Archive for the AA Terminology Category

Alcoholics Anonymous and the TABOO of the GEOGRAPHIC change.




Geographical Cure (a.k.a Geographic ):
An effort to cure our alcoholism by getting a ‘fresh start’ in a new location. It doesn’t work. There is a saying around AA, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

I remember having about five years sober in AA and approaching my sponsor for guidance. I had done well and established a very successful business. In my success I started to look at property in an idyllic location where my family and I had always wanted to live. I had saved enough money to buy a house there for cash. My wife and I had picked out a house and were ready to make our move. Being a good AA I decided to check with my spiritual advisor and sponsor first. Much to my disappointment, he told me that it was dangerous for me to buy this house and move so far from my support group. Clearly I was brainwashed; AA and my sponsor had become my lifeline. I had such a lack of confidence in myself from working the AA program and listening to the rhetoric of the group that I was unable to stand on my own two feet. I was completely dependent on the program and fellowship. As someone who has disconnected from AA, I can look back and see what a shame this is. I see now that AA did not give me power but that it completely crippled me. I have not been living my own life but have been living the lives of others. I remember hearing how bad it was to move away from a persons AA group but never recall hearing anyone share about experiencing a move in which they drank. Members would share that if an alcoholic were to move away from their group they would drink. They would even share that subconciously it was probably an underlying reason for the move. Remember, the great obsession of every alcoholic is to drink normally.

Another factor that plays into the AA’s management of the geographic move is the God implication. Whether implied or by direction the AA seems to rely heavily on the notion that God will do for the alcoholic what he cannot do for himself. Live and let live and let go and let God would seem to directly conflict with any sponsors direction regarding a geographic change, unless of course the AA sponsor is a direct channel from God.

Bottom line; what business does any AA have meddling with the personal life choices and goals of anyone who wanders in their door?  Have you been incapacitated by a sponsor who told you not to make a geographic change?  Were you pressured to stay in your community?  This may be the place to talk about it and share opposing viewpoints so that those who are still crippled by AA can gain insight and make their own decisions.

AA is not cult – but its members are my gods!

Ruth Fowler wrote a piece for The Fix busting some supposed 12-step myths. I’ve gotta say with this and another mythbusting piece they published, The Fix has done the worst job of busting myths that I’ve ever seen. Most of their myths are simply strawmen, or the discussion which follows the “myth” either confirms it or has nothing to do with it!

Fowler’s first few myths have to do with the suggestion that AA is a cult – which makes this excerpt all the more hilarious:

But many AA-ers are non-believers. It’s perfectly acceptable *not* to believe in God. It’s perfectly acceptable *not* to hand your life over to Him. I always understood this step to mean: I came to AA a total mess, and I needed to be willing to take the suggestion of everyone around me and have enough faith to trust that things will get better so I can piece my life back together. These people became my quasi-gods, and their advice became my commandments, if you will. And I kind of liked them more because they were real, flawed, screwed-up human beings, not a big old bearded man in the sky. It’s okay not to “get” God.

I couldn’t begin to pick apart everything that’s wrong with this article – so maybe you guys should check it out and report back with your favorite quotes.  I almost think it’s supposed to be a humor piece for Mcsweeny’s.  It makes me wonder why people like this are in AA at all when they claim their interpretations of the program are so different than what is clearly stated by AA literature, experts, and members everywhere.

For a good laugh, check out the full article: 12 Steps To The 12 Steps

Also, I hesitate to mention this, but a commenter on the article going by a name we all know too well ironically posted a link to Rational Recovery.

4 Reasons Why AA is Religious

4 Reasons Why AA is Religious and Not Spiritual

I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know the difference between religious and spiritual. I know what people mean when they make that distinction. By spiritual, they mean something like a deep, unmediated connection to the universe and a sense of their place in it. And by religious they mean a that this connection to the universe has been corrupted by human mediation and codification.

