Does AA & NA Bullying Contribute to Violence and Suicides While Breaking National Laws Against Vulnerable Adult Abuse?

by illbefree1

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are seen as the best places to turn to when one needs help with an alcohol or drug problem; but are they really? Many are questioning, whether these organizations deserve the positive images they have enjoyed for decades. Currently there are claims of abuse and adult bullying, law suits, sexual assault and harassment, financial exploitation and even murder cases attributed to participation in these twelve step-based programs. Few people realize that AA & NA members and sponsors have been accused of having driven many AA and NA newcomers, vulnerable adults and teens to attempt or succeed in committing suicide. While most people who turn to AA & NA have serious problems prior to going to these programs, AA & NA often result in making people’s issues far worse than they were initially.

The positive image most Americans have of AA and NA is unearned and misleading. This deceptive image warrants closer observation because society has come to depend so heavily upon these programs. Millions of American adults and teens are referred to these programs that consistently fail to actually help the majority of the people who go to them.  By implementing a cookie-cutter type approach, which sends everyone without distinction to AA & NA who has from the slightest ranging to the most severe problems with alcohol and/or drugs, our system, is guilty of being grossly irresponsible and in far too many situations, dangerous.     

Unknown threats to physical, emotional, mental and financial safety lie in wait for vulnerable adults and minors who enter twelve step based programs. This is due to the alarming fact that people facing critical issues with alcohol and/or drugs are routinely sent to AA and NA without due diligence or evidence proving that these programs are helpful; or at least not harmful. Many well-intentioned, yet horribly unqualified and often troubled individuals are in AA and NA acting as sponsors (who unadvisedly often act as gurus, counselors, life coaches, advisors, therapists, etc.) to the many vulnerable adults who go to these programs for help with substance use and/or abuse. Mandated felons and criminals are often mixed in among the other AA and NA members. There are no background checks or safeguards in place which would identify what attendees among the members are of criminal intent, mental incompetence, violent nature, sexually deviant or are in some ways unscrupulous and abusive; but many are. Upon careful observation, AA and NA do not live up to their public image.

Fortunately, there are legal, protective and preventive policies in place, but they must be enforced in order to protect the vulnerable from AA and NA abusers. Currently laws are going unenforced. Why does the United States have specific laws in place to protect our nation’s children, elderly, disabled and vulnerable adults that we allow to be ignored? Who does this serve? By virtue of alcohol dependence and its often disabling effects on individuals dealing with alcohol and drug issues, many are dangerously vulnerable to the emotional abuse, financial exploitation, sexual molestation, rape and murder that they fall victim to by being exposed to members of AA and NA.

AA and NA programs are not really programs at all and no vulnerable person, especially not teens belong at these meetings. No accountability exists at these meetings. They are meetings of peers; a free for all of people with various alcohol, drug, mental, emotional and/or legal issues. Attendees of these meetings are not qualified to help people with alcohol-over-use, substance abuse or emotional/mental issues. No trained facilitators ever direct these meetings. Often, attendance at these meetings does more harm than good for the many vulnerable adults and minors that attend them. In fact, many minors sent to these meetings end up as victims of the predators mandated to these meetings. Teens are still children. They have absolutely no business in any AA or NA meetings. Our current child abuse laws must be active in protecting them from the practice of sending any child into these potentially very dangerous meetings.

The threat, however, does not end with the threat to minors, who as stated, have absolutely no place at these very adult meetings. Vulnerable adults are just as susceptible to harm at these meetings as minors are. Exposure to alcohol and drugs results in making these individuals more likely to be victimized, traumatized, abused and bullied. What AA and NA members proudly call, “tough-love” is merely a cowardly cover for emotional and mental abuse of disempowered individuals during times of crisis. When inherently troubled
individuals are given power over other, less powerful and also troubled individuals, it is nothing more than a set up for abuse. There are many instances where exposure to AA or NA results in violence, suicide attempts and actual suicides. Orange Papers reports, “Not only does the A.A. 12-Step “treatment” not work, but it kills as many people as it appears to save. … NA message” — in other words, lie and deceive and pretend to get positive in shame and guilt — to the point of driving some believers to suicide.” Parents, teachers, churches, educators and mental health providers need to know the truth and begin to act accordingly.

The victims are largely silent. Many suffer quietly. Some are dead. Due to the fact that so many of them are out of sight, we as a country can comfortably keep them out of our minds. Most of these people simply fade away and no one knows of the torment AA and NA injected to their lives. People deserve to know that AA and NA are potentially very dangerous places for sensitive people to go. In the meetings and with sponsors vulnerable people are encouraged to disclose their innermost thoughts, feelings, secrets and deeds. This sets many people up for what is tantamount to emotional (sometimes financial) blackmail. It happens frequently and secretly. According to existing laws of the land, however, all instances of emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse of vulnerable adults in AA and NA are required by law to be reported. Mesch, Clark & Rothschild Law reports, “Although often referred to as the Elder Abuse statutes, the APSA protects not only the elderly, but any “vulnerable adult.” A “vulnerable adult,” as defined in the statute, is any person, 18 or older, who cannot protect him- or herself from “abuse, neglect or exploitation by others because of a physical or mental impairment.” As written, the statute may protect chronic drug users or alcoholics who are unable to make rational decisions.”

 The CDC has reported alcohol and substance abuse to be at the top of our country’s health problems. This affects all citizens. We ignore the plight of vulnerable adults at our own peril and at the risk of leaving someone we know and love unprotected. Emotionally troubled people who self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs should be at the forefront of our concerns in America today. Helping and protecting vulnerable adults dealing with mental and emotional problems would ultimately help society at large. Leaving this vulnerable population to be preyed upon by AA and NA members is unwise for everyone. It would be best to help people now and prevent abuses that could eventually lead to disaster and untold tragedy. While our country is now engaged in heated discourse regarding gun control laws and mental health, substance abuse and alcohol-over-use ought to be added to any meaningful discourse. NY Times, reports, “Alcohol and drug abuse are far more likely to result in violent behavior than mental illness by itself. In the National Institute of Mental Health’s E.C.A. study, for example, people with no mental disorder who abused alcohol or drugs were nearly seven times as likely as those without substance abuse to commit violent acts.”

Every time something tragic occurs in this country, people clamor about asking for what warning signs were missed. The information here offers overt clues to warning signs that need no longer be missed. We continue to turn blind eyes to the potential dangers of twelve step programs to our own collective peril. WARNING: AA and NA membership, meetings and participation harms countless vulnerable people; this affects all people. These people are not hidden in the shadows on the fringes of society. These people drive in the lanes alongside of us on America’s highways. They teach our children every day in our schools. They are professionals and non-professionals. Many are armed. Vulnerable adults attend colleges across the country with our adult children. People self-medicating with drugs and alcohol are being emotionally abused by AA & NA sponsors then they are interacting with us all at shopping malls, restaurants, public parks, sporting events; they are everywhere we are. They are us. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are hurting us. The only questions that remains is; how long will we allow vulnerable adult abuse by AA and NA to continue to contribute to violence and suicides while breaking our national laws against vulnerable adult abuse?