us are able to change anybody else. We can only change ourselves – if we so desire. I have choices and so does the alcoholic. I can choose to let that person overwhelm me with the behaviour or I can choose to heal myself and learn to have the tools to continue on in my life. The alcoholic has choices – he/she can choose to continue drinking and allow his behaviour to affect all his loved ones or he can choose to not drink. If going to AA helps this person to change his behaviour and to stop drinking, that is a good thing. If Al-Anon helps the person affected by someone's drinking, then that is a good thing. If either of these groups do not help you personally, then you can choose not to attend – no one is forcing you. I do think, however, that the decision lies with each individual to make that choice . It is obvious from some of the statements made here that you have made the decision that these programmes are not working for you. That is fine. What I sense here is a lot of anger, frustration and even downright hate towards these groups. This I don't understand. Were you forced to attend? Did somebody physically push into these meetings against your will? Were you tied to the chair and made to listen? In this world, we have many religions, many organisations, many resources. Not everyone attends the same church or belongs to the same religion. Not everybody likes football. Not everybody likes to run the marathon.

    We are free to choose. Therefore, if AA and Al-Anon are not for you, then please choose something that will work for you. But, please, allow those of us who have found and are benefiting from these programmes some respect and dignity as we struggle to cope with our daily challenges and experiences.

  • Dear Hope,

    I know (and you can assume that everyone here has experience with AA and Al-Anon for a reason) that you're going through a really difficult thing, and that Al-Anon is your lifeline. So I can imagine that reading around this blog was painful for you.

    You can clearly see that many of the people here did not find any "respect and dignity" in AA, and in fact lost a great deal to these programs. Anger is the appropriate response to violation, so pointing out that we are angry does not have the same shaming effect that it has on people "in the rooms," where you're not allowed to be angry or resentful.

    It seems as if you feel entitled to peruse the internet without having to see anything that contradicts what you believe. But just as you believe that Al-Anon is helping you, the people here on Stinkin Thinkin find community, support, sanity and a soft landing which is important to us.

    I'm curious to know, since you bring up the fact that we have all these options: if Al-Anon didn't exist, where would you go for support? Did you try any other programs?

    People certainly are coerced into attending AA/Al-Anon. Of course, no one has a gun to anyone's head; no one is tied to a chair– but that's such a spurious argument. Just about every element of our culture funnels people into AA: courts, mental health professionals, substance abuse counselors, families, popular culture, employers.

    Since you're so new to the program, you are probably not aware of the reach or the abuses that are rampant in the rooms — and since you seem to have found a good group, maybe you'll be immune from it forever. But many people here experienced AA much the way you experience living with an alcoholic spouse. The way you describe losing yourself — that's what our members experienced after years (some had decades in there). They committed to the program, and gave their lives to it. It was their family. They experienced and witnessed abuses and indignities in the rooms, and believed that it was their own failure, not AA's. But you'd like them to just walk away like nothing happened, to suffer that one last indignity of just shutting up about it because it might make you uncomfortable? What makes your challenge more important or worthy of respect than theirs? Why is the existence of our blog an affront to your dignity? That's a pretty dramatic, don't you think?

    Anyway, Hope, you have choices, too — don't forget that.

  • Hope

    I am not questioning that there should be a blog. You have the right to state your opinion and if you wish, put it out there fore everyone to read. It is for that very reason, that I am responding because I was perusing the internet and found your site and recognized that it was contradictory. That is why I came back and read every single posting. Yes, I am new to Al-Anon but I do have a mind – a thinking mind – and I certainly can listen and read about differing opnions. You asked the question where would I go for support if there was no Al-Anon? A very good question – what is there out there? – and if the answer is – there is nothing else out there – then it begs the question – why not? Any why has Al-Anon been around for so many years? And why has there not been anything else for so many years? It should be noted that people who attend these meetings are humans – and probably very dysfunctional humans – capable of all of the behavious that any person can have. Just because they attend these meetings does not mean they will do the right and honourable thing. If they are control freaks, they will control wherever they go. If they critical and judgmental – they will continue to be that way, Again, each person has to be willing to do some self-evaluation and then make the decision to change. Some people find they are able to change using the programme. Some people are not. They either try to change the people at the meetings or they leave in anger and frustration because they did not find they solution they think they need. So, let me ask you. If there is nothing out there other than Al-Anon – maybe all of you that have had no success with Al-Anon should come together and maybe put together something that will meet the needs of all of you. Al-Anon does not have to be the only programme. I strongly believe in equal opportunity. So, rally together and get something going for all those who did not benefit from this programme. You can use the format they have as your starting point – just take everything you did not like about the programme and toss them out or replace them with what you think should be more appropriate for your cause. Although I am finding some great benefits from my meetings, I would certainly be very willing to look at what your programme had to offer as well. I believe that I should look at all there is to offer out there. No one person and no one philsophy is complete on itsown. I take what I want and what I beleive will help me. And if there is more being offered then we have more to choose from. I try to learn from all my experiences and from all that I read and from all the people I meet. I do recognise that alot of people think that they are right and that I should do what they say. If you look at the 12 steps there is nothing in the way it is written that says we have to do anything. It is written in such a way that you are offered these thoughts and you can read them and then decide if you want to act upon them. They also suggest trying a number of different groups – not just one. They also suggest that you take what you want and leave the rest. AA does not offer a cure – it does not instruct you on how to stop drinking. As we all know, at this point in time there is no cure – only abstinence. AA – offers you tools to help you to abstain. You have to choose to do that or not – even if you have not stopped drinking, you can still go. Al-Anon is there for you whenever – you can go for a while and then stop. Then you can go back. You can go to several different meetings or just one. With regard to one of the postings that says she was to told to detach from her alcoholic and how could they ask her to do that. She loved that person and cared very deeply about their welfare. It is my understanding that we are not being advised to detach from loving that person. In fact, they words I read were "lovingly detach" – this is very different. My understanding from that was that I could continue to love the person but detach myself from the constant obsessing about their drinking – how many – how often – the lies – the manipulations – trying to control them . This is what we have to detach from. Not the person. Again, I cannot change them or their behaivour – I can only change myself. In order to change myself, I will avail myself of all that is out their that will help me. So, if you can provide me with advice and the tools to cope with my situation, I will only be too ready to listen and learn.

  • AllyB


    As far as I'm concerned much of the advice given out in al-anon is terrible and contributes to ruined relationships and at times the needless death of addicts. Detaching from someone who acknowledges they have a problem but is frightened and desperate is cruel for absolutely no good reason and you just push them over the edge you could have helped them away from. If I had followed that awful, awful advice I have no doubt my husband would have died aged 32.

    I actually did listen to it and give it a go for a while and like I said earlier, for helping an addict to realise they do have a problem it's helpful. But after that you should not continue with the same tactics, it only destroys their ability to have faith in themselves.

    Thankfully once I saw the damage it was causing I quit following it and trusted my own instincts. I let my husband know that I would fight with him and we'd get him through it. I researched and I researched what he wasn't capable of and I found him alternative after alternative which all had varying degrees of success. Eventually I moved from psychology to neurochemistry and found him a medical therapy which almost instantly "cured" him. Within a very short time I had my husband back, my marriage back, we are planning to start trying for a baby soon. His family are over the moon, my family are incredibly happy, our friends can relax again. None of that would be possible if I'd detached from his drinking.

    I think of all of the people I know who have done the al-anon thing and just don't want to know that there are really, real alternatives. I'm often met with hostility for daring to suggest there are a myriad of options and there is nothing wrong with helping a troubled loved one. It is in fact a good thing to do.

    If you want to actually help your loved one, and by extension everyone who cares about that loved one, then let them realise how bad their problem is and when they are ready for help. Help them.

