Posts tagged higher power

A.A. Alfie: The Iron Man of Alcoholics Anonymous

A thread started over at the James Randi forum almost a year ago, and since that time “A.A. Alfie” has been trying to convince a group of skeptics that they aren’t seeing what they’re seeing, and that AA is not a religious program. They aren’t buying it, of course. I haven’t read through the entire year’s worth of comments, but Alfie seems to have knocked out multiple opponents with filibustering and quirky rationalizations. It’s an impressive display in stamina. He’s the Lou Gehrig of AA apologists.

I double-dog dare anyone to take this guy on. The first person to get him to concede a point gets a “One Day At A Time” serenity calendar, and my ever-lasting admiration.

Here is the original post that started it all:

Why Do People Insist AA Is Not Religious?

“I’m dealing with a spouse who has alcohol issues. His first therapist (social worker) told him to go to a Beginner’s AA meeting, and to “Keep An Open Mind.”

He went, and was instantly uncomfortable. Not only was Jesus Christ mentioned constantly as the Savior, but the meeting ended with, “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He related this to the social worker, who berated him for not going to a Beginner’s meeting. (Which it WAS listed as.) And then told him that, “The Lord’s Prayer” is not really religious, anyway.

My husband now sees a psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavior and doesn’t push AA.

Now I’m furious that MY new therapist is telling me that AA would be a good resource for my husband. “It’s not religious, it’s spiritual,” and “Your higher power can be anything at all, the ocean, even yourself.”

I’m not confrontational, and I tried to remember some of the advice I’ve received here about debating. I told her that I had done research on AA, that it had a 5% success rate, and that the Supreme Court had ruled that it was religious. Then I started to get emotional and told her that it was all based on a Buchmanite group designed to get people to accept Christ as the Savior, and that the Higher Power stuff was nonsense, since sure, it starts out as, “the ocean,” but ends up referring to God. And the “higher power” definitely CANNOT be yourself, since it has to be some outside force. As Henry Ford said of his cars, you can have any color you want so long as it’s black. Well, you can have any Higher Power you want so long as it’s God.

As former Catholics, my husband and I tend to get a bit touchy when religion is sold to us. It is very difficult to get away from, “Magical Thinking,” and I’ve been working so hard to restructure my thoughts, to think more critically, to learn about logic, and to question things. And it took a lot for me to “talk back” to my therapist about this, and I still feel guilty, like I should just accept it as good advice. Such is the mark that being a good little Catholic girl leaves on person.

I feel so angry that the majority of people don’t question AA at all.”

Quote of the Day

First off, if you don’t do the steps of course you go back out. Heck, if you don’t get a sponsor, and won’t do 90 in 90, and won’t do the steps, you were never in! How can you go back out? How can you relapse if you never attain?

When I was taken through the steps I was told that AA required constant and unending spiritual growth until I died. I was told that the character building never ends, and that I was responsible when a suffering alcoholic put out his hand for help. But much more than what I was told, it was what I was shown. My sponsor and his circle of friends were all in their late 60s, and they were 12 stepping machines. You could ask them any day what they were building in their character, and they could and did come right back with the answer of what they were working on.

My sponsor once drove through a hurricane to do a 12th step. Believe me, he wasn’t crazy, just willing. The person he went to told me that he arrived moments before the suicide. On the night he died my sponsor went out on a 12th step at 9pm, and died at 2pm. I might add that he died in his sleep, sober, serene, and loved by very many.

My sponsor was always taking people through the steps. When ever he made an assignment of any kind for a sponsee he went and did it again himself. He said he had seen too many old timers falling into telling people to do things they had long since stopped doing. This approach to serving and character building kept him constantly recycling the steps, and it caused him to apply AA principles in all his affairs.

To the best of my knowledge, all the people he sponsored are still sober. It is my intention to keep doing the actions he took, that kept him sober, and that gave him such a clean and serene end.

From a response posted yesterday on a year-old thread over at Friends of Bill called “relapse is ‘stinkin’-thinkin'”.

