“That Isn’t AA!”

    AA is NOT treatment centers. AA is not and never will be affiliated with treatment centers. AA has NOTHING to do with treatment centers.

Jeez. No wonder ppl think AA has gone down the pan. I am astonished that the public have been conned into thinking that 5000 dollar a week hotels have any meaningful similarity to an AA meeting or how AA meetings operate. How sad. The greedy fatcat treatment centre owners have eclipsed the public profile of AA meetings to such an extent that the ordinary public has no clue which is which.
Whatever. Nothing surprises me anymore. AA is frequently misperceived, so nothing new there. But it is still very sad that the fake ‘AA’ in treatment centers is passing for the real AA in AA meetings. The only reason I care is because fake AA doesn’t keep people sober for very long at all. Which is sad, but there is nothing I can do about that. I just stick to what I know, which is listed AA meetings as opposed to poorly hijacked AA methods in treatment centers.”

One of our readers, “Irish Friend of Bill”, wrote the above in our comment section. I wanted to highlight it, and post a link to a post we made a few months ago, “The Knickerbocker Complex and the Evolution of 12-Step Quackery”, which explains the evolution of addiction treatment, and how AA was an integral part in creating what we now have in terms of treatment.  The book Slaying the Dragon, which is referenced in this post, is a very good history of the alcohol addiction treatment industry, and is actually written by an AA apologist. It glosses AA little, but it is a fair account. I would recommend it to anyone who really interested in this subject, particularly Irish.

Anyone who has been in a 12-step treatment centre, which represents the overwhelming majority of facilities, would find the idea that these aren’t “really AA” to be laughable. Many are run by ‘recovering’ AA members, and meetings within the facilities are chaired by local AAs who volunteer their time. AA literature is used, including the ‘Big Book’, and AA supplies the “aftercare” for released patients. Not surprisingly, their success is the identical 5%, which is a zero percent effectiveness rate. The only thing to distinguish this from “regular AA”, is the name – Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF). This is done only because AA does not “lend its name” to any other organization. It’s simply a slick way to push AA without calling it AA. Here is the description taken from the TSF manual for the Project MATCH study:

“Twelve Step Facilitation Approach. This therapy is grounded in the concept of alcoholism as a spiritual and medical disease. The content of this intervention is consistent with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), with primary emphasis given to Steps 1 through 5. In addition to abstinence from alcohol, a major goal of the treatment is to foster the patient’s commitment to participation in AA. During the course of the program’s 12 sessions, patients are actively encouraged to attend AA meetings and to maintain journals of their AA attendance and participation. Therapy sessions are highly structured, following a similar format each week that includes symptoms inquiry, review and reinforcement for AA participation, introduction and explication of the week’s theme, and setting goals for AA participation for the next week. Material introduced during treatment sessions is complemented by reading assignments from AA literature (p. x)….The therapeutic approach underlying this manual is grounded in the principles and 12 Steps of AA (p. xi)….The program described here is intended to be consistent with active involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous….It adheres to the concepts set forth in the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous….The overall goal of this program is to facilitate patients’ active participation in the fellowship of AA. It regards such active involvement as the primary factor responsible for sustained sobriety (“recovery”) and therefore as the desired outcome of participation in this program (p. 1)….This treatment program has two major goals which relate directly to the first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 2)….The two major treatment goals are reflected in a series of specific objectives that are congruent with the AA view of alcoholism (p. 3)….Central to this approach is strong encouragement of the patient to attend several AA meetings per week of different kinds and to read the “Big Book” (“Alcoholics Anonymous”) as well as other AA publications throughout the course of treatment (p. 4)….The goal of the conjoint sessions is to educate the partner regarding alcoholism and the AA model, to introduce the concept of enabling, and to encourage partners to make a commitment to attend six Al-Anon meetings of their choice (p. 5)….[P]atients should be consistently encouraged to turn to the resources of AA as the basis for their recovery (p. 6)….Suggestions made by the 12-Step therapist should be consistent with what is found in AA-approved publications such as those that are recommended to patients (p. 8)….Encouraging patients to actively work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is the primary goal of treatment, as opposed to any skill that the therapist can teach (p. 10)….The therapist acts as a resource and advocate of the 12-Step approach to recovery (p. 11)….In this program, the fellowship of AA, and not the individual therapist, is seen as the major agent of change (p. 14)….The 12-Step therapist should not only be familiar with many AA slogans but should actively use them in therapy to promote involvement in AA and advise patients in how to handle difficult situations (p. 15)….In approaching alcoholic patients using this program…[t]here is…no cure for alcoholism; rather, there is only a method for arresting the process, which is active participation in the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 33). (Nowinski et al., 1995)” (Schaler, Jeffrey  “Addiction is a Choice”)

