Welcome

Welcome to the A.A.R.M.E.D. with Facts Blog

I am against abuse in addiction recovery meetings.  The majority of meetings have no rules regarding membership safety— including no rules against sexual harassment.  I blame this on the most read books in 12 Step treatment: Alcoholics Anonymous’ 1939 Big Book and The Twelve Steps and The Twelve Traditions (or 12&12).  In the former, women are not the alcoholics but the wives expected to stay with abusive alcoholic husbands.  In the latter, rape is considered an act of lust.

Sexism and misogyny contribute to a culture of sexual harassment, abuse, and crimes against vulnerable members- not just women- that is often jokingly referred to as “The 13th Step.”  Meanwhile, 12 Step Members are taught to believe they are powerless over people, places, and things— Not just alcohol and drugs.

Only Step One mentions alcohol:  “Admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Too many people are not aware of what Alcoholics Anonymous is.  It isn’t ran by medical professionals and it isn’t funded by the US Government.  AA says it is SPIRITUAL, NOT RELIGIOUS, but the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Circuit Courts have ruled that AA is religious or a religion.  The Department of Justice deems all 12 Step programs religious and they cannot be funded by the DOJ in part or in whole.

Alcoholics Anonymous, unlike professional led group therapy, is ran by untrained laypeople, who are not screened with background checks.  AA secretaries, chairpersons, and sponsors can be anyone; Many US Courts send violent and sexual offenders to the widely available, free, and ungoverned 12 Step meetings.  This has ended in tragedy, where children are molested and people have been attacked or murdered by AA members they met at AA meetings.

Read the original 2011 membership survey here: http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-48_membershipsurvey.pdf

Read the original 2011 membership survey here: http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-48_membershipsurvey.pdf

Shockingly, 75% of US Treatment Centers heavily rely on 12 Step education as the bulk of their rehab program, which means they are charging patients hundreds and thousands of dollars- as well as insurance companies- for a program that is available for free.  Despite AA’s 5% success record, the typical prescription for drinking problems continues to be recommendations to 12 Step meetings and 12 Step rehab.  More shockingly, nobody seems to care about AA’s lack of success, the higher risk of binge drinking after AA attendance, and AA’s religiousness.

Instead of staying silent, I decided to speak up and share the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step methods.  This blog will educate the reader about how the steps are ineffective, induce depression, and increase drinking problems.  I offer constructive criticism about how AA can improve.  I also mention the secular alternatives to AA meetings.  But ultimately, the most effective method for treating a drinking problem is to avoid dependence on any support group, whether it’s religious or not.  75% of addicted persons recover without ANY recovery program at all.  So if you are currently one of the many people coerced into 12 Step programs, I will be updating my links on how to fight forced mandatory religious meetings on here.

Thank you for visiting my page and be sure to like the Facebook page,  too.

Juliet Abram

35 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Hi Julie

    Great work. Please keep it up.

    I was a low-bottom drunk, sober in AA for 14 years, then was 13th stepped by a self confessed AA “groupie” (her words, not mine).

    Only when she eventually ended up with one of my sponsees did I realise that the fellowship was a place of potential abuse every bit as much as it was for potential healing.

    I took some CBT as an alternate therapy and learned more about my “disease” in 20 minutes than I had 2,000 hours of AA meetings..!

    What’s more the session was facilitated by two mental health professionals who wouldn’t entertain the idea of giving me their personal contact details, because that’s how they roll.

    It’s one element of safeguarding. Yet, AA won’t even acknowledge this issue.

    I’ve done a great deal of additional reading into the subject, which I’ve compiled into a blog here:

    “Leaving AA, Staying Sober” at jonsleeper.wordpress.com

    My next question is as follows. Do you think there’s a place for an umbrella organisation for people in the sober-sphere who are critical of AA and 12 step fellowships, and campaigning for more up to date science based recovery?

    There are more and more of us, and if we had a common voice it would be more focussed and offer an alternative means of communication with the media – which currently seems to accept and even embrace AA entirely uncritically.

