Archive for the The Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous Category

AA Sends Out Its Anonymity Letter

And Romenesko has picked up on it!

A day after a Romenesko reader noted that Roger Ebert was an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for reporters, A.A. sent a message to journalists on its email list. It says that “our fellowship does not comment on matters of public controversy, but we are happy to provide information about A.A. to anyone who seeks it.”

Check out some of the comments.

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).


Why Addiction Recovery Should Be A Feminist Issue

There are so many different angles from which to criticize the current state of addiction recovery. Not only is it a culture, a permanent lifestyle, and a religious institution, but it’s an enormously profitable industry that thrives on its own failure (relapse is big bucks). But it seems that people who are participating in the progressive conversation on the big stage aren’t aware that addiction recovery is a parallel universe that influences popular culture. It’s imperative that progressive voices genuinely begin to challenge it, and I’m going to try to appeal to different arenas of the activist sphere and make a case for why addiction should be part of the conversation. Right now, I am hoping to put recovery culture on the feminist radar by offering a condensed version of this twisted world and the culture it has generated. I don’t have much of a feminist pedigree, but I hope I can make a good case for its relevance to feminist activism.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog throwing tantrums about the fact that addiction gets no play among the skeptic and new atheist writers out there – people who actively combat quackery and religious influence in public policy. How does it escape these people that a whole branch of public health has already been handed over to the faith healers?

I have a few theories about that. But my favorite is that, despite their skepticism, they’re still a little superstitious about the topic: Addiction is such a complicated and elusive condition. Who wants to touch that with a ten foot pole? The reason addiction is such a mystery, though, is that our conventional understanding of addiction has its roots in religious philosophy – not science, psychology, or medicine – and it has not evolved at all in 75 years. Neither has the way we treat it. The vast majority of addiction facilities in this country employ the 12 Step program for spiritual enlightenment as the basis for their treatment. Things we take for granted about addiction, for instance that it’s a “progressive, fatal disease,” are completely unfounded, but they put the sharpest critical thinkers in a bind. Doesn’t everyone know at least one person who believes that their life was saved by accepting their powerlessness? How do you start challenging that if you think that someone could die of it?

“I’d be dead without AA” is one among many thought-stopping cliches that keep criticism of addiction mythology at bay. Add to this AA’s own persistent misinformation campaign, its unimpeached reputation as a benevolent organization, their noble insistence on anonymity, the public’s general ignorance, and the amount of time and effort it would take for someone on the outside to piece together a big picture. This mess has allowed a fringe religious culture to spring up around addiction and quietly influence the landscape in ways that I think would be of enormous interest to feminists. At least I hope I can make a case for it: Continue reading Why Addiction Recovery Should Be A Feminist Issue

Oh, Shoot! We missed it.

AnnaZed alerted me to this yesterday, and I missed it:

Attraction not Promotion

National Alcohol Screening Day (seriously).

Though some of us are just problem drinkers who  ” …do not necessarily need medical treatment, peer group support, or a spiritual awakening.”

You can’t make this shit up.

No, you can’t.

Happy Belated National Alcohol Screening Day Everyone! Maybe they’ll have some suggestions for you.

AA’s Affiliation with the Courts

I just thought I would take a moment to clarify this point: The courts would never have used AA as a sentencing option if AA itself did not actively and aggressively 12 Step at the courthouse. The courthouse is the most important outreach work AA does to maintain its membership numbers. Alcoholics Anonymous not only encourages members to 12 Step at the court house, in spite of the breach of several Traditions, and in spite of the discomfort and questioning of members, but actually uses passive aggressive manipulation to coerce members to engage in this 12 Step outreach at the courts.

Anyone who asserts that courts are taking advantage of AA, without AA’s enthusiastic and aggressive participation, is either ignorant of AA’s position on the subject or practicing Rigorous Honesty™ (lying).

It is AA’s policy to forge this relationship with the courts:

AA Cooperation With the Courts

AA Video for Legal and Correctional Professionals


I think the Leagle website might be a good outreach resource. If you go to their search page and do a phrase search on Alcoholics Anonymous, you get thousands of results. The story on the front page today is about a “couple” that met in AA.
People v. Wisdom
A. The prosecution’s case
In September 2007, S.K. met Wisdom at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The two began dating in December 2007. After a couple of months, S.K. ended the relationship. Wisdom wanted to continue the relationship. On the evening of February 29, 2008, S.K. agreed to see Wisdom. Wisdom and S.K. decided to purchase some alcohol and cocaine and then go to S.K.’s residence. Continue reading leagle

Breaking Tradition for the Holidays!

