School for Scoundrels

Most people think Alcoholics Anonymous is a beneficial group that helps people recover from their their addiction to alcohol.  It provides a safe, structured and open environment where people can discuss their problems and provide mutual support to stay clean, get better, and move on with their lives.

But in actuality, AA is the opposite: it is a society for people to remain sober temporarily and pretend to address their problems, while keeping open the possibility of relapsing and returning to drink and drugs at any time, which then gives them the freedom (or excuse) to do whatever they want.

Of course, these people say that AA works and is the only thing that helped them.  What they don’t say is that they have relapsed many times while in AA, and they will probably relapse again.  In fact: “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.”

If you’ve been to an AA meeting, you may have gotten the feeling that you were not in good company.  You may have had a bad feeling about certain people.  Perhaps you went with a friend, and you thought the meeting was very interesting.  You found the shares fascinating and you found yourself clapping after each.  But you decide it’s not for you.  Something about it seems creepy and manipulative.  But you think, it’s good these people have this kind of meeting to go to.  It helps keep them off the streets, and at least someone is watching them.

Your suspicion is correct.  In fact, AA is a haven for liars, criminals, and sociopaths.  These are people who enjoy drinking because it gives them an excuse to behave badly.  For example, they enjoy getting into fights, making trouble, neglecting their family, abusing their wife or children, cheating and random hookups, etc.  By going to AA, they can at least claim that they are trying to get help for their problem.  Furthermore, because AA teaches that addiction is a disease, and requires that the member admit powerlessness, the attendee can claim that their behavior is not really their fault.  And as they sit in the meeting, they can fantasize about what they plan to do the next time they are overpowered by the urge to drink.

AA is a school for scoundrels.  It teaches people that it’s ok to spend your youth drinking and doing drugs and having fun, neglecting your family, commit crimes, and then get sober for a while to make it seem like you are trying to reform.  Then, relapse and repeat the cycle when sober living gets boring.  Just claim that you had an overpowering craving to drink again, and despite your best efforts, you just couldn’t stop yourself.

This behavior is modeled by the speakers who come to AA to tell the stories of their own addictions — as recounted in the section “Things We Heard at Meetings”.  In most cases they are men and women who went to AA when they were young, but didn’t “get it” and they left.  They continued on with their hedonistic lifestyle, drinking and drugging and partying for many years, and openly brag about the fun they had, even though it adversely affected their families, and put innocent people at risk through DUI.  They didn’t come back to AA for good until generally middle age, often describing a feeling of being ‘done’.  Whereas, the ones who come back at younger ages tend to have shorter sobrieties, since they are not done with their partying, and we are only seeing them between relapses.

For example, here is a Craigslist post by a late 30’s man who ‘sponsors’ many younger attendees and describes how they show a brief interest in the Big Book, and then cycle out of sobriety:

The fact that the core AA groups are composed mostly of middle age (and beyond) men and women proves this simple fact.  There are no dedicated long term young attendees.  (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but generally these people have various kinds of disabilities that make them unable to participate in a youthful way of life.)  The reason is that young attendees either naturally moderate their drinking (as most people do), or they continue a cycle of relapse with binge drinking, followed by recovery/AA, repeating for many years.

Among women and gay groups, the dynamic is somewhat different.  In this case, the reason for attending is mostly social.  Gay men and single women may seek a social outlet to replace the bar scene, which is no longer fun as they’ve gotten older.  AA is a great place to socialize and meet other people in the same boat, as well as bad boys and fixer-uppers, if that’s what you’re into.  However, these people are generally not really alcoholics.  They didn’t have serious problems with alcohol, and didn’t have a hard time quitting.  In fact, for many it’s a relief not to have to spend money on booze, or to wake up every weekend morning with a hangover.  The only problem is that these people must admit to being an alcoholic in order to be accepted in the group, and this unintentionally perpetuates the Myth of Addiction.  They justify it to themselves by believing they are helping those with ‘real’ addictions.

Of course, there are many women and gay men who are truly scoundrels, and use AA as a platform for 13th stepping, and taking advantage of others.  But there is a much lower level of criminality among these groups.  And of course there are many straight men who started drinking to quash feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or financial stress.  These men will leave once they can resolve these feelings.  Those who can’t may stay a while.  The web site is a pseudoscientific explanation of addiction by Steve Castleman; it is a monument to the sublimation of feelings of shame and inadequacy caused by years of systematic emasculation by his power hungry wife.

The core philosophy of AA reinforces its self-serving, corrupt and hedonistic purpose: you are powerless over alcohol (step 1) and so you must turn your will to God (or Higher Power) to help you regain control over your life (steps 2 and 3).  There should be no mistake: the solution to alcoholism is not addressing the core emotional problems that tend to cause excessive drinking, as we would naively believe.  The solution to alcoholism is a spiritual belief.  This is intended literally and much of the Big Book focuses on this very point, and emphasizes it in various ways.  Yes there are steps that focus on evaluating your own life, but these are intended only for the purpose of being able to open yourself up to let in the Spirit.

Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-That One is God. May you find Him now! (Big Book, p. 58)

We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves.  We are in the world to play the role He assigns.  Just to the extent that we do as we think he would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does he enable us to match calamity with serenity. (Big Book, p. 68)

AA philosophy provides the member with carte blanche to do as he pleases, as long as he believes that God wants him to, or as long as he believes that he is under the control of an evil spirit (such as whiskey).

It is a travesty that our courts send impressionable young people into this environment to be indoctrinated into this way of life.

Bill Wilson, the creator of this brilliant scheme, is the prototypical alcoholic.  He was an inveterate womanizer both before and after his sobriety.  (For more information, see the section on the “Big Book” in the blog post: Why does every best seller on addiction turn out to be fake?)

AA perpetuates several myths to make the public believe that alcoholism is a disease that can strike anyone.  The Big Book is full of stories of professionals – doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEOs — who are struck down in the prime of life with this debilitating disease for no apparent reason.  But if you actually attend AA meetings, you discover no such thing.  Most attendees have limited education and few work skills.  Often AA’ers say they know of a doctor or professional in the group, but I haven’t seen any.  Every once in a while a professional-type will come to a meeting.  But they generally don’t stay around for long.  Sleeve tattoos, nose piercings, and sun-seared cheeks are much more common.  Nevertheless, the myth persists.

Alcoholism is a disease that strikes people who sometimes have difficulty telling the truth and have a history of getting into trouble.  The reason is simple: alcoholism — the compulsion to drink — is a lie, a fantasy, a hoax, a fraud.  Often people at AA will admit they’ve had a history of lying. If someone has a history of lying, then we shouldn’t automatically believe that they have a drinking compulsion just because they say they do.  More likely, they drink because it’s fun and they enjoy making trouble or getting into it.

When sharing at meetings, they often describe the thought patterns of this ‘disease’ as if normal people would not have negative thoughts.  But everyone struggles with pessimistic, cynical, and even sadistic thinking.  It is not a disease, as long as you can acknowledge it and deal with it without hurting others.

There are also many people in AA who were brainwashed into believing it.  Often these people are lonely and looking for a group to which to belong.  If they have to admit to something that’s not true, then it’s a small price to pay.  These people generally discover that there is not much of value in AA and leave after some time.

AA perpetuates the myth that drinking is compulsive.  But in fact, listening carefully to the stories, this is never actually an issue.  I have never heard anyone ever describe a situation when they didn’t want to drink but did so anyway.  Instead, they may describe a situation where they decided to have “just one drink” and it spiraled out of control — drugs, sex, DUI, etc. etc.  But what’s the deal with the first drink?  They never mention any concern about it.  In fact if anything they feel entitled to be able to enjoy just a drink, as any man would.