Edit: Here is an article on the history of Hazledon that DeConstructor linked in the comment section.

Edit Edit: From Mona Lisa –

Treatment Facilities Workbook (for AA members who work in treatment centers): http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/m-40i_TFWorkbook.pdf

Cooperation with the Professional Community Workbook (for AA members who want to “carry the message” to the alcoholism treatment community):

  • k

    What your saying makes perfect sense to me MA and obviously to you, we must selfish dry drunks in denial. Stop trying to be logical, get a sponsor obey him, read the book, apologise to everybody, its your thinking that made you an alcoholic so stop trying to use your brain and be grateful for everything especially billy W, the saviour of the human race

    On another note

    That's not AA, this is not AA. Infact what is AA to hardcore nutjobs, virtually nothing. Yet they are quick to say that AA has millions of members therefore it is successful even though none of them are really AA!

    I need a brain transplant.

  • k

    Despite providing overwhelming evidence that 12 steps treatment centres are AA you will not convince the AA suicide bombers.

    Its a non starter just like getting them to admit that AA is religious, I am of reading some orange papers to help me with my sanity.

  • DeConstructor

    When I was in a 12 step treatment center (btw 32 days in a 28 day spin dry because I had good insurance, I was cooperative because I had not read the orange papers yet) we sat around most of the time, the group sessions were ALL 12 step based (basically an AA meeting betwwen us inmates)

    The "treatment" center then drove us arround in an old van to different AA meetings around town EVERY night. In hindsight, every part of the "treatment" was 12 step. My counselor, who had never been an addict of any kind, always introduced herself in the meeting groups as a "recovering co-dependent"-I guess that is what one does to partake of the 12 step faith when not an addict.

    My experience is that "treatment" is just forced and coerced participation in the AA faith. Out of the seven other people I was "incarcerated" in the spin dry that I have kept in contact, I am the ONLY one that actually stopped drinking. I also think that like many others, I have stopped drinking DESPITE the indocrination of the AA faith.

    I credit MYSELF for stopping drinking, although I had assistance by Rational Recovery and the orange papers.

    As one studies this industry, it is very apparent that greed is the motivation, behind the disease model of addiction. Why waste time and resources finding a cure for an actual disease when large health companies can concoct a progressive, and incurable "disease" that requires a lifetime of billable treatment for "counseling" that can be done by any low paid AA apologist?

  • k

    Also got to feel sorry for the average american who through insurance premiums has to pay for treatments that don't work.

    Despite on average spending highest amount  per person on health the united states isn't the healthiest nation.

    Capitalism and health doesn't work. The health of a nation shouldn't be governed by profits.  The poor don't get the basic medical needs and the rich pay over the odds.

    Also its a complete insult to poor people. Its like saying you are not worthy of living you poor scumbag.

    God bless Obama


  • Mona Lisa

    And AA has NOTHING TO DO with treatment centers? Why then does it post the following on its website?:

    Treatment Facilities Workbook (for AA members who work in treatment centers): http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/m-40i_TFWorkbook.p

    Cooperation with the Professional Community Workbook (for AA members who want to "carry the message" to the alcoholism treatment community):

    And why, when I showed up for help with my drinking, was I told to go to AA every day (90 in 90)? Why did the counselor (who was in AA himself) give me a meeting list and circle the meetings I was supposed to attend? Why did he assign certain people to "look out for me" at those meetings? Why were the 12 steps up on the wall? Why was I given a copy of the Big Book?

