Do You Really Need a “Group?”

I follow, and occasionally contribute to, a number of Facebook groups such as “leaving AA” and other similar online discussion entities. What I notice most frequently is that the last bastion of the various cults is the notion that you need a “group” in order to change your behaviors.

Admittedly, this can be helpful in the short run for someone who needs to be deprogrammed from 12 Step mythology, or who has been regressed to the point that they need the security of a group in order to implement the major changes associated with exiting a cult. This is quite understandable.

However, the goal for most of us, is to exit an alcohol fixated life, and that would include no longer being encumbered by leading a life in transition from one toxic group to what should be a transition group. Isn’t that the goal? Not just ending a life dominated by alcohol, but one dominated by fixating on leaving one alcohol focus for another.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the differences between our clients who primarily come from two different backgrounds. The first are those who never got ensnared in the 12 Step world in the first place. That’s about 2/3rds of new clients. The second are those who discovered that cult membership wasn’t for them but need to be deprogrammed from whatever degree of brainwashing they – and frequently their spouses/families and others – inculcated.

The road back to sanity is a tough one in either case though the ones who have been seduced by “what everyone knows” is harder since they have a lot to unlearn as well as new things to learn.

Let’s look at a couple of parallel examples. Ten years ago we saw a lot of clients who had gone from gastric bypass surgery to alcohol abuse to us. That progression actually makes a degree of sense: if you can no longer self-medicate with food you switch to self-medicating with alcohol. Most of them eventually said, in effect, “if we’d come to you first and addressed what we were using food for, we could have skipped the surgery.”

Example #2: Ex-smokers. Nicotine is likely the most addictive drug ever discovered. Yet people have successfully quit smoking for as long as smoking has been around (and, by the way, people have been quitting drinking for thousands of years before AA showed up, too). No groups, no code words, and, recently, perhaps a bit of medical support.

I quit drinking destructively over 30 years ago, and smoking over 20 years ago. No groups, labels, or excuses. I will add, that that makes me a part of the usual, not an exception.

The point? You may find an “exit group” helpful in the short run as a part of the deprogramming process – but like the over-eaters, don’t get caught by transferring from one habit to another. Keep the goal in mind! A life unencumbered by alcohol in all of its manifestations! That includes groups, whether 12 Step or anti-12 Step.

Still Evolving Here at Non-12 Step

As we have worked through the details of making our services more available, affordable, and individualized, questions from you, colleagues, and callers have continued to drive us towards answers in ever more areas.


By moving to a confidential on-line format with Zoom, we have eliminated the expense of travel, accommodations and transportation here in the L.A. area. That has reduced your need to “disappear” and whatever exposure that might generate.

That format switch has also allowed us tio reduce our office expenses and pass that savings along as a 25% reduction in program charges. Adding together the elimination of travel expense with the fee reductions means you can have exactly the same services as we’ve provided for 15 years at half the $$$ cost with no reduction in quality, confidentiality, or individualization.

As I write this on December 3, a new consideration arose in response to a woman from Ontario, Canada who I have talked to over the years and who has been able to work her way through much of her problem on her own with Newsletter support. The question here is, can she receive the little bit of additional help she would like without signing up for the full package she no longer needs? It took me about 30 seconds to say, “Yes!”

This is an example of how we are now in a much better position to further customize services our always individualized services to you.

Do you want to escape to S. CA. for a period of focused reflection? Fine. We are happy to provide that.

Do you want to work with us from home, save money, and further preserve your anonymity (including spouses and other family/friends)? Works for us if it suits you.

Do you need to address conditions or matters which don’t require extensive and intensive focus? Great – let’s discuss what degree of services you want.
We firmly believe “one size fits no one,” and that you know best what degree and format of help will best work for you.

We also believe that an audio/visual consultation – free for the asking – will help clarify which option(s) will match your needs, preferences, and abilities.

What do you think?