Why sw0rcery Left AA

sworcery just left a link to his “Why I Left AA” story in the comments. It’s an incredibly thoughtful piece, so I wanted to highlight it here. Go read it.

Hi everyone,

I left AA about 2 months ago. As to why… well, many reasons why! But I do feel much, much better now. I wrote a little essay (ok, a big one) about why I left. In the interest of preserving screen space on this blog, I instead included a link to the file. I hope you all find it enlightening and insightful. And I look forward to getting to know all of you better here on ST.




  • ez

    Interesting read sw0rcery, thanks.

  • Jonny Quest

    Sometimes the best way to win is not to play.

  • thanks sw)rcery. I agree with it all. ANd I read the whole essay too. I am so happy w connected on the phone on March and you & I have both left.

  • JD

    What a production number. It would be more concise to just say ‘I couldn’t manage to get it and after drinking I wanted to drink some more so I stopped attending AA.’

    Common as dirt.

  • hulahoop

    What a production number. It would be more concise to just say ‘I couldn’t manage to get it and after drinking I wanted to drink some more so I stopped attending AA.’

    Common as dirt

    Common stepper response. Blame the person, not the program. Besides, there are plenty of AA members who remain in the program while drinking. They just don’t mention it.

    Get it. What is there to get? What is the it?

  • DeConstructor

    Every person who has struggled with addiction should read that essay.

    JD you are still an asshole and I still do not want what you have………

  • I read through most of it. I find it interesting that it was written to those in AA. I find that understandable for someone who is “two months out of the program,” but I wouldn’t hold out any hope that EVEN ONE current AA member who reads it will have the same understanding you do. I’d be surprised if any contact from AA members had any other purpose than overtly or covertly trying to get you back to meetings.

    Am I cynical? Oh, hell yeah.

  • JD, I really thought that you may have changed your ways. I didn’t even say anything when you posted earlier today because you weren’t preaching. Can’t you just realize that the program doesn’t work for everyone? This obsession with constantly defending the words of the prophet Bill Wilson is not good for your mental health and could end up in jails, institutions or even death! Please try and control yourself. The Big Book said you are supposed to be going to hospitals or institutions, not the internet to find prospects. Can’t you find a drunk underneath your trailer or something to save? This internet stuff may be too much for you to handle 24/7.

  • JD

    JR, the deal with this poster is the usual, the daily fare. Nothing unusual or interesting. People blow in and out of AA with the regularity of a metronome. They become a blur that people pay little attention to. 2-3yr people with good ideas are a cliche. They are sure others will be interested in their fresh viewpoints.

    No one in AA takes them serious. Since this one is back on the sauce, there’s zero audience for them, so they take their amazing show here where few have a clue and they can outline their clone thinking, call it original and get the tuchis pats they crave.

    Another 2-3 months before the amounts creep up and this one is blotto most nights again. And fault will be assigned to AA for that, when this whole story start to finish is classic alcoholism, nothing more.

    If you could think up a way to assign AA the blame for the drinking that made this person come to AA in the first place you’d gleefully do that, truth be told.

    But, alcoholics drink and screw up enough to wind up making runs at AA, but no one cares what they think and their tender sensitivities get wounded time and again by the bad sober people who know the flakey ones like this drink again…and when they drink again the bad sober people are so mean for knowing they were flakey enough to drink again, and it makes people like this so mad that they leave and will control their drinking on their own, which they do for a little while which proves the bad sober people wrong and then they don’t which is entirely due to the mean things the bad sober people told them…

    Amazing as they follow the tired old rut that they don’t realize how boring they are. Newcomers are only interesting if they do the stuff to stay sober and their lives change.

    Squirrel cage dwellers like this are a dime a dozen. Care if you want to care, I don’t in the least. Too predictable.

  • So I take that since he found something that works for him, you have decided to tell him that it doesn’t?

    Keeping that comment to yourself would be fine. Unfortunately the Big Book teaches members of the Bill Wilson faith to search people out that have chosen a path that works for them and convince them that it does not. Is that what you are trying to do now JD?

  • JD

    JR, he’s an alcoholic trying to moderate his drinking. Ever run into that before? Think it’s perhaps been tried? Got any clue how it goes? You’re expecting this alcoholic to be different?

    This is what many alcoholics do 4-6 years before they give up. This guy is way in the back of the pack. Not even close to doing what it takes. Needs to season a bit more.

    Doesn’t mean that down the road after he’s been dusted off a little more things couldn’t change for him, but his schooling is apparently to go on for quite a while longer.

    As I say, no big deal. I’ve got a cab coming in 4hrs to take me to the airport, need to get what sleep I can. Will miss the Mexican food and speaking English.

  • JD, we all know that everything in the Big Book are only suggestions and you can take what you want and leave the rest. He worked the program and got what he needed. He is going to continue taking it one day at a time because no one knows what tomorrow will bring. He has worked a good program and it worked for him, why are you getting angry about that?

    Now back to your problem. I have been talking to your significant others and explained that this obsession with finding prospects to convert to the Bill Wilson faith is hurting your health. It doesn’t matter what gender they are to me. They have agreed to start taking all of the possible triggers out of your trailer before you get back from your trip. It will make you feel much better. Sorry about them taking the doorknob off of the bathroom door, but that is a trigger. You probably didn’t close the door anyway. Please do not get angry when you get home and find this out, or they will have to call the police to have you restrained.

  • AnnaZed

    I got a couple of responses rationalizing it; the first was from a guy who said that Jesus means “teacher” or “Rabbi” in Hebrew (he mistakenly thought I was Jewish, so he thought this would persuade me).

    No it doesn’t.

    Typical insulting AA know-absolutely-nothing blow-hard bullshit.

