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The Addict Alcoholic Self Image
I can remember deciding to leave AA for good. My circumstances were a bit unique, in that, I’d already realized that AA was a cult long before I left it, so no love was lost. I’d been attending meetings for many years as a researcher studying Alcoholics Anonymous from within before I finally decided to leave for good. I attended more than 3,000 12 step meetings in that span, and based on that experience and research, we (myself, Mr. Steven Slate, and Ms. Michelle Dunbar) were able to construct a method for people to extract themselves from the ravages of the list of 12 step lies. We call this 12 step deprogramming guide, The Freedom Model for Addictions.
As a young child, I was fully immersed in 12 step programs, attending meetings with my mother. I was the youngest in a family of 12 who were thoroughly indoctrinated with AA’s beliefs. Their damaging rhetoric split us apart as the finger-pointing, blame-lying, and harsh judgments became a staple of how we all interacted. The 12 steps, coupled with other modes of “therapy,” created little in the way of answers or unity. Instead, it created confusion, hurt feelings, isolation, and fear – all in the name of “helping the newcomer” or “helping the suffering alcoholic/addict.”
The reality is that people choose to use alcohol and drugs frequently and heavily, for their own reasons (to get a high, buzz, and/or some other sort of comfort). But 12 Step programs teach us to forget our personal motivations and take on the identity of a person who is compelled (forced) to use substances heavily. Once you believe this, you become beholden to any method outside yourself that seems like it might help block those compulsions. AA’s entire premise of an outside force (namely alcohol and your “spiritual disease”) having control over your mind and behaviors is crucial for the cult to perpetuate itself. Without the boogeyman called alcoholism, there would be no need for AA.
Cults build on human fears, real or imagined. That’s the core of how they stay alive and make money. Contrary to popular belief, AA is not free, nor is it a philanthropic effort for the betterment of mankind. AA was created for a simple reason: to make its cofounder Bill Wilson a millionaire. He reveals as much in his writings. You pay with your blind allegiance and your daily attendance at meetings, your dollar in the basket, and your lost independence. That’s no small price, and it is leagues away from the freedoms it promises. The AA membership paid this cost in spades over the last 70+ years and continues to pay it to this day. The cultivation of newcomers commanded in the 12th step guaranteed it. Bill Wilson achieved his goal, dying as a millionaire. But to make that happen, Bill knew he needed a constant revolving door of people to feed the AA dollar basket and buy his books. To feed his coffers, Bill used the classic technique of whipping up fears and then offering the solution to those fears in doses that need to be taken “one day at a time.” Knowing this, he created the boogeyman – the disease of alcoholism.
Diseases are involuntary invaders. They come in the form of a pathogen or a grouping of rogue cells in our bodies and brains. Drinking is a chosen behavior and some people develop a preference for heavy use. However, if Bill could convince people that their preference wasn’t a preference at all, but that it was an involuntary disease, then he could drive fear into the hearts of drinkers everywhere. With fear comes a desperate desire for a solution to it or a savior. That solution and savior became AA complete with its Santa Claus God – “if you give yourself completely to this simple program, God will grant you sobriety, one day at a time,” they say. But if God doesn’t do it, then you aren’t giving yourself to the program in the right way, or you’re not working it hard enough. It’s the perfect cult loop – all roads lead to subservience to the AA doctrine and meeting attendance.
The pyramid scheme goes full circle with the fear-based idea that if you don’t “work with other alcoholics” (which is recruiting others into the cult) you will always crave and relapse. So meeting attendance and pulling in your friends and family become your “solution.” It’s a perfect pyramid scheme rooted in fear and desperation for a better life. With every new member comes a dollar in the basket and a book sold and distributed. As a result, Bill’s lies became cultural icons. Today a discussion about the “powers and evils of drugs and alcohol” cannot happen without a statement that AA is the solution regardless of the fact that its rate of success is lower than doing nothing.
People are afraid of leaving AA because they’ve been taught to believe the lies. In effect, the false disease narrative becomes a potent illusion through endless repetition, and the need for AA becomes vital as a result. People believe they need AA; they believe they need a therapist and a list of solutions outside themselves to deal with their now uncontrollable habits. They fear leaving AA because they don’t know they can completely move on from addiction. They don’t know they can be totally free. They fear that without AA they will experience jails, institutions and death, as those in AA have told them. They don’t know the fact that more than 9 out of 10 “alcoholics” move past their drinking problems and do so whether or not they receive treatment or attend meetings.
It is time to let go of the lies and the fears. I was once a heavy, problem drinker. By any standards I was an “alcoholic”. I drink socially now and have no issues with it. I have for many years. I don’t fear alcohol; the truth is I don’t even think about it. It’s a wonderful freedom. If you want to know that sense of freedom, and you want to no longer be held prisoner by the hammer AA wields over your head and mind, read The Freedom Model for Addictions. It was written for you, so you can solve your problem and move on. If you would like more personalizes one-on-one help at our Non 12 Step Residential Retreat, or our The Freedom Model’s online private instruction program, feel free to call us at 1-888-424-2626 to discuss your options with us. You no longer have to fear alcohol or your own thoughts and behaviors; you can be free.