©2007, Jack Trimpey. All rights reserved.
The following essay by Danny S. was submitted as a comment to the earlier blog entry, “Pimps Anonymous,” but it is so cogent and relevant to this website that I will feature it here as a full blog entry. — Jack Trimpey, Editor
Jack, yes AA is a mess. That much is true. Unfortunately people are forced into AA by ignorance, by a generalized mis-characterization of the Fellowship, and without regard to their qualifications to become members.
The vast majority of these are non-alcoholic drug addicts; the rest are heavy drinking fools for whom counseling or some other less drastic means other than a spiritual awakening would suffice. Remember Jack, “spiritual awakening” is the sought after result of the Twelve Steps. Sobriety is just one of the consequences.
If folks were more knowledgeable about the Fellowship and its Program, they would see and admit that the addicted need a solution for addicts — a solution which AA cannot supply. (No one is “addicted” to alcohol past the normal seventy hours of detoxification)
AA is for alcoholics — not “addicts.” They are not the same. The mainstream “addictions” treatment industry would like us to think they are the same and has tried very hard to convince us of it, but it isn’t so. It just doesn’t jive with the experience of a real alcoholic. But POP-AA and the public at large has fallen for the scam. Make no mistake Jack, a large part of the “recovery business” is a scam, save for a small portion.
As far as evangelizing goes, in the sense that AAs are supposed to seek out other alcoholics to help — what is so horrible about that? I race thoroughbred pigeons. We love to get more people involved. So do the Boy Scouts, Free Masons and Model Rocketeers.
The AA juggernaut to which you refer is a cultish, subgroup of non-Twelve Step AA that has infiltrated society and spread as the result of ignorant judges, doctors and mainstream media They don’t understand that AA isn’t for every Tom, Dick or Harry with a drinking problem. AA is for true alcoholics only, but the fellowship is now flooded with impressionable, suggestive and successfully hypnotized AA zombies who didn’t need to go there in the first place.
All of this further justifies your comment that “AA is a fellowship of addicted people who know nothing about recovery because none of them, including their founders, defeated their own addictions. This is true, except for the “founders” comment.
Sadly, most AAs can’t tell you how to recover from alcoholism. How could they? They never have recovered themselves. No one has ever recovered from an affliction they didn’t actually have in the first place.
The founders did achieve victory over alcoholism, (not “addiction”, Jack) and this has been the experience of those who have followed exactly their procedures for doing so. It happened to me! – - and my experiences with AA are far removed from the popular characterization of AA that you detest so vehemently. Because they are not real alcoholics, many AA’s recovery and drinking experiences are essentially different from mine.
I have heard the “Relapse is part of recovery” kind of talk in treatment centers and unfortunately also out of the mouths of those 27 1⁄2 day wonders who graduate from such facilities – and bring that rehab-speak into AA. However, people such as myself who have recovered from alcoholism do not often relapse. If it does occur it is certainly not looked upon as “part of recovery.” It is looked upon as the result of absence of spiritual growth.
I know there are folks running around the AA fellowship saying crapola like “one-day-at-a-time,” but that is simply another one of those perverted pop-AA concepts that has nothing to do with the AA Program. The objective is permanent sobriety, forever. That is repeated over and over in Alcoholics Anonymous.
We may live a day at a time, but the ubiquitous idea of living with one foot on a banana peel and the other in front of a saloon is just not AA, but that brings us back to item one above: Why are non-alcoholics being taken into AA? It is our own ignorance, Jack. Too many generations of non-alcoholic infiltration has been going on and the new cult of aa interlopers is what has become most viable and prolific. It is probably the type of fellowship to which you have been exposed.
Jack, perhaps you will destroy aa. If you do, I hope it is not AA you destroy, but the aa that resides within it. If you are successful you will have helped AA in way unimaginable. You might even unwittingly go down in history as one of the co-founders of a new AA because you will have earned a spot as a true AA hero! I know you would be a hero of mine, because the Fellowship has become top-heavy with those whom you yourself see as hypocrites, liars and misinformed. Unfortunately, I fear that AA will collapse under its own weight. But maybe that’s good. Maybe it needs a shakeup. Because AA will never really die, you know. It is likely that it will just cleanse and reform – hopefully stronger, having learned from its errors.
