Are Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors Out of Control? Good and Bad AA Sponsors. What Kind Did You Have? What Kind of Sponsor Were You?

  • AA sponsor pic

This is Chris Rock from the play “Mother F####ker With A Hat” , where  he plays an AA sponsor. I hear it’s a non pro AA play about 13 stepping. Now playing at The South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. I will let you know what I think after I see it. It is set to play in Los Angeles soon, but it’s already sold out.

I have been thinking about this subject ever since blogger “illbefree” arrived here and began posting. So here is my story in a nutshell.

My first sponsor was a very good person by the time I met her. Her name was Mary. She  was a big strong hawaiian woman who was the only person who confronted my 13 stepper asshole, way back in 1975. Yet, even she gave me bad advice a few times. Most of the time she loved me like her daughter. I was a teen. 🙂 There are many things she did that made me a better person. She surely made me laugh! But she made her mistakes too.

First off, one day we were sitting at CoCo’s on Kalakaua with Big Richard and Emile, my AA buddies who were both 20 years my senior. We were sipping on some hot Won Ton soup and coffee and it was a chilly balmy hawaiian evening after we went into Oahu Prison, where we went every Wed, bringing an AA meeting to convicted felons who were in there for life. I’m sure I said something stupid, because then Mary turned to me and

said … ” you are sick, sick, sick”. Now I was 19 and I snapped my head around and said ” What did you just say to me…..I didn’t join AA for people to call me names” …..Her face got very serious and she fell silent. Big Richard gave me that  look ….like  ..”WOW you got some balls kid”. So from then on, she treaded lightly.

…more  of the bad stuff.

She told me to marry my 1st husband, that it was me that was too afraid. She was wrong.  My instincts were right. So why didn’t I listen to them.

She told me that it was my fault when a korean mobster newcomer with 90 days ripped me off for $700. …all the money I had in the world. I should have know better. I wanted to punch her in the face…and I didn’t … but I had her on a pedastill. It was then she became human and was never again looked at as a saint. But I did have another older sponsor who at the same time told me to go after the guy and get my money back which I did.  Her name was Zoe. Thank God for Zoe. She told me to be sure and not to go to too many meetings. That was NOT HEALTHY…”go to the movies, go dancing on Saturday night with young people” she said. Now I see how different AA was then. No one was telling me to go to 90 meetings or even to go everyday.

Here’s some of the good stuff…many times on op the trolls gave me shit for why I stayed so long, but I never felt safe to post it there.

She told me to pusue being a singer, play guitar and take acting.

She supported me in moving to California to pursue my dreams.

She loved me like her own daughter. I seriously needed a mothers love. I never quite bonded with mine, although things are better 30 years later:)

Her whole hawaiian family embraced me and Harry loved me like a daughter.

When other AA women said catty shit about my figure she defended me and told them I worked hard for rock hard abs. Which I no longer have ! LOL I’ll post my real pic later from back then:)))))great abs

She kept trying to get me to go back to school. I was always too afraid until years later.

I know you know that I love to bash AA now, but I did have some good woman sponsors.

Maybe this is why I stayed so long. I even went  to AL ANON for a few years but I picked a sponsor who was an atheist.

In the end when I was uncovering the crap about AA , one of my sponsors,  actually suggested to me that I should sue AA. She also told me she never beleived in being powerless or even that she believed she was an alcoholic. She just wanted to quit drinking and she liked the ladies meetings. Again I was shocked. But this last AA sponsor was so kind and real and non AA like that I felt I needed to post about her. Although she was wrong with advice about my son I had the intuition to know that I didn’t believe in rehab for my kids. And I told her straight up, ” I don’t believe in rehab. Its bullshit” . She was very respectful of me and my opinion.

I  I think most people need professional help and not AA sponsors ….yet we read that even judges ask this question in some of the stories we have published on the blogs. Can you imagine if the judges knew how nuts some of these sponsors are?

Now, recently we have a blogger here who has had hideous and bullying sponsors. I know illbefree has done losts of telling here, but I thought it was an important part of why so MANY people are leaving AA today….and that it  is the cult and controlling aspect. The bully’s and the BS.

Now what kind of sponsor was I ?…I like to think I was different. A rebel with a cause.erin brockivich pic A woman who shared her own experience and really tried to stay away from giving advice. True or not, I hope that I helped more then I ever hurt…  LOL   I was a  woman who had a lot of great therapy and read tons of self help books.  A woman who did rage work and a woman who already thought alot of the literature was BS and outdated. I told sponsee’s about Fein Shui tips, meditations tips, therapy tips from my therapist, how body work was essential and exercise were so important to my sanity and happiness. Yet still if I look back I made a few mistakes too.:(

I once told a woman I couldn’t work with her because when she told me she didn’t believe in GOD. …I was at a loss for words. I knew nothing about other alternatives like Smart Recovery, Rational Recovery, Lifering, Women for Sobriety, Moderation, Hams Harm Reduction, or drink link moderation.  I always looked at this as a spiritual program” OMG… looking back I am so embarrassed by this . Thats truly how naive I was.  I feel good that I called these people and said Im sorry. And Not the AA  way. I could really see how crazy stepper I was. It was hard to take.  To see that perhaps I was in a cult for all those years. WOW!

So please illbefree and anyone else join in…. By the posts we see here and on other anti AA blogs.  I am beginning to think more and more this is a huge problem in AA right now. Back in the 70’s and 80’s sponsors were much more laid back and not so “I’m in Charge”!

I see this is bigger or equal to  the the sexual predation problem. What do you think?

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116 thoughts on “Are Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors Out of Control? Good and Bad AA Sponsors. What Kind Did You Have? What Kind of Sponsor Were You?

  1. What an absolutely AWESOME entry Massive! Truly you touched my Heart & Soul. I honestly did not recognize the enormous harm done to me until I got some distance from The Program. AA is strange like that; it gets clearing & clearer to you as you observe it from the outside after being on the inside. It is a real Challenge to help people who have not been IN it to See it. They think AA is a wonderful & benevolent Alcohol Healing Treatment Program thats sincerely helps everyone with a drinking problem. They have no idea that it is really a haven for head cases, weak minds & control freaks who use some bullshyt book to base their spiritualnotreligious religious cult on. For me personally AA helped me in the beginning but ended up being more harmful to me than alcohol ever was. Just this morning I asked myself if I was still sorry that my sponsor fired me. NO! Thank the Divine God of the Universe & Creator of All that her intention to harm and punish me was the catalyst for me getting the courage to leave AA.

    • illbfree thanks. I almost took it down because of its length, I still my cut it, but me too, the further I get from it, the absolute craziness I see in it. Most people who I thought were not so bad, still talk in that strange verbiage that is so indicative of a cult. I am free. And with each step (not an AA step) LOL i take into Real life the better I feel. You see…even with language AA has tainted certain words still. I hope I eventually get over that.

      • i have been in AA for three weeks and i have never self-medicated more. where do i start? my 1st temp-sponsor talked AT me for 3 hours straight about herself then said “i think we’ve got a good start on step one! my second 3-day sponsor was a verbally abusive mind-fuck telling me i think I’m better than everyone else and that i had BALLS asking her to please turn her t.v. down in the background so i could hear her. if i want to be this abused i’d invent a time machine and zoom back to jr. high school. give my emotional power up to these mind-fucking bullies? no thanks. i had more self-esteem before i walked into those rooms. then this oh-so-nice 76 year old gentleman reached out to me in a most caring way by asking me to breakfast, then suggested he could come over and help me get dressed! i then threw up in my nose. AA is a con with a bunch of blow-hards preaching their narcissistic bullshit. they are so welcoming until you ask them to sponsor you and then the daggers come out. their kids are all grown so now they need someone to fill the slot of being their scapegoat of abuse. FUCK YOU AA and all the asshole that road in on their horses that make it their be all, end all.

        • Katie- mash– OMG do I love this post !!!!!!!Nailing it right on the head. You have found your peeps. We are so on the same page. Have you found solutions to any issues you had now that you know AA is not going to help you ? Like Smart , MM Hams Harm reduction ?

          And welcome !!!

          • thanks for your warm welcome:) well, that all transpired within the last 24 hours so I’m still in “go fuck yourself mode” but i did tell that old coot his sexual innuendo was not what i consider to be “just kidding around” but rather sexual misconduct/and or sexual harassment and asked if he would say that in front of my husband (as a good o’l joke). that is huge in that i spoke up to this kind of person, funny how we say nothing for fear of embarrassing them, yet we suffer from their comments and abuse. i did look into smart but I’m gun shy about putting my faith in something other than myself. i feel that i need to be around people with similar interests, like knitting, crafts, skiing AND stick up for myself when someone is being inconsiderate of me. thats why i medicate because I’m bored & isolate & have lost who i used to be. i need to start being apart of life, I’m not in denial here but depression/chemical imbalance is why most people use in the first place. the right medications for me is key along with healthy hobbies and……CLEAN LIVING! i love your site, thank you:)

            • KM, love the fact that you caught on so quickly, before any real programming. I suggest you look at HAMS (hams It provides a great deal of information on how substances affect us. It also allows one to choose their own goals and plans. No hocus locus and no bullshit.

              Stay with it, gal. You can do it!

  2. I thought I was a good sponsor till I figured out that the relationship is faulty. The last several years of membership I wouldn’t do it. Too many commit suicide, too many rob and attack you. Plus it’s very tempting to get into their business and talk about who, how and why they are fu@king. I think they shoud stop calling it sponsorship and start calling it Doctor-lifecoach or
    F.A.G. (Faulty Advice Guru)

    • anon- good for you that you stopped doing it and saw it. In 2008 when my DAD was dying and then passed I let go of all my sponsee except 3 who were really great woman and were more on an equal footing relationship. I saw then how unhealthy the dynamic is. I was talking to Tom Horvath from Smart about it and he said they thought about it but it was a set up for major problems. And so right he is. Some were great, but many take and take and with technology Im sure its gotten worse, but when I was new I called my sponsor till she answered her phone. There were no answering machines and her teen age kids didn’t always tell her I called.
      It was a different time. A different world. I am glad I grew up then I just wish it wasn’t in AA. I guess I still have some sadness around it all. I can see as Im writing I surely do. Oh well….it comes and goes. Have a great Saturday. Its beautiful here. The rain has stopped.

  3. 12 step programs tout dependence and enabling as faulty alcoholic traits and then promote same with sponsorship. I went into AA with alcohol dependency and left with AA dependency. Both were deadly, and both were overdone to the point of harm.

    • I was terrible when I drank and used crack cocaine … I used the AA program to stop. I haven’t used for years or gotten drunk .. but I don’t go to meetings … even though I read out of the Big Book every day. I see a disconnect between what I read about how the program worked back in the 1940’s and how it has devolved into what it is today. I hear so much ego at meetings … especially when talking about being a sponsor. My first sponsor had 30 years sober when he died … and he was my friend … first. They respect the person who has more clean time forgetting that we have only one day at a time …

      • why would you read out of the BB everyday? Its filled with lies and serious brainwashing tactics.

        Glad that you no longer addicted to drugs and so forth.

        We are people who left AA and have no interest in looking for its good. The Catholic Church has god people in it yet is also had to be taken on for corruption, sexual scandal and child molesting monsters.

        No one in court or from the DOJ gets ordered to a Catholic Mass….now do they….Those are the kinds of things that I know must be stopped. along with women and gays getting raped by AA old-timers. This is a very very serious issues that we and I do not take light;ly.

  4. Massive, I think your post is spot on as is…but you know I am a fan of the long post. Oh and here comes another one…but I will leave most of it on my blog and web site for anyone interested to read on.

