David Olsen, the 12-step sex therapist/pastor who has banned me from any contact with a nationwide network of state-licensed therapists, makes more money than any other Samaritan Counselor. It is not clear that his subordinates are even aware that his 12-step partner and ARISE Network founder James Garrett was charged with multiple felonies and pleaded guilty to a crime. Jenness Clairmont, the Clinical Director of Samaritan Counseling, who now works as ‘Forest Clinical Services’ and Oona Edmands LCSW seem to have no awareness of the crimes as David Olsen has forbidden all communications.
“Oxford House is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, organizationally or financially, but Oxford House members realize that only active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous offers assurance of continued sobriety.
Every Oxford House member attributes his sobriety to Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous. Each Oxford House member, as an individual, considers himself a member of AA and/or NA. Without that, sobriety would be short-lived.
As individual members of Alcoholics Anonymous…”
The Surgeon General’s report (Big PDF) says:
They also left out the word ‘religion’ in the Office for Civil Rights notice…What’s up with that?
From Oxford House Traditions:
“If a house member does not regularly attend AA or NA meetings, the house may — as a group conscience — decide that an individual resident should attend a set number of meetings each week for both the individual’s well-being and the well-being of others who live in the house.”
In fact, they seem to like to think of Oxford House as a kind of endless AA meeting:
“In fact, Oxford House creates an environment whereby each member can more fully realize the benefits available from active AA or NA membership. A house full of sober, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts invites informal AA or NA “meetings after the meeting” and each day finds many informal AA or NA meetings before individual members each go off to their regular AA or NA meeting.”
Alcoholics Anonymous lives in a state of ‘plausible denial’.
AA is not ‘technically’ responsible for anything, most especially the unfortunate circumstances or deaths of tradition violators.
AA isn’t a person; how can AA be responsible? No individual technically speaks for AA. AA is technically not the Big Book, technically not the meetings, not technically its members or its board, not technically the 12-steps, technically not a religion, technically not ‘treatment’, while also technically not medical fraud, and the Surgeon General technically doesn’t promote it, Twelve-Step Facilitation is technically not AA, the Oxford Houses and 90% of the rehab industry is not technically AA. The New Recovery Advocacy Movement is not technically AA either, and NYS OASAS technically is not an AA front group.
“Plausible deniability is the ability for persons (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others (usually subordinates in an organizational hierarchy) because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts in order to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise. The lack of evidence to the contrary ostensibly makes the denial plausible, that is, credible, although sometimes it merely makes it unactionable. The term typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one’s (future) actions or knowledge. In some organizations, legal doctrines such as command responsibility exist to hold major parties responsible for the actions of subordinates involved in heinous acts and nullify any legal protection that their denial of involvement would carry.”
Some of these reviews for the 13th Step documentary are pretty out there. This guy isn’t even a Verified Purchase so it’s quite possible he didn’t even watch the movie. It’s very tough to get AA sympathizers to actually watch it before they say it’s worthless. (I bought a copy for Samaritan Counseling, considering it’s about their ‘preferred treatment’, but I didn’t even get a thank you note.)
What a typical uninformed accusation for AA members to make! They automatically assume that AA critics are selling some competing snake oil and jump to attack the character of the critic.
We shouldn’t use the word “iatrogenic” to describe the effects of 12-step “Facilitation” (somehow accepted as “evidence-based treatment” but more akin to hazing), because “iatrogenic” implies unintentional harm. The imposition of “serious consequences”, aka “aversive conditioning”, is classified by the NYS Justice Center as “abuse”, and is harm inflicted intentionally for its supposedly deterrent effect.
In other words, if it’s punishment for a “violation”, don’t call it “treatment”.
Insurance companies and the government shouldn’t be paying for an endless string of supposedly “iatrogenic” effects while 12-step Facilitators openly talk about putting the ‘well-being of the recovery community (OASAS ethics rule #20, aka AA Tradition #1: “AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die”)’ ahead of patients’ individual concerns.
I noticed a few things about FACING ADDICTION IN AMERICA, The Surgeon General’s Report on
Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.
1. The non-discrimination notice (page 4) from the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights leaves out the word ‘religion’. On the OCR’s website, religion is mentioned, but in this report, they strangely leave that word out. “HHS complies with applicable federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. HHS does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. ”
You can still file a complaint about religious coercion or discrimination here, even if you are led to believe from this report that the Department of Health and Human Services is exempt from complaints about religious coercion or discrimination.
