Growing up in a 12-step Home

This document shows many of the patterns of dysfunction and abuse that this site is concerned with and are being pointed out in the new documentaries The 13th Step and The Business of Recovery, as well as on whistleblower blog sites like this. Many of us who grew up in the 80’s were raised around these kinds of ideas. The solutions I propose are not difficult; religious faith in the 12-step program is the only barrier. I suggest the refusal to believe in Bill Wilson’s god should be honored by all state licensed social workers, and it would be best not to recommend an unsupervised and cultish ‘treatment’ to clients at all. Some experts are suggesting that a diagnosis of SUD is probably not helpful or necessary, either, as it leads to unnecessary treatment referrals which often become the 12-step referral that a therapist him/herself might better avoid for legal and ethical reasons.

Growing Up In a 12-step home (lengthy PDF)

Another Letter to be sent to the New York State Commissioner of Education

Dear Ms. Mary Ellen Elia ( New York State Education Commissioner)

It was brought to my attention the staff at Samaritan Counseling Center (of the Capital Region) is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring 12 Step meeting attendance guaranteeing religion will not be forced on Americans. The Office of the Professions regulates and licenses mental health professions, and those professionals must meet Professional Standards of Care in their fields. Their staff unethically and illegally coerces 12 Step meeting attendance under threat of terminating treatment.

12 Step meetings are unregulated, religious, and have no safety and ethics rules, Forcing attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous is professional misconduct because it is impossible to supervise a client at 12 Step meetings and collect evidence of effectiveness. More importantly, New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) states 12 Step meeting are not treatment and must not be coerced, a fact Samaritan Counseling Center ignores.

Gleason made complaints about Alcoholics Anonymous which both his therapist Oona Edmands and her supervisor, David Olsen, repeatedly ignored despite their patient expressing objection to the treatment. Coercion is not limited New York, it is affecting a nurse named Lilly in Pennsylvania, who is being ordered by the state’s nursing board to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days; if she does not comply, she will lose her nursing license. Recently, a class action lawsuit in Michigan was filed against a program violating the civil rights of health professionals.

If any portion of Samaritan’s finances are from any government entity, the center is violating Federal law. In order to comply with the US Constitution, Samaritan Counseling Center must not coerce 12 Step attendance. Tom Gleason was not informed about the nature of Alcoholics Anonymous by the Samaritan staff. He did not choose to attend AA voluntarily, instead he was threatened to lose services at Samaritan. He suffered emotionally, mentally, and financially as a result of Edmands’ and Olsens’ policy of coercing 12 Step meeting attendance.

Thank you for reading and understanding the severity of this problem.
Juliet Abram

Another of many letters to be sent to State Licensing Boards

“To whom it may concern:

I am writing on behalf of myself and countless others who were hurt by 12 step religious programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. I was first forced into rehab by the legal system in 2005. I was told my problems were because “I wasn’t honest, I didn’t have the right God and I was too smart for my own good”.

I was told that my “traumas” were my fault and my life in shambles because I was selfish and living in fear. I was told daily about what would happen to me if I left AA. If I disagreed or had my own thoughts about anything said in the rooms I was promised “an alcoholic death”.

I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain. More so than before going to rehab. At this I was repeatedly blamed for not “letting go and letting God”. I was also told that “pain was the touchstone of all spiritual growth “. My problem was I could not be honest and I could not find the right God to turn my will and life over to. Once I was able to leave rehab, I realized I was worse than when I went.

I spent another 5 years in AA because of fear of what would happen to me if I left. Though without alcohol I lived in complete misery inside the rooms of AA. Once out of rehab I was swarmed by groups of people more concerned with who I would grant complete dominion over my life or getting into my pants than my addiction to alcohol. I did choose someone and began working the 12 steps.

I did not understand the program or how simply removing alcohol but leaving all of the misery was any better than my life with alcohol. The therapist I was seeing at the time told me I should put my opinions aside and trust these people.

I did for another amount of time until I was either going to end my life or leave the program.

After I left AA is when I began to feel any kind of happiness. I was much worse but after obtaining a new therapist and a psychiatrist Who prescribed me some much needed medication I began to understand that I was not the cause of every bad thing that happened around me and I wasn’t being punished for not turning everything over to an AA approved God.

