‘Why I Don’t Go to AA’

“Hello, my name is Michael and I’m an alcoholic.”

I tend not to say that very often these days, as I left AA after about 18 months of attendance. But I have remained abstinent for the last eight years and have managed my recovery using a wide variety of methods and support groups over the past few years. A friend says “AA” stands for “Absolute Abstinence” rather than Alcoholics Anonymous, and I like that.

I was asked to write a blog on Addiction.com about alternatives to 12-step methods after the staff read my blog, Recoveringfromrecovery.com. It is fair to say that I am not a fan of certain parts of the AA program, which I view as out-of-date, but I am not simply an AA basher. I realize that many do well in AA, if being in that type of group motivates them, but I also know that AA does not help everyone and many people will respond better to alternative solutions.

My Start with AA

Beating an addiction is hard and I respect anyone who tries to fight their own demons. I had had many attempts at stopping drinking and was only successful when I gave up attempting to do everything by myself and joined a peer support group, which in my case was AA. That was a really important thing for me to do, as it brought me into contact with other people who were dealing with similar issues. I had not experienced this before and thought that many of my overwhelming feelings were unique, but I quickly learned from the stories of others that they were not. I was not alone and this was comforting.

Companionship and support from the community of AA were good for me in the beginning , especially as I traveled a lot and found it helpful to go to meetings wherever I was, to help break my drinking habits. There are AA meetings in most towns and I made use of them. Initially, I was not aware of any alternatives to AA and, like many in my position, I did not research many solutions, I just went to the group that everyone has heard of.

I did not see it as a complete solution, though, and was skeptical about the Steps from the start. The talk and readings about God in AA were a turn-off for me, although I could see evidence of AA working for some people in the meeting. In fact, I was the only one there that looked like the stereotypical alcoholic! Others looked fit and well and seemed happy, and I was none of these things. Despite observing this, my first “share,” in my first meeting, was to ask a question: “Are there any alternative solutions to this?” I was not given any and I feel this is a failing of the 12-step world, as many people could be helped by alternative methods if they are not attracted to AA. I know of several people who have walked away from recovery after being told that it was AA or die. I believed this myself at one time, until I discussed it with a therapist.

Creating My Own Recovery Solution

‘Why I Don’t Go to AA’There are those in online recovery circles who try to make a “them” and “us” situation, between AA and other support methods. I think this simply divides the recovery community and puts some people off looking at solutions that may help them. I would really advise people who are starting in recovery to throw themselves into it, make recovery a priority and read as much good-quality information as possible on the subject. My own recovery solution has evolved with time and experience. Sometimes I learned by success and other times I realized that things could be better and that I needed some help, or a new approach.

Opening up to others and sharing things was something that helped me from AA. This was not something that I was used to or prepared to do until I had experienced others doing it. I had experienced some CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)-based treatment 10 years before I finally gave up drink and went through a period of stopping and starting and ups and downs for the next decade. I am not knocking CBT at all; it certainly helped when I experienced depression at around the 18-month period into my current recovery. The difference this time was that I was now open with the therapists and would take their advice, but prior to being in a recovery support group I could not do this; I felt inhibited. and scared.

At the very start of the last eight-year period of abstinence going to AA helped, as it took me away from my drinking environment, gave me a sober community and provided some support. I was not capable of doing too much in those early days and a lot of the methods that I use today would probably not have made sense to me. Dragging myself to a meeting and sitting on a chair with a cup of tea was about my limit at the start.

Once I had got some time under my belt, it was a different story. I began to see many people in AA were quite neurotic and sick. I started to feel depressed myself and was given help by my doctor, who sent me to therapy. After using medication and counseling I managed to get my emotions a bit more under control and learned methods of dealing with depression. This process also brought me into conflict with my AA sponsor, who was not a fan of medication and who refused to work the Steps with me while I was taking it.

I began to view parts of the AA program as faith healing and felt some of the advice I was given was not helping. I had issues with trust, too, as there was a lot of gossip in some of the meetings I went to and I got bored hearing the same old thing over and over again.

I decided to take what I wanted from the program — for example, I feel step 10 has a lot of value — but I rejected the Higher Power concept. Ideas such as the one that I was powerless over alcohol were helpful in the early days, when I was full of cravings, but as these passed away I wanted a more self-empowering path. I wanted to beat alcoholism, not be powerless over it.

The CBT solution was making sense now and I felt motivated to continue down this path and fix my issues with many areas of my life. I felt I gained far more insight into my problems through therapy than I would have done by simply continuing with the AA program. For a while, AA had motivated me in recovery, but this was no longer the case and I felt it was actually holding me back. Leaving your support group is not a decision to be taken lightly in recovery, but I had the support of my therapist, who had gently guided me into formulating a plan which I felt would help me and was in line with my general values. There was no conflict between us, and I was given a lot of material to read and allowed to come to my own conclusions. She also managed to curb some of my not-so-good ideas!