The original post is some bonus crazy:

We are speaking of those who are capable of being honest with themselves. Relapse is caused by a lack of spiritual development and we believe in a spiritual solution that recovery is completely and directly dependent on the integrity of the individuals spiritual program. It is not based on support groups from finite man, ((b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism..) but upon the individuals spiritual fitness- how well one “trust God, and cleans house”.

Back to Baclofen

Here is an article from The Guardian on Dr. Olivier Ameisen and baclofen: “The little pill that could cure alcoholism”. From the article:

“It’s not that there is much argument over how baclofen might work. Recent advances in brain imaging have increased knowledge of the function of the pleasure and reward systems, and suggested that addiction interferes with the balance of the neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate and gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA). “What baclofen does is stimulate the GABA-B receptors, and you see the release of dopamine and glutamate is slowed, so the reward system is normalised,” says Ameisen. It is even widely accepted that baclofen in low doses treats withdrawal from alcoholism, though no more effectively than several other medications. What proved more controversial was Ameisen’s theory of the “threshold dose”, which he says is “needed to break the cycle of addictive craving, preoccupation and obsessive thoughts” and which moves baclofen from treatment to cure.”

A couple of years ago, Scientific American ran a series of stories on “self-experimenters”, including this one on Dr. Ambeisen. There is good information in the story. We have also written here before about Dr. Ambeisen and his use of baclofen to treat himself. What is as interesting as the story itself, is the comment section. There are a couple of nice snippets of AA dogma, including this gem below, which I thought I would highlight for those in need of a daily chuckle:

“It is regretable [sic] that AA did not work for this man. From my experience, he could not get out of self long enough to let it. Ego is the main target of alcoholismn [sic] and and the only remeidy [sic] I have ever seen is true spiritualism. Unfortunately, you have to get out of self long enough to gain the proverbal [sic] high ground perspective of spiritual intervention. I guess this is the reason that AA is not for everyone. Some sorry souls are so wound up with self, they cannot alter their perspectives, even momentarily. I feel very sadened [sic] for this man and can only think of the quote, “heal thy self physician.” This must be true for anyone who will not let God do it.”

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We are often asked to post alternatives to AA, or what our opinion is in terms of treating  addiction, beyond simply quitting. My opinion of using baclofen to treat alcohol addiction is no different than it is of naltrexone, campral,  CBT or any other treatment option. Subject it to proper, scientific, peer reviewed research – and if it shows to be effective in treating addiction, it should be looked at as a possibility for treatment. If it is unwilling to subject itself to the scientific method, and is unwilling to change or improve upon itself (as is the case with AA); or, if it has shown itself to be ineffective by objective research (also AA and Twelve Step Facilitation) – then it is most likely snake oil.

I have no idea whether or not baclofen is an effective treatment for alcoholism. I read Dr. Ambeisen’s book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of addiction recovery. My guess is that it most likely is effective, but my opinion is not what matters, which is the beauty of science. What does matter is what the science says, and there is currently research being done on the effectiveness of baclofen, including a study at the University of North Carolina on the use of baclofen in conjunction with naltrexone. These are controlled, double-blind studies on which science thrives, and AA avoids like the plague.

"Christians get on my nerves."

Have you ever found yourself wishing that you could be a self-righteous pain in the ass? You’ve tried going to church with your family, who just end up listening to the sermon! You’ve tried “lording over” everyone, but your toupee makes them laugh! No one takes you seriously. And you thought people would gaze in amazement at your new Prayer Cross from the Montebello Collection, only to find that the !#$%&* bluehair in the front pew got hers first.

And then there’s that huge-ass Bible-whatever, with the onionskin pages, and all those goddamn words in it. Who even really “gets” that, anyway?

What does an ignoramus like you have to do to get people to listen to you? Well, my friend, it’s time to toss out that Bible; take your family to IHOP before the church crowd shows up, cross your arms, peer down your nose, and relax.

Finally, there’s an easier, softer way to become a complete self-righteous pain in the ass! With our revolutionary 12 Steps to instant insufferability!

Wideman also went through a crisis years ago, one that ended up strengthening his faith. But in a curious shift, it also left him questioning something that few believers seem to ask these days: Can you really find God in church?

Wideman is no longer sure.

