Addiction

The Hijacking of Sobriety by the Recovery Movement

Sobriety isn't an abstinence fixation; it's about having purpose

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Greg Hernandez/Flickr

Recently, The New York Times reviewed a film about octogenarian chanteuse-comedienne Elaine Stritch. The 89-year-old Stritch decided some time ago to give up alcohol, then resumed drinking—but only one drink per day—in her 80s. Here's how the Times described this development: "As a recovering alcoholic, Ms. Stritch, after more than two decades of sobriety, decides to allow herself one drink a day, usually a cosmopolitan. She seems to be abiding by her rule, though it can't be easy."

The Times seems to say Stritch is no longer "sober" since she decided to start having a daily drink, a decision "that she seems to be abiding by." Note the condescension towards Stritch and many others like her. It seems nearly impossible that Stritch could, at her age, hide excessive drinking while being filmed. But the Times questions whether Stritch may be doing so.

This degrading babble traces back to the appropriation of the term sobriety by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which has grown into a large and powerful recovery movement that dominates American thinking about addiction. Before AA hijacked the term, "sober" simply meant not being currently intoxicated. Now, sober is a state of being—one you can only achieve through total, lifelong abstinence if you ever drank alcoholically. 

According to AA and the recovery movement, no former alcoholic can drink moderately. Any drinking whatsoever, according to these absolutists, and you're no longer "sober." One might think that a person who drinks regularly in a controlled, non-intoxicated manner is obviously not an alcoholic. Wrong!

When I suggested to my AA friend Ken (not his real name) that Stritch shows one-time alcoholics can control their drinking, he objected strenuously. For Ken, "the fact that she has to limit herself to one drink a day proves she's an alcoholic." That's right, drinking in a controlled manner proves you're an uncontrolled drinker.

Many alcoholics can reduce or moderate their drinking

Ken says he's "never known an alcoholic to resume drinking in a controlled manner." Ken mainly knows ex-drinkers, like himself, who are in AA. But this group is a small percentage of recovered alcoholics, the large majority of whom never go to AA or enter rehab.

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)—a massive government study of 43,000 Americans' lifetime alcohol and drug use—about 75 percent of people who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty rehab programs and Alcoholics Anonymous. And only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment. (Note that 13 percent is the upper figure for 12-step recovery, since ever participating does not mean the person recovered due to AA or rehab.)

The NESARC study also revealed that these recovered alcoholics don't as a rule abstain. "Twenty years after the onset of alcohol dependence, three-fourths of individuals are in full recovery," it notes. "More than half of those who have fully recovered drink at low-risk levels without symptoms of alcohol dependence."

A fixation on abstinence hinders recovery

Plakat für "Maurin Quina".

For recovery absolutists, no one recovers from alcoholism without AA, just as no one can recover without giving up drinking forever. What arrogance! Who gave these self-appointed experts the power to tell everyone how they must achieve recovery?

Just as the recovery movement dictates the language of recovery and sobriety, it also tries to dictate the only true way to achieve recovery. The focus on abstinence is the alpha and omega of the 12 steps. But it requires people in recovery to decide that their lives revolve around an empty space, which is not only undesirable but unsustainable. Abstinence is fine as a recovery plan for either the short or the long term.  But you can't commit to nothingness, only to health, goals, and plans.

In my book with Ilse Thompson, Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program, we note that sobriety is best built on having a purpose in life. Recovery means that you embrace a life of engagement and meaning; that you overcome your addiction in the service of your values, plans, and life goals. It doesn't necessarily mean that you never take a sip of alcohol or any consciousness-altering substance again, ever. 

We have ample evidence that "addiction is a solvable coping problem rather than a chronic, recurring disease," as a recent Science News article put it. Being positively engaged with life encourages better coping skills and natural recovery. A number of long-term studies support this idea.

The author of one of these studies, Gene Heyman, found that "being married, having a college degree, fearing arrest, facing high drug prices, and developing drug-related health concerns made heavy cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol users more apt to quit or substantially cut back." 

Aren't these the obvious reasons that people would quit or cut back on their addictions? Obvious, that is, unless you're convinced of AA's disease model of alcoholism (or its modern neuro-scientific equivalent, the "chronic brain disease" theory of addiction). As long as these perverse ways of viewing addiction hold us captive, we won't recognize the most evident paths to achieving recovery and sobriety. In fact, we won't even understand what these terms mean.

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  1. The author of one of these studies, Gene Heyman, found that “being married, having a college degree, fearing arrest, facing high drug prices, and developing drug-related health concerns made heavy cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol users more apt to quit or substantially cut back.”

    Legislators addicted to spending money they don’t have — not so much. Maybe *these* heavy users *do* have a “chronic brain disease”.

  2. Gene Heyman, found that “being married, having a college degree, fearing arrest, facing high drug prices, and developing drug-related health concerns made heavy cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol users more apt to quit or substantially cut back.”

    That’s also an argument in favor of prohibition.

    1. Doing something could lead to doing something else, which could be bad, I think it’s time for some common sense ban laws.

      1. Is it too much to require that people prove beyond a reasonable doubt what they propose doing is harmless before they are allowed to do it?

        1. using that logic, driving a car would be banned.

    2. Then again, being imprisoned ruins your life which could result in the dissolution of your marriage or the loss of your job. As a result, imprisonment for drug use might actually lead to a higher recidivism rate because it removes the things from your life that could have had a stabilizing influence.

    3. That’s also an argument in favor of prohibition.

      Except…

      It’s none of anyone else’s fucking business what I choose to put in my body.

      So there’s that.

      1. Unless …

        Robert meant prohibition of marriage and college.

      2. Any supreme court rulings to back you up?

        1. The Supreme Court? *laugh* How many divisions do they have (compared to the Executive)?

        2. Why would I need a SCOTUS ruling to back up the Constitution?

  3. Why can’t we not be sober?

    1. +1 TOOL

  4. My father was an alcoholic. He handled booze differently than I do. I can sip a little hard alcohol or drink one beer and think, “Hmmm, that feels good. Time to stop.”

    He would not want to stop, he’d get home and drink until he blacked out or ran out of booze (which rarely happened because he kept a lot stockpiled) or it got late at night and he fell asleep.

    So, anything but abstinence won’t work for someone like that.

    1. Kind of the same deal with weed. My GF and I could theoretically buy an ounce of Mexican weed for $50 or so and it could last us for months.

      Theoretically.

      1. The problem tho, prolefeed, is that like the words, “racist” and “fascist,” the words/phrases, “addiction,” “alcohol abuse,” and “sobriety” have been stretched beyond there original meanings to the point of virtual meaningless. Someone like the way you describe your father is one thing. But now, anyone who is merely caught using a substance that is illegal — regardless of how infrequently the substance is used, how well he or she can control his or her use, or how “responsibly” he or she uses — is deemed by definition to have a “substance abuse” problem and is demanded to agree to lifetime abstinence from all substances, including tobacco and liquor. The circular logic is: the substance is unlawful, therefore, any use is abuse, accordingly, any user is an abuser and must be treated as suffering from substance abuse.

        Similarly, anyone who fails to drink responsibly is not punished for being irresponsible on that occasion; rather, he or she is immediately deemed to have an “alcohol abuse problem,” regardless whether the incident is part of a life pattern or is an isolated, out-of-character occurrence.

        It is fair to ask whether the recovery industry is overreaching, and whether it fails to distinguish those suffering from true addiction and “abuse” from those who are not.