  • AllyB, Thank you for expanding on "detachment." I keep thinking about that thread over on soberrecovery, where they were advising that guy who's girlfriend was being sexually harassed at AA. They told him that he needed to butt out and let her deal with that herself. The woman was being stalked, and the Al-Anon wisdom was "it's none of your business" and "She's an alcoholic, so she's lying."

    This is not how emotionally healthy people behave.

    Here's the link:

  • AllyB

    Take a look at this thread, home to this beaut; "In her mind, I think, she felt empowered by her ability to quit drinking." That to me seems like a perfectly natural emotion for an addict to have if they quit their addiction. But to this guy it was the last straw! And so far at least 5 people thanked his post!! How about applauding her effort and success? Or if maybe you still find the relationship is over for whatever reason not using her strength as your excuse?

    I am honestly ashamed that I ever sought advice/comfort from these people. But the thing is when you live with an addict you are often so lonely and worn down that you seek out comfort from people who you feel understand. You twist your own words and thoughts into ways that you know will find approval. (At least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.) 🙁


  • humanspirit

    @Hope “I was chairing the meeting and the topics were Step Eleven and Attitude.”

    This is the step that says “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

    Well, it’s only taken you a few months to be leading these meetings and to have bought into the 12-step philosophy, hasn’t it? Could you please tell me what on earth this step has to do with anyone stopping drinking?

    @Hope You were told “to try this for at least 6 weeks before making a decision on whether this programme was right for me. There was no pressure” – Except to go there for six weeks. A long time if you’re dealing with a loved one who recognizes that s/he has a problem and who’s dying.

    @Hope “The alcoholic has choices – he/she can choose to continue drinking and allow his behaviour to affect all his loved ones or he can choose to not drink.”

    (And you have the choice to get the hell out of there.)

    Presumably you didn’t read my original post. There comes a point in advanced physical addiction to alcohol when there is little choice at all – it’s called serious addiction. The alcoholic will be advised by doctors – however desperate they are to stop – not to quit suddenly, as this can be fatal. However, alcoholics, by definition, are not capable of drinking moderately. Such people need medically supervised detox, and are usually not capable of getting this for themselves. What is the al-anon advice in this situation? I’ll tell you – it is to do NOTHING except go to al-anon meetings and concentrate on your own selfish agenda.

    @Hope “What I sense here is a lot of anger, frustration and even downright hate towards these groups.”

    Too damn right. Some people are furious at ‘these groups’. The 12-step programme has ultimately nothing to do with alcoholism or trying to overcome addiction, but somehow it has managed to convince the whole world otherwise. Other people have been seriously fucked over by al-anon itself, who seek to convince them that they are suffering from a ‘disease’ because someone close to them drinks too much.

    @Hope “But, please, allow those of us who have found and are benefiting from these programmes some respect and dignity as we struggle to cope with our daily challenges and experiences.”

    Ftg has answered this piece of pompous self-pity and martyrdom. But my answer would be, please will AA 12-step groups just butt out of the serious issue of alcoholism and addiction.

    @Hope “if the answer is – there is nothing else out there – then it begs the question – why not? Any why has Al-Anon been around for so many years?”

    Longevity has nothing to do with any particular philosophy being a good one. I think the ideas of fascism, Catholicism, Islam and human sacrifice pre-date AA (though in the former case, AA sure managed to give it support). Telling alcoholics to convert to Islam or any other religion that prohibits alcohol would work wonders and they have been around for a whole lot longer.

    @Hope “I would certainly be very willing to look at what your programme had to offer as well.”

    You seem to be under the illusion that you need to enter a religious “programme” to cope with the very common human problem of addiction. Have you tried seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist to deal with your issues?

    @Hope “If you look at the 12 steps there is nothing in the way it is written that says we have to do anything.”

    And if you enter a 12-step programme (for longer than the few months you have) you will see that you absolutely have to do lots of things. Believing in a micro-meddling god being just one of them.

    @Hope “As we all know, at this point in time there is no cure – only abstinence. AA – offers you tools to help you to abstain. You have to choose to do that or not – even if you have not stopped drinking, you can still go.”

    No, AA insists on much more than “abstinence”. You are obviously unfamiliar with the programme.

    @Hope “My understanding from that was that I could continue to love the person but detach myself from the constant obsessing about their drinking – how many – how often – the lies – the manipulations – trying to control them . This is what we have to detach from. Not the person. Again, I cannot change them or their behaivour – I can only change myself. In order to change myself, I will avail myself of all that is out their that will help me. So, if you can provide me with advice and the tools to cope with my situation, I will only be too ready to listen and learn.”

    Well, instead of trying to control this person’s behaviour, why don’t you just leave him/her? My advice to you about dealing with person – who, as you have said, is not so advanced in his/her drinking as to not be able to quit when they want to – is to give them a good kick up the arse (metaphorically speaking, of course). They can choose either you, or drinking. Tell them that you won’t put up with their behaviour any more and mean it. Al-anon will teach you that you have a disease and that you have to change because of the other person’s behaviour. Sod that.

    And, @Hope, why do people carry on going to al-anon for years after the alcoholic in their life have stopped drinking? Surely their ‘codependency’, ‘controlling’ or ‘enabling’ problems have been solved once that person has stopped drinking?


    @AllyB “Detaching from someone who acknowledges they have a problem but is frightened and desperate is cruel for absolutely no good reason and you just push them over the edge you could have helped them away from. If I had followed that awful, awful advice I have no doubt my husband would have died aged 32.”

    As I’ve said before on these pages – exactly. The al-anon philosophy would just have you leave that person to die, when you could have done something to prevent that death. This was the situation I was in, and the whole point of the original post. In the end, my feeling was just one of feeling desperately sorry for my partner who was crying out for help, knew he was dying, and was terrified. He needed someone to step in and try to get that help for him. I was even criticized by al-anon members for trying to get him to eat something when he had been living for weeks on a diet of wine and cigarettes and was seriously dehydrated and malnourished. They are inhuman. I wouldn’t have left my worst enemy to die a death like that.

  • Hope, We’re not in the habit here of trying to talk anyone out of AA or Al-Anon, but you have to understand that the reason this blog exists and thrives is that the members here have enormous experience — many long years — with AA. Not only have we heard the “take what you want” and “they’re just suggestions” mantras, many of us believed that and spread that information to new members, too. I mean, we didn’t dedicate a blog to something we’re completely ignorant about. There is really nothing you can tell us about how AA or Al-Anon is supposed to work that will be news to us. What might be news to you, however, is that AA doesn’t actually work the way it’s supposed to. But, like I said, we’re not here to talk anyone out of anything that they find valuable. The information is here.

    We don’t have an interest in starting a program. The mission of the blog is pretty clear, and this is what we’re choosing to pursue. I mean, we’re already doing exactly what we want to do. However, if you’re interested in resources and information beyond AA or the 12-Steps, we have a list of links in the right sidebar. And it might not even be complete. In fact, just yesterday, I stumbled upon this one: — a woman’s program that was created to honor one’s powerfulness, as opposed to powerlessness.

  • Hope

    To all you who responded, I thank you for your input. I will think about all of this very carefully. I will certainly explore all the links in the side-bar. As I said before, I am willing to learn as much as I can. I am saddened to hear what you have all experienced and I do hope that you are all in better places now and that you were able to find what you were looking for. I would never desert my loved one, I make that assertion right now in case you think that my words written gave you that belief. If he came to me and asked me to help him, I would be jumping at that chance. I will always love him and I will always be there for him. What I am doing right now is trying to cope with a situation where he is not asking for help and, to a great degree, is trying to pretend that he does not have a problem. This is very hard as I very much want to help him and I am not able to because he won’t acknowledge it. A lot of the words you use are the same as I use, but you sound like you are talking in a different language. Nothing I have heard is remotely similar to what you have experienced. What I am hearing is not what you are hearing. I will not be posting here anymore but again, I thank you all for your replies and I sincerely send you my warmest wishes for a better future.

