AA’s Own Stats Show Slow Demise

This piece was written for Stinkin’ Thinkin’ by a regular reader — an ex-AA member with 29 years in the program. Thank you!!

Get out your slide rules, nerds! – ftg

[UPDATED by soberbychoice to factor in more current numbers, correct some typos, respond to apologists, and general bulletproofing. UPDATE 2: Further updated on January 11, to reflect more current numbers showing AA’s grip on the treatment industry in the US is eroding.]

AA had 2.1-million members worldwide in its 1993 group count records.  1.26-million in the US and 94,000 in Canada; the remainder in the rest of the world.  (The Triennial Survey does not survey membership numbers, but does report the numbers in the group count database, which are the latest numbers for each individual group that GSO has on file for each group.) The AA group database in 2007 said the total membership shown by all the groups worldwide was 2-million. In other words, using the same database, membership had declined about 100,000 from the peak  fourteen years previous.  GSO for 2010 reports the membership number at exactly the 2.1-million number of 1993.

The membership count over the last couple of years has “grown” as GSO rolled out a new software system that allowed Area registrars to more easily update group membership numbers.  Some of the “this can’t possibly be true because AA clearly has an awesome retention and success rate of at least 25%” crowd have panicked and suggested that the method of counting at GSO changed in 1993, thus showing a membership decline that year.  That means the numbers prior to 1993 were inflated by 271,000, but it does nothing to change the conclusion that AA is running in place compared to the number of treatment center patients sent to AA and the court-assigned people.  The 1994 count was 1.8-million.  So, in sixteen years until 2010 AA gained 300,000 members back, roughly the 271,000 who were dropped in ’93, if one wants to buy the apologists story, and I don’t.  That’s roughly 19,000 new members per year out of all the million or more who got a Big Book and an AA group introduction.

It’s a little hard to conceive of how 271,000 people can disappear in one year and it takes 16 years to get them back when you’ve got the courts and the treatment centers doing pushups for you, but the apologist’s answer is that GSO decided some groups were really just “meetings” and some groups were counting hanger-ons that didn’t really belong, so “poof” on over a quarter million alcoholics.  The more likely explanation is that the HMO’s by the early 1990’s were drastically cutting back on 28-day treatment.  That is reinforced by a fairly dramatic decline in Grapevine subscritions over the same period.   No matter how you massage the numbers, apologize for the numbers, or sprinkle them with the ashes of the First 100, there ain’t a retention rate or success rate here worth all the chant’s in last year’s meetings.

From the treetop level, AA has a negative growth rate relative to all the “potential” members who walked in the door and then promptly walked back out.  So the “success rate” is actually negative from that viewpoint.  Let’s dig deeper.  The number of people in the US each year who go through drug and alcohol treatment programs is estimated at about one million by the government’s NIAAA. 93% of those treatment programs are Twelve-Step based. So, several hundred thousand people each year are exposed to AA meetings for some period of time. There are 1.3-million AA members in North America by AA’s official group count. My conclusion is that there are a few hundred thousand core AA members with long-term sobriety and the rest of the “membership” is those treatment-center people and court-ordered people cycling through each year. Any long-term AA member can “see” this from their own experience in the rooms. One great churn of humanity pretending to be a gigantic world organization.

In what is clearly good news for AA critics and really bad news for AA and the approximately 90 staff members in New York City who depend on Big Book sales for much of their livelihood, it appears the 12-Step monopoly on treatment centers in the US has begun a steady decline.  While NIAAA’s 93% number above applies to the majority of the period covererd in this article, the National Treatment Center’s update from 2005 shows that dominance has eroded to only 75.6% of the private treatment centers.  Other data show AA’s dominance in the public treatment centers may be no higher than 60%, even though it does appear AA meeting attendance is required or encouraged even in those that are not based on 12-Step treatment. (See links in Mona Lisa’s comment in the discussion thread below.)  The “feeder” system is clearly beginning to break down from the treatment venue, though the court-coerced feeder system appears as robust as ever.  It’s a fair forecast to say staff reductions in NYC are on the near horizon and that those staffers, who currently enjoy a defined-benefit pension plan (an underfunded one) not enjoyed by most AA members, will increasingly seek career opportunites elsewhere.

It’s hard to know how many long-term AA members there are. The Grapevine, the official magazine, first reached a circulation of 100,000 subscribers in 1978. It peaked in ’93 at the same time the membership peaked, at 138,000. Today the GV circulation stands at 93,000 and is losing money at a rate—several hundred thousand dollars per year–that is alarming the General Service Office in NYC. Again, no growth. The GV surveys estimate that the magazine has a “passalong” rate of four times. So, we have possibly 400,000 members who are devoted enough to read the official magazine. Not much to hang your hat on, but just as good as all the other guessing that goes on in an anonymous organization that keeps virtually no records and does little or no research to speak of, and certainly allows no negative information to reach the membership.

AA World Services sells one-million Big Books each year and has each year for the last two decades. Yet, no membership growth. What gives? Clearly, the organization is not the “attraction” that it proclaims to be; most of its “churn” are coerced people cycling through, having gotten a Big Book worth $8 as part of their $25,000 “treatment” bill. Saying AA has a “retention rate” of even 5% is nonsense. If 5% of the newcomers were staying, AA membership would double every twelve years (Rule of 72; divide the percentage into 72 to find the time to double; into 115 to find the time to triple).  So, if AA had a success rate of 5%, it would have doubled its membership between 1994 and 2006 to 3.6-million.  The actual 2006 count was 1.98-million.  The average drunk is apparently a lot smarter than he/she is thought to be: While “professionals” in courts, counseling and medicine still propound the AA solution, the drunks are voting with their feet and leaving in droves!

So, why hasn’t “rigorous honesty” propelled the AA leadership to recognize what is clearly in front of their face? Part of it is, of course, plain fear, which was supposed to have disappeared with working the Steps. But there is “money, property, and prestige” here too. AAWS and the Grapevine (the only sources of business income in NYC for the General Service Board, General Service Office, and the Conference) are a $16-million dollar a year enterprise, all but roughly $2-million of that being AAWS, which employs all the GSO staff. Most of the $14-million of AAWS revenue comes from literature sales, primarily the Big Book. About $6-million or so comes from “the hat” from the AA groups in the US/Canada. Only about 44% of the groups send anything. Unity is impressive, huh? If Big Book sales were to decline, the NYC operation would be in real trouble, just as Grapevine is already.

The intellectual property suits and copyright suits against AA members in Germany and Mexico that AAWS initiated or participated in were all about protecting that income stream. So, despite former AA Chair Michael Alexander’s (Bill and Lois W.’s attorney and also the attorney who did most of AA’s legal work as a member of the Bern Smith law firm from the 1950’s forward) insistence that when AA faces problems it “goes to prayer instead of law,” AAWS helped sue members in both countries by insisting that the copyright on the 1939 First Edition was still valid in those two countries. The income stream clearly matters more than all the claimed spiritual principles and the Traditions!

AAWS has now printed and sold about 30-million copies of the Big Book since 1939, most of those in the last two decades. Wise AA leaders know that the massive gap between the distribution of the book and the membership numbers spells trouble both for the NYC operations and the future of the movement. Thus, only the renegades within the leadership dare question the coercion that is driving the survival of the movement. The AA Trustees know that if the courts were to prohibit forced AA attendance, or the insurance companies were to cease funding anything but proven efficacious treatment, the movement would be in perilous shape indeed. Needless to say, you don’t get to be or get to remain an AA Trustee if you ask hard questions!

How does one account for the societal acceptance of AA as a solution to alcohol and other problems when AA’s own statistics show its not succeeding at anything beyond churning people through its rooms? American missionary zeal has to account for a lot of it, after all, AA has not taken off in any other region of the world like it has here. The Hughes Act, which Bill W. and Marty M. endorsed enthusiastically in congressional testimony, poured billions of federal dollars into creating the “treatment movement” in the US, something no other country has experienced. Interestingly, the AA stagnation started about the same time as the HMO’s quit funding massive 28-day treatment programs. And finally, the external milieu in the US has been very favorable to AA. Witness M. Scott Peck’s book, “The Road Less Traveled,” which sold ten-million copies (published 1978), arguing that if ordinary Americans were lucky, they would become alcoholics and qualify to join AA. The greater probability today is that one or more books will be on the market in the next five years saying AA is proven not to work.

I joined AA in 1981 when AA had one-million members. On my tenth anniversary, AA had more than doubled. That would be a growth rate of 7.2%. With the current count, AA has a growth rate since I joined of something like 2.5%. Given that more than 10-15 million people at least have been introduced to AA in that time by treatment centers and courts, etc., it’s hard for me to conceive of the merits of a debate about AA’s “retention rate” or its “success rate.” There is neither, very obviously, if you know the mega picture. (Here devoted AA’s could venture into the unknowable and say, well maybe a whole lot of those quit drinking because of what they learned in a few AA meetings. I don’t know many AA’s who would regard that as a “success rate,” however.)

On AA’s 30th anniversary in 1965 Bill W. asked “so where are the 600,000” that came and didn’t stay? We have the same question today, but the number is in the high millions as AA celebrated its 75th anniversary on June 10 last year.
AA’s Triennial Survey shows the membership to be an average age of 47, sober about 8 years. Approximately 85-90% of the members are white, and those numbers are not changing appreciably with the dramatic demographic changes in the US population. The US Census Bureau estimates our country will be minority white by 2042. AA is going to somehow have to miraculously either bring in the minorities that have not flocked to it over the decades, or else it is going to have to dramatically increase its penetration rate in the white population, if it is to remain anywhere near its current size in a decade or so.

Between the “demographic determinism” of the above, the increasing secularization of the US, the decline of residential treatment programs, the obvious beginning of the retreat from the disease model of alcoholism and the very predictable retreat of professionals from the AA “model” in favor of pharmaceutical and behavior treatment programs like the Sinclair Method, cognitive behavior therapy, SMART, etc., it’s very easy to surmise that AA will likely be a very small organization on its 100th anniversary. As well, we could add the information now available on the internet that makes two things very clear: AA is not the only way by any stretch to quit drinking, and there are plenty of downsides to AA groups almost everywhere.

I am not among those familiar with AA who wishes to pretend (in the face of the obvious evidence) that this is a movement that is thriving in its attractiveness to newcomers, is retaining some outlandish percentage of those who come to it for help, or that if AA would just get back to some model of “primitive AA,” all would be well. AA has a core group of a few hundred thousand members in the US–many of them the 55,000 or so who attended the San Antonio convention last July–and the rest are the folks cycling through from treatment centers and the courts. We should add, many of those being people who have “recycled” through treatment centers and AA multiple times.

I have several observations about what may have happened to AA. One of them is this: The first members who wrote the Big Book said, “We know only a little. More will be revealed.” Bill W. and many of the early leaders, whatever else their faults, were fascinated with what more could be learned about alcoholism, how it could be treated, etc., and, most importantly, how AA could be most responsive to the next alcoholic who walked into the rooms. Today AA is not a learning organization. It is not open to new ideas. It is not open-minded to listen to either its concerned friends or let alone its critics. AA is frozen into organizational rigidity at a time of incredible changes in the societal milieu in which it exists. Bill W. would have been passing out Prozac pills in the late eighties, just like he did niacin and LSD in the fifties and sixties; today he would be passing out naltrexone, Campral, Topamax, Baclofen and anything else that physicians think might help someone to quit drinking. To that extent, as wacko as Bill W. clearly was, he was far more of an open-minded cult leader than those who fervently believe they are following in his footsteps by prescribing nothing, not even aspirin, other than a 1939 book that members now believe revealed every truth that one needs to know.

AA members’ response to all this–there being none from the headquarters or General Service Conference–is to flail about trying to say “the numbers our critics use have got to be wrong…you don’t know how high the success rate is in my group…” or, alternatively, to retreat into primitive AA mode and say, “We’d get back to the 75% success rate if we made all the newcomers get on their knees and recite the Third Step Prayer just like Dr. Bob did.” For those desperate AA defenders who spend their time trying to decipher the Triennial Survey numbers and counter the claim that the “retention rate” is only five percent, there is really bad news: There is no retention rate to debate about. All we can debate is the “churn” rate.

It’s going to be incredibly fascinating to see if some leadership emerges in AA to change the organization’s future, if AA fractures into a myriad group of organizations (arguably that has already happened with all the Back to Basics and fundamentalist sects within AA and the groups that have basically unaffiliated themselves from AAWS by buying their BB’s cheaper through Anonymous Press), or if it gets replaced by a support organization that is more palatable to those who need help. The trigger for change could be more court decisions that stop the flow of newcomers from that source; it could be the growth of treatment centers that offer alternatives to Step-based recovery; it could be additional breakthroughs in medicine that go beyond the somewhat promising pharmaceutical tools physicians now have like naltroxene and soon, nalmefene; or, it could be a sound study of sufficient stature that says it’s medieval to think character defects are the cause of alcoholism and here are some things that do work and have proven efficacy based on sound research.

At the moment most of the leadership in AA is still very comfortable with the organization’s monopoly status and is not even in the mode of believing anything needs to change. At the grassroots level, many thinking AA’s are quite concerned about what has happened to the movement, but they are not organized and no consensus has developed on what reform steps need to be taken. My further guess would be that no reform movement in AA would have much of a chance of success unless there was incredible pressure from the professional organizations with which it is allied to demand that it change in many fundamental ways. No multi-billion-dollar industry like the “treatment movement” has ever surrendered voluntarily. And certainly no institution, short of the Church when it had the power of the Inquisition, has managed to survive when the core doctrines have proven not to provide a solution. And this much is as certain as the flowing of the rivers and the growing of the grasses: No “reform” or “renewal” of AA is possible so long as the 1939 Big Book remains the basic text and the 12X12, Bill W.’s awkward projection of his own psychoanalysis onto the whole class of alcoholics, is the manual for taking the Steps. Even minor changes to the BB like taking out “To Wives” or changing anything in the first 164 pages would result in a splintering of the movement that has typically done in all the previous alcoholic movements in the US.

  • Mike

    makes sense to me, a core group of true believers surrounded by a swirling mass of short-timers. That's the AA I experienced.

  • SoberPJ

    That was good. Calm, reasonable, probably accurate…the hard core AA's will hate it.

  • Lucy

    Hard core AAs like to say that all those people from treatment centers, jails and television are watering down "the message" by including non-alcoholics in AA. Of course, they invited the treatment centers, jails and television into AA themselves.

    There is always a convoluted answer as to why nothing is AA's fault.

  • SoberPJ

    Well, silly, that's because nothing IS AA's fault. You were there. It's perfect .. If people would just DO the damn program, the entire world would be a better place… Even normies NEED the program..I feel so sorry for those normies that don't have the program of AA to guide their lives. They must be so miserable and stupid ….

  • SoberPJ

    Oh, and I don't think they SELL a million books a year, they PRINT a million books a year and have for the last few years. I think there is a warehouse somewhere with literally tons of Big Books waiting to be shipped. They have always focused on the number of books printed, never the number of books sold. Can be a big difference.

  • Acacia H

    I now love that saying about the "normies". "They don't have the programme, we do"

    I say Amen to that! Thank f*ck they don't!

  • Ben Franklin

    Why this can't be! This well-researched article proves otherwise:
    Just kidding folks. As long as you have members fudging data and making up #s AA will go the way of the Edsel.

  • Ben Franklin

    Great thread by the way!

  • Commonsense

    Good analysis! I think the splintering of AA is already well underway. Factions such as MOTR, Back to Basics, hardcore local cults (e.g. Mid-town Group), "rehab" AA, historical AA, and other ideological groups already exist, along with groups that cater to lifestyle (e.g. smoking, gay/lesbian, occupational professionals, homeless shelter, etc.) or gender. Without strong central leadership, conflict is inevitable.

  • BusBozo

    Excellent piece! I believe (an atheist perspective), that much of the flat lining or decrease in percentage of membership, really does have a lot to do with the so-called secularization the USA has experienced. The faith healing proscribed in those 164 pages just don't resonate as well in a more educated, progressive environment. Even among many theist, I think much of the book comes off as quaint (just a guess). Things aren't quite so baffling as they were in 1939.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

  • SoberPJ

    C'mon, how can anyone be serious over, "God, I offer myself to THEE, to build with me and to do with me as THOU WILT." I was serious and it is embarrasing now. Even in 39 that was probably pretty korny.

  • Gunthar2000

    This is the best article on AA that I've ever read.

    This needs to be seen by everyone… This is our letter to the world.

    Whoever wrote this… THANK YOU!

  • tintop

    AA is just going along, deep inside the comfort zone.

    That is a good article, I think that is accurate.

  • Mike

    Shucks, spj, now you're getting all extemporaneous on us

  • Lucy
  • BusBozo


    Have heard of these "Back to Basics" groups, including the "Spiritual Thugs", thankfully my knowledge is limited to their existence. Seems like Chris from "What are qualifications again?" infamy would be a good fit as a facilitator.

  • DeConstructor

    I would like to thank the person that wrote this piece.

    As Gunthar suggests, we need the world to see this. This could rock AA to the core, this could forever change the recovery industry, and this could stop people dying who have been indocrinated by the fallacies promoted by AA.

    I cannot help but notice the deafening silence of JD and his congregation…….

  • Gunthar2000

    I can hear a herd of trolls in the distance, and I'm committed to ignoring each and every one of them.

  • Martha

    I googled the term "spiritual thug AA" and found this:

    "My wife is doing a great job at not drinking at the moment and has started regularly going to AA and participating in a lot of their sessions. Initially I was supportive of her trips to AA until I started finding out a bit more about them. I'm basically writing for some advice on what to do, because I am at a loss and don't agree with their principles."


    "So anyway, I never realised that AA relied on weird illogical spirituality to 'heal' people of their ills (sorry if this offends anyone on here, you can believe whatever you want, that is up to you…these are just my views). I thought it was a group where you could share your problems with like-minded people (something that I think actually has benefitted my wife in fact). I soon found that this is not the only reason for AA, and in fact it is somewhat conservative and controlling. I don't like how my wife is being coerced into believing that some kind of 'higher power' will keep her on the wagon, when in fact its her strength of will and determination that have got her this far. She is a wonderful woman who I love with all my heart and soul…but I don't like to see her being manipulated like this, and I don't believe that the way to mend an addiction is through dogmatic steps that rule your life. She doesn't need anyone to rule her life…she needs to take control herself!"


  • Lucy

    BusBozo – These are way beyond the BtoB groups. These are nutjobs who send out hot letters to AAWS for omitting a comma in the most recent edition of the BB and tell people that they aren't in AA because they haven't paid to do the steps this way.

    As for the facilitators, at least one of the current lot of crazies lives out of a suitcase and another has had two recent mental breakdowns which required hospitalization. The qualifications seem to be paranoia, religious preoccupation, long term sobriety, and unemployment. (I would add "mental illness" but that seems redundant.)

    They are emotional thugs in terms of manipulation and hostage taking.

  • Martha

    Do these little cults within the cult operate in the open? I mean do they have meetings at AA halls and have meetings listed by AA websites?

  • mfc66

    The article reflects a lot what I saw in the rooms. I feel that not much will change in AA as only those who buy into the dogma, who sponsor many and who work the steps stay around. Other like myself use it as a place to go to break the habits of going to bars etc after work for a while and then move on when they have had enough and realise it is nothing more than faith healing.. This is what leads to the lack of modernisation and leaves AA looking more ridiculous by the day.

    In the UK we are faced with a bigger drug and drink abuse problem than ever before and AA stands still rooted in the past failing those that need help. Only a great change in society as a whole will cut down the need that people have to obliterate their feelings with drink etc but until that happens it is important that a support group gains momentum that does not rely on traditions and superstitions from the bronze or iron age reinterpreted by madman in the1930's.

  • SoberPJ

    There was a Saturday night speaker meeting I went to for like 7 years. I went back after being gone a couple years and didn't recognize anyone. It was a completely new crowd of maybe 150 people. That seemed strange to me. How can you have complete population turnover for a gathering like that. Even the founders had moved on. That little anecdote certainly confirms the churn theory to me. If you are new to AA, you don't see the churn right away because you are part of it. It takes a lot of time to really absorb what is happening. I think most of the angry AA supporters on various internet venues are people with less than 10 years. They have no long term foundation for their belief structure about AA. Hey, at 6 years, I was a true AA bigot and nothing would have swayed me. I was blind to the truth.

  • jcal

    Lucy says

    Do you guys have the Big Book Experience or the Big Book Awakening where you are? It’s a cult-with-the-cult of people who pay a “facilitator” to take them “through” the Big Book in a way that is supposed to give them an “awakening?”

    My ex-girlfriend who was a AA-nazi once gave me a box set of Joe and Charlie step tapes!! lol. When I opened the birthday present I at first glance thought it was a pink floyd or eagles box set . After all it was 16 years ago. When I found out what the tapes were I was bummed out to say the least. Supposedly if you follow the tapes correctly you would have a good chance at a spiritual awakening. Just thought id share that with you guys lol! I mean thanks for letting me share! AAAHH

  • zooromeo

    @ Lucy; I live in Australia and when I was in AA we had a visit from "Joe Hawk" in the late 90s who was sponsored by a guy called Dan Sherman who invented the whole "grass roots" Big Book Awakening stuff – some of his stuff was psychotic but some of it made sense…

    He often mentioned the fellowship being full of non-real alcoholics – alcohol abusers maybe but not "real" alcoholics… In one way I could see his point because as it turns out – with the right treatment Ive been able to become a moderate drinker.

    On the other side of the coin though, He had a MASSIVE ego and it was mostly narcissistic tripe created for AA members who wanted to me more "hardcore" because their problem was more "real" than other peoples… appealed massively to those more damaged among "us" because it made them feel more special…

    "The work" – "Why dont you sit with that ??"

    JESUS H. CHRIST !!!!!!!!!!!

    Funny thing was – If the guy had such a Superior Spiritual Awakening – Why was he so fucking Fat ??

    • Jingles

      Why do you care? Can fat people not be spiritual, or do you have the rules and regs handy, being you’re God, apparently, lol. Talk about “ego”…..***eyeroll**

  • SoberPJ

    That is one of those spiritual paradoxicalalicious things. The sicker you are the more special you are. All you have to do is declare your uber-sickness to the world and you get the uber version of spirituality and then you can be better than anyone else with your uber ego. Makes perfect sense and boils down to big losers with big egos.

  • thinkingagain

    Here's how your poster boy is advertising your website. No wonder you've got so few members after 9 months of service.

    Really pro-AA or anti-AA, who wants the shit anywhere?



    You're name is tied to this clown.

  • Darn. Maybe we should devote ourselves to tattling and gossip. That seems to be all you CL people are interested in.

  • thinkingagain

    His latest…

    So you're an advocate of racial hatred on this website?

  • Gunthar2000


  • thinkingagain

    Gunthar wrote this:

    [deleted racial slurs]

    You, friendthegirl and your website promote and defend this?