Cheers, right back atcha, Danny S.
To the Reader:
This is an example of the, “AA isn’t what it used to be,” defense, which glorifies 12-step recovery while condemning current practices. Danny loves the idea of AA, but the reality of AA doesn’t match his own concept of AA. He is part of something he knows is wrong, so his criticisms of AA are sincere. His criticisms are also highy accurate, based upon his own direct observations and tempered by his loyalty to AA itself.
Danny summarizes a number of popular ideas I have written about for years, such as one-day-at-a-time sobriety, the 12-step syndicate (juggernaut), and the lack of abstinent outcome of recovery group participation and addiction treatment services. He sees the flagrant social cultism of contemporary AA, and takes notice of the low life that comprise the ranks.
I have searched for the kinder, gentler version of AA, the one old-timers like Danny wistfully recall, but when I look into the quality of AA in days of yore, I don’t find anything substantially different. I attended meetings in the early 1960’s, and I see a nascent social cult that would naturally become the American addiction tragedy it has become.
Even then, there was discussion of the “real alcoholic” versus the “problem drinker.” Then as now, it was a circular logic used to explain why some fit or don’t fit in AA, why some succeed in the steps and others don’t. I wondered then as now how a real alcoholic could be identified without waiting for self-destruction. As always, “real alcoholics” are simply self-identified; as with anyone else in the Imanalcoholic family. I’m one because I say I’m one. I suppose AA might split into Alcoholics Anonymous and Real Alcoholics Anonymous.
I still remember my shock at the idea that my self-indulgences in alcohol were not immoral conduct, and I remember myself taking the bait of addictive disease hook, line and sinker. I recall the rapid turnover of the group, so that few had more than a couple of months “sober,” and I remember the strained smiles of hopelessness and the snickers during drunkalogs. I also remember the group counseling me, “Your family won’t understand you because you’re an alcoholic. They won’t understand about your disease of alcoholism. You will have to teach them about alcoholism, and get them into Al-Anon.”
It’s the same now as then, only new generations have come in with a more nihilistic viewpoint that makes their evangelism less concerned with helping people quit drinking than with recruiting them into AA and getting magical protection against the evil spirit of alcoholism. Certainly, the self-stigmatization which is part of addict-identity continues today, not much different from the Halloween masquerading of old-time 12-steppers, pictured here.
The masquerade of addictive disease, which appeals the family’s compassionate nature, is more grotesque than any Halloween get-up. Saying, “Hi, I’m Bill Imanalcoholic, and don’t be surprised if I continue getting drunk because I’m diseased,” was no less wrong and no less a fabricated excuse sixty years ago than it is now.
Many have fought to the death defending their family’s name and honor; such is the importance of the family in human affairs. To conspire against the family, as all in recovery do by claiming addictive disease, is disgraceful and destructive. There can be no more abhorrent attack on the nuclear family than to trace your stupidity to your own gene pool, and hang your personal immorality on your own family tree.
Just think of what it means to America to have a de facto state religion which forces millions of addicted men and women to accept the stigma of congenital deficiencies and blame their ancestors for the suffering they cause to themselves and others.
Danny hopes I can destroy the part of AA he objects to, and save the baby, the AA of his dreams. AA has always been rotten to the core, giving with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Like any addicted person, only AA can defeat its own base nature. Because it is founded on the lower nature of homo sapiens, it cannot change itself.
I can’t destroy AA, although I wish I could. I am an optomist, however. I believe in people, not programs, and I believe that human resilience will overtake the gloom and doom of recoveryism, and a younger generation will catch on that their elders have allowed a group of religious eccentrics to mutate into an evil tyranny that uses our social service system to funnel new members into itself.
AA members themselves carry the burden of destroying the 12-step syndicate which has invaded the social service system. Steppers such as Danny may pave the way for AA to tackle the greatest problem in its history, that of being an active participant in one of the greatest public health catastrophes in human history.
Perhaps when AA is expelled from the health and corrections systems, its members can regain their honor by providing all newcomers with clear information on how people normally quit drinking/using without making a big deal out of it.