Picking Cherries

David Colman just wrote a piece on anonymity in AA, in which he breaks his own anonymity [Challenging the Second “A” in A.A.]. I don’t really have a opinion on his opinion, other than to say that it is a thinly veiled puff piece that omits many of the ways AAs use or break  their anonymity in order to promote a specific agenda. I posted on a few of those ways here a few months ago. Of course, I could never make my point as well as our resident troll, JD, does when he wrote:

“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 [sic]. Like any facinated [sic] groupies you keep track of entertainers, but there are a ton you’ve no clue about.”

At least with this New York Times writer, he was open about his affiliation with AA — although I wonder if he would have disclosed his AA affiliation had the subject of the piece not been about anonymity itself. As JD correctly points out, many of the stories promoting AA and 12-Step recovery are written by AAs who never disclose their AA memberships.


What interested me more than the piece itself, was this bit written in the comments section. Specifically, the second paragraph, which I have emboldened:

“As a member of AA for many years, I have always understood that keeping anonymity (especially at the level of press, media and films) is not only for the well being of single members, but for the group as a whole.

When an individual identifies as a member of AA in the public, and then proceeds to relapse over and over again or engage in other “bad” behavior (stealing, lying, cheating, hookers), people who do not understand the program will often use that individual as an example of how AA doesn’t work.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to defend the institution, which saved my life, because some celebrity decided to go blabbing about their “membership” only to relapse (like many of us do!) and have their mugshot splashed on the cover of a tabloid.

Although anonymity is unrealistic in this day in age [sic], and that at a personal level it is an individual’s right to divulge their sobriety, I still believe it should be an ideal to uphold—at least in the public eye.”

Now, anyone who has been around AA for long enough understands what this person will tell those people who don’t “understand the program”: The offending person is either not a real alcoholic™, in which case the program could not possibly work (it only works on real alcoholics, ya know). Or, they did not properly work the steps, which is the only explanation for someone who fails a fail-proof program. And, of course, it will be peppered with the usual buzzwords of “angry” and “resentment.”

What really caught my attention was the irony of this AA complaining that using a singular example is a fallacious way of judging the whole program. It’s the “few bad apples” argument: Sure, there are rogue members who are either not real alcoholics™ or did not properly work the program, that go out on occasion and pick up a hooker or slap their wife around or fall off the wagon; but these are isolated cases. What you should do is focus on the millions of people who bettered themselves through AA.

We’ve all heard this argument countless times, both in AA and from AAs commenting on this blog. It’s another example of AAs wanting it both ways: on the one hand, they don’t want us to point out anecdotal examples of AA’s failure; but on the other hand, they want to hold up anecdotal examples as evidence, and as proof that AA really works. You know…cherry picking and special pleading. It’s among AA’s most ridiculous arguments, which is saying something for a group who thrives on the ridiculous. The entire program is based on the anecdotal, from its ‘Big Book’ scripture to the way they carry the message™.



  • JD

    So a guy broke his anonymity. To you this means what, exactly? Seems no more than an opportunity to whine a bit regarding something someone did, which reminds you of things others did, and what others said.

    Slow Saturday, huh?

    There are reasons breaking anonymity is a bad idea for the individual, as over time they can suffer for doing so. It’s not the action itself, but what the action indicates about them. So members who get that don’t step over that line, and a few of those who fail to understand do.

    I’d be interested in hearing you defend the reverse cherry picking that is the daily fare here, since you declare yourself against it. If you say you’re not partial to cherry picking, should you continually do so?

    It’s another example of antis wanting it both ways: on the one hand, they don’t want us to point out anecdotal examples of AA’s successes in the millions; but on the other hand, they want to hold up individual rare anecdotal examples and evidence as proof that AA doesn’t work, despite reality. You know…cherry picking. It’s among anti’s most ridiculous arguments, which is saying something for a group who thrives on the ridiculous, born of their odd drives and fantasies. The entire antiprogram is based on the anecdotal, from their gross misinterpretation of the ‘Big Book’, which in their ignorance they liken to scripture whenever possible in the hope of accessing the unthinking anti-religious prejudice of the lame, to the way they carry their message™, as confused and destructive as it is.

    • MA

      I’d be interested in hearing you defend the reverse cherry picking that is the daily fare here, since you declare yourself against it. If you say you’re not partial to cherry picking, should you continually do so?

      There are a few explanations for this. Most of the people we profile here are not displayed as evidence of AA’s failure, although they happen to serve as an example of that. They are to highlight the abuses in AA that go unchecked, for which you in AA declare yourself unaccountable. Things like theft and abuse of fellow AAs. For example, when we write about Lance Glock, an AA all-star who runs an AA based sober house, who is a convicted sexual predator who was charged with raping his fellow member; that is not to show AA does not work. It’s to show AA can be a dangerous place for people seeking help, and that one is likely to be abused at some level under the guise of treatment. Since you pretend these things don’t exist, and you in AA do nothing to improve yourself and prevent this abuse from happening, we highlight it here. It’s all in the tagline, JD. Our job is to muckrack.

