“Debunking Alcoholics Anonymous: Behind the Myths of Recovery”

14
434

“Myths have a way of coming to resemble facts through repetition alone,” say the authors of “The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry”. “This is as true in science and psychology as in politics and history. Today few areas of public health are more riven with unsubstantiated claims than the field of addiction.”

See: Debunking Alcoholics Anonymous: Behind the myths of recovery (Salon.com)

Support MIA

MIA relies on the support of its readers to exist. Please consider a donation to help us provide news, essays, podcasts and continuing education courses that explore alternatives to the current paradigm of psychiatric care. Your tax-deductible donation will help build a community devoted to creating such change.

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Billing Details

Donation Total: $20 One Time

14 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for posting this Kermit. I totally agree with the subject of this book given my experience with struggling with smoking, diet and even shopping issues for years and being brainwashed to believe I had an “addictive personality.” Fortunately, experts like Dr. Stanton Peele, author of The Truth About Addiction And Recovery, and many others exposed the big lie that one needed treatment from the multibillion dollar industry the rehab debacle has become, which is the typical blaming, scapegoating and humiliating their victims to manipulate society to do the same and force them into so called treatment, which is another bogus but very lucrative scam.

    Those like Dr. Gabor Mate take a much more compassionate approach, but I agree with Stanton Peele that one needs to substitute better alternatives and goals that will help one eliminate toxic addictions. Dr. William Glasser takes the same approach in his books like Positive Addictions.

    • I find Gabor Matte confusing. I listened to a talk he did with MAPS about ayahuasca. he claims he himself was ‘diagnosed’ with ‘ADHD’—-no mention it is fraud disorder as has been revealed by Dr Fred Baughman http://www.amazon.com/The-ADHD-Fraud-Psychiatry-Patients/dp/1412064589 and others. he said that a ‘symptom’ –like he had–can be ‘absent-mindedness’. I would also see that as daydreaming–something I did a lot in school because I hated the goddamn place. He says that this ‘disorder’ is a ‘coping mechanism’ we use to escape extremely distressful situations. Well, yeah, school in my case. But at the end of the talk when a psychiatrist asks a question, Gabor says that he is not against psychiatric drugs, and how he was helped for his ‘ADHD’–once again sanctioning it as a bona fide disorder. I believe this is disinfo.
      IF the powers that be can argue that a child is ‘absent-minded/daydreaming because his brain is harmed by childhood abuse at home and thus he has ADHD and needs drugs, then people like Gabor Matte support such pseudoscience! This really helps the ‘education’ system (itself exposed by people like John Taylor Gatto, as an oppressive system enforced onto generations of children, and in itself VERY traumatic http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/i-am-no-longer-willing-to-hurt-children.html it helps because if it can blame the child’s brain this makes the problem of school disappear! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia6OGEj6wW0

  2. Twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous use peer support instead of drugs, trained personnel or insurance — and they work. It’s no surprise that the millions of people recovering without Pharma’s help are its latest target as it tries to shore up revenues. Pharma is increasingly pressuring rehab facilities and doctors to add a mental illness diagnoses to recovering patients to sell expensive pills.

    The first thing that happens when anyone goes to treatment for alcoholism or addictions is they get sent to the doctor and usually return with some psychiatric labels and psychiatric drugs before withdrawal and long before post acute withdrawal is over.

    Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), or the terms post-withdrawal syndrome, protracted withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndromes describe a set of persistent impairments that occur after withdrawal from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, antidepressants and other substances. Drug abuse, including alcohol and prescription drugs, can induce symptomatology which resembles mental illness. This can occur both in the intoxicated state and during the withdrawal state.

    In most cases these substance-induced psychiatric disorders are labelled as the “underlying cause” of the addictions by the army incompetent’s that make up the medical staff in the addictions field. What is even more scary is that a large percentage of the young people going into addiction treatment were labelled and drugged as kids and already on psych meds but the army of incompetent’s still think the answer is more psychiatric drugs !

    You can’t blame AA for any of that.

    • I’ve heard probably at least a million times that AA really works. I’ve even seen thousands of papers telling _how_ AA works. What I have yet to see, and at this point can’t imagine that I ever will, is even one methodologically-sound piece of research that shows AA more effective or even as effective as no treatment whatsoever.

      A Harvard psychiatrist, AA trustee and Al-Anon member in his own research found that those who went to AA not only did worse, but had a 3% a year death rate. George Vaillant wrote about this, his own research, in “The Natural History of Alcoholism” where he claimed that, rather than his research showing AA a failure, that it was the fault of the patients for not believing since AA is like the Fountain at Lourdes.