        1. THEIR original meanings!!!

          Damn auto-correct…

        2. The circular logic is: the substance is unlawful, therefore, any use is abuse, accordingly, any user is an abuser and must be treated as suffering from substance abuse.

          Similarly it’s assumed that anyone who abuses alcohol at any point in his life is a ‘substance abuser’ no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

          I know plenty of people who drank too much in college and are now totally reasonable people who can go out, have a couple of beers, and not lose control. If any of them had ended up in the cavernous maw of AA they’d be solemnly informed that they’re addicts for life, despite the fact that this is clearly untrue.

          1. I tried aa because I developed a drinking problem that got worse over the years, despite having and achieving goals such as school, career, marriage. Needless to say, it had progressed to a really bad point, and it had tried many methods of moderation. I went to a meeting and felt it was for me, so I stuck around. The philosophy I see practiced, and that I practice myself for the last 7 years, is that “if you feel you have a problem and want to try this, try it. We will help you. If you find this isn’t for you, go with God, and if you need to, you will be welcomed back.”. I never witnessed the hard lined fascistic attitude referenced in some of these posts. But abstinence is clearly encouraged in AA, and there is nothing wrong with that.

        3. I agree with you and the article that the prohibitionists are trying to mix up people who can’t handle any alcohol at all without going on a binge, with people who currently drink too much of it but who could choose to drink a moderate amount.

      2. p

        I suspect that’s what most people think of when they imagine the stereotypical alcoholic. And, I’d guess, that’s what programs like AA were set up to combat. Their problem is, it’s a one size fits all answer and there are MANY different types of drinkers (some alcoholic others not).

        Do you need it? Can you stop? Does it negatively impact other aspects of your life? Is it causing health problems? Is it causing legal problems?…

        Every drinker is different and the prescription they need to eliminate the negative impacts their drinking causes may not be the AA answer of total abstinence. Some can simply choose to drink less or when or where they drink.

        Good article.

    2. Conversely, my Grandfather would drink throughout the working day (he owned a small business), with a little more concentrated drinking and an early bedtime after dinner. In his late 60s he was in the hospital having his gall bladder removed, and was told by the doctors that he’d have to give up drinking or die. So he quit, cold turkey. But a few years later he decided he missed it, and started drinking again, in moderation, until he died of cancer a few years after that. I don’t think he ever “couldn’t control himself” with regard to alcohol, he just never had much reason to exercise self-control. To the extent that his drinking caused problems for him and those around him, he didn’t much care, until it became a life-or-death matter.

      The point being that, as Peele points out, regardless of how a problem looks from the outside, the causes may vary internally. An externally prescribed one-size-fits-all solution may not be appropriate, and may be counterproductive to some, even if is helpful to some or many others.

      1. Yes. But the major issue not addressed is the failure strategy of AA. One drink and now you are a complete failure and weak. This alone can lead people to drink uncontrollably. A more rational response based upon psychological research is to stress reasonable control of the drinking and not allowing the drinking to interfere with other aspects of your life rather than complete “sobriety”. This article is spot on.

        1. You’ve clearly had no experience with AA
          no one cares if you screw up and drink, thats how we all got there in the first place, its not a perfectionist movement its just people hanging on to whatever life was left after they wrecked it with their substance of choice, I do AA because quitting drinking was my only option, i do not cast judgement upon people who do drink, but i would not hang out with people drinking since it has lost its amusment. i prefer to hang out with other people who know what its like to be day to day sober after being in a stupor for many years, hence hanging out at AA.

          1. Amen. I drank myself into a corner as well, and found aa 7 years ago. I “joined” because I had to, and now I stay because it’s given me the opportunity to look at and live my life honestly, and be a better person. It has little to do with the drink, and all about living, which in turn keeps me away from a drink. I know that you probably understand. Good luck to you, brother!

      2. Did it provide problems for those around him? Before he got sick, that is.

    3. maybe so, but did you ever stop to ask why he was drinking so much?

      alcoholism and addictions in general are almost always a symptom of something (psychologically) deeper, and the targets of those addictions mask that pain. while i don’t know you or your father, it is likely he was drinking to escape something he did not want to feel or face. you obviously do not have the same problem.

      the popular premise that addicts become ‘hooked’ on drugs simply because they wanted to have fun, and got a little carried away, is simply not reality the majority of the time.

  5. Dude, AA is a religion.

    The Big Book=the Bible.

    The 12 traditions=the 10 commandments

    The 12 steps=the 8 fold path

    And,of course, they only change it to “higher power as you dedine it” in the 80s. Before that, it was God

    1. I think of it as a kind of religion substitute, as methadone is to heroin.

    2. Au20

      It seems that you are using the statement, “AA is a religion” in a negative manner. For many, AA is their church and the Big Book is their bible. And I found that those concepts work for many alcoholics because they have no “traditional” church. I am a recovering alcoholic who entered a treatment program and attended AA for several years. For me, those two things I did saved my life. Do you have first hand knowledge of AA or are you passing judgment on something you know nothing about? The concept of a higher power is an easy way for those who are afraid of God or who have rejected “religion” because of all of the “hypocrites”, to focus on something outside of themselves. By doing this, AA allows people to listen to others and stop the misguided notion that they can do it on their own. Having experienced AA and recovery and knowing many who are “sober”, I truly believe AA is a divinely inspired program and the majority of those who are “sober” and attend AA do eventually believe in God and that belief is the source of their sobriety.

      1. Even if Gord were real, I still wouldn’t be afraid of her. Stop believing in fairy tales.

    3. Really? Your book must have been different than mine.

    4. Drinking is the higher power in many peoples lives, how is an invisible man worse for the individual than excessive drinking?

  6. It looks to be about noon.

    *cracks a beer open*

    1. I go by this rule: “I don’t have to drive anywhere or be at work anytime soon. I can drink or smoke as I please.”

      That whole noon thing is for pussies.

      1. That whole noon thing is for pussies.

        You are what you eat.

      2. I agree with you during college football season. Otherwise, it would look a little weird if I take my kids to the park hammered at 9am.

        1. Jack Butler: Wanna beer?

          Ron Richardson: It’s 7 o’clock in the morning.

          Jack Butler: Scotch?

        2. Playa-

          See also Kentucky Derby day.

          The first race is usually about 10:30 AM- and I “pre-game”!

  7. being married

    Huh… I would have figured that was a reason for more drinking.

    1. If you’ve got a wife who isn’t cool, then sure. Course, that’s also a reason for leaving.

    2. When did reasons for drinking even become necessary?

    3. It sure is. My wife is pregnant. I’m drinking for 3 now.

  8. This piece makes some excellent points.

    This: . But it requires people in recovery to decide that their lives revolve around an empty space, is not one of them.

    The entire purpose of a 12 recovery model is to engender a state of being that makes a rewarding life possible, and the 12th step deals with a specific goal of making part of one’s purpose reaching out to others. Also, socialization is a big part of their program as well. Hardly an empty space, except where their intoxicants were concerned.

    AA and it’s ilk have enough debatable points and, imo, flaws, without having to make shit up.

  9. IMHO there are at least two forms of alcohol abuse.

    In one, the alcohol is the root of the problem. There are people who experience a physical craving for alcohol. Once they take a drink it is difficult to stop. Their uncontrolled drinking is dysfunctional and leads to loss of jobs, families, friends, etc.

    In the other personal problems are the root. People experiencing problems at work, with family, and so forth, attempt to ease the burden by drinking. But excessive drinking is dysfunctional, and their problems are aggravated instead of resolved.

    From the outside, these two problems may look the same, but they aren’t.

