Imaginary 80 Year Anniversary Speech for AA, or, 80 Years and Still Sick

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Hi everyone, I’d start by introducing myself but I’m anonymous, I feel exposed standing here let alone speaking to you and revealing my face.  All kidding aside, I’ll keep my lead short out of respect to your time.  Ok, still kidding.  This one should go on for at least an hour if I’m lucky.  So to all my hostages, I hope you poured enough coffee!

After joining this program, I made positive changes to my own life.  Without this program, I’m capable of maintaining these changes.  I can do this because of faith.  Not a faith in an outside power, but a faith in myself.  Today, I trust myself.  I don’t need your approval, or your approval, or yours… This is my life.  If I disagree with something in the program, and you are angry at me for that, then you reflect someone I never want to be.  Sober or not, you’re not healthy.  In fact, if I leave this program, it’s because there’s no room for healthy criticism around here.

I must believe the disease concept.  I must live a spiritual life.  Well, no, I don’t have to believe anything in the literature because I have free will and reading comprehension.  The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking, so I don’t even have to stop drinking just have the desire.  Those steps are only suggestions.  The Big Book clearly says we know only a little.

I guarantee the Big Book knows little of the advances made on alcoholism past 1939 in its 164 pages because we no longer regard it as a teaching tool but as a book of worship that can’t be changed.   But I’ve changed my life, and it’s my life, not AA’s life to claim as another trophy in its case; another brick in the wall.  If you don’t like my honesty, then you don’t like honesty at all, period. What you want is a false sense of comfort that comes with a group or another person deciding your fate for you. But, isn’t that what you did with alcohol? Decide that alcohol would decide your fate for you?

If we wanted to be a program created to help others achieve sobriety– or recovery— we’d do so by having open minds.  But we don’t do this, do we? Instead, we tell newcomers AA is the only way.  We say AA works for me, I don’t know any other way. Maybe, if we are so inclined, we tell a newcomer they can leave whenever they want to and find something else that works… But what is that something else?  Oh we can’t tell them that because that would be too helpful of us, wouldn’t it?

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We spent countless meetings hammering it home, nodding in unison, that it’s AA or death. We smugly tell newcomers, sure, there’s alternatives to AA, wink wink. Those alternatives are jails, institutions or death.   Then we all shake our heads when someone leaves our rooms and goes on the drinking sprees to end all sprees.  We again, smugly, claim “better them than us.”   Or, “Thank God for this program.”   Well, what kind of God wants anyone to leave here and die?

Folks, in our arrogance, in our self-absorbed stories of our own personal recovery, we have turned our gratitude for AA into a romantic obsession.  We have eyes for no other.  AA can do us no wrong.  Gimme more AA!  I want to be with AA morning, noon and night.  We are blindsided to our only real mission:  To help another achieve recovery.  We only read conference approved literature, those little love letters just for us, kissed by the lips of our Higher Powers.  Haha.

We don’t talk to people who aren’t in the program about our program.  That would be cheating on our lover.  Even if we saw a therapist we secretly believed AA’s advice was better, unless the therapist was also a member.  Medication?  That’s just a crutch.  An easier, softer way.

In our arrogance, we have become self-righteous about AA dogma, we don’t have to research our so-called disease, this condition we have, because we might discover something that contradicts AA.  Oh no, we can’t be bothered with science or medicine because AA is too good for that junk.  We tell newcomers, using no facts to back this up, that if they leave here they sign their own death warrants.  We tell them a hundred times over.  Is it a surprise they leave and do just that?  Especially since, hey, we can’t bother to give them any hope.  Hell, they broke up with us, they will never know a love like ours.  Well, brothers and sisters of AA, we failed our mission.  We’re closed minded and only care about ourselves.  We should learn and study alcoholism before we teach the newcomer anything.  Stop saying good luck, see you when you get back.  Why not give them credit for giving us a shot, it’s not for everyone isn’t that something we say?  Guess we don’t mean it.  Or do we mean, it’s not for you because you aren’t as awesome as we are and you slip up?

80 years of AA and I present to you a challenge in 2015.  Start telling newcomers our outdated books may not be the help they need.  If you fail, it’s not your fault.  There are other proven ways to stop drinking or to drink safely.  SMART Recovery, SOS, LifeRing, Women for Sobriety, Moderation Management, and HAMS for harm reduction.  The last thing we want for you to do is leave AA and die.