    Best love. JS

    • Thank you and I just started following your blog, also.

      I can relate to learning more through CBT quicker than all the time I spent in AA meetings.

      I wish there was one umbrella group and I’ve tried to start an online way to connect others but it seems we’re kinda all over the map with the ex-AAs online. However, some blogs on my blogroll are obviously
      ex-AA sites or how to leave AA blogs. If you’re on facebook there’s a lot of connections on there, also.

      I’d check out Orange Papers, Leaving AA, and there’s more. There’s also http://www.thefreedomtorecover.com and there’s a great blog on there also. I’ll check in this week to make sure my blogroll is how I want it and easier to navigate, etc.

      Thanks again for your comment

  2. Unusual. .. but I am a 62 y.o female addict that, I believe, was 13th stepped recently, resulting in extreme depression & a breakdown.

    • I don’t know why I missed this comment, and apologize for taking so long to comment back… I don’t think it would be that unusual really. Did the depression & breakdown result in your distancing yourself from involvement in 12 Step meetings?

  3. Hi Juliet,
    I have started a blog/Website called “TheRapeVine”.

    It is basically a posting of story’s of many peoples experiences with 12 step programs. I am wondering if there is any way you would allow me to post your “An Interview with Myself series” on my site. I am really looking for things just like this, it is set up to read like a book, well each topic reads like a book, as there are so many reasons why 12 step is harmful to different types of people.

    Let me know if you would be open to it, and also I would like to put a link to your blog on my site.

    The site is here: http://therapevine.blogspot.com/
    my email is here: therapevinenews@gmail.com

    Anyone reading this too Please submit a story if you can. I would really appreciate it, and I know it is already helping a lot of people, submitters and readers a like! Story’s can be on any aspect of your experience durning or after 12 step.

    • Hi Oddness. You may link or copy my pieces to your site as long as it’s linked to my blog, I don’t mind. Best wishes on your parody site the RapeVine and may I also link your site on my sites/groups to help get the word out? Let me know. Thanks.

      • Great, yes let us link each other, My site will get prettier as time goes on, it is a work in progress!

        I will let you know when I put togather what I want, I will put it on a page nobody else can see and send a link to you if that is cool, I think you will get it better to just see what I am talking about in a finished form. And yes I will add links to where the text was taken from.

  4. I am all points bulleting this: I am just copying and pasting it to all relevant sites, I wrote the original:
    —————————————————————————————————–

    hopefully this link works as intended… A reporter who works for VICE news and other outlets is looking for people to share their experiences with the 13th step….. I contacted VICE they verified the email, but I am not sure this story is for VICE. I am linking the post here:

    http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-votes-no-to-protect-members-from-predators/#comment-64197

    Read her words there, as her desire for the story gets even better.

  5. Hi Julie,

    I am a high-functioning alcoholic who doesn’t resort to black-out, binge drinking. My addiction is more the “self-medicating” variety, not that that excuses it. I began going to AA when I finally woke up to the damage I was doing to my body and mind.

    Initially, I was “welcomed” in the meetings as a newcomer and even went so far as to accept a sponsor. It didn’t take long for me to realize the “group conscience” was cattle-prodding me into a “their way or the highway” approach to recovery: If I didn’t follow the 12 Step Holy Grail I wasn’t really recovering. When I began to question some of the principles the steps were based on–in order to possibly find my own, science-based and progressive way to recovery–I was met with outright hostility. And, yes, to call it “bullying” is appropriate because that’s what it is. The “AA Religion”, a cult that preaches compassion, unconditional love and tolerance, literally cannot practice what it preaches. Any individual or group who challenges any of the “core principles”–cynically and purposely cherry picked from the various books Bill is associated with in order to justify bullying–is demonized, silenced, and in some cases, purged from the meetings.

    The shame of all this is that an organization like AA is needed. Many alcoholics shy away from professional organizations because their behavior may be monitored and reported to agencies who seek to punish them for being alcoholic. Ironically, those who don’t assimilate ARE punished, even though it’s somewhat anonymously.

