April 20, 2014

Charlie Sheen Turns On The Cult – And Feels The Wrath of Alcoholics Anonymous

The latest news on Charlie Sheen is BIG news.  He has publicly called AA a cult, indicated that it’s been screwing up his life for 22 years, and that it has control over his family.  These latest comments have brought things to a true tipping point.  He’s being universally attacked as a crazy person for criticizing AA, and no one in the major media seems to have the slightest interest in investigating his claims.  I contend that Sheen’s comments are 100% correct.

While Sheen is the most famous person to call Alcoholics Anonymous a cult, he certainly isn’t the first.  In fact, these claims go as far back as the 40′s.  For a thorough review, definitely check out this piece, Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult? An Old Question Revisited (by L. Allen Ragels), available at stinkin-thinkin.com,  Here’s an excerpt:

Alexander and Rollins, both sociologists, went underground in order to understand the world of the Steps as seen through the eyes of actual group participants. “[B]oth investigators attended AA meetings over a period of several months,” they recounted. “In addition, one of the investigators actively assumed the role of an alcoholic . . . she admitted to members of an AA gathering that she was ostensibly an alcoholic in need of help. She then chose a ‘sponsor’ and began to attend both official meetings and informal social gatherings.” The result of this clandestine effort was a decisive study published in California Sociologist, “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Unseen Cult.”

Essentially, Alexander and Rollins measured AA against criteria developed by Robert J. Lifton, whose 1961 work, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, is a classic work on thought reform or brainwashing. Measured against Lifton’s standards, Alexander and Rollins concluded that AA is indeed a cult. “AA uses all the methods of brain washing, which are also the methods employed by cults,” they found. “It is our contention that AA is a cult.”

The piece then goes on to systematically analyze the many aspects of AA which prove that it is a cult.  It’s a very compelling case, and again, contrary to the universal shock which people have expressed over Sheen’s claim, it’s not the only case that’s been made – people have been calling AA out as a cult for nearly 70 years now.  Before that, it was recognized that the organization from which AA sprung, The Oxford Group, was also a cult.

AA asks you to renounce your own will and surrender to a generic “Higher Power”.  Lacking the ability to communicate with your higher power, you are told to follow the commands of senior AA members.  No one is allowed to talk about what goes on at the meetings outside of the meetings.  Members are “anonymous” and are not supposed to reveal their own, or anyone else’s membership outside of the meetings/to non members.  Whereas self-examination can be empowering, AA takes the practice to an extreme level asks its members to constantly humble themselves and admit their shortcomings, work on “character defects” perpetually, and to regularly confess to each other, constantly reliving their problems and thereby reinforcing a negative self-image.  The only way to live with themselves is to keep confessing to the group, and keep trying to live the spiritual life prescribed by the program.  Should a member attempt to live their spiritual or sober lifestyle on their own, without constant AA involvement, they’ll be belittled by the group as they attempt to detach, told that they’re on the verge of relapse, and that they will DIE if they don’t keep up their meeting attendance.  Threats will be made, and rumors will be passed about any member who seems as if they’re growing away from the group.  The solution they offer indoctrinates a troubled person with the belief that they can only stay sober one day at a time, and that the only thing which will keep them from drinking is their “Higher Power”, a call to their AA “sponsor”, or a trip to a meeting.  Indeed, everything about the group breeds dependence on the group, and mortal fear of leaving the group.

But perhaps even more compelling than all of this, are the current creepy events surrounding Charlie Sheen.  After his latest incident, involving allegations of a drug & sex binge that landed him in the hospital for a possible hernia, the producers of his show “Two and a Half Men”, staged an intervention of sorts, halted production, and asked him to get “treatment”.  He decided, after several past trips to treatment programs and 22 years in AA, that he would get some sort of treatment at home, without staying in a treatment center.  This was unacceptable to his colleagues.  He proclaimed that he was staying sober, that he could prove it with urine tests, and that he was ready to work.  He was derided by everyone as not being ready, and mocked for claiming he was sober, then the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, placed a title card in one of the episodes which included this line “If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.”  This can be seen as nothing other than a clear dig at Charlie, a bit of psychological abuse and pressure, and an indication that he highly disapproves of Sheen’s recent choices – one of which was to try something different than the conventional recovery route.  Who would do such a thing to a friend who is currently embarking on a quest to change their life?  I’ll tell you who: an AA member who believes that AA is the only way.

A post on the Clare Foundations facebook asking friends to donate copies of the AA text called The Big Book, so they could give them to their clients.

I don’t have direct evidence (in the form of any personal statements which confirm it) that Lorre is an AA member, although I have evidence which strongly suggests it (thanks to  a commenter over at stinkin-thinkin.com).  And whether he is or isn’t in AA, he’s clearly indoctrinated into their teachings.  On November 12th 2009, The Clare Foundation, which runs several treatment programs highly steeped in and built upon AA/12-step philosophy and practices (they teach the 12-steps, give the Big Book to their clients, and hold 12-step meetings within their facilities), held a massive event honoring Chuck Lorre with the Friends of Clare Tribute Award “for his contribution to the recovery community nationwide.”  In case you didn’t know, “recovery community” means “Alcoholics Anonymous”.  Furthermore, Dr Drew is a past recipient of the same award, as are other 12-step pushers/members; the list of board members reads like a “who’s who” of the entertainment industry, and also contains many celebrities known for being AA members/”in recovery” – such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Charlotte Rae, Meredith Baxter, Anthony Hopkins, and Buzz Aldrin among others.

Seeing how the event was packed with entertainment industry AA members, and taking into account everything we know about the Clare Foundation’s mission, and then considering Lorre’s behavior towards Sheen – it’s probably not too far off to say that Chuck Lorre is an AA Member.  In fact, as soon as Sheen made his comments calling AA a cult, the decision was made to cancel production of the remainder of the season.  According to the LA Times:

On Friday, Charlie Sheen appeared on FOX Sports Radio’s “Loose Cannons” program to speak with host Pat O’Brien about the future of his hit show. Asked what happened with “Two and a Half Men” — the show was suspended after Sheen trashed executive producer Chuck Lorre on multiple radio shows — he said, “They kept getting up in my grill, kept telling me how to live my personal life, [I’m] saying, ‘Back off, back off,’ and they wouldn’t.” (SOURCE: LA Times)

Sheen specifically complained about the judgment of Lorre and his collaborator Lee Aronsohn. “These guys are a couple of AA Nazis and just blatant hypocrites,” he said. “They just do not practice what they preach. It’s so transparent and so sad.” (Lorre has been open about his own battles with substance abuse.)

