Debunking The 13th Step Movie

Debunking The 13th Step Movie


Everyone loves a good whistle-blowing story—especially one focused on an entity that has attracted some controversy over the years. While many people have heard of Scientology, most (outside of Los Angeles and Clearwater, Florida) will live their entire lives without ever meeting a Scientologist. Though 25,000 to 200,000 people may disagree (exact membership unknown), I have yet to meet anyone who credits Scientology for saving their life. I have, however, met hundreds of people who point directly to Alcoholics Anonymous as the reason they are not only alive but also living (at least primarily) happily.

So when I heard about Monica Richardson’s documentary debut, The 13th Step, I dished out the $16.50 to see what this former (and apparently now drinking) AA member of 35 years had to say. Based on the title, I assumed the film would be about the illusive 13th step—a wink-wink-nudge-nudge term for when members of AA with multiple years of sobriety hit on newcomers. But what the film is actually about is mostly the documentarian herself and her clear resentments toward the program that helped her stay sober for over three decades.

Half Measures Availed Us Nothing

Richardson makes a focused attempt to defame AA through testimonials by misinformed (and consistently not camera friendly) talking heads, which comes off as both slightly pathetic and wholly unethical. While no one in the program expects the average person to fully grasp the unique structure of Alcoholics Anonymous (even trained professionals tend to have very little working knowledge of it), a woman who spent more than half her life in the trenches of 12-step knows full well that her crusade for change within the rooms of Alcoholic Anonymous, as depicted in her film, is both nonsensical and futile.

Our Troubles, We Think, Are of Our Own Making

So what’s her beef? The film begins by addressing four news stories—and a few personal anecdotes—where women were assaulted and/or murdered by men they met in AA meetings. Richardson’s issue is with the courts, who are sending convicted felons into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous without any regard for the vulnerable women these criminals may end up sitting next to, talking to, and possibly dating. While this is a valid concern, it has nothing to do with AA.

Contrary to what some might assume, AA has no agreements with any judicial system. It is not an organization with a leader or an agenda beyond helping people get and stay sober. As baffling as it may be, the 80-year-old program doesn’t have a Board of Directors making decisions about how things work; each and every AA meeting is 100% autonomous, self-supporting and self-regulated. And within each meeting, there is no one person in charge, merely a gathering of members (generally voted into the position) who agree to adhere to the 12 Traditions and whatever the agreed upon format is for that meeting.

We Stood at the Turning Point

So who, exactly, is Richardson complaining to and what does she want? Although it might be natural to assume she should look to AA’s World Services Headquarters for answers, anyone who has been a member of a 12-step group for any notable period of time knows that holding what is essentially just the finance division a non-profit accountable for what happens in any given church basement is akin to chasing your own tail. Not only do the people who work at AA’s headquarters have limited knowledge of how many meetings there even are in the world—since all it takes to start one is an alcoholic and a coffee pot—but even if they did, what happens in those meetings and what kind of people show up isn’t something that’s within their jurisdiction.

If Richardson’s plea was for the courts to stop sending people to AA as part of their sentencing, I can get behind that. No one should be forced to attend meetings and with programs like SMART Recovery and Lifering, Alcoholic Anonymous is no longer the only game in town. Of course a violent criminal or registered sex offender who wants to get stop drinking or using drugs can walk into a 12-step meeting on their own volition but, Richardson doesn’t mention, this is true for most any room in the world. Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem of having criminals papering the rooms of AA but at least Richardson could sleep at night knowing that the non-disclosed murderer sitting next to a newcomer at a meeting—at least at one point—had the desire to stop drinking. However, I am not sure how she would know either way since she is no longer a member.

More Will Be Revealed

Just when I was feeling like the novice filmmaker, though misdirected, presented an interesting argument, she derailed her thesis to talk about her own journey in Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where her real agenda become clear and the potency of her alleged cause begins to unravel. Doing her very best to channel solid films like The Source Family and Going Clear, Richardson paints herself as a young ingénue seduced by a charismatic spiritual leader who convinced her to attend AA meetings. It was there that she fell into the grips, she reports, of an insular world of brain washing, unfair hierarchies and lawn-mowing

This might be compelling if it wasn’t total BS. Not only are there no ranks to move up in AA (all service positions are voluntary)—but in my 11 years of sobriety, I have yet to meet a single person who was asked to mow a lawn. As for brain washing, well, that is in the eye of the beholder. I know for me, when I transitioned from a life of destructive drinking to a journey of recovery, my brain needed a good washing.

We Tried to Carry this Message to Alcoholics

In addition to some well-known anti-AA lobbyists (Gabrielle Glaser! Lance Dodes!), Richardson included interviews with some former AA members (most of whom seem intoxicated) who all attempt to debunk some widely accepted practices of the program. Again, this might have been more effective if their information had been accurate. No matter what anyone chooses to interpret about the 12 steps, not one of them suggests that AA members proselytize (as opposed to, say, The Landmark Forum or Scientology). Most of us know from experience that people can’t get sober unless they are ready. Plus, we aren’t so hot to share our cookies and coffee with people who don’t want what AA offers.

There were women in the film who came forward and talked about the traumatic sexual assaults they endured as a result of relationships they formed in AA. These women were strong and brave and what happened to them is horrible and deeply disturbing. It is, of course, always upsetting to hear about the level of sickness that has run amok in the world, lurching behind unsuspecting corners. And while there is a general hope that AA will be a safe place for people—much like riding the bus, going to a bar or dating online—you just don’t know who you are talking to. There are no regulations about who attends AA, which is part of the reason it has worked so well for so many years. While I am glad the film sheds light on this important issue and hopefully inspires people to be cautious, AA is all open to all who seek it as a place to find sobriety, not physical protection from the public.

We Ought Never Endorse, Finance or Lend the AA Name 

Call it a combination of the ever-growing drug problem in America (and beyond) and free enterprise but over the last 15 years, substance abuse treatment has been growing at a steady clip. Since AA is still the best known method for treating alcoholism and addiction—and since those whose lives have been saved as a result swear by it—naturally the program has made its way to treatment centers. While there is nothing wrong with this and rehabs are in no violation of AA principles, it has caused some confusion about the affiliation between AA and treatment.

So let’s clear things up. There is no affiliation whatsoever between AA and rehab. Since the 12-step program outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is free and open to anyone, the AA name sometimes gets dragged into controversies like this—which is exactly why lending the AA name to any outside enterprise is against the organization’s traditions.

Famed AA debunker Dr. Lance Dodes notes in the film the arbitrary nature of the 30-day treatment program. While he may not have intended it this way (and he actually makes a good point), Richardson uses his criticism of this model as a way to discredit AA (since her film is not about treatment programs). This felt unethical—again, because I know she’s aware that there is no connection between the standard length of treatment at a rehab and AA.

We Have No Opinion on Outside Issues

Although Richardson introduces the court system argument, she makes it clear in the film that she holds AA—essentially an anarchy—responsible for regulating the kind of people who show up at meetings. I could understand this kind of shadow boxing from a non-member but, much like Bill Clinton picketing the White House so 7-Eleven will carry red licorice, the filmmaker shows up at AA headquarters in New York demanding answers about sexual predators in meetings. This takes her grand standing from self-righteous to just insane.

Admitted Complete Defeat

All in all, the film flopped on many levels—ethical storytelling, casting, sound and video quality—but its the exposure to the general population, who have little to no information about a fellowship that has saved my life as well as the lives of so many people I love, is what is the most upsetting element about the film. Richardson has every right to make a movie about her viewpoint and experiences; I just wish she had been able to put her personal resentments about AA aside and delivered a film with some educational value and integrity. Since she makes a point to weave in her opinion that alcoholism is not a disease (to which I will point out that she is not a doctor) and tell us that there is nothing wrong with her (rather than let us come to our own conclusion), it discredits the entire film and makes it seem toxic, destructive and like an 80-minute advertisement for her website.



  1. I too had many years in AA , well over 10. I stopped going for all the reasons described in the film, ultimately: I didn’t feel safe there. It is filled with many people on a desperate path to sobriety (of which I wasn’t, 13th step predators (they switch addictions from alcohol and drugs to sex), and yes: criminals. When I realized this, I made the conscious decision that it wasn’t my path. Perhaps it could be if I had a spouse to attend meetings with, or a significant other, or something else that wouldn’t make me so vulnerable, even after many years. But I am single, attractive, physically fit, intelligent and…NOT BROKE. I do quite well actually. All of these make me a rife target. Having had numerous relationships in AA with sex addicts and one with a sexual predator (I found out and dumped him fast, got an order of protection against him), I felt vindicated and validated by this film. I remain sober, I intend to remain sober, and my life is not predicated on any type of religious sect or cult to remain sober, notwithstanding AA. It’s a good life, and an even better one without the belittlement and lack of safety that comes with AA.

  2. AA can help. But in my case I ignored the BS of the Higher Power! I cant for a moment image any God will be concerned with my alcoholism, while ignoring mass murder and mass suffering that is taken place around the world. I do not believe in the power of prayer. Answer my prayer, while ignoring the suffering of millions more? I don’t think so. That is not my idea of God.
    Its a fight. protect yourself at all times..even in AA!

  3. having attending AA for many years,,but now rarely do.. but still sober after 16yr, thank God. I thank the AA for helping me. But i,m aware too of its failing. It is a revolving door for many. It is very selective. There can be verbal bullying. abusive. It is very cliquey. a common attitude is If you don’t like the “tough love” (bullying) hit the road….It is brainwashing..yes brainwashing. That can save one’s life, but that is not everybody’s cup of tea.
    I have seen may instances of the 13th step. I dont like it. it is taking advantage of people.There are serial 13 steppers. Any one new going into AA should be aware of this common practice

  4. I owe my life to A.A. because, without it, there would have been no N.A. Seedy characters yes, maybe some foul smelling folks on occasion, rapists and the like, I’m quite sure but has she looked around the churches, city hall, the schools, and state houses lately? I don’t know what her point exactly is but if she’s not happy at that meeting to try another, then another, then another until that point on her head is worn down by the concrete curb she’ll end up hugging at night. I have no words to adequately describe how I’m feeling towards this person at this moment except maybe” keep coming back”. Last time I checked an AA meeting no one was being held hostage and I can say for sure no one at N.A. is held against their will. The door swings both ways but only 1 way worked for me. Thank the higher power for these wonderful 12 step programs that not only save lives but show many how to live again. Shame on her, shame, shame, shame. This isn’t how we normally talk at N.A. either. In loving service, Russ L.

  5. Stephanie L on

    A lot of anti-AA material can sound shrill and unbalanced…and ever since leaving the program myself several years ago I’ve understood that my own sanity (and sobriety) required that I eventually move along and as far away from the whole debate as well as just leaving the “program.” The catfights in this thread go a long way to reinforce that belief.

    But I can’t help but notice a few common themes in any debate between AA and anti-AA people online…one being that the anti-AA voices generally come from people who were once in AA themselves, people who have experienced both sides of the argument, while AA defenders do not share both perspectives. I’m a lot more willing to overlook someone’s tone if it can easily be tied to some context or logical reason, and having gone through a negative experience, left it, and looking back to describe it justifies a negative tone much more than a voice who merely feels threatened by an argument they’re too afraid to even entertain ever can.

    I’ve also found over the years since leaving 12-step that those individuals fresh out of “the rooms” are still tainted by their experiences and (as I like to say it) are merely choosing an opposite answer to a question they once answered in a very different way, not stepping back and wondering if the question itself is even valid. In other words, it’s assumed that there must be a different/better “program” rather than wondering why any program is needed at all, or if AA isn’t the be-all, end-all then it must be totally horrible and abolished.

    The world of AA and other 12-step groups is certainly filled with sexual predators and other very real dangers to those who attend meetings. It’s also true that not everyone who ever goes to AA will experience something bad, or even hear of anyone who has been treated with anything less than respect and support.

    But the glaring refusal of current AA members and blind supporters to even entertain the possibility that there could be problems that AA as an entity (and yes, it is an entity – a “thing” – please don’t try to weasel out of responsibility by the “we’re not centralized and we have no power” argument if you’re going to use the term “AA” at all) has and is responsible for addressing in a proactive way is probably the most dangerous thing about the program there is. NO organization or system that involves groups of people can remain healthy without welcoming criticism and addressing problems. NO organization or system of human beings is above examination, at least if it values the safety and best interests of all of its members.

    AA fans, please ask yourselves why you won’t even BEGIN to listen to these problems that the anti-AA voices are asking you? You might be one of the lucky people who hasn’t been harmed, raped, killed, or even damaged by a pseudo-religious approach to your substance abuse problems instead of a scientifically sound one. But your sisters and brothers across the world might be. The sponsee you take through the steps in ten years might be assaulted, or might have had a better chance of recovery with an evidence-based treatment modality. You are AA, all of you. Step up and take responsibility – JUST FOR LISTENING TO US – and please don’t keep dismissing things like Monica Richardson’s film or articles criticizing AA with insults and absolute, complete deafness on your part. What are you missing out on by doing so?

    • mike newton on

      So AA suggests people make spiritual progress but it is AA’s fault if members don’t take the advice? That’s like blaming anti-war protesters for all the wars.

  6. Kendall Jones on

    Ah, yes. Right from the start, an AA flunkie can’t help but try to personally discredit the filmmaker (“apparently drinking”). That’s because AA members are, almost without exception, neurotic, unthinking little pieces of trash.

    • darrell sikes on

      Jeepers Kendall it’s very gratifying to hear from someone who’s psychoanalyzed everyone in an organization that has obvious saved and improved so many lives and families. Doesn’t seem to be any personal anger in the discussion. Maybe you might benefit from a little therapy yourself. Sticks and stones, dear. “Flunkies, neurotic, unthinking little pieces of trash?” Judge much? hate much? me thinks thou doth protest just a wee bit too much.

      p.s. I hope you never find yourself in a hellish pit with no means of getting out.

    • sharron cocker on

      i was in a hellish pit at first and lots of times since 2001-2017..i thought AA was helping me out of it…but each time i went back ..i kept trying …falling …trying again for all those years…each time i hit bottom went back thanking god and aa for saveing me from hellish pits… wouldnt be long untill i was in a hellish pit inside AA ……there are violent and sexually abusive and finacially abusive rapests and murders all over the face of the earth and they are in aa na churches pubs shops on the streets sometimes in my front room or even in my bed…….no where is safe..and no one always knows there is one infront of them or sat next to them.thing is the hellish pit i was in prior to my fist aa meeting and even on the day i first went well in my hellish pit i was in a domstic violent relationship ..i was being stolen from sexually assaulted…. ….thing is once i got to aa and was going there i was being sexually harassed,haveing my life threatned my finacial privacy invaded manipulated out of money tapped for money a lot and hearing peolle in the rooms sahre how they had been battered or had hit or puched or stabbed there spouses boyfriends girlfriends the day before..while they were sober and working the steps ..some had long clean or sober time when they got robbed or hit or when they stabbed there partner…i also read news articles of people being murdered or raped by another member or sponsor or sponsee…yes no where is safe from this kind of thing…so i can go to the pub today and be stolen from or beaten or i could go to aa today and be raped its up to me which hellish pit i go to…right now and for some time now i have hoped to find an answer to this but i cant find one….

    • I would like to say first that AA has answered the theme of this movie by creating a safety card to be read at meetings. It does illuminate what is brought up by the author of the movie Monica Richardson in as much as there are people that are sick in the meetings. One thing I will concur with many of the people in that thread is that AA is an anonymous organization with autonomy in each meeting at this time unless it comes to a point where a new era is brought in with a drastic change to the traditions; at this time we cannot and will not make any changes to who can attend the meetings. The only requirement… Is the desire to stop drinking. Therefore, anyone can walk into a meeting; a pedophile, a murderer, just about anyone. Just as those same people can be walking amongst you outside in the street. Yes, you can have anybody sitting next to you in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. One of the main things I believe you must remember also is that meetings are full of sick people that are trying to recover. During the beginning recovery time, even though people are told to stay out of relationships by their sponsors, which by the way is not part of the program, most people do not take that advice. Just like in the outside world people don’t take advice of their family members and friends when they are just out of a relationship and should be grieving a relationship and waiting to get into a new relationship months later let’s say. Again, we are dealing with sick people. It is an imperfect program. But it has helped millions upon millions of people recover, yes recover from alcoholism. I am not trying to belittle any of the issues that Alcoholics Anonymous has; it has many; I am in 100% agreement that much needs to be done to further the safety of all human beings in every place including an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting!

  7. Also, Danielle, I find it interesting that you try to discredit Ms. Richardson by saying that she is not a doctor and therefore she cannot make the claim that alcoholism is not a disease. However, I am pretty sure Bill Wilson was not a doctor either. I also don’t think that Dr. Bob’s medical expertise from the 1930’s is all that legitimate at this point in time, either. You also try to discredit Ms. Richardson by saying she tells us there’s nothing wrong with her, rather than allowing us to make that call. This makes no sense. If a person does not have the agency to define their own state of mind, who does? And what makes you think WE have the power and the right to tell Ms. Richardson if there’s something wrong with her. Your hubris is staggering.

    I’m glad AA saved your life. But, it has ruined many others. Your post is transparent and you would’ve done better in your post if you were just honest. You can come online and admit that the movie made you feel defensive, angry, and afraid. You are defensive of AA after seeing this movie because it scares you to think that other people thrive outside of the program. The reality that AA actually harms some people threatens the reality in which you believe, which is that everyone needs AA – and, in AA, there is only one true reality, so it must be yours or else, Danielle, your whole life is a lie. This is not true. AA can both save your life and simultaneously threaten someone else’s.

    Let Ms. Richardson make her points and share her experience and perspective. If AA is truly as amazing as you say, one movie will not harm your fellowship. And one person’s horrible experience with AA should not incite in you the need to take that person down and denigrate her story and her conclusions in a way that clearly reflects your own insecurities. That is, it wouldn’t incite your obvious need to prove Ms. Richardson wrong IF you truly 100% believed in this life-saving program you live by.

  8. I think the movie shines a light on an important reality of life in AA as a woman. AA can be a dangerous, dangerous place – especially for young women of certain backgrounds. I, for one, was harassed, stalked, and preyed upon by many deviant and sick men during my tenure there and never felt safe for a variety of reasons. I was told by other members that I should pray for the people who harassed me and preyed upon me. AA is dangerous. If you want to contest that, by all means do so, but you cannot change the reality that many of us have faced while spending time in “the rooms.”

    AA is also psychologically dangerous and, I’ll go ahead and say it, in my opinion it’s also a cult. Perhaps some people need this kind of cult life that, aside from the sexual predators and dangerous folks in the rooms, can be benign. Other people don’t want to believe in the dogma or the lies that you will die or find yourself in a mental institution if you don’t practice everything AA says.

    AA members love to point to the part in the big book where Bill Wilson says that the steps are but suggestions and that the founders realize they know “only a little” in order to defend the idea that AA is not a cult because it doesn’t force you to do or believe anything at all. However, those are words. What AA has evolved to be is a place where if you do not fall in lock step with everything they tell you to do, you will be judged, viewed as “sick” or having a “bad program,” and told that you are running the risk of ruining your life and killing yourself. I have heard it said over and over in meetings that “the steps are suggestions, just like it is suggested that you open your parachute upon jumping out of a plane,” i.e. they’re not suggestions in practice.

    The words in the big book are one thing. The way AA operates in practice is another. And, in real life, not in between lines of ink on a page, AA can be an incredibly sick and messed up place. People should be warned before they go there of the risks inherent in becoming a part of the program and the incredibly negative experiences many of us have had in AA need to be brought to light.

    No one can have the “one true way,” like many AA members claim to have found. Life is not that simple or black and white. AA is somewhat morally reprehensible for painting things so simply.

    And, if you are an AA member who is feeling defensive right now and wants to lash out at my post, I challenge you to consider not what condescending things you want to say to me (dressed up as “niceties” such as “good luck” or “I’ll pray for you”). Instead, I hope that you are happy that others have found good ways to live and to cherish that you found a good way to live in AA. Too often, AA members get really defensive when they hear that people have left AA and are living well. AA members immediately assume, “well, it’s just a matter of time until he’s drinking again or dead.” No. Not true. It would be nice if an AA member rather than getting defensive (I suspect out of their own insecurities in their own faith in the program) and needing everyone to believe in AA’s goodness, just respected that we can have differences of opinion about AA. And that we can all talk like grown-ups about it and share our experiences respectfully.

    Some people like AA, some people hate AA. AA saves some people’s lives. AA ruins other people’s lives. It’s a mixed bag. But none of us should be silenced or told that our personal experiences are wrong or that we’re wrong. As they say in AA, we should all “live and let live.”

    • I didn’t even know about this movie until I saw a comment thread relating to narcissists and predators. As a member of AA, I’m glad I watched it. Yup, it’s one-sided and makes AA seems like a den of evil, which was frustrating for me.

      However, that doesn’t mean she’s wrong, in some of those points in the movie.

      There are narcissists/predators in AA, and I would say there’s a higher percentage than the general population, just purely from the amount of vulnerable people available to them. People, men and women, need to be very careful, especially when they’re new. The groups need to make safety issues very clear, and individuals need to make sure new folks understand that not everyone there is there for recovery, to listen to their guts, and consult with other folks that have known the person longer.

      I’m lucky to live in an area where this happens. I also know it doesn’t happen everywhere. It really is up to the groups to keep meetings safe.

      And Julie O, I’ve gotta agree with you, about the words in the Big Book versus the practice. It is very hard for a lot of AA’s to admit that other organizations, harm-reduction methods and medical practices can help people stay sober long-term. AA really isn’t the only game in town anymore. Thank God, in my humble opinion. If the goal is sobriety, then I’m grateful there are choices. AA doesn’t work for everyone, and to insist it’s the addict’s fault if it doesn’t is the height of arrogance. That arrogance has literally killed people.

      AA happens to work for me. I can’t tell other people what will work for them – period. People have to find out for themselves. I mean, we have it on all of our coins “To Thine Own Self Be True”. It can be very easy to forget that.

      When the kid in the movie was talking about people telling him he HAD to work the steps, he HAD to attend so many meetings, and he HAD to “take the cotton out of his ears and put it in his mouth”, I was like “I hear you. The word suggestion didn’t change its meaning since 1935, and experience, strength and hope means only that.” A LOT of people have forgotten that all you can offer is what worked for you. A LOT have gotten on a high horse to tell people what to do. Whenever I hear that in meetings, I always think “Ahem. Re-read Chapter 12 on Working with Others, and then please tell me where you got your attitude of commanding people, because it wasn’t there.” That is where harm is done, and where people can feel like it’s a cult, because they’re right – that’s cultish behavior. Obedience should never, EVER be the goal – the goal is individual recovery, in every sense of the word.

      Personally, I’ve found the healthiest people that don’t try to command, the ones that give examples of what worked for them, without demands, are the ones who’ve been through therapy. There’s also the ones that attend Al-Anon, too, to work out their own tendencies to try to control people for their own benefit. I mean, most alcoholics grew up in alcoholic homes, and that breeds its own set of personality issues. And the ones that demand obedience to “their” way have not worked that stuff out.

      Unfortunately, a lot of meetings adopt this culture of obedience, which sucks. When it comes to sponsorship, there’s a huge difference between setting personal boundaries and staying focused on recovery, and telling someone “Sit down and shut up, you have to do it my way.” I’ve been lucky to find women and meetings who don’t. Plus, I’ve been in an actual cult, so my radar for that kind of behavior pings super high when I see it. It’s just plain ole sick behavior. I don’t see AA as a whole as a cult, just because there’s no true pyramid scheme happening. It’s too decentralized. I do, however, see people be authoritative, and use the program of AA as an excuse to set up their own cult-of-personality. That’s crap.

      Honestly, I think it’s wise for people to explore their options, many different meetings no matter the program, and many different people. You can’t say all resistance is just “alcoholic thinking”. Some is. But that’s up to the individual to work out, not to be “beaten out of them” with controlling action. Some resistance is reacting to sick people being sick, and a person’s gut saying “This isn’t right”. Shaming has zero place in any program of recovery.

      It does AA’s no good to refuse to admit the faults of the people in it. Things never get better when all that happens is “Wow, sounds like you have a resentment. It’s all your fault then.” There are issues in AA. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be having group inventories, business meetings, group consciences, district meetings, area assemblies, and world conferences, lol.

      I would also say I hope that people don’t use the documentary as their only information about AA. It really can help, it really has helped millions of people. Not every single person is a predator, physically or psychologically. For me, a spiritual program works. I find a peace in it that I didn’t have before.

      It’s also important to remember that all programs are filled with people who’ve been sick, and it’s ok to examine works for you.

  9. Pingback: Roads to #Addiction #Recovery – Here we go again! | Dave's Bankside Babble

  10. There’s a lot more to this story than a few dumb girls who made bad choices in men.
    AA does not inform either the public or the AA fellowship of the fact that the GSO instructs AA members to solicit not only the courts, for all they might be willing to order into the cult, but the 12 step rehab industry, middle school principals, college instructors, and college students bound for jobs where they will have the power to send their clients off to join the AA cult.

    This is no secret to anyone with the inclination to spend 15 minutes on the GSO website,, reading the CPC Committee Workbook, training manual for CPC committee techniques for recruiting the pros as front men for AA.

    Not only is the GSO behind court the mandates of violent criminals, the GSO has also invested quite a bit of effort to recruit “alcoholics” as young as 12 and 13. The pamphlet “Too Young” is the best example of what AA is looking for in a pre-teen.

    Concerned AA members and ex-members have asked the GSO to print a pamphlet letting newcomers know that there will more than likely be violent criminals at meetings, and the GSO has ignored these requests.
    Sample letter to the judge from the CPC Committee Workbook:

    Dear Judge;
    As a judge,you may be familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA. You may also have people who appear before you who have a drinking problem and who could benefit from AA.
    This letter comes to you from the Cooperation with the professional Community Committee of AA, not as a request for anything, but as an offer of AA’s services to your clients who may have a drinking problem. You are in a unique position to have contact with and influence on what we call the “still-suffering alcoholic”.

    Court and Treatment Program Referrals
    “A.A. groups have welcomed many new members from court programs and treatment facilities.
    Some have come to A.A. on their own; others arrived under a degree of pressure. While the
    voluntary nature of meeting attendance is part of A.A.’s strength, *many A.A.s first attended
    meetings because attendance was mandated* either by someone else or by their own inner
    discomfort. How someone found us or who referred them isn’t important; their drinking problem is our sole concern. We cannot predict who will recover, nor can we specify how recovery is sought. We know only that frequent exposure to A.A. has helped many of us understand the true nature of alcoholism.”
    [New AA members are told that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
    No one is ever told that a court mandate is an acceptable alternative to desire.]
    • Next, the committee could discuss which group of professionals to contact first.
    Established C.P.C. committees have found that focusing on one profession at a time,
    such as a visiting nurse association or home health care agency, or school of nursing, prevents a scattering of A.A. resources.

    • A telephone call to such an agency will lead to identification of the person responsible for information and training or curriculum.

    • Once a date is set, several committee members volunteer to take on this assignment.
    (see Preparing for a C.P.C. Presentation, p. 14).