  • Gunthar2000

    Looks like Gunthar_Schmunthar to me.

  • thinkingagain, you can debate here all you want. Your arguments will never be censored. But you're not going to use my forum to harrass and bully a member here. You want to pick a fight with someone, start your own blog and do it there. I believe I've told you that before.

    The next time you post any racist, homophobic, or sexist slurs here, and if you continue to harrass and bully, you'll be banned. Claiming to be quoting someone doesn't mitigate it.

  • Martha

    "thinkagain" needs to accept that he is powerless to stop our efforts and should turn it over to his door knob or whatever his higher power is this week. He seems to lack serenity.

  • Gunthar2000

    Martha… I was thinking we should take a couple of days and make a distribution list. Can we take this over to the community board?


  • I loved this article.

  • Gunthar2000

    I especially like how this article exposes the churning of the AA membership.

    I've never seen it explained so clearly.

    A million Big Books a year.

    A million new members each year either court ordered or directed to AA by big rehab.

    Half of the organization doesn't even exist.

  • That troll is desperately, aggressively, and transparently trying to derail this thread and distract people from the information in the post. I believe that everyone needs to see that. The fact that this happens is the point of this blog. You'll notice that no one has (yet) showed up to debate the math. They show up to smear and bully.

  • SoberPJ

    So, it begins…. criminal minds engaged in defending the faith. Impersonation to discredit comes first because the internet world is faceless and it's easy. What is next?

  • eddy

    thinkingagain your like a little dog that needs to piss on every tree, ever pole, every shrub and every park bench… and just like that little dog upon seeing a human leg needs to obsessively hump it.

  • zooromeo

    The further away you get from AA – the clearer it is how immature people are…

    I cant believe I ever put up with it

  • causeandeffect

    True fig. I want to say thank you to whoever wrote the article. It's comforting to know the reign of sick vicious circuit speaking gurus such as Chris in the video from the post in "What are your qualifications anyway?" will eventually have nobody left to abuse. No more controlling manipulative sponsors. No more 13 stepping. Soon people won't have to abuse themselves in the name of sobriety. Soon people won't have to delude themselves that they are somehow so much better through working the 12 steps while it's obvious from their shares that they are still very disturbed people. So much change soon….

  • Martha

    I think there are some laws against impersonating someone and perhaps Gunthar should contact Craig's List. The information in that article is going to rattle the rabid steppers and may attract more AA trolls here. That sort of tactic to discredit us is typical of the sort of stuff we see on a personal level when sponsors manipulate or gaslight people.

    Gunthar, I will be in touch with you tomorrow at the board as I am on my way out the door right now. Just want to mention we should distribute that article on CL and to Orange's facebook page.

  • Gunthar2000

    @Martha… I've already sent the link to orange.

    It's not illegal to impersonate a handle… craigslist is the most unregulated board on the web. Thumper operates under several different handles. He's a real defender of the faith.

    This article is too good to waste on trolls.

  • Rick045

    When I was first introduced to AA in 1989, the meetings in my area were thriving. Some of the old-timers talked openly about "the treatment boom" that came as a result of The Hughes Act. I watched a gradual decline during the nineties. Even though my home group was relatively stable, there were other meetings nearby where I could watch a complete turnover every few months.

    I agree with the author about that core membership that everyone else sort of revolves around. The treatment industry and the courts desperately need that core membership, but I think that may continue to deteriorate as a result of the ever-increasing use of court-mandated attendance and the changing nature of the offenders. Those believers could always rationalize DUI cases, but that might get a bit tougher when you're dealing with a steady stream of child molesters and murderers. As the author says, I guess it's possible that some higher court intervention could put a stop to this. I just have a hard time imagining such a thing.

    AA's decline as a treatment modality is assured simply because of its inability to change its core dogma. I think in some ways, history may look back on AA as something of a generational phenomenon, simply a product of its times. I cannot imagine many younger people seriously embracing the dogma like the old-timers did.

    I also want to thank the author for contributing this.

  • SoberPJ

    "I cannot imagine many younger people seriously embracing the dogma like the old-timers did." There is an interesting phenomenon already happening today. I have been on several forums and other blogs where the defenders still defend, but take a posture that what Bill and Bob said in the 30's doesn't matter to them. It is hard to imagine exactly what program they are working, but they don't seem real concerned with following the suggested steps or with using AA simply as a sober social club. I couldn't keep AA dogma at a distance like that, but if others truly can, more power to them. I happen to think the dogma gets in your head through repetition however, so I doubt the separation is real over time. Although I know one guy who has been sober for more than 35 years and never worked a step. He has some kind of willpower. Oh, wait ….

  • DeConstructor

    The old timers did not have Google, the orange papers, morerevealed, or here at stinkin-thinkin. We are the people they warned each other about.

    And we are NOT going away……..

  • eddy

    I agree tintop. It is a slow process but it is fading. There are far more books available that are critical of AA, a big difference from the late eighties early ninties.

  • SoberPJ

    I think we are right now in the middle of a contraction. The science of addiction medicine has come a long way recently and there will be some really stunning stuff coming out of the new research soon. They know most of the mechanisms and these mechanisms don't mutate like AIDS or cancer so once the problem is nailed, the solution will have broad applicability. I think you have mentioned before tt, that the medical community will just quietly start doing the new methods without raising much of a fuss to avoid legal issues. I think we are in that very process right now and it is happening all around us. Billions have been wasted on faith-healing, and in this era of cost cutting, no one can tell me those huge failures have escaped the watchful eye of the beancounters.

    • Jingles

      lol, 5 years on, What’s “stunning”?

  • zooromeo

    " The science of addiction medicine has come a long way recently and there will be some really stunning stuff coming out of the new research soon"

    I agree completely – In fact, there is a whole load of supportive research indicating the impact of "mood disorders" on substance abuse.

    The AA program talks a lot about the "spiritual malady" (SM) for example – being largely at the heart of an "alcoholics" problem – one of the core reasons a "dry drunk" will seek relief from these feelings. Over many pages the Big Book defines this SM variously as:

    being restless, irritable, and discontented (page xxvi),

    having trouble with personal relationships,

    not being able to control our emotional natures,

    being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,

    having feelings of uselessness,

    being full of fear,


    being "driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity" (page 62),

    self-will run riot (page 62),

    etc.. etc…

    the above list looks to me a LOT like depression symptoms or anxiety symptoms… or perhaps just poor thinking/behavioral habits developed after an abusive childhood or even an adult trauma??

    Whatever the cause – there are plenty of options for the above "malady" these days – sometimes simply providing someone with an effective anti-depressant and talk-therapy will set them on a healthy and balanced path to regain or discover their self-esteem…

    I find it really hard to have sympathy for AA/NA members these days – especially when there is so much information around – on the web, TV, magazines etc… referring people to seek help from a doctor, a professorial etc.. for exactly these sorts of symptoms yet strangely some people doggedly endorse, promote and encourage a faulty, outdated and inadequate philosophy..

    we are too intelligent and have too much information these days to accept that a pseudo-religious society from the 1930s has ALL the answers.. So people that believe it so staunchly will never have my respect.

  • raysny

    One thing was left out: There was recently a big debate in AA where or not to have a Kindle version of the BB. To the best of my knowledge, the Kindle version is being sold for $10, I can't see AAWS giving up the revenue or sharing it with others. I think they must have been hard up for cash right now to risk fewer dollars later. Either that or they're seeing the beginning of the end and want to snag every dollar they can now.

  • SoberPJ

    A kindle version is a great idea and there is even a smartphone version from somewhere. I know a guy who got the smartphone version..excuse me here… and he said he was getting sober "one crap at a time" .

  • DeConstructor

    An organization that refuses all change is bound to die by that same creed. People, society, and attitudes adjust over time.

    The downfall of AA is its fundamentalist's attitude, who are rapidly making the organization obsolete, irrelevent, and a liability to the medical profession.

  • eddy

    it explains the desperate attempt by the hard cores to publish fudged statistics. It doesn’t surprise me , with so much information on the net these days.

  • SoberPJ

    Nahhh .. faith-healing is a liability to the medical community ? Benny Hinn does it all the time and he's a respected member of…. oh, wait… Bad Fake Preacher Hair Anonymous…

    Ya know, the real medical community must look at AA and want to make it go away. But it's like the Cable Guy. It just won't go away no matter how ridiculous it all gets. How does a faith-healing MD even keep their license? What kind of certification does faith-healing require? A bone in your nose? Correct recitation of incantations? Correct recital of the third step prayer? I mean really, what medical doctor heals spiritual maladies for christ sakes !? They should be embarrassed for themselves. Guys like Dr West at Betty Ford tellin somebody with a problem to read a flippin book. Now that's a doctor !

  • Acacia H

    Mike, the same here. Whenever I went back to AA after an absence, they were the few old-timers, mass of short-timers and those that were doing well before I left. Only tofind that those that had been doing well had relapsed a few times. The revolving door syndrome. Or also known as..THE DOOR KNOB…everyones had a turn.

  • Lucy

    Do you guys have the Big Book Experience or the Big Book Awakening where you are? It’s a cult-with-the-cult of people who pay a “facilitator” to take them “through” the Big Book in a way that is supposed to give them an “awakening?”

    It’s mostly the sentences in the Big Book inverted into questions for the user to answer. The believers call it “The Work” and it centers on three ideas. First, you should believe that AA saved your life and that you will die if you don’t stay in it. Second, you can’t be in the REAL AA unless you do “The Work.” Third, once you have done “The Work,” you are superior to other AA members and it’s on to the Bible.

    It is the essence of cult AA, down to the direct eye contact and aggressive salesmanship. Check it out.

  • eddy

    science is moving faster than AA, with better diagonistics and the new antidpressants anti anxiety drugs it removes the need for one to attend a step program.


  • Martha

    I think we should distribute this article far and wide. I am going to use it to promote the stinking thinking group over at tribe dot net. There are a number of recovery tribes there and I am also going to post is as a general announcement for that whole site.

    Looks like this has really gotten under “thinkagain’s” skin. He accuses people here of bigotry and then turns around and calls FTG a bitch. I don’t think this should be tolerated here. We have important work to do and should redouble our efforts to undermine AA and help sink it.

  • zooromeo


    Firstly, I am sorry that you are clearly still in AA.

    Secondly – He isnt a poster boy for anyone as far as I know and that name isnt necessarily the same person…

    thirdly – You’ll get your point across more clearly if you use correct English instead of the above nonsensical drivel.

    Fourthly – “http://stinkin-thinkin.com/” is an outside issue faccording to AAs 12 traditions

    Fifthly – /stinkin-thinkin.com being an outside issue should means that you should be a good little stepper-boy and piss off.

    PS – AA is full of childish numptys like yourself – WAHHHH “No wonder…”, “WAAAAHHHH so few members…” “9 months of service…. WAAAAAHHHHH”

    Sixthly – If you are ever LUCKY enough to have “more revealed” so that you can see what AA really is – youll have the freedom not to put up with bullshit from people just like you and use appropriate terms like “Fuck Off” instead of “love and acceptance”

    May god bless you and keep you until then 🙂

  • zooromeo

    so the steptards are getting so desperate to protect their sinkign ship that they assume pseudonyms similar to ST members to attempt to discredit them..

    Hang on thats not rigorous honesty

    **faints in shock & horror**

  • Primrose

    The churn factor is so obvious when you look at it from a distance. I am told that the nearest group to me has 4 long term members now, and the old newcomer who turns up once or twice. They sit around and congratulate themselves for staying as long as they have. Is it like saying that Heathrow Airport has x million members because that number of passengers pass through each year? Last time I was there it looked very very popular, but with a lot of 'churn'. The oldtimers need new flesh for their own 'recovery'.

  • causeandeffect

    I’ve seen Gunthar’s posts on Craig’s list and he’s been polite in the past. I simply don’t believe this was him. in fact one of them said:

    “Gunthar is one of our regular and best known trolls. not usually quite as brash as AA-lies, but can definitely troll…usually in the form of incessant top posting about the dangers of AA..

    he’s trying to save us.”

    Even the steppers should recognize this is not him.

  • tintop

    I think that AA will go along as it is – no changes – and, very slowly, dwindle down. So slowly, that AA will hardly notice as it is slowly replaced. This will take another 10 to 20 years. Just my view of it.

  • Primrose

    So, as one who has been accused of 'sabotaging someone's 'recovery' ('recovery' in this instance meaning lifelong membership of a cult whose membership needs to deceptively recruit vulnerable people), I am wondering whose 'recovery' I have been threatening. Not the newcomers who stumble in and stumble straight out. It must be the 'recovery' of the relatively few true believers. The ones who require new blood to sponsor and lie to for their own 'recovery'. The ones who get new faith in their cult with every suicide and every death. These people are relatively few in number.

  • SoberPJ

    Like DC said, there are so many avenues for information, it is hard to keep the lid on the deception. I would like to add that medical science is also a factor. The old timers have never seen an alcohol extinction graph from the Sinclair Method either. I know SM simply blows their minds. It makes absolutely no sense that a person drinks themselves sober or into the realm of normal drinking over time. People regain control, which is NOT supposed to happen, ever ! Their AA world gets turned upside down. I know mine did.



  • hulahoop

    @busbozoEven among many theist, I think much of the book comes off as quaint (just a guess).

    I can only speak for myself as a monotheiest. There isn't a damn about that book that is quaint. The words that come to my mind are bullshit, nonsense, rubbish, cult speak, psycho babble, false religion, false god, false prophet, outdated, piece of shit, lies, hocus pocus, boring, nauseating, WTF, and I am sure a few others if I thought about it long enough. Oh, and that goes double for that crappy 12 steps and traditions companion book too.

    Big, big thanks to soberbychoice for taking the time to put the facts together and write the article. I treasured every word. Applause! Applause! Thank you!

  • Primrose

    I just wrote a long post and lost it.

    Thank you to the author for putting it so monochromatically.

    The Guardian newspaper (UK broadsheet) is currently asking for suggestions for pieces. Darfield has submitted one and I think that readers recommend whether they want it commissioned. I wonder if anyone else would like to suggest any particular subject for a piece?


    People post suggestions, and then the registered readers vote on what they want.

  • Primrose

    If I have just lost two (TWO!) posts I will give up.

    Gu ardian newspaper is asking readers to submit ideas for pieces. Readers to vote what they want aired.


  • BusBozo


    Thanks for giving me your view. Quaint was a poor choice, your descriptions seem much more on the mark :).

  • hulahoop

    @BuzBozo – Well it's always a special, wonderful thing when Monotheists and Atheists can all join hands and agree on something. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Kumbaya, This Land is Your Land, I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke, and all of that.

  • Mona Lisa

    Soberbychoice: This is a fabulous piece and I've enjoyed reading it. I would, however, like to see links to the sources you've relied on–not because I doubt them but so that I can cite them myself.

    Also I note that one portion of your argument is based on old statistics:

    "The number of people in the US each year who go through drug and alcohol treatment programs is estimated at about one million by the government’s NIAAA. 93% of those treatment programs are Twelve-Step based."

    This was true in 1996 but the percentage has gone down. As I posted a couple of days ago:

    In 1996, a National Treatment Center study showed that 93.1% of privately funded treatment centers were based on the 12 step model. In 2005, a National Treatment Center study showed that 75.6% of privately funded treatment centers were 12 step based.

    1996 Study: http://www.uga.edu/ntcs/reports/NTCS%20summary%20
    2005 Study: http://www.uga.edu/ntcs/reports/NTCS%20summary%20

    A couple of other 2005 studies show that 59.7% of publicly funded treatment centers were based on 12 step and that 56.1% of therapeutic communities were based on 12 step (although 74% required 12 step group participation…interesting).


  • Mona Lisa, When I posted soberbychoice's piece, I kept trying to link to that comment you made with the new stats but I couldn't get the direct link to work — it kept landing on the wrong page. Then I lost focus and forgot to direct him to it. I will make sure he gets a link to those new numbers.

  • Lucy

    Last comment about the BBE/BBA/Joe & Charlie tapes, a group of the converts wanted to have a regular meeting about these kinds of studies at an AA group here in Dallas. The group became so extreme in their comments (long and rambling explanations about being a "recovered" alcoholic, villification of General Services Conference for "changing" commas in the last edition of the BB, telling people not to come back because they thought they weren't "real" alcoholic, telling an atheist she couldn't speak because AA is about God, etc)that the group told them they couldn't meeting at their clubhouse and put in a timer for when they talked.

    These people are really crazy and, as evidenced by how long I stayed in AA, I have a regrettably high tolerance for crazy.

  • SoberPJ

    " I have a regrettably high tolerance for crazy."

    I developed that too. I never signed on to accept and hang with more and more wacko's. Yet, there I was, listening to rambling meth head drunks and searching for the nugget of enlightenment they might spew. I should have been furthering my real education and increasing my critical thinking……

  • JD

    First, I've no problem with Gunthar's rants on Craigslist, indefensible and revolting as they are. He needs to let that madness and fury out somehow, and as long as his quarters last better online than in real life, for sure.

    Regarding the drop in AA #s…I sure hope so.

    After the insurance companies grew reluctant to pay for your 9th stay in treatment, and it was always certain you couldn't pay your own way, lots of them closed up, and immediately the atmosphere in meetings improved. Until you guys discovered you could milk the system more by getting some LSW to whine to and get that covered. Then we had to listen what your therapist said that week, and how your therapist is your sponsor, and what meds your therapist is suggesting you get from the candystore.

    I kind of believe that period was worse than the 'jammers (pajama clad) filing in and enjoying their librium highs muttering from the back row.

    The tremendous thing about losing people like you is that the AAs who remain can be more effective with the willing, not wasting time with soooo many fringer losers who never wanted to be there or get sober in the first place.

    Pretty direct relationship between the loser loss and the rise of anti sites like this, for which I'd like to take a moment and express my appreciation for, to those doing the work and providing a warm and welcoming home for all the Gunthars of the world.

    Heard today about a friend turning 39 yrs sober yesterday…no pills, no getting loaded on dope, just doing the AA thing. Beautiful guy who's helped countless others have good lives.

    Yeah, I know you think he's just awful. But you would, because that's the kind of person you are…and this world takes all kinds. As long as you pull together the hateful losers among alcoholics and keep them the hell away from AA, you can always count on my support and admiration for your work.

    Keep it up.

  • SoberPJ

    Tangent … man has been drinking wine for at least 6,000 years. Thank god Bill Wilson came along when he did with his "solution". It may have been another 6,000 years before god woke up and decided to help those powerless drunkards. But wait, how many powerless drunkards have their been in 6,000 years? Or, is powerlessness a new thing..


  • causeandeffect

    Lucy said,

    "These people are really crazy and, as evidenced by how long I stayed in AA, I have a regrettably high tolerance for crazy."

    There's a whole spectrum of crazy to be found there. Some are very extreme. The problem with AA is that it brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator with bill's stereotype. It turns normal human emotions into an alcoholic type pathology and denounces any indication of mental health as being dangerous to the alcoholic. Those who went in with some degree of sanity must adopt beliefs and attitudes that allow them to actively ignore the insanity because they are taught that to do otherwise would cause them to drink again. Over time they become homogenized to the group crazy.

    SoberPJ, if god does anything related to AA, it's to allow the recipients of AA road rage to get away when they are being chased down by these nuts who want to batter them for not using a turn signal.

  • JD sez: As long as you pull together the hateful losers among alcoholics and keep them the hell away from AA


  • Ben Franklin

    "Yeah, I know you think he’s just awful. But you would, because that’s the kind of person you are…and this world takes all kinds."

    Wow Tony JD things are a little slow since you killed that Dombeck thread. Maybe you can start your own blog and we will go over and get insulted by you. That would be fun. No seriously,can you ever post anything without an ad hominem or twisted logic? Perhaps you can go to more of those dwindling meetings or better yet look for work. Or better yet work within your organization to stop coercion. This is something we agree on Eh! But that would be too hard for internet Kommandos. Are you hear to convert us? Let me give you a hint:it is not working.

    We don't think it is awful that your buddy has 39 years. In fact, many of us are happy someone is sober that long. Trying to slander us by assuming we think such and such is a sin. You know what they say about assuming in AA. You make an ass out of you and you. You need to call your sponsor and confess. That is assuming you have a sponsor. I assume you do since you wouldn't want to be MOTR AA now would you. Really TJD. What is your point?

  • SoberPJ

    " SoberPJ, if god does anything related to AA, it’s to allow the recipients of AA road rage to get away when they are being chased down by these nuts who want to batter them for not using a turn signal. "

    That's me ! I've wanted to do that…. There are some new studies that look at the role of anger in alcoholism – I think they'll find a correlation. JD et al are fine examples for study.

    One of the best things I ever heard in the roomz was, "don't use your car as a teaching tool." Excellent advice ….

  • Lucy

    JD – Hateful loser here, but still not drinking.

    I know quite a few people with more than 40 years of sobriety. I also know that not one of them has been able to stay married to the same person, can claim good relations with their families or can talk about a life outside of AA that includes non-AA friends and a good job.

    Most of people who "lead" AA, whether they are the self-deluded gurus in the local groups or the Clancys who make a living out of it, have no lives outside of AA. They don't run companies or raise families or find the cure for cancer. They are too busy "working with others" to have healthy lives of their own. They don't have other lives because, like Bob and Bill themselves, they can'tt handle them.

    Don't ask the guy with 39 years what a good guy he is. Ask his wife, ex-wife, child or ex-sponsee. I guarantee you you'll get a different perspective (which is why Bill wouldn't allow Lois to write "To The Wives" herself).

    What drove me away was not the predators, the craziness, the emotional immaturity, the excoriation of the mentally ill, or the religion. What drove me away was that I didn't want to become like them.

  • Mr AA

    New to this site. (don't let the handle throw you off – it's more self-mockery than anything else)

    This caught my eye in the article:

    "And this much is as certain as the flowing of the rivers and the growing of the grasses:

    "No “reform” or “renewal” of AA is possible so long as the 1939 Big Book remains the basic text. Even minor changes to the BB like taking out “To Wives” or changing anything in the first 164 pages would result in a splintering of the movement that has typically done in all the previous alcoholic movements in the US."

    Although slightly off topic, I am curious what a new basic text for a "renewal" or "reform" AA would need to accomplish?

  • Mona Lisa

    Helpful information on dealing with Internet Trolls:

    "The term “Internet troll” has become the moniker for those that join a conversation simply to cause problems, generate angry responses, sabotage the discussion or to ‘push the buttons’ of others for the amusement of it all.

    Whether it’s a deep need for attention or some other psychological tick that drives this behavior, the fact is that Internet Trolls are part of the fabric of the online world.

    As irritating as they can become, the worse thing that anyone can do with an Internet troll is to engage them in their game. If a troll gets a response to their inflammatory postings or comments, it just encourages them to continue."


  • hulahoop

    @Mona Lisa – Yeah, I know. But sometimes I just can't help myself. I do feel sorry for him. I can't imagine going to one of the "pro" AA sites just stir up trouble and get attention for myself. Each to their own I guess.