      But even if we were to use these assclowns as examples of AA’s failure, we could use anecdotal evidence because you set the standard of perfection. AAs believe it cannot fail, but can only be failed. Any example of failure is proof that you are wrong on that account. Having said that, I know that it is ridiculous to even consider it to be a perfect program, so of course someone who failed in AA does not mean that AA does not work for everyone. So, since you are under the misconception that we are using these failures as proof that AA doesn’t work, rest assured that we are are not. We’re using them to make fun of you. As far as evaluating AA’s efficacy, we rely on scientifically based studies and surveys, and AA’s own statistics.

      We are open to the idea that it does work, but we are waiting for you to prove it. It isn’t our job to disprove it. It’s our job on this blog to expose or mock you, unless you’re doing a good of job of that yourself, in which case I just let you blab on – which is why I like it when you comment. Keep up the good work, JD.

  • flannigan

    One more time- AA does not work. Nor does any other “program”. The individual stops/does not stop drinking. Congrats on your sobriety, you did it yourself.

  • tintop

    It’s another example of antis wanting it both ways:

    you are an asshole., JD

  • tintop

    JD :

    STFU, asshole

  • tintop

    Well, MA when that asshole is no longer “funny” or “strange” you will get rid of him.
    JD has a sell by date; one day you read what is on the box and throw it out.
    Until then, he is your boy.

  • speedy0314


    to the extent that he can, JD does have something have a point. the Colman piece is more fluff disguised as journalism. there’s a reason it’s running in the ‘Fashion & Style’ section and not ‘Health’ or ‘Science’. it’s more 12X12 cultural navel-gazing that amounts to little more than, “Hey, look at all the cool people who are associated with AA!”

    what’s of concern is that the paper of record felt that this was worth paper and ink to begin with. anonymity pro or con, AAWS doesn’t give a s**t. all they know is that they’ve gotten more positive ink in a major paper.

    ‘recovery’ as fashion statement is hardly the stuff that JD stands for and that’s really what this piece is about: AA as social ‘scene’ (that — where have i heard this one before? — saved the author’s life) rather than the browbeating, incestuous cesspool it can more often than not devolve into.

    David Colman, Susan Cheever, & Eric Clapton are in AA. big deal. there are a ton of other genuinely anonymous people who managed to clean up their acts & move on with their lives without quasi-mystical trappings of AA. and tons more who stuck around long enough to figure out it was all craziness & took a hike. for every one Susan Cheever there’s 99 others who said to themselves, “This is nuts” and took it to the road.

    just one man’s opinion, but muckraking 12 step culture is kind of a dead-end. steppers will be steppers — whether they’re the flaccid, touchy-feely type like Colman or the wild-eyed, frothing at the mouth types like JD. it really is a life-style choice, not a therapy and not a cure. the Times tacitly acknowledges this by placing this bit of fluff in the section it does.



  • Disclosure

    Others don’t have to be wrong for me to be right.
    AA works for some and offends others.
    Stinkin’ Thinkin’ works for others and offends some.
    Some others like me like both.
    Name calling and arguing accomplishes nothing and causes harm.
    Reducing harm and discussing differences accomplishes understanding and tolerance.
    Understanding brings change and cooperation.

  • Ben Franklin

    Ok JD, please tell us how we are grossly misinterpreting the big book-note small capital letters to imply a lack of “scriptural sacredness” that you accuse us of. Note too that you capitalized those letters, which makes the big book the equivalent of the Bible to you.

  • Disclosure

    Ben- Congrats on your A.

  • DeConstructor

    Also JD-

    You have conveniently omitted that people are sentenced to AA, based on the promotion of the anecdotal loudmouth evangelists of the faith. You have also omitted the fact that every AA meeting starts with the words ‘rarely have we seen a person fail….’ A sentence that certainly needs clarification for new recruits.

    AA is also the basis and umbilical cord of a fraudulant industry wrongly marketed as medical care. The fact that society is harmed by this substitution of faith healing and superstitous folklore disguised as a credible practice of medicine does hurt and kill people.

    The fact that the real medical/scientific/academic community has not exposed this this lucrative fraud is inexcusable.

    Fortunately this site works tirelessly to expose what happens in the roomz and what happens in the industry.

  • The main thing about AA and Anonymity is that they only use it to protect the “common welfare” of “AA unity”. In an attempt to gain more prospects into practicing the Spirituality that the prophet Bill Wilson devised, they attempt to exclude and hide the failures of his program. There are many more out there, as anyone who has been in an AA meeting for a relatively short time can attest to (a year or less, they will be warned continually about so-and-so who did not follow the program) .