  • SoberPJ

    In the AA mindset, which becomes self-fulfilling prophecy, no alcoholic ever regains control. Everyone who tries is doomed to failure. Other programs, moderation and harm reduction are worthless and never work. People in them deserve the failure that they achieve. Successes are not recorded or considered even though there are more successes than failures outside of AA. JD is representative of that mindset. He does not care in the least for the well being of those that leave the AA faith. He is hardwired to believe what he has been programmed to believe. He can not see anything else. His lack of empathy for people outside of working the self-help program of the AA corporation is obvious and astounding. There are many like him. Eventually, they will simply go extinct and the number of people that think and act like this will diminish greatly. That process is happening now. They are somewhat admired in the cloistered and inbred world of AA, but considered calloused, delusional, crusty and angry fools to those that know better. Thank goodness the world of “recovery” is evolving away from this religious non sense. It can’t happen too soon for me.

  • causeandeffect

    Sw0rcery, I love what you wrote. It very closely matches my experience. And I agree with Ben, don’t expect any lasting friendships there. And it’s really no loss, as long as these people remain in the AA mindset, they will be unhealthy, even if they are nice. Speaking of unhealthy, you’ve elicited several insulting responses from JD. That’s truely a compliment, as he sees your strength as a threat to his extremely narrow mindset.

    SoberPJ wrote,”They are somewhat admired in the cloistered and inbred world of AA, but considered calloused, delusional, crusty and angry fools to those that know better.” That’s an absolutely perfect way to express it. Cloistered and inbred. They absolutely refuse to let any new information into the mind pool. Do you mind if I start using that phrase?

  • mikeblamedenial

    What steppism lacks in graceful objectivity, it makes up for with insulting dismissiveness. Here is the best Wilson could muster for those who reject his Kool-ade via moderation:

    “Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!”

  • mikeblamedenial

    AA can’t lose with stories like this one. If the author does successfully continue to moderate, he will be dismissed by true believers as not having been a man-on-page-21 alcoholic in the first place. If not, AA was right all along.

  • SoberPJ

    c&e … be my guest.

  • Jonny Quest

    I really hate to do it, but no one else is, and JD already brought it up. JD’s lack of finesse notwithstanding, I tend to agree with JD that it might not be the wisest idea for this individual (sw0rcery) to be trying some controlled drinking.

    It is his choice, to be sure, and I am not a prohibitionist, but I really do hope that he is able to manage it.

    No, NOT in the “good luck with that” way some of those assholes in AA mean it, which we all know really means “see you after you relapse or hit bottom.”

    I mean I sincerely hope that no more harm comes to him – and that does NOT mean that that it will or should, but some of what he wrote – not the criticism of AA – did trouble me somewhat.

    I suspect I may have to dodge some incoming ordnance for saying this… C’est la vie.

  • mikeblamedenial

    No artillery from me, Jonny. I wish any and all who leave AA for any reason nothing but success, but am very reluctant to endorse a sixty-day-old moderation experiment as proof of anything. That said, it was a very well-written piece.

  • MikeAugustine

    Well written and reasonable. I would however err on the side of abstinence.

  • JD, How do you know he’s a “Real Alcoholic”?

  • mikeblamedenial

    That’s the beauty of it, ftg. If the poster is not a “real alcoholic”, their success at moderation proves nothing. If the attempt at moderation fails, the true believes get to hold that failure up as proof that they were right all along.

  • cherokeebride

    I haven’t posted in a while because I’m now no longer mandated to attend AA so I’m not and I’m just busy moving along with my life. However, I keep an eye on S-T because I never want to forgot how much AA almost sucked the life out of me. I actually wrote something similiar when I was done with having to go to AA – still haven’t decided whether or not I should post it, but this:

    Also, the amount of times Iʼveheard people refer to themselves as either an “asshole” or a “piece of shit” or a “selfish and self-centered egomaniac,” really got on my nerves. Iʼm not perfect, not by any means, but I certainly am not a piece of shit. That kind of self-talk is very unhealthy; and the group dynamics definitely encouraged self-flagellation and negative inner dialogues.

    Was one of the things that just bothered me so much about AA. Grown up, supposedly healthy people calling themselves shit just made me want to cry

  • flannigan

    SwOrcery is an adult and can make his own decisions concerning his life. My best wishes to you, swOrcery, and may life bring joy and happiness to you and your loved ones.

  • MikeAugustine

    Oh yes, true believers should work in hedge funds. You drink again, they profit. You stay dry, they profit. What a deal.

  • Disclosure

    Hi JD,
    The problem with AA is that it is a religion. Everyone knows it is impossible to discuss religion and politics.
    I’m just thankful that it’s dying.

  • Sally

    If people say, suggest, or predict one will fail (especially if they have been hearing it for years) they may just fullfill anothers prophecy. I’m not saying anybody here has done that btw 🙂 ………. Congratulations on making a decision Swrorcery!

  • Jonny Quest

    To be fair to JD, he did state that people who go back to drinking and leave AA are “common as dirt,” which we all know, but many people who have not seen it might not know.

    “…the deal with this poster is the usual, the daily fare. Nothing unusual or interesting. People blow in and out of AA with the regularity of a metronome. They become a blur that people pay little attention to.”

    He’s being honest and truthful there.

  • limestoneblocks

    “2-3yr people with good ideas are a cliche. They are sure others will be interested in their fresh viewpoints”

    wait…what? Are you saying that people have good ideas until AA brainwashes them to believe their bullshit?

  • DeConstructor


    “Are you saying that people have good ideas until AA brainwashes them to believe their bullshit?”

    I believe the AA slogan for that is:

    “Surrender, is not being weak and giving up…it’s simply coming over to the winning side.”

    Yes brain washing is required, sometimes to the point of nonsurgical lobotomies.