More Anonymous Attraction…

An Open Letter to the Addicts and Alcoholics This Holiday Season by Steve Wildsmith, “recovering addict” and Weekend Editor for The Daily Times.

[Fixed the link. Thanks AndyM.]

Like Gardners

AnnaZed found AA’s current promotional campaign.  What else but an evangelical religion has the nerve and obliviousness to promote themselves the way they do.

About AA – Collaboration: Paving the Way to Sobriety

Here are some excerpts

Committed to helping those with alcoholism regain their lives, Judge Hueston relies on the relationship she has developed with the A.A. community in her district and throughout the state. “I hear these stories every day in my courtroom, tales of horror and heartache, dysfunctional backgrounds, people who have lost jobs, lost kidneys, lost limbs; people who are living in abandoned buildings….”

“You and I are like gardeners,” she says, talking about the role that A.A. can play in helping alcoholics who come through drug courts. “We have to plant seeds and hope that at some point they get it.” Describing one of the people who came before her court whom she had remanded to A.A., a woman who had been actively using drugs and alcohol for many years—“she was strung out, her eyes were sunken, her kids were in foster care, she was homeless”— Judge Hueston witnessed the incredible miracle of A.A. The judge detailing how the woman complained bitterly about having to go to
A.A. and would have preferred simply being in jail. “It’s too hard,” she said. The woman, however, returned a year or so later to Judge Hueston’s court—with flowers for the judge—sober and slowly regaining her life.
“Drug court is creative and it’s holistic, and we’re trying to wrap around our services and our support in a meaningful way. But I cannot do it alone. I need help. I need a team. And A.A. is a very powerful part of the team.”

It sounds like you can’t be too stupid for Yale, either:

Richard S. Sandor, M.D., graduated from Yale University in 1968 and received his M.D. from the University of Southern California in 1972. Prior to full-time private practice, Dr. Sandor was the Chief of the Chemical Dependence Treatment Programs at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center and then Medical Director of the Saint John’s Hospital Chemical Dependence Center. He has lectured and written on the subject of addictive disorders and was President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine from 1993 to 1995. According to Dr. Sandor, when it comes to using A.A. as a resource for healthcare professionals, “You in A.A. have a great deal to teach those of us in the healthcare field.” Dr. Sandor, who began treating alcoholics when he was director of a care unit at a California hospital, attended A.A. meetings as part of his early training. There, says Dr. Sandor, “I learned about recovery, which in all my fine academic education, I had never learned anything about. I knew how to detox people, I knew how to treat all kinds of physical and psychiatric illnesses; but I knew nothing about recovery. And these wonderful people in the meetings taught me about how recovery comes as a result of working the Twelve Steps.”

Attraction Shmattraction

I like to think I’m a quick study, but it’s taken me over a year to realize that whenever I troll around the tubes for AA news, I always land on the Desert Sun‘s website. There’ always some piece of AA fluff there that is just like more AA fluff, and so I usually navigate away (not always). It’s always obnoxious, but not usually interesting enough to post about. I just landed there again tonight, and I said to myself, “Jeezo, why do I keep ending up here?”

You’d think I have asked and answered this question for myself sooner.

Turns out the reason I keep landing there is that Dr. James West writes a regular column for the Desert Sun. He is a retired Betty Ford Center out-patient medical director. He is also the author of The Betty Ford Center Book of Answers (which has a lovely cover), among other things. Dr. West is hard on to 100 years old, which really makes me feel like a shitheel for this post.

(Don’t worry about me. I’ll get over it.)

Upon his retirement from the Betty Ford Center in 2007 (at 93), he said:

What I’m most proud of is that we have not moved one iota from the principle that treatment here is based on the 12-Step program. That was our foundation back in 1982, and it remains our foundation a quarter-century later.

It’s really hard for me to hold anything against a 97 year old person. I visited my grandad when he was 97, and the last thing he ever said to me was “My dear, I want to tell you something. I’m so glad you came to visit. But I am so goddamn glad to see you go. No offense.” People that age like their routine.

I hold it against the people who spotlight Dr. West’s old man routine to support their refusal to evolve.