In future posts on the blog I hope to highlight in more detail some of the methods I have used to improve my life and beat addiction. I also wish to mention some of the solutions that friends of mine use that are different from my approach. There is certainly not simply one way to do recovery and that is an important message to spread.

I also feel it is important to be willing to ask for help outside your recovery support group, such as AA, rather than simply rely on prayer and a sponsor with no mental health training (my sponsors were a music lawyer and a cab driver!). I have seen many people have problems in later recovery after they have put all their faith in one program and the results have been quite disastrous. I suppose the bottom line is, stick with something when it is working for you, but be prepared to take a step back and look at modifying your approach when depression strikes or life becomes too difficult. Recovery is an ongoing process and it is important to stay on top of situations and reach out to others as soon as things are not going so well.

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    45 Responses to ‘Why I Don’t Go to AA’

    1. Avatar
      Jon S May 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      That’s a brilliant article. I identified very strongly with your story. I liked the simplicity of AA’s philosophy and really couldn’t have coped with much more in the early days. Research also shows the undoubted value of peer support in sustaining recovery. Then, however, I fell in with a more hard core stepper crowd. I’ve always been like that – do it properly or don’t bother. It was the same with the drinking. As a result AA seemed to work very well for me over the next decade or so, before eventually something snapped and I realised it was actually making me quite unwell. You know, until that happened, I might well have been the kind of person who mislabelled someone like you as not being sufficiently “surrendered”. It’s amazing your first question was to ask for the alternatives – that’s very brave. It’s also a real shortcoming of AA that no-one in any of the meetings I ever attended would (1) have known anything about the many other options that exist out there, be it SMART Recovery or The Sinclair Method, and (2) dismissed the idea as coming from someone looking for “an easier softer way”. That, I’m sure, is something that will change as sites like this and columns like yours find a voice on the internet. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

      • Avatar
        Michael D May 18, 2015 at 1:48 am #

        Thanks very much for your comment, it certainly was tough in the early days and I found it really difficult to admit defeat on my own and join a support group. I respect any one who gives it a go. I was very frightening sitting in a meeting wanting sobriety, which was what most members sitting there seemed to have, and yet not really having much faith in a spiritual solution. I was so desperate that I went with what they said, and it certainly helped me break a lot of bad habits and realise I was not alone with my problems.

        I still have a few friends from my AA days and have met many others that use different support method over the last eight years, mainly through being active online. There are certainly many ways to carry a message of hope to a still struggling alcoholic these days, and I hope that sites such as this will make people more broad minded towards alternative solutions for recovery, as there is certainly a big demand for help!

      • Avatar
        Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 12:54 am #

        “Human rights complaint over religion in AA to proceed” July 19, 2016: In a ruling released today, the BC (Canada) Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to consider a complaint alleging that mandating attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and 12-step treatment programs, violates an individual’s religious freedom. The complainant lost his job with Vancouver Coastal Health after refusing to attend AA as part of a treatment plan. The complainant is an atheist who objected to the religious basis for AA. (The complainant attended the 12-step based Homewood Health Centre prior to withdrawing from the 12-step based, return to work program mandated by his employer) Tribunal Preliminary Decision: http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/law-library/decisions/2016/pdf/jul/91_CORRECTED_Wood_v_Vancouver_Coastal_Health_Authority_and_others_2016_BCHRT_91.pdf For more info: http://www.bchumanist.ca http://www.therebel.media/do_we_have_freedom_from_religion_in_canada_atheist_fired_for

    2. Avatar
      WindyCity May 17, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

      Actually AA has a horrible success rate of only 5%! It actually helps a few and harms many others by emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse. The 13th Step The Film is exposing all of this and is being screened now at The Cannes Festival. AA needs to be exposed for the irresponsible dangerous organization that they are.

      Karla Brada met a man in AA that murdered her and her family is suing them. AA refuses to implement safety rules to protect those they serve. They even co mingle minors with sex predators.

      SMART Recovery is a much better choice that offers free online meetings.

    3. Avatar
      Michael D May 19, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      I am aware of the stats that show AA does not have a high success rate and feel the are representative of the total number that come through its doors. However, you cannot blame AA for not working for people who make little attempt to beat alcoholism, or those who do not really get involved. I think people who do become serious about recovery in AA can do quite well if they are drawn to its spiritual solution. It certainly provides a sober community and a social side and that is what helped me. AA is a place where people can get to know one another and find support from people who have experienced similar issues. I do not view AA as treatment although there are treatment centers based on the AA model.