    We are thinking along the same lines today my friend. 😉

    My latest post is entitled:

    Does AA & NA Bullying Contribute to Violence and Suicides While Breaking National Laws Against Vulnerable Adult Abuse?

    Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are seen as the best places to turn to when one needs help with an alcohol or drug problem; but are they really? Many are questioning, whether these organizations deserve the positive images they have enjoyed for decades. Currently there are claims of abuse and adult bullying, law suits, sexual assault and harassment, financial exploitation and even murder cases attributed to participation in these twelve step-based programs. Few people realize that AA & NA members and sponsors have been accused of having driven many AA and NA newcomers, vulnerable adults and teens to attempt or succeed in committing suicide. While most people who turn to AA & NA have serious problems prior to going to these programs, AA & NA often result in making people’s issues far worse than they were initially.

    The positive image most Americans have of AA and NA is unearned and misleading. This deceptive image warrants closer observation because society has come to depend so heavily upon these programs. Millions of American adults and teens are referred to these programs that consistently…READ MORE:

  5. Thank you Massive. YOU ROCK! Unfortunately I am out of online computer time for now…

    I’ll be back.

    We just need to keep helping to empower people to share their story and re-gain their God-Given POWER!

    I feel honored that I am allowed to lend my Energy to giving victims a voice. People have been hurt. It is REAL and we ain’t gon shut up about it!


  6. I really enjoyed what you wrote, Massive. I have always believed that I owe my literal survival to not getting a controlling sponsor, but someone who tended to act more like a friend, an easy going person. When you said “I didn’t join AA for people to call me names like my parents did” I completely identified. I KNEW I would never be able to be brow-beaten by a woman as I was by my Mother (we have never bonded either, though as you said, it has become better); yet I heard other women in meetings bragging about being told off by their sponsors as a mark of esteem. SICK. I consciously decided to have a non-confrontational sponsor and just lay low.

    I’ve never been thought of much as someone to seek as a sponsor because I just never got the idea of reading the Big Book word by word with someone and explaining what it all meant, making them call every day, and giving them “homework” as if one were tutoring a first grader. If you aren’t doing that around here people don’t have the “tough sponsorship” misery to brag about in meetings (it works both ways, there are bragging rights with being abusive and abusing). If you aren’t running the lives of those you sponsor, you won’t be seen as sponsor material, thus a loss of bragging rights and status.

    I sponsored women who others had no use for, when I did, such as one young woman whose family were atheists. Her life in AA gave me a refresher course in AA sexual abuse because she was very beautiful, and men would definitely get out of line around here. One old guy that ran a certain meeting sent a woman I knew to tell me that my sponcee was not to dress as she did at his meeting anymore. I informed her that it wasn’t his meeting, and she dressed no different from any college woman on the nearby campus. I regret not going to that meeting myself, disgusting old lecher probably just regretted being too old to even try to 13 step her. Another woman I sponsored for a while after she had been verbally abused and bullied by a sponsor because she drank after being sober a few months. In the workplace that verbal assault would have resulted in a law suit, I know that now, but did not realize it fully then. These two stick out in my mind, neither now attend meetings but are still doing well in life. Another person I tried to sponsor is someone who took quite a bit of time and I gave it, trying to do the right thing. I now believe she probably suffers more from mental health issues than anything resulting from drinking, but she has long since moved on to a better brand of sponsorship anyway. This thing works both ways, you can devote a long time trying to develop a friendship with someone and treat them as a friend as a sponsor and then have them move on and never hear from them again as if you never existed. Such a strange world.

    Sponsorship is the main thing I have trouble with in AA, it seems to be becoming stricter and more abusive all the time. This practice is, IMO, the very worst part of AA; and what can cause the worst damage. I don’t know why friendship isn’t more valued than a relationship that is so contrived and unnatural between adults. I see it literally take a person back to child-like behavior to have a sponsor. I think that is because the relationship is unnaturally unequal.

  7. Thank you for THAT Border Collie Mix. You are spot on.

    I remember the strangest thing. I did not meet my sponsor’s sponsor until after I had been in AA for a few months. My sponsor had always seemed so solid, wise and capable. She was 60 years old and had been a teacher for 35 years. I had the utmost respect for her. Until…

    One evening after a meeting she introduced me to her sponsor (and best friend) who had been out of town; a short, stout lil woman who kind of reminds you of an older version of Dr. Bailey on Gray’s Anatomy.

    I noticed that as she spoke to my sponsor, my sponsor took on a sort of subservient kind of sycophant stance. It was very subtle, but I noticed how she shifted into somewhat of a child. She did not seem “afraid” per se. Even to say she was intimidated may be too strong of an adjective…but she was definitely DIMINISHED in this woman’s presence.

    I found it quite odd.

    Of course…I get what it was now. It gives me the chills actually…

  8. I enjoyed reading your post Massive, I like long posts too – as long as they have spacing in them so I don’t get lost.

    Sponsorship, some topic that. I went through a few sponsors in my time in and out of the As – eventually sponsoring myself, not MYself, being a sponsor, ouch 🙁 It was actually doing the sponsoring that helped me catch on to the really zany idea that perhaps the program didn’t work….

    There was one woman in particular, she wasn’t especially engaged in “doing the work” but I would go and visit her at her home and I swear, the thought of getting wasted would be absolutely top of my mind the minute I left her place. In the particularly culty branch that I ended up in I was told that sponsorship was the heart of the program, I would listen to the PPG nutcases talk about getting people through the steps quicktime, get them to God and cut them loose to be sponsors themselves after like 90 days. In hindsight, that is just mental, some people can barely tie their own shoelaces when they arrive in the meetings – some people didn’t finish their education and can barely read, I was detoxing off of valium for the first couple of months the last time I went back to the meetings, like I could sponsor someone in that state!

    My thoughts now are that getting over a maladaptive behaviour of too much drinking and/or drugging is a process, it takes time, it takes work, it takes retraining your mind and taking up new activities, perhaps it does mean changing the “playground, playmates, playthings” – I don’t know. What I do know is that a 12th step spiritual awakening is a bag of shite and magical thinking and that dragging some other poor sod through a mission of confession and apologising is not necessarily keep you straight, though the time you put into may just be enough to keep you so occupied that you miss the opening hours. If helping others is an effective way to keep a person straight, I would recommend they looked into some voluntary work and made more productive use of their time than reading a nonsense gobbledegook stupid, boring dumbass book.

    So, my last sponsor she was an absolute basket case. She had spent about the first year of the non-existent state of stasis or festering, searching and searching. She had been in NA where a lot of people do their steps out of the green and gold book – 69 questions on step one, it’s painful. She then veered onto the AA book as it was the “right way” to take the steps – the most loving thing you could do for yourself according to her.

    At first it was pretty good, nobody had paid me that much attention since maybe my parents, we would spend hours together reading that God awful book to each other, but I was really trying and I wanted to believe it, I really wanted to “get it”, I really did – tragic. The first few months went swimmingly, I started to feel so much better about everything and really enjoying life. I started to realise that I didn’t actually know anything about this woman though, I knew how many times she had done the steps, what rehab she had been to, what books she read (cos they were all about “recovery”), I couldn’t tell you what music she liked (all she listened to were shares of XA speakers), what sports she did, what education she had done, what her line of work was, she didn’t talk about ANYTHING except “recovery”, nothing, looking back she was one of the dullest people I ever met, on top of that a complete amends junkie.

    It was after six months things started to go sour, we had a conversation where she told me that now I had my six months clean that it was time to face up to a few home truths, she told me how selfish I was (justifying it by saying that she was selfish too), she star

    • oops, my finger slipped!
      She started telling me how I should be talking to my mother about certain financial issues, I’m so glad that I ignored her now, my poor mother would be terrified if i told her that if my finances were dealt with in X,Y and Z way, I would end up “relapsing” (don’t use that word anymore) – or as she would say, “do you want the step one promises to come true?”

      She told me that I had to make amends to people who definitely didn’t deserve amends, they had hurt me infinitely more than I hurt them. I feel so relieved writing this that I bloody well ignored some of her more extreme bs. If I asked her for help around a certain issue, it started to be “what does your Higher Power say?”, and I thought this woman was supposed to be helping me, not telling me to talk to some stupid ashtray/rock/tree for advice.

      She started to dictate to me the times that I was to call her, partly cos she was sponsoring so many people that she had started turning her phone off after about 9pm – not that I blame her, but some people in the meetings would speak to you at 3am or whenever if you really needed help. She demanded step 10s or 11s – she couldn’t seem to work out which was which but basically that I emailed over daily inventory to her and if I didn’t she was going to sack me, cos she didn’t want to watch me die (drama, much!), basically she became super controlling, bossy, serious, uptight and generally pretty fierce. I started to feel quite intimidated by her. She also had a girl that I was sponsoring report back to her about me, I’ve since seen that as a tactic used by cults as part of the control.

      She really became quite vicious, she twisted things and turned them on their head and spoke to me like I was just this awful person and that I had bullied her into showing me certain things – only stupid things like how to write the step 4 columns but world endingly important to her.

      Well, slowly I stopped doing all the things I was meant to be doing, the inventory, the mediating, y’know all that stuff that may or may not keep you clean and sober… she called me up and pleaded with me to get back on the program ‘cos I was going to die (yawn). Eventually and I see that I was pretty much programmed to do it now, I picked up, very deliberately, I went into a shop and bought a bottle of wine and drank it, took some pills, got high. I just did it for five days and stopped (I never believed I was powerless anyway).

      I went back to the meetings but I was being told all that stuff that I didn’t want it enough, I didn’t have the desire, I wasn’t doing the work, I had gotten in the way of me etc etc, all this stuff that totally contradicted anything to do with disease theory, I had been selfish, I had dropped out the program and picked up, I had done bad behaviour… (I heard this on Massive’s show with Tom Hovarth last week, I was being treated like a naughty girl).

      Blessing in disguise though as the love bombing transferred to my sponsee, (who actually still wanted me as a sponsor), my then soon-to-be-ex sponse took over the sponsorship of this poor girl, we both left at the same time!

      It was the nature of this relationship and being pushed into being a sponsor myself that led to my fleeing from the meetings and straight into the arms of the Orange Papers and this site.

      I now pity this woman, I imagine she is rushing around ticking off names on her ever growing step eight list, still reading that dreadful book and sadly, in fear of her life if she stops doing all that nonsense. She’s not living anymore, she’s might as well be in deep space hyper sleep. It’s not a normal natural relationship, I don’t need a sponsor, I need friends, real life and places like this to come and rant.

      And with that I will leave it, great topic Massive! 🙂

  9. WOW! Thank you for sharing that Nieko… Our details are different but the shyte we went thru is still shyte.

    I just began working on a lil something that I will pick up as I am moved. Writing it really brought back such images and memories of how I gradually got more and more tangled in the AA game without even, ever intending to.

    I honestly came to feel that my sponsor and my grand sponsor were each some kind of Gifts; angels sent to help me. I really did.

    Who else would come into a veritable stranger’s life and treat her with such love and kindness? I had no idea…but that cause I had never been warned that these Beasts called AA Sponsors existed.

    They can be like two-headed monsters.

    They actually seem to feel more proud of themselves for being cruel to people (sponsees) that they are of being kind.

    SERIOUSLY… I’d rather die drunk than spend my life harming other people in the name of The God of Alcohol (or whatever it is one understands)…

    These people almost drove me into the deepest depression and anxiety of my life. They left me wanting to actually DIE… It is really scary when I think of it. I have not been to a meeting since just after Thanksgiving and I can’t imagine why I would ever, ever step foot in an AA meeting again.