    In the macro environment, the public is only aware of the celebrities who fail and not the micro environment of relatively small meetings because of the tight anonymity that is practiced at these meetings.

    Because of the hiding of the failures of this program, no one can make an informed conclusion as to its validity. No other medically advised program is as prescribed as AA attendance in a hospital setting. No other medically prescribed solution is as freely given out, without the discussion of possible drawbacks. AA by its design, is structured so that the truth of its success and failures is skewed only toward the “so-called” successes and the failures are ignored. Not a very scientific or trustworthy way to find the solution to a problem that many thousands of people may die from every year.

  • Disclosure

    You have good points. Anonymity is a great feature for a new person coming in. That with no dues or fees for membership had me hooked from the first meeting. The things that I would have liked to have seen disclosed to me would have been; Recovery resource alternatives, the dangers of predators and criminals, the dangers of working the steps, and open acceptance of the religious nature.

  • Ben Franklin

    MA: “As far as evaluating AA’s efficacy, we rely on scientifically based studies and surveys, and AA’s own statistics.

    We are open to the idea that it does work, but we are waiting for you to prove it. It isn’t our job to disprove it. It’s our job on this blog to expose or mock you, unless you’re doing a good of job of that yourself, in which case I just let you blab on – which is why I like it when you comment. Keep up the good work, JD.”

    Spot on MA, JD doesn’t know a scientific study. He thinks a valid controlled study is one where he trolls the MM blog and counts the failures. It is really so pathetic that he doesn’t realize that we are not laughing with him but at him. JD proceed to ignore anything you don’t understand which is most of it.

  • flannigan

    It would also been helpful to have disclosed to you the following: AA is not an appropriate and effective treatment for alcoholism. It is a faith-based religion with no medical or scientific connection to the disease concept of alcoholism. Everything else (anonymity, BB, steps, traditions, sponsors, meetings, dogma, etc.) is window dressing. The bottom line is that AA does not, and never has, been helpful in the treatment of alcoholism.
    We most certainly can make an informed conclusion as to the validity of the efficacy of AA.
    It has been shown by several studies to have no more success than no treatment but often cauces some serious negative side effects.

  • While there have been studies used to determine the validity of the 12 Steps, all of them have been swayed by anonymity present in 12 Step groups. The sample population must be random and not influenced by sources for or against the null hypothesis devised to check validity. Failures are hidden in all 12 Step groups making this impossible.

    We all know of many more failures than are brought to our attention in the local or national media. In the studies done, you have to look at the sample population that they pick. You will find that in most cases the population is picked from hospitals and jails and not from individual meetings. The control group of who they determine to be an “alcoholic” is usually taken from the prison population.

    The Substance Abuse self-report Assessment is heavily leaned toward discovering the attributes of the Alcoholics in prison. If you have any of these attributes they send you to AA and NA and have them delve deeply into your brain to find out other attributes. When found they hammer this into you to convince you that you are an Alcoholic, not help you to overcome and forget them. These are the dangerous side effects of AA and NA attendance.

  • JD

    So MA, you start out saying you’re completely against cherry picking but then are ok doing it for what you perceive is a good cause.

    A pirouette that poorly executed can hurt, be careful.

    Beginning soon I’ll be travelling for a few weeks, so you can twirl things around unmolested, however you must to create the illusion you are consistent in your logic.

  • JD you will be surely missed. Thank you for stopping by and reminding us of all of the manipulative tactics that AA uses. Come on back now ya hear.

  • JD

    displaying a far superior technique…

  • Pogue Mahone

    “There are reasons breaking anonymity is a bad idea for the individual, as over time they can suffer for doing so.” Doing Big Book study in Starbucks was a bad idea too but all the sponsors around here seemed to think it was the hip thing to do. Yap yap yapping away about the A&A and the ugly past in public and how they are all now saved by the grace of DoorKnob.
    I have a disease that likes “You know…cherry picking.”

  • Pogue Mahone

    I have a disease that got tired of staring up a sponors ass.

  • Pogue Mahone

    JD has a disease that enjoys feeding the pigeons.

  • JD


    What you quoted has no application at all regarding the problem of what your barista may or may not have overheard.

    Suggest you wait for a different subject.

  • Well JD, after your travels to find new “prospects” for the following of the prophet Bill Wilson, make sure you come back and tell us all about it. I for one would like to know how many family members of your “prospects” you approached and hinted that thier loved ones join in chanting the sayings of Bill Wilson or die? How many of them did you tell they were “enabling” thier loved ones and instructed them to stop providing moral and financial support to force them to start chanting Bill Wilson?

  • tintop

    JD, hi dipshit! How are your yucks coming , asshat?