I don’t know where they got the part about Lorre being open about substance abuse, but with that, and Sheen referring to them as AA Nazis (thus confirming their membership), it’s becoming clear that Lorre is in the cult of AA, and that this is a battle over views of “recovery” more than it is about whether or not Charlie Sheen is using drugs.  Sheen has been asking to go back to work, offering to take urine tests, and they have refused.  They have sat back and allowed him to be portrayed as insane and selfish, and blamed the halt in production on him, when in fact they are the ones who will not go ahead with production – all because he rejects the life of “recovery”, which means he refuses to take part in 12-step activities and ways of thinking, he refuses the pseudo-spiritual lifestyle of AA, he refuses to believe he has a disease.  This has nothing to do with addiction – it has to do with Charlie leaving the cult.  To see these guys using their power to punish him publicly because they disagree about AA only serves to prove Sheen’s claim that the organization is a cult.

Witness also a recent response to Sheen’s comments about AA from 12-step thumper Dr Drew:

well he’s got a point, their uhh, success rates aren’t that great but the fact is it does work when people do it… (SOURCE: TMZ)

This is serious doubletalk right here.  It’s creepy, and it smacks of cult.  He’s saying  “yeah I agree, but I don’t”.  It’s an insane statement, but this is what people face in AA all the time, and any cult for that matter.  When their mumbo jumbo fails to bring the promised changes, the cultists proclaim that you’re not a real believer, you didn’t really give yourself to their ways, or you must have some other sins holding you back from success.  Essentially Drew is saying that Sheen didn’t really “do” AA in this statement.  AA is built to allow every one of these accusations – if you failed, you didn’t really “surrender to a higher power”, and you need to go back to your first steps to try to do that again with “rigorous honesty”.  They excuse every single failure by deflecting the blame back on the person they failed to help, and they suck that person back in with guilt.  They claim “never have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path”, meaning essentially that they believe they have a 100% success rate, even though any reliable study shows this idea is nowhere near reality.  They can’t measure whether you’ve “thoroughly followed their path”, because the path involves making a mystical connection to God through surrender – how do you measure that?  They measure it by failure: if you’ve failed, then you haven’t followed the path, you haven’t gotten right with God – and the infuriating circle of nonsense continues.  Drew’s statements about Sheen are further proof that the organization is a cult, he’s bringing his mind-games into the public – what’s normally saved for inside of AA is reaching the light of day, and it ain’t pretty.

Charlie Sheen has turned on the cult, they aren’t happy, and this promises to be a knock down drag out fight because they’ll do anything to impose their way of life on others, even if that means giving up a TV show worth billions of dollars.

UPDATE:  Entertainment Tonight is reporting that Charlie has just returned from the Bahamas.  They have pictures of him taking a drug test, of which the urine portion has come back clean, and the blood test results are expected to be ready by monday (blood tests are more accurate).  If this shows that he’s been clean, then we have to wonder why Lorre won’t bring the show back into production.  Some would say it’s Charlie’s strange comments, but Charlie has been a 9/11 Truther for quite some time and publicly commented on that in the past.  Many would see that as insane, or a sign of instability – yet it was never reason to shut down production before.

EDITED TO ADD: I realize this may not be the best written post.  I’ve been rushing to get something out on this story, but there are so many issues involved that it’s a tough one to cover.  So I’d like to sum up what I think is one of the most interesting points here which you won’t find elsewhere.  I’m hypothesizing/predicting a particular story-line here.  I think that when everything comes out about this whole situation, this will be the whole story:  2 guys are in AA.  One of them (Lorre) is the other one’s (Sheen) boss.  The boss tolerates the employee’s substance related misdeeds and indiscretions, as long as the employee stays obediently in AA.  Employee realizes that after 22 years of struggling, AA hasn’t and will not work for him.  He decides to give up on AA and try something else.  Boss disapproves, finds this personally offensive, and suspends him from work.  Employee fights back and says “you can’t do that, I’m sober, I can prove it, and I want to continue to work, per my contract”.  Boss dismisses and belittles employee, pressuring him to come back to AA.  Employee resists, denounces AA, and asks to be left alone, and just get on with work.  Boss resents the employee because he no longer belongs to AA, and shuts down the whole business simply to punish employee for rejecting his precious fellowship of AA.

I could be absolutely wrong about this.  Time will tell.  But I’m not wrong about AA being a cult, nor is Charlie Sheen, nor are the countless researchers who’ve come to the same conclusion ove the past 70 years.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE (monday evening):  Charlie Sheen confirmed that Chuck Lorre is an AA follower  on The Today Show this morning.  I’ve got video here – Charlie Sheen Confirms That Chuck Lorre is an AA Member.

Comments

  1. What can I say, Steven? You hit a home run once again! Great research in a short period of time. I also rushed to get my blog out there on Friday; it had much feeling, but much less substance and basically said that Sheen speaks the truth. Now is the time for all of us who know the truth about AA, both from research and from first hand experience, to come forward in support of Charlie Sheen. Much like the libs run Hollywood, so does AA. He is now blacklisted for sure, and has very likely signed the death certificate on his career as well as his relationship with his family. I’m not sure if he has any idea what he’s truly signed up for here, but I think there are a lot more of us who know the truth than anyone can imagine.

    • anonymous says:

      if you dont like AA dont go to it. The information listed in this story is wrong and obviously is not by someone who is an alcoholic. AA is only works for people who are HONEST!!!! OMG, that is a shocker.You mean you have to be honest. Holy shit. It is not right or fair for people to judge something they have NEVER experienced. If you go to AA saying your an alcoholic and your not you will not get the benefit.

