How Most of Us, Whether We Drink or Not, Are Adversely Affected by AA and the 12 Step “Rehab” Industry

The fundamental problem is AA mythology so pervades our culture that we have all become infected with nonsense that passes for fact.

Let’s look at a brief, if deadly, example.

Most physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and therapists have virtually no training in dealing with alcohol related problems. Any training they have received has been straight 12 Step mythology: “anyone who drinks ‘too much’ is either an ‘alcoholic’ or an ‘alcoholic in denial’. Alcoholism is a life-long, progressive disease, which can only be controlled – never cured – by adhering to the AA program.”

Because this myth is so firmly imbedded, anyone mentioning any concern about drinking will immediately be referred to AA and/or “Facilitated 12 Step” – better known as “rehab” – and they will be branded with the lifelong label of “alcoholic.”

So what’s that got to do with anyone but the problem drinker? If you are a spouse, family member, friend, employer or a health care professional, infected by the mythology, then you will inadvertently be aiding and abetting the Steppers in preventing anyone you are concerned about from receiving actual help.

This “health professional” problem is, however, just the tip of the iceberg. Virtually all of us are infected with the Stepper virus directly and unconsciously. Consider TV as a carrier.

In the medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, the Chief of Surgery is portrayed as a “recovering alcoholic” and, when he’s having a bad day, the repeated response is “don’t you think you need to go to a meeting?” By osmosis we all get infected by three ideas: 1) that AA and going to meetings works, 2) that self-medication with alcohol is a life-long condition that only responds to “The Program”, and 3) that this idea is endorsed by the medical profession – even a completely Hollywood fabricated medical establishment.

Even worse is a more recent show, Elementary, in which a modern recreation of Sherlock Holmes, fresh from rehab for his cocaine “addiction,” is aided in his never-ending “recovery” by his sober living companion, the equally distorted Dr. Watson.

I don’t know about you, but I read all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries in high school and I noted then, as now, that Holmes said that he only indulged in cocaine when he was bored. Boredom, along with loneliness, anxiety, trauma, and unbalanced personal and professional relationships are among the most common causes of self-medication. In the case of Holmes, as the original stories demonstrate, end the boredom and the SYMPTOM goes away.

But instead, the show pushes myths that Holmes, had he been an actual person, would have scoffed at along with the proffered “solution.” Holmes would have been one of those that AA kills.

And yet, anyone who watches the show, is bombarded with the myths that he is suffering from a lifelong disease, rehab and meetings and sober living companions not only work, but are necessary. But, all of these assertions are false and unsupported by a shred of research or evidence.

Once you become aware of the pervasive nature of the Stepper infiltration of the movies, TV, literature, and other media you can begin to appreciate the “mind control” that the AA based rehab industry has succeeded in inflicting on us. Is it any wonder that the first real “step” in assisting clients in their recovery is deprogramming them and those who care about them?

“Rock Bottom” – Really?

All of this is reinforced by another deadly trap – you have to hit “rock bottom” before you can begin to move on to being “in recovery.”

This is the equivalent to telling a patient with an actual disease, consider cancer for example: “yes, you have breast cancer, but we can’t treat it until its metastasized and you’re at Stage 4. And of course, we can only address it then with what treatments were available in 1935 because that’s what works.”

And so tens of millions of people fail to get appropriate and effective help with a troubling alcohol condition because it isn’t bad enough yet? And those around them fall for the same myth.

Reality, on the other hand, does show that self-medication, like most real diseases, responds to treatment when addressed as early as possible. This also provides the most options which include moderating back to normal consumption levels – a real possibility for up to 40% of those suffering from alcohol dependence, many more with those who receive early short term help.

Contrary to long-standing AA “wisdom”: “Yes, Dorothy, a lot of pickles can revert to being cucumbers.” However, it is necessary to accept the research: self-medication is a symptom, not a disease.

Understanding that one is exhibiting symptoms, and acquired habits, leads to the “prescribing” of what actually does work: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for anxiety and depression; Assertiveness Training for unbalanced personal, familial and professional relationships; Motivational Interviewing to enhance the urge to change; diet evaluation to address blood sugar impacts; endocrinology to address hormone issues (i.e., the ever popular if unconscious, chardonnay as estrogen replacement therapy), and all of the considerations that go into habit change and formation.

But again, “what everyone knows,” all of which is false, precludes everyone from getting accurately assessed and treated, early and effectively – even if that does turn out to be a referral to AA.

We can easily see what happens when a society is overtaken by the propaganda a $35 BILLION a year con game can generate and spew out to infect us all. The King’s New Clothes isn’t just a fable from long ago, it’s a current story that far too many of us still believe.