Archive for July 2011

AA’s GSB Turns a Blind Eye to Child Predators in Meetings

Has anyone seen this?

It seems that in 2010, Paul E. Clearly, Trustee of the General Service Board of AA, Inc. submitted a report about child sexual abuse in AA to the GSB’s Subcommittee on Vulnerable Members in AA (I know!). He detailed several shocking instances of predation and implored the GSB to take responsibility for the safety of AA’s most vulnerable members. He concludes:

For a host of moral, ethical, and legal reasons, it’s time for the General Service Board to provide leadership in addressing the issue of child sexual abuse in AA.

Read Paul Cleary’s very revealing 7-page report, “Predators in AA,” and don’t miss the GSB’s predictably despicable abdication of responsibility on the last page. There is some reference to GSB’s response around the web, for instance here,  here and here, but I could find only one  reference to Cleary’s original report (which I was unable to download as a pdf, but could view in google docs).


Amends to Abusers?

A question posted on PhillyBurbs:

In all the 12-step groups I’ve been in, I’ve known few people who haven’t been abused at some point in their lives. Yes, there are a few of us who come from shining, loving households, who have been loved to death by our families. But most of us have much darker tales.

I met a woman recently, with one of those darker tales, who hasn’t yet begun her steps. While talking with her one day, she told me about her father, who was terribly physically abusive to both herself and her mother. The wearing-long-sleeves-in-summer kind of abuser. Even held a gun to his little girl’s head once.

Now, most sponsors tell their sponsees that they have to make amends to everyone in their lives. I personally have a father who was very minor-league, barely abusive compared to this friend’s story.

My sponsor has always insisted I have to forgive him and apologize to him. Ask him how I can make it up to him, for all the damage my being an alcoholic has done to him.

I think this is bull. And I think it would be insane for my friend to make an amend to this man. She was an innocent, helpless child, and the person who was supposed to protect her harmed her in ways unimaginable to any sane person. What could she possibly owe him?

Now I know I’m still considered quite new to recovery by many, I know this goes completely against my sponsor’s teachings, and I know I’ll probably think this very foolish one day.

But I also know I can’t be the only angry soul out there thinking this way.

Does anyone agree with me on this?

No responses so far.

DARE Object Lesson

Cop Pulling DARE Trailer Charged with DUI

A police officer is facing drunk driving charges in Washington County, Indiana and the arresting officers say he was carrying a message about drug abuse education at the time.

On Wednesday night around 10:30 p.m. Scott and Tina Robbins were just about to go to sleep.

“It was so loud,” said Mrs. Robbins. “I was out of the bed on the floor within a spilt second.”

They heard a crash right outside their window. “I grabbed the phone and called 911,” said Mr. Robbins. “The damage to the truck and the way it looked wrapped in the tree, he had to be traveling so fast.”

Indiana State Police say 38-year-old John Newcomb, a Seymour Police Officer, was driving a pick up truck through Salem on Main Street.

“He side swiped a vehicle that was legally parked on the side of the roadway,” said Sgt. Jerry Goodin, ISP. “After striking that vehicle, he went on and struck a tree.”

It didn’t take long for investigators to suspect alcohol was involved.

“He was sitting on the wall out of the vehicle, holding his head,” said Mrs. Robbins. But that wasn’t the only thing that stood out to the Robbins, it was the trailer Newcomb was pulling.

“It said DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and Seymour Police Department- which made me think he was a police officer,” said Mr. Robbins.

Not only a police officer, but according to the Seymour Police Department website, he is the School Resource Officer, responsible for seven schools, acting as a mentor and providing students with a role model. It even states that he conducts lectures on narcotics and alcohol and their effects on driving. Continue reading DARE Object Lesson

Gather ’round

Bonfire at royskiism’s

Quote of the Day

“This book is equivalent of telling Type I diabetics that they can live without insulin injections and can eat candy daily. Either way they eventually die from the disease because of their actions. Alcoholism is an allergy. Just like someone who has a peanut allergy, having just a little peanut still results in a reaction – sometimes deadly. When alcoholics intake alcohol, the reaction is a mental obsession for MORE!
The ONLY real “cure” for alcoholism is AA. I have an alcoholic allergy, and I treat it with AA meetings. This has worked for me and MILLIONS of others. There is no real “cure” for this disease – only in AA have I been able to find out how to live life on life’s terms without alcohol or drugs. I would highly suggest reading the Big-Book of Alcoholics Anonymous over this book.”

