UNBOUND

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episode 119

August 8, 2022

https://futuresrecoveryhealthcare.com/blog/god-in-twelve-step-programs/

https://www.npr.org/2014/03/23/291405829/with-sobering-science-doctor-debunks-12-step-recovery

https://oregontrailrecovery.com/blog/types-of-12-step-meetings/

https://alcohol.org/alcoholics-anonymous/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-addiction/201005/how-it-doesnt-work-the-dogma-the-12-steps

https://www.sperorecovery.org/12-step-program-as-an-atheist/

https://discoveryplace.info/why-the-12-steps-dont-work/

 

You know, I really think that it's time for AA and other groups like it to take their own advice and admit they have a problem. I'm Spider...

 

...and tonight we're going to take a look at 12-step programs, their effectiveness, and the disparity in their messaging about whether or not you have to believe in God for them to work. And just like everything else that this vile religion called Christianity touches, we're going to show how fraught with deception and double-speak they are when it comes to how they steer people's thoughts about god, themselves, and their abilities to overcome addiction. We're going to have a lot to say about that in just a few minutes, but first...

 

Two stories that have more triggers than a white evangelical's gun cabinet and a more encouraging story that will make you think, “Believe it or not, we are still in Kansas, Toto...” It's CBB: Suffer the Children Some More edition:

 

Trigger warning for child physical and sexual abuse by religious “leaders”

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/the-Mormon-churchs-help-line-keeps-sex-abuse-victims-in-danger/

https://apnews.com/article/Mormon-church-sexual-abuse-investigation-e0e39cf9aa4fbe0d8c1442033b894660

TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF CHILD ABUSE

In a story that will surprise precisely *no one*, AP has released a story about the inaction by leaders in the mormon church in response to a confession of abuse by a church member. Here's part of the story, by Hemant Mehta:

If you are a member of the Mormon Church and you have a problem, you’re supposed to talk to your local bishop. And if the bishop has questions about how to handle an issue—say an accusation of sexual abuse—he can call a special 24-hour “help line.”

 

If the social worker or counselor is told about the abuse, they are not told to report the matter to local authorities. Instead, if the issue appears to be serious, those staffers are told to call an attorney with the law firm Kirton McConkie, which represents the Mormon Church.

 

Now, leaders in the mormon church are generally not educated in counseling or religion so it does make sense to have something where the bishop can ask questions...but staffed by lawyers? Of course! We can't let our bishops give advice that might bring shame (or lawsuits) on the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints!

 

In 2018, the Mormon Church settled a lawsuit brought against them by multiple plaintiffs who said a man named Christopher Michael Jensen sexually abused their children while babysitting them… and that Church leaders knew about it but didn’t act. They didn’t alert law enforcement, either, even those in their state of West Virginia, clergy members are required to notify the authorities about possible child abuse.

 

Because Jensen’s actions went unreported, other Mormon families allowed him to babysit their kids before his eventual arrest in 2013. Jensen was eventually classified by a judge as a “violent sexual predator” and is now serving a prison sentence of 35-75 years.

 

In 2019, two mothers went to their local Mormon testimony meeting to warn the congregation that their leaders helped cover up a pedophile. They were drowned out by music, singing, and Church leaders.

These cover-ups, as it turns out, were aided by this “Help Line”. And the lawyers on the other end of that “help line” did....nothing.

 

The lawsuit currently under discussion in an Associated Press article by Michael Rezendes concerns:

a Mormon man named Paul Douglas Adams, who sexually assaulted his own daughters for years, video-recorded the assaults, and shared them online. Just horrible, disgusting stuff.

 

When Adams’ daughter MJ was 5, he admitted to his bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The bishop called the hotline. The confession remained a secret. “[The Church] said, ‘You absolutely can do nothing,’” [Bishop John] Herrod said in a recorded interview with law enforcement.

 

Adams continued raping MJ for another seven years. And then, when another daughter was born, he began assaulting her, too. She was only six weeks old when he started.

 

It was only after officials in New Zealand came across one of the videos depicting his sexual abuse, and informed law enforcement in the U.S. about it, that Adams was finally arrested in 2017. He took his own life before a trial could begin.

 

Three of Adams’ kids are now plaintiffs in that lawsuit which goes after the Church as well as the bishops involved in covering up what their father did. The bishops’ lawyer says those men should be off the hook.

