Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Over at the Sober Recovery Forum

What happens when there is dissension in the AA ranks? It depends on the platform. In real life, anyone questioning any part of the program will be derided. On an internet forum run by 12-steppers, they get censored. Even if it is not their AA section.

A few days ago, we were directed to a thread that was started at the Sober Recovery forum titled “The Concept of Powerlessness.” As is most often the case in these discussions about ‘Big Book’ scripture, it devolved into a circle-jerk of pseudo-intellectual mental contortion and philosophizing. I find it difficult to make it through more than three or four posts before my reading voice morphs into the “wah wah wah” of the teacher’s voice in Charlie Brown.

This time, I paid closer attention to the conversation, because a rare voice of trenchancy – “John Barleycorn” – jumped into the conversation. Knowing this was would go over like lead balloon, and knowing the AAs moderating the Sober Recovery forum would delete any challenge to the dogma quicker than one can say “rigorous honesty,” we took a screen shot. Click on the image below to enlarge:

It was followed up with this, which has yet to be deleted, but I’ll go ahead and include it here because I suspect it will be. It’s just makes too much sense:

One problem with using examples from internet forums is, AAs tend to couch their language more than they do one on one or within the confines of a group. What John Barleycorn is asking for is an alternative to tell a person who repeatedly fails. Something beyond a slogan. The answer, of course, is that the program cannot fail. It can only be failed. The onus, and the fault, is always on the individual. Always. It says it right there… in the ‘Big Book’.

It’s almost unfair to ask this of a group that is currently under the AA spell. They’ve been conditioned, and have no point of reference other than the insular world of AA. To a worm in a horseradish, the world is a horseradish.

UPDATE:

Jonny Quest, aka “John Barleycorn,” advised us SR deleted another post that would dare to criticize AA. Here it is:

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    I especially like the post of 05-07-2011, 06:14 PM from CarolD the forum leader:

    “Post have been removed that bashed AA groups and the program.
    others that quoted them are also gone.
    Please respect others and stop the derogatory posting.”

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism/226439-concept-powerlessness-2.html#post2960675

  • AllyB

    Just remember the “experts, highly trained, qualified and licensed in the field of alchohol and addiction treatment, as well as in the management of on-line forums” only draw such a hard line when “some amateur has gotten a big head and is interfering in the work that is being done by people who actually know what they are doing” as while the doubters are “spouting steam and causing a ruckus there are several women being abused by their husbands who are _not_ getting my attention because I am busy putting out temper tantrums on this thread.”

    All quotes taken from DesertEyes aka Mike the Moderator.
    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/friends-family-alcoholics/213353-have-you-read-aa-big-book.html#post2767454

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    You missed the best part of the quote from DesertEyes where he brags about how they bait thier prey (The alcoholic:)

    “That’s the difference between amateurs who think they know all about this disease and professionals who have been educated in the different stages of recovery and how to bait, cajole, feed, shove and rejoice with an alkie who actually becomes a healthy, productive person. ”

    So professionals are educated on how to BAIT, CAJOLE, FEED and SHOVE thier victims? That sure sounds like a confession to me……………….. spoken like a true Wilsonite.

  • Pogue Mahone

    Ah yes the serenity tape..I still have to wear it sometimes in order not to offend and cause a ruckus. I respect others believes but did they respect mine when they were kicking around my brains with their guilt tripping horseshit? Was it nice to have poor pogue freaking out about being on the street again because i resisted the “suggestions(stepshit) of a stepper who had authority over me and my well being in her hands? Bastards!

  • Pogue Mahone

    I think I have a resentment. ;-)

  • Mona Lisa

    Actually there were several voices of relative sanity on that thread. They were getting drowned out by steppers, of course, but they were still making sense in their own way.

    Oh, I noticed that John Barleycorn left the SR fold. It appears he’d had enough of the nonsense.

  • SoberPJ

    I wonder if people “mature out” of AA? Much like those that quit drinking or using on their own, the concept of maturing out of AA might apply. I can say that is what happened to me. Some may call it waking up, but isn’t that what maturing out is all about? You simply become aware of the absurdity of your behavior and environment and decide to change? And then you change.

  • flannigan

    Asking for an “alternative” to AA is giving AA validity as a treatment program for the disease of alcoholism. Faith-healing is not a valid, effective treatment of any disease that I know of. The ONLY “treatment” of negative behaviour is to STOP DOING IT. And, if I may ask, when did behaviour become a disease? When did individual responsibility for one’s behaviour become outdated?

  • http://www.stinkin-thinkin.com friendthegirl

    @PJ, I think that’s an excellent way to put it. Maturing out is when what’s important to you in life is just incompatible with self-destructive behavior. I think that Standancer’s story is a great example of how that happens.

    @flannigan, AA (well, Marty Mann — same thing) went on a campaign to have alcoholism classified as a disease in order to lift the moral stigma — make people feel more compassionate toward alcoholics and encourage alcoholics not to be ashamed to seek help (through AA).

    A recent study shows that the disease model has had no impact whatever. People still shun addicts.

