Weird Alcoholics Anonymous cult

AA is the only court-mandated cult in America; Alcoholics Anonymous survives because so many people are sent there after a DUI conviction and there are enough hangers-on to keep it going. However, there are odd subsets of AA - for example, there is a place somewhere in the American Northeast where generations of people have been going to AA meetings their whole lives! The anonymous author of this piece, "Tom", calls the place "Serenity Ridge"; it is a cult compound run by the possibly drunk "Tim T."


http://www.morerevealed.com/library/horror-stories/tom--my-aa-cult-experience.html

This was from Rebecca Fransway's 12 Step Horror Stories (2000), a collection of reminiscences by former members of 12-step groups. All the names have been made made anonymous to protect both the victims and the perpetrators.
 

Idle Morgue

Gold Meritorious Patron
I know people that have recovered from Alcohol and Drug abuse with the steps they learned in AA. AA groups are free. I don't see any AA message boards for disinfected, bitter and defrocked apostates! I googled AA lawsuits and did not see one legal battle. No one committed suicide due to AA groups. No one went broke reaching for Help at AA. The leader of AA - oh, wait a minute - there is NO COB for AA. Bill the guy that founded it remained anonymous and still has to this day. I had a friend went to AA and there was no "hip-hip-hurray for Bill". People can come in, there is NO REGGING, there is no waiting to get the service delivered because the person does the steps. They grant beingness to who God is to their own personal belief and most importantly, there are no Ideal AA buildings anywhere, the groups realizes it is "what happens in the building that matters, not the building". Finally, no one in any AA group has posted any abuse from anyone in AA. :lol:
 

La La Lou Lou

Crusader
A weird and funny report on a weird and funny, harmful, squirrel AA group.

AA has helped many many people, it does it for free and there's no religious agenda.

I know someone who runs meetings and he's not something from the Beverley Hill Billies.
 
My response to the critics: Not all cults look like Scientology, i.e. demanding your money and your time. Some just want your time, and AA is a perfect example of that. To the people who say AA is not religious: look at the 12 steps.


"These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:[10]

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
I stole the above from Wikipedia; notice the constant use of "God", "prayer" "Higher Power" - it's a form of religion. A religion that only has a five percent sucess rate.

Below is a link to Penn & Teller's show on 12 step programs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU2YliYttnQ

And here is the "Orange Papers" website:

http://www.orange-papers.org
 

Infinite

Troublesome Internet Fringe Dweller
My response to the critics: Not all cults look like Scientology, i.e. demanding your money and your time. Some just want your time, and AA is a perfect example of that. To the people who say AA is not religious: look at the 12 steps.


"These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:[10]

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
I stole the above from Wikipedia; notice the constant use of "God", "prayer" "Higher Power" - it's a form of religion. A religion that only has a five percent sucess rate.

Below is a link to Penn & Teller's show on 12 step programs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU2YliYttnQ

And here is the "Orange Papers" website:

http://www.orange-papers.org


No UFOs, then?
 

Smurf

Gold Meritorious SP
I've read that AA is a cult. The term "cult" is a word that gets thrown around alot, in regards to it's meaning, that everyone has to judge an organization on their own merits & observations, and not everyone is going to agree with one another.

A self-proclaimed anarchist named Charles (Chaz) Bufe wrote a book on AA, implying that it is a cult.

http://www.morerevealed.com/library/coc/

http://www.amazon.com/Alcoholics-Cult-Cure-Charles-Bufe/dp/1884365124/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

"All cults have this in common: they reject and label as untouchables any who do not embrace their particular version of "Truth." To died-in-the-wool communists, non-believers are "bootlickers of the capitalists," or "counter-revolutionary hooligans." To the born again fundamentalist Christian, non-believers are "agents of Satan." To Moslems, Christians are "devils," and to Nazis, Jews are "swine."

To the Alcoholics Anonymous membership, anyone who stops drinking without chanting the mantras of cult founder Bill W. are "dry drunks," pure and simple. You don't even need to know anything more about the self-quitters -- the fact that they quit drinking without A.A. makes them dry drunks, a priori."

Don't get me wrong. I do not advocate suppressing A.A. or any other cult. I simply want you to know, in case you are a problem drinker and are toying around with the idea of quitting, that it's O.K. to develop your own solution to your own problem. The last thing you need when you undertake a major, radical transformation in your life is to be accused by a bunch of self-righteous fanatics of being "a dry drunk," whatever the hell that is.

http://www.moonmac.com/Cult_Called_AA.html

[video=youtube;yRnMSXYcpRg]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRnMSXYcpRg[/video]
 
G

Gottabrain

Guest
I've read that AA is a cult. The term "cult" is a word that gets thrown around alot, in regards to it's meaning, that everyone has to judge an organization on their own merits & observations, and not everyone is going to agree with one another."All cults have this in common: they reject and label as untouchables any who do not embrace their particular version of "Truth." To died-in-the-wool communists, non-believers are "bootlickers of the capitalists," or "counter-revolutionary hooligans." To the born again fundamentalist Christian, non-believers are "agents of Satan." To Moslems, Christians are "devils," and to Nazis, Jews are "swine."

To the Alcoholics Anonymous membership, anyone who stops drinking without chanting the mantras of cult founder Bill W. are "dry drunks," pure and simple.

IMO, AA is definitely cult-Y, but not a cult. Most of the AA groups are extremely useful to get an Alcoholic off the drink. Between you and La La Lou Lou, you pretty much summed up the picture as I see it, anyway.

