In watching the new documentary, The Business of Rehab, and in reading the many reviews, we weren’t surprised that nothing much has changed since a couple of men in Minnesota struck gold with the idea that they could sell AA as treatment, do nothing more than host AA meetings, and fleece desperate individuals and families.

60 years later this conning of the vulnerable continues unabated, unregulated, and unsuccessful for clients, if extremely successful for the executives of these “non-profits’ who pay themselves as much as $900,000 annually.

No, you don’t have to fall into the 12 Step trap – and by virtue of having found our website and signed up for this newsletter, you’re not apt to.

But that doesn’t help the millions of people who don’t even know what “rehab” means, and have no idea how to find, let alone evaluate possibilities. They don’t even know that other options actually exist.

And if the treatment mills continue to get their way, and you can buy a lot of “getting your way” when you have $32 billion dollars a year to spend, most people will never know that fast, affordable, and effective options do exist.

Think about it for a minute. 90% of treatment programs in the U.S. and Canada offer nothing beyond “facilitated 12 Step,” meaning that you are paying to attend AA meetings – something you can already do for free at a church near you.

That might not be so bad if AA actually worked. But it doesn’t for well over 95% of the people who try it.

As my own experience showed, and as numerous callers and clients have testified, counselors whose clients succeed, and staff who question “why aren’t we doing any of the things that actually work?” don’t hold their jobs Hazelden, Betty Ford, or any other of the 12 Step mills for very long.

You might wonder why I’m writing this to you since you already know this.

The answer is straightforward – you may know it, but you also know someone who doesn’t. And needs to.

Additionally, while you may know it, your friends, spouse, family and others are probably still suffering from the 12 Step brainwashing that pervades our culture and makes it extremely difficult for you to eventually get the actual help you may want.


“Everyone knows:”

  • that you have to go away for 30, 60, or 90 days;
  • that AA/NA is the “only” thing that works;
  • that you have to be “in recovery” for the rest of your life;
  • that you can never ever have another social drink;
  • that alcohol abuse is a “disease;”
  • that thinking you can work your way back out of it means you are “in denial;”
  • that……..

But everything “everyone knows” turns out to be false.

Let’s all help by, at the very least, not falling for the snake oil and the king’s new clothes ourselves – and let’s also quietly support those who are asking for real help, not just another ride on the rehab merry-go-round?

“Been there. Done that.”

Many of our clients report that the most helpful phrase they pick up here is the notion that alcohol abuse can be, as many things in our past are, moved into the “been there, done that” category of life experiences.

Stop and think for a moment about all of the things you used to do that you no longer engage in, good, bad or indifferent.

For my part, I used to abuse vodka, smoke, ride motorcycles, commercial fish salmon in Alaska, do placer mining, play tournament bridge, write for newspapers’ Sunday Travel sections, and a lot of other things I haven’t done in a long time. I’m sure you have a similar lengthy list.

Guess what?

Alcohol abuse isn’t any different than any of those other things we used to enjoy but which, for one reason or another, we stopped.


Maybe we moved to a place where the activity wasn’t possible (no more dog teams on the Yukon for me, sadly); or we lost interest (travel writing); or health concerns overcame the pleasure (vodka and cigarettes); or I just outgrew them (motorcycles).

Some of these activities went into the “been there, done that” file permanently (smoking and motorcycles) and others were set aside until the opportunity or need arose again (playing bridge).

Part of our work with you is figuring out what stays in the file, what it’s time to dust off (those things you gave up because drinking was easier), and what to add to your new file.

New file?


The one labeled “Never been there. Never done that.”

The “bucket list” isn’t a new concept, but it’s one you can now, in your own best self-interest, begin to compile, explore, and check-off.

Think about that. What is your alcohol use preventing you from doing?

Time to stop doing, as one client put it, “drinking: putting in time waiting to die” and instead, emulate Mae West who noted that “when confronted with a choice between two evils, I select the one I haven’t tried before.”

Evil or not – what haven’t you tried before cuz you were too busy drinking, which is, after all, just putting in time, waiting to die?