    I have scoured the internet in a attempt to align myself with a group that practices a more secular-based approach to recovery. But I haven’t found one that isn’t professional and/or fee-based. Any advice you can offer in this quest for a more rational recovery would be very welcome.

    Beaten with the Bible Belt,

    A. Seeker

    • Thank you for your comment, and truly love how you worded this: “The “AA Religion”, a cult that preaches compassion, unconditional love and tolerance, literally cannot practice what it preaches.”

      I couldn’t agree more. It is one of the saddest things I had to accept in my life because AA sold me on a lot of good ideas— principles or practices I feel are greatly needed (like being honest) and those reminders helped me heal from great abuses/injustices done to me. I knew I could be a good person and have better behavior than some of the people or places that hurt me in the past, for example. More sadly, AA just got added to this list of a place that told me good things but couldn’t deliver on their word.

      I suggest that you look up motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. SMART Recovery is not fee based— although it may cost to become a facilitator to lead a meeting they do also give out scholarships to train for free. This is their website http://www.smartrecovery.org/

      Their program is evidence based and also its recommended by ASAM and widely accepted. SOS is another secular program in more of the self-help vein and some find it preferable to the religious “bullying” of AA—- both SOS and SMART focus on abstaining.

      I know Women for Sobriety also has info about Men for Sobriety but this program was the first offshoot from AA— it is not religious but it was created by a woman who found AA not helpful for women— and by extension just plain not helpful for all people. Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick founded WFS in 1976. http://www.womenforsobriety.org/beta2/

      I listed this basically in the order of most professional and evidence based so I hope that helps. There are many seeking alternatives and I am urging all who write to me to contact their local alcohol and drug boards where they live (district/ county/ what have you) because they control funding for treatment centers. The funds primarily are funding 12 Step programs and it will take more public interest to get the supply/demand to change for alternatives. If the community presses the issue, you may find more SMART/SOS/WFS meetings popping up in the near future.

      Hope this helps. Thanks again for your comment and …. on an additional note, sadly many alcoholics/alcohol abusers are forced to attend AA. This coercion into a religious program happens through rehabs and courts. (DUI convictions, for example.) So they are monitored and if they don’t get a sponsor or work the steps they can be punished by not finishing rehab (which could mean losing their jobs) or going to jail. This goes against medical ethics and the US Constitution respectively.

      • And, as I’m sure you know, Julie, NOT making AA a political tool, or a means of punishment or civic responsibility, is at the TOP of the “guidelines” read at every meeting. That’s why I say they can’t/won’t practice what they preach. In meeting after meeting I hear read, with great authority, the “rules” of anonymity and separation from other professional agencies. Then 45 minutes later I see people sheepishly hand one of the self-described “elders” a piece of paper to sign proving to a judge or other civil servant that they’ve been to the meeting. The gloat that comes over the elder’s face is downright sickening; as if they are granting grace from above.

        My opinion: If you are counting on AA to help you with your addictions, you’d better prepare yourself for a large dose of religious fervor/indoctrination, and if you falter, bullying, in any attempt to help get you sober. And, by the way, as many have been told, it’s not YOU that gets you sober… It’s AA and its miraculous 12 Steps! (Would you like to purchase a Unicorn with your acquisition of the Brooklyn Bridge today?)

        And… Again, my opinion, that’s why AA is, like many church’s that cling to 18th and 19th century superstitious dogma, becoming less and less relevant in today’s Western culture. Not to belabor the point, but the day it was reported that the literal voice of God–the Pope–had been instrumental in covering up and therefore propagating the heinous acts of pedophile priests, a huge gust of wind fell out of the sails of the Christian faith, and it’s forward momentum. Like the well-paid factory job, it ain’t returning anytime soon.

        Sorry for the rant. And thankful for your response and advice.