  • tintop

    jd, real name "Foster Brooks" is drunk again.

  • AnnaZed

    I don't know about all that Mona Lisa. At this site I think (though I can't speak for the site owners) it is interesting to engage with steppers. RaySNY once pointed out to me that on sites where stepism is being discussed it pays to (in a sense) give 'em enough rope; then other readers come to the site looking for answers and there are the serenity rantings for all to see. True, some people have been banned ~ like Tony (or maybe it was McGowdog) when he began posting insane things like pages of repeated cut-and-paste single lines ("all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" Jack Nicholson style ~ seriously), racist stuff, hate speech and such like, but usually they confine themselves to these curious self-revelatory posts that really (if you think about it) are stranger than any fictions we might come up with in a million years of posting.

  • AnnaZ, you nailed my philosophy on Serenity Hornets. That's why we don't censor them. They really do make the case better than we ever could: those passive-aggressive, saccharine concern trolls who take on that fakey-joyful-yet-bewildered tone when they hope we get over our resentments and anger, while insinuating that we're drunk and sad, and the rage-heads whose debate skills range from ad hominem (and I swear, you can define "personal attack" to them a million times, and they never understand what it means or why it doesn't make them correct) to non sequitur.

    I also don't want anyone to be able to say that they were censored here. No one gets censored here, except under extreme circumstances.

    There are only 3 people on the blacklist at Stinkin' Thinkin' — and McGowdog is not one of them: TonyJ, for being a bigot; Cuda, for encouraging TonyJ to use proxies to get around our ban; and some weird dude who kept posting "fuck you."

  • Primrose

    At the risk of jumping in, could I ask advice on what piece might be submitted to the Guardian? They have said that they feel that THIS angle has already been


    This piece on the churning factor does a lot of explaining as to why this cult has societal approval. Would anyone suggest another angle?

  • DeConstructor

    Would anyone consider scientific credibility to a program developed in the 1930's that does not modify itself? There was another "medical breakthough" developed in the 1930's…

    Warning graphic content.


  • eddy

    science breakthroughs today are not those of the 1930's or the aslyums of the 1800-1900 era.

    The fact is those who suffer from anxiety and depression have much better treatment available, and better therapies other than lobotomies and AA.

  • Gunthar2000


    You cannot force the Guardian to publish anything they are not interested in. My advice is that you should move on and find another place to share your ideas.

  • Mike

    Still waiting for TJ(d) to weigh in on this one…lol

  • hulahoop

    JD said, Heard today about a friend turning 39 yrs sober yesterday…no pills, no getting loaded on dope, just doing the AA thing. Beautiful guy who’s helped countless others have good lives.
    Yeah, I know you think he’s just awful. But you would, because that’s the kind of person you are…and this world takes all kinds. As long as you pull together the hateful losers among alcoholics and keep them the hell away from AA, you can always count on my support and admiration for your work.
    Keep it up.

    Awwww! Boys and girls, women and men, JD is trying to use reverse psychology on us today and he thinks we are too stupid to recognize we when we see it.

    JD, you keep coming back. And be sure to send a link to your great guy of a friend who has been drinking the kool aid and encouraging others to do so for THIRTY-NINE years. I have a lot of questions to ask him since he should be a bonafide expert on AA after so many years of being dependent on it and because you will not answer any questions yourself. What a great opportunity you are being given and will not accept it. Here is your chance to change lives and you won’t pony up with any answers.

    ((JD)) big, fat internet hugs and kisses to you! Thanks for stopping by today. One post from you should be enough to keep at least ten people from trying AA today. God Bless You, baby! Keep coming back. It works if YOU work it.

  • AllyB

    @ Lucy “These people are really crazy and, as evidenced by how long I stayed in AA, I have a regrettably high tolerance for crazy.”

    Something just occurred to me. I recently read an SR thread on codependency and the basic, well accepted, jist was that people are codependent when they put up with crazy sh!t which they allow themselves to think is normal, but "normies" won't tolerate.

    So that means all AA's are codies, right, just by virtue of attending AA, which makes them more and more codependent at each meeting they enjoy.

  • raysny

    I posted a link to this on aa_with_no_religion, it's caused quite a stir.

  • DeConstructor

    I think many people would be very happy if AA quietly went back to the church basement, kept to themselves, repeated stupid slogans to each other, and stroked their erections when then they say the word “disease”

    Perhaps that would keep them busy enough so they would not feel the need to evangelize via courts, schools, and hospitals.

    If they truly wanted to be more hardcore, and more fundamentalist, they would actually join our cause, and complain loudly about the recovery industry profiting from selling their beloved serenity.

    In true Orwellian fashion, I guess some traditions are more important than others.

  • joedrywall

    Again I feel compelled to refer to Charles Bufe AA Cult or cure:

    The Future of AA

    In the first edition of this book, I came to the conclusion that AA and related 12-step groups would continue to expand indefinitely. I no longer believe that’s true. I now believe that AA will, instead, begin to shrink within the next decade, and perhaps within the next five years, for reasons which I didn’t cover in the 1991 edition of Cult or Cure?, even though the factors I cited in the earlier edition militating toward AA’s growth are still operative.

    AA is the direct spiritual descendant of Frank Buchman’s Oxford Group Movement, and AA’s program, the 12 steps, is a codification of the Oxford Group Movement’s principles of individual powerlessness, divine guidance, confession, restitution, and continuance; as well, AA inherited many attitudes, tendencies, and stylistic features from the Oxford Groups, including anti-intellectualism, informality, wariness of formal organization (at least in communal AA), and a fondness for slogans and aphorisms. AA also inherited one other important Oxford Group Movement tendency, and one which has proven important in AA’s history: expansionism.

    Frank Buchman and the other members of the Oxford Groups were convinced that their “way of life” was the panacea for all of the world’s ills. So, their overriding goal was to persuade everyone to adopt their it. Similarly, a great many AA members are equally convinced that the “AA way of life” (that is, following the 12 steps) is the panacea for all alcohol abusers. Many go further than that and, like their Oxford Group forebears, assert that their “way of life” is a panacea which should be adopted universally—by nonalcoholics as well as by alcoholics. One enthusiastic AA member put it like this: “I think we’re talking about a revolution—ending war, people getting rid of their anger . . . I honestly think that if everyone worked the 12 steps it would change the world.i A most interesting aspect of this statement is that its author refers to 12-step programs as a “revolution,” just as Oxford Group members referred to their reactionary religious program as a “revolution.”

    Additionally, AA members are told to “carry this message [AA’s program] to alcoholics” in the 12th step, the culminating step of AA’s program of “recovery.” It’s no surprise then, that expansionism has been one of the hallmarks of AA; and it’s virtually certain that it will continue to be so.

    This expansionism can easily be seen in the changing composition of AA’s membership. As mentioned in the preceding chapter, the criteria defining an “alcoholic” (thus defining who is eligible for AA membership) were very restrictive in AA’s early days. AA even refused to classify as alcoholic some drinkers who showed marked alcohol-related physical deterioration. At present, anyone showing any level of physical dependence, let alone deterioration, is automatically labeled “alcoholic” by AA members, and many persons who display no physical symptoms and whose drinking problems are relatively mild and of short duration are also so labeled. Thus, the pool of potential AA recruits has vastly expanded.

    While the percentage of drinkers with serious drinking problems is probably no higher now than when AA was formed, the percentage of drinkers labeled “alcoholic” is far higher now than it was during AA’s formative years in the late 1930s. Given the current mania for labeling nearly everyone an addict of some sort, it remains near certain that the criteria for defining someone as an “alcoholic” will remain very broad, though it’s doubtful that they will expand much further; about the only way that that could happen would be to label anyone who drinks any amount of alcohol, no matter how tiny, as an “alcoholic.”

    Another sign of expansionism can be seen in the age of AA’s members. In AA’s early days, there were very few members under 30 years of age; and many members were doubtful that anyone younger than 30 could be an alcoholic, or at least doubtful that their problems were serious enough to cause them to want to stop drinking. Yet by 1989, 22% of AA’s members were 30 or younger, and 3% of AA’s members were teenagers.ii Again, the pool of potential recruits for AA has greatly expanded.

    Further evidence of AA’s expansionism can be found in its attitude toward coercion. In its early days, AA was proud of being an all-volunteer organization. Today, AA embraces coercion. AA willingly cooperates with courts which routinely coerce drunk drivers and others guilty of alcoholrelated offenses to attend AA meetings. As well, coerced participants make up a majority of the “clients” in 12-step treatment programs administered and overseen by AA addictions “professionals.” In 1996, fully 40% of respondents to AA’s triennial survey stated that a treatment center was one of the (up to) three most important factors “responsible for [their] coming to A.A.,” and another 16% listed counseling as an important factor. As well, 9% listed”employer or fellow worker” (that is, EAP coercion); 8% listed “health care provider”; and those who were openly coerced made up a full 16% of the sample: 13% listed court orders; 3% listed correctional facilities.iii As well, at least some of those who listed “family” were certainly introduced to AA as a result of coercive “interventions,” though it’s impossible to tell what percentage from the data supplied. Thus, because of the multiplechoice option in the survey, as well as the vagueness of its wording, it’s impossible to state what percentage of AA members belong to it primarily because of treatment centers, 12-step counseling programs, coerced attendance via court mandates or correctional facilities, or other forms of coercion. But it’s a certainty that it’s a very high percentage. In all likelihood, the percentage of current AA members who joined AA because of coercion is at least a third, and is probably in excess of 40%.iv

    As well, a huge number, probably a large majority, of the “professionals” and “para-professionals” employed by both inpatient and outpatient alcoholism treatment programs are zealous AA members who consider AA the be-all and end-all of alcoholism treatment. In many ways, AA serves their needs very well (though not the needs of most of their clients). It provides them with a program with all the answers, a simple program which they can “utilize” and “not analyze”; and if that program doesn’t work for many clients, it’s the fault of the clients’ “defects of character” or “lack of honesty.” So, not only does AA supply a ready-made program, it also supplies a convenient excuse for treatment failures. For these reasons, for the near future AA will undoubtedly continue to be a key part of a very large majority of treatment programs, and all too many inpatient programs will continue to consist of little more than a 14- or 28-day drying out period punctuated by daily AA meetings and group “thera

    py” sessions in which clients are pressured to admit that they are diseased “alcoholics” who need the intervention of a Higher Power to overcome their “alcoholism.” And all this with a $20,000 bill falling due at the end of “treatment.”
    This is a comfortable arrangement for both AA and the 12-step treatment centers. The treatment centers provide AA with meeting space, a huge market for its literature, and a steady stream of new members, while AA provides the centers with cheap help (zealous, underpaid para-professionals) and the cheapest method of “treatment” imaginable. Given these realities, it would be very surprising if AA didn’t continue to cooperate with agencies that coerce drinkers to attend its meetings, and didn’t continue to be an integral part of a large majority of alcoholism treatment programs in the United States, at least for the next several years. In sum, AA’s embracement of coercion is perhaps the clearest sign of AA’s expansionism.

    AA has also been expanding “overseas” (which, strange as it seems, includes Mexico), as well as in the United States and Canada. As of 1996, AA’s overseas membership totaled 614,466—nearly 33% of AA’s total membership of 1,866,281.v One area of particularly rapid expansion has been Latin America.

    Given the inherent anti-political activism bias of AA’s program, with its inward focus, its total neglect of social factors involved in the production of alcohol abuse, its emphasis upon individual powerlessness, and its insistence upon divine guidance as a panacea, one can only look upon AA’s Latin American expansion with trepidation. Alcohol abuse is a terrible problem in many parts of Latin America, and it’s unlikely that AA will be any more effective there than it has been elsewhere; AA, in fact, will undoubtedly block progress in dealing with alcohol abuse problems there. As well, it’s difficult to see the political quietism inherent in AA’s ideology as being anything other than a buttress for the inequitable social systems within which alcoholism flourishes in Latin America. Given the dimensions of the alcohol abuse problem, the lack of alternative treatment programs, the presence of business-as-usual regimes that welcome a message of political quietism, and the religion-soaked atmosphere in these countries (a not-surprising reality in lands where social misery reigns), it seems likely that, for better or for worse, AA will continue to expand in Latin America.

    A development related to the expansion of AA is the proliferation of non-AA 12-step groups. In 1990, there were approximately 200 non-AA 12-step organizations, with a membership estimated in excess of 2 million.vi That might have been a rosy estimate, as a Hazelden document I obtained in 1994 stated that there were “2,700,000 12-step individuals” and that “12-step membership has been flat for the last 3 years.”vii If correct, that would yield a non-AA 12-step membership of around 1.5 million in 1994. The figure is probably about the same today, given the “flat[ness]” of 12-step membership and the slight, but noticeable, decline in popular interest in 12-step organizations over the last few years.

    One indication of this decline can be found in the number of articles about AA and other 12-step groups in The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. In the period 1985-1987, a total of 6 articles on AA appeared in indexed periodicals. That figure jumped to 8 articles in 1988 alone, and during the period 1988-1991, a total of 22 articles appeared. But during the following five years, 1992-1996, only 8 articles on AA appeared, with none at all in 1996. The numbers are similar for other 12-step groups. The category “Twelve-Step Organizations” first appears 1988, in which year 2 articles on non-AA 12-step groups were indexed. Interest in such groups peaked in the years 1990-1992, when indexed periodicals ran 13 articles on them. But during 1993-1995, only 3 articles appeared, with none at all in 1996.

    (One feature of these articles bears comment: from the late 1980s on —for the first time since the mid 1960s—articles critical of AA have been appearing in the national media. Of the 32 articles on AA listed in the period 1987-1996, 6 were critical. The proportion of critical articles on other 12-step groups was almost twice as high. Of the 18 articles listed from that same period, 6 were critical. In 1997, one national news magazine even ran a cover article headlined, “What AA Won’t Tell You.”viii)

    What is most surprising about the AA spinoffs is that groups having nothing to do with addictions have adopted the 12 steps as their “program,” with only the most minimal alterations. Perhaps the most extreme example is Incest Survivors Anonymous. If the AA program, the 12 steps, were truly tailored to fit the needs of alcoholics (or addicts of any sort), it would seem grotesque that it be adopted as the program for victims of hideous, cruel abuse. (Should rape and molestation victims really adopt guiding principles which emphasize that they should make “amends” to those they’ve “harmed,” take a moral inventory of themselves, and admit their “wrongs”?)ix

    But the 12 steps are not tailored to fit the needs of alcoholics and addicts. In fact, they’re not tailored to fit the needs of any particular group. But for the mention of alcohol in the first step and the mention of alcoholics in the twelfth step, they are purely a set of religious principles advocated by Oxford Group Movement/Moral Re-Armament founder Frank Buchman and crystallized by AA co-founder Bill Wilson.

    This fact explains a great deal. From early childhood, most persons the world over are taught that God and religious faith are the very essence of goodness; so, they’re favorably inclined toward anything overtly religious, such as the 12 steps. At least in Christian countries, most are also taught, as part of their religious training, that their problems are purely their own responsibility, the results of their sins, and that only God has the power to remove those sins. So, most people are predisposed to accept 12-step religiosity with its insistence upon individual responsibility for alcoholism (or other “addictions”), individual helplessness, and the necessity of divine guidance.

    But their inherent religiosity is only a partial explanation of the popularity of 12-step programs. There are many other reasons for their spread. One is loneliness. Loneliness is a terrible problem in American society, and people will flock to almost anything that relieves it—even 12-step meetings. In the case of AA, this factor is undoubtedly very important in the recruitment and retention of members. Alcohol abusers often drive off all or almost all of those close to them, and are quite socially isolated when they finally decide to quit drinking. Thus, AA, with its innumerable meetings, social functions, and opportunities for 12th-step work, becomes an important —sometimes the only—social outlet for many new members. One young AA member’s comments lend support to this view of AA as a refuge from loneliness: “This is a place where I come and I don’t feel alone anymore the way I used to when I was drinking and doing drugs.”x While it’s uncertain whether loneliness is as potent a motivating force in drawing new members to other 12-step groups, it is undoubtedly an important factor.

    Another reason for the popularity of 12-step programs is the prevalence of rampant psychological pain in contemporary America society. The problems which 12-step programs presume to address are, in many cases, all too real. Because of the absence of affordable or free alternatives (or lack of knowledge of their existence), it seems only natural that a great many people turn to 12-step programs for help. Unfortunately, it’s a virtual certainty that for the foreseeable future the socioeconomic system will continue to act as a human meat grinder, churning out generation after generation of emotionally damaged people replete with “addictions” and other “dependencies.” If the current trends toward regressive distribution of wealth and income, and sadistic, punitive “solutions” continue—jails rather than job training, savage drug laws rather than a socially tolerant legal code, etc., etc.—it seems likely that the social meat grinder will accelerate the pace of its grisly work. So, it’s a virtual certainty that these factors in the growth of AA and other 12-step groups will continue to operate and could well be-come even more potent than they are now.

    Another factor explaining the popularity and expansion of 12-step groups is AA’s tremendously effective propaganda machine. Until fairly recently, the portrayal of AA in the print media was uniformly favorable, with many articles being near adulatory, and having titles such as “The drunk who helped millions get sober”xi and “Alcoholics Anonymous: the heart of treatment for alcoholism.”xii The film industry and television have, if anything, been even worse; they’ve painted an unrelievedly rosy picture of the group, as in movies such as The Days of Wine and Roses and Clean and Sober. There are three reasons for this favorable portrayal of AA in the mass media: 1) AA members have set up front groups to promote the 12-step approach under the guise of professional organizations, the NCADD being the prime example; 2) most reporters are woefully ill informed about addictions, tend to believe the misinformation they’ve been fed over the decades by AA and its allies, and tend to regard and rely upon AA’s unidentified (anonymous) spokesmen and front groups, such as the NCADD and ASAM, as disinterested experts; and 3) because of AA’s anonymity provisions, many AA members in the addictions professions and in the mass media are free to issue pro-AA pronouncements and to produce pro-AA pieces (as well as to attack AA’s critics) without revealing their affiliation with AA. This is unlikely to change anytime soon. Even over the last decade, magazine articles critical of AA and the 12-step movement (as listed in The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature) have been outnumbered by pro-AA/pro-12-step pieces by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.

    Yet another, and undoubtedly the most important, reason for AA’s growth over the last three decades has been the systematic use of coercion by the courts, prisons, employers, and 12-step treatment industry to force people into AA. This has been tremendously important in AA’s growth; as indicated in Chapters 7 and 8, at a bare minimum, a third of AA’s current members were coerced into first attending, and the figure could be considerably higher.xiii In many ways, over the last three decades AA has been in the position of a snake being force-fed mice—not that the snake was all that unwilling.

    A final reason for the popularity and growth of 12-step groups is their anti-intellectualism. As Luther Burbank once remarked, “The greatest torture in the world for most people is to think.” Sadly, this appears to be true, and 12-step programs, with their “utilize, don’t analyze,” “your best thinking got you here” philosophy, seem ideal social vehicles for those wishing to escape the “torture” of critical thought. For many members, 12-step group-think organizations form a comfortable herd in which they can submerge themselves. (This may seem extreme, but consider the cliched remarks of many members, often consisting almost entirely of time-worn AA slogans and folk sayings, at almost every meeting; consider also the many “AA successes” who have virtually no social life outside of AA.) Given the miserable state of the educational system and the smothering influence of fundamentalist Christianity and other anti-intellectual religions, it seems virtually certain that the anti-intellectualism of 12-step programs will con-tinue to be a powerful attractive force.

    But there is also reason to think that the growth of AA (and the 12-step movement) will soon end, and that AA will in fact begin to shrink in size in the near future. I believe that the shrinkage will begin within the next ten years, and perhaps within the next five. There are several reasons that this seems probable.

    First is the shrinkage of the inpatient treatment industry. Over the last decade, the average length of stay, and occupancy rates have both dropped, and over the last two or three years it seems as if the number of inpatient facilities has begun to decline. As insurers become even more reluctant to pay for expensive, ineffective 12-step inpatient treatment, these trends seem likely to continue.

    Second, because of recent state and federal court decisions, coercion into 12-step group attendance/12-step “treatment” by the courts and penal system is on the way out. While it’s still common in many parts of the country, as more and more suits against mandated attendance are filed and won, this source of members for AA will simply shrivel up, as it’s already doing.

    Taken together, these two factors will diminish the number of persons coerced into AA membership. Coerced persons now constitute at least a third—and probably considerably more—of AA’s members, so this will be a serious blow to AA. There’s some indication that at least one of these factors is already having an effect: since 1989, the percentage of teenagers in AA has fallen by two-thirds, from 3% to 1%. One likely explanation for this drop is a decline in the number of “interventions” with teenagers and their coercion into 12-step treatment. (I simply can’t conceive of any significant number of teenagers being attracted to AA meetings with their bad coffee, cigarette smoke, drunkalogues, and predominance of older folks.)

    A third reason for AA’s probable decline is that it simply doesn’t work very well. As discussed in Chapter 7, the controlled studies of AA have found that it is, quite simply, ineffective—no better than no treatment at all. And in the end the truth will out. Despite AA’s well-oiled propaganda machine and its unmerited near adulation in the mass media, in the long run an organization that purports to be the answer to a serious personal and social problem, but which is utterly ineffective, cannot endure.

    A fourth reason to believe that AA will begin to shrink in the near future is that the stranglehold of AA upon the mass media is loosening. Over the last decade, as indicated above, a number of articles critical of AA have appeared in the mass media (while there were none over the previous 20 years), and during the same time a spate of books critical of AA and its concepts has also appeared. Titles such as Stanton Peele’s Diseasing of America, Ken Ragge’s The Real AA, Jack Trimpey’s The Small Book, Vince Fox’s Addiction, Change and Choice, Albert Ellis’s and Emmett Velten’s When AA Doesn’t Work for You, and the present volume come to mind. The continuing appearance of a steady stream of critical books, periodicals, and magazine articles seems a near certainly, and it thus seems almost equally certain that AA’s stranglehold upon the media will be a thing of the past within the next 10 to 20 years. And with a more realistic portrayal of AA in the mass media, AA’s volume of walk-in traffic will undoubtedly greatly diminish.

    A related development is the appearance and endurance of the various nationwide “alternatives” to AA. In the early 1980s, there was only one such group: Women for Sobriety (WFS). Today, there are five: in addition to WFS, we have Moderation Management, Rational Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, and S.M.A.R.T. Recovery. All of these groups have now survived for at least several years, and it seems reasonable to expect that at least two or three of them will prosper in the coming years. As they do so, they’ll become better known, and AA’s reputation as the only game in town will disappear; and with its disappearance, AA’s volume of walk-in traffic will again decline.

    A final reason to believe that AA will shrink significantly over the next decade or two is AA’s ideological fossilization. AA will not be able, as it has not been able, to adapt its program to changing social realities. AA’s mem-bership characteristics and organizational structure ensure this.

