Dysfunctional Thinking and Recovery Mentality


     Individuals involved in 12 step groups differentiate themselves as alcoholics or addicts.  They will cite differences in the nature of addicts and alcoholics and they will claim that the ‘diseases’ warrant different groups.  Such as AA for alcoholics and NA for addicts. Although the only difference is the substance of choice; individuals in recovery feel that their individual differences warrant separate recovery programs.

     Where absurdity really begins to take foothold is that alcoholics like to differentiate themselves as high bottom and low bottom drunks (Wilson, 2009). The rooms of alcoholics anonymous have risen labeling the severity of addiction to some form of status.  As well, individuals in recovery argue amongst themselves over what is more severe in nature; being an alcoholic or an addict. 

     The disease model allows for these morbid fascinations and ridiculous explanations.  There is a slight reasonableness that exists in this argument of severity. Obviously there are degrees of severity to which an addict suffers from addiction.  Logically, if there are varying degrees of addiction then these degrees can be assessed as mild to severe. Hence, the classification of high vs. low bottom addiction, but this classification is overshadowed by the asinine reasoning that has developed in and around the rooms of recovery. Alcoholics and addicts will type-cast themselves by severity of their addiction.  Thus labeling them as, “I was the kind of alcoholic that would steal anything” or “I was what you call a stumble bum” or “I was an addict that would shoot anything in my arm”.  

     The part that individuals in recovery refuse to understand is that the addictive behavior is the same for an addict as an alcoholic, because it is the addiction that is the problem not the substance.  This classification of alcoholic and addict has occurred more out of a function of ego than out of a need for specific emotional understanding.  Addicts and alcoholics will go to different meetings because they say that addicts can understand addicts and alcoholics can understand alcoholics.  The reasoning is similar to cancer patients attending a support group with other cancer patients.   Cancer sufferers offer emotional support and comfort for each other.  This form of therapy is an excellent means for relieving stress and loneliness amongst these suffering individuals.  The problem is that because addiction is not a disease and instead a behavior; alcoholics and addicts attend meetings and breed dysfunctional thinking.  Such as arguing over whose addiction is worse or the differences between addicts and alcoholics.  Contemplate these questions:

Do cancer patients sit around discussing which form of cancer is worse?

Do cancer patients sit around praising their support group?

Do cancer patients continue attending support groups for the rest of their lives?

Do cancer patients believe that they suffer from a spiritual disease?

Do cancer patients brag about getting cancer?

     It is an insult to individuals who suffer from fatal diseases when alcoholics compare themselves to them. Essentially, as a member of AA, you aspire to the belief that you have a spiritual disease that caused you to drink and screw up your life.  Your resentments, fear, anger and selfishness are the cause of this affliction. Luckily for you, God gave AA a spiritual cure.  He didn’t bother to give the cure to anyone else such as AIDS sufferers or children with cystic fibrosis; instead he made alcoholics the chosen people for his healing grace.

     This type of twisted thinking is not just isolated to morbidly discussing the disease of alcoholism and addiction.  Alcoholics will sit at meetings, typically before and after, and discuss the various differences in their sobriety.  Alcoholics will say things like, “addicts are different”, “they don’t have good sobriety”, “a lot of addicts think they can drink”, and “addicts may stop using heroin or cocaine but many still smoke pot.”

     These conversations are reminiscent of discourses held by religious scholars arguing Angelology, as they would debate how many angels could fly through the eye of a needle. Alcoholics have risen being sick and sober to some form of qualitative analysis. It is not enough that one is not drinking but they have to also have the proper form of sobriety.  Basically anyone who is sober but is not following the 12steps or is not following the 12steps properly does not really have quality sobriety.  Individuals in recovery call this phenomena being a ‘dry drunk’.  Individuals will sit around before and after meetings gossiping about who has good sobriety and who is a drink waiting to happen. 

