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Daily Beast article offers incorrect assumptions about AA

November 28, 2014
by Rebecca Flood
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I feel called to respond to Gabrielle Glaser’s recent article, “Elizabeth Pena and the Truth about Alcoholic Women.” (Note: The article can be read in its entirety here, and I encourage you to comment or respond with your thoughts or input.) My response is centered on the references and implications the author makes around the 12 Step movement and the confusion among the 12 Step fellowships, formalized therapy, and treatment centers that are licensed/accredited, which are biased and incorrect.

In this article, Glaser combines treatment and the 12 Step movement as if they are interchangeable but they are not. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not a program. It is a fellowship. AA makes no demands, however; it does have a Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and a preamble.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it states that, “It invites and suggests a way of living for its members if they voluntarily choose to participate.” In Glaser’s article she stated that, “the program, developed in the 1930s, demands that its members abstain from drinking, cede their egos, and accept their ‘powerlessness’ over alcohol.” As I stated previously, this sentiment is false, as AA makes no demands. In the preamble of Alcoholics Anonymous it says that AA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problems and help others recover from alcoholism. In truth, the only requirement that AA has for membership is the desire to stop drinking. So for one to become a member of AA does not demand anything. If we look further into the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the 5th chapter of “How it Works,” it states: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power—that one is God. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

  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 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.”




You can set your watch by it; any time anyone writes anything that mentions AA in a questionable light, some apologist writes an essay in a public forum to discredit it and stick up for AA. The logical contortions required to rationalize AA are truly amazing.
Of course it's a paradoxical powerlessness; it should be obvious that "powerless" really means the opposite.
Can't we all just practice some honesty and acceptance and talk about AA in a frank and truthful manner?

Well said.

Why don't you let AA speak for itself, Ms. Flood?

Thanks so much to all for your differing thoughts, as they are always welcomed. I provided information from my perspective and 38 years of personal experience of attending meetings regularly around the world. I would never speak for AA, as I am not a representative of AA. I am only speaking from my perspective and what I have read, learned and participated in through the years. Thanks so much for your differing thoughts, as they are welcomed. When anyone anywhere has difficulty it saddens me. So I am empathetic to your concerns and hope that your thoughts influence improvements. Also, I believe there is no wrong way to get to the right place; there are many paths to recovery, and I respect them all. I wish anyone who chooses whatever path great success in their journey. AA isn't perfect; however, I believe we are always striving for progress. Treatment certainly isn't perfect either; however, I am hopeful that all state-licensed and nationally accredited programs have quality improvement processes that provide them ongoing feedback for continuous improvement. Again, thanks so much for your comments. I am happy to see this topic is eliciting thoughts and feedback.

Ms. Flood,

I followed the link under your profile (http://www.newdirectionsforwomen.org) to the New Directions for Women treatment center (the treatment center of which you are named as Executive Director/CEO in your article bio).

Under the “Treatment” page I found this: “Grounded in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, our detox and rehab model includes a multifaceted social approach to the treatment of chemical dependency.” (Retrieved from http://www.newdirectionsforwomen.org/treatment)

Don’t you think that in the interest of full disclosure you should have disclosed that the New Directions for Women treatment center utilizes the Twelve Steps and a twelve-step approach as a method for generating income by utilizing them as treatment?

AA has protected its brand and takes infringement of copyright seriously, but washes its hands of responsibility at the local level in regard to safety and security in meeting settings. Predators of both sexes abound and flourish in Twelve Step meetings due to the lax nature of group responsibility in meetings settings and group and organization hands-off policies about how meetings and attendee behavior are managed.

It is said about attendees at Twelve Step meetings that "well people don't come here." So, there is also personal culpability for those adults who willingly enter into relationships with the people that attend those meetings.

Thank you timmc58! Turning a blind eye is a mark of a cult member when their group is exposed. That's why Jim Jones had to brainwash his group to drink poison and lay down and die (even babies) after he moved them from the USA to Guyana. Perhaps AA could do the same ... move to a remote country where they can have their commune and leave those looking for real help with others looking for the same, rather than surrounding the vulnerable with the convicts, abusers and the gurus-wannabees of AA and making the justice system complicit in their dangerous deceit.

Gabrielle Glaser's work is based on years of research with empirical evidence of legitimate studies and untold hours of documentation based on journalistic integrity. Since she is not a member of a 12 step group, she does not make claims based on anecdotal 'because the big book says so' religious indoctrination. She is a journalist with integrity and not a head full of AA. This allows her a clear voice in the field that should be heeded far above the 'powerless-diseased' dogma of the 12 steps. Her dog in this race is truth rather than group-think rhetoric.