I’m also not making a judgment about whether or not spirituality is real or correct – if you’re religious (and object to AA on the grounds that it betrays your beliefs), you shouldn’t take offense to my definitions. I’m just saying that I know what people mean, I’m going use that universal understanding to say why AA is not spiritual, but religious.

Continue reading 4 Reasons Why AA is Religious


Anonymity – a cornerstone of the AA program, which is steadfastly protected, unless breaking it will serve a greater purpose for an individual AA, or AA as a whole – in which case it is dropped like a bad habit.

Among the most important and revered traditions of AA is the practice of anonymity. To any reasonable person it should seem like a good idea, and on its surface, it is — but like with all things AA, they have taken this simple concept, bastardized its meaning, and nefariously use it in ways ranging from the exploitation of others for the greater good of the organization, to an excuse for absolving themselves of accountability. Like their other traditions, anonymity is used selectively, and only when it is of benefit to a member or the group; but it is quickly tossed aside when their AA affiliation will help them in some way. Take a look: Continue reading Anonymity

The Big Book

AA Original Manuscript Reveals Debate on Religion

After being hidden away for nearly 70 years and then auctioned twice, the original manuscript by AA co-founder Bill Wilson is about to become public for the first time next week, complete with edits by Wilson-picked commenters that reveal a profound debate in 1939 about how overtly to talk about God.

(Thank you for the head’s up, Cherokeebride!)

Willy Loman’s Higher Power [UPDATED]

“What’s the toughest sales challenge you can face?  Denial.”

AA teaches that when someone is in denial, you can’t win them over with facts.  You can’t convince them with data.  Every time you try, the walls go up.  The ‘prospect’ says, “that’s not me.  I don’t have that problem.”  It’s the same thing that happens to you when your prospect says, “I don’t have a security problem on my network.”  Or, ”We don’t need better processes.”  Or, “We’ve got good visibility into our situation/data/environment already.”

From “What Alcoholics Anonymous Can Teach You About Messaging,” at CorportateVisions.

By the way, did we just get sucked into a black hole?

[UPDATE] It’s not just salespeople who can learn a thing or two about selling garbage from Alcoholics Anonymous. The church is also taking a lesson!

Alcoholics Anonymous, The Twelve Steps and the world of recovery at large represent an untapped and highly valuable resource for the Christian Church. Not only can the church learn a great deal from AA about the nature of addiction, but also about the reality of how God works in the lives of troubled people. In this sense, AA can help the church rediscover a great deal about itself, much of which has been sadly lost, at least in the majority of the church’s current mainstream expressions. Specifically, AA can recall to the Church its understanding of the human condition as intrinsically impaired, of God primarily as rescuer and of spiritual growth as a cyclical rather than linear phenomenon. AA also offers an extraordinary model for how those understandings play out on a corporate and organizational level. [Emphasis mine.]

The Three Most Toxic Aspects Of The 12-step Movement by mikeblamedenial

The Three Most Toxic Aspects Of The 12-step Movement

by mikeblamedenial

Much has been said about all the unhealthy aspects of steppism–  its bad psychology; thought-stopping slogans; parroted gibberish; disengagement with the real world and real problems, etc, etc. While all valid, and certainly worthy of discussion and consideration,  the qualities I find most toxic about steppism are these:

1) Its self-denying religiosity, based solely upon its need for coercion  from  the legal, medical, and human services industries to maintain a fresh supply of potential indoctrinees;

2) The diseasing of its membership, first contrived by Marty Mann, to legitimize that coercion and referrals from those industries;

3) Its false doctrine of powerlessness, designed to foster a sense of dependency on the movement, and to make the commitment to steppism by its practitioners life-long, and deeply ingrained.

Without referrals/coercion from outside agencies, AA membership would likely have flat-lined, then began to diminish, in the 1970s. The Hughes Act made the addiction industry profitable. The war on drugs began over-taxing the judicial and prison systems, and made the options of treatment in lieu of, and sentencing of offenders to AA more and more attractive.  A “religious” label on the 12-step movement would remove these sources of new members.

