Comments on “AA – Who it Helps, Harms, Kills & Why”

It’s only been a few short weeks since the book became available and comments have begun to appear. Predictably, all but one of the negative remarks have come from people who haven’t read it – Steppers all, threatened by any divergence from their “party line.”

The one exception came from a regular reader, with whom I often correspond, who suggested that my “hatred of AA” is on display. We agreed to settle on the idea that any animosity towards the organization is directed at the ubiquitous 13the Steppers whose predatory activities have existed in AA since Bill W. founded it and used it to further his own sexual abuses.

However, reflecting on my 35 years of studying AA, I again came to the conclusion that AA isn’t, nor has it been since the 1950s, an independent organization. It is, instead, a puppet whose strings are pulled by the rehab industry.

Please understand that the successful commercialization of so-called “Facilitated 12 Step” – selling AA as treatment – has wildly exceeded the original scammers’ fondest hopes and dreams. Today, over 90% of residential and out-patient “treatment” is merely selling AA meetings.

Consider that for those who try AA, 95% find nothing of value there, never mind that the vast majority of folks who know better than to even try it. As I said 35 years ago, and most of our clients since, “If my only two choices are AA or being a drunk, I’d stay drunk, thank you anyway.” (Happily, those aren’t the only two choices, Hazelden, Betty Ford, and a couple of thousand other informal co-conspirators to the contrary.)

But that’s a digression.

The point I’d like to make is, that being captive to the “industry” means AA couldn’t reform even if it wanted to. Reformation would require, among other points, admitting that, of all of the ways to overcome a drinking problem, the “Steps” don’t even make the top 30.

It would also mean discarding the “disease” model.

Those two “steps” alone would jerk the rug out from under a $35 BILLION a year con game. What do you think the chances are?

As usual, improving conditions for those seeking help means focusing on who is profiting from business as usual and starting to target and expose them, not the puppet.

So What Does “Work”?

First, in a very modest “I do understand” to most of the counselors who work in AA based rehab. Counselors are selected from the pool of those for whom AA “works”. They are sincere, for the most part, if ill-informed. Becoming a Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor is not a rigorous process. You need a GED and a bunch of on-line courses and pass an exam that’s hard to fail. If you are working “under supervision” you don’t even need to clear that low bar. But these are not bad people. AA worked for them so surely it’ll work for you if you just work the Steps again! And again. And again.

The villains in this setup are the owners who know exactly what they’re doing as they create phony non-profits to exploit employees, insurance companies, and clients alike.

Again that is an aside that can, someday, result in a longer discussion. For now, all you need to remember is that the approaches with the best outcomes are those which employ a mosaic of skill and coping enhancement tools all specifically tailored to you:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (see SMART Recovery);

  • Assertiveness Training;
  • Motivational Enhancement;
  • Possible Naltrexone support;
  • Distinguishing toxic from supportive relationships;
  • Blood sugar management;
  • Exercise considerations;
  • Habit breaking and reformation;
  • Self-Image enhancement.

The list can be expanded, or contracted, until it matches what works for you. Note that it’s never a matter of hammering, demeaning, and humiliating you into a one-size-fits-all, preconceived, mold. It’s building a model that reflects your skills, abilities, interests, and desired outcomes while enhancing you and your life, not diminishing and detracting.

Imagine that?