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July 31, 2004 1:36 PM   Subscribe

The Orange Papers. A deconstruction of the 12 Steps of AA and their smilarity to cult practices.
posted by pieoverdone (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the 12 steps
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

There you go, it's faith based on a external entity

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

The source of "salvation" is again an external entity used as a motivator, a reference point, an imaginary light at the end of an imaginary tunnel. It is not the person quitting alcohol abuse to be praised, but the external entity ; which is obviously nonsense as the person that physically quitted assuming alcohol is the one to praise.
posted by elpapacito at 1:55 PM on July 31, 2004


yah but you don't have to believe in god to use the 12 steps successfully. your "higher power" can be anything you want it to be.
posted by t r a c y at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2004


tracy : yeah ..I think that , anyway, it should be identified with something internal , like the ability of human beings of correcting their own errors by themselves, of overcoming obstacles that many times seem to be scary and enormous, but that most of the times aren't..a realization that God is you without the unnecessary dicothomy "god is other then you" and the unnecessary illusions of god like omnipotence.
posted by elpapacito at 2:23 PM on July 31, 2004


We've talked about this before, iirc.
posted by callmejay at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2004


For a fantastic read on this, check out Infinite Jest if you haven't already.
posted by condour75 at 2:28 PM on July 31, 2004


Tracy:

Except for steps 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11 requiring belief in if not actual intervention of God. Oops, make that god "as we understand him." Not as you understand him, but as "we" understand him.

The more I read of this, the less satisfactory "you are a sinning lowly drunk with no self control and you must grovel before your higher power and beg Him to fix you" seems.
posted by ilsa at 2:30 PM on July 31, 2004


Yes, the program is useless for atheists and "non-joiners," but it seems to work for a lot of people. If AA causes alcoholics to stop drinking, does it matter that they have to jump through a lot of seemingly arbitrary hoops along the way? Why should those of us on the outside care?
posted by PrinceValium at 3:05 PM on July 31, 2004


Yeah, well NarcAnnon is like totaly powered by scientology, or somethimg.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2004


i am powerless over trolls and my life is unmanageable.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:15 PM on July 31, 2004


alchohol = good

Therefore anything opposed to the consumption of alchohol must = bad.

Therefore AA = bad.

/legalize GHB
posted by delmoi at 3:21 PM on July 31, 2004


AA has been under attack for some time now. But if it is to be so casually called a cult (and I did not see the word cult defined here), then why is it not fair to say that any and all religions that have a holy book, a top guy, dead or alive, who is some sort of revered leader, and a ritual that is undergone--that all these are also cults.

A big complaint about AA, I have read, is that you (the addict) are helpless and always in need of meetings and this takes much away from a sense of free will...

Another problem: when one gets in trouble for any sort of addicition, it is always AA they are sent to as part of determiantion of the law. and another: if AA ils "not good," note that there are now a widespread batch of step programs for all sorts of problems.

As for recovery rates: clearly AA has no data or refuses to give any. But for failing this program, rates are at best questionable since in addicition there is nearly always an expected high percentage of relapses.

I have know a number of people who claim that AA has saved them. So, too, people who have been "saved" through finding religion and spirituality.
Finally, a pragmatic perspective: if it works for this or that person, good; if it does not seem to meet the needs of others, try another approach.
posted by Postroad at 3:21 PM on July 31, 2004


the program is useless for atheists

nope that's not true across the board, i have a few friends who don't believe in god who have found decades of consistent AA success - so clearly people are able to identify a higher power of their own, without it disrupting how the steps work. it's not my place to discuss my friends specifically but i know that many 12 step people identify nature or the universe as their higher power.

sarge - bwah ! you made me nose my iced tea !
(i'm working on the site btw, was disrupted by an unexpected gig this week)
posted by t r a c y at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2004


what if my higher power is beer
posted by angry modem at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2004 [1 favorite]


The more I read of this, the less satisfactory "you are a sinning lowly drunk with no self control and you must grovel before your higher power and beg Him to fix you" seems.

Indeed. A.A. is a crock. Whether it works for some people or not is a secondary issue. I can think of many measures one could impose upon an alcoholic that would produce a lower recidivism rate, but few would be willing to accept their draconian extremism.
posted by rushmc at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2004


it's not a crock for the people it works for.
sweet surrender is beautiful. give it a shot!
posted by billybobtoo at 3:49 PM on July 31, 2004 [1 favorite]


AA would be better if the anonymity part was a requirement.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:46 PM on July 31, 2004


Yes, the program is useless for atheists and "non-joiners," but it seems to work for a lot of people. If AA causes alcoholics to stop drinking, does it matter that they have to jump through a lot of seemingly arbitrary hoops along the way? Why should those of us on the outside care?

You'll never catch me speaking out against any voluntary group or association, religious or not. But the truth about AA is that it is not filled with people who have come there of their own will to help them stop drinking; AA attendence is habitually mandated for anyone convicted of a drug or alcohol offense. Failing to attend is a parole/probation violation for which you can be arrested. AA does not help these people and cannot help these people.

One of my ex-girlfriends was ordered to attend AA after she was pulled over with a roach in her ashtray--no joke. As a personal protest, she brought beer with her in a styrofoam cup.
posted by kjh at 4:47 PM on July 31, 2004


Indeed. A.A. is a crock.

No, actually, it is not. At least not for this atheist alkie.

Sober eight years now.

Here's the catch: AA is made up of groups of people. Each group has a somewhat different personality, a different interpretation of the Big Book. Some groups are hard-core: belive in God or you're not really following the steps. Others (and I most of the ones I've been to) remind you that all AA offers are suggestions.

Many people have found success following those suggestions, but usually people have to make adjustments to suit their own cases.

At the end of the day, the folks in AA are interested in seeing their fellow members lead normal happy lives without drinking. The god stuff is secondary.

We drunks are *really* good at rationalizing the need for a drink, so, as creepy as it sounds, the willing suspension of self-direction, and all that "turning over our lives" stuff is a useful Jedi mind-trick one plays on oneself while getting sober.

And while there are some there because of court orders, by far the majority attend freely. It has limited value for people who simply do not want to be there.