  • humanspirit


    First of all I should apologise for the snarkiness of some of my comments above. This whole subject makes me spitting mad, but I guess you're not responsible for it personally even if you do support it.

    I must say, though, that you are just another one of the many people I've asked who will not give an answer to the simple question, what does the 12-step programme have to do with helping people to overcome addiction or to deal with an alcoholic in their family? Take the eleventh step that you were going to lead off on, for example – it is clearly completely irrelevant to what Al-anon is ostensibly about. If people wanted to pray to God and seek out 'his' will for them, surely a much better place for them to go would be to a church?

    I think it's a cruel and quite cynical trick to play on anyone on the part of AA and a very deceitful way of recruiting into a dubious religious programme invented by a fraudulent salesman in the 1930s. Vulnerable people are drawn in with the promise of some kind of help for a specific problem and then overt attempts are made to pressurize them into a religious conversion (and I don't care how much AAs claim it's 'spiritual not religious'' , btw) . And – I can't say this enough – it has NOTHING to do with alcoholism and has no place in any support group purporting to address the issues of alcoholism.

    AA, Al-anon, etc., should openly promote themselves for what they really are, and not pretend to be primarily about helping with the very real problem of alcoholism. Of course people can leave (the vast majority do), but don't forget that these are often people with real problems who need real help. What AA will absolutely not do is direct them to something more appropriate and relevant. I would not have liked to have been in the shoes of some ordinary newcomer in trouble who was confronted with a talk about praying to find out God's will at their first meeting. Why do AA and Al-anon insist on doing this to people?

    You say that if your loved one asked you for help, you'd jump at the chance. However, you might just find that if you ask your Al-anon friends, the only way you will be allowed to 'help' is by directing him to AA. Which has an absolutely appalling failure rate when it comes to getting alcoholics sober, and keeping them that way, so that probably won't help you or him either in the long run. But the point of the original post and of many of the comments is that Al-anon actively preaches AGAINST trying to help. It teaches passivity and inaction even in the most extreme life-and-death cases. If anyone tries to help, they are told they are suffering from the 'disease of codependency' and should 'work their programme' harder. This is simply callous, especially for an organization that promotes itself as a helpful and supportive one.

    I hope for better things for you in the future too (sincerely). But I think most of the people on here are doing OK and all the better for getting AA and/or Al-anon out of their lives.

  • Jim M

    Wow. Was doing some research on CRAFT, AA & Al-Anon and stumbled upon this page. I estimate about 90% of what is said here is either distortion or outright incorrect.

    Please look consider other sources as well as this page if you are looking for information.

  • Where would you suggest people look, Jim M?

    (Our spam filter holds comments with more than a few links, so if you respond with links and it doesn't show up, I'll fish it out and approve it.)

  • howlermonkey

    @Jim M – Like any good AA (only an AA would lie so obviously), you fail to back up a single thing you say with evidence (anecdotal or scientific) or even any sensible rhetoric. I understand that your relationship with reality is "faith" based, but that doesn't cut much ice outside of your own skull. Inside your skull, I doubt your particular faith is doing you much good either.

    If you spent more than a few seconds here, then you know this is a place primarily for people who have been in AA but could not stay because of the dishonesty, violence, dysfunctional behaviors, creepy christians, etc.. And don't forget the number one reason to leave AA, IT DOESN'T WORK. There is no reason it should work, nor can any stepper say how works for them. Instead, all there is is a patchwork of poorly disguised fundamentalist Judeo/Christianity and an assortment of damaged people who firmly believe that they can't get any better and want you to share their fate.

    If you respond, Jim, I'm certain that you'll do so using an array of time-tested thought-stopping slogans. But before you do, take a good look around. We know the slogans too. Only we know why they're 100% bullshit and can tell you why in plain, easy-to-understand language.

    But otherwise, welcome.

  • tintop

    Jim — follow your own advice.

  • AllyB

    CRAFT and al-anon? As far as I'm aware they are completely and utterly different.

    CRAFT's message is "Get Your Loved One Sober" you absolutely have an important role to play in their recovery.

    Al-anon's is "Detach with Love" and "You didn't Cause it, You Can't Cure it, You Can't Control it" leave them to their own devices you sick codie.

    Spot the difference?

  • Jim M

    Exactly. My point is to compare many methods. But from what I read, most of the posts here do not accurately reflect the realities of these and other approahes' principles. The spirit of many of these posts are in the vein of the 9/11 US government pages.

    Best wishes and good luck.

  • Ben Franklin

    Jim thank you drive through.

  • tintop

    another drive by rant.

  • DeConstructor

    It happened again today in Annies mailbox (former Ann Landers or Dear Abby thingy) that they again promoted AA and Al-Anon.

    Al-Anon does not promote cutting of alcoholic family members? That seems a little different than my experience…..

  • AllyB

    Going "no-contact" is a big thing they promote. It never happened to me in my group but when I was actively posting on the SR board I was advised it on a near daily basis. This is a direct quote someone got a few days ago. "Most of the time here on F&F we recommend 100% No Contact. "

    And if not no contact, no support is a big one. Just look at the criticism this woman received for contributing $37.50 a week to her husband's living expenses for a few weeks. (I'm no fan of those sober houses but what's to be gained by refusing someone who is making an effort to not drink less than $200?

    You see Jim, you don't get to claim our experiences are made up. ***This is 2010.*** Almost nothing happens that is reflected online. Fully traceable, fully recorded. It never, ever goes away, SR can even delete it off their site but they don't lose all the caches, and it's all findable, somewhere forever.

    I didn't have to look for more than a couple of seconds to find so many threads where "no contact" is championed. This is just a selection from the last few days.

    There super stickied advise thread;

  • humanspirit

    I followed through a couple of the links you provided (the first and the last), AllyB.

    Both of them were horrific. Was the '10-ways-family-members-can-help ' thing the one ftg was going to front page? I think she should. (I mean it contains very helpful advice – not – like not buying groceries and not paying the rent. Do these people actually live in the real world?) But what I keep coming back to in my mind is, who ARE these people? Where did they get this garbage from (as if I couldn't guess)?

    It is quite funny that people like Jim M come in, slag us off – without giving any reasoned arguments – and then disappear. Not the best kind of 'research method', I wouldn't have thought. Seems like he's made up his mind about these groups already – the phrase 'contempt before inquiry' springs to mind.

  • Addie

    I've always been skeptical of AA's efficacy, but I think there does indeed come a time when a loved one should go "no contact." What's the difference, in your opinion, between compassion and caring and constant beating of one's head against the wall?

    My alcoholic/drug addicted brother has been in and out of programs for the past four years. The last one was a non-AA, year long program that finally seemed to have done the trick. A month after leaving, he was using again. He also gambled away his savings, lost his apartment, and ended up on the streets.

    My family and I have given him our time, our energy, tens of thousands of our hard earned dollars, and our support. We've driven him to doctor appointments, we've paid rent, we've bought groceries, we've picked him up off the street in the middle of the night and given him shelter.

    Just last month, I plunked down yet another chunk of change to keep him housed and in groceries and transport money. The final straw came on Friday when he missed an important appointment with social security to get his benefits reinstated (he also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis) because he was too drunk to move. And he had the gall to call me that evening begging me to pay his hotel room for another month. I quietly put down the phone and didn't answer the dozens of other calls he's made to me in the meantime. And I don't intend to ever pick up another call from him again.

    Tell me, how much more of my sanity, my time, and my money am I supposed to sacrifice at the altar of his insanity? If choosing my life over his is selfish, then color me selfish, because I've had it.

  • Gunthar2000

    Have you ever considered getting your brother into some treatment that doesn't include AA or the 12 steps?

    Have you considered that maybe the time, energy, and money you've spent have been wasted on a treatment that doesn't work, and actually makes some people worse?

