Inside Job?

I wrote this post a few days ago, and have been sitting on it because I sort of blasted it out in a writers’ block tantrum and just never actually finished (there’s a whole other argument I wanted to make). I also didn’t want to proof read it — so sorry if it’s a mess.  But, it looks like this is the subject of the day, and since I’m not going to finish this any time soon, it will have to do: This is the official Can AA Be Changed from Within? thread.

The more I think about it, the more I disagree with the idea that change can happen from within AA, by members changing the attitudes of other members.

One enormous hurdle is the fact that the Traditions are all built upon the founding principle of unaccountability in the pursuit of self-perpetuation. Of course, no one in AA would call the Traditions “principles of unaccountability,” because they are couched in terms that make them sound very noble. But their ultimate effect is in preventing the entanglements and complications that come with a sense of ethical responsibility. It’s quite a luxury not to have to answer for yourself, and it’s going to take a lot of slick talking to get people to accept 1. that the Traditions are not as noble as they appear, and 2. the personal responsibility that would land on their shoulders.

My feeling is that the old-timers whose lives revolve around AA, and who have developed their own personal fifedoms, just wouldn’t. And the rest are there because they want to get well – because they need to put themselves in hands they can trust – or they’ve been ordered to attend, and simply don’t have the knowledge, the standing, or the desire to get involved in an internal upheaval. I can’t even imagine the number of active AA members it would take to reform AA from within. Who are these people? They will have to be articulate, compelling, with enough seniority to be heard, and enough information to bring the challenge, but with very little investment in the status quo (which they have spent so much time maintaining). And there would have to be one of these people in every meeting.

Remember back to massiveattack’s radio interview and the response from the AA members who insisted that individual groups are responsible for handling the abuses within their own groups. That right there was a real-time example of old-timers using the Traditions to absolve themselves of any sense of responsibility. They took instant offense to the idea that there should be oversight, because they keep their side of the street clean – groups are independent, and members take care of their own. Enough said, as far as they were concerned. What articulate, informed, active, charismatic old-timer is going to tell them anything?

So, that’s my practical objection. In a nutshell, you can’t sweet-talk people who have a luxurious arrangement, reinforced by a belief system that they hold fiercely and dearly, to abandon it and take on a burden of responsibility. What’s the payoff for them? These are people who believe that the status quo saved their lives.

And, more universally speaking, movements are not always successful by gently changing hearts and minds. I’m going to position myself politically here, but my intent isn’t to spark a political debate*, as much as it is to explore this idea from my own perspective. So, the Civil Rights Movement, ultimately, had to be forced. The Civil Rights Act was imperative. And the Peace Movement didn’t exactly pan out, did it? Environmental legislation is still necessary, because, well, hippies. Cripes, we are even fighting about feeding and educating our kids properly in public schools. You’d think we’d be well beyond that by now. And we continue to vilify Labor, people who put their lives at stake for humane working conditions: 40 hour work week, child labor laws, safety. Women are still paid less for equal work, and just last week, we actually entertained the idea of redefining rape. The ACLU is still considered by many to be some kind of a meddling, fascistic outfit bent on destroying America. And people in this country still think the majority should have the right to vote on the constitutionally guaranteed civil rights of the minority.

So, Mr. AA’s idea that “Research alone won’t work. Facts won’t work. It is the manner in which the truth is delivered that will awaken the sleeping” has rarely proven to be true about our most important social movements. When real change comes, it seems to be motivated by a groundswell of righteous anger and courage that, finally, cannot be ignored, followed by a hearing of the facts, and an inevitable top-down shift in how things are done. Change does not seem to come about by, say, gently speaking to the better nature of every individual segregated business owner and convincing them that they should sacrifice their family’s livelihood for a cause that they have no personal investment in, and, in fact, are personally invested in resisting.

Also, I don’t think it’s over-the-top for me to compare this to the Civil Rights Movement. The population of addicts (I include alcoholics) in this country is enormous, and they are treated as fodder for a system that is financially invested in fostering addicts’ dependence upon it (lifelong, progressive disease) and on the relapse cycle it generates (revolving door – ka-ching!). Addicts’ deaths are displayed as warning to other addicts who want to buck the system. We also persists in classifying people as addicts when their problems are obviously outside the scope of addiction treatment, and these people are subject to the Program of Perpetual Relapse. This is a racket, and these “disenfranchised” human beings are a commodity. Complaints from addicts are dismissed because the source of the complaint is suspect: Everyone knows that addicts will lie. Everyone knows that once and addict always an addict. Everyone knows that they’re all in denial. It’s just their nature. Addicts are untrustworthy, and they must regard their own motives as suspect. Oh, you’re denying that you’re addicted? Oh ho! We know what that means. It means you’re in denial! You’re an addict and a liar! Yes, we know what that means. Hey, let’s go to a funeral.

* But I will take you on in the community pages, if you want to go there. 🙂

  • Commonsense

    Rapid change usually only occurs in response to a crisis. No crisis; no rapid change – just slow evolution.

  • DeConstructor

    The best example of change not coming from within would be the ‘protests’ sent to AA from the membership who requested and petitioned for AA to be honest about the fact they are a religion. I cannot find the link right now. Orange had it in the letters section and links to it have been posted here in the past.

    It had ‘confidential’ stamped all over it from AAWS, and the protest has obviously been buried.

    Permanent change will come when insurance companies stop funding this ineffective madness, and judges are afraid to sentence AA because of safety issues.

  • sugomom

    DeCon, another example of change not coming from within is that AA members will not answer a simple question. Last night, ST members were asked a complex question from Mr AA and answered it point by point!

  • soberbychoice

    Spot on, FTG. Even if some kind of resolution passed at the annual general service conference (nothing to address the issues we’re concerned about ever will), the resolution would have absolutely no power and the groups would be free to ignore it. “I Am Responsible” applies only to recruiting new members and indoctrinating them into the party line. Never once have I heard the responsiblity pledge used to say anyone is responsible for doing anything about all the kinds of predation and abuse that go on in the rooms. If there was ever an organization in which incrementalism will never work, it’s got to be AA. Trying to change AA from within is far harder than trying to kill a crocodile with a cornstalk.

  • Commonsense

    @Decon – I think the insurance companies (i.e, money) will be the key driver. While legislation has been passed to force the insurance companies to pay for rehab, there are also calls that treatment be “evidence-based.” Most debate over 12 step treatment could end if 12 step treatment was subjected to an independent audit and wide-spread scientific study of its efficacy. I contend that the 12 step industry already knows they produce poor results (i.e. the poor results are obvious). Otherwise, they would be screaming for an independent public study in order to permanently silence their detractors. Their silence has been deafening.

  • Mona Lisa

    I am absolutely certain that AA is fundamentally incapable of being honest with itself, and therefore cannot recover.

  • Also, is accountability in the Catholic Church coming because the hierarchy has had a quiet change of heart and a sudden desire to own up?