      • @anonymous

        Hey I dont go anymore but something has to be done to out the sickness and the rapes and the rampant 13 stepping in AA. Honest people in AA. Wow thats such Bullshit. I know many good people in AA/nA from decades ago, but now 12 step is filled with Sexual Predators and violent criminals and Dui attendee’s that DONT WANT TO BE THERE. Hello!

      • Ruben Rodriguez says:

        I have tried A.A. a few times and I would rather die an alcoholic than join this fellowship of morons mind controlling freaks. IT IS NOTHING BUT A CULT. STAY AWAY FROM THEM!!!! PLEASE!!!

  2. Steve,

    Steve,
    Another home run. God knows I understand being black listed by AA. After attending more than 4,000 AA meetings myself (as a member in the late 80′s, and then as a researcher through the 90′s) I understand the cult from an inside perspective, and your assesment is spot on. If anything, you are being kind to call it just a cult. In my professional estimation, and based on extensive research, AA has done more harm to substance users in the last 70 years than any other movement in the “treatment” industry. What is truly remarkable is their ability to remain in the dark, thus avoiding scruntiny, and subsequently remaining positive in popluar culture while simultaneously having horrendous success rates and stories of tragic mistreatment and misinformation. The “anonymous” part has worked, it kept research at bay for decades. Well, now you see the cracks forming. Families are destroyed, people are rendered helpless, and the flaws in the theory just keep becoming more clear. People are tired of the destruction and the incessant whining. Whether Charlie makes it or not is to be seen, and truly is not the basis of the argument. Of more importance than his success or failure is that fact that he has taken responsibility for his decisions, and that is infinitely more than can be said for his critics. So, who are the real fools here. Cetainly not Charlie, at least he has personal courage – and having courage is half the battle.

  3. Gunthar2000 says:

    AA is a religious cult that has hijacked an entire branch of medicine, and it’s time for this nonsense to be exposed so that the addiction treatment industry can get out of the business of saving souls, and back to the business of saving alcoholics.

    AA is a religion that claims not to be religious… It’s one of the most corrupt and dishonest religious movements to be found.

    Most people are actually unaware of what AA’s 12 step program actually entails. The Oprafied public is fed stories of perseverance and victory over addiction and they are never really exposed to the process that supposedly get’s folks sober.

    The fact is that AA’s 12 step program has everything to do with religion and nothing to do with quitting drinking.

    • billinprinceton says:

      For those of us nontheists who have found success and recovery through the AA program and the 12 steps, your suggestion that it has “everything to do religion” is befuddling.

      Certainly, those of us who are enjoying successful recovery, acknowledge that “not drinking” is not the entire solution. Identifying why we drank or why we may wish to drink in the future leads to a necessary process of self-examination and self-actuated change.

      I see little similarity between the 12 step program and traditional western religious beliefs based on “the god of Abraham.”
      I see a much greater similarity between the 12 step program and the Buddhist teachings of “The Four Noble Truths” and “The Noble Eightfold Path”.
      So when you suggest that “AA’s 12 step program has everything to do with religion”, I must wonder, What religion? Perhaps AA’s 12 steps were more inspired by Buddha than Moses or Jesus after all.

      • In the book it says you have “recovered” How long will it take you to recover? You whole life? Are you broken to the core?

        • Always An Alcoholic. I Didn’t Recover From Being An Alcoholic. What I Recovered From Is A Hopeless State Of Mind And Body. Forward To The First Addition, Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous.

          • April- WOW you are so brainwashed. That is absolutely not true. People heal, move on and are not broken forever. Bill W never researched anything!!! neither has AA.

    • DoctorJoey says:

      As a license MD, who is Board-Certified in (Adult or General) Psychiatry; Childs & Adolescent Psychiatry; Forensic Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Psychiatry with about 25 years of experience, April’s post sends chills up my spine. I’ve given new patients in AA/NA, the opportunity to pre sue my research and then ask them to chose between a cult that uncomfortable reminds me of the Third Reich to talk therapy/education, if necessary. (Some of these patients have or are better off with a Master Psychiatric Social Workers or Clinical Psychologists for more intense therapy. two or three times a week and see me from every two to four weeks. I DO lower my fees — by 50% — to surveyors of AA/NA Cult Abuse). Unlike AA/NA, some of my patients will no longer require medication (except for something minor, such as Xanax, and their family docs would write for that; I’m always available to confirm), they have the option of no longer seeing me (although I’ve been told my eclectic psychotherapy is just as effective as “Doctor Joey’s Cocktails”.There are AA/NA survivors whom I’ve diagnosed with Mood Disorders, treated with eclectic psychotherapy and appropriate meds — and NO. Im not them,ind of doc who is going to prescribe the powerful antipsychotic Risperdal for sleep simply because patients have a hx of drug abuse — and after a few years, three of them no longer require any therapy other than the psych meds I’ve prescribed.)

  4. billinprinceton says:

    No doubt, to paraphrase, AA is the worst form of treatment for recovery except for all those others that have been tried.
    While AA’s “success rate” may not be much better than that of any other program, the fact that they reach the masses, as it were; AND that they do NOT “blacklist” anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, leads convincingly to the conclusion that AA IS RESPONSIBLE for the continued recovery of more human beings than all the other programs put together.

    As for the nonsense in Paragraph 4 above; why resort to complete lies and untruths? :

    AA does NOT “tell” its members that they must “follow the commands of senior AA members.

    There is NO prohibition against talking “about what goes on at the meetings outside of the meetings”, except members are encouraged to respect the anonymity of other members.

    There is NO prohibition against revealing one’s own membership in AA – only that of other members.

    The suggestion that “AA takes the practice (of self-examination) to an extreme level asks its members to constantly humble themselves and admit their shortcomings, work on “character defects” perpetually, and to regularly confess to each other, constantly reliving their problems and thereby reinforcing a negative self-image.” is pure hogwash and a gross distortion of Steps 4, 5 and 10. Consider please that constantly striving to identify and eliminate one’s “character defects” can only lead to the reinforcement of a more positive self-image.”

    Your suggestion that “the only way to live with themselves is to keep confessing to the group” is equally false. More often than not, members are encouraged to take there problems to their sponsor, their friends, family, clergyman, or therapist. Members are encouraged to share their experience, strength and hope at meetings.