  • Jonny Quest

    Apparently, someone considers this a “Best of SR” thread:

    Nice thread, thanx crew, kjell, backtosquareone and everyone… I vote this goes in the “best of sr” section.

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism/226439-concept-powerlessness-5.html#post2963882

    The posts really started to get deleted when I posted this (as JohnBarleycorn):

    I know that some people may think that I exaggerate, but I generally do not. In fact, I haven’t even broached some of the more egregious things I have seen. For a prime example of a group gone completely astray, the AA Midtown Group was/is one of the largest, if not the largest group, operating in my home state.

    The Washington Post even ran an article on them three years ago:

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/07/midtown_group_aa_group_leads_m.html

    http://www.newsweek.com/2007/05/06/a-struggle-inside-aa.html

    There was another post which was considered “AA bashing” – they deleted it. I didn’t save it, unfortunately, but some of it is still quoted in a response by susanlauren:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism/226439-concept-powerlessness-2.html#post2959887

    I responded to her here:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism/226439-concept-powerlessness-2.html#post2959998

    Yes, I have left Sober Recovery. The moderators would delete anything that “bashes” AA (in their opinion).

    This includes anything that might sow dissent among the ranks of AA, such as mention of “Primary Purpose” and “Back To Basics” AA (aka “real AA”), how most groups ignore the traditions, such as with “Court Slip Signing” etc.

    They also have an unwritten ban on any material by Rational Recovery, Jack Trimpey, links to Rational Recovery, or even a summary of how AVRT works. They will send private messages to the “offenders” explaining this “policy” (which is not stated anywhere).

    I received an even more ridiculous message than the ones I will post here, from the head administrator once, in which I was told that they “had problems” with Rational Recovery and Jack Trimpey himself. I contacted Jack Trimpey to ask him about these past problems, and he assured me that he has never been on Sober Recovery, ever. Unfortunately I do not have this post from the admin.

    Anyway, here are two such messages, which should give you all an idea:

    Msg 1: (Note how they *acknowledge* that nothing I posted was “AA bashing”)

    “John…. I removed your post concerning Rational Recovery. The anti AA stance from that group is well known…any material of theirs is not appropiate on SR. Yes I know the snips you had were not about AA bashing..however….we still do
    not allow their approach to be discussed.”

    Msg 2:

    They don’t even allow links to Rational Recovery, usually using as justification that it is a commercial site. After I pointed out that Stanton Peele, whose (commercial) web site is linked to via SR, is definitely anti AA, and bashes AA, and provided a link to his Introduction to “AA: Cult or Cure”, on his web site, I got this response:

    “Yes John I am aware and that is one of the reasons our Secular Connections
    was put in place. Members can discuss other POV’s not AA…….as long as there is no bashing.

    The sole exception is Rational Recovery. They and their materials are not allowed. Over the almost 9 years I’ve been a member here….RR follwers have come to disrupt our forums .bash and ridicule

    Therfore. you may notice a few memers mention RR but do not expound on their approach. SMART recovery branched out of RR use the same type of program and you may share about that.”

    So, commercial web sites that “bash” AA are not allowed, but commercial web sites from Stanton Peele are allowed. Makes perfect sense.

    Note that the *ACTUAL* policy of the “secular forum” is that 12-Step programs cannot be discussed AT ALL. They will move any threads mentioning AA or 12 Step programs to the “Secular 12 Step Forum” where only “positive” (serene) discussion of the 12-Steps can occur.

    Example: This thread was originally posted in the “Secular Connections” forum, but it was moved to the “Secular 12-Step” forum. Not the admin cites the REAL rule (no AA, no 12-step) when he says “…due to the rules of this particular forum [secular connections], I’m moving this to our secular 12 step forum.” (where the offending party can be softened up by “secular” 12- steppers)

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/secular-12-step-recovery/226311-scared-aa-members.html#post2962906

    I’m not going back to that “AA troll hole” (as Charlie Sheen would say).

    Speaking of which, I once posted on fourth or fifth “Charlie Bashing” thread, in which the moderator even joined in. As soon as I posted something “pro-Charlie” the thread was CLOSED.

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism/222711-right-now-charlie-sheens-latest-interview-tlc.html#post2905317

  • Jonny Quest

    AllyB:

    The psychological and emotional abuse that goes on in the “Friends and Family” forum over there is reprehensible beyond words. Any newcomer (spouse/son/daughter/etc) who posts on another forum is told to go to the “F&F” forum, where they are, of course, repeatedly told that they need to go to Al-Anon meetings and work on their own recovery.

    One of the reasons that I stayed on SR for so long was that I was helping some people. Many sent me private thank you messages for my posts. Most of those who I sent private messages to did as well. Of course, many of those who I directed elsewhere moved on and left SR.

    I’ve gotten a few of the (F&F) members out of there before they where “done in” by the group, but I remember one wife in particular, who posted asking what was wrong with AA and what it had done to her husband:

    I didn’t get to her before she was told she needed to go to Al-Anon and that her husband “needs his brain washed at AA”:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism-12-step-support/222710-does-aa-brainwash.html

  • MA

    Hi, Jonny. We actually took a screen shot of that deleted post. I just included it at the bottom of this post.