2. The very relevant issue of religiosity in Alcoholics Anonymous (and all 12-step programs) is completely avoided. The report only has this to say, which most state Supreme Courts have disagreed with: “Within some communities, recovery is seen as being aligned with a particular religion, yet in other communities such as the AA fellowship, recovery is explicitly not religious but is instead considered spiritual.”
This is blatantly disregarding a very serious and very public issue with 12-step programs, which is that they are religious activities even while they continue to deny being religious activities. This is not the only thing that 12-step programs lie about…
3. The report includes blatant misrepresentation of statistics, such as: “About 50 percent of adults who begin participation in a 12-step program after participating in a treatment program are still attending 3 years later. Rates of continued attendance for individuals who seek AA directly without first going to treatment are also high, with 41.6 percent of those who start going to meetings still attending 9 to 16 years later.”
If this were true, then there would be a lot more than ~1.3 million people in AA, because every year around 1 million people are forced into AA through ‘treatment’ programs like drug court, rehab, mental health professionals, EAP programs. In fact, the dropout rate is extremely high, and also, the people that are in AA are not necessarily getting better. They may not even want to be there, in many cases, and attendance does not equal sobriety.
4. The report tries to make the ‘recovery movement’ a collection of shared values and beliefs, saying: “Some people who have had severe substance use disorders in the past but no longer meet criteria for a substance use disorder do not think of themselves as operating from a recovery perspective or consider themselves part of a recovery movement, even if they endorse some or all of the beliefs and values associated with recovery.” This is like how the movie The Anonymous People makes the 12-step community look much bigger than it is, by speaking for the vast majority of people who reject AA but do not reject ‘getting better’. Getting better often involves deprogramming from AA cult brainwashing and extricating themselves from abusive or controlling sponsors or treatment rackets. The values and beliefs are described as:
* People who suffer from substance use disorders (recovering or not) have essential worth and dignity.
This is not actually how the recovery movement works. People who are not ‘in recovery’ (in AA, according to AA traditions, or who deny being part of the ‘recovery movement’) are regularly shunned and insulted by AA members. It’s Tradition Three, in fact. You can see clear examples of this by the refusal of 12-step communities (and AA World Services itself) to acknowledge the worth and dignity of documentaries clearly concerned with helping people even if it means criticizing AA, such as The Business of Recovery and The 13th Step.
* The shame and discrimination that prevents many individuals from seeking help must be vigorously combated.
A whole lot of people *have* been to treatment and don’t want to be converted to the 12-step religious movement (Twelve Step Facilitation involves two goals: “Acceptance and Surrender” see the Project MATCH PDF manual for TSF.)
* Recovery can be achieved through diverse pathways and should be celebrated.
The ‘recovery movement’ has a very specific definition of what Recovery is. It always means acceptance of AA (as rejection of AA is seen as ‘misunderstanding’, ‘negativity’, ‘whining’ rather than informed decision-making). People who do not consider themselves as part of the ‘recovery movement’ do not accept that it is ‘many paths leading to AA’. In practice, the ‘recovery movement’ (NRAM), is about creating a culture of abstinence and growing more and more 12-step organizations that ‘facilitate’ 12-step involvement.
* Access to high-quality treatment is a human right, although recovery is more than treatment.
Again, this assumes that there is broad agreement that addiction is a lifelong disease which needs a lifetime of the 12-Step Program of Recovery to manage. There is NOT.
* People in recovery and their families have valuable experiences and encouragement to offer others who are struggling with substance use.
This is not necessarily true. There may be no value to what a person ‘in recovery’ has to offer someone who is struggling. The person ‘in recovery’ may never have really had a problem and may just like to control sponsees. A lot of families of people ‘in recovery’ have been discarded for the new AA family, and they may not encourage others to become born-again Christians shunning ‘enablers'; or they may actually have a grim prognosis for anyone using drugs, based on their dead family member who went through dozens of treatment programs.
5. One more example of misrepresentation (there are many): “A leading example of recovery-supportive houses is Oxford Houses, which are peer-run, self-sustaining, substance-free residences that host 6 to 10 recovering individuals per house and require that all members maintain abstinence. They encourage, but do not require, participation in 12-step mutual aid groups.”
Again, this is basically dishonest. The fourth tradition of Oxford Houses is: ” Oxford House is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, organizationally or financially, but Oxford House members realize that only active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous offers assurance of continued sobriety. further … “Every Oxford House member attributes his sobriety to Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous. Each Oxford House member, as an individual, considers himself a member of AA and/or NA. Without that, sobriety would be short-lived.“. You also lose basic human rights at an Oxford House; you can be immediately evicted for any ‘slip’ (which you’ve been learning is a disease you have no control over…). The first time I went to a psychiatric hospital, I roomed with a man who was just kicked out of his sober home for getting drunk.