    • Communication with the various professional communities is very important.
    Identify professional entities , including schools and faculties, that would benefit by
    knowing more about A.A. and develop a list of people to telephone

    • Contact local professional schools that train future healthcare, legal/correctional,
    human resources/employment professionals and offer A.A. presentations.

    • Contact local court professionals and offer A.A. presentations.

    • Invite professionals and professional students to attend an open meeting.
    More excerpts from the CPC Committee Workbook:

    Working with Students Attending Professional Schools

    Many local, area, and intergroup committees have gotten a jump start on informing professionals about A.A. by working with students in various professional disciplines.

    The intergroup obtained a list of students , with names, addresses, and phone
    numbers, from the medical school’s administrative office, and at an orientation meeting, collected the same information from A.A. members who volunteered to serve as sponsors.

    Approaching Professionals:

    Many areas encourage individual A.A. members to approach professionals and share information about A.A.

    Guide Letters
    Many C.P.C. committees initiate contact with professionals through letters. The following is a summary of suggested content and enclosures for these mailings.

    Depending on local needs, C.P.C. letters may be written to individuals, to professional schools and faculties or to groups such as doctors, clergy, correctional and treatment professionals , educators, lawyers, and counselors of all types.

    • Landslide Larry on

      Thank you! Pay no mind to the brainwashed steppers who have and will attempt to shame and personally attack you out of this indisputable truth.

      They are ‘sicker than others’ and terrified of being ‘one of the unfortunates.’

      Any sane person reacts to this news with concern and agrees with you that the 12 step cult should come with WARNINGS all over the place.

      They are told they cannot trust their own ability to think, mix that with the brainwashing that the programme is always right while they are forever wrong… of course they would blame anyone other than their perfect programme. They are taught to “find their part” while focusing on their “personality shortcomings” and “character defects” and “moral inventory” for life… even if they were brutally assaulted as a child! If they were assaulted by a stepper, they are not only told to find their part and pray for the piece of shit, they are also told told to excuse his violence because they are his “character defects.” Even murder is excused with this insanity!

      They are routinely brainwashed to think they are “selfish/self-centered/pity pot/actors-trying-to-run-the-show” who never recover, but are given a “daily reprieve” with thought-control meetings for all eternity.

      They can chant “spiritual not religious” till the end of time, (and pathetically they will!). but that in no way changes that facts…

      The 12 steps are a diabolical cult religion.

      • darrell sikes on

        Such anger! I am 37 years sober and my trust of my abilities which has led my washed brain to gain three degrees and working on certificate of advanced graduate studies. I have witnessed thousands of individuals and families achieve a level of happiness I’ve seen NOWHERE elseI’m struck by all these people who are not only naysayers, that is fine. It’s the level of vitriol and angry that they demonstrate towards a program that most every profession recognizes as the most successful path towards battling addiction. And don’t quote half truths. The quotation is a daily reprieve dependent upon our spiritual connection. wow doesn’t that sound scary!

    • Having attended enough AA meetings to qualify a response to this post, I can categorically state that; Although they declare (in meetings) that there is no hierarchy. You (the poster) are obviously well aware that -members with Time are the Unspoken Hierarchy. A member with Time isn’t going to be a greeter, make coffee, clean up. They are often called upon in meetings to regurgitate doctrine. Oddly enough, it doesn’t matter if they have their life in order, only that they have many years sober and an entertaining drunkalogue. Incidentally, (for the uninitiated), ‘sober’ in the AA doesn’t mean ‘unintoxicated’, it means ‘In AA and working the steps’. All too often have I heard them repeat; ‘get a sponsor, work the steps, keep coming back’, ‘your best thinking got you here’, ‘get out of your head’, ‘don’t analyze, just do’. The patronizing tone and levels of smugness are palpable. The individual in AA in not important, it’s the program that must prevail. Statistically, the AA’s efficacy is abysmal but the 95% who drop out in the first year are at fault. An organization that discourages a person to think for themselves and to admit that they are ‘powerless’ should be avoided at all costs. Learned helplessness along with the Disease Model of alcoholism is simply dangerous.

      • How are all of you anti-aa people so wrong? This willful ignorance of facts and distortions of truth is scary. I can’t claim to have been to every meeting in the world but I can still say with a great deal of confidence that your paranoid and prejudicial outlook on AA is sad and disturbing. I’d like to believe you’re here in good faith trying to warn other people about real threats. Unfortunately it’s pretty clear you all have some kind of agenda or, if not that, some kind of personal vendetta against this program. As an outsider, but someone familiar with it, I cannot imagine anyone holding your viewpoints and still being a rational and compassionate person. Whether you want to believe it or not, AA is going g to keep doing the good work is has been no matter how indignant, self-righteous, or slanderous you get. Your energy is probably better spent playing with yourself.

        • Kendall Jones on

          Oh for pete’s sake. You claim to be an “outsider,” yet you’re convinced that people who have intense criticism of AA must be “so wrong.” Nobody has a “vendetta” against AA solely for the purpose of carrying a vendetta. We have personally experienced, most of us at multiple meetings locations in various cities and states over the course of YEARS, how psychologically and sexually abusive this organization is. Just listen to how abusive the people on this thread are toward those of us who have had harrowing experiences. The writer of the piece, for goodness sake, is a catty little insult-slinger whose mental instability shines brighter than her intellectual honesty. AA members display such prototypical cult mentalities that it’s almost amusing you don’t recognize it: anyone who dares criticize the organization is subject to rants and anger and monumental displays of neurotic insecurity. If AA didn’t interject itself into every corner of the recovery world – and therefore curtail actual science-based and effective models – then maybe I wouldn’t be so angry at its very existence. But it’s a religious model that has no basis in neuroscience, is fundamentally duplicitous and nonsensical, is abusive in practice, and yet lays claim to moral and treatment authority. It’s preposterous.

          • My mind is actually being blown right now. I am reading descriptions of AA that are unlike anything I have ever known in 33 years of sobriety. I have never in perhaps a thousand rooms in many states and countries ever heard one person state that “AA is the only way.” That is just absurd. And, if someone expressed that opinion, I believe I or another sober member would deny it as ridiculous. I do believe that the writers are very upset and they definitely have a right to share their perspectives and opinions. As a woman getting sober in the 1980s in Los Angeles (and since), I have experienced unpleasant people of both sexes and various genders. BREAKING NEWS: They are everywhere. Naturally people (and not just women) are vulnerable at a time when they may be feeling among other emotions, scared and miserable and possibly physically and financially desperate. People who prey on other people seem to be attracted to us when we are weakened as any hunting mammal might. As a lay youth minister for 8 years I found them working in church nurseries and teaching in various positions. That does not paint the entire concept of a god, or a particular religion, or the concept of spirituality as dark and disturbed. One writer warned us not to be cheeky and insulting by saying, “I’ll pray for you” or “Keep Coming Back”. Because I do have a post graduate degree in human psychology and I practice with it successfully to the best of my ability, AND because I am very cautious when I encounter what I believe may be mindless group-think, I am choosing to ignore your instructions. I choose a sober life. I choose peace and love and humanity whenever and wherever I can find it. I also choose rock ‘n roll, dogs, and raspberries because they often bring me joy and most of the time do not hurt anyone. I actually do not want those who are bitter, who practice hate, who sew misinformation and lies coming back. I am not going to pray for you. AA did not teach me to make those decisions because overall AA does not take a position on anything (maybe coffee and cookies but only in certain countries). AA is also often a kinder, more patient place than my head. Please continue to write. Please continue to share your experiences and opinions. Please offer evidence-based solutions and recommendations for anyone suffering from anything. Ultimately, despite some misgivings, I wish you joy and peace and love.

        • Thank you so much for a balanced comment. AA is and has been a lifesaver for untold hundreds of thousands of people, myself included.

          This thread makes me feel so bad for all of those who had a bad experience with it, or who haven’t been able to grasp the “simple principles.”

          Yes, I’m sure there have been murderers and pedophiles and sex addicts who have sat in the meetings. I also think many of these same types of people sit in churches every Sunday.

          I had to leave a comment in hopes that it helps even one person to go back to AA or one to try AA for the first time.

          There is no group, club, institution, company or church that is flawless. They are all manmade constructs, and made up of imperfect people. It just makes me incredibly sad to think that people would spend their time posting on the internet trying to discredit one of the finest programs in the world.

  11. AA comes in many shapes and sizes. Just like any daycare center there is a certain clientele. Lets see now, there’s Ala-teen for teens that may have alcohol related pressing issues. Ala-non for those who find themselves struggling to cope with Alcoholism. Ala-pet for the constantly kicked dog or flying cat, even claustrophobic hamster(I’m told). There are so many affected in so many ways that writing could just keep going on and on so, I’ll just stick to the self admitted Alcoholic I see at meetings who is eager for the suggested documented AA 12 Step solution.. I can’t speak for those who do not attend or participate in some form. They are not my concern ………………………………………………..

    Sex conduct.. man, thoroughness and honesty. Getting to the root cause of our sex troubles be it not enough? or too much? or not the right kind.. Talk about a pig pile of guilt and shame, emotionally (stunted) damaged people with trains of circumstance that brought us and others misfortune? Emotional thievery is what it is. Most of us learned long ago when our own spirits were stolen from us that we now needed to survive without our Spirit. How? We link up with others who have been damaged also, square pegs trying to fit in round holes, we become extremists. Alcoholism isn’t a ruff patch we get stuck in for a bit, no, alcoholism has been a way of life for many and oddly enough the selfishness and fear beginning before we picked up the drink. Hence the Spiritual malady. For us simply putting down the drink is not enough to empower us to face life successfully. When we speak of disease we mean Spiritual disease. You want to seek a intellectual cure for a Spiritual malady? Go ahead. I have put enough time in there, it’s not for me. ………………………………………

    How many wives, girlfriends or just one night stands have we had? Too many for someone with a few simple fragmented coping skills and a drinking problem. Coping skills yeah, imagine that! Nope, we’re survivors here in AA’s front row, coping with life? Like, as in other people who have feelings? Histories? Emotions and thoughts, dreams? No, no coping skills just little old me Mr. Alcoholic, me and my arrangements. Everything you have will be mine. Sex just means you want me. I take it? I take you, all of you. You are now my hostage. You had sex with me and now I am everything to you, no?…Christ!…………………………………….

    Now, this guy I sponsor will learn about himself and his selfish sex conduct quickly, he’ll begin to change in days, weeks, it happens that fast.. He’s beginning to get the magnitude of his condition just looking at the facts surrounding resentment and selfishness and self centeredness. Sex conduct will be a giant wake up call.. He’s no different than me or anyone who settles down and does the work. But in the mean time? He’s a freaken vampire, sucking the emotional security out of anybody he can any time the opportunity remotely presents itself. Who will love me! Fix me! save me, make me happy, validate me me me. I’ll save you if you co-sign me and prove everyone in my past wrong by making me look normal… Mama where are you? Tonight at the meeting? Look! A new girl! She is beautiful, she will save me. We will live together and be happy forever! We will make each other happy!! This is untreated Alcoholism. It is what it is, we who follow the Book do our best to reach as many as we can each day with the actual program of recovery laid out in masterly detail in the Big Books 12 Steps. Many slip through the cracks. It can be difficult to watch.

    I was with this guy I sponsor last night, I met him at a half way point for both of us. Exit 10 rt 140, Star Drive in. He’s been at his 4th for maybe a month or so. He had completed Resentments, Causes, and Affects my, section. He then turned all the resentments around looking at his own conduct, where he had been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and afraid. Then his Fear section of his 4th where all this self centered fear originated, where self reliance failed, where he was cocky and made things worse in an attempt to make things better. And of course at this point, the better way. The Spiritual path suggested. Now he was ready to move onto the Sex part as it’s written in the Big Book. I am committed to walk day by day with him. He’s doing well.

    On a different note I had been bringing a drunk guy around for maybe 6 weeks. My original post guy. Sunday night I went to pick him up and he was sober. Shocking really, couldn’t help but laugh, it was great to see.. I mean, I had all I could do at times to deal with this guy. Now he’s ready to go “on time” to the crazy town AA All addictions hybrid meeting we both like. If he sticks with me then we will begin the Big Book 12 Steps soon enough. One less 13 Stepper desperate for some person place or thing to take their pain away right now. One less man in AA obsessed with instant gratification.. One more AA member armed with facts about himself , his primary purpose keeping his hands full. To help others recover from Alcoholism. To be of service to the man who still suffers. This is the AA I do my best to support, the rest of it? People do what they want.

    • Now I get.
      Silly me, I assumed the pedestal from which you looked down was merely one of uninvolved superiority. In reality, it was the throne of a Bona-Fide AA Guru sitting atop its diaz constructed not merely from the conviction of Moral Superiority, but from long term AA attendance, (at minimum a couple of months), harsh indoctrination, and, undoubtedly, the bloody memory of carving out one’s own tiny feifdom among the highly desireable and fought over fertile growing fields of AA.

      The groundprouted a bumper crop this year, apparently, enough for All the AA-sponsor-guru-lords who watched with pride and pleased amusement as the newly sprouted, confused, clownish newcomers poke their little green heads up out of dirt so tenderly prepared just for them.

      Life is good! There are lots of tender, vulnerable young women among the rows of bewildered grass-green drunks. Harvest time will be cause for celebration. After feasting on the produce at their feet, all the minor lords and masters of the homegroup will put aside court intriques and gather together to trade stories about the cleverness with which they fertilized their fields, and the pleasure they received from gorging themselves on their carefully tended crops.

      • Damn, a creepy internet perve. Didn’t see it. Now I do.

        Eh.. You’ve had your six, the two aimed at me that missed anything vital and four left for yourself, don’t miss……………………………………….

        • The descriptive title “creepy internet perve” is debatable in my case; they are, however, quite common, and very vocal as exemplified by your lengthy missives.
          The pervs in Monica’s movie “The 13th Step”, however, are genuine pervs, lying in drooling wait for the next newcomer to enter the door of the rhumes. The newspapers are full of stories of their pillage and murders, and they’re almost as numerous as the pervs on the web. Our court system is more than eager to cater to AA CPC committee’s requests that they be mandated away from expensive prison accommodation and into the negligent hands of Any AA Group, USA.

          • Joshua M Brown on

            You convey your thoughts in a very pretentious and condescending way. I’m not saying I disagree with your message, but your style of writing and the volume of correspondence is a very forced and painfully obvious attempt to appear “above” anyone with whom you’re conversing. You’re like they guy on Seinfeld who stole the statue. Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge, somewhere?

            I respect intelligence and I’m something of a grammar-nazi, but hark! You take it to a level of fag that makes people want to bitch-slap you.

            I bid you a douche, my liege.

      • Landslide Larry on

        Bahahahahahahaha! Perfect description of the 12 step cult disciple true believers. That gravy train is protected with nothing but grandiose BILLSHIT. Dangerous cult religion! Danger bill wilson! Danger!

  12. 13 Stepping movie? Reminds me of a drama seeking 11 year old sneaking a look at National Geographic boobs. Everyone thrives in their own sick way on another’s guilt riddled sexual fantasy.. An emotional morning after pill that always ends in an acceptable arrangement of blame. Sonsabitches, why wasn’t I ever 13 Stepped! Always the pallbearer never the corpse..Nobody loves me……………………………..

    The innocent victim, Little Red Riding Hood skipping along a wooded path at one with nature, following bread crumbs back to her second AA meeting only to be attacked and sexually abused by vicious AA wolves. She should be given the chance to wait a year and then slowly develop a relationship with say, Johnny Appleseed?……………………………..

    Last week I went to this inner city AA/All addictions/NA hybrid and whatever else that has been concocted from the 12 Step Medical Model talk therapy Church financed glory be to Jesus recovery, meeting. (cough) It took a few minutes to calm down the guy I brought with me who was still shitfaced even though he had supposedly slept most of the afternoon. A good natured drunk really but I’m not his wife or kids so, what do I really know………………………………….

    So the speaker is a woman with under a year which is the most time accumulated sober in her life of booze drugs, halfway houses, prison, etc. A 40ish maybe 50ish bleach blond gal who somehow found a pair of two sizes too small antique Gloria Vanderbelt genes at Sally’s. I was thinking they didn’t even have Yoga pants back in the 80’s did they? It was hard to not get caught staring at the camel club foot. Let me be straight here, this chick had seen some ruff road and survived to tell the story. I was there second row eyes front with the drunk guy leaning over me like a wet blanket, still telling some hilarious to him story in Spanglish. I don’t understand any of it really….Something about coming to America and a poodle and cops.. When he gets real close I hold my breath and close my mouth. So, this is AA, not from concentrate…………………………………….

    The woman to my right has a kind of Love Shack bee hive Dolly Parton wig thing going on with tattoo’s all over her as if she wanted to look like a bowl of spaghetti-o’s. Way too much red I thought. Maybe an Italian gang thing. Not sure. She got up and shuffled slowly by my head with a massive PINK billboard on the back of black stretchy stockings? It was as if Pedro said just 50 more miles to South of the Border. She smelled like Bounce which for a big butt in my face wasn’t that bad. Much better than the Gay guy in front of me who took a street life shower in Patchouli oil and shook my hand welcoming me to the meeting. I’ll need automotive degreaser to get that off me. Oh God! I touched my face! IT’S IN MY MOUTH!!………………………………

    Anyway, this woman speaking, looked at me with this look. A look right through me look. She may have been living and waiting her entire life in the darkness of addictions left field but tonight? Right now? She was the light. I was the scene of an AA drive by. Blunt force trauma to the forehead. Look into the light! As I sat there bleeding out my self centered fear profusely , she came to my rescue. I was listening. She removed my full face helmet, cut my cool Carhartt jacket off. Snipped right through my haircut my fatty surface bullshit, my better than everybody muscle, and left me sitting there in the second row as a pile of bleached bones. I no longer had anything to steal, to protect, to maintain a wall around. I was a free man for an hour and then on into the evening…………………………………………………

    So this week, last night actually, I pick up the drunk guy again. I head to the meeting with a pile of sandwiches, find my same seat in the second row. Same story whispered and spitting at me from my drunk friend on my left with no top teeth. Different but same women on my right, same Mr. congeniality AA Gay guy in front reeking of patchouli. I am wondering where is the girl/ woman who spoke last week and woke me up? I had thought about her and what she said a few times during the week. I was excited to come back and hear her again. She was just so AA, all about joining the group and participating, slogans, gratitude, yet tonight she wasn’t here? Odd? So I ask the chairperson where she is? He says they have been having a tough time with their relationship. Their relationship? What? Her with her 4 months and him with his 8 years. I wanted to smack him in the head with the same force she had hit me with her willingness and honesty a week before………………………………………..

    I am disappointed but reality hits as I look around the room. This is not a politically correct crowd, these people are damaged and doing their best to survive. This is not some silk upholstered web thread filled with moral and psychological convictions. No, these folks suffer from the Alcoholism that was there before the Internet with it’s obsessed keyboard addicts, before 12 Step treatment centers, before the bi-polar craze, before the DSM hybrid, Xanax. They are emotionally empty, looking for love, acceptance, validation, something, settling for anything they can get. Less than what is needed to build on but enough to sustain themselves another day. Instant gratification from people is what they know. They take from the Fellowship while the giving is in the showing up. See me, Feel me, Touch me, Heal me..Like that Who song……………………………………………….

    13 Stepping is wrong and can go unchallenged. The 12 Steps are the guide to growing in understanding in AA. The AA Big Book 12 Steps are the solution in AA as well as outside it’s halls. The 12 Steps are the guide to balance with the Court System, the Treatment Centers and all the recovery Hybrids. A thorough moral inventory is suggested, how many take this self searching step? How many cannot and find emotional security by condemning it. How many enjoy the power of resentment, anger. How many fight to empower themselves through wholesale condemnation, to fill the void left as they feel themselves victimized in life unwilling to take any responsibility whatsoever. They demand the world and it’s people wrong. Nothing changes, no one is repaired.

    • Glowing words, enormously amusing, and even rather stirring, but, in the end, unmoving.
      If it’s acceptable for adherents of the program described to cram its brand of recovery down the public throat and decry all others, then it is just fine and dandy for anyone who wants to to talk stink about it and the bad experiences they had there.
      You described precisely the draw AA had for me. The high drama and bizarre characters are quite entertaining, more so for those observing from the top of a pedastal of superiority than for the vulnerable on the floor who go there actually looking for help.

  13. No big surprise that a hardcore aa-member and believer in the 12 step religion, will dislike a film that questions his program. If he even for a second saw the movie as an individual and used his own words and knowledge, instead of all the auto-anti-critic frases, that sounds excactly the same no matter which member it comes from, words and points learn by having them inprinted in the brain by hearing them over and over again at meetings. Arguments are always the same, like when he states “It saved my life and many of my loved ones,…” and “……I have met Hundreds of people claiming the same”. This is not a valid proof that aa works, I have never seen any such proof in form of sceintific study of the effect of aa .only numbers i have seen suggested that aa has about the same succes rate in turning drinkers into non drinkers, as in the group of drinkers that do nothing at all but just stopping without any help, about 5 % succes.
    But the biggest lie is in fact the Idea, that the opposite of addiction is to be sober, it is not.
    it is love and connection.
    Most of the people stuck in aa talks a lot(like in almost all the time) about how happy and good the feel, if this is the case, then why this need for constantly saying it, it seems rather desperate and compulsive, and not like anything a person in state of happiness and balance, would need or even care about doing.

  14. “DANIELLE STEWART+ Facebook Twitter
    Danielle Stewart is the Managing Editor of as well as a recovering stand-up comedian and alcoholic. You can listen to her strong and typically uninformed opinions on #TheDaniStew Experience on iTunes. She has been a guest on AfterPartyPod. ”

    So… “You can listen to her strong and typically uninformed opinions on …”

    Nice dis there. Who wrote this “About Author” excerpt and if she’s so uninformed, why is this posting taking up space in cyberspace in the first place?

  15. theghostofOddnes on

    Lost me in the intro paragraph. Every single Scientology member in existence will credit Scientology for saving their lives….. Because they are cult members.

    They will also lambaste anything even slightly critical of the cult. hmmm.

    • I have met many cult members over the past 45 years who told me with complete conviction that membership in their cult of choice is the reason they’re not dead from their drug of choice. The cult members who told me this belonged to: The Children of God, ISKCON, SIF, the Moonies, various screwball christian sects, various groups devoted to various Indian gurus, NA, and AA.
      Then there were many people I spoke to who said they were born again and joined a church, and that saved their life. The 12 steps are certainly not unique in being credited with divine intervention for the chemically dependent.
      Most people I met who relied upon religion to cure an actual disease such as cancer or mental illness were disappointed, however. Most of them died.
      Most, (not all, unfortunately), people I met who relied upon medicine survived to a ripe old age.
      It’s a pity that many alternatives like SOS seem to want to follow in AA’s footsteps.
      Medical science will come up with effective treatments for chemical dependency when religion is shoved out of the way.
      It’s already happening. LDN is one such medical treatment.

      • Yes, thank you for your words. My two cents worth – AA is Sober Social Support and “it” doesn’t save anyones life, the person saves their own life when something gives them that true feeling of, “Ive had enough”…. Does being in a room full of people with addiction in common, a bunch of horror stories and the miracle stories help to stimulate some internal motivation ? Hope so.

        I am not a supporter of “treatment centers” that purport to use the 12 steps as their solution to addiction. 12 step programs are self help….It is not medical and it is not science and most who attend such places relapse soon upon leaving their safety, but boy o boy do the folks who own them make some money for themselves.

        Also, the folks selling white vans are making a killing ? lol couldn’t resist. No anonymity there….look, it’s a recovery van. In south Florida theres one at every intersection 🙂

    • OKey Dokey, didn’t think you were, although did wonder for a minute…..
      There are useful things to be learned in AA, diamonds amidst the turds. I’ve been thinking of that a lot, today…. One might compare AA to abusive English boarding schools of auld, perhaps.

      • Brian from Buffalo on

        All things being equal I do suggest to newly sober individuals that ‘…any port in a storm…’ if they can not speak to someone or really want to drink (..use) there a lot of AA meetings in the area (@435) – [a lot of resentments and coffee pots in the area] Anything is better than using – drinking.

        I really got caught up in your conversation with others. I do not posses your wit and patience. What I noticed over the years that AA was really getting caught up in following doctrine rather than helping the new alcoholic member. At first it made me sad then angry. As time went on I was spinning my wheels and needed to find another support group. Never thought I was a group kind of guy but I guess I am.

        I am happy to see people like you out there willing to indulge others.

        • I like finding out that my sharp unstoppable sarcasm comes across as patience and wit to at least one person; I think of it as an exceptional talent for being stubborn.
          I’m not sure I think of AA as “port in the storm”, but it was an outstanding diversion for anyone tough enough to take it. I’d been to boot camp rehab (and other torture chambers) in my youth, so I had prior experience at holding my ground. Could be I stayed sober just to prove them all wrong; are any of us entirely aware of our own motives?
          I say spill the whole can of worms out onto the ground for all to see. It won’t keep most people away and AA will gain a reputation for honesty. I honestly don’t see why the organization doesn’t do it.

  16. CHAMUNDI – good Point. In NY people can go to any self help meeting as far as I know but I do not have first hand knowledge of this. I agree the 12 steps in a rehab are as useful as toilet paper to repair a broken leg. Unfortunately addiction is not really understood and in no way is AA the panacea for the cure. All that being said I did and do find it helpful to be with others of the same ilk (be it alcohol, drugs, sex or gaming addictions). Just one man’s somewhat humble opinion.

  17. Joe C. (@Rebellion_Dogs) on

    I’ve been following the story of this film with interest for some time. I haven’t seen it; let’s see if it makes the documentary channel. Context is key. 1% of Americans are sociopaths according to Psychology Today so I guess in the USA, that’s 12,000 wacho AA members (1% of 1.2 mil.) So is AA more predatory or less predatory than the bars these women are coming from? I was a teen when I came around and there was the rare inappropriate touch or sexual innuendo from men and women alike. Steering clear of awkward scenes was easy enough. Hooking up, for the record, was also easy enough.

    I see AA as an imperfect organization of flawed individuals. Sure it’s rigid at some meetings and we navigate around zealots and opportunists. But it’s just not that hard to find a meeting that meets your needs regardless of how secular or religious, structured or informal, large or small of a meeting you want.

    I am an atheist and I couldn’t help but notice the suggestion by Dodes (who’s never met a microphone he didn’t like) or the filmaker that AA demands obedience to a prayer answering, sobriety granting deity. While that worldview is popular in AA it’s hardly a mandate. My home group doesn’t have any prayer and god-talk as the majority of us who are members are nonbelievers and even the believers are happy to keep the sobriety talk on a secular level.

    I don’t think AA ought to be complacent about our duty to newcomers and those of us who attend AA ought to keep an eye out for people who pray on others sexually, financially or whatever this film makers concern was about landscaping. But I don’t think picketing GSO is the way to go. Getting active and talking on a role of stewardship at our own group is way more useful.