    Members who wish to “leave the group” or stop attending meetings are NOT “belittled”, told they are on the “verge of relapse”, or told “that they will DIE if they don’t keep up their meeting attendance”. No doubt each of these things may have been uttered by a member at some time, but it is absolutely NOT condoned by AA nor something that is generally practiced. Why suggest that it is?

    Nor is it true that “threats will be made, and rumors will be passed about any member who seems as if they’re growing away from the group.” Again that’s utter nonsense and simply does NOT happen.

    The fact that, in general, as your correctly point out, “the solution they offer indoctrinates a troubled person with the belief that they can only stay sober one day at a time, and that the only thing which will keep them from drinking is their “Higher Power”, a call to their AA “sponsor”, or a trip to a meeting.” does not, as you unreasonably conclude breed dependence on the group or mortal fear of leaving the group; but rather, for most members, a trust in the group as well as a trust in other people, a release from fear, and the discovery of a “new happiness” and a “new freedom”.

    • Hi Bill,
      I disagree with much of what you have said here, for example:

      “AA does NOT “tell” its members that they must “follow the commands of senior AA members.”

      Then what about getting a sponsor? There is no explicit command that I know of off the top of my head to let a sponsor run your life, but surely you know that many sponsors tell their sponsees how to live. This is standard practice. “If you want what they’ve got, do what they did”, right? Now I suppose you’ll tell that’s not how you act as a sponsor, but an exception doesn’t change the rule – that is, it doesn’t change the fact that this is the experience for countless AA members.

      What about “taking the cotton out of your ears and sticking it in your mouth”? This tells people that they shouldn’t think for themselves, and instead listen only to the other, apparently enlightened AA members who know what is best.

      What about the common suggestion that you “make the group your higher power”?

      There are so many ways that AA members are told to let other AA members run their lives, that it doesn’t matter that there is no formal proclamation – informally, it is a truth of AA that you should do so.

      -Steven

      • billinprinceton says:

        Steven,

        I, likewise, disagree with pretty much all of what you’ve said, primarily because your “suggestions” and beliefs referred to in your examples are simply wrong.

        What about getting a sponsor? Sure, some AA members actually seek out sponsors that tell them “how to live” – usually people who’s illness has brought them to the brink of despair and who feel totally incapable of making decisions for themselves; and some sponsors are willing to assume that role and responsibility – but that is NOT “standard practice”. . Indeed how I personally act as as a sponsor is merely anecdotal and proves nothing about AA, but I am going to tell you that in my experience the vast majority of sponsor/sponsee relationships are more accurately characterized as friendships, mentors, helpers and guides than as controllers or even instruction givers.

        What “taking the cotton our of your ears and sticking it in your mouth?” Your suggestions are incorrect and naive. The phrase is equally applicable, for example, to a first year medical student – sort of a polite way of saying “shut up and listen!” It in no way suggests that people should not still think for themselves.

        What about “make the group your higher power?” And what about make a door knob your higher power? Are you suggesting that AA members are encouraged to allow door knobs to tell them how to lead their lives? On the contrary, AA members are NOT told to let other AA members run their lives, and it is certainly NOT a “truth of AA” at all; rather, members are encouraged to find their own way, find their own “higher power”, and when possible help others by practicing the principles of the twelve steps in all their affairs . . . . hardly cultish.

      • just check out the aa police in great britain. They address all the culty aspects of AA that arent even part of AA but friggen Clancy and his batshit crazy old men predators made up a new version of AA.

    • Another point I disagree with:
      “AA IS RESPONSIBLE for the continued recovery of more human beings than all the other programs put together.”

      “All the other programs” is tricky wording, because there are no other programs as widespread as AA, and while there may be many AA’s who have successfully changed their substance use habits, and who may attribute their success to AA, there is still no evidence that the 12-steps were responsible for their changes. AA essentially claims to be responsible for the success of people who would’ve solved their problems on their own anyways. That is, there is no evidence that AA or 12-step based treatment gets a higher rate of success than doing nothing at all. Please read this, and then tell me what you think: http://www.thecleanslate.org/self-change/substance-dependence-recovery-rates-with-and-without-treatment/

      • Doctor Joey says:

        Oh, so you’re one of the two researchers I’ve read about! My own doctoral studies involved a research project on AA/NA. (We could select the topic; if we couldn’t do basic research on a topic, the question arises: “How is it that you were admitted to a PhD program at at Ivy League university.) I majored in both Journalism and English. The research part was pretty easy. Today, I’m a practicing psychiatrist (and my PhD in English and American Lit helps me quite a bit in my professional practice) and I understand that susceptibility to AA/NA propaganda has nothing to do with religious affiliation, income or even education. Not that I’d ever do this, but a shrink with my reputation and a month or two of weekly or twice-weekly sessions CAN implant “Repressed Memories” and if we really are seriously committed “recruiters” for these cults. I’ve seen brilliant physicians, including the eminent cardiothoracic surgeon who performed tricky, life-saving surgery on me among them. I’m bright and competent, but even my Ivy League BA, PhD and MD and 25 years of experience pale before his. I’ve been taking meds for mood disorders for 13 years without ever thinking that I could score an extra script for Xanax or Percocet 10/325 (once or twice monthly) for severe headaches that have signs and symptoms from about 12 recognized headache syndromes. He wanted me to go to NA. He did have research on his desk prepared especially for me. I asked him how much he knew about the AA/NA cults and what his personal experience with AA/NA has been. He attended one open meeting back in Med School; it was required for a course he was taking. I take Xanax 2mg QID for Panic Attack Disorder w/o Agoraphobia (because that’s the indication in the PDR — but it’s easier to stick to official indications. I was on a trip five years ago and found that I had packed a fresh bottle of Tofranil-PM and forgot the Xanax. It didn’t take me too long to experience rebound anxiety and the worst was yet to come. Fortunately, I remembered the name of a colleague in that city who was fluent in English, because my French limited to the point of meaningless. Since Xanax is not available for injection

    • McGowdog says:

      Hey Bill! You’re the only voice of reason here is this anti/XAer “Let’s bash A.A. and link to Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and Orange and Stanton Peele Sites” blog.

      Of course everybody here is going to disagree with you. That’s what they are here for… hating on A.A.