  • Pogue Mahone

    “I’m just thankful that it’s dying.”
    And it is, at least where I live. The community which houses me at the moment now accepts the B&C plans as an alternitive to the A&A. There are now 3 Smart meetings in my city compared to only 1 a year ago. I see many people here reject the stepcrap and are doing just fine. My friend here has found orange and ST and has attended his first Smart meeting. People are starting to speak up about their dislike for steppism. It’s only a matter of time before others catch on..I still have hope and now more then I ever have.

    One small step for Pogue, one giant leap for mankind.

  • It is wonderful to hear that, Pogue. I love hearing things like that.
    Thanks sw0rcery. How odd that people write down their reasons for ‘abandoning’ a ‘treatment’.

  • Lucy

    I have seen and heard lots of stories like the one he posted. I noticed three things about this one.

    First, he doesn’t really want to stop drinking, and that means that he didn’t belong in AA in the first place. (It’s a pity he tried AA.) Second, he really likes melodrama and getting the last word in, which does not bode well for his future emotional stability. Last, he does a good job of restating what it says in the Orange Papers and More Revealed and blending it into his own experience.

    Some of my friends have left AA with an elaborate letter like this one. It just gins up more AA melodrama. It’s live waving a red flag in front of a bull, and then saying you on’t know why you got charged. The AA true believers come after you to get you back into the conversion experience, and the ones like JD trash you.

    Not healthy, and not smart.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Yeah, Lucy, as soon as the only stated requirement for AA membership is invalidated through a return to drinking, the departee is immediately, and accurately dismissed as someone who didn’t belong there in the first place. This probably describes just about every mandated member in existence. When, on the rare occasion one of them actually does experience remission of their drinking, AA is right there to claim them as a “success”, while dismissing the rest as not being part of the pool in the first place. Thus, AA still gets its million new potential indoctrinees each year, and claim the 50k who would have stopped regardless. The few who do stay are completely convinced that the faith-healing mumbo-jumbo of steppism is what did the trick, and go on to preach the 12-step gospel to the next class of 5%ers whilst defending the movement against its critics.

  • Lucy sez: “First, he doesn’t really want to stop drinking, and that means that he didn’t belong in AA in the first place.”

    I wonder if he just didn’t know from the start that he had options. The conventional wisdom is that alcoholism is a lifelong progressive disease and that they only option for recovery is complete abstinence. When people quit drinking, they do so out of a desire to never experience the horrible effects of addiction again, and in this world that means only never drinking again. It seems to me that he realized that normal drinking was an option only after he was inspired to research because of his misgivings with the dogma and the AA culture.

    I didn’t know that I had options.

  • Jonny Quest

    FTG: “I wonder if he just didn’t know from the start that he had options. The conventional wisdom is that alcoholism is a lifelong progressive disease and that they only option for recovery is complete abstinence.”

    I would say that while the conventional wisdom is wrong, that after hitting the booze and benzodiazepines, both of which are cross-tolerant and will increase dependence on the other, and a suicide attempt to top things off, initially, complete abstinence was certainly the best choice.

    What he does now, after having returned his body to normal, that’s another matter. I trust he knows the risks of selectively reading material from Stanton Peele and Kenneth Anderson.

    I say the conventional wisdom is wrong because while I don’t care for the disease idea, I do know that once physical addiction sets in, re-addiction is far more efficient. People mistakenly believe that since “AA said that I would go back to the same old level” it will happen over night.

    Not so, any more than someone who quit smoking for two years would immediately go back to smoking a pack or two a day if they take a puff.

    But use can ramp up much more quickly than the first time around. Once the body has “learned” how to do something – in this case adapt to the presence of a chemical – it can do so again far more efficiently, so to speak.

  • mikeblamedenial

    It took me about three weeks of controlled drinking to completely readdict to alcohol my last time out. Cigarettes took just a bit longer. I am completely confident that neither came about as a result of any indoctrination.

  • Jonny Quest

    Again, I don’t know if this individual was actually physically addicted, but at the very least the alcohol/benzos obviously exasperated, if not induced, some serious, life threatening depression.

    I do find it utterly absurd that a “therapist” would help a client with both a history of deep depression and a suicide attempt “formulate a plan for safe, controlled drinking” though, knowing full well that it could trigger another depressive episode.

  • zooromeo


    I guess my continued moderate drinking having left AA in 2003 is a figment of my imagination…

    Or perhaps I am in denial and the 3 beers I had the other day were a hallucination that only the collective works of Bill “chainsmokingsexaddict” W can heal…

    I have to wonder then if my pre-AA life of uncontrolled drinking -with it’s qualifying “3 folds” of mental obsession, physical craving and spiritual malady was also just in my head too and my drinking pattern over the last 7 years is just denial…

    JD, it would be more concise to say “I am a narrow minded angry little bitch who hates anything or anyone that challenges my dogma”

    This thinking style and philosophy is EXACTLY the VERY THING which in MANY cases CAUSES someone to “act out” this self-fulfilling philosophy.

    And I said “many” not “all…

  • zooromeo


    Physical addiction is caused by continued abuse – not by some pre-underlying “disease” or condition.

    And this is another catch phrase that AA throws out there unvetted or approved of by any medical or qualified scientific body. It is inconsistently used and unfortunately too easily accepted by new and even old AA members as fact – just because another member used such an appealing phrase.

    Its looking more likely that SOME people have created ingrained Neural pathways in their brain so deeply as to make regular or controlled drinking unlikely to be a realistic option – but that doesnt equal a lifelong dependency some something as unhealthy or damaging as Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Even the fucking Big Book concedes the notion of “potential alcoholics” but AA has become stuck in a rigid 1930s model of addiction and will continue to be left behind until its eventual, not too distant extinction.

  • humanspirit

    I don’t think anyone who checks into residential treatment for 60 days, followed by 60 days of outpatient treatment, 60 days of aftercare, and 60 days in a sober house can be accused of not wanting to stop drinking, otherwise why would they bother with all this? It seems a monumental effort to go to to me if you’re not committed to it.