    JD on a good day”


  • tintop

    Beginning soon I’ll be travelling for a few weeks, so you can twirl things around unmolested, however you must to create the illusion you are consistent in your logic.

    Don’t let your fat ass hit the door on the way out loser

  • Ben Franklin

    I guess what MA, not massive attack by the way, means is that when people talk about JD’ s son getting trashed is this shows that the program doesn’t work for some people. But when JD goes to a Moderation Management blog to do research he should not stretch his mind too far in thinking this is scientific. He might hurt himself. Makes sense to me.
    Why do people capitalize the word big book if they think others misinterpret it to say it is a religious text? Hmm…

  • Pogue Mahone

    I don’t take suggestions very well..thats why I’m here at ST. As for the barista..don’t think she understood my sponsor very well as he was speaking in tongues.

  • MA -thanks for this – my blood is boiling- I dont care if she breaks her privacy…I cant stand their special word “anonymity” ok I so Friggen sick of AA speak …AGHHHHHHHHHHHH

    BUT the NY times and printing this picture from the 1950’S!!!!!!!!!! give me a f*&^%king break. AA does not look like that at ALLLLLLL anymore. The NY TIMES.. The LA TIMES! GOOD GOD is there no one who will print the truth about this fffffff fellowship , program

    No one gives a shit anymore if someone is in recovery or not in the US. It’s so hip , so in..
    Bill W had 2 movies made about him. He was always in the papers, he was always trying to push the program.

    FYI I am making my Documentary Film…anyone want to be interviewed for it please contact me at makeaasafer@ gmail.com

    The Truth WIll be told there!!!

  • tintop- you rock!!!!!!! I’ll miss your comments 🙂

  • DeConstructor


    Shouldn’t you be helping some kid that is drinking himself into oblivion rather than spending time attempting to defend the indefensible?

  • Gene

    @massiveattack. Do you mind if I give your contact info to some of my Orange County, CA contacts who are ex-AAs that want to share their horror stories?

  • Lucy

    They are protesting the wrong A in AA and are making fools of themselves.

  • Lucy

    and I agree with JD.

  • Lucy

    and Speedy

  • tintop

    massiveattack, thanks. Knock em dead with your film.

    And, JD can not stay way. JD is an attention seeker; he likes it when he is called an asshole. That gives a much stronger kick than being ignored. And, every village needs an idiot to ridicule. Even thouf JD is past the sell by date.

  • tintop

    In honor of our village idiot, JD:

  • AnnaZed

    I think that your typical AA gathering looks more like this.

  • SoberPJ

    The “Cherry Picking” accusation does leave one open to a counter charge of same when using a single example to support a larger point. The debate ends up with, “you cherry pick”, “no, you cherry pick”, “well, ok, I used one example to prove my point, but I am doing it for a good reason”, “well, I cherry pick for good reasons too” is somewhat endless. For me, it boils down to the unproven efficacy of the faith healing non sense that is AA, and the proven successes of scientific approaches to dealing with substance abuse. The AA Corporation self-help method does not work as well as others, period. It should not hold the place it does in society and it needs to be exposed and demoted from said position. That is happening regardless of the cherry picking debate and the anonymous debate. These kinds of things are minor sideshows to the substantive issues of the various types of predators in AA corporate meetings and the fact that it is ineffective for the vast majority that are driven to it for help, and some people die as a direct result of the AA faith healing approach. Predators, lack of efficacy and negative outcomes are the three major categories that will bring AA down. The rest is noise.

  • Disclosure

    Love your picture AZ, it’s just missing Mr. Rogers and carrot top!
    JD, I think I have met you, you are a celebrity PA aren’t you?
    Flannigan, I gave that disclaimer from the podium and it had no impact, I’ll keep trying.

  • Gene- sure tell them to contact me makeaasafer@gmail.com
    I used to so respect all these little idiosyncrasies about AA ie: anonymity and such. The BB, the steps, traditions…back when I was a true believer. It kind of embarrasses me to remember how blinded I was, how stupid…oh well. I was young.:(

    The Traditions are BULLSHIT-they should have been re written when courts got involved sending people to AA with no desire to be there.
    Most of Chapter 5 is Bullshit- I can easily rant on this one. I challenge anyone ( including JD) to go head to head with me on my radio show about how much Bullshit is in this book. There are a few good pages…but I mean just a few.
    Anonymity is absolute bullshit.

    A thin vail that kept Bill W in the limelight while all other members stayed in the dark. He thought he was a saint.
    Let me say this again the anonymity is complete bullshit designed to keep BIll in the limelight and all the other humble victim -like underlings shadowed in the background.

    I am sick and tired of this AA bullshit in the press and I am DONE! Puff Piece after puff piece. What will it take to stop the insanity?

  • MikeAugustine

    I think that your typical AA gathering looks more like this.