I've seen some AA groups are definitely better than others. I took an acquaintance around to about ten of them in the area and they got him off the drink just fine, but a couple of the meetings were definitely weird. One tried to limit membership if they didn't think a person "fits in", which is extra weird since AA says the only requirement is that a person be an alcoholic who wants to recover. At another meeting, the person running it thought it was a good idea to get a newbie psychologically crushed before he/she could improve - they let the other AA members openly criticize the newbies and they were rough about it, too. Awful place.

The best ones are big, friendly and allow a person to come and go without too much pressure. The AA groups are at all ends of the scale. Best to shop around for an AA group that's comfortable. They all have good intentions, but some of the people running them put some unsavory spins on the AA thing.
 
I agree with the people who say that AA is not as cultish as Scientology, but it wastes your time like most of the cults I've heard of. I'm not pro-addiction - if people have problems they need to seek help and there are loads of non 12-step groups or drug regimens to get them off the junk or the booze.
 

anon007

Patron
IMO, AA is definitely cult-Y, but not a cult

I think that is right.

Cult-like aspects (based on my own personal experience):

1. They have their own language--all those sayings and phrases, which get repeated so much you can feel like it's a cult.
2. An "us vs. them" mentality--"them" being non-alcoholics and people who criticize AA.
3. The "Big Book" is treated like a bible. There is a certain infallibilty associated with it.

Why it's not a cult:
1. They don't suck you dry financially or even attempt to do this.
2. It's the easiest thing in the world to leave--nobody is going to harass you to come back.



This is what I remember off the top of my head. A google search would reveal more arguments, as well as the videos posted above. In the Penn & Teller video, the guy's reaction at 17:38 says it all. That look of closing off someone who is arguing against your sacred beliefs--"us vs. them" indeed.
 
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I think that is right.

Why it's not a cult:
1. They don't suck you dry financially or even attempt to do this.
2. It's the easiest thing in the world to leave--nobody is going to harass you to come back.



This is what I remember off the top of my head. A google search would reveal more arguments, as well as the videos posted above. In the Penn & Teller video, the guy's reaction at 17:38 says it all. That look of closing off someone who is arguing against your sacred beliefs--"us vs. them" indeed.

My response: there are cults that don't take your money, only your time. Groups like Soka Gakkai (a Nichiren Buddhist offshoot), the Hari Krishnas (Hindu offshoot), LaRouche Youth Movement (political, crypto-fascist) and others are not about squeezing money from people; they just steal time and free labor. This is why you see LaRouche kids on college campuses trying to convert people, the Hari Krishnas hawking their newspaper, or Soka Gakkai members mass chanting for world peace.

On your second point on leaving AA, you forget that nearly every member has a Sponsor. The Sponsor's job is to keep the member going back. Obviously there are court-ordered members that lack Sponsors; mostly they walk away as soon as they have fulfilled their court order. However, there are survivors of that, and the other new members who joined on their own and trying to "work the steps." The sponsors are the taskmasters and some people are stuck because of them, or spouses and relatives that demand that the AA member stay in AA on pain of divorce or disconnection. You also get sleazy elements like older members sexually forcing themselves on younger members and sponsors that treat new members like maids or chauffeurs. Many people have had to move to new towns to get away from their sponsors and the groups.

In conclusion, the for-profit model of cults is the most common, but there are a number of smaller cults that only demand time and/or free labor. AA is one of those cults.
 

Michele_B

Patron
Sorry guys. I need to cut in here. AA has been an enormous help to me, as a matter of fact, it changed my life. I don't really see how AA and the support group there is really any different than what ESMB is doing by trying to get people out of Scientology and prevent people from getting involved. Often, somebody will not even accept help from anyone who doesn't understand their situation. It is very unlikely that I would have stayed sober if I had gone to a substance abuse counselor. The fact that I could talk to other recovering alcoholics who understand the way I think, the irrational craving for alcohol, and this general state of selfishness and apathy without a doubt saved my life. I do not agree that AA is a cult. I think that the old timers who have been sober longer than drunk that "know it all" are simply in the group for the sole purpose of gaining attention and feeling important. One of the sayings in AA is "Look for the similarities and not the differences." If I got criticism or "advice" from a giant ego, I didn't take it because I wasn't sensing any similarities. The book says that the steps are merely suggestions. No where does it say that AA and the 12 steps are the ONLY answer, unlike Scientology which shoves KSW down the throats of its members over and over. The 12 steps are a blueprint for just being a functioning person. First you take responsibility and realize that you cannot control your problem, then it suggests to look to a higher power to help you, then it shows you that selfish actions hurt other people and to acknowlege the pain you caused to others and to make it right, then it encourages you to pay it forward. You guys get satisfaction from helping someone right? It is the same thing here. There is no requirement but the DESIRE to quit drinking. There are no dues or fees, and you don't need to route out or do anything to leave the group. Other members might call or stop by though just to make sure you are OK, not to monitor you. For the most part, AA is loving and helpful. Bill W and Dr. Bob realized that the support of each other helps. That's all.
 

mrjackshuman

New Member
A.A. is definitely a cult. I say this as a former A.A. It may not be as destructive as Scientology but it involves group-think and has many cult characteristics. Only the people who are in it say it's a cult. Ask the people still in Scientology what's wrong with it. Are they in agreement with the one's who have escaped?
 
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