 

“These bishops did nothing wrong. They didn’t violate the law, and therefore they can’t be held liable,” he said. [Attorney William] Maledon referred to the suit as “a money grab.”

Don’t blame the bishops, he’s saying. Blame the Church instead. Meanwhile, the Church is hiding behind religious and legal privilege. Arizona's mandated reporter law makes exceptions for clergy who feel that it's “reasonable and necessary” to withhold that information from authorities under church doctrine.

 

The “help line”, which, by the by, destroys it's records of the day's calls EVERY SINGLE DAY is a really good way to keep things under wraps. The bishop tells the abuse victim he's calling the “help line” and the victim thinks things are happening, when in reality, they can say “just do nothing. They'll eventually drop it.” After all, the only thing that really matters is that the Mormon church comes out looking squeaky clean.

 

There’s one bright spot in all this: The Adams children no longer live with their mother, who was eventually charged with child sex abuse and went to prison for 2.5 years. Three live with relatives. Three were taken in by other families. In the case of the infant who was abused, the Mormon family that took her in had no idea what she had been through until they sat in on Leizza Adams’s sentencing hearing and learned the details of what their new child had been through.

It was enough to make them leave the Mormon Church for good.

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/former-students-allege-violent-abuse-at-saskatoon-christian-school/

In ANOTHER story that will surprise precisely *no one*, former students of a Christian school have alleged violent and targeted abuse from staff members.

 

A Christian school in Saskatoon, Canada was a hub of physical and emotional abuse for several years, according to 18 former students. Several of them recently shared their stories with the CBC, arguing that, no matter what happens legally, the government needs to stop giving subsidies and tax breaks to the private religious school.

 

There’s Christina Hutchinson, who clammed up when asked to recite the school prayer, only to be subject to an exorcism by her teacher.

 

There’s Coy Nolin, who was subject to a “violent exorcism” to cast out his “gay demons.”

There’s Caitlin Erickson, who was accused of whispering in church and then paddled by two male staffers. (Paddling and other forms of corporal punishment were banned nationwide in 2004, but those methods allegedly continued at the school well after that.)

 

There’s Sean Kotelmach, who reacted to dull, boredom-inducing, self-directed lessons by talking back to the adults… and was punished with “solitary confinement.” Only 13 at the time, he was told to go to a tiny windowless room for the entire school day. That continued for two full weeks. It was only when he was older that he realized he struggled with dyslexia.

 

These are 4 of the 18 students that have filed complaints with law enforcement. The Saskatoon police have been investigating this matter for over a year, and now the prosecutors will decide whether to pursue further action.

 

The school is called Legacy Christian Academy and they used to promote a book called “The Child Training Seminar” that included 20 pages on how to discipline kids with spanking and paddling even if it was visibly abusive:

 

“Sometimes, spanking will leave marks on the child. If some liberal were to hear this, they’d immediately charge us with advocating child-beating,” states the handbook.

 

The school denies any wrongdoing and claims it’s a very different place than it was two decades ago… even though many of the staffers never left, and even though the former administrators still have jobs in the field (albeit at different schools), and even though the school has never apologized to the students much less acknowledged any disciplinary mistakes. The school also claims the pro-corporal punishment handbook is no longer used, but not putting something in writing doesn’t mean it’s no longer happening.

 

This school has received government funding for decades. The student-victims want the government to at least halt all funding until the investigation is complete. It’s not a huge ask. But a decision about charges may not be made until next spring.

 

Just one more way we can see that Christian schools simply cannot police themselves. Abuse runs rampant and nothing is ever done about it.

https://onlysky.media/onlyskymedia/stunning-kansas-vote-shows-how-badly-the-right-has-overplayed-its-hand/

https://ballotpedia.org/Kansas_2022_ballot_measures

 

And finally tonight, in a story that actually did kind of surprise me, over half the voters who came out in deep-red Kansas voted to keep an amendment out of the state constitution that would allow lawmakers to make abortion illegal.

 

This happened during the Republican primary election. It was a ballot initiative to add an amendment to the Kansas state constitution that would Amend the Kansas Constitution to state that there is no right to an abortion or public abortion funding. I'm sure the Republicans were counting on that initiative passing.

 

Turnout for this election was an astonishing 904,000—almost exactly half of the electorate, the highest primary election turnout in the state’s history—with 59% voting to preserve abortion rights.