    And Toto too?

  • DeConstructor

    Toto is a clear case of instincts run wild.

  • MikeAugustine

    Poor Toto. Rebellion dogs his every step…

  • Seriously though……. that does look like the makeup of many of the meetings I have gone to. The only thing missing is the cigarettes hanging out of thier mouths and the coffee cups in thier hands. They usually leave the weapons that they can’t easily conceal in thier cars to beat off the addictions doing push ups in the parking lot when they get out.

  • Pogue Mahone

    “What will it take to stop the insanity?”
    Yes what and how long will it take I wonder? The treatment business is totally infested with steppers.

  • hulahoop

    Yeah, they are like cockroaches. You never know when you are going to come across one because they stay hidden. They only come out when it is dark. They scurry when the light is turned on. So much like AA members…they are in full force at meetings…but you never know when you are dealing with a stepper because of the anonymous thing.

    I find myself wondering how much of the anonymity issue crosses over in to everyday thinking and habits. I really wonder how much of what of we have learned is cast upon other people because “it worked for us.” Just because it works for a certain person absolutely, one hundred percent does not mean it will work for somebody else. Great if it works for you, but please don’t make me do it myself. And please don’t judge me when what works for you does not work for me. Yeah, you are in position to make me try it to see what the outcome will be…but don’t hold your breath on a miracle waiting to happen. Mostly please don’t tell me I left before the miracle happened.

    Steppers will break the anonymous tradition when it suits them to do so. Otherwise they will stay hidden. They will subject a person to their beliefs without disclosing the whole truth. Rigorous honesty ™ does not count. You never can be sure of who you are dealing with. People need to learn to not be ashamed of asking questions. The only stupid question is the one that remains unasked.

  • Last January my 16 year old needed his tonsils out. So I went to a great ENT Dr. As we were preparing him for surgery the Anesthesiologist came in. He looked like a guy from an NA meeting. His lack of boundaries, his assuming attitude creeped me out. The way he talked about the drugs. I never asked him , but over and over again the wheels in my head ran. He is is f….12 step program. I could tell. I could see right through him. I never asked. I was by my son the whole time except when they wheeled him in the surgery room. I was full swing into ST six months again and already full of distain for AA. What a 180 degree turn I have come.
    I didn’t care for his trip at all. And yes they are hiding everywhere. But I can spot them a mile away!

  • hulahoop

    @massive – I have a very dear friend who is beyond amazement when I say, “Uh oh…he/she is a stepper…watch out for that.” There is nothing to be amazed about. I am not psychic. I don’t have a crystal ball. I do not have deck of cards.

    How do I know someone is a stepper? By the way they talk and the words they use. I am not special in any way. However I did go to quite a few meetings and learned the lingo. I know which questions to ask and what to listen for based on my time in AA. You were there a lot longer than I was. You are more in tune to it than I am. I would not have known these things without the benefit of being there in person. I witnessed in person what a very good friend allowed to happen to him…he now believes all of the dogma. Hook. Line. Sinker. Reel him in. That won’t be happening to me. LMAO I am waaaaay too smart for the fucking program.

    People are so quick to assume AA is wonderful, altrustic, a true cure, and all of that without even stepping (no pun intended) a foot in to a meeting. People (including myself until I actually went to AA and saw for myself) believe what they read or hear. What a shame that is. I think everyone who thinks it is all good should go to a meeting or two before they preach it. It is a cult, plain and simple. Do the steps or die…recruit more members…

    People (including myself until I went and saw) are too willing to not fight and to go along with the flow as long as what they are hearing does not against their flow. Does that make sense? Sheeple. Herds. Whatever. Nobody really wants to experience the experience until they are desperate…by then it’s too late. The truly desperate will grasp on and hope for the most craziest things even if it means suspending all logic.

  • Disclosure

    I have a disease that took my deductive reasoning, I caught it in the rooms.

  • Pogue Mahone

    Haha..my Disease is out peeling onions in the parking lot.

  • gaytheist

    Literally any program works as long as you work it properly. Here’s a program:

    On Friday nights drink 2 Budweisers and a shot of Jager. On Saturday buy a 12 pack of bud light and one by one open them up, drink 1/4 of the beer, then throw the bottle out the window.

    If you work this program correctly, you will be successful.

  • raysny

    Forbes chimes in on Coleman’s article “Challenging the Second ‘A’ in A.A.”:

  • Rayny-
    thanks for the link- good to see you here.

    …but , I think Im gonna be sick. Why doesn’t Forbes or this writer check and see if AA is even safe anymore.
    Better yet The traditions are 50 % lies and Bullshit. Maybe in 1950 they were a simple guideline, but give me a friggen break they are so outdated it’s not funny.


  • raysny

    Some of the comments are spot on.

