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AA: Not What It Used To Be?

©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.

Jack Trimpey

11 Responses to “AA: Not What It Used To Be?”

  1. Bill Urell

    “AA has always been rotten to the core, giving with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. ” You made your position clear, and provide an alternative. Can you provide any empirically valid, controlled studies that validate you claims of Rational Recovery’s effectiveness?


    That information is provided and discussed here:

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Jack Trimpey

  2. John McCready

    Jack, if it had not been for your “disclaimer” at the end of “Danny’s pathetic rant, I would have said you degraded your blog site by posting it. Danny is a typical, pathetic myopic, “alcoholic” who has the typical “alcoholics (and AA) are different and special” mentality. If he had any brains, he would have made the case that judges, etc. should STOP COERCING PEOPLE to go to AA, so that AA can go back to being a VOLUNTARY attended group of people. and then DIE OFF, as the myopic alcoholics will (by about 2035, when AA would turn 100!). This is what will kill off AA-it’s “singularness of purpose”! As addicts have become more “diverse” in their variety of drugs they choose to become addicted to, AA will lose membership, and sink into the abyss as it should. Granted, it would be great to see it go sooner, but I think it would be better to give it the “mercy killing” it so thoroughly deserves by cutting off its flow of INVOLUNTARY (Coerced!) attendees, and let the voluntary “true-believing” attendees, evaporate groups through their own diminishing numbers of relapse, and other “biological terminations” that death is the result of.


    You raise the key point that, while old-timers pine for the halcyon days of AA, none of them have the guts or moral fiber to “out” AA for the corrupt practices they complain about. Instead, they all reflect the AA tradition to rise above controversy and honor AA unity above all ethical and moral concerns. The Midtown Group scandal is a good example of AA central’s moral dereliction and evasion of accountability. They truly believe that AA is above public accountability.

    Jack Trimpey

  3. Steve Peckman


    I wish you could end AA, too. I wasted so much time praying to a god of my imagination to rid me of this “disease.” I remember sitting in meetings when the old timers would lament about how watered-down AA had become, and how far AA had drifted from its old glory days.

    When was AA in its glory days? Look at its founder, Bill Wilson. He was an egomaniac who engaged in spiritism (which is forbidden in the Bible). He was unfaithful to his wife and asked for a shot of whiskey on his deathbed. If this is how AA started, it should be no surprise that AA is “rotten to the core” as you said.

    Getting sober was not something that I asked God to do for me. It was more of a pledge to God, an idea I leared from Rational Recovery. After all, God is not a puppeteer and its not my the fault of my family that I made stupid, immoral decisions.

    Thanks, Jack.


  4. Chris S.

    Yes –
    “Some of us needed to be beaten into a state of reasonableness” and “One poor chap committed suicide in our home because he could not accept our way of life”. A.A. was so spiritual, sublime, benevolent, and loving back in the good old days.

    “One poor chap died because he could not accept our scientific medical experiments.” – Dr. Josef Mengele. Anyone notice a similarity? Oops, I better point out that I made that up, and it’s a joke. Those AA folks tend to be a bit literal-minded.

    And addicts are not the same as alcoholics??? Orwell, anyone? The contorted “reasoning” people spout as if it were sunshine, to defend the most absolutely stark raving barking lunacy, should have long since ceased to amaze me, but unfortunately it hasn’t.

    “No one is “addicted” to alcohol past the normal seventy hours of detoxification” – neither is anyone else addicted to anything else past detoxification, of course. So Danny’s point is …
    I’m sure Danny S.’s explanation of this is amusing … but I guess I’ll just have to deny myself the pleasure. Don’t want to be selfish, self-centered,
    and self-seeking …

  5. Jim Heckel

    Actually, Wilson and Smith did die of their addiction to nicotine – both men smoked themselves to death and died of throat cancer (Smith) and emphysema (Wilson).

    How this death is better than dying on a hospital bed, skin blaze orange from the toxins a rapidly dying liver cannot remove, is beyond me.

  6. Jim Heckel

    One other thing I’d like to mention. Alcohol is a drug. Those who are addicted to alcohol are indeed drug addicts. Put it this way: Suppose you asked me if I own an automobile. How would you react if I said “No, but I do own a Honda.”? That would likely get me quite a few funny looks at me, the apparent imbecile who fails to realise that his old Honda is indeed an automobile.

    Drugs are drugs. A high is a high. The fact that alcohol is the only legal way to get high in the United States doesn’t change the fact that someone with a belly full of Old Rheinhard is just as stoned as someone with $20.00 of China White in his bloodstream. The only difference between the alcohol addict and the heroin addict is strictly cultural. There is no medical justification for drawing such a distinction.

    Reform AA? You might as well attempt to reform the Beast, for that is what you will be attempting, plain and simple. RR will still target AA, for RR targets Addictive Voice irrespective of its source, and AA is Addictive Voice in psuedo medical / religious / psychopop terms. The Beast will always be the Beast, and AA will always be AA.