      Hating on A.A. and arguing with those who know better.

      The A.A. that they describe is all one big “fancied resentment” they have against A.A.

      They have but one solution besides what A.A. has to offer… that’s basically go to the Orange Papers, the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Blog, or their wonderful Anti/XAer Radio Show… where they can do… are you ready for this? Bitch and moan about A.A. They usually don’t have too many folks take the time out of their busy lives to point out the stupidity of their claims… they usually just sit around and spin anti/XAer stories with each other and join in on each others’ “Victims R Us Pity Party.”

      Oh, but they sure do work hard at hating A.A. Oh, and they”re growing in numbers too. Maybe one day, they’ll wake up, get bored, and get jobs… or maybe even lives! I’d rather drink booze than sit around and bitch about A.A. for 2 years straight and counting.

      • Strange post being that Steven uses a very sane affordable approach to helping others with addiction problems.
        Why would you even come to his site if you love AA so much and think this way about us.

        Many thousands I believe will come forward who have been hurt by AA and its predatory ways.
        The proof will be in the pudding.

        WE have found like minded people. Why do you want to fight with people who have moved on or are just trying to make AA safer for all.

        Many of us have very busy full lived now. We have found a community we feel a part of unlike AA and it’s archiac , sexist, male dominated, religious, faith healing hogwash that was written by the lunatic BIll W.?
        Sorry I once loved Bill and his crazy story till I learned the truth. He was a pretty messed up dude.
        Severely Depressed at 18 years sober taking mega vitamin therapy to cure his ailing head. Dropping LSD ( common knowledge) to find GOD. WHich is just about the time he wrote the traditions. WHich are completely outdated . Back the AA screened everyone first.

        I read Bill Wilson’s first Biography in 1976 that AA GSO would not put their stamp on. He was so isolated and depressed at 18 years sober that It made me feel better to read it with 18 months of sobriety in that same year.

        • billinprinceton says:

          Why would I “even come to his site if I love AA so much” and “why do you want to fight with people who have move on or are just trying to make AA safer for all” are red herring questions.

          It seems to me that the goal here is to falsely attack AA. I stumbled upon the site and saw no harm is posting an alternative view to what I believe are utter falsehoods.

          For the record, I don’t “love AA so much”; nor do I disagree with you that Bill W can be reasonably characterized as a lunatic and a “pretty mussed up dude”.
          However your characterization of all of AA as “archaic, sexist, male dominated, religious, faith healing hogwash” is nonsense; perhaps you did not learn as much about acceptance and respect for others in your “18 months of sobriety” as you think you did.

          • However your characterization of all of AA as “archaic, sexist, male dominated, religious, faith healing hogwash” is nonsense; perhaps you did not learn as much about acceptance and respect for others in your “18 months of sobriety” as you think you did.

            Ah, yea it is. Archaic, sexist male dominated, rhetoric driven…antiquated, closed minded, self absorbed.
            Yea there are great people there. Im still friends with some.

            Not 18 months Im sober 35 years. you acceptance speech here is a bunch of more of the AA hogwash.
            It is Not the answer to everything. That is so ridiculous.

      • What are some facts about AA Anyway?
        Not much to boast about here.
        Actually, AA as a method/”treatment” to keep one sober is the most embarrassing thing I have every found. An absolute joke!
        Below is a non-exhaustive list, otherwise AA would be way, way farther down from #38 which is below a placebo at #34.

        IN ORDER OF EFFICACY:
        http://www.behaviortherapy.com/ResearchDiv/whatworks.aspx

        1 Brief interventions
        2 Motivational enhancement
        3 GABA agonist (Acamprosate)
        4.5 Community Reinforcement
        4.5 Self-change manual (Bibliotherapy)
        6 Opiate antagonist (Naltrexone)
        7 Behavioral self-control training
        8 Behavior contracting
        9 Social skills training
        10 Marital therapy-Behavioral
        11 Aversion therapy-Nausea
        12 Case managment
        13 Cognitive Therapy
        14.5 Aversion Therapy, Covert Sensitization
        14.5 Aversion therapy, Apneic
        16 Family therapy
        17 Acupuncture
        18 Client-centered Counsling
        19 Aversion therapy, Electrical
        20 Exercise
        21 Stress Management
        22 Antidipsotropic- Disulfiram
        23 Antidepressant-SSRI
        24 Problem Solving
        25 Lithium
        26 Marital therapy- Nonbehavioral
        27 Group process psychotherapy
        28 Functional analysis
        29 Relapse prevention
        30 Self-monitoring
        31 Hypnosis
        32 Psychedelic medication
        33 Antidipsotropic-calcium carbimide
        34 Attention Placebo
        35 Serotonin agonist
        36 Treatment as usual
        37 Twelve-step facilitation
        38 Alcoholics anonymous
        39 Anxiolytic medication
        40 Milieu therapy
        41 Antidipsotropic-metronidazole
        42 Antidepressant medication (non-SSRI)
        43 Videotape sefl-confrontation
        44 Relaxation training
        45 Confrontational Counseling
        46 Psychotherapy
        47 Gerneral alcoholism counseling
        48 Education (tapes, lectures, or films)

    • Bill. Are you kidding. AA is filled with all sorts of rules. You can be an oldtimer male and sexual molest children, rape women in AA and get away with it, 13 step you heart out, rip off senior for millions and be told it’s an outside issue.

      It won’t be long before there is a huge lawsuit suing AA in NY and in any big city where the districts have money in the bank and insurance.

