Is Your New Year’s Resolution to Leave AA?
Many people resolve to stop drinking for the start of a new year. It is said that this is the time of year when droves of new people unwittingly flock to the awaiting tables of AA and other 12-step places of worship; oops, my ‘badd’ “recovery”. Can we take this occasion to ask about the flip side of this coin? After this busy season, I wonder if we also see a rise in people leaving AA as their New Year’s resolution. I’d bet that we do. AA’s like to say, “If you wind up at these tables, it’s for a reason!” They conveniently give you no clue of the further truth which is, “You wind up leaving those tables for a reason too!” Orange Papers has a very insightful survey into the reasons behind why many have chosen and continually choose to leave AA. SEE: http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/comment/90323
Substance Use Disorder; not “character flaws”
People seem to really like making New Year’s resolutions. A resolution to leave AA is potentially very powerful and life changing. Yes, but this sword has a double edge. It is all well and fine to leave AA and be free. No more meetings to religiously attend. No more smug, neurotic sponsor(s) to mind. No more guilt-driven service work and exploitation. No more digging your nails into your flesh trying to remain conscious listening as some blown out blow-heart regurgitates green frothy ‘billdouble-ewww’ all over the top of a sticky tabletop. No more lusty predatory leers and obligatory hugs for strangers you do not know or care to know. Yes, it is great to breathe free of AA. For many of us, however, there are reasons why we went to AA in the first place. The reasons which compelled us to initially sit at those tables may not automatically disappear simply because we decide to leave AA. The questions regarding our relationship to alcohol and substance use/over-use may still remain. There is no real medical, scientific or psychologically based research supporting AA’s definition of the words “alcoholic” or “alcoholism”. In the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition), however, it describes what is known by professionals as Substance Use Disorder. SEE: http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/Substance%20Use%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
AA is not evidence-based…it is religious regardless of the lie.
Consequently, there is no medical, scientific or psychologically based research supporting the efficacy of AA to “cure” or even to treat Substance Use Disorder. Like any lie, if it is repeated often enough, long enough, loudly enough, fools and children will accept it as truth. That is why there is so much repeating of jargon and slogans in AA. That is why members and newcomers are to read “approved program literature” (only) over and over and over and over again. (Is your brain nice and ‘clean’ yet lil pigeon?) The Science Based Medicine web site states, “Alcoholics Anonymous is the most widely used treatment for alcoholism. It is mandated by the courts, accepted by mainstream medicine, and required by insurance companies. AA is generally assumed to be the most effective treatment for alcoholism, or at least “an” effective treatment. That assumption is wrong.” SEE: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/aa-is-faith-based-not-evidence-based/
The negativity of AA does not help and turns many people off.
When people choose to start going to AA, they often do so at a very low point in their lives and for many different reasons. The core common reason is to stop using alcohol due to all the horrible consequences they may have suffered. Many AA “newcomers” (and “old-timers”) have serious health concerns, damaged relationships, horrible legal problems, etc. due to their out of control drinking. Desperation drives hurting people through AA’s doors in search of help. (Of course, here we are not counting the many people who are unconstitutionally forced to attend AA meetings by the courts; another issue for another time.) Some call this point of desperation, “hitting rock bottom”. For some, experiencing the AA culture and creatures itself is its own kind of purgatorial ‘rock bottom’. Many find themselves after years, months or even weeks wondering what the hell they have gotten themselves into. It is often very obvious to most newcomers during their first 1 to 2 meetings that many of those AA people are truly ‘nuts’. Quite a few new people want to leave AA just as quickly as they came (and many do!). Still, there are some of us who feel we do have a some kind of problem. That’s why we are/were there. Right? Self-doubt creeps in and AA blows it wide open. “You are a hopeless, degenerate, alcoholic loser who is dying of an incurable disease! Let us help you, you poor unfortunate soul or you shall surely DIE!” Unfortunately, after repeatedly proclaiming “powerlessness” over every aspect of our existence, many of us often have a hard time reclaiming our own personal power. Over time, we are drained of the vital ‘chutzpah’ needed to break free. We’re in a world of trouble then!
“Damn it! I should have followed my first mind and ran from these freaks after those first weird-ass meetings! Damn!” We may plague ourselves with thoughts of regret and what we should have done instead of suffering AA. It hurts. And of course, then on your way out of the congregational meetings, you get the echoing command:
“Keep coming back…” Shouted.
“…or DIE!” Whispered.
Alcoholics Anonymous doctrine, program and conduct is patently predatory and specifically designed to break a person’s spirit and leave the person in a quagmire wherein the person feels damned if he does and double damned is she does not. AA stealthily drives many sensitive souls to the brink of binging and hopelessness. Many quiet, lonely, desperate suicides are caused by exposure to AA. Often the victim is blamed and disdained for “drinking him or herself to death”. When people meet tragic ends due to their exposure to Alcoholics Anonymous, AA’s coldly repeat one of their favorite old sayings, “Some of us must die so that others may live.” AA’s contribution to suicidal ideology and outcomes really deserves in depth investigation and consideration. What they do to people often borders on malpractice at least. (SEE: http://nadaytona.org/alcoholics-anonymous-admits-aa-members-role-in-suicides/) As Laura Thompkins, Addictions Specialist, reports, “If you go to an AA meeting they will tell you the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. They will then require you to announce and declare to the room and God that you are an alcoholic. You are an alcoholic who will never recover.” SEE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-tompkins/alcoholics-anonymous_b_1383849.html
There are many options open to you…and they do work!