AA also perpetuates the myth that it works.  One often hears the mantra, “AA was the only thing that ever worked for me.”  And we are relieved, because otherwise what would we do with these people?  But many of these people are still actively cycling through relapse and recovery, and the ones past middle age no longer have interest in drinking and instead prefer the social aspects of the group and the potential for 13th stepping an impressionable and vulnerable newcomer.  Also, some are professional addictions counselors, so their livelihood is completely dependent on the belief in its effectiveness.

AA also provides speakers for schools, who teach the kids the lesson of the 12 Steps: don’t do drugs because you may find that you are powerless over them and they will take over your life.  Most children will of course be cautious with drugs, but some will consider this as a career option.  This is the goal: many of the speakers work at rehabs and sober living facilities that have every interest in maintaining a flow of new addicts.

All this may be hard to believe, but there is ample evidence that AA is no more effective at preventing excessive alcohol use than no treatment at all.  The main evidence for its effectiveness is self-reported from addicts who are life-long liars to begin with.  This is the key to understanding the value of AA: don’t listen to what the members say; watch what they actually do.  We as a society are much too gullible, especially when we see a group of people who seem like they are genuinely trying to help each other.

Is there anything of value in AA?  There are 2 main features for which we are tempted to forgive the group its faults: it teaches to make amends to people harmed by the addiction, and it encourages service to other addicts.   However, overall it causes far more harm than it prevents, and making amends is simply a way to regain the trust of those affected — even if they’ve been let down many times before.  AA emphasizes the importance of apologizing quickly instead of focusing on how to prevent it from happening again.  Also, service work does make people feel needed, and this is important.  But there are better ways to make people feel needed.  Furthermore, service work in some cases is nothing more than trying to convince others that they are alcoholics in need of treatment.

AA provides a fellowship for lonely people, and this is very important.  But it would be far better if it did not require that one admit one is powerless to join the group.  This only sets one up for manipulation by others.  For example, sponsors, who promise freedom from the newly diagnosed disease, have great power over naive inductees who are looking for someone with the answers to life’s questions.

AA provides people with an opportunity for self reflection and growth, and we think this is a good thing.  But in fact, this is something we all do continually, whether we are in AA or not, and we are expected to do, and it is patronizing to think that some people need a specialized program to do this.  In fact, it is just a cover for their transgressions, so that they can maintain a facade of righteousness.

AA is really just a school for scoundrels, with tentacles in many areas of our lives, the government, and our children’s education.  More than any other organization, it promotes the Myth of Addiction — which harms innocent people at the expense of the selfish and sadistic, and squanders precious years and resources.  The myth is a modern delusion that must be exposed and discarded.

50 thoughts on “School for Scoundrels”

  1. My experience of “addiction” and NA has been almost exactly the same as Chris who posted above, though my overall period of use was a few years longer. I know other people who have similar stories. I think its just a case of some personality types mixed with certain external conditions lead to using substances.

  2. I frigging despise A.A. . I have a relative who is big into it, and I could go on for pages about the problems I have with it; so,here’s the crux of it, for me: I think it encourages despicable behavior, under the auspices of curing people of a phantom affliction. If alcoholism is a disease, then, logically, it should be curable. A.A. is gibberish: one cannot be in recovery for the rest of one’s life from an incurable affliction. It is , in my opinion, a fraud, and a justification for reprobates to continue to hurt others. My resentment toward it isn’t denial: it is refusal to cave into the remonstrations of a cult: shame on them who know better, and woe to them who don’t.

    1. There are flaws in your thinking and some misunderstandings of AA what does and how AA works. These are explained in the first few chapters of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. Simply put, if you don’t want to do what AA suggests, you are completely free to find something else that works for you. No AA’s feelings will be hurt–and you’ll be welcomed back anytime you feel like coming back.

      If Alcoholism is a disease, and therefore SHOULD have a cure; why isn’t there a cure to CANCER or DIABETES or AIDS? AA is about as close a CURE as there is at this time. In AA, Alcohol is simply the vehicle that exposes alcoholic’s defects.

      The fact that there are other 12 step groups based on AA’s steps helping others to get better from their problems proves that the method works. This method of recovery works for overeaters, gamblers, people with sex problems, smokers, drug issues, co-dependence, children of addicted parents, and others with compulsion disorders.

      In conclusion, AA is not a cult–AA doesn’t espouse one higher power over another and doesn’t mandate donations or servitude. In fact, the 12 steps are “suggested as a program of recovery” based on the experience of the founders and of those that have been living it for more than 70 years.

      1. Actually, the Big Book – and AA – don’t “simply suggest” that if AA doesn’t work for you, you are free to “find something that does” – more like if AA doesn’t work for you, you’re free to drop dead. Just read the part about the “dry drunk” – there is zero respect for people who quit without attending AA.

        AA was founded by a washed up stock swindler, who had no scientific or medical training, and who used religious techniques from Oxford Group/Moral Rearmament which were never designed for treating a “disease” but were for convincing people that they knew how to find out what God wants and teach others these techniques. (OG/MRA kicked Wilson out for being obnoxious and for not bringing in high enough status potential recruits)

        There is evidence these techniques can be used to form groups of people who overeat, gamble, sleep around, etc.
        But there’s no evidence these techniques work for overeaters (look at the waistlines of Americans all over the country), gamblers (look at the revenues of casinos), smokers – especially not for smokers since Bill W smoked til the day he died and specifically exempted tobacco from the list of “substances” that trigger “alcoholics” to relapse (as say, aspirin for a headache, as AAer often claimed even during Wilson’s lifetime).

        You’re right that the existence of a cure does not demonstrate the existence of a disease – plenty of diseases have no cure, some even have no treatment. But to demonstrate that a disease exists, there must be a way to distinguish whether a person *has* the disease or not. Cancer cells or tumors can be shown on slides or CT scans, diabetes can be shown with the amounts of sugar/insulin in the bloodstream, AIDS is demonstrated by the antibodies in the blood. The problem with “addiction” &/or “alcoholism” is there is no way to separate those who have it from those who don’t: no bacteria, virus, prion, parasite, hormone excess/deficiency, no organ malformation or trauma, no enzyme excess or deficiency, no genetic variation, no allergic reaction (even AA has backed away from the “allergy to alcohol” claim)

        Looking at the “symptoms” – lying, cheating, selfishness, slacking off, cheating on spouse or lover, ignoring the kids, committing crimes – it’s just a collection of bad behaviors (many of which Bill W continued to indulge in for the rest of his life).

  3. Also, AA membership requires a desire to stop drinking and nothing more. Making amends is most certainly not encouraged quickly. It’s only to help the person making the amends and oftentimes requires no real words; only actions which exhibit change. As with all groups, the people in AA are only human but MAN……..this blogger sure went to some unhealthy meetings! I’m a woman but I have not really embraced the fellowship or “social” aspect of AA as the blogger says most women do. Fortunately, AA seems to accept folks right where they are and tells us to “keep coming back”………even when our bitterness and resentments are aimed at the very people who can help us!

      1. Or even better: “I do not drink anymore”. That statement alone shuts the door on any further discussion of the subject.

  4. The “core emotional issues” that lead to “excessive drinking” cannot be addressed until people have significant sobriety. AA has tools proven to give people periods of sobriety. For an alcoholic, what leads to excessive drinking is the first drink. Relapse results from not working on core emotional issues. For most, step work provides a framework for dealing with those emotional issues. There are some other recovery models but AA is what is most prevalent and available.