    • DoctorJoey says:

      Quick Credentials: MD, Yale, PhD, NYU. Board-certified in five of the seven psychiatric sub-specialities. Been practicing for about 25 years. I literally was kidnapped into AA by a college physician who claimed she USED to take 30 Nembutals daily. She called them sleeping pills, so I’m going to assume that she ingested . I’ve since learned that barbiturate addicts have a ceiling dose (different for each and no way to determine) beyond which they will die. I was a confused college freshman and, because I was such a good kid and wrote flattering stories about the U Health Center, I pretty much got what I wanted. However, that Finals Week, I screwed up and (I know we have a term for this; I just don’t remember it), my brain froze. I was at no time close to death or even injury. Our Dorm’s RA called it in and the usual excerpts, U Dept of Public Safety officers, took me to the Health Center ER. I figured I’d be well cared-for — that place had an undeservedly bad rep when I was a freshman, but after a in-depth feature story or two, they made improvements. I was sure I’d know the covering doctor. I knew her all right — as a brainwashed AA/NA zombie. EVERY doctor should know that a patient who is not competent to make a decision regarding treatment shouldn’t be pressured or forced. She did both and paid no attention to my explaining that some of the meds I took were for what we today call GAD. Why no Hx and Physical? Doctor Nembutal wanted to leave early to catch her vacation flight to Exuma! I signed some papers and then was transported to the Psych ER of a local hospital,. My own personal physician at the U Health Center couldn’t discharge me — I probably signed a 72-hour Psych Hold authorization. What no one wanted to realize is that after close to three days without sleep, and the pills, I was NOT competent to give my consent to anything. My doc called my sister, who was and is a world-class attorney. She told the staff that if I was immediately discharged, she’d have the whole staff charged with Unlawful Imprisonment and other crimes. She had colleagues in that state that enabled her to practice using her NY and NJ licenses. She was a Felony Sex Crimes Prosecutor for the legendary Manhattan DA, Robert Morgenthau. He was very fond of Anne; she was at her best in Court. She and her law school buddies (other Yalie’s) knew and liked me. A couple were prosecutors and one was a Civil Attorney and a few employe by the US Attorney’s Office, known as AUSAs! Stupidly, I returned to the same university in September was was bombarded with AA/NA propaganda. Most in my group know that I’m gay, so they sent the cutest, hottest, most buff recruiters. I left AA/NA permanently when a physician in AA told the patient of a colleague to STOP taking her prescribed meds (Triavil – a ,amor tranquilizer + Elavil and absolutely NOT addicting) because Triavil is a mood-altering drug. I had my licenses, but still was doing Residencies, so I spoke up said “I know Dr. Casey. I’ve consulted him a few times. He’s unequivocally the BEST shrink on town and he knows his meds.”Triavil is supposed to be a mood-altering drug — it’s indicated for mixed anxiety/depression, in factWhen I told this country quack that I was going to file a formal complaint with the State Board of Medicine, he accused me of not working my Program, I told him that I have a near perfect memory (which is true) and I’d be providing the names of other witnesses. One member shouted a,ing the clam or that I “can’t do that because this is an Anonymous Program.” I told him that AA/NA has NONE of the privileged communication status such as doctor-patient; priest-penetient; therapist-client and that I’d report what I damned well knew. We ended up suing the University doc for “malpractice” to which complaints to the censure board included Patient Abandonment (and back to Federal law, unlawful Imprisonment, Gross Negligence in the Practice of the Profession). I didn’t want the U Health Center named because they were VERY good to me. They always got me to a shrink when I needed on; the Charge Nurses sent me around the back to see my doc, etc. We met; I told him the licensing board’s sanctions will be sufficient, but that he must fire her for cause. He did and the licensing board revoked her license for five years. The other doctor really got zapped, because that girl’s shrink was well-connected and her husband was a state legislator. Besides, he had “priors” like practicing medicine stoned out of his mind. He lost his license permanently. One of my sister’s colleagues was at the hearing to restore Dr. Nembutal’s license early, but she [presented evidence that caused the licensing board to ADD two years to her revocation. The PhD is a research degree and, at NYU, no department handed you a PhD because you fulfilled courses requirements; they wanted to see evidence of original research. My research into the history of AA/NA revealed some appalling stuff. No one who believes “The Bill W Story” or is enslaved by the “12 and 12″ should be allowed outdoors without a keeper. And there is no VALID and RELIABLE research on AA/NA’s successes and failures because the sample is fluid and there hasn’t been anything that I’d consider valid FOLLOW-UP.

  5. If AA reached the masses as you say up here, then my meeting would keep growing wouldn’t it. But it doesn’t grow at all. nor has it grown in 20 years. In 1975 when I got stupidly sober at 18 , AA was growing. Meetings went from 10 to 100 through into the 80′s. More stars got sober and it became “cool” to be sober for a few years.
    Fast forward, to the last 5-6 years. Meetings in LOS ANGELES, have disappeared. WE’ve been thrown out of many churches/halls.
    SO my little women’s meeting that has 40 women in it every week never grows, even though we always have new woman. Very few come back and stay for the long haul anymore. They say, ” The Big Book is archaic” …I agree.
    They say it’s sexist…I agree, They say it’s too religious…and what kind of religion is thsi anyway…some made up crap from 1936???? I agree, even though I got sober in AA.
    Why? The Sexual Harassment is at an all time high. IN mixed meetings it’s disgusting what’s going on.
    Cult? Yup I think I have been in a cult after all these Sober years, I am fed up with the bS I see and hear at Every level in AA, from group to NYGSO, to area, to district!
    Charlie Sheen’s rant could not have come at a better time as far as I am concerned.
    I have been trying to get someone to hear me, see, what is going on inside AA. I was told by an LA times reporter that the “police ” needed to be involved before it could be a story.
    WEll guys, Kristine and Saundra Cass were murdered, Tracy WHite was murdered, rapes are occurring, and the list goes on and on …the stinkin-thinkin site.

    Thanks Steve for your site, Thanks Charlie for your rant and speaking the truth. You are not alone.
    ANd because of ST I am not alone anymore.

    • DoctorJoey says:

      My PhD is in Journalism, but I’m also a real, live, licensed MD Board-certified in Psychiatry and four or five of our subspecialties. I had no experience in journalism and advertising when I was forcibly recruited into AA/NA, but in the years since, I can tell you that the tone of “Bill W’s” writing is nothing more than the transparent sales lingo of the 1920s. I do have a graduate student who is writing her PhD dissertation specifically on what we a lll know about these groups — complete lack of logic, rampant 13th Stepping, etc. She’s been going to meetings and recording them as part of her research. Even though I’ve always been too busy to be on anyone’s Dissertation Committee, her a call from one of MY old professors, I agreed to do so. His rationale was that she’ll need a medical. perspective from time to tome and he always went the extra mile for students, including me. after agreeing, I received a call from one of the Dean’s offices asking what faculty I held — we all forgot about that. but the same ingenious professor told me I had more than sufficient credentials to be appointed as Clinical Professor of Psychology.