  • SoberPJ

    @ Addie.. Sorry you have to go through that. It sounds really painful and difficult.

  • Addie

    Gunthar, as I mentioned in my post, the last stint he spent in rehab was a year long program that was NOT AA based. My brother himsself has rejected AA and does not subscribe to its methods nor attend their meetings. I AGREE with you all on this point.

    Also, the money we have spent on him has not been on treatment (his disability paid for those treatments and stints in the hospital for medical detox); it's been on keeping him housed, fed, etc.

    So, again, my question stands. How long do I do this? Does it become my job? Do I give up everything in my life to help someone who doesn't want to help themselves?

  • Z

    Addie, I'd say you've done enough.

    The Alanon groups I went to appeared to suggest:

    – dumping people unceremoniously if they were your kids and they'd been caught with a joint or something like that, because this was virtuous "detachment"


    – staying in truly exploitative situations with significant others, parents, and siblings, allowing yourself to be abused and "accepting" it was your fault.

    This should be reversed 180 degrees, in my opinion.

  • Addie, humanspirit's case is much much different from yours, in that she was not ready to give up on her husband and had no desire to do so. She didn't want to abandon him. Your desire is different, and you should honor that.

    The critique of Al-Anon isn't based on whether or not one should enforce no-contact with an addict. You'll read here that some people were instructed in alanon NOT to leave their addicted spouse, when that's what they wanted to do. As far as I can tell, whatever your gut instinct is, Alanon will instruct you to do the opposite, because the fundamental belief in AA is that you are also sick and cannot make rational decisions. It's good that you're steering clear of that mess.

    And since you're steering clear of that mess, you are free and justified in doing what is healthy for yourself and your family with a clear conscience. I know that's not easy, and the decision you made to put down the phone must have been painful. But we all have our threshold, and you hit yours.

    There isn't one correct way to deal with situations. But when you're being treated abusively, going no-contact is important. Your brother is treating you abusively when he treats you as if he's entitled to everything you have.

  • Addie

    SoberPJ, thank you. And thank you for not attacking me with the inference that my family and I are to blame for my brother's addiction because we didn't spend the right money on the right treatment for him. Cult talk goes both ways . . .

  • Addie

    Z and FriendtheGirl, thank you for answering my question. As I have no experience with Al-Anon other than through a friend who explained to me the No Contact option, I have been searching for support groups not related to AA and found you all. But I misconstrued this post as an attack on the No Contact option. Again, I appreciate your clarifications.

  • Z

    ftg: "As far as I can tell, whatever your gut instinct is, Alanon will instruct you to do the opposite, because the fundamental belief in AA is that you are also sick and cannot make rational decisions. It’s good that you’re steering clear of that mess."

    YES. This is key.

    "…when you’re being treated abusively, going no-contact is important."

    ALSO really key.

  • If anyone knows of any alternatives to al-anon, could you post them?

    Addie, check this out:

  • Z

    I learned about CRAFT on this thread, does anyone have experience with it or them?

  • AllyB

    There is the book Getting Your Loved One Sober based on CRAFT techniques. I don't doubt it can work for some people but at the point I read it, it was way too simplistic for what I was dealing with.

  • Gunthar2000


    Sorry, I missed the part about non-AA. My personal experience with rehab is that they are all AA. I'm wondering what type of treatment the rehab your brother went to offered. Finding the right treatment may be a hit and miss. The stages of change model is something that makes a lot of sense to me. It's not easy… You can never sober someone else up.

    If you are asking for my personal opinion (not my "cult" opinion) about whether or not you should continue to support your brother, my answer is… OF COURSE YOU SHOULD.

    This doesn't mean you have to become his caretaker. You should probably set some boundaries. In my opinion, cutting a family member off entirely because they have a drinking problem is wrong.

    I can't imagine the bullshit this guy must be going through. It's bad enough to have to deal with MS… Now he's gonna have to lose his family too.

    Where is your sense of loyalty? What exactly do you think a family is?

    You asked for my opinion… so here I am giving it to you.

    Please don't insinuate that this is some kind of cult talk… I thought this up all by myself… That's what an opinion is.

  • Z

    But Gunthar, you don't know the whole situation. It would be ideal if it were possible to be supportive without being bled dry, yes. But I have seen situations where that is not possible.

  • Gunthar2000

    I would never encourage anyone to cut off all contact with a family member… There are always other options.

  • mfc66

    @Addie – I have a great deal of sympathy for you and very difficult situation you are in. My mother had MS for nearly 50 years and that caused her a great deal of depression as well as the obvious physical problems. She was impossible to be around at times especially when alcohol was taken with valium. Although I would not label her as a straight alcoholic like myself, she had some of the typical traits such as deep insecurity and this could come out as anger at times. It can be very hard dealing with a disabled person in this state.

    She did change as she aged and we got on much better and this can sometimes happen. Your brother has a lot of problems and is inflicting more on himself by drinking. Only he can stop and that will only happen when he wants to. Most of us have a few attempts until we decide to stop for real and that does cause problems for those around us – it certainly did in my own case. Until the person drinking accepts that the alcohol is causing a lot of the depression etc, they will carry on.

    You have to look after yourself and make that your priority. It is easy to get caught up in another person's problems, and it is very stressful when they do not respond in a sensible way. You have done a lot for him but he is not ready to change at the moment. I do still have a good friend from my days in AA with MS and he is a completely changed man who lives a much more fulfilled life as a result of stopping drinking even though his MS is worse. AA did not work for me and it does not sound like your brother likes it either. I wanted to stay stopped and looked at other methods available. I had several attempts with professional help to deal with the issues that caused me to drink until I found someone who was good for me – we all respond in different ways. I hope your brother does get fed up with his lifestyle and do something about it but sadly sometimes that does not happen.

    I wish you the best of luck and it sounds like you have done so much. You really need a break from him at least. Sometimes it is good to just "let off some steam" with some supportive friends and let some of the frustration out.

  • Z

    @Gunthar, you're a man, and that gives you more power. My mother didn't like having contact with her brother because of the times he raped her. Yes, in the end she was the one with the more stable situation and the better life, but I really don't think she owed him a thing.

  • SoberPJ

    @ Addie .. after thinking about this a bit more, I really empathize with how hard this must be. You have sacrificed a lot and reached the end of your rope and are angry ( which is ok). You have every right to any negative feelings. I would feel angry, frustrated and betrayed . The truth may be that you will pick up the phone again in the future because your strong emotions will subside and your caring will resurface. In the meantime, maybe a little research on living places and services for homeless people would be appropriate. I don't know where you live, but where I live there are a few places where down and outs get free shelter, food, etc. That way, you will be prepared to help without investing any more major time and money. Your first priority is to protect you and your family. You probably won't disown him forever, but you need to be very clear and very firm about the limits of your assistance when you do answer that call. If he can call you, then he can use the phone number you give him to call the place you tell him about. No money, no groceries, no free rides, just a number to call or a place to go for help.

    The truth is he could die from the way he is living. Sad, but true. You have the ability to form the story for part of this. Because you seem to have cared and sacrificed to this point, it demonstrates to me that you would have a hard time living with the memory that you turned away from your brother if he died. He may still die from this, but the story will be different if your role moving forward is to simply refer him to places where he can get help. You are helping without further jeopardizing your well-being and monetary future. There is a middle ground here and you can find it.

    Addie, this is just my opinion, and it is based on very little information of what sounds like a difficult situation and I wish you the best outcome for all concerned. Stop back and let us know how it goes.

  • Gunthar2000


    That's horrible what happened to your mother. I'm so sorry to hear that.

    That's just tragic, and of course she should do whatever she needs to do to keep herself safe and sane. I think what we're talking about here though is a guy who has wasted a lot of his families time, and also taken advantage of them financially… It's just not the same at all.

