Huff Post Therapist Doesn’t Know Diddly About Alcoholics Anonymous

by Dick on March 30, 2012 · 64 comments

in 12 Steps, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Alcoholism, Recovery

My Thoughts On Huff Post Therapist’s Criticism Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Laura Tompkins is a “certified addiction specialist” who blogs at the Huffington Post. She just penned a slam piece against all that is “negative” and “wrong” about Alcoholics Anonymous, entitled, appropriately enough, Is Alcoholics Anonymous Negativity Based?

Ms. Tompkins repeats some of the same tired arguments about The Program and offers some truly frightening advice as well — that some alcoholics may indeed be able to drink in safe moderation under the careful guidance of a — you guessed it — a certified addiction specialist such as herself. This is Rational Recovery meets Smart Recovery with a sprinkle of Stupidity.

Of course, she’s entitled to her opinion, but Ms. Tompkins is not an alcoholic and therefore has no idea what it’s like to be one. She obviously has very limited experience with AA because her statements are, in large part, completely untrue. And like most critics of AA, she offers zero alternatives or “solutions” to what she perceives as the problem with AA — other than “don’t go to AA. It sucks.” The fact remains, and will remain, that with a meeting in every community in the country, AA remains the most available and affordable recovery program in the history of the United States. The program has historically been subject to criticism, but has saved millions.

With that said, allow me to critique Ms. Tompkins’ critique of AA based on real, personal experience. (Oh, by the way, I went to Hazelden too, where signs with all those AA slogans Ms. Tompkins mocks greets new patients on the ride in. I’m sure they are mortified at her article because Hazelden was founded on AA principles). Ms. Tompkins writes:

If you go to an AA meeting they will tell you the only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. They will then require you to announce and declare to the room and God that you are an alcoholic. You are an alcoholic who will never recover. You must never pick up a drink again. They proceed to put you in a no-win position of pronouncing that you are an alcoholic at the beginning of every meeting, and every time you speak at all for that matter. Even if you are announcing that the cookies are running low and you need more money for the bad coffee everyone is swilling, you must announce that you are an alcoholic. A paragraph from Chapter 5 of the AA book is read aloud.

This is what most of my clients hear: Follow us or you will fail. If you do not recover, you are a dishonest and unfortunate idiot, and you were born a dishonest and unfortunate idiot. You will die painfully, full of shame for your innate inability to be honest with yourself. Even worse, if you are mentally and emotionally ill (which is highly probable), you will only recover if you follow our path completely and do not rock the boat.

First, there is no requirement in AA that you announce yourself as an alcoholic, although for most, like myself, it’s the first time that an entering alcoholic becomes honest with themselves. I say, “Hi, I’m Dick, I’m an alcoholic” with pride and courage, knowing that I’m facing up to my disease and my lifetime struggle with it. I’m sure my wife doesn’t mind that I fess up to reality a few times per week at AA meetings. The reference to God is purely gilding the lily. As the literature makes clear, you don’t have to believe in God. The suggestion is to find a Higher Power other than yourself.

Second, having graduated from Hazelden (where I attended its amazing 30 day program) Ms. Tompkins should know that alcoholism is an incurable, progressive, terminal and ultimately fatal disease that lasts one’s lifetime. Just ask the American Medical Association. She says AA promotes the notion that alcoholics will never recover. That’s just pure b.s. It’s more like “we’re always in recovery.” For an alcoholic to believe that she is “cured” and no longer needs any form of recovery is a very dangerous place indeed, and a sure path to relapse and using. Just ask all those who “came back” to the program. Most will say that they stopped going to meetings, stopped doing recovery related activities, and that first drink started to look real good.

The second paragraph is just pure inflammatory rhetoric. No one in the rooms would ever call anyone a dishonest and unfortunate idiot — unless they deserved it! I’m just kidding. No one talks like that at meetings. But I read somewhere that addicts do tend to lie once in a while….

But Alcoholics Anonymous also pushes members into believing that any deviance from the program is a slippery slope, and a relapse is a slow death. Negative? You betcha. Many of those who end up in an AA meeting recover on their own; many are even able to practice drinking in moderation. But AA meetings would never hear from these people since members are not allowed to talk about successful moderation.

This statement demonstrates that state licensing authorities should consider revoking Ms. Tompkins’ certification. A true alcoholic can never, EVER, drink in moderation or safety. Those folks Ms. Tompkins refers to were never true alcoholics in the first place. Maybe “problem” drinkers, but not real alcoholics who are powerless over their consumption of the spirits. And why in the world would Ms. Tompkins ever counsel a patient with a drinking problem, however severe or not, to go back to drinking? That’s pure reckless advice.

Entrusting a complete stranger who has no training or competency in mandated confidentiality is ill-advised, and yet it is encouraged and practiced every day in AA. That is, if the person gets to the fifth step at all. The majority of people with whom I work do not make it past step three, and they are vilified in AA for not completing all 12 steps. Why stop at step three? The rest of the steps are about personal morality, confession, removal of character defects, discovering personality shortcomings, making amends, and continually turning your will and life over to the care of a higher power. The steps are negative affirmations that keep the alcoholic always in a state of blame and dependent on a higher power, the group and AA meetings.

Ms. Tompkins ends her critique with a self-serving argument about confidentiality and sponsorship. Your sponsor is not a “complete stranger.” For most AA’s, their sponsor is one of the closest people in their lives and will surely respect the confidentiality. You can also do a 5th Step with a clergyman, rabbi, spiritual adviser and even a therapist like Ms. Tompkins. But perhaps Ms. Tompkins is looking for new patients by attempting to scare potential AA’s from the program.