    Good grief, anyone with a grain of common sense can see through this farce. There may be no official corporate relationship between AA and any treatment center, but that doesn't change the fact that treatment centers are essentially AA indoctrination paid for by insurance and/or the government.

  • DeConstructor


    The link regarding "Professional Community Workbook" contains some of the most damaging information that the AA faith could ever print. The section containing forms to judges and the legal community is disgusting. Attraction rather than promotion? I think not. That is pure and simple coercion, an attempted and generally successful sale of the faith and indoctrinating "treatment" with the direct threat of incarceration , for the failure of conversion and participation in the AA faith.

    Add that to some of the real psychos (IFOB, wouldnt he have been a joy drunk or sober) violent and sexual predators, people blinded by the AA faith, and a refusal of the faith to critique itself and make changes to its doctrine, theology, and dogma. When this is added to its dismal success rate, and "appalling" mortality rate, AA becomes a forced and coerced disaster, trying to claim it is medical, and self blinding itself to the fact that it is a fanatical, fundamentalist, evangelical religion.

    I guess the bigger question is – should we not expect more? Should we not expect that our tax and insurance monies be better spent on programs and concepts that actually work, do not endanger people from predators and 13 steppers, and do not forcefully impose religion on desparate people with very real problems?

  • humanspirit

    Whaat?? The whole fucking problem with the rehab centres is that they’re AA!! And staffed by serious 12-step converts who really do believe that AA’s bogus religion is the only way to overcome addiction. This is why they just don’t work. I think probably what our Irish friend is complaining about is that they might also pay lip-service to other things, like CBT, and provide physical detox. I read on another blog that BB hardliners object to people being eased in by ‘telling their life story’ rather than immediately launching into a ‘searching and fearless moral inventory’ of all the things they’ve ever done wrong in their lives. As if you have to be an alcoholic to have done anything wrong in your life.


    Anyone who has read my other posts will know that the AA domination of rehab centres, and the fact they are so publicly dishonest about it, is what makes me so spitting angry. Although the brochures for the rehab centre I paid £Ks for mentioned the 12-step program, they made damn sure they didn’t give any honest information about it and buried it among a lot of rational-sounding stuff, as if it was a very minor incidental part of the ‘treatment’. I was naïve enough at the time to think that no-one could really take it seriously as a way of treating addiction, especially when clients were paying good money. (I’m in the UK – we just don’t expect a faith-based program not to clearly announce itself as such.) As it was, the AA 12 step program was the absolute mainstay of their ‘treatment’.


    I was horrified – and felt completely deceived. I also felt extremely guilty for arranging such a rehab place for my partner. He wasn’t capable at the time of being involved in the decision, but is basically an intelligent, rational person. If anything was more likely to jeopardize his early recovery, it was having to put up with the lunacy of some of the 12-step nutters there – and it nearly did. He was required to attend AA meetings nearly every day, and CA meetings (even though he’s never had the undoubted pleasure of taking cocaine in his life). Viciously and publicly criticized for his ‘resistance to spirituality’, he was ordered to read the ‘We Atheists’ chapter in the big book – and was then even further criticized for pointing out that it doesn’t mention alcohol at all, and for asking, sincerely, what relevance it had to stopping drinking!


    It is absolutely scandalous that AA should try and recruit people to their religion through the rehab centres in this way. Chronic addiction is an extremely serious matter of life and death. It is much too serious for these people to be allowed a look-in, let alone be allowed to run the show.


    (My partner’s fine now, by the way. Sober, happy and still 12-step free. Though he had to spend the first few sessions of his follow-up counselling being reassured that the verbal and psychological mindfuck he got from the AA evangelicals in the rehab place was indicative of their problems, not his.)

  • k

    Was reading an NHS paper on alcoholism and treatment options everything is evaluated, if it doesn't work or isn't cost effective then programs won't get funded, as a result the NHS has little to do with in patient 12 step rehabs.

    With private medicine governed by profit, they regulate themselves and hence their main criteria is profit hence in patient 12 step rehabs are highly profitable and thrives.

    The more money swimming around health care means bigger profits for insurance companies hence they don't feel the need to regulate too.