    What I thought was interesting here was that it illustrates that people do and can change, and they can overcome addiction. Sw0rcery obviously has changed a good deal since he checked into rehab all that time ago. If he feels he can now drink moderately (and therefore has overcome his addiction) there’s no particular reason to doubt what he says. Some can do this, some can’t. Perhaps it too soon to tell in Sw0rcery’s case, but many former alcoholics can and do return to moderation, and there’s no particular reason why he personally shouldn’t be able to do this. Importantly, he has changed the way he thinks about alcohol, and he now knows it is not essential and is certainly not useful as a way of dealing with life’s problems. And he has also learned, from his own experience, what drinking other than moderately can lead to.

    Steppers would say that no-one can moderate, or if they can they weren’t “real alcoholics” in the first place, in the same way that they will say that anyone who leaves AA and stays completely abstinent was never a “real alcoholic”. They do not believe that anyone can learn, change, or develop in their thinking or behaviour – never, in the course of a whole lifetime. Which is one of the reasons why, in all of this debate, received AA wisdom should never be taken seriously, because when it comes down to it, their main interest is not in “helping alcoholics”, but to perpetuate the AA faith by using tortuous and circular logic and by telling sane people who dissent that they are insane. Whatever AA “thinks” should be unceremoniously booted out into the margins of fringe religious lunacy where it belongs.

    They will also often say that anyone who fails in their sincere and genuine attempts to stop is to blame because they don’t really “want to” stop. (How do they know that? And I never quite figured out how this sits with their idea of personal powerlessness and their objection to the ideas of will-power and self-efficacy). This is to seriously misunderstand the nature of addiction – so no surprise there, then, coming from AA. Overcoming addiction can be incredibly difficult for anyone seriously addicted. This, really, is the whole bloody point. If that weren’t the case, it just wouldn’t be an issue either for the individual or for society.

    The problem with AA is that it can often serious jeopardize people’s genuine, often desperate, desire to stop by imposing an irrelevant and nonsensical religion and a set of counter-productive self-defeating beliefs on them that, quite frankly, could drive almost anyone to drink, let alone an addict in the early stages of quitting. And if the program fails to give alcoholics the support they need in reinforcing and building on their desire to stop, they can always say that the person didn’t really “want to” stop, because they again and again refuse to look at their own part in making that already very difficult process even more difficult and infinitely more stressful than it needs to be.

    Sorry, have got into rant mode again. But to get back to the topic, Thanks for this account, Sw0cery. I just wish such stories could make their way into the mainstream media.

  • Jonny Quest


    I agree with you. The body does what it is *supposed* to do when repeatedly hammered with a poison – it adapts.

    Adaptation to the presence of a toxic chemical is not a malfunctioning of the body, as occurs with say, an allergy, in which the immune system *is* malfunctioning, misidentifying an otherwise innocuous substance as harmful, and then attacking that substance with a ferocity far greater than required.

    By adapting to alcohol, the body is functioning precisely as it was designed to function, although some people’s bodies can tolerate greater exposure to the toxin, and their bodies adapt faster.

    In my case, even very heavy drinkers have often seen me drink and literally remarked “how the hell can you even be standing?”

    I also know that something changed inside me at some point. Either my body has ramped up the MEOS pathway for alcohol metabolism as a result of chronic consumption, which means my body produces acetaldehyde faster than before, my liver is no longer able to process the acetaldehyde as efficiently as before due to damage, or both.

    I know this because if I drink now, it feels very different from what drinking felt like years ago, but if I “prime” my body with a lot of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), which neutralizes acetaldehyde, prior to drinking, it does feel like it used to.

    I could theoretically drink every so often, say, once a week, if I take NAC first – if I don’t take it I just feel absolutely horrible – but I am not going to play that game. I know that even with that “trick” there is still considerable risk of not sticking to the schedule.

  • Jonny Quest

    I am mindful that liver is able to heal itself if given time and the damage is not too severe, and it is certainly possible that if I were to abstain and let it heal for a couple more years, it might become efficient at processing alcohol again.

    If this were to happen, could I return to drinking? Probably, but I also know that I have always had a peculiar fondness and tolerance for alcohol, more so than most people, it seems, since the beginning.

    I loved the stuff, and remarkably, though my tolerance was increasing, I would not get hangovers like most people did, at least for the first 8 years or so. I can’t quite explain it, but it was like my body changed.

    I got hangovers, but only in the very beginning, and very soon after, that stopped. For years I would always wonder why people came in hung over, since I couldn’t remember my last hangover. I incorrectly assumed that most people didn’t know how to drink, and that I was a more clever drinker. 🙂

    Could I, if my liver heals, go back to drinking and keep an eye out for increasing tolerance, stopping every so often to allow my tolerance to drop again?

    Certainly, and this is precisely what I did in the beginning. Every so often I would stop for a month, but every time, once I started again, tolerance went right back up fairly quickly.

  • Has anyone thought of the psychological reasons this discussion has progressed this way and why? True these are all valid points that we are talking about right now. But look closely at the progression of this thread.

    1. It started by three posters who were very glad for sw0rcery for quitting.
    2. The fourth poster was a person who is skilled at the Bill Wilson technique of injecting fault and causing direct psychological harm to sw0rcery for attempting to leave the Bill Wilson faith and that he will eventually relapse and most likely die.
    3. The next 4 posters attempted to change the subject.
    4. The original Bill Wilson follower than again tried to inject fault and cause direct psychological harm to sw0rcery.

    Analyze this thread and the path of the discussion it took. It started as a discussion on the very professional work of someone determined to quit, who carefully documented links in a very compact space that are quite skillfully done. This is something we needed. It has progressed to a discussion on the methods he is using and if they are going to work. Causing him to second guess himself which we all know is bad during recovery. We should be congratulating him on the work he has done. We have time and time again noted that this type of discussion is harmful and why it is.