    In the first case treatment needs to focus on drinking, and it’s possible that complete abstinence is necessary to prevent a relapse. Once the person is sober the work and relationship problems may be addressed.

    In the second case the work and relationship problems are the root. Once the patient is temporarily sober, the personal problems need to be the focus of the recovery. These are the people who may return to responsible drinking, while taking care not to let alcohol become a crutch again.

    There may also be other types I haven’t observed and worked with. For instance someone may simply form the habit of drinking excessively.

    Regardless, the problem isn’t OSFA.

    1. I’d toss depression and other mental illness into the second category. It’s amazing how many “alcoholics” I’ve met that are self medicating for other, underlying problems.

      1. ^^This.

      2. Conversely there is a lot of over-diagnosis of mental health problems in those suffering from addiction problems because of the perverse incentives built into the system, resulting in resources for truly suffering people being eaten up by treatment centers looking for funding.

    2. If your situation is already hopeless, depressants are a good thing. Such a person should try to forget about everything for the rest of hir life, because nothing positive can be done.

      But if your situation only seems hopeless and actually isn’t, depressants just help you procrastinate making things better.

  10. There are definitely people who cannot have one drink without losing control. Other people can easily handle a few drinks if they willfully attempt to control themselves.

    It’s almost like people are different and respond differently to stimuli. Don’t tell the government, since this might make them realize one size fits all rules are idiotic for a world with individual differences.

    1. It doesn’t help matters that the abstinence model is very big business that relies heavily on government spending and thus, government power.

      1. Which Abstinence model is getting the government tax dollars? the one where AA is fully self supporting and the groups are sustained solely by people willing to dedicate their time and energy to help others out and ask for nothing in return except enough to keep the doors open so when the next guy comes along with nowhere else to turn they have us to help get their life back together.
        permanent sobriety isnt for everyone, but at least enough to figure out how to put your own life in order does a world of good

        1. yeah its not like people are court ordered to attend AA or anything. that would be silly.

  11. “There are definitely people who cannot have one drink without losing control.”

    Must…resist…telling…Irish…joke…

    1. My buddies and I did a really bad job of behaving like Irishmen for St. Patrick’s Day. We didn’t get that drunk, none of us set off a car bomb, and I wasn’t even pregnant.

      1. I wasn’t even pregnant.

        Not for lack of trying, slut.*

        *It should be noted that I’m using that as a term of endearment.

      2. Did you at least have a potato salad with baked potatoes, tater tots, and French fries?

        1. You forgot the corned beef, dikface.

          Which I’ve never understood the connection between the jews and the irish vis a vis their shared love of reuben meat.

          1. Corned beef was a Jewish invention from New York City, they don’t even go near “corned beef” in Ireland.

            1. Corned beef has been around for centuries, dude; it wasn’t invented here. It’s basically salt-cured beef, which was a pretty common method of preserving meat prior to refrigeration.

            2. Why does every Irish pub have a reuben on the menu?

              1. Because it’s fucking amazing. Seriously one of the best sandwiches of all time. Of all time.

                /Kanye.

                1. You got that right, brother!

            3. Corned beef hash is my new favorite canned food. So I looked up the article on wikipedia while enjoying a can the other day.

              Ireland raised beef for export to Britain. The Irish couldn’t afford to eat it for the most part. Pork was the protein of choice. Also why they adopted the potato so readily, since it grew on marginal lands that weren’t suitable for grazing.

              The traditional Irish dish was Bacon and Cabbage, which Irish-Americans changed to corned beef with, as RP pointed out, help from their Jewish neighbors.

              1. I figured it had a new world explanation.

                Whatever it is, I don’t care. Just as long as I can go to a nice Irish pub and get a reuben I’m happy. I like delis, but they are often alcohol free and liberally lit.

                1. Nothing spells ugly like the morning-after half-soused hungover deli run for belly-filling soul-healing comfort food.

                  1. I drink too much to get hangovers.

                    And if I do happen to feel down in the morn’, it’s never anything a glass of water, a bag of chips and a coca-cola can’t cure.

          2. It used to be the cheapest cut.

            1. Used to be the same for flank and skirt steaks, which is why they were used in mexican cooking. Now a nice flank steak is $10 a pound. Fucking crazy.

              1. Used to be the same for flank and skirt steaks, which is why they were used in mexican cooking. Now a nice flank steak is $10 a pound. Fucking crazy.

                Don’t get me started on chicken wings!

          3. I have never been served corned beef in about six months spent in Ireland.

            1. I haven’t been served apple pie in the last 6 months here in america. Doesn’t mean it’s not a thing.

    2. Ah, the classic Irishman’s dilemma: do I eat the potato now or wait until it ferments so I can drink it later…

      1. I am of Irish descent and that is one one of the funniest jokes I’ve heard in awhile. Thanks for the laugh.

  12. Mark Twain – “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

  13. Robert Stacy McCain is the creepiest motherfucker to run a reasonably well-known blog.

    His obsession with Belle Know borders on perverse.

    I don’t even know what to make of this.

    It’s always amazing to me that SoCons will lecture us on how horrible it is for girls to do porn, while simultaneously using provocative pictures of those girls in their articles about how horrible porn is.

    “Porn is disgusting and immoral! To show you how immoral, here’s a picture of a half-naked Belle Knox giving you her O-face!”

    1. I don’t know if he’s creepy or not, but this Daily Mail article he links to surely is:

      “EXCLUSIVE: The shocking modelling photos that show that 18-year-old Duke porn star Belle Knox is a cutter who gets ‘aroused’ by hurting herself.”

      CAUTION: It’s the Daily Mail, so it has exploitive photos, probably NSFW unless you have a “cool” boss, are self-employed, work for a porn company, etc.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..rself.html

    2. It’s always amazing to me that SoCons will lecture us on how horrible it is for girls to do porn, while simultaneously using provocative pictures of those girls in their articles about how horrible porn is.

      Dude that stuff drives traffic. That’s what it’s all about for a blogger. He’s not an academic writing something that will be published in a journal.

      It’s like all those movies from back in the day where there’d be like 80 minutes of girls being bad and having lots of sex, but then in the end they all died of car crashes or drug overdoses and so it was all a moral lesson.

      Or the lesbian prison movies. Very educational those were.

      1. Aghh I can’t blockquote anymore.

        1. Aghh I can’t blockquote anymore.

          Really?

          1. *I* can’t. PEBCAK, as they say.

      2. “It’s always amazing to me that SoCons will lecture us on how horrible it is for girls to do porn, while simultaneously using provocative pictures of those girls in their articles about how horrible porn is.”

        You mean a lot of SoCons do it? Do you have links with pictures? Seriously, does this McCain guy represent all SoCons?

        1. You mean a lot of SoCons do it? Do you have links with pictures? Seriously, does this McCain guy represent all SoCons?

          You’re right. I should have said ‘when’ Socons lecture us on how horrible…blah blah blah. I’ve seen it before, but it’s definitely a minority.

          It’s an annoying tendency, but I don’t think most social conservatives do it.

          1. Wait…are you Irish or Virginian?

            1. Wait, it was Virginian quoting you. For a moment there I thought I’d unmasked a sock, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor.

              1. I typed “quote” instead of “blockquote”. No Reasonable extension at work.

        2. I should also point out that this is a problem with anti-porn crusaders more so than SoCons. You see it with feminist anti-porn advocates as well.

          There was that hilarious Penn and Teller episode on porn where Gail Dines showed a class full of college students ridiculous porn clips as an example of how horrible porn is. It’s the same principle.