    • Oddly enough, none of my Therapists ever recommended I go to the Bar for a support group.
      (Or Circle K, 7/11, or Walmart, no one ever recommended those places as therapy, either.)
      I guess maybe they though the Bar might have too many sociopaths.
      And no one at the Bar ever asked me to spill my guts and tell all my secrets to them.
      No one at the Bar ever told me to forget everything I already thought I knew, and make the bar gang my higher power.
      And I never assumed that the Bar would be filled with people who had the same goal as I did, or that the people at the bar would have my best interests in mind.
      It’s so strange, but when I went to the Bar, I always had my guard up.
      I was very aware that there would be sociopaths there.
      But if my Therapist thought AA was a great place to find support, Hey! I could take her word for it, right? And my Doctor thought the same, and my mother, and all of the AA members I was acquainted with outside of AA.
      All these people I trusted told me to go to AA, and Not a one of them ever said, “be careful, AA isn’t like the safe support groups you have been to before”.
      No one ever said, “there might be court ordered Criminals and Sex Offenders at AA meetings, the same as there might be at the Bar”.
      But I was hip slick and cool.
      I knew AA was as full of sociopaths and exploiters as the worst bar in town.
      I could smell them when I walked in the door.
      Not everyone is so fortunate. Some people are young and naive.
      Some people actually trust the recommendation of their doctors and therapists.
      Not me. I knew better.

      Now, tell me how the people in AA are spiritual, kind, and caring, and that they’ll love me until I can love myself.
      Tell me how I need to get Real Honest, and real Vulnerable if I want to get sober.
      Tell me my problem is not being willing to Trust.

      • slay diggity on

        sorry to hear about your experiance. my experiance is differed a bit; no one told me my problem, they told me theirs then they shared their experiance strength and hope. i found a member with whom i felt i could relate to, then that member told me what his sponsor suggested he do then suggested that i do the same. it has worked for me so far, now i get to do the same thing for other people. no one comes to the meetings because they are healthy, including me. but by going there i was able to start setting healther boundries. then took it from the rooms to the real world. i know that the 12 steps is not the only way for people to get clean, but its free and avilble world wide. please dont let a few sick f*cks stop you from helping yourself. good luck. oh and please excuse my spelling im aware that it is not my strong piont.

        • Don’t need any help. I walked away from AA decades ago and never missed it, never got drunk, never got treatment, and am still alive. So “jails, institutions and death” are hereby disproved. By a lot more people than just me. My story is identical to hundreds of others.

          It wasn’t a few sick fucks, it was rooms filed with them. Including each and every one of my sponsors.

          My initial point was: AA is more psychologically/ emotionally dangerous than the bar because people are disarmed when they go to AA and they spill their guts. If a few escape unscathed, that’s to Their credit, Not AA’s.

          • With 25 years in AA (last 10 plus with complete abstinence) I am happier outside of AA ( I joined SOS). As the years progress and I stay abstinent I am generally a happier and healthier person. I have seen both good and bad things in AA. As an atheist I really do not belong there anymore ( I never really did). Years ago AA was the only game in town. If AA helps you that’s great – if not – look elsewhere. Dogma is everywhere. That is my experience strength and hope for this evening.

          • Live and let live would be all very well and good if
            1) people were not being coerced into AA by the courts, at AA’s behest.
            2) AA’s insinuation into the medical and therapeutic communities were not preventing the development and recommending of evidence based methods that might be more effective.
            AA would just be a harmless, kooky cult, if not for these things.

          • theghostofOddnes on

            I agree a lot with what you guys are saying here. There is dogma in SOS too. I was booted from a online group of theirs for supporting a member who wanted to taper off psyche meds. The average member there is so pro med that even sharing my experience of the horrors of those things and supporting someone going through the same situation was too much for the “med heads”… lol. They locked me out.

            I have had great success with HAMS though. I have evolved past the sobriety need, coming to see it as a common puritanical drive that a lot of people have, but in reality it is not really a big woop, as long as I am not harming anyone.

            But too, I have had some encounters with nasty people online there twice. People get angry when they don’t have the success that others do, and lash out. And usually it is due to their heads being filled with dogma that 12step, SOS, and SMART all feed in to.

            But I will say that I have not encountered any sexual predation in any non 12 step group I have involved myself with. Perhaps it is due to their smaller size, but I think too that they have much less court mandates in their midst, and this is a likely big factor in the lower pervert population.

            having said all that, I know several victims of sexual crimes due to 12 step involvement, and several sober suicide cases, of rather young people who got really wrapped up in big book delusion religion.

  18. Jon Stewart on

    This is an entirely biased review that contains numerous errors – both about the film (which I saw recently in London) and about AA. The fact the author is the same kind of AA robot that I used to be and can’t help subtitling her review sections with fellowship dogma and cliches speaks volumes. A stand up comedienne? We are not a glum lot, I suppose. Monica is a brave and truthful film maker who has done something very difficult – and who has stuck her head above the parapet in the process. Clearly she’s going to attract a lot of criticism from AA robots like this reviewer who can’t see the wood for the trees. That’s what happens when you go against the flow, particularly when the flow (in this case) is populated by defensive neurotics who can’t take criticism. I’m a middle aged man who’s been sober nearly 15 years, 14 of them in AA. I had a respected old timer gay man who was a pillar of the community in my home town try to 13th step me when I was a vulnerable newcomer a three months sober, a decade later I was repeatedly hit on by a cougar at over 10 years sober. AA is not a safe place. It’s 1930s mental health technology. Today we have things such as safeguarding. The boy scouts and the Catholic Church have had to deal with this, what make AA special and different? Isn’t it time to be honest, willing and open-minded about this issue? Wake up and smell the coffee.

    • Agreed ! That’s the darn honest truth!
      Why can’t we share our experiences and be open minded? They get defensive ! I thought aa teaches open minded ?

    I have no doubt that you’re planning to have the last word even if you have to quit the night shift at the rehab to do so.
    Get a clue: NO ONE is reading this but you and I.
    No one cares.
    Your opinions are just NOT that important.
    You have done little here other than laud AA in the highest possible terms, talk at length about what a spectacular program you have, and brag about the fabulous, stupendous, wonderful life you’re currently living.
    You have also done your best to discredit the experiences of anyone whom YOU consider to have said anything even slightly “negative” about AA by using insults, speculation about their emotional state, and gaslighting (ad hominem) statements about their character.
    You’ve done the same, consistantly, on other websites, always in defense of AA.
    It’s obviously some kind of crusade you’re on.

    Lets have a look at a few of Your comments.
    1) “I’m sorry that anybody anywhere got raped and/or killed for that matter. Or were forced to mow someone’s lawn.”
    Could you minimize rape and murder some more, maybe compare it to dishwashing next time?
    2) “Rude.”
    Yes, you are.
    3) “I love my life, and haters gonna hate.”
    If you love your stupendous life so much, why are you always on the internet defending AA? Did it ever occur to you that you’re inviting “haters” to respond with “hate” by insulting them and minimizing their complaints? Probably not; you’re a spiritual AA member, after all.
    4) I”’m done engaging with you naysayers”
    Obviously you are NOT done
    5) ” because you’re basically negative people.”
    Yes, and you know everyone here so well, being personally acquainted with each of us.
    6)” You condemn every aspect of AA,”
    Nope, not EVERY aspect of AA, just the bad aspects, the predatory behaviors, the lies, the hypocrisy, the narcissism, etc.
    7) ” you don’t offer any solutions of your own,”
    Oh, but we DO offer alternatives. I do it all the time. You simply refuse to read it, or acknowledge it, whenever we do.
    8) ” you’re all consumed with your anger (self-loathing?)”.
    Once again, you know this because you’ve spent so much time just hanging out with us, right?
    9)”You must all be the people who just quit cold turkey, without the benefit of any program.”
    Must we? Actually, I can’t think of any reason why someone who HASN”T been an AA member would bother to write about AA.
    Once again, and you know everyone here personally, right?
    10) “Don’t believe all of the naysayers until you’ve looked into it yourself, and reached your own conclusion.”
    Good advice, and it holds true for all the naysaying done by AA members like you, against the stories of people who were harmed by AA.
    11) “In addition, don’t be manipulated by the anti-AA/12 Step fear-mongers.”
    In other words, Only listen to YOU, right?
    Don’t listen to those fear-mongers who claim to have experienced damage in AA.

    When I wrote about MY alternative to AA, about what worked for me, you responded with:
    12) “For those like myself who suffer from a more severe strain of alcoholism and/or addiction than our friend CHAMUNDI”
    And you know how severe my anything is because you know me so intimately?
    13) “Rather than allowing CHAMUNDI to make your decision for you”
    No one has ever allowed me to make their decision for them in my life.
    Once again, NO ONE is bothering to read this tedious argument, believe me.
    15) “That’s what educated adults do.”
    A subtle hint that you’re smarter than everyone else.
    And YOUR advanced educational level is ????? I know what MINE is, and it’s none of your business.
    16) “CHAMUNDI does not know me, has never met me, and therefore knows nothing at all about me, my life, my addiction, or my solution”
    But you know all about ME, right? Because you’re omnipotent?
    17) “CHAMUNDI can’t be bothered with the facts.”
    No, actually, I gave you FACTS. A great, big, whopping pile of them, which you ignored. You insisted on speculating about my character instead. (Elsewhere, and here)
    18) “this is what I originally said, that started CHAMUNDI off on his/her creepy and negative diatribe”
    This is NOT a diatribe. If I were to insult you and call you names, and speculate about your character, now THAT might be a diatribe.
    You’re also wrong about what you said that annoyed me. See above.
    19) “What “nasty insults” & presumptions are you talking about? I must have either missed something, or you’re projecting.”
    See above.
    20) ” “Macho comebacks?” What does that even mean? What makes a comeback “macho”?”
    A series of macho comebacks might be when a big man thinks he can bully a woman into being silent and submitting to his will that she shut the fuck up. Doesn’t really have to be a woman; men are often macho to other men, too.
    21) “You’re the only bully around here. ”
    This is the internet, Toots. Plenty of bullies around here. You’re one. Don’t much like being bullied back, do you?
    22) You got the name right. Yes, Chamundi is female, and she is decidedly NOT sweet.
    23) “Didn’t accuse you of self-loathing, merely inquired.”
    Oh, that’s right. You accused me of being angry, being “negative”, of not being an addict, of never having gone to AA, of being a bully, of being creepy, a fear-mongerer and a naysayer, of having quit “cold-turkey”, and of not being interested in facts.
    Plenty of accusations there.
    And, out of the SIDE of your mouth, you hinted that I am not educated, and claimed that I don’t offer solutions, (both are untrue, by the way), and said I am engaging in a diatribe. (This is an argument, not a diatribe. We are writing back, and forth.)
    24) “Didn’t put words in your mouth, but you put words I did not say in my mouth.”
    Reread YOUR OWN comments, AA hypocrit.
    25) ” That said. I’m through interacting with you.”
    I’ll believe THAT when I see it.

      Oops, I missed a couple of insults:
      “Unfortunately, like many bullying trolls, he/she likes to put words in people’s mouths, which is not only inappropriate, but also immature.”

      You called me a bullying troll, and immature.
      We may BOTH be guilty of “bullying”, but neither of us is a “Troll”.
      We both have a dog in this fight.
      As to who’s “immature”; in my experience, both the pot AND the kettle are said to be black.

  20. Brian Alderson Smith on

    (1.) I’m not fighting about anything. I’m simply posting about my experience with AA so that no one believes the negative picture you paint is the only word on the subject.
    (2.) What “nasty insults” & presumptions are you talking about? I must have either missed something, or you’re projecting.
    (3.) “Macho comebacks?” What does that even mean? What makes a comeback “macho”?
    (4.) You’re the only bully around here. Continually repeating and/or mirroring my commentary is a childish debating method, but you’re clearly committed to it.
    (5.) The “his/her” was called for as you never designated your specific gender. In American society, the name Brian is traditionally male. As for capitalizing your “title”, I have no idea whether “Chamundi” is your name, nickname, username, etc. The only reference I could find on line was “a fearsome aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother and one of the seven Matrikas”.
    (6.) Didn’t accuse you of self-loathing, merely inquired.
    (7.) Didn’t put words in your mouth, but you put words I did not say in my mouth.
    (8.) That said. I’m through interacting with you.

  21. BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH can only speak to his/her own experience, but can not speak about mine at all.
    BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH does not know me, has never met me, and therefore knows nothing at all about me.
    Unfortunately, like many bullying sissies, he likes to put words in people’s mouths, which is not only silly, but also unmanly.
    BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH accused me of self-loathing, among other things, and condemned me for not suggesting an alternative to AA.
    When I did provide one, he felt it necessary to come back here and follow my comments with retaliatory ones of his own, even going so far as to put MY NAME IN CAPS so he could be sure I didn’t miss the fact that they were directed at me.

    If a different method of doing ANYTHING interests you, then by all means try it. I can only speak to my own experience, which includes, but it by no means limited to, AA.

    AA was an extremely dangerous and harmful method and fellowship for me and many people I knew and loved, so I DON”T recommend it to ANYONE else.
    I’m happy with my life, and speak about what I know.

    By all means, try any and all treatments programs available to you, or even NONE AT ALL, if that is what feels right.
    You already know what other methods are available.
    Go on-line and find something IF YOU WANT.
    I’ve already told you what’s AA was like for me.
    For the record, I’m NOT going to rewrite what I said that started BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH off on his endless macho series of comebacks.
    You have eyes and can read.
    I’m not such a self-important NARCISSIST that I think anyone but BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH is even reading this.
    I’m pretty sure you’re NOT. I’m equally certain that BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH is.
    If there’s anybody foolish enough to be following this, (which I seriously doubt), if you’re having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, and you’re finding it difficult to quit on your own, I’ll share what has helped me to live a life of good purpose, without having to take a drink or a drug,
    for the last 25 years.
    I made:
    1) A decision to quit, found
    2) a new set of sober friends, developed
    3) a passionate interest in things other than getting high, spent some more time
    4) growing up, and went looking for
    5) PROFESSIONAL assistance.
    These things gave me a life that I always knew was possible.
    A regular, good-day bad-day kind of life, with problems and joy and success and disappointments and loss, the kind everyone lives through. an regular human, nothing to really brag about, I’m not pretending to be Ghandi, Paris Hilton, or Bill W. celebrity kind of life.

    AA is not for everyone, and if you’re willing to put in a fraction of the energy that you used up trying to maintain your sanity and sense of self when you were in AA, trusting your own judgement NOW might just might work for you. Don’t believe all of the AA fear-mongering and cult speak until you’ve looked into yourself, and reached YOUR OWN conclusion.

    (ps. BRIAN ALDERSON SMITH: you picked this one elsewhere, you just don’t realize it.
    Don’t make presumptions about and write nasty insults about other people [ie: ME] unless you’re looking for a really fun flame war. I’m always game.)
    Don’t ever discuss MY sobriety or my personality again, or we can do this forever, as far as I’m concerned, Big Shot.
    For someone who’s so very very EXTREMELY happy with their life, you sure spend a lot of time fighting about BS online. Of course, that might be what makes you happy.)

  22. Brian Alderson Smith on

    CHAMUNDI can only speak to his/her own experience, but can not speak about mine at all. CHAMUNDI does not know me, has never met me, and therefore knows nothing at all about me, my life, my addiction, or my solution. Unfortunately, like many bullying trolls, he/she likes to put words in people’s mouths, which is not only inappropriate, but also immature. I never even remotely suggested that AA was the only path, but then CHAMUNDI can’t be bothered with the facts.
    If a different method of quitting alcohol and drugs works for you, then by all means use it. I can only speak to my own experience, which is AA. AA worked very well for me, so I didn’t have a need to try anything else. I’m extremely happy with my life, and so that is what I know. By all means, try any and all treatments programs available to you (except Narconon/Scientology; don’t waste your time and/or money). Among the many programs that are currently available, some of the better known include:
    Smart Recovery
    Moderation Management
    Women For Sobriety
    Celebrate Recovery
    Rational Recovery

    Go on-line and find something that works for you. I’ve already told you what’s worked for me. And, for the record, this is what I originally said, that started CHAMUNDI off on his/her creepy and negative diatribe:

    Hey folks. If you’re having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, and you’re finding it difficult to quit on your own, I’ll share what has helped me to live a life of good purpose, without having to take a drink or a drug, for the last 8 years. Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps have given me a life that I never imagined was possible. AA is not for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in a fraction of the energy that you used to get drunk and high, it just might work for you. Don’t believe all of the naysayers until you’ve looked into it yourself, and reached your own conclusion.

  23. For those like myself who suffer from a more severe revulsion to silly slogans, group speak and cult indoctrination than the AA defender and PROMOTER , AA member BRIAN SMITH, go on-line to find ALTERNATIVES to AA and other 12 step meetings near you. After 80 years, con man Bill Wilson’s cult is no longer the ONLY option in virtually every community in America, and in countries around the world (I hear there are some terrific English-speaking non-12-step medical clinics for chemical dependency in Costa Rica).
    In AA I found religious dogma that I did not need and could not swallow, and, worse than that, a very dysfunctional assortment of people who pretended to long term recovery they did not possess.
    I relearned old life skills I had forgotten I possessed, like how to protect myself from users, predators, and con artists, and because of pain I experienced from the shallow and false “friendships” I made in AA, I developed a new trust in my own judgement that revolutionized my life. But don’t take my word (or anyone else’s) for it. Rather than allowing BRIAN SMITH or other converts to indoctrinate you into their cult, you owe it to yourself to investigate it on your own.
    That’s what intelligent, scientifically educated adults do.

    There are thousands of horror stories online from people who were NOT helped by the religious program and insincere fellowship of AA. There are many new treatment methods that don’t require you to invent a GOD or spout slogans, and are based on evidence and scientific research rather than faith-healing.
    I’m sure BRIAN SMITH tells himself that he means well, but in truth he’s convinced that HIS path is the ONLY path that a drunk should take, and he can’t stand it that I’m suggesting a different way.
    Ask yourself: Do you really want what he’s selling? I know I don’t.

  24. Brian Alderson Smith on

    For those like myself who suffer from a more severe strain of alcoholism and/or addiction than our friend CHAMUNDI, go on-line to find the local AA and other 12 step meetings near you. After 80 years, AA can be found in virtually every community in America, and in countries around the world (I just got back from some terrific English-speaking meetings in Costa Rica). In AA I found the support that I needed, and a like-minded community of people in long-term recovery. I learned new life skills I hadn’t possessed previously, and developed a spiritual practice that revolutionized my life. But, don’t take my word (or anyone else’s) for it. Rather than allowing CHAMUNDI to make your decision for you, you can investigate it all on your own. That’s what educated adults do.

  25. If you’re really serious about feeling better, improving your health, and staying off the sauce for good, and you can’t pretend to agree that you’re more selfish and flawed than the rest of humanity, sit for hours with chain smokers and listening to interminable war stories, or pretend that you actually believe there’s a god who’s standing by to help you not drink, you might want to try one of the new medicines like naloxone. It would probably be a good idea look for an evidence-based recovery method, you know, one that’s been proven to be effective.
    This is the year 2015; the early twentieth century plagiarized musings of a New York stock toot are no longer the final word in the treatment of alcoholism. We have scientists and medical experts who have been working on solutions for the problem for decades.
    I recommend visiting the webpage of Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed., herself a former AA member who has written extensively about the link between nutrition and recovery. She did her own research and regained her health after finding that AA just didn’t give her body what it needed to heal.
    Above all, (this is my secret path to a non-drinking lifestyle), find something else to be as passionate about as you were about drinking, and make a new set of sober friends.

  26. There are many cults and wacky religions available to those willing to join them, and most will offer to bring you peace, love, and help you solve your problems with addictive behaviors. Here are just a few:
    International enlightenment Fellowship
    Gabriel of Sedona
    Supreme Master Ching Hai
    The way of the Heart
    3HO Yogi Bhagan
    Byron Katie The Work
    YMBBA Ministries
    various Jagad Gurus
    There are just too many to list! There are plenty of websites that can steer you towards a wide variety of groups that will take over your life and help you overcome the sense of emptiness that leads you to drink; just google “cult”. The US is known to be very accepting of mind-control groups. If you’re having a hard time finding a suitable one in your geographic area, there’s always a 12 step group to fit your “special needs”. And you can even make up your own version of god, an added plus for those who can’t ever seem to swallow someone else’s.
    Once you’ve found a group you like, get back in contact with me. I have a very nice, slightly used bridge for sale, you can have it for a song.

    (Just kidding! Use your own noggin. It’s usually better than trying to fit into someone else’s.)

  27. Brian Alderson Smith on

    Oops, almost forgot. The 12 steps have been shown to work for a myriad of addictive behaviors, not just alcohol & narcotics. Here are just a few of the programs out there:
    AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
    ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics
    Al-Anon/Alateen, for friends and families of alcoholics
    CA – Cocaine Anonymous
    CLA – Clutterers Anonymous
    CMA – Crystal Meth Anonymous
    Co-Anon, for friends and family of addicts
    CoDA – Co-Dependents Anonymous, for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and develop functional and healthy relationships
    COSA – formerly Codependents of Sex Addicts
    COSLAA – CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous
    DA – Debtors Anonymous
    EA – Emotions Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness
    FA – Families Anonymous, for relatives and friends of addicts
    FA – Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
    FAA – Food Addicts Anonymous
    GA – Gamblers Anonymous
    Gam-Anon/Gam-A-Teen, for friends and family members of problem gamblers
    HA – Heroin Anonymous
    MA – Marijuana Anonymous
    NA – Narcotics Anonymous
    NAIL – Neurotics Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness
    Nar-Anon, for friends and family members of addicts
    NicA – Nicotine Anonymous
    OA – Overeaters Anonymous
    OLGA – Online Gamers Anonymous
    PA – Pills Anonymous, for recovery from prescription pill addiction.
    SA – Sexaholics Anonymous
    SA – Smokers Anonymous
    SAA – Sex Addicts Anonymous
    SCA – Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
    SIA – Survivors of Incest Anonymous
    SLAA – Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
    SRA – Sexual Recovery Anonymous
    UA – Underearners Anonymous
    WA – Workaholics Anonymous

    In addition, don’t be manipulated by the anti-AA/12 Step fear-mongers. Look into AA, and it’s sister programs, and make an informed decision based on your own experience. Good luck.

  28. Hey folks. If you’re having a problem with Alcoholics Anonymous or NA, and you’re finding it difficult to quit meetings on your own, I’ll share what has helped me to live a life of good purpose, without having to go to a meeting for the last 20 years. Therapy, willpower, good sober friends and common sense have given me a life that I never imagined was possible. AA is not for everyone, and if you’re willing to put a fraction of the energy into healing from AA abuse that, as a member, you put into working the steps, you just might get better. Don’t believe all of the cult fear-mongering until you’ve looked into it yourself, and reached your own conclusion.

  29. Brian Alderson Smith on

    Hey folks. If you’re having a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, and you’re finding it difficult to quit on your own, I’ll share what has helped me to live a life of good purpose, without having to take a drink or a drug, for the last 8 years. Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps have given me a life that I never imagined was possible. AA is not for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in a fraction of the energy that you used to get drunk and high, it just might work for you. Don’t believe all of the naysayers until you’ve looked into it yourself, and reached your own conclusion.

  30. Marilyn,

    I mean this from the heart … and I’m guilty of this too; We would both be better off debating a bag of rocks than trying to apply reason and logic with many who have been brainwashed in AA.

    I am one of those “unfortunates” who is told that he “is too smart for the AA program, while there are many “who cannot be too dumb to get it.” This is one of AA’s slogans that is designed to shame people who cannot overlook the childish nature inherent in its “brand” of “spirituality.” At the same time, what this slogan suggests, by AA’s own admission, is that there is a high bottom stupid people to accommodate to understand its program and a low ceiling for intelligence (I don’t think that I’m particularly smart).

    Bill Wilson confessed later in his life that 10 of the twelve steps are taken directly from the Oxford Group practices. Why is there not a single Oxford Group member around when millions believed it helped them find God in the 1930’s? I venture that those people eventually grew up and realized how stupid the whole thing was. Hey, but don’t take my word for. Perhaps the most scathing and humorous attack on AA came from this nice Protestant English woman in the early 30’s, before AA was even conceptualised. Check out what she had to say about the Oxford Group:

    “The Bishop of London, speaking on the Group some time ago, said: “God has given us intelligence and reason to be the lamps to guide us.

    The Group by its interpretation of Divine Guidance advocates the dowsing of these lamps.

    To return to the simile of a father and his children. The Group teaches the child to regard his father not as a guide and defence generally and a ready help in time of trouble, but someone to whom the child turns for actual direction in everything he does. Father, shall I play with my train or my bricks? Father, shall I build a house or a bridge? Father, shall I use red bricks or blue? Father, shall I knock it down? Father, shall I build it up? Father this and father that, until a father might well wonder whether his child is a half-wit, instead of a reasonable being.”

    If you want further laughs, this excerpt comes from “Saints Run Mad” by Marjorie Harrison. It is readily available online and you only need to substitute references to the Oxford Group with AA.

    Why are AA people still accepting an ideology that ALL non addicts had previously abandoned ? Because they tell people they have the answer (or, in this case, borrowed) for addiction. This is the only reason why their bankrupt ideology has survived. Even Christian theologians stay clear away from AA. One of the biggest ironies is that the guy, to whom the serenity prayer is attributed to, HATED THE OXFORD GROUP precisely on theological and political grounds. He would be rolling in his grave if he knew that it was recited at the end of every AA meeting.

    But there is a dark side. Marjorie warns:

    “One of the many weaknesses of the Movement, and perhaps its greatest tragedy, is that the more serious-minded and thoughtful a convert may be, the more likely he is to become discouraged, depressed, or even deranged.”

    Peace out.

    • I engage in the debate mainly for the gore of it. Where else can you find such a deserving selection of sanctimonious fools on whom to sharpen your wit? Any other cult would probably retaliate with guns and poison, but AA members just re-use the same tired old arguments over and over and over…It really isn’t fair to indulge in verbal sparring with them, but I find it irresistible somehow. And I truly despise AA. I consider the little I can do to expose the cult my good deed done for the day.

      I have my own ideas about why AA has survived for so long; forge a tight bond with the US court system and the medical profession, take over the recovery industry and convince the public that you have The One And Only Solution to one of the most frowned upon mis-behaviors known to man and you have a guaranteed recipe for success. What else were they going to do with all those pesky drunks, and at no cost to the taxpayer to boot? Madmen couldn’t have come up with a more effective advertising campaign. Nobody even cares whether or not it works, AA keeps a lot of drunks busy, and that’s what really counts.
      The fact that AA closely parallels Christian fundamentalism works in its favor. Raise the flag and salute the cross, this is America, dammit! God’s on our side.
      Have fun!