    Rehabs have the have the added bonus of brainwashed millions go on and on about about how successful 12 steps are. Its all one big con.

    Plus it fits in perfectly with americas right wing Christian society. That's another thing I never get as to me Jesus was a socialist!

    I remember reading an article saying America would never elect an atheist as president. To me if thats true its disgusting form of inequality akin to racism.

    Anybody know how much, say in the USA spend on rehabs.

    I don't want to come across as anti american, I just think all societies get some things wrong and AA flourishes IMO because it feeds on the states weakness

  • DeConstructor

    It does fit right in with Americas right wing power base. They have tremendous power, and tremendous funding.

    However, on a brighter note, and I proudly voted for Mr. Obama, he ALWAYS mentions nonbelievers when he is talking about religion and faith. This is a HUGE change for us, and for someone with the power of the presidency, carries alot towards change.

    It has been a long time coming, it is not enough, but it is a start.  I do think people should be able to worship as they please, and that is why I am so angered by the 12 step faith and the denial of the steptards that they are a religion. It is in effect forced and coerced religious imposition on unsuspecting people.

  • humanspirit

    DeConstructor I love that line about the 'recovering co-dependent'!  Did you ever ask her what it was that she thought she was recovering from? And what exactly she was doing to recover from it? I mean, what do you do, practically,  as a 'recovering co-dependent' ? What if you're a co-dependent of someone suffering from co-dependency? And what happens if the person you're co-dependent on decides to go into 'recovery'? Do you stop being a co-dependent because your loved one is now not dependent, or has stopped being co-dependent? It is hilarious. (And, as you point out, it's probably just a way of being in with the in-crowd. You've got to be 'recovering' from some imaginary disease, or no-one will take you seriously!)


    Orange documents a 12 step branch that brands the grandchildren of alcoholics as inevitably suffering from co-dependency.  In that case, I'm fucked and in need of  12-step recovery and so is my son and no doubt his yet unborn child. Because I think my Irish grandfather liked a drop of whiskey even though he died when I was three years old. I need to find my part in this. My whole family is doomed, and in need of an AA spiritual awakening!


    I'm due to give a presentation to an international industry conference next week.  I think I'll announce myself as a 'recovering co-dependent' before I tell them anything else. After all, I do live with someone who used to have a serious alcohol problem, so I've got the right!! I can join the Recovery club too and don't want to be left out!!  It would be very funny to see people's reactions.

    On the other hand, I'd probably just get fired for being a lunatic. Quite rightly.


    k On a serious note,  I was forced to pay for private rehab because NHS provision was too little and much too late.  There are some NHS residential places in some areas, but they can usually only be booked months in advance. I was frankly very shocked at the lack of crisis care available. There was a 'drying-out' ward in a local hospital, where people could stay for two weeks, but this was closed down a few years ago for some unfathomable reason. Alcoholics fall through the NHS net – the regular hospitals won't take them until there's serious physical damage, and the mental health hospitals won't take them if they think the problem is alcohol.


    The private rehab places are as dominated by AA as anywhere in the US. This is shocking to us, but it's true. Just get on the Internet and search for private rehab places  in the UK that don't include the 12-step programme. You won't find many – if any.


    What was the NHS paper on alcoholism you were reading, btw?  I'd be very interested in reading it.

  • DeConstructor

    The really twisted thing about the "recovering codependent" was that her husband was the loser drunk that she ssuffered the alleged "disease" of codependecy upon.

    She divorced and left him.

    I guess to quote the prolific steptard author Melody Beattie she was "CoDependent No More"

    Oh wait, I guess that leaving the husband that you are co-dependent with does not cure the disease. It must take a lifetime of meetings and a rigorous DEPENDENCE  on the 12 steps to overcome……….

  • DeConstructor

    That was not really clear- she had left her husband (that she was "co-dependent" with) YEARS before she was my counselor in the spin dry.

    I never really questioned anything about it. I was extremely cooperative in rehab, somewhat because my employment depended entirely on it, and more importanatly I naively thought these people would help, and I would no  longer have the desire to be drunk all the time.