In my experience, no one is vilified in AA for not completing the steps. I know a lot of folks who have strong sobriety and have never formally done the steps. I know some who have done some but not all the steps. And I know folks who are very into the Steps. No one cares. They care only if you are struggling or drinking or can’t get to a meeting. Just getting to a meeting is plenty for most folks.

Lastly, if Ms. Tompkins truly believes that taking a personal inventory, admitting one has been wrong in the past, making amends to those we’ve hurt and seeking help in a higher power is a negative, she is truly delusional. Ask any family member of a recovering alcoholic if those steps are a negative, and they will laugh in your face.

Of course, Alcoholics Anonymous has survived since 1935, and will continue to survive and grow, despite such criticisms from the likes of Ms. Topkins. Pursuant to its tradition of not commenting on anything publicly, you will never hear the AA organization defend itself in the media and social media. And they don’t have to. The program speaks for itself. However, for those of you who are in recovery and have benefited from AA and feel so inclined, feel free to comment on the article in support of AA.

One day at a time…


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  • Hguy131313

    While I am thrilled that you have found AA to be your salvation, (How long have you actually been in recovery ?), I find Ms. Tompkins ‘opinion’ to be fairly accurate. This is a whole new world that has passed AA by. And while AA does have it’s success stories, where are the people in the middle ? You have 20+ years of sobriety and then you have the 30 days of sobriety..  Right about there is where AA loses people. And you know that my saying ‘loses’ means that there are a lot, (millions as you say), sentenced to jails, institutions or death because of AA’s shortcomings. I am/was an alcoholic/addict and have gone the route of AA and NA.. worked the steps, (3 times), and my ‘opinion’ is that there is a much better way using positive affirmation. I will keep you updated on a whole new theory of treating the learned behaviors of alcoholism and addiction. I/We have a few days in sobriety and about the only thing I agree with about AA/NA is that sobriety has to be dealt with ‘One Day at a Time’..I no longer even think of alcohol or drugs unless attending a meeting, or reading something like you wrote on the internet. It is not an option for me to use. I have no yets. I lost everything.. but now.. I am rebuilding a life through the positive belief that I am no longer an addict.

    Possibly, Ms. Tompkins not being an addict, (I don’t know that she wasn’t ?), but for arguement’s sake.. I do not believe that a former addict can do anything in moderation. Dick, we are in agreement on that one.

    I can only hope that ‘trained professionals’ pay attention to Ms. Tompkins article and try to change the way alcoholics and addicts are treated. We deserve to have lives and enjoy them. We deserve positive affirmation and we deserve more than a meaningless 28 day program when it takes at least a year for the neuro-transmitters in your head to start functioning again. We deserve more than rehabs who speak 12 Step programs as gospels.

    We deserve voices like that of yours and Ms. Tompkins to point us in a positive direction to finding the ‘cure’ to our problems.

    Thank you for your opinion, Dick.. and this is an open invitation, to you, to join our group/team which is just forming: AAAAA… Alcoholics and Addicts Anonymous Alternative.. Where you can learn to be healthy and happy, again. (and we won’t hold it against you that you are a lawyer !)..

    You can find us on Facebook:!/AlchAdictsAAA

    Not so anonymous, but sincerely,
    Scott Suter
    Founder of AAAAA

    • moderation

      Don’t say you enjoyed one beer in AA and did not continue like I did , the members will encourage you to go back out and drink, there is no place for a problem drinker or person trying to minimise their addictive behaviour or personality, you have to be labelled an alcoholic as soon as you walk in the door I think this is ridiculous. Complete withdrawal from alcohol in some cases can kill especially with no medical assistance..What is wrong with the world and its Governments! all this information and technology and a 1930’s treatment for the worlds number one substance killer alcohol. God help us

      • Jen

        I’ve been going to AA meetings for about 8 years. I have encountered/wrestled with a lot said controversy and criticism. I’ve maintained an atheist position sometimes more outwardly than others. I’ve questioned it from a scientific/medical perspective and argued the point that AA should update it’s literature and rhetoric based on current research. I’ve berated it’s seemingly and sometimes offensively male dominated language and point of view. I’ve been 13-stepped and have had to interact with some creepy guys. I’ve also been accepted pretty much regardless. I have relapsed and been welcomed back without reservation. I have been cared for, supported and helped in innumerable ways. It’s been my experience that I’m not required to believe, or really do, anything. In effect, they can’t kick me out for not “doing” the 12 steps or for being an atheist. They are suggestions. If someone bullies me for that, which I’ve never experienced (however I have encountered differing points of view on how to stay sober in AA), that bullying behavior is not a representation of AA. It’s an example of bad behavior. Anyway, AA is also quite importantly, very affordable. But hey, I go to a cool meeting and as far as I’m concerned, if you find something that works better, then great. No prob. Whatever works is good.

    • Counselorchick

      You are correct Scott. However, people with substance disorders moderate later in life quite often. This is simply fact whether an individual believes it or not. The vast majority of substance dependent individuals to ever moderate are the hundreds of thousands of Vietnam vets who are now perfectly capable of moderating their substance use, and have been for years. This idea that moderation is impossible is nothing more than 12 step ‘program’ mind control and ‘disease concept’ lies.