  5. I drank every day, all day, for ten years. I threw away a career and spent most days despising myself. I joined AA in 1985, did it the way it is written in the Big Book and the 12 x 12, and today I respect myself, meet my obligations, am a contributing member of society, and am reasonably happy. I know many other people in my situation, along with others who struggle with the program and relapse, and some who engage in the “13th step.” If addiction is a myth, then it is a myth that has saved my life. If AA is a cult, then it is a strange one that doesn’t require any money from you, doesn’t force you to stay, and tolerates all kinds of criticism in its own ranks. My daily experience with the program makes all of the anti-AA opinions on this blog mean very little to me, because these opinions do not correspond in the smallest way to my experience.

    1. What you don’t realize is that the addiction myth stole 10 years of your life. Fortunately others will read your cautionary tale and won’t fall into the powerlessness trap or believe that they must choose a god to remove their ‘character defects’ and won’t get brainwashed into a whole decade of excessive drinking or get abused and exploited by the cult (and the people who demand confession of powerlessness) and won’t believe that their own brain is set on self-destruction and thereby die at their own hand. And they will grow up and move on with their lives and be reasonably happy.

      1. Addiction myth is really a very negative site. What real good are you doing for the world, hiding behind this pathetic anonymous drivel, I imagine you are a lonely little person sitting at a laptop, looking for hate where there is love.

  6. I love this shit! Hit’s the nail on the head. I’ve been in and out of aa for over twenty years. I never stayed when I was young because of all the losers, creeps and burnouts. I drank for twenty more years and kept getting in trouble and the courts kept sending me to aa. I haven’t been in any serious trouble for about 11 years. I’ve drank off and on until 2011 and got out of control because aa had taught me when I was young that I have a disease and I only have three choices if I drink (institutions, jail, death). Anyway I went back to aa in 2011 and stayed for 2 1/2 years. Fuck! The bad people outweighed the good people. Lonely people with no family who spend all there money on cigarettes, energy drinks, gambling and eating out all the time. They had shitty jobs. They would act like angels in the meetings. As soon as they walked out the door the shit they would talk about. SEX, sex and more sex. People with years even decades of their so called sobriety. I felt gross and uncomfortable in aa. I’m a guy so I was hit on all the time by these so called matriarchs and gay guys and some gay women of aa. Oh yeah did I mention the scammers? Can I borrow some money? Can you drive me to my lawyer or court date? My back hurts do you have any pain pills? There are actually scammers in aa going from town to town to aa meetings ripping people off. I even knew a guy who died in aa and on his death bed a actual “Black Widow” in aa waited for him to die and conned him out of money. He trusted all of these people in aa. They had the keys to his trailer and people in aa stole from his trailer someone even stole his trailer for his motorcycle. How do I know this? His family came from out of state to collect his belongings and his shit was gone. His family got the police envolved and the cops still couldn’t do any thing. I’m done with that shit hole of a place. Full of bottom feeders and low really low lifes. P.S. I’ve been drinking for over a year now. Moderately that is. I know I don’t have to drink to get drunk so no stupid allergy! I’m not dead! No proof of that from those stupid morbid fortune tellers!

    1. The truth about acute drug and alcohol addiction is that unless you have been there you will never fully comprehend it

  7. Well, THAT was quite the rant! Your generalizations and absolutes are no better than what comes out of the mouths of the most sanctimonious AA members. I’ve been sober for 6 years now, I stopped drinking after my first meeting and am comitted to being sober for the rest of my life. As with ANY group of people in society, there are the good, the bad, and the in between. There are aspects of the program that have helped and some that didn’t. The fact is that parts of the program DID help me..tremendously. To dismiss the ENTIRE group as being “brainwashed cult members” is ridiculous and in no way grounded in reality. According to you, there are NO young peopoe committed to recovery. None. Also, addiction dosen’t happen to successful’s a myth, right? By the way, I have not attended a meeting in over 2 years and am not by any means a hardcore AA member. I just wanted the opportunity to tell you that you are full of horse shit and it’s a dangerous game when you post your OPINION as fact.

    1. I so agree with the last post. I know many professionals, Drs, lawyers, authors, actors, people with wealth and experience. Ive been in and out of “recovery” for 27yrs…. I learned in my first in-house stay that AA is the ONLY thing that works. Its taken me 13+ rehabs and institutions to come to terms that it is AA and only AA that will save me from myself and give me back my life. AA gives us back our spirituality, if we ever had any and leads those that have never known that “small still voice”, to the one I call the spirit, God. There is no roof no floor without God in our lives. I hit bottom and kept falling through the dark abyss that my life became when drugs and alcohol took my spirit away. AA is the only way out. No doctrine, no dogma, no church…. Just a loving spirit, a loving God and loving people who are reaching out to help each other. :))

  8. An interesting read, thanks for posting. While I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of your criticisms around the 12 step program, I felt a little uneasy with your conclusion that all members are scoundrels, philanderers, pagans, liars and cheats. Granted, these unfavourable qualities are well represented in AA and NA; not a surprise really, given the issues that have brought people to attend these groups in the first place and not forgetting the fact that meeting attendance is often mandated by the criminal justice system, particularly in the US. The truth is, I have met intelligent, decent people in these programs, people who have genuine mental health issues, people who have had traumatic childhoods or life events, people who are suffering real pain and difficulty and mistakenly have turned to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with these problems. They are not looking for an “excuse to do what they want” or carte blanche to act as they please. They just want to get better and AA/NA is the only way they know how. Maybe these are the brainwashed element, however, I can’t help but feel they need our empowerment and encouragement, not scathing criticism.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes there are many good people in AA. As you say, they often have various mental health problems, or are just lonely/isolated (which is in fact the main cause of mental anguish). And this needs to be addressed. However, these people are not alcoholics, although some are brainwashed into believing they are — setting them up for exploitation and abuse. Many people address their loneliness in various ways such as joining clubs or religious organizations that are not havens for scoundrels or that propagate destructive myths.

      I think that AA would be fine if it simply omitted the first step (I am powerless over alcohol). It could be a “lonely hearts” club or mutual therapy club. Listen to the speaker at the next AA meeting you attend, and decide for yourself whether they are the scoundrel using alcohol as a cover, or an innocent victim of life events seeking therapy. (Or read the Meetings Blog.)

      What brought you to AA?

      1. I completely agree with your comments.

        I found AA through a desire to get sober but not knowing how to do it on my own. The mutual support of other members kept me on the straight in narrow in those first few difficult months. As time went on I came to suspect that the rest of the program was actually quite damaging and that the only person keeping me sober was me. I noticed that people were using “the disease” as an excuse for all types of behaviour. I decided I didn’t want to subscribe to being a damaged individual, wallowing in self pity and being enslaved to to the mercy of the “program” for the rest of my life. I took responsibility for my life and moved on. Apart from getting sober in the first place it’s the best thing I ever did.

        Thanks, I’ll have a little read of the meetings blog some time.

  9. I only read 1/4 of this long blog article. I found it to be very interesting and extremely similar to my own opinions regarding AA.
    For me, it is simple. AA is a place where addicts get together and reminisce about the “good old times” – the same “good old times” that resulted them in this miserable, loser-esque, low class life that they are presently living.
    “Addiction is a disease” is a poor excuse, it is a scapegoat! Coming from a former drug user myself (from age 20-22). The last time I ever did a drug was almost 2 years ago. I consider it a phase in my life. “Addictions” are only as great as the power you give them. I choose to give them NO power, therefore they possess absolutely no power. I am successful person who will continue to do well and be successful- why on earth would I ever move backwards? What is the point? There is absolutely no logic in that. Currently, I am a Law student and I plan on having an extremely successful career in law. For anyone stuggling, YOU made these choice, and you placed yourself in this shitty situation, so take responsibility, and MOVE ON. You do not want to look back in 10 years and reflect, “Damn it… why didn’t I better prepare myself for this moment?”.
    Life is what you make it, and you have control over what happens to you and where you end up. Make it count, do not sulk, and GET OVER IT. Think of it as a phase. Bullshit to all of those fakes who think that this is a disease that stays with you for the rest of your life. It stayed with me for 2 years (when I was using) and now I am over it.
    In case you are wondering, I struggled with Heroin.