  • speedy0314

    ftg,

    “proof read” & “fifedoms” are some pretty cool examples of literary punchiness. but seriously folks … .

    i would agree with your general thesis here. further — my AA kung-fu is way rusty so you might want to call on more informed persons to back me on this — there is (i believe) in the little referenced “12 Concepts For World Service” a clause (or clauses) which actually except the 12X12 from change either completely or lacking some kind of super-majority vote by “the fellowship”.

    ergo, ‘The Program’ is by design beyond change.

    it’s sort of like ripping the judicial branch out of the US government & putting all challenges to the Constitution or State’s rights up to popular vote. the result would be legal chaos — or, as in the case of AA, AA.

    AA sucks & it sucks with distinction & near perfection. why go monkeying with a formula that sucks with such crystalline purity?

    stop me if you’ve heard this one before,

    speedy
    (i’ll be here all week ladies & gentlemen)

  • Martha

    On this issue for a letter answered today by Orange:

    AA MEMBER SAYS GROUP HAS LOST WAY
    Akron Beacon Journal (OH)-May 12, 2009
    Author: Bob Dyer, Beacon Journal staff writer

    The true believer, when invited to discuss his cause, is a sight to behold. Take Jon S., as we shall refer to him, in keeping with the second word of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Jon S. arrived for our conversation toting four loose-leaf notebooks, as well as a briefcase containing books, newsletters, photocopied magazine articles and e-mail printouts.

    The battered books set new standards for annotation. Competing on nearly every page with the printer’s ink was ballpoint ink and yellow highlighter ink. In some chapters, he had circled individual words — say, “alcoholic” or “God” — later tallying the number of times they appeared.

    As he spoke, Jon S. zipped back and forth from book to book and paper to paper, reading entire paragraphs as he attempted to prove his points. Given the opportunity, he would have gone on for days. And, in a sense, he did: Following our conversation, he sent me eight e-mails, two handwritten letters and a newsletter with notes in the margins.

    Most of it was overkill, because everything in his verbal arsenal essentially pointed to one message: Alcoholics Anonymous has gone to hell and needs to get back to its roots.

    Given the man’s history, his passion for the subject is understandable.

    “Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life,” he said, intensity blazing in his eyes.

    He joined in 1976, when his life was at its nadir, and has been sober ever since. If he were to join today, though, “I never would have stopped drinking. I’d be dead.”

    His beefs are voluminous, but near the top is AA’s ever-growing inclusivity. He claims the organization “has become the world’s largest dumping ground for every affliction and addiction in the world.”

    Drug addicts and other substance abusers are not the same as alcoholics, he says, and to include them in meetings shows a blatant disregard for “the Big Book,” AA’s bible, and the group’s paramount mission — “one drunk helping another drunk.”

    “The message isn’t there for [alcoholics] anymore. And I believe lives are being lost.”

    He rummaged through his papers and produced a list of AA meetings available in the Akron area: men only, women only, nonsmoking, gay/lesbian, members only, open to anyone, sign-language available, Spanish-speaking only. “In all, 22 different categories.”

    “Gays are certainly welcome, but why bring it up at a meeting? Why is a man standing up there crying about losing his lover?”

    Another reason AA has lost its effectiveness, in his eyes, is that many who attend are not there of their own volition. They are sent by courts and rehab centers.

    Perhaps that’s why the organization has turned into a “touchy-feely” social club, as he puts it, where nobody wants to do the dirty work necessary to reach people who simply must stop drinking.

    “It’s like kindergarten. You can’t look anyone in the eye and tell them the truth to save their life because you might hurt their feelings.”

    When he joined 32 years ago, “those guys didn’t worry about feelings and emotions, thank God. They told me the truth. One of two things was going to happen to a guy like me: I was going to shut up and listen, or I was going to die.”

    In the halcyon days, he says, a person was not deemed qualified to address the group until he had been sober for at least a year. At modern AA meetings, he has been subjected to the observations of members who had been sober for only a matter of days.

    “It’s ridiculous. What can they share about sobriety and how to not drink? Not everyone should actively participate.”

    A native of Springfield Township who served in the Marines during Vietnam, Jon S., 64, says opening the tent to all comers is mostly a money grab. Although membership is free, donations are encouraged, and he says much of the money ends up with the national organization.

    Jon S. is so disgusted with the state of the organization that he will boycott Founders Day, the annual celebration of AA’s creation in Akron 74 years ago.

    That’s not exactly the type of publicity the group is looking for ahead of the June 12-14 pilgrimage that will probably draw another 12,000 or more recovering alcoholics from across the country.

    Asked to address Jon S.’s complaints, a member of the board of the Akron Intergroup Council, the umbrella organization for Summit, Portage, Medina, Wayne and Holmes counties, insisted he could speak only for himself, rather than the group, or he personally would be violating one of the organization’s sacred tenets.

    “Nobody really speaks for it,” said the man, who declined to provide even a first name. “It works like an inverted pyramid.”

    Each individual group sends a representative to monthly council meetings to vote on policy, armed with the consensus of his or her own group.

    “The groups dictate to us at the executive board what the policy is,” he said, “as long as it’s in keeping with our traditions adopted in 1955.”

    And there, apparently, is the rub — one person’s adherence to tradition is another’s radical departure.

    The official concedes that traditions are open to interpretation, but adds, “we interpret them as a group.”

    So if Jon S. is going to return AA to where he thinks it belongs, he apparently will need to mount an intensive grass-roots lobbying campaign.

    If nothing else, he’s well-prepared.

    Hello Ctmjon,

    Thanks for the article. Now that is interesting. On one level, it seems like the story of an obsessed disgruntled old member who doesn’t like how the A.A. organization is changing. But on another level, he has a point — A.A. is becoming all-inclusive because it is being passed off as a cure-all. It’s trying to be everything to everybody. The current mythology is that the 12 Steps can supposedly cure anything from alcohol abuse and drug addiction to gambling to childhood sexual abuse to dying of Hepatitis C to eating too much to having been born the child of an alcoholic.

    Of course the 12 Steps don’t really cure anything, but I can see how the old-timer is upset at “the message” getting watered down.

    Oh well, have a good day.

    http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters224.html

  • Commonsense

    “AA sucks & it sucks with distinction & near perfection.” Good one speedy! I think I will get another Diet Pepsi and stay for the second show!

  • AndyM

    I agree with you ftg, but i’m still glad that there are people within aa whose hearts are in the right place and want to see obvious and serious wrongs corrected. My own hunch is that in time a lot of them may defect and perhaps become very effective critics themselves asex-members. Time will tell, but I think fault lines might be beginning to show within aa and it will crumble, not into total non-existence, but into rival factions with the fundamentalist rump (to coin a phrase!) dwindling into a weird little sect that meet in dingy chuch basements voluntarily, which is really what it should have beenall along.