The “addiction is a disease” ruse further legitimizes the addictions industry, and gives AA a nearly-endless source of new and recycled chair-warmers in its never-ending cycle of short-lived individual memberships. With the typical referral staying in the rooms for less than one month, the need for fresh court slips and half-way house vans in the parking lot is never-ending.

Powerlessness  is, of course, the biggest hammer in the 12-step tool-box. Without it, who would want to stick around the rooms very long?  Sadly, along with powerlessness comes the sense of disempowerment, and a very real dependence  upon a model which does little to serve as an inspiration for self-empowerment, self-improvement, or much else beyond the admiration of one’s co-indoctrinees. Powerlessness is right beside hopelessness in the catalogue of delibilitating emotions, and AA has staked its very essence upon instilling it in its practitioners. Toxic, untheraputic, and unhelpful as it is, it is the very core of steppism.

Real Alcoholics

The term “real alcoholic” doesn’t have any meaning outside AA. It’s just AA jargon. The more exclusive a group is, the more dense and peculiar their shorthand, and the less meaning it has for “normies.”

Not to be ironic, but look, for instance, at wine geeks who talk about “nose.” Everyone knows what a nose is — but when wine geeks talk about nose, it means something else. And when we get that they’re not talking about the nose on a face, we still don’t bother to adopt the term for our everyday use, when we’re talking about how something smells, because that would be ridiculous and no one would know what we’re talking about.

It’s similarly ridiculous to use the phrase “real alcoholic.” I mean, aside from the inherent fallacy that groovecat deftly pointed out in the PS to his comment on the subject, it simply wouldn’t make sense for me to insist that I’m a “real alcoholic.” Continue reading Real Alcoholics

These Are Just Suggestions

People in AA lie a lot. Most often it is a flat-out lie, but often they will lie by omission, and by deception. Among their favorite lies is “these are just suggestions”. They tell newcomers this to rope them into the group. It is a bait and switch tactic that is common with any cult. When you hear someone say that AA is “attraction, not promotion”, this is another lie that can mean many things. In the case of this slogan, it means they attract people into AA by not promoting the truth about what they mean by “suggestions”.

The following quote was taken from an AA zealot’s website. Here she gives an accurate description of what AAs really believe while they are sucking people in by saying it is a program of suggestions:

Obtaining and maintaining a “Spiritual Way of Life” means to me that I “MUST” do the things pointed out in the Big Book (the Book called “Alcoholics Anonymous”) It says in this book that there are only suggestions there. However, someone has counted the “Musts” and there are about 122 of them.

The “suggestions” in the Big Book, are things I MUST do if I wish to obtain and maintain a spiritual way of life without drinking. It is like this: these are “suggestions” in the same way as if I am in an airplane about to jump because it will crash land (like me before sobriety) “it is ‘suggested’ that I pull the rip cord.” – Linda AA zealot

Next time you hear an AA say “these are just suggestions”, remember this: they are lying to you.

Moral Inventory

There is a saying that AA stands for “Altered Attitudes”, which is one of the slogans with which I actually agree. The AA experience is about changing almost everything, especially attitudes. The purpose of the steps is not to quit drinking, although that is what gets people through the door – it is about conditioning others to alter their fundamental belief systems to make AA the central focus of their lives. Remember, that AA’s stated belief is that the individual is subservient to the group. This is done by diminishing the individual, and praising the group. This isn’t just done in AA. It is a common cult tactic, as described in the cult awareness videos we posted here. One common thing you will see in AA is individuals saying such things as “before I joined AA, I was (insert pejorative here), but now I am (insert glowing individual trait here) – and I owe it all to AA“.

The ways of achieving this are to tear down the individual, and build up the group. Another thing often heard is “I had to be torn down before I could be built back up again”. This is done in a couple of ways. Continue reading Moral Inventory