Deb Reinig. An AA. Commenting on Amazon about the book, The Cure For Alcoholism: Drink Your Way Sober Without Willpower, Abstinence and Discomfort; a book about the Sinclair Method.

(I’m guessing she hasn’t read the book, and might just be guilty of “contempt prior to investigation.”)

Scientific American interviews Bankole Johnson

Does Rehab Work for Alcoholism and Other Addictions?

Singer Amy Winehouse’s fame and infamy have now been forever linked to one word: rehab. She is only one of many recent high-profile cases in which attempts at rehabilitation from substance abuse failed. Amidst strange public outbursts earlier this year, actor Charlie Sheen asserted that it was not rehab, but rather he, himself, that had been his secret weapon against abusing cocaine and booze.

Read on for the interview with Dr. Bankole Johnson.

Atheists in AA, Again

This seems to be the topic of the week…

Atheist Worries about Going to AA Meetings

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I think I have a substance abuse problem, but I don’t want to go to Narcotics Anonymous because I’m an atheist and don’t think I can “let go and let God.” What should I do instead?

— Non-spiritual addict

Go anyway. If the meeting you attend is God-centric, ask about other meetings, or shop (more plentiful) Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for one that’s more your style. The “higher power” isn’t God, necessarily — it can be goodness or reason or whatever you regard as an entity that’s bigger and more enduring than you are.

Think of it this way — when people have big things to wrestle with, often they take comfort in seeing mountains, skylines or beaches. Why? Because monumental things make a person feel small and impermanent. So all you need for the higher-power process is the idea of something that makes you, by comparison, small and impermanent, something that will long outlast your pain. It’s about bringing your problems down to size.

Re: The addict:

Just let go. “Letting God” means accepting that whatever’s going to happen will whether you throw a fit about it or not. I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe the world revolves on an axis that isn’t me — something I didn’t grasp before recovery. God’s existence or lack thereof has been a minuscule part of my recovery.

— Anonymous

Thanks. It’s “letting the chips fall where they may,” if God-free cliches make the concept easier to accept.

Even non-addicts can benefit from reminding themselves that much of their sense of control is an illusion, that choices that are truly, 100 percent ours are quite limited. Liberating, really, if you think about it, and quite useful when deciding where to focus our attention in increasingly cluttered times.


There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

Last night HBO debuted the titled eponymous documentary about Diane Schuler, the wife and mother who killed 8 people in a head-on crash while going the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in 2009. The autopsy of Mrs. Schuler showed that she was seriously impaired by alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crash and witnesses said that her driving looked so purposeful that it seemed like she wanted to kill herself.

Her husband emphatically disagreed, placing blame for the autopsy results on bad medical work. He engaged a separate reading of the toxicology reports and then refused to believe they were accurate.
Her family believes that the drinking was situational at best, and she indeed had no history of missing work, was a high producer and an overscheduled mom.

There was no evidence that she regularly drank, and the kids in the car thought her behavior (the title of the film comes from the words of the call made from her niece to her brother-in-law during the trip) was “strange.” In fact it was so strange and out of character for her that her husband and police went looking for her.

The forensic psychiatrist who reviewed her files and spoke to the family says that Mrs. Schuler was in physical (she had a severely abcessed tooth) and emotional (her father left her at nine) and that she took a drink to stop the pain. The drink didn’t stop the pain, and she took another and another and another. The marijuana, which she used “to help her sleep,” impaired her judgment and the results were tragic.
I watched it last night and would agree, from a cinematic standpoint, with the author of this review

Naturally, the story itself has spouted a fountain of opinion from the 12 step community, using the death as an object lesson for the need to understand the “codependence” of Mr. Schuler and how alcoholic Mrs. Schuler was.