There's a lot that I found goofy and somewhat foolish, but at the end of the day, I'd be dead if it weren't for AA.
posted by Ayn Marx at 5:03 PM on July 31, 2004


I feel it's important for those battling substance abuse problems out there to know: 1) there are other groups out there besides AA for overcoming your addiction. If AA works for you, great, if not try another approach; 2) studies show that AA actually has a lower success rate than other methods.

If you want the short answer, read Stanton Peele or better yet, get his book "the Truth About Addiction and Recovery"

and check out these links to alternatives to AA:
Smart Recovery
Rational Recovery
AA Deprogramming

The long answer: two tests have been done showing the low success rate of AA.

According to Charles Bufe in an article in the book "You Are Being Lied To," called "AA Lies":

"There have been only two controlled studies... of AA's effectiveness. Both of these studies indicated that AA Attendance is no better than no treatment at all.

"The first of these studies was conducted in San Diego in 1964 and 1965, and its subjects were 301 'chronic drunk offenders.' ... based on these results, the authors concluded: 'no statistically significant differences between the three groups [AA, treatment in a clinic, and no-treatment] were discovered in recidivism rate, in number of subsequent rearrests, or in time elapsed prior to arrest.

"the second controlled study of AA's effectiveness was carried out in Kentucky in the mid-1970's, and its subjectss were 260 clients 'representative of the 'revolving door' alcoholic court cases in our cities.' these subjects were divided into 5 groups: one was assigned to AA; a second was assigned to nonprofessionally-led Rational Behavior Therapy; a third was assigned to professionally-led rational behavior therapy; a fourth was assigned to professionally-led traditional Insight (Freudian) therapy; and the fifth group was the no-treatment control group. The indivduals in these groups were given an outcome assessment following completion of treatment, and were then reinterviewed three, six, nine and twelve months later.

'The results of this study were revealing... 100 percent of the lay RBT roup reported decreased drinking at the outcome assessment; 92 percent of the Insight group reported decreased drinking; 80 percent of the professionally-led RBT group reported decreased drinking; and 67 percent of the AA attendees reported decreased drinking, whereas only 50 percent of the no-treatment control group reported decreased drinking.

'But in regard to bingeing behavior, the group assigned to AA did far worse than any of the other groups, including the no-treatment control group... in this analysis AA was over 4 times more likely to binge than the control group ,and nine times more likely than the lay-RBT group.

'It seems likely that the reason for this dismal outcome for the AA group was a direct result of AA's 'one drink, one drunk' dogma, which is drummed into the heads of members at virtually every AA meeting."

I personally have problems with the powerlessness, 'one drink, one drunk,' 'character defects' etc. espoused by AA. I believe people should be empowered to overcome their addictions, not disempowered. However, like I said, if it works for you, great, if not, find another approach.

And I'm not bashing AA, for those whose lives it's saved. All approaches are good.
posted by F4B2 at 5:17 PM on July 31, 2004


Some interesting comments on AA that were brought up in an excellent AskMe thread.
posted by stet at 5:32 PM on July 31, 2004


this isn't the first time i've seen people disparage 12 step programs and i have very mixed feelings about the whole subject ... first of all, it is very difficult for me to argue with someone like ayn marx who is working the program and swears they would be dead without it ... (s)he was drinking like hell before aa and now is not

a orange's analysis of the statistical problems ... that aa shows no more success than the usual "recovery" of non aa alcoholics seems convincing at first, but there is one fatal flaw ... by what means do we determine who is an addict and who is not? ... is the person who quits without a support group an addict? ... what is the definition of addiction? ... just as there's no empirical proof that aa cures addiction, there's no empirical proof that people who quit without aa are actually addicts ... the "proof" in both cases is anecdotal and self-defining ... both the addict and non-addict call themselves such because they have identified themselves as such ... i know of no law that determines that someone is legally defined as an addict ... people may be sentenced to 12 step programs but that's not the same as a formal declaration ... in every case, the person is the one who defines the problem in the end ... they decide if they are addicts

how is any kind of statistical, standard evidence possible with a subjective, self-defining problem? ... a orange, it cuts both ways

i know of one person who was an addict who is now able, many years later, to drink lightly and smoke dope without falling into the heavy drug use of her youth ... i also have heard of people who fell away from aa after a few years and yet managed to stay sober ... and, unfortunately, i know people who went to rehab, went through the motions of what they were being told at n a, and were "recovered" ... clean and sober ... for years ... but didn't really work on their problems and fell back into addiction ... my ex-girlfriend, a crack addict i lived with for years, was one of these people

the whole argument about the "cultishness" of 12 step programs ... well, have you ever hung around alcoholics and heavy drug users? ... what do they talk about? ... how high or drunk they are ... what kind of techniques they use to maximize their buzzes ... their whole lives and thought processes seem to revolve around that substance they're abusing ... they only hang with others who share their addiction ... they give away their jobs, their money, their possessions and their families to continue having that experience

that sounds like cult-like behavior to me ... and the whole culture that grows around substance abuse can be as addictive and gratifying as the addiction itself

then what about me? ... i spent 15-20 years of my life in a pot induced haze ... some would say i was an addict ... certainly a judge would have if i'd gotten busted ... and yet, because i was about to marry a woman who wasn't going to stand for that in her life, i quit and have only slipped a few times in the last 9 years ... which i was not comfortable with ... i still question if i was an addict or just a heavy user ... i can't say i know

recently on my own, i've decided to practice the 12 steps on my own ... not against addiction ... but against ... i don't know ... but i feel a powerlessness over myself and feel that i have to surrender to a higher power to continue ... and yet, i have doubts as to how good 12 step programs are ... and yet, i think i'm seeing some real results

addiction, recovery and how much we control ourselves ... how much we can control ourselves ... are very nebulous and tricky areas to struggle with

a orange and his dismissal of aa as a cult is way too simple a solution for me ... and whatever he says about the oxford group and its cultishness, it seems to me that any person who has had spiritual growth in his life has stuggled in a way very similar to the 12 step programs
posted by pyramid termite at 5:43 PM on July 31, 2004


Whether it works for some people or not is a secondary issue.

OMFG. AA works. That is all that matters. And saying it works for "some" people is missleading. No other program of recovery comes even close to AA's success rate. The sad truth is that many addicts never recover: only 1-2% of those who abuse my drug of choice ever do. But most of those who do recover are part of the AA/NA program.