  10. I love this quote from the piece: “Alcoholism is a disease that strikes people…” sort of seems you’re contradicting the entire point of this website with that one little statement. I like.

      1. Where does your hostility from AA comes from? Did someone at AA hurt you? You may be a lucky person who recovered without AA. I do agree many people spontaneously recover without external help. Many people are never addicts to begin with but are going to a phase in life.

        No one in AA forces any one to join or come. It is self supporting self-help group. If you don’t like a group – try another. If it does not help you – move on.
        AA has helped millions of people – otherwise it will not exist.

  11. so if all “addicts” aren’t really addicts, we are just condemned to be liars for the rest of our lives? The fact that I have urges to use every day, that is normal? Everyone goes through that? I don’t think so.

    1. Hey thanks for checking out the site. To answer your question, everyone has urges and obsesses about things. For example, people think about sex and eating, or perhaps painful memories that don’t seem to want to go away. But everyone has this, and deals with it in some way or another, hopefully constructive but not always.

      Now if you have such obsessions, one way of dealing with it is by drinking, because it reduces the obsession or allows you to act on it. Only problem is that the obsession switches over to drinking itself. However, it’s pretty easy to determine the underlying cause of the drinking obsession. Just look at what triggers the cravings, and what you do when you’re drunk. There you will find the answer. Take a look at the treatment page and see if any of the reasons apply to you. Note: the issues there apply to all humans, including AM. Don’t take it personally.

      As I state elsewhere, all addicts are either liars or brainwashed. I don’t know which you are, but I am not calling you a liar. And even if you were, you can change. Most people become more generous and less selfish as they get older.

      1. Ex, AA junkie: heres the bottom line, the Big Book says ” drinking is but a symptom of a deeper problem” yet it fails to say anything to teach the attendee how to find that deeper problem, or resolve it. You are only told that your defects of charactor are why you drink uncontrolably and you must work the steps to eliminate said defects or be doomed to relaspe. I escaped AA as I came to understand that these defects were also but a symptom of a deeper problem. Now I work on being Soverieign to stay drug free, etc.. I no longer rely on things outside of myself to feel whole, complete, etc.. What I have learned is that when you rely on things outside of your self
        ( AA Program ) ( drugs, etc.. ) your are now dependant on something you can’t control and that is an addiction in its self.
        So you are correct in saying AA meembers are liars, we lie to ourselves and each othere thinking we are recovering from addiction when in truth we have just subsituted one addiction
        to be ensnarled in the addiction of the group and the program.

  12. I’ve been attending a 12-Step fellowship (NA) for about 6 months now. I was mandated there by the courts. At times I’ve hated it, at other times I’ve loved it, and that’s just about on par with how I felt about your post.

    If I can start this off with an assumption that I might be jumping to hastily based on the tone I picked up from your post, I have to say that there is a slight hint of resentment, intolerance, or at least superiority towards people who have drug and alcohol problems. Yes, there is a TON of sick thinking and acting out in the rooms of AA and NA, both from the newcomers and the old-timers, but keep in mind that not everyone with sleeve tattoos or nose piercings is a useless burden on society, just like not everyone with a decent mind and a master’s degree is doing his or her part to improve it. Right off my head I could come up with one successful small-business owner who looks like a Hell’s Angel at first glance.

    And let me also be very clear when I say that I wholly disagree with the notion that addiction is a myth. There’s parts of the disease model that I can’t fully wrap my mind around, but I saw my own life become increasingly unbearable as I spent a little less than 2 years rapidly going up the proverbial ladder from semi-regular, harmless suburban pot smoker to full-time dopehole dwelling, IV-using prescription painkiller junkie and feeling the pain, shame and depression that came along with the feeling that I had lost control of my own life.

    Yes, it was a struggle for me. And yes, when I have relapsed in my past I obviously had a desire to get high again, but when you say that you drink infrequently or moderately at worst, I can go ahead and guess that you’ve never felt a strong desire to drink coupled with an overwhelming fear of what will happen once you do, as I have with my drug of choice, and scrambled to come up with the smallest little rationalization as to why “it’s too late to turn back now, and the drugs must be done!” These desires to relapse, they often come out of nowhere. For example, a lyric in a song can make me want to get high all of a sudden, even if I was having a perfectly alright day prior to that. Sure, I accept that I feel this way because the pleasure is indeed intense, but after all I’ve been through there absolutely is a large part of me that hopes I never get high again. And that part of me has been fighting against the urges for over a year now, but I can only claim 6 months because early sobriety/recovery/whatever is a very intense emotional rollercoaster often compared to being manic-depressive (and for the record, as a child I spent years in and out of visits with highly reputable shrinks and neurologists because my parents thought my generalized anxiety and ADHD symptoms were going to hold me back in life as much as say, going blind, deaf, mute and becoming quadriplegic all at once while developing short-term amnesia would, but the idea of bipolar was never even mentioned).

    This suggestion that you can’t take the suffering an alcoholic or an addict claims because they tend to lie is ridiculous, and could even be offensive to some. If a girl with a history of telling white lies claims to be raped, should she be immediately discredited because of a dishonest past? It seems like pretty black and white thinking to me. On the other hand, if someone with a reputation for telling the truth is suddenly charged with murder one day in light of a solid collection of evidence, should he or she automatically be granted the benefit of the doubt? An alright, but troubled person can lie in a time of crisis just like a psychopath can train his or herself to behave and wear the masks that civilized society wants to see for a few years while harboring a world of unseen darkness within.

    I told a lot of lies in the depths of my drug use. Most of them I told to either save face, avoid questioning, feed my need, or avoid a criminal charge for possession (my only one, for the record). I also lied to my family at one time because I was ashamed of myself and didn’t think they could handle the truth about what I was doing to myself. Does that discredit all of the pain, discomfort and desperation of waking dopesick after a long bender? Does that mean that the time I kept trying to park my car in order to desperately try and talk myself into turning it around before I wound up driving to one of my drug buddies’ house to get high after 3 months clean and still failed despite my best efforts didn’t feel painfully real, demoralizing, hopeless and humiliating to me? I would say no, but that’s just my humble opinion. People with drug and alcohol problems genuinely do suffer and struggle (although I will give you THIS…the line between addict and non-addict is MUCH clearer with drugs than it is for alcoholics and non-alcoholics).

    Let me know if you think I’m misinterpreting anything, by the way. I welcome this debate and respect the effort you’ve put into getting your ideas out there. I won’t be one of those people to tell you that you’re disseminating is dangerous to newcomers, because anybody with a true sense of desperation will tell you that it’s not. And those who don’t feel that willingness to do anything in order to restore peace to their lives might not be ready to stop drinking or getting high, anyways.

    I’m 23 years old, and I don’t see myself turning my back on what I feel has helped greatly to not only keep me clean, but to begin thinking a bit more maturely, anytime soon. I also have a handful of friends that I’ve made in meetings, whose ages range from anywhere between 16-35, that are all “working the program,” as the old-timers would say, with no imminent signs of walking away anytime soon. Off my head I know of at least 3 friendly, kind-hearted, extroverted, funny, talented people with at least one full year of clean time who are in their 20s. But then again, we live in a college town, so I’m aware that this might skew the numbers a bit in my local area. And while you aren’t wrong in saying that most young people who cycle into AA or NA cycle back out almost as quickly, a few of us staying has not at all been as rare a phenomenon in my area as your post suggested. And those of us who stayed aren’t disabled or socially crippled. A few of us really do tend to outgrow our partying heydays.