Since the surviving members of the families killed in the crash are suing Mr. Schuler, I would expect this sad story to be in the papers for a long time. I would also expect the thumping of more drums from the 12 step communities, making the crash about them and adapting the circumstances as an object lesson to teach us all that AA solves everything.

Blowhard of the Day

Yesterday, Humanspirit, posting as “yixing” on the Guardian, responded to an article titled “Amy Winehouse: Why is there so little understanding of addiction?” and her comment was censored by the editors. They offered no specific reason, only linked to the commenting guidelines. Her comment was preserved, though, since another commenter, Gunnerson, took issue and quoted her in his/her response.  So we can see for a plain fact that the editors censored for opinion. The response, which stands, is stunning and I thought would serve as a good “quote of the day“:


There is nothing enlightened about doctors foisting their medical responsibilities onto AA or NA. These groups may work for some – the peer support is useful here, I suppose. But AA especially has an appalling failure rate, presumably because its programme has nothing to do with tackling addiction and everything to do with finding God, accepting personal powerlessness, prayer, confession, repentance, atonement, retribution, daily seeking of God’s will, and evangelizing the 12 step programme. (Anyone here who doesn’t believe me, look up the 12 steps of AA and AA’s “Big Book” online, and ask yourselves whether this really should be the default “treatment” for addiction that a secular society should be using in the 21st century.)
I’m assuming you now feel better after your fact-challenged rant.
But you’re not wrong about everything.

AA does have an appalling failure rate, something along the lines of 60%. Interestingly you do not mention any alternative modalities that do better than that. I suspect that’s because you don’t know any, and I further suspect that’s because there aren’t any.

The very reason that “patients” in expensive rehab centers are “forced” (your words, not mine) to familiarize themselves with the AA or NA programs is simply because if they did not do that their own “failure rates” would go through the roof.
The real scandal here, and you touch upon it, is the scumbags rehab operators pocketing oceans of cash by charging the earth for what is no more than a fancy referral service to a program that is free anyway.

Of course Bill Wilson was a shady operator – he worked on Wall Street for crissakes, what would you expect?
In spite of your fulminations about his character, and your condemnation (and misrepresentation) of the true breadth of AA and similar programs you completely fail to account for the fact that nothing else has so far come close in effectiveness for both theists and atheists alike.

The annoying (for folks like you) fact is that, as preposterous as AA can be, and it certainly can be that, and as unpalatable as some of its literature is to the secular mind, it’s still the most effective modality out there, and not just by a little bit.

I would fully expect AA and its offshoots to disappear of their own accord quite soon after being replaced by a treatment modality less offensive to your prejudices, something robustly scientific and comfortingly secular no doubt, but as of now there is nothing meeting those criteria to discuss, now is there?

Are Addiction Recovery and Atheism Compatible?

Moderinzing Secular Addiction Recovery

Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds and religious or nonreligious affiliations suffer from debilitating addictions, which have detrimental effects on millions of lives. Addiction recovery treatments shouldn’t discriminate either, but Alcoholics Anonymous does. AA’s Toronto administration recently removed two of its affiliate groups in the area for not holding to its religious standards, which include a belief in God, as stated in the organization’s “Twelve Steps” to recovery.

For AA members, the Twelve Steps dictate a lifestyle code, a strict roadmap away from addiction. If you want to recover from addiction through AA, it’s imperative to treat the program as a “higher power,” says The Fix, a magazine focused on recovery issues. Members are encouraged to recite the Lord’s Prayer during meetings, to follow the steps meticulously and without deviance, and to abstain completely from their abused substance. AA insists that recovery be a lifelong process, maintaining that even an addict who has been clean or sober for ten years should continue to come to meetings.

Read the rest…