  • Gunthar2000

    Great post ftg!

    Personally I believe that change will come slowly from the outside. In the meantime the two hatters will try to adopt every method that comes along and claim it as something to help while addicts work the 12 steps, and then the 12 steps will get all of the credit. It’s up to us to draw clear lines between us and them.

    It will take a catastrophic event, a major celebrity speaking out, or a class action lawsuit to bring this organization down over night.

    Right now Pinkerton Law is building a case against Passages and other similar rehabs. Why not AA? It seems to me that it’s time to bring legal action against these f****rs. Can anyone tell me why this hasn’t happened yet?

  • Gunthar2000
  • Andy, Maybe if 12 Step becomes obsolete, as you describe — by having to occupy a more appropriate niche — it will be more open to changes from within. It will be small and in need of credibility, and that might force its hand. Accountability will be an afterthought.

  • SoberPJ

    Good point on the rapid change through crisis. One of the main things that could cause crisis is if the main books of the book club didn’t sell. It would be a slow painful downsizing of AAWS and they would raise book prices in the interim. If we could just get the world to believe the BB is toxic non sense, the demise might be pretty rapid. Oh my, what would the family of Helen Wynn do without the 10% royalties they get from dear old departed Helen’s spanking perfidiousness with slimy old Bill Wilson?

  • Oh wow, G, that lawyer!

  • Lucy

    How can AA become accountable when it can’t even be honest about its success/failure rate?

  • Commonsense

    @SoberPJ – I never thought about a potential crisis with the book club. Good point. After the usual book sales presentation at a meeting by an old-timer, I once suggested that the BB could be downloaded for free from AA’s own website if anyone was short on cash (some obviously were). You can imagine how this suggestion was received.

  • speedy0314

    @ G2K:

    “Right now Pinkerton Law is building a case against Passages and other similar rehabs. Why not AA? It seems to me that it’s time to bring legal action against these f****rs. Can anyone tell me why this hasn’t happened yet?”

    i’m just a layman, but i would guess the answer to your question is two-fold:

    1 – actually proving liability would be an impossibility; it may not hold much weight on this board, but the eh-of-eh’s ‘non-professional’ status / “fellowship of men & women …” blahbitty-blah grants them the same kind of pass enjoyed by the Vatican & a butt-load of Arch-Diocese in the rampant catholic clergy / child abuse scandals; the last time AA ‘documented’ anything (tri-ennial survey any one? how about that memo about rampant sexual abuse leaked from the UK?) it stopped its snowballing popular appeal (& growth) cold; the paperwork needed to make AAWS/GSO ‘liable’ for anything other than selling lots of books just doesn’t exist

    2 – even if you could win a liability case, the pay-off is negligible; any case brought against AAWS/GSO would have to be class-action by necessity; $10 million in literature revenues would disappear quicker than you could say “amends”; any law firm & its list of litigants would be holding one big fat IOU from the good folks at the InterFaith building

    i’m reminded again of the phrase, “the amazing disappearing AA” that i read in a genius post on the 12-Step Free board. whenever it comes time to call AA to the carpet, well then, “that’s just not AA!” it’s f**king beautiful — AA isn’t what it is even when it is what it ain’t!

    bulls**t on a stick wrapped up in volumes of purple prose about greater goods, the integrity of the fellowship, & the whole she-bang being answerable to an invisible something that can be anything & all things … or nothing.

    sorry to bust that litigation bubble, brother.

    in [g]OD™ we disappear,

    speedy
    i’m out of order? you’re out of order! this whole courtroom’s out of order!

  • Z

    On the possibility of “getting through” if you’re just polite enough: I’ve always thought the cliche of “It isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it” was a red herring. Tact is one thing and it is useful in many situations. But often that phrase “…it’s how you say it” really just means the message itself isn’t welcome.

  • I think the only way to address this problem is from the outside. When injustices are done relating to the 12 Steps and the problems it can cause. I really believe that the Scranton, PA case from the blog “Kickbacks” on this blog can be such a case. The perpetrators of this scheme face 12 to 157 years in prison and class action suits have been started. Unfortunately the class action suits will not be profitable because they are going after the Judge, so these laws suits will fall to the wayside. The Law suits are highlighting the damage done to 4000 youths of America by being sent to a 12 Step Program. They are suing because the victims have been irreparably harmed by 12 Step indoctrination. What they need is an OJ Simpson Dream Team to take on this case.

  • speedy0314

    @ Z:

    if this were FaceBook, i would ‘like’ your post.

    emoticons for all,

    speedy

  • BusBozo

    Gunthar:
    I applaud the Passages Litigation. It seems to just another high cost rehab place. Not having read the book Prentiss has written, I can’t remark on his methods. For all I know, they are sound, although it is extremely expensive to go to his “Treatment” center.

    What gives me pause is that Pinkerton is basing his attack on the idea that “The medical evidence is that addiction and alcoholism are diseases.” The misleading advertising seems to be a fine avenue to pursue, but using the disease model as part of the strategy leaves me cold. Cynic that I am, Pinkerton seems to be reaching for a piece of the recovery pie in his own way.

  • Lucy

    it doesn’t matter what the evidence is. It only matters that he can place enough pressure on Passages to get them to settle out of court. He isn’t looking for landmark cases; he’s looking for settlements.

  • SoberPJ

    Cynic that I am, Pinkerton seems to be reaching for a piece of the recovery pie in his own way.

    Absolutely, and taking out an AA competitor at the same time. You see, incumbents stay that way by lopping off the heads of anyone that stands up to take a piece of their pie. The only way to overtake an incumbent is for many people to stand up at once because they can’t all be taken on at once. It’s the medieval equivalent of storming the castle, or the modern equivalent of shock and awe. A class action lawsuit is still just one suit, but thousands at once would bankrupt them. Everyone that had a love one killed by a binge drinking member of AA should sue AAWS for wrongful death all at the same time. It is well known that AA indoctrinated people have a much higher rate of binge drinking than any other treatment type, including no treatment. Ergo, AAWS bears some responsibility for someone killed during the drinking binge of an AA member. It is their program. They print the books and support the groups that spread the deadly non sense.

  • tintop

    Why?
    Why should AA change? Where is the pain?

    AA is not faced with a ‘revolutionary situation’ : the rulers cannot continue in the old way; and, the ruled cannot live in the old way.

    AA is faced by ‘death by slow boiling.’.

    Even if AA ‘can be reformed’ , what is broken, and what can be ‘fixed’ ?
    Having decided that — and the issue is in doubt as whether that can be decided upon, what is to be done ?

    How is that to be decided?

    The dificulties are insuperable.

    Death by slow boiling.