  31. WhispersofWisdom on

    Thank you. Your article is a refreshing dose of reality to the people sucked into the hype behind this movie. Monica is a sad case, indeed. She failed to become a “rock star” and then failed to attract enough money from various crowd funding sites, so she marches on with a crusade that does not help anyone in anyway. As a member of AA with over 20 years of continuous sobriety, I am forever grateful to God and AA, for saving my life. Peace, Wow

    • How apt; when intellect fails, an AA member can always resort to the old tried and true method of “slander”, otherwise know as the “ad hominem” argument. And intellect does tend to fail among 12 steppers, almost always, in fact. Just look at their comments above.
      Must have something to do with “Keep It Simple Stupid”.
      12 steppers almost always use ad hominem to defend their precious program against exposure of verifiable negative AA member behavior, when the exposure is done by ex-members, or even the media. AA members might buy it; everyone else recognizes ad hominem for what it is.
      You’re wasting your time accusing Monica of all kinds of bad things.
      Unless slandering ex-members just makes you feel good about yourself, being as you’re such a “spiritual” stepper and all.
      Odd; members are quite “religious” about attempting to divert attention away from bad AA behavior, but I haven’t met many AA members who truly believe in keeping their own side of the street clean. That’s why I quit going to meetings, too much garbage to wade through, and far too few people practicing what they preach.
      Too few as in zero.
      Hey, AA members, here’s a suggestion for you:
      Do a fourth step sometime!
      Better yet, take inventory of your organization.
      You might find out a thing or two about yourself and AA that you really didn’t want to know.

      • Typo above. I meant to say that there is a high bottom for stupid people to understand its program and a low ceiling for intelligent people who can get it.

  32. Yes, haters gotta hate, and AA members are the biggest haters around.
    They hate in the guise of “tough love” and they hate under the justification that AA’s critics are “victimizing” them and helping to kill drunks.
    And some of them are not above falsely pretending to be open-minded individuals seeking information, only to turn against anyone drawn in by the ruse and make those people the target for their rage.
    They get enormous satisfaction from this because it makes them feel real smart and even more holier-than-thou than they already feel, being members of such a special, such a truly “spiritual”, group.
    And one of the few places that they can safely vent that rage is Online, because if they were to display it at meetings, their cronies would know that they did not work the steps properly, are not as holy as they pretend to be, and are most likely still drinking.
    If had to choose one word to describe AA members, especially Male AA members, that word would be “Phony”. I’m sure there are many here who would agree.

    • Brian Alderson Smith on

      I rest my case. “AA members are the biggest haters around”, “falsely pretending to be open-minded individuals”, “phony”. I’m done engaging with you naysayers because you’re basically negative people. You condemn every aspect of AA, you don’t offer any solutions of your own, and you’re all consumed with your anger (self-loathing?). You must all be the people who just quit cold turkey, without the benefit of any program. (Sorry about the sweeping generalizations, but they apply to the vast majority of the anti-AA rhetoric I encounter online.) You, Chamundi, are just the most recent example. You have, however, helped me to decide my plan of action moving forward. I’ll simply post a comment, similar in content to the one you reacted to, and watch the negs froth at the mouth. That way, I can let alcoholics who need help know that there are different points of view out there. Thank you for your help.

      • No on is under any obligation to provide AA alternatives, or anything else, for that matter, when they’ve been ordered to by someone who has jumped all over things said in good faith, and without any provocation have made various derogatory presumptions and personal slurs against them.
        Why should anyone be polite to anyone who’s been nasty to them?
        I don’t exactly feel like bending over backwards for an AA troll who has been fishing for a reaction, and I doubt anyone else does, either.
        In other words, (just in case you’re just extraordinarily incapable of understanding the above);
        You be nice to me, and I’ll be nice to you.
        Be nasty and I’ll give you back the same.
        Clear enough for you?

  33. Brian Alderson Smith on

    Haters gonna hate. I’m sorry that people got raped and/or killed in AA. I’m sorry that anybody anywhere got raped and/or killed for that matter. Or were forced to mow someone’s lawn. There must be some really messed up fellowships & meetings out there. Thankfully, that hasn’t been my experience. I love my life. I have a great family, and great friends. I have a career that leaves me feeling fulfilled. I no longer feel like I have to drink or use on a daily basis to feel “normal”. All of these facts of my life are due to my decision to attend an AA meeting in June of 2006. I know, all the folks out there are going to say that I’ve been brainwashed by the cult, that I’m powerless, that I’m giving AA the credit for something that I did. The only thing I did, was make a decision to attend an AA meeting, and they took it from there. I did what was suggested, my life got turned around (for the better), I developed new life skills that I hadn’t manifested previously, I became less selfish & self-centered, I began to reach out and help others, I became a responsible parent & spouse, I became a dependable employee, all because of the fire that AA lit under my ass, and the tools that they gave me. A bunch of you will now proceed to tear me apart, criticize me without actually knowing me, and try to blame me for all of AA’s ills, but I don’t care. I love my life, and haters gonna hate. Have a nice day.

    • And my previous comment was posted as a separate thread, (although I admit to borrowing your “haters” line)
      If you chose to take what I wrote personally, your choice says more about you than it does about me.

  34. WHEN are you going to come on my radio show and debate AA vs Anti AA…or rape , sexual harassment and the murders that are occurring with me on air….Im ready.

  35. All I can say is WOW. This whole thread quickly devolved into a clash of egos. I am a grateful member of AA for decades and I can easily say that AA has brought these problems on itself by not following its Traditions. For years it was thought that the Traditions were just an after thought. So much power was given to the groups autonomy because it was believed that the groups would always be filled with parties that loved AA and would want to follow the Traditions. The Traditions are very simple and mild suggests but they like the steps need to be followed to the best of our ability. Why? once you violate them you no longer have an AA group. 35 years ago we started to affiliate with the courts. This eventually flooded the meetings will thousands of members who did not meet the requirement for membership. Bill W. stated that a member was anyone who had an issue with alcohol AND wanted our way of life. Once we started the IMPLIED (see long form of Tradition 6) affiliation with the treatment centers and worse with the courts we opened up our meetings to a whole host of tradition breaks i.e. anonymity, singleness of purpose etc. Not the least of which is the bad publicity this film has provided. The big book says we should not work with the unwilling and yet our meetings are now filled with more unwilling than willing. These parties do their time and then go forth and defame AA. They should because we did not follow our own Traditions or even the words of the program of recovery. We have not been honest and we have been hypocritical. Appearance becomes fact. If a DUI offender is sent to AA and he does not want to get sober he will not. He has every right to violate all our Traditions and to speak his truth. We were part of his sentence and it was part of a sentence that our book said would not work! Yet we affiliated with court to force him into AA. Then we hid behind the “no comment on outside issues” banner. If its inside our meetings then it is not an outside issue! My only beef with the film is that it didn’t get to root cause of all our problems. The ego based Tradition breaks. Monica has focused on the violent offenders instead of the true first errant step we took way up stream. I am grateful she used her talents to expose the problems and I hope AA will use this opportunity to take its own inventory and start following the Traditions to the letter and to follow the words of the Big Book in “Working with Others”, “There is a Solution”, To the Employers”, “Into Action”, “How it Works”, “Working with Others” and other writings that state that we can not force anyone to do anything and we should not AFFILIATE with anyone who does.

    • JB;
      I bow before you, humbled.
      You are a true gentleman or lady, and quite possibly the first AA member I have personally witnessed attempt to practice the traditions as they were written.
      I am extremely impressed.
      “35 years ago we started to affiliate with the courts.”
      Thank you so much for saying that.
      I can only hope that it means more written with the hand of a current member than it does coming from an ex-member like myself.
      “We have not been honest and we have been hypocritical.”
      That’s an extremely powerful admission, empowering, a healing admission.
      It’s such a simple statement, why is it so very hard for other members to make?
      I did not find it lethal as an AA member to admit it when I had been in the wrong, why should it be any more deadly for the program than it was for me?
      I also believe AA can only be healed by admitting and correcting its errors, and that Monica’s film may be instrumental in making AA a healthier and more functional fellowship for those alcoholics who so desperately need someone’s, anyone’s help.
      Fellowship. A word I wanted so badly to believe in, but could not.
      I simply did not find fellowship in AA.
      Hypocrisy drove me away from AA,
      Fortunately for me, I was not a hopeless drunk who could not survive without it.
      I sincerely hope that there are many members who feel the way that you do and are willing to do whatever they can to help the program heal.
      Thank you so much for writing what you did, I find my faith in human kindness and common sense renewed.
      Please allow me to quote you, I would be very grateful.

  36. Sevasti Iyama on

    Step one reads: “We admitted we were powerless OVER ALCOHOL – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

  37. I would have thought that AA members, of all people, would welcome this film, but the reaction has been like that of many in the Catholic Church was to revelations of widespread sexual abuse – to close ranks, take up a position of absolute denial, and make personal attacks on the people bringing such abuses to light. Why such a vitriolic reaction? Surely anything that makes AA meetings safer – given that people who attend AA are generally encouraged to trust people like unqualified sponsors and to share their innermost secrets and vulnerabilities within the group – should be applauded by normal, decent AA members?

    Is it really ‘insane’ to turn up at AA HQ? If AA really was such an ‘anarchic’ outfit, surely it would have no HQ at all, let alone any ‘officially approved’ literature. What is the purpose of AA’s HQ, do you think? Their financial concerns could be dealt with by any accountancy firm. If what happens in AA is an ‘outside issue’ to the salaried people in AA HQ (and presumably those salaries are paid for out of members’ contributions and purchases of their literature), I would suggest that there is little purpose to it at all.

    “So let’s clear things up. There is no affiliation whatsoever between AA and rehab.” There is no official affiliation. Of course there isn’t. This is how this scandalous intrusion of an outdated religious programme into mainstream health care has been allowed to continue and flourish. But given that the vast, vast majority of rehabs use AA’s 12-step programme as the mainstay of their “treatment” (with predictable and often tragic results), the fact that AA and NA meetings and ‘working the steps’ are pretty much compulsory for those in rehabs, and that rehabs are generally staffed by – er – AA/NA, etc. members – this is highly disingenuous. If you are too blinkered to see any kind of relationship, Danielle, I suggest you try to be a bit more open-minded.

    Too many pathetic ad hom arguments and self-justification of these in this article to go into here, but this one is truly disturbing:
    “at least Richardson could sleep at night knowing that the non-disclosed murderer sitting next to a newcomer at a meeting—at least at one point—had the desire to stop drinking.”

    This is a despicable attitude. Is that all that’s important to you, Danielle? Whatever crimes someone commits are to be minimized and regarded as insignificant because the perpetrators once ‘had the desire to stop drinking?’ In her film Monica talks to people whose relatives have been murdered, people who have been raped, and those who have been sexually abused within the supposedly ‘safe’ and ‘spiritual’ environment of AA. Some of these people were told to ‘seek their own part in it’. Perhaps you would like to try to explain your rather warped views on this to these people personally? No? Why not?

    And if you really, really think this is all about an ‘advertisement for [Monica’s] website’, I suggest you revisit your Step 10 and try not to be so cynical.

    Meanwhile, I hope this film will inspire decent people in AA to be aware and think hard about what’s going on within their particular groups. For a start, how about suggesting to anyone proposing themselves as a sponsor that they should be willing to subject themselves to rigorous background checks to determine their suitability to work with vulnerable people? How about cautioning newcomers that there may well be people within the group whom it would be unwise to trust? This could do no possible harm, but could do a lot of good.

    Obstinate denial from AA members that abuse happens within AA, and AA HQ protesting that this is an ‘outside issue’ will do no good to AA or anyone else, and nor will personal abuse of the ‘whistle-blowers’. AA has had a free ride for a long time, despite its generally very poor record on getting people sober, and maybe it’s about time that it allowed some kind of honest public scrutiny. If it is the life-saver you suggest, Danielle, such honest and open scrutiny should be no problem for you or for anyone else concerned with the often life-and -death issue of getting people sober and clean.

    • No, it wasn’t insane for Monica to show Up at HQ. She made her point. The people running the show, what did they do? run and hide? AA has a heirarchy, just like any other non-profit, with people who write the guidelines and service instruction workbooks. AA apparently has buck passing, too.
      HQ is The place to address concerns. Unfortunately, AA dot org has been able to duck the issue for 80 years, so the Big Cheese employees and board members aren’t likely to come around any time soon. They’ll come around when AA starts losing lots of members, and when the law suits start making it awfully hot for all those for-profit AA affiliated rehab businesses. When the medical and psychiatric communities realize they haven’t been looking after the interests of their clients, when the courts can’t get away with shipping everyone off to AA, when everyone cashing in on the popularity of AA starts to lose big bucks, Then AA-dot-org will start to see the light.

  38. Librarian on

    I notice that Danielle Stewart hasn’t returned to defend her article. Kinda like driving by someone and yelling obscenities at them through an open window don’t you think?

  39. Tracy Chabala on

    The answer to all this contention is to remove AA from the medical profession, axe it from the courts, axe it from employee programs, axe it from treatment facilities. AA helps tons of people, and apparently makes tons of people upset.

    The kicker is that people are thrown in without wanting to go through third party entities, and I can sympathize with that frustration.

    As an AA member, it’s a little exhausting to read through all the contempt. Despite the history, despite its imperfections, the program helps me on a day-to-day basis. But that’s just me, and no two people are the same. And I don’t know if alcoholism as a disease model applies to everyone! Who knows.

    But yes, axe AA from policy. This is the crux of the problem.

    • AddictionMyth on

      Get AA out of the courts and medical care! I agree completely. Fortunately the god of your understanding has granted you the wisdom to come to this realization and the serenity to do absolutely nothing about it.

      • Precisely, any woman in AA not shouting from the rooftops about what is going on is part of the problem! We are talking organised rape! Not ‘dating’. We are talking about the rape of children!

        AA works very hard to get these things to happen with the courts etc. Even the US Drug Czar is an AA member for heaven’s sake, they have no business being embedded with government! If they don’t like it they should stop issuing guidance on how to do it.

        The FAA HIMS programme is an abberation but it’s run by 12 step members including AA ‘shrinks’ charging $1,500 an hour. It’s ‘admit you are diseased, go to AA or never fly again’ it’s a disgrace. Plus plenty of 12 steppers making money out of sober living homes, teen camps, rehabs, as counsellors, all peddling this crap.

        • I walked into my first AA meeting in 1988 in a treatment center at the age of 22 and stayed sober almost 7 years for my sister. I was ripe for the picking. I was young, pretty, and skinny and the old-timers couldn’t wait to get their hands on me. That’s when I first heard the term 13th stepping. No woman who’d been around for awhile ever warned me and she could’ve saved me a lot of grief. Now I warn women. There are pedophiles, murderers, and all kinds of weirdos in the rooms. There are also some great people there. I stayed sober almost seven years then had to get sober again in 1995 and have sober since. I rarely go to meetings and I’ll tell you why. The horrible judgment, criticism, and too much history with these people who would rather believe what they hear about me than ask me what’s really going on. I get more out of watching “Intervention” than I do going to a meeting. I’ve left meetings wanting to kill myself. I don’t agree with what most of them believe and they’re never going to change my mind.

  40. AddictionMyth on

    All in all, the review flopped on many levels—ethical storytelling, logic, writing quality—but its the exposure to the general population, who have little to no information about a fellowship that nearly killed Monica as well as the lives of so many people she loved, is what is the most upsetting element about the review. Stewart has every right to publish a review about the movie and her experiences in AA; I just wish she had been able to put her personal resentments aside about The 13th Step the Movie and delivered a review with some educational value and integrity. Since she makes a point to weave in her opinion that alcoholism is a disease (to which she will point out that I am not a doctor) and tell us that there is nothing wrong with her (rather than let us come to our own conclusion), it discredits the entire review and makes it seem toxic, destructive and like an long boring advertisement for this website.

  41. Im reading typical 12 step canned responses and they are expected.
    Steppers using the word “LOGIC”. LoL, That one got me ROFL

  42. Christian on

    Reding this review makes something abundantly clear. The author was LUCKY enough to have an AA experience free from crisis. This is NOT always the case and it is also not the norm.

    California courts DO send people to AA.

    Please. If you are going to write an article, bring in this thing called evidence. Maybe the testimony of a doctor or lawyer or judge.

    Not a standup comedienne.


    • GirlScout on

      Agreed, in fact the head of Corrections for Californina was an AA Board Member simultaneously. The AA newsletters with her welcome speech in them, announcing her appointment, make highly interesting reading!

      • GirlScout on

        I also didn’t know until recently, that some states mandate kidney transplant patients to attend AA for six months as a condition of getting a transplant. This is regardless of whether they’ve ever had a drinking problem or not. I could also go on about the FAA HIMS programme, and other EAPs which are a flagrant funnel system into AA. Professional people who are NOT alcoholics are losing their professions if they refuse to attend AA.

        Some courts are sending level three sex offenders for ‘community supervision’ to AA, again regardless of the alcohol component.

        The other issues that irks me, is just because someone gets a DUI that does NOT make them an alcoholic, the big book talks at length about other kinds of drinkers, including the ‘heavy drinker’ (although having one too many egg nogs at the Christmas Party and getting pulled over on the way home doesn’t even constitute ‘heavy drinking’ – merely foolish and unlucky drinking) and yet these people are forced to attend AA. It makes no sense.

        AA does work quite hard to get the courts to do this as a quick search on their website proves, just type the word ‘corrections’ in the search box on the AA website.

  43. Girlscout on

    It seems that ‘’ need to take a look at their own policies.

    In the ‘about us’ section they say:

    “ ascribes to the policy that abstinence is the preferred treatment for self diagnosed chemical dependency. We seek to bring the best and most current resources to the attention of the addiction and recovery community. Please note that this site is not meant to treat any health or mental health issues. If you feel you need help with any health or mental health issues, please contact your physician. is not attempting to speak for or represent any 12-step organization.”

    Anyone else smell a rat?

  44. ExStepper on

    The pro-AA comments on this thread reinforce the evidence that 12 step programs are dangerous cults that brainwash their members to “protect” the cult at any cost. The fall on the sword attitude is as strong as the “head in the sand” sickening stance attitudes12 step programs use to fail to protect the majority of vulnerable members that come to 12 step programs for help. It seems lately an epidemic of 12 step members being sexually abused, raped, beaten and murdered by other members is new, but it has been going on since their inception. Even if it happens once or twice, it happens, and happens more then once or twice. Remember, one is too many, but is a thousand ever enough?
    Reading, the author states she has issues with sex and has had “drunken sex with strangers” and mentions programs of sexual recovery in her writings. Maybe the author is a abuser? Just my question. One of the many reasons I left 12 step programs is I could no longer personally tolerate the rampant sexual harassment I witnessed in my double digit time in fellowships, by “trusted servants” and other tenured members in the groups. I guess the game of follow the leader and setting documented examples of one of the founders of the almighty AA,(BW) 12 step recovery programs are the original social networking dating service. AAWS, denial is not a river in Egypt. Ms.Stewart, you didn’t have to swallow the Kool Ade, you could have spit.

  45. GirlScout on

    Some posters here have made much of the film makers own ‘disclosures’. Perhaps they ought to extend the same scrutiny the clearly deranged author of this article. Of course she’s defending 13th stepping and seems to have some ‘fuzzy logic’ idea that it’s related to ‘dating’. See her previous article:

    Any woman posting pictures of herself online performing felattio on a pink lollypop with the words ‘let’s fuck’ on it, ought to be considered the wrong person to ask.

    Women in AA have been told to shut up and put up with rape, abuse, sexual harrassment for the best part of a century. It’s time our voices were heard.

    And fortunately, a tiny minority of people are in AA, and the rest of us out here in the real world can see it for what it is.

        • GirlScout on

          Oh and by her own words ‘Danielle Stewart is a recovering stand-up comedian and alcoholic. You can listen to her strong and typically uninformed opinions on #TheDaniStew Experience on iTunes. ‘

          I’d say ‘typically uninformed’ was an understatement.

          The trouble with AA is lulls idiots into getting to like the sound of their own voices. My horse hasn’t had a drink for 16 years, doesn’t make her ‘wise’.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I actually think this is hilarious gven the florrid language of one of the favorite antis most often viewed as an expert… I understand she was in the film.

          • GirlScout on

            Florid language is one thing, flagrant behaviour is another. I’m not sure the woman you refer to in the film gives blowjob workshops in Hustler stores????

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I recognize that the author considers herself to be an entertainer. I would know how to find out about blow job workshops, but aren’t these mutually exclusive?

            I thought there was an argument against me about being prudish for noting what was obviously a delight for Monica and Tom Patton when she was sunbathing topless. Or bringing information from outside sources?

          • GirlScout on

            Seeing as you told Ray that you sunbathe topless (assuming when you get your baps out it’s not an invitation to a man to have sex with you? Like all the other women on the beach you are avoiding tan lines?) and in fact you said you were topless as you wrote, then I’m not quite sure what the relevance of your point is? It’s a bit odd you are even obsessed with Monica’s beach wear … or her boobs, which is even weirder.

            Unless you are trying to imply that there’s something ‘morally defective’ with sunbathing topless? Surely you are not trying to imply that sunbathing topless is ‘flagrant behaviour’ or the equivalent of posting photos of your self sucking a lollypop with the words ‘let’s f**k’ on it or holding workshops on bl*wjobs?

    • Clarabelle12 on

      Have you ever had drunken sex with strangers or perhaps someone you just met that evening? Kudos for her honesty as to where her drinking took her.

      Perhaps you should ear Monicas’s podcast with Tom Catton? It certainly does’t as if the pursuit was anything but mutual.

      • Not outside sources, from the link at the top of the page next to the author’s page, on her own facebook page. And who said this was drunken behaviour? You should get your facts straight.

        • Correction, at the top of this page next to the author’s name – links you directly to her twitter and facebook. Her current tweets are ‘want to meet a rapist, go to AA’ – hilarious!

          • GirlScout on

            Would that be “the author states she has issues with sex [present tense] and has had “drunken sex with strangers [past tense]”????

            A trained Monkey could go and look the woman up following the links to her twitter and facebook feed at the top of this page and see that everything I’ve said relates to ‘now’ and not before the moment when celestial trumpets broke the clouds heralding her arrival in the rooms of AA.

  46. Shaun Shelly on

    From the opening lines you seem to have disdain for the film maker – starting with labeling her as “drinking again”. Again, you describe people being interviewed as not “being sober”. It seems you are very concerned about whether people are or aren’t using drugs. The fact that Monica has managed to produce this film, which is receiving accolades everywhere, while actually drinking, seems offensive to you.

    You also seem to think that AA has no say in the matter of who attends via court-order. Wrong. At one stage I chaired an NA meeting, and when someone came in with a slip from the court to sign I refused. If AA/NA really believed in their traditions, that’s what every person would do, and pretty quickly courts would stop sending people there.

    I stopped attending NA meetings after a couple of years, I admit that I liked many of the people there and it did add some structure to my early days of stopping my problematic drug use, but after a while I got sick and tired of the moralising and the patently false notion of “once and addict always an addict” and all the other garbage about me not being able to drink (ever). As for AA/NA in treatment, it has ZERO place in a professional treatment setting.

    As a lecturer on 12-step programs to post-grads, I always insist that my students attend some open meetings, and while many recognise the value of new social bonds, almost all recognise the inherent dangers in principles such as “powerlessness”, the way people are labelled and the total focus on abstinence. Working with a culturally diverse group, many also recognise the judgmental, moralistic, misogynistic, middle class white roots that are entrenched in the literature and practices of these programs.

    • Clarabelle12 on

      Accolades everywhere? According to a couple of sites, she’s been disqualified at Cannes because she already released it. Talk about puffery.

      • GirlScout on

        Say that to her lawyer, I dare you! Go on Clarabelle. She did not already release it. Get your facts straight ….

        • Clarabelle12 on

          Have him call and I will direct him to Gunthar’s comments. He reported the film himself. I am not a troll, and this man has been Monica’s good friend for a long time. In fact, he was the founder of the radio show.

          Sorry for the short answer, but I really cant read more than a paragraph of these lengthy posts you make. Glad this was a short rant.

          • EXPOSINGAA on

            Wow what lies you come up with. Gunther is not friends with Monica and he had nothing to do with her show. Gunther had his own show and she started her very own radio show.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Then it must be a new development. She worked a great deal with him on this film and went to Boston or someplace to meet him. He did have the show first but couldn’t keep it , so she filled the void.

            Wa his website first?

          • GirlScout on

            Nope nothing to do with the film! And what some anonymous crazy crack pot says online is not the TRUTH. Some people say with all conviction online that they’ve been abducted by aliens … doesn’t make that true either. Today’s second screening at Cannes is done and dusted, all went well. The film is fine 🙂

            If this really is your response to this points raised by Monica and the film then really our work is done! Thank you.

            Media lawyers are not to be trifled with …

          • Clarabelle12 on

            ,Girlscout, perhaps you need to go to the Orange Papers and see where Gunthar has asked her to remove all his part in the film. Then they made up.

      • GirlScout on

        And nope all fine and dandy at Cannes. The trolls (that’s you) would have it otherwise of course,

      • Librarian on


        You are spreading rumors that are not based on fact. It just goes to show how far AA ppl will go to discredit non-AA people. She did *not* release the film, she did *not* distribute it and she had made many comments on the net that show her clear intention to NOT release or distribute at this time.

        Your obsession with her is beyond crazy.


        • GirlScout on

          Absolutely correct Librarian! And anyone who says otherwise is merely trying to stir up trouble. The copyright of a film is a serious LEGAL issue. The rumour mongers should think about that very carefully.

          It does make you wonder doesn’t it. One of the most favourite readings in AA is that one that says ‘nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake’ – you know the one that blathers on about “acceptance” ad nauseum – and goes on to say something like, ‘when I complain I am complaining about God’s handiwork’ or words to that effect. One would think that ‘nothing happens in God’s world by mistake’ even includes God’s big master plan to allow the creation of a documentary that casts a light on the ways in which AA does not practice its programme on itself??? Unless of course AA members are saying, that in this instance, God had popped out to the shops, or nodded off watching the telly, and this film slipped under his radar? What does that reading say again, ‘you are saying you know better than God’? LOL.

          If the AA programme is what they say it is and does what they say it does, what on earth are they all so worried about. You’d think as ‘God’s people’ they would have a little more FAITH that more will revealed and events are unfolding exactly as they should. Unless of course all these trolls, desperately trying alter the course of the universe, have a sneaking suspicion that the programme is all a crock of shit! Hmmmmm.

          Why don’t they all ‘let go and let God’? And ‘Live and Let Live’ and ‘Think! Think! Think!’?

          Actually, the only pro AA still here is the C word. Which is also rather telling.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            No one in AA tried to thwart her efforts. That was someone on her side, and since you do have access to the Orange Papers, why not just read the exchange for yourself? Gunthar had been a reasonable part of it.

  47. Jack Shuman on

    “…my brain needed a good washing.” What a totally stupid comment that doesn’t address the issue of whether or not newcomers to AA are brainwashed. The writer of this article clearly does not want to address issues using sanity or logic.

      • Sevasti Iyama on

        I have three and a half years of sobriety, thanks to AA. No the program is not perfect, people are not perfect, I was 13th stepped when I got there and guess what? As a newcomer, I pursued this guy and and well, I am just grateful i did not drink over it.
        I have heard people speak against taking medication but I am not a zombie who is going to sit there and obey them and stop taking my meds. This is a program of recovery and guess what? I have free will. I also have a therapist.
        I take what I can use and discard the rest.
        The program for me is about the spirituality and yes, its in the Big Book.

        No one has ever asked me to mow their lawn. If anything, I had AA friends who volunteered to help me with my lawn during my first year of sobriety when I hit a pretty bad depression. Later on I got a weed whacker, and thanks to the tools that I learned in the program, I was able to trim the lawn, plant roses, and watch them grow while my own life began to bloom.

