Winds of Change

I just got back from a couple meetings in Weho tonight.  I definitely think things are changing.  There was much less talk of the Steps, Big Book doctrine, mischief, disease and near-death experiences, and there was more talk of fellowship and the common types of problems that everyone experiences.  In particular, several people including the speaker talked about using opiates for medical treatment without any significant issues.  They used the word ‘disease’ sparingly.  They didn’t recount mischief or ‘almost died from my disease’, and the laugh lines were sparser.  Of course, “I always thought that drinking and drugs made people more interesting” got the usual round of hee-haws.

The first meeting was ‘closed’ but it was a big crowd and they weren’t checking IDs.  The speaker was a mid-50’s guy with 25 years sober (excluding prescribed opiates).  He spent his 20’s in a drug and alcohol induced haze (mostly drugs) trying to get a guy to love him by buying him drugs and then trying to keep up with the guy’s prodigious drug use.  Then finally he realized that strategy wasn’t working (after a decade) and goes to Minnesota for detox from his ‘addiction’ and then moves to LA and really hasn’t looked back since.  imgresThe main thing he learned at AA is that you can’t get someone to love you by buying them drugs, though it definitely helps for making friends.

After the speech, people discussed the usual issues of trying to find their place in the city and seeing others check in and out.  But no one complained about cravings.  In fact, it seemed almost a relief to most that they didn’t have to drink anymore.  Not a single mention of a specific step, or a question about ‘powerlessness’.  Of course, they continued to push the magick of sponsorship, and several people mentioned the blossoming of long term (and seemingly healthy) relationships that arose out of them.  Obviously it’s a very intimate experience.  (I think a policy of banning such practice would have little practical value.)

The second meeting was an open ‘tag’ meeting in which non-alcoholics were asked to pass.  Of course, when I got tagged I said I wasn’t alcoholic, but appreciated the opportunity to share and it means a lot to me (what can they say to that?) and discussed a personal issue that resonated with some of the things others said.  I ended with “Though I’m not an alcoholic, I definitely share a lot of the same problems as people here and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss them.”  I didn’t sense any ill will as I spoke.

The best part was a young man who shared that he was just released on Prop 47.  “I voted for you!” I exclaimed.   (Just in my head tho.)  Well so he gets out of jail and goes to his dealer’s place and gets high in the park on everything he can get his hands on.  But it wasn’t “I had intense cravings from being in jail for so long.”  It was:  “I was bored and I didn’t know what to do.”  Sad – obviously there was no one waiting for him.  But that is loneliness, not addiction.  In fact, a speaker called addiction ‘the disease of loneliness and isolation’.  Well now we’re getting somewhere.  (The boy seemed sober and in good spirits so hopefully his court-mandated AA won’t brainwash him into powerlessness and self-destruction.)

At the end I mouthed the “Freedom Prayer” over the Serenity Prayer:

God, thank you for teaching me the difference between right and wrong and giving me the freedom to choose between them.

I think things are changing at AA, and for the better.  Of course, I still think it’s a dangerous cult, but they will start to realize that on their own as they drop the dogma.  My problem with AA is not that it’s religious or even satanic (all psychological treatments are religious or ‘wishful thinking’ to some extent and even the psychology ‘experts’ can’t seem to tell the difference between religion and science anyway) but the fact that it requires confession of powerlessness which easily leads to abuse, exploitation and death.  Even though everyone introduced themselves as alcoholic/addict, no one said anything like “I am powerless to my disease” or “I need to always remind myself that it’s a ‘cunning and baffling’ disease.”  That was refreshing – perhaps people are getting wise to the cult tactic.  Of course, every meeting is different.

16 thoughts on “Winds of Change”

  1. “And then the bullies pile on with the insults while everyone else just stands around watching. Thanks for showing How it Works, please continue with your demonstration:”

    please show me where I insulted anyone with my last post. And another thing, these stories might have more weight if they were true. Like had someone other than you written them. They still show nothing of what you claim. How about you show me proof of your lies. What meetings have you gone to where anyone tried to bully you into mishief or suicide? All I ask is for you to actualyl prove your lies not have me read some bullshit.

    1. LOL you’ve said repeatedly “Bullying doesn’t happen at AA and if I saw it I’d say something!” Then this guy tells me to fall down stairs, and you just pile on. You are a despicable hypocrite, like all AA members, you all do the same thing. Say you don’t do it, then do it, then pile on, then say, “We don’t do that!” Thanks for the demonstration!