    To know what we know about AA and ever go to a meeting seeking help…now that would truly be INSANITY.

    I think my old sponsors at least BELIEVE that AA is truly The Way… If they are happy…I do not wish them any harm.

    The BS just never cut it for me. And I too was told I was not serious enough, working enough, trying enough… I just wasn’t enough, enough…

    I’m so grateful that God has other plans for my Precious Life!

    Instead of a “drunk-a-logue” I am sharing what I call my Reality-Logue…

    A Story Called OH WELL… AA What the Hell
    (Reality-Logue 1)

  10. Your writing is wonderful Illbefree, I have been chuckling out loud reading that to myself! Very entertaining, you should definitely keep it up, I would be fascinated to read the next instalment.

    My first meeting was pretty different to yours, it was an NA meeting, I had been living in London and seen a flyer. I guess I thought the idea of talking and listening pretty novel after shooting dope in squats around London where nobody really talked to anyone and the girls were really friendly. I suppose I had gotten myself in such a state, we’re talking about 12 years ago now, but in contrast to the isolation I had been in in my addiction, the idea of these strangers talking to me and understanding me it kept me going for a while.

    It really was the whole sponsor thing this time, I went back to meetings again about three years ago, but it was really getting hooked into the program side of it, rather than the social club that provided the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    I do feel genuinely sorry for the people that I left behind there, like you I wish them no harm but I wouldn’t know what to say to them, they’d maybe feel sorry for me too with no stupid fellowship or ashtray or whatever it is that they think keeps them clean and sober.

    One of my last encounters with the super controlling sponsor went something like this:
    Sponse: What have you done for your recovery today?
    Me : I’ve just been to church (prayer, part of program, yes?)
    Sponse: Yeah, but what have you done for your recovery today?
    Me : I went to church…
    Sponse : You know you don’t have to go to church to find God, what did God do for you before you had this program, you used to go to church high, right?
    Me : (Starting to feel a bit perplexed by now) Err, yeah, I guess…
    Sponse: I don’t care what state you’re in (accusing me of being messed up), I want to see you at the meeting this afternoon…

    I met up with her later that day and we had a confrontation about God and the idea that my God (Higher stupid power) was perhaps not working out for me and perhaps I should have the same one as her. Ironically her god was some kind of inner voice, she didn’t take it too well when I parroted back to her what she’d said, it went something like this; “so, I have a disease that lives in my mind and wants to kill me, right? And you’re suggesting that I listen to an inner voice from the same place as said disease that wants to kill me?” the relationship was pretty much downhill from there.

    I heard you speaking to Massive on the show last week about the disease concept and when you’re being “good sponsee” you have a disease and you’re doing all the things you need to do to arrest progressive, fatal, mind dwelling disease, but then you go and get drunk or loaded and “bad sponsee” is misbehaving, bad sponsee has stopped doing all the things that arrest the naughty disease that wants to kill you. Bad sponsee could have kept up all the good work and the bad behaviour, caused by the disease wouldn’t have happened, confused yet?

    Ex sponsor was giving me one of the last roastings I allowed her to before I left and told me that I had twisted her program into knots, torn holes in it and questioned it until I had completely mangled her mind, obviously I was suffering from over analysing (thinking) but had managed to drag her into my – OMG you asked a question world.

    This year has been tough after that experience, yeah I got creeped on by a few of the guys but nothing crazy, nothing close to some of the dreadful stories that can be found on this site. It was the mind control aspect of sponsorship and being a sponsor (which made me want to go and get absolutely wrecked), it was that, the psychological warfare that led me to packing it all in.

    This year had been tough deprogramming to the point I didn’t even want anything to do with the ex AA movement either. Recovery has become a dirty word. There is a growing recovery community in the city I’m in, it’s a good social crowd, they do lots of things, they’re not all AA/NA, some of the ex addicts drink, some of the ex alcoholics smoke pot, some people are on methadone, subutex, antabuse, tranquilizers. XA had me blinkered to all of this, anyone who wasn’t on the program, if they were a “real” addict/alcoholic, they risked dying (in my poor programmed mind). I really feared for them.

    The 12 steps are evil and mess with your mind, I’m so glad to have my mind back and so glad to be coming out the other side of a self enforced hibernation whilst I figured a whole lot of stuff out. Things are much better now 🙂

    • neiko- what a great post. I understand. If I wasn’t so involved I’d disappear and not have this blog. Its a lot of work and sometimes I really get tired of it all and want to stop thinking about it. Then I get another email, a post , another story , another death…

      Im in it till I finish my film, my films etc. Its refreshing to feel a part of the real world …isn’t it.

    • Neiko YOU ROCK! Thank you…That post was very insightful and really hit IT. All of the details of our experiences vary, but that core excruciating damage caused by the attempted de-braining and soul-sucking is Universal (so to speak) with AA and NA Survivors.

      I pray you continue to blog? It is very cathartic for me to blog, to write and to be able to read what writers such as you share here. Honestly, Massive (Leaving AA owner), AntiDenial, Sue, Anon, Rainbow, JR Harris, Border Collie Mix…and please forgive me if I’m missing anyone…They are all consistent posters and each of them are a component of saving me from utter despair when my sponsor decided that it was time for me to be PUNISHED for relapsing..

      (Never mind the fact that I KNOW now that it was my sponsor & my grand sponsor trying to control me and my trying to make sense of The Non-sense Program and that wack-a-smack “literature” that was driving me mad and driving me to drink—SERIOUSLY…The binging is GONE! I had one bad, bad episode not too long after leaving…but I think that was due to the horrible fatalism that had been driven into my head about “leaving AA” and how taking that 1 drink would invariably lead to the thousand deadly drinks of sure DEATH! My experience in AA with 100% certainty made my drinking WORSE and it reportedly has had this effect on very many people. People have a right to know that.)


      Your post is AWESOME and you just made me laugh in a public, quiet library where I am supposed to be as quite as a mouse.. LOL

      You wrote:

      “I met up with her later that day and we had a confrontation about God and the idea that my God (Higher stupid power) was perhaps not working out for me and perhaps I should have the same one as her. Ironically her god was some kind of inner voice, she didn’t take it too well when I parroted back to her what she’d said, it went something like this; “so, I have a disease that lives in my mind and wants to kill me, right? And you’re suggesting that I listen to an inner voice from the same place as said disease that wants to kill me?” the relationship was pretty much downhill from there.”

      That reminded me of one of my last conversations with my sponsor. She had me doing some writing assignment on Step 2. She had actually accused me of having not done it at all. And I told her I always do my assignments, (geek-dork that I am at heart) but since she never asks for them…I never present them.

      I took out pages and pages I had written.

      Basically, I was pontificating on how presumptuous the 2nd step was from my perspective because it put me in the position of assuming what the Will of God the Creator of All was. The Unfathomable Ultimate Will of the Creator… How shall we as humans, really know.

      (I just try to treat folk like I want to be treated. That endeavor is quite the load for a human I’d say. )

      I asked her why I was to believe that God cared about whether I took a damned drink or not? Why do we assume that God’s Will has anything to do with what we as humans desire? I mean, we assume that God wants us to be sober and there is biblical support for that…but I am talking deeper…more expansive…more than religion…

      My poor ex sponsor… I said,

      “If REALITY is as it is and it is…would I be wrong to assume that REALITY is what God wills it to be? If God is God ALL is God’s Will. But there lies a dichotomy potentially even in that. Where? Well, in our Human Will. If God’s Will is that I have Free Will, how is it that I am to Will myself to go to God and give it back? How are we to distinguish Our Will from God’s Will when God Will is that WE EXPRESS Free Will? Or would you say that God’s Will is that we REPRESS Free Will? And if so, from what do you glean such?”

      Yeah… AA sponsor are really not looking to step into philosophical quagmires and discourse. I should have known better…but I was just honestly sharing my thoughts on Step 2 as requested. DAMN! 

      I think sharing that lil facet of my internal endless dialogue was one of the straws that broke her “WE THINK NOT” chanting back.

      She just rubbed her tired head and said, “That is just INSANITY!”

      I was insulted. I’d worked so hard on that ding-donged on assignment! 😉

      Thank you for sharing with me that you enjoyed my writing. That really means a lot to me.

      If you ever would like to read something a bit more heartfelt regarding the experience with my sponsor (I am still kind of sad about it…even though the people here have helped me to see that she was really never my friend…) I have a piece on my page from one ol sponsee’s heart to another…

      Hope you dig it…!illbefreeordie/czsb

      Please keep posting here Neiko!

      OH…and if you are free, I’m hoping folks call in to the Anti-AA Conference Call I’ve been trying to yank into existence…

      Thus far calls are scheduled on Sundays & Wednesdays. You can get the schedule for your time zone and the number here:

      • Grand sponsors – as if! That kind of lineage is just surreal, reconsidering the real nature of the sponsor/sponsee relationship it is just meaningless – really, what is a sponsor? If ‘one’ is looking for accountability and some support from someone who is understanding and empathetic and has perhaps had similar issues to that person, there are much better people to forge that accountability relationship with, surely?!! For people who have a faith, I would think they would be better off going back to their church/temple/place of worship and find a mentor type person there. For people with a secular approach, family? a good friend, boss, colleague, counsellor…?

        Amy Lee Coy talks about having her mother as an ally to give her that support especially in situations where there is

        • Urgh – always the accidental premature posting!

          I think there is definitely a benefit to having the ally character that Amy speaks of, I can recall a heap of strong women I have had that have supported me through life.

          I have lost my train of thought now with that error early posting 🙁

          What I’m trying to say I think, is that I see the value, a lot of value in having a close, accountable, trusting relationship with someone who can keep you honest as it were. That is fine, healthy, natural and something that people do whatever their situation, it’s not like you have to be an “addict/alcoholic” to need a close relationship.

          BUT… telling some crackhead that you’ve known five minutes (perhaps a few weeks) about the deepest darkest areas of your life, taking counsel from someone who was waking up in their own piss weeks previous and telling them the kind of stuff that you think you should be telling them and expecting them to KEEP IT SECRET!!!!!!!! Man, it seems unreal from this side, why on God’s good earth would I wanna do that – as if that’s not bad enough, take advise from this person on going around giving it all the step nine – messing with my family, my work colleagues, no way!

          The tragedy is (or one of them) people come into that environment so messed up, desperate and pretty much get told what they need to do if they want to stay sober.

          Hindsight, such a magical thing, but I for one don’t think you should tell a sponsor something that you wouldn’t shout across a crowded room!

          Oh and Illbefree, I want to find out more about your conference call thing. Can you do it through Skype?

    • Hi AntiDenial… WOW! I was reading that this morning from my cell. I actaully typed a response to it on but it would not post for som ereason from my dumb phone.

      It just gets uglier and fuglier!

  11. Hi there. I’m SO relieved to find this site. It’s a godsend to me becuz I’m suffering from the pangs of an abusive, bitchy (for NO APPARENT reason) sponsor. My sobriety is never enough. My homework and commitments (give me a break, what a joke) are never enough. She is always looking for something to be unhappy about and lecture me. She is almost 20 yrs younger than me too! Why on earth I ever signed up for this, I’ll never know. I guess I just went in so overwhelmed and intimidated fresh off drinking wine and dealing with the depression that it caused in my mind. For example, I take my husband and 13 yr old daughter very seriously, so one night I said that I couldn’t go to a meeting, that we were going out (this was not even a meeting night for me either!), and she told me to stop “hiding behind (my) family!” Can you believe that? It’s outrageous. I was so utterly bewildered by that comment, I almost laughed. I knew in my heart I wasn’t “hiding” but that they would always come first no matter what.