  • speedy0314

    @ SoberPJ:

    “A class action lawsuit is still just one suit, but thousands at once would bankrupt them.”

    ummm … not really.

    civil court judges could dismiss such lawsuits prima facie & almost certainly would in most if not all of such individual cases. while the standard of the proof is lower in civil cases, it’s not non-existent. and even if one were to accept at face value your blanket & — more importantly — legally vague assertion “AA indoctrinated people have a much higher rate of binge drinking than any other treatment type”, you still haven’t proven a causal link between binge drinking & wrongful death.

    and then you’ve got your whole slew of individual petitioners s**t out of the considerable fees it cost to retain counsel & bring a case for — and this is the important part — the court’s consideration.

    i know my inner-stepper is showing here, but i thought this was the place where rationality got its 15 minutes of fame. emotion-fueled discussions about litigating against AA (in answer to a post that posed the question “Can AA Be Changed From Within?”) are off the mark & really a waste of intellect & spirit.

    Lucy’s right — the Passages case is a money grab. if Pinkerton can generate enough bad press for the institution, he may well be able to squeeze a few million out of them — whether or not he’s got evidence of genuine malpractice or wrongdoing. but you will never, ever be able to put AA AS AN INSTITUTION in that position. s**t, it’s tough enough to put Scientology in that position & they actually claim constitutional religious protections.

    AA just ain’t that big a dog. it might seem that way to a lot of people on this board & it might look that way because the legal/medical/social systems use 12X12 as a dumping ground for cases that they neither have the time, money or inclination to handle on their own with much [heh] rigor or ingenuity.

    but that’s the reality of it. i hate to say it, but AA probably never caused a suicide that wasn’t headed well down that path before hitting that first meeting. more disgustingly, some AA s**tbag is happy to make ESH hay out of that suicide the next time he/she ‘shares’ at a meeting.

    but that doesn’t make AA culpable.

    it makes it a place that vulnerable people should be discouraged from attending & a place smart people should be shrewd enough to avoid after sufficient exposure. just flush the bulls**t out of your system like a good crap & move on.

    AA ain’t gonna change from within or without, because change is anathema to religion. and AA ain’t ever going to be held legally accountable for any of their pious/egregious palaver because there’s no law against stupid.

    cynicism’s gotten a raw deal since diogenes packed it in,

    speedy

  • ftg, I cant read all of this now…but I love you!!!

    This is what needs to happen.

    A class action law suit.

    A documentary that gets wide distribution and causes great controversy.

    Awareness about other books, methods that work to help with alcohol dependency/addiction. A movie star to step forward to talk about how AA did not work and how they used other methods.

    Amy Lee Coy on Oprah. and every talk show in town!
    Her book and some others on the top ten bestseller list.

    A place for people to talk about it. Here.
    Blog radio.

    A new hit tv show on HBO that sheds the light on this and uses its characters and story lines to talk about alternative to AA/NA

    Give Me & Gunthar an am radio talk show 🙂

    Creating law that prevents any judge sending anyone to AA because its religious.

    Making it illegal to advertise about prescription drugs on TV.

    Lobbying in congress to change the laws how insurance companies are using our money to send people with this problem to a religious cult.

    Making laws that prevent any government funding to go to an AA 12 step rehab/facility.

  • oh yea,

    Run ads on Fox network before AMerican Idol about all of the above!

  • AnnaZed

    Can AA Be Changed from Within?

    no

  • Gunthar2000

    Can we encourage a splinter group from within?

  • speedy0314

    ftg,

    i love you, too!

    just … kinda … in a ‘bro-mance’ way. only you’re a girl. but that doesn’t mean things have to devolve into a natalie portman/ashton kutcher ‘tank at the box office’ cliche. think more hannah arendt / martin heidegger without all the nazi baggage.

    or maybe archie and betty.

    it’s a brunette thing,

    speedy

  • The thing is that there is no “in”. It’s a rhizome.

  • tintop

    I see no basis for a class action law suit. Where is the tort? And, if there is a tort, who owns the tortious conduct?
    How do you set about proving? The burden lies with the plaintiff.

    As above, what is broken ? What is the fix? There is no conensus upon either.
    We have all sorts of critiques of AA, within and without AA. You have ‘strong tea’ and ‘weak tea’; you have ‘MOTR’; you have ‘back to basics’ , etc. It is like Alice’s Restaurant within one town.

    At the end of the day, if AA attempts to reform, the factions will divide.

  • speedy0314

    ftg,

    are we talking botany or post-structuralism, here?

    digging into the evening’s second bowl of multi-grain cheerios,

    speedy

  • Speedy, I love you more! Someone was kind enough to inform me a couple days ago that I am really a dood, so I don’t know how this whole chick flick is going to pan out — except there will be smile-weeping. And snot.

  • tintop

    I prefer raisin bran. contrarian.

    Now, if Alice’s Restaurant is a model, we can have anything we want: raisin bran or cheerios.

  • speedy0314

    ftg,

    i propose a class-action lawsuit against snot. there isn’t an american in this country who wouldn’t sign on to that.

    god bless america … & chick flicks,

    speedy

  • Gunthar2000

    Just sit right down and turn off your brain.
    You might as well play chicken with a railroad train.

    You can’t find anyone to trust an Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • AndyM

    Speedy
    Surely there must be at least one shit hot devious lawyer about with a huge resentment against aa, I mean don’t they conscript them into the cult under duress with threat of loss of employment like the doctors in the USA?

  • Snot! Where does it even come from? OMG!

  • raysny

    DeCon writes:
    “Permanent change will come when insurance companies stop funding this ineffective madness…”

    Insurance companies were refusing to pay for 12step rehabs or putting caps on dollar amounts and/or number of stays.

    But the 12step treatment industry received a major shot in the arm in 2008. The Mental Health Parity Bill that was tacked onto the bank bailout was written by stepper Patrick Kennedy and his AA sponsor Jim Ramstad. The bill forces insurance companies to now pay for as many rehabs as it takes. And all this money will come out of the same fund as mental health.

    Both Ramstad and Kennedy are dropping out of politics, what would you like to bet they both end up with cushy jobs in the treatment industry?

  • But, Andy, Who would one sue, exactly, and for what? There’s no one there, and AA makes no promises. Their website says that they have no other purpose than to support people in their quest for sobriety (something like that). I think the whole outfit exists as a perpetual disclaimer.

  • AndyM

    And they just might come up with a different angle that did work, like convicting Mr Capone of tax evasion. I’d be surprised if everything’s really squeaky clean and shipshape.

  • Sometimes I think AA–though decidedly sucky–is the wrong enemy to go after. I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently. I wrote about it over in th ST community. It is a teense too long to post here.

  • Vera

    I see little point in trying to change AA. The best course of action is to continue to try and educate and warn the public on the dangerous cultish aspects of the AA religion. It is equally important to also offer information on programs like SMART that truly work, don’t require a belief in a god or demand lifelong membership. If even a quarter of the resources that are funneled into 12step based programs were redirected to SMART, I firmly believe it would have a snowball effect as people would start to see more and more success stories emerging out of that program and that would result in even more people with addictive issues being drawn to SMART out of a desire to truly become recovered.