        • “I have free will”

          Great another contradictory stepper that blames the victim when they are coerced into going off of their meds.

          Free will? You mean you aren’t powerless. Step 1 must be very difficult to complete honestly.

          • Sevasti Iyama on

            oops. replied elsewhere…ok here i go again
            Dear Unbound,
            Step one reads: “We admitted we were powerless OVER ALCOHOL – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

    • GirlScout on

      Or maybe she’s one of the predators, not keen to see the conveyor belt of new, vulnerable flesh into the rooms of AA stop?

      A less highly credible author couldn’t be found! As a quick skim of her previous ‘writings’ attest.

      In my personal experience, stand up comics in AA were the worst, they got to listen to the sound of their own jokes too much, with a captive audience, and created an impression of jovial sobriety that deflected from their worst abuses. One of the worst 13th steppers in London, a man called Bob, jobbing stand up, and he regularly had the room rolling with his, ‘I’m allergic to alcohol, every time I drink, I break out in handcuffs’ jokes. The man was a sick, sadistic woman hater who used his popularity and ‘wit’ to discredit those women he destroyed – ‘nah, Bob is great, he’s so funny’.

      This article was a hatchet job of the highest order by a woman who clearly has some sexual issues of her own. She’d do well to attend to them instead of wasting our time with this ‘AA zombie’ excuse for journalism.

    • Clarabelle12 on

      It wouldn’t be something I would do, but if I had complained about it, I would have been told I was being prudish. But, Librarian, aren’t you going offsite and bringing something here? Interesting.

  48. Librarian on

    Danielle, Your article is a rant which quite frankly looks rather silly and personal given that the film has won Best Documentary at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and will be showing at Cannes. Clearly people who know much more than you do about film – like it.

    Personally – I have seen it. I think it was courageous of everyone in the film to appear and equally courageous of Monica to do it. I believe all the points she touched on were valid – and it is long past the time that someone blow the lid of secrecy and responsibility off AA.


  49. “No matter what anyone chooses to interpret about the 12 steps, not one of them suggests that AA members proselytize”. I am flabbergasted that Danielle Stewart says this when the evidence proves the statement to be untrue. Just because she without question believes the lies that AA spews, it doesn’t make sense to assume that nobody else would dare look at the evidence.

    Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”

    Step 12 ” we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

    Let’s break it down: Danielle says that the steps don’t suggest that AA members proselytize, but the very definition if proselytize is to “advocate” or “promote” BELIEFS to others. Step 12 is clearly instructing members to advocate the use of Steppism onto other alcoholics, to “carry the message” or in other words “recruit”; and part of the message is step 2 where the promotion of a “believing” comes in. It is without question clear that there MUST be a belief in a power that can alter a member’s life.

    Although a couple of the steps are either repetitive or consequential, those are two that are not. How they collectively cannot be recognized as a form of faith healing based upon a belief is beyond me.

    Denial? Brainwashed? Lies? Which issue is it that members (who believe it’s not religious) suffer from?

        • Clarabelle12 on

          Because it should be disclosed. I noticed people don’t want to claim ownership to their blogs. Ken avoided it as well.

          • It’s not my blog and there wouldn’t be anything dishonest about it even if it were.

          • GirlScout on

            Juliet uses her own name here and her own name on her blog. Please stop clutching at straws, it makes you look silly.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I would use my own name, too, Girl Scout, but I don’t because of criticism from the Antis over anonymity. It is also why I changed my avatar.

          • GirlScout on

            And Juliet doesn’t get trolls? Please! You were trying to imply she was being ‘dishonest’ – don’t change the subject.

  50. AddictionMyth on

    I saw the movie and it’s excellent, though there are some minor but distracting sound issues. She does a wonderful job of exposing typical cult tactics, which got some good guffaws from the audience. It seems so stupid when you see it happening. The movie will definitely warn people about things to watch out for, and make them think twice before confessing powerlessness or doing an inventory with someone who promises you a ‘miracle’. As for her personal story, I found it very interesting. The movie will definitely prevent exploitation and abuse, and will save lives. I’m not worried about the ‘still suffering alcoholic’ whose only mission in life is to bully others into the same misery and call it ‘peace and serenity’. I also liked Adi Jaffe’s scene where he described how he drank a sip of champaigne and ‘nothing happened’. LOL

    • AddictionMyth on

      I have to add: Tom Horvath just did an interview with Stanton Peele (about SMART) and Peele said that first of all, people cannot distinguish between adderal and meth in a double blind study, and secondly, Jaffe sometimes takes adderal! LOL

  51. Pingback: My Turn to Debunk the Review about 13 Stepping | A.A.R.M.E.D. with Facts

  52. Juliet Roxspin on

    My only issue is you (as a journalist) are lying. AA does have a decision making branch— the trustees— but that isn’t AAWS. The other issues are too distorted for me to formulate a response. If AA didn’t brainwash the author to accept sexual misconduct was normal, who did?

    • Clarabelle12 on

      How could a person be brainwashed about joining not one but two fellowships when she had neither problem?

      It rather sounds as if there had been boundary issues in her childhood. That too she disclosed publicly. In the podcast with Tom, she talks about their first meeting in detail. She says there was no predation, so why she depicts it differently in the film is confusing.

      • Juliet’s comment was about the author of this article being brainwashed to accept sexual misconduct. It wasn’t about Monica joining a fellowship or about Monica at all.

        Another thing, Clarabelle. You mentioned twice that you haven’t seen the film yet (and are looking forward to it,) so discussing any possible contradiction’s between how the film betrays Monica’s life and how she has spoken about it in other places, is inappropriate. And your comments do not make sense. First you say that she went “back” to drinking, then later claim that she didn’t have a drinking problem at all (so she shouldn’t have gone to AA meetings at all). That you admit to following a person is eye opening; quite a concern. You are clearly unjustifiably nitpicking out of dislike for a person you an obsession with because of her opinion about AA that you disagree with.

        I’m much more interested to hear how you feel about AA member’s misconduct; how the program structure supports that while the board of trustees votes to do nothing about it.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          These are HER disclosures, Avo. She wasn’t an alocoholic. She stopped on her own three weeks before going to AA. She feels she was never an alcoholic as teens cannot be alcoholics. She disclosed that she has gone back to drinking, wants to take wine classes, and find that it makes jokes funnier and colors brighter. How she mourns that youthful drinking she missed out on when they were all having fun and she was stuck with a soda and lime.

          When I say I “follow” Monica, I don’t mean it in any other fashion than I have gone to the links she has provided and invited us ALL to. That is why the autobiographical nature of the documentary clashes greatly with other disclosures she has made. She has only been talking about it for 5 years. Do you expect someone doesn’t remember what she reads? I notice when they were “following” me all over the internet, you didn’t seem to view it the same way. They were just reading what was publicly available about me and bringing it back to the blog and to skypes.

          I find claiming to have been enticed into 12 step by some alluring personality when he told here where a meeting was and she went…to be really at odds with what she tried to present decades later. He appeared on her show in 2011 and it was a great podcast. She herself now says she should never have been in AA. Why take on this argument?

          • I told you,

            “I’m much more interested to hear how you feel about AA member’s misconduct; how the program structure supports that while the board of trustees votes to do nothing about it.”

        • Clarabelle12 on

          I can only answer so much ou f thes huge posts to me.

          Misconduct inside or outside of AA is unacceptable. The Board of Trustees isn’t in a position to do anything about it, but club management and your own group can do something about anything it chooses. I’ve told you how we handled various situations only to have those remedies shot down.

          • GirlScout on

            They ARE in a position to do something about it! For heaven’s sake, it’s not a secret society, it’s a 501c, and subject to all the same rules

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Girl Scout, each group is self managing. The trustees are not going to do that.

          • That isn’t true. Sorry. Read the 12 concepts and read up on some charity law.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I have, Girl Scout. I read all of the stuff that has been posted as how we are all de factoposted about how we re defacto employees of AA as volunters. I disagree with you and I think that is why the suit had to be “redefined”.

          • Ridiculous state of denial you and your AA family is in, Clarabelle. If AA NY or the GSO is not in any position to do anything then they certainly shouldn’t be in the position to accept and collect the approximate $4 million in donations they get each YEAR (from the groups alone) and beg for more by way of memos to all of the groups. Setting up an assistance directory and offering suggestions by way of one of their many memos would cost nothing and show they care just a tiny bit. I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem ordering crib bisque at the expense of safety in the rooms but if I worked there in any capacity I certainly couldn’t.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I don’t get your post, Avo. And I would order crab bisque any time. I really don’t get what you are trying to imply.

      • GirlScout on

        Maybe she was shown the page from the Big Book called ‘They Stopped Just in Time’ which if often read at Young People’s meetings?

        it goes: “Among today’s incoming A.A. members, many have never reached the advanced stages of alcoholism, though given time all might have. Most of these fortunate ones have had little or no acquaintance with delirium, with hospitals, asylums, and jails. Some were drinking heavily, and there had been occasional serious episodes. But with many, drinking had been little more than a sometimes uncontrollable nuisance. Seldom had any of these lost either health, business, family, or friends.

        Why do men and women like these join A.A.?

        The seventeen who now tell their experiences answer that question. They saw that they had become actual or potential alcoholics, even though no serious harm had yet been done. They realized that repeated lack of drinking control, when they really wanted control, was the fatal symptom that spelled problem drinking. This, plus mounting emotional disturbances, convinced them that compulsive alcoholism already had them; that complete ruin would be only a question of time.

        Seeing this danger, they came to A.A. They realized that in the end alcoholism could be as mortal as cancer; certainly no sane man would wait for a malignant growth to become fatal before seeking help.

        Therefore, these seventeen A.A.’s, and hundreds of thousands like them, have been saved years of infinite suffering. They sum it up something like this: “We didn’t wait to hit bottom because, thank God, we could see the bottom. Actually, the bottom came up and hit us. That sold us on Alcoholics Anonymous.””

        NOBODY is ever told maybe they aren’t a ‘real alcoholic’ until AFTER they leave, and then usually accompanied by snidey comments about ‘drinking again’ which implies, as you well know, ‘alcoholic’ or ‘dangerous’ drinking, because in the AA world view, a return to ‘moderate’ use is impossible. More accurately the loaded reference to ‘drinking’ is actually AA cult speak for a loss of ‘sobriety’ which means in AA a state of Grace, and spiritual protection (given the prevalence of term ‘dry drunk’ which is used to discredit those who leave and decide to continue to abstain).

        Heads we lose and AA wins, by this chop logic.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          Yet Monica is now of the belief that teens cannot be alcoholics. I know many who come into the rooms leter on life and wish they had taken in serious when they came in the first time at a much younger age.

          • GirlScout on

            I share her view, so now you are expecting her to have the maturity and perspective of an adult whilst she was still a teen?

          • Clarabelle12 on

            There are many who come into the rooms later in life and readily admt that their drinking was out of control from the start. Monica is on record as saying she drank 2 bottles of gin a day when she was 17. She spent her 18th birthday at a meeting and started a sober path.

            Perhaps she is right. That she left AA for 15 years, only going back when she got divorced, could certainly suggest that she didn’t need AA. Yet she went back. By this time, she was in her 30’s.

          • Naturally you’ll be referencing your source for that one. Oh dear oh dear Clarabelle you really really are obsessed with Monica aren’t you. It’s getting a bit stalkerish, I wonder what your own team think of you? I doubt many of them would disagree you have an unhealthy obsession …

            Many come to the rooms and REFRAME their entire history through the AA prism yes, but that is not the same thing. I’ve heard people say really bizarre things like ‘I was an alcoholic before I ever had a drink’ – in fact that’s quite a common statement in AA which just tells you what kind of crackpot ideology it spouts.

            And this is all moot as the filmmaker isn’t anti abstinence, nor is she an alcoholic … and even if she were, the most common outcome for dependent drinkers is a return to moderated use, not abstinence. And most of us were never dependent or anything approaching it. It’s a complex area which requires nuanced solutions not a one size fits all approach.

            But you are not interested in talking about that, just in trolling every single article that mentions the woman’s name, like some kind of crow, you flap about with your beady little eyes watching, watching. It’s weird.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            My source is Monica herself. Perhaps if YOU bothered to read the links she posts, you would know just what I do instead of being caught flatfooted and having to childishly call someone a stalker who has simply read what Monica put out there.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            If you have followed the same links, you cannot dispute what I have posted. I don’t think you would be so emotional if it weren’t so easily verifiable. Listen to the Podcast yourself.

          • GirlScout on

            Oh so now I’m being ’emotional’? Really. Is that a backhanded way of saying I’m ‘defective’? Is she an Alcoholic? No she isn’t. Did she go through a period of alcohol overuse? Yes she did, like lots of other young people. Was she told she was an alcoholic and needed to be in AA? Yes she was. Was that in fact true or necessary? No it wasn’t. Was the AA line of lifelong abstinence or jails institutions or death actually accurate? No it wasn’t. Is therefore AA a crock of shit? Yes it is.

            Do some people who drink to much need to abstain forever? Yes they do. Does everyone who goes through a period of over use need to abstain for ever? No they don’t. Do even some people who were medically dependent on alcohol need to abstain for ever? No they don’t. Does everyone who has ‘gone back to drinking’ after a period of abstinence following over use automatically return to over use? No they don’t.

            I could increase the list ad infinitum … a million shades of grey, we are all individuals.

            Give it a rest. Focus on the subject of the film which is the safety issue in AA. You have no answer to that, nor to AA’s culture of blaming the victim (and attacking anyone who DARES to speak up). You have no answer for AA’s ‘catch all’ literature, I posted the favourite reading of AA’s young people’s meetings ‘They stopped in Time’ above and you didn’t comment. Choosing instead to keep the focus on the personalities and not the principles.

            You don’t use your own name – neither do I – because of the vitriol of online trolls. At least Monica has the courage of her convictions and has put herself out there. You prefer to divert debate from the points she is raising because you don’t have a valid answer. That is abundantly clear from anyone who reads your posts.

            I’m done talking to you. The film will stand on its own merits.

          • GirlScout on

            Just spoken to Monica who confirms your ‘two bottles of Gin’ is an outright LIE. You ought to watch your step ….

          • clarabelle12 on

            Did she say it was one bottle or two? I am willing to be corrected. iI has been a long time since I saw that broadcast she encouraged us all to see.

            How humorous. She is at a wonderful event in her life and you spend it discsusing me with her.

          • GirlScout on

            Wrong again. Making social arrangements. We are not going there Clarabelle, you are a troll. In the UK we have very strict libel and slander laws, you’d be in court before you could say Jack Robinson here. You are defaming her character and it has not gone unnoticed.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          She never indicated that she went to young peoples meetings. The two men she slept with were in their 50’s, she said, so I tend to doubt it.

          • GirlScout on

            You really are reprehensible and you have done our work for us and sunk this article all by yourself.

          • GirlScout on

            And usually ‘young people’s’ meetings are packed with creepy older predatory men all slathering over the new meat.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Perhaps you should just watch the Katie Show for yourself and hear what Monica has to say.

          • Clarabelle, your insinuations are abominable and border on the libelous. Despite the fact that you obviously feel you hold the moral high ground, your malicious intent is readily apparent to all. I can understand and even dismiss rage and obscenity or overzealous defense of a strongly held belief, but anyone dishonest enough to use the pretense of righteousness to publicly discredit and slander another for what appears to be primarily their own pleasure deserves to be taken not only to court but to the cleaners. Reprehensible is not a strong enough word for what you have written.

  53. Danielle said to Lauren,

    “that is my fear as well. Even if it deters one person in need from exploring 12-step with an open mind it will be very unfortunate.”.

    If only exploring AA with an open mind was all that was wanted and suggested, I’d agree with you Danielle. The truth is that the “open mind” which you would like people to look at AA with.

    12 Step counselors, doctors, some members, and the literature want people with a substance abuse problem to “completely give themselves” to the program and keep going back, trying different meetings, and getting different sponsors (repeatedly). That’s not an open mind anymore, that’s the expectation of blanket commitment and trust. Members are also told not to trust their own thinking (apparently trust the thinking and advice of AA literature and members), so that isn’t an open mind either. In fact, that is the cult kind of attachment that Lauren said was (correctly, imo) portrayed by the director.

    Having an open mind is great. Suggesting an open mind is reasonable. Being told told that you “must” work the program “or else” (or succumb to jails, institutions, or death) is strong coercion. Actually, that’s a threat.

    So until the board of trustees decide to change things or AA is forced to by law, my hope is that people will steer clear of this or any program that manipulates, uses coercion or threats, and/or expects people to “completely give themselves” and not trust their own thinking. That’s wrong on all levels.

    • “Avo, Monica HAS gone back to drinking and announced that herself. Why is that gaslighting?”

      It is gaslighting because of the context in which the author used it; implying that the director is intoxicated (not in a trustworthy frame of mind). She also implied that “drinking again” is the result of leaving AA. Both are unsubstantiated claims. It’s clearly a trick (or a very bad mistake) which definitely deserves to be pointed out.

      I met Monica and she was completely sober and coherent. I’ve also talked with her many times before, and she was never intoxicated. I find it implorable that anyone would suggest that Monica has done nothing more than discover that she can consume a single cocktail without consequence (after being brainwashed to believe she would become an active alcoholic and die miserably from it). That’s a cheap shot, plainly said.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        I don’t think anyone suggested she was drunk at her screening, but Monica has gone back to drinking. Penny discussed that at the Fix.

        • GirlScout on

          What does ‘gone back to drinking’ mean in this context Clarabelle? Just stop it … you know full well what you and the ‘author’ (I’m using the term loosely) of this article mean to insinuate by this. It does you or your cause no credit.

          There’s nothing wrong with drinking moderately as you full well know. Monica has told her own story many times, she makes no secret of it, she’s not a problem drinker. How could it happen that a vulnerable teen ended up in AA for THIRTY SIX YEARS having been convinced she was a drunk.

          Tina Dupree had the same problem, she was the Tina D in the AA young person’s leaflet, and she was coerced in at age 13. She was an ‘AA famous’ circuit speaker and she’s ‘gone back to drinking’ too. what of it?

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I don’t know. You would have to ask the author.

            Yes, she has told her story many time and thank you for pointing out that she spent 36 years in a fellowship FOR problkem drinkers. How could a vulnerable teen end up in AA? I don’t know. She admits she stopped drinking 3 weeks before going to AA to begin with. She then went to NA a year later even though she didn’t have a drug problem. I dont have an answer for you. I also cannot tell you why she holds AA so responsible, especially when she elft for huge blocks of time. She went back after a divorce. As for Tina D., she credits AA with saving her life.

            I don’t care if anyone drinks, Girl Scout.

          • GirlScout on

            You clearly do, or why mention it at all. The answer to your question of course, is she was coerced, persuaded, convinced to stay. Go and re-read ‘They stopped in Time’ – the preface to the 17 stories in the big book again.

            It happens all the time.

            And my personal view is we’ll hear more from Tina in due course.

            Someone I know works in a 12 step rehab. He’s taken it to the management on more than one occasion, the ethics of taking in teens for ‘addiction’ problems (they are bussed out to AA meetings and AA meetings are held on the premises, open to all and sundry) and the management have told him to shut up. At thirty grand a stay, the whole thing is a racket. The next expose will be those 12 steppers running and profiting from the troubled teen industry.

            Young impressionable vulnerable people are easily coerced and seduced by AA as you very well know ….

          • Counselorchick on

            THANK YOU! For all your wonderful work here girlscout! Reprehensible, abusive stalker trolls make the very best AA disciples! Spreading the message by personal attacks. After all, they cannot possible even consider the truth. A sad and lonely existence made tragic and fatal — the self-fulfilling prophesy works!

            Dope/Drink traded for 12 Step Koolaid

      • Yes, it’s a cheap shot. Only to an AA member would the director having an occasional drink be some kind of scathing indictment. Nowhere else would whether or not a director drinks have any bearing on the credibility of a documentary film.

        • Jack Shuman on

          Yes, “gone back to drinking” blatantly states “gone back to (alcoholic) drinking. It’s similar to “went back out” which is a blatant statement that a person left AA and started drinking again (alcoholically). AA leads members to believe that drinking occurs in this order: One stops going to meetings and then one begins drinking alcoholically. That’s BS and we all know members who get slobbering drunk while they are attending meetings, or they attend meetings right up to the time they get stinking drunk.

          This is an example of the things AA directs people to believe that are total BS.

          What Clarabelle and the author are doing certainly is gas lighting and an attempt to put Monica in a one-down position. 12-step dysfunction at it’s finest!

          In AA, words and phrases have their own definitions, just as with many other cults.

          Many people who formerly overindulged now drink responsibly–regardless of the fallacies that AA tries to push. And there is no “real alcoholic” as described in chapter three of the big book of nonsense. It’s just another invented phrase to try to make sense out of AA weirdness.

          • GirlScout on

            Ah ha! And ‘sober’ means?

            Let me help you?

            Pronunciation: /ˈsəʊbə/
            Definition of sober in English:
            adjective (soberer, soberest)

            1 Not affected by alcohol; not drunk.

            2 Serious, sensible, and solemn:
            a sober view of life
            his expression became sober

            2.1Muted in colour:
            a sober grey suit

            1 Make or become sober after drinking alcohol:
            [WITH OBJECT]: that coffee sobered him up
            [NO OBJECT]: I ought to sober up a bit

            1.1Make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn:
            [NO OBJECT]: his expression sobered her
            (as adjective sobering) a sobering thought

            She is SOBER, ie) not intoxicated!! Stop using cult speak.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Girlscout, I will speak any way I choose. You don’t get to choose for me what “sober” mean in the context of this conversation.

            I thought you were not speaking to me anymore.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Good thing that the defense to slander is the truth. One bottle or two…she can answer. Ask her who told her to go to AA.

      • EXPOSINGAA on

        What is wrong Monica drinking anyway? Most people do so moderately and it even has health benefits. The author acts like this is an issue. Monica debunks the myth that one cannot ever drink again if they had problems with it in the past.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          A non-alcoholic picking up the sauce after a number of years debunks nothing.

          I get the benefits from wine grapes too. I take a supplement from Sam’s.

          • GirlScout on

            But the point is, she was in AA for thirty six years. Given that you all think you are self styled experts on addiction, why did no one tell her that she wasn’t an alcoholic? It’s insane that people, young, vulnerable, scared, lonely people are left to ‘self diagnose’ (see the ‘about’ section of this website for more on that) – under heavy pressure about ‘denial’ and ‘no one ends up in an AA meeting by accident’.

            Doesn’t AA need to do something to prevent this happening, to help the Monicas and the Tinas who end up there as teens, who don’t need to be there? You seem to be implying that Tina and Monica and teenagers like them SHOULD HAVE KNOWN before the fact that this was all so. It makes no sense.

            That’s the point. There are many people out there who need help and guidance, they might be drinking foolishly, but they are not alcoholics – they get mandated, or coerced, or persuaded, or convinced to go to AA. Or put in teen camps and bussed in. Or sent to rehabs. That’s insane and it needs to stop.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            She was not, Girl Scout. She agrees that she left AA for almost 2 decades while raising her children.

            I am not an expert on addiction and never claimed to be.

          • She does not say that! She can defend herself she doesn’t need me to do it, but honestly, what is it with you, you are OBSESSED with her! You are like a stalker.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Girl Scout, you are simply not correct. Monica DOES say that as well as that for a long time, her participation was limited to 12 meetings a year. Instead of blind worship, why not pay some attention to what she says about herself?

          • Jack Shuman on

            Gee, maybe we weren’t “real” alcoholics, eh? LOL. The longer someone is out of AA the more ridiculously stupid the nonsense gets.

            Thankful to be rid of the AA cult.

      • Ryan Lankford on

        The thing about the interviewees ‘appearing intoxicated’ was also a cheap shot. The author’s bias is glaring, and only a fool couldn’t see that. At least Monica put hers out there at the very beginning of the film.

        • Jack Shuman on

          B R A I N W A S H E D . . .

          But her brain needed washing. OMFG how original. Right out of the AA parrot’s book of thought-stopping cliches.

  54. Clarabelle12 on

    Avo, Monica HAS gone back to drinking and announced that herself. Why is that gaslighting? It is another reentment she has, that she missed out on all of the drinking her peers were doing at parties while she sat back with soda and lime. Life is happier for her now that she drinks. How can you dispute her own topics? Why do people bother to dispute these things?

    As far as “must” kick money up, my group hasn’t sent money to NY in over a year. After we pay our rent and materials, there isn’t anything left. Groups can choose not to sign court papers, and people ccan tell which groups those are from the meeting schedules because they post that. You can see it on any number of sites. Try meetings in Four Corners, NM, to see an example.

    As for who is in charge, the majority is in charge. If people have a business meeting (most have once a month), the floor isopen to suggestions which take a majority to carry. That is how our decisions get made. No “one” is in charge.

    • Here we go again. Your home group is autonomous and doesn’t represent AA as a whole.
      Isn’t that what you keep telling everybody? Or do you just enjoy playing both sides?
      Keep telling yourself there’s no money in AA. Maybe you’ll believe it.
      And the ad hominem just goes on and on and on.
      Monica is drinking, Monica is drinking, Monica is drinking, like a broken record. So what!
      Who cares? People drink. Jesus drank.
      Aren’t you supposed to take your OWN inventory? That’s what my sponsors told me.
      Are you in AA or CODA?
      Is there some Valid reason you insist on repeatedly speculating about whether or not Monica has a resentment instead of focusing on your OWN anger towards her and her film?
      Has there ever been an AA member who actually practiced what they preach?

  55. It’s clear to me that the author of this article clicked on the movie link and dished out that $16.50 with the intention of writing a defensive piece. She gaslights (Richardson is “apparently now drinking”… others are “misinformed”, “pathetic” and “wholly unethical” – how and why are they those things – besides the fact they challenge?). This is a common tactic used when one cannot debate a topic; the author attacks. Then comes the slogan’s (thought stopping statements that don’t stand up to scrutiny); followed by some re-phrased, so-called AA “traditions” that are basically rules that devoted AA members love to repeat and want everyone else to follow religiously, without holding the same expectations toward employees of AA NY or other AA sympathizers. They are aimed only to protect AA NY’s interests and advertise AA, despite holding statements that are completely misleading.

    For example, yes, groups are self supporting by their own contributions. What is taken for granted and never mentioned is that those self supporting groups “must” kick money up the ladder,which goes to pay high salaries and sweet benefits for workers that the author says have nothing to do with individual groups which are “autonomous”. Apparently the “alcoholics must support themselves”, as WELL AS support NY employees that never discusses the money (just, “we’re non-profit”) that ALWAYS goes up to them and never used for the “still suffering alcoholic”. .. as they claim.

    Saying that meetings are self regulated is saying that nobody is responsible for anything at all (anything negative that happens), but notice how AA takes the credit for all that is positive, the happiness and very lives of the members they also claim to have nothing to do with when a tragedy occurs. The truth is that memo’s go up and down, and mostly down the chain as instructions to groups. They get the option to run them as they like; until they are not run as AA NY wants them. The truth is that the AA board of trustees has judges on it; judges that are currently employed by the United States Government, so saying that Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to do with the judicial system is a BOLD LIE. AA also encourages their members to go into jails, prisons, hospitals, and institutions to seek other members and convert them (only they call it something different, like “service work” and “sharing with others that was so freely given to you).