Yes, much of it was faith based, because founder Bill W. took inspiration for the program and the step from a faith-based recovery program when he first wrote down the steps in the 1920's. The langauge has not changed since then, largely because if ain't broke...

Nowadays, the higher power issue plays a much smaller part. The program works because people come together and support one another. It creates a network of healthy people committed to one another's well being, an environment most chemically dependent people lack.

There is a saying in the rooms: "Take what you want, leave the rest." If the god issue doesn't work for you, then don't apply it to your program. The reason it does resonate for most people is that the transformations that take place in AA can often be described as little else than a miracle. For that reason, in fact, many people use the program itself, or the fellowship and its generosity, as their higher power.

The reason that the first step is to turn one's will over to a higher power is that the the only thing an addict is willing to do is get more drugs. Supplanting this with another will, one capable of getting sober - which most addicts believe is impossible by the time the enter the rooms - is essential.

One person had a bad experience with AA. That's fine. But don't use that to indict a program that has quite literally saved the lives of quite literally millions of people. I personally (and Time magazine agrees) that Bill W. is one of the greatest men of this century, and the program he founded is one of the century's greatest achievements, as it gave hope and dignity - for the first time - to millions of people formerly considered worthless degenerates, moral failures, and incurable, and beneath contempt.

And if one atheist's negative experience with the program is that convincing for you, then take this atheist's personal experience: AA/NA saved my life.
posted by ChasFile at 5:51 PM on July 31, 2004


i think "take what you want, leave the rest" is very good advice
posted by pyramid termite at 6:01 PM on July 31, 2004


No other program of recovery comes even close to AA's success rate.

I have to self-censor that one, based upon previous studies cited. Research I vaguely remember seeing compared REBT, AA, and a control group. The results were such that while REBT did better in terms of reducing drinking, AA did better in terms of eliminating it.

So really it comes down to a question of philosophy: harm reduction or total sobriety. While for many harm reduction may be effective (I'm thinking here of pot and acid, say) for addictive substances I firmly believe that total abstinence is a requirement.

It has been shown that some alchoholics break down the chemical differently than non-alchoholics, and in such a way that one of the by products is a dopamine-like neurotransmitter. For people like these, any drinking could be very dangerous, and telling them to just drink "safely and sanely" is like trying to tell someone addicted to percocet to "just have one or two at dinner."

Also, as to the binging, any abstinence-based program is bound to involve binges. The idea is that they get farther apart and less severe as time goes on, until they are eliminated entirely.

I, too, had serious reservations about the program, and have read several of Dr. Peele's books. While for alchohol the harm-reduction/total abstinence question is far from answered, and depends largely upon the nature (physical or not) of the addiction, for many of the more powerful narcotics, simply encouraging people to use them "responsibly" is absurd. Last post, I swear.
posted by ChasFile at 6:11 PM on July 31, 2004


Some interesting comments on AA that were brought up in an excellent AskMe thread.

Exactly, stet. I'm trying it right now. I'm trying to keep an open mind. and that openness includes accepting some of AAs ideals and being skeptical of other. I've been reading the Orange Papers and Trimpey's Rational Recovery book and I'm having serious doubts as to whether this is for me. Some nights it's great, and others I wonder who are these people and what the hell am I doing in this meeting.
posted by pieoverdone at 6:36 PM on July 31, 2004


Especially given the on-target "take what you want, leave the rest" mandate, I think this whole topic is kind of missing the point--the real difference that AA makes in people's lives is not the imposition of 12 new rules. It's the creation of a support system that acknowledges human error, and is built around helping alcoholics resist it.

If AA asked people to wear purple robes once a month and stand on their heads, but still had the rules about coming to meetings every week, and having someone to talk to, etc., then it would still work, and all the purple cloaked hand-stand stuff would be equally irrelevant. Sure, some folks get an added boost from the whole "God" thing, and more importantly, some folks just need to admit that they're not in control of lives like they think they are...whatever. AA is definitely not the only answer, but without question, there are a lot of recovering alcoholics out there who feel they couldn't have made the change without AA. Why second-guess their success?
posted by LairBob at 6:57 PM on July 31, 2004


I was in OA (Overeaters Anonymous) for a while. It's based on AA, and in fact, as in all AA spinoffs, members are encouraged to attend AA meetings too, even if they aren't alcoholics, to witness the hardcore, old-school way of doing things. Of course, don't try and attend an AA meeting and then tell the people there that you're not an alcoholic. As far as they're concerned, the fact that you have been guided to the meeting space with that attitude probably means that you just haven't taken the first step (admitting you have a problem).

OA most certainly is a cult. So is AA and the rest of its spinoffs. And like other cults, it is attractive to many people for a reason. It provides answers to difficult questions.

There is an idea in the 12-step programs that the addiction in question (whatever it is) is tied to a kind of egomania. You think the world owes you, you can never get enough pleasure, or respite from discomfort, so you compulsively indulge in booze/drugs/food/sex/whatever. And then the program comes along and says, Hey, here's a reality check: you're a mortal human being with limits, and you have lost track of those limits, and we are going to bring you back into touch with them.

This is where the "higher power" idea comes from. It really doesn't matter if it's God or not. The important thing is that you don't think that you are God.

This philosophy certainly helps a lot of people. On the other hand, there is a widespread 12-step idea of "embracing mediocrity" (that phrase was often spoken at meetings I attended). And that refrain ate (no pun intended) away at me until I couldn't stand it anymore. I would rather overeat than have a group of depressed people encourage me to affirm several times per week that I was mediocre. That, and I had started antidepressant meds, and just wasn't as worried about overeating anymore.

But on top of that, there is definitely a pervasive idea that you cannot possibly go to too many meetings, or spend too much time talking about, or just thinking about, how powerless you are. And, truthfully, I would rather overeat (and overindulge in whatever other vices I have that fall under the 12-step umbrella) than devote as much of my free time to meetings as a lot of people I came into contact with did.
posted by bingo at 8:46 PM on July 31, 2004


fuck them all and stay sober.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:12 PM on July 31, 2004


This philosophy certainly helps a lot of people. On the other hand, there is a widespread 12-step idea of "embracing mediocrity" (that phrase was often spoken at meetings I attended).