Perhaps the most chilling result for Republicans nationwide is the utter disregard of party affiliation in the result. Only 26% of registered Kansas voters are Democrats, meaning Republicans were well-represented in the no vote as well. And across the state, “from the bluest counties to the reddest ones,” abortion rights outran support for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

 

This increase in voter turnout could be indicative of the tremendous uptick of women registering to vote after Roe vs. Wade was overturned. Seriously, the graph is in the Only Sky article. It's like a vertical line going straight up.

 

This is what voting does.

 

PATREON/PROMO

 

Next Week: This time, it's personal...

Two Weeks: Joe vs. the Volcano

 

Main segment

 

So, what are 12-step programs? It may seem like a silly question to some, but for the majority, it's little more than a thing we've heard referenced in various contexts, usually surrounding AA.

 

There are loads of 12 step programs all built on the same foundation established by AA. Here's a short list:

Substance Addictions

Al-Anon/Alateen – For friends and family of alcoholics

Cocaine Anonymous (CA) – For people with cocaine addiction

Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) – For people with methamphetamine addiction

Heroin Anonymous (HA) – For people with heroin addiction

Marijuana Anonymous (MA) – For people with marijuana addiction

Pills Anonymous (PA) – For people with prescription pill addiction

 

Behavioral Addictions

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) – For people with gambling addiction

Emotions Anonymous (EA) – For people with mental and emotional illness

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) – For people with food addiction

Sex and Love Anonymous (SLAA) – For people with sex addiction

Workaholics Anonymous (WA) – For people with work addiction

 

Other 12 Step Meetings

Celebrate Recovery – Faith based

Refuge Recovery – Faith based

Wellbriety – Native American

SMART – Self-empowered recovery

 

 

Most people are only familiar with a few of the steps that make up a 12 step program, so let's just run through them in order. These are how they progress and how they are described by AA, with my commentary about each:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

There are only two things that I'm powerless over: the forces of nature and death. Both will have their way regardless of anything I do to counter them. Anything else is manipulable, controllable and within our own power to change, either with help or on our own. If someone or something wants you to see yourself as powerless, it's because they want you to see yourself as something that can be controlled. They convince you that you have no control over your substance of choice and your drive to abuse it. Bullshit. You have the power to break free from it. “Well isn't that the point of AA? Breaking free from addiction?” Well, yes, but it's clearly at the cost of your own sense of accomplishment. YOU didn't earn your five-year coin. Your higher power, your sponsor, and the sober community held you back from the bottle for five years. You had no control over that. Your life was (and is) unmanageable, remember? And if you so much as take a sip of wine ever again in your entire life you'll be back on that downward spiral starting from square one... and step 1.

 

Bullshit.

 

The idea that addiction is a lifetime thing is little more than a notion perpetuated by people who benefit from you believing it. If you believe that you can never drink alcohol responsibly again, you're almost definitely going to be right. You will always need the intervention of your higher power to keep you away from the booze. But there are many, many, many people who have come out of alcoholism and can, and do, drink responsibly and not to excess. Why? Because they've likely made better decisions about the help they've sought, they've learned the actual root causes for their addiction in therapy, and have spent more time focusing on solving the problems that led to their substance abuse issues than on the substance abuse problems themselves and how fucking powerless they are over them without God.

 

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

 

You haven't lost your sanity if you get involved in substance abuse. The sad truth of the matter is that people very often do all kinds of drugs as a means of holding on to those fleeting pieces of themselves that they are losing to things like anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, and more. This is why you need more than an AA meeting. You need competent professional help removing substances from the sanity equation.

 

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

 

Again, so much for personal achievement. If you've turned yourself over to God, then it's God who gets and deserves the credit for you getting sober.

 

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

 

I think we could all use a little bit more of that...

 

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

 

Again, why would God need to be involved? The rest just sounds like therapy.

 

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

 

“I don't want my pain taken away....”

 

And, I'm sorry, but you don't simply remove defects of anything. You replace defective parts with functional ones. If my car's engine became defective, would I simply remove it or replace it? Depends on if I ever want the car to move forward again... this is why a lot of people fail in AA, I think. They're asked to give up parts of themselves and there is no plan to replace those broken parts with functional ones.

 

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

 

And what happens when we do this and don't instantly change and become better people with the wave of a magic wand? Why are people expected to constantly look down on themselves as part of this thing?

 

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

 

Also good advice for literally anyone. I don't know about a list, per se, but having the ability to recognize our wrongs is something more people need to work on.