      1. Well first off I didn’t “pile” on and I didn’t really read this guys post. And just because it was posted on a blog does not mean it happens in 12-step programs and if it does it is not the norm. You are still having a comprehension problem aren’t you?

      2. Talk about hypocrites. First off how many AA members have you actually met? Secondly just because a few members of the program may not be on the up and up does not mean that you can paint all of us with the same broad stroke that you do. Thirdly, I have never once in my 26 years as a member of the program tried to bully anyone into anything let alone suicide or told someone to throw themselves down the steps. Perhaps your world view is so myopic that you can’t see the forest through the trees.

      1. Funny I didn’t see anything in this blog that suggests anything that you claim. Just some non-alcoholic who thinks they know better than others. Someone who even disparges pyschologists.

      2. And then the bullies pile on with the insults while everyone else just stands around watching. Thanks for showing How it Works, please continue with your demonstration:

  2. Thank you for your posts. This website has allowed me to look at the 12-step program in a whole new light. I have attended MA “Marijuana Anonymous” meetings for the last four months and I have had some concerns about indoctrination. One of my therapists called the meetings an “undifferentiated ego mass.” They promote complete sobriety from all mind and mood altering substances. I do not think the debauchery and mischief that you write about in AA is as common at MA. Potheads are a completely different breed of people, but I do think the some of the troubling effects of indoctrination are manifesting in MA. Despite concerns about indoctrination, the meetings I attend have a much greater focus on fellowship and a genuine concern for the wellbeing of the members. I still drink, occasionally and with moderation. The other group members who buy into the myth of “the risk of cross-addiction” are displeased with my choice to “jeopardize my recovery” but they are generally respectful of my autonomy. Addiction does seem to be a myth, and an excuse for bad behavior. Even if I believed in the myth of addiction, how could I be vulnerable to cross-addiction to alcohol? I very deliberately picked marijuana as my drug of choice over alcohol. I had years to experiment with both and I couldn’t become an avid alcohol abuser even if I wanted to. I am going to pay closer attention to the language used in meetings and see if I pick up on any of the other things you mention here. I want to lift the curtain on the other members and see if they are how you characterize the established members of many AA meetings. Do you have any thoughts on differences between the AA, NA and MA denominations of the 12-step programs?

    Thanks again for your website

    1. Thanks for checking out the site! I’m not familiar with MA but I’d agree that it’s probably less harmful like you say. Due to the nature of the drug. I think people drawn to mj are less inclined to criminality and exploitation compared to those drawn to alcohol and harder drugs. Generalizations, of course. Listen for claims of ‘disease’ and ‘dying from my disease’. I also wonder if your group is a feeder for AA/NA. If someone attends them too then that’s a red flag – watch if they try to get you to go. Once you know how the brainwashing works you are inoculated to it. But watch what they say to newcomers. Also say you’re not an addict but appreciate the fellowship and see who throws a fit.

  3. I appreciate the idea of questioning any kind of language that encourages people to consider themselves powerless when so much of our society emphasizes each individual’s inner strength. At the same time, I don’t mind recognizing my humility when the fact speaks for itself. I have not been able to control my ingestion of an alcoholic substance. As long as I continually believed “I got this,” I set myself up to fall that much harder. I may have a number of college degrees and incredible discipline in many areas of my life, but once alcohol is involved, I become absolutely unreasonable. I have hurt myself and others. I don’t like myself when I drink. Whatever the “brainwashing” is in AA, it doesn’t cost me any money, and it has helped me to heal many of my relationships as I have quit drinking, one day at a time. I cannot speak for any person other than myself, and there are people in some meetings I have little in common with outside of our problem with alcohol, but I don’t see any evidence of the assertions made on this website.

    1. Like I said, less talk of ‘disease’ and the 12 Steps. More talk of common problems everyone experiences. (We all been ‘absolutely unreasonable’ and ‘hurt others’, sometimes even when sober!) Anyway, thanks for the comment and for confirming my points.

      1. And if you can treat your alcoholism by believing in a ‘higher power’ and asking it to remove your ‘character defects’, how does that make it a real disease?

      2. And if it’s “a real disease, like diabetes or cancer” (as it says in the Big Book), then why is it that people for whom the “treatment” that is AA (&/or NA) fails, that the diseased person is a bad person, who deserves any & all bad outcomes (“hospital, jail or death”)?

        When I had a surgery for fibroids and they grew back, the medical staff didn’t act like I was a bad patient who deserved more fibroids for not going along with the surgery-works scenario.

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