    Furthermore, my daughter attended a mtg with me once, and she heard the way she spoke to me, my sposnor, at the end of the mtg, she asked me, “Why does she talk so mean to you for no reason? You do everything she tells you to do! She’s not very nice!” Out of the mouths of babes. It got me to really thinking about how it wasn’t right how she spoke so loudly in front of others to me with SUCH a condescending and berating air, I was very often humiliated. But I thought that’s just the way it was, that I was supposed to take it. Well, I started attending fewer and fewer meetings, and I’m still not drinking and am having no problems with it. Sometimes I just feel like not going to them. My friends in AA just don’t understand it. They are really steeped in the smoking, god-fearing, fellowshipping culture. And what’s stranger…get this: they all get there TWO HOURS before the meetings even begin! Don’t they have anything to do besides sit in a church for 4-5 hours???? I just can’t get into it all and I certainly don’t need a brow-beating 20 yr old berating me about spending time with my child. God, it’s inane. I’m starting to realize my sponsor is a control freak and has a humongous ego. This is all a power trip for her becuz before AA she had nothing. She was just a student strung out on alcohol and zanax and suicidal. AA saved HER life, well good for her. Why can’t she just be more human and nice to me and the other spondees instead of making us feel horrible all the time? What is the gain in that? I really am perplexed by that. Is that a cult thing?

    Thanks for listening, I hope someone can relate and respond.



    • Thanks for that. At one point, I had to sit down and go all right, what is the most important relationship of my life? The relationship with my daughter was the answer. I then proceeded to change my behavior to reflect the importance. AA will try to make you think THEY are the most important relationship you can have. It is not true, and it leads to routine abuse and bullying in the vast majority of cases from incompetent people. Yes, not drinking is important if drinking has been causing you problems, but they can create significant confusion by saying your sobriety – and hence being an AA member – is the absolute most important thing in your life. Don’t fall for the cult, just find a way to not drink and then focus on what is really important in YOUR life, not theirs.

    • krissyo-she told me to stop “hiding behind (my) family!” Can you believe that? It’s outrageous.

      SHe is nuts! I would run from AA as fast as I could. You do not need AA anymore. I bet you will be just fine. Have you looked into the other 6 free choices. There are Smart REcovery meetings online. Harm Reduction…etc. PLease blog away. I left AA and I am so much happier. You can read my story here. SHe can go F**k her sorry little self who is such a know it all!!!

    • Krsitina- Can you tell me what meeting, what city she is in so I can go there and give her a piece of my mind. Somebody needs to get in her face and put her where she belongs. I would love to do it.

      I am exposing AA on the outside but in making my film I will be going to some meetings with my Producer. We will be filming. They can kiss my white ass!

      you can email me if you want

      Your instinct are right! Stay home with that family of yours.
      You might like a new book that just came out. I am a chpater in it talking about all thsi stuff in AA. Its called HER BEST KEPT SECRET by GABRIELLE GLASER. SHE and I were on Katie Couric 4 weeks ago.


    • Hello Kristina,
      my sponsors did the same,some more than of my sponsors told me her sponsor had gave her a bangle
      as a present. She told me i have to wear it if i don’t have it on my sponsor shouts at me and gets mad at me.
      They wanted me to get rid of my family.They weren’t supportive when i had no one to watch my youngest child she was 12 when i first went there.They Said i was useing it as an excuse for not going to meetings.They want everyone to do AA.
      And to put AA before anything or anyone else. It is very cultish.


    • Kristina,

      It’s not right for her to run life. Any one who really cares about you would respect you as an adult and want you to make your own decisions. Unfortunately the definition of sponsor is very distorted, Thats why the longest I ever had one was about 2 months in 30 years. I wanted a friend/mentor; someone I could run my decision past and then decide what was right for “ME”. Not some one who believed they were above me but of equal intelligence. It’s rewarding to be around people who can learn something from you also; not Egotistical control freaks. I believe if you tried to explain that to her, she would just say; Im not your friend, Im your sponsor and I can only do what worked for me.

      Good chance that she did not like her sponsors approach but did not have the courage to defend herself. Therefore, why not pass the misery on; maybe it will make me feel better. Just my thoughts based on experience. Hope it helps.

      • Sue- I agree. I had two really great woman for sponsors who did not give me unsolicited advise for years. I picked them for character traits I wanted to emulate. They only gave me bad advise once in many years.

        Why I hear and see going on these past few years since I have been gone is wacko crazy controlling and cult like.
        No body through the s word around back in the 70’s in Hawaii.

        • Massive,

          I believe your right. The first 15yrs that I went in and out of AA; I didnt pay much attention to the sponsorship business. Probably because I didnt stick around longer than a month or two. The last 15yrs I spent more time there and became more aware of just why the program did not suit me. I didnt realize that I never felt comfortable sharing with strangers and taking their advice; sober or otherwise. Now I know that how I felt was more than OK.

          The longer I hung around and frequented the same meetings ( per their advice); I felt like my desire to be somewhat private was not respected. If I didnt see a need for the steps or socializing outside of the meetings; there was question about my isolating. I tried to have a sponsor but when you barely know me and want me to call you every day for no good reason (talk to your voice mail); I got a problem with that. I had one sponsor for two days and when she ask me one morning if I had made my bed and said my prayers, I was shocked; yet I just told her at the next meeting that i was not ready for a sponsor. Dont get me wrong, I wasnt all that tough; I allowed myself to feel insecure, confused and guilty; because I could not accept their suggestions to “get better”.

          I dont think all sponsors are like this. However, I think its rare to find someone who isnt. I think you have to be very careful if you choose to call someone your sponsor today in AA.

          • sue- wow she treated you like a baby…I started to see a shift as well before I left AA, although many of the old timer women n my old group were rebels themselves and got sober when AA was way more laid back, so they didn’t behave this way …yet I would have to agree that overall…its all gone down the toilet. No one needs to be told this sort of thing and even though I cant stand AA now, 35 years ago NO one mentioned the word sponsor to me and it was not used in the context it is today.

            It is how they suck you in…with the soft sell. Take what you like, go when you can, make up your own concept of God….blah blah blah…
            there needs to be some exposing and upheaval from the inside as well.

            Not sure how that will get done, but Im doing it from the outside.
            I guess in my thinking if we had someone like you & me in every state , better yet, every city, go in with the pamphlets and talking about court ordering the violent offenders, we could coordinate something that would shake it up…

  12. Of course it’s a cult thing. Some sponsors may be nicer than others, but their goal will always be indoctrination via the twelve steps. They are just putting desperate people through the same drill they went through. They have no qualifications for anything, and they sure don’t know what the best path may be for any other human being. The only reason they think they have any authority is because they are used to having desperate people (“pigeons” or “prospects”) dumped in their laps by treatment centers. The treatment centers set vulnerable people up for the kill, and for that, they should be ashamed. No other diseases get treated by turning people over to a room full of morons.

    • Rick42- Thats right.

      Here is an unbelievable story…

      A professional was calling an Insurance Company to get clearance for more therapy. WHen she got on the phone with the insurance person they asked her “what did her sponsor think about this”

      WHAT!!! A Blue Cross person telling a professional what to do with a “sponsor”. This proves how much intrenched AA has gotten into our health system. So what can we do. SUe the Insurance Companies. One after another for sending you to a religious group for a health issue.

      Its gonna happen and if you have a case please contact me. We have a civil rights attorney who will handle the case.

      • Massive – “When she got on the phone with the insurance person they asked her ‘what did her sponsor think about this’.”
        Incredible! It would be funny if it wasn’t so scary. These are the same people that are exercising oversight of your healthcare.

        • Massive – You got that right about how far AA has entrenched itself in the healthcare system. Just checkout the schedule (which includes AA meetings) and handouts for these AA indoctrination conferences for healthcare “professionals”.

          • commonsense- Holy … I just read some of it. AA and Alanon ….no other free non religious choices attended this conference.

            Its bad, but a few big lawsuits against the Health Insurance Companies, States and lawyers who recommend AA/NA will shrink the whole charade.

            I do agree now that there is a 60-70 % coercion to AA now. If we stop the gravy train AA will shrink by that percentage and their 1.2 mil in the USA will be …420,000 members. But I know many who have left…already!

      • The whole thing is beyond unbelievable, it’s completely insane. Let’s see, what are their qualifications again? Education? Experience? Who are they accountable to?
        Oh yeah, they claim they’ve been a member of a depression-era faith-healing cult for a few years.
        Well, that’s good enough then…

        • rick42 Oh yeah, they claim they’ve been a member of a depression-era faith-healing cult for a few years.

          I love this coining and expressive way to label the cult!

        • No, no no,… the really good ones have read the Big Book and understand it completely and have been through all 12 grueling steps with their sponsor. I mean, c’mon, that is ample qualification to give life altering advice to a person with a fatal and progressive disease. Ya know, like they do with cancer and cystic fibrosis patients. Doctors have cancer patients read a book, do talk therapy, pray and meditate, apologize to people and tell everyone how wonderful it works on curing their cancer .Oh.. wait…

    • that is right, a sponsor is a stocker what keeps up with you without you knowing it, they keep track of you, and see how much money you have, they even want to keep track of your sex life, if you do not do what your sponsor wants you to you will be kicked out of the club and slandered, threatened, and maybe even beat up.
      or even robbed, have your house broken into.
      they will follow you around get you fired from jobs, they will tell people that you are a sex pervert or a homosexual, or a prostitute,
      god knows what,

      • candlemajick,
        i can relate to your post.some of those things happened to me and the rest i hear have happened to others. And at times i ponder if the main person a chronic relapser as he was called,i had problems with in there prior to my leaving, which could have ended up with me being physically attacked,if those problems in some way weren’t happening because one of my sponsors and others were playing with that man’s head, just as some were playing with mine.
        I have found out that many of the people in AA including my sponsors are just like many of the drinking alcoholics i meet outside of AA.Or knew PRE AA.
        I recall saying to one of my sponsors,i may was well be back in the pub, with the people i left behind.Because this is just the same.

      • if i ever find out for sure and can prove it, that any of them have wrongly slandered me, i am going to take them to court for slander.I have went through my life haveing the pot call the kettle black. i hold my hand up to it when i do wrong. But i wont tolerate slander anymore especially from people who do worse s**t than i do. I left there wishing them the best of luck , not wanting any hassle, and to get on with my life.But after i left as always when i try to leave, they started to hassle me.I ended up comming on this web site,not long after.I heard a sponsor say in meetings. “Why cant they just leave quietly ”
        well why don’t they let people leave quietly.
        The mormon’s were easier to leave.

  13. i had some problems with my sponsors. One ir 2 of them said things that made me feel guilty when infact i had no need to be . yes i found them controlling. some more that others. but then anyone can be controlling including myself.I never did like the idea of haveing a sponsor, but i always had one.I followed what i was told to do around that.I dont blame them, they were also doing what they were told to do.
    I never sponsored anyone, but if i had stayed there i would have, eventually.I took phone calls from newer members at times. I said some of the same things to them that had been said to me,not the verbal and sexual obscenities…but things like
    go to meetings. Pray to your HP..And i made mistakes with others too in there.
    So i dont blame .
    i didnt do anything to cause my sponsors suffering but i had one in particular that said things that made me think i was.

    Some people will try to exploit your human nature by trying to make you feel that you are the reason for their suffering and so be able to control you. That’s why you should be careful and pay attention to the way you deal with others. If you noticed that someone that you didn’t hurt in any way is trying to make you feel responsible for his problems then know that he may be trying to control you.