     The worse part of this dysfunctional environment is that the persons with the worst or best stories (depending upon how one interprets good or bad) and longest length of sobriety is often the person who is most respected and viewed as having quality sobriety.  They call them AA gurus or old-timers.  They will strut around the room with arrogance unparalleled.  They often look down their noses at new-comers but will often have a following of individuals called sponsees. 

     These old-timers will stand in front of a room full of people and orate their stories as though they were addressing an audience at radio city.  They will dramatically boast and lament over their drinking escapades. They deliver their stories as well rehearsed speeches and shower AA with praise for saving them from eternal drinking.  It is disgusting and pathetic behavior.

     Meetings are an exercise in hypocrisy. AA teaches people to be humble but in an arrogant manner. If you were the worst drunk in the room you are a wise person in AA.  AA followers wear their alcoholism like a badge of honor even though the AA Big Book tells them to be anonymous. AA is truly a paradox consisting of fundamentalist Christian thinking twisted with cynicism and superstition. 

     Sadly, the dysfunction of living a recovery lifestyle deepens.  This is probably why 95% of the people who attend AA walk away very quickly (Hodgins, 2009).  Here are some examples of the dysfunctional lifestyle that grows out of consistent AA participation. 

     Imagine that a 17 year old girl was having trouble with drinking and her psychologist referred her to AA.  Imagine that this girl became a part of an AA group that prostituted her to older men.  Imagine that this girl then prostituted other underage girls to these same men.  Does this sound farfetched?

     An AA group known as the Midtown group in Washington D.C., was the place where this all happened.  Girls were being prostituted to older group members by other women sponsors.

"I pimped my sponsees out to sponsors," she said, referring to the AA members who agree to watch over a fellow member's sobriety. "I encouraged them to sleep with their sponsors because I really believed that this would help with their sobriety."

Rianne McNair, who left Midtown in 2005 after three years in the group, said, "Several of my friends had sex with Mike Q. One of my friends went to the beach house, and her sponsor assigned her to Mike Q.'s bedroom. The younger girls looked up to these guys; Mike is idolized, like, 'I got invited to Mike Q.'s house for dinner tonight. Can you believe it?' (Fisher, 2007)"

     The girl admitting to these actions was really a victim herself.  When she came to AA she believed that she was going to a meeting to receive help with her alcoholism.  Instead, being in a weakened state of mind she was easily coherence into doing things she would never have done in a normal state of mind.

     Routinely, children are sent to AA meetings for help with substance abuse and unknowingly are placed in harm’s way.  Meetings take place at night without professional guidance and without professional supervision.  Think about it like this; who goes to AA?  Many of the individuals who are attending AA are court ordered.  This could be anyone with a DUI to a rapist on parole.  Because AA is anonymous one does not know who these people are or why they are there.  At the minimum parents are sending their children into the pathways of drug dealers and chronic substance abusers.  Here are some excerpts from letters that really tell the story of many people that have met with ill fate at AA.

“I started dating a guy who was about ten years older than me and very quickly he became abusive.  He started using heroine again and when I began to question AA and meetings he would scream and yell saying, “AA is the only way to get sober!”

The relationship continued to degenerate as his drug use escalated.  By the end of the relationship he was passing me off to his friends to be used sexually. 


A few years ago there was a big book study in a small town south of here called Creswell. The leader of the group was a man named Jerry S. This particular group was nicknamed "Jerry's Kids". I know him and he is/was revered in the circles of the fellowship, kind of like the elders at Midtown and the Pacific Group. The people he "helped" talked about holding hands while kneeling and praying and studying the big book vigorously. These guys recruited newcomers by going to the local detox-center and getting sponsees. And the same was expected of the newcomers. Recruit, recruit, recruit…About four years ago shockwaves erupted in the rooms when Jerry wound up marrying a 15 year old girl who came to meetings seeking recovery. The sick part is he had to get her parents' permission to marry her. How's that for AA at its best?