“For me, I said I’ve got to drop this title of Christian,” he said. “It doesn’t work for me anymore.”

Again, that doesn’t mean Wideman is an atheist or agnostic. He’s found his “church,” if you will. As a former deacon in a Baptist church in Montgomery, Ala., he now finds his greatest source of faith within a very different organization: Alcoholics Anonymous.

Order within the next ten minutes — we can’t do this all day — and get your free Magic 12-Step Ball, which will answer your questions faster than your pastor:

Answers include:

  • Call Your Sponsor
  • One Day at a Time
  • Easy Does It
  • You Need a Meeting
  • First Things First
  • You Can Recover
  • …and More

Stinkin' Thinkin' Slogan Contest!

Update Update: We have some pretty good ones. Agent Mango came with some nice ones. It is kind of nice to see that most of our AA friends don’t like the slogans and aphorisms, either. Just so you folks know, I am using one of these pens, and it writes really well. It has nice feel to it.

UPDATE: These are supposed to be your creation, not slogans already in use. I’ve seen three pretty good ones so far:

“AA: Because thinking is hard” by Sunny
“It’s time to harvest the crust from your eyes” by Sunny
“Just Quit, It’s the Bees Knees” by Tony (must be said sarcastically, but still not bad)
“I have a disease that tells me I don’t have a disease” me, which I stole from Corky the Twelve-Step Monkey
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It’s time to put on your thinkin’ caps and stir up those creative juices, kids. We are having a competition to see who can come up with the best thought stopping AA slogan. Submissions will be graded on catchiness, inanity, wit, thought stoppability, serenity, flavor and rigorous honesty. Everyone is eligible. Easy does it!

The winner gets this inspirational serenity pen (really, we’ll send it to you):

Good Luck!!!

The Truthiness, The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But The Truthiness

Truthiness noun – 1) the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true; 2) truth that comes from the gut not books

“The truth only carries so much weight. What we believe to be the truth will trump the actual truth every time.” – Cuda

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The above quote summarizes, in a nutshell, AA’s approach to recovery — or their approach to almost anything else for that matter. There is a reason why the endless debates which take place in our comment section will never be end, and that is because the two sides are playing with different points of reference – with one relying on logic, skepticism and rational thought; and the other relying on what they want to believe. Continue reading The Truthiness, The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But The Truthiness

Battle of Delusions

Among our regular readers of this blog is a fundamentalist Christian, John, with an interest in the heresy of AA and the 12-steps. He is a nice guy, and though he does not comment in the public forum, I have received regular correspondence from him since we started a little less than a year ago. I don’t doubt that after reading this blog for a year, he believes that we are headed toward eternal damnation, and after reading his blog, I feel he is off the charts, batshit crazy. That’s OK, because we still like each other, and we have an understanding – and though we agree on few things, we have a common disdain for Alcoholics Anonymous – albeit for different reasons. Continue reading Battle of Delusions

Quote of the Day

“Considering the chronic nature of alcoholism and the amazingly low rate of recovery using other methods God’s work in AA is inescapable.”

cknuck, an AA, who is responding to an article on alternative alcohol addiction treatments.

Quote of the Day

“dude this is how i look at it, the higher power doesnt have to be god, or budda, or vishnue, it just has to be bigger than yourself. for instance a mountain or ocean, just something that is a lot bigger than yourself. For me, for a long time it was the golden gate bridge….”colinphw, suggesting to a newly recruited AA who (or what) he might use as his higher power™.

Counselor Sorts Out the Bible of AA

Polk court official tells people how to interpret ‘The Big Book.’

If the Bible is the world’s most read book, what’s No. 2?

Richard Rhodes of Mulberry suspects it is “Alcoholics Anonymous,” the manifesto of the organization of the same name. First published in 1939, the so-called Big Book provides the basis for the 12-step process used in addiction treatment programs throughout the world. Rhodes, a clinical coordinator with the Polk County Drug Court in Bartow, considers the Big Book an invaluable resource that deserves to be even more widely read. That’s why he wrote, “A Counselor Looks at the Big Book,” published this month by Millennial Mind Publishing.