  • Pogue Mahone

    susanlauren is what I like to call classic AA. Another example I will use to inform the un-informed about the narrow-mindedness of 12 steppers.

  • Jonny Quest

    Pogue Mahone:
    susanlauren has been in “mainstream” AA for a long time, but has recently embraced “powerlessness” unconditionally, and has discovered “real AA” – Primary Purpose groups. She hasn’t had her “spiritual awakening” yet – she’s still working on the steps in her new “real AA” group. Once she has her spiritual awakening, though, or pretends that she has, I suspect that her posts will become quite a treasure trove.

  • Pogue Mahone

    Jonny Quest,
    I did a quick google on her and found this link..must be the same person? I also just posted this in the neverending thread..sorry for the re- post. This opens up the topic of moderation and though I will never attempt to drink again but I did take nyquil now and then for sleep but only doubled the dose (I dont do this anymore). I still take a low dose of klonopin once in a blue moon..I am sober almost 3 years now.

    http://www.recoveryrealm.com/Forums/tabid/126/forumid/6/postid/10161/view/topic/Default.aspx

  • Jonny Quest

    Pogue Mahone: I suspect it is the same person. She has over three years “sobriety” which coincides with the sobriety date mentioned in that thread. Interesting thing about her is that she will concede that she has gotten worse over the years, in spite of being in AA, with the exception of her current three years sober (two of which she did on her own).

    She apparently still feels powerless, though, and is hoping that “real AA” will be her salvation, and that the desire to drink will be lifted.

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/newcomers-recovery/225851-what-truth-what-not.html

    For her sake, I really do hope so. I tried pointing out to her that it was probably *because* of AA that she still feels powerless, even after three years off the drink, but she didn’t like that suggestion.

    I finally told her that she’ll have her answer once she finishes the steps with her new group – either it will “work” or it won’t, and she will probably get worse if she doesn’t discard the “wisdom” she picked up in the rooms over the years.

    It is almost sad, in a way. AA has obviously failed her thus far, but she is still hell bent on defending it.

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    Unfortunately the steppers are becoming extremely computer literate and using it to spread the Bill Wilson faith through corporate AA. If they wish to run a forum that is only pro Bill Wilson Spiritual awakening, they should be made to put that disclaimer plainly viewable when first logging in or viewing the site. Since they delete at will, any anti Bill Wilson posts, people get the impression that Bill Wilson is the only way to go. They are skewing the facts.

  • Jonny Quest

    JR Harris:

    It is far worse over there than just skewing the facts. Every single newcomer, regardless of which forum they post in – 12-Step or not – is told by 20 anonymous wise people to go to AA, even if they specifically state that they do not want to go to AA, or are afraid to go to AA, or have already been to AA.

    If they say they are afraid to go speak at a public group, they are told by others how they, too, where afraid to go to AA, until they finally listened to all the wise people on Sober Recovery telling them to go. They then tell the newcomer how much they now love AA and are glad that they listened to all those anonymous gurus.

    If they say they are atheist and cannot accept a higher power, or have some other religion which conflicts with AA, they will be told by others that AA is “spiritual, not religious” and that they “know plenty of atheists in AA” and that AA is for everyone.

    If someone posts “DO NOT GO TO AA” – BAM! – the post is deleted, and the offending party gets a warning from the mods.

    See for example, this thread, which, naturally, was locked because I questioned the dogma, but not before deleting some of my better posts:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/newcomers-recovery/225173-what-deal-mention-god-steps.html

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    Everyone loves to play the “Spiritual, not Religious” card. I’ll bet the really good posts proving it wrong get quickly deleted.

  • Jonny Quest

    For an example of what happens over there when a newcomer says that they are afraid to go to AA, see this thread:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/newcomers-recovery/221718-one-week-still-deciding-aa.html

    A young woman posted that she was very afraid to go to AA alone, and I suggested that she strongly consider going with someone she trusts. Like bees coming out to defend the hive, the steppers tried to blast me to the hereafter.

  • Pogue Mahone

    I remember how difficult it was for me when I was true believer and trying to explain the spritual stuff..I remember how I felt uncomfertable for the new comer as they frowned on all this “spiritual” stuff. AA thinks they are about attraction but they turn away so many with their religion.

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    Jonny – Well that thread wasn’t too bad, Steppers just don’t know any better and recite the slogans and quotes they have been forced to remember through repetition. What does bother me is that posts warning of the real dangers are moderated out of the forum.

    Because of the big push on Anonymity, people just do not hear what really happens in these anonymous meetings. This is wrong, because it gives a false sense of security. People may wonder why I point my server at finding and exposing these deeds. The reason is simple, the stories need to be told out in the open to cause change. If they are not told out in the open, nothing will change and they will continue to happen.

    Many of the real dangers of AA are covered up, when forum moderators delete posts. Pressure from corporate AA attempts to have these deeds covered up in the press and as I am sure you already know, many of these stories are quickly pulled.