Decades of research confirm this all or nothing mentality results in something AA never teaches called the abstinence violation effect.  HAMS calls it the ricochet effect.   What’s that?  It bothers you I talk of other programs?  I’m not endorsing them, I’m cooperating with them!  You see, unlike you, I’m here to actually help people recover which means I care a lot about any method that helps a person.  Didn’t AA begin for that reason?  Born from a hopeless world that offered drunks nothing?  AA wanted to find answers.  Here we are, 80 years later, ignoring anything else that could help.  Rather vain of us, isn’t it?

All of you who moan and groan about signing court slips can shut the hell up.  Ask AA to stop printing guidelines about how to carry AA into courts and prisons instead of blaming courts and prisons for sending them to us.  You’re twisting the truth that we don’t recruit people.  We want bodies.  You see, this is not an all-volunteer army.  Us volunteers can leave at any time because we follow traditions.  Courts are not AA so they don’t have to follow traditions and can force attendance.

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I don’t know about you, but if I’m answering to charges of my dog barking too loud, the last thing I want is for the judge to force me to attend some kind of religious group to teach me how to train my mutt.  That’s right.  I called AA religious.  More than half our US states have deemed AA highly religious, but we deny that don’t we?  The courts don’t have god-consciousness like us.  The law just doesn’t apply to us does it?

We laugh at our 13 Stepping because in here sexual harassment is the norm even if the rest of the world calls it a misdemeanor.  But AA is above the law!  We can’t even change our sexist literature, and we tell the women we supposedly love in these rooms to stop bitching about it.  It’s not sexist.  Those were the times back then.  Oh yeah, those were the times alright.  Back when our beloved co-founder Bill Wilson was chasing tail while married to Lois.  Back when he wrote To Wives and lied, saying the wives wrote it.  Back when “blacks only” meetings were something we cannot change.  The good ol’ days, weren’t they?

We are so full of shit, in fact, we ridicule the rehabs for softening the message.  We call it an AA preschool or kindergarten.  We forget the fact that if not for AA, if not for Marty Mann, a lesbian and a woman no less, and a study that skewed the facts, the AMA would not have deemed alcoholism a disease.  Nah, we forget such facts.  We forget our members invented rehab’s Minnesota Model in order to make 12 Step recovery a profitable and insurable solution.  And now, we blame the rehabs and the courts for sending people to us when we print flyers inviting them to come here?

This is a dishonest program, people!   AA is corrupted by its huge ego.  We deny responsibility whenever a member abuses another member.  A young lady gets murdered by a man she met in AA, we don’t even blame him, no way, we blame her for breaking some make believe rule she was supposed to know about not dating the first year.  Wait a minute?  Since when does dating end in murder?  AA admits no wrong doing, in fact, they offer no comment, no condolences at all. The Pope didn’t molest anyone but he has the decency to publicly accept responsibility and apologize to the people hurt by his church.

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This is funny to you?  Why are you laughing, then?  We have the audacity to say we live on spiritual terms but our organization remains silent about a member murdered by another member?  That makes my stomach turn!  You wanna tell me AA has no opinion on outside issues?  Newsflash guys!  This is as inside an issue as it gets!  Yet, we vote down safety policies and blame the victims, because we have god-consciousness, right?

So we have no qualms telling people “you have thinking problems,” yet we expect these same “stinkin’ thinkers” to be capable of obey rules that are non-existent?  So why wouldn’t we commit crimes against each other if there’s no rule against it and we’ll just make amends and leave the police out of it.  Hell, many of us hate cops.  We resent judges for sending us here for DUIs.  They broke the law too.  They violated the US Constitution letting the government impose religion on us.

Why does the government get to infringe on our rights?  Because AA is big money.  The stigma against us drunks and druggies has not been solved by AA.  In AA we are told to keep our membership a secret and our loved ones are told the same thing in Al-Anon.  But we were also told secrets keep us sick.  Which is it?  Why can’t we announce our so-called diseases proudly?  Because we can’t.  AA tells us we’ll kill AA if we told anyone we belonged here.  AA is a selfish, demanding lover.  But even a 9 year old can tell you real love doesn’t involve shame.

80 years later and we’re a bunch of drunks who don’t deserve rights.  Thanks AA for not changing one damn thing except that, of course, there’s a 12 Step program for anything and the rehabs get richer as the half-way house dwellers get poorer.  They drop a dollar in the basket, they give hours of service, and none of it comes back to them.  9 out of 10 of their sponsees go out and get loaded.  But hey, at least the CEO of ABC Rehab drives a BMW and vacations in the Bahamas, right?