        –Man from the Midwest

      • However, Ken, I don’t believe much of what AA prints— although I do believe AA wants its members to believe they are not a political tool or a group to be forced into joining it simply isn’t true. AA’s other literature (guidelines they call them) instruct members how to go into courts/prisons etc. There are other publications by AA that are quite detailed on how this works. Also, there is one guideline explaining that since courts are not AA they don’t have to follow the AA traditions— it’s loophole after loophole— all to AA’s benefit in gaining more members or potential members.

        It is honestly a religious indoctrination course (but hey, some people want to be brainwashed!) … Whichever way one “paints” AA it is only indoctrination. AA gets the credit if you succeed but it’s your fault if you fail at AA.Steps!

        If one buys into AA they are believing in AA, it is a superstition. And if you leave AA, you’ll fail according to its dogma. At least the Pope has publicly apologized for the church’s crimes— and for crimes made by priests he took responsibility but AA is not making any statements about crimes in AA— or how its program is failing its members or how others leave. Catholics must have better PR people.

        Thank you for your comment— it wasn’t too terrible a rant at all! You made a lot of great points.

  6. Hi Ken- Nice post. I understand and I think Juliet gave some really good advice. There are other options as she posted. AA is way too popular. But just because there is a meeting near by doesn’t mean its any good. Good luck. There are many ex steppers blogging on my site Leaving AA. You are not alone in how you feel.

    Thanks Juliet for creating another important blog! .

  7. Hi Massive (and Juliet),

    “Amends” to Juliet for not properly spelling her name. :-)

    And I want to preface my remarks with an admission that they come from AA experiences in the very heart of the Bible Belt. There is no doubt that there are pockets of AA around the country that are progressive and much less staid than what I describe here. I admire people who are fortunate enough to attend AA meetings where open-mindedness is welcome and encouraged. That being said…

    Your use of the word “popular” to describe AA is an interesting choice for two reasons. First, in the literal interpretation of “popular” the organization is by all means, “…suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.” That is a very good description of AA as an organization. It tends to be, and here I purposefully omit the women, a group for the Everyman; it is steeped in 1940s stereotypical, paternal language and action. I believe the fact that women form their own “ladies only” AA meetings is a damning testimony to the backwardness of AA. I am sorry to say that “13th Stepping”–using AA as a hunting ground for vulnerable women–is still accepted and sometimes even celebrated by male members of the group. Unfortunately, to many, an addiction to alcohol is replaced by an addiction to AA meetings and the AA lifestyle . Many, having been “saved” by the 12 Steps, make AA the social center of their lives, often to the point of abandoning friends and family. They often go to two or three meetings a day, know all the people who come to the meetings, get involved in the politics at both the meeting and administration level, do and arrange “service opportunities” for themselves and other members, and, in practice, turn their entire lives over to the grace they’ve been granted at the alter of Bill as they may see him. AA becomes more than a cure for alcoholism; it is the reason they get up in the morning.

    AA is also “popular” in its knee-jerk reaction and eventual purging of anything that even smells of what could be considered “intellectual” critical thinking. Anyone who dares to question any of the many–and often blatantly contradictory–writings that have been passed down from Bill, or Friends of Bill, is immediately dismissed and shut down. Questioning of the 12 Steps, to the true believers, is just more resistance by the alcoholic to the one and only miraculous cure he or she is being offered. There is only one way to get and remain sober; everything else is called meaningless BS. In AA you sink or swim; there is no middle ground.

    Thank you again, Juliet, for offering me a place to air my thoughts and grievances.

    MITM

    • AA is popular I believe more so because it’s a monopoly and it’s steps are tied into treatment/education/certification etc. of addiction counseling fields. Is it popular for real? No. In fact, 75% recover without rehab or ever going to a 12 Step meeting. This is a fact. So what we really have here is a power game with AA at the top. Is it because it is the best? No, in fact, AA is the worst treatment at 5% it said to be no more successful than natural remission which per year is also 5%. In another 20 years remission catches up to that 75% figure I stated. So there is much more hope than doom out there. AA helps only a few— it has harmed many. Much of what I write about in my experiences echo others’ experiences— others have also been physically, financially and sexually abused by AA members. There is a lot of contradictory writing in AA and by Bill Wilson— so almost anything from AA works or doesn’t work depending on what you cherry pick. And it’s ok— didn’t really mind how you spelled my name. Works for me :) You’re welcome to post here anytime. Thanks!

