Archive for the Al-Anon Category

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).


Alcoholics Anonymous Killed My Marriage…

AnnaZed sent me this article from the Daily Mail, written by a journalist whose passionate relationship with her journalist husband survived many years, many wars, tragedies, terror, and long separations, but seems to have met its match with Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous Killed My Marriage: The Love of Two War Reporters Survived Many Battles, Except One

His drinking got worse and worse, but there were glimmers of hope. The same courage that kept him alive in war zones all those years sent him to Alcoholic Anonymous and he began doing their famous 12-step programme.

It was not easy — and I knew how much he suffered. It was also painful for me not to be able to help and to know he didn’t want my help.

I went to an AA Christmas party, and while everyone was friendly and welcoming, it was clear they set a wall between ‘us and them’.

Like many wives living with alcoholic husbands, I was not an addict or an alcoholic and, therefore, I was an outsider. I could never understand their suffering, their pain. Bruno changed, too. While he stayed sober, he stopped seeing our friends and he stopped socialising with the world that was not AA.

People were either ‘my cult’ as he jokingly called them or ‘not my cult’.

By that he meant non-alcoholics – meaning me.

It was a no-win situation – I wanted desperately for my husband to survive and be sober, but I did not want to lose him to the smelly hall of The American Church on Quai d’Orsay where he seemed to enter another world. The world of AA.

I met a lovely woman at an AA party who spelt it out for me. ‘It’s amazing that you guys are still together,’ she said. ‘Most people who get sober find it impossible to carry on with the relationship they had while they were drinking.’

A light bulb went on as I realised we were barely hanging on.

In some ways I hate AA, because it stole my husband from me. I bought every book I could find on alcoholism and spouses of alcoholics. I went to Al Anon, the support group for loved ones of alcoholics, and hated it.

It met in a church on a Saturday afternoon. The people argued about who made the tea and who cleaned up. When I tried to talk, a stern woman kept interrupting me.

‘You have to say, hello, my name is Janine and I am the spouse of an alcoholic,’ she kept repeating in a robotic voice.

So I said it, and every time, the group would say, ‘Welcome Janine!’ like happy morons, and it was too weird. I fled in tears halfway through.

Read the whole thing…

Slate on “Surviving Straight, Inc.”

Please go read Steven Slate’s piece on the new documentary about the “troubled teen” industry, created by survivors of the Straight, Inc. nightmare. He makes the connection between what some might consider a sort of isolated issue and draws a very clear line to the addiction recovery movement whose psychotic mythologies influence our culture so profoundly.

Here’s Steven Slate’s article. It is essential reading. When you’re done, please friend it:

Surviving Straight Inc, a Controlling Approach To Addiction Treatment Brings Disastrous Consequences

I wanted to also point out that one of the creators of Surviving Straight, Inc. started a website that we linked to in the blogroll. Troubled Teen Industry is a powerful resource and a compelling read.

[UPDATED]: I guess Steven and I were writing posts for ST at the same time, and I just happened to hit “post” before he did! Sorry, Steven… I scooped you on your own story.

Steven Slate says:

As of now, distribution plans for the movie are up in the air, and they’re submitting it to festivals. One thing that may help is making noise about it on the net, and showing that there’s demand for it. I don’t know the best way to do that, but here’s where to start:

The film’s website:

Troubled Teen Industry:

Reddit Troubled Teens:

I can’t stress how much these people have put themselves on the line by making this film and appearing in it. Along the way, one of the filmmakers even received a message ominously taped to his door which read “You won’t survive Straight Inc.” I’d hate to see their efforts go to waste. I don’t know the best way to support them, so I’m just starting by spreading these links around and talking about the movie with the means I have at my disposal. Many of the abusive methods of Straight Inc are still in use in Therapeutic Communities all over the place, and this stuff needs to be stopped.



HARM LESS – An Al-Anon Alternative

New on HAMS Network, from Kenneth Anderson:



HARM LESS is a lay-led, free-of-charge support and informational group for anyone who has been negatively affected by a loved one’s drinking or drug use. HARM LESS relies on evidence-based, scientifically proven strategies to help reduce the negative impact of your loved one’s addiction. Whether you are a friend or family member, spouse, partner, husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter, brother sister or anything else you are welcome.

HARM LESS offers support and information to help you reduce the harmful effects of a loved ones drinking on your life. You are not powerless and you are not alone. There are always steps which you can take to change your life for the better.

Bill W for Sainthood

Bedford Archives of AA Co-Founder to Be Preserved

BEDFORD HILLS — Anyone who has ever loved a drunk knows how much a pledge to quit drinking is worth.

But these are not ordinary broken promises.

The quit-drinking oaths that a certain Bill Wilson swore to his wife 80 years ago on the family Bible are now considered so valuable to the Alcoholics Anonymous story and to American history in general that they can no longer be entrusted merely to safe storage here at the couple’s historic home and grounds.

“Those archives are a national treasure,” said Manhattan writer Susan Cheever, who used the archives extensively for her 2004 biography of Wilson. “AA is one of the most extraordinary things that has ever happened in our world, and he was one of the three or four most important men of the 20th century.”


Wilson proclaimed alcoholism a disease three decades before the American Medical Association did. The 12-step recovery solution that Wilson and co-founder Dr. Bob Smith created reversed the historically held belief that hard drunks could not stay sober, and it became the standard treatment in U.S. hospitals and clinics.