    As for the 13th stepping issue, yes it exists, but it’s not nearly as pervasive as posts such as yours claim to be where I attend meetings. We do have our creepers, but most of the regulars around here seem to be well-adjusted enough to know when to ostracize the truly helplessly sick from the rest of the group. Keep in mind, also, that while this might be the exception, rather than the rule, 13th stepping in technical terms can also be considered an old-timer and a newcomer in the same age group mutually falling for each other and being unable to resist the feelings. I’ve seen that happen more often than I’ve seen some old pervert take a college freshman back to her home on sorority row “to help her throw out her bongs and bottles.”

    And when we’re told to make amends, I’ve heard of people going as far as paying somebody back for all the money they stole or manipulated out of the person they were trying to make said amends with. It’s not always just a sorry for sorry’s sake.

    But now that I’m done tearing apart what I don’t agree with on your post, let me go ahead and commend you for sticking your neck out to challenge the 12-step cultist environment of no questions asked. While I took some space up there to defend the program, that has more to do with my willingness to challenge anything I don’t believe than it does with my blind allegiance to NA. My priority is to get clean and stay clean, by any means necessary. I’m not in those rooms to praise the steps, bow to Bill W or Jimmy K, and drop half my life’s earnings into that basket. If NA stops feeling beneficial one day, I’ll stop turning to it.

    There is a lot to criticize in NA. I don’t buy into the extremist belief that without a Higher Power, I will die. I’ve seen a very select few agnostics and atheists (the ones brave enough to be open about their skepticism in that spiritually insane environment) survive and do well in recovery. In my opinion, the idea that there is some ethereal, omnipotent being up there who is genuinely concerned with whether Tom Tequila thinks he should turn his car left or right in order to save his sobriety is fucking laughable, at best. My opinion is that if I start being more honest, find some new passions to live for, learn to keep a cool head in times of stress, and work on growing the fuck up, I give myself a fighting chance to turn my life around. Not falling for some load of religious mumbo-jumbo does not mean that I’m gonna wake up with a needle in my arm one day.

    With all that said, I also don’t put all my stock into the whole “spiritual disease” thing. Addiction certainly has aspects of powerless and unmanageability, but I think it’s more like a disorder or dysfunction of the mind than it is some lifelong spiritual sickness I was secretly carrying from birth. I mean, yeah, I was fascinated with drugs from an early age, before I had even tried any, but that could also be attributed to other issues, imbalances or just idiosyncrasies of mine. And nobody in my immediate family- that is, going back to my grandparents, also- has ever been anything even close to alcoholic or a drug addict. I’m just trying to keep an open mind here. For the most part, my life was pretty damn peachy before I started getting loaded on pain pills and anxiety meds, and that decision had a lot to do with my feeling of social anxiety/shyness.

    Also, I hate, hate, HATE the pseudoscientific self-righteousness of the old-time hardline cultists who have long lost the obsession to get high and replaced it with an inflated sense of importance in propping up NA/AA and bringing more newcomers into the fold. A lot of these people display tons of narcissistic traits. And I hate how they like to get down peoples’ throats with demands for “complete abstinence” rooted in absolute medical knowledge when they find out somebody is taking suboxone or anti-depressants or what-have-you under the care of a licensed physician. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest factors in driving a lot of the newcomers away. I’m tired of having to deal with the people who act like if I don’t call THEM daily, I am going to relapse and die. Because when I do call them, all I get is callous sloganeering and a holier-than-thou attitude coated in sugar.

    So yeah, thanks for taking the time to write your post. And if you’re willing to have it, I’ll gladly debate further with you on these topics.

    1. Thank you for your comment and willingness to discuss this issue with an open mind. This is refreshing, and at this point all I could ask for.

      So pardon my speculation, since at this point I know very little about you, but I think to some extent you are a hypochondriac due to your early childhood experience with shrinks and drugs. When they said to you: “Don’t do drugs because if you start taking them you might not be able to stop”. You took it to heart. It’s called the “Nocebo Effect”. With an impulsive child, everyone is watching them to see if they become an addict, so it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps even in revenge in some cases!

      I have a post about this: “The Little Psychopath Could”. It shows how a child with an impulse control disorder is particularly susceptible to drug addiction. Perhaps you will relate to it, perhaps not.

      As for the lying, I agree that you can’t condemn someone for being a liar. If addiction is real, then definitely the lying is caused by the drugs and can be discounted. Furthermore, I am not concerned about the lying while in the thick of the drug habit. I’m concerned about the lying before it, and during periods of sobriety. If the lying precedes the drug use, then I think we’d be fools to automatically believe the addiction is true. Even though it sounds harsh, this is just a logical claim, not a judgment call.

      Now, if most drug addicts have a history of lying and aggression that precedes their first sip, then we really need to re-examine the whole addiction issue. That is my claim. In all cases I’ve studied, the sociopathy precedes the addiction.

      1. Well, you are right about hypochondria. I’ve always been the type to get a papercut and start scrambling to WebMD to make sure my papercut isn’t the first symptom of some horrific immune system disorder, or what have you.

        That said, I actually held onto the belief for a very long time that I was immune to addiction or alcoholism because I was convinced that I did not have “an addictive personality” and that it couldn’t happen to me because it didn’t “run in my family.” I was drinking, smoking pot, smoking cigarettes and indulging infrequently in the psychedelic experience for a few years with nothing in the way of consequences or severe progression in “my disease” for the worst. I pretty much thought that was how things were always going to be for me, and that mindset is actually what made me, to a degree, feel safe about beginning to dabble with things like amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine and ultimately prescription opiates.

        However, I did have a slight fear, the first time I ever took Vicodin, of liking it too much and never stopping. But I’ve always been one to believe in science and logic, so I went online for advice and as soon as I read the words “you will not get addicted your first time,” the pills went down the hatch.

        My oxycodone use became something I refused to let go of the day I went to class riding the high of 15 milligrams and felt superhuman when it came to getting my work done and socializing with my classmates. All my anxiety was gone. My attention span problems seemed minimal, at best. I had the energy of a space shuttle. I felt on top of the world, and I began to believe that I could only achieve this feeling by taking drugs.

        Also, I had a fascination with drugs and the “drug lifestyle” for a long time before I had even tried them. When I was forced to sit through my first bit of Reaganesque propaganda in high school, I immediately went home to google the effects and history of things like heroin and cocaine. And being a creatively minded person (I like to write and play music), I formed an opinion that drug use was a rite of passage and an excellent muse for artistic types. Growing up in the safety of suburban doldrums, drug use also became a way for me to make my life seem “real,” or to provide myself someday with a multitude of stories worth writing about one day, so I dreamt and dreamt and dreamt until they finally became available to me.

        Nowadays I wish I had just dreamt of sheep or girls like all the other teenage boys I grew up with.

        As far as the lying goes, I had a talk with my mom a few months back in which she was in tears because I had lost the honesty she used to value greatly in me. Like anybody else, I wasn’t perfect, and I sometimes told little white lies about how big the parties I was at were, and I hid my pot or cigarettes (at least until I was 18 with the latter), but even from an early age in my drinking and using, I was open enough that who my friends and my family saw and who I really was behind closed doors were not two very different people. When I felt sufficiently old enough to stand my ground and defend my reasons for smoking marijuana, I even came very clean about that to my parents, still while I was living under their roof.