    To a great extent, AA’s direction in the coming years will be determined by its members, especially those members actively involved in AA’s administration. For the most part, these people are quite conservative; AA’s service structure is staffed by members deeply imbued with AA tradition who love the 12-step program just the way it is, and who would fight to keep it from changing.

    This is strongly related to the religious nature of AA’s program. For many, probably most, AA members, the 12 steps and related beliefs are articles of faith; and it would be as unrealistic to expect AA believers to alter their central beliefs as it would be to expect Catholics to alter theirs. Additionally, as indicated in AA’s Service Manual, approval by three-quarters of all registered AA groups would be required to make any changes in the heart of AA’s program, the 12 steps. Anyone familiar with AA will recognize that this makes changes in the steps, AA’s ideological core, utterly impossible. In spite of changes in the composition of its membership, it seems certain that as long as AA survives it will continue to be what it has been since its articles of faith were first published in 1939: a religiously oriented ideological fossil.

    These six things—the shrinkage of inpatient treatment; the drying up of court/penal-mandated attendance; AA’s ineffectiveness; the loosening of its stranglehold on the media; the appearance and endurance of the “alternative” self-help groups; and AA’s inability to adapt its program to changing social conditions—virtually ensure that AA will begin to shrink significantly within the near future, perhaps within the next five to ten years; and they make it entirely possible that AA will cease to exist as a significant social movement by the second quarter of the 21st century.

    i1. “Setting Store by Personal Recovery,” by Joan Smith. San Francisco Examiner, December 16, 1990, p. F6.
    ii2. “Comments on A.A.’s Triennial Surveys.” New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1990, p. 2.
    iii3. “Alcoholics Anonymous 1996 Membership Survey” brochure.
    iv4. Figures taken from AA’s 1996 membership survey brochure. For the calculations used in determining the percentage of AA’s members there because of coercion, see Chapter 7, p. 86, endnote 4.
    v5. “1996 Survey,” op. cit.
    vi6. “Going to Church the 12 Step Way,” by Don Lattin. San Francisco Chronicle, December 17, 1990, pp. A1 & A6.
    vii7. This information came from a one-page handout given out at the “Addictions Roundtable” by Hazelden’s marketing director at the American Booksellers Association’s annual trade show in Los Angeles on May 30, 1994.
    viii8. “The Drinking Dilemma,” by Nancy Shute. U.S. News & World Report, September 8, 1997, pp. 55-65.
    ix9. Apparently some 12-steppers think so. In More Revealed (Henderson, Nevada: Alert Publishing, 1992, p. 178), Ken Ragge recounts an instance from his personal experience in which an AA member who as a boy had been sexually molested by a priest, made “amends” to the priest by apologizing for being angry about the molestation. Ragge also recounts another episode in which a woman who had been gang raped was urged to make “amends” to the rapists.
    x10. “Sobering Times for A.A.” Time, July 10, 1995, pp. 49-50.
    xi11. U.S. Catholic, February 1989, pp. 10-12.
    xii12. Aging, No. 361, 1990, pp. 12-17.
    xiii13. See Chapter 7, footnote 4, page 86.

  • Welcome Mr. AA,

    12-step programs are way down on the list of effective treatments for addiction or alcoholism, and this essay actually shows that the program as a negative. One example of renewal or reform would be a simple policy of evolving with the times — having evolution and transparency built into the program, the way any other legitimate treatments and organizations do.

  • tintop

    I see no reason for AA to be growing in membership. There is not an unlimited number of drunkards; of that group, a number seek assistance. So, there is a finite number. If the number of people who get drunk falls, so does the membership of AA.

    It seems to me that participation in AA is operational. If it is not useful to the person, they leave.

    If it was useful [ note the past tense] , but, no longer is useful, they leave.

    I do not expect a rising membership in AA. I expect the number to be flat, at best.

    As I related earlier, I expect AA to be slowly replaced by better methods.

  • Gunthar2000

    @raysny… Do you have a link?

  • Mike

    Tony j also has a potty mouth.

  • eddy

    Good points ftg, I agree with you.

    Thank for posting the Bufe assessment of AA shrinkage, he is right on.
    As far as alternative support groups other than AA, many of these are in a growth pattern while AA declines.
    He forgot to mention the inroads science is making in the treatment of addiciton.

  • Primrose

    Gunthar. The Guardian asks for and publishes readers's suggestions. They ran a campaign highlighting the flaws in homeopathy and it no longer receives National Health Service (NHS) funding.

    Mona Lisa. I have contacted a lot of rehabs in the uk, primarily to ask whether they use '12 Step Facilitation'. Of the ones that claimed not to use 12sf, most still lay on buses to take people to meetings. Which I put down as a yes, they do. Otherwise, why not stop indoctrination of powerlessness?

  • Mona Lisa

    Primrose: I understand what you are saying. There definitely are treatment centers here in the US that say they aren't 12 step based but really are–for example, the treatment community (sober house) study showed that 56% were 12 step based but 74% required attendance at 12 step meetings. Right now lots of people are still paying lip service to 'non 12 step' and to choice in recovery while promoting a 12 step agenda.

    My point is that even if the numbers aren't a completely accurate representation of reality, the paradigm shift towards evidence based treatments is slowly but surely undermining the 12 step monopoly. It used to be that 93% of private treatment centers unequivocally stated that they were 12 step based, and that simply isn't the case anymore.

    To underscore the point, I recently leafed through an abnormal psych graduate level textbook published in 2010. The discussion of treatments for addiction spanned about 10 pages, of which only one short paragraph (two inches) was devoted to 12 step self help groups. These were only discussed as possible sources of help that might be attractive to some people, and the non faith based mutual aid groups were given equal weight. Everything else was geared toward motivational enhancement, CBT, craving reduction meds, and other evidence based approaches.

  • AnnaZed

    The new buzz rigorously™ honest way to describe your 12-step scam is say that it is CBT based or has a "multi-modality" approach. With these guys http://www.insighttreatment.com/program-services/… (just for example) they charge thousands (literally thousands of dollars) to basically keep track of AA attendance for a group of teens. That's pretty much it; that's the whole service. They have so-called "group therapy" sessions that consist pretty much entirely of shaming kids and parents who don't attend enough AA meetings, don't get sponsors (these are kids in their early teens , what the fuck life experiences do they even have to confess about and why should they be telling smarmy dysfunctional AA gurus about their sex lives?) and don't "work the steps." That's right, wealthy parents and insurance companies pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to tell vulnerable teens to apologize to their abusive parents and surrender to the fact that they have a life-long disease that only God will relieve them of temporarily for a day at a time. Do you have any idea how long "the rest of your life" seems like to a 15 year old?

  • AnnaZed, I wonder if this outfit monitors or screens the meetings they expect the children to attend.

  • AnnaZed

    @ftg, They make recommendations and have older teens that are willing to drive younger ones to various meetings (sometimes a little too willing if you get my drift) but any meeting will do.

    Many teens with these sorts of problems are also neglected. It is a curious fact that very wealthy children often suffer from the same types of emotional neglect as very poor children. In any case, the parents very soon tire of having to take their kids to 10 AA meetings a week so the older teens step in, which can be both a good and bad thing. They have a few (a very few) "model" customers who "work the steps" etc, and spout the mantra and they are pretty much tasked with driving the new kids around and then there is a pool of older teens who are still in the "progress not perfection" phase who do a lot of driving too. Given that the meetings in LA can be VERY distant and take a long time to get to (and then the parent has to wait around for two hours to drive them back) it is easy to jettison this responsibility onto the older teens. Needless to say, 13-stepping is simply built into this multi-modality treatment.

  • Lucy

    You guys are really hitting one of my hot buttons.

    Texas has a club/group here which has one of these CBT programs. The club is in an extremely affluent area, and is operated by a group of older me who are professional people. It also has a revolving door usually swung open by the mostly drunk trophy wives of those men.

    The CBT group members seem to be the neglected kids of these people. They get dumped there by the parents who are off to shop at Neimans, dispense serenity at a meeting, and troll then for converts at the charity functions.

    According to my daughter, it is a good place (along with Alateen) to score drugs, find out what is happening at the "!2 Step" Bending Oaks high school (affectionately called "Toking Oaks "because of the marijuana availability), find out when the next ski or European trip will be, how to get tutoring because you didn't go to class, and to see who has died of heroin this week.

    I came into contact with them through a couple of teens that my daughter knew from her church. I heard that they were "in recovery," I asked her about how they were doing, When she told me that they were living alone (at 13 and 17) in a mansion while their parents were in London, I asked them to come to dinner.

    Then I found out the real shit. I felt bad for those kids, and any kids raised by true believers,

  • FTG :

    "You’ll notice that no one has (yet) showed up to debate the math. They show up to smear and bully."

    That's because you nicely insulate yourself from anyone who would bother to debate the math.

    Anyway, since you posted this :

    "There are only 3 people on the blacklist at Stinkin’ Thinkin’ — and McGowdog is not one of them: TonyJ, for being a bigot; Cuda, for encouraging TonyJ to use proxies to get around our ban; and some weird dude who kept posting “fuck you.”"

    And since everyone here keeps insisting that JD is me, you are labeling him a bigot.

    You are amoral and don't know why, but trust me, it's unfair to JD.

    Also, I would have got on via proxy and fucked with you with or without Kuda. So you banned him for nothing.

    About the math :

    "Saying AA has a “retention rate” of even 5% is nonsense. If 5% of the newcomers were staying, AA membership would double every twelve years (Rule of 72; divide the percentage into 72 to find the time to double; into 115 to find the time to triple). So, if AA had a success rate of 5%, it would have doubled its membership between 1994 and 2006 to 3.6-million. The actual 2006 count was 1.98-million. "

    Well, the rule of 72 also applies to a lessening of the population already in AA.

    It will move exponentially both ways, up and down. The attrition may or may not come from new members.

    I agree the US numbers (using the yo-yo overseas numberws seems rather dangerous to use) only show a 4.5% increase over the last 10 years. That indicates 'something' is different. The growth is much lower than past decades.

    But, if AA was working for a certain percentage over the decades, I would assume it still is. It's not logical to look for the bleed only at the front. Are people dying at a greater rate than people are coming in ? Is there a bleed in the middle ? Is it, indeed at the front ? You can't force the statistics, you have to do more research.

    The 2004 and 2007 numbers indicate twice as many people with over 10 years than with between 1 and 5. What does that mean ? Do people become less active after 5 and pick up after 10 ? Yes, courts and rehabs put more people in meetings, but the surveys are filled out by people who care at least enough to spend 5 minutes answering the questions. Most court cases won't. So is that even a factor ?

    Have you taken baby boomer numbers into account ?

    Anyway, your argument as presented implies that AA was working up until 10 years ago so …. if I were you (working from an agenda rather than seeking the truth) I'd be carefull with it. What your agenda says is 'AA never worked'. What you are saying in your post is 'AA used to work'.

    Also, as far as grapevine subscriptions go, you do realize that the entire print industry is in a crisis because of something called the 'internet', don't you ?

    Not that it matters to me. AA worked for me when I needed it. It will work for others too. If it's numbers are going to decline then they'll decline. All institutions come and go. Since I'm a theist I don't put my trust in AA first, I put it in God first.

    Although, if AA really is a religion like some insist, it may be around for a long time. My religion has been around 2000 years and is still going strong. (despite the wishful thinking of people on sites like this)

    Mike :

    "Tony j also has a potty mouth."

    Do I have to say fuck you ?

    FTG, if you don't want to post this, that's cool.

    But please let the community know that JD is not me, since you insist on slandering me.

    Even though I don't deserve it, at least I had something to do with it. JD is his own person and shouldn't be tagged with insults meant for me.

  • AnnaZed

    For what it's worth I never thought JD was you Tony, so careful with that tar-brush.

    Interesting post, thanks.

  • "That’s because you nicely insulate yourself from anyone who would bother to debate the math."

    How? Do you know of anyone else who's banned from here besides you and Cuda?

    By the way, your inability to grasp why Cuda was banned is baffling. Whether or not you already knew how to use a proxy is irrelevant.

    I am certain that JD is not TonyJ. I have never suggested that, myself. Now it's official. JD is not Tony J.

    Also, it's not slander if it's true. You were not banned for being smart. You were banned for racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks. The last straw was when you thought you'd scored a great point in the debate by telling someone addressing your argument to "enjoy your gay sex."

    I'll let this stand. And I'll even let you respond to people who respond to you. But the first time you use bigoted language or ad hominem attacks — that includes the term "macaca", making reference to someone's gender, sexual orientation, race, religious affiliation, or general appearance — you're out.

  • tintop

    "Ton J"

    it is immaretial to me what you consider nonsense Clear?

    Do you intend to spend the rest if your life playing the victim. Wich is exactlly what tou are doing. You come and elsewhere with youerwhiny and pathetic keyboard kowboy games. Because that is the very best that you can ever do. Do not expect to buy into your scam. I am not your mother, your sponsor, or any other person you are trying to impress.

    Oh, you have my permission to say "fuck you" 200,000 times aday for the rest of your life. Wharever floatsyour boat "dude".

    Have a nice day.

  • JD

    I've known I'm not Tony J even longer than FTG has known.

    Good points Tony, I'm just pleased to see AA finally losing the flakes and fringers, however that happens, and wherever they slough off to.

  • tintop

    I am glad that you are glad jd. You made my micro second.

    have another drink, foster., with your fellow bar hound, "tony".

  • By the way, there's a debate forum on the community page. You can go there if you want to brawl. I'd like to keep this thread on topic.

  • tintop

    I am done with these usernames.

    Both are drunk and incapable

  • "For what it’s worth I never thought JD was you Tony, so careful with that tar-brush."


    Plenty of posters are calling JD TonyJD.

    FTG is (not calling but officially )proclaiming me a racits, bigot and homophobe.

    What has jd ever done to deserve those labels ?

    You see why there's a double standard here ?

    It has nothing to do with 'you' and painting 'you' with tar.

    It has to do with not painting JD with the tar.

    Anyway, enjoy your tea. Have a biscuit, they're fat free.

  • Tony, The ban is off — for you and Cuda — but this thread isn't going to become the TonyJ thread. If you want to pick a fight, take it to the debate forum.

  • Ben Frankilin

    Sorry TonyJ, That is AA member math. All broken and befuddled by cult brainwashing to the point of mind-numbing stupididity. Dombeck called you intelligent. I beg to differ. You and mcgow s genius IQs are "AA honesty".Not to be believed. I personally don't want you back on here. Not because I want you censored, but because you are a stupid waste of time.

    Your own surveys extol how many of your members have drank the Koolaid. You know the stats. Yes, I'll agreee that some people die. But it is very obvious the overwhelming majority of bleeding is from the front. The average life expectancy has increased by medicine using their powers of logic and not waiting for their HP to fix it. If it is bleeding then why are you on this site? You should be out trying to fix it or maybe you should be on your knees in conscious contact with your HP begging for a solution. The people here want blood- that is progress. You and your alter ego JD are not going to change any minds at this website.

  • soberbychoice

    Ton J:

    The article does not say AA worked up until ten years ago. What it says is that what AA has been selling for 75 years quit selling nearly 20 years ago. And that that sales campaign is in such dire straits that all the treatment center horses and all the king's judges and probation officers can't get the drunks that are herded in to stay in AA.

    As for the death rate, the world population has to grow at .84% each year to keep even with the death rate, so I would presume AA would have to grow a bit faster than that to stay "even" given that AA demographics are a bit older than the mean population and a hefty percentage of the members are in advanced age given that the average age is 47. But no one collects stats of that nature to my knowledge. I do know that 100,000 people in the US die each year of alcoholism, according to federal stats, compared to 25,000 from drug overdoses, which always makes me wonder why we have such a disproportinate emphasis on drug wars vs trying to find good ways to help alcoholics recover.

    As for the Grapevine problems being a reflection of the general print/digital media problem in this age, I would point out that the GV peaked in '93, well before there was a WWW. What may distinguish the GV is that all its internet/new media products (Digital Archives, GV Online, MP3, etc., have all been total flops financially, attracting extremely small audiences.

    As for your guess that AA will be around a long time because religion has been around a long time, there is a difference: religion is promising a great hereafter while letting you sit in the main sanctuary on comfy seats listening to decent gospel music; AA asks you to sit in dingy church basements and promises if you listen to a lot of crazy horseshit for the rest of your days, your disase won't come in from the parking lot and bite you in the ass. Different reward systems here I perceive.

    I think the better observation is that there is a high correlation between what is happening in the mainline established religions and what is happening in AA, that is the continued declines in membership. That's despite the fact that in the US courts can order a drunk to go to AA and not to church. The other difference between the dilemma facing AA and the dilemma facing religion: There are appealing, more efficacious ways than AA today to deal with alcoholism; religion still has no competitors in promising a really good day at Rapture.

  • AnnaZed

    @tintop ~ dude, you are getting annoying, relax and let these guys post, sheesh.

  • zooromeo

    "The anti-AA movement welcomes individuals who feel the need to frequent recovery blogs and brag of their drinking"


    Once again, If we dont like AA, we must be drunk


  • tintop

    Tony J is drunk again.

    not good to post while drunk tony sober up

  • tintop, Could you not?

  • Tony J

    zooromeo says :

    “The anti-AA movement welcomes individuals who feel the need to frequent recovery blogs and brag of their drinking”


    Once again, If we dont like AA, we must be drunk

    How did you deduce that from your quote ? People here do brag about their drinking. That doesn’t make people who don’t drink drunk.

    SBC :
    “The article does not say AA worked up until ten years ago. What it says is that what AA has been selling for 75 years quit selling nearly 20 years ago. And that that sales campaign is in such dire straits that all the treatment center horses and all the king’s judges and probation officers can’t get the drunks that are herded in to stay in AA.”

    Wow, lots of premises there. None supported by evidence.

    My only point is that IF you chose to use AA’s membership rate as proof that it can’t have a 5% (or whatever) recovery rate, using the data over the past 10 years. THEN you will have to concede that the data for the previous 6 decades does, in fact support your 5% (or whatever) recovery rate.

    You can’t have it both ways. Although, if you ended up in AA at all, you probably don’t know that.

    And you don’t make any attempt to show where the attrition is taking place.
    You throw out numbers and don’t connect them.

    I’m actually kind of interested in these numbers. I wouldn’t mind learning more about it. There has been a stagnation. But you can’t assume that because you have certain ideas that you can just force them into whatever statistics happen to be around.

    Like I said, AA grew and it can shrink. If AA’s in ‘corporate’ have a financial dog in the fight or not, I don’t know. But I don’t. AA is self supporting anyway. Unless AAWS started suing groups AA meetings would meet even if they disbanded. So I think you’re very much mixing apples and oranges. The business model of AAWS (if there is one) and the growth of members at the group level are indirectly related at best.

    If rehabs and courts stop sending people to AA, AA will probably benefit in the long run. But I doubt that will happen any time soon. What will happen is they’ll offer options. And that’s find with me. AA is for people who need it. It always has been. I agree with JD on that point. Coming to AA early weakens AA and doesn’t help the alcoholic. The only good thing it does is let a person know where a meeting is if they ever need it.

  • That is an excellent article. "No retention rate, just a churn rate." Yes. And his mathematics are flawless. So is the logic. If A.A. actually had anything like a 5% retention rate, it would be growing, not shrinking.

    I am reminded of a membership spreadsheet supplied by the Foxhall Group in Omaha Nebraska, that supposedly showed how great A.A. worked, but really showed just the opposite. Some true believer put together a spreadsheet that bragged about the "great A.A. success rate", but by supplying the raw data he allowed analysis of the numbers, and it turned out that the "retention rate" was pathetically low. They took in about 400 or 420 newcomers each year, and only kept about 10 of them, year after year.

    Worse yet, in the last full year for which they supplied numbers, they lost 14 old-timers, for a net loss of four members. So during 2007 they took in 421 newcomers, and indoctrinated them, and made them Work the Steps, and pray, and attend meetings, and at the end of the year, they had four fewer members to show for all of their work. So yes, it is a churn rate, not a retention rate.

    You can see the spreadsheet and the analysis of it here:

    Have a good day.

    == Orange

  • This has been one of the best posts. Thanks. It explains the elusion of numbers and success to even the least numberate.

  • illusion of numbers.

  • Mike

    Just don't look behind that curtain, dorothy

  • I treasure those seven words, Mike.

  • diablo

    @deconstructor, great article this guy was a freak'in monster a real Hitler.


    Well there is another program/center called JRC, that uses "aversive treatment", a form of behavior mod using the reward and punishment. Here is what they use: How powerful are the shocks administered at JRC? Around 1990, Israel invented a machine, which it calls the Graduated Electronic Decelerator, that emits a two-second shock at 15.5 milliamps. A stronger version, the GED-4 at 45 milliamps, was later made for those who become inured to the pain. By comparison, stun guns used by police deliver one to four milliamps. These are put on children in the form of a "backpack". They are monitored all day if they begin to act out they get zapped. It has been said that children have been zapped up to 30 times a day.

  • diablo


    you don't seem to be at any meetings at any time for any reason. You don't seem to see anything or hear anything. One could begin to wonder if you have ??????

  • The numbers are just a facet of the picture. In this post, they demonstrate that AA is grinding through a lot of people, but that very few are sticking it out. Numbers likes these might be relevant to those who influence public policy to actually re-think the practice of mandating AA to everyone from teenagers with their first DUI to sexual predators.

  • causeandeffect

    Thanks for stopping by Orange. You have a good day too!

  • Apparently the nearest group to me consists of 4 18+ oldtimers and the odd drifter, or ‘guest speaker’.

  • DeConstructor

    Thanks Orange, it is nice to hear from you!

  • Mike

    Thanks for popping by, orange. The same true-believers make up the core of every regional network of groups. This gives the illusion of healthy retention when one is willing to ignore the bigger picture.

  • Martha

    Orange, thank you for posting here and for your amazing work in keeping The Orange Papers going.

  • Tony J

    LOL. The master is patting his sheep on the head.
    Don’t trip over yourselves drooling over him.

    Mike, is that a roll of certs in your pants ?

    I do wonder about the numbers but unlike the anti-AA cultees don’t worry about them too much. We always have a few people with under a year at my homegroup and the rest are old timers. But there are other meetings where most of the members have between 1 and 5 years.

    I don’t know anyone in AA who’s worried about demographics. Maybe the suits at AAWS do but we mostly leave it for the anti-AA-cult-bots. They don’t have anything else to worry about so we let them do our worrying for us.

  • Mike

    (blushing)….tony, are you trying to pull a 13-eeny on me? (-;»

  • diablo

    ya know I was going to comment. I think FTG almost got me but then I thought about it. Who cares, wonderful ya got some numbers. AA been schilling the bean counter, OK.
    I am not trying to be sarcastic or not give this poster credit, I do he put a lot of effort into this article. It is obvious.
    There is just not a argument to be made. There is nothing I can gain any traction on. I am trying have been since a read it yesterday.
    I guess what I am saying is, it is a great read but it really doesn’t mean anything in the overall picture of AA. These numbers will continue unabated ad-nausea for ever, maybe changing a % or two.