  14. its sunday so i have nothing to do today. I have spent this morning reading posts.Yes,
    i think AA makes people more controlling, or gives already very controlling people
    a way to control others and get away with it.Whatever it is and whatever it makes people into.
    I didnt like it.It isn’t what i want to do.It isn’t where i want to be.Some of the things i heard there were not new to me. And i was okay with.But there was a lot i was not okay with.
    Controlling what my beliefs around god were, is one of those things i didnt like.
    i have found out through the internet that i can be forgiven around my denouncing
    my beliefs. That has helped me.But i still dont want a church.
    I found some of my old songs last night. That i wrote the last time i was out of AA for a long period and trying never to go back.
    I wrote them in 2006. One is called after the rage.The only people that have caused so much anger in me PRE AA were a couple of my long term partners,and even they didnt make me feel that much anger.
    i dont want to live in that sate of being.With my guts turning in rage all the time.
    Thats another reason i have to keep away from them.

    • “i think AA makes people more controlling, or gives already very controlling people a way to control others and get away with it.”

      That’s why sponsorship can be so dangerous. The potential for power and control is always there just by the nature of that relationship. Confessing your sins and telling your “deepest darkest secrets” to someone breaks down boundaries and gives them great power over you. There may be many so-called “good” sponsors in AA who can be trusted, but consciously or not, they still have power over their pigeons just because they put themselves in a position of authority in the first place. The potential for abuse always exists, and there is little or nothing a person can do when it happens. Why any of this nonsense is necessary in a “support group” to stop drinking is anybody’s guess. Maybe it’s part of what separates a cult from a support group…

      • rick 42,
        one of my longest standing sponsors was a man, i’m a woman.
        Out of them all he was the least controlling, but still controlling at times.
        I do thank him though because it was he who told me i wasn’t an alcoholic and didn’t need it and also spoke out in my last few meetings saying critical remarks about the big book , and also what is it AA “stand by your man.”
        he knew i had been very controlled most of my life.
        But he confused me beause one day he would be like the rest of them A buckamite or programmed, then another day he would be like us lot.
        However i have noticed i am the same now..
        perhaps he was deprogramming while still going to AA.
        i don’t know. I have decided to try Smart or SOS or one of the other forms of help.After i get back from working at the music festival. No point in my attempting to stop weed when im going there.
        Its my feelings. i’m afriad of. Im scared of showing anger or pitying myself or any of the feelings we were to be rid of in AA.Even PRE AA i was scared of my feelings. its like people think its wrong to have them. I best keep out of AA if i do stop , i don’t know what i would do if i let my anger out in there.
        And these perverts and wife beaters they just make me into a violent criminal, well its nearly happened i have had to be held back from hitting people like that.PRE AA
        Why don’t they have there own meetings. And have that stated on the meetings lists.But then that’s me trying to control AA, that’s what they would say.

        • Sally, There is nothing wrong with anger, or even some resentments as far as I’m concerned. Those are all just part of being human. Of course, there are appropriate ways to express those things, but I think you already know that. It might be good for you to try those other groups and I hope you find them helpful.

          • rick 42,
            yes i do know. I have to be carefull of how i respond to some, and in some situations. I did anger management which helped. Apart from very ocassionally shouting verbals,I haven’t lost my temper and hit out at anyone for 12-13 years, and i was protecting myself when i did.
            I had to make ammends to him, he battered hell out of my for years, but i had to make ammends. for the 2 times i hit back.
            AA harmed me when i was told to do that.
            AA harms lots of people.
            I had put that in my past ,that relationship. and had no resentment to him.I had understood he was in heavy drug addiction.But that wasn’t enough for them i had to make ammends.
            he used me for money and beat me up many times.I am disabled for life.
            he refused to go anywhere for help.
            he was an adult and no virgin, but 16 years younger than me.
            i depended on him for …not to be alone.
            that’s why i thank AA for teaching me to be alone.I don’t want to try NA again. It was full of young heroin addicts Who shared about mugging old folk on the streets.Battering them and pinching. there bags n wallets.And the 2 men from NA who came harrasing me were both younge men. One came on to me. But i said no.I only tried to have a relationship with a younger man once, i don’t ever want to try again .
            I recall a woman there haveing her car pinched by one of the new commers there.
            no i’m not off back to AA/NA, i got some good out of the bad in it, like learning to be alone. but i have nothing but contempt for it.And i dont feel safe around any of them the young or the old.The new commer. the relapser or the old timers.,

  15. rick42- a few wekks ago I went to an ICYPAA for reseach for my film. It was in Phoenix. I attended a couple of workshop type meetings.

    Holy shit…I could not belive what these young people were saying. They handed out a piece of paper to try and get the kids to do a 4th step. After the guy was done talking she began telling everyone how you know longer need to write your own 4th step. ” Your sponsor will do it for you” OMG

    Do know how horrible that is. Now these teens and 20 something’s are gonna have some wacko crazy ass women telling them their ‘Character defects: They are going to sit in judgment of them…

    Its bad. I left thinking…maybe I should go infiltrate the cult and stir things up. Problem is…I can not stomach the energy in the rooms anymore. If I have to go to a few 4-5 for my film I will, like a reporter would or an actor studying for a role, but honestly the crap going on with controlling sponsorship is cult like and manipulative and extremely HARMFUL to youth under 25.

    I did get footage of them chanting and whooping in their crazy ass way. One good thing…we went to the dance. It was 2/3’s men. The young girls were hanging on to each other for dear life and some looked as if they were pretending to be gay to keep the creeps away.

    And then there were the 17 years old walking around just easy prey. I saw two older men in their 60’s hovering and I went to security and warned them of what I saw. I talked with a group of 5 teenage girls. They all reported to me they had been 13 stepped or sexually harassed, in the event and in AA in general. No one would speak to me. They were afraid as if the cult leader was watching and had control. I swear I thought I was in UTAH and the Mormon leader was going to show up in any second. IT WAS BADDDDDD!

    I did have a great Italian Meal in a nearby restaurant and the people in Phoenix were very friendly, so it wasn’t all painful.:)
    If I’m going to make a film about a difficult subject, I need to have some fun!

    • Wow Massive, that’s some sickening shit you describe. I could never do anything close to what you do. It makes me sick just to run into those assholes in public. I admire you for your efforts though.

    • I was in a relationship for a few years with a man who was 16 years younger than i was.He was 38 when we split up he asked me to marrie him he wanted the reltionship and i knew him for a year before i said okay.And i ended it because of his abuse of me.

  16. I have two sons age 23 and 18 and too many young people need help…

    and that help is not disempowering AA or NA. !!!!

    POWERLESS …1935

    EMPOWERED …2013


    • When I was in detox (2004), I mentioned that I thought something that was empowering would be helpful. Guess how that went over.

      • did they tell you were could be too smart for AA , but never too dumb!

        But no …tell us…what did they say to you….

        • The first time it was a real nurse (smart, hard-working, non-AA member) and she just said “AA is not for everyone.” In contrast, the brainwashed counselor started yelling and told me, “we do this for a living and see people like you all the time.” I bet they do see lots of people that are looking for something empowering. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if they really do see and routinely yell at lots of decorated Army veterans with a graduate degree and a stable family life. 🙂

  17. Massive – Naw, the counselor was a (very) young woman, so I kept my cool. Many years of experience have taught me that folks that get angry when you simply ask them a reasonable question or state an idea are just reacting in a defensive mode because they “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground”. LOL

    • I can get angry. I got angry because someone here pulled me for saying aa were sick f***s.
      People get angry for lots of reasons and when they are detoxing.
      I have 3 university degrees.But that don’t stop me getting angry sometimes.
      I didn’t come here to sit in judgement of other people i came around help to leave AA.
      I am against teenagers being raped or molested.Such as the 19 year old that raped the 13 year old girl. That’s a child.
      But In the UK the age of consent is 16, in Scotland people can wed at 16. And have a child..
      I don’t think the people here are alcoholics or addicts.If they are they must be able to be perfect even when they are drunk.
      I did a lot of drinking pre AA and drug use. And i didn’t go to AA/NA because i was on the violent or sex offenders lists.Or because my parents sent me there.
      I went of my own accord.But i didn’t get there with perfect behaviour.
      i hope the film helps the children and teenagers that are being.
      sexually abused in AA.
      I thought i belonged here and could help in some way with that cause.
      But i don’t, and cant. And there isn’t anything i can do to help .Haveing been in my long ago past, someone who had a relationship with a younge person myself. And being someone who can get angry at times and swear. And someone who will not go into an AA meeting or keep contact with them, so i wont be going back there.
      I also want to get on with my own life now. i did enough running round helping others in AA.While i was there. I’m going to be helping myself from now on.
      Some of the posts have been of help to me.this did help me keep away from AA, not leave it, i left before i came here. But it helped me leave it in my heart and mind.and now i want to leave here.
      I will be shutting down my account now after this post, and getting on with my life.
      i think your all doing a good thing to help stop children being abused in AA …but i would be carefull not to end up on a witch hunt.

  18. sally ” but i would be careful not to end up on a witch hunt.”

    a witch hunt ???? why are you saying this? Many steppers when they want to back peddle said this to me as I was doing the early work in AA in 2009-2010.

    This is just a cop out. We are addressing real crimes, real predation. real financial predation, rapes, toddlers being molested, teens being preyed on and Murders like Karla Brada and Kristine and Saundra Cass.

    People use that phrase when they want an easy cop out. A witch hunt was once against and towards women who were healers and such who were burned at the stake for bullshit reasons.

    I’m glad you got something by blogging. I defended you about swearing and said be my guest …you were just venting. We will miss your posts but people come and go. Moving on is healthy.

    • massive thanks.
      what i men’t was try not think everyone is a sexual criminal.
      Some people have relationships in or out of AA with people who are younger than them. Because both those people want to. I did,he was 24 when i took up with him.he had been in relationships before.He was not drunk the day i said okay i will try. I said i thought him too younge for me. He said he didn’t care about the age took a year for me to say okay. I fell in love with him and he said the same. However theses days i know it was depenadncy on both parts.I was 16 years older than him. But we both did it.I think i was more responsable because i was older.And should have been stronger.However we both did it. And we both got hurt.
      I’m not a stepper , I didn’t get that far just went through them time after time ,but didn’t get too much time to pass it on before i would relapse again. Thanks for defending me around the swearing. I have since repented of it ….i think
      I apologise for any distress to you or others’. your the last person i would want to fall out with.
      witch hunts a phrase i used pre aa, it was a bit extreem.

  19. I’m sorry you are leaving the blog but people get what they need and leave and move on.

    Feel free to blog anytime you want. 🙂

  20. Massive,

    I was wanting to ask you what you think of 12 step programs like nicotine anonymous, and sexaholics anonymous ?? I have been listening to them on cellular phone groups you find the telephone numbers on the web sites,

  21. I listen to sexolics anonymous, they seem like they are better people,
    I listen to the cell phone groups, it seems like it helps me more then being around around AA and have to give them money to go to

  22. I too, have had a bad experience with my sponsor. After I told her ‘fuck aa,’ she yelled at me ‘you stupid little bitch.’ Now, one might look at this and use it as fodder for the ‘down with aa’ campaign. However, my overall experience in aa has been positive. This same sponsor had, prior to this instance, devoted countless hours to my recovery in a loving and meaningful way. I went back out after this incident but I am back in aa now. I find it funny almost to read how ungrateful the posts are on this message board and it makes me not want to sponsor any more women because I don’t want them to sound like some of these posters. I mean, come on people- your sponsors are not fucking superheros. If you pay attention to anything other than yourselves, you might realize that sponsors are fuck ups too. It is actually partially my fault of replacing my sponsor on a pedestal- aa did not tell me to do that btw. It is her fault for lashing out but I have forgiven her. She is a human being after all. I have learned a lot from her especially how to not say negative comments to vulnerable people. I really do love my sponsees- they are powerful and smart women. Would I do anything for them? No. I believe in self-preservation. Some of the posters here really need to get a grip on reality. AA works for a lot of people. Why dis a program that is doing some good in the world? Is it not perfect? Lead us dummies to a more righteous way if theres a better solution out there. This board wreaks of denial and self-pity. Grow up and keep comin’ back;)

    • My sponsors all but one, were abusive, patriarchal, close minded idiots. I’ll tell you it’s so funny to see the thinking of a true cult believer. You sound very confused. You can’t have it both ways. Who are u to come on here giving us a peice of ur mind? What happened to love and tolerance being ur code. Or honesty open mindedness and willingness? Oh yeah ur a typical hypocritical stepper. Only practice those ideas when it’s convenient.