          1. Ha, I was trying to explain Peter LaBarbera and Martin Ssempa to my mother the other day. They use essentially the same playbook.

    3. It functions on multiple levels. It scandalizes and/or titillates the audience, and it provides an opportunity to feel superior.

      It’s the same reason everyone in my extended family read the Ken Starr report like it was a goddamn romance novel.

      1. It wasn’t?

        1. On a lot of levels it was serving the same purpose. It was just extra socially acceptable because Republicans were just shining the light of truth on their corrupt political enemies.

          1. It was just extra socially acceptable because Republicans were just shining the light of truth on their corrupt political enemies.

            The nerve.

  14. “The famous lagoon city of Venice has voted to break away from the rest of Italy.

    “Eighty nine per cent of Venetians backed the move to create their own sovereign state in a referendum on independence.

    “They want to create the “Repubblica Veneta”, which would not only include the city of Venice but surrounding areas.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new…..-1.1730223

    1. I mean…an independent Venice? Who ever heard of such a thing?

      1. Same as it ever was.

      2. I never realized Venetians were racist, slave owning secessionists.

        1. Here’s the reason for their seceding:

          “The Turkish Mameluke regime recaptured Syria and Palestine in 1291 and ruled Egypt until 1517. Here too, Venice managed to establish a privileged trading relationship, buying a large part of the Asian spices which the Karimi merchants of Alexandria brought to Egypt from Asia via the Red Sea. In return the Venetians sold metals, armour, woollens and slaves. The slaves came from the Balkans and Russia: males were destined for service in the Mameluke army, females for their harems.”

          http://www.theworldeconomy.org…..ublic.html

          1. The slaves came from the Balkans and Russia: males were destined for service in the Mameluke army, females for their harems.”

            Sure, but those were white slaves, so at least it wasn’t racist.

          2. And those male slaves in the army who made a name for themselves could get a harem.

            MULTIPLIER EFFECT!

      3. I’d be curious to know how they’re going to support themselves independent of Italy. They’re mostly just a tourist destination now, not a vital hub of commerce. I wonder if it matters if they just stay in the Eurozone anyway.

        1. Well, there’s no reason they couldn’t right?

          I mean, if they’re in the Eurozone they can have free trade and open borders. They could be like the Singapore of Europe.

          1. Well, they could become the Singapore of Europe if they weren’t run by fucking Venetians.

            I feel like it will be more like what I expect an independent Scotland would be: An economic backwater run by socialist idiots.

            1. Eh, I definitely believe that capitalism is a natural human trait. Even the most diehard leftists I know know how to make a profit selling weed or a car or whatever.

              Italians are very entrepreneurial, it’s just all underground because of the insane levels of taxation and regulation in Italy.

          2. Marco Polo Airport is shit and I don’t know that they have the infrastructure or geography to be a modern trading port.

            1. Do they really need to be a modern trading port? All that’s strictly necessary for economic success is freedom. There’s no particular reason for Hong Kong’s massive success or the economic renaissance in Chile except for free markets. Venice could certainly duplicate that, but given the current state of European politics I doubt they will.

              1. Exactly. Free up the market first and the jobs, money and infrastructure will inevitably follow.

                Of course, they’ll probably do it backwards. Borrow a bunch of money, build a shit-ton of subsidized/state-owned infrastructure and then pass a bunch of onerous laws and regulations to hamper business. After the collapse it will just be another failure of the free-market.

                1. GBN, Bologna has the most communists in Italy, so that scenario you worry about would probably happen if Bologna left Italy!

                  Veneto (like a lot of Northern Italy) has a strong Germanic flavor so its welfare system may be closer aligned to Switz/Austria as opposed to the “familial” one in the Southern parts that tend to prevail in Rome.

              2. I suppose, but your examples are of polities that are economically free and acting as a release valve for regions that could be generally more economically powerful were they more free. Venice has no industrial capacity, won’t become a city of towering office blocks filled with multinational headquarters and would be acting as an economic freedom zone for Italy, which is relatively weak and already has Switzerland on one border. They might do better than Italy generally but they’ll be tarred as opportunists with lax banking laws or something instead of being heralded as the future of European economic growth.

                Sorry, I’m having a peevish morning, which might be coloring my interpretation of this.

                1. I’m more optimistic than you. I think ossified and increasingly stagnant countries breaking up into smaller and more dynamic units could help mitigate a lot of the world’s current economic problems.

                  I maintain that most parts of America would end up better off in the long term if the country broke up into several nations. This would result in much more responsive governments with less entrenched bureaucracy than we currently have to deal with. The same is probably true of England if Scotland left and Venice if it were freed from an unbelievably corrupt Italy.

                  1. Also worth noting The Lombard League is behind this push. I was in Italy back in 1994 when Bossi was making all sorts of noises. It was interesting to listen to Italians talk about it.

                    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..south.html

                  2. Possibly true, but Canada has the most decentralized Federation in the West and it hasn’t really worked out as well as it could I reckon.

                    And all the countries are corrupt. It’s just that in the North of Europe it’s more hush-hush, whereas in Italy it’s accepted and more openly talked about.

                    Take the soccer fixing. All we hear about in the Anglo media is Italian match-fixing but most are just low-level bull shit games. The biggest scams in European history happened in the North – like Germany, Belgium and England. ‘The Fix’ did a great job showing soccer fixing is not restricted to any nation. Yet, the perception persists Italy is the worst – like the nonsense about diving.

                    A wise old Armenian businessman once told me, ‘The Brits do the biggest corruption.’

                  3. I’m more optimistic than you. I think ossified and increasingly stagnant countries breaking up into smaller and more dynamic units could help mitigate a lot of the world’s current economic problems.

                    I agree with that premise.

                    Checking out Rufus’s link I’m more hopeful for Venice, although I think their success will make Italy fight harder against their leaving. The original NY Daily News article doesn’t really tell us what they mean by “surrounding area” and I wonder what happens to Friuli-Venezia Giulia if they just take Veneta, or if they’d try to reconstitute a historical Venetian Republic and pull Friuli-Venezia Giulia along with them.

                    1. Fight harder is interesting because Italy always struck me as a fragile unified state. Whereas Germany seems to have gelled better, Italian regionalism remains rather strong. They’re not all that nationalistic as they’re fiercely proud of their regions. For example, Italians would rather see their rival soccer team lose to a foreign country than win Champions League for Italy.

                      That being said, ostensibly, Italy looks ripe for a dissolution project. The USA already fought a Civil War and I reckon it would be far harder without Washington fighting it.

                    2. Part of the reason why Germany united better, come to think of it, is probably because its city-states didn’t engage in vicious, parochial wars like the Italian city-states. I reckon that can leave some scars over time.

                    3. Part of the reason why Germany united better, come to think of it, is probably because its city-states didn’t engage in vicious, parochial wars like the Italian city-states.

                      OTOH the religious wars (between the Catholics and the Protestants) were something wicked.

                      Maybe the reason for better German union was that Bismarck, through Prussia, dominated the rest of Germany.

                    4. Maybe the reason for better German union was that Bismarck, through Prussia, dominated the rest of Germany.

                      That, and Prussia was a larger % of the German union than Sardinia was of the Italian union — plus there was a much greater cultural, political, and historical connection between the German states than existed between the Italian states.

                    5. I think Bismarck had a MASSIVE role in that. A professor once said, “Bismarck took happy go lucky Germany and turned it into the efficient, militarized nation it is today.”