    • Chris O’Connell

      “I can only hope that ‘trained professionals’ pay attention to Ms. Tompkins article and try to change the way alcoholics and addicts are treated. ”

      I couldn’t agree more. The first “trained professional” who should change the way she treats alcoholics is Laura Tompkins. She calls them idiots and morons and Christian zealots and losers, all the while peppering her scornful insults with what I can only assume she must consider au courant street language. She is blatantly uncool and has no idea what alcoholism is like from the inside. There is nothing professional about her; she is a danger to those seeking recovery.

      If you’re looking for a “positive direction”, don’t walk – RUN! – from Laura Tompkins.

  • Sober Lawyer

    Scott, thanks for your comment.  I’ve been in recovery for 16 months. Best of luck on your journey in starting an alternative group.  I never said AA was my salvation. Just that it has worked for me so far.

    Quick question though. If you now believe that you are not an addict, what happens if you relapse? Are you then back to being an addict?  Or maybe you were always an addict? Try answering that one.

    Most of this recovery stuff is semantics and mind games.

    I never said that AA’s shortcomings lead to jails. etc. Quite the opposite. AA saves lives. Only addicts and their choice to accept or not accept recovery results in serenity or disaster, respectively.

    My 30 day program at Hazelden was wonderful and a solid foundation from which my recovery has been built. These programs are not meaningless at all.  Perhaps you did not attend a good one or weren’t ready for it.

    • Scott Suter

      Actually, I had over 20 years sober and, yes.. Became an addict, again. It was a choice. I have now been in recovery approaching 2 years and, yes.. This time, it is with the knowledge of how to be ‘cured’.. (Having said that.. Can I use drugs or alcohol ? No. But… As long as I don’t.. I have power and I have a chance to be cured if I follow some very positive suggestions starting with: DO NOT GIVE AWAY THE POWER YOU HAVE !)..

      I’m not reading my last posting, so if I become redundent, please forgive me. Laura Tompkins hit the nail on the head. AA is an negativity based ‘alternative’ to drinking.. Not a cure. In order to bring about a cure for this ‘learned behavior’ REAL theraputic and psychiatric help are needed. No more would I go to court to fight a murder charge, without a lawyer would I, (or would I recommend to another addict), go to war with this ‘learned behavior’ without trained help.

      Dick.. There is a reason you drank. A reason besides, ‘I like the feeling’.. Maybe your Mom didn’t love your Dad.. Or, your sister/brother was always more popular than you.. Or, your career is not where you pictured it to be at this point in your life.. etc.. But rest assured, Dick.. There is a deep seated reason for your/my drinking.

      You never said AA’s shortcomings lead to jails, institutions and ultimately death.. I did. I mean it. Addicts like us depend on AA to lead us to a ‘better place’. That ‘better place’ takes more than a passive effort of going to meetings, getting a sponser and working the ‘Steps’.. The ‘better place’ is only attained by a collective effort by you, your ‘teammates, your ‘coach’, your primary care physician, your psychiatrist, your therapists and your nutricianist.. (a lot of ists.. lol).

      But Dick.. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO IT ! and you proved that by stopping.

      AA/NA are based on a 60 year old book. It knows nothing about the madness it describes. Addicts are mad… Looney to be exact. Ever met an addict without a mental affliction, Dick ? I haven’t. And without treatment, all the meetings in the world are not going to keep the addict from self medicating.

      I applaud not only your sobriety, Dick, but also your need to help other addicts by writing your thoughts for all to read. I only ask you to keep an open mind to a proven alternative that only deals with positive affirmation.

      I deal with addicts. And this is the important part.. I deal with addicts who want to get better… Who want to be cured. If you are not sure.. You are not ready to be cured.

      Prisons, rehabs and mental hospitals are full of addicts who have one thing in common.. they are basically untreated.. or at least under-treated, (which is a word I made up, Dick.. but it fits !)..I spent 30 some days in a rehab, followed by 90 some days in a halfway house, followed by a year in a three quarter house, followed by another 14 days in a rehab. In my first 90 days I went to 260 meetings and am still the model they point to when telling addicts that they actually DO have time to go to meetings.. but.. Until I met my ‘coach’ and she asked me to find out WHY.. I was not getting better even with a solid foundation to build my sobriety on.

      She saved my life. I found, through theropy and meditation, what the real reason was that I felt the need to self-medicate. My therapist actually told me that I was going to have to learn some other coping skills besides relapse.

      So, Dick.. Am I cured ? As long as I do not pick up. The one thing I totally agree with AA/NA is that SOBRIETY ONLY… is a one day at a time proposition.

      Good luck with your journey, Dick !
      Scott, (Not Anonymous), Suter

      • Sober Lawyer

         Scott, interesting stuff as usual. I agree that alcohol is but the symptom for underlying issues for most alcoholics.

        I know exactly why I drank: to deal with the unbelievable stress of being a trial lawyer and the anxiety it provoked, because of financial instability, because I hated my job at the time, because my wife and I had to deal with infertility. But I also drank to celebrate success and to have fun. The problem was that after the 3rd drink or so, what happened next was totally unpredictable.  I could pack it in for the night and go home, or stay out all night, even if I had a busy day the next day.

        Through psycho-therapy, I realized this quite some time before I sank into drinking. I went to one of the best CBT therapists in the country, yet for a long time I didn’t think I had a drinking problem. An anxiety problem, for sure. It took a while for me to accept my disease.

        Some alcoholics are more “sick” than others. A lot suffer from real mental illness which makes their recovery more difficult. A lot of them don’t have access to high quality mental health treatment which is shameful.

        We all have the power to stop drinking. To exercise that power takes a lot of strength and determination to change. We can all agree with that.

