From DisruptedPhysician.com: “The New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism was started in the 1950s by Dr. Ruth Fox to promote AA and 12-step to doctors. This organization subsequently became the American Medical Society on Alcoholism (AMSA) and eventually the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Like the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), an organization that promotes the A.A. yet claims to have no formal ties, the ASAM is considered by many to be a front-group that purports to represent one agenda while in reality serving other interests. The ASAM can be considered both a political (prohibition, 12-step spiritual recovery) and corporate (inpatient rehabilitation facilities, drug testing industry) front group in this regard.”
I resisted calling the alternatives “cult escape attempts”.
“Dear President Obama,
A few years ago I sought help with addiction. Like most people, I was told to go to a 12-step program. It wasn’t until after about a year in the rooms that I even heard of other approaches – meaning, other than “Jails, institutions, and death”. So, given my available options, “Keep coming back” seemed reasonable.
This is actually a very serious problem because the public believes that a person only needs to get themselves to those meetings with an open mind and the 12-step recovery culture will solve everything.
There is a long and mostly unknown history of people who’ve left AA seeing it as counterproductive, pointless, or futile. In fact the majority of people do this. Some start new ‘recovery’ groups, some naturally switch their life focus to something healthier (which most do), and some who really feel that they have no options (because they have a “head full of AA and a belly full of booze”) kill themselves. This is when hiding information that doesn’t serve the interests of AA borders on criminal.
Most people are surprised and feel betrayed to find that there is a lot AA won’t tell you (like the fact that it fails for most people), and they usually notice that there is a LOT you can’t talk about in an AA meeting:
For example, try bringing up SMART Recovery in an AA meeting. You will likely be laughed out of the room for suggesting you could manage your life yourself. You will certainly go back to Step Zero for saying you don’t like the ‘powerlessness’ concept of AA. SMART Recovery was my first CLUE that something other than AA might be better for me.
Women For Sobriety was started in 1976 when a woman left AA, inspired by the Transcendentalist spirituality of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ‘Self-Reliance’ among other spiritual teachings. She did not believe a Higher Power was necessary and did not accept the label of ‘powerless’.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is what an atheist came up with, to be free of the religious aspects of AA, which are very disturbing even to some devout Christians with theological concerns. Yes, some religious people would prefer a secular sobriety group to AA because their problem is alcohol, not their relationship to or understanding of God.
Rational Recovery had the same roots as SMART in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) support groups before concluding that all of “recovery culture” is worthless, and AA is a destructive cult. Rational Recovery was my first clue that I didn’t have to accept or incorporate 12-Step into my belief system at ALL, and these may just be unhealthy ideas.
Some people noticed that “recovery” (or getting better) didn’t necessarily mean abstinence. Moderation Management is a group of people who choose to limit their consumption. This is an example of a group that was co-opted by AA. The founder was re-convinced she was a “real alcoholic”.
Out of MM grew HAMS which is very popular, because it gives people tools and support to make their heavy drinking safer, to moderate, or quit – whatever their goal is.
There are also those who prefer a scientific or biological approach, looking for medicines that prevent or reverse the physical processes of addiction.
So you can see there is a long history of “alternatives”. You won’t hear about these in an AA meeting, and yet any of them might help someone, or the whole intellectual history of these “alternatives”, their devaluation, censorship, or co-option by 12-step culture, could be instructive to anyone on their own personal journey.
If the Spotlight 2015 movie made anything clear, it is that sexual misconduct by clergy is a very real and systemic problem. Part of the problem is the power and secrecy that these priests hold over others, but another part of the problem is the same religious treatment system that constantly fails for drug treatment. Both of these facts being clear, it is amazing that pastoral trainers like Clergy and Congregation Consulting of Samaritan Counseling would 1) advocate more secrecy and diversion when sexual misconduct occurs, and 2). advocate 12-step treatment for sexual misconduct.
“Such treatment is typically paid for by the diocese, and has cost the church at least $50 million over the last 25 years [as of 2002], estimated A. W. Richard Sipe, a psychologist and ex-priest who treated clergy for 40 years.”