        My lying became increasingly pathological when my opiate use began to get out of control. Something inside of me snapped when I started to live on my own and began hanging out with very negative, self-destructive crowds. The mistrust and betrayal I felt consumed my interactions with the rest of the world. I started to feel targeted by people who cared about me, and I thought it was because they didn’t want me to have any fun. I believed my mom wanted me to be lonely and miserable living on my own, instead of being happy for me that I had made a bunch of new junkie friends who loved coming over to use up all my resources, because she wanted me to move back in with her. Yeah, I went pretty crazy, but it coincides with when my use progressed onto hard drugs.

        I get it, though. Addiction and drug use is a VERY complex and tricky thing. I mean, are a kid who steadily worked his way up from beer to daily heroin use in his youth and an old woman who hardly even had a sip of wine throughout most of her life until a well-meaning doctor put her on Xanax identical and in need of the same kind of program? Probably not. I’m totally against the one-size-fits-all mentality of NA/AA. It’s pretty cultish, if you ask me.

        But with that in mind, I do think there was an aspect of my urges to get high in order to medicate uncomfortable feelings that- for me, were very powerful and very real- that I was entirely powerless over. I once even went as far as telling an ex-girlfriend that I was scared of getting clean because I thought if I got clean I would attempt to take my own life (for the record, I never did try and I do not feel that way anymore). At my worst, I wouldn’t eat, shower, shave, change clothes or hardly even get out of bed if there wasn’t a pill within my immediate grasp. When I couldn’t get high, I just sat around counting the hours until I could again. And because of my powerlessness over that inescapable, all consuming need to stay medicated, a big part of my daily life became entirely unmanageable.

        So whether it’s placebo effect, or due to the parts of the 12-steps that have forced me to look at my own feelings and my own behaviors, my life has started to become a lot more stable since I got serious about my program of recovery. I’ve matured a lot, that’s without a doubt. For some of us, that is possible. Now, whether or not I will always feel as if I need NA to continue along that positive road remains to be seen.

        But for now, NA has played a big part in keeping me clean; and it has been working for me mostly because I have kept what I needed and left the rest behind. And making that little suggestion my mantra through all this is what I feel has also allowed me to stay open-minded and question the many aspects of the recovery culture with which I do not always agree. I once did go into meetings with a mindset of fear and subservience to everything that the old-timers would tell me to do. That caused me to run away screaming and relapse, so today I have to say that I do my best to differentiate between the people who truly worked the steps and restored themselves to decent, sane, well-intentioned human beings and the raving Higher-Power-slave lunatic meeting addicts who treat NA like a cult and just like to talk down to newcomers while constantly spouting off nonsense recovery cliche catchphrases.

      2. Also, I’m fully aware that I almost sound as if I’m contradicting myself when I say I’m a proponent of science and logic while being a part of a group that tries to treat what they consider to be a disease with religious babble. I want to make it clear that I remain, and will continue to remain an ardently skeptical agnostic.

        The value I derive from attending meetings comes from the encouragement to “tell on myself” and come clean about what’s going on inside of me at meetings, the chance to make some new friends who understand my past on a personal level without being currently active drug users (to the best of my knowledge, at least), and the few specific steps that are centered around looking at my relationship with my excessive drug use (one), making a personal inventory (four), and making amends with those I’ve wronged (eight, I believe). The God-ish steps, I can take them or leave them. My current anti-drug(s)- which I suppose some of the hardliners would call my “Higher Power”- is my renewed vigor for life, the personal growth I feel I’ve made since cleaning up my hand, my ability to laugh, and my newfound sense of ambition to someday do something great with my passion and ease for writing. And so far I haven’t really felt ostracized or vilified just because I refuse to “see God” in a bunch of regular ol’ coincidences, and whatnot.

      3. P.S. If I didn’t already mention it in my reply, I would definitely like to know where I can find that article you told me about, “The Little Psychopath Child.” I’m interested in reading it. I mean, addiction was something so incredibly disconnected from my immediate family that neither of my parents never even so much as ever said the word, unless they were talking about some crap making rounds on the news (it didn’t even find the light of day when they found out I was smoking cigarettes, pot or drinking), but they definitely did have their concerns about me in other areas of my life when I was growing up, so I’m open enough to the possibility that something in the article might stand out to me.

    2. Wow, there is a lot here to respond to. And certainly you present a healthy challenge to my hypothesis, which I appreciate. Sometimes it’s not easy to uncover the core truth, but I think it’s there and we can figure it out.

      First of all, the article is “The Little Psychopath Could” and you can find it in the list of “Recent Posts”. It shows how the boy finds the idea of losing control to drugs appealing, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’d love to know your thoughts, but from what you write I suspect that you’re not the typical sociopath that I describe (since you don’t have a history of lying preceding the drug use), but more of the writer type, who does drugs in order to “experience life” and get something to write about. You may also be interested in my blog post “Why does every best seller on addiction turn out to be fake”. You can find this in the same area. I think that writers have a particular susceptibility to excessive drug use because it provides fodder for a future memoire. In fact, writers often experiment on their own lives when they run out of things to write about: drink/drug to excess, become addicted, write about it. It has all the components of great drama – excitement, danger, crime, desperation, salvation. It’s the kind of story we really love. Is this your fascination with drug addiction?

      So pardon my additional speculation (You’ve been very patient with me, so thank you!), but I suspect that you went in with this self-destructive crowd intentionally because you wanted to experience the down and dirty drug culture. I think this was part of your experiment with yourself. After you take oxycodone (or heroin) for a while, you definitely experience severe withdrawals. But, even during those withdrawals you had a choice. You could go to the hospital and detox, or you could wait for your next dose. By the way, who was paying for your drugs? I think that oxycodone/heroin is a dynamic that is different from other drugs in terms of the (fake) addictive experience. Many times people are held hostage to this drug by a parent or boyfriend, to keep them close. An example of this is the post “Why didn’t you tell me that a long time ago” in the section “Things we heard at meetings”. In this case the mother fuels her young daughter’s addiction indirectly to keep her close. The young child simply doesn’t know better, and thinks this is just the way it is, and so whenever the withdrawal symptoms come, they run to mommy or the bf for the drugs or money for more. Obviously your mother was not stoking your addiction, but I wonder if someone else was.

      Also your experience with oxycodone sounds a bit unusual to me because I didn’t think it gave energy. I thought it was more of a loner drug. Perhaps you mixed it with meth or something?

      But back to my earlier point: you went in with this bad crowd because you wanted to stoke your addiction to heroin and you thought this was what you needed to do. In this sense I would argue that your addiction was intentional. (Sorry again for the speculation — correct me if I’m wrong.) You say it was because you felt good for the first time in your life, but many people have had this experience with drugs and moved on. Why didn’t you? I suspect you use this as a ‘mantra’ excuse for why you couldn’t stop. But of course you could have stopped. After all, you’re a grown up now, and there are more important things than feeling confident at parties. You have to be planning for a career at this point. It sounds perhaps like you were not prepared to grow up, and this was an attempted detour to adulthood.

      So one final speculation: Your parents in their desire to create a happy childhood for you, failed to prepare you for adulthood, and shielded you from life’s tough struggles. So, in a way you are getting revenge on them for lying to you. And they know they’ve lied to you, so to some extent they may feel guilty and that your addiction is their just reward.