        • Scott Suter

          Power is what stopping is about, Dick ! Thanks for your insight and understanding !

      • Chris O’Connell

        You celebrate the open mind, and yet you applaud Laura Tompkins in her abject decimation of any- and everyone’s choice to try to work the 12 steps. She not only argues that the program is idiotic, she insists that the people who practice the principles to the best of their ability are idiotic.

        You can’t have it both ways, Scott. Either you endorse the open mind as a fertile new field to sow fresh ideas and behaviors, or you endorse Laura Tompkins, who is a hack “therapist” with an ax to grind and a vulgar manner of displaying her ignorance and her contempt.

        • Twolf1920

          Chris, this woman is plain TOXIC. I tried very hard to be civil with her, but that’s just not her agenda. Once you realize her agenda is to undermine 12 step recovery, and harass anyone on it it’s path, path, it’s easy to see that engaging is a mistake. She’s NOT interested in … Anything that resembles a healthy dialogue, unless you ascribe to anti 12 step rhetoric. Let her kill her own victims. I’m not helping her.

  • Tom

    Dick stay strong. Don’t listen to these fantastic drop outs, they’ll be back when they relapse, or as mr surfer says .. Make a choice to go back out.. I agree with you completely stay strong stay positive and keep up the good work.. There’s a reason bill w and the Oxford group are still talked about .. Miss cougar sorry miss Tompkins will be a by gone by next year her slander and misinformation will soon be forgotten. Not to mention she makes a living off of people in misery exploiting recovery just like all theses addiction counselors how many of them are spiritually for enough to accept gods will and give someone else a chance for free!! Expecting g nothing in return.. None of them. They thrive on addicts and alcoholics with money bet you a million bucks they have not seen the reality of this disease.. It’s about life or death dick. Stay alive go to meetings work th steps and remember our common welfare depends upon AA unity.

    For all you people saying AA is negatively based .. How much does your greedy certified addiction specialist charge?

    • Sober Lawyer

       Tom, good stuff. Thanks for joining the discussion. You should post those comments on the HuffPost article!

      For me, I could see myself falling prey to this “Moderation Management” nonsense and figure out a way to start drinking again.

      • Tom

        No worries ms Tompkins has been reported to the board of CAS , if this is the advice she gives and gives it openly after looking at policy it is grounds for her license to be revoked!! Moderation.. Can kill a person that cannot stop.. Not to mention she has also publicly given this advice and promoted it . What if that next moderate drink kills somebody as an addiction counselor she should know better, encouraging individuals to try moderation what if she tells a heroin addict or a cocaine addict to just moderate .. The results would be catastrophic I wish her luck as a writer because from what I hear her career as a specialist is about to end.

        • Counselorchick

          Thanks for the great laugh. Thank you also for the extreme example of stepper indoctrination.

          Not only is moderation possible, about half of all those with substance abuse problems are most certainly successfully moderating alcohol. Again, thank you for the example of stepper brainwashing. You can’t moderate, that much is clear … But then you cannot even seem to moderate your anger soooo …. There’s that.

          • DAM123

            Anyone wishing to see Ms. Tompkins’s attempts to moderate her own anger should check out her posts on (Counselorchick). If you are considering using this woman as a counselor, I strongly urge you to do so prior to engaging her. If nothing else, it is good for a laugh.

          • Counselorchick

            Please do! My stalker Troll DAM is helping spread the truth … A truth that will live far longer than his/her condescending rantings. Thank you!

          • DAM123

            I love it when you prove my point for me. I am only giving readers information. They can make their own decisions after careful review. Personally, I would never visit a counselor with obvious anger issues, but others might. Good luck.

        • Tom

          It’s the two-hatters pushing AA who need to have their licenses revoked immediately. That any state licensed social worker is ‘suggesting’ (repeatedly and using coercive tactics) people join a religious cult is horrific and criminal.

  • Tom

    I wonder if an addiction counselor will pick up the phone at 3 am when someone’s about to kill themselves with a drink or drug. I wonder if a CAS does 12 step work? Drive miles away to help people probably not unless the have insurance and money to pay the destination charge AA is the key to a better way of life fact .. Lol and mr surfer how was it out there ? Becoming an addict ? Did you forget the pain or was it just so much fun you chose to drink and drug again I mean 20 years sober and you chose to go back out give me a break.. Sounds like someone is in denial of powerlessness and are you ready for this .. We didn’t do anything .. God did it. God keeps us sober, 20 years sober and you only worked the steps 3 times keep trying try again.. Work them daily and if you failed maybe you were not rigorously honest with yourself god and another human being . Also I have not heard anything about the traditions, the 12 traditions are waaaaaay more important than the steps..

    • Sober Lawyer

       T0m, great comment about how a sponsor will help in a crisis, although therapists are supposed to be on call 24/7.

      • Counselorchick

        Yes we are and yes I am. And before your stepper brains go there – at no cost to client. Wake up. Get on with your lives!

  • Monica Richardson

    Im sorry to say that much of what she said I found very true. It was so refreshing to see the truth in print. Yes you do have to say your an alcoholic. If you dont, they lean in and say smugly “what’s your name & disease? Over and over again with much bully energy as possible. 

    After over 3 decades I had to leave last year because of all the sexual predators lurking and hitting on young newcomers. It is just disgusting what is going on in AA. NY Headquarters needs to step up and take responsibility for its members? Are you aware that 3rd Level sex offenders and violent criminals are being sentenced to AA as part of a plea bargain.