Increasingly, people are finding a community of AA survivors online who will gladly tell them that there is life after AA. It is a fact that most people who successfully stop drinking, do so with no program, no treatment or no cult at all! AA lies to people when it states that the only alternative to AA is prisons, asylums or death. It also lies to them when it tells them that ‘absolute abstinence’ is the only way to deal with everyone’s alcohol challenges. AA’s are slavishly dedicated to absolute, non sequitur, and fatalistic language. Moderation works for many people. AA’s absolutely HATE to hear that. Saying that in a devout AA disciple’s presence is akin to pouring water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Watch out! All of their character-building, so called step-work, and denial of anger will fly right out of the window when their core beliefs are challenged. They get ‘SUPER-UGLY’. They will attack in some way whether passively or overtly; it is coming. (SEE: http://www.expaa.org/apps/forums/topics/show/8201288 )
For the most part, AA uses strong-arm psychological bullying tactics and manipulation to get people to “give over” their power to “The Program”. The doctrine of powerlessness is only true if one believes it, in which case it can become a very dangerous and powerful self-fulfilling prophecy. AA’s abstinence is not the only way for everyone. Some people honestly do need to understand and appreciate what they are doing in order for it to be of benefit to her or him. Not many real adults can stomach being mindless zombies. It is not how we are made. In Cold Turkey Isn’t the Only Route, journalist and author, Gabrielle Glaser, reports, “Research shows that many problem drinkers — those who repeatedly drink more than they intend, sometimes have physical or psychological consequences from overdrinking, and may have difficulty controlling themselves — could benefit from brief interventions and practical advice about how to set better limits and change their drinking by cutting back.” SEE: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/opinion/cold-turkey-isnt-the-only-route.html
Applaud your New Year’s resolution to leave AA!
Many people have likely set their New Year’s resolution to leave AA. They are to be applauded, supported and encouraged. Some people who leave AA just walk away, never return and go on to live healthy, free lives. There are people who leave and allow the head-game that AA has played on them to kick in and eventually kick their asses. They end up binging, drinking themselves into oblivion or they ended up crawling back, just as AA said they would. To combat the humiliation of that scenario AA’s have an oft regurgitated saying, “I’d rather save my ass than save my face!”
Still, there are others who leave AA and reach out to the many, many hands, voices, blogs, books, radio shows, real-people, etc. that are out here and everywhere to support those brave enough to have decided to leave AA. We know it’s hard. Paradoxically, it can be quite psychically painful to disengage from AA. It is designed to be so. Still, it is possible and well worth the discomfort and pain to escape AA. Dr. Stanton Peele, Addiction Expert says, “The most promising trends in alcoholism treatment are motivation enhancement (developed by psychologist William Miller), which avoids dictating to clients and instead allows them to express and pursue their own values, and mindfulness (developed by psychologist Alan Marlatt), the Zen Buddhist technique of meditation and focusing on inner states and needs.” SEE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stanton-peele/aa-isnt-the-best-solution_b_629004.html
Connect with the non-12-step community.
It can be a bit unnerving—perhaps even frightening to leave AA after they have conditioned you to be so dependent on their meetings and on a so-called sponsor. These people are potentially very dangerous to you though. Deep inside yourself you know and feel it. That’s why you are HERE. It’s okay. We encourage those who would set leaving AA as their intention to trust their intuition and to communicate with those of us out here who have successfully and happily left AA. There are millions of us. Many of us love to help others who have left. You can do it! Turn a deaf ear to the zombies and the death threats. They are lying. (Misery does love company, ya know?) Support is out here for you. We are never more than a click away. There is a powerful community of activists and bloggers supporting one another everyday on sites like, www.orange-papers.org, www.LeavingAA.com, www.expaa.org, etc. Tap into these sites. You can participate in the discussions if you choose to or you can just read. Do what helps you…and it will help you. You are not alone. Hold on. You are also welcomed to join the You Are Not Powerless Conference Call which will definitely be running from now until the end of January 2014, perhaps longer. SEE: https://illbefreeordie.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/announcement-planning-the-you-are-not-powerless-book-club-re-launch-of-the-anti-aa-conference-call/
Here are some things to keep in mind that may help you in your New Year’s resolution to leave and stay free from AA or any other 12-step “spiritualnotreligious” sect:
Recognize the harm done to you.