“It is not in the rules,” McGuire says, “but we all accept that the only way to stay sober is through a 12-step program, and we hold one another accountable. If someone is not going to meetings, they will be confronted.”
Faced with complete contradiction, consider how you might determine who’s lying:
Client v. Addiction Specialist
“Would he (asking the other) tell me that rejecting treatment leads to certain death?”
“Would he (asking the other) tell me that working the treatment (steps) will lead to the Promises?”
You can make sense of the solution to this riddle by considering how quickly AA members will assign false words and experiences to others based on their own lies: “12-stepper Jim said I’m doing well.” “You’re DONE with Jim’s treatment? Good, I’m glad treatment with Jim is working out”, “Client A is not credible because she admitted to only sometimes being honest with self and others on worksheet connected to treatment (client is a LIAR)”. “It has saved millions. The alternative is jails, institutions and — bum bum bummm — Certain Death!”
The argument that someone must be lying also raises some interesting legal considerations and potential misjudgements, so for the New York State Supreme court to conclude that rehab clients are not credible (in ‘denial’, not honest with self…), especially based on ‘evidence’ of defective character manufactured in the course of typical 12-step treatment, in relation to the assumption of rigorous honesty among 12-step treatment providers, should probably be revisited.
Amos Doctor v. OASAS (PDF) (Doctor appears to be the surname)
Here is a case of sexual harassment by an OASAS counselor where the AA curriculum of admitting ‘honesty’ problems was used to completely undermine the complaint.
“At the conclusion of that hearing, the arbitrator dismissed all four charges and specifications against petitioner finding, among other things, that the testimony offered by client A and the intern was not credible. Specifically, the arbitrator noted that client A admitted that she had “feelings” for petitioner and that she had acknowledged – on a self-assessment form completed in connection with her treatment – that she was only sometimes honest with herself and others.”
(Client C was also found to have admitted she was ‘honest with herself and others only some of the time’). The intern was also found to be ‘not credible’.
So, after being told to depend on a sober person for her very life, and then being told that the reason she doesn’t recover is because she has problems with being honest, her complaint is thrown out because she had ‘feelings’ for her counselor and had admitted as part of her 12-step ‘work’ that anything she says might be a lie.
This is How it Works. New York State doesn’t look into the ‘AA thing’. But actually, my whole blog is about this exact dynamic: client develops feelings for the person supposedly saving his/her life, counselor gets off on it, client gets confused by being constantly described as powerless, insane, defective, selfish and dishonest, then counselor denies everything and says addicts just make shit up out of nowhere for no comprehensible reason.
So, I guess it’s only OK to fool around with clients if the client has admitted on paper that s/he is “constitutionally incapable of being honest”, according to New York State Supreme Court. Doing the mandatory AA homework is equivalent to signing all your rights away. In AA, ‘honesty’ is directly correlated to ‘sobriety’, and people who are not helped by the program (or the ‘treatment’ providers) are encouraged to admit problems with ‘honesty’ and confess their thoughts and feelings, which are then inevitably used against them.
‘Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates.’
The ARISE method misrepresents itself. It IS about coercion. It is an extended Johnson intervention that ‘gradually escalates’ with ‘serious consequences’ for not entering 12-step treatment. The contracts in the book Invitational Intervention involve immediate inpatient rehab if any drug is used, mandatory drug tests, and ‘natural consequences’ (which are not actually natural consequences, because it is not natural to face consequences for not wanting intensive 12-step facilitation.
Here are articles I’ve written on my experience of the ARISE intervention, which involved using my family and trusted therapists to continually re-leverage me into meetings and treatment that I was already very familiar with and had rejected.
Here is something interesting: AA and rehab often say that you have to WANT it for it to work. The ARISE method is, like EAPs, PHPs and Drug Courts, coercive. If you read the book, you will find that they are lying when they say it is not coercive, because the method actually says that self-referrals don’t work — that coercion is part of the process. Also, their success rates (the 83% quoted) involve measuring success at getting people INTO treatment, a fact that is easily lost on people who assume the treatment will actually be helpful. Also note that they will try to bring your whole family into the 12-step cult and treatment because it’s a so-called ‘family disease’.
Summary: false advertisement, easily verified bait-and-switch. It is more a system for addiction specialists to make money off of rehab referrals.
This is a great interview with Greg Horvath. He explains the motivation behind his movie, to make critical changes in the rehab industry: Regulation, Education, and Science. Because it sadly lacks all three. This is going to be a great movie for anyone who still has faith in this faith-healing industry.
Interview starts after 4 minutes and ends in about 30 minutes (around 34:00)