      I am glad that Monica is making her film as she has many years of AA experience. I have met Monica twice in LA and will go to her London screening, next week. I have followed the Karla Brada case and saw the recent CBS documentary which I felt was balanced. I met a lot of good people in the meetings I went to but there were a few that certainly make use of the caring, possibly over trusting atmosphere to harm others. I am certainly not going to defend anyone who is abusive in meetings or with members outside, and I do feel AA could improve things even if it just had a few warnings in a reading at the start of meetings aimed at those who are new. Little has changed in this regard since the 1930’s and it could do with a rethink to reflect the way AA membership has increased and changed over the years. I also think that people need to be clear that AA is a support group and not a cure for all types of mental illnesses, which some seem to forget and who try to play doctor with vulnerable people.

      AA is not for everyone, but it certainly has a huge loyal following compared to any other solution. Most of the people in those meetings have turned their life around after attending AA, and this was not something they managed on their own. They sem a happy bunch, on the whole to me. If people do well in AA they should certainly carry on going! I simply intend to point out to people that there are quite a few alternatives, that can help. I think the key to good recovery is finding something that motivates an individual to keep going and succeed. That often requires some experimentation and a few mistakes along the way, in what is a difficult learning experience. I feel that sites such as this which allow people to write about a variety of treatment solutions and support groups can really help those who are new to recovery and their families, make choices about the path they should follow, based on their own values and beliefs.

    4. Avatar
      WindyCity May 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

      Actually Michael you are very very wrong to state that that ” Most of the people in those meetings have turned their life around after attending AA, and this was not something they managed on their own”. With a 5% success rate the facts speak for themselves. Or are you stating the typical stepper view that it works if you work it? If it did not work for people they simple were not working a good program? If so that is very sad indeed that you would blame those that AA fails, when it is obvious that most people do NOT do well in 12 step programs because the program is deeply flawed.

      In fact as you sing the praises of Monica Richardson you are being very hypocritical. Because Monica Richardson is very much anti AA and proud of it. I sing her praises too, because she has made huge strides as an anti- AA leader in exposing AA for the huge failure that they are and the the very dangerous nature of AA meetings. Make up your mind Michael D., do you support the anti AA movement or not? If you do not then why are you so giddy to meet Monica Richardson a leader of sorts of the anti-AA movement?

      You seem to think reading a few little things would do the trick in making AA safer, but AA needs to do a lot more before it is safe.

    5. Avatar
      Michael D May 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

      Millions of people choose to attend AA and do well as part of the group. It is not something I chose to do, but it does motivate some people and they seem happy to me. When I took the decision to get sober, that involved taking responsibility for my own actions, and although the meetings were useful in the early days, I chose to move to solutions and support that matched my personal values.

      I think you will find Monica is also looking foward to meeting me in London, I have met her before in person in LA and have known her online for sometime. She has certainly tried to raise awareness of issues in AA, especialy safety issues, which is something that I feel is important. She has kept going despite criticism from both those who are fans of AA, and those who call themselves Anti AA. In fact it is rather ironic that it is the Antis that have probably caused her most problems with film distribution and her website recently!

      I do not support the Anti movement at all. I am grateful for the help I recieved in AA in my early days, yet came to realise it was not the best approach longterm to support me with sobriety. I think many people simply move on from AA and live sucessful lives after a while. Some people are clearly not suited to AA and other may have issues with other members. It is up to an individual to decide what path to follow and if a spiritual solution is suitable. I am a big fan of Harm Reduction for example, and I certainly cannot see how attacking other people’s support groups fits in with that. I think that many of those “Antis” with extreme view put people off trying other solutions, with their agressive tone on certain message boards.

      I have often found Stven Slate’s site to be helpful. He certainly is somebody who moved on from the 12 step world and uses a wide variety of methods to help people but he wrote this http://www.thecleanslate.org/an-open-letter-to-the-anti-aa-movement-what-are-you-fighting-for/ I feel he makes some good points. I certainly don’t tell others how to live their life or run their recovery, I just reflect on my own or write about things on my blog that others have found helpful. I prefer to offer support rather than argue.

      • Avatar
        Hopkins May 22, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

        “Millions of people choose to attend AA”

        And the same amount get coerced or threatened into attendance when not sentenced by the court. Rehabs, counselors, detoxes, all push AA as the only way. Being one of those that was strongly coerced, I can vouch for the extreme discomfort of dogma and feeling the need to change my religious views so I can participate in the program that “will save my life” – so they said. After a couple of years of spiritual abuse and putting my foot down, I was also denied real medical treatment and family visitation because of my “denial”, and was reported to hospital staff as uncooperative by the AA speakers, non professional anonymous and creepy men, that came and tried to lure me in; I refused.

        “I prefer to offer support rather than argue…or write about things on my blog that others have found helpful.”

        I noticed that arguing isn’t something you like to participate in. It seems you rather speak freely of degradation against people with stronger opinions against AA than you have along with focusing on what you personally found helpful.

        It’s difficult to hear you speak highly of AA and ignore some disturbing mishaps that happen to different people regularly, by way of Step Programs.

        Your support for other models that have promise is admirable.