Well, by the very definition of the word, the world is full of "mediocre" people so sometimes that just boils down to accepting yourself. I'm no longer a member of AA and no longer abstaining but what I saw in the program still leaves me with much respect for people who can work it. And I can tell you that there's as many ways of working the 12 steps as there are people and that people do it all kinds of ways successfully. In the traditions it says that "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking/getting high/overeating/watching Matlock..." So just let people do what works for them and leave 'em alone.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 PM on July 31, 2004


Being someone who was involved with two different recovering addicts, one of them a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, one an atheist the other an agnostic, and myself an atheist, I do have a perspective on this matter.

I think an atheist can make AA work by using something else as their "higher power". My ex, a scientist, just thought of "the universe" as her "higher power". However, my sense is that it takes a pretty strong-willed person, sure of their worldview, who can make that work for them.

The other ex, the one that was an LCDC, left the field after becoming tired of, in her words, "dealing with all the people in twelve-step programs that didn't want to be there and were ordered there by a court". Granted, she worked for the state criminal justice system, so she saw this side of it more than most. But her belief was that AA definitely works but that:

A) other promising treatment programs are being neglected as twelve-step is crowding out everything else; and,

B) the more involuntary the treatment is, the less effective the twelve-step program is.

Personally, I think people critical of AA are mostly worrying about all the wrong things. Yes, it's cultish. Yes the religious element is objectionable (to some). So what? Addicts are very fucked-up people for whom *A works to moderate their self-destructive behavior. Let's not argue about rearranging the furniture while the house burns down.

As to the cult of mediocrity—that's related to the whole "tragic uniqueness" thing, I'm guessing. Which, I think, is a mental illness that afflicts lots of people and is always a good thing to fight.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:06 PM on July 31, 2004


Let's not argue about rearranging the furniture while the house burns down.

I think "removing structural walls" would be a more accurate analogy.

There will always be those who defend AA, particularly those who past or present have been brainwashed to believe that they "need" it. Nevertheless, the truth is that it has been demonstrated time and again not to stand up to objective analysis, and defenses rooted in desperation certainly won't change that.

I will keep the rest of my negative comments to myself, as airing them here would be counterproductive.
posted by rushmc at 11:36 PM on July 31, 2004


Indeed. A.A. is a crock. Whether it works for some people or not is a secondary issue. I can think of many measures one could impose upon an alcoholic that would produce a lower recidivism rate, but few would be willing to accept their draconian extremism.

Really now?

Whether is works for some people is secondary? How so? I would think that the fact that is works for some people is the main issue. The fact that you think it's a crock is secondary. There's plenty more where you come from on this Rush so don't get too far up on that high horse of yours. There's not enough room.

I happen to dislike A.A. for many reasons. It helped me in the beginning back in 1979 and it was all I had to grasp on to at the time but since then, I've found other ways to not drink. Bottom line is, it helped me get back on my feet.

After I got back on my feet I was one of those "helpers" who eventually found themselves, after two years sober, jumping into the addictions field full bore. I studied addictions and trained at Hazelden in Minnesota and eventually stayed in the field for ten years. The one constant in all my training and subsequent work was the thread of "A.A" , the need to find a "higher power" and the "12 steps". When a therapist was stuck with a patient, he/she could always fall back on the "program". It was easy to invoke the ghost of Bill W rather than actually listen to the patient. Since 95% of any 28 day programs were all based on the 12 step concept, I was hard pressed to think otherwise. I look back on all that now and want to vomit at how weak it was and how closed minded people in my field were to other modes of treatment. Aversion and cognitive therapy were just coming into vogue then and heaven forbid if you mentioned you were atheist! If a patient claimed to be an atheist, our job was to guide them to the spiritual concepts of A.A. so they wouldn't taint the rest of the population. Looking back, that seemed to be the stage that addictions was stuck in. All the hardcore schooling I had didn't mean shit when I could just tell someone "90 meetings in 90 days".

To answer your question Postroad, the last stats on A.A.'s success rate hovered at 8% for first timers. A slight drop for second timers and a huge drop off for recidivists. The numbers are fuzzy right now but there was a study done back in 1985 but I do not recall the source.

Additionally, Wendy Kaminer and Jim Christopher are a couple of good people to read on this subject for anyone interested in the Cult Of Recovery and some alternatives to A.A. I could go on forever on this subject so I'll just stop there.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:51 PM on July 31, 2004


pieoverdone: In retrospect, I may have unintentionally singled you out in regard to some problems that are rather personal in nature. I apologize if that was the case, though it doesn't seem to be. I wish you the best of luck in however you choose to proceed.

I was very interested in that AskMe thread because I'm an atheist with family in A.A. and a genetic and temperamental prediliction toward alcohol abuse myself. I've got real reservations about the A.A. program but am of the "whatever works for you mindset." My mother now has seven years of sobriety and has mellowed out a lot with regards to the official A.A. line. For example, she now finds the jokes about A.A. on the Simpsons to be funny rather than offensive. That, combined with sobriety, is a positive change.
posted by stet at 12:54 AM on August 1, 2004


I spent a good ten years in NA, left for my own reasons, but I've seen it save countless lives, including my own. I stopped going because I no longer felt that it was providing me with any benefit, but it took a 17 year old fuck up who was in jail for his high school graduation, and put me where I am today, which is fucking fine by me.

Anecdotal evidence aside, if it works for some people, why criticize it? The decision to participate was always a personal one for me, and I always respected the decisions of others to participate or not. It was exactly what I needed at the time, it's just not what I need right now. But I don't regret a day of it.

I've seen these programs completely change people and save families, etc. What's to criticize.
posted by adampsyche at 5:06 AM on August 1, 2004


And, for what it's worth, I'd just like to add that it takes balls to sit back and criticize a solution that people have found to a problem that you aren't afflicted by.
posted by adampsyche at 5:10 AM on August 1, 2004


The problems I have with AA are manifold, but the main one is that it is a religious cult with little proven efficacy in drinking cessation that the government forces people to attend. Sure, those in AA will tell you it is spiritual not religious until they are blue in the face, but if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, most likely It is a duck. Anything that uses the word "God" that often and then explains to you that it really means anything you want it to, is full of it.

Sure, if it "works for you" by all means go. Hare Krsna works for some, as does being a Moonie, etc. I don't begrudge people the free will to join such groups, but I'm not going to sugar coat my opinion on the issue either. However, Statistically AA works less than cold turkey and other methods. In some cases it makes the problem worse.