      Those of us that were FORCED in AA at young ages are targeted by the abusive women. Especially if we have trauma in our background. I was taught that truly working the program meant having a sponsor who was in ur face. Bye bye now go back to the little cult, man HOW I LOVE MYSELF SOOOOO MUCH TODAY!! I’m pretty awesome, lol. Haha, I bet I got under ur skin, lol. Go call ur sponsor now, lol.

    • Liz,

      If you are brain washing your sponsees properly, they wont be ungrateful. They will stand up in a meeting and “thank you” for saving their lives. Keep the dummies coming back.

        • Massive,

          Thankyou! I just think it’s so sad to refer to one another as “dummies and drunks”; then find humor in it. How is that normal? Of course, they also try to convince you that you are not a normal as the rest of society.

          Im sure there are many who are offended by these negative, false labels. I guess thats where; “take what you want and leave the rest” applies.

    • I missed this… it is completely typical AA form. Here’s how it goes.

      1. Start with something that sounds reasonable and balanced.
      2. Morph it into pro AA – with nothing but personal evidence, conjecture and myth.
      3. End with an order and thinly ( or not so thinly) veiled putdown that resembles bullying.

      It’s like they can’t help themselves. It is so common, it is a recognizable and heavily repeated form of communication from them. Now, the question is, do they learn it in AA, or is it native and AA reinforces it? It certainly is seen in many other venues, but the consistency from AA people is really astounding.

      The really interesting thing is she is a good candidate for waking up and leaving the cult. She already left once and there had to be good reasons. Little does she know those reasons are still valid and the likelihood is very, very high she will leave again, and for good this time. And for the record, my post isn’t about me, it is about her and the form of communication of AA cult people. It is hard to call that self-absorbed, denial, or self-pity in the real world, but, then again, AA cult members seem to exist in the own fantasy world where what they say is real regardless of the evidence. Not a putdown, just an experienced observation. ok, a putdown. 🙂

      • spj, I think you’re onto something. I know there were times I felt like saying “fuck AA” too, and yet stayed. I was afraid to trust those feelings partly because the thought of leaving was far more terrifying. It was much easier to “surrender” and even immerse myself more in service work. The problem of course is that those feelings never went away, and in the end, that was a good thing.

        • Fear of what might happen if I left and the constant brainwashing kept me from leaving AA as well. It was a long process to get out, but I am out and so many things are different in very positive ways. It is a big wonderful, and sometimes not so wonderful, world and I no longer feel compelled and obligated to devote a large portion of my life to a flippin religious cult of very unbalanced people. I am not a volunteer counselor, baby sitter, or life coach. I have graduated to being a normal guy with above average life pursuits and can have a drink once in a blue moon without guilt, fear, or abuse and bullying from highly judgmental and righteous cult members. It feels good and it is good.

      • You’ve said that before and its true! They start out ok but before u know it they end with a order and a put down. Pretty much happens every time a stepper comes and shares their so called wisdom with us, lol.

  23. liz- I am going to leave your post up for a time so the world can see the stupidity you believe having been brainwashed by AA yourself. liz said “This board wreaks of denial and self-pity. Grow up and keep comin’ back;)”

    Really liz? You are coming on a blog that is not yours telling what to do, how to feel and how to act….such stepper inappropriate behavior…bye bye liz…go back to your lover ….alcoholics anonymous….you don’t belong here.

    Sponsors are not therapists and should never be giving advice. Back in the 1970’s sponsors were just someone who was there if you called and shared “their experience” …however, I told mine to not Speak to me in a certain way when I was 19 in 1976 when she called me stupid and used the phrase sick, sick , sick….! She never spoke to me that way again.

    As for the past decades, the courts have given these average people way too much power. Rehabs have also contributed to the galvanizing and reframing normal citizens into seemingly powerful and oh so wise demi gods. Which clearly they are not. In fact, my last two were great women who were not power trippers but shared their wise experience and we NEVER talked about the stupid steps either or the book ….They were lovely women and I still talk to one of them. And the other I never had any problems with either. So my issue was /is not with them…HOWEVER , many posters here HAVE HAD VERY BAD experiences with many of them.

    You don’t belong on this site. Cant you read…..its called LEAVING AA and by virtue of your post we CAN read and we CAN “get” that you are clearly not leaving it, clearly you have not been harmed , and clearly you do not need help leaving.

    So why are you on this site? Never mind don’t answer that . We don’t care what you think.

    So this conversation is now over and we are saying goodbye to you….enjoy AA all you want. But this is a supportive loving environment for people HARMED by AA and its members and we already have taken enough of your people’s rhetoric with your stupid sayings and 1930’s religious chantings and slogans.

    Thanks for stopping by but we don’t really want to debate that here…go over to Facebook where there are 7 anti AA pages and people will debate you there…see orange-papers which is a closed group as well.

    • Massive-

      I am glad you left Liz’s post up at least for the time being It galvanizers some of the reasons why I left. As you pointed out Liz saught out an site for people “leaving AA” and then goes on to not share her positive experiences with AA so much as to attack and name call people who have had different experiences. She indirectly is saying: “it works if you work it”. Also she completely discounts others experience. Well Liz didn’t have an bad experience so therefore we all must be wrong. I am sure she does love all her sponsees, and the fact she has many gives hint to the kind of stepper she is.

    • “Grow up and keep comin’ back;)”

      How is it possible to grow up if you can’t graduate? And what’s with the little smirk at the end of that comment?
      I think this site just gave Liz a glimpse of how people feel when they escape the clutches of “loving” sponsors just like her. It’s good for her to see, even if she is too fucking arrogant to learn from it. Her programming is complete, no boundaries exist anymore, the unacceptable is acceptable now. The best she can do is lash out at people who actually are trying to grow up, while she counsels her pigeons to keep crawling back to their abusers, over and over, for the rest of their lives…

      Feel free to delete this when you delete her comment Massive. Her post is so entertaining though, I couldn’t resist.

      • Rick42- OMG I love your post. 🙂 No I think its gonna stay up for now. Its a very good example as you said of their lack of boundaries and how they think they can just boss anyone around like a “bad 13 year old”. The semi movie stars, or should I say the has beens are really punitive in Hollywood.

        They have a double whammy of the sickness “see I’m better then you, cause Im sober, so and so many years” …plus I’m a star … bullshit.

        • Thank you Massive. Her post might be comical if it weren’t so sadly typical. The way she describes how she learned to like shit sandwiches is something many of us went through. The tragedy is that people like her also guarantee that the cycles of abuse in those rooms will never stop.

  24. I think when the lawsuit drops the shit is gonna fly and the blogs and anti AA Facebook will go viral in a matter of months. . Lots of people in AA are fed up and contacting me !
    Lots of sexual weird assaults !

  25. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one that thinks AA is for a bunch of complete nut jobs. It attracts control freaks, mysogynist’s, religious zealots, and very angry people. The worst part out is they take it out on the “new comer”. It’s like they’re a bunch of drooling/hungry lions, and someone just threw a fresh bloody steak in front of them. You can always tell who the co-dependents are too because they just “run up” to you after you get your “Welcome Chip”. I had two sponsors. Both of them seemed pissed off that I drove a BMW, and proceeded to tell me that “I needed to sell it”. Umm, Hello? I wouldn’t even take that advice from my Charles Schwab advisor let alone someone that just told me they’re living with “Hep C” because they used to be a prostitute, and heroin addict. No thank you! Buh-bye now, and forever. Those AA people can drink they’re Big Book cool-aide but I’m spitting mine out. For good! I also don’t need anyone to tell me what a “worthless-piece of sh*t” I am on a daily basis. Good grief! How is it than anyone can even stand to be around any of these people? I’m staying on my own happy planet thank you very much. I’m happy with my Peligrino & lemon. Just the thought of those people glaring at me along with my “bling jewelry” with their disdainful glances at me that say in their nicotine infected voices, “You make my ass twitch” from across the room …is enough to make me run like hell away from all of them!

  26. I never was able to crack the sponsor code and it only reinforced the notion that I didnt fit in.

    One of the reason might have been that I got completely stonewalled by the women from day one. I was told “women to women” all the while the air turned frosty whenever I tried to introduce myself or say hello.

    I found a female sponsor though, at a meeting 45 minutes away (she hadnt gotten the memo that I was Persona non Grata). She lasted a week. Two weeks into AA I was 13 th stepped by a “guru” and decided to have a cry in bed, not answering my sponsors daily call. That set her into a panic, calling repeatedly, yelling on my answering machine that men were dangerous, that I was sure to drink and that the drink was the Devil.

    Female sponsors 2 and 3 told me they would sponsor, but never showed up, never answered calls.

    Sponsor 4 spent an hour telling me about her glorious sponsor lineage and how she sponsored with compassion, humility and love. Then told me to fuck off to NA, print out the steps from there and under no circumstance call her unless the first step was finished.

    Sponsor 5 felt, like sponsor 1, that her group of friends were particularly sober and that “her” meeting had the highest concentration of “sobriety”. If I knew what was good for me, I would keep close to her. She also decided that I was not sober if I took painkillers for migraines. After all, she was a dentists assistant.

    Last “sponsor” was the male leader of a step-group of men and women, doing one step a week. People relapsed continually, and when they did, he would go slag them off to other members that he considered to be “more sober”. As time passed by, quite a lot of people in the group had relapsed, reflecting badly on this guy who considered himself to be a great guru. One week, I had a deadline for handing in my thesis proposal and chose to do that over handing in my fourth step. Resulting in a complete guru meltdown over the phone. I was litterally playing with death by working on my degree rather than writing the steps. The situation was such an emergency, this 60-something cab driver threatened to show up at my place and force me through the fourth step then and there. I declined and left the group.

    Its just a mess! Never again.

    • Oh, sorry!

      Copenhagen, Denmark….Yes, it happens here too. And why wouldnt it? Its not a cultural or local problem. Its a by-product of the entire ideology and social struture of the AA. Yes, there are good people and “good sponsors” in the 12 step communities (whatever being a good sponsor means, no one seem to agree on that). But personally, I do not ascribe their humanity, warmth and integrity to the workings of the programme. They might believe that themselves, but I dont. The supposedly “flat” structure, laissez-faire approach without sanctions or regulations and the naive assumption, that a bunch of dysfunctional individuals with a host of mental and social problems, automatically will be able and willing to self-regulate once in the rooms-well….. Not only does it go against what most people know about human behavior (esp in groups), let alone the last 50 years of behavioral and social science findings. It also goes smack up against Bill W´s own depiction of the alcoholic as a morally corrupt, deranged individual with an ego apt to run amok at any time.
      “Put them in a group, tell them they have a disease thats responsible for the bad stuff they do, but as long they go to meetings and dont drink, God still loves them”.
      It makes no sense and the head in-the-sand approach allows for a Jungle Law atmosphere that reward the biggest and most self-serving bullies.
      So in my mind, the people I have met with good hearts and good values do not owe that to AA really, more likely despite of it. Sure their sponsors are going to disagree 😉


      • hi free agent- okay . thanks again …now we can see that this is a global problem. I knew is was. I get emails from all over the world. I didn’t have the budget to fly internationally but I wished I had. India, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Pakistan, Germany, England, Hungary, Sweden, …these are the countries that contacted me over the years. Its really depressing to see how big the MONSTER AA is and how embedded.