      Please, steer me to some methodologically-sound research showing AA effective. Personal witness, as used in Wednesday-night prayer meetings and television infomercials and size of group membership is not evidence of efficacy. If these things were evidence, we’d have plenty of proof that Scientology, the Moonies, Heaven’s Gate (Total Overcomers Anonymous) and Hari Krishnas “really work.”

  3. Another great article debunking AA as the cure all for addiction:

    http://www.alternet.org/books/pseudoscience-aa-and-rehab?page=0%2C2&akid=11711.280646.md1aeA&rd=1&src=newsletter980746&t=5

    Copy Cat,

    You make some very good points, but the fact that AA has been FORCED on many people for whom it would not/did not work by employers, families, the legal system and the mental death profession is what has probably done more to make the program ineffective and distasteful to many than anything. I think AA can be especially deadly for many women and youth because of their insistence on shaming and blaming the victims of abuse and trauma that often causes them to try to self medicate. AA acts just like the mental death profession in many ways whereby it refuses to recognize any issues that may “drive somebody to drink” as good old folk wisdom knows can be done quite easily. Thus, claiming the victims are “blaming” when trying to confront their abusers instead of taking responsibility for their need to quit drinking/drugging and admit to their alcoholic/drug addicted personality and other genetic/evil flaws allows malignant narcissists/psychopaths to continue to gas light and destroy their victims with impunity just like the entire mental death system does with all their scapegoating stigmas so these two old boy network industries work very well in sync when hijacked for biopsychiatry’s/Big Pharma’s evil agenda.

    I have confirmed what you say about the mental death profession stigmatizing people with bogus disorders, mainly the latest fraud fad of bipolar, for those with alcohol/substance abuse issues as they refuse to acknowledge and social/environmental causes per usual. Dr. Jill Littrell on this web site said she was shocked to see so many of her students given bipolar labels due to alcohol issues. I have also read that hospitals and rehabs require a DSM life destroying stigma like bipolar to access their bogus, destructive addiction demolition enterprise. This is disgusting vile fraud because it’s well know that even the DSM has always warned NOT to label people with bipolar and others if they had substance abuse issues that had many of the same symptoms as does abuse related trauma. It’s very obvious to me now that the Big Pharma biopsychiatry shills creating DSM deliberately created the bogus bipolar stigma to prey on abuse, trauma and other victims to scapegoat, silence and discredit them so the usual misogynist narcissists could profit from the huge misery and loss they always inflict on those around them with impunity while refusing to acknowledge it

    The mental death profession hijacked the AA/rehab movement not because it worked or helped anyone, but because it was very profitable just like the horrific biologism they adopted for their own maximum greed and profit no matter how much harm and loss they inflicted on their millions of victims from cradle to grave literally.

    What upsets me the most is that the mental death profession has created the same nasty smear campaigns, scapegoating and stigma among those with even fairly mild addiction issues just as they have with their bogus DSM life destroying book of insults. And now we know that Big Pharma like the tobacco and food industries have done all in their life destroying power to work hard in their labs to create the most addictive substances possible no matter how much harm and death it causes to their “consumers.”

    Anyway, there is plenty of blame to go around, but I think those dishonestly profiting by deceiving and preying on others are the most despicable especially when they are backed by equally despicable people in government and power in general so they can destroy people with impunity in the guise of “mental/physical health or treatment.”

    • You make some very good points, but the fact that AA has been FORCED on many people for whom it would not/did not work by employers, families, the legal system and the mental death profession is what has probably done more to make the program ineffective and distasteful to many than anything.

      This statement is not quite accurate. You appear unaware of the role that AA and other Step “fellowships” take to get coercees. Here is the url of the AA pamphlet on how local Intergroups can get local authorities to coerce people to their meetings: . Are there any AA members who object to coercion? Sure. But they are as relevant in AA as a whole as buggy whips.

      I think AA can be especially deadly for many women and youth because of their insistence on shaming and blaming the victims of abuse and trauma that often causes them to try to self medicate.

      While there may be some difference in the numbers for men and women, I suspect the biggest factor in any difference in death rate between men and women in AA, if there is one, has more to do with the AA doctrine itself, perhpas well summarized by, “Turn over your will and life” to either the extemely authoritarian, anti-human, micro-managing AA God or to the true-believing group.

      I don’t know how any organization can be more shaming that AA. It doesn’t shame for “having a (spiritual) disease.” It shames people for being human.

      AA acts just like the mental death profession in many ways whereby it refuses to recognize any issues that may “drive somebody to drink” as good old folk wisdom knows can be done quite easily. Thus, claiming the victims are “blaming” when trying to confront their abusers instead of taking responsibility for their need to quit drinking/drugging and admit to their alcoholic/drug addicted personality and other genetic/evil flaws allows malignant narcissists/psychopaths to continue to gas light and destroy their victims with impunity just like the entire mental death system does with all their scapegoating stigmas so these two old boy network industries work very well in sync when hijacked for biopsychiatry’s/Big Pharma’s evil agenda.