    I am sure that the majority of the Serenity hornets that post on these sites believe what they say is true. That is because they are either covering up the things that they see that are wrong, or they are just repeating what they read after the true dangers have been moderated out. The truth needs to be heard and sites like this are doing a great service to humanity, because they are allowing the truth to be told.

  • Jonny Quest

    JR Harris: You won’t find many threads on SR that are “too bad” – they delete anything that is. I had a classic post saying that to tell atheists and those who believe that G-d gave them free will, and that G-d is not going to control their facial muscles to prevent drinking, that “AA Works! It really does!” is like telling Atheist, Jewish, and Christian “alcoholics” that “Islam works! It really does!” and that it is just as disrespectful to do so.

    I pointed out that Islam, at least by numbers, may historically have the best track record of any religion or “program” in curbing alcoholism, thanks to Islam’s clear prohibition on consumption, production, and sale of alcohol 1400 years ago, but that I would never disrespect someone’s existing religious beliefs by suggesting they convert to Islam to cure their alcohol dependence.

    The post was deleted.

  • Jonny Quest

    Pogue Mahone – I don’t mind AA turning people away. That is one thing I agree on with the “real AA” crowd. They (usually) don’t want “non-real-alcoholics” like DUI offenders in AA, although many still support court-mandated attendance.

    The problem is not the “serenity hornets” on these sites – I can deal with them very easily, since I know the “Big Book” and “12×12″ and other literature better than most of them. The problem is that the moderators are two-hatters, and do not allow anyone to counter the serenity hornets, calling it “program bashing.”

    They’ll allow all sorts of religion “bashing” though – against atheists and believers alike – it’s perfectly OK to disrespect other people’s religious beliefs by suggesting that they sign up for the Gnostic heresy that is AA, and that their own religion is insufficient or inadequate, and that prior to AA, people “had not even pray rightly.”

  • SoberPJ

    The Islamic one step program is far more successful than the 12 Step Buchmanite, Judeo Christian program. However, that is simply too large an issue for an American AA, trained forum moderator to handle. They would actually have to think and that is not allowed. It is much easier for moderators to delete rather than think. According to the WHO, 50% of the worlds population does not drink. The majority of those are Muslims, so I guess Islam does work as an alcohol abstinence program.

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    That is why this site is so crucial to providing a checks and balance system to the current addiction industry. I have nothing against anyone when they tell a story that is obviously true, when it is obviously false that is when urban legends are born.

    Steppers do not realize they are doing it. AA encourages the embellishing of stories and urban legends toward increasing the membership (I know they tell you they don’t, but then tell you to go our and find prospects). Anything that is derogatory is deleted from sight and memory very quickly.

    The internet is being used as a tool by the addiction industry to market extremely expensive treatment, with very low overhead. When you do a search on recovery, alcoholism, etc….. you are drawn to sites like sober recovery, and read only the good things about AA. Hopefully this site and others will make a change and the search engines will find them also and eliminate the problems in the AA addiction model.

  • Pogue Mahone

    Jonny Quest,
    Yes it is good they turn away from AA and go elsewhere. But they always talk about “helping” the suffering alcoholic but it has all these conditions and step strings attatched. So their real concerne is conforming to the AA church and promoting it rather then actually helping people. They are unwilling to look at how “dishonest AA is as a whole. And I do have some understanding of that because I was a stepper. I referred to myself before as a true beliver however I think I was much more a moderate lol…maybe I’m rationalizing again lol.

  • Jonny Quest

    JR Harris:
    You are correct in that the Internet is being used as a tool by the industry. Judging from any Google search on “recovery” or “addiction,” I am sure that they are paying Google to get their sites listed higher up in the search results.

    I don’t know how all of these people find Sober Recovery, but I do know that I found it very easily on a Google Search. I also know from others who I talked to that were signing in from rehab that Sober Recovery was the *only* site that they were allowed to go to.

  • AllyB

    @ Johnny Quest. “I didn’t get to her before she was told she needed to go to Al-Anon and that her husband “needs his brain washed at AA”:

    http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/alcoholism-12-step-support/222710-does-aa-brainwash.html

    OMG, that thread is absolutely foul. I’m very glad I completely missed that one. And sadly, variations of that woman’s story are so common when one spouse gets taken in by the 12 steps. It’s not too dissimilar to Sugomom’s (a poster here). The poor woman is clearly hurting an awful lot and all she got was nastiness from those horrible, messed-up people. Strangely enough she hasn’t been on SR since.

    I also loved this gem from one of the AA’s about amends. Which the OP commented sounded selfish, so her thread got locked.

    “What may not be clear to you yet is the amends step is not there for the benefit of you, or your parents or your children, or anyone else he may have harmed. Those we make our amends to often do benefit when we clear our side of the street, but the step benefits your husband most of all because they are part of what will keep him sober for his lifetime.

    After he completes the amends he decides to do he will be free and feel amazingly good. They produce the biggest charge or high ever. He’ll be floating on air and never want to come down.