      Now obviously I could be completely off base on all of this. But if it’s true, then I think you can see that addiction is fake in your case, and possibly in every other case, as I try to show on my web site. So if addiction really is fake, then we can stop scaring people into it, and believing that they are addicted after they experience their first withdrawal symptom. As for AA, I think it can be a useful organization for many people in terms of the opportunity for introspection and growth. My problem is only with the first step: “I am powerless over alcohol.” I’m not a religious person, but I don’t mind if other people are. Whatever floats your boat. But this first step is really dangerous because many people use drugs as a tool to hurt other people, and then later claim that they were ‘addicted’ – powerless under the demon’s possession. You are not in this category – you used drugs to self-experiment and create drama. But the unnecessary hurting of others in the name of addiction I think needs to be fought. Not to mention, addiction is the main justification for the War on Drugs.

      1. Actually, you’re pretty spot on with most of your assessments of me. Except for two. I’ll list those two and elaborate.

        1. For the most part I paid for my own habit, either by pawning off my old stuff, selling off parts of my suboxone prescription, doing favors for dealers in exchange for doses, or diverting money that was meant for other purposes into drug use. The only girlfriend I had during my year and a half of opiate abuse was pretty much against my use, and my parents I tried to shelter from my escalation to opiates because as recently as 14 months ago they were naive as newborns on the topic of drug use.

        I had one friend who did “help” to keep me high for about 2 months, but in return would ask the same from me when I was buying a stash. On some level I can see the scenario you were suggesting manifesting here, because he wanted a place to stay in where he could constantly take drugs and I’m sure he wanted a partner in his addiction to ease his own burden of staying high. We used each other mutually, basically.

        2. I sought out the pill-using circle before I knew they were pill users. How I met the first few of them, which is where the connections branched out from, was through the designated smoker’s area on my college campus. We all had to congregate there in between classes for cigarette breaks, so eventually conversations happened. One day I mentioned liking psychedelics and MDMA to one particular kid, and a few days later he came to me asking if I could help him find painkillers. From there I began to notice that those pills were far and away the most available drug of quality in my local area, and so began my experimentation with them (my mindset back then was try everything once; if I like it, do it again).

        Also, when I say that I got energy from shooting oxycodone, I don’t necessarily mean in the same sense as, say, amphetamines or cocaine. However, the euphoric rush from injecting one was so great that I doing anything would seem easy and I was at my best socially. The “loner” classification of opiates, I feel, is a misconception. Our society is very uneducated when it comes to these substances- which I say is a side effect of the virtual blackout put on them in mainstream society as a result of the War on Drugs. I’ve read that at one point in this country’s history, opiates were even prescribed to treat depression as an off-label use. And imagining that takes no stretch after so much experience with them. Yeah, if I took too much I’d just be nodding off uncontrollably until I came down. But on a right dose, I would often get excessively chatty and friendly. I felt as if I was at “my best” socially when I was high on them. And the overwhelming majority of the time I got high on opiates, I was around at least one other person. Also, oxycodone is derived mostly from thebaine while heroin from morphine, so perhaps there is a chemical reason for this perceived difference between these two opiates.

        The only thing I ever mixed opiates with were booze or benzodiazepines. I did this more when my use was escalating to the extreme, and I just wanted to prolong the return of withdrawals by any means necessary. So usually when I mixed them it was done with the intention of going way overboard and pretty much just passing out.

        Now, when you touched on withdrawals, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I kind of perceived what you were saying as a kind of “why not just stop” message. I tried. A handful of times I did get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so I decided to abstain. The longest I ever went was 2 and a half months with no replacement and 5 with suboxone maintenance therapy, but I continued to have vivid dreams where I was still using, and I’d wake up from those with pills and only pills on my mind. I found my struggle to stop abusing pain pills to be a little more complicated than just walking away. Although I made things difficult on myself by still dabbling in things like booze or pot, keeping some of my old friends, and just seeing them less frequently when I was trying to stop. This is another reason why I needed an outside source (whether it needed to be rehab/NA or not is definitely debatable, but in there is where I was finally set straight), because the idea that I would need to make some painful and difficult decisions (I’m referring to cutting out the friends here more-so than cutting out the occasional beers and blunts) in order to maintain recovery was something I didn’t want to face on my own.

        All that said, you are pretty spot on with the rest of your assessments. Yes, I used in search of a story. Maybe not a memoir so much as fodder for semi-autobiographical screenplays, but the principle is the same. I was of the belief that my writing would be more genuine and valuable if I was telling a story that I had personally lived through. And since I was always fascinated by drugs, that’s where I began to seek out my story.

        I also did used to harbor some kind of resentment towards my parents for sheltering me. I felt naive, and I didn’t like it. The bubble I felt I had grown up in had made me into a doe-eyed weakling who wouldn’t be able to fend for himself in the real world. When I left to live on my own, I left with the desire to seek out danger. As you suggested, my upbringing in a state of complete peace and security felt fake to me in comparison to what was on the news, the movies and in the music, and so I formed the idea that people in the “real world” were constantly fending for and defending themselves. I had to change that if I was going to survive. And again, the drug underworld was the ideal place for me to seek this kind of stuff out while still being able to get my kicks.

        And yes, I definitely wasn’t ready to grow up. I actually refused to become mature and responsible until I had experienced enough of what I just talked about in the last 2 paragraphs.

        P.S. It’s not so much that when I first tried opiates I felt good “for the first time,” because my life wasn’t just a big pile of gloom and doom prior to that. It’s just that nothing before my first experience could compare to the euphoria.

      2. You know, I just had a little chuckle moments ago after sending out that last post and looking back on it. I think I’ve almost gotten as open and honest with you, if not more, than I have with my treatment counselors or NA peers.

        I’ve never been totally sold on the 12-step methodology. I’m pretty much forced into it right now, so I’ve just decided to give it a try with an open, but skeptical, mind. Pretty much the same approach I’ve had for your blog post. It makes no sense driving myself crazy wishing to be out of there right this instant, when the payoff for doing what I was told to do for a year will actually be more than worth it considering the legal problem (possession charge) I dug myself into with my reckless abandon.

        There’s a few people I’ve met in those rooms who are genuinely good, interesting people. And of course there are wackjob cultists who can’t help but take the program to a hideous extreme and have forgotten how to formulate a single independent thought after years of being “suggested” not to by the group’s literature and their predecessors in the rooms.

        To twist a phrase from the hardliners, I’m grateful that I stayed on suboxone therapy, because a.) it’s a better deterrent for the immediate opiate issue at hand (blocks the receptors) than anything in the fellowship literature and b.) a few old-timers finding out I was on it allowed me to see their true autocratic colors, which is when they lost me for good to eternal skepticism about the true intentions of a good number of the people inside those rooms.

        I also owe you a thanks for allowing me to face my own beliefs in a thoughtful manner.

    3. And thank you for helping me understand the heroin/oxycodone experience better. It is a challenge to my theory of the Addiction Myth, but I believe that while it does require special consideration due to the extreme nature of the withdrawals, ultimately the theory still holds. I certainly don’t think it’s easy to quit heroin, but I also definitely don’t think you are powerless over it. If you went 2.5 months without heroin and then suddenly have to use again, I would question your motivation. I don’t doubt that you had dreams about it. But dreams are not destiny. I believe that you had cravings, but I think that you could have traced those cravings back to the emotional cause. Maybe you felt your mother or father was starting to doubt if you were a real addict, so you relapsed just to prove them wrong? (Sorry to be so cynical, but again, just a conjectures so forgive me.)

      Anyway, I encourage you to continue on your journey with an open mind and a healthy skepticism. I will do the same. Please come back and post any updates!

      1. You don’t have to apologize for your “cynicism.” I see it as skepticism, which in my opinion is necessary when approaching a topic as nebulous and complicated as the “drug problem” in our society.

