Thursday, December 4, 2014

Who claims simply going to an AA meeting will cure alcoholism?

I notice that many anti-steppers and even authors of research papers pretend that Alcoholics Anonymous members (us pro-steppers, if you will) claim to have someone at AA who waves a wand that magically makes someone stop drinking. This has never been claimed at any meeting I have been to -- and I have been to thousands of them.

This particular expectation of AA -- that it somehow makes everyone who enters its rooms sober by some kind of sorcery -- is not one that the program pretends to have. I have heard countless times that "AA is a simple program, but it is not an easy program."

Amazing cures is not how the real world works. It is up to the individual alcoholic to work the AA program. It is sad that many choose not to work it (or, for that matter, try anything else to get clean and sober).

Ever since I entered the rooms, I have been told time and time again that many, if not most, people won't make it. And, it gets worse: There is nothing out there more effective than AA. Nothing.  (My source for this assertion is the Cochrane review of 12-step programs).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Did Karla have a sponsor?

Dr. Peele, in the comments to the his inaccurate hit piece published earlier this week claims that Karla (who I have now detailed in two previous blog entries) in fact had a sponsor.

His exact comment was as follows:
Gabrielle responds: "I happen to have notes in my possession that state Joanne Frye [sic -- it's spelled "Fry"] was Karla's sponsor -- in her own handwriting."
Now, it's very interesting that Dr. Peele uses Gabrielle Glaser as a source claiming that Mrs. Fry was Karla's sponsor. Because, when I read Gabrielle's own words, my conclusion was that Karla never had a sponsor. And, indeed, that piece written by Gabrielle never states that Karla had a sponsor.  To wit:
As a relative newcomer to AA, Suzanne said, Karla had not yet chosen a sponsor [...] Joanne Fry, Patrick’s wife and the woman she had asked to be her AA sponsor
Carefully observe that Gabrielle does not say that Fry became Karla's sponsor, but tries to imply that she might have been.

Now compare this to Joanne Fry's own account:
We were not, ever have been, nor intended to be or become sponsors for Earle or Brada; we simply knew them.
We have two different stories being told here. I choose to believe Joanne Fry never became Karla's sponsor because Glaser's own account of Karla Brada's death never directly claims Fry was Brada's sponsor, and because Joanne Fry out and out denies ever being her sponsor.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In response to Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele, like Ken Ragge and Monica Richardson, is a long-term habitual AA hater and anti-stepper. He has a long-established bias and dare I say resentment against the 12-step programs.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that he has written another anti-AA hit piece, this time discussing one departed Karla Brandy Mendez, who I have already discussed in a previous blog entry (Karla's story, which is old hat at this point, is getting a lot of renewed attention because of a recently aired 48 Hours TV episode on her tragic death).

I will address some points made by Dr. Peele.  His claims are undelined like this:
  • AA never taught Karla to abstain. Actually, it did.  Or, should I say, AA gave Karla clear cut directions on how she could abstain. Directions which are very, very effective for anyone willing to follow them. If Karla had, instead of starting a relationship with another newcomer, followed the program as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book, she would certainly be alive today.
  • Karla didn’t learn to protect herself through attending rehab, AA, and NA. AA has but one primary purpose, Dr. Peele, which is to carry its message (being, the message as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book) to the alcoholic who still suffers. AA's strength and success comes from not deviating from that message.
  • AA disrespects women Actually, as I refer to in another one of my blogs, AA is a safe place for women. Most people with time suggest that newcomers do not date, and that men stay with the men and women stick with the women. A number of AA meetings (about 8% of the meetings in the area Karla was from) are women's meetings which men are not allowed to set foot in.
  • AA takes no responsibility This is an outside issue, Dr. Peele. Karla was beaten and killed outside of the rooms of AA. She went down that path because she refused to work the suggested AA program.
  • AA doesn’t work. Well formed studies, such as PMC2220012, show that AA actually does work. The extensive Cochrane study shows there is nothing out there with a track record better than AA's record.
In conclusion, Dr. Peele brings up the same old long-refuted attacks on AA again. It is sad that suffering alcoholics may use these articles to justify unhealthy and self-destructive behavior instead of going to a meeting, working the 12-step program, and getting better.

In terms of the lawsuit brought on by Karla's family, it has been withdrawn (sounds like the family realized there was no legal basis for making AA responsible for their daughter's death) and now they are trying to sue their sponsors, never mind the minor technical detail that the people they are suing were never actually their sponsors. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lots of audio Big Book workshops

I found a treasure trove with well over a dozen different Big Book and other workshops in audio format for downloading:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Scott L and Bob D

I have just finished listening to Scott L and Bob D, two excellent speakers who have a 7-CD series with a Big Book Study / Lecture they did in 2008. It can be downloaded here:

Download the files that end with the string “96.mp3” (the “32.mp3” files are smaller but sound a lot worse)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

There is hope for Salon

After giving up Salon when they posted a pair of hit pieces against AA, I was pleasantly surprised when they posted a piece supportive of AA a few days ago:

AA is not for everyone — and many people do get clean and sober outside of the rooms — but it's a wonderful program which helps millions of people stay clean and sober, one day at a time.

I have over 27 years clean and sober today because of AA and the program as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My morning prayers

I find that my days are better when I do the following two morning prayers from the Big Book.  First, I do the third step prayer, from page 63:

"God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"

Then I sometimes do the seventh step prayer from page 76:

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen."

It's best if I do these on my knees, but it's better to pray them without being on my knees than to not pray them at all.