    I said before… My opinion is that I would never encourage anyone to cut off all contact with a family member… There are always other options. It's just something I'm not comfortable with. I guess I wasn't thinking of extreme situations like the one you've described… I'm sorry to have offended you.

  • Gunthar2000


    If you email me at and tell me which area you are in, I'll put together a list of local resources that may help your brother.

    Also… Have you ever heard of a representative payee? That's someone who takes care of your finances for you when you are unable to care for yourself. The option is available to SSDI recipients. I'm not sure about the details, but I can try to find out how it works in your area if you are interested. Sometimes a rep-payee can be mandated, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm pretty sure your brother could hire someone to do it for him.

  • Z

    This is great, Gunthar. The point I'm trying to make, perhaps too dramatically, is about the guilt tripping of women into letting the ne'er-do-well men in their families bleed them dry.

  • Addie

    Gunthar, with all due respect, what about my brother's loyalty and responsibility to this family? For 25 years, he has lived his life in a certain way that has shown NO respect, NO loyalty, NO care for my family. He has kept us in a state of constant emotional, psychological, and financial upheaval. He has caused unbelievable pain and crapped on everything we have done for him. I am not in the middle of my rope. I am at the END of it.

    As for "family," I have never understood why were are supposed to tolerate behavior from family members that we wouldn't tolerate from anyone else. Why? Because we share blood? That's ridiculous.

    Believe me, my brother has played the social services system for many years and is well aware of the resources available to him. This is not his first rodeo. Five years ago, a non-profit group that helps peoples with disabilities would have paid his rent forever, had he only gotten treatment. He refused, they cut off his rent, and my father supported him for another year until he, too, got fed up. As with friends and family, my brother has burned bridges with many of these organizations. I am well aware I could become his representative payee, had he agreed to it and had he made his SSDI appointment. Now that he's missed it, who knows what's going to happen to him.

    I suspect he is out on the streets. And I realize that could kill him. It's not that I don't care; and it's not even that I'm angry because I'm not; it's that I there is nothing else I can DO. Short of institutionalizing him, and I'm not his guardian.

  • Gunthar2000

    When it comes to alcoholism, there can be all kinds of contributing factors.

    Has your brother been diagnosed with a mental illness?

    Is your brother a veteran?

    Some people just drink because they want to drink… Some drink to self medicate.

    I don't know, and I'm not qualified to diagnose your brother. The only thing that I can tell you is that I was once a totally screwed up guy. I made some really bad decisions, and I was so damned drunk all of the time that I couldn't keep my shit together. I watched my life fall apart around me, and there were times when my family thought I was a worthless piece of crap. It took a lot of time and effort before I had the skills to stop making a mess of things. One of the most important things I learned is that the condition of my life has a lot to do with the decisions that I make… Sounds pretty simple, but with a head fulla squash rot, and a gut fulla vodka, the problem didn't seem so simple.

    With four years sober my life has changed in a huge way. I love my family more than I could even describe. I'm so happy they hung in there and gave me the support I needed. There were times when they distanced themselves, but they never gave up… No one ever said to me, "You are no longer a part of this family."

  • Z

    I'm glad they were as they were, Gunthar. But I think Addie knows the things you're explaining. These situations are so hard to call, and Addie sounds totally exhausted. I don't really see the point of asking her to go on when she's so hitting the wall with fatigue.

  • Z

    P.S. In other words, I'm all for helping everyone but not to the point where it means more destruction of me than I can really bear. That situation only means we all fall down.

    So I wonder if all that Alanon advice really exists on a spectrum of some kind. If you go to a meeting, people will have set views: cut them off for sure, stay in the situation for sure, etc. When sometimes cutting them off is too much, and some other times you definitely need to get out of the situation. I think the good sense of that advice is not to let yourself get bled.

    In my life have met a couple of people who I finally figured out weren't looking for help but looking to inconvenience others. This is how my ex the diabetic used his disease. Other people need massive help but straighten up once they get it. I've found that when I'm in an I can't take it moment, I need to listen to myself.

  • momrox

    SMART Recovery is a secular peer support recovery organization.

    They have recently added expanded support for "Family and Friends" and offer a weekly online meeting.

    Meetings incorporate CRAFT principles and SMART tools. This online resource might be an option to Al-Anon for some:

  • Z

    I think there really is a type of partner-of-an-alcoholic who, while they may dislike the situation and complain about the behavior, does in fact contribute to it because at bottom, they don’t want it to change since it is benefiting them in some way. Then there are those who are trapped in a bad situation and need some tools to get out, and those who are in a position to help and want to but need some better tools than what they have. Alanon tries to address all of these situations, and they are quite different; it is confusing to try to address them all with the same set of moves. On top of that, there are the 12 steps themselves, which really get in the way of everything.

  • Susie Smythe

    Thank you oh so much for this. I have been attending Alanon meetings for over a year and usually leave more frustrated than when I entered. Some of their program is downright quaint in its antiquated views. I could go on and on about everything that I think is wrong with their preachings and since I have never been a kool-aid drinker, I tend to question a lot if it – out loud. You can imagine how popular that makes me with the cult-like purists. I often wish that I was the type of person to be the one to step up and start an alternative to their outdated handling of the very difficult and delicate situation of dealing with alcoholics/addicts. So many of us in this boat and yet their “rooms” (as they like to call them) are never overflowing. Gee, I wonder why. Anyway, that is my short rant and again I thank you for addressing so much of what I was feeling about Alanon.

    • Welcome Susie! There are a few ex-alanon members here, so you’ll find a lot of back-up. Visit the community pages while you’re here. 🙂

  • Susie Smythe

    Thanks for the welcome. Since I am new here, I don’t quite know the rules. I have read an excellent book which I could highly recommend to those of you who can’t go along with alanon’s hands off, detachment, Let Go and Let God approach to dealing with your alcoholic/addict. It offers a completely different take on the principle of letting go as well as giving excellent insight into what goes on in our brains,as well as the addicts brains based on 21st century science. The book is heavy on interventionism, which I see as a personal choice. But the information offered up about this “disease” I found to be incredibly helpfu,l as I see knowledge as power. May I name the book and author here??

  • Sure, Susie.

  • Susie Smythe

    OK, Here is a book on addiction that is well worth the read for those of you concerned about a loved one’s alcoholism or addiction:
    Title: No More Letting Go
    Subtitle: The Spirituality of Taking Action against Alcoholism and Drug addiction
    Author: Debra Jay
    Hope someone finds it as informative as I did.

  • PJ


    I’m so grateful to have found this site. I have had very similiar experiences with alanon. Visted meetings, (two different ones), years ago, and my inner wisdom said “RUN AWAY” on both occasions…Something just wasnt “quite right” in the philosophy and methodology. I avoid, and also attempt to subtly correct 12 step-isms in the sharing and advising I do in advocacy. Alas, “steppers” are difficult to “convert” :0)…and they make my work more challenging (that’s code for “frustrating” ;0).
    I am a member of a parents advisory board for a non-profit organization. I’m also trained in Motivational Interviewing, and working on my counseling degree – with the goal of supporting parents and loved ones of those challenged by addiction/dual diagnosis. I’m the mom of a son who has battled addiction and major depression, mightily. He’s in recovery…And my family has continued to learn to cope better and better in the journey…no thanks to 12 step philosophies, for sure.
    People (those challenged by addiction, as well as those who love them) are best served by a menu of options. Within the arena of addiction and mental health, we are doing a much less than adequate job of providing the kinds of resources that are designed to help “the most people”.
    We need to continue to work on providing resources that allow people access to the kinds of supports and services designed to allow them to drive the proces of recovery based on their specific circumstances. “One size fits all. One size fits most” -could never be more inappropriate when it comes to approaching addiction recovery.

    Keep up your good works!

  • Welcome, PJ! Thank you! I agree with every word you wrote here. I hope you stick around so we can learn more about what you do and what you’re learning. Please keep up the good work, yourself!