      • I agree, it is despite it. The people who are total jerks just see the program as a way to take their controlling nature to new heights.

        I got a mild sponsor, one who I knew wouldn’t make many demands or demean me. I knew I had to do it that way or I would be in big trouble. Other people got bragging rights out of having very mean sponsors. That’s incredibly sick IMO. I never trusted anyone with a sponsor like that since they would be trying to score points by being able to get something on someone else.

        My husband’s sponsor used to get mad at people and flash them, literally, pulling his privates out and waving with them. It took a while but finally DH realized that was some sick shit, along with the fact that he got after him for daring to believe that a thief in the fellowship really was a thief. He’s never had a sponsor again. I’m happy about that.

  27. Okay, I have a funny story that really exemplifies the misogynst’s this program really attracts. I’m “new”, and I get my welcome chip. After the Friday night meeting some guy I’ll call “Dick” invites anyone that wants to come for Pizza. I’m thinking, “Wow, maybe it would be fun for a change to hang out with people that don’t consider getting plowed, and hurling out of their car on the drive home”…fun. So I go. There are five men, and then there’s “me”, along with one other very young woman, (I’ll call her Britney), with more piercings on her face, and nose – than an African tribe put together. But hey, I’m “eager” to meet new friends. (Plus, she was actually really cool. A lead singer in a band, and she seemed very, very smart/articulate for 20 something.) I’m making chit chat conversation at this Pizza with “Dick” when I say, “Well, I’m pretty humble—” The dude “cuts me off right there”…yells across to the end of the table in front of “everyone”…and asks, “Hey, Britney. If someone says they’re humble – are they?” Britney answers, “Well, of course not! But why are you asking?” Dick: “Well, Raven here has just told me she’s very humble.” Britney (squirming), “Hey, Dick. You have to tell me why you’re asking me this stuff before you suck me into a conversation like this.” (She turns away — and starts talking to the person next to her. Obviously uncomfortable at “dicks behavior” toward a newbie.) So Dick goes on and on to tell me how I need to read “The Sermon On The Mountain”…asks for my email which I reluctantly gave to him as he “preached to me for the next 30 minutes” …saying, “I don’t think you could handle or comprehend what I’m going to send to you.” And btw, I’ve sponsored nearly “everyone” at this table! At this point my skin was CRAWLING. My first reaction was to just tell him off and call him a “Supreme Dick”…but I didn’t. I merely excused myself “gracefully” saying I had an early writing assignment to get done early in the morning. But I was “swearing” all the way home just thinking of how glorious it would have been to DUMP the pitcher of Diet Coke all of “Dicks” head! I don’t really “hate” anything…I’m all about love & peace. But these people brought out the absolute worst in me…and then blamed their own caustic behavior on my “ego” and “self will”. Hey, what about self-preservation. When we get that very sick feeling in our stomach? Yeah, that one? That means you just might be in the company of a complete sociopath! They should re-name themselves “Sociopaths Anonymous”…but that won’t work because as soon as they open their very scary mouths…the cat’s out of the bag!

  28. Thank you all for the article and the comments. I couldn’t read through all of them, but what I have read has helped me make a very important decision. I’m sure that I’ll be told the same things. That I’m going to “die”. I’m not “doing” the deal and on and on.

    I’ve been stuck on Step 3 and taking back through 1, 2, and 3 many times because they think I’m “not getting it”. It’s very stressful. I was just assigned to do another 90/90, but I don’t want to focus on my alcoholism any longer. I want to take that time to do some of the things that sober people enjoy, but AA is consuming me.

    I’m personally not stuck on step 3. I’m working with my therapist and I’ve known God for a long time, even while I was drinking…I was just upset with Him. I was told to read nothing but AA material for now so I will “get it”.

    I asked “Well, I read my Bible every morning, I can’t read that?” “Well, you can read that, but nothing but that and AA material”.

    Then the stories about how they did the “church” thing too while they were drinking or drugging. I personally don’t do the church thing, but read my Bible by myself where no one else sees me do it because that’s between me and God. So being accused of doing the “church” thing really hurt me. I have had spiritual experiences before and during my alcoholism, but I keep being told that I haven’t. REALLY?! They never even asked me.

    Thank you all for your posts. Although some of this was written some time ago, it’s still there for people like me to seek out when facing this harsh reality and deciding to walk away. I’ve experienced almost every part of this in one way or another. EVERY part. Thank you.

  29. HI stuck on three- and Welcome !

    Glad you found us and that we could be of help.

    You are right. Listen to that voice. They are so crazy at times. Sounds like with you they are also very controlling. Who are they to tell you how to believe and really?????what you should read in the privacy of your own home?

    Sounds like they need to be bitch slapped and told …”you don’t tell me how to live!!!! Now back off.

    But we don’t do that, or many don’t say this when they cross those boundaries.

    Sorry for being so tough and swearing as it sounds like you are a person of faith, but this stuff makes me mad.

    • Hey Stuck (great handle!)

      I’m with you there, I also read the bible but am not religious or churchy either and it’s nobody’s business but mine! AA is very good at getting into our heads but you are an ADULT and you get to say what happens in your life for good or ill. Your decisions – good ones and bad ones – are yours, and only yours. You can ask advice if you like, but people don’t get to TELL you, you are not a dog … SIT BOY! Haha. If you need support maintaining your abstinence there are lots of good options, SMART recovery has face to face groups and lots of stuff online.

      Welcome, this blog is a God send, it’s really helped me have the courage of my convictions and to stay gone,

  30. I cant thank Massive enough for this website. It helps me everyday to deprogram from AA. It’s great knowing I am not alone. As far as Sponsors OH MY GOD!!! I have had some real doozies. My first one was this 6’2 woman who you use to shout out how much time she had (25 years) She was so scary even the men were afraid of her. Well needless to say someone threw her at me and said this will be your sponsor. Long story short this women told my shit in a room full of people with me in it. After the meeting I told her I no longer wanted her. Fast forward 20 years and this woman who scared me so much is Bi-polar and very ill. I have had other sponsors but very brief. I always believed no one had a right to tell someone how to live there life when there life is so much worse. I also believe they (men and women) go after newcomers to abuse them. It is in my opinion a very dangerous program. I am so much happier since leaving those fucking morons!! I actually have more respect for someone who drinks in a bar than the people in those rooms. The line that always drove me mad was “We are the chosen people!” I’m like are you fucking kidding me!! We are one step up from prisoners. I find the people in there are complete Hypocrites!!!

  31. Thanks for creating this site. As a new AA member with now six months of sobriety I am becoming uncomfortable with all the God stuff. The night I received my token for six months sobriety I got my first roasting by my sponsor for “not doing enough work”. As an educated, non-religious, free thinking, science based professional I am starting to see the criticism of this organization the fits a fundamentalist cult. I am grateful they help me stop abusing alcohol but it was not God it was the honesty within the meetings that helped me realize that I why I was drinking. I was drinking because I could not admit to myself how unhappy my marriage and life was, and I was numbing the pain of that while avoiding the difficult reality of addressing the fact that I need a divorce and lose half of a lifetime’s accumulation of wealth. I feel I am recovered and am starting divorce proceedings. I think I want to leave. I doubt ill drink again as I seem to prefer myself sober. Too much religion for me. I don’t see the need to confess my “sins” in step four to a bunch of people who can barely read aloud. The internet provides a great forum to question the dogma as just like in church if I ask a logical or difficult question im told I must just trust in God.

    • Hi John

      Well done on your six months and getting your life back on track. Have you heard of Smart recovery? It might be a better fit for you, see here:

      There are some great authors offering insights and alternatives to AA – you might like Lance Dodes who wrote the Sober Truth, Stanton Peele who has written lots of books about ‘recovery’, Hank Hayes, Ken Ragge, Charles Bufe, to name just a few.

      Orange Papers website is great too (not the forum, it’s not moderated and alas is like the Wild West).

      I think that trusting our instincts and listening to ourselves is a very big deal when we are ‘recovering’ (I don’t like that word but can’t think of a better one!) and if you think that AA is not the right fit then there a) I’d trust that instinct, and b) there are other alternatives, SMART being one of them.

      Not everyone who was at one point abusing alcohol needs to be abstinent for life, that is a personal decision based on individual circumstances. I now moderate quite happily after 12 long years in AA and I find it astonishing now that I ever called myself ‘an alcoholic’ – others find the simplicity and finality of not drinking at all much better for them. However, AA’s ‘total abstinence is the only way’ is not backed up by evidence. Please note I AM NOT telling you to go for a drink, but I am saying that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to recovery. For those choosing to have a go at moderation (after a serious period of deprogramming from AA) HAMS harm reduction seems to be a popular choice for support and tools.

      Stanton Peele – whom I think you’d like – says that recovery from addiction is about values (I’m hugely simplfying here).. Having a life which has meaning and value and in which we are invested and willing to work hard to achieve and maintain is the biggest insurance against addiction or relapse into addictive behaviour. Having goals, plans and dreams and being disciplined about achieving them is the solution. This definitely resonates with me, I had a rather immature approach to life I now see (including avoiding difficult situations and problems) and I realise now that functional adults get stuff done, difficult or not. What I’m trying to say is GETTING A LIFE is the biggest thing you can do to help yourself. For me sitting in dreary church basements telling myself I was diseased and broken was counter productive to that aim.

      Anyway, welcome on board, blog away, you will find support and some great people here.