Friday, April 25, 2014

More comments defending AA against Dodes' attacks

More comments defending AA against Dodes' attacks:

As one person put it "the real research shows the positive greatly outweighs the negatives."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lance Dodes refuted

Lance Dodes has been claiming that AA is roughly as effective as spontaneous remission (10%).  However, the science does not back up this claim, as discussed here:

To summarize that article:
  • 1991 study that Dodes quotes actually shows that AA is about 20% effective when people just go to meetings, and 40% effective when people go to 30-day 12-step based treatment and then go to AA meetings.
  • The Cochrane study does not say AA is ineffective.  It actually says that AA is at least as effective as other treatment: "AA may help patients to accept treatment and keep patients in treatment more than alternative treatments" and "Other studies reported similar retention rates regardless of treatment group"
  • There are other scientific studies showing that AA is an effective treatment which Dodes completely ignored.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The closest thing to a meeting online

The closest thing I have seen to a meeting online is by listening to a speaker tape. One excellent set of speaker tapes to listen to are the Joe & Charlie tapes, where they go over the 12 steps as written in the first 164 pages of the Big Book (including the roman numerals).

These speaker tapes can be downloaded here:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In defense of liberals

I mentioned, in my blog entry two days ago that a prominent liberal website -- Salon -- put a negative hit piece against Alcoholics Anonymous on their front page.  Indeed, other liberal sites, such as Digg appear to have some bias against Alcoholics Anonymous, for a couple of reasons:

  • AA talks about God, which, sadly, some liberals have a very negative reaction to.
  • People who do not want to take responsibility for and improve their life, and continue to drink and use, tend to be liberal more often than conservative.
That said, there are a lot of liberals in the rooms of AA, as well as a lot of conservatives. Indeed, the rather liberal site DailyKOS has a community of people who are positive and supportive of AA.  To wit, these articles:

Even though the occasional poster over at DailyKOS posts an inaccurate anti-AA hit piece, other DailyKOS posters quickly correct them:

After Salon's anti-AA article posted to their front page, it's good to see other liberal places like DailyKOS being more supportive of AA.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Karla Brada Mendez's tragic death

As someone who has been been in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous for decades, one of the most tragic things I have seen time and time again is the number of preventable deaths that occur. These deaths are preventable because, if the deceased people had followed the suggestions given to them and became clean and sober, they would not have had to die.

One recent example which has recently made the anti-AA blogosphere is one Karla Brada Mendez whose death has been detailed elsewhere. This death is especially tragic because, if Karla had made other decisions (such as, for example, following the suggestions most meetings give newcomers), she would still be alive today.

To wit:

  • Most people in the fellowship suggest that men stick with men, and women stick with women. Many sponsors suggest that newcomers do not get in romantics relationships (classically, the suggestion is "no relationship in the first year"). Karla, instead, got in a relationship with another newcomer (one Eric Allen Earle).
  • Most people in the fellowship suggest that newcomers get a sponsor. Karla chose not to do that.
  • One common saying in the rooms is that "winners stick with the winners". Karla, for whatever reason, did not choose to associate with women with long-term sobriety. 
  • There is not one oldtimer in the fellowships I have been to who would suggest that a newcomer drink or use drugs again. Karla starting drinking and using again with her boyfriend.
  • When Karla's boyfriend was arrested for domestic violence, instead of going to a shelter and/or getting a restraining order against him, Karla instead chose to pay some $8,000 to bail him out.
  • Finally, in another drunken fight between Karla and her boyfriend, she is killed from injuries consistent with a violent struggle.
The bottom line is this: In the rooms of AA, newcomers are given suggestions. Karla, for whatever reason, chose not to follow those suggestions. If she had, she would be alive today.

These events happened nearly three years ago. Karla's family felt the need to blame AA for their daughter's death -- despite the fact that she would be alive today if she had followed directions given to her in the meetings.

Don't get me wrong: I grieve very deeply for Karla's tragic death, just as I grieve for the countless other people who have gone through the rooms and died drunk. But I just can not see how AA is responsible for her death, since she was undoubtedly repeatedly given suggestions which would have saved her life.  But she chose, for whatever reason, to not follow those suggestions.

The suit was filed around September of 2012, but there is no information publicly available about how the lawsuit proceeded, whether it was dismissed, settled out of court, a settlement was reached, or the litigation is ongoing. Indeed, none of the articles about this lawsuit even have a docket number. Too bad; I am curious how the lawsuit went.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Defending AA against the critics

Hello, my name is Anonymous and I am an Alcoholic.

The reason for this blog is made in reaction to a streak among (particularly in the Liberal press) to post "hit pieces" unfairly critical of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  For example, when Dr. Dodes recently published a book critical of AA, summaries of the book were posted among various left-wing websites, including this sample chapter of his book reproduced in Salon:

Articles like this bring out the anti-AA trolls out of the woodwork. These trolls make the same falsified claims:

  • That AA is a "cult". This is an emotional claim and not an objective fact.
  • That AA has no better of a recovery rate than spontaneous remission. There is, to the extent of my knowledge, no peer-reviewed science supporting this assertion
  • That AA encourages predatory behavior against newcomer women. The majority of AA meetings encourage men to stay with men and women to stay with women, and for women to not date in early sobriety. Indeed, that practice is called "13-stepping" and is strongly discouraged at pretty much every AA meeting I have been at.
  • Many other claims which I will discuss in other blog entries.
While AA is not for everyone, AA is a program that keeps counts alcoholics clean and sober one day at a time, and a program that continues to thrive.