    Why are we following the same path that we want to stop and who started us on this path?

  • Jonny Quest

    @JR Harris:

    I will grant that JD has an unusual skill for derailing threads, but this blog also doesn’t allow for the creation of new threads as needed, except by certain people, so naturally, many threads will deviate from the original post.

    I do appreciate the links and recommended reading list that sw0rcery compiled, and his criticisms of AA – I mentioned that in response to his original post in the “Why I left AA” thread.

    I will add that I also appreciate his clear example of how those “sobriety chips” can become lead weights.

    Given what I know, though, and having read most of the books he listed, I can also tell that he very likely has not read Jack Trimpey’s books, even though he did list Rational Recovery as an alternative.

    I will concede, as I have before, that my views on this are a tad bit absolutist, but I don’t see this sort of discussion as harmful. I am only commenting given the particular story he posted.

    I never suggested that he needs AA, that one drink equals one drunk, that he will fail and spiral out of control if he doesn’t go to meetings, or any of the other usual nonsense.

    He may very well succeed, and that is perfectly fine.

  • nukefreekiwi

    Yup. Some forum members are easily led astray through the disruptive influence of a faithful BB disciple. It is almost admirable how skillfully JD is able to derail a conversation and manipulate some ever-compliant members who cant help but follow him down the same old rabbithole every time he posts a comment. Once again, from my experience, prima-donnas soon disappear when they no longer have an audience.

  • mikeblamedenial

    The troll put up three out of forty-eight posts. How, exactly he hijacked the entire thread? Most of the posts strike me as on-topic and relevant.

  • sorcery – I want to support you.
    JRH- Yup you are so right.

    I think it’s so crazy that people project their fears on you. IN Smart they do abstinence but Moderation Management is another tool. I know you are young. Who wants to live their life never drinking if they can do it responsibly.
    I am not wiling to take the risk at my age now but I like being without it.
    I am happy for you and I ma not afraid that you will fall into the AA horror projecting story.
    After a long time in AA , not Im out…I think that so much of the BB is Bullshit.
    love ya
    ignore them….They are ignorant.

  • Tallmike

    Not one of us can make a prediction about swOrcery as to whether he will succeed or fail in his moderation attempt. It’s really up to him. Others have left behind problematic drinking. habitdoc of http://www.addictionalternatives.com is an example of a man who formerly misused alcohol to his own abuse. You can read that story here: http://www.addictionalternatives.com/drmarc.html

  • Jonny Quest

    I think I have a solution. AA should split in two.

    “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Real Alcoholics Anonymous”

    Problem solved. 🙂

  • zooromeo

    Fair point above so…


    Your biggest enemy in your quest will be your head. I battled immensely with my AA baggage for about a year after I left AA but I repeatedly proved that I was capable of moderating my alcohol intake consistently over time.

    I think you should do a little bit of trial and error and find a rough guide to what you feel is a comfortable amount for you to drink and then make that your “normal”. For me, a safe, non-addictive amount is about 2-4 drinks 3 x a week. but that’s “just for me” 🙂 – Also obviously on occasions you may choose to have a lot more – – NYE Xmas etc is an entirely appropriate time to over indulge.

    The thing is also that if you do find your amounts etc increasing.. then just revisit your own personal goal/limit and stick to it. Check yourself and that you aren’t avoiding any personal issues or even have a break – and then go back to it.

    Whatever the case, I think you’ll probably find over time that your AA connections will become too hard to keep – My last day in AA I had probably about 50 odd friends and close acquaintances that suddenly discarded me onto the “relapse” heap and I was instantly perceived as a danger and worth absolutely NOTHING to them. No-one contacted me to see if I was OK or how I was REALLY doing and the 2-3 people I stayed in touch with were pretty undermining in their “acceptance” of my decision. Unfortunately, it is a very hard lesson to learn how “caring, supportive & loving” the fellowship actually is. So expect an almost grief like period.

    Once you get over that it can be quite exciting.

    But you can treat alcohol like any other habit – people who change ANY habit have to work at it – Human behavior is not automatic – especially to begin with and you will need to manage it… What AAs don’t accept is that almost everyone who drinks has to give at least some thought and consideration to their alcohol consumption and how they are going to manage it. Its a fantasy to think that “normies” just have a beer and a reverse craving kicks in to help them moderate their consumption… NO!!! – its all about choice.

    BUT, I concede that SOME people have crossed some kind of line where the habit is too ingrained (whether that means in the brains neural pathways or whatever) but I believe these people are generally the really hardcore, full-on drinkers who abused alcohol over a long time period and rarely a younger person..

    So good luck with your chosen path.. I genuinely believe you can do it and wish you all the best…


  • Jonny Quest

    zooromeo: “Whatever the case, I think you’ll probably find over time that your AA connections will become too hard to keep – My last day in AA I had probably about 50 odd friends and close acquaintances that suddenly discarded me onto the “relapse” heap and I was instantly perceived as a danger and worth absolutely NOTHING to them. No-one contacted me to see if I was OK or how I was REALLY doing and the 2-3 people I stayed in touch with were pretty undermining in their “acceptance” of my decision. Unfortunately, it is a very hard lesson to learn how “caring, supportive & loving” the fellowship actually is. So expect an almost grief like period.”

    It helps to understand this phenomenon if you realize that almost everyone in the recovery group movement has not actually quit their addiction. As such, they are still operating under the principles of addicted people.

    Almost anyone who quits drinking or using will find that, save a few rare exceptions, their old drinking/using “friends” will magically stop calling to hang out. Like crabs in a barrel, addicted people love to drag others down with them.