                2. Actually, the Veneto region has a strong industrial base. I’ve detected a few comments over the years here about Italy that suggest we need to learn more about it – particularly its oft overlooked industrial and manufacturing legacy.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…..ns_by_GDP_(PPP)

                3. I suppose, but your examples are of polities that are economically free and acting as a release valve for regions that could be generally more economically powerful were they more free.

                  Yeah I think modern Europe is a textbook example of what you’re talking about. Now, maybe Switzerland is already serving as that release valve, but Venice should definitely give it a shot.

                  1. Now, maybe Switzerland is already serving as that release valve, but Venice should definitely give it a shot.

                    San Marino and Monaco are also right there, but that also shows how normal smaller, independent states are in the region.

                    The Vatican is there too, but I don’t know much about their economic policies.

                    1. //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Vatican_City

              3. Venice, historically, was the freest Republic and serves as a great model for modern America.

  15. Other reason AA are assholes: the “my way or the highway” they can take towards the 12 steps. Get sober without the 12 steps? You’re a dry drunk who is just going to relapse.

    Which really sucks, because there are non 12 step groups out there for substance addiction (SMART recovery is good) and other groups for people who need to figure out a way to moderate their drinking. But AA people shit on them.

    1. I don’t think anyone shits on them, but it should be taken into consideration that AA is an abstinent program. If you want to moderate, go to a program that supports that. Remember too that SMART has all of 190 meetings in America where a non-incarcerated or non-client person could participate despite the program being close to 30 years old.

  16. Other reason AA are assholes: the “my way or the highway” they can take towards the 12 steps. Get sober without the 12 steps? You’re a dry drunk who is just going to relapse.

    Which really sucks, because there are non 12 step groups out there for substance addiction (SMART recovery is good) and other groups for people who need to figure out a way to moderate their drinking. But AA people shit on them.

  17. I am an atheist, yet I recite the serenity prayer regularly.

  18. First of all AA doesn’t claim ownership to the only way to get and stay sober. In fact it’s stated in the Big Book that if you can control your drinking our hats are off to you – drink away. AA is for those who’ve tried all the fancy pants remedies this Author advances, but if is insights work for you, good on ya; AA could care less. AA is voluntary and does not SELL it’s remedy as Stanton Peele is doing with his work. This article is a shameless Book Promotion for this guy. And yet again, if it works for you, AA could care less and in fact is quite happy for you. AA is a spiritual program; it’s intention is to get someone to orient themselves toward spiritual progress, which will transform all parts of their lives, not just corking the bottle. It costs nothing, has a remarkable success rate for those who stick with it and is always there — no matter where the alcoholic lives or works. It’ll outlive Mr. Stanton Peele and his disparaging remarks about it.

    1. AA is voluntary and does not SELL it’s remedy as Stanton Peele is doing with his work.

      AA is certainly voluntary, however more and more, particularly for the poor, if one wishes to seek treatment for addiction there is AA/NA or nothing available.

      AA/NA are fine programs for those it is appropriate for but they are not appropriate for everyone, nor necessary for everyone whom our government has begun pushing towards it.

      I think a distinction must be made between these 12 step programs themselves and the government and addiction treatment industries’ ongoing attempt to co-op them, often for monetary or other short-sighted reasons.

      1. AA is certainly voluntary…

        Not if you get caught imbibing unpopular chemicals or popular ones at the wrong times.

        1. Which was my point about the government co-opting them.

        2. Yeah… that’s what I’m under the impression of. That a judge can mandate AA, and AA SPECIFICALLY, that is, not just any recovery program.

          Does anyone know how the law works on this? Can judges mandate specific programs they like (if you’re caught DUI or whatever)? Why isn’t it a violation of the 1st amendment guarantee of free practice of religion?

          1. Some friends and I got busted in high school and entered a first-time offender program where we had to complete rehab and AA meetings. We could’ve refused but then faced harsher penalties.

            It was all a big fucking money-making joke. My one friend would show up to our meetings (rehab/AA) wearing a tie-dye baked out of his fucking skull. Nobody would say a thing. Also, we met some new connections of other court-ordered people. A lot of wheeling and dealing goes on at these rehab places; it’s like a naro stock market.

            I remember one kid, he was a real smart kid, but got busted selling crack. He’d never been intoxicated in his life but was offered a possession charge and rehab because of his young age. The whole drug war is a fucking farce.

          2. I think it would depend on what is available in your area. I personally am against mandating to AA but in just about every place I have lived since becoming sober, AA is the only game in town. If someone doesn’t want to do it, then just tell the judge you’ll take the punishment. The point of it all is to get someone to do something about their booze problem without incarceration. But if a person feels that strongly, by all means! Tell the judge you’ll be happy to go to jail.

    2. AA is voluntary and does not SELL it’s remedy as Stanton Peele is doing with his work.

      Except for the people who are forced to attend treatment as part of a court sentence.

      1. That isn’t AA’s fault though. It’s not like AA and the court system brokered some kind of deal.

        1. “That isn’t AA’s fault though. ”

          Sure it is.

          “our program is 100% voluntary, under all circumstances, we cannot accept court ordered offenders, as they aren’t voluteers, the program cannot work on them” –if AA had integrity

          1. That violates one of their rules, Tradition Ten: “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

            They can’t bar someone from attending, and if they refuse to sign attendance cards that seems to violate tradition ten.

            1. No. A group can refuse to sign court papers. You can go to many AA meeting sties and the legends have “no court papers”. People needing those signatures will find meetings where they can get them. i hve personally been a a part of groups that chose not to participate. Do a search of Akron meetings if you’d like to verify.

              1. I think a specific group can do that, kinda like a closed or gay/lesbian meeting or a men only or women only meeting, but I don’t think the organization as a whole can adopt a charter like that.

                1. The organization as a whole is open to anyone that wants to recover, but gourps are autonomous and can make those decisions.

                  1. Right but the above poster was claiming that “AA” could refuse court cards as an organizational policy (as opposed to groups). I’m suggesting they actually can’t because of tradition ten.

    3. Dude, I’ve been at meetings where people have said that it’s the 12 steps or nothing. That if you aren’t spiritual you’re doing it wrong.

      God, getting a dui sucks. I didn’t even get convincted (cop didn’t show). My lawyer just said that if i did get convicted it would look better that i went to meetings.

      1. Will you be compelled to go back and give George an apology?

      2. I have too, but what these people have meant is FOR THEM, it WAS the steps or nothing. I know many people that did everything under the sun they could in order to find relief from their alcoholism and what worked was AA. Good thing, too, because where I got sober, there were no other alternatives.

    4. “has a remarkable success rate for those who stick with it”

      No, it really doesn’t. And it’s no better than quitting cold turkey.

      http://www.orange-papers.org/o…..eness.html

      1. Yes, the OP is full of information that is twisted up and patronized by angry people. In fact, few people frequent the forum with any regularity and some have decided that it is too toxic to participate much.

        If you don’t want it and don’t think it works for you, find something else. But there are many many people that feel AA has been a very positive part of their recovery. If they do, what skin does it take off of anyone else?

  19. John Hinderaker kicks the Washington Post’s ass twice in three days.

    And yet, a still deeper level of corruption is on display here. Juliet Eilperin is a reporter for the Washington Post who covers, among other things, environmental politics. As I wrote in my prior post, she is married to Andrew Light. Light writes on climate policy for the Center for American Progress, a far-left organization that has carried on a years-long vendetta against Charles and David Koch on its web site, Think Progress. Light is also a member of the Obama administration, as Senior Adviser to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the Department of State. The Center for American Progress is headed by John Podesta, who chaired Barack Obama’s transition team and is now listed as a “special advisor” to the Obama administration. Note that Ms. Eilperin quoted Podesta, her husband’s boss, in her puff piece on Tom Steyer.