  • AnnaZed

    Ah yes, those apocryphal meetings where “most” of the attendees “have between 1 and 5 years.” That’s so fascinating, because (you see) I’ve never seen or attended one of those meetings or ever encountered any locale that claimed that that was the make-up of their meeting attendees. The monthly meeting of the Group Board might tip that way, almost, but a meeting? Nah.

    Those meetings must take place in that place where 13-stepping never happens (or no one has ever seen it) ~ where sponsors never manipulate, demean and abuse sponsees ~ where all of the AA members are still married to their original spouses and have great relationships with their children ~ where the meeting isn’t at least 50% full of curious looking people clutching little cards with many signatures on them ~ where it is simple thing to pass a group conscience and decide to just drop the prayers from both the introduction and the hand-holding ceremony at the end of the spiritual-not-religious meeting of fellowship.

    In other words that mythical meeting that is taking place “somewhere else” that the spiritually unfit person can’t locate when it is suggested that their mind numbing boredom at listening to the same three old-timer drunk-a-logues, their outrage at seeing new-comers sexually victimized, their questioning of the manipulation and exploitation of sponsees, their caution and alarm at finding themselves exchanging telephone numbers with recent parolees, their observation that every single man in the entire room is divorced, their sadness at fellow members’ admissions that their own children won’t speak to them (Christmas Day is a good day for getting a peek at the reality of AA’s family friendly values) or their questioning the Christian Lord’s prayer as a closer for the spiritual program meeting is just their problem, and that they should just “find another meeting.”

    Ah yes, those meetings.

  • diablo

    Awwww! Boys and girls, women and men, JD is trying to use reverse psychology on us today and he thinks we are too stupid to recognize we when we see it.

    Diablo wrote:
    Something to think about , aye. lol (we need to get emoticons)

  • AnnaZed

    @diablo ~ This is not AA. I don’t have to tell you how much “time” I have (a lot) or explain myself to you at all. I don’t attend AA meetings at all now, but I have been to far too many.

    Still waiting on that location of even one meeting (not an agnostics meeting, there are no atheist meetings) that is conducted without prayer due to a group conscience agreeing to dispense with it; just one would do.

  • soberbychoice

    AA remains overwhelmingly white–high eighty-some percent–majority male and the average age, now 47, keeps creeping upward despite all the court sentencing. AA’s numbers correlate pretty closely to what has happened to the mainline Protestant Churches in the US and the Catholic Church in Europe: decline. As in both those institutions, frantic efforts to change the circumstances changed nothing and the evangelical mega churches triumphed in the US and some places like Brazil while the Europeans just decided to enjoy Sunday TV and soccer.

    Sociology papers in the fifties and sixties typically said AA members were middle class and above. Today the highest correlation you can find with any social trends and AA is the profile of the average person in the US who still smokes: less educated, blue collar, lower income, and probably a devotee of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News.

    Bill W.’s great dream was to leave two “voices” for AA: The General Service Board (and Conference) and the Grapevine. Neither of those voices have said anything worth paying attention to in so long that most members don’t even know they are there. The “voices” of AA now are the speaker circuit “gurus” and the taping outfits that peddle their wares.

    The NYC GSO and the AAWS and GV boards and the delegates are mostly well-meaning culted ones trained in not rocking the boat or thinking very much about what they all know or suspect is the decline of AA. After all, they can almost chant, “Bill said we’d be around as long as God found us useful,” and since God is in charge, we don’t have to do anything but coast along. The whole annual conference gatherings are remarkable only for the scene of a hundred people engaged in practicing publishing without a license, arguing over punctuation in pamphlets that no one will ever read, and lecturing the NYC advertising industry on how to produce public service videos that run on most stations at 3 AM in the morning.

    Anyone fearing that AA may be gathering its forces for reform or renewal can rest easy. The allied 12th Step Movement will fight more aggressively to survive, but there are powerful societal and health movements aimed at its jugular. It’s going to be hard, for example, for Hazelden, which gave Dr. Bankole Johnson its award for pioneering alcoholism research a few years back, to argue that his devastating critique of the Minnesota Model (“The Rehab Myth,” out in June and available now for preorder on Amazon) is biased and unscientific. AA’s decline and its splintering is baked into the cake and is irreversible.

  • Tony J

    AZ :

    “Ah yes, those apocryphal meetings where “most” of the attendees “have between 1 and 5 years.” That’s so fascinating, because (you see) I’ve never seen or attended one of those meetings or ever encountered any locale that claimed that that was the make-up of their meeting attendees. ”

    No, you wouldn’t have.
    They say the Lord’s Prayer at them.

  • causeandeffect

    Thanks again, soberbychoice, for a great article. Did you by chance see what orange said about your first article when he dropped by today? Upthread. Yes, AA has become so obsolete it has to be on it’s way out.

  • soberbychoice

    Yes, I did, very nice of Orange to take note and put a link to ST in the latest letters.

  • Tony J

    Diablo :
    “I guess what I am saying is, it is a great read but it really doesn’t mean anything in the overall picture of AA. These numbers will continue unabated ad-nausea for ever, maybe changing a % or two.”

    Yeah. I suppose. There just isn’t enough info to draw the conlusions stated in the article.
    The master can say what he likes. It’s bullshit.
    Counting grapevine subscriptions and BB sales is anecdotal at best.
    For a group that demands scientific evidence from others, it isn’t quite so hard on itself.

  • AnnaZed

    Tony, I have attended over 1500 AA meetings in 10 states. The Lords Prayer was said at the closing of about half of them, the serenity prayer at almost all of the others with the exceptions being an infinitesimally small number of meetings (called “We Agnostics” meetings and listed in the directories as such) opening by reading that goofy “contempt prior to investigation” passage (which, by the way, Herbert Spencer never said. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Herbert_Spencer) and ended by holding hands and repeating the “I am responsible” pledge http://anonpress.org/faq/files/read.asp?fID=135. I’m not sure that I’m getting your point though.

  • Ton J

    AZ :

    "Tony, I have attended over 1500 AA meetings in 10 states."


    But the question is, how do you know who has what amount of time in meetings when you flit around to so many of them ? What do you do, pass out surveys when you walk in the room ?

    Since I'm actually familiar with the 2 meetings I spoke about I know the facts.

    If I were just passing through, I wouldn't have know that.

    I'm just sayin'

  • Mike

    She's not talking amount of time, she's talking about prayer in meetings. Try to stay on topic. Out of the thousands of meetings I attended I can maybe recall one that had no prayer. But they were very ritualistic.

  • Ton J


    "The things I don’t see here are all of the extra questions as to why that you believe are so relevant when it comes to AA’s membership decline. Why are all of these questions so important now when they were not important then?"

    Because I would like to know where the decline is.

    Actually it's flat, not in decline yet. But membership decline doesn't automatically mean the program is less effective.

    If membership grew exponentially in a certain demographic and that democraphic ages, the membership will also decline exponentially, all things being equal.

    That's only common sense.

    I guess you never heard of social security and the baby boomers ?

    Demographics and big numbers need to be understood to be analyzed properly.

    I'm not understanding the numbers presented here in any depth.

    I'm not denying the possibility that AA is less effective on the front end. I dont' really have a dog in the fight. I'm just an AA member and I doubt it's going away in my life time.

    But the evidence presented doesn't show much of anything.

  • Mike

    no college on your resume, tony? Well at least you have spell check to fall back on.

  • Ton J


    "What you are doing is dismissing scientific observations because you believe that conjecture is the equivalent of anecdotal evidence."

    No, I'm pointing out that the evidence presented by SBC and Orange does not prove the conclusions that they draw from it.

    Pay attention.

    I've already noted that Grapvine subscriptions declined at the same time the Internet boomed.

    Selling BB's does not count AA membership or participation in s scientific way.

    It's shoddy. You can accept it if you like but it's not going to pass peer review and be taken seriously. And I thought that's what you anti-AA's wanted. To be taken seriously…….

  • diablo

    friendthegirl says

    The numbers are just a facet of the picture. In this post, they demonstrate that AA is grinding through a lot of people, but that very few are sticking it out. Numbers likes these might be relevant to those who influence public policy to actually re-think the practice of mandating AA to everyone from teenagers with their first DUI to sexual predators.

    diablo wrote:

    FTG, orange and the OP,

    Nice try at confusing the crowd, if you know so much about AA (as you say you do) then you would understand that these numbers mean absolutely nada in the overall grand scheme of things in AA. Your average Joe blow could care a less, about if 100,000 people got lost on a computer and reappeared later. What he does care about is staying sober and helping another alcoholic.

    Anybody can grab these numbers and put any spin on it you want. Have we got personal testimony from actual people/persons that put these figures together that there was a intent to mislead, confuse or inflat the numbers, NO. Shame on you people for your heavy handed inconclusive narrow minded conclusions.

    Bill in 1935-36 was having less success then what you are describing here trying to find even one alcoholic that would last a week never mind a year.

    The OP said he had been sober for 29 years and I respect that but what I don't respect is his grandstanding on a site using information that is being completely taken out of context.

    FTG, just because you think a great post has hit the boards and should be left alone from the naysayers doesn't mean it will.

    This post by this OP is BS from top to bottom. You can gloat all ya want.

    Everyone in AA and every person who has personally been involved with a drug addict and alcoholic understands the success rate "SUCKS".

    It doesn't take a genius to figure out your numbers of success will never be good, (as you would like them to be). This has nothing to do with the treatment, whether it be coming from AA, Church, TC, Grandmother, Wife or on your own. The statistics "SUCK".

    Lets stop the "I will destroy AA at any cost" around here, even if includes willful misrepresentation.

    Once again, shame on you. You are no better then what you claim your fighting against.

  • Ben Franklin

    OMG, i missed it! Orange came and pimpslapped Tony J! I’m sorry- I was at work and school all day and missed the fun. Here is another pimpslap-how can the circulation of the grapevine be anecdotal evidence? Its #s beotch. Look up anecdotal evidence. You pimpslapped yo self TJ! Now go back to your cult master and get instructions. Mcgowdog will tell you what to do if you display great adoration.

  • AnnaZed

    Oh hi diablo (there you are, you are so hard to find on this site), I thought that you were going to tell us where these actual AA meetings without prayer due to a group conscience in favor of dropping prayer take place.

    Everyone here knows to do so would not be a breech of anonymity so that attempt to deflect interest in this assertion just won't fly. People on this site are well accustomed to AAs individually and AA as an entity using anonymity to conceal mendacity, so it just won't cut it here. Obviously, that it is not possible just to “look it up.” We all know that there are not the hundreds of such meetings that you claim, or even tens of such meetings, but even ONE would do.

  • Ton J

    Mike :

    "And what pray tell is your degree in, Sopranology?"

    I still can't figure this site out.

    We can pick on black republicans and Italians but not …..oh, never mind.

    Black democrats and Jews (who in your steryotypical mind are democrats).

    I get it. It's a politica thing. Democrats can pick on Republicans and anti-AA's can pick on AA's. All other personal attacks are considered bigotry.

    I'm sorry for being so slow.

    Having a moral code it's hard for me to adopt to a site run by amoral people.

    There's a learning curve.

  • Mike

    Tj, my grandad is from naples, and the soprano thing is about what they represent, not their ethnicity. Btw, I'm nearly fluent in german and am married to one, so I can save you the trouble next time the name buchman is discussed here.

  • Ton J

    "Mike says Tj, my grandad is from naples, and the soprano thing is about what they represent, not their ethnicity. Btw, I’m nearly fluent in german and am married to one, so I can save you the trouble next time the name buchman is discussed here."

    Buchman was American of Swiss decent. Not German.

    Another ignorant bigoted remark ? Do they all look the same to you ?

    LOL. Mike, I have pretty thick skin. You don't have to explain yourself to me.

    It's you who's being inconsistent here. I KNEW you would have an excuse for saying what you did. Hypocrites always do.

    The point is, if it were me and I followed people all over the internet accusing them of being bigots, I'd be smart enough not to make bigoted remarks to them.

    Like I said, the amoral value system is new to me. I'm learning every day.

    And for the record,

    A. I don't care if you're a bigot and

    B. I don't think you are.

    Stupid, yes. Bigot, no.

  • Mike

    So now you're positioning yourself as an expert on the nuances of germanic peoples? Is your degree in Ricolalogy then? Please don't report me to the naaswp.

  • Ton J

    Little Benny Franklin :

    Ben, go ask on of your professors if you don't believe me.

    Anecdotal evidence can be acurate statistics that are used to support a premise they don't help prove.

    "A sales figure is not anecdotal evidence no matter how you slice it ( internet explanations). " Why not ? If I use a sales figure to predict I'm going to go out of business because I made 0 sales today, but if I didn't also take in to account it snowed 48 inches and no one could get to the store, then I would be basing the conclusion on anecdotal evidence. The sales figures would be accurate but they wouldn't indicate what I was concluding.

    "Wikipedia is also not a respected source. They say things like ” 26% of AA members are still attending after their first meeting”. It is a highly censored site-”The effectiveness of AA”. You are getting beat up around here Tony. You need a cuddle from your cultmaster Mcgowdog."

    Wikipedia isn't censored. It's peer reviewed. If you can provide legitimate sources they'll post them. If you just spew mindless cult talking points they're gonna take it down.

    The fact that objective third party people aren't buying our party line should be a signal to you.

  • Ton J

    BF :

    Awww, and we were getting along so good when you were ignoring me. Too bad.

    I missed the part where your daddy bitch slapped me. You’ll have to point it out.

    As for you bitch slapping me,


    (2) Evidence, which may itself be true and verifiable, used to deduce a conclusion which does not follow from it, usually by generalizing from an insufficient amount of evidence. For example “my grandfather smoked like a chimney and died healthy in a car crash at the age of 99” does not disprove the proposition that “smoking markedly increases the probability of cancer and heart disease at a relatively early age”. In this case, the evidence may itself be true, but does not warrant the conclusion.


    “an·ec·dot·al (nk-dtl)
    1. also an·ec·dot·ic (-dtk) or an·ec·dot·i·cal (–kl) Of, characterized by, or full of anecdotes.
    2. Based on casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis: ”

    Saying grapevine sales is related to AA membership is a ‘casual observation’.
    The article does not prove (or even attempt to prove) a connection in a scientific way or bother to give us any analysis, rigorous or not. The same goes for BB sales.

    Numbers can be used in an anecdotal way.
    Here’s an example :

    “I counted a million stars in the sky.” or
    “The anti-AA cultee told me that 95 out of every 100 AA members quit within the first year.”

    Sorry college boy (today, scientist tomorrow). You lose.

    Now go find your friend tin foil hat and make sure he hasn’t lost his binky. You know how cranky he gets.

  • Gunthar2000

    @Tony J.


    If you look at the forwards to the first through the third editions of AA’s big book you’ll see that AA literature boasts of enormous growth rates between editions. The things I don’t see here are all of the extra questions as to why that you believe are so relevant when it comes to AA’s membership decline. Why are all of these questions so important now when they were not important then?

  • Gunthar2000

    No scientific observation is absolute.

    See Heisenberg


    What you are doing is dismissing scientific observations because you believe that conjecture is the equivalent of anecdotal evidence.

  • Ton J

    Mike says no college on your resume, tony? Well at least you have spell check to fall back on.

    Actually I did go to college.
    I just don’t think that it makes me better than those who didn’t.

    I was brought up to respect people with different talents and skill sets,
    That’s one of the reasons AA meetings don’t bother me as much as they do the anti-AA cultees.

  • Mike

    And what pray tell is your degree in, Sopranology?

  • Mike

    Shame on YOU, diablo for perpetuating the myths about aa that this very site and the OP have brought to light. Now please help me out. Where can I find the no-prayer zone meetings?

  • Mike

    Well you certainly learned from bill w – obfuscate via half-truths. How about those non-prayer meetings you were talking about? I stand by what I said.

  • Ben Franklin

    Let me see Tony you said Grapevine sales are anecdotal evidence. No they are not, of course you are too touched in the head to see this. Anecdotal evidence is something like “it works if you work it” or ” my home group has 50% success because I saw it with my own eyes”. A sales figure is not anecdotal evidence no matter how you slice it ( internet explanations). Wikipedia is also not a respected source. They say things like ” 26% of AA members are still attending after their first meeting”. It is a highly censored site-“The effectiveness of AA”. You are getting beat up around here Tony. You need a cuddle from your cultmaster Mcgowdog.

  • Ben Franklin

    “Anybody can grab these numbers and put any spin on it you want. Have we got personal testimony from actual people/persons that put these figures together that there was a intent to mislead, confuse or inflat the numbers, NO. Shame on you people for your heavy handed inconclusive narrow minded conclusions.”
    How can a conclusion be “inconclusive”. Really, Diablo, another stepper in non stepper clothing. You were asked to provide evidence yourself and all you give us are opinions. Where are the prayer free meetings? You made the claim. you provide the results. The rest of your posts don’t pass the smell test.

  • diablo

    @Ton J,
    Buchman was American of Swiss decent. Not German.

    diablo wrote:
    after (lmao) I came back and wanted to say thank you. We are dealing with such a brilliant crew here.
    Mike learn the demographics of Switzerland, please.

    @AnnaZed and the rest,
    I have told you my feeling on offering names to the meeting I attended. Whether you find this unacceptable, dishonest or not breaking any traditions within AA does not make any difference to me.
    “Keep beating the drum maybe they will come”.

  • Mike

    So buchman spoke fluent german, knew himmler, and attended a nazi rally. Ok, he was a non-german fascist then. Fair enough.

  • causeandeffect

    buchman Name Meaning and History
    Jewish or Americanized spelling of German Buchmann.

    Encompassing the Central Alps, Switzerland sits at the crossroads of several major European cultures. Its population includes a two-thirds majority of Alemannic German speakers and a one-quarter Latin minority (French, Italian and Romansh), see linguistic geography of Switzerland. 10% of the population natively speak an immigrant language.

    diablo say DOH!

  • diablo

    Anedotal: Definition Websters
    based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation: anecdotal evidence.
    AA did not perform a scientific study, so the OP can take on what ever perception he chooses with the evidence.

    Anecdotal Evidence: Encylopedia
    1) Evidence, which may itself be true and verifiable, used to deduce a conclusion from which it does not follow, usually by generalizing from an insufficient amount of evidence.

    2)Anecdotal evidence can have varying degrees of formality. For instance, in medicine, published anecdotal evidence is called a case report, which is a more formalized type of evidence subjected to peer review. Although such evidence is not regarded as scientific, it is sometimes regarded as an invitation to more rigorous scientific study of the phenomenon in question. For instance, one study found that 35 of 47 anecdotal reports of side effects were later sustained as “clearly correct.”

    3)”Researchers” may use anecdotal evidence for suggesting new”hypotheses”, but never as “supporting evidence”.
    Guys I could go on, I have had this argument over and over from many 29 year AA Vets, pushing there time in like it is supposed to prove something.
    The only thing we are doing here is hypothesizing, please put that in your article (at the beginning) the next time, please. These are my deductions based on my interpretations of “anecdotal evidence” presented by AA and others.

  • diablo

    @cause, thank you for proving my point. I win you loose. lol……:) 🙂 just kidding!

  • Mike

    @cause, I wouldn’t waste the ink. I speak the language, lived there, and am married to a german. none of this stuff matters once we go down the rabbit hole and enter true-believer land.

  • causeandeffect

    BTW, the stars from the Swiss Alps are absolutely spectacular!!!

  • diablo

    @ Been there done that from Northern Italy, Austria, France, Germany to Switzerland. I lived in Linz, Austria with my sister and her husband for about 9 months years back. I traveled extensively throughout Europe. I am German and Irish. My father is a full blooded German from Frankfurt and my mother is Irish 2nd generation. I would fly into Frankfurt and drive the 3 hours or so to get to Linz.

    @Mike, speak what language. I speak German, Spanish and Italian but who is bragging. I also have a translator link. lol 🙂

  • causeandeffect

    Well then diablo, I’m confused. How is it that you don’t know the demographics of Switzerland?

  • Ton J

    Mike says “@cause, I wouldn’t waste the ink. I speak the language, lived there, and am married to a german. none of this stuff matters once we go down the rabbit hole and enter true-believer land.”

    So you’re saying that the only reason I recognize international borders is because AA has brainwahsed me ?

    Saying the Swiss are German is like saying Canadians are Americans.

    They may blend but they aren’t the same. Different culture and everything.

  • Mike

    @diablo, I don’t know what to believe, but come on by tonight on the chat and we can converse a bit in german. Oder?


    I always find it amazing that such well spoken apparently intelligent people feel a need to support mysticism … and subscribe to a notion that there is a spiritual malady that only “God” can relieve …. instead of trying to solve a problem with logic and reason … it shows me how amazing the human condition is ….

    The basic context of a disease doing pushups in the parking lot is so based in collectivist hogwash I just wish AA would have been more imaginative and described The Disease as a virus from space that flew in on a meteorite such as the blob … Tell me Ton J do you believe the world is flat?
    Would you bleed someone to cure them?
    Tell someone to go off Doctor Prescribed Medications?
    I find it so so so amazing a person as apparently intelligent and gifted as yourself willing to dance around a campfire worshipping a cult religion ,,, and feel there is a mysterious monster doing pushups in the parking lot …
    The most important tool I posses is consciousness the abilty to think and feel for myself to formulate my own opinion … I’m not saying you don’t do that … what I’m saying is you support a program that doesn’t …. hence why would they say …. Don’t think go to meetings?
    I could throw all the statistics in the world around and play a number game I wont Ill just say I have seen with my own eyes first hand AA destroy lives … destroy totally … thats why I’m against it as a religion and want to expose it for the cult it is …


    I will say one thing in the numbers …. AA and Na did loose many of potential oldtimer’s in the early 80’s to AIDS in NYC along with Hep C when I say many I mean it was not uncommon to see a meeting in Lower Manhattan with a 50 percent or more HIV positive rate …. another influx was the Crack Epidemic where many joined NA and after a while joined AA feeling a more mature fellowship could be the answer … these are NEVER represented in statistics there are very many AAs right now with 20 21 22 23 years that came in during the Rush … and quiet a few of us myself included have rebelled against a mystical theology based in folk law and myth ….

  • Ben Franklin

    Wikipedia isn’t censored. It’s peer reviewed. If you can provide legitimate sources they’ll post them. If you just spew mindless cult talking points they’re gonna take it down.
    That is just f-ing hogwash. Wikipedia is not peer reviewed. You are totally obtuse and will not ever say you are wrong anyway. But this is pure bullshit. Dipshit, do you know the difference between evidence and conclusion? A sales figure just is. Whether you conclude you are going out of bidness is immaterial. The evidence(sales figure) provided is not anecdotal. Someone telling you they went out of bidness because of huge snow drifts is anecdotal. Diablo and TJ key word :”can be true” In non-stepper land this doesn’t mean everything you hear about is anecdotal. Water boils at 100 degrees F. That is not anecdotal evidence. We sold $13876.16 in sales last night at the ice cream store is not anecdotal.