You can always tell an AA member by their defense that AA "works" in an objective sense, even when presented with contradictory evidence. They will cite some nebulous and unknown "study" they can't put their finger on, or launch into personal anecdotes about their, or their friends successes. It may work for some, but is not statistically superior to any other method. These stories, while nice, prove nothing.

In the end, the ultimate goal and final step of the program is to get other people to join the cult. After all, AA is the only way they think anyone can really quit drinking and be happy. Many members will pay lip service to there being a different way to the AA party line, and maybe a few will even believe it. However, by and large, conformity and obedience is valued much more highly than independent thought or open mindedness.

Would they accept that their method is NOT the best way to get sober, and perhaps does some harm, the final step becomes less palatable and the contradiction is too much for most to bear. Thus, the denial they so vociferously condemn becomes their companion once again. They must believe AA is superior, or their whole belief system crumbles.

If the true goal of AA is to help other drunks, and there is a statistically better way to get sober than AA, wouldn't a person that wanted to honestly and diligently work AA's twelfth step have to direct people elsewhere?

In every category, the people who got no treatment at all fared better than the people who got A.A. "treatment". Based on the records of re-arrests, only 31% of the A.A.-treated clients were deemed successful, while 44% of the "untreated" clients were successful. Clearly, Alcoholics Anonymous "treatment" had a detrimental effect. That means that A.A. had a success rate of less than zero. Not only was A.A.-based treatment a waste of time and money; A.A. was actually making it harder for people to get sober and stay sober.

I have friends and relatives in AA, and they seem happy enough. I do not actively try to shake anyones "faith" in AA. But, if they bring up that it "works", I will tell them the truth and let them do with that what they will.
posted by jester69 at 5:29 AM on August 1, 2004


To be honest, groups and meetings vary widely by area. I've seen some groups that really are all about closemindedness, and about it being the only way, but many are just happy to be there, and happy to help, and don't blink if it's not for you. In fact, I've been in contact and continue to remain friends with those who are still in the program, and they respect my decision.

Would they accept that their method is NOT the best way to get sober,

What problem do you have accepting that it might be the best way for some people?
posted by adampsyche at 6:18 AM on August 1, 2004


You can always tell an AA member by their defense that AA "works" in an objective sense, even when presented with contradictory evidence.

Again, bullshit. It does work if applied. Does it work for everyone? No, it sure doesn't. So what?

It may work for some, but is not statistically superior to any other method. These stories, while nice, prove nothing.

Don't you think that you just contradicted yourself? You went from saying that it doesn't work, to that it does, but is not statistically superior. Why not just let people decide that that's what they want to do and respect their opinion?

And, these stories do prove something. They just might not prove something to you, but that's not the point. The point isn't being true to "you" or proving something to "you."
posted by adampsyche at 6:23 AM on August 1, 2004


Adam, being statistically inferior means that AA is not the best way for most people. This does not contradict that it may be the best way for some. The stories may illustrate the experiences of a few specific people, but do not indicate superiority of their method over any other.

My point is: if you meet a random drunk off the street, he has an at worst equal or more likely better chance at longterm sobriety if you steer him clear of AA than if you steer him there. That is the point that most AA members seem unwilling to comprehend, or even consider enough to research wether it is true or not.

Find a scientifically conducted study proving me wrong, and I will reconsider my position. I have yet to find one, but have found many that concur.
posted by jester69 at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2004


Whether is works for some people is secondary? How so?

Prohibition kept a LOT more people from drink than AA ever has. That doesn't mean it was a moral course to follow.

Even the most ardent true believers who will be honest about it recognize that A.A. and N.A. have at least 90% failure rates. And the real numbers are more like 95% or 98% or 100% failure rates. It depends on who is doing the counting, how they are counting, and what they are counting or measuring. A 5% success rate is nothing more than the rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics and drug addicts. That is, out of any given group of alcoholics or drug addicts, approximately 5% per year will just wise up, and quit killing themselves.

In light of this, adampsyche, I have to believe that you and others are being purposefully irrational. Nevertheless, an emotional desire to believe that something works does not make it work.
posted by rushmc at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2004


Ok. Purposefully irrational. Right. 100% failure rate.

Even the most ardent true believers who will be honest about it recognize that A.A. and N.A. have at least 90% failure rates.


Is that not adecdotal evidence as well? Interviewing believers who are honest about it? Is that a reliable source for those lofty stats being thrown out there?

Precisely. I can't help but find it completely impossible to have an empiracle study (since you are so hung up on, ya know, empiricism), on an anyonymous fellowship, where there isn't anyone counting.


Nevertheless, an emotional desire to believe that something works does not make it work.


So, I guess that it just isn't working for the countless people who show up to the meetings? Or are there just a bunch or drunk people in those church basements? Or do you even fucking know? Have you been to a meeting?

There are people who are clean as a result, and more power to them. To deny that there are people who are clean as a result is being a bit...purposefully irrational, no?

So nice and easy to sit back and criticize. Go to a meeting, even better yet, walk in their shoes for a day. Unless you think that arguing about it on the Internet makes you more of an expert on the subject.
posted by adampsyche at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2004


And the real numbers are more like 95% or 98% or 100% failure rates. It depends on who is doing the counting, how they are counting, and what they are counting or measuring.

First sentence: throwing out numbers.

Second sentence: admitting that the numbers are flawed by nature, and that no one really has any idea.

Nice.
posted by adampsyche at 7:48 AM on August 1, 2004


I was involved with exactly one alcoholic. That was plenty. He was not the sort for whom AA could help one bit. He was the most capable human I've ever been associated with. 'Powerless'? HAHAHa, not even a little.

I've known another pair of people who were addicted to 12-step programs. Very bizzare.

All that being said, if it works for you, that's great! If not, gee, that's a bummer, I hope you can find another way.
posted by Goofyy at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2004


There's a saying around A.A., "We didn't end up in these rooms [A.A. meetings] because we were well." So, yes, all kinds of fubar stuff happens in and around A.A. meetings - how could it not?

But there's no disputing that, in general, people's lives get better when they seek help for theirl alcoholism, and that A.A. works for some when all else has failed. I'm no holy roller (quite the opposite, thank you) but if there are people who need to get that twinkley got stuff into their lives to overcome their allergy to alcohol, who am I to say it's wrong?