    If one tries to leave the lifestyle, most of the others will try to suck them back in – “just have a few, you’ll be OK” they’ll tell the “quitter” – and if the person quitting sticks to his/her guns, they will usually subconsciously brand them a “narc” and shun them.

    The retrograde degenerates in recovery groups are simply repeating the same “us vs. them” behavior that they have always engaged in, hence the absolute ease with which they refer to outsiders as “normies” and shun apostates who leave the group like the plague.

    Most were depraved in addiction, quite happy and eager to suck other unsuspecting souls into the same abyss of addiction they were in, and they remain depraved “in recovery” – happy and eager to suck others into their recovery ghetto.

    They are bad company – best to drop them like a bad habit.

  • sw0rcery

    @friendthegirl: Wow… front page? Really? Thank you… I feel so honored 🙂 And yeah, you absolutely hit the nail on the head when you suggested that I really had no idea I had options when I quit… as I mentioned in my document, if I had known then what I know now, I’d probably be telling a different story.

    @Johnny Quest: As a matter of fact, I am familiar with Trimpey’s works. I’ve simply adapted his ideas for myself. As you do know, lifelong abstinence is not my goal. I actually DO use AVRT for days I plan on abstaining from alcohol… keep in mind that in my life, unlike AA, I actually CAN take what I want and leave the rest.

    @massiveattack: I’m so glad I got in touch you over these past few months, I’m incredibly thankful for your support, and I look forward to seeing you and everyone else more on these forums. And don’t worry, I’m a tough cookie – I figured there’d be some debate about this, but that’s OK, I’m glad people are talking about it. These ideas need to be out in the open and debated. And as for JD, meh… I’ve been lurking long enough to know his shtick. It doesn’t faze me. I also wish you nothing but the best in your journey from here on out.

    @Zoo: Heh, it’s funny you mentioned your limits, those are the exact limits I set for myself too! (4 drinks per occasion, up to 3 times a week… for a total of 12 drinks a week). So far I’ve been able to stick to those limits – and I’m glad you mentioned you believe I can do it… I do, too. And I think that belief in your own self-efficacy is the single most important factor in accomplishing ANY goal. It’s also encouraging to see that yes, it can be done.

    It’s funny, I originally wrote this for myself, without any intention of publishing or distributing it… but then I did. And looking back on this thread, it wasn’t my intention to start a discussion on the merits of moderation or harm reduction, but I guess that’s what it’s become. So long as people are talking. The way I see it, I’m still in my mid-20s, and there’s plenty of time for my “experiment” to bear out. In the end, time will tell, but one thing I do know is that I will not be returning to AA. Should I decide on permanent abstinence in the future, I’ll do so via support from SMART or SOS, or another secular group that doesn’t relentlessly assault my autonomy.

    Thank you all for reading my piece, and for all your insightful comments. I look forward to connecting with you more in this forum.


  • Jonny Quest

    sw0rcery says: “@Johnny Quest: As a matter of fact, I am familiar with Trimpey’s works. I’ve simply adapted his ideas for myself. As you do know, lifelong abstinence is not my goal. I actually DO use AVRT for days I plan on abstaining from alcohol… keep in mind that in my life, unlike AA, I actually CAN take what I want and leave the rest.”

    That’s very interesting. I never thought to use AVRT on an “as needed” basis, but I can see how it could work.

    As for your goal, I don’t care either way. I just can’t in good conscience, given what I went through, recommend drinking to someone who has had serious problems with drink before.

    But, I am not a prohibitionist, and I don’t actually care if someone gets high as a kite or drunk as a skunk, provided that they are not hurting others, or trying to get others to join them.

    I do, however, mistrust anyone who advocates either abstinence or moderation to advance (“prove”) their own political agenda, as do both AA and many PhD’s – just make sure it is your goal, and not someone else’s.

    Since you’ve read Trimpey’s books, what’s your take on James DeSena’s book “Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug & Recovery Habits” – is it worth getting?

  • zoo- great post!
    ss0rcery-I agree. Thanks for calling to begin with. I am happy to hear that you are doing fine and that you can moderate. My whole belief system has been altered these past 2 years.
    Day & NIght!
    I too am glad it is being discussed. Do you know how many teenagers are going to regualr AA and beleiveing they are alcoholic forever. Like I did. Well, Im different. I actually stopped on my own before I found AA meetings. I wanted to quit forever before I met my eskimo.

    I think you should send your essay into A Men’s Magazine.

  • zooromeo

    @massiveattack – thanks.. also am a bit of a “safe recovery” fanboy 🙂

    loved the one with Stanton last week.. keep it up !!



  • @Jonny Quest. Splitting AA in two would be absolutely brilliant. The really hardcore fanatics could meet in peace, with no young people; only ‘alchoholics’ of the type in the bb. They can give each other lots of tough love and have a nice place to go to in the evenings. They would not be a very big group. They might have some respect from society for addressing their serious addiction problems. They could reject anyone who didn’t meet their strict criteria.

    (sw0rcery: you are in your twenties? Thank goodness you got out when you did! What a way to spend your twenties!)

    The other aa, would be a very very watered down version. Steps optional, sponsorship optional, cosy meetings with meals out afterwards. No pressure on anyone to be humiliated and to admit that everything that has happened to them, from child abuse onwards, is their fault.

    I think that would be absolutely brilliant and to that end I feel like supporting JD and his ilk in their quest for a pure AA. And supporting ‘the fellas’ in their (ridiculous, because it is still AA) watered down, safer, version.

  • I think the watered down version would eventually fizzle out. If people are allowed to discuss other methods, most people would drift off to something that might work. Without all the terrible stories of deaths and suicides, people would not be scared to leave. Without the massive kudos of being an oldtimer and multiple sponsor, I am not sure that oldtimers would find it quite so attractive.

    Schism. Schism. Schism.