      Best wishes

  32. My experience in AA did help change my thinking. And without this change, I don’t know if or how long it would have taken me to get off of that cycle of binge drinking on weekends, saying I’m done, and then come Friday, repeat. Listening to others in the rooms was helpful and it got me out from under the rock I was living. This was seven years ago. I had some slips along the way and gradually started to get bigger coins. The last several years have been 9 months, then an isolated drinking slip, then 9 months. Currently, I am getting close to a year and have no delusions or dreams about drinking normally. I don’t want to ever touch a drop of booze again. So why do I post here? Well, here is the reason. First, I do not want to discourage somebody from trying AA. It helped me. I have seen it help others. Yes, it has saved lives from what I have seen. But here are some issues that came up for me as I experienced them. I recognize also that the things I criticize, I am partially at fault, though I thought I had good intentions at the time. The first issue was my home group. It has two meetings each day. The later meeting was later and had lower attendance, but it was the one I could make it to with my work schedule. Because of the lower attendance, it was often on the chopping block and there often seemed to be a movement to cancel it. This pitted the two groups against one another and it got distasteful. Gossip was flung around from both sides. The most distasteful thing for me was the money talk. One group claimed the other was not contributing enough and was did not like having to “subsidize” it. In spite of the fact that the 2nd meeting did not cost any additional rent. The rent would have been the same if there were 1 or twenty meetings. The business meetings resembled a corporate downsizing meeting. Funny that we worry about downsizing in the work world, but never thought I’d experience it in AA. The meeting did survive, but only after a very heated vote. There was cursing and shouting in the vote meeting. It was distasteful and I regret being involved. I was on the side of keeping the meeting open. This controversy created resentments and after that often felt the cold shoulder from others in the AA community in our town. The 2nd issue for me was sponsorship. Mine was and is a good guy. At first a friend, then a sponsor. We got along well when friends, but not so good when in the sponsor dynamic. Mine was younger than me by several years. For some reason this seemed unnatural and unequal to me. We had a disagreement and a falling out. Gradually our friendship improved. Then a couple years started sponsoring again. Then the same issues arose. I felt like my sponsor (I’ll call Clark) was controlling. According to him, I was not working the program right because of my annual slips and had other issues not related to drinking. Though in his mind, all of my problems were related to drinking and because I was not working the program like “he” was. I just could not comprehend how drinking 12 beers in one year caused me to be disappointed about not getting a promotion I had worked hard for. How a romance that did not materialize was related to me not working the program right. My shyness, social anxiety, lack of confidence etc were all related to not working the program. There was one issue that my sponsor flipped flopped on when we discussed it. He actually took the opposite approach even after I changed. It was then that I realized that he was just wanting to take the opposite opinion just to be in control if I decide A he would tell me B, and vice versa. I realized he may have liked the position of power that he was in. When he would tell me, “I want you to have what I have”, I felt like he was dissing my entire life and painting me as a failure. Maybe it made him feel good, I don’t know, but it was not good for my self esteem. These sponsor meetings became very distressful for me and I even allowed it to spoil a recent holiday season. I felt a Paradox. AA had helped me, but now it was causing me new sets of problems. At about this time AA had an annual event. Awkward is the only way I can describe it. I felt the “cold shoulder” . Probably carrying over from the meeting close controversy and my differences with my sponsor. I had a moment when I was sitting at a table by myself thinking “what am I doing here?”. There were also instances when I put myself into a level of danger, though small. Be it giving rides to people in drug ridden areas (one guy carried a gun….boy was that uncomfortable). I told myself, if something bad happens to me, it is in God’s hands, I’m doing what I think is right. I now would not recommend this. Setting boundary is the proper course. So after all this, you might see that I got burnt out from AA and have stepped back. Thinking of where I have come, I realize that I was doing other things when I first started getting sober. I started taking walks, playing team sports, developing friendships outside of AA, and improved my diet and health. Which was odd. Eating better, exercise, and quitting smoking are not really discussed very much in AA. Smoking is even encouraged sometimes! Even though it is more deadly in some respects than alcohol. Well this is what I have. Hopefully it does not sound like sour grapes. I do not really want to come off as an AA discourager. Maybe I just recommend not letting it to big a place in your life. Set your boundaries, contribute some, but don’t let it consume you.

  33. Reading this page and the posts are helping me understand my AA experience turned sour. I want to add a few things that bothered me then and now in hindsight. Back to the sponsor: Having been through the steps twice and now starting again, my sponsor was wanting to “start” all over, because I was not working the steps properly. Despite the fact that I was in the program for more than seven years and had actually had more sober days than he in that time frame (he had 5 or six continuous years though, which I did not). I had made a lot of progress, and I was taken aback that he felt I needed to be “broken down” again and be “built back up”. It was humiliating and distressing. Each time I walked away feeling like crap. I can only assume that this was his denial that I had made progress and to justify his view or perhaps his ego. I can’t say for sure. He wanted me to analyze what was wrong with me (tho it really would have been him doing the “analyzing” and him taking my inventory). In other words he wanted me to get back and over-analyze old junk and resentments that I had already addressed and largely resolve…I thought. Though I was averaging one drinking episode a year (maybe 12 beers), he told me that I wasn’t working the program and was doing what “I” wanted to do, and was making it sound that I was on a continual drinking binge with no improvement. I also noticed that after he had a birthday, he took extra license to dominate and control…and not just me. It was no demonstration of humbleness for sure. And then there is this saying I often heard and now cringe at (I am not sure if it is common across AA): “AA is a selfish program” and goes on to paraphrase “If one of us is going to drink, I’d rather it be you”. I must have heard this a hundred times while in the program. I never did agree with it, but I just said to myself “blah, blah, blah” and paid no attention to it. Now I see it more clearly. I may add, selfish in the sense of how some want to control and dominate and self justify that it is only the way that they work the program is the correct way. Now having said all that. There are some good sponsors. I tried sponsoring but had no luck in getting people sober. I thought I was too easy. Perhaps I was. I always have had difficulty being firm when necessary. Needless to say, I was the opposite of tough. But now I understand, I am no more qualified to be a sponsor than I am a brain surgeon. In a way, maybe my sponsor was right about “starting all over”. I am going to start all over, but out of the program. I continue to be sober and am approaching one year. I will keep the good things I learned, because there are some. And keep the tools that help me. And speaking of tools, I will use my disenchantment from AA as a tool to not drink.

  34. I think the thing about leaving AA that is great is when you have a “lapse.” no one cares. Like in AA they tell you that you are wrong and you haven’t worked the program correctly etc.

    In Smart, they are just looking at the good you have done and that it was just as in your case ” 12 beers a year. Really ….in AA you are told you lose it all and have to start over.
    Its just wrong.

  35. I find it interesting that the outside sponsorship system craze is so powerful in an inside job program – Why? Do people need mommies and daddies ? do people need a big guy little guy setting? Are sober people more afraid when sober than when drinking ? Actions speak louder than words – Whats wrong with PERSONAL willingness to do some one should of done long ago? Drunks I know grew up – the duelers are caught looking for a mommy or daddy – Whats this big outside sponsorship craze all about surely not growing up.

    • No one in AA has received any formal training to advise you in your personal affairs. Yes, there are a few clinical psychologists that attend (a rarity) and many, many alcohol counselors who are woefully misinformed but really, no one in AA is qualified to guide you through your life. No one.

      The Big Book never mentions sponsorship either, this is a new phenomenon that I believe sprung out of the Synanon model of recovery, whereas a tough, hard-as-nails fellow ‘recovering’ addict orders you around at their whim and gives poor and meaningless advice.

      Yes, addicts stayed sober at Synanon but once they left the premises most used again. Being ordered around as an adult is soul-killing. It’s a very disturbing practice that is indicative of a cult. Why adults (or even teenagers) need a stranger to insult, scream, advise or influence you in your daily activities, presumably for life (!), is a show of general weakness and helplessness in our society.
      The old America is gone. We are now passive agents of Bill Wilson’s channeling, whose dark and dirty demons have infiltrated our culture, leaving us saddened, confused, hopeless, and loveless.

      I believe that almost any legitimate religion is better then the Bill Wilson religion.

      Go back to the faith of your youth, or find a new one.

      Go to Temple, a Protestant service, the Catholic mass, Buddhism, anything–anything to chase Bill Wilson’s demons away and out of our society is fine and dandy.

      • “Go back to the faith of your youth, or find a new one.”

        I would just posit that one may want to just take the reigns back go with science, and stop looking for faith healing through fairy tales.

        Be your own higher power, because frankly no one else can, and no one cares about you as much as you do…. or at least should.

  36. Knowing that I am very anxious as it is my sponsor said “Why are you sitting there looking crazy?” Well I don’t know but I may look nervous considering the social anxiety, and sitting in a room full of strangers. It’s moments like those that drove me to use before interacting with others. If my sponsor is going to be a trigger then I think I don’t need one… Eek!

    What’s keeping me from using is not wanting to be hung over or to come down again, not her or the program.

    As stated above, I’m going to attend meetings and groups related to my spiritual beliefs. It will give me something positive to think about and do. Something besides the possibility of relapsing.

    • P.S. Of course, church won’t be the only thing I do, but it will get me more comfortable with being around people. That’s kinda my goal right now. I thought NA would help get me feeling better in social situations and I’d eventually feel comfortable speaking in front of a group of people without being wasted. It’s hard when you are called “crazy” though.

      • I was only in the program for 2 weeks and from what I’ve read I’m glad I didn’t continue. I don’t need to be put down like that. I would wind up feeling worse!

        • HI NANOMORE- welcome !

          @it will get me more comfortable with being around people. That’s kinda my goal right now.

          I understand what you are saying here. Glad for you that you only went for 2 weeks. When I first attended AA as a young teen – I needed friends. I didn’t need sexual 13 steppers. There are also FACEBOOK EX AA /NA groups to communicate with.

  37. Yeah, that is a great post.

    I identify with it strongly. I’m in AA, have been for ten year, but only one year sober (for the third time). This time is different though because I am affirming my own instincts and intuition by not buying into being a “good little boy” and blindly following a “sponsor”, who is basically an unqualified person who hasn’t had a drink for a while. With the help of others in the rooms, I am using them in a way that helps me. And in order to do that i have to have very strong boundaries about what other people say, do, or think about God (I am an atheist), and the things they say are essential to recovery.

    Those who speak as sober individuals and share their experience, strength and hope through their stories and personal journey of change I can hear. The role modelling they exhibit allows me to copy and emulate those I like, using the methods those I like used or use. Those who hide behind much twelve step mantra without disclosing much about themselves are to me fearful people who are living a perfectionist type of
    aa life whereby they are afraid to be honest about their frailties and humanness.

    I live sober to be free (as much as possible) of unnecessary fear, doubt, and especially shame.

    Shame was at the core of my drinking, so an AA life with others attempting to shame me into complying with their version of a rigid and perfectionist twelve step program is not for me.

    However, I find the meetings, fellowship and general twelve step direction very helpful.

    To attend meetings and say my truth helps me to recognise and live my truth, and it also helps me to cope with those who can’t handle my truth, necessitating their occasional ostracism or criticism – motivated by their need to be right and to attempt to manipulate or coerce others into compliance with their views.

    These behaviours which many members of aa exhibit are evidence of their own fears. Those who easily cope with diversity of opinion and recovery are those who are living the true aa way of life in my opinion.

    Acceptance is the answer to all my problems is a tenet of AA recovery, and this includes acceptance of those within AA who find different ways of discovering their own spiritual experience. My spiritual experience involves a massive shift in perceptions and attitude. Without a distinct change in attitude and personality, in seeing my place in the world differently and finding a life of personal meaning that is the antithesis of my pre AA life, I would have struggled to stay sober.

    Within the AA context writing about and discovering my own faults and past shame, dealing with it, discussing it, doing some sort of spiritual acceptance and change around it then living a different life than before is a making of amends to the universe, to every person I will never meet again who I hurt in the past.

    Living an esteemable life to the best of my ability improves my self esteem. Living a life of amends, gratitude, and forgiveness toward others as much as i can frees me from my former way of living.

    This gentle life of love is to me living the twelve steps. I make amends directly where appropriate, but I do not live a life of fear and insecurity out of the fallacious belief that if I am not complying tightly with a perfectionist twelve step process that I will drink, and end up with jails, institutions and death.

    Living a life of freedom and love prevents me needing that drink, and AA is part of that, and returning to it, with acceptance of others who do cling to their fearful rigid programming is good for me. I have strong awareness of them, but I practice letting go of that, seeing them as in some way “sick”, just as every one of us on the planet is in some way “sick”. To allow people to be what they need to be, while attempting to be who I need to be is how I allow myself to avail myself of all the benefits of the spiritual connection available at aa meetings while protecting myself from any need I may feel to have to comply.

    Humans are basically tribal and tribes do like to enforce compliance with belief systems, using ostracism, criticism and aggression to achieve these ends. I recognise that as normal, but choose to walk through it, knowing and living my own truths, hopefully gently but firmly and honestly expressed.

  38. HI Paul S. I will read your post when I get back – in a few hours. I still think the brainwashing is difficult to stop with all the readings at every meeting. Unless you showed up late after they are read. Could help . and true – some are stronger then others.

    I like that you are spreading your honest truth. They preach it but dont practice it .

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