Now, I'm not saying that a bit of healthy criticism isn't in order here. Many in A.A. realize that vigilence is required so keep the train on the tracks, so to speak. There are groups that conduct regular group inventories to weed out what's fubar, and of course, there's the 4th step, which does the same for the individual.

So yeah, I basically just paraphrased what adampsyche said above. I think he illustrates a nice midde ground -- you can't very well accuse A.A. of being extremest by being extremist.
posted by bicyclingfool at 8:20 AM on August 1, 2004


jester69 ... the problem with these studies is quite simple ... how is being an addict/alcoholic defined? ... by whoever gets caught by the court system? ... are all of them actually addicts/alcoholics? ... by whoever defines themselves as an addict/alcoholic? ... isn't that subjective and anecdotal evidence? ... are there varying degrees of addiction? ... was any effort made to see if the people in the aa group were more addicted than others? ... in the case of that study with the control group, wasn't the state of addiction actually defined by what these people were convicted by, rather than a strict measurement of addiction?

there's some real problems there

meanwhile, i found these two pages on orange's site to be insightful and valuable

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-addmonst.html

how our lizard brain causes addictive/complusive behavior and ...

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-deprogram.html

how to reprogram your mind ... these pages are very good
posted by pyramid termite at 8:21 AM on August 1, 2004


"The first of these studies was conducted in San Diego in 1964 and 1965, and its subjects were 301 'chronic drunk offenders.'

Ok. Take the worst of the worst, basically, and say that it's representative and empirical. Nice.

"the second controlled study of AA's effectiveness was carried out in Kentucky in the mid-1970's, and its subjectss were 260 clients 'representative of the 'revolving door' alcoholic court cases in our cities.'

Again, not a good sample. Taking a bunch who are already in legal trouble, and those who admittedly didn't make it their first try, is stacking the deck.

The only way to really do a good study would be to visit a bunch of meetings and compare those who've stayed to those who come and don't stay. But that won't happen. So what's the point in arguing about it? Let people do what they need to do.
posted by adampsyche at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2004


As much as I dislike AA personally, I'm with Adam on this. I still go to meetings once in a great while but just cannot stomach them for long. I still go maily as homage for saving my ass.

Jester, I'm with you to a certain extent. A.A.'s religiosity has always been a sticking point but calling it a religious cult is a bit over the top considering how much A.A. has evolved or watered itself down over the years. Members are free to come and go and theres virtually none of the Oxford Group (the highly religious group that A.A. sprang from) hubris from the early years.

Critical analysis of treatment methods including A.A is good. Great even. But completely ruling out A.A. as a viable alternative is simply ostrichism. I have to back to postroad's last comment:

Finally, a pragmatic perspective: if it works for this or that person, good; if it does not seem to meet the needs of others, try another approach.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:08 AM on August 1, 2004


To reiterate, every study I have seen says that AA has no better or possibly a worse success rate than cold turkey. Some people are helped by it, some are harmed. From what I know of it I wouldn't recommend it, nor would I warn someone off that was determined to go.

And, as for comparing people that came to aa then left to the people that stayed, that is not really a valid comparison. You have to compare people with no exposure, or exposure to a different method to those exposed ot AA. Otherwise you are not really getting anywhere. You are just comparing people that succeeded and failed in AA's method, not comparing AA's method to another one. In any event, I asked for a scientific study proving AA as more helpful than no AA. I see you decided to poke holes in the provided research rather than show a contradictory study.

As for what makes an alcoholic, who knows. I'm not really even sure there is a valid definition. In any event, how the participants are selected is fairly immaterial as long as they are selected the same way for all methods under review. If AA was truly superior wouldn't it produce better results with any selected subsection of alcoholics when compared to another inferior method? How could it possibly produce worst results with the lowest of the low in the prision system, would they not be closest to their bottom, and thus most ready for help?

And, it is a cult. However, many things are cults that people think arent, fwiw. I stand by that assertion. People in AA even joke that their brain needed washing, and they call AA the "program." That makes deprogramming a word with two meanings here.

I am not saying that AA doesn't work, or it isn't good for some, just that people in AA are unwilling to logically come to grips with the idea that it may not be the best way out there.

You don't even have to accept it is inferior, just that maybe there are other ways that work just as well or better for just as many people. This is not a terribly reactionary statement to anyone not programmed into AA's way of thinking.
posted by jester69 at 9:39 AM on August 1, 2004


And, as for comparing people that came to aa then left to the people that stayed, that is not really a valid comparison. You have to compare people with no exposure, or exposure to a different method to those exposed ot AA. Otherwise you are not really getting anywhere. You are just comparing people that succeeded and failed in AA's method, not comparing AA's method to another one.

Um, that's correct. But if you are going to look at AA, or NA for that matter, you have to have a little more representation within that community, not just picking up those who are obviously failing to get it, such as revolving door types and those who are chronic offenders. Yes, compare to others, fine, but don't compare the success of one program based on the bottom rung of those in another.

Then again, there won't be a study that can adequately determine AA's success. Because to do so, you'd have to go to actual meetings to poll data, not just to a court, because you're getting a very small segment of the population.

In any event, I asked for a scientific study proving AA as more helpful than no AA. I see you decided to poke holes in the provided research rather than show a contradictory study.

Um, hello? There isn't a contradictory study that I'm aware of. Never claimed that there was. Not providing a contradictory study doesn't mean that I'm willing to accept an obviously flawed one.

I am not saying that AA doesn't work, or it isn't good for some, just that people in AA are unwilling to logically come to grips with the idea that it may not be the best way out there.

Absofuckinglutely. There are many who believe that it is the only way. And I disagree with them. But let's not tone down the things that you said above. Methinks you were a bit more harsh than that.
posted by adampsyche at 9:55 AM on August 1, 2004


it is a religious cult with little proven efficacy

I am not saying that AA doesn't work,

Would it kill you to at least be consistent?

They must believe AA is superior, or their whole belief system crumbles.

Evidence? Who the fuck is "they?" Do you claim this based upon some kind of study? Or is your evidence anecdotal?