  • AndyM

    Ftg
    I really don’t know. You’ve put your finger on it there. I’m just thinking out loud and I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to corporations and law, I’ve just got a vague hunch that a lawwyer might find some new angle involving charitable status and duty of care to vulnerable people. I’ve no idea how thingswork in the US but over here aa , but here i think aa is a registered charity and the Charity Commission oversees all charities and one of its main functions is to ensure that organisations registered with it fulfill their intended function effectively and ethically. I think this would be very likely to entail the consideration of whether they had a duty of care to vulnerable people and whether thet met that duty of care. A lawyer with expertise in this area would presumably know whether I’m just talking bullshit here or if there’s any mileage in it. Admittedly, questioning whether aa has met its duty of care to vulnerable people (assuming they could be said to even have one) may not be the basis for effectively suing them for a whacking great sum of money, but even officially pursuing the issue with the authority overseeing charites might be a start . I think it is highly questionable that aa deserves to have charitable status in the light of many of the issues you have raised here, especially the hair-raising catalogue of criminality in the Keep Coming Back section.

  • AndyM

    This is what I’m on about. Somebody who really knew a lot more about this area might actually be able to make something of this angle (who knows?) . This particular one is UK though:
    http://www.diycommitteeguide.org/article/common-law-duty-care-help-sheet

    I think we can all agree that aa loudly trumpets great claims about helping vulnerable people’ after all.

  • AndyM

    This is what I’m on about, though this applies to the UK. Perhaps aa is set up in a devious way to effectively avoid being held to account for duty of care because individual groups in which people volunteer to “help” each other and vulnerable newcomers with what could broadly be described as conselling are seperate self-contained entities and are not themselves registered as charities. I just don’t know:
    http://www.diycommitteeguide.org/article/common-law-duty-care-help-sheet

  • ’ve just got a vague hunch that a lawwyer might find some new angle involving charitable status and duty of care to vulnerable people. I’ve no idea how thingswork in the US but over here aa , but here i think aa is a registered charity and the Charity Commission oversees all charities and one of its main functions is to ensure that organisations registered with it fulfill their intended function effectively and ethically

    Andy M,

    hmm I think you have something here. This is what I’ve been seing but did not know quite how to say it. SO thanks.
    On their tax return it does say they are responsible. Period. It does not say the groups are on the tax return. It says they are the custodian of the traditions. That means they are responsible if criminal beahvior is happening to hurt our common welfare right?
    IM calling that lawyer guy
    Thanks Gunthar for the link.

  • I think all AA members should sue their sponsors all at the same time.

  • Z

    What about suing the practitioners that refer to AA? And of course the documentary massiveattack is talking about, and the other things. What about getting Michael Moore on this? 😉

    I remain amazed about the way they train you to beat yourself down, and the amount of your time they want. It’s just not responsible to refer people to programs that do that sort of thing, it’s antitherapeutic, etc.

  • But the 12step treatment industry received a major shot in the arm in 2008. The Mental Health Parity Bill that was tacked onto the bank bailout was written by stepper Patrick Kennedy and his AA sponsor Jim Ramstad. The bill forces insurance companies to now pay for as many rehabs as it takes. And all this money will come out of the same fund as mental health.
    raysny,
    shame on them. Maybe one of their kids will wind up in disgusting criminal sucking sex offened aa meetings. Then AA wont look so clean and shinny like a new penny.
    great posts here. Great thread. ftg…Yeah

  • AndyM

    Ftg
    Now THAT would be a feasible idea!

    massiveattack
    I don’t think I’m close to really sussing out that angle, but I think there’s the germ of something in that area. AA likes to hedge its bets on everything and have it both ways and they get away with that with their membership’ but if an outside body subjected the way it operates to rigoros scrutiny they might think differently. I suspect that an individual approached the charity commission or whatever its US counterpart/s might be they might be fobbed off, but with legal support it might be dealt with more seriously.

  • ftg
    Also, I don’t think it’s over-the-top for me to compare this to the Civil Rights Movement. The population of addicts (I include alcoholics) in this country is enormous, and they are treated as fodder for a system that is financially invested in fostering addicts’ dependence upon it (lifelong, progressive disease) and on the relapse cycle it generates (revolving door – ka-ching!).

    OK Im down. The Civil Rights Movement. Im going to the ANti War March in LA in March.
    I would stir it up here, we did, people yelling at each other at the WDM last year when we refused to be shut up about 13 stepping.
    But Im tired of it all. and internally our group is not big enough or strong enough.
    SO IM choosing to leave soon…for good…Yea…when my video hits youtube, that might be a good time.

  • AndyM

    Z
    Yes if doctors don’t have a duty of care, who does. It’s what they are supposed to do’ care for sick people.

  • Andym, would you start a thread in community about the status of aa in the uk. It is both a registered charity and a limited company.

    The successful campaign to stop public money funding homeopathy was largely propelled by Ben Goldacre.
    http://www.badscience.net/

  • mfc66

    I would be very surprised if much happens from within AA. I do feel that things are starting to change very slowly for the better in the uk. Alcohol Concern is looking at and publicising new methods and the problems of drinking are starting to be taken seriously. People have seen some celebs fail at the program after singing it’s praises. People are looking at new solutions at last. The internet and online stores allow people to find new information. I had not heard of many of the good books that are available until amazon came on the scene.

    A documentary done like the Scientologists one would do a lot of damage but would also be hard due to anonymity. To see the ritual side of AA you would have to shoot many meetings and show chapter 5 etc being read out. Otherwise it would just look like a self help group. Another way would be to make a film about some people trying to stop and seeing which people do best in which group. I feel that the proven success of other methods compare to AA is the real key to it’s downfall. Most people will go for the most proven solution that they know about and at the moment most have only heard about AA.
    If the film was really hard hitting and was made over a few years you would see the cult speak of the AA members compared to the rest come out and also see how unbalanced many are.

    I think any legal action would be difficult in the UK.

  • Were you Americans able to see the Scientology documentary?

  • Acacia H

    I agree with mcf66, It would be difficult to take legal action in the UK. I think filming undercover would serve best.

  • mfc66

    Undercover filming can lead to big problems in the uk. To broadcast properly the subject would need to sign a release form otherwise the filmaker can be sued for all kinds of things. This type of documentary would be viewed by lawyers and they would make a editor take out parts without permission.

  • Mona Lisa

    Helen Wynn’s 10% was a life estate and went away when she died. Her heirs are not getting that money. Of course, I’m sure this didn’t minimize the pain Lois had to endure over Bill’s infidelity even in death. She also had to pay estate tax on the present value of Helen’s interest.

  • Acacia H

    I’ve just left a comment on thenever ending thread, about an email I recieved from a documentary film production team.