    Many don’t get to the serious amends right away, it may take 3-7 years for him to get around to his family. And it seems you have some expectations that they are involved or lengthy. Usually they only take 5 minutes more or less, then he’ll be done.”

  • SoberPJ

    “He’ll be floating on air and never want to come down” That certainly wasn’t my experience and I’m quite confident the guy who got convicted for the rape he tried to crudely make amends for wouldn’t characterize it that way. There was always a difficult period prior to the actual event and relief that when it was over, but that is the exact same feeling I get when I do my taxes, or fix the washing machine or complete anything that looks difficult and then I do it. Making amends has nothing to do with not drinking, but everything to do with religious conversion.

  • Jonny Quest

    I do regret that I won’t be around to give some people more sound advice – I did manage to get to quite a few – but I had to get out of there. There was just too much institutionalized degeneracy and depravity. It was starting to affect my mental health.

    I think one of Jack Trimpey’s comments on Usenet (newsgroup) support groups could easily be applied to the SR forum:


    “I look into the Usenet groups from time to time, and it appears the participants aren’t really interested in learning anything, but use the discussions for petty gossip and juvenile outbursts against others. Everybody there pretends to be an expert on addictions, but none of them can explain how to quit an addiction, except for a few who have been to this website. Worse, none of them are interested in how to quit drinking or using; they talk about all kinds of irrelevant stuff, especially pop-psychology and bio-babble about addictive disease. It’s hardly a place to find people who are serious about quitting their addictions, or to find people who know what they’re talking about. For someone trying to withdraw from A.A., Usenet is one of the worst places to check in, because one will invariably be accosted by little shrinks who found a way to be a therapist without going to college, or by A.A. missionaries with a 12-track mind.” — Jack Trimpey

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    OMG the Sober Recovery forum is so funny. They start a discussion on “Does AA brainwash?” then every on says no, you just need to tell them to go to Alanon and they will realize they are not being brainwashed. Then they delete any of the comments telling the truth.

    So let me see if I get this right:

    No, AA isn’t trying to brainwash you into the 12 Steps. To prove it, go over to Alanon and have them brainwash you into the 12 Steps. Then come back. Repeat as necessary.

  • tintop

    Trimpey is right. Which is the problem that SR has with him.

    It is OK to make use of places such as SR for a limited time and for a limited purpose. As long as you know your purpose and act to accomplish that purpose. Places such as SR are quite limited in their capabilities; which are much less than they think that that they are.

  • MikeAugustine

    SR is the digital version of the 8th grade cafeteria. Insecure, socially immature people trying to make a name for themselves.

  • SuperC

    I have been hanging around SR for close to a year now. When I first got there I thought I found a support group that was just to help me learn more about alcoholism. I had attended AA in the past, (because I was forced to), before I had a major problem with alcohol, and I realized that the 12 Step model would never work for me because in my mind it was a farce.

    Yes I did get accosted by AA members telling me to give it another try, and it’s not religious etc. I told them no thank you and stuck around the board and read and learned some new ideas regarding getting off alcohol, and although there is alot of AA preaching going on, I was able to use the SR Forum as a tool to get off alcohol by myself.

    So I do agree that it is an AA bredding ground, there are other messages being sent as well that are positive and did help me. The other way it has helped me is it gives me a forum to go and read and converse about alcoholism on a daily basis, which basically keeps my mind on quitting drinking., which I have been successful at. It basically paved the way for me to find a workable solution of my own to quit drinking. And believe it or not their are alot of people in that forum that think alot like me and Johnbarleycorn.

  • AllyB

    SuperC, have you ever tried the MyWayOut forums? There are a good few AAs but most posters appear to reject the 12 Step model. The general jist of the forum is using whatever works for you to get you sober (or moderating – there are boards for people aiming for either).

  • Jonny Quest

    SuperC: “And believe it or not their are alot of people in that forum that think alot like me and Johnbarleycorn.”

    You are right, there are non-AA people on SoberRecovery – many of these people contacted me privately to thank me for my posts.

    However, the moderators don’t allow anything that makes AA look remotely bad, even if it is true. They considered it “program bashing.”

    They have the same moderator who runs the 12-Step forum moderating the “Alcoholism” forum and the “newcomers” forum, so the 12-Step AA members have a “protected” forum, where they are safe to say the most outrageous things, but no one can question them.

    Meanwhile, these same AA members are allowed to go to the other forums, including the “Alcoholism” and “newcomers” forum, and talk about powerlessness, spiritual awakenings, surrender, the steps, and to tell every single newcomer that they should go to AA.

    Even if someone posted that they’ve been in AA for years and were still relapsing, the serenity hornets would come out of their forum and tell the newcomers to find a new meeting, get a new sponsor, or to fully accept Step 1.

    At the same time, people who do not work 12-Step programs are told to go to the “secular” forum (why is it called “secular” if AA is not “religious”), where members are *NOT* allowed to discuss 12-Step programs AT ALL.

    Then there is the unwritten, but nevertheless official ban on discussing Rational Recovery or AVRT, which is, as far as I know, the only organization that provides direct instruction on how to quit and stay quit.