      • DoctorJoey says:

        MADE AN ERROR: My PhD is in English and American Literature. My BA is in Journalism and I worked for about a year as a reporter for one of the country’s top ten daily papers.. However, I didn’t like living in what then was known as “Murder City” and the home of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Renting is “safe neighborhoods” meant paying triple.

  6. BillP..

    Almost everything you say is the exact opposite of what AA is…

    One of the first few AA meeting I went to this old timer(I was told a true old timer has twenty plus years) stood up and said, “this(AA) is not a debating society..”

    Ironically the topic was “sponsorship” and his words were code for — listen to me(ie-any sponsor!) The recurring slogan I heard was “Your best thinking got you here..” — Code for let me(sponsor/group/aa) think for you.

    Although once going to a meeting you think everything are simple suggestions and there are no “rules”.. But after being around in my past for a couple of years, I learned there is very much a brainwashing and mind control that goes on in AA. I learned this first when I said in a mens meeting that I was here because I had a drinking problem but I do not have a disease. I learned first hand in that meeting how controlling the “old timers” were and how they definitely wanted to “stop you” from saying anything outside the AA speak.

    I had to laugh when you said that its not an AA practice to tell others the’ll dies, become hospitalized in an insane asylum or in prison. Are you kidding me? That scare tactics were said at nearly every meeting I ever attended by at least one person. You’re clever in how you dismiss this fact by wanting evidence that this is what AA prescribes to or agrees with. It’s a “slick” tactic.. But if you are in AA, then you know scare tactics are the norm.

    Thinking for yourself is frowned upon–remember, “our best thinking got us here..” was what was told to me over and over again as I was hesitant going through with the “fourth/fifth” step.. I was told over and over again how I would “relapse” if I didn’t get a sponsor and do the steps. Well, in my opinion, my mistakes are between me and G-d and there’s no way i’ll share anything with people I couldn’t trust. Then I was told to go to a priest, counselor etc..

    Well, my opinion–”my stinking thinking” was/is–it’s nobody’s business. Then I was continually told–”you will fail..you need to do the steps etc..” Do you see the steady stream of mind control here..? Any right thinking person would. But this is what gets me–the whole “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions..” I became friends with this guy in AA who had 28years until he betrayed my anonymity. When I told him to respect my privacy he acted as if I had the problem with accepting my AA “MEMBERSHIP to normies!” I told him that just because other “normies” (another cult like/weird term to further make the “alkie” differen’t from everyone else) doesn’t mean I wanted my privacy violated.

    My eyes kept opening up to the lies that go on in AA. They as individuals can get away with anything, saying or doing in those rooms simply because there is zero accountabilityin AA. I’m not even goiing to mention the countless women I’ve heard were groped and preyed on by “old timers” who view members as theirs for the taking–mentally or physically…

    AA is very controlling and scary when viewd objectively.

    • BillP, Thanks for posting.
      After 3 decades in AA, I came in at 18, I am planning my escape…LOL…but sincerely, so much I agree with you . All of it actually.

      I feel so foolish having been in the cult for so long. I have wasted many years. I have been trying to expose the sex harassment, financial scamming, the 13 stepping, the sponsorship abuse for over 2 years now.

      I am coming to the end of my rope here. I am going outside of AA to warn the innocent public and to tell the world of other ways to stop. Steven can help, Smart Recovery, LifeRIng, Women for Sobriety, SOS, Harm Reduction, Moderation Management.

      I once adored AA. I hate it now. I do not want to be associated with it. AT it’s people are rude and mean.

      I have people writing me such sad stories from all over the country about bad 13 stepping. EVEn guys who are seeing the predators at work, in action , is pissing them off too.

      NY GSO does nothing. The structure DOES not work.

      $12,000,000 million dollars flowing thru NY’s World Office…did you know that. DO you know where all that money is going? A non-profit….

      know the truth… do most members know the truth?

      Nope.

      • Doctor Joey says:

        “Non-Profits” have to file forms yearly with at least the state in which they are incorporated. A good Civil Attorney who knows what to look for cam find it (most of on Public Record) and file Freedom of Information Act requests. You can get most records of non-profits (especially what money goes where) in this manner.

  7. leslielandberg says:

    Someone from your organization ought to contact Sheen and inform him of your solidarity to his cause, and give him a link to this page so he could see the outpouring of agreement and outrage; he could make great hay of that, I’m sure.

    I also think a huge class action law suit or something similar to what victims of predatory sexuality in the Catholic church regarding sexual abuses and coersion in AA could bring them down.

    And a huge letter writing campaign to the medical industry and lawmakers might convince them to take several steps back in the future, instead of blindly steering abusers to 12 step programs that really don’t work when examined objectively.

    If it hasn’t been said here, I want to assert that I honestly believe that traditional counseling – talk therapy – is probably the very best approach there is; it gives people with shaky self esteem and shame issues the tools they need to create stronger, happier selves that do not find substances tempting any longer – true freedom!

    Maybe this branch of the medical establishment could form some sort of resolution or strategy that would disseminate these ideas to the public at large and exert pressure upon policy makers and the media to dissociate themselves from AA. This cult has to be stopped so people can get meaningful help.

    All the AA folks I know are wound so tight they are about to explode. It’s no solution, it’s more of a crappy band-aid. And none of them are ever steered towards talk therapy – in fact they are actively discouraged, from what I have seen. None of the folks I know who do AA have ever sat down with a therapist. They are all a bunch of mealy-mouth cowards. Fearless moral inventory my ass. Put you butt in the chair, chump. ‘Nuff said.

    • Leslie,
      I so agree. If you followed me on Stinkin-thinkin.com and my blog you will see that you and I and many are in complete agreement with all you say here.

      I am so grateful to ST and all who have written thier horror stories to me as well from all over the US and UK and Australia.

      I am doing outreach in the director that you speak of. Maybe we can talk privately through my email
      makeaasafer@gmail.com

      ABout the final part of your post. ” All the AA folks I know are wound so tight they are about to explode. It’s no solution, it’s more of a crappy band-aid.”