    Do you have teen age daughters? Would you drop them off at an AA meeting in West LA? 
    I know women who were raped by men in AA.

    I know a Board Member from AA who admitted to this and child molestation by older members.

    Google AA, sexual predators etc and up the real stories will come. Great you found sobriety. After 36 years I was sick and tired of the stupid literature that is made up crap by Bill W. IM glad I saw AA finally for what it is.  

    • Sober Lawyer

       Monica, it’s too bad a few bad apples can ruin it for everyone.

      In my home state, I have never witnessed any type of sexual predator behavior, not to say it does not go on. I don’t know.

      Again, in my area, you don’t have to announce yourself as anything. First name is fine.

      I wouldn’t drop my daughter off anywhere in LA. That city is the cesspool of America as far as I’m concerned. :)

      • Jesse Albert

        What is a board member from AA? There’s no such thing btw.

        • massive

          There are 13 alcoholic board members and 9 non alcoholic trustees. AA is a 501c3 and it has three corps. AA World Services, Inc., The General Service Board of AA, Inc. and The Grapevine. They take in over 12 mill every year or more.
          I can guide you to a link where you can see their tax return. Ever 501c3 has to show this. Every non profit has a Board of Directors. I have alist of who they are..I think you can find them online.

      • massive

        I’m massive on the board…not Monica….if I wanted to be called monica I would do that right…but as you can see I don’t …. Sober lawyer or shall I call you Susan? I also do not know you so stop calling me Monica so you can act like you do know. Just because you never witnessed it doesn’t mean its not rampant. I loved the Catholic Church, and was raised in it . I never knew any alter boy to be molested. Does that mean the Catholic Church doesn’t have a problem with pedophilia and sexual assault with minor. The scandal hit with them and AA is not above the law and AA needs to address sexual predation at all levels. In every city where I have attended meetings they are always pushing now to label yourself. For those reading here you can goggle The 13th Step the film and see the many trailers we have made over the past year while we have been making this film . You can also listen to my blog talk radio called Safe Recovery where I expose AA for the horses**t it is. The truth is coming out and insurance companies are not going to be paying for crappy AA 30 day treatment that are merely AA meetings where woman can meet up with violent offenders and get murdered by them.

    • DAM123

      “I know women who were raped by men in AA.” I know a woman who was raped by a shoe salesman. Does that mean we should all walk around barefoot?
      Thank you for the great article. Finally a voice of reason on the subject who doesn’t need to insult to get his point across.

      • ma

        They should be forced to create safety policies and new laws stopping the court ordering. Secondly, AA needs to be outed for what it is today. A toxic dangerous cult that uses the blanket of anonymity to hide their sexual predatory problem. There are also many other problems I have with AA.

      • massive

        Shoe sales men would never tell you that you are powerless and that your best thinking got you here and hold hands with you saying the Lords prayer on your first meeting. You would dal so know this mans first an last name and that he is a shoe salesman and not a court ordered sex offenders, rapist or violent offender. There is no where on earth where people show up so vulnerable expecting safe, nice , help from strangers, and have no idea who they are sitting next to. AA is also filled with mentally ill people not on much needed medication that disrupt meetings all the time and no one is in charge to handle these nuts and Courts are sending young teens there for a first time DUI offense. AA is worse then prison. If you did the Sh**t they do in AA, you would get your ass kicked, beat up, raped or killed for the stuff pulled in AA.

    • Chris O’Connell

      massive, if you spent over 30 years in AA and suddenly “had to leave last year because of all the sexual predators lurking and hitting on young newcomers,” why didn’t you stay and take matters into your own hands and FIX THE SITUATION? Each group is autonomous; you would have had every right to kick some young testosterone ass. Yet you whine, “It is just disgusting what is going on in AA.” You sound like a chain-smoking dominoes player at the rest home (“Those damn kids!” “Get OFF MY LAWN!”) People needed your help and you chose to just leave them in the lurch because you were disconnected from their vulnerability, even though you could evidently clearly see it. How is that helpful? How is that compassionate? How is that fierce and fearless?

      • massive

        Chris- Sorry smoke head , But I did…we did …try to change it from the inside with Make AA Safer Workshops that I ….me …..started and put on. We…..I……wrote literature and my group approved it and we went to every level in Los Angeles every District, Area, and were shout down, but we kept at it. I created stop13stepinaa blog that people all over the world contact me for help or just someone to tell their story to who will not say to them….Oh”whats your part in it” like the creepy AA women say. We…I …wrote long letters to NY World Headquarters, ….I called them many times….I have created many other forms of pamphlets that I give away free… those who want them……You and your stupid language calling me names is so indicative of how you steppers think you are superior and you are not superior to anyone for having “time” …..AA in NY knows what is going on and voted to do NOTHING! They are a 501c3 and they are liable for neglect. The Spanish speaking community loved my pamphlets and made them into Posters and translated them quickly and is still using them. IN West LA they tore them off the walls and we were told to SHUT up and sit down in The West side AA Santa Monica monthly meetings. No lawyer is powerless. AA is filled with lies. You can listen to me tear up the BB and get a good laugh. or find me on Leaving AA website. My story and my work has been documented in a NY Times Best seller by Gabrielle Glaser Her Best Kept Secret. or not. I encourage you to investigate before you make fun of me the dangers and crimes that are occurring in AA right now. Even the nasty bullying that is going on to old-timer successful men, because like you, they think they can talk down to other members because ether have some more “time”. Who gives a hoot….it means nothing if your a …

        • Chris O’Connell

          “smoke head”??
          I see you’re plenty humble, too.
          If “no lawyer is powerless”, and AA is liable for “neglect”, and you are absolutely incensed to the very core of your being … why are you not suing?
          I’m not saying you had a part in anything, like the “creepy AA women” say. I’m saying you might not have abandoned your efforts, which you did not even make clear in your post, so who’s to know if you don’t enumerate?
          Printing and distributing literature is not exactly taking a predator down to the mat.