    “…I am an atheist. I hold a doctorate in the sciences (Harvard) and a law degree. I learned that the State IDIP programs are run by LDACs whose only requirements for certification is 270 hours of education followed by 6000 hours of supervised “work experience” (I’ve been told that A.A. meetings count). No college degree is required. Most LDACs here in NH I’ve spoken to are recovering alcoholics who are fundamentalist christian and gung ho about A.A.

    During the intervention program the LDACs pushed everyone to admit that they were an alcoholic. They would then try to get you to go to A.A. I was told I was an alcoholic by the LDACs despite three physicians (and myself) saying otherwise. And when I mentioned I was an atheist, they got very angry and told me secular alternatives were completely ineffective. I was told I needed to “lose my arrogance” and surrender to a “higher power.” …”

  • Excellent find, raysny. That comment is right on.

    I would like to research, sometime, exactly what it takes to become a licensed or certified addiction counselor in different states, and what kind of education and background rehab facilities require from their therapists. Like that commenter said, the programs I’ve looked into are short, rudimentary programs that focus on 12-Step.

  • Lucy


    Here is what it is in Texas – an associate’s degree from a community college, A GED and a nearly expunged criminal record

  • Lucy

    That is to work in treatment center. here is what it takes to have insurance pay for your sevices


  • The most dangerous of the titles that they license for in Texas are “Certified Prevention Specialist” and “Certified Prevention Specialist Intern”, it is thier job to 12 Step you and make you admit your an Alcoholic. You don’t need much to become one, primarily you just need to be a stepper and a few weeks of classes.

  • flannigan

    It takes all that education and experience to tell someone “to surrender to a higher power”? If this wasn’t such a sad, sick situation, it would make for good comedy.

  • Thanks, Lucy. I remember a while back finding a job listing for an addiction counselor at a military base. The requirements were a certificate (in that state, one could be certified after six months 12-step training) and an associates or BA in just about anything.

  • Disclosure

    I just got a call from and X-sponsee, he told me about a situation with an old-timer in AA in which he felt uncomfortable. I was able to identify the old timer’s behavior as gas-lighting and forward him a link. He was also open to the idea of making other recovery resources available to people in AA instead of claiming that AA is the only answer for someone who walks through the door. This guy has at least 20 sponsee and about 1000 friends in AA. Like the old-timer I mentioned yesterday who accepted HARM reduction as a suggestion for her sponsee, this person is influential.
    Thanks to you, conventional AA wisdom is changing from within.

  • DeConstructor

    The serenity hornets could not help themselves from wanting to ‘help’ Jack that commented on the Coleman article, referenced by Raysny.

    Feel the serenity…..

    205.BobMomDetroitMay 8th, 201110:27 pmTo Jack in New Hampshire: It was so troubling to read about the great penal burden placed on you because of your drunk driving conviction. As an erudite, highly educated athiest it must gall you to be forced to particpate in the mandatory and bizarre religious rituals forced upon all court ordered drunk drivers required to attend AA. And, you can’t even escape to Canada as your conviction will prevent you from crossing the border. Of course, as an attorney, you knew that already.

    I’m sure those in the program were highly amused at your obviously unbiased and clear-minded descriptions of AA meetings. Your keen intellect is mind boggling. If only we could have been there. We don’t get to endure anything like your experience.

    Here’s a way out. The state motto in New Hampshire is “Live free or Die”……

    You get to choose.

  • Lucy

    FTG _ From what I understand (and God knows I know enough people who have become certified) a “chemical dependecy counselor” in Texas has an associate’s degree from a community college. I believe that entitles him to work at a treatment center, sober house, etc. only insofar as he is monitored by a degreed professional (like a clinical psychologist or social worker) who has also got en education with an emphasis in addiction. The state won’t let him go into business as a single practiioner.

    In the 1980s, virtually half of my suburban AA meeting was studying to become a counselor (and one of the graduates actually opened an office across the hall from where the group met). Because there were so many abuses, the State and the insurance companies tried to stop the local diploma mills from churning so many out and set up the oversight process.

    It’s interesting that the State requires that they not have a RECENT criminal record, as I know several of them who began taking the community college classes while they were in prison. It’s also interesting to me that a great many of the people I knew got their “advanced” education from online schools (like Walden and Phoenix) rather than regular colleges.

    The online schools have an annual meeting near my old home group, and, once a year, my group would be full of potential masters “candidates” who had never been to a real classroom for graduate school. They were interesting people.

    JR – A friend of mine from high school is a Hollywood psychologist and sits on the board of a couple of tony jitter joints. He says that they use that certification for “sober coaches.” which are individuals that a wealthy person can hire to live with him 24/7 until he feels comfortable not drinking. He also says that that practice is not AA oriented, but more celebrity oriented.