  7. Howard

    Danny is making excuses. AA needs coercion. It cannot prosper without coercion. That coercion can end tomorrow. But, AA lives by it.
    As for AA and any other recovery group: At the end of the day, everyone quits on their own

  8. MellBell

    I have tried rehab and a year of AA – twice – only to feel completely disconnected and looking askance at the “true believers” who live & breathe The Program. I blamed & shamed myself for not ‘getting it’ and continuing to go out & drink. Finally I gave myself permission to leave AA and research other recovery options, and found RR. It is only Day One of my Big Plan, but I “get it,” I know in my gut that it is doable and that I don’t have to live with that awful waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling of “when will I give in & drink again?” Thank you Jack for your sensible solution!

  9. Peter Little

    Interesting reading. My only comment:
    Al-Anon is not for helping to understand the alcoholic or alcoholism.
    Al-Anon is there to help Family and Friends to recover from the effects of living with an alcoholic. There is a massive difference as to what you are suggesting.

    Peter Little


    You are right; as an AA member, I was told that my family would never really understand the disease concept of addiction, and that is why they should attend Al-Anon. However, it is disingenuous to convey that the purpose of Al-Anon is not to lever the addicted family member into AA by withholding contact and affection. In other words, Al-Anon has no concept of addiction recovery through planned, permanent abstinence. Al-Anon is a 12-step program based entirely upon the disease concept of addiction, complete with the ideas of powerlessness and the belief that recovery comes only in the form of 12-step salvation.

    Al-Anon compares very poorly to AVRT-based recovery for the family, in that there is no expectation that the addict abstain from alcohol and other drugs. There is no demand that the addict choose between addiction and family membership, but only that the addict choose between 12-step recovery and rejection by the family.

    Consequently, many families are destroyed by Al-Anon’s passivity and failure to insist that the alcoholic/addict immediately cease and desist from any further use of alcohol and other drugs, under the promise that any so-called “relapses” will result in Plan B, which may be divorce, separation, separation, disownment, or other measures that would protect the family from continued abuse.

    Keep in mind that Al-Anon is an auxiliary of AA/NA, and actively serves the interest of chronic addiction and not of prompt recovery.

    Jack Trimpey

  10. Todd D.

    Dear Mellbell,
    I was you back in the begining of March of 07.
    Stay with this way of thinking and you will never drink again.The best part of a big plan is that your resolve seems to grow with each passing day.My only frustration is watching all the poor souls getting thrown to AA and watching the public ones continue to flounder.
    I was addicted to meetings and hated my time there as much as I hated my love of alcohol and all the time I spent romancing the bottle.
    My friend,if I tally up the time I spent at meetings in 2006 and project that time spent with my family and constructive activity in 2007 it equals about 1000 hours.(10 months free of AA in 07)
    AA was an incredible waste of my time and ability to grow as a normal human being,that just so happens to not drink.
    One last thought for you.All the time spent in AA was time talking about alcohol,thinking about alcohol and obsessing about alcohol.IT IS NO WONDER SO MANY IN THE PROGRAM CONTINUE TO DRINK.
    I go weeks without thinking of drinking and when it is thrust on me my our society ,all I have to do is remind myself that I NEVER DRINK NOW PERIOD
    Best wishes to all in the new year and thanks Jack,
    Todd D.

  11. Dave

    Like the world as a whole, there are spiritually sick people everywhere. It is whether they want, “to face their pain or not. I can see that a lot of people use the AA program in order to not face their own pain, “phone a newcomer, to take oneself away from oneself”. For me that is not dealing with ones own difficulies. The thing I do like about the 12 step program is that is a cognitive process of change. What it is not is a healer of pain. Recovery is not about not drinking, but about being as happy with oneself as can be. I go to AA perhaps once a week, just to keep in touch and know that I am not alone. That is only for me. There are a lot of oldtimers still full of egocentricity, “look at me, I am MR/MRS Sober!”. I take it all with a pinch of salt. The 12 steps have helped me, so does thought stopping and thinking positively. Each to their own i say. Well done to you Jack, for making a decision not to listen to the Beast.

    Quote: “Recovery is not about not drinking, but about being as happy with oneself as can be”

    To All: This appalling statement is the truth, even in addiction treatment programs forced upon people with high levels of responsibility, e.g., physicians, pilots, attorneys, health professionals. The 12-step syndicate knows people are entirely capable of abstaining from alcohol and other drugs, but they aren’t concerned with the public interest. They only want to recruit and digest substance abusers whom they can exploit using threat of banishment from their professions. “Abstinence” is looked down upon by groupers and substance abuse counselors, based upon the assumption that the underlying causes of addiction are still smoldering, ready to explode unexpectedly unless one slavishly submits to monitoring and group rule. Recently the California Medical Board ended the impaired physician program because its participants and staff were found to be derelict and corrupt in reporting the continued drinking/using by those in recovery. People in recovery are without a moral conscience, claiming to be morally incompetent, unable to manage their personal affairs, powerless over bodily desires and impulses, who must engage in endless fearless moral inventories just so they can “be good” every day. Is it any wonder they are incompetent to discipline themselves?

    Jack Trimpey

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