    6. Avatar
      WindyCity May 20, 2015 at 6:23 am #

      You state you do not support the anti- AA movement at all Michael D., but then support Monica Richardson and her ANTI-AA film The 13th Step. What is it you do not get? Monica Richardson and her film IS anti AA, and she is totally and completely anti AA. She is in the center of the anti AA movement and proud of it.

      You say the anti AA movement has not accomplished much when Monica Richardson and others have accomplished very much including her ANTI-AA Film that has won awards! You even want to write about about the ANTI AA film and interview Monica Richardson who is representative of the ANTI AA movement.

      I look forward to seeing The 13th Step The Film in it’s entirety and totally support it along with ANTI-AA advocate Monica Richardson.

      • Avatar
        Clarabelle12 May 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

        Why not just let him have his view, Windy? You don’t seem to unerstand that yours is the attitude he strives to avoid.

    7. Avatar
      Michael D May 20, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

      I have actually seen a rough cut of the film last year as Moica showed it to me as she was interested in my opinion, I assume she was not interested in yours!

      The film as I saw it is not simply Anti AA, and is balanced and allows members of AA to answer questions which was one of the most powerful parts, when talking about poor success rates. The film contains people who are critical of the AA approach and who help people with other solutions similar to the ones I will write about here and on my site. It also contains some accounts from people who have been harmed by members of AA. It would certainly not have won an award if it was simply an AA bashing film and had no balance, and would not be taken seriously by most viewers, especially as AA is a group that is valued by most of society.

      13 stepping has been acknowledged as an issue in AA and there are other issues as well such as out of date views on medication by some members (which I mention in the main piece here as part of my experience). I am glad that Monica is highlighting these issues for everybody, especially those with a young daughter who may have substance abuse issues. I certainly support this, but don’t support the general poor behaviour of the more crazy mebers of the anti AA world, who attept to take over any web based discussion where they are not banned, and who attack other people in recovery.

      I’m also capable of having friends in recovery that make use of different support methods to myself. I still chat to a few people I knew from AA. Most of the people I know in person who have sorted out there addiction issues, have actually been through AA as it is the largest support group and most well known, although in my opinion not the best. Many left AA along the way, but I can’t think of anyone I know in person who hates AA in the way that you seem to, and who uses any excuse to bash it. They will often have realised that the steps are not the solution for them or may even regret staying for so long, but they often value the supoort they got from contact with others. I don’t have a closed mind to recovery issues, and certainly have no wish to attempt to divide people in recovery which seems to the aim of those with extreme views who are often active on internet comment boards.

    8. Avatar
      WindyCity May 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      I have seen a private screening of it, so yes Monica most certainly does care what I think. The 13th Step The Film is about as Anti- AA as it gets. It is awesome too! Yet you are trying to divide people in recovery because every chance you get you bash Anti- AA people even though you then promote an Anti AA film and producer. I am glad you see the value in the film and the awesome efforts of Monica Richardson. Maybe for once you can admit that the Anti AA movement has made lots of progress as proof of the Anti AA movie winning Best Documentary at the Beverly Hills Festival.

      You are against bashing AA, but seem to love to bash Anti AA ers. Yet you buddy up to the famous Anti AA producer of The Anti AA Movie The 13th Step! The hypocrisy in your writings is glaringly obvious.

    9. Avatar
      Gunthar2000 May 22, 2015 at 7:55 am #

      This guy speaks out of both sides of his mouth… Excuses for cherry picking friends on the web… Very immature.

      Are you against AA or not? You can’t have both.

    10. Avatar
      WindyCity May 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

      Michael you wrote this- ‘I am aware of the stats that show AA does not have a high success rate and feel the are representative of the total number that come through its doors. However, you cannot blame AA for not working for people who make little attempt to beat alcoholism, or those who do not really get involved’

      So you are saying AA works if you work it huh? So you are blaming all the people it fails, because they are not working a good enough program? This sounds so familiar.

      Michael D. you are entitled to your opinion, but how about sticking to one. You seem to want it both ways. You want to walk on eggshells and not upset AA members, then bash anti-AA ers, try to shame AA bashers, and then proceed to to write your long winded conflicting theories on how to overcome addiction. If you are going to be writing here on addiction.com I sincerely believe if you make up your mind to your true beliefs you will do the readers a favor and improve your writing.

    11. Avatar
      Gunthar2000 May 22, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

      Mike bashes AA while claiming he’s not an AA basher.

    12. Avatar
      WindyCity May 23, 2015 at 5:18 am #

      I have a question for you Michael D., below you state the following in your article.

      “Hello, my name is Michael and I’m an alcoholic.” I tend not to say that very often these days, as I left AA after about 18 months of attendance.’

      Okay so you have been abstaining for 8 years, yet it sounds like you are saying you still call yourself an alcoholic sometimes. Just not very often. Do you believe you are an alcoholic after 8 years of abstinence?