        In my first relapse, my parents still had no idea that the cause of my suddenly erratic moods and behaviors had been opiate abuse. There is a 300-something mile distance between us, so all they knew at the time was what I had been willing to tell them, since I still had not faced any serious consequences. After that, however, they found out about my IV-use, and being a pair of old-school conservative thinkers, immediately accepted the belief that I was suffering from the chronic and incurable disease of addiction.

        So I don’t think their doubt of my problem led to my relapses.

        But I was thinking about this article and our discussions some more today, which is what prompted me to revisit it, because I’ve been thinking more and more about whether or not I accept the chronic, incurable, progressive disease concept in recent days. Because the overwhelming majority of anti-drug initiatives and treatment centers in this country put all their weight into “just say no” or “not even once,” abstinence-only kind of crap, I was never really allowed to get down to the core of the kinds of thoughts I had in the early stages of some of my relapses which might have caused them to become prolonged, serious relapses. In fact, no counselor of mine has ever cared to dig any deeper than the basic kind of “you chose to do a pill that night after 2.5 months away, and that’s why you were doing pills again the next night and the night after that and the night after that and so on and so forth until the law thankfully stopped you.”

        One of the biggest motivating factors in continuing my use after the first time I used intravenously (although, not the only one, because I think the temptation of constantly indulging in the pure pleasure of it at the time should be accounted for as well) was the pre-conceived notion that was already ingrained in my mind after a childhood full of DARE programs and horror stories that because I had already shot up once, I now could not stop or else I would have to suffer the unbearable withdrawals.

        Perhaps with more harm-reduction in our society’s approach to drug abuse, as opposed to outright fear-mongering, my use (and I can’t be the only person out there who has fallen for this) might not have become so drastic and desperate at such a rapid pace, if at all.

        Also, I’ve started to consider more the circumstances for why I spent years occasionally dabbling in drugs before suddenly falling off the deep end. There’s a few possibilities I’ve been looking at. For example, when I started to abuse chronically, I had just started living on my own in a new town (desperate to change a life I was unsatisfied and unhappy with) where I knew no one. I felt lost and lonely, and coincidentally the first group of “friends” I fell in with were a bunch of addicts and party-hard kids. At that point in time I was willing to do anything to make sure I didn’t fall back into that pattern of being alone and having nothing to do on my Saturday nights (which is something that I felt deeply insecure about for a long time). In my mind I believed I could be at “my best” socially with the aid of certain chemicals back then, which I thought was what I needed to be at in order to forge lasting, meaningful friendships.

        Another possibility is just the boredom I consistently felt with where my life was at that time. Because I’ve had an issue with setting unrealistic expectations for myself many a times, I thought that by age 21 I was supposed to have a steady gig writing stories, screenplays, performing in some capacity, or making music. But life doesn’t usually work that way, so instead, I was still just stuck in school. I felt unfulfilled, bored and occasionally hopeless about ever being able to achieve my goals. As a result, I began to turn to synthetic alternatives in order to get the excitement and spontaneity I so deeply desired in my life. Perhaps being in that state of mind for a prolonged period of time was enough to set in motion a pattern of use that eventually created the physical dependence which made the idea of moderating or stopping my use seem increasingly more daunting.

        And that’s just two variables that I hadn’t been able to really give much thought to in the 12-step environment of “you have a disease of self-pity and lack of gratitude and blah blah blah.” So once again, I want to thank you for your writing, because it has played a fairly significant part in re-opening my willingness to question Bill Wilson’s fundamentally flawed approach to…whatever the hell it was he was actually trying to approach. 😛

  13. Hey AM,
    I’m sorry that you have had such a terrible time with drugs and alcohol, and I hope you are able to find serenity sometime. That you would take away the benefits of AA from the people who enjoy being members, just because you have had a bad experience, seems very selfish to me. I have several young members with over 5 years sobriety in my home group alone, and know personally many more. You cannot use anecdotal evidence to make scientific claims and expect to be taken seriously. I hope you come to your senses and realize the danger your words and website pose to people trying to get control back of their lives. If it works for someone, I say more power to them.

    1. Hey thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you don’t like the blog post, but thank you for taking the time to review it. Obviously I disagree with your conclusion. There is very little evidence for the effectiveness of AA, and in fact scientific evidence shows that abstinence is actually dangerous in terms of binge drinking and DTs. I suspect that regarding your young members, there is more to the story than you are revealing. The best I can do is continue to record my experience for all to see and let people judge for themselves. The more work I do, the more clear to me it becomes that AA is a cult and scam.

      Also, I have not had any major problems with drugs or alcohol, and currently I drink infrequently, and moderately when I do.

      1. so, then, what do you recommend for people who need help? there are other supports out there, do you disagree with them, too? AA has no official leadership – only members who volunteer their time. sounds like a pretty ineffective cult, if you ask me.

      2. My only problem with the 12 Steps is the first one: “I am powerless”. If AA didn’t require that people admit they are powerless, then all its other problems will go away. In general support groups are fine; other support groups like Rational Recovery simply benefit from the Addiction Myth. They will disintegrate once the Myth of Addiction is fully exposed.

        AA could become a free group therapy society. A lonely hearts club with a spiritual bent, perhaps.

      3. Abstinence is actually dangerous when it comes to binge drinking or dt’s? Qualify that statement

    2. You are such a schmuck. AA’s first step does not say “I am powerless over alcohol.” It says: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-…”
      Nobody has ever tried to make me say “I am powerless over alcohol.”
      Similarly, you have tried to claim in other posts here that AA says we are “defective people.” No, we are good people with some character defects. You really ought to get your facts straight. You will have no credibility if all you do is distort facts and then respond to the twisted facts you report. How in the world do you look yourself in the mirror?
      I know you will have some snappy response, but I go to meetings, work the steps, and try to keep myself on an even keel so I can be of some service to others. I also know you will blather about how you are trying to “save lives.”
      If AA is neither more or less effective than, oh, say CBT, then why aren’t you attacking therapists? I think you had a bad experience in the program, or just couldn’t get it, and that is why you have your nose out of joint, and in other people’s business. Why don’t you get over it and move on with your life?

  14. Early in sobriety and I have yet to experience many of the things you speak of in your blog. There are some truths included in your post, however it seems as though you have made several generalizations that just aren’t what I have experienced in the rooms of AA. I don’t keep track of any of the statistics you speak of in your post, but I can tell you that my experience has been a positive, one that has been most helpful to myself and those in my life.

    1. Thank you for considering my point of view, and for your comment. I believe that time will tell, as far as the overall benefit of AA to our society.

      1. Hi, I love having a blog where I can lie, exaggerate, bloviate, fabricate, twist the truth and just generally act like a moron. I represent the opinions of a few people and my own warped perceptions as the truth, all the while denigrating and insulting people who are just seeking a little clarity and serenity in their lives. I am totally clueless about what a snotty asshole I come off as. My posts constantly contradict each other and I wouldn’t recognize the truth if you baked it in a pie and you smushed it in my face.
        Everything I say here is a lie. So, finally, a little self confession. I have a giant johnson!! OK, it is only medium. All right, I admit I have a Johnson.
        A couple true things I can say. I have a bridge I can sell you. No really, come on now, why won’t you believe me?
        If I say the sun comes up in the East, you really ought to get up early and check. No really, why won’t you just trust me? I mean, all my other lies and fabrications aside, please believe me!?!

    2. Why, thank you, Dickless, finally a bit of truth… I find it refreshing to see you buck up a bit, and act like a man.
      And folks, “Yes, it’s true, this man has no dick!”

      1. What happened to, “this is a sick man. How may I be helpful to him? Save me from being angry.”?

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