          • massive

            Yea smoke head called me this… Yet you whine, “It is just disgusting what is going on in AA.” You sound like a chain-smoking dominoes player at the rest home. So much for your serenity sam attitude that you learned in your lovely AA program. You are so typical …

          • Chris O’Connell

            Yes, I suppose you’re right, as always, massive. I could really learn a thing or three from observing and emulating your tolerance and good will.

            I wish you could see how transparent you are. What a pathetic waste to spend one’s life disparaging a person or event or program that simply didn’t work for you. You have elevated resentment to a fine art. Congratulations on spinning your wheels trying to “fix” all the wrong things.

          • massive

            Your the one saying “I’m always right” not me. Calling me “pathetic” telling me how I am wasting my life. You don’t know me at all and yet you are an arrogant stepper, thinking you know it all. Boy do you guys show your true colors quickly. Blah blah blah….good bye….wierd one.

          • Chris O’Connell

            I only know you from how you present your case here. If my impression is faulty, perhaps it’s because the source of information is faulty or, at best, incomplete. Do you actually think everyone who disagrees with you on the supposed invalidity of the 12-step program is a “stepper”? That narrow conclusion certainly disregards the opinions of those who are not in AA.

          • massive

            I would like to agree that we disagree. No I know people who are not in AA defend it like a jealous lover and are incensed that ” how dare I criticize this institution that has helped so many” . Well like Lance Dodes says in his new book “The Sober Truth”. AA actually doesn’t help and hurts more then it helps. But no one keeps the stats on that.

            One more thing, I recently went to PRAASA an AA General Service event in San Diego and form the podium an AA trustee said ” that AA women are being raped at an alarming rate by AA men and this must be addressed” . She was a Pacific Regional Trustee for 4 years. She loves AA still and she is furious about it. There were about 500 pp in the ballroom .

          • Chris O’Connell

            I think there’s much to be said, openly, about the anonymity factor within AA and how it shields predators. I never saw predators in meetings, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there or that they aren’t there now. It is also true that most women who enter AA do so in such a vulnerable state that it is easy for them to mistake someone’s lust for caring. I am a no-strikes-you’re-out advocate for women in this situation: if any man in any meeting makes sexual overtures to any woman under the pretense of just “carrying the message” he should be tossed. The same goes for gay attendees. This means monitoring. This means teams of people willing to observe behaviors and eject the inappropriate. This means men should likely be involved in those teams. This also invites the retribution of those who are busted and thrown out; it is not unheard of that a drunk carries a gun into meetings. It also means that that meeting, or that chapter, becomes a rogue chapter and suffers whatever consequences it must suffer from the General Service or whoever seems to think s/he is in charge. Nothing is free, everything has some price.

            This issue is separate from the dogma you eschew. I believe they are separate discussions, so I won’t try to address that here; but let me just say this: I understand your passion about protecting women who are susceptible to physical and/or emotional harm as they are trying to find their way back to selfhood. They may or may not find answers to their questions within AA. I simply don’t believe they should be chastised for bringing their questions, or their longing for equanimity, into AA. For anyone, including that despicable “counselorchick”, to mock these people for making an effort to recover within the structure of AA is just an amateur cheap shot. I don’t disagree that the structure of AA is in places quite decayed and archaic. I don’t disagree that AA is not for everyone. I don’t disagree that AA should reconsider its foundational dogma so that guilt and shame are not the principle tools with which they assist in people’s recovery. I don’t disagree that AA has changed so dramatically within the last 30 or 40 years that the only thing recognizable about it is the fact that the Steps and the Traditions are hanging on the walls of the meeting places. Interpretation of the program, in all its “cultish” affectations, is very disturbing to me. But I do disagree with you in that I believe that those who are searching for wellness ought to be shown the ENTIRE MENU of possibilities, and AA happens to be on that menu. Because someone chooses that as a starting place or an ending place or any place in between is not license for any other human being to bring on the hate. If you advocate for women, it is your responsibility to advocate for options, for choice, for the free will of each woman to decide FOR HERSELF how to pursue wellness. There simply isn’t room for judgment. There is room for sharing experience, strength and hope insofar as it does not denigrate the other person in any way. But there’s no room for contempt. Contempt will set you and any other AA-hater back; it will not further your efforts to bring peace and recovery to those who need it.

          • massive

            There simply isn’t room for judgment.

            Sure there is. We get to make Judgement whether we think something is helpful or not.

          • Chris O’Connell

            Judgment invites judgment, vitriol invites vitriol. Do you want to continue to be part of the problem?

            You say, ” AA actually doesn’t help and hurts more then it helps. But no one keeps the stats on that.” Do you fail to see and understand the contradiction? That makes Lance Dodes’ declaration nothing more than another opinion. Neither he nor you says what that opinion is based on.

          • massive

            Do you want to continue to be part of the problem?