  • Mike

    @ben, this guy should be on the ignore list, he’s a liar

  • Ben Franklin

    @ mike, you are correct. It would be nice if people who posted definitions actually read them.

  • diablo

    Calm down and lets get back to what we are talking about here. The OP was basing his figures on information gleaned by the GSO from AA’ers (people). This was not a scientific study under a controlled atmosphere, nor a survey done by professionals (although the information once collected was handed over to supposed professionals, employees who work for the GSO) also the collectors of the information GSR’s, Ass.GSR’s, Intergroup Reps., DCM.s ect…..are not scientists or professional surveyors.
    So as you can see the information is at best is rudiment; undeveloped or vestigial. Take your pick.
    Now lets say all the information is true, as you would like it to be. What does it prove. WoW, it proves what everyone already knew. That alcoholics and drug addicts do not have a great chance of surviving in AA. Ben, I don’t know how many drug addicts and alcoholics you know but in reality their success rate is horrible. That is just a fact no matter how you want to play it.
    AA is just trying to save folks lives like the many other venues out there. AA never claimed to have a corner market on the “saving lives” business.

  • diablo

    Who are you calling a liar.

  • Ben Franklin

    Diablo. Sometimes information is just that. Information. That was my point and another point is that debating you and Tony are pointless.

  • Mike

    You are, you said you speak three languages, you can prove it tonight @9pm

  • diablo

    Ben, my sentiments exactly but I am not rude (obtuse) like you and say them out loud. I hang in there with you and act like a grown up and debate.
    Ya know there is a lot of immaturity on this site when it comes to debating. If you can not get your own way, you call people names or call them liars and then you quit.
    I was told something very different about this site before I got here from another site called Fornits. I was told I would enjoy the raucous debating style here (without the vulgarity) well they were right about the lack of vulgarity.

  • diablo

    Read my post, it was a joke. I said I have a translator. You know the add-on gadget that lets you translate in any language. Sorry if I did not make my joke clear.
    No I can’t speak other languages, I can barely speak english :).

    Here is my post again from above.
    @Mike, speak what language. I speak German, Spanish and Italian but who is bragging. I also have a translator link. lol 🙂

  • diablo

    stop busting my balls and being boorish. I told you “no” and why, accept it and lets move on.

  • AnnaZed

    That’s interesting diablo, first there were hundreds of these prayer-free meetings because AA members are so flexible and reasonable and AA is after all a “spiritual not religious” program and I was being deliberately obtuse by not acknowledging this manifestly obvious fact.

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    I was enjoined to “just look them up” as if it were the simplest thing in the world though anyone with even the briefest familiarity with AA knows that meetings are not listed that way.

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    Now there appears to be only one and that to reveal its location would endanger your safety and peace of mind.

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    We were chided for doubting that of course (!) AA members often just simply put it to a group conscience and (poof!) the prayers are eliminated from the religious ceremony fellowship meeting. There are supposedly many of these meetings all over the world in spite of the assembled posters here (even Tony) with their collective decades of AA experience having never seen or even heard of one.

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    Now, when pressed, you are playing the anonymity card and claiming that what we really are pressing you for is the location of the AA meetings that you attend (this in spite of claiming that you no longer attend meetings).

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    It sounds plausible.
    There could be some prayer-free AA meeting out there.
    There aren’t but there could be.

    Claiming that such meetings exist and are common probably seemed like an easy debating tactic that would just disappear under the yards of your mendacious verbiage, but that hasn’t proved to be the case (alas ~ sorry).

    [For those just joining us; we are discussing legitimate Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the United States listed in the directories and have excluded the paltry fewer than ten meetings nation-wide that fly under the feeble “We Agnostics” banner and which use the misappropriated Herbert Spencer “quote” and the boyscoutesque “I am responsible” mantra in lieu of prayers]

    Why not just admit that you lied?

    Just for the record, I am now just calling you a liar.

    Lying about AA is a common theme with AA posters, so you are part of a long tradition (possibly the only true AA tradition) that is universally upheld by AA true-believers all over the world starting with Wilson himself. Really you should be proud.

  • Mike


    Maybe there’s a few prayer-free meetings in the German-speaking countries that diablo and Tony J seem so well versed in.

  • diablo

    maybe if Mikey stop crying long enough and got off his a** and checked he may find some. I guess blabber mouth Mike doesn’t know that much about AA after all.

  • diablo

    You are of a limited type of intellect. I can see that now. Thanks for acting like the AA’ers that I left AA for. It was obsessed women (you are a women) like you that drove many away. You always have to be right (do or die) but in your case it is kill or kill.
    Bravo you are right…….Bravo!!!!!!
    What is sad is you made it here, to a site/blog of the disenfranchised and you are now the instigator of horror. 🙂
    Grow up.

  • Mike


    I wouldn’t even answer this guy. I sometimes wonder if Bill Wilson is reaching out from the grave when I read posts like his.

  • AnnaZed

    diablo says: “AnnaZed, blah, blah, blah, blah … Bravo you are right…….Bravo!!!!!! … blah, blah, blah, blah …”

    Just to be clear ~ You are here conceding that you lied about these apocryphal prayer-free AA religious ceremonies meetings that you claimed existed all over the world, yes?

  • AnnaZed

  • diablo

    To the posters with a objectivity that surpasses a few trolls here,
    I was commenting on AA meetings I attended that had removed the prayers from the beginning and end of the meeting. In my travels I had heard from others that they had done the same thing. Why??? Because of the diversity in the meeting concerning religious faiths. We had brought this to a “business meeting” within the group and voted to remove them.
    Well, this bit of information just seemed to upset a number of posters to the point they wet their britches trying to invalidate this info.
    I mentioned a few meeting that this had happened and then realized that I was breaking their anonymity and that I really do not know any of you here. So in subsequent conversations I have had with posters I have refused to divulge anymore info. I felt if they knew so much about AA as they have said they should have no problem finding the meetings.
    They (trolls) have found that since I will not play ball then they have every right to question my integrity.
    I say Bravo!!!!!!
    This is why most here left AA. Because we were sick of being insulted for not doing what they wanted us to do. WELL!!!!! here we go again.
    Thanks for showing your true colors.

  • You left AA because of people who were sick of being insulted by people like AnnaZed? Does that mean that AA in America is full of people (with views like) AnnaZed? I wonder why they don’t leave, and then AA would be ok for you? Surely you must be hoping that these people leave? Perhaps they will. Would you say that many of these people who are the reason you left aa are questionning the way AA works? How did they, as AA members (which I believe AnnaZ is not) insult you? What was the general reaction of the rest of the group?

    If you have a problem with these people, who are the reason you left AA, how did you deal with it before you left? Did you give a valedictory address? Do you still keep in touch with your AA buddies since you stopped going to meetings?

  • AnnaZed

    Oh my, I do think somebody has a resentment.
    Well that and some fodder for their next 5th Step.

  • Tony J

    Ben Franklin (angry and uneducated) :

    ” Wikipedia is not peer reviewed.”


    “People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can add or edit article prose, references, images and other media here. What is contributed is more important than the expertise or qualifications of the contributor. What will remain depends upon whether it fits within Wikipedia’s policies, including being verifiable against a published reliable source, so excluding editors’ opinions and beliefs and unreviewed research, and is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people. ”

    The entries must be verifiable against a published reliable source. Call that what you like. The articles aren’t censored. They are reviewed and if they meet the policies of Wikipedia they are left up. If not they are taken down.

    And who are the editors ?:


    “The Wikipedia community is largely self-organising, so that anyone may build a reputation as a competent editor and become involved in any role he/she may choose, subject to peer approval. Individuals often will choose to become involved in specialised tasks, such as reviewing articles at others’ request, watching current edits for vandalism, watching newly created articles for quality control purposes, or similar roles. Editors who believe they can serve the community better by taking on additional administrative responsibility may ask their peers for agreement to undertake such responsibilities. This structure enforces meritocracy and communal standards of editorship and conduct. At present a minimum approval of 75–80% from the community is required to take on these additional tools and responsibilities. This standard tends to ensure a high level of experience, trust, and familiarity across a broad front of aspects within Wikipedia.”

    You see Ben. These editors are not appointed by AA to shoot your cult rhetoric down. They’re approved of by the Wikipedia community.

    “But this is pure bullshit. Dipshit, do you know the difference between evidence and conclusion? A sales figure just is. Whether you conclude you are going out of bidness is immaterial. The evidence(sales figure) provided is not anecdotal. Someone telling you they went out of bidness because of huge snow drifts is anecdotal.”

    Your sophistry might hold some sway if you weren’t ignoring several third party definitions that contradict you.

    You can insist that words mean what you want them to mean. It’s part of what makes you a good candidate for a mind control cult like the one you’re in here.

    Let me break it down for you one more time…..if you use the evedince in an anecdotal way, it’s ‘anecdotal evidence’. I didn’t make that up. If you bothered to google it you’d see. Not that your little diversion is important. Even if I’m wrong (I’m not) the evidence presented in that article in no way supports the conclusions it puts forth.

  • diablo

    Hey enough of this stupid conversation. I have bigger fish to fry and I need both of you and more to help. I came here to expose AA dogma in treatment programs and there is a history of it. That is the short of the long of it. (make sense).
    So I am done pitter patting around having no where conversations and would like to start building a relationship with folks here towards that end. AA’ers took to the streets many moons ago and brought AA into treatment centers even built AA 12 steps into the overall model of the program. Ever hears of Straight Inc., Cedu, Synanon, ect….these abusive hellholes used AA’s principles inside.
    This is what I want people to hear about also.

    Also I can not log on, what is up with that. I can post but can not log on.

  • diablo

    Tony J,
    Why???? can’t I log on to this site. Do I have to start over because I missed a email confirmation. I thought I had done it, IDK .

    Do I have to start over, do I get a mulligan, will you let me back in, I forget my red slippers.
    Oh me oh my!!!

  • Gunthar2000

    diablo paraphrased…

    I left AA to get away from all of the sick people like you guys who have overrun AA with treatment center cult dogma. I can’t stand the way you culties act.


    I’ve been here arguing endlessly for three days for the same AA that I claim is all screwed up. I can’t stand to be around people who question AA, except I really like to spend at least 12 hours a day arguing with them, so I guess I must be getting some kind of gratification out of doing so.

    My friend Tony J and I are allowed to hurl insults at Stinkin’ Thinkin’ community members because it is obvious that we are right… These people are only spreading false anecdotal evidence because they’ve been brainwashed by a guy named Terry who gathered about 50 pages worth of evidence that suggests that AA is just a cult and made a website because he wears a tinfoil hat and refuses to turn his will over to AA… The same AA that I left because I can’t stand it when people don’t do AA right… which is really just a fantasy I have in my head… I know that AA has never really been anything like my fantasy… I’ve just decided to take what I need and pretend the rest.

    I get especially worked up when a few of the more intelligent posters box me into a corner with questions that make me actually think. When this happens I just ignore the questions and attack them personally… If I still feel uncomfortable I usually try to suck up to ftg. My philosophy is that women are all warm and fuzzy and easy to manipulate, but I’m beginning to wonder if she’s buying this act at all… specially since I just insulted the hell out of her four posts ago. I guess I’d better try to be nice for the next four or five posts just to be sure I don’t get banned for all of the rules that I’ve obviously just broken.

    Oh no! Here comes MA! Men scare the hell out of me. I think I’ll just spit like a viper and accuse him of being a hack until he goes away… Oh goodie… He’s gone now… Lets see… Who is the most vulnerable of these people that I can really sink my teeth into?… I’d really like to hurt one of these people if I can and prove to them that AA is a much better way of life than the one’s that they are living.

    Oh no! Here comes Martha and Sober PJ! Those two have really been exposing what a fraud I really am with all of those questions they’ve been asking!

    Anecdotal! It’s all anecdotal!

    Cut and paste definition from webster ~Anec-dot-el ~N bla bla bla

    Now I’ll demand that everyone on this blog must be a scientist if they want their opinions to be validated by me. OMG! Look at the clock! I’ve been at it for nearly 12 hours!

    Anecdotal! It’s all anecdotal!

  • If you want to ‘expose AA dogma in treatment programs’, why not start a thread on that subject in the community pages? I share that goal. I am fairly certain that there are other people on this blog who would like to see AA dogma in treatment programs exposed. If you start a thread in the community pages I will contribute any thing I can.

  • DeConstructor

    That was perfect gunthar2K

  • No, you don’t have to log in to this blog. That’s just for admin.

    You can log in on the community pages, and I see you have an active account over there. Are you trying to log in on the righthand side of the page here: http://community.stinkin-thinkin.com ?

    Also, you might be interested in the Knickerbocker Paradox post in Essential Reading. And considering your interest, I’m surprised you dismissed Wilson’s post, “Let’s Be Friendly With Our Friends,” in which he was speaking specifically about cooperating with facilities, like mental institutions. I believe I linked you to that a few days ago: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-34_letsbefriendlywith.pdf

  • G2K: snnk!

  • Gunthar2000

    What’s snnk?

  • It’s the sound I make when I laugh hard enough to snork.

  • causeandeffect


  • AnnaZed

    G2k, that was brilliant.

  • diablo

    @ my fellow Americans it has been fun but as with everything these senseless conversations we have had, must come to a end. As Orson Wells said (paraphrasing),”If you want a happy ending, change the story.”

  • Gunthar2000

    Happy trails.

  • diablo

    Has anyone here heard of Straight Inc, the name has been changed and the facilities have been shut down but for a period of time almost 20 years they were a residential TC based upon the 12 steps. It was a fu**ing nightmare. Talk about AA being taken to a new level well this is the zenith.
    They accepted children as young as 12 and as old as 17 and they were forced to be there. Average stay was 18 mons to 2 years. Everyday being hammered with the AA principles you started on the first step and progressed and if you did not do your steps properly well you were made to start over. That means if you were ready to graduate and get out within a month and you fucked up you started all over in this abusive hellhole.
    This is just a smidgen of the story I need you guys to read. There is going to be abuse that will blow you away.

  • Gunthar2000

    Sorry buddy… I’m not buying it… You’re gonna have to do better than that if you want to learn our secret handshake.

  • diablo

    Thanks I will begin to post my info. Something to think about Straight, Cedu, Seed, Synanon Chuck Dederich history in AA back in the 50’s and how he brought this to TC’s.
    Gunthar, I said I was done being stupid. I can understand your suspicion but any and all conversations that are combative are over for me.
    Chucky boy started a strange confrontational attack method called the “game” and had AA meetings where he had people playing “game”. Which consisted of people confronting one person at a time about not staying sober, not doing a step ect….and doing this in a highly aggressive manner. Just imagine you did not do your fourth step and 8 people sat around you and screamed at you about how you were a piece of shit because you did not.
    Chucky held these meeting at his home (of course) and they were usually small.

  • The most important person in the rooms are the newcomers. Keep an open mind.

  • diablo

    This is exactly what I am talking about. These programs I have spent years trying to shut down. We have shut down some.
    Gunthar, with all do respect I do understand. There is abuse going on with the people who attend AA and the ones who speak for AA.
    I just disagree at this point in time in my life that AA literature is wrong, unhealthy or disingenuous. IMO

  • Gunthar2000
  • Gunthar2000

    AA’s own triennial surveys show that at the end of a year only about 5% of the people who’ve started attending meetings within that year are still attending. The other 95% have left AA within that year for various reasons.

  • I wonder how many are court ordered and have to stay? I wonder how many have had their lives so messed up by this cult that they committed suicide? Do they count the ones that cracked and committed suicide as just leaving? I read somewhere that 11% of the people in AA are court ordered, I wonder if that has changed? I have been trying to find clean (Original research) information on this but unfortunately it appears that you have to go to every state in the US and search their court databases for an answer. Some states do not directly send you to AA, they tell you to get an evaluation and follow any recommendations. That way the court does not sentence you (an independent “medical authority does), they then let the probation department handle the rest. This is a loophole that they use to circumvent the “Separation of Church and State” constitutional requirements. Do you know if the ACLU has addressed any of this yet?

  • soberbychoice

    If the treatment centers “ruined AA,” then that has to be a case of mass institutional suicide because the people who did it were all members of AA, from Hazelden to Smithers and name the literally tens of thousands of AA’s for whom the Hughes Act created a career path they’re all still running on. That twisted wrist counselor that Lindsay L. allegedly assaulted a few weeks back had herself been through nine rehabs I read.

    Count me skeptical that AA was a totally wholesome place before the treatment center movement got good and underway in the late seventies. I joined AA in ’81 and there was no shortage of crazy people in the rooms at that time. It’s true it’s gotten far worse. Changes in degree eventually become changes in kind if you work hard enough at it.

    But my deepest conviction is that the old prophet Hosea pegged the right insight into AA a long time ago: “They came to Baal and bowed down before their idols and became like them.”

  • Gunthar2000

    snnk is the sound you make when you laugh so hard that the Kool-Aid comes out your nose.

  • Have you seen the LSD forum on the community pages yet? They have an old study that says giving LSD to Alcoholics is 5 times more effective that AA. Bill W was involved in it. Forget the Kool-Aid, just take the sugar cube or blotter paper!

  • Gunthar2000

    My personal experience is that LSD makes me really really thirsty… and I smoke a lot of cigarettes too.

    Bill Wilson was always eager to find new market niches in alcoholism research to absorb into AA and call his own.

    Thanks for the tip to the LSD forum… I’ll check it out.

  • DeConstructor

    @JR Harris-

    I have read somewhere- and I think it is AA.org- that 60% of AA newcomers are there by court order.

    I will try to find the reference.

  • soberbychoice

    Thanks JR re LSD forum, I had missed that one and just checked it out. Kinda hilarious and serious at the same time. If nothing else could be said for Bill W., at least he maintained an interest in trying to find some kind of medication that would help; of course, he might have just enjoyed tripping too!

    I went to a meeting tonight and saw two people who have had hellacious journeys with this damned affliction and no good results at all with multiple treatment centers, jails, and massive AA indoctrination

    One, a 34-year old woman has 63 days for the first time ever because a new young shrink in town prescribed naltroxene for her. She says she has had absolutely no cravings or obsessions since she started taking the pill, and not by the Sinclair Method btw. Those of us who know her history are just a bit stunned.

    The second person, a late 20-something guy who went to prison as a teenager and has been in a two-year rehab with no results and lots of failed AA over the years told me he had been cold stone sober for three weeks after he had some kind of spiritual experience or awakening that had left him with no desire whatever for drugs or alcohol.

    Somewhere in all this the researchers are going to figure out pretty soon the brain mechanisms and medications that facilitate those changes and we can be done with the faith healing.

  • diablo

    @Soberby Choice,
    the treatment industry started earlier then the 70’s, TC’s were rocking as far back as the late 50’s and throughout the 60’s they gained heavy traction. Daytop, Phoenix House, Marathon House, Synanon, ect…..using AA in various ways in there models. By the 80’s AA was entrenched in Straight, Cedu, Seed ect…..hellholes.
    Google a program called “Narco Farm” if you want to read a bizarre story about treatment as far back as the 1930’s.

  • Ben Franklin

    Let me break it down for you one more time…..if you use the evedince in an anecdotal way, it’s ‘anecdotal evidence’
    You misspelled evidence. Probably because you don’t understand it. When Grapevine says it sold x amount of copies and published this as their circulation then that is a piece of data that can be used as evidence. Anecdotal evidence is when Mcgowdog tells you “why no that can’t be true there must be ten times that amount I saw it with my own two eyes.” Anecdotal evidence is testimonial in nature. The circulation of the Grapevine is just that-evidence.Period. Get it? Capish?
    As far as your knowledge of peer-review, well that is lacking too. Maybe you should Wiki that. Peer approval is not peer review. The editors on the wiki AA pages are all members. If someone wants to post something they don’t like, that person gets banned for life for being a sockpuppet ( you should know about that). Really Tony, when you open your mouth either an insult or something stupid comes out. You never admit you are wrong and change meanings to fit your agenda. You could do this on Dombeck’s blog, but you can’t get away with it here.

  • diablo

    United States Court rulings

    United States courts have ruled that inmates, parolees, and probationers cannot be ordered to attend AA. Though AA itself was not deemed a religion, it was ruled that it contained enough religious components to make coerced attendance at AA meetings a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the constitution.[75] In September 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that a parole office can be sued for ordering a parolee to attend AA.[76][77]


    I know people (friends of people who were forced to go to AA by the judical system) who have actually gone to probation officers and told them they can not force them and shown them the proof here. It worked, stand up and fight.

  • diablo

    Bill was interested in LSD for his severe depression he suffered from. There was a study/testing done back in the late 50’s early 60’s (if I remember correctly) other notable people were involved also.

  • diablo

    you know we are not talking about grapevines books, com’on now.

  • Gunthar2000

    Bill Wilson had claimed 18 or 20 years earlier that he had found the answer to everything.

    The fact that Bill W. still suffered all those years later makes Bill W. a liar, and it makes AA literature a lie.

  • diablo

    Lets all just say it alcoholics, Meth heads, crack heads, heroin addicts, winos, and whatever else you can come up with don’t have a great success rate, guys.
    Jesus what freakin streets did you boys grow up on. I don’t care if they went to AA or not really the success rate still sucks.
    Now if you want to talk about other folks then so be it but WTF are we talking about here. Sounds like apples and oranges.
    Damn, 1%, 5%, 7% or -5% stupid conversation.

  • DeConstructor

    The problem diablo-

    Is these court orders are simply ignored. It has gotten so bad that the last major ruling on the issue- the Inouye case- the court ruled that the person ordering someone to AA, in this case a probation officer, should be sued PERSONALLY for infringement of constitutional rights.

    The extended problem is that the recovery industry cartel is the profitable arm of the AA faith. Not only are the “counselors” all AA evangelists, but so are the people that sit on the licensing boards of the few states that require drug and alcohol counselors to be licensed. The licensing exams are less tests of empiricle medical fact, but rather a test of dedication towards the AA faith. In addition, to get around the rulings, many treatment centers and actual AA meetings are beginning to promote they are not 12 step based, but again this is usually deceptive, as AA dogma and theology continues to be used, just disguised a little more.

    It really must be a totally different program such as Rational Recovery or SMART Recovery to really get away from 12 step AA mentality.

    The major shift will happen when health insurance companies stop paying the outrageous fees for inpatient treatment. This was beginnning to happen, and then the “mental health parity bill” was tacked on to the bank bailout bill that requires health insurance companies to pay for 12 step inpatient treatment for as many time as it alllegedly takes.

    This bill was sponsored by Pat Kennedy, and his republican AA sponsor Jim Ramsted. Neither were coming back to congress.

  • Ben Franklin

    Sometimes on a thread you have to reply a little later then you want to. I do other things because I am busy. I was replying to Tony J.

