Understanding AA as a Political Front

I follow a few of the “Anti-AA,’ “Leaving AA,” etc. groups on Facebook as a way of keeping up on what the opposition forces are saying. Much of what they say is right: “it’s a cult,” “it spreads lies,” “it exploits the vulnerable,” “it embeds myths into the public consciousness,” and other valid complaints.

But then some turn their anti-AA crusade into the flipside of these same complaints with the same strident rants. That’s easy to understand as they usually come from people who have only recently left the cult and are either embarrassed that it took so long to catch on, or that they are fueled by the actual abuse and exploitation they suffered at the hands of Steppers.

So far, so good.

But there is a problem with all of this.

With the creation of the Minnesota Model of “treatment” – the model that 90+% of rehab programs use because it doesn’t work for 90% of their clients – the “industry” rakes in an unregulated $35 BILLION a year. That’s not AA the cult, that’s 12 Step rehab.

Bottom line? The industry controls AA and is pleased to keep you distracted from the real abuses they inflict on clients. Yes, please, stay focused on the abuses within AA, which are real but petty compared to those inflicted by Stepper rehab, and the industry goes its merry way unthreatened by any attention.

As I often note, if you don’t want to be confused, keep your eye on the money. D.A.R .E: $1 Billion/year and increases drug and alcohol use among adolescents. AA? Maybe $2 Billion a year to spread propaganda, fund pseudo-research (they learned that from the tobacco industry) and take the heat. Stepper rehab? As I mentioned, $35 BILLION annually. Who’s the big dog and who’s the wagging tail?

This is not a new arrangement. The N.R.A. is another straw horse offered up by the arms industry to give you an easy target and distract you from the trillions they rake in spreading death and destruction around the world.

No, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s “just” business.

We have an election coming up. The most important one of my lifetime and I remember back to Truman’s reelection in 1948. Out here in CA we have, as usual, a dozen “initiatives” to vote on. I follow my own advice and see who is funding the ads, pro and con. The sponsor’s make it easy to make an informed choice. So do the endorsers.

Be informed, not diverted. Again, follow the money and you will never be confused.

Informed Decision Making

As I often plead with clients, in order to make good life choices, you need to know where you stand medically, financially and legally. As I further note, women are pretty good at knowing their medical status and, frequently, clueless about their legal and financial standing. With men it’s usually just the opposite.

This becomes even more important with age and since most of you are over 45 you are in the position of needing to make choices about how to spend your 50s, 60, 70s and, likely, beyond. Consequently, paying attention to what’s important is how we exercise such control as we have and maximize our options and opportunities.

Or we can do as a former client noted he was doing, “Drinking was my way of putting in time waiting to die.”

It can be your way too.

Or you can decide that you probably have 15, 25, 35 or more years left and what do you want to do with them?

Planning is, of course, always a case of dealing with the unknowable. As the old advice goes, “expect the best and plan for the worst.” Family history and personal habits can make a difference and we are all well-advised to take them into account. So too we should consider how and where to live, our financial possibilities, medical limitations, obligations, and so on.

Of course there is the biggest consideration: what do you want? What’s important to you?

For some that’s family, for others, not so much. For some it’s geography – staying or returning to where they grew up. These are personal choices, not value judgements, and you do get to decide.

One thing is certain, however, excessive drinking will keep you in the “putting in time waiting to die” category. It will also pile up regrets and those are a terrible thing to collect. As Kris Kristofferson wrote, “I’d rather be sorry for something I done, than for something I didn’t do.” Or as I noted half a lifetime ago, “I’m not going to live a life of a thousand regrets that don’t add up to a single decent remorse.”

What’s your choice? How are you going to actualize it? If not now, when?