    13. Avatar
      Clarabelle12 May 23, 2015 at 5:52 am #

      Windy, because Mike D. isn’t interested in being militant or as emotionally involved as you may be… are you saying that he doesn’t have a right to feel as he does? He has seen another side to the anti movement, the same one that kept the founders of Stinkin’ Thinkin’ from reopening their site, and caused him to shut down a site where he put lots of effort, time and money.

      I am glad this film is off of the ground after hearing about it for years. I hope Monica gets something out of it that she hasn’t gotten somewhere else because she is still angry over things that have nothing to do with AA. After all, she was in AA for decades despite that the courts have been sending people to AA for that same time period. This isn’t new and unknown to people. I knew about it in drivers ed class at 16. I don’t think it is going to end AA, but I hope it can help Monica stop blaming. No one made her go.

    14. Avatar
      WindyCity May 23, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      No I am stating his commentaries are conflicting and hypocritical. He embraces Monica Richardson who has the same ideals as many of the other Anti AA people he criticizes. It reflects poorly on him in my opinion.

      I am glad though that he likes her good work and writes well about the film. That we agree on.

    15. Avatar
      Clarabelle12 May 23, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

      Actually, Windy, that they can agree to disagree shows maturity in my eyes. I disagree with Monica a great deal, but I hope her film WILL change mandates in AA. My group doesn’t sign slips so people that need them go elsewhere. If that makes our group safer, then so be it. But that wasn’t our goal. We want people to be there who WANT to be there. What will happen is that the alternatives these antis feel are superior to AA will find an increase in mandates and the potential problems that come with it.

    16. Avatar
      Hopkins May 26, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

      I actually see that as a problem, being able to agree to disagree but only with someone that you think could better your reputation. Using people by dropping their name and pretending to be their friend is bad behavior when they proceed to talk behind their back or diss their values publicly. When I talk of another’s bad nature, I wouldn’t use their name for my own betterment…or their website, as this author did; Contacting members of the orange forum using Orange’s contact members service in order to tell them about his own new blog (for his benefit), but on his new blog he lashes out about members of the orange forum, the owner, and his information. I don’t get how he claims he understands how AA can hurt people that are mentally ill, as if he’s sympathetic with those folks, then bash the same mentally ill that were hurt by and now speak against AA. Most substance abuse addicts suffer from mental illness ranging from depression to ptsd. A program that causes members to dislike and not trust themselves more than they ever did cannot be helpful to any majority, even if it did help the author. Apparently he only cares about those sexually abused and those that claim got help. Anyone else he claims wasn’t doing the work, when the problem is that they were. He admits himself that he didn’t do the steps and doesn’t claim he received backlash for that. Most people in the United States do though, and so badly that they lose their friends and no longer have the support of their family that membership activity promotes distance from. Either he does’t get it or doesn’t care. Good points Windy!

    17. Avatar
      Runet May 27, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

      Michael probably has the same empathy most people would be expected to have for the mentally ill that bash AA. For Hopkins to accuse him of not being sympathetic to these folks is unsupportable.

      • Avatar
        Hopkins May 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

        I didn’t bring up nor refer to the “mentally ill” that bash AA. Runet, you misunderstood or casually put words into my mouth. I said that Michael D. bashes former AA’s that are mentally ill.

        “I don’t get how he claims he understands how AA can hurt people that are mentally ill, as if he’s sympathetic with those folks, then bash the same mentally ill that were hurt by and now speak against AA.”

        I didn’t accuse him of not being sympathetic to former AA’s either. That isn’t necessary, imo anyway. What I said and what I meant was that Michael regularly expresses sympathy to mentally ill AA members, but in turn judges former members that also suffer from mental illness. He has resulted to name calling on his blog – where aligns himself along actual professionals. Repeatedly he has used cruel words to label large groups of people that he calls “anti AA”, based on the actions of a few which resorted to actions that were highly inappropriate. Those are bigoted remarks, one of many scorning adjectives he used on them. Opposing an organization that has harmed people doesn’t deserve such harsh criticism from a person that expresses similar grievances one half of the time.

    18. Avatar
      shine on May 27, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

      Michael D, may I please ask what is your specific education in addiction treatment, and what position you hold in this field?

      • Avatar
        runet May 29, 2015 at 8:18 am #

        shine on, he is viewed as an expert by addiction.com and because they view him as such, they suggest that you read more from his blog. But plainly stated in the blog is that Michael doesn’t claim to be a health professional but just somebody who hasn’t drank for 8 years and has a blog about it. Reading any of the suggestions discussed in the blog is not a substitute for consulting with your physician or other health-care provider. And he is not responsible for any adverse side effects or consequences resulting directly or indirectly from anyone’s use of any of the suggestions discussed in the blog.

        As another expert in the field of alcoholism and recovery once said, “anyone who can manage to put a few years together without getting drunk again and knows how to put a blog together is an expert.” And I’m pretty sure he can play some good recovery songs on the guitar, too. And really, what the hell kind of qualifications are you looking for?

