A Brief History Lesson

I wrote the first Newsletter just after Mary Ellen and I returned from a conference in Nanaimo, British Columbia. We’d enjoyed our time on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, and even at the conference.

I say “even at the conference” because then, as now, most “addiction” conferences are just 12 Step sales shows, opening and closing with AA meetings, and awarding CEUs (Continuing Education Credits) to para-professional “counselors” who need them to continue working.

But this one was different – there was actual research being presented (CBT among other things) and no AA meetings. Wow!

The conference was hosted by a Canadian rehab facility and we even rode their bus out to visit thinking just maybe we were going to see something new and different.

Guess what? It was the same old, same old right down to the “Steps” being carved in granite.

Wondering what was going on I wrote to them after we returned to California asking for an explanation of the discrepancy between the conference presentations and what they actually offered.

I heard nothing for a long time. After I’d given up hearing I received a call from a very frustrated physician who was leaving the facility because of the fraud exhibited by the difference we had noted – claiming to be research based but, in reality, just being another 12 Step scam.

So, the first Newsletter was one warning about the difference between what programs claim and what they actually offer.

That was 15 years ago and you would think things would have changed in that time. You’d think so, but you’d be wrong.

Roughly 8 years ago we received a call from a man who’d been hired as the CFO for a Minnesota facility. When he’d been hired he’d said he knew nothing about “treatment” and had been told that was fine, they didn’t need a Clinical Director, they needed a CFO. He took the job.

Not a big surprise, being both smart and curious, he did a bit of research into both the facility and rehab itself. Eventually the annual meeting arrived, he made his financial report, and as the meeting concluded the Chairmen of the Board asked if there were any questions.

The new CFO raised his hand and asked, “If we are a program that’s supposed to be helping people with drug and alcohol problems, why aren’t we doing any of the things that actually work?”

He was terminated on the spot.

Over the years, in addition to these calls from real professionals, we have received dozens of calls from people lured into programs claiming a research and outcome base with no 12 Step component. What do they find after they’ve signed in?

You guessed it – nothing but endless AA meetings touted as treatment.
Confronted by the angry client, the excuse is always the same: “Since AA and the Steps are the only thing that works, if we have to lie to you to save you, well, that’s the ethical thing to do.”

Another outright lie. Dozens of things work better than AA for most people and, regardless, no one has to pay for AA. Perhaps worse, vulnerable people become enmeshed in the 12 Step cult through these programs which are only week after week of brainwashing into the Cult – a cult that is far harder to escape that drinking or using.

Yes, it still goes on with the latest call coming less than 3 weeks ago.

If you are determined to get help and any program claims that they aren’t 12 Step based, protect yourself and ask for a signed guarantee that any exposure to AA and/or the Steps will immediately result in a 100% refund of all monies paid whether by you, insurance, or both. You won’t count many seconds before the phone goes dead.


One topic and short today, but important. Important enough to write about 15 years ago, and still as important today.

Additionally, vaccinated, I am taking a few days to drive up the coast to a safe destination. I hope you too can do the same ASAP.