    However bad you think the corruption and cronyism in Washington are, they are worse than you imagine. And if you think the Washington Post is part of a free and independent press, think again.

    1. “Obama is awesome, studies show.”

      1. When will universities offer ‘Obama Studies?’

    2. Interesting stuff. The left’s obsession with the Koch brothers and their willingness to make up completely false stories about them is continually surprising.

      1. This is all battlespace preparation for the midterms and 2016, as is the whole “ban bossy” nonsense, which translates as “We want Hillary as the next president, so we want to preempt criticism of her as ‘bossy.'”

    3. Again, it goes back to projection. These people are every bit of the evil they project onto the Kochs. They are the lying, scheming, manipulative bastards they pretend the Kochs are.

  20. Why hasn’t anyone thought to create a program called Assholes Anonymous?

    Lots of people are assholes and probably really want to change if they only had proper support. And if that still didn’t work we can always use the loving hand of the state to help reform them.

    1. Minus the state, what do you call H&R?

      1. Microaggression!

  21. For recovery absolutists, no one recovers from alcoholism without giving up drinking forever.

    Those people can fuck right off. As far as the neo-Prohibitionists are concerned, anybody who drinks alcohol in any amount is an alcoholic.

    1. You’re conflating Neo-prohibitionists with recovery absolutists. Just because someone believes that alcoholics shouldn’t drink doesn’t mean that they think nobody should. I’ve been in recovery for 19 years and for me, drinking isn’t a good idea or at least is a risk I’d rather not take. I see no value add in having a drink a day or experimenting. Abstinence works just fine for me. I also don’t project that on other people, unless they are voluntarily trying to do the same thing. From a legal perspective on drugs and alcohol I take a libertarian approach: Make it all legal. If you can’t handle it then get your shit together and be responsible for yourself.

      1. “You’re conflating Neo-prohibitionists with recovery absolutists. ”

        Not really, they’re often the same people.

        1. Not at any of the AA meetings I got to. Addicts/Alcoholics are usually the last people who think addicts/alcoholics should face prison/mandated recovery from the courts. Why would they? They are the very people who are likely to fall victim to that. They believe it’s a disease not a “bad decision”

  22. Has our resident expert, Rollo, weighed in on this? His opinions on this matter are very important to me.

  23. As true as most of these points are in principle, if this is what one must believe to shed a habit that is controlling their lives, let them believe it.

    The problem comes when their belief controls public policy, where most are not problem drinkers.

    BTW, “controlled drinking” is pretty lousy too. You’d have to be a senior citizen to have that much hindsight and control, such that you can actually enjoy it.

  24. I had an ex who decided she was an alcoholic because she liked to have a glass or two of wine after dinner. It never interfered with her life in any way that I could tell, but she was upset when I said that. She said it was up to her to decide, and she quit drinking entirely.

    1. She was and is not an alcoholic in any way. OTOH, alcoholics like my dad (beat the wife and kids, compulsive drinking, etc) are harmed when they attempt to accept advice to drink in moderation, because they quite frankly cannot do that with any sort of consistency. AA is designed for such people in mind, not for the lush who drinks because of personal problems or the person who has merely gotten drunk at some point in their lives. It’s certainly not designed for people like your ex, who from your description has no problem with alcohol.

    2. Your ex doesn’t sound like an alcoholic but is there a problem with deciding to quit drinking entirely for whatever reason? Is that a bad thing?

      1. Wanting to quit was OK with me. It’s not like I was saying “No, no, you must keep drinking!!” I just thought she was misdiagnosing herself. And she was oddly angry with me that I would disagree. She was a little crazy, though.

  25. about 75 percent of people who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help

    Define “alcohol dependence”. Getting drunk a couple of times at a frat party does not an alcoholic make.

    For recovery absolutists, no one recovers from alcoholism without AA, just as no one can recover without giving up drinking forever. What arrogance! Who gave these self-appointed experts the power to tell everyone how they must achieve recovery?

    Interestingly enough, no “recovery absolutists” could be cited for this ridiculous strawman — probably because not even AA claims such things about itself.

    it requires people in recovery to decide that their lives revolve around an empty space, which is not only undesirable but unsustainable.

    Completely and totally wrong, you know nothing about AA.

    Obvious, that is, unless you’re convinced of AA’s disease model of alcoholism

    The ‘disease model’ type of alcoholic is a subset of people with substance abuse problems; AA works very well for those types.

    1. //Interestingly enough, no “recovery absolutists” could be cited for this ridiculous strawman —

      the author cited his friend’s comments. And many of us have met people like this

      1. OK, but that’s a pretty lame way to attack AA.

        “Some libertarian guy I met once told me that he supports Ron Paul because Ron is the only candidate who will restore the white nation and take it back from the blacks, ergo libertarians are racists.”

    2. Good for that that can quit on their own. AA is for people that cannot do that.

  26. Is this an advertisement for another recovery system? I have been sober for nearly ten years-for me that means total abstinence. Especially in the early years AA was a very important part. What I like about it was how anarchic it is. There are no leaders or hierarchy. You may take it or leave it. Each group develops its own path and consciousness. They are self funded by passing the hat. I do object to courts ordering attendance; I don’t think that necessarily helps. A person can’t be ordered to any solution, they must want a solution. In no meeting have I been told AA is the only way, but among the successful it was they way that worked. Of course if you left and were successful by another path I would not hear of it at an AA meeting. If addiction to anything is creating havoc in your life, try any and all solutions to find what works for you. However, don’t let anyone tell you a particular path won’t work.

    1. Is this an advertisement for another recovery system?

      Yes.

      Dr. Peele’s PERFECT Program takes you through the key concepts of mindfulness–that is, your ability to detach from your addictive experience and to see that it is not who you are–combined with the Buddhist idea of loving kindness, or self-acceptance. It’s an easily grasped, yet multifaceted program that allows your true self to overcome your addictive urges.

      Good luck to Stanton, but I really don’t think the best way to promote one’s program is to lie about other peoples’ programs. Indeed, isn’t it possible that Peele’s program is effective for one subset of people who have substance abuse problems, and that AA is effective for an entirely different subset?

      1. I have seen the Buddhist approach to 12 step and we have Buddhists in our group. What I don’t understand is why people cannot simply talk about what their program offers without discussing or dunning AA. I do recognize, though, that AA is quite a draw and many of these people wouldn’t have an audience without trying to make some connection to it.

    2. I agree. I have problems with AA, but it does kind of worry me that this was written by someone who mentions his own program (which you can buy for the low-low price of $20!) in the article.

      That kind of makes me think this guy might have some reasons to attack AA beyond a desire to get the truth out.

      I also think this quote:

      For recovery absolutists, no one recovers from alcoholism without AA, just as no one can recover without giving up drinking forever. What arrogance! Who gave these self-appointed experts the power to tell everyone how they must achieve recovery?

      is somewhat lacking in self-awareness given that Peele published a book called Addiction Proof Your Child.

      Don’t let those arrogant self-appointed experts tell everyone how they must achieve recovery! Let me tell you how you can totally insure that your child will never develop an addiction!

      1. When you accept that these people with alternatives to sell MUST include AA or they won’t get hits, it makes it all very understandable. When I didn’t like the meetings in the area I moved to, I got online to seek alternatives because I believed I still needed support. This stype of anti AA stuff was all I found and mostly generated by people with their own product to sell.