        “Michael lives in London, UK, and has been totally abstinent from drinking and drugs for over eight years after 25 years of abuse. He runs a blog, recoveringfromrecovery.com, which concentrates on non-12-step solutions he used after leaving AA, his initial support group. Michael works in the entertainment industry.

        Read more from this expert’s blog: Recovering from Recovery”

        • Avatar
          Hopkins May 29, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

          “Read more from this expert’s blog: Recovering from Recovery”.

          The use of the word “expert” on addiction.com is misleading and the writers are falsely portrayed . The implication is that the writers on this site are experts in their field of addiction, when they are nothing more than persons that claim to have accomplished respectable time of abstinence. This is another recovery based redefinition. In the real world expert means having authority derived from academic accomplishments; having professional notoriety. The few so called experts writing on this site do not have any of the above and are therefore promoting lying and misrepresentation. They have absolutely no more expertise in the addiction field that millions of others have, which incidentally could be called into question due to proving any success, which wouldn’t adequately give them entitlement to being distinguished as such anyway.

          Runet, I didn’t want to bring AA into it but I need to in order to oppose your quote on supposed experts on addiction. Which was said by who precisely? Please name your source.

          It was the founders and promoters of the AA movement that began indicating that persons’ recovered from addiction are the best equipped to help others and therefore are an expert. It is this fallacy, which addiction.com, Michael D., and yourself support, that has made treatment to addiction a failure, imo. Without any credentials or qualifications, the very people that started this absurd notion appointed themselves with the title and aimed to benefit from it.

          Fyi, based upon the definitions and context the word “expert” as used on this site, I have much more experience than Michael D. and it is because I say so that makes it true. No documentation or formalities needed.

    19. Avatar
      Runet May 29, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

      Hopkins, it may well be that you could try to posture yourself as an expert with far more experience than Michael D, without needing documentation or formalities. You certainly can claim expert status without any credentials or qualifications. And you may not possess authority derived from studies and may completely lack professional notoriety. Personally, I care not.

      The problem you experienced in grasping the points I made is your own. I really hate to reduce things to the lowest level, but I’ll try to do that for you. Here we go, right now. Between the lines I was pointing out the obvious, that Mike is a fella with an opinion and a small about of experience, and nothing more. That he was labeled an expert by this site is wrong and ridiculous.

      Since we’ve cleared that up and you’ve had the opportunity to let out a little AA-angst, you’re now free to go and get something else wrong. Good luck with that.

    20. Avatar
      WindyCity May 29, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      Of course Michael is no expert about addiction. I guess addiction.com got their facts very wrong on this one.

      • Avatar
        whatever August 9, 2015 at 9:37 am #

        neither are you. might it be possible for you to state your opinion, and then shut up?

        while i didn’t bother to count exactly, you seem to be pulling between a third, and half of the
        bandwidth on this thread. we got that you hate AA. we got that you probably hate
        most things, as it seems to give you a reason for posting, if not for breathing.

        we get that your warm nurturing hate is providing direction and purpose in your life
        that it might otherwise lack.

        i personally support you on your choices.

        can you please be quiet now? honestly, it seems the author of this piece has looked at
        a lot of ways of overcoming a problem in his life, and has given credit where it is due,
        and is now actively sharing what works for him.

        while it’s not AA, what he is doing is still the last step. share what works for you, and
        have the courage to suffer the slings an arrows of frightened people.

        AA is full of frightened people, attempting to use fear to get where they want to go.
        AA haters is full of frightened people, attempting to use fear to get where they want to go.

        that is the primary difference between the two of you. he is telling what works for him.
        you are telling what does not work for you.

        does anything actually work for you, or is spewing this crap your whole life?

    21. Avatar
      WindyCity May 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Michael on your blog you wrote this ” Bye! I learnt my lesson a longg time ago about letting anti AA people near a site. They attempt to fill up every thread with the same old stuff and prevent reasonable discussion.”

      Yet you actually do let anti AA people near your site. Monica Richardson is anti AA, why are you in such deep serious denial over this? You say her film was balanced and I am glad you feel that way. Because most anti AA people are balanced. For the life of you, you refuse to admit that Monica Richardson is anti AA and so is her anti AA film The 13th Step.

      I believe you are suffering what is called cognitive dissonance

      ” In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

      Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. An individual who experiences inconsistency (dissonance) tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and is motivated to try to reduce this dissonance—as well as actively avoid situations and information likely to increase it”.

    22. Avatar
      Roman May 31, 2015 at 10:17 am #

      I’m an advocate of the 12 step program.

      I’ve been a member of CA, where I did my steps, and AA since 2010.

      What I’ve learnt through my journey with the steps is profound. I believe this gift given to me freely is priceless. Freedom from the bondage of self.