    All religions eventually schism. AA is due for one.

  • This one is a bit old but it gives me heart that the ‘fellas’ and the real aas detest each other.

  • sw0rcery

    @Johnny Quest: Thanks. For sure, it wasn’t a decision I took lightly – a lot of thought went into it. But I’m glad I made it. As for DeSena’s book, it’s definitely worth a read, although from a deprogramming perspective, I found Ken Ragge’s “More Revealed” to be more personally helpful.

    @Primrose: I’m also very glad I got out early. Funny, people in AA used to always tell me “you’re so lucky you ‘got this’ at such an early age.” With you, though, I actually agree… just the thought of spending my 20s and 30s in AA gives me shivers.

    @massiveattack: I think it’s unconscionable so many teenagers are being sent to AA. When I was involved in YPAA, one of the speakers one year was 16 years old and 3 years sober – he himself looked about 12. Granted, I think 13 is way too early to be messing around with drugs, but entering AA at that age has got to do a number on his emotional development as a teenager.

  • (from aacultwatch)

    ‘Time for AA to wake up! An AA member’s analysis

    “Ultimately the solution to this lies in awareness and action by intergroups. I think that at the moment the fellowship is still in the stage of waking up to implications as to what is happening. I think this movement represents the beginning of all the ingredients of what Bill W. outlined in concept XII, warranty five, the grave situation of a split running right accross AA and the formation of a separate fellowship, with the exception that this new separate fellowship has no intention of separating, so the onus is on AA to insist on conformity to tradition four or initiate the separation. The concept is clear that such a situation demands action. The longer this movement is left alone , the more damaging to AA it will be.’

    I have looked up ‘concept Xll’:
    12.The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and whenever possible, substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government; that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.

    but I have no idea what ‘warranty five’ is. How prescient for foresee the schism.

  • hulahoop

    1. It started by three posters who were very glad for sw0rcery for quitting.
    2. The fourth poster was a person who is skilled at the Bill Wilson technique of injecting fault and causing direct psychological harm to sw0rcery for attempting to leave the Bill Wilson faith and that he will eventually relapse and most likely die.
    3. The next 4 posters attempted to change the subject.
    4. The original Bill Wilson follower than again tried to inject fault and cause direct psychological harm to sw0rcery.

    I was the first of the posters mentioned in number three. I wasn’t trying to change the subject. I was pointing out that while swOrcery’s experience in AA might be common to JD and his ilk, as he rudely pointed out, but his response is probably even more common. Typical stepper’s response. Common as mud on a pig. The program doesn’t fail anyone…people fail the program. I didn’t ask what “fail” means? How do you fail AA? Who is the judge? It’s a flawed program from the get go. People shouldn’t judge themselves based on the opinions of AA members.

    I heard a lot of “they just couldn’t get it.” Like people were too stupid to get it. Define “it.” Maybe more people will get it if “it” is defined. We could also get in to people not being able to get it because they were born that way (which isn’t their fault if they were) and possibly being able to get it if they had the capability of being rigorously honest (TM) with themselves.

  • mikeblamedenial

    “but I have no idea what ‘warranty five’ is. How prescient for foresee the schism.”

    AA had power struggles well-before it was even AA. I won’t go into the history here, but know that New York, Akron, and Cleveland AA were distinctly different from one another early on. Here in Ohio, the differences between Cleveland AA and Akron AA are still discernable.

  • Someone on this site told me that they go on aa sites posing as an extreme bb basher. I think this is a great idea. I support JD’s aa wholeheartedly. It deters people, and may prompt them to google ‘Is AA a cult?’ What is ‘warranty five’?
    mbd, how does the central office of aa deal with the schisms, or potential schisms? I think that the motr aas still totally endorse the disgrace to the English language that is the bb. Perhaps not so much steps and sponsors.

  • mikeblamedenial

    AA corporate deals with those who threaten its income streams very heavy-handedly, but does nothing about the sub-sects which operate under its banner. Midtown, Primary Purpose, the Pacific Group, Back To Basics, All Addicts Anonymous, and many others which outsiders have never even heard of all do what they do without concern for repercussion from New York, which is basically powerless to do much, anyway.

  • SoberPJ

    Bill W created the first split himself. If AA was originally the Akron Christian approach, then Billy was the first splitter by bringing in the Oxford Group non sense. He did a fait accompli when he wrote the bb so anybody that didn’t follow the book was a splitter. I have to keep remembering, his authority was completely artificial. The whole thing is made up and cobbled together with duct tape and bailing wire and when examined with a modicum of rigor, it simply falls apart. It has no basis in fact or research, but its primary basis is covert religious faith healing non sense surrounded by muliple layers of process to keep the thing alive and making money.

  • Well, who is going to cause the next schism?
    And what is ‘warranty 5’?
    And how does the central office deal with all these shia/sunni type diversions?
    (or would you count syanon as a schism? that failed, and the members went back to the mother ship of aa)

  • JD

    Primrose, Synanon is still alive (barely) up in the hills in a small settlement outside of Auberry CA. They were a deal principally for druggies, not alcoholics. Though the founder was once an AA newcomer, they can get weird and run off and act on their own good ideas, like Trimpey (RR) and Christopher (SOS). Glad to see our boy Sw0 hasn’t incorporated yet.

    Your imaginary schism doesn’t exist in any other form than what’s always been around, the fringers and the hard core AAs. The fringers flake and rotate quickly, the hard core members stick. Guess where influence lies.

  • MikeAugustine

    Und zee hardcore memebers vill occupy ein bunker if zey are ever threatened. Hail Buchman!!!

  • hulahoop

    The fringers flake and rotate quickly, the hard core members stick. Guess where influence lies.

    At AA meetings? To their sponsees?