  • Mona Lisa

    I predict that AA’s demise will mostly be of the slow, fading-away variety and is happening as we speak. Here, for example, is a post I cut and pasted from the AA grapevine i-say:

    “We do not keep membership list, but we do try to estimate the number of members in Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe part of the reason is to keep the general public’s confidence in us. Our primary purpose is to help other alcoholics to find what we have found: (a life of peaceful sobriety). Each one reach one. If every member of AA helped one alcoholic to find and maintain sobriety every ten years, then our membership would double every ten years. Sure, we oldsters eventually expire, but maybe some members could help and hold more than one member in a ten year period. What is my point? Our worldwide estimate of AA members in 1992 was 2,489,541. Today, according to the EASTERN UNITED STATES A.A. DIRECTORY, we have a Grand Total of 1,852,066. My opinion: Shamefully Dismal.”

    This AA member is noticing the same trend we are, a significant attrition in membership–and this is happening in spite of AA’s efforts to promote itself in violation of its own 11th tradition. I think THIS is the wave of the future, people voting “no” with their feet.

    Now I could be wrong about this. Looming around the corner could be a huge, highly public crisis which will finally get the public’s attention, revealing the emperor’s nakedness. But if the Midtown debacle didn’t do that, I can’t imagine what will.

  • AndyM

    Primrose
    My heads really flippo at the moment with attention difficulties and seriously just can’t negotiate understanding the instructions. I’ve not got to grips with how to navigate the community section. I’m having realdifficulties with buttons and stuff. After a rest today I’ll prob bounce back but today im misdialing phon numbers 20 times in succession:).not a manyanaexcuse im seiously erroneous “just for today”. tomorrow I could probably make a brave attempt to tie my shoelaces +follow instructions.

  • You will never, ever get the old timers to change their ways.

    Despite all the talk of the alcoholic needing to change in order to get ‘better’, AA and its ruling council will never change to get better. It’s stuck in a quagmire of old-timers thrashing about in, as you say, their own personal fiefdoms. They can’t let go of the little influence they have over the less- indoctrinated, can’t admit their powerlessness over others and will never reform.

    AA has its advantages, especially in its ubiquitous presence throughout the world, but it is only a matter of time (albeit a long time) .

  • JD

    I’m just glad you’re just talking about suing the bad AAs instead of talking firebombs.

    Great idea, though Speedy is right on about some of the difficulties that make it a silly course of action that no worthwhile mouthpiece would consider taking on in a million years. It would give them something to laugh with the buddies at lunch though, so you’d at least be accomplishing more than chewing through the same old drivel daily.

    You do have some idea how many judges and lawyers are solid AAs, right? They are a firewall against this kind of thing. And the members in all the media. Plenty more in government than you can imagine. Plenty in the medical and all science professions, lots of people highly placed throughout business, ect. Like any facinated groupies you keep track of entertainers, but there are a ton you’ve no clue about.

    All very willing to counter any fantasies you’d like to bring into court.

    Judge-‘ftg, the record will show you’ve been sworn in, and if you would now state your injuries at the hands of AA.’

    ftg-‘I’ve read that bad people are in AA, and they hurt the members.’

    Judge-‘but in your written statement to the court you say the members are horrible twisted crimminals and awful people who are brainwashed members of a terrible cult…why are you so worried about them?’

    ftg-‘The good ones are not really bad just misguided, until they’ve stayed sober a long time, then they change and are all bad then and forever more.’

    Judge-‘So except for the awful crimminals the new people are good for a while and then AA makes them bad because they’ve stayed sober far too long. When do they stay sober too long and stop being good and in your view, become very bad? Are all the bad ones more than 40 years without a drink?’

    ftg-‘No your Honor. It’s the awful steps they take that make them all Christians, even the ones that believe they belong to other faiths or are atheists’

    Judge-‘Case dismissed. You’re an idiot.’

  • tintop

    I do not think that very much of anything will be done to reform AA from within, other than what is now being done.
    So, AA will go along as it basically is, with membership flat or slowly falling.
    I think that science will find better methods and 12 step will basically be replaced.

  • tintop

    “Judge-’Case dismissed. You’re an idiot.’”

    Nice bit of passive aggresive, foster.
    Calling the moderator an idiot and having one of characterss do it for you.
    The word is: poltroon.
    ftg is no idiot. And, you are a poltroon

  • I think it all boils down to an economic issue. There is a lot of money being made by 12 Step programs in an under the table fashion. In the judges case it was found out and he was exposed for profiting from the 12 Step bandwagon. In this case he was profiting off of the AA and NA bandwagon to cover up his dastardly deeds. More of this needs to be revealed.

    We need to expose the Slumlords of Sober Houses, Rehab clinics and Institutions who use the program to profit off of it. One thing I have noticed is they always have Tax problems when they are caught. Maybe the IRS will catch on and start to prosecute more people for it.

    Al Capone was not put in jail because of Murder, he was put in jail because of Tax Evasion.

  • tintop

    JR, I think that it does come down to economics. If insurance no longer pays for faith healing, the treatment center will change or go bankrupt. There is, also, the possibilty of malpractice judgements. But there are problems there.

    And, the tax issue is real for those people.

  • mfc66

    Actually i think that many in the media would consider doing it but the problem of making a balanced documentary about a anonymous group is that they will not allow balanced reporting. There are many who work in the media industry that don’t like AA and I would have to say that many of the old AA types that were working in the media are becoming extinct as the culture of drinking is removed from the industry. They are regarded as out of touch and are moved aside. This was certainly the case at the BBC which has got rid of all the dead wood in management.

    Just for the record, I sat with a group at a major TV company in the UK and we all had a good laugh at AA. The thought that you had to turn your life over to God caused much hilarity. They actually regarded it as a complete joke. It would be possible to question the treatment industry much harder than AA in a documentary and due to the increase in attention to the problems of alcoholism then that would be a possibility. Any investigation into the 12 step culture that dominates would cause AA significant embarrassment.

    By the way JD, becoming a Christian does not always improve somebody. America has more Christians and Muslims in jail than Atheists. We made a tv show that showed that!

  • Rick045

    I agree with Mona Lisa about that slow demise. Two million members after seventy-five years and billions-and-billions served is nothing to brag about. Transparency is the enemy, and nothing about this organization was meant to stand up to the kind of scrutiny it’s receiving today.

  • SoberPJ

    Scrutiny indeed. And after even minimal scrutiny, it simply falls apart. In the past, there were few, if any, alternatives. So, if one didn’t like what they found in AA there was no place to go or people to talk to about what was found about AA. That is very different today. There are many places on the internet to discuss AA and more effective methods to turn to for help with alcohol abuse problems. It really is great, and getting better ! Sometimes I forget that I am right in the middle of a societal shift in thinking. It is happening around me right now. There are more researchers and clinicians working on more effective treatments to substance abuse that at any point in history. And, there is far greater open and unrestricted communicationa and discussion about the failings of AA then ever before. Only good can come from this combination of increased research and communication. AA can not withstand the scrutiny long term.