      I have started a radio show on blogtalkradio.com/saferecovery On Tuesdays at 6PM PST I will be discussing exactly this.
      Myself and just a few others did major therapy adn rage work that changed me forever. I hope we can speak on the phone. Maybe you can call in or we can just talk. I made a short film on youtube inwood75 is that handle and its “AA Puff pieces in the newspaper.
      Thanks for a great post.
      Massive Attack

  8. joedrywall says:

    Of course Charlie Sheen has every right to speak his mind about AA and his experiences with that organization. However, I think that he goes too far when he “outs” the shows creator about being a member, and referring to him as a “Nazi”.

    • Why… he is an AA NAZI . Did you not hear what he said about Charlie?

      • DoctorJoey says:

        We don’t leave our constitutional rights — including that of Free Speech — when we enter AA/NA meetings. If the show’s creator is so committed to AA, he should have said so to the media in the aftermath of Sheen’s meltdown.

  9. so the shows Producer get to be an AA bigshot who gets to bully people like charlie because he knows better!
    Los Angeles is to full of this crap. Im glad someone put him in his place and called a spade a spade.
    GO Charlie! my blog stop13stepinaa exposes many of the things you’ve been saying.

  10. alan thompson says:

    cant believe i,ve wasted 5minutes of my life reading that complete and utter shite, what a fucking massive ego you have, then reading the comments saying (hit it on the head AGAIN) FUCK ME EVEN YOUR PARENTS MUST BE SAYING OH NO HE,S ASKING US TO SAY SOME NICE THINGS ON HIS PAGE AGAIN.., I BET YOUR THE KINDA CUNT WHO CANT LOOK THE HOMELESS IN THE EYE WHEN THEY ASK YOU FOR ANY SPARE CHANGE, YOUR A SAD LITTLE INSIGNIFICANT MAN AND HOPEFULLY I,M NOT THE ONLY ONE ONE WHO CAN SEE YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE. HAVE A NICE DAY YOU ALL.. !ARESHOLE!

  11. Thanks for the blog! As a former member of the AA cult, I’m so glad to see such a well put together blog. I was made to go into an AA run treatment center as a teenager, followed by time in halfway houses, etc.. Then in my early twenties I attended meetings pretty much once a day for 4 years. So I know what AA meetings are like.

    Since I”ve been to a lot of AA meetings, I can confidently say that what bill in princeton describes is not the usual AA situation. Maybe he just happens to be in some super-refined meetings, but I’ve been in meetings in several states and can say it follows the standard practices of a cult.

    Now, I’ve left AA and am following my dream of being a scientist and am in grad school. Recently I went to a conference and was struck by the way the scientists there were the warmest and most unassuming people I’ve ever met. I compared this to an AA retreat I went to one time, where all I did was listen to people talk about how great AA was over and over and over again. They talked about how beautiful and spiritual it was to be with thousands of other AAer’s.

    It all boiled down to how great AA was!!!

    I swear, the template for 80% of what everyone ever says in a meeting is how they had a problem, they did such and such recommended by AA, and that now they feel better and -they definitely didn’t leave this next part off- that AA is great! People never failed to bring up how AA was like their ‘family’. BS.

    It makes me feel SO happy to see that this monopoly on so called “treatment” for addiction is being analyzed and hopefully, eventually changed.

    It also makes me so mad to have to listen to clear lies by people like bill in princeton acting like everything in AA is super laid back. GIve me a break. Of course, you’re not forced to do anything in AA -but the constant mentioning of the threat of death from not following AA is just as strong as anything. And this is the same technique used in cults in general.

    @billinprinceton: consider proselytizing for AA on forums that are not meant to analyze the flaws in this program. AA, a religious-derived organization from the 1930′s, is the primary means of treating addiction in this country?!? That is a tragedy. Besides, people who have been in AA themselves and aren’t *brainwashed* by the hundreds of thought-stopping slogans recognize that what you are saying is distorted and, indeed, plain dishonest.

    It makes me so passionate and angry to think that people who are desperate and in need of help with their addiction end up faced with an religious cult. I know this statement may sound strange to people who have not looked at AA closer than the idea they might get from short blurbs on the news, or form anecdotes from friends. But it is true. Many professionals in alcoholism and sociology have concluded that AA is a cult. For example, please see the essay by L. Allen Ragels. He gives thorough references and analysis to his conclusions that AA is a cult. Thanks for reading the long comment!

    • Tim b- Glad to hear you are going on to be scientist and that left AA.

      I too went to AA as a teen, sorry to hear you were sent there. Great post! Thanks.

  12. Well said, Tim.

  13. Jon Benito says:

    I completely agree with Charlie Sheen as crazy as he is. I went into recovery and AA under the advice and ultimatums given to me by my friends who I did not realize were also in the cult of AA. I went through the recovery process for a little over 3 years and throughout that three years I never felt worse. Inherently I felt that there was something wrong and that something wasn’t quite right but I felt intimidated to express that and explore it which is completely out of character for me because I am incredibly individualistic and believe in rationally and logically criticizing everything in order to reach the core truth about ideas and concepts. I finally reached a point where I managed to leave in some bizarre turn of events. My personality completely changed and I was experiencing and doing things that were completely against my set of standards and usual behavior. As time progressed it progressively got worse and I began doing research on hypnotism and brainwashing tactics. The more research I did I realized that my own experiences I was going through correlated with what I was going through everyday which varied from harassment from people in my community and on the street to bizarre and violent ideations based on past traumas I had incurred and had shared under the recovery community protocol to share your every deepest and darkest secret to purge yourself of guilt. I soon realized that these ideations and harassments correlated with acting on behaviors that the recovery community indoctrinate as being against their ideals. I am still undergoing this and am still constantly being harassed by AA members. It has completely made my life difficult but I refuse to coward or leave NYC which I have called home for a large part of my life. If anyone is interested in more detail about my experiences or would like to take an account of what I am going through I would be more then happy to do so. I have been looking for various avenues to share what I have been going through so that other people dont make the same mistake i do. Feel free to contact me at benitojon@gmail.com if you are interested. Thank you

  14. So how are suppose to combat the brainwashing of the AA and constant harassment if you don’t comply?

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