There are, like I said, many who respect the decisions of others. If you're going to admit something, that is a very personal thing that no one can determine for you. I'm sorry that your experience, if any, has been to those who hold a contrary mindset. They are not representative, and neither are the meritless statements that you have made to support your shifting claims.
posted by adampsyche at 10:02 AM on August 1, 2004


In every category, the people who got no treatment at all fared better than the people who got A.A. "treatment". Based on the records of re-arrests, only 31% of the A.A.-treated clients were deemed successful, while 44% of the "untreated" clients were successful. Clearly, Alcoholics Anonymous "treatment" had a detrimental effect. That means that A.A. had a success rate of less than zero. Not only was A.A.-based treatment a waste of time and money; A.A. was actually making it harder for people to get sober and stay sober.

that is the single most ignorant paragraph i have ever read on metafilter.

it's akin to an attempt to measure the "success" of, say, tuffy mufflers based on the experience of everyone who has ever driven by a tuffy franchise, those who stopped for a traffic light in front of a tuffy franchise, those who once parked down the street from a tuffy, and those who actually had their exhaust system serviced at tuffy? and of those who availed themselves of the service, some drive over boulders, some drive on lawn, and some crawl under the car and beat the new muffler with a sledge just to see if they can fuck it up.

jester, you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.
posted by quonsar at 10:21 AM on August 1, 2004


My comments on the experience. What I'm having issue with that led me to look for the Orange Papers.

1. Why is the first step the only one that mentions alcohol? The remaining 11 are about confession, redemption, and evangelizing.

2. If 'God' is a 'God as you understand him', why is every meeting closed with the Judeo-Christian Lord's Prayer?

3. There is a blanket assumption that all substances are harmful. This includes prescription medication for depression, anxiety, etc. There is an open hostility towards people for taking the drugs, and for being 'spiritually sick' enough to need them.

4. I am unable to take Bill W's spiritual awakening seriously. He was tripping on belladonna. If I have a spiritual experience on weed, I am considered to be powerless and have an unmanageable life.

That out of the way, there has been positive things to come out of this. It occupies me. I have something to do other than drink. Boredom was a huge factor in my abuse. Instead of heading home after work and proceeding to obliterate myself, I hang at a coffeehouse. Would I have been able to modify my behavior like this on my own? I doubt it. I've finally started meeting people and talking to them. I've been abstinent, and so far I'm liking the positive changes that not being drunk all the time have resulted in.

I'm conflicted. I'm confused. I'm fearful of buying too hard into AA dogma and losing rational thought. I fear that I won't know if I've gone overboard with it.

I am trying to take what I want and leave the rest, but as much as I hear that from people in and out of the program, the program itself is not very receptive to it.
posted by pieoverdone at 10:34 AM on August 1, 2004


1. Why is the first step the only one that mentions alcohol? The remaining 11 are about confession, redemption, and evangelizing.

Because alcohol is merely the most obvious symptom of what is obviously a bigger problem. The rest are about changing your life. The word confession doesn't fit, but there is admitting. I also don't see where you get redemption from in the steps, or evangelizing. Telling others how you got clean? Please tell me how that fits the description of evangelizing.

2. If 'God' is a 'God as you understand him', why is every meeting closed with the Judeo-Christian Lord's Prayer?


That is a huge problem that I have with AA, and I can tell you that it is not done like that in NA. You're right. That's fucked up, and it scares people away. I don't believe that it was ever intended to be done that way, but some group probably started it, and others caught on. Bad on them, because it detracts from their message.

3. There is a blanket assumption that all substances are harmful. This includes prescription medication for depression, anxiety, etc. There is an open hostility towards people for taking the drugs, and for being 'spiritually sick' enough to need them.


That's not true. It's recommended to trust a physician who is aware of your addiction. Everyone I know in recovery who has had a surgery used what they had to use, but minimally, and with some basic supervision and open talk about it.

I'm conflicted. I'm confused. I'm fearful of buying too hard into AA dogma and losing rational thought. I fear that I won't know if I've gone overboard with it.

Whether or not it's right for you is something that you have to find out on your own. If you're able to find a comfortable level of use (or non-use) on your own, see how that works for you for a while. 12 step programs are not for everyone.
posted by adampsyche at 10:47 AM on August 1, 2004


1) alcohol is considered to be symptom. lack of coping skills, social isolation, etc, the primary illness.

2) for pretty much the same reason kids recite the pledge of allegiance, or baseball games start with the national anthem. i dont really like it, but it's largely irrelevant. ("I'll never get my cancer treated - those fuckers have green carpet on the floor! Fuck that!")

3) if this is true for the group as a whole, you are in the wrong group. but my experience is, those are merely the unsupportable opinions of INDIVIDUALS. a HUGE part of my recovery plan is TAKING ALL MY MEDS, AS PRESCRIBED, FAITHFULLY. no dry drunk carping in a meeting knows better than my doctor and therapist!

4) there are people who have addiction problems with weed, and there are drunks for whom weed has proven to be a bad idea. be informed by all means, but once again, see my #3 above. why do you care about bill w and belladonna 50 friggin years ago? it's got nothing to do with you! why is it your business to "take bill w's spiritual awakening" seriously? personally, i could care less!
posted by quonsar at 11:11 AM on August 1, 2004


Standing in a corner for an hour a day slapping oneself in the face would help some people control/stop their drinking. But I don't see anyone arguing in favor of that method. Similarly, any method with a success rate of less than spontaneous remission is bunk, plain and simple.
posted by rushmc at 11:53 AM on August 1, 2004


Similarly, any method with a success rate of less than spontaneous remission is bunk, plain and simple.

As was elaborated upon above, there can't be a completely empiricle study on the effectiveness of 12 step programs (due to its anonymous nature), and the studies that have been attempted were admittedly flawed and skewed. I'm sorry, but taking the samples of the population above, it's not surprising that the percentages were low.

But they aren't accurate. And, despite your best critical thinking, it is working for a lot of people. There's proof at the meetings, which I don't remember you saying that you have experience with.

Just continue to sit back and have an opinion on what others are doing to help themselves with a problem that you don't have. I heard that standing in the corner for an hour a day and slapping oneself can be a cure for that, too.
posted by adampsyche at 12:06 PM on August 1, 2004


People in AA get so hostile when you inquire about alternitives...
posted by LoopSouth at 12:56 PM on August 1, 2004


I'm not in AA, and this thread wasn't about an inquiry as to alternatives.
posted by adampsyche at 1:02 PM on August 1, 2004


2. If 'God' is a 'God as you understand him', why is every meeting closed with the Judeo-Christian Lord's Prayer?


In England, it's not. We use the non-denominational and fairly generic Serenity Prayer. I was shocked when I first visited the US and heard the Lord's Prayer said in a meeting (and this was in San Francisco, not the Bible Belt).

