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…

Never Too Early

     Watch out for mainstream AA. The first time I was “12 Stepped” by someone at a local meeting was eye opening. I had just done my 5th, 6th and 7th Steps, and returned home from treatment. My sponsor told me to immediately start making amends or else… Or else what? Or else I would soon return to insanity and relapse.

     But the AA guy gave me a mouthful. He told me that it was “way too early” to be making amends to anyone. He said I had no idea what I was doing and that I “wouldn’t be ready to make amends for like a year” or more. He also told me I probably went through the Steps “way too quickly”, and that I “need a sponsor”. The last thing he said was that all I should be doing right now is to “just keep going to meetings”.

     If you’re an alcoholic or an addict new to recovery and someone accosts you at a meeting and says that, here is some sound advice: RUN the other way. If I had listened to this guy, my wife and my mother would have most likely buried me several years ago. If I had stopped making amends, stopped growing, stopped healing, stopped changing, stopped shedding my self will and selfishness, I would have soon lost my mind, sunk into a depression, cut the cord with God and become encroached by RID (Restlessness, Irritability, Discontent). Then I relapse. Then I lose everything. Then I die. Great advice.

     So I looked at the guy and said, “It’s never too early to get better.”

     Halfway through the meeting, he came over to me and apologized, and then left the meeting early. Boy, I hope that guy didn’t have a ton of sponsees. It’s a shame that this is the sort of watered down AA that so many newcomers get, only to continue suffering and struggling day after day. The end result is either relapse or untreated alcoholism, both of which ensure ongoing harm to all who surround the alcoholic. I’m not saying there is only one way, but if we’re talking about AA, the last time I checked there was only one program and it’s laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

God, please help us narcissistic addicts truly recover first before cluelessly chasing people around…

AA Slogans

     I hate to say it, but most AA slogans are pretty much nonsense. Imagine an AA bumper sticker that directly contradicts the fundamental principle of AA. I’m not sure you want to advertise advice that might kill the people you want to reign in, especially when you’re attaching AA’s namesake to a bunch of utter bullshit. Now, I’ll admit there are one or two diamonds in the rough, so I promise to give them their due another time. But for now, let’s just take it from the top:

“Just Don’t Drink” & “Put The Plug In The Jug”
     These two slogans contradict the fundamental principle of the very 1st Step of AA – that we are powerless of alcohol. Having no power over alcohol means that alcoholics have LOST the ability to ‘just not drink‘. We have lost the power to choose whether we drink or not. It is an obsession, an insanity that we cannot fight alone. Sure this might work if you’re not really an alcoholic, but for any certified alcoholic or drug addict, there is no ‘putting the plug in the jug‘. If it were that simple, we’d all be fine!

“Sit Down, Shut Up & Wait For The Miracle To Happen”
     Ah, okay. This is advice I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. According to modern day AA, we should just come in, sit down, shut up and wait… and eventually a miracle will occur as we’re staring off into space drinking lukewarm coffee. First of all, if you have recently achieved sobriety, then you are freaking out inside. We can’t ‘sit down‘. We’re going nuts. Our heads are about to blow up. We need to DO something, and soon.

     Second, shutting up is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. Those of us who are new to sobriety and to AA are the ones who need to open our mouths and ask, “How the hell do I get better??? I’m going crazy here and I’m not gonna make it unless someone offers me a solution that actually works!”

     And finally, ‘waiting for a miracle’ might actually kill you. First of all, I can’t wait very long, folks, because I’m gonna go get jammed if I don’t start feeling better soon. Thirdly, miracles don’t zap us in the brain while we’re sitting on our asses doing absolutely nothing. We  create the miracles with the help of God by getting up and taking action – in the case of alcoholics or addicts, this action would involve taking Steps.

“Easy Does It” & “Just Keep Comin'”
     These may be the two most dangerous slogans from the new age of watered down AA. Alcoholics and drug addicts need to do the opposite of ‘taking it easy’ (unless you take it to mean not trying to overachieve in the beginning). We must engage in rigorous action if we are going to beat an opponent as lethal and relentless as addiction.

     ‘Just keep comin’ refers to ‘just keep going to meetings’. If that worked, I would have recovered ten years ago. So I feel the need to repeat here that newly sober alcoholics and drug addicts are completely insane and will not make it for very long just dragging themselves to meetings everyday. For me, meetings made no internal difference whatsoever, as I still felt untreated and depressed. I knew I was going to keep drinking and using.

     If alcoholics and addicts have any chance of staying sober, they need to immediately replace their addiction with a powerful solution, a solution capable of restoring them to sanity, and certainly a solution more powerful than an AA bumper sticker slogan or a string of local meetings. I feel like hitting myself in the head when I hear these guys get up and say, “Just Keep Comin’!” That’s advice of someone who’s either not an alcoholic, or someone who thinks AA is group therapy and snack time, and the solution is to white-knuckle it until you somehow magically get better.

     Don’t mean to be too harsh. I enjoy meetings, shit coffee, and someone pretending to know how to bake, too… sometimes. But this is my experience as a chronic alcoholic and drug addict. Addiction carries with it a grave spiritual imbalance that can only be addressed by fairly drastic measures.

God, show me that getting better entails more than reciting a few bumper stickers…