  • Gunthar2000

    The fact is that AA doesn’t work at all because faith healing is bullshit.

  • AnnaZed

    soberbychoice, you are so well spoken. I’m humbled by it really.

    As for AA before the treatment center infusion; make no mistake, while without the mid-1970s boost that the American Treatment industry gave 12-step religious indoctrination as an applied therapy for not just alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence but as therapy for the generation of left over (still alive) 60s drug burnouts that washed up on their shores during that decade there would be no AA (certainly no AA as we know it today) AA has since its inception been an unpleasant and unsettling organization.

    Interestingly, I have some family history with AA besides my own. My grandfather’s brother (my great-uncle) whom I never met was one of the original AAs. It didn’t really work out all that well for him and my grandfather who was a very serious, very kind and very honest person was deeply pained by his brother being a “wastrel” a “lout” and a “drunk.” He was unimpressed by the Oxford Group or any of the rest of it and deeply pained by doing what he thought was best ~ which was completely ostracizing his own brother. That’s right, even though he was alive when I was a teenager I never laid eyes on him and he died somewhere of complications from his alcohol abuse and dependence. This was in a family of upper-middle class Presbyterians, very pure “family values” style people, very conservative politically ~ all of the men were military officers (Army specifically) ~ pretty much exactly the demographic of Wilson’s target audience. My grandfather was a much respected newspaper editor, again very conservative and thoroughly Christian in outlook. He thought that the Oxford Groupers and later the AAs were a bunch of vulgar lunatics. He thought Buchman with his creepy interest in the sexual lives of his followers (particularly the young men) was simply revolting. He thought that the AA template was inconsistent with his own understanding of theology and above all, pointless. Sad to think of it because I now think it entirely likely that my great-uncle suffered from some type of post-traumatic stress (this would be from World War I) for which appropriate care really just didn’t exist. In any case, religious indoctrination at the hands of Dr. Bob himself and his followers did not cure him of his “disease.”

  • soberbychoice

    AnnaZed, thanks for that perspective. It’s taken me a good while to sort out clearly in my head what this phenomenon has been all about and how our whole society got duped.

    I think the only reason I never swallowed the necessary amount of Kool Aid to drown was a theology prof who had studied under Reinhold Niebuhr and who taught a course that included the heresy of the Oxford Group. So I never got a sponsor, refused to go to a treatment center and was able to see with all the AA failures and deaths (an uncle who attended AA faithfully for 17 years and never got a one-year chip and died of alcoholism) around me that the only possible thing in AA that “worked” was the social support, and that not often. And too, the little group that I joined in the South said they thought “the back of an alcoholic’s brain always wants to get high again, and the reason AA works is that it keeps the front part of your brain aware of why you can’t ever drink again.” They didn’t push the higher power angle at all.

    I’m encouraged that there’s a societal awakening coming. In my area we’re working with a 7-county criminal justice system and mental health system to put in place a combination Sinclair Method and (likely) SMART support system as an alternative to what we have now. I’ve found the probation folks, counselors, physicians, a couple of judges, and the mental health managers very open to trying something new. They know the work of Wm. Miller and Bankole Johnson, etal, and know from experience that 12-step ain’t working. We’ve only begun the prelems on the proposals, but there is an openess that simply would not have been here ten years ago.

  • Mona Lisa

    Findings from AA’s 2007 triennial survey follow. A new one should be coming out shortly as they are done every 3 years.


    Note that these triennial surveys are not randomized, so the information they provide has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Ton J

    Little Benny Franklin (smartest guy in the world)

    “Really Tony, when you open your mouth either an insult or something stupid comes out. You never admit you are wrong and change meanings to fit your agenda. You could do this on Dombeck’s blog, but you can’t get away with it here.”

    Let me repeat :

    Your sophistry might hold some sway if you weren’t ignoring several third party definitions that contradict you.

    You can insist that words mean what you want them to mean. It’s part of what makes you a good candidate for a mind control cult like the one you’re in here.

    Dr Dombeck has nothing to do with the fact that you can’t defend your premises.

    You said wikipedia censors it’s articles.
    You’re right that they aren’t formally peer reviewd but that doesn’t mean they’re censored.
    Now please provide proof that they employ censorship.

    Your reputation as a scientist is on the line. Come now. You don’t want everyone to take you for an emotional wreck.

  • Ton J

    Gunter (Augustus Gloop):

    “Gunthar2000 says AA’s own triennial surveys show that at the end of a year only about 5% of the people who’ve started attending meetings within that year are still attending. The other 95% have left AA within that year for various reasons.”

    No it doesn’t.
    Did you go to the same grammar school Ben Franklin did ?

    “Gunthar2000 says The fact is that AA doesn’t work at all because faith healing is bullshit.”

    Perfect example of a circular argument. Thanks. Keep em coming.

    “These people are only spreading false anecdotal evidence because they’ve been brainwashed by a guy named Terry who gathered about 50 pages worth of evidence that suggests that AA is just a cult and made a website because he wears a tinfoil hat ”

    THAT is the most intelligent thing you’ve ever posted. Keep coming back, it’s starting to work.

  • Mona Lisa

    Wikipedia itself says:

    “Wikis, including Wikipedia and other wikis sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation, are not regarded as reliable sources.”


  • Rick045

    “So I never got a sponsor, refused to go to a treatment center and was able to see with all the AA failures and deaths (an uncle who attended AA faithfully for 17 years and never got a one-year chip and died of alcoholism) around me that the only possible thing in AA that “worked” was the social support, and that not often.” – soberbychoice

    @soberbychoice, I want to add my thanks for your contributions here. I did the treatment routine and did have one sponsor, but still arrived at the same conclusion as you after twelve years active attendance and much rumination afterward. I certainly started out with every intention of embracing the tenets of the program, and never imagined that my opinions would change the way they did over time. That cultural shift is simply going to take some time. I find it very gratifying to hear about the changes taking place in your community. Thank you for your efforts.

  • AnnaZed

    soberbychoice says: “…“the back of an alcoholic’s brain always wants to get high again, and the reason AA works is that it keeps the front part of your brain aware of why you can’t ever drink again.”

    Yes, the degree to which AA could be said to work for some boils down to simply that and nothing more, and you know if Wilson hadn’t been completely messianically insane there might exist somewhere a secular mutual-support group for people with alcohol abuse and dependence problems where people who need the support of this reminder and enjoy interacting with others who have faced similar problems could gather. Wouldn’t that be cool!

  • causeandeffect

    Those secular mutual-support groups are still small and relatively unheard of but they do finally exist and are listed on the right under Addiction Recovery Resources.

  • Gunthar2000

    @Tony J.

    Are you saying that you believe AA works?

  • Ben Franklin

    Tony I stand by everything I said. You don’t know what you are talking about again and spout Bullshit every time someone disagrees with you which is quite often. OK,then Tony, go over to the article on “The Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous” and try to change this statement:
    The 1990 analysis found that from 1977 to 1989 around one quarter (26%) of those who first attend an AA meeting are still attending after one year.
    This is an untrue statement as now interpreted by AAers. The graph has nothing to do with first time meeting attendance and if you were a rigorously honest non-MOTR AA you would go and fix it. See what happens. The best that can happen is that you won’t be banned. I doubt you have the balls to do this.
    The only thing that can be interpreted from the graph is the percent of first year AA’s who are in or who have finished a certain month ( we don’t know which because we can’t see the raw data and by now it has probably been destroyed). The percent of first year members in their 12th month is 5%.

  • Mike

    Tony, you have a college degree? you’ve called me, mona, and others here stupid before. I believe many of us have advanced degrees…you have a phd in sobriety I gather. Anything else?

  • Gunthar2000


    Tony is a professional troll. He says things that he knows aren’t true in order to stir up shit. He insists that everyone else is an idiot and calls others names… and mostly, he just repeats the same old shit over and over in order to disrupt the forum. The sooner we are done with him the better.

  • causeandeffect

    I just ignore him. He’s only seeking attention in the only way he can get it and it’s a reward when someone responds.

  • Gunthar2000


    It’s true… I just have such a difficult time ignoring it.
    The best policy would be to ignore them and deny them the gratification.

  • diablo

    Deconstructor wrote:
    The extended problem is that the recovery industry cartel is the profitable arm of the AA faith. Not only are the “counselors” all AA evangelists, but so are the people that sit on the licensing boards of the few states that require drug and alcohol counselors to be licensed. The licensing exams are less tests of empiricle medical fact, but rather a test of dedication towards the AA faith. In addition, to get around the rulings, many treatment centers and actual AA meetings are beginning to promote they are not 12 step based, but again this is usually deceptive, as AA dogma and theology continues to be used, just disguised a little more.

    diablo wrote:
    I am on the same page. probably for different reasons but still the same. People involved with AA, using AA name and principles have made a mockery out of it. Most of the OP, Valient, Peele and others have all commented whether they know it or not about the maladies since the treatment center infusion. Yes FTG it did start with Bill and Insane asylums/Medical centers are became corrupted henceforth by greedy bastards who could not give a shit about people.

  • Mike

    Aa itself is a mockery, it doesn’t need help from the outside.

  • diablo

    This last statement I posted was constructed and typed horribly. Sorry.
    What I was trying to say is, since the treatment center infusion of the late 50’s, 60’s, and the evolved residential long term 1-3 years of the 70’s, 80’s and still today AA has been twisted and used in ways it was never intended.
    I believe for most here this is what we are bickering about , the consequences of the last 40-50 years of people associated with AA, whoring it out for greed. It has transcended down throughout the meeting and groups. Thousands upon thousands have gone to treatment and think they are now gurus of Psychology. They know what is a alcoholic and drug addict, they can give out advice. Because there 12 step treatment center 26 year old counselor told them so. They flood the AA rooms with there wisdom. I had someone tell me that I did not know shit about AA because I never went through a 12 step TC, he had a few decades of being sober. What freaking difference does this make about knowledge of AA. I could understand him arguing/saying I lacked in mental/emotional growth because I did not go to a treatment center. WTF.
    IMO you are not looking at the original copy, maybe Bill did sell out for money or lack of character. This doesn’t mean the integrity of the written words in a book loose meaning.
    Here is where I am at in my life concerning AA and other matters integrated.
    Why I left, I was disgusted. AA literature and meeting was intended to be monolithic not a quagmire of intersecting entities looking for what they can get and the hell with core principles. IDK people.

  • What I don’t understand is why if…
    1. AA is the status quo and everyone is happy with it…
    2. It works…
    3. Everyone knows it works so well that people in the media do not suggest alternatives (daily op-ed pieces praising AA, tv shows promoting 12-Step rehab, radio personalities and advice columnists recommending it, etc)…
    4. And people who influence public policy embrace 12 Step work (govt., courts, MDs, addiction specialists…)…
    5. There’s an AA meeting on every corner…
    6. Contrary voices are immediately dismissed and do not get any response or attention in the media…
    7. Critics like us are such a small, completely whacked-out, lying bunch of haters — like the westboro baptist church of all addiction treatment…
    8. critics have no influence on any tier of society…

    …why if all of this is true, why would anyone waste a minute of their life here trying to refute us. It seems like the equivalent of seeking out and trying to argue with a paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theorist.

  • Tony J

    “causeandeffect says I just ignore him. He’s only seeking attention in the only way he can get it and it’s a reward when someone responds.”

    That’s not true.
    It’s rewarding to call out a hypocrite in and of itself. If they’re dumb enough to engage me, that’s just icing on the cake.

    The fact of the matter is, it’s very tedious to have to respond to idiots like Ben and Gunter.

    When you ignore me you free up that much more of my day.

    I love the whole dynamic of this blog.
    It’s okay for anti-AA’s to attack anyone at anytime and say whatever they want.
    Then, when someone give it back to them it’s like the end of the world.

    This place is a case study on alcoholic thinking.
    If they didn’t have the term dry drunk already coined, they’d have to make it up after looking at you people.

  • causeandeffect

    Gunthar, I completely understand. If you must fight fire with fire, I’d like to suggest you keep repeating this quote from Tony J

    Tony J says
    “Selfishness—self-centeredness? That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we INVARIABLY find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a positions to be hurt.”
    Couple that statement with the video on this page.
    Why do you guys love to hate on Chris R so much ?
    Have you ever listened to one of his talks ?


    It shows a complete lack of human decency.

  • Tony J

    FTG :

    “…why if all of this is true, why would anyone waste a minute of their life here trying to refute us. It seems like the equivalent of seeking out and trying to argue with a paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theorist.”

    That is a good point.

    Of course there are only about 10 of us AA’s that bother to refute you.
    No one else in AA really cares.

    I’ve actually talked about the anti-AA movement with people and their eyes glaze over.

    We do give you way more status than you should have.

    Even I know you aren’t a threat to me and my meetings. AA will be around as long as long as I am.

    It’s just that you guys talk so much shit…..it’s hard to ignore it once you’re aware of it.
    Like a gnat.

  • diablo

    The demise of AA is up and running on websites like these and is growing everyday. But it is the TC’s were after. I would like it if AA could not receive TC or court ordered people IMO. I don’t care if the GSO had to shut down. We could all go back to the day of the Coffee, a book and a living room. Mighty fine for me.

  • Mike

    Heh, eyes glazed over, apt description. Tony, what’s your degree in?

  • diablo

    are you just sounding off to any one in particular or trying to create more jibber jab. Are you plying your trade….:)

  • Why go seek out gnats, though? Why be one of the 10 people who waste their time following the paranoid schizophrenic around town making sure that no one buys his utterly unrealistic theories that no one’s listening to anyway? You know, like why defend the status quo from someone who’s no threat to it?

  • diablo, you do realize that this is my blog, which exists because I “jibber jab” on it.

  • causeandeffect

    I prefer gnats over mosquitoes.

  • Well in Spiritual way we should all learn to get along together. Try not to take other peoples inventory and live and let live. Everyone has different thoughts and values, but …. when they are dictated by one movement against another, this can cause problems and hard feelings. The best thing to do is to break bread and discuss the subject on hand in a non judgmental way. Live life on life’s terms.

  • Tony J

    “friendthegirl says Why go seek out gnats, though? Why be one of the 10 people who waste their time following the paranoid schizophrenic around town making sure that no one buys his utterly unrealistic theories that no one’s listening to anyway? You know, like why defend the status quo from someone who’s no threat to it?”

    Am I defending the status quo ?
    I like to think I’m defending the alcoholic who’s sick enough to believe you when you tell him alcohol isn’t his problem. AA is.

    Ttribal instinct maybe ? I want to look out for my peeps.

    Did Mike just get his degree ? He seems awful proud of himself all of a sudden.

  • Mike

    Tony, you don’t have a degree, do you?

  • “I like to think I’m defending the alcoholic who’s sick enough to believe you when you tell him alcohol isn’t his problem. AA is.”

    Ha, ok. If that’s true, the “attraction” element of your message might need a little polishing.

    That’s all I wanted to know. I’m out.

  • Gunthar2000

    Tony is a greasy idiot who sits all day smearing boogars and food all over his keyboard.
    Every once in a while the strong odor of cheeze fills his lonely room as his raises his arms and bursts out in laughter at the brilliant post he’s just made.

  • Ben Franklin

    FTG, Tony loves this blog because his own kind don’t want what he has AND/OR
    Tony is a desperate lonely man with nothing to do. AND/OR
    Tony is just a bully and when he is not at meetings he needs to be here AND/OR
    Tony has a psychotic need to act the big menace/fool AND/OR
    Tony truly is scared that AA is about to be diminished greatly to the point of vanishing.
    Whenever I read his posts, I think what a hateful,pathetic man. The first time I responded to him I was polite and I got slapped immediately with an AD HOM. This was @ a year or so ago. Nothing has changed. Standard boilerplate AA Sophistry. It is like an eight ball with that you shake and the clear window comes up with a random answer. Why isn’t the triennial surveys released so we can look at the raw data? Shake.Shake.Shake. Your stupid you antiAA cultee. What about the criminals in AA? Shake.Shake. Shake. Its spiritual not religious,but you wouldn’t understand that you immoral Atheist. The problem with Tony is you try to ignore him,then he says something so off the wall and offensive a normal person feels they need to respond. Then after you have done so, you are struck by how boring and useless this game is. I guess when the semester gets busier I will not be able to respond. That’s OK with me.

  • I haven’t read anywhere on these pages where Alcohol is not the problem. We all know that it is a problem, and must deal with it. This site is set up as a forum to discuss how to deal with it.

    Can we stay on subject instead of continually taking other peoples inventory? Don’t let people rent space in your head. The doors swing both ways. We are discussing the stats which were published and interpreted on this topic. Why would anyone continually change the subject? This is not accomplishing anything. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over, and over again, expecting different results.

  • Gunthar2000

    Easy with the slogans!

    I need a shower after that barrage.

  • Mike

    Lol, g2k

  • Ben Franklin

    This is what happens with Tony J. This is what he wants. He wants this to be the Tony J blog. He is an asshole. When I am here I have to open a window to let the stench out and to get some air. Tony wants to suck all the oxygen out of the blog.
    Please go light on the slogans.

  • If you want to talk to a Spaniard and have him understand what you are saying it would be best to talk in Spanish. When in Rome…… (Sorry about the last slogan, I just could not resist.)

    So anyway, does anyone have any statistics on:

    Current or previous AA members who committed suicide?
    Percentage of people who commit suicide in the US?
    The percentage of people who kick “Alcohol” without the need to join AA?
    The recovery rate of the different programs available?

    Try to find original sources that are not opinion on blog sites or published by any of the “recovery” groups involved. With unbiased resources we can correlate and make quite a few hypothesis on the results.

  • diablo

    did I read it correctly what about the criminals in AA. Alcohol Ben, Alcohol Ben, Alcohol Ben.
    Meth, Crack, Pot, Heroin, Amphetamines, Crank, Thunderbird, Maddog 20/20, White Lightening ect……
    Am I on on site with a bunch of primadonas from Malibu Ca, Greenwich Ct, Gross Point Mi, Willamette or Skokie Il, ect……were talking about drug addicts and drunks, yeah there will be criminals.

  • JRH: Depends how you define ‘recovery rate’. Rehabs seem to calculate it based on those who completed their ‘rehab’. Which means they didn’t scarper or get kicked out for ‘harming others’ recovery. Or die, I suppose, which an alarming number seem to. They do not tend to define recovery as ‘people who are better one year on’, or any thing as simple as that. If a rehab boasts of a recovery rate of (eg) 65%, it probably means those who lasted the (insurance funded?) ‘treatment’.

  • diablo

    JR wrote:
    Current or previous AA members who committed suicide?
    Percentage of people who commit suicide in the US?
    The percentage of people who kick “Alcohol” without the need to join AA?
    The recovery rate of the different programs available?

    Hey the site Cafety will be able to help. Go to Fornits,com they will be able to help. Just go to the proper forum (Open Forum) and ask your question. Ask for Ursus, Antigen, DJ or Anne Bonnie they will help.

    To answer your question how many people current or previous that had attended AA then committed suicide, well that could be literally in the hundred of thousands in 76 years. Suicide is the number one cause of death for addicts and alcoholics.
    It’s not comforting JR.
    I believe the number would be very high for the people who attended meetings and realized they did not need AA and went on with there life. That number would also be in the hundreds of thousands.
    IDK if any Recovery Center for alcoholics and drug addicts can honestly brad about there success rate. Anyone who has been involved with this stuff knows what I am saying. AA has no room to brag either. Many addicts and drunks just don’t recover. IMO

    I know this is all anecdotal but I was talking.

  • Gunthar2000

    Yesterday I took the first steps toward establishing a SMART Recovery meeting here in Brockton at the VA campus. I spoke directly with two addiction counselors, one who I was led to believe would be open to the idea, one who is an 18 year NA member, and the woman in charge of who uses the function rooms and for what purposes.

    The first guy was surprisingly hostile. He insisted that only a certified addiction counselor could establish a SMART Recovery meeting, he said that because SMART Recovery is academic it’s not considered a support group, bla… bla… bla… and assured me that it would be impossible.

    The second guy was just outright sarcastic. Same old 12-step bullshit. I’m not even going to bother quoting him. You already know.

    The woman who controls the rooms said, “What kind of AA meeting is it?” When I told her it wasn’t an AA meeting she seemed to get all pissed off and told me to email her some credentials.

  • Mona Lisa

    Wow, Gunthar, it sure sounds like there is a lot of misinformation about SMART Recovery being spread around. It is, of course, not true that only a certified addictions counselor can establish a SMART Recovery meeting. People do have to take a 5 week online training and be familiar with the program tools, but that is it. And of course it is “considered a support group”… it’s simply bizarre to state that it isn’t.

  • Martha

    Here is one example of what steppers say against SMART. It is from an article in the NY Daily News and appeared in a letter to Orange last may. Among other things they say that SMART Recovery is “dangerous.

    “DR. DAVE: What I think of the SMART Program is that it could be another fantastic ride in the Disneyland of Recovery. And dangerous, too.”


    I won’t be surprised to hear more negative stuff from AA and their apologists regarding any alternatives to the 12 steps. This fits in with what an AA member told me recently that someone in a meeting complained about the Sinclair book and how terrible it was that Sinclair does not buy the disease theory.

  • Rick045

    @JRHarris, Here is an answer to your third question, “The percentage of people who kick “Alcohol” without the need to join AA?”

    “About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment.”

  • diablo

    1) Rick were talking about alcoholism, DT’s hallucinations ect……not just a common dependency. Come on people if were going to minimize the definition of a alcoholic because this fits into your idea fine but lets say so.
    2) Your wrong Rick, you failed to read the whole article. Look at the word they use too, disease. I personally hate the word but right here there using it. Your link Rick.
    3)They are also talking about a longitudinal study showing if they successfully treat the alcoholic early on the disease will not progress. (there words not mine).
    4) 75% have some form of a dependency not a chronic state of alcoholism, so you are right they do recover on their own.

    These and other recent findings turn on its head much of what we thought we knew about alcoholism,” according to Mark Willenbring, M.D., director of NIAAA’s Division of Treatment and Recovery Research. “As is so often true in medicine, researchers have studied the patients seen in hospitals and clinics most intensively. This can greatly skew understanding of a disorder, especially in the alcohol field, where most people neither seek nor receive treatment and those who seek it do so well into the course of “disease”. Longitudinal, general population studies such as the NESARC permit us to see the entire “disease” continuum from before onset to late-stage disease.”

    To Willenbring, these realizations call for a public health approach that targets at-risk drinkers and persons with mild alcohol disorder to prevent or arrest problems before they progress. NIAAA is addressing this need with tools to expand risk awareness (http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov) and inform secondary prevention and primary care screening (http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/guide).

  • diablo

    I am 54 years old and have known about AA for 28 years. I was in and out of Treatment Centers from Maine to Boston to Rhose Island from 13 till I was 24. None of the programs I was in were AA affiliated but the staff were and the forced “thought reform” the taught was.
    I have never heard of Smart until I got on this site. Do I live in a sheltered world. I didn’t even know about Sinclair until a couple of years ago.
    You folks are winning in the educational dept.