            Im not a child..who do yo think you are talking to ? I’m a grown successful woman, mother and wife and you are clearly showing the colors again of a CONTROLLING, arrogant ,condescending tone…Do you see that. I have the RIGHT to Judge…that’s what we are taught, to learn to make good judgements, being judgmental is another thing…

            Lance Dodes new book “The Sober Truth” available in book stores as of yesterday. He is using science and real research to prove that if AA only helps 5- 10 % of those that go …that means there is a 90 % of people that it doesn’t work work and or harms as well. But no one looks at those numbers or interviews that huge number of people. If AA works for you …great..but the other 90 % that it doesn’t work for have a right to get Good Sane scientific treatment for their drinking problem.

          • Chris O’Connell

            judgment: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

            judgmental: having or displaying an excessively critical point of view

            As a “grown successful woman, mother and wife”, you must certainly be able to discern the difference in the two. If you were taught that you have a “right to judge”, as in you have a “right to be excessively critical of others” or you have a “right” to be carping, arrogantly faultfinding, hypercritical, or rejective based on bias or myopia or bigotry, then you were taught wrongly at great cost to your fellow human beings.

            AA has been copping to the low numbers since at least the early 1980s. I was there. I was told that out of every 1,000 people, 100 are alcoholics. Of those, three are the skid-row variety and 97 are the working-stiff variety. Three to four go to AA; two to three remain sober. This was over 30 years ago. Your precious Mr. Dodes has not found the holy grail or the brand new, revealing numbers or the hidden truth of the matter. He’s just another huckster with another book making more promises. In fact, he’s actually no different than Bill Wilson, is he?

            You’re giving a fine pitch for this product. What’s your cut?

          • massive

            You’re giving a fine pitch for this product. What’s your cut?

            You are ridiculous.

            Lance Dodes went to School, became a psychiatrist worked at Harvard for 30 years as a Dr. A bit more then the loser Bill W who was supported by his wife Lois for years because he was such a loser, also a womanizer and a scammer…selling stock for a company that didn’t exist. Lance Dodes vs Bill Wilson….are you kidding. I have just been introduced to him. He is a real scientist. Thats it . I have no cut. You are really weird. with your sharp tongue and critical judgmental persona. I have enough of you. and your ridiculous comments. Good day.

          • Chris O’Connell

            Dodes and Wilson: hucksters. And really, Wilson was quite the visionary when you put him up against any of today’s Wall Street operators. Now Dodes – did he work AT Harvard AS A DOCTOR? Or as a professor?

            “Ridiculous comments”?? We all need to question what we hear, even from people who are supposed to know what they’re talking about, until we have independent scientific review from scientists besides those invested in their own views. By the way, can you explain the difference between a “real scientist” and a “fake scientist”? Thanks.

          • Twolf1920

            And yet none of these “real scientists” have found a cure for alcoholism, drug addiction to date, have they?

          • mikeg

            Do you know why no one has found a “cure” for alcoholism? Because it’s not a disease. I’ve been sober for quite a long time now using the principles of Rational Recovery. I was an out of control drunk for 30 yrs. and AA’s “powerlessness” kept me that way. Here’s some “rigorous honesty” for ya: I finally admitted that every single time I ever took a drink it was a conscious, deliberate, purposeful act. I got pleasure out of getting drunk. Once the consequences outweighed the reward I took responsibility and action to simply say, “No more!” As long as I had believed AA’s line about “Never say never” and “One day at a time” I was leaving the door open to my so-called “powerlessness” and drank again! I stood that on it’s ear and said, “I will NEVER drink again and I will NEVER change my mind!” I haven’t since. No meetings, no nonsensical “Steps”, and no “sponsor” (Thank you, but at 65 years of age I don’t need adult supervision.) ANYONE can be completely recovered any time they say so! (And yes, I know AA’s lines about, “Well you were never a REAL alcoholic, You’re in “denial” etc., baloney)
            Speaking of denial…the phenomenon of denial has never once been reported or observed outside of 12 Step environments or the “treatment” industry, AA’s business arm.

      • mikeg

        Check out Appendix iii in the “Big Book”. “The Medical Viewpoint”. There is not a single medical statement in there and yet 77 yrs. later they’re still blowing their horn about it.

    • jeebus reavis

      Come on. Those are rare examples of extreme behavior and are not the norm for any AA meeting. Where would you rather drop off your daughters? At an AA meeting, or a nightclub on Sunset? Far more predation happens in the real world than in AA.

      • massive

        Why not watch the film The 13th Step, on VIMEO now. You can rent it for 3.99. I still hear from victims. ALL OVER THE WORLD> and YES it is the norm in AA and NA. I have friends who are clean or sober for 30 40 years who told me worse stories then are even in the film.


        • jeebus reavis

          I’ve seen the movie. It was a collection of anecdotal stories, which are:
          A. Rare for AA.
          B. Common for the real world.
          C. Prevalent in Bars.
          The idea that people are at their most vulnerable when they come to AA is nonsense. They are at their most vulnerable at 4am, sitting at the end of a bar wasted.

          AA is not to blame for these attacks. If anything, blame the court system that sentences these people.

          • massive

            WOW- what a strange thing to say. This story along with the abuses that are going on in SOBER LIVING like the 20/20 episode with a REHAB Mogul, are the tip of the ice berg. It will be worse then the CATHOLIC CHURCH and worse and more women then Bill Cosby assaulted and drugged. People are just embarrassed to say they are in AA for starters, then say they were raped by a member. Then they get ostracized by the group. Happens all the time. I know of one who was just arrested. But what ever….you sound very hard core stepper. So, enjoy the cult. I’m glad I got out. I am free and so are millions of others who were forced to go there.

          • stingyfinger

            So, exactly how has Harvard University been taken over by Steppers? And can you outline why you believe AA has been taken over by the Mafia?