This is such an easy scam.  Take a bunch of people down and out and make them list their shortcomings.  Tell ’em how defective they are.  Why use a medication that works when they won’t come back for more?  Use something that wears out every few years so we can have third or tenth time customers at 12 Step rehab.  Hell, make their failure part of the recovery process so they don’t blame the treatment, they learn to blame themselves.

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We are lying to the world that we are here to help people with drinking problems.  And we’re lying to ourselves.  We call promotion “attraction.”  We get jobs inside rehabs just so we can carry the message to clients pretending to be impartial unbiased professionals.  Anywhere else, that’s called conflict of interest.  These are straight up ethics violations when we tell a patient they need to find God or they’ll never get sober.

No more!  AA is in nearly every rehab, it is recommended by so many, and it is little understood that AA only helps a select few.  We’ve lazily and cruelly accepted this 5% odds of achieving success with AA.  How arrogant of us!  I see you out there, rolling your eyes, coughing, sneering, nodding off, shaking your heads… How dare you scoff at this.  You who claim at nearly every meeting how humble you are today are so quick to mock someone else’s journey to recovery.

I used to believe you were all grateful to AA for saving your drunk ass a needless life of misery and pain.  But you think giving back is limited to dragging bodies into the rooms just to watch them drop off like flies, unwilling to go the extra mile.  Unwilling to ask if maybe, just maybe, AA is not effective for everyone.  You wanna talk about giving back?  Give the new guy or the new girl in these rooms something called hope.  If they are in the wrong place, point them in the right direction instead of slamming the door on them.

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I am sick of watching nearly everyone of you begrudge others help that would actually work just because that help is different than AA’s brand of help.  How low can you possibly get?

Now, this is the last time I’ll ever share at this meeting because I am officially announcing I am graduating from this.  I am now going to spend the rest of my life properly informing others what they can do if they encounter any problems with any chemical substance.  That’s right, I didn’t just say alcohol.  I don’t think alcoholics are somehow better than addicts.  And you’re all a bunch of liars if you leave drugs out of your lead.  So, with that, we’ll close the meeting with Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

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7 thoughts on “Imaginary 80 Year Anniversary Speech for AA, or, 80 Years and Still Sick

  1. Great stuff! But I think you mean “only read conference-approved literature,” not “only read non-conference approved literature.”
    You really put your finger on it when you mention how self-absorbed AA and AA members are! That’s it. AA encourages this, and in fact requires it. You’re just supposed to drone on endlessly about yourself. All through a meeting, you have to worry about “What will I say when it’s my turn to ‘share’?” “Can I think of something funny to say?” “Or something moving?” “Something that will make my ‘share’ stand out?” BUT IT’S ME, ME, ME!!!!
    It’s disgusting. And I can’t see this as healthy. Being honest about yourself is one thing; AA is something entirely different. Most of the people “share” stories that aren’t even true. AA relationships, barring a tiny minority, are shallow and superficial. I witnessed someone who had been in AA (sober) for 30 years or so get shunned by his AA “friends” when he developed a medical (but not alcoholic) problem that they saw through a 12-step lens. Because he wouldn’t follow their advice on how to handle his health problem–again, not alcohol-related–with the steps and so on, they stopped calling him and wouldn’t even visit him in the hospital. If he dies, he’ll be mentioned, I’m sure, in meetings as an example of “Don’t do what we tell you to do, then die and we don’t care!” “See what happens when this disease takes over!” Yeah. Such BS. This is one of the most flagrant cult aspects of AA. There are others. AA is not a cult of the Manson-type, but it has clear cult features. If you leave (and leaving comprises having independent thought, and investigating scientific research, and thinking rationally, not just physically going away), you will be cut off from people who claimed they cared about you when you came in.
    AA has a very low success rate. That’s one of the first things you learn when you investigate the research. Try discussing the research with your AA “friends” and see what happens. Just like what happens when you bring up inconsistencies, contradictions.
    Just like what happens when you point out (as done here) the HYPOCRISY of these people. Among other things, they go on and on about how spiritually transformed they are but then run for the door when anyone asks if they might help out and do some work, even sometimes (oftentimes) for the meeting itself. “But I might chip a nail and then how will I be able to be of service to the newcomers who so desperately need me to start them on their spiritual path?” Or how about when you see them outside of the meeting screaming at someone, etc.? Or when you know, through observation or otherwise, that they’re engaged in abusive and even criminal behavior?
    Yes, AA cultivates a callous, even cruel, attitude in its members to human suffering. The good news? Most people vote with their feet.

  2. Pingback: Last Love Letter to a Stepper (guest blog) | A.A.R.M.E.D. with Facts

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