  8. Juliet,
    I found the teachings of AA were in direct opposition to my beliefs and counter-intuitive to self-efficacy.

    Only after reading the books, Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice Mathieu, Ingrid (201108-24).Hazelden Publishing. Kindle Edition, and Spiritual Bypassing, When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters, Robert Augustus Masters, North Atlantic Books, did I realize how much spiritual bypass is practiced in the rooms.

    Thinking that one might pray away feelings and emotions, do continual service work to shore up a shaky sense of self-worth, sponsor another to reaffirm their own commitment to the program, or quiet or quell a different opinion, was not a program I wanted to be a part of.

    • The teachings of AA are in opposition of empowerment and self-help. There is some good spirituality out there. There is also some good from Hazelden but make no bones about it that Hazelden is a front group for AA and no one going to Hazelden treatment will get alternatives like SOS or SMART for example. I do find it is more helpful to take what you need and leave the rest from self-help books in place of attending meetings— but if you do want a meeting I don’t recommend 12 Step meetings specifically because they are emotionally/mentally harmful and go against supportive and empowering messages…. messages people who want to recover from addiction or substance abuse need the most.

      And another great point, a program that doesn’t want to speak of or mention other opinions or options is not a program I want to be a part of either.

      • Hi Juliet,

        If I may, I’d like to extend the thoughts expressed in your post with a bit of my take on AA as an organization. AA DOES work, but only for those willing to take a huge leap of faith into the pre-Modern world. If you are willing to live your life accepting the “fact” that a (clearly defined male) God is responsible for all that is good in your life–sobriety, family, economic success, etc–and that alcohol and everything else that doesn’t play by God’s rules is the work of the Devil, or simple human weakness and frailty, then you can make AA work for you. Thus, any attempt by someone to start down the slippery slope of rationality, science or “modern” common sense, is a literal threat to your world and your sobriety, and must be extinguished.

        If I had the power to amend the “Prime Directive” of AA, I would start all writings regarding their organization with the following disclaimer: “AA is a Christian-based organization that requires its participants, above all, to believe in the Christian God and be willing to turn your life over to Him.” THAT would not only be a huge admission on their part, but it would offer the people coming to AA a true glance at the REAL requirements for success in the program.

        Unfortunately, as it functions today, there is still the false promise of it working for the “Agnostic”, if he/she can find a “higher power” to give themselves over to. The flaw here is that AA ignores the meaning of the word “agnostic”. Agnostics– “…people who believe that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.”–by their very definition are going to be constantly questioning, critical thinkers, and anathema to the true believers. It just doesn’t work, and it’s time AA owns up to that. Again, unfortunately, AA’s ranks would quickly diminish, and that is not something they–dependent on donations from members and support (cheerleading) from the secular government and private institutions who rely on them as the magic bullet of alcohol treatment–can let happen.

        MITM

      • I don’t recommend 12 step meetings either. To those I meet who have some interest as to my not attending, I just ask them to watch the movie, “Airplane” and that just about does it. Now that was a man with a drinking problem and a good representation of some of the people I met in the program flying in a jet plane, that’s really prop driven.

  9. Regarding using the word “popular” to describe AA. You say it’s not “popular…for real”. However, may I very respectfully quote your own words about the organization? “Shockingly, 75% of US Treatment Centers heavily rely on 12 Step education as the bulk of their rehab program.” In my eyes, that makes AA popular. In fact, as I previously stated, it is more and more considered to be the magic bullet of recovery. But not because it really works, but because it’s more of a warehouse to send people to who don’t respond to more rational, reality-based treatments. So… “popular”? Yes. Effective? NO.. WAY NO.

    Thanks again for this great forum.