            Maybe explain why you can’t shut up about your hatred for AA and AA members, and why you believe others should care that you’ve gone so nuts about AA in the least bit? Your constant scrounging around for 3.99 is funnier than hell.

            I love it when your trolley goes completely off the rails.

            About time for yet another operation?

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  • Mike

    To deny that AA is negatively based is simply to ignore the reality of the program. It might give you a positive, fuzzy feeling, but the nuts and bolts are negative. You are powerless, only an outside power can restore your sanity, having one glass of champagne at your daughter’s wedding is indistinguishable from downing fifths of vodka for a month even if that’s the only drink you take in 5 years and you are basically doing it out of politeness and on and on and on.

    I am currently a “dry drunk,” which is to say that I haven’t had a drink in a couple of years. Because I am not holding hands and saying Our Father any more, the “live and let live” crowd deems me that, while proceeding to relapse far more severely than the general population at rates slightly lower than the general population and seeing results in terms of recovery actually slightly lower than the rest of the population. Statistically, the “miracle in these rooms” people love to talk about happen at the same rate outside those rooms as well. Although those “miracles” don’t count — they aren’t “sober” they’re “dry drunks” because “sobriety” only happens in AA. Keeping score that way is the only way AA can justify its existence.

    I think AA primarily exists to give people a place to go brag about how humble they’ve become.

    • Counselorchick

      Hang in there Mike. You are more of a miracle for getting out than you could ever be listening to all those psychologically damaging lies.

    • Chris O’Connell

      The public is keeping score, too, of ALL success rates, not just for AA but for Rational Recovery, Secular Recovery, Exposure Response Prevention, SMART Recovery, and various religious-based programs. So, too, are the insurance companies keeping score. So are the families of people who are dying from alcoholism, families who don’t know where to turn and are weighing their options in an effort to help save the lives of their loved ones. Obviously sobriety does not only happen in AA, and if you can show me where it says in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that the founders claimed sobriety could only be found in AA, I will donate my next paycheck to the recovery program of your choice. But to deny that sobriety DOES happen in AA is foolish. I got sober in AA and will celebrate 30 years of continuous sobriety in July of this year. I didn’t turn into a Christian zealot. I didn’t hit on defenseless newbies. I just concentrated on coming clean and on getting clean. It worked for me. AA haters despise anecdotal evidence, but my sobriety is a fact, and it took complete form and shape within the program of AA. If your gripe is about the language that has evolved within the program, then change it. A lot of today’s silliness in AA was not a part of my recovery process and does not resemble AA to me. But if it gets someone to quit drinking and to learn to live with some measure of peace and well-being, I can stand it. Why can’t you?

      • somethingelse

        because it is too often heralded as the only thing that works yet it fails more than 90%. and those who fail are shame blamed [not the inefficacy of the aa program] for not being honest and working hard enough when its scientifically known that dopamine receptors are reduced in chronic sub use and this physiological malfunction causes cravings that supersede healthy life drives. and bc aa is abnormal psychology that denies any justifiable anger and that feeling anger about any issue for any extended time is unhealthy. such that anger for finding out about lies 2 years after is considered unhealthy and that you should see the problem is invariably your fault. so yeah narcissistic psychopaths love it And toxic enablers who enable abuse with patronizing serene smiles that manipulate everyone to love them except the person who was abused – also love it. and that’s just a start. satan can be an aa member’s higher power. and members are told to take what they like and leave the rest aka shut up about anything other than aa causing a close minded fascist group thinking aa cult.that you can leave but aa has swallow all society’s recovery medical resources by authorizing rehabs to use the aa program for 30 billion a year all fed by 500 dollar head hunter recruitment fees dished out for supplying new members to aa rehabs. its unacceptable. but aa does not allow members to be unaccepting aa members must see that everything is gods will as he intended and not get upset or it is invariably their fault. and the feed back loop of insanity has begun.


    I’m happily sober over 27 years as a die hard atheist….I don’t believe magical people can do anything for anyone no matter what it’s about…..thinking a god can keep you sober is like playing Russian roulette the odds are against you …one day…..BAM!…you will eventually lose.

    • Counselorchick

      He has lost already. The 12 step cult religion has commandeered the term ‘sober.’ Sober simply means ‘not intoxicated.’ And if being ‘not intoxicated’ is the most important accomplishment of your life since god gives you a daily reprieve as long as you attend the 12 step cult meetings … You may want to play another game. The odds are most certainly not in your favor.
      This BAM character is stalking me. Proof of an individual in great need of a life. Happy Sunday all.


        Not to worry about me…..I agree with you and have started meetings where one understands drinking and drugging is NOT a disease, but an addiction…..besides anyone that thinks disease are cured by a belief in anything is missing the boat…only medical science can help with that.

  • Twolf1920

    You folks have No idea how deep the crazy this Laura Tompkins woman goes…. She attacked me personally on a friend’s Facebook page, and pukes so much vomit against anything 12 step related, I can only assume she had a bad dating experience from some dry drunk. I’ve never met anyone as manipulative, and narcissistic as a axis one. Debate is not an option. Her only goal is to a fight, and twist anything you say. My advice is to stay very far away from her. I’ve rarely heard anything that can kill someone who wants to recover as much as I have heard coming from her. She may as well hand newcomers loaded guns, and have them put them in their mouths from day one. It would save them the suffering.

    • jeebus reavis

      Yeah, she’s totally certifiable. She’s all over the recovery forums ripping AA and berating anyone who attends or supports AA.

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