      I remember a woman at the podium at a meeting of Codependents Anonymous meeting years ago when Coda was new and didn’t yet have a “Big Book.” This woman was telling of how she was gang raped by fellow AAers and her sponsor was insisting she apologize to the rapists to “keep your own side of the street clean” in order to avoid “jails, institutions, and death.” At this time, in the late 80s, it was evidently a regular problem. What do we do about someone sharing information that puts a fellow 12-Step program in a bad light? There was never the question, “What do we do to help these people who are being destroyed by other Step fellowships?”

      Coda came up with the solution. One should only share about Coda issues at Coda. This woman apparently should have been sharing about the AA rape and AA humiliation her AA sponsor tried to put her through at AA, not Coda. Of course, rape by anyone other than by members of other fellowships would be right on topic.

      The mental death profession hijacked the AA/rehab movement not because it worked or helped anyone, but because it was very profitable just like the horrific biologism they adopted for their own maximum greed and profit no matter how much harm and loss they inflicted on their millions of victims from cradle to grave literally.

      AA and the rehab industry dates back to 1935 when there was no AA and Dr. Bob, an Oxford Grouper like all those who are now described as “early AAs”, and who would later be named one of the two co-founders of AA, and a Sister Ignatia Gavin who was in charge of admissions in an Ohio hospital, admitted “the first alcoholic patient” under a false diagnosis in order to be treated by “Oxfordizing.”

      Oxfordizing (or Oxidizing) was essentially indoctrination into the quasi-fundamentalist Christian, pro-fascist Oxford Group. A patient would be isolated in a hospital room and allowed only Oxford Group members as visitors and only exposed to Oxford Group ideas.

      This practice mushroomed until many thousands and then millions were being “treated.” For decades, the rehab industry has been around 95% AA with the rest made up of mostly Scientology and other fringe religious groups. Nowadays, it is not unusual for colleges and universities to send psychology majors to “open” AA meetings (open to non-alcoholics, specifically designed to present AA in an artificial/good light to snare newcomers) as part of their curriculum.

      Psychiatry may be doing some co-opting, but the Step groups have essentially co-opted psychology (and the criminal justice system and the media and the government in general just for starters). From the very beginning, Step group members are taught that to stay saved from their disease, or in their own language, “sober” or “clean and sober” or “get well,” one must “work with others” (proselytize). It is only natural under the circumstances of indoctrination that a large number of people enroll in school to become our societies official helpers in psychology, psychiatry, social work and medicine. This has been going on for many, many decades.

      [—snip—]

      What upsets me the most is that the mental death profession has created the same nasty smear campaigns, scapegoating and stigma among those with even fairly mild addiction issues just as they have with their bogus DSM life destroying book of insults. And now we know that Big Pharma like the tobacco and food industries have done all in their life destroying power to work hard in their labs to create the most addictive substances possible no matter how much harm and death it causes to their “consumers.”

      It is not just the rehabs but meetings and the individual members that tend to see very minor alcohol use (e.g. one drink a day) as proof of addiction. Doctrinally, this is supported by “only gets worse, never better” and “I feel bad for those that don’t have a program.”

      Do you remember the character Otis, the local drunk, on the Andy Griffith Show or other common media presentations of alcoholics from years ago? Can you imagine an alcoholic being portrayed like Otis in the media today? It simply would not be allowed by the “recovery movement.” (see: A Blast from the Past: The Jack Benny Show 9/23/51 )

      Anyway, there is plenty of blame to go around, but I think those dishonestly profiting by deceiving and preying on others are the most despicable especially when they are backed by equally despicable people in government and power in general so they can destroy people with impunity in the guise of “mental/physical health or treatment.”

      It is not only those who are dishonest and intentionally doing evil. As my grandfather used to say, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Here is a government representative, a drug czar, that probably has the best of intentions while withholding information during testimony before congress with the intent to deceive in order to do what, in his own mind, is “God’s Will” and deceive the public:

      If Botticelli would have simply answered the question he was asked, he would have countered “God’s Will” and his efforts to “help” those who don’t have “a program.” Marijuana use by youth is very important to the treatment industry. The treatment industry only cares about money but as a byproduct makes lots of proselytizers for the Step groups. Botticelli is what is called a “two-hatter,” an AA who function outside AA (in this case as a drug czar but could be psychologist or judge or other professional) keeping AA membership secret while proselytizing for AA/”recovery.”

