Posts tagged AA Terminology

Quote of the Day

“I was sitting in a meeting and my sponsee who had about 2 months was also attending. We were working on his fourth step and we had just gone over his sexual inventory and I had pointed out we are not the arbiters of anyone’s sex conduct but I also shared about the suggestion about no new relationships for a year, and explained why I thought it was a good idea based on my experience, that that rule wasn’t in place to protect the newcomer but to protect people FROM the newcomer, and how harmful I had been in my first year of sobriety, so I basically told him he could get his ashes hauled but try not to start a new relationship because we change so fast the chances were he would be harmful to whoever he got in a relationship with.

So anyway, there we are in this meeting, and he’s sitting there grinning like a possum eating s**t, and he raises his hand to share, the topic is gratitude, the chair calls on him and he starts sharing about how grateful he was for the program, and how he just got paid thx [sic] to the grace of god and the program blah blah blah, then he starts sharing about how he stopped at the massage parlor on the way to the meeting and got a b***job, then he points at me beaming and says ‘and it’s all thanks to working the program and my sponsor, he said it was OK to get laid my first year!!!!’

Ago, an AA.

“That Isn’t AA!”

    AA is NOT treatment centers. AA is not and never will be affiliated with treatment centers. AA has NOTHING to do with treatment centers.

Jeez. No wonder ppl think AA has gone down the pan. I am astonished that the public have been conned into thinking that 5000 dollar a week hotels have any meaningful similarity to an AA meeting or how AA meetings operate. How sad. The greedy fatcat treatment centre owners have eclipsed the public profile of AA meetings to such an extent that the ordinary public has no clue which is which.
Whatever. Nothing surprises me anymore. AA is frequently misperceived, so nothing new there. But it is still very sad that the fake ‘AA’ in treatment centers is passing for the real AA in AA meetings. The only reason I care is because fake AA doesn’t keep people sober for very long at all. Which is sad, but there is nothing I can do about that. I just stick to what I know, which is listed AA meetings as opposed to poorly hijacked AA methods in treatment centers.”

One of our readers, “Irish Friend of Bill”, wrote the above in our comment section. I wanted to highlight it, and post a link to a post we made a few months ago, “The Knickerbocker Complex and the Evolution of 12-Step Quackery”, which explains the evolution of addiction treatment, and how AA was an integral part in creating what we now have in terms of treatment.  The book Slaying the Dragon, which is referenced in this post, is a very good history of the alcohol addiction treatment industry, and is actually written by an AA apologist. It glosses AA little, but it is a fair account. I would recommend it to anyone who really interested in this subject, particularly Irish.

Anyone who has been in a 12-step treatment centre, which represents the overwhelming majority of facilities, would find the idea that these aren’t “really AA” to be laughable. Many are run by ‘recovering’ AA members, and meetings within the facilities are chaired by local AAs who volunteer their time. AA literature is used, including the ‘Big Book’, and AA supplies the “aftercare” for released patients. Not surprisingly, their success is the identical 5%, which is a zero percent effectiveness rate. The only thing to distinguish this from “regular AA”, is the name – Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF). This is done only because AA does not “lend its name” to any other organization. It’s simply a slick way to push AA without calling it AA. Here is the description taken from the TSF manual for the Project MATCH study:

“Twelve Step Facilitation Approach. This therapy is grounded in the concept of alcoholism as a spiritual and medical disease. The content of this intervention is consistent with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), with primary emphasis given to Steps 1 through 5. In addition to abstinence from alcohol, a major goal of the treatment is to foster the patient’s commitment to participation in AA. During the course of the program’s 12 sessions, patients are actively encouraged to attend AA meetings and to maintain journals of their AA attendance and participation. Therapy sessions are highly structured, following a similar format each week that includes symptoms inquiry, review and reinforcement for AA participation, introduction and explication of the week’s theme, and setting goals for AA participation for the next week. Material introduced during treatment sessions is complemented by reading assignments from AA literature (p. x)….The therapeutic approach underlying this manual is grounded in the principles and 12 Steps of AA (p. xi)….The program described here is intended to be consistent with active involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous….It adheres to the concepts set forth in the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous….The overall goal of this program is to facilitate patients’ active participation in the fellowship of AA. It regards such active involvement as the primary factor responsible for sustained sobriety (“recovery”) and therefore as the desired outcome of participation in this program (p. 1)….This treatment program has two major goals which relate directly to the first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 2)….The two major treatment goals are reflected in a series of specific objectives that are congruent with the AA view of alcoholism (p. 3)….Central to this approach is strong encouragement of the patient to attend several AA meetings per week of different kinds and to read the “Big Book” (“Alcoholics Anonymous”) as well as other AA publications throughout the course of treatment (p. 4)….The goal of the conjoint sessions is to educate the partner regarding alcoholism and the AA model, to introduce the concept of enabling, and to encourage partners to make a commitment to attend six Al-Anon meetings of their choice (p. 5)….[P]atients should be consistently encouraged to turn to the resources of AA as the basis for their recovery (p. 6)….Suggestions made by the 12-Step therapist should be consistent with what is found in AA-approved publications such as those that are recommended to patients (p. 8)….Encouraging patients to actively work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is the primary goal of treatment, as opposed to any skill that the therapist can teach (p. 10)….The therapist acts as a resource and advocate of the 12-Step approach to recovery (p. 11)….In this program, the fellowship of AA, and not the individual therapist, is seen as the major agent of change (p. 14)….The 12-Step therapist should not only be familiar with many AA slogans but should actively use them in therapy to promote involvement in AA and advise patients in how to handle difficult situations (p. 15)….In approaching alcoholic patients using this program…[t]here is…no cure for alcoholism; rather, there is only a method for arresting the process, which is active participation in the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 33). (Nowinski et al., 1995)” (Schaler, Jeffrey  “Addiction is a Choice”)

Edit: Here is an article on the history of Hazledon that DeConstructor linked in the comment section.

Edit Edit: From Mona Lisa –

Treatment Facilities Workbook (for AA members who work in treatment centers):

Cooperation with the Professional Community Workbook (for AA members who want to “carry the message” to the alcoholism treatment community):

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.


According the latest AA Triennial Survey, the average length of sobriety is 8 years. This sounds about right, but it includes only current members, and not those who drop out in disgust. Count those, and the average length of sobriety is closer to the one year mark. Walk into a decent sized meeting, and the majority in attendance have been there for less than a year, or are on their umpteenth kick at the sobriety can. There are a number of reasons for AA’s revolving door of new attendees, but nothing higher on the list than the old-timers.

AA’s only membership requirement is a desire to quit drinking, or being forced into attendance by a judge. There is no screening or background checks of members. Bank robbers, pedophiles, sociopaths, narcissists, wife beaters, peeping toms, child abusers and any other person is welcome – and all will thrive within the culture of AA if they simply adhere to the program. In fact, many of those who were failures at everything else in their life will be looked on with reverence in AA, simply by meeting the two prerequisites of becoming an old timer – don’t drink, and don’t die.

It takes a certain type of person to be able to stomach the dogma of AA for any length of time, and those who have been in the program for ten plus years are a special breed. They are the high priests of AA who set the tone of a specific chapter, become the sponsors, and help to create such a mind fuck for newcomers. One of the more special moments in a share meeting, for example, is when an old-timer uses the platform to lecture, typically using terms such as “some people”, as though they are speaking in general, really they are making reference to some poor sap who may have had the nerve to question something. Such as – “Some people think they can just show up, continue to bullshit themselves, and everything is going to change”. This is a tacit way of saying the poor schmuck who spoke earlier was not “being honest with himself”. The other old-timers will nod in agreement, and poor bastard who had the nerve to have an individual thought, is left sitting in shame.

It isn’t uncommon for an AA members to revolve their lives around the fellowship. Everything in their lives, from their belief systems, to the way they talk, to their circle of friends, is Alcoholics Anonymous. Old-timers thrive in this atmosphere, and after a few years of living in the insular world of AA, they become insufferable. Add to that touch of sociopathy and narcissism, and they become your worst nightmare.