                                                                   John S.  (Hodgins, 2009)

I wasted years of my life going to AA.  After the first three years I was ready to blow my brains out.  I had no personal life and I was unable to meet normal people.  Everything I did circle around my AA friends.  Worse yet I never had any close knit friendships because everyone would stop attending meetings.


They were intrusive in my life they told me to leave my husband because he would not accept a spiritual lifestyle.


     Members of AA counter argue that these are just isolated incidences.  They say that these are a few bad apples amongst many healthy individuals, but this explanation is far from the truth.  Most of the members of AA are well intentioned but their constant involvement with other dysfunctional people creates many problems. 

     There is no professional guidance or rules in AA.  Simply speaking the AA doctrine has very flimsy morality.  Because there are no leaders, (other than God), no one will speak out against illegal or wrongful acts.  Many young women are routinely taken advantage of in AA, many of them underage.  Yet no one says anything because it would be a violation of anonymity and it is considered wrong to judge other people in AA.  They call this taking someone’s moral inventory.  But the worse part of this insane doctrine is that abused persons will blame themselves for having been taken advantage.  This is a fundamental concept in AA; self-incrimination. 

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.  If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.  But are there no exceptions to this rule?  What about “justifiable” anger?  If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad?  Can’t we be properly angry with self-righteous folk?  For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions.  We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it (Wilson, 2009).

     Individuals in AA are routinely sexually harassed or taken advantage of and very often the victims are convinced they are at fault. This is a learned dysfunction wrought by AA indoctrination. If this behavior took place in any other organization, for example say the local little league, there would be police involvement and outraged parents.  Imagine that a child went to little league and a coach coerced him or her into sexual relations.  Imagine that the coach and other teammates told the abused child that they were the one at fault and they should just worry about themselves.  The only difference between this scenario and AA is the coaches are sponsors and the children are fellow substance abusers seeking help for their problems.   

     This brings us to the worst part about AA.  There is no culpability within the organization.  In fact AA claims that it is not an organization and that their leaders are not leaders but trusted servants.  If an individual in AA sexually abuses an underage person the AA group will refuse to be held accountable.  This is evident in the responses that AA releases with regard to these incidences of abuse.  This is what AA says after the incident at Midtown:

What does Alcoholics Anonymous itself have to say about Midtown? Nothing. A completely decentralized organization, AA has no spokesperson and no national leaders. Its worldwide headquarters in New York—which largely serves to distribute its literature and help people set up local meetings—declined to comment. AA has always relied on locals to govern themselves. Midtown can claim as much right to the Alcoholics Anonymous name as more traditional AA groups. For struggling alcoholics already wary of seeking help, it's another reminder that it isn't always easy to find someone to trust (Summers, 2007).

     What did current members of the Midtown Group have to offer in the way of statements?

Despite repeated requests for comment, no current Midtown members agreed to be interviewed on the record, citing AA's tradition of anonymity in the press and their belief that negative publicity scares on-the-fence alcoholics from getting the help they need (Summers, 2007).

     This is the standard AA mantra, “No comment, because of the tradition of anonymity.”  This is a blatant avoidance of responsibility by the AA corporation and its members.  In many cases such as the Midtown Group the group’s members could be considered guilty of depraved indifference. 

     This is the true atrocity of the recovery community.  Underage girls and boys are routinely abused and subjected to mind numbing self-incrimination.  People seeking help are fed twisted irrational pseudoscience mixed with bad religion. Yet, nobody answers for the crimes. 



Fisher, M. (2007 , July 22). Seeking Recovery, Finding Confusion. The Washington Post,

Hodgins, T (2009). It's spiritual not religious. Retrieved July 1, 2009, from Orange-Papers Web

     site: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-spirrel.html

Summers, N. (2007). A Struggle Inside AA. . Newsweek, Retrieved from


Wilson, W (2001). Alcoholics anonymous. New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World


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