“It is the only way we have to deal with addiction, and we live in an age of addiction,” said Cheever, whose memoir of her father, John Cheever, documented the writer’s battle with alcohol. “Bill Wilson truly changed the way we think about ourselves.”

Read the whole thing …

(Thank you, G2K)

Al-Anot So Normal

In a lunacy contest between AA and Al-Anon, I’m not sure which one would win. Below is a quote taken from the “Al-Anon Family Group” section of the 12-Step forum, Miracles in Progress:

I was over a friend’s house who is in the program and he showed me a birthday card from his daughter. She had written in the card that she will always be there for him. I felt sick to my stomach when I read that sentence. I wound up lying and saying that it was a nice card, then couldn’t figure out if I should have told him that it is emotional incest for his daughter to feel she has to emotionally take care of him or not saying anything at all. I am very confused about this. What is the healthy thing to do? I have been contemplating calling him and telling him the truth, but don’t know if it is my place to do so. Also, I don’t feel he is healthy for me to be friends with since this is very sick behavior. Does anyone have any experience with this?

I’m not sure which is nuttier: this question, or the follow-up responses where just one other person questioned this guy on how telling a person that they always be there for them qualifies as “emotional incest” and “sick behavior.”

Those of you reading this who may be unfamiliar with Al-Anon, should understand that this conversation is centred around the idea of co-dependency. It’s an “affliction” with no clinical foundation, and thrives in the rooms of Al-Anon. It seems that just about everyone who walks into a meeting turns out to be co-dependent.

Z’s Story


by Z

The great burden of guilt I carry, and which stops me in life, is older than my experience in the 12 Step movement but was greatly exacerbated by this.

The sorts of things I remember being told by my parents, both in their cups and not, are these:

“We had you, but it was with doubts and then, misgivings.”
“We cannot easily afford you, and we also know you are scheming to get our money.”
“You are perfect.”
“We do not believe you can be competent.”
“You are the most intelligent person in the world.”
“We love you because we have to, but we do not like you at all.”
“Play the piano and try to look pretty; then, with luck, some man will step up to take care of you. Otherwise, the way you are, you will be out on the street.”
“I love you so much. All I ever wanted was you.”
“If you think this is cruel, just wait to see what I could do to really make you cry. In the Congo they chop children right to pieces.”
“We know you very well.” Continue reading Z’s Story

What They Say…

What They Say When They Think No One’s Looking

Over on the community pages, allyb directed us to a thread on SoberRecovery, which I want to highlight here on the front page. AA members take great exception to it when we highlight instances of abuse among AA members, because, they say, all groups are autonomous, and no single member can represent or speak for AA as a whole. Of course, AA — as an organization — does not provide any oversight, and is not accountable at all for what happens in meetings, either. This is a nice, tidy little buck-passing loop they’ve arranged for themselves.

And we don’t buy it. If AA doesn’t exist as a responsible entity, then what actually happens in AA and among members is AA. If it seems that we are picking on individual members, that’s because we are. These people are AA. You can deny responsibility on the technicality that’s built into the traditions, but we place the responsibility squarely where it belongs — on AA’s members.

The thread allyb exposed begins with a post from Sugardaddy, whose ex-girlfriend is a new AA member. He is very concerned because she is being aggressively 13th-Stepped in the meetings she attends. After outlining the specific behavior she has encountered, which is reprehensible, he says, “She is SCARED,” and follows up with a couple of questions: Continue reading What They Say…

Angie the Anti-Theist on Al-Anon

Angie is writing a series on her experience in Al-Anon. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

What could go wrong?

Sex Offenders in the South End – A Secure Residence
Inside the SCTF

It’s a month since King County’s Secure Community Transition Facility opened.

The “SCTF” is SODO’s new level-3 violent predatory sex offender residence, at Spokane and Second Avenue.

“It’s not known when a court will move a qualified civilly committed sex offender into the SCTF,” says Steve Williams, spokesperson for Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services.

This DSHS facility is equipped for six residents, with capacity for twelve.

Twenty-five cameras see you in and see you out. To enter, press an intercom button, identify yourself. From the control room, a staff member unlatches the door’s magnetically controlled lock. A concrete sidewalk follows a wall of earth-toned bricks rising 10 feet to black wrought iron bars. A corridor opens to the sky. At the end is the “sally port.”

The sally port is a steel and glass box, with doors to the sidewalk, a meeting room, a visitor bathroom, and the core facility. No two doors can open at once. Each withstands 1800 pounds of force.

Well, thank god they’ve implemented such high security measures and round-the-clock supervision over these violent sex offenders, because…. um…

Wait,  what?

Typical residents will be violent sex predators who may re-offend, who served prison time and finished a rigorous treatment program at McNeil Island’s Special Commitment Center.

Most are men, mid-to-late 40s, some older, out of shape from years of incarceration.

Each continues treatment, learning to integrate into society, to shop, manage money, find jobs. There are weekly individual and group therapies, reinforcing positive behaviors, countering negative ones. Those with histories of alcohol and drug abuse may attend Alcoholic Anonymous [sic]. Residents keep journals, share them with treatment providers.

Here’s the story.

And the linked article.