  • Influence lies at the Intergroup level protected as a non profit corporation that denies it is governed by the governing non profit General Services Organization (GSO) corporation based out of New York. It would be interesting to have input from sw0rcery on the type of pressure he is getting that is being “suggested” in local meetings governed by his local Intergroup.

  • I am not sure if Syanon is still alive (barely) but I do think that people from Syanon are now in AA. I listed the meeting places staffed by Syanon people. I think they would be on the hard core side of any schism.

    JD: When you say ‘the hardcore members stick’, I think you are referring to the rump of about 400,000 or so who have stuck around.

  • The Syanon strain of 12 Step Addiction treatment mutated into the Church of Synanon in the 1970s in Santa Monica, California. The Church of Syanon was closed down by tax evasion and many other crimes including attempted murder in 1989. If any of the Midtown variants of AA from the Pacific group combined together, the resulting synergy would be devastating.

    Have any of the Syanon strain of 12 Step Addiction treatment migrated to Florida?

  • Jonny Quest

    There already is a modern split of sorts, by the arrival of “Back to Basics” (B2B) and “Primary Purpose” (PP) groups.

    Some groups do not use the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” book at all, and get their Big Books from The Anonymous Press rather than AAWS.

    My money is on the B2B and PP groups – their members seem to have a much greater zeal for recruitment (12th Step), and their program is fast tracked so that newer members can quickly have a spiritual awakening and start recruiting.

    Also, their style of sponsorship is not the usual “babysitter” seen in AA, “the one who believes their job is to help a sponsee solve their problems, to be a confidant, a daily call, someone who tells you to do 90 meetings in 90 days and then chides you when you miss one, who believes the steps are nice concepts to work into your life, and who you are supposed to call when you feel like drinking so that they can tell you not to drink.”

    As such, they have more time available for carrying the message.

    Credit goes to “FrothyJay” – who was banned for life from Sober Recovery – for that nice description of a typical sponsor:


  • JD

    JQ, FJ has logged about 180 posts since that one…when does this ban for life go into effect?

  • Jonny Quest


    I never said that particular post was his last one. Details, details.

    He was banned on Friday May, 13, 2011 if I recall correctly, so I reckon you won’t find anything after that date.

  • Ben Franklin

    Hmm JD,
    You spend your time counting posts on soberecovery ( 180!) , doing “research on moderation management” and posting here. When do you really have time to meet those fairy princesses and go to meetings?

  • Jonny Quest


    For the record, assclown, FrothyJay is most definitely *PRO* AA, he’s just tired of the miserable string of failures he sees there and advocates a “solution-based” (Probably Primary Purpose) approach rather than “slogan therapy” and endless meetings to AA, rather than the usual bullshit.

    They didn’t like him pointing out certain things, like the current 95% failure rate in AA, and various other stupid things about AA that we point out here. Whether many here would agree with his proposed solution is unlikely, but I tended to side with him in the quarrels with the other steppers.

    He’d probably make a nice AA type on here, actually. I do know that the MCGOWDOGHOUSE crowd had their eyes on him at one point, though.

  • JD

    JQ I meant no offense to Frothy, your internet friend, and it’s good you have someone to side with in quarrels that happen different places, and if you want him here that’s entirely between the two of you. Sure that ‘assclown’ has some special meaning between you and Frothy, but not everyone will understand it. I have nothing against your use of slang familiar to you and your friends at all, but personally I can do without a graphic explaination.

    That’s in no way meant as a critisism.

  • Pogue Mahone

    All a man has to do is grow a pair and they will no longer need a sponsor. :-0

  • FriendofDaishonin

    I haven’t been on here in a while. I quit AA again for the 10th or 12th time a few months ago. Actually I was so outspoken about how much mumbo jumbo I believe the program to be and I was blatantly honest about how I believe that someday science will have a cure for “alcoholism”(like a brain implant, no god needed), and about how my Buddhist practice keeps me sober(as long as I do it daily) whether I am going to meetings or not going to meetings. One of the “old timers” that I actually respect, basically told me to leave since I can keep myself sober. I have been doing fine and my missing the fellowship hasn’t been bothering me-until the last few days. It always seems as though I leave for a few months, not a cloud on the horizon, then I start missing being around people every night of the week. Might have stayed sober the entire time, might not have had even one thought of drinking even a beer, but that missing the fellowship starts screwing with my head. I am 32 and I have found that in the last few years(since I got into my early 30’s) I am 10 times LESS tolerant of peoples drama and bullshit-peoples claiming absolute knowledge that there is only one way to stay sober, if you believe differently than them(Christian as opposed to Buddhist for instance) then you won’t stay sober. Drama, drama, and more drama. I don’t EVER want to go back, but here I am thinking about it. I know exactly how this will go if I decided to go. I will tolerate it for maybe a week then end up shoving some blatant truth and logic in a few old timers faces when they are obviously full of shit, telling their lies, claiming to know the big book backwards and forwards(and blatantly contradicting it). I think that is what I got the most sick and tired of, everyone in the room just nodding their head when these jackals and know it all’s would blatantly contradict the literature they themselves tout as the infallible word of god. I have zero tolerance for that the older that I get. Fine, people want to believe that, more power to them. But I’ll be damned if I am going to let these contradictions slide by me(despite the fact that as far as I am concerned let’s burn the big book and the disease concept mumbo jumbo). It’s all nonsense so cast it to the flames as David Hume would have said had he been living today.

  • SoberPJ

    FoD .. yep, there is a real draw for us humans for social inclusion. That is why old timers use the tactic of real or implied social exclusion with such success. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be around people that seem to accept you and pretend to care about you. And they may actually care about you as long as they can see you, but not otherwise. The answer is simple, find another group of people to be around. They really do exist.

  • Gunthar2000

    just because the group is easily accessible does not mean that it’s a group I should be around.
    I have to remind myself of this constantly.