    Posts of mine were deleted even if they did not mention AA at all, but mentioned RR in too much detail, as occurred once when I corrected someone’s inaccurate description about the nature of AVRT.

    The “chat room” is even worse. There is a separate Step Chat room, but nobody uses it. All of the 12-Step proselytizers are on the main chat room, where all the newcomers first sign in, trying to get them to go to AA, get a sponsor, and work a good program.

    If you try and tell the newcomer not to go to AA or Al-Anon, you will be warned. Even “private” messages in chat are logged and reviewed, and I have been warned about those as well.

    I am mindful that it is probably difficult for the moderators to keep the peace on there, but it became entirely too draining to filter my posts.

    It was quite obvious that the balance is tilted heavily towards 12-Step programs, with a big graphic of the 12 Steps at the top of every forum page.

    I am not going back there.

  • SuperC

    I don’t really go there for support anymore. I beat my problem, and I like to post some rational thoughts on the forum when the BB thumpers are in full force. There is a clique of 5-10 posters, (maybe more), who use the forum as a place to discuss “secular recovery”, and health and fitness, and other issues. I also enjoy going there because it has worked as a deterent for me in some regards to prove the BB BS wrong and stick around to remind them that I am stili here, sober and happy…..and like Sinatra sang “I did it my way”. Also although I am not a expert in recovery, I am an expert on what I did, and I have been able to help and handful of other people who contacted me by PM who wanted to try it my way. So you could say I am mentoring a few people on the forum I guess.

    I do miss Johnbarleycorn though because you were able to talk the talk, and beat them with it. I think I also stick around because I like to present ideas that go against what they are preaching yet I do it in a manner where they can’t ban me or delete the post. I guess I get a kick out of flying under the radar, and at the same time it keeps the forum interesting for me.

  • Jonny Quest

    @SuperC:

    BTW, I’m glad to see you are here – I was wondering if you would see this thread. Like you, I wasn’t really there for “support” anymore, but I stayed because every time I wanted to leave, another person would contact me saying thank you or ask me for help. They seemed to be able to discern from my posts that I wasn’t toeing the party line.

    They didn’t delete many of my posts by the end – I got very good at walking a fine line after a while. It was “interesting” as you say, but it was just starting to affect my mental health, so to speak.

    What really made me decide to leave was this post by keithj which was a response to my brining up court-mandated AA in this post.

    I was not upset by his remark: “John, aren’t you part of the problem of which you speak? Somebody attending meetings who is not motivated to do what we have done?”

    However, my response to him – in which I said “Keith, I’m sure you absolutely love all that extra foot traffic from those who are forced to attend by court orders, which are backed by guns. As for telling me I’m not motivated, that’s rather like telling a convict that he is part of the prison overpopulation problem because he is not motivated enough to escape, is it not?” – was deleted, and I got a warning from the moderator saying “that was rude, and as you know, John, court mandated attendance is a matter for individual group conscience.”

    This is the excuse AA members always use to conveniently violate AA’s Sixth Tradition, which states, “While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.”

    When a moderator is deleting posts because she has an opinion on AA, which many others, even in AA, disagree with, something is wrong. It came down to either telling her I was going to let that go, or telling her what I really thought of such behavior.

    I had been contemplating leaving SR for a few weeks prior, since I was reaching my self-imposed limit on SR attendance. I finally concluded that I didn’t need support from SR, or anyone, for that matter, to stay sober, and that staying would be reneging on a decision I had made.

    I do, however, regret that I won’t be able to help more people on there, but I cannot “save” everyone. The Internet is a vast resource, and people can look for alternatives if they choose to search for them. The people in “the rooms” are actually far more vulnerable in that respect.

    That said, I will miss some of your posts, though. I hope all is well with you, friend.

  • Jonny Quest

    Interestingly, I see that they are still trying to put down my remarks on that thread, even now that I left.

    Response from yesterday.

    John has his thoughts and he is entitled to them. I just wish he would understand that he tries to place AA in a no win situation by quoting half the phrase, sentence or paragraph and also manipulating the intended meaning of the writing. I don’t believe he is malicious by no means but I can witness he has reservations about AA (which is fine, I have mine just be honest about them).

    This is a prime example of what selective deletion of posts causes on that forum. This individual would not be able to even remotely suggest that I was not “being honest” if the moderators had left my post with links to the articles about the Midtown Group, which had a presence in my home state.

    Washington Post: AA Group Leads Members Away from Traditions

    Newsweek: A Struggle Inside AA

  • DeConstructor

    Hey Jonny-

    The way I see it, these people take any ANY criticism of AA as a direct attack on their religion.

    I do think the word ‘denial’ is soooo overused in the recovery world, however it is the right word about AAers disclaiming their organization is a religion. As Agent Orange has stated AA is a religion in denial.

    This is why they are so overly protective of their program, and because they cannot make documented claims of their ‘rarely have we seen a person fail’ claims, or for that matter really make ANY rational claim of nonanecdotal success rates, they stoop to biting personal slurs. Usually it involves the words ‘denial’, ‘dry drunk’, and ‘resentment’

  • Jonny Quest

    Although CarolD is a true believer, I do give credit where credit is due. I have to give her props for some of her thoughts on this very recent, still-active thread on 13th Stepping, in spite of some of the ridiculous posts made by others regarding the matter.