  • @humanspirit,-It is disgraceful that AA, with its worse than useless program and cod religion, has managed to establish itself as the only organization to help alcoholics or addicts.
    I just read your main post here and really felt your sadness & rage. Why not sue AL ANON for fraud? Misrepresentation?
    I have been in AA 36 years and went to Al ANON seriously at different times when my first husband drank, I went to deal with my mother , my sister and then to help me as my first marriage was coming apart. For 20 years on and off. At one point I really thought I was really getting help from it. From my crazy abusive husband I couldn’t deal with. Actually I got more help from one weekend seminar with Abraham Hicks wacky new age stuff then the years of Al ANON although having been in AA a long time and in therapy by then I seriously took what worked and left the rest including the uptight stepford wives control freak woman and trust me there were plenty of them. I made one good friend there in 20 years. They are a weird bunch of birds. That’s why they have never grown. So they tried promoting Lois WIlson by making a movie about her.

    Does everyone know here there was a huge scandal in AL ANON a few years back. Someone took money a bought a house on the east coast. AL ALON could be sued. Actually, someone can call the Attorney General’s Office in Virginia and say they believe fraud is going on. If this starts to happen everywhere the steps could come tumbling down.
    There needs to be accountability all around in this 12 step world. And those of us here who want to do activist work to break it open can & will. Already there are some folks still in AA, that have contacted me on my blog… that are furious about what is going on and they will take their own actions.

    again-nice post humanspirit. Alcoholism is heart breaking. My DAD died from that and addiction in October 26, 2008. He lost everything.

  • Grateful girl

    I can’t help but find the irony in your name, human spirit; Its unfortunete that those of you have had poor experiences with al anon; perhaps you heard “keep an open mind” and “take what you liked and leave the rest” as well, for those of you scheming to sue our self suppporting affiliation, please rememeber that nobody forced you to be there. You so voluntarily came through those doors, the hardest step of them all, and perhaps you expected to find all the answers right then and there, we all did. and when your expectations were not met you decided to write a huge article about how it doesnt work. It works ONLY if you work it. Not just because you showed up perhaps one or two times, or participated in 7th (voluntarily), but because for those of us that it Does work for, we keep coming back. I would encourage you to find a few different groups, as we do not all function in a way that you are speaking of. Although we all have the right to our opinion, I would encourage you to “take what you like. and leave the rest”. You will truely find more peace with yourself when you can let this go and start living your life on lifes terms.
    You are in my thoughts

    • Lost in the Morridor

      Full of shit nonsense. Why do you nuts go around comments with this 12th step crap? Just leave people alone. No one asked for your crap.

  • MA

    Wow, grateful girl. Four and a half slogans crammed into just six sentences (I’m crediting you that half because you used the same slogan twice). That’s pretty good.

  • Grateful girl

    Or stay ignorant; it makes no difference to me. That, we call Detachment.

  • SoberPJ

    True detachment doesn’t come with an admonishment of ignorance. You seem bitter gg.

  • Lucy

    Grateful Girl – Many of us are a lot of things, but “ignorant:” isn’t one of them. The FAQ states clearly what the objective of the blog is, and yet you decided, with no prompting from any of us, mind our business for us.

    I am not a black belt Al-Anon anymore, but I was for years. What I would suggest is that you take a look at the four fingers pointing back at you, and ask yourself what your motivation was to straighten us all out.

  • Interesting…….. the Al-Anon variant of Bill Wilson prophecy is fully indoctrinated in the use of slogans. I wonder if Al-Anon is looking for young “prospects” they can turn into slogan spouting followers of the false prophet Bill Wilson?

  • AllyB

    Really GG, because I followed the al-anon programme for a while and just about every last element of my life got worse. Then I decided it was crap, decided to follow my own instincts and my husband stopped drinking in a matter of months.

    A year ago I was living a “detached” life from my husband, sleeping in separate bedrooms, he was constantly drunk. I was sad and miserable, debating ending our marriage or hanging on in until he died. Which would have been too long more since he was recovering from a recent liver and kidney failure. Even our dogs couldn’t stand to be near him and would hide when he came home.

    Now he’s great. Back to being the normal, funny, supportive guy I first met. We’ve started trying for a baby (and are coincidentally having a great sex life). He’s doing great at work, he’s restarted his love affair of cooking, and regaining his confidence. The dogs want constant attention from him when he’s here, they actually go over and nuzzle him until he pets them.

    My husband no longer has a drinking problem and my life is awesome. Do you think I need Al-anon.

  • Allyb; you know what the aa pat answer to that is, don’t you?

  • Jonny Quest

    This is the first time I’ve read this thread. Would just like to say that I know someone who was in NA – chronic relapser – and who the other steppers convinced she was “co-dependent” – she literally believed this, and called herself co-dependent.

    It took me a while to snap her out of NA, and a little while longer to get her to un-diagnose herself as “co-dependent.”

    Also, just to throw this out there as an example of how they use anything to try and get you to accept the 12-Step program, I had one of the recovering “little shrinks” try and diagnose me as “counter-dependent” – apparently the opposite of co-dependent.

    They didn’t like how I was able to call an entire room of steppers “immoral retrograde degenerates” and not be phased by their “cold shoulder” routine – so obviously I must have some sort of “disease” that makes me immune to mind control, and that needs “treatment” so that I can properly accept the 12 Steps.

    You can find information on the nonsense of counter-dependency here:

  • causeandeffect

    Wow, steppers all sound exactly alike to the point, if one didn’t understand that the commenter was brainwashed, one might wonder if there is only one stepper who comments literally everywhere, using a copy and paste rubber stamp. And it’s the same for any 12 step commenter regardless of the program.
    ere we have the usual, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” as if there is some better and different self-defeating dogma somewhere else. And there’s the age old accusation of a “nobody forced you to be there, what with your closed mind and all”, as if the people who went there because they were desperate for help went there with a closed mind. And of course we have the obligatory “You didn’t stay long enough to give it a chance” as if decades of being heavily involved is not giving it a chance. There’s also the “Try a different meeting,” as if the self-defeating dogma is more palatable in a different room. Oh, and I see the usual, “That’s not how my homegroup acts!” Wrap it all up with a couple of “take what you like and leave the rest” and “it works if you work it” (which it’s statistically proven to not work) and you have the good old rubber stamp 12 step comment. Finally, after claiming to have peace and serenity, they just have to come back and make the ignorance accusation. It’s always the same.

    Thank gawd I’m allow to have independent thought!!!

  • AllyB


    Is it a river in Egypt?

  • Lucy

    JonnyQuest, When my daughter was younger, I had a job which required weekly travel, a and I declined to participate in the numerous weekend meetings the women in AA and Al-Anon had. After declining a weekend teaparty because I had been in Florida for three days and hadn’t seen m daughter, one of the women called me to chastize me (much as Grateful Girl did the blog today) about being “ungrateful” and “counterdependent.” And I, also, of course, “put my child above my recovery.”

    She was, of course, a housewife, who didn’t have a job and completely lived through her “work” in AA and Al-Anon.

  • He was not a REAL alcoholic. No matter how bad it was, he was obviously mis-diagnosed by unqualified people. I am so pleased he is no where near them. I wonder what they say about people who leave and thrive. I think they either don’t mention it at all, decide that the splitter is a ‘dry drunk’ (waiting for him to have a drink and creep back) or (most often, ime) shrug the ‘not a real alcoholic’ line.

  • AllyB

    Grateful Girl, genuine question. What has worked now that you’ve worked it? What was bad before you joined Al-Anon and what is better since you started working the steps? Did your loved one recover? Is your family back to how it should be without addiction?

  • Sally


    An Alanon/AA member said the following to you: “put my child above my recovery.”?