  • Lucy

    An enterprising litigator would be more likely to pursue the alcohol industry for tort claims rather than AA. He or she would follow the same path activists used to go after big tobacco, and claim the known peddling of an addictive substance. After all, Seagrams has a public balance sheet, whereas AA is a charity supported by “donations and pledges.”

    Bill’s desire to control disclosure is exactly why there is a policy of corporate poverty and support through donations. It keeps the AA Board of Trustees from having to be accountable to the people who give it money. That is also why the corporation tried to quiet AA’s association with the National Council on Alcoholism, the Nixon drug policy makers, etc. It does not want public scrutiny of the role it plays in setting forth drug and alcohol policies.

  • Like I said, JD, you really walk right into it:

    You do have some idea how many judges and lawyers are solid AAs, right? They are a firewall against this kind of thing. And the members in all the media. Plenty more in government than you can imagine. Plenty in the medical and all science professions, lots of people highly placed throughout business, ect. Like any facinated groupies you keep track of entertainers, but there are a ton you’ve no clue about.

    You know, we talk a lot about the two-hatters, JD. And that’s going to make a great opening quote for the “Keep Coming Back” archive.

    http://stinkin-thinkin.com/category/keep-coming-back/

    Life must be really tough for someone with a logic filter, especially when you end up showing off your ass every minute of the day. Then again, it seems that your filter works on embarrassment, too.

  • JD

    ftg, careful editing is important if your desire is to mislead people. Very important not to add any more than you wish to be seen by the unsuspecting.

    I’ve always figured you for a very careful editor. I see I was right.

  • JD:

    1. Takes one to know one.

    2. I will absolutely link to the whole comment (we normally do that when we pull a quote). I can’t imagine what mitigating context you think the rest of your comment provides, though.

  • tintop

    Foster: whinging poltroon:

    you come here and make an ass of yourself with every post.

    You have no basis for a complaint. People here are very kind to you. Thank them for their kindness

  • tintop

    Actually, a person can ‘reform’ AA by himself for himself. Seriously.

    The big book and the 12 steps are free on line. A person can do the steps at home, with no sponsor and no meetings. The same with the Big Book.
    Naturally enough, you quit drinking. That is always done on your own. No one does it for you.

    An option, not at all necessary, is to attend a meeting. For moral support.

  • Lucy

    FTG- If a person doesn’t have a logic filter, the person doesn’t know that he has embarrassed himself. That is how old timers get to be old timers.

  • gotalife

    Has anyone seen the Minority Report to AAWS discussing new literature for agnostics/athiests? In it they discuss referrals to SMART, Lifering, etc. They also basically admit that AA is, in fact, religious.

    I’m trying to link it, but it doesn’t want to cooperate. If you Google “minority report to AA,” it comes up, though. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  • AnnaZed

    I just don’t see any merit to the idea of reforming AA from the inside. The damn thing just is what it is. I’m no more interested in reforming AA then I am in reforming The Christ of Christ, Scientist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Christ,_Scientist. Really, who cares what these goof-balls think? Maybe they could merge. The Christian Scientists and their 85,000 or so members and the AAs with whomever is left once you remove the coerced might reach about $150,000 worldwide. I just don’t care.

    My interests are secular and civic. Once all ties overt and covert between my government, the medical establishment, the veterans administrations, the board of education or insurance companies and 12-step religion are severed the remaining adherents can pray at each other in church basements or fly to Caledonia for all I care.

    Take (just for example) a person on an organ transplant waiting list that has been flagged at some time in their lives as a drug or alcohol abuser (had a DUI, was found impaired in the workplace ~ it can be as a result of a very small infraction as we all know, and it never goes away) the transplant team requires AA attendance during the long (it can be years) waiting period for even getting on the lists and approved for the procedure.
    I have seen this more than once and even signed a card for a man who seemed to me to be obviously impaired but implored me because it was for his transplant coordinator (I applied rigorous honesty because my signature in fact only verified that he had attended, not that he was actually sober). Both the transplant team and the insurers insist on abstinence (which is fine) for the patient. They demand proof of that through signed AA attendance cards (not so fine). Transplant candidates are often not flat on their backs; they are walking around with oxygen tanks or taking weekly dialysis treatments and such-like. In effect, life-saving medical treatment is being withheld if a person fails to adhere to the completely bizarre religious doctrines of AA. It would not for example be good enough to have the patient’s minister sign off on a card saying that he appeared at church sober every Sunday. Now, that sounds like a law-suit to me, but these are sick people. People who are dying in most cases. Do they have the strength to fight such a fight? I doubt it. It would have to be a class action suit or something, maybe an America Civil Liberties Union matter. I don’t know.

  • I know some people who very sincerely tried to change AA from within some 20 years ago. They were systematically attacked and smeared. They couldn’t even accomplish any change on a local level. It seems like a waste of time to me because the whole thing is so effed up.

    Also, and this is a theme I’ve been working on lately, it seems that many very sane & smart people are taking a harm-reduction approach to the whole Recovery Culture (AA and associated Treatment), and I think they’re wasting their efforts. Basically, they’re accepting the RC as a necessary evil, and trying to lessen the harm of it. But why accept it?

    I understand a harm reduction approach to addiction, because to some degree addiction will always be there – a certain amount of people will always make mistakes in the process of growing up, and get hung up on drugs/alcohol for a while along the way. You wanna make sure that their time in “addiction” doesn’t ruin the rest of their live. So you give them clean needles, or whatever else reduces the potential harmful effects of their choices.

    I get it – but I don’t think we need to accept AA or Conventional Treatment as inevitable facts of life that people will have to deal with when they experience addiction. These institutions are unacceptable and unnecessarry parts of life. Also, I am pessimistic about the prospect of the treatment world changing. When you read the research from people like the Sobells, Marlatt, Prochaska, & Miller (going back 30 years now) – you can see that they never bought the 12-step/powerlessness/disease bs. Never. Yet they’ve tried to gently change treatment from within, not ruffling too many feathers – and where has it gotten us? Miller’s Motivational Interviewing is the exact opposite of the confrontational AA/treatment approach – but it’s simply been added to the conventional confrontational approaches as a means to allow them to continue doing what they want while claiming that they’re using “evidence-based treatments”. It’s really sad that this important work is being bastardized to prop up the status quo. I believe these researchers have tried to reduce the harms of the treatment system, and these are the only possible results given the size, scope, and nature of such an established system which decided long ago that addiction is an incurable disease (without any evidence for such a view).

    Personally, I think a market solution is needed. People need to offer better solutions – once such solutions are widespread enough, it will cause the collapse of the current paradigm. Unfortunately, the regulatory state makes such innovation a risky proposition. And public funds are propping up the treatment systems failures, making true competition impossible.