      2. When you accept that these people with alternatives to sell MUST include AA or they won’t get hits, it makes it all very understandable. When I didn’t like the meetings in the area I moved to, I got online to seek alternatives because I believed I still needed support. This stype of anti AA stuff was all I found and mostly generated by people with their own product to sell.

  27. “AA works very well for those types.”

    Nope.

    http://www.orange-papers.org/o…..eness.html

    You’re obviously a true believer, as the article you disagree with isn’t wrong on any of it’s major points, you’re just contending that it is. AA is everything the author claimed, and your assertions are simply wrong.

    1. Don’t be an idiot, you are misrepresenting AA’s own view of its program (for what reason, I don’t know). From the article itself, a quote from one of AA’s Board of Trustees members:

      I’ve heard alcoholics talk who had boxed the professional compass and finally made it in AA. In either case, the reason for the success of the particular treatment may have been due more to the patient’s by-now greater pain and desperation than to the nature of the treatment or the context of beliefs. But few patients can see this at the time and they become loyal to the “successful therapy” ? and, unfortunately, sometimes antagonistic or unfavorable in their attitude toward other therapeutic programs. Now, I submit that this is quite standard human behavior. But it is one of the roots of misunderstanding, distrust, and strain in AA-professional relations.

      Very few of the people who are involved in the organization are as dogmatic as you are presenting them to be.

      the vast majority of the people who successfully quit drinking for a year or more ? eighty percent of them ? do it alone, all by themselves

      Irrelevant, since most people are not alcoholics and/or do not have substance abuse problems. Hell, I’m in that 80% and I simply stopped drinking “for a year or more” because I didn’t have money in college and wasn’t an addict.

      1. the reason that they finally quit drinking is because they really want to quit ? want it so strongly that they finally really do it.

        Duh, Captain Obvious. That is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success, no shit.

        A.A. says just the opposite: “Dump your spouse and marry the A.A. group, because A.A. is The Only Way.”

        No, it doesn’t. That is just wrong.

        Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma and his associates Dr. Maxie Maultsby (co-inventor of Rational Behavior Therapy) and Dr. Richard J. Welsh did a study where they took some alcoholics who had been arrested for public drunkenness, and randomly divided them into three groups

        Well, there’s your problem. AA (and most other recovery programs, for that matter) require some basic self-selection and willpower on the part of the person involved, not a (supposed) drunk who is randomly assigned to a program. (Which is a reason that court-ordered rehab doesn’t work either, but that’s another story.) Indeed, most of the OP assumes that AA self-characterizes as some sort of input-output function where 1 drunk + AA = 1 sober person, or somesuch. That is far from the case, and is not how AA self-describes (though admittedly some of those who have successfully completed the program describe it in such terms).

  28. What I don’t like about the AA model is it leads to a religious outlook where the person gives up the idea of having any control over his life.

    Guy I know seems to be like that, was talking to him once. He told me about the church he goes to (I said I was thinking about maybe starting going to church), I looked it up and it’s just a yuppie WAAAAAAH-mbulance circle jerk, way too much crying in all their little videos on their website. Ugh. I want to go to church for the sake of having a real culture that instructs people to grow up and take control of their lives and reject the modern nihilism, not indulge in it.

    1. I can’t believe I’m recommending a Protestant Web site, but does this capture some of your concerns?

      http://churchformen.com/men-an…..to-church/

  29. The author has such a misunderstanding of AA and alcoholism that I don’t even know where to start…

    1. Please, by all means, elaborate.

      1. Well, he implies that the scary AA bogeymen are going to come get you sober wiether you want to or not and that somehow we magically judge people who drink as somehow inferior, that we are absolutist in our ideals and feel that one size fits all.
        totally disregards the fact that no one turns a profit, we barely keep the lights on month to month, we don’t go out to recruit members, and that every single sober person in the room on the day you walk in has hit such a devastating personal bottom that they sought out help from others to refrain from drinking since they couldn’t on their own.
        “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
        If someone was there for you to give you a hand when you were at your worst, wouldn’t you feel it were proper to repay the favor by being there for someone else?
        My freedom from the tyrant is all I asked him for, I did not ask him for your freedom because I do not know if you wish to be free

  30. AA is about “helping” people who want help. (Period) Nobody is “hijacking shit and whoever wrote this article does not understand “the bottom” we hit. I have been sober 22 years and I enjoy helping people who have lost all their shit and respect for themselves. If someone doesn’t want AA or has a better way, I don’t fucking care! No one from the government is forcing you to use the program. I will say, “real” alcoholics can never have 1 drink a day.
    AA started as a place for low bottom drunks. Ask some of them about “hijacking sobriety” and they will tell you to go fuck yourself.

    1. Then society needs to stop referring to binge drinkers, problem drinkers, heavy drinkers, functioning alcoholics… as alcoholics.

      There are a percentage of people who fit your description, the “classical” definition of an alcoholic, if you will, who need to abstain.

      The rest of us, “new age alcoholics”, can control ourselves and don’t necessarily need to quit altogether or even an organized program, for that matter, to control any negative impacts brought about by drinking.

      1. if your DRINKING is creating an unmanageable PROBLEM in your life
        you MAY have a drinking problem
        how you solve it is up to you.
        however as a hint, AA worked for me where everything else had failed, if you were to find yourself in similar circumstances and ask me how to quit drinking I would refer you to AA because that’s how I accomplished sobriety and i do not have another method that worked for me.

  31. My step-father is using AA (and psychotherapy) as a way to protect himself from legal action we are taking to gain guardianship of his wife (who suffers from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.)His abuse of alcohol has led us to this because we can’t let his wife suffer the consequences of his neglect (and in one case, physical abuse.)

    I always had a favorable view towards AA before this incident in my life. Now I see it as an institution, like any other in statist society, that can wield a power beyond and in some ways, contrary to its original purpose.

    1. I am sorry, Arbutus, but this isn’t the intent and purpose behind AA. I am not so sure it is fair to condemn it for this.

  32. If I could have stayed within restraints such as those, my drinking wouldn’t have been a problem. I did just what Elaine did many times over. I could limit my drinking that way for months at a time. Problem is, one drink isn’t what I want. I want the effect of drinking, and that eventually won out every time.

    I don’t care if people believe alcoholism is a disease or not. If your drinking is creating a problem in your life, do something about it. And I disagree with Stanton that being married or having other circumstances where most people wouldn’t want to jeopardize is any source of real deterrent. I know many people in AA that stood to lose marriages, families, professional licensure, personal fortunes – yet were drinking alcoholically anyway. It is what alcoholics do.

    1. And I disagree with Stanton that being married or having other circumstances where most people wouldn’t want to jeopardize is any source of real deterrent.

      I don’t think his point is that those things work 100% of the time, just that, statistically, they make it more likely that someone can quit or cut back.

      1. AA does in fact address this. There certainly are people that can stop drinking with certain motivators. This is covered where the four kinds of drinkers are discussed in the Big Book. Those people generally can stop on their own. I know many people in AA that were esteemed professionals with certainly lots to lose… And that is why they sought help.

  33. I’m 13 years sober in AA. I can’t drink. Period.

    There are people who can drink a little and keep it together. Great.

    But I can’t, so I go to AA and my life is pretty good as a result.

    Why that bothers anybody else I can’t say. Don’t care, either.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking.

      on a side note, what say you susan and I round up all these sinful drinkers in the middle of the night and put em into our secret re-education camps where they’ll be forced to watch the Bill W HBO special and eat granola.