  • diablo

    @Martha wrote:
    I won’t be surprised to hear more negative stuff from AA and their apologists regarding any alternatives to the 12 steps. This fits in with what an AA member told me recently that someone in a meeting complained about the Sinclair book and how terrible it was that Sinclair does not buy the disease theory.

    diablo wrote:
    Who is arguing with you from AA. Do you mean here or on other sites or mag publications. I am not arguing why should I. If something else works and helps someone great, I’m all for it.

  • causeandeffect

    Hey diablo, it is great to know there are alternatives, isn’t it. There’s no real consensus on the word disease, but check this out. The page has changed a bit so some of the end of the article was lopped off but this certainly casts serious suspicion on the word disease.


  • diablo

    Ya know cause, there is other alternatives and thank god for that. But I am more concerned about the powers to be so to speak who keep the confusion going on around the treatment/recovery industry. They have so many conflicting/contradictory surveys, studies, longitudinal reviews ect….out there. These Doctors, PHD’s, Scientists ect….say whatever the lobbyist want them to say. It is a disease, it is not a disease. Alcoholics should be treated nope they should not, AA is good nope this place is better and on. Fuck, I glad I am not trying to get sober today, I’d be crazy.
    I just want the average Joe or Jane to gwet help if they need it. Without some organization trying to take advantage of them.
    Since I only have experience with AA, then I would have a difficult time now suggesting someone go to AA. I know what a revelation. It is the truth. Some here don’t like AA because of the literature and the people. I don’t like AA because of the way it has been hyjacked by people who call themselves AA (short version).
    Cause, I know what you folks here are talking about the abuse that goes on in AA from members. It is horrible.
    I also know there are loving people who struggle every day staying there trying to help the new comer who is sent there by the courts and treatment center. I have told many a person who came to a meeting to look around AA is not the only game in town.

  • @Rick045 – Now that is good and verifiable information Rick. Lets Analyze it:

    75% recover with no kind of secondary help including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA

    13% of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment

    What can be inferred from this:

    75% of people described Alcoholic Recover without Rehab or AA
    25% of people described Alcoholic receive help from Rehab and/or AA
    13% of people described Alcoholic receive help from Rehab
    12% of people described Alcoholic receive help from AA only

    I am sure that AA would be upset that 75% of people recover with no help, since per their own teaching this is impossible.

    That leaves the remaining 25%, that end up in AA. Lets see who the average AA member is from this. Lets convert this to a sample population of 25 with 13 going to Rehab and 12 going to AA on their own to make the calculations easy.

    13 Alcoholics from Rehab / 25 Alcoholics = 52% from Rehab
    12 Alcoholics going to AA on their own / 25 Alcoholics = 48% going to AA on their own

    So we can now infer that on average 52% of the people in AA have gone to Rehab and 48% came there on their own. Now to test this statement. Can this independent research be verified by AA studies?

  • Rick045

    @JR Harris, I’m glad you found that helpful, but I’ll leave that kind of analysis to others. Your original question was, “The percentage of people who kick “Alcohol” without the need to join AA?”
    You didn’t really mention a precise definition, but the article does note that the answers were based on the DSM criteria for alcohol dependence; “DSM-IV recognizes alcohol dependence by preoccupation with drinking, impaired control over drinking, compulsive drinking, drinking despite physical or psychological problems caused or made worse by drinking, and tolerance and/or withdrawal symptoms.”

  • Gunthar2000

    That’s a pretty wide net they are casting there.

  • Gunthar2000

    I’m going to share my own definition of what an alcoholic is just for the hell of it.

    There are two basic types of alcoholics… an alcoholic may also display characteristics of both types to varying degrees.

    The first and most common type is the dependent alcoholic. This type of alcoholic has sworn off booze before, but has a great deal of trouble with disturbances of mood and other life problems to the point where all seems hopeless, the promise is once again broken, and the bottle seems to be the only answer.

    The second type of alcoholic is the person who is able to steer clear of booze for months or even years at a time without any difficulty. Add a few drops of alcohol though, and you’ll find this person dancing naked on the coffee table, pissing in the corner, and waking up in the gutter in Albuquerque without a clue as to how he or she got there.

  • jcal

    Anna zed says; Yes, the degree to which AA could be said to work for some boils down to simply that and nothing more, and you know if Wilson hadn’t been completely messianically insane there might exist somewhere a secular mutual-support group for people with alcohol abuse and dependence problems where people who need the support of this reminder and enjoy interacting with others who have faced similar problems could gather. Wouldn’t that be cool!
    Jcal says; That would be awesome. I would give that a try any day.

  • Rick045

    @Gunther, I may be mistaken about this, but I think some of the powers that be behind the DSM want it to cast a wide net because of its use as a basis for providing diagnoses, which of course, are used to secure funding. In a way, I think establishing degrees of dependency seems to make sense, but then again, it could also lead to casting ever wider nets…

  • Gunthar2000


    I think I read a post by raysny a while back that said the DSM was changing soon and eliminating these categories.

  • Gunthar2000

    “raysny says

    In the DSM-V, due out in May 2013, there will be no delineation between dependence and abuse. This is a ploy to get more funding for 12step treatment. Along with the Mental Health Parity Bill, there is going to be a lot of money siphoned away from mental health, funneled into the 12step treatment industry.”

    December 19, 2010, 9:06 pm http://stinkin-thinkin.com/2010/12/12/the-disease-debate/

  • Rick045

    @Gunthar, Thank you for that. Stanton Peele has written some articles about it. I had the impression based on those that they were trying to expand certain categories, but I haven’t seen anything in a while. Apologies for misspelling your name in my last post…


    I have really enjoyed this thread thus far …. I have especially enjoyed Ann Zed wiping the floor with her opposition every time they respond with a personal attack …. priceless … another thing I sense is that the Anti AA Crowds not doing it because they feel a need to be accepted its because they have truly been hurt and scared by a cult that lied and made them drop their guards … in the truest form of betrayal … costing them very much pain I sense liberation in the unity to think freely and converse openly and to heal when some vicious troll comes along … it makes them think of the fond old days of gossip ,sponsors, manipulation ,sexual exploitation ,and mysticism , a true stepper troll defending a mindless religion is so helpfull to deprogramming former cult members … it is that gate way to the past or as the steppers say keeping it green …..:) I thank you all

  • causeandeffect

    @ soberbychoice Orange referred to your article again and gave stinkin’ thinkin’ a plug.


  • soberbychoice

    Nice, thanks C&A!

  • Gunthar2000

    @soberbychoice… You should send it to Ken Ragge at morerevealed.com

    I hear he’s updating his website and will be active again soon. I’ll bet he’d welcome your contribution as it is an excellent piece of work.

  • soberbychoice

    Tks, good idea and will do Guntar. I have his email address.

  • causeandeffect

    Ahh soberbychoice, Orange has linked to your excellent article again!

  • soberbychoice

    Thanks for alerting me C&E! That 5% retention rate is stuck in so many people’s minds it’s hard to believe when the numbers clearly show there is nothing but churn. Orange always does a good job of getting the word out there, and I’m delighted he picked up on this.

  • kc1964

    In re: ‘i left a of a because of personal insults … ‘

    i guess we all have our own reasons…i left because if flat doesn’t work.


  • good for you, kc, good for you.

  • Gunthar2000

    Hi kc1964! Welcome to Stinkin’ Thinkin”!

  • kc1964

    oh and because when i read orange and stinkin thinkin..the cooked books of of GSO became apparent from my own experience. Once these two sites were digested by myself…and the people who had left/posted here and there, expressed feelings i knew inherently were my feelings and and therefore invalidated the bs the oldtimers were spewing. I became even more apparent after reading and THEN ATTENDING the rwms. Yuck. I was a member of a cult. Now wonder i was miserable and felt disassociated from the real world around me. The cognitive dissonance was palpable. Now, over a year later i am still de-programming but i feel better than ever.

  • kc1964

    the propaganda of the GSO kept me blaming me-now i know better. thanks anna, speedy and company…end the insanity of the cult of aa.

  • causeandeffect

    Welcome kc1964! Ending the insanity is exactly what we are trying to do here. Maybe you’d like to post on the thread “Why I left AA Stories”. The link is at the top of the page.

  • welcome kc1964. I think this is one of the best things I have read about the cult. There are no ‘millions’.

  • I missed this fine essay until now. Great stuff. I, too, came into AA in 1981, but stayed only for a short while. When I returned in 1994, I was amazed at the growth it had experienced locally during those years I had been absent. Today, those same local meetings are fewer, and much less-attended than they were in 1994. The number of local meetings has declined by about 30%, and attendees have diminished in similar numbers.
    The churning of an ever-changing stream of newcomers overseen by the cadre of a few dedicated old-timers is impossible to not notice. Invariably, the decline is blamed upon the quality of newcomer, and the perceived intrusion of the program by outside agencies.

  • flannigan

    To everything there is a season, churn, churn, churn.

  • AntiDenial

    Great article! But I think a condensed version with bullet points of the the most important
    data. It is a long read-a good one though. It could be helpful to have a shorter version
    for those who might not take the time to read it in its entirety.

  • chris

    It`s in decline because the 7 trillion people that stayed sober with AA, just died recently. So, they gotta wait for the disease to catch up, then they`ll be selling some not so small books again.

  • soberby choice-
    Great great post! So much information. I knew some but the way you clearly laid it out is impressive. I too just read the whole thing. From recently being a GSR I was astounded when I found out how much money they were paying themselves. The head counsel got some $480,000 a year and a was given the boot along with another 300k to say goodbye.
    When they announced the BB sales were down 200k I was happy. Even the donations from groups were down alot from 2008 to 2009. I forget the number but JR Harris will know . he is doing some great money research and there are great links on the thread Follow the Money just below the Never ENding Thread.
    I predict that Smart , SOS, WFS and Life RIng will grow enormously over the next 2 years.

    FOr example there were 3 Face to face meetings of Smart when I first went 3 months ago.
    now there are 4. 10 out of 13 had been to AA and had a problem with it.
    IN one years there will be a meeting every day, and in two years there will be a meeting every day and one every night of the week. Im glad Im going now when they are small.

    The arrogance level in AA, its NY Office, the area, the district, LA Central Office, members of the Pacific Group are frightening. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • This is the best piece. The Oldtimer I know, who hardly goes anymore, said it was the numbers that got to him. If every newcomber stayed, they would need to have hired Wembley Stadium. Are there really only about 300,000 hardcore members, many of whom, I suspect make a living out of this dangerous nonsense.

  • Clyde Strunk

    Soberby choice has put down far more concise, and statistically backed up piece here than my rambler; I wish i knew enough about how to get my long piece over to “Why I left…” as primrose suggested. As I stated somewhere before, what is soooo interesting to me is that no matter how it’s put, the general concensus of those threading in on ST all arrive at nearly the same conclusions. Personally, I believe I may have gotten clean & sober over 30 years ago, had their been a genuine, rational, logical system, a “program” initiated for those like myself, for whom it all started with simply tring to feel better, then became its own big problem unto itself.

  • Clyde, click on ‘why I left….’ on the menu, and post. 🙂

  • If courts quit forcing people into AA there would be no slow demise of AA.. It would be quick and over with. Take away the one dollar donations most court mandated people give and see how long most groups survive. Unless core members have deep pockets.Not long.

  • AA stats are declining. I believe that this is due to the economic times going on right now. People can not afford to go to rehab and many people do not have insurance, so rehab will not take them. I believe that AA is like a virus and is currently in a dormant stage and not actually in remission. It can flair back up at anytime and this virus is very dangerous.

    Unfortunately AA is very structured advertising company for the Rehab Industry, which is why they are practiced in most of the rehab centers. They claim that they do not advertise and are not a company, but on close examination this fails. They train unpaid salesmen to find prospects in jails, institutions, anywhere they can find them under the guise of “helping them”. They quickly contact spouses, friends, priests and doctors to prod thier “prospects” into hitting bottom. This is all carefully laid out in chapter 7 “WORKING WITH OTHERS” starting on page 89 of the Big Book.

    The spread of AA and the faith healing that they preach is a virus in it’s dormant stage. One of the reasons membership seems in decline could be because they have killed off the weaker hosts they have invaded. Be careful and watch for signs this virus is coming out of remission.

  • AntiDenial

    Well lets hope that we can put Drug Courts feet to the fire and have them stop mandating AA/NA. There does seem to be a slow move in that direction.We need to help speed it up.


  • Mona Lisa

    Looks like AA’s latest gambit to fill the coffers and slow the loss of revenue from the grapevine is to jack up the grapevine’s price ($35 for a one year subscription to their website! yikes, I used to get the grapevine delivered to my door in a discreet envelope for $12 per year!):


  • SoberPJ

    Was rooting around the grapevine site and came across this. You can’t tell me there isn’t hero worship in AA..

    Facsimiles of the magazines honoring Dr. Bob and Bill W. – MS15
    Newly reprinted editions of the original 1951 and 1971 Grapevines published in honor of Dr. Bob and Bill W. upon their deaths. The magazines contain the story of each co-founder’s life, plus articles from their friends and early AA members *** reflecting on the extraordinary character of each man *** and their contributions to the worldwide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The magazines come in a protective sleeve.

    Can you say , crock of shit?

  • AnnaZed

    Sober PJ, the cult of of Bob and Bill worship (mostly Bill) is nowhere more alive than amongst the editors of the odious Grapevine. During his life Wilson used the Grapevine as his own personal soap-box and many of the most insidious concepts that have ossified in AA come from his pontificating there; like emotional sobriety http://silkworth.net/aahistory/emotionalsobriety.html, calling potential recruits “prospects,” even “tough prospects” http://silkworth.net/aahistory/billw_041961.html (or pigeons), lying about proselytizing http://chipsontheweb.net/12trad/Tradition%20Eleven_.pdf or (this is a favorite) explaining why nobody but him should profit from AA http://chipsontheweb.net/12trad/Tradition%20Six_.pdf

    Some of these swami-like utterances immortalized in the pages of the Grapevine are transcriptions of Wilson’s “talks” on various topics over the years. (it is typical of Wilson’s con-man approach to term a one-sided oracular event like a speech a “talk). I can’t shake the image of awestruck female secretaries lovingly tapping out transcriptions of Wilson’s every brainwave. He must have loved that.

  • The jump from $12 to $35 seems to indicate a dire need for some quick cash It will be interesting to see what happens maybe a combination of cash flow problems for AA and changing attitudes in tne court systems may hasten the demise.

  • SoberPJ

    Great links .. I read them all and this one towards non-believers is very sickening –
    ” For all who deny, or seriously doubt a deity, these frame an open door over whose threshold the unbeliever can take his first easy step into a reality hitherto unknown to him – the realm of faith.”

    Yes, those unaware heathen simply have no idea of what is on the other side of the threshold. They just need to do my program of conversion and they will join us on the broad highway of delusion and manipulation, er, faith.

    The whole thing about remaining poor and staying out of the limelight is also very odd. Was it brilliant or the shady strategy of a con man that always stayed just out of the light of the law? Just below the radar where he could take peoples money and run without being directly implicated in the deed. Like the half truths in the main stories. Just plausible enough to be believed, if you are gullible enough, but not really true. Except the white light whopper. I guess that was necessary to get people’s attention. It’s one false story after another, where the end result is to get you to be of maximum service to gawd and be a missionary, and do it like jebus, without any money.

  • BusBozo

    The guy (Bill W) really was a gas bag. Pontificating in the extreme. Holy Grail, manna, fishes and loaves for everyone.

  • AnnaZed

    SoperPJ, Wilson actually appropriated the description and trappings (including the mountain location) of his white light experience from his grandfather http://mauihistorian.blogspot.com/2010/06/aa-cofounder-bill-w-recent-new.html. or http://blisstree.com/feel/a-family-disease-16/ It’s fascinating really what a thorough going fraud Wilson was; the pure scale of his chicanery is astounding.

  • AnnaZed

    The Grapevine has been is serious (dire) financial straights for over a decade. AA World Service has bailed it out to the tune of (literally) millions of dollars over the years (this in spite of AA’s 2010 PRASA claims that it was profitable).

    A.A. Grapevine Financial Report
    A.A. Grapevine Corporation realized a Net Loss of
    which was greater than the budgeted loss
    of $245,743. Total A.A. Grapevine income was
    $1,824,330; $245,179 behind budget. Total
    expenses were $2,218,666 or $96,586 below
    budgeted expenses.

    The Spanish language edition La Viña has consistently needed shoring up financially as well.

  • soberbychoice

    AA’s latest numbers (Box 459, Summer, ’11) continue to show it’s slow but inexorable decline. Very ominously for AA, the number of groups overseas in 2011 from 2010 declined by 9,059 (17.2%), and AA lost 59,768 (8.5%) overseas members in one year. That furthers the argument that without the forced coercion from US courts and treatment centers, AA would be in a freefall globally.

    AAWS reports that AA as a whole now has 2,057,652 members globally, down from 2,103,033 in the previous year. By contrast, in 2002 there were 2,215,293 members. In 2002, there were 891,062 members outside North America. This year’s 644,498 members is a decline of 28% over nine years.

    The numbers in North America are essentially flat from 2010. Canada actually lost 146 members over the year but claimed it had formed 81 new groups. It’s group count is flat with 2002, but the membership count is down by over 3000 over the nine years.

    The US is the sole place in the world where AA is growing, reflecting the coercion of the culture and courts. The 2011 membership number for the US is 1,279,664. That’s up slightly from 2010’s 1,264,716. The group count grew this year by 1,211, to 57,905. The largest drop in the US over the nine year period was in the number of inmate members. The number of “behind the walls” groups declined by about 1000 over the period while the membership count dropped from 66,036 in 2002 to only 38,938 this year. AAWS offers no explanation, but one can surmise that mandatory sentencing guidelines may have resulted in inmates knowing that the “get out early by attending AA” card is less effective than it used to be.

    Meantime, during all this stagnation and decline, AAWS continued to sell another million Big Books every year. So, nine million or more copies of the sacred text were foisted on newcomers over the period and the membership lost 157,621 members. The Grapevine’s circulation is now projected for this year at 88,000, down from 93,000 last year.

    The picture overall is a stagnant organization on the precipice of a future great decline. The combination of more courts declaring AA coercion to be a violation of the Establishment Clause, the growth of alternatives, the widespread internet information on AA’s ineffectiveness, all will combine to be its further undoing. For decades the AA leadership has claimed its growth opporunity was overseas. That strategy has clearly failed, and the only strategy that is working now is one that is clearly a violation of the program’s claimed principles of attraction not promotion. AA is now locked arm in arm with the courts for its survival, making a complete mockery of the claim of cooperation but not affiliation.

  • Jonny Quest

    Bill Wilson himself reveals the weak link:

    “Good public relations are AA lifelines reaching out to the alcoholic who still does not know us. For years to come, our growth is sure to depend upon the strength and number of these lifelines. Onse srious public relations calamity could always turn thousands away from us to perish – a matter of life and death indeed!”

    Destroy these lifelines, expose the public relations facade, and AA will go back to the sewers of Akron whence it came…

  • causeandeffect

    Thank you so much, soberbychoice, for your update.It’s very reassuring to know that AA is declining elsewhere, even if there has been a slight increase here. So many countries have been Americanizing to the detriment of their own cultures. I’m glad to know, at least in this one area, they have decided to, well… at least… follow us less. Seems they are just too sophisticated to believe in bill wilson’s superstition. That is, however, quite embarrassing for us.

  • AntiDenial

    Thank you too soberbychoice.I love stats.Ones that gives us some hope on the grip AA
    has on this country will weaken and not wield so much power. We really need to get the word out as much as we can by communicating to our local courts and people who are going to court be encouraged to ask for alternatives.One court actually let a bookclub count! That is cool! it is about treating the whole person. Stop obsessing over alcohol and addiction and get on with your life. I think the more people focus on it can be detrimental. Focusing on other types of people and groups(like bookclubs:)etc). We can all make a difference that can add up to a big way.

  • Mona Lisa

    Just read this again. What a tremendous article–this should be required reading for everyone who cares about addiction.

  • How does an organization that claims to “keep no records”, have an ability to “count members”? Does it do some “off-the-record” Census every 10 years? How do you count a person at a meeting if the same person shows up to 3 different meetings in 1 day? How do you count meetings if not all of them are even listed? Or if the ones that ARE listed “vaporize”(it happens! Some DO “die off”!). What kind of “alcoholic math” is involved in the numbers this “non-record keeping” organization keeps putting out?

  • soberbychoice

    Hi John, AA’s office in NYC maintains a “group database” for each group in the US and Canada that allows the Area registrars and AA group reps to update the number of people in each group that is listed with AA. The system was manual/done by postal mail until a few years ago when it went digital on the internet. Supposedly the groups only count those people they consider in their “homegroup.” Obviously, given the zealous nature of some groups and the lethargy of others, there are probably many duplicates and misses. The fact that the same process has been used over decades is what gives it some credence. That, plus the fact that the NYC GSO office is willing to show membership declines in an evangelical enterprise, I should add. There are no audits to attest to the credibility of the methodology. The rest of the AA data is compiled from a randomized survey done every three years by GSO by sending forms to a sample of representative groups.

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  • Steve

    I don’t care about numbers.It keeps me from killing myself.As long as it stays around to help me until I die,that’s all I want.

  • Mah

    why does everyone hate AA when the big book is simple a collection of different spiritual philosophies and ideologies. If you are attempting to go competently humanistic why don’t you just say so?

  • Anthony Guy Parker

    I am most definitely a “survivor” of Alcoholics Anonymous which was originally patterned after a Pro-Nazi 1930s Christian Evangelical Cult and still is today an incredibly toxic dangerous religious cult that presents itself as a “treatment program” for Alcoholism. Problem is, it doesn’t work, never has worked, and never will work… AA has a failure rate of 99.9999%. I am one of the 0.0001 percent that actually survived the pseudo-science, pop-psychology, group-think, and “cultism”, abuse & insanity that passes for “recovery” or “sobriety” in AA. I have managed to actually stay clean and sober 36+ years because I went into therapy, counseling, and sought qualified, professional treatment and support OUTSIDE of AA… If I had relied solely on AA’s crack-pot 1930s circus tent Neo-Con Christian Revivalist RELIGIOUS Pseudo-Science, and “faith-healing” antics, I would not be alive or sober today. NY Supreme Court and multiple state and US Federal Courts have ALL ruled that AA is a religious cult, and I agree. I’d specifically like to link up with other “Survivors of AA”.


  • Mitchel Peterr Hansen

    Nicely done 🙂

  • Randy Underwood

    I just wonder how stats are created in an anonymous program? I have no issue with alternative recovery methods, me dimming your light does not make mine burn brighter~ I would only suggest people stay open minded to whatever may help them RECOVER…