    “Each and every AA meeting is 100% autonomous, self-supporting and self-regulated. And within each meeting, there is no one person in charge, merely a gathering of members (generally voted into the position) who agree to adhere to the 12 Traditions and whatever the agreed upon format is for that meeting.”

    That statement does not make sense! Nobody is in charge and AA is self regulated, but they “agree to adhere to the 12 traditions” (which are basically AA rules)? That is a complete contraction and double standard, an example of what consistently occurs within this article.; and AA itself.

  56. Clarabelle12 on

    But what is more bizarre to me is that one of the director’s wonderful friends, the charismatic person she found on the beach…regularly takes meetings into prisons. Everything this woman cites AGAINST AA are things her friend of 40 years does with no complaint from her. Listen to the blog yourself. I find Monica to be interesting in her contradictions and lack of firm conviction.

    “Tom Catton has been in long-term recovery for thirty-nine years. His story appears in a twelve-step fellowship text with more than seven million copies in circulation around the world. Tom is invited to speak in the US and internationally several times a year at twelve- step conventions in front of audiences ranging from 500 to 10,000 people. He has been taking twelve-step meetings into the prison system in Hawaii since 1984. He has been active in service positions over the years, including serving on a committee that met for over three years to write a recovery text for a twelve-step fellowship. Tom is on the advisory board of the Buddhist Recovery Network, and is also trained in Tibetan singing bowl therapy. He leads a Buddhist recovery meditation group that meets twice a month in Hawaii. Join me for a discussion with dear friend and author Tom Catton who I met 36 years ago on the beach in Kailua who was like a character out of a Herman Hesse book to me.”

    • You know what?
      It doesn’t matter what Monica’s character defects are (in your eyes), or even whether or not the film is accurate or biased. What matters is that the public is going to see all of what goes on in AA, maybe for the very first time.
      Transparency, baby, that’s what the internet gave the world. Freedom of information.
      It’s never been as hard to hold on to a secret as it is right now.
      AA’s just going to have to live with the exposure like every other flawed organization that doesn’t want the world to see behind its pretty, witty facade.
      I’m all for the world-wide-spotlight, and I know a heck of a lot of people who agree.
      Oppressive governments hate it, as does Scientology, as does AA. No powerful “group” holding secrets likes reading about them on the web, but it’s a brave new world.
      Deal with it.
      Drunks aren’t going to die because of one silly little documentary, or even one serious big one.
      The drunks will take care of themselves, have no fear. Have you ever noticed, drunks are doggone hard to kill.
      You can stop raking Monica over the coals any time now. You’re just making yourself look bad.
      Gossipping in an attempt to discredit another human being is cheap, petty, and mealy mouthed. Sometimes it’s even illegal.

  57. Lots of inaccurate information in this article and some really interesting contradictions. I’ll point out just a couple. One inaccurate statement is the claim that the courts sending criminals to AA has nothing to do with AA. She makes it seem like the courts are imposing this on AA and AA is only being passive about it. That’s simply not true. AA puts out a lot of literature on it’s own website of how to approach the courts and judges to get them to send criminals to AA.

    A glaring contradiction is the claim that “No matter what anyone chooses to interpret about the 12 steps, not one of them suggests that AA members proselytize” right under the heading “We Tried to Carry this Message to Alcoholics” which is in fact proselytizing and comes directly from step 12.

    At least the author admitted her brain needed a good washing and considering the aforementioned contradiction, I see it certainly worked.

    Those are just a few things wrong with this whole article which is seething with resentment at the idea of someone shining the light of truth on AA. This article is nothing but a very lengthy ad hom argument.

    • Cecilia: Yes!
      AA is hardly a passive player in the “lets railroad them into the rooms” game.
      I counted at least 3 comic books printed up just to “attract” young kids into the program.
      And AA does notjust sit back and wring its organization hands over the fact that the court system keeps sending offenders to meetings; the GSO holds seminars devoted to finding new ways to get even more of them into a meeting. This is described in the GSO newsletters, for pity’s sake!
      Anyone who wants to can read them, they’re on the AA website.
      Courts, rehabs, teenagers….
      It’s all about the GSO, I for one am not buying any “poor little innocent non-profit AA” balogna.
      And I know how much this particular issue upsets current members because of the way they try to censor and block me every time I bring it up.
      It’s all coming down, right now. The organization is going to have to deal with this, probably sooner than later. Change is gonna come.
      “Those are just a few things wrong with this whole article which is seething with resentment at the idea of someone shining the light of truth on AA. This article is nothing but a very lengthy ad hom argument.”
      You betcha.
      “Monica is drinking…The movie showed Monica’s REAL agenda… She failed at AA and she has a grudge… yada, yada, yada”, yawn.
      You betcha.

    • Cecelia on May 15th, 2015 1:41 PM

      “Lots of inaccurate information in this article and some really interesting contradictions. I’ll point out just a couple. One inaccurate statement is the claim that the courts sending criminals to AA has nothing to do with AA. She makes it seem like the courts are imposing this on AA and AA is only being passive about it. That’s simply not true. AA puts out a lot of literature on it’s own website of how to approach the courts and judges to get them to send criminals to AA.”

      “AA puts out a lot of literature on it’s own website of how to approach the courts and judges to get them to send criminals to AA.”

      Hmmm. A.A. has been sending out “pamphlets” since before Al Gore invented the internet.

      I do recall A.A. having a pamphlet about A.A. members, while attempting to do volunteer service work under the realm of the 12 Traditions for the purpose of “helping the alcoholic who still suffers” to go out into the public realm and to educate professionals, courts, doctors, etc. to consider using A.A. as a possible help for the “alcoholic who still suffers.”

      To conclude that A.A. is in cahoots with judges to send “criminals” to A.A. is what anti/XAers sit around and fantasize about, isn’t it?

      You had cred, until that little blip of information.

      This is the problem with a lie. A lie is usually attempted to be slipped in as a half-truth. This attempt isn’t even clever.

      I honestly am at a crossroads. I stopped going to A.A. over about four months ago and I’m still a sober and recovered alcoholic.

      I’ve been curious and waiting to see Massive’s movie, but when I just googled The 13th Step, I was taken to this site.

      It’s of no surprise to me that I’d find a bunch of blow-hard’s screaming for and against the Anti-A.A. cause.

      I honestly want to see this flick and judge for myself. When does it hit Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime?

      P.S., where’s my 90 Day Anti-XAer Chip?

  58. Clarabelle12 on

    As a person who has followed Monica Richardson for some time, i have found her story both compelling and baffling. First, she joins AA at 18 after stopping drinking on her own three weeks earlier. A year later, she encounters Tom Catton on the beach where she is sunbathing topless. He strikes up a conversation with her as he had had a vision from God that he woud meet his soul mate on the beach that dayuu. Lo and behold, a semi nude goddess is on the beach and he plops down to tell her his story of recovery through NA. He tells her that he goes to meetings started by a woman who was led by God to break into and squat in a beach property. So these are also “criminals”. Later that evening, she follows him into an NA meeting for a problem she doesn’t have, only to then move into a group house Tom headed a few weeks later. This information is all verifiable should anyone wnat to listen to the podcast.

    While she now eschews the notion of counting time, Monica does pull this out if it is to her benefit, hence the “I am an authority because I had 36 years in the program.” Her other blogcasts speak of all of the time off she took when she was raising her children. She went back to AA 15 years later when she got a divorce.

    What was she using these fellowships for? She was not an alcoholic nor a drug abuser, so what was all to it?

    I hope her film is successful but I don’t know what measure she would consider success. Monica had to have known that storming the AA office was merely a grandstand. They weren’t going to talk to her and she knew it as she often complained how her calls went unanswered. I certainly have read on blogs where she cries over the time she spent in the fellowship (despite that she also left for a good chunk), misspent youth, etc. No matter what, the film won’t restore youth to this middle age woman. It won’t change people attracted to each other going out together. It wouldn’t keep me from beng able to do something for someone who can’t, even if that IS mowing a yard.

    I enjoyed your article.

    • Ken Ragge on

      Clarabelle, Is your post the “loving hand of AA” or are you just taking cheap shots because you are angry your cult is being criticized on well-deserved grounds?

      • “As a person who has followed Monica Richardson for some time…” No words. I’m just speechless.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          Why? She was on OPF when I started there. I was looking for alternatives to AA. I remember when she came screaming to the blog, asking us to go to her blog and take on Lisa, an AA, who had lots to say on 13th stepping. I agreed with something each poster said regardless of what side of the fence they were on. I post quite regularly at The Fix, as does Monica. I really don’t know why anyone would be surprised that people who follow an issue aren’t familiar with each other. After all, it has been since 2011. Why would you be speechless? She invited me to be part of her film as a counter voice. I did not take the offer seriously.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        I fail to see what Minca has revealed to be some sort of cheap shot, Ken. You must have overlooked what the author herself said about Monica’s experience on the beach. All I have are Monica’s AND Tom’s words about the encounter. I quite liked the show she invited us to hear. She had no issues with his prison work and NA, nor did she dispute that she went into NA despite not having the problem.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Perhaps you should listen to the blog for yourself and come to your own conclusions. It is a bit mind bolggling to have something that both remember as such a fun exchange that caused her to follow him to NA and move into one of his group houses…is viewed so differently in her film. I would suspect he would be appalled.

    • Juliet Roxspin on

      You followed Monica? Seems you two got different interests! lol

      By the way, I’m no prude or judgmental person but you sure seem against women being topless?

      I like your tenacity but pointing fingers at others is really… unnecessary…. I couldn’t read your whole comment. It is illegal for minors to be sent to AA if there are no sexual harassment rules, etc. That doesn’t make me a paranoid schizophrenic, it means I simply care. Agree?

      • Clarabelle12 on

        How different is it from any one of the rest of you? It isn’t as if they didn’t follow me as well. It was just a much more organized effort than going to links Monicca provided. I don’t view it as controversial.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        PS. Not a prude. I regularly sunbathe topless and it wouldn’t have been an unexpected site in Hawaii. However, there was a buunch of emphasis put on it in the radio show. Perhaps you should just listen to it.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          No judgment, Roy. Just describing the incident as they both fondly remember it. Listen to the podcast yourself.

    • Librarian on

      Ya… you have been following Monica for some time – you are obsessed with her and finding out everything about her. It’s creepy the way you talk about her as if you know her personally – you don’t.


        • Clarabelle12 on

          My interest is in AA, Cecelia. If the details are salaccious, I suppose that is up to interpretation but I am not the one making the disclosures. Hers are on TV, blogs, and in a movie, things she invited all of us to watch.

          • Librarian on

            Clarabelle12, You are obsessed with Monica in an unhealthy way. You have memorized the parts of her life she has chosen to share on the net and comments she made on websites from many years ago. You follow her all over the internet. Its odd. I really doubt if there is anyone on EITHER side of the debate who would dispute my concerns about your personal interest in Monica.


          • Clarabelle12 on

            Librarian, she has chosen to include these things in her film. If you don’t want people to know something, the best advice I can give is to not publish it online. I have been interacting with these people for more than 3 years.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        Librarian, I do not follow her by design, but since I DO follow AA related blogs, of course I run into her. What I know of Monica are her public disclosures. If you take issue with that, perhaps you should take it up with her. After all, you can’t put it out there and then try to dictate who reads it.

          • Read her other articles on this site and then click the links to her own twitter and facebook feeds at the top of this page.

          • Although I notice she’s deleted Monica’s invitation to go on her radio show and debate this in person.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I didn’t delete anything, GS. Why would I do that? In fact, what happened is Monica changed her name from Massive on the post to Guest.

          • GirlScout on

            Not you! The author deleted Monica’s invitation to discuss this ‘debunk’ of her film on the radio from her facebook page. Monica posted on Danielle’s page and politely asked her on the show. The comment is now gone. Funny that!


      I think Monica going into AA headquarters was powerful and showed how scared and pathetic AA really is. Hats off to Monica Richardson!

      • Clarabelle12 on

        It was humorous because she knew how to grandstand and “act” as if she had some power. She knew the entire time they weren’t going to comment. That doesn’t show power. AA has a reputation of no comment. You will notice the Katie Show pointed that out as well.

  59. Ryan Lankford on

    Yeah, talk about hypocrisy here. The author lost ALL credibility when she posited that “they appeared to all be intoxicated.” The article is nothing but pro-AA drivel that refused to address the points, facts and people brought up in the movie. I see a lot of fear in this article. The truth is starting to come out, and the author is nervous, and it shows. when she brings up the same tired “predators are everywhere” analogy.


    Actually Danielle the movie mentions alternatives to 12 step programs. AA has been a huge failure and has only a 5% success rate. If this movies teaches people that AA is dangerous both emotionally and physically and they seek help to other more safer options that is a good thing. So many people think AA is the only way when it is not. After the general public see’s the film they can make the own mind up and be more informed about where they seek help. Certainly not where rapists and killers are sent to by the courts.

    Also it teaches Americans that they cannot be forced to attend 12 step programs without being given a secular option. Americans need to stand up for their constitutional rights!

    • Clarabelle12 on

      Ah, but the courts also send these same people to the alternatives, which is grand for me. I can see Monica’s next film – The Dangers of the Alternatives to AA.

      • EXPOSINGAA on

        The difference is that the alternatives have safety measures in place like any responsible organization would. Rape and murder by AA members is not helping AA’s image. One day I believe we will see changes in AA, but it will still be an emotionally abusive program.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          Not really. They tell you that they are not responsible for anything that takes place outside of their meetings.

      • Jack Shuman on

        Alternatives don’t teach powerlessness nor do they engage in victim blaming. They are not cult like and therefore are more likely to inform potential victims and be safer for that reason. AA grooms victims. It sprang from the cult The Oxford Group (renamed later to Moral Rearmament), a well known mind control cult that used many of the cult tactics that AA does, including “love bombing.”

      • Clarabelle, you are one smug self-righteous little AA member.
        It’s reassuring to see that AA is still turning out the kind of spiritual giants I remember altogether too well. Pay a little lip service to honesty and humility, then let’s get together and pat each other on the back for being so all-fired holy and closer-to-God than the rest of humanity.
        But hey, it’s your program. I am so glad I saw the light and got out when I did. Have at it, baby. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself, I always say.

  61. ExposingAA on

    I totally disagree with this article. The trailers I have seen are excellent and it is about time that AA is exposed for the dangerous, evil and corrupt organization that it is. Why does AA refuse to implement any safety rules? Any responsible organization would. How many women and children have to be raped by fellow AA members for AA to do something about the high crime by AA members? Hopefully this excellent movie will be the beginning of AA doing their own inventory.

    • Clarabelle12 on

      But you haven’t seen the whole film. Trailers can be misleading. I look forward to seeing it.

      How about following AA’s suggestions about dating at all? People are responsible for their own behavior as is indicated in SMART’s position statement. While it supports friendships as part of support, what goes own outside of its meetings is nothing it is responsible for.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          No, I haven’t which is why I am limiting my comments to the article. I guess I got to the link Gunthar posted on Craigslist that included film too late.

      • Hey Clarabelle12. Where is it written in the suggested program of Alcoholics Anonymous the suggestion not to date in you first year of AA membership?

        • Silver Damsen on

          The real skinny on the 13th Step is that it is just another way for AA narcissists to be abusive and blame the victim. The Old Timer women that on one really wants to have sex with anyway warn Newcomer women but that is mostly so that they can say “I told you so” This subset that is so against 13th stepping also does not get that much sex anymore themselves. Perhaps, this is because they are too obnoxious for even the AA men to stand for one reason, and also in lot of cases, the Old Timer women have made so many rounds that it is just too boring for the men…not that this is Clarabelle’s issue, but two of the women in my area who spoke out most strongly against the 13th Step had been notorious sluts (by their own admission) their first 8 or so years in Program. The Old Timer sexually exploiting perverts get to get their jollies by direct exploitation and the Old Timer women get to get theirs by being judgmental and superior. Most of the women who make it to Old Timer status and came into Program single and under 35, had sex with more people sober than they did when drinking and had even less respect for the bounds of marriage. After all, God didn’t make them drink after they were sexually exploited by 20 men in row in AA, which means they are, in their own mind, superior to a woman, with perhaps less experience being used, who is surprised and very hurt when she is sexually exploited.

        • Clarabelle12 on

          I think that suggestion is “rehabese” that has gotten intot he rooms. AA has a few suggestions about being on strong sober footing prior to new relationships but there isn’t a real time frame. You can read more about it on p. 119(?) in the 12/12.

          • GirlScout on

            Hmm that’s not the bit in the 12×12 that says rape is about ‘lust’ is it?

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Read it and see.

            From these blogs and the definition of rape being changed, that could include lust.

          • GirlScout on

            It was a rhetorical question clarabelle, I have read it, I could probably quote it verbatim ….

          • Clarabelle12 on

            It is not rhetorical given the changed definition of rape on these blogs.

  62. Tracy Chabala on

    This whole sexual predator thing is a bit odd. You get preyed on everywhere you go if you’re a woman. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sexually harassed on the job, on the street, and I certainly was accosted when I was drunk (I find being sober and in a room of sober men in AA actually poses less threat than in a bed with a total stranger, but maybe my logic is flawed), and I’ve also had some weird interactions at the gym. And, too, I was properly 13th stepped, though not assaulted, in AA.

    People seriously need to take personal responsibility. We have to learn how to self-police. We can’t just go in AA, a demographic of hundreds of thousands of random people, and think that they’re all saints or something. This thinking is so flawed it makes me wonder if the filmmaker got “brainwashed” because she simply could not employ critical faculties.

    That sounds mean, but there’s something to be said about that. We alcoholics still have to use our brains.

    • While it’s true that you may be able to find predators in many places, those predators in other places don’t have the claim of spirituality like people in AA do, Other places will not tell you that your life depends on blindly trusting these more spiritual people who have a lot of time sober. In other places you’re not expected to tell everyone very personal details of your life. It’s a very different atmosphere in AA to other places. There are many aspects to AA that simply make people even more vulnerable than they would anywhere else.

        • Jack Shuman on

          Yeah, the whole “spiritual program” thing is a hoot isn’t it? What is that about? A license for pedophiles to do what they please?

        • john tuttle on

          its a spiritual program…not a religious program…..what a bunch of nonsense….Quackaholics anonymous is just that,….a bunch of quackery perpetuated by a bunch of filthy sleazebags!!!!!!!!!

        • I was never told to use discretion nor have I seen anyone practice discretion in meetings about what they share. I’ve heard some pretty crazy shares!

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I have, too. Somehow, I guess “sharing in a general manner” is anyone’s guess.

          • Jack Shuman on

            I wasn’t given any warnings at all. People are often preyed upon by their sponsors in AA in the first place. No wonder potential victims are not warned.

        • SparkleInTheDark on

          Yes, people are told to use discretion in AA meetings. For example, if you know some one has a history of pedophilia or domestic violence history, you are not supposed to talk about that, not even without naming them because the perpetrator should be protected since they are in the program now. I hate to tell you, but being in the AA program does not cure pedophilia or domestic violence.

        • Sorry, Clarabelle, but you’re telling less than half the story.

          For every AA member who advises caution, there are at least two who will tell a newcomer to “forget everything you thought you knew”, “keep it simple stupid”, say “you’re only as sick as your secrets”, and ask “where did your best thinking get you?”
          In other words, tell you that your smarts don’t count for crap.

          Furthermore, the therapists who recommended AA to ME personally said nothing to me about being cautious; I was told that AA was a support group, period. The professionals I just referenced knew nothing whatsoever about AA, they did not even know there were “steps”, let alone 13 steppers.

          People go to AA expecting a safe support group and that’s just how it is.
          They might hear a teeny bit about AA from a trusted friend, doctor, or therapist, but they have no clue as to what the other members are capable of.
          They drop their guard.
          Newcomers, especially naive young ones, are disarmed by the noble ideas and friendly smiles, the talk of God and honesty, the prayers and their own naivete.
          Newcomers need to be made aware of the possible pitfalls BEFORE they spill their guts in a meeting, not blamed later for being gullible.

          You AA defenders make me sick. What the hell can possibly be WRONG with telling the newcomer the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, BEFORE they go to AA?

          AA members are NOT better than the average person, they’re worse; they are more manipulative and less honest. AA meetings are NOT safer than the bar or grocery store, they’re less safe, because vulnerable newcomers make easy marks for “hip slick and cool” sober drunks.

          I went to AA, I saw it all, and I know. I was not abused or hurt by other AA members. I have nothing against anyone I knew in AA, but I have a lot against these desperate efforts to hide the bad that does go on in the program.
          Concealment is dishonest. AA tries to conceal, and is NOT a program of honesty. It’s a program so fearful of any criticism that it doesn’t care who gets hurts by this desperate need to present a perfect face to the world.

          AA as a whole wants to pretend it’s a perfect program. The word for that is narcissism and it’s a disorder just like Alcoholism.
          AA is a sick society.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        Wow. No predators in the Catholic Church or any other positions of trust? Anyone who doesn’t know that people are mandated to AA haven’t been awake for the last 30 years. I knew that as for back as drivers education classes at 16. I think Monica said it best on any number of blogs when she said if you treat these people with the same caution you would a person you met at a restuarant. you’ll be fine. I have often said if you exercise the same care in AA you demonstrate anywhere else, you should be okay. But then…I have been victimized at my home, ripped off at work, held up at gunpoint on my street, all places I normally should have felt safe and generally did…

        • GirlScout on

          This is so boring Clarabelle. When you go to church, you are not told you are spiritually sick and morally bankrupt, cannot trust your own thinking, are ‘in a safe place’, and that if you leave you’ll die. The church was held accountable for the abuses going on under its roof. What made it worse for victims of sexual abuse by priests, is the faithful flock simply would not believe it. And victims were put under pressure to ‘forgive’ – sound familiar?????

          The church now has incredibly strict guidance for child protection – I know I volunteer for a church youth club. So much so that it errs on the side of too cautious, rather than ever risk a child being harmed again.

          In a restaurant or a bar, I am not at my lowest ebb, or vulnerable, I am not subjected to overly emotional sharing which creates an atmosphere of false intimacy, with a big dollop of fear and passive aggression throw in.

          If I was harrassed in a restaurant, other diners would help me, I’d not be told to to ‘look for my part in it’ or to ‘pray for’ the person who hurt me, nor apologise to them for my ‘resentment’. The management would throw the offender out. They would routinely call the police. They would be worried about their reputation.

          In the grocery store, I’m not told that I can trust everyone there, I don’t over disclose personal material in front of strangers, and the courts are not mandating sex offenders there without my knowledge. I am not being offered ‘the answers to all my problems today’. I’m not told if I leave I’ll die. If i don’t like that store, I can go and find another provider, it’s not the ‘only game in town’. I am not told to revere people who get to acquire a false sense of authority because they’ve been in the store longer than I have!

          You are being disingenuous, as I have seen you on blogs where this argument has been debunked repeatedly. It is a ridiculous comparison.

          The church was SUED and LOST! Even if you could argue, that unlike AA, it has – the church that is – in fact ‘helped millions’. Which is a mathematical impossibility in AA, since it has 2m worldwide members at any one time and a 95% churn rate every three months. Seeing as it has also a death rate three times higher than no treatment at all, I’d say that, net, that’s barely a dent on the problem, and probably even a negative recovery rate.

          AA is not a slice of life, it is a highly concentrated group of dysfunctional and dangerous people, mixed in with highly vulnerable people. Which is why any other organisation dealing with vulnerable adults and teens has background checking of volunteers, a complaints procedure, a whistle blowing procedure, a barring procedure procedure and a way of escalating complaints. In other organisations convicted paedophiles are not allowed to be in positions of trust.

          I say to you again, if the Boy Scouts have it in their wit to organise some safety policies because they learnt to their cost that predators flock to where vulnerable people are, then why not AA???? What on earth is so special about AA????

          What disgusts me is paedophiles LIKE AA (see opening paragraph of tradition 3 in the 12×12) because there they will find vulnerable women whom nobody gives a shit about and more crucially, if rape and battery of women wasn’t enough, THEIR KIDS (women with addiction problems are easy to discredit, as a bit like you’ve done with Massive, their character goes on trial as soon as charges are brought, she’s a drunk etc etc !! Which as you know, is what happened to the woman whose FOUR YEAR OLD SON was RAPED in an AA meeting, you know about that case too, you were there when other AA members called her a bad mother for not watching him properly – her only crime was to take her son to a club house Xmas party! Oh and he was mandated BACK to AA!! This woman is in the film!!). No oversight, no safety guidelines, no nothing. It is nothing short of disgusting. AA HQ KNOWS about this and voted to do NOTHING.

          And when we try to speak up, people like your friend who wrote this ‘article’ go into a scathing attack, trying to insinuate the person raising the alarm is drunk or ‘morally defective’ – which is a bit rich considering she openly admits to bizarre sexual behaviour, hosted the ‘Porn Oscars’ in LA, and runs workshops on how to give blowjobs in Hustler Stores. You should choose who you support more wisely, otherwise you’ll end up looking like more of an idiot than you already do.

          Stop insulting our and the general public’s intelligence with this shit – predators seek out places where they can find vulnerable people who won’t be believed. Which is why it is all the more pressing to root out this awful behaviour and make people AWARE of the dangers.

          And before you start going on about ‘closed’ meetings, which is a favourite tack of yours, I’d point out the Pacific Group and Clancy I – those ARE closed meetings, run by super sober stand up guys – wolves in sheep’s clothing. The whole thing is a despicable, awful, tragic mess and the public have a right to know. That’s why I and lots of women like me left AA, I could not in all conscience be part of it any longer. Anything I tried to say in meetings was shouted down and I was told to shut up. We are NOT being quiet any longer.

          • Hear, hear, Girlscout. You worded it perfectly. Even if the movie got it half wrong, and I don’t think it did, mind you,
            it’s time for the world to open its eyes to what Alcoholics Anonymous really is.
            AA is a lot of things, but the one thing it is NOT is “simply a support group” to help people stay sober..

      • Tracy Chabala on

        THis is a fair enough point. But it just doesn’t seem possible that any collective group, despite their spiritual emphasis, is going to be without the creeps, the criminals, and the predators.

        I am an active member in AA, but I am always wary of anything that seems brainwashy or fundamentalist. I’m always the one raising my hand and blathering about my atheism and explaining how bill wilson’s reasoning for why there’s a “god” is stupid. At any rate, I still love AA, but I feel comfy criticizing it, conforming to it, and making it my own.

        THAT aside, I’ve had creepy psychiatrists and counselors too (who I’ve told my secrets to. One was this disgusting USC shrink at the student counseling center! Gross!)

        I’m just not sure why people don’t put on their thinking caps with AA, the ones who get “bullied” or told they have to lose themselves or lose their individuality. But none of us are the same, and it is true we are all a bit shaken when we crawl into AA in the beginning.

        I approached the program very gingerly and still do. I never swallowed the whole thing in one big gulp because I’m a recovering fundamentalist christian (broke through that in college). But every time I pose my concerns in AA or counter people in AA on a group level, I’m met with not only acceptance but lots of remarks like “You keep speaking your mind!” So i keep talking. People disagree with each other within AA, just like any group, be they free masons, christians, or even within the belly dancing community. No, really. One woman just went on record that white women shouldn’t dance raqs sharqi. There’s a schism.