    It was not until I had left the "treatment" center for several months before I discovered Rational Recovery and later the Orange Papers. That is when I knew I would never drink again. And for what it is worth, when I realized that the disease model of addiction was highly controversial, instead of the ABSOLUTE FACT that the AA faith proclaims, I realized it was actually not very hard to stop drinking…

  • humanspirit

    DeConstuctor And I guess most normal people would construe this as getting pissed off with having a drunken loser of a husband and getting over it.


    It takes a very special kind of psychology to imagine that this means you have to attend 12 step meetings for the rest of your your life.


    Obviously anyone who has ever been in such a situation has a disease that can only be cured by the 12 steps.  If they don't accept this, and try to move on with their life without the steps, they are clearly IN DENIAL about their  disease.

    (Because getting into a relationship with a loser is a disease, right?)

  • DeConstructor

    (Because getting into a relationship with a loser is a disease, right?)

    I cannot help but think of the predators, 13 steppers and generally the legion of loser men that follow, emulate, and worship Bill W. are themselves "diseasing" a lot of women.   😉

  • k


    I will try to find the paper. At the moment though I am drinking I have phoned my local alcohol services up and they have advised me to carry on drinking because it would be dangerous for me to stop abruptly. I have an appointment on Monday, wish it was soner! Possibly to get detoxed

    Yes I agree having relapsed and been detoxed in hospital you have to literally scream out for help, at the same time I choose to drink. Looking at it like this withdrawal is a hangover, should hospitals be wasting money and beds treating people with hangovers?

    For example when my drinking involved excessive weekend drinking followed by very bad depressive hangovers that lasted 2-3 days, this happened every weekend. Do you think its right i shouild be booking myself into hospital every monday?

    As stanton peele says alcoholism is not a medical problem apart from the intial phase of medically detoxing someone. So again this goes with the argument should the NHS be treating non drinking alcoholics in rehabs?

    The problem though is that lack of success in dealing with alcoholism isn't just confined to 12 steps, most treatment aren't much better than no treatment at all. Of course other treatments are more benign than 12 steps

    No 28 day stint rehab whatever their treatment is, is going to cure me unless they can give me a job, friends and find me a relationship or make me able to live without those things without sinking into depression.

    In the end its upto me to sort my life out.

    I'm a bit confused at the moment, most of my views are just offering food for thought.

    I was stupid and desperate and went to AA and now have all its faulty ideas spinning through my head again, so I need some kind of psychological treatment to counteract their quackery

  • humanspirit

    k Serious withdrawal symptoms are not just a hangover. The advice is right – don't try to stop abruptly,  just take as little drink as you can for now and try to maintain this until you can get medical support on Monday and possibly some medication to help you through withdrawal. Can you get to see your GP tomorrow?

    You know that no-one's going to be able to sort your life out. But you also know your problems aren't going to go away unless you deal with your drinking problem first – how can they? But don't worry about all your other problems right now.

    Don't blame yourself for going to AA, and don't blame AA. They are irrelevant and not important. What's important is that you get some kind of help.

    Good luck with it all and keep in touch. We're all rooting for you.

  • k

    To be honest I think treating end stage alcoholics in rehabs for the most part is futile, I maybe wrong but that's my view.

    I think that prevention by changing peoples views of alcohol, making people aware of early warning signs and dangers is the way forward. Not much good to me though now I have already developed an alcoholic way of drinking

    I used to watch EastEnders and as result heard about hair of the dog and thought was a natural normal way of curing hangovers.

    I used to watch a program that was called fresh fields, a man not considered alcoholic at all in a good job used to come home from hard days work and reach for whisky bottle straight away. I emulated it thinking it was normal.

    I used to watch films  where government officials used to reach for for pure spirits during working hours.

    In my immaturity I fell for the media's distorted views on alcohol. That combined with depression has turned me into an alcoholic.