Accept the fact that you are involved in something that you know is causing you harm and dis-ease. Don’t second guess yourself. Your inner instincts are right. As you listen more and more to that soft inner voice within you, struggling against the noise to be heard, it will become easier and easier to hear. You will gain confidence in your own personal power. (It exists!) You will realize that you do not need Alcoholics Anonymous and its minions. You never needed them. You will be free. You will remain free to live your life and seek real help if and when you decide you need and/or want it. And that’s how it should be. When I first left AA I resolved to ‘live free or DIE!’ and I started a web site to enhance my resolve. I hope it’s helpful to people who visit it; it was helpful for me to create it. My favorite page of my site is the deprogramming videos which I watched over and over. They were (are) enormously helpful for me. SEE: http://illbefree1.wix.com/illbefree#!aa-deprogramming-videos/c2271
Regain your natural ability to use the mind that God gave you. Just THINK. They told you not to think…over and over and over again. Why? If you think, you will leave AA. So, THINK. Take a good look at the things that have been said to you and perhaps even done to you in AA or any other 12 step sect. Has your brain and ability to reason and make decisions for yourself been undermined? Have strangers smugly acted as if they know more about you than you even know about yourself. Do you agree with them? THINK. Have you been physically, sexually, psychologically or financially taken advantage of? If crimes have been committed against you, you have a right—even a responsibility to go to the authorities. Wake up. The reason that groups like AA, NA, etc. continue to hurt people is because no one holds them accountable for their actions. If you have been harmed, seek help. There are laws protecting Vulnerable People in this country and abroad. AA’s do not have a right to harm you in any way. The word “anonymous” does not hold up in court as any kind of legal confidentiality, protection or special dispensation. It’s not real! Alcoholics Anonymous will not rush to the aid of their members who face consequences for harming other people. These AA ‘miracles’ are being taken to court and sued more and more often. Alcoholics Anonymous itself is being sued right now for the tragic, needless death of Karla Brada. (SEE: http://youtu.be/uABc5vUGuGY ) Has a crime or crimes been committed against you? Press charges. Sue. (SEE: http://www.expaa.org/apps/forums/topics/show/8316044 )
Decide how you will leave.
Some people choose to make a big plan around how they will leave AA. They choose to announce it to their sponsors and call people in the program to inform them of their decision to leave. Many have entire scenarios developed wherein they stand up at a meeting and tell everyone in attendance that they are formally leaving. “So long SUCKERS!” Some people simply walk out of their last meeting and never go back. There is no right or wrong way to leave AA. There is only the way that works best for you. When you decide that you want to leave AA, just do it. Keep in mind that if you tell active AA members about your intention to leave ‘the program’ some of them may use their manipulative skills to try to get you to stay. Can you deal with that and remain steadfast in your own decision? GREAT. If not, simply slip away and resolve to only deal with them again if and when you ever feel like it. There are no rules. Just do what is most safe physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually for you. (SEE: http://www.thefix.com/content/leaving-alcoholics-anonymous91414?page=all )
You may need or want an alternative program.
Some people remain in AA simply because they feel as if there is just no where else to go. The social aspect of AA is HUGE and beguiling; especially for someone struggling alone with alcohol or substance use issues. Many people do not like all of the religious indoctrination, coercion, control, repetition, strange old text readings, gossip, etc., but AA often becomes their only outlet and source of community and socialization with other people. AA plays on and exploits our human need/desire to socialize with one another. It’s okay. We have been there in our own unique ways. We do understand. There are other, more genuine, healthier ways for you to find community and real friends; to love you for you and not just for the sake of doing ‘service work’. Don’t lose heart. If you could survive being in AA, and you have, you can definitely survive leaving Alcoholics Anonymous or any other cult. There are alternatives online and offline to help you with alcohol/ substance use and/or over use challenges. Different things work differently for different people. SMART Recovery and other organizations offer increasingly more face to face supportive meetings across the country. Look online to find resources and meetings near you. Here are just a few resources that will help you find additional support:
HAMS (Harm Reduction, Abstinence and Moderation Support) http://hamsnetwork.org/
My Way Out (MWO) http://mywayout.org/
Moderation Management (MM) http://moderation.org/
SMART Recovery (Self Management And Recovery Training) http://smartrecovery.org/
Women For Sobriety (WFS) http://www.womenforsobriety.org/
SOS (Save Our Selves) http://www.sossobriety.org/
Rational Recovery (RR) http://www.rational.org/
You are POWERFUL!
Above all else, please remember that you are not powerless unless and until you choose to give your power away. You have a right to receive valid, harmless help from qualified people who care about you rather than preserving some out of date, un-researched, unregulated, made-up program. It is sad that we are still in the Dark Ages of substance use and over use resources and treatment. (The main thing it reveals to me is that old Billy-Boy Wilson was a mighty powerful and gifted con-man, indeed! ) Nevertheless, as more and more people find their way out of these abusive systems and demand evidence based alternatives, the days of AA abuses will grow fewer and fewer. The day will come when any program claiming to be treatment for substance use/ over-use challenges will be required to prove itself, be accountable, certified, and have credentialed professionals helping those looking for real help. Until that day, we have to be mindful and look out for ourselves and one another. You are not powerless! (SEE: http://www.thecleanslate.org/myths/powerlessness-myth/ )
Here’s to a POWERFUL New Year!