        Maybe too much. But, I don’t know. We all need to think critically and self-police in all areas of life. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised. I had worrying overbearing parents. As far as AA being axed from medicine, I think it should be. I think it should be separated from for-profit treatment, separated from the courts, and separated from medicine, so those who benefit from AA can keep going and just mind their own damn business.

        The only sad thing, to me, is that AA-bashers drone on and on about how it doesn’t work, but there are people, like me, who can testify that all it does is make their lives better. At any rate, I’m not going to proselytize. I’d be open to other treatments if they were free and accessible, but AA is the best deal on the block and it’s asked VERY little of me. In fact, it really asks nothing of me whatsoever.

        • GirlScout on

          Tracy, I wrote you a long reply to this three times and it wouldn’t post. So the short answer is a) you don’t know what you are talking about (i mean this nicely but you don’t!) and b) you are victim blaming. If vulnerable people knew how to keep themselves safe, they wouldn’t be victims would they?! Just thank your lucky stars you aren’t one of them, and then go and look up the Duluth Model and the cycle of abuse, and then go and google Paul Cleary’s leaked Memo to the AA board. You are VICTIM BLAMING.

        • Tracy, when you wrote “As far as AA being axed from medicine, I think it should be. I think it should be separated from for-profit treatment, separated from the courts, and separated from medicine, so those who benefit from AA can keep going and just mind their own damn business”,
          that was the most useful thing you had to say.
          I couldn’t agree with you more.
          Maybe you were lucky enough to have someone tell you to be careful. Most of us were not.
          If what you term “AA bashing” makes you sad, maybe you should avoid us “AA bashers”.
          Your good fortune was far from typical, and being smug about how you were fine because you were so careful just emphasizes your lack of true empathy and understanding.
          “There but for the grace of God goes You.”
          If you hadn’t been so clever or lucky or whatever, it might be you here being put down for “bashing” AA.
          I suspect you are very young.
          Just remember there are a lot of “yets” yet to some, and hope you don’t have to go through them at the hands of your fellow AA members.

    • Jack Shuman on

      On the job you have recourse. In AA you don’t. The cult blames victims and shields perpetrators.

  63. Danielle Stewart on

    Well said, Lauren. Thanks for your comment. And yes, that is my fear as well. Even if it deters one person in need from exploring 12-step with an open mind it will be very unfortunate.

    • Alcoholics Anonymous is a wicked cult that robs an individual of any identity, struggling ego, or self efficacy, through the repetitive use of shaming slogans, ego smashing, ridicule, contempt and humiliation ritual. This has no business in government, medicine, the courts or my employment.

      Twelve step facilitation is ineffective. There is no objective research to indicate its helpful. Studies that purport its legitimacy are logically fallacious, methodologically flawed, use false endpoints, and you never hear from the 95% percent of people that it does not help. A new person to the program is encouraged by sponsor members to drink, inducing a bottom, shame, and compliance with the cult.

      • Librarian on

        Samson, I really like your ‘From the heart ‘ comment. Thanks for posting. Your thoughts are my sentiments exactly.


        • Your welcome Librarian.

          Somebody needs to take a knife to the illegitimate bloat of this organization and excise it from medicine.

    • Juliet Roxspin on

      If it saves one life from getting harmed in a place they went to for help then all the better. The fact that I am safer on a bus and my complaints would be taken seriously there is sad. I consider safety a top priority especially in any place with an open door policy as large as AA. Being sexually harassed at meetings would drive people way from AA. Who wants that kind of help? I don’t. Sexual harassment drives people away, not people against 13 Stepping.

  64. Thank you Thank you. I saw this film and was deeply disturbed . This film had some great points but it veered off. It was just a film bashing AA. It had a lot of lies like” teenagers cannot be alchoholics”. I am fully aware that AA is not the only solution to get sober. The director made it seem like AA is a cult. I was so so excited to see the film. But I left very sad and angry. I just am afraid someone who needs help will not seek it in AA because of this bullshit movie. This movie does not depict what AA is really like. I really would have like to see the move help and address the sexual predatory problem in AA. IT did not do that at all. Instead it just bashed AA.

    • Silver Damsen on

      Like, Monica Richardson, I am a member of the Anti-AA movement. For what is worth, I still have the same sobriety date as when I left stopped attending meetings 20 months ago, since the reviewer seems to find it worthwhile to mention that Monica Richardson is now a “moderate drinker.” AA psychological abuse came very close to killing me. Sexual exploitation was part of my story, but the biggest problem was the psychological abuse perpetrated by other women, women who were supposedly trying to help me. I think it is entirely possible that they believed they were helping. However, their idea of helping me was to try and convince me that every time I had ever experienced pain in my life it was my own fault. This is because the “spiritual” core of AA is blaming the victim. This ideology can be found throughout the Big Book, but there is a nice quote on p. 62 (that I was told to read again and again when other AA members were abusive to me, an abusive that culminated in perjured Order of Protection Charges by a woman who claimed that I was planning to murder her. Since the charges were utter nonsense, despite her even bringing in her professional lawyer father, I was able to get the case dismissed, but according to my AA group I was still the more guilty party because I was claiming that having to defend myself against untruthful legal proceedings wasn’t fair. AA, of course, says over and over again that anyone who feels wronged and hurt is at fault and needs to “find their part” in their abuse. So according to AA, just because this semi-insane (but highly popular) narcissist disliked me, I had to be worth of abuse. This same logic is behind men 13th stepping women. If a Newcomer woman becomes involved with a man (either with significant time in Program or not) and he ends up ripping her heart out, it is still the woman’s fault for being stupid enough to date the man. Another word for describing this is “blaming the victim.” We also see the same pattern in the Pro AA response to former members of AA who, as an aspect of working through the psychological damage that AA wrecked on them, complain about the problem of abuse in AA, both as way to work through the trauma and also in the effort to prevent others from the same pain that they experienced by creating awareness. If AA doesn’t work for someone it is the fault of the person who couldn’t make AA work. This is because supposedly “AA works if you work it.” However, AA has very low success rates. I think the 5% rate is an accurate one since it can be verified by semi-casual personal observation of anyone with a familiarity of AA culture. The test is very simple: observe how many people receive a 24 hour coin or a month coin, and then go on to receive a year coin or a 20 year coin? 5% means 5 out of a 100 people. I know that in my own area there was no way that there was more than 5% of those with 20 years plus actively going to meetings in comparison to the entire population that attended meetings. Thus, I trust that the standard, but contested, 5% success rate for AA is accurate enough, and also indicates that AA has no right to claim that it has saved millions of lives because 5% of problem drinkers can and do quit on their own every year. That more and more women are revealing that they have been sexually exploited in AA–and do note that since AA came up with and uses the term itself as the 13th Step that AA knows it is a problem–reveals it is a problem that the larger society needs to be made aware, since AA, in staying true to its ideology simple blames the women that were exploited.

      • Clarabelle12 on

        Yet there were charges brought by another person, Silver. My understanding is that the father/attorney was able to convince all parties to drop their respective actions toward each other and LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE. The daughter is happily married to the guy. They have a small child and are dizzy in love with each other. He has decided not to give rides to meetings to women, but that was a mistake he made. He was 22. Some women just get the wrong idea out of a kind gesture.

        • Ken Ragge on

          It is absolutely no surprise and not at all unexpected to see you, Clarabelle12, jumping in to defend AA and attack someone who is criticizing it for harm done. Have you ever let any criticism of you perfect program slide?

          I’m curious if anyone has ever said anything critical of AA anywhere on the Internet that what happened, whether rape, murder, getting them to quit psychiatric meds, was not the fault of the victim.

          Here is a chance for you to not tell how someone who was critical of something that happened in AA was wrong. Here is an opportunity for you to stick up for a particularly sick AA member attacking little girls who were molested as children.

          Just google:

          “AA Freak Blames” morerevealed

          It will be the first result.

          I’m looking forward to hearing how this man is right and anyone who criticizes him is wrong. I’m sure that you who is so far along the Spiritual Path with many years Time can convince all of us the wisdom of this man.

          I’m waiting . . .

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I haven’t seen the film, Ken. I am commenting to the article.

            No, it shouldn’t be surprising to see me on any blog involving AA. I appreicate that you said so.

            I am the first to quote AA’s medication stance in meetings, which is that there is no opinion on medical protocols.

          • Ken Ragge on

            The suprising thing (no, not really) is that you hang out on the Internet in case someone reports being told not to take prescribed meds by their sponsor or other authority figures at meetings. You are not concerned that in AA people are very often told not to take prescribed meds. If you were, you’d be saying so in meetings and take it up with the upper echelons of AA.

            Of course you don’t do that because you see your job as protecting AA from what AA does. You don’t care what AA does to people, you just worry that AA might catch some heat for what goes on there.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            You clearly aren’t reading my comments, Ken, or you would know that I DO talk about the medication stance in AA in meetings.

            You are here to comment to me versus talk about the article. Have a good day.

          • Silver Damsen on

            For those that don’t know, Clarabelle is continuing her personal attack on me on two other newer online articles One of which is another Pro AA film review on The 13th Step (and hence against the film The 13th Step being discussed here.) No, indeed, Clarabelle, despite my hope you never do seem to tire about talking about Sam Enright and his wife Mary English Enright. It would be more entertaining for me if you just didn’t repeat the same mistaken ideas over and over again. So do I have to keep checking back on this page or are we going to confine ourselves to the other two articles? At least Clarabelle gets slightly more at the truth here than in other posts about the relationship (not that she is every really that close or even has any kind of moral or ethical right to judge me and comment). My issue was never really that Sam didn’t love me or like me. My issue was that a sponsor forbade him to be seemingly even friends with me, and encouraged a relationship with a woman who was married at the time, and had less than a month of sobriety and was also something like 10 years older than Sam–his now current wife, Mary English Enright. But even that I was okay with, not exactly happy because Sam had been a good friend, but I was okay with. What was off the charts though was that this woman, now Mary English Enright, who works at a pet funeral parlor of all places (owned by someone else in Program, and I am sure is absolutely wonderful at her job because nobody loves a good funeral like someone in AA), and also has a personality a lot like Clarabelle (yea, I know……) and a former sponsor and another one-time close AA female friend decided that it would be a good idea to put through perjured Order of Protection charges on me to make sure that I didn’t go to the same meetings as Sam and Mary, and that the Old Timers who had been drooling over me for months and months would finally (or so they thought) get a better chance to get me in bed if they were driving me to these distant meetings because I couldn’t just walk to the closer ones. Then when I got the case dismissed, I was still considered guilty by the AA community and was as shamed as if I had been guilty, even though any sane person knew that I was innocent of anything connected to stalking charges. That is why I left AA. It was partly the betrayal by Sam, but the big thing was that a former sponsor and a former female friend did this with the encouragement of the Old Timer men who I had kept out of my pants, in the hopes that they could get in. The way it was left too, that it was pretty clear to me that I had to accept rides to meetings from the Old Timers who wanted in my pants or stop going to meetings or fight additional Order of Protection charges in the future. My therapist agreed that AA was just way, way, way to sick and that I would have to be better off without it, and I was. So I wonder if you will twist this all up into your usual obsession with me being obsessed about Sam and me being too old for him and me being what 900 years old or whatever other fantasy age you come up with. I admit it, I am 900 years old and from the planet Mars…. I wonder if Clarabelle will hit on this one phrase and repeat it over and over and over again in her efforts to prove that I deserved to be hurt by AA because I didn’t listen to my AA sponsor and that I think I am from planet Mars and 900 years old? Please, let me know if you are going to stop commenting here or if we are going to have to have 3 discussion boards going at the same time, Clarabelle? Also, it would be nice if we could talk about AA ideology rather than you just proving by your actions that AA loves to the blame the victim and say that anyone who complains about bad treatment in AA deserves to be hurt.

        • Silver Damsen on

          Really, Clarabelle. You actually did research them and call them. That doesn’t surprise me since you are all about attacking people, rather than helping people. It makes so much sense that you would insist that these lies that you are told are the truth because it fits with the whole Pro AA context of “blaming the victim.” How many times do I have to say that Sam told me he loved me? How many times do I have to say that Sam Enright initiated conversations about sex and told me that he didn’t even really like the women he had 13th Stepped after he was told that he couldn’t have sex with me, even though he wanted to have sex with me. Yes, I am aware that Sam Enright started saying different things once he and Mary English got more involved, and certainly after they married, and she became Mrs. Sam Enright that as people like to joke, he actually became Mr. Mary English. He was after all only 22 when he married a divorced woman that had started dating him before she even legally separated from her husband, and was at the time, I think 32 years old. But that doesn’t change what actually happened. I love to talk to about this Clarabelle. But I just feel that I’m not playing fair to break their anonymity without provocation, but since you seem to have spoken to them to know that they are “dizzy” in love, I do not think I have any moral obligation to them whatsoever and they gave up the legal one when Mary pushed Sam to do the court charges that I got dismissed. Would you like to do a call in on Monica’s talk show where we actually discuss these issues. I think that would be fun. It is pathetic that you want to bring this up to try and prove that AA is freaking wonderful and safe. But then AA is all about blaming the victim, so yes, Stewart attacks Monica Richardson and you attack me. It doesn’t matter that what you say isn’t the truth. What matters to you is protecting current AA narcissists who want to continue to abuse. If you want to talk about my home group area of Champaign, let us then talk about the person who goes by the name of Scott Schellenberger (but who was convicted of pedophile of nine-year-old girls under the name of Jeffrey Schellenberger. Scott (since this is how I knew him) was elected AA Club President (not of an Alano Club because there had been a problem some years previously with someone in Alanon, named Jane, so they just called the building they rented “Fellowship Circle.” They had to move about a year to a much smaller building, seemingly God didn’t think they deserved the larger one, and I’ve heard that this new property is also going to be taken away from them as well for further developing.). Scott, I think, was trying to get in my pants. It is hard to tell. Most of the men seemed to want to get in my pants and I just ignored it, and told myself they were addicts. However, besides what were likely passes made at me by the elected Fellowship Circle President, Scott liked to spend a lot of time explaining AA ideology. He was the one that got me to see that AA ideology is all about blaming the victim. He has a record in the Champaign Circuit Court, and that looks like he was charged with 4 counts of intent to make and distribute child pornography that were dropped when he took the plea of offering money to a family in exchange for their 9 year-old-daughter performing sexual acts. I even got him to admit in texts that he had been convicted of pedophilia, and drum roll he shows no remorse whatsoever, and was again drum roll…. convicted when he had 10 solid years in AA Program, and was active and hanging out with what is now one of the most respected of the Old Timer women, Karen. Karen was a notorious slut, her own admission, before she got married, and is still quite attractive for her late 40s and has a main of long slivery hair, which has earned her the name of the Silver Fox. Karen’s current influence (oh, she sponsors a good segment of the younger women in AA in the area) probably helps to explain why Scott was so promptly elected Fellowship Hall President after his 10 years in prison for pedophilia. He was only out of prison for a few months when this happened. Newer people were not even told his history. We were just supposed to look at him as another respected AA Old Timer with 20+ years. How I found out was actually gossip and then I had someone look him up for me in the national sex offender’s database. It is true, that I am not at all liked in Champaign-Urbana AA. It is true that I am considered insane and morally defect and on and on and on. However, Scott was (and might still be, depending on the length of the terms of Presidency) respected for truly understanding AA program, which again he explained to me was based on the concept of blaming the victim, which while he didn’t express it as bluntly as I will here: is that any child he might have raped (he denies raping them because he offered them money for sex, ignoring that any sex acts with a child that age is rape because they cannot give legal consent) is more guilty than he if they grow up and feel resentment towards his role in their (as he imagines it) joint sexual activities because he has worked the steps on his defects and desires and asked God to remove all his defects that do not help him serve God; thus, Scott’s pedophilia was but a minor peccadillo in the sight of God, for which Scott paid dearly (but since he was able to carry the message of spirituality to his prison mates, that too was then clearly part of God’s reason for allowing Scott to rape children/film them being rape for profit and not make him drink. Yes, in my area Scott Schellenberger, Mary English Enright and Sam Enright are all respected for understanding the spiritual truth of blaming the victim, while I am considered immoral and insane. Clarabelle, readers outside of AA are not going to be impressed with your sources as to my low character. And as I’ve said before, I like talking about Sam Enright and Mary English Enright and the entire business because I was the wronged party and I want other people to know of the insanity that happened. That story, I hope, will work towards bringing down AA, not in shaming me and shutting me up, despite it is so AA of you to try. Indeed, Clarabelle, try to shame me rather than address my argument that AA blames the victims and hails truly immoral people as spiritual.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I cannot believe how easy it was to do…nothing. I read what you posted to me over the course of 8 days before deciding you were not someone I wanted in my orbit… and repackaged it back to you. I didn’t call anyone.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Wow, this site sure has annoying posting procedures. I can’t comment directly on Clarabelle’s comment to me, but can only comment on myself, and no editing once something is posted, despite typos I saw afterwards. Argh. so posting this, and then writing in a doc. and pasting here.

          • Silver Damsen on

            So for those that do not know Clarabelle has repeatedly said that she will refuse to respond to me on the discussion boards. However, this does not seem to keep her from responding. Indeed, I had responded to the article as a whole and then Clarabelle came on and specifically made several personal attacks on me under my comments. That is so very Clarabelle to personally attack and then say she refuses to engage with me because I am too inferior. Notice that she does this specifically in response to my wanting to discuss AA’s blaming the victim ideology. The appropriate response, since we are attempting to have a discussion about whether or not AA is dangerous or helpful, would be for Clarabelle to address this issue of blaming the victim. She could then either disagree and say that AA doesn’t blame the victim; that it blames the victim and she disagrees with this; or be honest and say that AA blames the victim and that is why she is in love with AA and will do anything she can to perpetuate AA ideology. Clarabelle is addicted to blaming the victim and AA, as it is now, feeds this addiction. All right now, let us address Clarabelle’s claim (note she says this after she says that she won’t engage me because I am too inferior for her to engage) that Sam Enright and Mary English Enright are “dizzy in love.” Where does that come from? To make an assertion like that one would seem to want some kind of evidence. If you notice what I say about Sam Enright and Mary English Enright, I don’t say anything that would indicate that I believe they are “dizzy” in love. So either Clarabelle just wanted to make that bit up as part of her overall tendency for creative story telling (what other people call “lies”) or she spoke to them. Either way, Clarabelle admits to being unethical, but, of course, Clarabelle won’t see it that way since AA tells her that all that she does to protect AA’s tendency to blame the victim must be morally right. Wait, that makes no sense whatsoever, but that is the point and why films like the 13th Step are being made and why the Anti-AA movement is dedicated to the truth of AA coming out.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            No one ever said you were inferior, Silver. I simply dont like your posting style. You write out the answers to your questions and I was supposed to pick one. If you answer with”c”, it REALLY means… No, I post what I mean and it doesn’t have to be rewritten into what you want it to say. Or…””if you don’t respond, it means…” Why not just take someone at their word that they found the experience tedious and boring? So I stopped. That truth can be that simple.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Wow, this is so freaking long… I am sorry. So to summarize I suggest that Clarabelle tell me what she thinks about blaming the victim, and then go on to provide more evidence that what she says about my relationship with Sam and Mary Enright is a mix of lies and truth, but in such a way that she couldn’t have gotten it from anything I have said, but again either she paid for it, hacked into my Facebook and studied my Facebook and then made up stuff after reading my Facebook, or she talked or messaged with people in my AA area. This said, okay then Clarabelle you can start off and explain to me what you think about my claim that you blame the victim as a personal habit and that AA blames the victim as part of its ideology, or we can talk more about Sam Enright and Mary English Enright. By the way, you did have a minor hit with your post that went on about Sam and Mary being “dizzy” in love with each other. It did sort of annoy me, and I didn’t even fully process why. I think what bothers me the most about it is that I know I never said the bulk of what you say. I know I never, ever would have said that Sam and Mary are “dizzy” in love with each other. Indeed, if you would like we could post photos of them somewhere and do body language analysis and his body language 90% of the time says that he can’t stand her. I want to go on here, but that is up to you. So again you either made this up entirely or someone else told you this. Then you say something about Mary English’s father (Mary wasn’t married to Sam at the time, and still had the legal last name of Wyczolkowski, the name of her fist husband, who she divorced after she was pregnant with Sam’s baby–in some states this would be illegal but curiously it isn’t in Illinois). You talk about the actions and motives of Bruce Ratcliffe, Mary’s father and attorney that was set to prosecute me, and you say that he got both sides to back down. I again would never, ever say that. I could imagine Bruce Ratcliffe saying this, or someone close to them saying it, but again I never would say it, and it also isn’t the truth. I could say so much about the court case. However, one of my favorite moments was when Bruce was representing Sam in court (after he had staged a conversation for me to overhear about he would enjoy “tearing me to pieces in the courtroom,” which again he wasn’t able to do and he was such a failure that the case was dismissed on the trail date, it is complicated how this happened, but it is delusional to say that Bruce brought this about with his lawyering skill) and he was trying not to give me his contact information. I didn’t have a lawyer and this kind of case is unlikely to get free legal aid, so I had decided to defend myself and just write the truth essay form and send an advanced copy to the judge, which is why I got off. I presented the truth and the judge could recognize the truth, but back to my favorite moment…). So Bruce was going on about how dangerous I was and how I was an immediate threat and all that but yet he requested a trial that would involve witnesses, which means a much longer case, since I would need to have time get a lawyer or present my own defense after looking at Bruce’s evidence, and the judge pointed out that that was ridiculous for him to do since I was forced to defend myself (it is unusual for an Order of Protection Case not to go through, next to impossible if the person being charged doesn’t have an attorney, and this is true even without a more expensive and time consuming trial that would involve witnesses). Then the judge insisted that he actually list himself as attorney on the court records. It is usual to do this and allows attorneys to contact each other. However, Bruce had failed to do this. Because I was not an attorney, I would have had no way of contacting him and discussing the case with him beforehand if he didn’t provide the contact information. However, sleaze ball that he was, he was trying to even put me at more disadvantage by not giving me his contact. I had heard that Mary had brought her father in to prosecute (which is why Mary is usually given credit for the Order of Protection Charges. Sam’s father is also a professional lawyer, and a much more respected one in a very large Chicago firm. If Mary had been against the charges, she wouldn’t have brought her own father in, and besides she had repeatedly screamed at me and threatened me as had her sponsor that they would see me in jail, for looking at her. Yes, that was what Mary threatened me that lead to the Order of Protection Charges. She got Sam to tell me that if I ever looked at her again, and by the way, Mary would stare at me in meetings until I accidentally caught her eye, so avoiding eye contact was next to impossible. Yes, it is insane that they would do this. It is insane that the AA group would support them. However, the insanity of it, and the fact that I can count on other Pro AA, like you, Clarabelle, to attempt to personally attack me and blame me further for the abuse I suffered in AA, is what has made me so militantly Anti-AA. Anyway, so Bruce was faltering and embarrassed that the judge had pointed out that if there was such an immediate threat and it would be so easy to prove (Bruce said it would take less than 45 min) that it was silly to delay process, take up so much tax payer’s money and all against someone who didn’t have a lawyer, as in what kind of idiot can prosecute someone on an Order of Protection Charge who is without a lawyer (again because these cases almost always go through). So Bruce is all flustered and admits that yes, it is silly to try and bring in multiple witnesses, and that it makes more sense to just have it be me. Oh, it is also relevant Bruce, Mary and Sam have argued that I have a weird religious belief set (because they misquoted some things I said in AA and said them out of context and failed to even mention that the only place I saw these people was at AA meetings and that I rarely talked to them, even if Mary would stare at me until I looked at her) and that I was, as they implied in the court papers, entirely disconnected from reality and was planning to murder Mary. So while Bruce is flustering over looking like a bullying idiot, the judge then insists that he enter his name in as lawyer so that I can contact him about my defense, and he doesn’t want to do this. He insists that he doesn’t have to be done. The judge then points out that since I don’t have a lawyer I presumably would have no idea of how or where to contact him without knowing his name (Remember his daughter who has asked him to prosecute has a different last name from his, that of her first husband). Bruce then says that he will do it, but not now. The judge insists that he go and do it immediately. Apparently, she doesn’t trust that he will do it. So the court is suspended for about 5 min. while Bruce went downstairs and entered his name as attorney in the case, something that ethically he should have done weeks prior to that. Okay, so there is no way that I would ever say that Bruce Ratcliffe effectively mediated and got both sides to back down. I think he is a buffoon for allowing his daughter to drag him into the court case, for threatening me and being abusive in the court (which I can provide more details of if anyone is curious), and then up against a professional lawyer my 16 page letter essay/proof proves that all the charges are bunk (copy of which went to the judge before the trail date) and Bruce worse than loses the case. It wouldn’t surprise me that he would insist that he mediated the case. However, I am not aware of him ever saying this since he and I don’t talk (for obvious reasons) and there is no way that I would ever say that he mediated and got both me and Mary and Sam to back down. Thus, either you talked to Sam, Mary, or Bruce via phone or electronic messaging (or some friend of theirs) or you just made up that detail. I can make the same points with your saying that Sam is no longer giving rides to women in Program. I have no way of knowing this. Sam hasn’t spoken to me or communicated with me since the trial. Sam didn’t even show up for the date where we were supposed to go to trail, just Bruce to say that he had backed down. There is no way I could have said that Sam is no longer giving rides to women in Program and it would be weird too since then you go on to talk about Sam’s motives, that he was just being kind and never really liked me at all. Again, what I have said is that Sam told me he loved me and wanted me but Old Timer men told him that he couldn’t have a sexual relationship with me, and then even a relationship at all. Then the relationship with Mary English was encouraged, and all of AA lauded them as AA’s “cutest couple” now if you had quoted me as saying that people say that they are AA’s cutest couple that would be more accurate. However, I only say that in the context of ridiculing it, because I point out how much older Mary looks than Sam, especially after having the baby (so that rather than a 10 year age difference, it now looks closer to 20). So again and again you are either just making stuff up (but how did you know about the rides because Sam did give me rides, and I very rarely flat out mention this, so again you either paid for this information, got it from people in Champaign, or perhaps hacked into my Facebook account. It isn’t secrete that Sam gave me rides, but I just don’t talk about it that much. So how did you know this. I think that was what got me angry, was the mix of truth (as in Sam did give me rides) and lies, but still lies that required insider knowledge. It was moderately intimidating at the time. Now, I’m fine with it, of course, because I actually like talking about the situation. However, I would rather talk about your views , Clarabelle, on AA’s blaming the victim.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Let us try to stay on topic, Clarabelle. We were talking about your ethics and how there is no way that you could know some of the details that you use to attempt to shame and humiliate me from what I have said publically on the discussion boards. It is possible that you could have gotten this information from hacking into my Facebook and reading everything, and then guessing and making stuff up on top of that because again, you say things always from the point of those that hurt me and attacked me and made me leave AA. Agreed, Sam Enright is a semi-pathetic human being who has hurt me beyond anything reasonable of anyone. However, AA sponsors told him to do this, which is the really sick part. One of the sponsors was Cathy Zanarini Garner. You don’t want to talk about AA’s tendency to blame the victim, even if you provide a live example of how this works in your treatment of me, and you don’t want to talk about Sam and Mary Enright’s marriage that I do happen to think is pretty screwed because it is built on the foundation of hurting me to prove that he loves her, and also AA requiring him to hurt me on the threat of his death. Yes, Sam is insane, but then he is in AA. Am I over this man-child or not? What is baffling about Sam, since that is what you to seemingly talk about, is that I honestly can’t decide if Sam was just young and brainwashed and was just trying to follow the advice of those that he trusted (since obeying sponsors is required in AA, disobedience is equivalent to death, according to doctrine), or if he is a narcissist (however, he doesn’t show the same basic traits that you share with Mary English Enright that are indicative of narcissism pathology), or if he is a sociopath. While I was in AA, people in AA said that I was too eager to attribute the label of sociopath to people. I have come to believe that. Now, I am much more inclined to believe that people in AA are either narcissist or brainwashed. However, an argument can be made that if someone truly understand how corrupt AA is with its entire blaming the victim mentality, and they understand fully how wrong their own behavior is, and yet they still fight tooth and nail to defend AA and destroy those who point out that AA blames the victim and hurts people, this person is a true sociopath. Since Sam doesn’t show evidence of being either a true narcissist or a true sociopath, then that does tend to argue that he has simply been brainwashed by AA, which I think horrifies me more than anything else. Yes, I would pity him if this were the case. This means that sooner or later he is going to wake up one day and realize that AA has pretty much ruined his life. But then again maybe he is a sociopath? I just don’t know. However, that I wonder doesn’t suggest that I am still hung up on him in the usual sense. I do hope that he wakes up one day and realizes how AA has done wonders to destroy his life, and than he then joins Anti-AA. However, he will be under more pressure than most people not to go over to Anti-AA because if he did, the stories we could write would utterly destroy AA, if by the time he flips, AA isn’t already destroyed that is. So to answer your seeming question on my feelings towards Sam (which honestly wasn’t really your business) most of what I feel for Sam is a gut wrenching pity.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I wanted to stay on topic, and YOU are not the topic of the article. I just wanted to show that it takes nothing to become your focus. That is why I no I no longer communicated. And look how much you freely offer about yourself. No one has to look any further, call anyone or look at your facebook page.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Okay, then let’s review my goals as an Anti-AA commentator…. my first goal is to reveal that AA is abusive, dishonest, and doesn’t help people to stay sober in any real way. Judging from your behavior, Clarabelle, you goal is to shut down anyone who has the goal of criticizing AA. The methods that you employ involve “blaming the victim,” and more disgusting yet, researching individuals in the Anti-AA movement as you have proven you did with me (even though you deny this). Thus you embody dishonesty, the habit of blaming the victim, and show little or any concern for ethics or morals (as most people would understand them). You seek to hurt me, trying to find the exact right spot to shame and humiliate me, to get me to stop saying that AA is abusive. Thus, while you will not admit that it is abusive and you refuse to discuss your views on “blaming the victim” your behavior proves my points. In this sense I have won and you have lost, Clarabelle.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Silver, hand on heart, I hope you can move on from this man. A person cannot have gut wrenching ANYthing without a great deal of emotion behind it. But isn’t this a good case as to why some of the advice given inm AA is solid? Men with the men, women with the women. You could have met a really nice woman who could have been a steadfast friend.
            Yet you make a case for me. No matter how unlikely a pairing between a woman in her fifties and a man in his early twenties could be, you were going to do what you wanted despite of any advice. People do what they want.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Bingo, you prove my point yet again, Clarabelle. You are a classic woman of AA, despite perhaps seeming extreme to outsiders. You claim to care about people. You claim to want to help people. However, all we see again and again from you, and this is not specific to me, but is apparently what you do to everyone that DARES to challenge AA and you can’t immediately shut down, is bullying and lies. You search for the exact spot that you think will make someone collapse into a puddle or shame (since shame is all about AA and all about narcissism) and then you twist and turn it in the attempts to emotionally destroy the person you are debating with. I left AA because of attacks like this. Not exactly, the same topic all of the time, but again and again abuse, and attack and shaming. It is ironic and horrific since people with PTSD (as I do have and as you were probably told by the people you undoubtedly either messaged or spoke on the phone to in my home area) have been told I have, are subjected to this. Indeed, if the larger therapeutic community knew that this is what they were sending their clients with abuse issues into, AA would shut down immediately. However, AA, largely because of people like you, is so good at bullying and terrorizing others, and more than likely getting people to kill themselves or drink themselves to death or OD, that most of the people that are the most badly hurt in AA, die. So again your lies and your brutality to me, it being very clear, that your only goal is to shut me up (even if you have to destroy me to do it) with the added perk of reducing me to tears of shame as an added bonus. I’m not going to say that you don’t touch hot spots when you personally attack me. You do, but since at least half of what you say is a lie, it is a manageable kind of pain. Also, every time you do it, you prove my point that the women of AA are no one I, or really any woman that isn’t comfortable with narcissist freaks like yourself, Clarabelle, could or should go to for emotional support. (sorry you do have me slightly on edge with your personal attacks, which makes me just a little bit more irritable, but again it is manageable, but calling you a “narcissist freak” in this context seems appropriate). I had a new insight last night about how the narcissist games and blaming the victim ideology works…. I used to call it the “Whose more spiritual” game, and I guess that still works but would confuse outsiders to AA. Anyway, how this game works is that person A, who dislikes person B (probably just because person B triggered person A’s narcissist pathology) intentionally tries to hurt person B. Person A justifies this action of hurting others as a “retaliation” (but that doesn’t really mean anything since just being annoyed with someone is also seen as just grounds for “retaliation,”. Now if person A succeeds in hurting person B, by AA standards, person A calls him/herself more spiritual. Thus, this is all about how AA incorporates blaming the victim in every single aspect of program, and also how it has been able, thus, far to limit and mitigate complaints against AA. Those that have been the most damaged by AA, end up dying because they were vulnerable to begin with. This is exactly how you work Clarabelle. I know that according to your AA ideology that personally attacking me means you are more spiritual and are doing the right thing and that the God of AA loves you. However, what you might or might not understand is that the wider culture is not as insane as AA or you are. They will see you as vicious, dishonest, and thoroughly unpleasant, incapable of empathy and someone that in now way another woman could go to for help and emotional support. The abuse you give me, is familiar. That is how I was treated in my own AA community. This kind of abuse is why I am Anti-AA. It is only a matter of time before the wider world gets that your viciousness is considered “spiritual” and that you are not an AA extremist. Do you want to discuss this or do you want to continue to spout lies and attempt to hurt me?