      Today, instead of a horrifying drug habit, I have peace.

      Michael’s writing oozes peace.
      The critics in these comments oozes offence and suffering. The same self-inflicted suffering my mad head inflicted on me before I got my Spiritual Awakening.

      I wouldn’t dream of forcing my spiritual will on you. That will just lead to conflict and suffering.

      I do engage with open and peaceful minds. That’s a key to beautiful living. True spiritual connection between human beings.

      Something that most knockers of “anything” are a million miles from.

      Be the person you want the word to be.

    23. Avatar
      Silver Damsen May 31, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      I’m joining this discussion fairly late in the game. I didn’t before because I was involved in more heated debates on other forums and I am not just Anti-AA, but very militant Anti-AA, and I didn’t want to discourage moderate AA reform and the belief that there are other ways to get sober besides AA…… hmmm am I less militant? Probably not, since my goal is to destroy AA as it is in the shortest time possible. I’m wondering who Windy City might be, since geographically that suggests Chicago and I’m in Champaign IL, and we clearly have the same interest’s in Monica’s film. I also took offense to your statement, David, that AA is not for people with other mental health issues. In itself that is true, or sort of true. However, it is not identifying the problem accurately. People with PTSD and family abuse histories should not attend AA, but not because their issues won’t be addressed in AA, but because they will be actively abused by AA members because AA must attempt to drill into people the idea that if you are in pain it is your fault. I would have a lot less to complain about with AA if AA was open that the only mental health issue that was truly compatible with AA membership was narcissism, which Bill W. in a weird way makes clear when he attempts again and again to define “all alcoholics” in ways that seem to describe the narcissist personality. Narcissism is a mental illness and it is one that is dangerous to those in the life of the narcissist. However, even more dangerous still. Narcissists tend to need to be abusive as part of their pathology, and it is easier and more entertaining to abuse a non-narcissist than another narcissist. Thus, AA would logically want to cultivate Newcomers who were in pain and were vulnerable so as to entertain Old Timer’s with the appropriately approved mental illness of AA, narcissism.

    24. Avatar
      Roman June 1, 2015 at 1:06 am #

      AA teaches “If you are in pain it’s your fault”

      Not what I have ever come across in AA or CA or have read in the Big Book.

      I do question your understanding of the word “pain”

      If you truly get the steps and have a REAL Spiriual Awakening, you will be concious enough to know -“Pain” is a feeling due to a physical problem.

      If you mean mental pain, then you need to say mental pain or better still use the phrase mental suffering.

      Now mental suffering is your fault because you don’t have to suffer for the ills of your past. That’s your choice. The 12 Steps worked correctly will teach you how to stop suffering in the memories of yesterday and enjoy living in today.

      Be blessed

      • Avatar
        Runet June 1, 2015 at 5:57 am #

        I agree most definitely that those with certain types of mental illnesses should avoid attending AA. They often unable to correctly interpret relationships and determine healthy interaction limits. Too often they lapse into sick obsessions with others that they cannot resolve in normal healthy ways, which can even lead to the filing of restraining orders by those harmed before these sick individuals will surrender their pursuit and thereafter keep their distance.

        I’ve seen this type of trouble often enough when lonely individuals with little to offer inflict themselves on people who are trying to be nice to them, out of pity for their circumstances and difficulties. Disengaging from them can be a horror.

    25. Avatar
      WindyCity June 1, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

      Right it would be wise for AA to stay out of pursuing the mentally ill at mental institutions, social services and dual diagnosis patients as their abusive message is harmful to them and can often ends tragically.

      The mentally ill need real help from non 12 step professionals, not a 12 step cult.

      • Avatar
        Hopkins June 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

        So Roman, are you saying that we aren’t powerless over mental pain but are powerless over are addiction?

        AA and NA caused me mental and emotional pain but I worked the steps to the best of my ability and as instructed. It appears that you got what you needed but want even those that worsened by the very same program to keep their pain inward and not warn others that could possibly be facing the same suffering

        An article I read today said that 76% of addicts suffered sexual or physical abuse as a child or young teenager. If that’s true then it stands to reason that more than 70% of addicts entering AA, NA, or the like, are trauma survivors. My therapist told me that child victims of sexual or physical abuse also suffer a change of their mental status at that crucial juncture of one’s life, when the brain is developing. She informed me that the last thing a an adult survivor of childhood trauma should endure is being led to believe they are powerless over their addiction because it causes confusion and instability when they are trying to cope with losing their formal means of self medicating. She also said that focusing on their character defects, which trauma sufferings tend to already do, keeps them suffering. The best angle toward recuperation from both trauma and addiction lay in focusing on one’s strong points and not re-living the past unless the are in a safe, close environment with only people they completely trust. Certainly not strangers nor in a group without guidance from a professional.