    I know Charlie Sheen has one, and so does Danny Bonaduce. I think it’s kind of an “anti” AA practice, as AA would tell you that only God keeps you sober.

  • gaytheist

    Call me crazy, but shouldn’t a previous addiction problem preclude you from being an addiction counselor? This is madness.

    So, let’s have “former” pedophiles be counselors for pedophiles, “former” wife beaters counsel other wife beaters, etc.

  • humanspirit


    No, I don’t think former addicts should be precluded from being addictions counsellors. It can generally be a good thing if the counsellor has had personal experience of the specific problem and has overcome it. But they need proper professional training in order to be able to do this, and their own personal experience should never ever be a qualification in itself (which is how AA would have it).

    The problem is that the whole recovery industry is dominated by ex-addicts who are true believers in the mumbo-jumbo practices and nonsensical writings of Bill Wilson, and who are basically unqualified to counsel anyone. People who would just have been completely unqualified “sponsors” in AA have made a living out of charging an awful lot of money for doing exactly the same thing in rehab centers (presumably because they would never get a job anywhere else). This is the real scandal.

    I don’t think the comparison with pedophiles or wife-beaters helps. Addicts aren’t necessarily criminals or psychopaths – in fact the vast majority of people who get addicted to alcohol aren’t. I would think alcoholism has about the same demographic as that of people who get addicted to smoking cigarettes.

  • AllyB

    I think that there is no problem with a former addict treating addictions as long as they truly understand that’s addiction has no “one size fits all” treatment. Different people develop addictions for different reasons and what worked for one person could have little or no affect on someone else.

  • Lucy

    It was helpful for me to have someone (who had had a drinking problem) telling me how she/he stopped drinking. It made it easier to believe that I could stop too, and it made me feel less like a total failure-for-life.

    However, as AllyB said, people drink for different reasons. Some can moderate and some can’t. Some need medications and some don’t.

  • DeConstructor

    It should also be brought up that many people with addiction issues have co-morbid problems such as being depressed, schizoid, or bi-polar.

    This can really be a bad thing because untrained and unqualifed people not only dump and rely on AA dogma for these people, it is compounded because they have also been known to counsel these people to stop taking legit prescribed medication.

    It is a shameful that the undeserved credibility claimed by the recovery industry is not exposed by the medical and academic community.

  • Remember that in Texas at least, these are the people who are licensed to do interventions.

  • hulahoop-
    I agree. Im not psychic, I just spent so many hours around them. Poor poor me.

    pour me a drink…remember that one.
    How bout …some wine with that cheese. Is that Pacific Group Bullshit?
    I don’t know. I was never a part of that group. Thank God.

  • SoberPJ

    hmmm.. at least we know that struck a major cord. The topic is somewhat debateable and easily digestible, as opposed to trying to prove Bill was a womanizing, lying butt head. This is good and somebody forced the hand. Now, how to capitalize on all this discussion and turn it to the real conversation? Slowly, but surely as opposed to smack ’em upside the head with everything that is wrong….

  • Lucy

    I don’t think this is a good thing. I think it is plain and ordinary narcissism, and that the person who crowed about his right to talk about (and profit from) AA is exactly like Drew Pinsky, James Frey, etc.

    Inviting the public to examine your present usually brings to the surface events from your past that you would rather not have them see. Part of the AA myth is that the past becomes transparent, but that is kind of an easy claim to make in a room full of people you see for an hour a day. It’s a little bit different whena professional decides to investigate, which is what happened to James Frey (and a million political candidates)

    As FTG said, the problem is not anonymity but accountability. This guy doesn’t want accountaibility. He wants a gravy train.

  • Lucy
  • ftg -AA expects its members to “place principles before personalities”.
    this what the first article says.
    Really ? They are practicing what kind of principles as they turn their heads while old men prey on new young woman. WHile old timers take advantage of men regarding money issues. While Sponsors abuse their positions of power.

    Im going to all these links and ranting!!! thanks ftg

  • I’ll make a new video soon until then…I am so mad about all this pro AA newspaper artilces…bear with me.

  • I believe that AA is actively recruiting for the summer vacation in the US. Children are going to be off school and getting in to trouble with spare time on thier hands. What better time than to try and send them to the rooms where unemployed predators and stalkers can hide?

    It only costs them a buck and they get coffee, cookies and can probably bum a few cigarettes while they wait for them to walk through the doors. I’m not saying all of them are, but it only takes few. Let us not forget the Midtown group in the Washington DC Maryland area. If memory serves me right, I believe that story was broken right around summer vacation in 2007.

  • Yall should check out the comments section of Cheever’s “Anonymity” article on The Fix. The publicity is generating a real Serenity Fever Swamp over there: http://www.thefix.com/content/breaking-rule-anonymity-aa

  • Lucy

    FTG- THank you for that link.