 

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

 

I see nothing wrong with a little personal responsibility and ownership of one's actions and, I'll say it again: having “I'm sorry” as part of your relationship vocabulary is mandatory.

 

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

 

To who? Yourselves or sky daddy? Oh wait... same difference. Continuing...

 

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.

 

I'm sorry, where do Atheists fit in to this one, like, at all???

 

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.

 

And there it is. The final step involves a “spiritual awakening.” It's all come down to this. “Here's the spiritual truth I learned on my way here and why I'm always going to be tethered to my higher power forever and ever amen...”

 

Note with me, please that seven of the 12 steps involve the intervention and oversight of God as part of the process of getting and staying sober, and yet, lots of sources will try to tell you that you don't have to believe in God to participate in a 12-Step program. Bullshit. They're counting on you embracing their “higher power” doctrine. How can you say something isn't about God when just shy of 60 percent of it is predicated and dependent on his (as we understand him) involvement in the process.

 

In the course of my research, I kept seeing the same messaging being propagated over and over again: 12 step programs aren't predicated on belief in a deity. The problem is that most of these sources quickly backpedal and, at least in a subtle way, steer the conversation back around to God or the concept of an external “higher power.”

 

Here are just a couple examples:

 

“Many people mistakenly believe that to be in a 12-Step program, you must believe in a traditional view of God and religion. This isn’t true. In fact, in the very 12-Steps, the belief in a God of your own understanding is clearly stated.” - FuturesRecoveryHealthcare.com

 

Actually, no. What it says is a belief in God, not “a God” - GOD, as you understand him. That's the verbiage. Don't try to steer away from it. Don't try to give it a cushion and don't say in one sentence it's not true you have to believe in God for this and in the very next that people need to believe in God in whatever way they understand. Either God is a required part of the equation or “he” (to use their term) is not. I mean, which is it? It's not like I can't comprehend the words I'm reading... there is nothing there that leaves even a tiny bit of latitude for non-belief. Not the slightest bit.

 

Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that it's necessary to “[Make] a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God as we [understand] Him.”

 

As we understand... him. Got it.

 

Chapter four of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is purportedly aimed at atheists and agnostics, but is it?

 

The chapter is said to be “aimed to help the nonbeliever find a Higher Power so they can make the start at sobriety.”

 

So.... we're gonna help you believe in God. I mean, it says it. It says it quite clearly and succinctly. We're going to lead you to a higher power.

 

The book goes on to tell the story of how many of the original members of AA were agnostic or atheist, but that each one eventually had “a spiritual experience” that led to believing in a power greater than themselves.

 

So you can start out as an atheist, but to fully experience the twelve steps, you can't specifically stay an atheist. Noted.

 

“To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.” - Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, p. 44.

 

Here's the question: why are those the only alternatives?

 

 

“If you are living with addiction to alcohol or drugs it’s important to understand that just believing that there is something out there in the world greater than you is all you need to do to begin the 12-Step programs. In fact, you don’t have to believe in anything to simply go to 12-Step meetings which in itself can be life-changing.” - FuturesRecoveryHealthcare.com

 

OK... what if I don't believe in anything greater than myself? Because even the majority of options out there that are considered “secular” have one glowing, irreconcilable problem. Let's see how well you've been listening because I've pointed this out a lot in a lot of contexts so far. Here is one list of “higher power” alternatives I found:

The universe

Love

Scientific law

The 12-step group

Psychology

Consciousness

Community

 

Five out of seven of these things have the same thing in common: they all still acquiesce to something external. The other two are not “powers.” They are an emotion and the reason we experience things like emotion, respectively. Your consciousness isn't a higher power, it's just the reason why you have to be bothered by people pressuring you to have one.

 

So the only things that even remotely force you to look within yourself are things that are abstract and open to infinite interpretation. Everything else is an external so turning to it as a higher power is identical to turning to a deity. When you turn to the deity, you assign it power. When you turn to the universe, your 12-step group, and your little pocket of the sober community as your higher power, you've done the same thing. You've decided these things have power, so you acquiesce to them. The entire thing is designed to make you think and behave like a theist.

 

Remember: most of the atheist and agnostic early adopters of AA eventually had “spiritual experiences.” And guess what: you can have spiritual epiphanies whose origins are the universe, science, your AA sponsor, your cat, or the fucking Flying Spaghetti Monster and all of them are going to be equally valid because even if you're leaning on your perceived higher power, at the end of the day, those epiphanies came right out of your own pretty little head.