    Incidentally alcoholism is rife in the media and that doesn't surprise me one bit, I don't watch TV much these days due to depression but hope they have improved their irresponsible portrayal of alcohol use . I once saw an EastEnders actor at an AA meeting. lol

    Alcoholism for me is not a disease I inherited I drank myself into alcoholism. Becasue of myths about alcoholism perpetuated by AA being solely some kind of disease that is independent of mental health. I thought I could never drink myself into alcoholism. I wasn't scared early enough to do something about my drinking I was blind.

    Of course I am only talking about my alcoholism, i understand for other people their experience of how their condition developed could be totally different contary to AAs all alcoholics are all the same.

  • tintop

    k,  you should do as humanspirit suggests.  I am rooting for you as well!

  • k

    Thanks for the wise words humanspirit

  • k

    Yes thanks tintop, my drinking has stabilized. I will let you know how i get on

  • k, We're all with you in this. Definitely keep us in the loop — and start a thread for yourself on the messageboard, if you want a place to check in.

    Your description of all the alcohol glamorization in the media reminded me of a thought I had when I was trying to shift my perspective on alcohol… What is so rebellious and cool and rock-n-roll about a PRODUCT that I can buy at no less than 30 places that I can walk to from where I sit in my house — a product that lowers my IQ and, proportionately, my inhibitions (great combination)? The real rebellious, rock-n-roll, free will thing to do is to shun that crap.

    You'll do it, k. I'm rooting for you, too.

  • ftg, i have this view, too. always have. unfortunately, my drug of choice is hard to get. and makes the low-lifey alcohol pale in comparison. makes my drug of choice seem like something only a "smart" person" can figure out howda do. silly, i know. this thinking of mine is better, but when i am in the throes of addiction, seems to make perfect sense.

  • violet, I know what you mean. I could definitely twist my own thinking about this, as I was a wino. I could be a real wine snot, too, and somehow thought that a fine wine was different and better and more real and interesting. And of course, I never touched hard alcohol or beer, so what I had wasn't a problem, but an appreciation. Finally, I had to face the fact that fine wine doesn't come in a box. 😉

    It's always fascinating to me how we can know a thing and not know it at exactly the same time.

  • Oh, and also, you don't drink fine wine from a pint glass! With breakfast.

  • JenX

    Ha Ha! My friends Mom fits your description exactly. She always had a box o' wine in the fridge that she slugged out of a plastic cup yet criticized her husband for being a drunk, becuase he always had a beer in hand.

    I however, am definitely better than all of you because my drugs of choice (opiates and benzos) come straight from the doctor and even have huge phamaceutical companies responsible for branding and merchandising. Being addicted to oxycodone which has pens and tshirts bearing it's name is highly superior to those stupid junky heroin addicts 😉

    I must say I am still on suboxone and I have yet to seeing any T-shirts or pens bearing it's name. I'm not sure what that says about me currently, but I am sure that I am still better than you simple alcoholics 😉

  • JenX

    I meant to say friend's not friends above….

  • Oh yeah? I think I'll wear this to the next PTA meeting.

  • diablo

    “Irish Friend of Bill” wrote:
    AA is NOT treatment centers. AA is not and never will be affiliated with treatment centers. AA has NOTHING to do with treatment centers.
    Jeez. No wonder ppl think AA has gone down the pan. I am astonished that the public have been conned into thinking that 5000 dollar a week hotels have any meaningful similarity to an AA meeting or how AA meetings operate. How sad. The greedy fatcat treatment centre owners have eclipsed the public profile of AA meetings to such an extent that the ordinary public has no clue which is which.
    Whatever. Nothing surprises me anymore. AA is frequently misperceived, so nothing new there. But it is still very sad that the fake ‘AA’ in treatment centers is passing for the real AA in AA meetings. The only reason I care is because fake AA doesn’t keep people sober for very long at all. Which is sad, but there is nothing I can do about that. I just stick to what I know, which is listed AA meetings as opposed to poorly hijacked AA methods in treatment centers.”

    diablo wrote:
    and they will never get it because the AA today has been so corrupted for many they can’t see anything else. Which is fine because it coincides with why I left AA.
    So really there is no point, I figured that out 2 days in.
    But there will be times I’ll try.

  • WatchSurvivingStraightInc

    Hello Eli! Welcome to the lifeboat of survivors of the bad ship AA!