        I don’t believe that mental pain is a choice. I don’t believe that you are in spiritual peace because contradict yourself in your comment and that indicates confusion. Before AA and NA I accepted myself and my past. Afterward I saw only what was bad about me and focused on that. Then I got PTSD which I believe I could have coped with better if I hadn’t lost the remaining love I had for myself. So for some the steps are bad for and for others that are lucky enough to figure out what “right” is and happen to get a decent sponsor, a miracle might occur. Or at the least for some they will get brainwashed to believe they were a miracle.

        • Avatar
          Roman-R July 5, 2015 at 1:58 am #

          My suggestion is to read “The Power of Now” easier still is to utube that title and author Eckhart Tolle and listen to the first 15mins of the 98min video. Listen over and over again.

          The problem with AA & CA is it’s totally dependent on the knowledge of the committee and your chosen sponsor. It is also totally dependent on one’s own personal efforts

          I believe ithat s why it doesn’t work for most people.

          My opinion is we are already brainwash. By society, by media.

          Bill W’s AA book is his writing on Frank Buchman’s Oxford Groups’ work. In 1939, when the world was arming themselves with weopons , the Oxford Group renamed itself to Moral-rearmament. Frank Buchman’s himself had correspondence with Adolf Hitler as well as other prominent figures. The Oxford group got on the Nazi regime’s official list of enemies due to their stand against Nazi Nationalism.

          That AA book, read carefully, slowly, purposely, STUDIED can free you from your thinking. Your CONDITIONED THINKING.

          There is immense peace to be found but we have to take the action.

          It is said, by man, that Jesus said there are no signs to Heaven.

          Eckharte Tolle says Jesus also explained what he meant was Heaven is all around you

          It is our “Bondage of Self”, using the AA phrase/Bill W/Frank Buchman, or using Eckharte’s phrase ” Our Conditioned Mind” that removes us from Heaven.

          I’d like to add I’m not religious but I listen to messages, even when the work Jesus is used, rather than attack the messenger – another gift I got from my recovery program.

    26. Avatar
      Jack Shuman June 3, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

      The writer would like people to believe that they are free to wander in and out of AA. Yes, and they’re free to wander in and out of Scientology I suppose…

      • Avatar
        WindyCity June 9, 2015 at 10:30 am #

        I agree Jack, that is what is very troubling about AA and Michael’s misrepresentation of it. He is giving people a false sense of security that they can just come and go as they please. This is hardly the case and why so many people are hurt by AA.

      • Avatar
        Roman-R July 5, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

        My experience in 6 years and over ten different meetings is members are totally free to walk in and out.

        It is encouraged to keep coming back – how else can someone benefit from the pier support mechanism

    27. Avatar
      P June 4, 2015 at 6:01 am #

      I’d take issue with the ‘millions’.
      On stinking-thinkin, under ‘essential reading’, there is a piece, ‘AA’s own stats show slow demise’.

      Membership is around 1.8; mostly churn and those who are mandated. Probably only a hardcore of a few hundred thousand, many of those gaining income or status from the steps.

      • Avatar
        WindyCity June 9, 2015 at 10:32 am #

        I take issue with the millions too. What a joke! If it were not for rehabs and court mandating AA would be a mere shell of itself. Most have to be forced to go. 95% leave when given a choice, what does that say?

        • Avatar
          Roman-R July 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

          So you know better than the legal system, backed by professionals in all sorts of fields.

    28. Avatar
      Mondo Humunculero June 29, 2015 at 2:16 am #

      Michael is what I call an AA apologist. AA is a religious cult. How can one recover when there’s no disease? Stretching definitions to get attention doesn’t work with the critical eye of observable facts. As we gain rational perspective on the 12 Step nonsense we find the attention it deserves comes from consistent deconstruction of it core tenets and ludicrous claims. In a decade more, the industry will have moved on, making more money from various other approaches…Michael did find one common denominator of overcoming addiction…he decided to commit to developing his own methods…without Snake oil… even though approving of it’s use.

    29. Avatar
      Roman-R July 5, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

      Can you recover from a mental illness?

    30. Avatar
      Jackie Smith RN January 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

      Alcohol addiction is married to severe depression and these patients should never be directed to AA because they are told there that they have a moral problem, have defective characters and other negative attributes. Then when AA doesn’t work for them because it does nothing to get rid of intrusive alcohol thinking and cravings the failure is on them, not the program. All doctors should now know of Sinclair and his proven program with an efficacy rate of 78%! There have been countless articles in JAMA
      and other medical journalm about studies done by Sinclair and others about how Naltrexone is used to bring about cure/extinction of this devastating disease. Doctors must not be reading their journals and this is shameful. As a psych nurse who just retired from a big northeast hospital I am joyful that Sinclair cracked the alcohol addiction code and his method of treatment is saving thousands. I intend to spend my retirement speaking out and spreading the word on this wonderful treatment. At somepoint the AMA will awake and apologize to all the patients and family members they failed to elite about TMS.

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