 

Now let's say I consciously and aggressively resist the whole notion of God as part of this. I refuse to appeal to a higher power. What then? Is there a place in a 12-step program for me? Well, no and for many of the reasons we've already mentioned.

 

Heres the thing: There are alcoholic atheists out there. There are atheist drug addicts out there. And the circumstances that brought them to those places are probably what made them atheists. Like I've said before, major traumas in life lead in one of two directions: away from religion or full speed ahead into it. It depends on the individual. But make no mistake about it: if you are an atheist, the goal of any 12-step program is to convert you. They don't specify Christianity, but the phrase “God, as you understand him” is literally everything I will ever need to know about what their agenda is. And I'll take it a step further: they'd rather convert you than help you overcome your addiction. Yes, it's just my opinion, but think about it:

 

What do you think the success rate is with AA? Ballpark figure. Forty percent? Thirty? Twenty? Well...

 

According to an article on NPR.org, Doctor Lance Dodes, an actual medical professional with 20 years' experience treating and studying addiction said this:

 

There is a large body of evidence now looking at AA success rate, and the success rate of AA is between 5 and 10 percent. Most people don't seem to know that because it's not widely publicized. ... There are some studies that have claimed to show scientifically that AA is useful. These studies are riddled with scientific errors and they say no more than what we knew to begin with, which is that AA has probably the worst success rate in all of medicine.

 

It's not only that AA has a 5 to 10 percent success rate; if it was successful and was neutral the rest of the time, we'd say OK. But it's harmful to the 90 percent who don't do well. And it's harmful for several important reasons. One of them is that everyone believes that AA is the right treatment. AA is never wrong, according to AA. If you fail in AA, it's you that's failed.

 

Well, shit, what does that sound like? Here's what I'm hearing:

 

“You didn't have enough faith.”

“You didn't utilize your higher power.”

“You were never really committed to it in the first place.”

 

You, you, you, you, you....

 

Dr. Dodes also makes another interesting observation and I can relate to this one big time:

 

The reason that the 5 to 10 percent do well in AA actually doesn't have to do with the 12 steps themselves; it has to do with the camaraderie. It's a supportive organization with people who are on the whole kind to you, and it gives you a structure. Some people can make a lot of use of that. And to its credit, AA describes itself as a brotherhood rather than a treatment.

 

So as you can imagine, a few people given that kind of setting are able to change their behavior at least temporarily, maybe permanently. But most people can't deal with their addiction, which is deeply driven, by just being in a brotherhood.

 

I look at this like I did my bible camp experience. I got sucked in by the camaraderie. I found acceptance and support and I was treated with kindness. Let's not forget that the vast majority of people presented with the Gospel reject it outright. Likewise, the majority of people's brains reject the rhetoric of AA but if you have personal issues with things like self-esteem, personal trauma, or any of the baggage that leads people to seek shelter in the Gospel, add addiction to the mix and there's a decent chance that AA will have the same effects on someone as going to church. It provides them with a community that demonstrates support and acceptance in a largely non-judgmental atmosphere and it makes them feel better about themselves.

 

Frankly, I'm amazed that it isn't more successful just on that basis, to be honest. It provides something for participants to cling to, but if you've been following the conversation so far, it doesn't stop there, does it? Nope. The god shit works its way in and a lot of people who are on the turn from religion side of the equation once they've gone through personal traumas, losses, abuses, and more (and this is the MUCH larger of the two groups) will decide they've had enough and abandon AA.

 

That loss of community and connection often leads them back into the “safe place” provided by their addiction. They don't feel comfortable in the community but the void left by the absence of community demands to be filled. So they head back to the packie and convince themselves they failed (mostly because they've been told to view the decision to quit as a personal failure).

 

And if you can relate to this, let me assure you of something that maybe no one else has or maybe you just haven't been in a place where you were able to receive it until now: you didn't fail to conquer your addiction. AA or NA or OA or any-A failed to educate you to the fact that you absolutely, positively have the power to overcome your addiction... and that you can do it without them and their higher power agenda. So take my advice and run with it...

 

Never, ever listen to anyone who wants to tell you that you are somehow too flawed and too broken to fix yourself without the aid of a god.

 

Never listen to anyone who tries to tell you that you have to give yourself over to the will of anyone or anything to get well.

 

God does not need to be involved in any act of personal moral inventorying you might wish to undertake. A therapist will get you much further.