    Someone mentioned SMART – those of us who want to change the state of affairs should simply promote such alternatives. As was mentioned, people will vote with their feet, and dollars. Personally, when faced with the jungle of treatment in which avoid 12-step and confrontational approaches, I think people are better off reading a book by Stanton Peele and taking a trip to detox (if needed) – followed up by no meetings, no treatment, and no “recovery” activities of any kind. I try to promote that. It’s not optimal, but it’s better than getting involved in the RC.

  • sugomom

    I agree with you Steven, there is a comment posted regarding this article referring to prisons being America’s number one mental health provider…I would counter that AA is, and reforming either the prison system or AA are impossible tasks.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-friedman-lmsw/mental-health-and-medicaid-the-_b_825047.html

  • tintop

    Promoting the alternatives, such as SMART, is the best way to go. That, and science finding better methods. I think those two are key. Just write off AA/12 step and set about making it obsolete. And, let nature take its’ course.

  • Thanks sugomom.

    Mainly, I think we need an entirely new system. Like, just wash our hands of the recovery culture completely and do something completely different.

  • sugomom

    Steven, I think you are doing a terrific job on your site, and I loved your comments on the Jaffe article on Huffpo. I was astounded that Jaffe didn’t get more criticism on his views that the system was totally broken. I am actually seeing a trend on Huffpo, with less censorship of content and the comments that follow, and less flaming from steppers. That makes me think we just may be raising the collective consciousness.

    Tintop I agree that SMART is becoming a more acceptable alternative to people that understand the concept of empowerment. I love to look at outdated laws that are still on the books like “A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission.” But until the recovery industry looks at the 12 and 12 as being as archaic and outdated as some of these silly laws that still exist, I’m afraid we have a long road to hoe.

  • tintop

    yes, sugomom.
    I do not know about SOS and LifeRing, but SMART seems to be growing.

  • AndyM

    Primrose
    Andym, would you start a thread in community about the status of aa in the uk. It is both a registered charity and a limited company.

    Iwasn’t being sarcastic with my earlier post about not being able to work out how to start a thread on UK AA in commmunity. I find it a bit difficult to understand the difference between allthebits and pices of that section plus I’m hypomanic at the moment having just started anantidepressant. This sparks off a host of difficulties with OCD type attention problems that become exacerbated when I try to get my head round this kind of stuff. I YOU could kick off a thread I think Icould find it and say what I can, but please bear in mind that I’m no expert on how AA is constituted in the UK. I am somewhat aware of the issue of “duty of care”that I keep banging on about vis-a-vis voluntary sector organisations because I am trying to raise similar issues with regard to my local chapter of the mental health charity Mind. Similar problems with respect to the safety of vulnerable people and the unaccountability of the local chapter to the parent national organisation arise there, in my opinion, as do in the case of aa. When I emailed the main office of Mind to air my concerns, I was told that it was so constituted that local groups are seperate autonomous entities (ring any bells?) though in this case local chapters are themselves registered charities. I replied that in that case I thought my only worthwhile course of action might be to air my concerns with the Charity Commission. He wished me luck but said in his experience they were so understaffed that they had were not very effective even in cases where there was suspicion of financial mismanagement and fraud. I thought he was trying to fob me off, but this is why I suggested engaging the support and advocacy of a professional such as a lawyer when taking any concerns about aa to the Charity Commission in the UK or whatever comparable overseeing organisation/s might be appropriate in the USA.
    Anyway, these are the sort of issues I might want to discuss, which I’ll no doubt do in my usual long-winded and pedantic manner once started.
    I’ll continue looking into whatI can on all these matters online and perhaps if some of us get our heads together we can build up the knowledge required to do something that might have effect. Cheers.

  • primrose, myc66
    what scientology doc? I need to see this.
    Yes I agree But any doc right now is better then none. I could do some reenactments for a meeting adn because IM in AA so long I know how it really looks and goes.
    and I could shoot just peoples feet in a big meeting and change their voices etc

    After going to another Smart meeting yesterday followed by my reg aa meeting I am even more convinced this is a cult, look at the way you guys even talk about it’s anonymity.
    Its just crazy. ANd yet Bill W himself was not private WTF

    Thats why I am taking the Doc film class at UCLA. So I know all the legal aspects of it.
    I am finishing it today so I will post it up on youtube as soon as it’s done. Some of your voices are in it cause I grabbed it off the radio.

    That’s allowed.

  • sugomom

    Massive Attack, your experience and the comparison of the two meetings sound amazing. Better not be my voice, or I’m suing….Just kidding. Can’t wait for your documentary.

    Here is something that has been eating at me about AA/NA. When I figured out my then husband was in a wacko program (which didn’t take me long) I researched and researched for all alternative programs. SMART seemed plausible to me. When he needed rehab a second time, my local SMART didn’t know where to point me as all programs seemed to be 12 step based. I got on soooo many sites that looked like they weren’t 12 step at all, until you really read the fine print or somebody slipped a slogan into a testimonial. So today this as was on the sidebar of a web page, http://www.summerhousedetoxcenter.com/am-i-covered.html
    Soooo, I read through EVERY page, download the brochure, look at the testimonials and figure, hey, they aren’t steppers. Then I click the video ad for them. Buried in the last 40 seconds or so, “We offer NA/AA meetings”…but you don’t have to attend, ya right.

    I HATE when they put up sites that don’t say outright WE ARE STEP BASED
    Now how do you expect a program to change from within, when they can’t even be honest in their 12th step recruiting process?

  • I have been to 2 open NA meetings with my wife during her 270 in 90 day crusade. I did notice something different a little different with them. This group consisted of over a 100 people that I think the majority of were court ordered in a very large church. At both meetings they said something along the lines of “We don’t care and don’t want to know the amount of drugs and the amount of money you spent on them during our meetings”. I don’t know the actual quote or if it is practiced everywhere. Does anyone else know? In AA is seems this is always talked about.

  • Oh yeah, and my wife was cautioned by her friends in AA, that NA was where the Dope Dealers went to meet customers. I think there is a little bit of rivalry going on between AA and NA.

  • AndyM

    Sugamom
    I HATE when they put up sites that don’t say outright WE ARE STEP BASED
    Now how do you expect a program to change from within, when they can’t even be honest in their 12th step recruiting process?

    What a great point! They should be required by law to state it clearly. Websites for treatment centres here are very evasive about their 12-step approach.

  • AndyM

    We need to expose the Slumlords of Sober Houses, Rehab clinics and Institutions who use the program to profit off of it. One thing I have noticed is they always have Tax problems when they are caught. Maybe the IRS will catch on and start to prosecute more people for it.

    Al Capone was not put in jail because of Murder, he was put in jail because of Tax Evasion.

  • AndyM

    JR
    I was quoting you there of course…..
    Spot on. Hit ’em where it hurts.