One (of many) glaring fallacies of logic in this daily beast article is in Rebecca Flood's own recitation of the AA tradition of 'anonymity in press, radio and film' as she breaks her own beloved tradition. This is one of many glaring contradictions in just this little piece denouncing Gabrielle Glaser's unbiased, well researched work with the immediate breaking of AA's 'anonymity' tradition. These contradictions exist with big book thumpers en masse while they claim anyone who has not been indoctrinated as false and/or somehow misinformed or uneducated. The exact opposite is true.

There are hundreds of articles like Flood's in opposition to anyone who reveals the truth of AA and they all make, almost word for word, the exact same pronouncements. Most of this article is quotes from the big book bible taken as gospel, which of course for AA disciples, is precisely that -- Gospel.

There are so many logical fallacies in this article, it is not worth my time to get into them right now and it is useless to argue with a fully indoctrinated AA devotee. For now, the claim that there are bad people everywhere as somehow an excuse for AA's decision to not even set a simple sexual/financial harassment policy (GSO and AAWS, being keenly aware of the rampant abuses have soundly decided to do nothing), is turning a blind eye on the high potential (and daily incidences of '13th stepping') for abuse. Mixed with the illegal mandating of convicts into AA, there is no excuse by comparison to any other place where unsavory people may hang out. That is an appalling example of blaming the victim and avoiding any institutional responsibility.

Yours is a great response that points out the glaring hypocrisy and illogical rhetoric in the article written by Ms. Flood.

Addiction Professional (with it's claim of "DRIVING CLINICAL EXCELLENCE") should be embarrassed to have published such drivel.

Soon all addiction 'professionals' are going to need to offer more than faith healing disguised as medicine. Also, their credentials should be questioned if all they have to offer is a dangerous cult religion rather than evidence-based help like CBT. Mindfullness, REBT, ANYTHING other than a cult religion.

These so-called 'professionals' are going to have to get some serious continuing education if they are going to continue to make their living in this field.

When steppers claim that anyone who alerts people to the dirty truth, are 'killing people' looking for help ... the EXACT opposite is true. AA has harmed more people than it has helped, whether disciples can wrap their brainwashed minds around that or not. The studies and statistics clearly show this. AA has no studies and claims this is because they are 'anonymous.' That is ridiculous, as evidenced by Flood's lack of 'anonymity' in this very article. Addiction Professional magazine should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this garbage.

Ms. Flood found this Daily Beast article, objected to it based on indoctrination and then just made the chant-claims (and copied and pasted passages from the big book bible), of her cult religion, she merely served to further prove that even a 'professional' is not immune to this cult dogma.

Just do not see the argument here. AA is not a professional organization. Does not compete with professionals or claim to be professional. Most members of AA will tell you " We are a bunch of drunks trying to help each other stay sober."
If it works for them, let it.
As a professional I try to convince clients of the need for continuing support in aftercare. A job, I think, AA does quite well. At no charge also, a pretty good selling point.

I think everyone agrees that long term recovery is difficult and any and all resources need to be used if appropriate. I recommend AA, NA, SOS , Church, or any support group that will allow the client to keep a focus on recovery.

I will always recommend AA as a excellent continuing aftercare service. To not do so would be depriving the client of a possible resource. Just remember to use AA as a resource, they are not the competition. Of course I do inform them that many people are just there because they have to be. Under court order, which means they probably have criminal backgrounds. They are anonymous but they do not have no rules about asking.

But really should we not be wondering about anyone we just meet these days. Whether it be in a church, supermarket, treatment group, or AA

These are all tired and dangerous dumfounding assumptions and brainwashing talking. Just in your first sentence you call yourself and everyone else in your cult a 'DRUNK.' Stop labeling people with nothing but negative affirmations. AA causes extreme cognitive dissonance. It's one thing to be a walking zombie for AA personally, it's an entirely different matter to "always recommend AA as a excellent aftercare service." In one breath you claim AA is not professional (no shit except it should be at the very least run by trained facilitators) and in the next breath contradict yourself by claiming AA is an "excellent aftercare resource."

AA is a dangerous cult religion disguised as medicine. THAT fact should dumbfound you but you're too brainwashed to fathom the truth. Of course, that's one powerful cult -- while members are made forever 'powerless.'

Run from this dangerous cult religion people! Run. Their claim that they are "spiritual not religious" is one of the many, many lies to get you to "keep coming back" so they can convince you that your *best* thinking got you to abuse yourself.


Rebecca Flood

President and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment


Rebecca Flood is president and CEO of Ashley Addiction Treatment. She previously served as CEO...

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