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Silver, I am sorry but this romance is far too much for me to handle. I never called anyone about you. The sole time I called that area was to try to get a recipe for Monical-style pizza to surprised my homesick boyfriend.

            Here is where you can be helpful to me. Tell me what could have been said to you to get you to see that a 22 year old and a 55 year old would be generally considered inappropriate indise AA or not. I mean, if it was wrong for 2 fifties men to sleep with Monica, what makes your situation any more right?

          • Silver Damsen on

            Another massively long post…. I really think Clarabelle and I should get our own tv show…..

            I know you are enjoying this Clarabelle because you have shown again and again that like to lie and you like to hurt people who say that AA is hurtful. You then take distortions of events and add all kinds of crazy stuff in there, and you do this to prove to yourself and others (let us hope that the others convinced are only in AA) that anyone who complains about AA deserves to be hurt. It is sort of hard for me to judge what outsiders will think of this since I am in the thick of it, but I do pray that they can see that your viciousness and then blaming me (and again totally distorting facts along the way), and then saying all of this could have been avoided if I had only made friends with a wonderful female sponsor of AA is narcissist nonsense that proves how unsafe AA actually is. The female sponsors in my area were a lot like you, Clarabelle, which is maybe why I have a slightly higher tolerance for your abuse than do most people who were abused out the doors of AA. So despite your obsession with talking about Sam Enright, who by the way was a really cute, hot, nice guy when I knew him, who also happened to be talkative and friendly…. he is still probably cute but he is a nut case now, thanks to AA, and you are more obsessed with him than I am. Also note, Clarabelle, not that it is your business…. I am a fag hag. Fag hags are known for just hanging out with cute you men. That is one of a fag hag’s hobbies. I’m not saying that Sam was gay, because he wasn’t. Indeed, if he had been, he probably never would have been trapped in AA, and he and I could be having fun clubbing and maybe even having the moderate drinking margarita from time to time. Also note, I don’t know what Monica thinks about age. However, I think age is sort of bogus category. I lie constantly about my age. One of the reasons that my facebook acct. was shut down for 3 days last month was because I said I was 109. Personally, I believe if a 20 year old wants to have sex with a 109 year old, or 32 (or is it 33) year-old (which is Mary, Sam’s wife’s age) they should as long as the sex isn’t about an abuse of power. I do admit to being somewhat older than Mary but I look younger than she does (do you want to prove this is a photograph analysis?). Thus, it is absolute garbage for someone to say that the 10 year difference between Sam and Mary is healthy and say the difference with someone who is 109 or 79 or 59 or 35 is not healthy. No, I’m not going to say my actual age, but feel free to continue to lie about my age if it makes you happy, not as if you need my permission. What is abusive, in my opinion, though is if someone is older and repulsive and uses their position in Program, their supposed wonderful spirituality, to try and convince more attractive partners to have sex with them. I think that is what is disgusting about what happened to Monica and what happens to most attractive women in Program. The Old Timer men want first dibs. Old Timer men put first dibs on me (but were not very interested in Mary English because even as a Newcomer she demonstrated an advanced spirituality, AA style, as in she had advanced narcissist pathology, just like you continue to prove that you have again and again. This pathology makes her not especially attractive to deal with in terms of personality. Since Mary came in more of a power hungry narcissist than the Old Timer men, she wouldn’t be that much fun for them to have sex with, and also they more than likely couldn’t rip her to shreds emotionally, and tearing people to shreds is one of the past times of narcissists. Oops, I had really wanted to talk more about my psycho sponsors that made me want to kill myself (not exaggerating I was severely struggling with suicidal ideation when I left AA). What I don’t understand Clarabelle, is that you know that if you keep pounding away in personal attack on me I’m going to start talking more about these people and I am going to give their full legal names sooner or later. You know this, and yet you don’t care because you seem to need to pound away on my personal life and say that I deserve to be hurt, rather than discuss the possibility that AA might hurt people. Again, Clarabelle, you actions prove how vicious AA women are, and that it is next to impossible to believe that a woman such as yourself should be trusted to help anyone who isn’t a fellow narcissist deep, deep in narcissist pathology. Also, go ahead and lie about digging up or making up half truths about me, and then say it’s my fault because I’m talking about myself. You bring up half-truths about me, truthful enough that it is weird that you know things, but then also not really the truth, and designed to hurt me, and then blame me when I address the issue you raise. Then you say all I needed was a sponsor who would treat me like you treat me and all my problems would be solved. Indeed, while Sam hurt me, the context of the situation is so much more about my abusive sponsors, who were ever so much like you. So my first sponsor was Creighton (a disabled man in wheelchair. I know we are not supposed to have male sponsors, but since he disgusted me physically and I assumed he would know that I was way out of his league that I wouldn’t have to worry about him hitting on me, it would be okay. No such luck. He would intentionally trigger me in meetings to make me cry. So, I did think that maybe the problem was that he was a male. So my second sponsor was Cathy Zanarini Garner, who even, as I understand it has been given a job at one of the treatment centers in Champaign, IL. Cathy also would intentionally trigger me at meetings. Also, objectively (I know you will have a field day with this and insist the opposite but since it is the truth of my observations, I’m going to go for it) she was jealous of me. So one time after she triggered me and I was close to hysterical I asked her why she did it, and she said, “Why don’t you call Sam? Sam always makes you feel better, doesn’t he?” So I did call Sam and he walked me through it. That is what I miss the most about Sam. He was my best friend during this period and he gave me tons of support, and he was happy then. But enough on Sam back to this Sponsor, Cathy G. So Cathy told me that she had talked to Sam and that he had said he had wanted me, but she wouldn’t let him have sex with me. She then wanted me to promise that if Sam ever tried to have sex with me (in a moment of weakness) that I would treat it like a desire to drink and call her. I told her to stuff it that I wouldn’t do that. Not long after that Cathy broke up a relationship that Sam had with a woman (who rumor has it has it is no longer sober) who was also almost 10 years older than Sam. That is what Sam seems to like. Sam admitted this to me, to the woman, and the woman admitted it to me, and Cathy admitted it to me. This is nuts. This shows that the women cannot trust a female sponsor to protect them but that it is all about power. They want to say who has sex with whom but it isn’t about protecting the Newcomer women. Rather, then there seems to be a pressure to allow Old Timer men first dibs (which I also knew about but all the Old Timer men made me want to puke not just on their looks but because they were narcissist freaks as what tend to happen to people with significant time in AA Program) . Note that I don’t ask you specific questions about yourself because I think it is disgusting and brutal that you want to tear me apart on the personal level. You think if you can prove that I deserve to be hurt that you can prove that all women who claim to be hurt by AA, deserve to be hurt. However, to the not insane reader, you prove the opposite. I use my life as example since you keep bringing it up anyway, and my experiences also prove what I am talking about in terms of abuse. You, however, that know nothing about my personal life, continue to attack and attack and attack me on the level of half truth. And yet you also say that Newcomer women should trust Old Timer women, and that is the problem with abuse that if they had obeyed the Old Timer women more, they would all be happy and wonderful just like the Old Timer women–really, Clarabelle that is not a good selling point. I think it is interesting that I want to talk about the general problems in AA, problems that the text of AA encourages with its blaming the victim ideology, and yet all you want to talk about is how I deserve to be hurt. However, we can do that if that is what you want to do because I’m hoping that more objective readers can see your viciousness and dishonesty and that you are living proof of the abuse wrecked on Newcomer women by Old Timer women, and that the men, might just be a side show to this larger drama.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            Silver, you write these lugubrious posts, thousands of words a day, yet you I don’t know anything about your personal life. I know about you the same way I know about anyone on the net, and that is through their own discclosures.

            I know the drill here. Until I agee with you, I just don’t get it. But this is what I DO get. You are a woman who is three decades older than this kid. While he was a great friend to you, someone who “got” you, he married someone else, has a family and you should move on. Not for his sake but for your own. He is already gone.

          • Silver Damsen on

            You are a piece of work, Clarabelle. Indeed, maybe you are extra special AA and not garden variety mean, vicious, insane AA woman. You are also super duper obsessed with what you think my age is (and since my only public age was a 109) you have to be either making up numbers or going somewhere else to get the numbers you come up with. Thus, we are back to my point that you are not honest but just do personal attack after personal attack. I think what might be convincing about your style is that you have absolute conviction in everything you say. Despite the fact that you are just trying to hurt me, are working with half-truths, and have the goal of shutting down anyone who complains against AA by proving that they deserve to be hurt, you have spiritual conviction in all that you do, you are as convinced that trying to destroy me emotional is as valid as the Christians who were thrown to the lions during Roman times for refusing to denounce Christ. However, your “spiritual truth” is blaming the victim since that is the actual core of p. 62, the real meaning of the 4th Step, and also the famous “acceptance is the answer to all my problems story” I claim to be hurt, so you seek to prove that I am an inferior person who deserves to be hurt, thus, my claims of being hurt should be ignored. Then you attack, attack, attack me, and then you say things like if I had just been obedient to my female sponsors (presumably just like you or rather almost like you) then I could be happy now. In what she does Clarabelle would be seeming to violate so many freaking traditions and Principles of AA when she does this dishonest personal attack on me. However, for those that don’t know all the AA recommendations and “suggestions” except blaming the victim are not actually required by AA ideology so Clarabelle can without guilt (since it is wrong by AA standards to feel guilt anyway) do pretty much anything and consider herself spiritual. That is how the convicted pedophile and AA club president for Champaign explained it to me. So I’m bored about talking about Sam, even though you don’t seem bored, so let’s talk about the convicted pedophile who was my AA club president. How do you feel about a convicted pedophile being AA club president, especially since AA is getting pressure for having criminals in meetings? Seriously, way back in the day when we first started doing this (seem longer ago that it actually was) I said that we could take turns. Since you, even then, seemed obsessed about my personal life, but I had no interest at all in yours, and yet I wanted to talk about your views on Program and how it hurts people, which you have proven again and again that you do not want to talk about, I said we could take turns. We could talk about my personal life, which seems to obsess you, but then you like to say that I shouldn’t be talking about it (which is a great example of how nothing you say actually means anything, it is just about attacking me. Thus, anything I said at all that wasn’t that AA was the most wonderful thing on the planet and that you were one of God’s special AA chosen people (I’m being sarcastic which is frowned on in AA, sexual abuse is less of a problem where I come from than sarcasm…if you can believe that) then you will attack and attack and attack. Of course, one reason you attack me Clarabelle is that you do feel that I am attacking you’re entire world by suggesting that AA can be abusive. This is a classic trait of narcissism. A narcissists can be perfectly pleasant to do get along with, provided that one mirrors the image that they want to project to the world back to them. However, that is just “can be” and isn’t even a guarantee because if a narcissist feels threatened by another’s talents or skills or anything really, a narcissists feel that they have the right to “retaliate.” Thus, a wrong by a narcissist’s standards could just be someone earning a higher grade in school, or being more successful, or more educated, or more physically attractive, or maybe even just not a narcissist. So again, I am bored talking about Sam, and you say you are bored as well. However, I don’t think that means anything that you say you are bored (and maybe that isn’t even what you are saying?) but let’s try to change the topic anyway. Now, I want to talk about pedophiles being elected AA club presidents; blaming the victim as part of AA Principles; and/or how the pathology of narcissism fits the profile of the classic alcoholic, as defined by Bill W.

          • Clarabelle12 on

            I am glad to know that you are tired of talking about him as it is time for you to move on, Silver. He has and you should, too.

            But I would be remiss if I didn’t address a pretty important point. You see, I would have done what your sponsor did. She talked to you about your feeling about him, your attraction to him and told you why she discouraged it. She also told HIM. You made it clear to her that you would disregard her advice if the opportunity arose. Who would be responsible then for any fallout?

            Now, I have no hang up about age, but I do think the older party has the benefit of maturity. If a man who was born the year Kennedy was shot was hitting on a 22 year old woman, you have just what has caused the angst in people such as Monica.

          • Silver Damsen on

            Wow, do I hate the way this discussion board is set up. I just posted this in the wrong location and am trying to post in the right one. …For those that don’t know, Clarabelle is continuing her personal attack on me on two other newer online articles One of which is another Pro AA film review on The 13th Step (and hence against the film The 13th Step being discussed here.) No, indeed, Clarabelle, despite my hope you never do seem to tire about talking about Sam Enright and his wife Mary English Enright. It would be more entertaining for me if you just didn’t repeat the same mistaken ideas over and over again. So do I have to keep checking back on this page or are we going to confine ourselves to the other two articles? At least Clarabelle gets slightly more at the truth here than in other posts about the relationship (not that she is every really that close or even has any kind of moral or ethical right to judge me and comment). My issue was never really that Sam didn’t love me or like me. My issue was that a sponsor forbade him to be seemingly even friends with me, and encouraged a relationship with a woman who was married at the time, and had less than a month of sobriety and was also something like 10 years older than Sam–his now current wife, Mary English Enright. But even that I was okay with, not exactly happy because Sam had been a good friend, but I was okay with. What was off the charts though was that this woman, now Mary English Enright, who works at a pet funeral parlor of all places (owned by someone else in Program, and I am sure is absolutely wonderful at her job because nobody loves a good funeral like someone in AA), and also has a personality a lot like Clarabelle (yea, I know……) and a former sponsor and another one-time close AA female friend decided that it would be a good idea to put through perjured Order of Protection charges on me to make sure that I didn’t go to the same meetings as Sam and Mary, and that the Old Timers who had been drooling over me for months and months would finally (or so they thought) get a better chance to get me in bed if they were driving me to these distant meetings because I couldn’t just walk to the closer ones. Then when I got the case dismissed, I was still considered guilty by the AA community and was as shamed as if I had been guilty, even though any sane person knew that I was innocent of anything connected to stalking charges. That is why I left AA. It was partly the betrayal by Sam, but the big thing was that a former sponsor and a former female friend did this with the encouragement of the Old Timer men who I had kept out of my pants, in the hopes that they could get in. The way it was left too, that it was pretty clear to me that I had to accept rides to meetings from the Old Timers who wanted in my pants or stop going to meetings or fight additional Order of Protection charges in the future. My therapist agreed that AA was just way, way, way to sick and that I would have to be better off without it, and I was. So I wonder if you will twist this all up into your usual obsession with me being obsessed about Sam and me being too old for him and me being what 900 years old or whatever other fantasy age you come up with. I admit it, I am 900 years old and from the planet Mars…. I wonder if Clarabelle will hit on this one phrase and repeat it over and over and over again in her efforts to prove that I deserved to be hurt by AA because I didn’t listen to my AA sponsor and that I think I am from planet Mars and 900 years old? Please, let me know if you are going to stop commenting here or if we are going to have to have 3 discussion boards going at the same time, Clarabelle? Also, it would be nice if we could talk about AA ideology rather than you just proving by your actions that AA loves to the blame the victim and say that anyone who complains about bad treatment in AA deserves to be hurt.

          • John Cronkite on

            Silver Damsen sounds like a bitter, old nut. If this crazy is the face of the Anti-AA movement, take me to a meeting stat!

    • Of course you are ‘disturbed’ – you’ve staked your life on this batshit crazy stuff and if you allow any doubt to creep in, you’ll disintegrate. Do you actually know the history of your own fellowship? not the white washed ‘official’ version but the actual truth? No thought not.

      AA members say but we cant’ be a cult! We don’t have a charismatic leader who took all the drugs, stole all the money, and had sex with all the women!

      Ah, hang on a minute ….

    • john tuttle on

      AA is absolutely a cult…….look up the pathology of of a cult….AA fits the bill 100 percent…..

  65. Danielle,

    Thank you for what, on the whole, is an admirably balanced, reasonably framed, response/review of the film.

    As neither a detractor now an adherent of AA I appreciate it. Chris

    • Have you seen the movie, Chris? This is not a fair review, it’s wrapped in AA dogma and cliche, and does the reviewer herself no favours. The 13th Step is a powerful film that actually takes a balanced view of the fellowship. I saw it in London with a group of current AAs who had many decades of sobriety between them — and all of whom were very appreciative of the work. It should be shown at AA conventionsnas a discussion piece, but then that will never happen as AA enforces a closed system of knowledge where only “conference approved” literature can be shared. It’s 1930s mental health technology protected by 1940s organisational structure, trying to deal with the social health scourge of the 21st century. Monica makes numerous points that simply go unanswered in this so-called review and — to it’s great shame — by AA itself . To summarise, you can’t bring vulnerable people together “under God” (!) without any form of safeguarding, not in this day and age, I’m sorry. The Catholic Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Boy Scouts, all are having to deal with their criminal contingent and AA is no different. Bravo, Monica! Thank you for speaking out where others turned a blind eye and a deaf ear.

    • john tuttle on

      Monica’s film doesnt even begin to touch on the horrors that take place in AA……for the sake of time and focus….it only dealt with a few of the seedy aspects of AA……take it from an long time AA ex AA membe….AA is a rancid cesspoole!!!!!!!!

    • john Tuttle on

      An AA apologist wrote that pathetic review…..AA is rancid pile of liars… thieves.. cheats and predators….is a fact….putting aside the Pseudo Religion crap…… Monica’s film concentrated on the sick, degenerate sociopaths who make up a large portion of “The Programs” membership…… someone who spent over 18 yrs in “The Roooomz”…..i can tell you from personal experience that the events related in her film only scratch the surface of the sick behavior that takes place in AA…. i sobered up in Northern California in the Sacramento area……in the “Fellowship” i sobered up in… was a den of incestuous… sociopathic …degenerates!!!!……the sleaze bag who was my original “Sponsor” told me that my religious upbringing was a bunch of shit and that i needed to invent some bullshit god on a piece of paper…..that was the first thing that let me know something was seriously wrong with the deal(AA)……by way ….this is the same guy who had three different women in AA file restraining orders against him in the ten yrs i knew him before he died of liver failure…..second was two women in their late 40’s trying to 13 Step me when i was newly sober……funny cuz i was in my late 20’s…..really creepy….and for info….no i didn’t take the two old bags up on there offers…..there was the constant attempts to make you fearful that if you left the creepy cult you were gonna end up in “Jails,,,,,institutions….or death”……what kind of organization tries to keep you as a member by trying to make you fearful….other than a cult?…..none ,,,,only cults do that…..and the constant preaching that you were to read no other info than that approved by the cult….and the really sick paranoia message that people in the recovery biz who weren’t twelve step recruiters were evil enemies of AA out too destroy it……..again….cults have to have an outside enemy that you are supposed to help defend the cult from…..esprit De Corp…..really creepy…….and trying to separate you from family and old friends….otherwise those evil people from the outside might suggest to you that you don’t need the cult members……again look up cult pathology….that’s a really big one…….you are to separate your self from these “Normies.”…….AA tells you they don’t understand you….only the cult members understand you and they are your “New Family.”…..same words of Charlie Manson over 40 yrs ago…….in my yrs in AA i witnessed sexual predators making way with people…..criminals flleecing other members….crooks getting free or cheap labor….drug dealers selling their wares….control freaks making violent threats against people who wouldn’t allow themselves to be controlled…….and yes….one guy showed up trying to solicit someone too kill his neighbor…..true story……one guy who was a wanna be Charlie Manson was so angry that people wouldn’t allow him to control them that he threatened to show up at the meeting hall while a meeting was going on and chain the doors and set the place on fire while the people were inside…….i didn’t make that up…..that stuff is just tip of the iceberg……Monica’s documentary only touched on the highlights of how dangerous AA is…….its a disgusting filthy cult, sanctioned by doctors and the govt!!!

      • I have had horrible experiences in AA. And many years to attest to it. The bottom line: it isn’t safe, not even by a stretch. I had the desire to quit drinking, and this time attended long enough to get beyond the cravings, etc. Previously I had close to 20 years and went back out – but it wasn’t “the end of the world”. In fact, I managed to thrive in business, and when I had a bad experience many years later I made a conscious decision to live without alcohol. For the rest of my life, like a smoker quits smoking. (Contrary to what they brainwash you wish.) I remain sober, and live a good, peaceful, happy life – without AA. I am single, educated, and well to do – all of these rife targets for the numerous, pathetic and desperate predators that occupy aa. And if they aren’t all that, they are struggling alcoholics, trying to stay sober – fair enough. But they hate me. AA has no place for me, thank God for this film and the exposure to other options. Having had many failed relationships in AA with very sick predators, sex addicts and sociopaths, I indeed feel vindicated.

    • I have not seen this film. Yet I do have something to say about your so called review. For one The woman Veronica is my adopted mother. Her son was Murdered thanks to so called sponsors He was one of my greatest Loves. Her story needs to be heard.

      • I’m sorry to hear that and sorry that he found AA. We all know that murders in America all take place in or around AA.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.