AA Has Lost Its Way

     I don’t go to meetings anymore.

     One of the reasons is the guy who came up to me in the gym today and told me that I definitely need to go to more meetings, that I’m not gonna make it, and that I must not be an addict if I don’t need meetings to be okay. If he had done some work on himself, like say, taken Steps, he might have refrained from taking my inventory. To state the obvious, going to meetings doesn’t get people better. Right action does. Spiritual action does. And sorry, but I got better to take care of the people I love and to live the life I was supposed to live, not to go to meetings all day long.

     Most people in and out of AA think that the program of AA is going to meetings, though nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when people ask me if I’m in AA, they ask me if I go to meetings and how many I go to, to which I reply, “None.” Then they freak out and tell me I’m going to relapse soon. I have been a recovered alcoholic and drug addict for almost 8 years and I am completely okay. They say, “Well then, what do you do?” to which I reply, “I take Steps.” I should also mention (in an effort to dispel all of the dual-diagnosis nonsense, or perhaps hoax is a better word) that I’m totally unmedicated… and I’ve never been more balanced and successful in my entire life. Right action and GOD made me better and fixed my broken mind, not some insane cocktail of brain-damaging and soul-crushing psychotropics.

     Searching other blogs one day, I came across stories of people who have left AA… and I must say that I don’t blame them. They described and summarized meetings much the way I do, but worse. Several of these stories were from women who attended ‘Young Persons’ meetings and saw nothing but disgusting, 50+ year-old losers who were in there to stalk and stare at young, vulnerable women. I have seen this myself in ‘YP’ AA meetings in the Boston area. I have also seen dogma, status, anger, insanity, sickness, rampant untreated alcoholism, and Holier Than Thou nonsense. Yes, AA has most certainly lost its way.

     But we must distinguish between this sick, watered-down AA and the original Twelve Step program, which was nothing more than a spiritual set of actions. The original Twelve Steps teach us to become better people. They teach us to become more honest, loving, selfless and courageous. AA was never intended to devolve into a slew of sick meetings, where the trash and filth of the earth prey on young people, or where some speaker preaches the Steps but is completely nuts.

     I’m sure Bill Wilson and Bob Smith are rolling in their graves. When did it become okay for dry drunks to run groups, repeatedly give advice that contradicts fundamental principles of AA, abuse false power, hand out sobriety chips and incessantly tell their self-aggrandizing war stories, or worse yet, their sob stories? Countless numbers spit out AA slogans and yet, you wouldn’t follow some of these folks around if there was a gun to your head, let alone cop a ride home with them all alone. 

     So does AA need to reassess? Absolutely. AA is getting a bad rap for being a cultish group of nutjobs and moral degenerates who don’t do any real work on themselves and 13 Step young girls. I will, for now, do what I can by teaching others what AA actually is/was (see links on blog), what the Twelve Steps actually are, and how this once mystical and miraculous spiritual program has gone astray.

God, please guide AA back to its original, spiritual, moral, action-oriented self…

16 thoughts on “AA Has Lost Its Way

  1. Did you attend meetings when you were in early recovery? Did meetings help you. My son who is highly addicted to marijuana has been attending meetings for the last 6 months but keeps relapsing. Does it make sense for him to keep going?

  2. If he is going to AA and he is a NON ALCOHOLIC he will die there. There are 400 12 step programs out there. Marijuana Anonymous or Drug Addicts Anonymous would be a better fit for him IF he is NON ALCOHOLIC. To explain why would take 5 pages…Good Luck!

  3. Charlie, AA has not lost it's way. Many of the fools in AA have lost their way. They founders of AA wrote a book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous that has the undiluted, concise direction for how to stay sober and lead a happy fruitful life. Please direct your readers to read the book, it requires no further authentication. They can then decide for themselves what their next “steps” may or may not be. Keep up the good work!

  4. I am a member of AA. Please consider that your comments can be very destructive to an alcoholic addict seeking recovery. The person seeking recovery must be able to find a loving, un-judgemental atmosphere (wherever he seeks it does not matter). Let's all pray that our hearts may be in the right place to receive anyone who is seeking help!!!

  5. Great article. And thank you for directly calling this out with terse language. Modern people think that the program is “go to meetings, get a sponsor, stay sober.” Rather the program is “Trust God, Clean House, Help Others.” The modern program and most of its participants a very, very sick. The Big Book brought be recovery. Meetings and people in them made me sicker. Today, God is doing for me what I (and no sponsor or group) could do for me.

  6. Outstanding! Keep up the good work and continue to carry the message as the pioneers did, not this watered down “take your time, it's not race” or ” meeting makers make it” lethal garbage we hear in rooms today. Awesome article, God bless!

  7. Outstanding! Keep up the good work and continue to carry the message as the pioneers did, not this watered down \”take your time, it's not race\” or \” meeting makers make it\” lethal garbage we hear in rooms today. Awesome article, God bless!

  8. Whenever and wherever we are cleaning up we are going to wind up with some dirty bathwater. The point is to be able to discern which is the dirty bathwater and which is the resulting clean baby, and proceed accordingly. Utopia is a different dimension than this one.

  9. Please don't forget that many people HAVE TO ATTEND meetings by drug court, to regain licenses etc. There are still some good meetings out there. They can always find men's and women's-only groups to avoid some of the issues you mention.

  10. I was married to a violent alcoholic for nearly 16 years, and experienced unimaginable grief and devastation that nearly killed me. I know all about AA because of him and that it is a broken organization. Instead of helping alcoholics it creates new problems. Someone mentioned that some people are court mandated to attend which is a giant red flag that he has committed a serious offense, but lucky for him since he can stay anonymous. I watched a documentary on youtube called Sober Truth, which shows how broken this organization is and how they put, especially young women lives in danger. It shows how a young woman who met a man in his thirties at an AA meeting (court mandated) who had a long history of alcoholism and violence ended up murdering her. She was oblivious to his criminal past thanks to AA until it was too late and is now dead.

  11. Hi Charlie,
    Thank you for writing this great blog. I think you will stay sober for the rest of your life unlike 99% of others because you stopped blaming others for the problem you created. Actually that is the secret to sobriety-stop blaming everyone else and take 100% of blame for yourself. Sadly, it is rare to find such a person which is why they don't succeed.

  12. It's about living in “isness”. In “isness”, the ever Present, awareness of what is. We are NOT our thoughts, they are impermanent and usually judgemental and self oriented. We are all something far deeper. In fact it is so obvious, almost all characters miss it. You are Awareness. You are that which is eternal, energy fully alive in what is. Stop the stories, and sit in Isness. If any of this resonates, check out Tony Parsons (a nondualist). “My” suffering has ended. My seeking has ended. Never to return again… I wish all of you the best.

  13. We are NOT our thoughts. We are something far greater than that. Thoughts are random, usually judgemental, self depricating, often filled with doom and gloom, regret, anxiety, some glorious and joyful but all are ever changing and ALL are SELF centered. There is no eternalness in thoughts… thoughts are not action or reality. Thoughts create stories about ourselves, others and they are a dime a dozen. YOU think noone suffers like you, your suffering is somehow different, harder, worse. Why bc it involves a YOU.
    I no longer suffer. Liberation has been recognized. If this resonates with anyone, look up Tony Parsons, Nonduality. It just may resonate and end once and for all end “your suffering”. My questions have ended. My suffering has ended. I live in “isness” the ever present and energetic NOW. I wish all of you the very best.

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