Anti-AA books freely available on morerevealed.com
More Revealed by Ken Ragge
12-Step Horror Stories edited by Rebecca Fransway
Resisting 12-Twelve Step Coercion: How to Fight Forced Participitation in AA, NA, or 12-Step Treatment by Stanton Peele and Charles Bufe with Archie Brodsky
Saints Run Mad (1934 criticism of the Oxford Group) by Marjorie Harrison
check it out…
I blogged about this problem since Feb 2015. Here’s what I’ve learned:
– Samaritan Counseling Center will not formally acknowledge any problem with or complaint about 12-step referrals made directly after complaints about 12-step coercion.
– Therapists at Samaritan, other than the Executive Director, will privately acknowledge the problem, but records show that the official position is not what either the therapist or client would reasonably conclude.
– New York State will not formally acknowledge any problem with or complaint about 12-step coercion
– Complaints are removed from medical records
– Petitions are completely ignored
– NASW social work ethics codes do not apply to two-hatters
– Complaints are passed off as personality disorders or mental retardation.
I think there are other conclusions, but this is enough for now.
After posting a couple of AA-critical links on FaceBook I was told that if I continued to do so, I could get sued.
This was after my therapist refused to speak to me because I was not engaged with the 12-step program recommended by Samaritan Counseling, and after my complaint which was followed up by ‘under no circumstances’ was I to have any further personal contact with anyone at Samaritan Counseling.
In a ‘sequel’ to the criticism of the Oxford Group called Saints Run Mad, by Marjorie Harrison in 1934, Peter Anthony Eng writes a scathing 2015 paper on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
From the 1934 book:
“Prominent Groupers who have heard of my intention to write this book have alternately attempted to bully or bribe me into relinquishing the idea. On the one hand, I have been told that “it will not be a seller”—that “it will be damned at the outset” and “that it will make dull reading”; and on the other hand I have been urged with promises of commercial success to write in favour of the Movement, apparently regardless of whether I am convinced or not. The “wide field” for such a book has been spread temptingly before my eyes. Although the present book has been condemned unread as “dull”, the other has been praised unwritten as a “best seller”. I have been obliged to reply that in all honesty I must associate myself with the large and growing body of thoughtful people who are seriously alarmed at certain aspects of the Group teaching and practice. I have begged my Grouper friends to believe that the critics are not unsympathetic. They would be only too glad to welcome the Group if certain teachings were explained so that they were acceptable to conscience and to intellectual honesty. I hope, but hardly expect, that such an answer will be made. In the absence of any such assurance the grave doubts and misgivings that now obtain must continue and increase.”
Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – an article at DisruptedPhysician.com pointing out the misdiagnosis of traumatic psychiatric injury as ‘personality disorder’.
I like this essay because it explains a lot of the strange dynamics of AA that destroy relationships, in particular the shunning dynamic which I find personally very odd and hurtful and seems to be more common, than in secular life, when religious cults like AA get involved. It is inevitable when you have a closed belief system that cannot accept the value of others, which is why you see it a lot where cults are involved: disowning, excommunication, disconnection, disfellowshipping are the kinds of words used to disrespect people who do not have the same beliefs or act the way you want, and in AA it happens all the time.
It is justified by saying that it preserves the integrity of the organization or relationship, but on closer examination it is often those cutting off that are being abusive, or being abused. Think of what it means to get 13th stepped: Once you’ve served your purpose, you can be called an alcoholic who’s putting others’ ‘sobriety in jeopardy’. That’s a really unhealthy way to end a relationship with someone they felt the need to bang. It leaves the person feeling sexually toxic, when in reality the 13th stepper is just moving on to a new victim.
It’s also a way that cult leaders and narcissists use to cut others out of the lives they wish to control. It is not uncommon for an abusive guru to tell someone to give up family and friends.
Shunning almost always comes from an attitude of superiority and a deep need for control: “If you don’t live your life the way we say, you’re dead to us”. There are healthy adult ways to communicate and have boundaries, and then there are the fearful and coercive ways of destructive cults.