I was able to not drink without AA and am much better off without the program. I hope that others like me can be spared the misery and wasted years of 12 step programs with a 95% failure rate. There are other options for the treatment of addiction and I am optimistic that these other options can be explored.”

Another of many letters to be sent to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Samaritan Counseling Centers

This is another great letter because it shows that this ineffectiveness of ‘addiction treatment’ is not a problem with people lacking ‘spirituality’ or religion. It is a problem with people being coerced to think that AA’s weird teachings must be placed above any actual negative outcomes or existing values a person has.

Anti-AA-Letter (full PDF)


Until I Hear Otherwise…

I would really like Samaritan Counseling Center to tell me that they will not coerce people into the 12-step programs which landed me in psychiatric wards twice and nearly killed me, but the last I heard was from David Olsen on the phone saying it’s their right to a ‘preferred mode of treatment’, right before he and Jenness Clairmont wrote me a letter saying that ‘under no circumstances’ was I to have any further personal contact with anyone at Samaritan or its affiliates.

Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region‘s official position on 12-step coercion is that it is their right to do it. Unfortunately I was not informed about this until about a year into the therapy after I had developed an attachment to the therapist, which was then used as ‘leverage’. This is why I think their licenses should be reviewed and possibly revoked by the state of New York.

After deciding that I did not want to do AA, I was told I could speak to my therapist if I went to a $17,000 30-day rehab, which I could not afford and then went to an outpatient 12-step rehab where I found more AA at $265/1.5 hrs (group session and drug test). They told me not to worry about the money. Since I thought this was medical treatment, I paid for $700/month for health insurance, which 6 months later I found covered NOTHING of this. The rehab was kind enough to give me a 60% discount for self-pay, but that discount was discontinued during the year of 2014.

After requesting to speak with my therapist at $40/hr about 12-step coercion (I was willing to pay the $80/hr but was suddenly subsidized by a mysterious fund at Samaritan), I received a letter referring me to 12-step meetings and a 12-step interventionist at $110/hr (also self-pay only), saying that I may be able to speak with her if I complied.

After filing a thorough complaint about being more and more forcefully referred to 12-step meetings and a 12-step interventionist, they (David Olsen and Jenness Clairmont who is on the state licensing board) simply terminate-referred me back to the 12-step interventionist. I checked myself into Capital District Psychiatric Center where I was told by a doctor that I’m “fucked” and need AA. I told them I didn’t understand why I couldn’t discuss this, and they prescribed me anti-psychotics (I tried Geodon, Risperidone, Haldol, and Zyprexa) and $170/mo worth of Neurontin. But none of these medications helped me ‘get over’ what I thought was more of a systemic problem with the way I was being treated. If AA hadn’t depressed and confused the heck out of me, I would not have gone to therapy in the first place.

Both my therapist and the Clinical Director had expressed to me privately that they were not fond of the 12-step programs, but neither of them would explain to me why or why they then kept recommending it. Although, in my records, it is mentioned these things were done ‘under the direction of David Olsen’.

Yet, my records and correspondences show zero acknowledgement of my concerns or my complaint. In fact, they did not consider my complaints to be part of my records, which also makes no sense and eliminates the paper trail of my experiences.

James Garrett’s official position on 12-step coercion is in this book, which basically said coercion into treatment is the only thing that works. If you’re self-motivated when seeking treatment, you’re going to fail, according to James Garrett and Judith Landau. Now, to give him a little credit, after I got extremely mad at this he did say to me “Since you’ve been so honest with me, I’m going to be honest with you. AA doesn’t work for everybody”. I thought, well that would have been nice to have known about two years ago, thank you for letting me in on this ‘little secret’, because here I am thinking my only other options are jails, institutions and death, or complete abandonment by a therapist I trusted. I told him I wanted to tell my therapist about this, but she’d probably just keep referring people to AA. And he nodded. Then he told her to mark me down as Axis II (personality disorder).

Book on ARISE 12-step coercion by Judith Landau and James Garrett

This Invitational Intervention (ARISE) basically attempts to solve the treatment industry’s problem of families not being comfortable with the coercion and civil liberties violations of a traditional Johnson intervention (to get more people into treatment which is $$$), instead of the real problem: that the expensive ‘religious’ treatment doesn’t work and is often counterproductive and deeply insulting to people who are not actually pathological liars.