    CarolD:

    How do the AA groups I know handle 13th Steppers?

    If the predator is a man hitting on women…more often the case in my observation….we women warn the woman…sit around her will walk outside to make sure she’s in her car..locked in and moving.

    I’ve also pointed out the unacceptable behavior to our elder men….they talk to the jerk. A few times this led to punches in the parking lot…no police were informed.

    About the women who 13 Step….I ask them out for coffee and tell them to knock it off. Most do when confronted.

    When someone said that it was “rather sanctimonious to refer to the sick as jerks,” she responded with:

    CarolD:
    I repeat….13th Steppers are slime balls…predators and jerks… I have seen some change in recovery…you are correct …then they stop the sicko actions.

    She does have her good qualities.

  • AnnaZed

    Johnny, I am unimpressed by CarolID. I have heard this version of we police ourselves about a thousand times and guess what; it’s bullshit, they don’t.

    13-stepping in AA is a completely accepted and established part of AA. Most women in AA do absolutely nothing to interfere with the men with time™ in AA doing whatever they feel like doing and on the rare occasions that they do they go for slut-shaming tactics and manipulating the woman, not the man. The cougaring of young men is accepted as well. I have never seen so many late middle aged females with younger men as boyfriends as I saw in AA. It’s very, very common. At gay men friendly meeting (like Silverlake NA meetings, Los Angeles) the predatory behavior is blatant as well.

    The absurd thing is that even if what CarolID said were true (which it categorically is not) it would be absurd. The idea that the well intentioned busy-bodies can be all-seeing, be everywhere all of the time and somehow intercede when vulnerable people who have been told to trust AA members are manipulated and preyed upon is ridiculous and impossible.

    13-stepping and other predatory behaviors (like financial scams) are built into the very structure and ethos of AA, nothing can change this fact. As long as people (often clinically mentally ill people) at vulnerable crisis points in their lives are placed in situations where unlicensed, untrained and unaccountable people are put in control of them then predation will occur. Predation is bad enough amongst medical professionals and their employees, in a room full of ex-cons and practiced manipulators practicing a religion that literally mandates lying as a component of its practice; predation (sexual and financial) is going to flourish.

  • Jonny Quest

    @AnnaZed:

    I do understand, as I have seen the things that you describe. I did notice that she said “no police were informed” – it seems that true believers can only go so far.

    Ideally, the meeting should start with the chairperson saying “before we begin, please know that any and all sexual harassment witnessed in the room or outside will be reported to the police.”

    Having gone to GLBT meetings myself, I can attest to the predatory behavior there as well. I’ve had men double my age try that stuff, but in the rooms I would wear steel toe Dock Marten boots and carry a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife with a 7-inch blade, so I just told them to lose the grin and keep walking or else.

  • Jonny Quest

    I should clarify that I *WAS NOT* one of the predators… I just did not trust anyone in those rooms… better safe than sorry, if you know what I mean.

  • MikeAugustine

    @Johnny, I don’t think carrying a weapon is the way to handle such things. Why not just avoid the meeting?

  • mikeblamedenial

    Pretending that AA has any sway over the sexual behaviours of consenting adults is akin to pretending that it has any sway over their drinking behaviours. Does its very essence lend itself to predations and outrages? Of course. Will any amount of hectoring, discussion or disclosure change that lack of governance over human propensities? No. Alpha walruses do what they do, as do the hand-wringers. Wilson called them elder statesmen and bleeding deacons.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Jonny sez “I ’ve had men double my age try that stuff, but in the rooms I would wear steel toe Dock Marten boots and carry a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife with a 7-inch blade, so I just told them to lose the grin and keep walking or else.”

    For some of the guys I have met in AA, that would only serve as a turn-on.

  • Mona Lisa

    No Mike, AA doesn’t have any sway over anything, you’re right. But they also pretend that the groups are benign and safe, when they are not. 13th stepping is rampant, yet they’ll claim–right in the middle of people telling how they’ve all experienced or seen it–that it’s rare or is effectively dealt with by benevolent oldtimers.

    I know that they can’t and won’t do anything about it but it would be nice if they quit lying.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Seriously, if you were to reach for that dagger in a potentially-threatening manner, you are most likely bought and paid for in a use-of-deadly-force determination.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Mona Lisa, AA pretends everything. It pretends it is safe, effective, non-religious, theraputic, well-adjusted, and helpful. It will quit lying only when it quits breathing.

  • http://anonymousjr.keepandshare.com JR Harris

    Actually the best defense to any use-of-deadly-force confrontation is to avoid it if possible. Things like this do happen everywhere like in malls and grocery stores, but I believe it is much less prevalent in them because people tend to stay away from areas where this happens because they are publicized in the paper. AA tries to cover that up news articles so people do not know. I have been covering some of these incidents in the “Keep Coming Back!” tab at the top of this blog.