    I’ve heard similar sayings thousands of times by steppers – about jobs, family, friends, etc. But, it never occurred to me (when in the program) how disgusting that it is to say to a person. How damaging! As far as I am concerned, there is nothing more important and helpful than spending time with loved ones while remaining abstinent. Ugh!

  • Lucy

    Sally – It was for me, even when I was a true believer, a jaw-dropping moment. And then it began to happen again and again, because I didn’t have time to devote my energies to step studies, tea parties, lunches, etc. like they did.

    As I write this and remember the bullshit, I am again so glad to be out of the whole thing.

  • Sally

    If I remember correctly, it’s one sign of cult recruiting – to get a member to spend less and less time away from “normies”.

  • Sally

    Lucy said “…..remember the bullshit, I am again so glad to be out of the whole thing.”
    Me too. Emphatically thankful.

  • humanspirit

    All – Have just got back from a trip, so haven’t had the chance to comment on Grateful Girl’s comment before now. As others have pointed out, her post does not attempt to explain what the practical purpose of Al-anon actually is, nor how the 12-step program is supposed to help either alcoholics or those close to alcoholics. Like AA, Al-anon seems to promise help and support, but its actual and sole agenda is to recruit people into Bill Wilson’s made-up religion, which is completely irrelevant to the stated purpose of helping anyone overcome addiction.

    The 12-step program aside, most other aspects of the philosophy of Al-anon absolutely stink. It would have you completely turn your back on the alcoholic in your life, even if they are literally dying and crying out for help, and to refuse to have anything to do with them (unless, of course, they go to AA, which has been proved to be worse than useless in getting and keeping alcoholics sober). It defines anyone who has any relationship with an alcoholic as being as “diseased” as the alcoholic himself/herself. It preaches “detachment” while at the same time requiring the member to define their whole lives in terms of the alcoholic, and to spend their whole lives obsessing about that person and about alcohol, just as those in AA do. As Orange once pointed out, the mythical disease of “codependency” must be the most contagious one in the world – you only have to brush up against an alcoholic once or twice to catch it. It is just complete, utter nonsense – and at times highly dangerous nonsense as well.

    AllyB has at other times talked much more eloquently and with deeper knowledge about Al-anon than I ever could, and so have others here. (I think AllyB was even told by Al-anon members at one point that she was “enabling” her husband by keeping control of her own finances and keeping a roof over her head.) Z has described at length about how the steppers in Al-anon convinced her for many years that she could never be successful in life because her parents were alcoholics and therefore she too was irredeemably “diseased” and not capable of a fully-realized, healthy existence.

    I wrote the original post over a year ago when I was still quite reeling with shock and disbelief that the Wilsonite religion should have gained so much acceptance, and that it had ever been allowed to monopolize addiction “treatment” and interfere in the very serious matter of alcohol addiction in the way that it has. I was pretty naïve in those days – now I’m even more convinced that my initial gut reaction was right.

    And I do love GG’s patronizing little line: “You will truely [sic] find more peace with yourself when you can let this go and start living your life on lifes [sic] terms.” Please do not presume to tell me how to “find peace” with myself. My peace of mind is in pretty good shape, actually (not that it’s any of your business). Infinitely more so as my partner has been completely alcohol- and AA-free for a good while now – absolutely no thanks to the 12-step program or Al-anon. I dread to think where we would both be now if either of us had bought into the lunacy of 12-step program or imagined for one second it provided any answers. Him – probably dead. Me – probably racked with guilt and self-hatred. So next time I’m in your thoughts, GG, maybe you can try to be a bit more open-minded yourself, and to keep what I’m actually saying in your thoughts too. You never know, it might help.

  • humanspirit

    Hi Hyacinth – Thanks . I caught the very beginning of that thread, but am only just catching up with how the drama unfolded. What a truly despicable person JD is! (Not that we ever any had any doubts on that score, but were generally too polite to say so). But when I got back to it, the comments on the thread had been closed.

    @JonnyQuest – “Counterdependency” is a new one on me (when will the 12-step faithful get sick of coining these neologisms and twisting the language to fit in with their world view?). I wonder if there’s such a thing as counter-counterdependency? And if so, does this bring you back to “codependency”? Intriguing.

  • At an al-anon meeting a person from whatever the next tier up is (is it intergroup something?) started her visit by saying, ‘We need more members?’ Why? Why does a so called support group ‘need’ new members? What are they there for? To help someone with an alcohol problem, or to get ”new members?’

  • AllyB

    Logged into SR again today, I sometimes need to touch base with the madness over there as I really don’t want to ever forget what a completely f’d up place it is. Clicked on a thread from a new user who was looking for advice as he was considering re-starting a relationship with his ex-wife. There marriage ended due to her drinking but she’s been sober for 3 years now and they are reconnecting.

    Most of the advice was to take it slowly, which isn’t the worst advice for two people who have been separated for several years. Along with the predictable suggestions that he join al-anon. Then along comes one of the “stars” of the F&F board, Cyranok. First off he’s a “he” which makes him a bit of a novelty in al-anon circles. Secondly he and his wife are a “dream-team” couple with him in busy in al-anon and her in AA, and he’s constantly spewing about how amazing al-anon is (often suggesting it to newbies prefaced with the words “my gift to you”). This is despite the fact that his wife seems to have a bi-annual relapse. And thirdly he’s always dispensing his no bullshit “wisdom” which they all love as he gets to the heart of the matter, but which is really just utter nastiness, said from a position of misguided superiority.

    His response to the man who started the thread is a great example of his bile; “Still not attracted to healthy, independent, non-alcoholic drug addict women, who don’t “need you,” eh?” What a disgusting, out of line comment. Yet I suspect that over the next few hours he’ll be multiply thanked by his adoring fan-club.

    And of course he followed it up with – “One thing’s for sure– it won’t work if you aren’t both working programs of recovery such as AA and Alanon.”

  • AllyB
  • Jonny Quest


    I was reading this from three days ago. They already “diagnosed” this woman as having “codependency issues” and told her to go to Al-Anon, or to get divorced, and a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Looks like she ran for the hills.

  • Jonny Quest

    It was posted outside of the “F&F” forum, so you got some sane voices in there, which the steppers did not like. Interesting back and forth.

  • Lyla

    I’ve just started at Al anon and part of me wants to scream at the members there who accept their partners drinking…”Aren’t you sick of it?” “How can you put up with it?” This little voice is getting louder and I think it’s talking to me…At Al anon, I see myself in so many of these members and realise that where their lives are now is not where I want mine to be in the future. Isn’t that interesting? Who do I listen to, them or myself?

  • Yourself. Of course. How can al-anon help? You can’t cure it, you can’t control it, you didn’t cause it’, in whatever order. But what is it? A non-existent disease cooked up by AA to get insurance for rehabs?

    And how is going to meetings to learn how to ‘accept’ this problem any help at all? To you? Or to your partner? What sort of a problem-solving method is that? Do you want what they have?

    On the right of the page are a list of ‘recovery resources’ that might actually work. Is your partner going to AA? Are you being pursued to get him to join this dangerous cult with no record for success whatsover?

    At AA and al-anon, only ‘AA conference approved literature’ is allowed. Oh! but look! you have access to the internet! So you can fully inform yourself about this bizarre and dangerous but fortunately declining organisation.

    (If I were in your position, and if he wants help to stop drinking, I would try the Sinclair Method; but there are numerous other approaches that don’t rely on faith healing. SPJ, of this site, used the Sinclair Method. If you posted on the neverending thread to ask him about it, I am sure he would tell you something of his experience.)

    The thing is, is your partner is going to AA, he might get fatally brainwashed into thinking he has an incurable disease, which would be a big step in the direction opposite to that pointing truthwards. Keep informing yourself and don’t despair. We are not in the dark ages anymore.

    Have you read the orange papers? Listen to your own little voice, not some notional and bizarre ‘higher power’ of Bill Wilson’s creation. Good Luck Lyla.