    Long before I left AA, my saturation with the recovery culture had made me avoid the confessional memoirs and the tedious discussions of newly sober addicts. I had no idea that there was a magazine dedicated to it and I see that nothing has changed.

    I detest this crazy shit.

  • Here’s an article dated today in Salon that also links to that NY Times article. I’ve posted in the comments section here:

  • (Just added you to the blogroll Ben!)

  • Wow…… talking about AA trying to maintain anonymity. In Kansas City last year they even wrote a small article about “Privacy concerns over police department’s license-plate readers” because they could be used to see who is going to AA meetings:

    “Tony Rizzo writes about the use of license plate readers, which let police scan and record data on an entire parking lot full of cars in moments.

    “Some people are worried that, if the data is stored and analyzed, someone could use it to learn if citizens are attending an AA meeting or political protests.”


    I suppose it could also be used to verify if court mandated people are going to meetings. I have heard stories about probation officers sitting outside meetings to see if paroles show up like they are supposed to.

  • Here’s a fairly new, week old blog thread on anonymity with an interesting question:

    “If you are a cop and you go to an AA meeting or a support group for people who are mentally ill or have some other illness and some one in the group says they use drugs, robbed a bank, murdered someone or did something else illegal, you are supposed to keep every thing in a meeting like that completely confidential. However, if they did something illegal and you are a police officer or an FBI agent or something, what can and would you do? What could you do legally do in this case?”


  • Lucy

    AA believes that a sober criminal is less likely to commit a crime than a drunk criminal is, and therefore should see AA as a place where he is subject to the same anonymity as a non-criminal is. Committing a crime is an outside issue.

    The problem is that their premise isn’t true. Sociopaths become better sociopaths when they have their wits about them.

  • raysny
  • gaytheist

    “Some people are worried that, if the data is stored and analyzed, someone could use it to learn if citizens are attending an AA meeting or political protests.”

    Hmm, that wouldn’t be my worry. My worry would be they would find an excuse to pull me over to see if I was drunk.

  • I was grabbed and AA members tried to throw me out of meeting after taking my cake for 36 years while discussing my pamphlet on Member Safety!
    leave a comment »

    Last night at a meeting in Westwood, across from UCLA is a large meeting of about 200. I went to take a cake and tell people about the current work I have been doing. Plant more seeds, Maybe save one life. Maybe stop one predator.

    Instead what I got was a nutjob secretary who grabbed my arm and told me to get out. They were yelling “This is an outside issue” We yelled back..”no it’s not”

    Perhaps the women in Arizona who has been calling me can attest to being atttack and harrased INSIDE A MEETING.

    Maybe the man who’s throat was slit can attest to having being attacked IN A MEETING…another safety issue.

    Maybe the woman from the Marina Center who was sexually harassed can attest to the fact she was harassed IN A MEETING.

    Maybe This NY Times reporter could attend this crazy meeting place.

  • massive, you should dedicate part of your next radio show to talking about this experience.

  • ftg- yea, good Idea. Stanton Peel is on but maybe I’ll have a an added show this week to discuss. I just called the church where it happened to make a formal complaint against the meeting.

  • I know it’s a touchy subject, but have the AA members tried to make her analyze her actions yet and get her to blame it on herself?

  • humanspirit

    JRH – I loved this reply on the thread you linked to about what police officers, etc. should do if anyone talked about illegal activities, such as taking drugs, in one of their “shares”:

    “Wigwammy says:
    May 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Report it. Then they’ll be able to make amends by doing prison time. After all…making amends is one of the 12 steps. If they’re not taking responsibility for their past actions, they are not sober. Secrets keep you sick. ”

    One of our main concerns on this blog is that serious psychopathic criminals are sent to AA and protected by their anonymity. It’s funny to think that there may be anonymous cops in AA meetings too, though, who might report anything that’s said there . . . How would a stepper cop approach this? Tell the drug-taker (or whatever) that he would arrest him and read him his rights but this is all in the interests of helping him achieve his ninth step?

  • Lucy

    Massive – Anything that threatens the “leaders” of the meetings becomes an outside issue. iit always has to do with members trying to find a way to help the group take responsibility and involves a responsible person complaining about second hand smoke, meeting attenders doing things that would make the group lose its lease (panhandling in the parking lot, throwing trash and butts on the neighbors’ property, taking up parking spaces marked for business, drug dealing IN the meeting, etc,), having mechanics shoot off their mouths to the mentally ill about how they don’t really need psychiatric medications, making fun of treatment center graduates, making fun of other ways to get sober, etc.

    They don’t want to take responsibilty for their actions, and it is their actions which bring predators into meetings. They go to the jails and the courts and the prisons, promising a solution and then say, gosh. we didn’t have anything to do with bringing them here.