 

You need your defects of character to understand why you self-harm. They need repair, not removal. How you think about you, how you cope with the things that led to your addiction and how you go about keeping them from bringing you back to that place again is a far more productive way of dealing with your addiction than going to meetings every night because you've been told that if you don't you'll start drinking again. Knowing why you turned to substance abuse will get you way further than holding off your addiction with a whip and a chair for the rest of your life blaming the substance for ruining you ever will. The substance isn't the enemy – the things that made you turn to the substance for comfort and solace are.

 

And yes, it's important to recognize how our actions affect us and the people around us, but can we stop acting like we're the only ones who need to make amends? What about the people who harmed us? Are we allowed to be angry at them? Are people who suffer from addiction allowed to be critical of the way they were treated by others? Do the roles toxic people play in their lives deserve any mention when it comes to explaining the decision to turn to things like alcohol and drugs to deal with things that happened to them? Or is it all just about what kind of rotten people they are and perpetuating this notion that they need to make good on every little thing they ever did wrong if they have any hope of carving out a good path to recovery?

 

AA wants you to think that it was your fault you fell into addiction. Was it? It's all right if your answer is no. It's all right to put put blame where it belongs. Maybe you're not the only one who needs to make amends for you to break out of the addiction mindset. Maybe you need to hear the words “I'm sorry” or get help coming to grips with the fact that you'll never hear them from the people who should be saying them to you. How others treat you (and treated you in the past) is every bit as important in understanding what led to your addiction as admitting the wrongs you've done to others. AA seems to skip that step. Why? Because you can't have control over someone by empowering them, but you can by shaming them.

 

So now I'd like to talk to anyone in recovery who has tried and failed at AA:

 

It's time to make this about you and not about any higher power. When you discovered that you had a problem, YOU got you from point A to point B in that thought process and took action. YOU are the one trying to get and stay sober. Now if we can just get YOU to stop appealing to a higher power and eliminate that middle-man between the problem and the solution, you'll be light years ahead of most people who friend Bill W. and then unfriend him when their higher power fails to motivate them to walk past the packie. Traditional therapy and counseling, discovering and dealing with root causes and understanding the whys of your addiction will get you much further than going to meetings and being encouraged not to drink or turn to your drug of choice. Ditto things like weight loss and the growing list of things the 12 steps have assimilated like some ecclesiastical Borg collective.

 

Imagine how much more successful a program like AA could actually be if it really, truly was something self-affirming and not a front for trading bondage to a substance for bondage to God... as one understands HIM. Imagine if they stopped telling people they are powerless and started affirming that they're smart enough and capable enough of managing their sobriety with actual helps in the form of things like psychotherapy. Sure, they maintain that they present AA (and its companion 12-step programs) as a single suggestion for dealing with addiction and acknowledge that other avenues to sobriety exist... but they aren't suggesting that you try anything besides AA, are they? Go to a meeting every day. Get a sponsor. Utilize your sponsor when you think you're going to drink. Appeal to your higher power when you think you're going to drink. Or shoot up. Or order dessert. They aren't suggesting that you are an individual and that a one-size-fits-all approach to recovery won't necessarily help you even though that's true for more than 90 percent of the people who go through 12 step programs. They don't care. They don't care one iota whether or not you get sober. They care whether or not they can get you to think like they do and that is it. There is a short list of externals that will help you manage addiction and vast majority exist within the world of psychology and psychotherapy. These solutions are offered and implemented by people, not higher powers.

 

And, no, I'm not suggesting that the notion that if you have a single glass of wine you're going to spiral back into addiction is necessarily bunk because for some people it's true. What I am suggesting is that it isn't the zero sum game that AA and its companion programs suggest it is. Your decision to steer back into the neighborhood of any addictive behavior is one that should be made between you and a licensed, experienced mental healthcare professional, not a bunch of people in a room slurping bad coffee and telling you “don't do it!” Since they like to refer to the way they collect and keep people while failing more than 9 out of every 10 they attract as a “suggestion” allow me to make one of my own. Explore all the options there are for recovery.

 

If the 12 steps don't get you there, you have other options – options that don't involve appealing to higher powers or running on a hamster wheel where the score resets every time you get thrown from it. Keep moving forward in your understanding of yourself and your addiction. Find effective treatment and start taking your life back. That's how you find the best and most effective options and that's how you get and stay unbound.