      Treatment of the children of parents frightened by a teenager getting caught with a marijuana cigarette accounts for filling a lot of treatment beds and both a large number of life-long 12-Step proselytizers and dead youth.

      • I didn’t realize urls weren’t allowed. All information that they had pointed to is on multiple websites and can be found with Google.

        The AA pamphlet that instructs members on how to get coercees is title, “http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/mg-05_coopwithcourt.pdf”

        The drug czar’s testimony before congress can be found with, “ONDCP Botticelli Cohen Marijuana Hemp youtube”

        There are numerous article about Sister Ignatia and the “treatment” (indoctrination) of thousands into very early AA at an Ohio hospital. Use “Sister Ignatia and AA”

        The Jack Benny Show that is great for portraying the differences in attitudes toward alcoholism and some other “diseases” can be found by searching “Captain Horatio Hornblower program date: 9/23/51”

      • Hi KenRage
        No I can’t, I’m going by my own observation of people that keep coming back, and people in dreadful mental states, that get better. Actually I think the ‘study’ success percentage might be quite low.
        I doubt if the AA has a monopoly on successful recovery either. Quite a few people sample the AA and decide its not for them.

        • Fiachra,
          I certainly can see why you or anyone else in the public might think that AA “works.” I used to think AA works. The first thing that “treatment” teaches is that one must believe AA works and convince others that it does in order for God to save them from self-destruction.

          AA has a lot of front groups. The NCADD, founded by an AA member dedicated to spreading AA doctrine under the guise of “the disease of alcoholism,” has been around under different names for many decades. None of what they have taught us, “the educated view on alcoholism” has ever been shown to be true.

          One can run into serious trouble when only the promoters of a treatment whether faith-healing a lá Benny Hinn and AA or a pharmaceutical cure, is not subjected to methodologically-sound study.

          One excellent example is the drug Thalidomide. When it first came out, it was praised for its great success in treating morning sickness. It was only later, after research showed the appearance of thousands of “flipper babies” that it was outlawed.

          Without methodologically-sound research, nothing can be proved to “really work” and nothing can be proved to not be harmful.

          People here have seen the nightmare of the psychiatric industry. No doubt those who see the nightmare, often have a great deal of difficulty convincing others of the problems with how we treat the mad. I certainly have.

          Step “treatment” is essentially the same issue as covered in Mad in America, only it deals with the problems of a very profitable form of faith healing rather than pharmaceuticals. The psychiatrists (and most psychologists) apparently have no trouble with the 12-Step brand of faith healing. Many are secretly members.

  4. Interesting book ref. However it is written by a therapist who sounds like he might be touting his own cure.

    I do agree that AA does not look at why people drink though and the twelve steps are a great way of making people who feel weighed down by guilt feel even worse.

    • Maybe he is. However, aren’t the modern-day descendents of self-loathing homosexual, friend of the Nazis, and self-proclaimed spiritual giant Frank Buchman who got direct messages from God all promoting 12-Step cures/treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, being vulgar, being messy, love addiction, having emotions, over eating, gamblers, smokers, victims of incest, and anyone who has the “spiritual disease” of loving or being related to or even working with anyone with any of these diseases.

      The roots of AA’s “cure” or “treatment” is in H.A. Walter’s “Soul Surgery” which is on line in a few places. It was a do-it-yourself conversion manual that was sold to anyone with 15¢ to spare and details many of the techniques on how to win converts in the Step groups.

      Rarely does anyone ever criticize a million or so group members for touting their own cure, even those who hide their group membership while promoting the 12 Steps as doctors, psychiatrists, psycholigists, social workers, teachers, judges and police officers.

      • “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.”

        Accepting responsibility for what you have done wrong never hurt anyone. (This does not mean people who have been raped/abused deserved it.) Nor is apologizing and trying to set right the damage you have done in interpersonal relationships. Sobriety leads to a higher quality life.

        You can do this without AA though. If your local chapter is abusive you’re better off doing it alone. My friend has quit drinking. She has other issues, but goes to AA meetings and hasn’t drunk booze in 25+ years.

        The idea of personal accountability and moral reformation actually runs counter to the bio-determinism and learned helplessness of psychiatry’s racket with mind altering drugs much worse than any hooch. Replacing one drug with another and pretending it’s “medicine” like penicillin or insulin when actually it is more like LSD or speed is morally reprehensible.

        Psychiatrists should form PA. “Sobriety” would mean no longer lying all the time, removing the labels of all those they damaged, and paying for their multiple health problems from the iatrogenic damage the “doctor” inflicted on them, using their 7 digit paychecks. Maybe finding real jobs where they do something useful instead of crippling and killing people.

LEAVE A REPLY