    If you look at that tab you will find that in the last few years people have been shot and killed by Steppers in self defense at AA meetings. Two cases come to mind where the Steppers though it necessary to carry a loaded gun to the meeting for protection. Within the last month or so a Chairperson at an AA meeting had his throat slashed, a gun was also involved, but not used. How many of these incidents happen that we don’t hear about because of the AA policy of staying out of the press that many newspapers follow?

  • MikeAugustine

    Many AA meetings, especially those in urban areas, are downright dangerous. A lot of them are court card oriented and also used by vagrants to beg. I avoided them in my later program years like the plague.

  • mikeblamedenial

    JR says “Actually the best defense to any use-of-deadly-force confrontation is to avoid it if possible.”

    Avoidance is a valid strategy, but not a defense. Defense occurs after that strategy has failed. I agree that an AA meeting is a bad place to avoid confrontations.

  • Jonny Quest

    @Johnny, I don’t think carrying a weapon is the way to handle such things. Why not just avoid the meeting?

    You are correct. I DO NOT advise this course of action for others.

    For some of the guys I have met in AA, that would only serve as a turn-on.

    True.

    Seriously, if you were to reach for that dagger in a potentially-threatening manner, you are most likely bought and paid for in a use-of-deadly-force determination.

    I don’t want to get into this too much, since this is not the purpose of this blog, and again, I do not recommend that people carry a knife. If you don’t know how to use it, and you pull it out on the wrong person, you can (probably will) get yourself killed.

    That said, in close quarters, there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. It takes a lot of practice, though – about 800 times, at least – for the “draw” to become etched in muscle memory and become second-nature, almost automatic.

    With some basic knowledge of human anatomy – where the major arteries are located – the “opponent” will not get a second chance. That knife in particular is not a toy – by design, its only practical application is combat.

  • Lucy

    MikeBlameDenial – The courts in the US put first time sex offenders and embezzlers who claim alcoholism as a defense into AA rather than jail. They also send people who have been to prison to AA as a part of their parole.

    Mental health facilities suggest AA as a part of aftercare after hospitalization for those who drink too much, and a great many therapists won’t see a drinking patient unless that patient goes to a 12 step program. Many of the patients have mental disabilities or illnesses which they drink to self-medicate, and would not be classified as alcoholic without AA.

    When I talk about predators and their victims, I am talking about these two very large segments of AA in the US. I am not talking about two people using each other sexually and then blaming each other for seduction.

  • Jonny Quest

    The question, of course, is why people even feel compelled to carry weapons for defense into a presumably “safe” environment (if one is to believe the propaganda).

    The answer, of course, is that the rooms are full of unsavory characters – ex cons, sex offenders, and various other sociopaths for whom alcohol was “but a symptom.”

    I noticed very early on that the more depraved people were, the more “cred” they had in the rooms. People would “share” about going to jail, and nobody would bat an eye, at least unless someone else had to “one up” that particular share with their own tale of degeneracy.

    This will certainly continue as long as the courts sending such types to the rooms of AA/NA, and with AA/NA welcoming them.

    My own personal opinion on this is that people with certain types of criminal offenses – violence, rape, etc – ie, not the drunk drivers – should not be mandated to go to just any AA meeting. If meeting attendance is a condition of their parole, they should be told which meeting to go to, where they will be with like company, and where everyone knows what the deal is.

  • Lucy

    JONNY- They have offender meetings in Texas but they are court run, and AA members asked that they have the option of attending regular meetings.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Lucy, I am all-too-aware of the shortcomings of the symbiotic relationship between AA, the courts, the parole system and the mental health community. When those shortcomings get lumped in with the normal behaviours of the species in the quest for some higher moral imperative, separating the two become impossible. The 12-step movement is rotten to the core, and trying to separate the peeing and non-peeing ends of its pool is an exercise in futility. The only solution is to stay out of the pool.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Jonny, in typical AA meetings around here, at least three people in attendance are CHP holders, and are carrying. I know this because they like to show people their permits, and their guns.

  • Jonny Quest

    mikeblamedenial says: “The 12-step movement is rotten to the core, and trying to separate the peeing and non-peeing ends of its pool is an exercise in futility. The only solution is to stay out of the pool.”

    Sadly, you are probably correct. This is the conclusion that Jack Trimpey reached – just stay away.

    “Recovery groups are bad company; they will pull you down to make sure your shadow does not eclipse their tiny accomplishments of refusing to drink for just one day, or confessing to every sin but drinking.”

    The best course of action is probably to starve it – cut off the flow of coerced members, and force it to be a voluntary organization. It will then become an ever more fundamentalist cult, with the “Back to Basics” and “Primary Purpose” groups taking over, and people will see it for what it really is.

  • Survived Dual Diagnosis

    You can’t tell the truth about psychiatry on SoberRecovery without getting banned .

    While posing as “authorities” on the mind and mental health, psychiatry
    has no scientific basis for any of its treatments or methods. Presented
    here http://www.cchr.org is specific evidence debunking several of the main claims and
    methods of this pseudo-science.