Writing objectively about AA will always unleash a firestorm of outrage from the zealots who can’t tolerate even the smallest dose of reality.
That has, of course, been the case with Gabrielle Glaser’s book, Her Best Kept Secret, and the following e-mail is a sample of 12 Step cult’s irrational clamoring.
“As a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous I am outraged by your book. If you are not an alcoholic ( I suspect you are. Why else would you write a book about AA?) then how can you possibly understand the disease, and the only known cure The program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Clearly you have a problem with alcohol and are unwilling to accept your powerlessness over this. I empathize with you and those who have suffered because of your ignorance. This is a fatal disease that has killed many of my friends. I only hope that you get the much needed help you deserve. We the loyal members of AA will welcome you when you decide you want a better life.
A grateful member of AA”
Now let’s deconstruct a bit:
- You don’t need to be an alcoholic to write about AA any more than you need to be an arsonist to write about house fires;
- If only an alcoholic can understand the “disease” (which doesn’t even exist) then what’s that say about anyone, physicians, therapists, scientists, engineers, etc. – who research or treat anything? This is actually AA’s biggest myth and members “in recovery” are usually the least qualified to help since they themselves have failed to recover;
- AA is not the “only known cure” – it isn’t even in the top 30 approaches;
- No one is “powerless” over their misuse or over use of alcohol – if that were true then even AA wouldn’t work;
- The ignorance, and malice, of AA members has killed far more people than any book’s truth has;
- Ms. Glaser certainly doesn’t qualify as a problem drinker (yes, I am qualified to make that assessment) and would certainly know better than to go to the self-destructive embrace of AA if she did.
So what’s really going on here?
Once again a “true believer” is so outraged that someone has pointed out that the “Emperor’s New Clothes” are a sham and fraud, that they must hasten to kill, or at least defame, the messenger.
Happily, the times have changed a bit over the past few years and people are beginning to recognize, as the courts now do, that AA is nothing more than a weird religious cult with all of the trappings, myths, warped theology, and mindless members that can be found in any pseudo-science gathering.
Yes, AA works for a tiny percentage of those who stagger into it – but most of us have had the good sense to stagger right back out and get real help or figure it out for ourselves.
Too bad Ms. “Grateful Member” will never have either the insight, or the ability, to outgrow AA and get a real life to replace her alcohol fueled existence. But that, like drinking, is her choice – though inflicting that choice on others isn’t, and shouldn’t be, within her power.
Okay, I Quit – Now What?
We often note that giving up alcohol is relatively easy – giving up the associated behavior patterns is not.
Remember, we didn’t end up abusing alcohol because we’re dumb or diseased. we arrived at this point because it works, until it doesn’t.
Alcohol provides fast effective short term relief to anxiety, boredom, loneliness, hormone imbalance, the decline of aging bodies, physical pain, and a myriad of other conditions and situations.
What’s not to like about that – especially since it’s relatively cheap, legal, available, and socially acceptable.
But eventually the price – physically, mentally, emotionally, personally, professionally – become too high and we quit, or try too.
But with the alcohol gone we’re stuck with finding other, and real, solutions to whatever we’ve been medicating.
The bad news is that all of the solutions take effort before the benefits set in.
The good news is that the effort adds up to actually having a life, not just putting in time waiting to die. That is, after all, what drinking or endless meetings amounts to – avoiding life with all of it’s attendant ups and downs, joys and sorrows, until death frees you from everything.
So, what’s the answer to “Now What?”
It’s “doing stuff” as the wise man said to the seeker. As opposed to death, or alcohol, which is “not doing stuff.”
So, let’s find out which things are worth doing, to you, and how those activities, associations, and opportunities, can relieve the anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and so on in ways that enhance you life.
Let’s move alcohol abuse into the “been there, done that” category and leave it, and any focus on it, behind. For good.