    MITM

    • The only thing keeping AA from being Christian is the absence of speaking of Jesus Christ… but the appeals courts are ruling AA highly religious and the more this happens by law the more AA will have to admit it’s at least religious in some context. And yes, I believe AA is religious. And you’re right that many members feel if you take away any element or change it then it affects their sobriety or ruins AA… something like that.

      The chapter in the Big Book “To The Agnostic” is blatantly against non-believers. Any notion that a doorknob can be prayed to or take away one’s defects is nonsense. Any substitute HP is basically a gateway to belief in God and this is also stated in much of the literature i.e. those who come to scoff will stay to pray (paraphasing)…. And HIM is the pronoun and that too cannot be changed and many excuses are made for that pronoun but none that I can find unless it’s a religious belief… To me, spiritual terms need not have gender terms. Or at least those genders can be either one without argument. But in AA, at a meeting, say God is “he/she/it” and prepare to hear a lot of chuckling.

      There are a lot of atheists/agnostics/freethinkers in AA and I completely understand their “take” on the AA message, however, I do not understand why they think they can carry the AA message to others when in actuality they are in a religious organization just not practicing all of it. It would make far more sense if AA was at its baseline secular and those who found a way to include God or Buddha mentioned it in passing as an alternative way to work the steps. However, this is not how AA is set up— the nonbelievers must tolerate the believers not the other way around. In fact, the BB chapter to Agnostics GIVES PERMISSION by members to harass others for not believing— there is no permission in AA to mock the believers. How fair is that? Lol… OF course I am against mocking anyone for their spiritual beliefs.

      The organizations are overrun by steppers (I don’t use that term to criticize just to illustrate) and the rules and bureaucracy in place favors 12 Step treatment. The treatment for addiction/alcoholism must be examined without bias and then explained, properly, that the 12 Steps are not effective— at best they will help 5% of patients seeking help. Only when this truth is in place, and accepted, will real success happen for far more people. I would also love to see proof that taking the 12 Steps can also harm a person therefore, if they get worse after treatment this problem can be addressed too. Popular? Magic Bullet? Hardly. In the Rehab Paradigm recovery is not expected… clients are expected to fail… relapse is part of the process. At most we can only expect 1 in 6 to make it after rehab. Death is inevitable. Etc. These beliefs are based on AA’s “success” rate… which we know to be about 5%… some say 10%. So let’s give AA a 7.5%.

      Those frustrated loved ones who just “don’t get treatment” and go back out and get worse— they are getting worse AFTER treatment. There is something wrong with that, isn’t there? Instead, they blame the patient when treatment fails.

      • Well said and agreed on all points. Rather than continue to beat a diseased horse, I’ll just say that if there is anything good about AA, it’s that walking into a meeting may, for some people, finally be an admission of their addiction. But as you have illustrated, the AA experience may convince them there IS no real help–just more reasons to view the world as the cold, cynical place it can be to people who are drowning their suffering in alcohol.

        How secular professionals can justify shuffling their patients off to AA is beyond me. It’s nothing short of laziness and possibly even criminal in cases where the patient is weak and vulnerable.

  10. For you folks looking for support without all the baggage, look into LifeRing Secular Recovery. We are growing quickly and have a large online presence. It has really saved my sanity.

    • In my opinion Dale LifeRing is sometime as rigid as AA is and may be considered AA-Lite to many who need to deprogram. I know of 2 women who switched from AA to LifeRing but I think LifeRing is very pro-AA on too many levels.

      However, getting these names out there- LifeRing, SMART, SOS is a huge part of the mission… we need to continue raising awareness other groups exist. They are needed. And it’s equally important to remind others that meetings should not be life-long and the majority of addicts recover without any meetings/programs.

      Glad to hear your sanity has been saved and I hope you understand my negative view of LifeRing is not nearly as severe as my negative view of AA— I hope LifeRing embraces more science and less rigid program-tools as LifeRing grows. And of course let’s keep all recovery meeting attendees safe and happy in recovery!

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