On a later visit, I was asked to lead a meeting on Christmas Eve. There was no way I was gonna close with The Lord's Prayer, so we closed instead with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

AA works for me. I couldn't stop drinking on my own, or with any of the other methods I tried. I have a 'god of my understanding' which is probably not one that any minister of religion would recognise and today I am a productive, useful and happy member of society, something I doubt I would be if I had not got to AA when I did.

As others have said, it's easy enough to criticise something if you have no need for it.

posted by essexjan at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2004


I'm not in AA, and this thread wasn't about an inquiry as to alternatives.

But you are inarguably hostile.
posted by rushmc at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2004


As others have said, it's easy enough to criticise something if you have no need for it.

The converse of that is that it is extremely difficult to criticize something if you DO feel that you need it; however, that does not mean that it cannot or should not be assessed critically.
posted by rushmc at 2:51 PM on August 1, 2004


1. Why is the first step the only one that mentions alcohol? The remaining 11 are about confession, redemption, and evangelizing.

This is one of the things that always made me uncomfortable. There is a built-in assumption that your addiction is directly related to your guilt and problems with your self-esteem. And I think that for many people, it is. But I found that weird moral disagreements would sometimes arise when I was socializing with other 12-steppers. I might tell an anecdote involving a conflict I'd had with someone, and I'd be told that when I got to step 9, i'd have to make ammends for that (step 9 involves apologizing to everyone you have ever harmed). And I'd be like, actually no, I won't. Why not? Because I'm not sorry. And of course, in their view, this was "denial." And I'd be like: Guys. The point is for me to stop overeating. If I don't feel bad about doing something, and it's not causing me to overeat, and I think that apologizing would be wrong, then why do you care?

The use of the word "hate" is discouraged. I remember hearing a fellow meeting-goer use it in his sharing, and seeing half the room wince. And that's fine, if that's what they need to stay abstinent.

2. If 'God' is a 'God as you understand him', why is every meeting closed with the Judeo-Christian Lord's Prayer?

Very few OA meetings closed with that. And btw, there's nothing Judeo about it. It might not include a line about how Jesus died for our sins, but you're not going to hear it in any synogogue service.
posted by bingo at 4:37 PM on August 1, 2004


But you are inarguably hostile.

I know you are, but what am I? couldn't resist
posted by adampsyche at 6:49 AM on August 2, 2004


I'm conflicted. I'm confused. I'm fearful of buying too hard into AA dogma and losing rational thought. I fear that I won't know if I've gone overboard with it.

You don't have to like it, or feel like as if you're being 'brainwashed'. AA isn't Amway, viral marketing, and it sure as hell won't have you passing out roses at the airport or going door to door selling science fiction books. My advice? Look around at the people who have stuck it out. Look at the quality of the lives that they lead and how they carry themselves. And don't worry about 'buying into something' - you'll find that as time passes your bullshit detector will only get better - certainly not worse.

For the detractors -
I personally love watching the ivory tower pseudo intellectuals bat around their personal hypotheses about how they 'know' the true nature of AA. Much of it can easily be written off as uniformed contemptuous jargon, peppered with supposed empirical 'proof'. However, I invite everyone to attend an actual meeting (many of which are open to everyone, non-alcoholics included), whether you're looking for more proof to substantiate your beliefs, or whether you honestly have an open mind.

What you may find may or may not surprise you. People that previously and literally called a gutter home now lead meaningful lives. Children have their parents back, parents have their children back, and long torn relationships have been mended. These are the folks that society has written off, caught in the systemic cycle of drug and alcohol abuse, yet somehow they are whole again.

You can list whatever causal agent you like, but to downplay the results is to ignore the millions of changed lives. I can’t think of a more oblivious stance, which, in contrast to the deadliness of Alcoholism, is incredibly sad.
posted by jazzkat11 at 8:18 AM on August 2, 2004


Rule #62

We ceased fighting everyone and everything.

04/23/92
posted by Jeremy at 12:09 PM on August 2, 2004


The problems I have with AA are manifold, but the main one is that it is a religious cult with little proven efficacy in drinking cessation that the government forces people to attend.

Sounds like you have a problem with the gov't not AA. I totally agree the goverment should not force people to attend.

My point is: if you meet a random drunk off the street, he has an at worst equal or more likely better chance at longterm sobriety if you steer him clear of AA than if you steer him there.

A key thing with AA is that you can't be helped if you don't want to be there. You have to desire to change your destructive lifestyle. Anyone who is mandated to go as part of a plea agreement is practically guarenteed to fail.

2. If 'God' is a 'God as you understand him', why is every meeting closed with the Judeo-Christian Lord's Prayer?

This is pretty group dependent. The majority of the meetings I've been to here in Canada did not have this as a component.

3. There is a blanket assumption that all substances are harmful. This includes prescription medication for depression, anxiety, etc. There is an open hostility towards people for taking the drugs, and for being 'spiritually sick' enough to need them.

Again group dependent. As a meeting only requires two people; if the slant of the particular group bothers you start your own. (Did that sound sound open source preachy or what?)

That out of the way, there has been positive things to come out of this. It occupies me. I have something to do other than drink. Boredom was a huge factor in my abuse.

This is a key factor for a lot of people. They meet people who are at least trying not to drink. The road of recovery can be very lonely. A lot of addicts may know no one who doesn't go out drinking on a Friday/Saturday night.

My father is a ten year success story from AA after failing several times previously both with AA and other programs. He has also went from being someone I could not stand to be around to someone I can spend a vacation with. He rarely goes to formal meetings anymore but he has informal meetings all the time with other AA graduates. Some of them are quite evangelical to the point they almost seem to be disappointed I've never drank. Others give no hints.

I don't really see the cult label myself. If anything most groups don't want you around if you don't want to be there. I don't see uncritical loyalty of the converted. Yes people who've had success can get evangelical but no worse than say a recent ex smoker. And there isn't any scheme in place to funnel money or power to a priest class.
posted by Mitheral at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2004


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