  • AllyB

    Hi Lyla,

    I was very much the same as you when I was attending al-anon. There wasn’t a single person in the room that I wanted my life to turn out like. Most described awful sounding lives and insisted it was all brilliant now as they had the group. It made me very sad and, quite honestly, frightened as that seemed to be the only support and advice of offer. I gave the advice a try for a while and it made things much worse in my marriage. Even when I quit going to meetings I was still attempting “detachment” a lot of the time because even non-12 step support groups kept giving that advice.

    It is incredibly frustrating that al-anon advice is all that’s on offer for the spouses and families of addicts. Especially when you look at where the advice originated and realise it’s based on a chapter of the Big Book written by an abusive husband pretending to be his wife. That was where I decided it was time to come up with my own solutions and follow my own instincts. And not to keep on repeating it on this thread but that worked out really well for both of us and our lives are actually very good now.

  • kate

    im glad others feel the same- i tried al-anon when i was 13. i had lived with a chronically alcoholic single parent since birth. i was withdrawn and in a mess- but no one talked to me in my first al- anon meeting but all blathered on abut themselves….surely new young members- who had been abused since an early age would need the support? i didnt get any what so ever- so that burst the bubble that they were a haven.
    now im 40, and still in contact wih my alcoholic parent, and it bugs me somewhat ive spent all this time without connecting with others who have been through the same. my mum is an alcoholic but also has a personality disorder. but over the years- you could say ive discovered the steps in my own way, and i have my own coping mechanisms. my steps are roughly the same. they are just ones ive sussed out myself and dont use phoney language. so i go on this al-anon forum and the next day i get this curt message “dont give advice”… so your telling me, ive survived 40 years of alcoholism. abuse- neglect- come out on the other side but i cant help others because i have yet to have the phoney talk rammed down my throat. are you kidding me? I am an intelligent person- quite frankly ive lived with alcoholism issues for so many years- i can kind of write the book on it. sadly.
    so i am not allowed to have my own views- personality or tell other people what i think?

    and all of this- look after yourself……if you are being abused- yu get out, or you simply have to say this is not right. you dont swallow your partners alcoholic abuse- then go to al- anon and listen to them tell you that you should listen to your higher power?

    phoney words- big heads- phoney sentiment.

    and i totally agree- this should NOT be a replacement for proper therapy or counselling.

  • Sue

    Hi Kate, Welcome!

    I went primarily to AA but not anymore. However, I did attend al-anon meetings occasionally because my father abused alcohol. It was recommended to me by someone in AA. That was an additional waste of time. In my opinion, most individuals there are just as delusional and brain washed as those in AA and they lack compassion. I wish I had figured it out years ago. Sounds like you are on the right track.

  • jorino

    when my now ex-wife was still running around, i took solace in some AA and Al-anon meetings. One group always talked about themselves and how forlorn they were, and the other talked about their spouse and how forlorn they were. What a miserable lot! I am so glad I had that experience before she was busted and played the system to get into a drug rehab that praises AA and NA. I cannot get sucked into that cult.

  • jorino

    in a way…both groups are most narcissistic.

  • tladybug

    so glad I found this site! I went to 1 al-anon meeting, trying to understand this AA group that my 4 year sober boyfriend hangs with…the entire thing was so bizarre and sad. The first thing they wanted me to read said “I” am powerless over alcohol. What? No I’m not,I hardly ever drink. Why do people sit there and read those steps and traditions over and over and not consider what they are telling themselves?! Its hard to understand. I’m so glad I’m not the only one jumping on he bandwagon…I was starting to think I had issues before I found this site.

  • Counselorchick

    This is so important to discuss. In some ways, Al Anon is sicker than AA. You’re not the one with the problem and yet you must take your inventory and see what your part is in this mess. You are absolutely right. These programs are only about keeping the programs alive, not about helping anyone to have a better life. Congratulations on admitting your anger. In these mind-fuck programs, they would have you believe that a resentment is something you must never allow yourself. Bullshit. Your instincts that help you to feel your feelings, like anger, help you to disseminate the sick fucks and the healthy loves. You only know which one to choose if you allow yourself your feelings.

    Then there is the spouse of the al-anon that is not the qualifier. This spouse has a husband who’s father was an alcoholic and he spends time at al-anon meetings rather than with his family. This is a grown man we’re talking about here. Also, he may be seeing a therapist who has recommended al-anon to his client even though he is an adult. For fuck’s sake, you can’t be a decent therapist if you are recommending a cult to anyone. But the husband has been brainwashed into the group and thinks it is not only helping him, but that he must go for the rest of his life. They then tell the brainwashed spouse that he should stick with the winners and the healthy loving wife at home is slowly pushed out of his life.

    It’s a sad and all too common state of affairs.

  • Lost in the Morridor

    Al-Anon ruined my life. Very immediately after joining their cult, my partner was encouraged to abuse the living snot out of me until I was a weeping broken person begging for mercy… At which point I was left to die, as they had found cause to leave me, i.e. the evidence being the broken state I was in after several years of abuse.

    I wasn’t even a drinker, but became one. After being left to die- my thinking was; what the hell, right? They’ve been telling me I’m an alcoholic even though I’d never had a drop (upbringing), so I might as well “give in”. I had nothing left to lose, and it really fucking hurt; being abandoned in that broken and heartbroken state after so much mistreatment. Nightmare.

    I got bored of drinking and stopped for no profound reasons a long time ago. Teetotaling is what not drinking used to be called before the Oxford mind-fuck cult proselytized a monopoly out of human suffering, consequentially causing many magnitudes of order more human suffering unnecessarily. Robin Williams’ death has gotten me thinking about AA and 12 step caused suicides.

    Fuck Al-Anon.

  • Newlife16

    I feel so sad for you. I started Al Anon 30 years ago and, like you, simply did not get it. 30 years later, and much wasted effort, er, uh, love, I re-entered and I GOT IT. Al Anon saved my life. There is NOTHING you or I or anyone besides the addict/alcoholic and his/her Higher Power can do. We didn’t cause it, we can’t control it and we can’t cure it. We can control ourselves. How to stop drinking? Don’t drink. If it were that simple none of us would be here searching for “the answers”. Having had alcoholics and addicts in my life all my life I can say this: not one person recovered — without AA. Those with your attitude are still suffering. I hope you will open your mind.

  • Mary Perales

    i placed my fiance into medical detox and was told to go find an Al Anon meeting asap in order to be able to help this person;otherwise i was powerless to really know what ‘worked’. the only thing i got from the meeting was that i needed to work on myself and that would be the start of helping my terribly alcoholic friend! my answer was i dont drink i dont smoke ,i dont take even aspirins except for rare occassions at 64 yrs of age i spend many hrs. training at gyms and doing very physical tasks… at my job as a security supervisor i walk between 4-6 miles a day checking far reaching bldgs as well as spend time doing mundane paperwork and computer related stuff. i was told i could ‘say anything that came to mind’ and when i spoke about taking my partner to medical detox and how hard it was for me to see this person hurting so bad.. i was instantley shut down by a male speaker who told me about a past girl friend he let go to find ‘serenity’.. he was and still appears to be a very troubled and heartbroken person after 7 yrs of ‘serenity’ i told these people all my life i have had serenity ,peace and an utter love for life…it was only when i saw my friend lose herself to alcohol and all that goes with it that my ‘serenity’ and peace was disturbed!! go work on yourself and ‘detach’ was the message…. we are detached because hopefully she will find a new start after many stumbles and now severe health issues forced the hand! i hope that the long lengthy detox and then in house treatment can finally help her find an answer for this terrible malady if AA can help her after all is said and done ,i will support in anyway i can..however AL ANON will never give me to the tools to do anything other than ‘detach and let them ‘live and let live’ their miserable existance! how helpful indeed!!