  34. I know one self-professed alcoholic who dried up with the help of some group (I am not sure it was AA), and then later started drinking a glass of wine or so from time to time. I had completely bought the AA “yer sober or yer a drunk” doctrine, so I was expecting the sky to fall in. That was twenty years ago, and she still drinks, moderately and under control. I have other acquaintances who never admitted to being alcoholics but were – at least in my opinion. They are evenly divided between those who put themselves back in control and those who did not.

    1. those who did not hopefully found help from a group such as AA when they needed it.
      I’ve been sober for 2 years with the help of AA, if I wanted to I may have the ability to go out and drink in moderation now that drinking has lost all value in my life but I would not take that gamble, I got to quit once i would not like to invite having to a second time. it used to be my god, for which i would spend my last pennies rather than feed myself to think that I could have contained this on my own is ludicrous

  35. Interesting to read some of the apologies for AA and attempted refutations of the author’s position. My favorite is the one who says that, if you are able to go back to drinking small amounts of alcohol, then you weren’t an alcoholic to begin with. See? It was all in your mind. And to think you WASTED all that time in meetings…

    1. I think this comment is in your mind
      anyone who understands sobriety from the standpoint of an AA understands it as the attainment of peace with your reality as it exists, and freedom from the compulsion to pick up a substance.
      if you can drink without the compulsion to drink more you can live just as soberly as the AA in total abstinence

  36. What’s needed is Moderation Management, the Perfect Program! Not so perfect for Audrey Kishline, though. From the bookhawker’s Wiki page—“Peele supported Moderation Management founder Audrey Kishline, who also subscribed to the belief that addiction is not a disease.[9] After giving up her own attempts at moderation to seek help with AA, Kishline was convicted of killing a father and his 12-year-old daughter while driving under the influence of alcohol.[10] This was widely claimed to invalidate Kishline’s position and by association, Peele’s. Peele was one of 34 addiction professionals who published a statement about the Kishline incident [11] stating that “the approach represented by Alcoholics Anonymous and that represented by Moderation Management are both needed.”

    1. I got a little book I’d like to sell too.

      1. Yep, and how to stop drinking in eight easy on-line lessons for only $99.
        http://lifeprocessprogram.com/alcohol-addiction
        Peele is shilling his books and programs for $$$$s.
        Shame on Reason for false advertising on this one.

    2. Yes, that one occurred to me, too. It is amazing how failure has not influence on ideologues like Peele.

    3. I thought MM handbook was ripped off from Glamour and Cosmo magazines I read in my twenties. Such tips as to remember to bring along “protection” since when we drink our judgment is clouded. Really? When I drink, I should bring condoms? Have an agreement with a buddy that we can sleep on each other’s floor should we have too much, thus keeping us safe. What? My friends don’t have GUESTROOMS? Audrey herself said on Dateline that her programs is not for real alcoholics. Many of the suggestions are in the Big Book as methods we have tried to convince ourselves that we could control our drinking and not be alcoholics.

      1. You can lead a horse to water Sue but you cant control it’s drinking

  37. The Times seems to say Stritch is no longer “sober” since she decided to start having a daily drink, a decision “that she seems to be abiding by.” Note the condescension towards Stritch and many others like her

    Was there more than one page to that Times article? Because that’s not what he said ot implied, at all.

    Her fluctuating blood sugar requires frequent monitoring. And, as a recovering alcoholic, Ms. Stritch, after more than two decades of sobriety, decides to allow herself one drink a day, usually a cosmopolitan. She seems to be abiding by her rule, though it can’t be easy.

    Drinking is what scares her the most, she says, “because it’s such a warm, inviting escape.”

    This is a troll post, right? Let me guess, you got a DUI once, and part of the sentence was to attend a half dozen AA meetings. You went to one and there was some asshole in there that told you since you had been arrested for DUI, you were an alcoholic and you had to give up drinking completely and go to meetings for the rest of your life. There are a lot of assholes like that at those meetings, unfortunately. And there are the self-important, self-righteous bourgeois fuckwads whose real concern is you might stumble into their driveway and puke all over their nice new Volvo.

  38. Anybody that knows anything about the Fellowships will tell you that there are no absolutes. Sure, they have “program”, with 12 general “rules” or “steps”, as they like to call it and a bunch of other little things one can do, or avoid doing, to help them avoid the temptation of drinking. And all of these things are just suggestions. AA has traditionally been a tough-love program, long before people like Dr Phil and others popularized the term. If someone wants help, it’s there, but they are not there, contrary to popular belief, to brow beat people into submission. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If someone wants to go out and have a drink, they won’t try to stop them unless they ask for specific help. They know that person will probably end up back there, or as they like to say, in “jails institutions or death”. And they get a hold of your family through Al-Anon, and tell them how to not be “enablers”.

    And to be honest with you, a lot of the old-timers do not like it when judges force people who probably aren’t alcoholics, to go to meetings.

    I haven’t been involved with AA for a while, but it was, and might still be, a fully self-supporting fellowship with no “help” from the government.

    As far your comment about them “stealing” the term “sober”, I guess they needed something a little more PC than “dry drunk”.

  39. Addiction? People in chronic pain chronically seek to relieve it. Next.

  40. I had some court ordered aa classes. They asked me to share and I said I’m not a sharer. The rest of the meeting was awkward for every one but me, because awkward is an emotion and I don’t feel those.

    1. I doubt it really registered that much, dinkster. Why? Because people are used to court ordered folks just coming to meetings and sleeping through them. It was hardly the first time anyone has heard that.

      1. I know, but they’re such special snowflakes, each and every one of them.

  41. The article is correct. I speak from experience. I have been told I couldn’t quit without help, that I was an alcoholic, that I would always be that way. Bull! I quit by myself, cold turkey. Drinking, like most “addictions”, is a choice, not a disease.

    1. To some extent, I believe it is a choice. But there comes a time in the lives of some people when they cross from the social drinker into a problem drinker. And I don’t need some flowery PC “nonlabel” for me to recognize that I am an alcoholic. Even the wonderful “alcohol dependent” phrase that some of these peope push doesn’t pretty it up any better. I was an alcoholic. I drank like one, behaved like one and it all cost me like one.

  42. I have just returned from 6 hours with a sponsee who drank last night, In the process, his girl friend has left and he has been left feeling like an evil person. Hopefully, we will be able to get him back on a sober path.

    In my opinion Stanton Peele is a complete fool who knows little or nothing about the topic. As mentioned above, the whole “Moderation Management” program has imploded, but that is what Peele is advocating.

    The only real diagnosis for alcoholism is a self diagnosis. AA advocates that if you doubt you are an alcoholic, step over to the nearest barroom and have a couple of drinks. Then stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will become clear whether or not you have a problem. Then read the Doctor’s opinion on alcoholism. Pay attention to the word “craving”. If craving occurs, then there is no solution except abstinence. It is idiocy on Peel’s part to suggest having a “purpose in life” will control drinking. Riddle me this. Stanton, how does one find, exactly, a purpose in life while one is drunk? I suggest to Peele that one needs to quit drinking before one can seize on a purpose in life.

    I know nonsense when I see it and Stanton Peele is proclaiming nonsense as a solution and, in the process, harming anyone who is a real alcoholic who has not yet stopped drinking. At least, Audrey Kishline, was trying to control her drinking even if she failed. It is not clear that Peele has any interest in helping the alcoholic, only himself.

    1. Twenty one years sober has left you tense and fucking self-righteous hasn’t it?

      1. I hope I can be sober for that long, my last time out sucked pretty fucking hard.
        could it be that you are finding it hard to “control” your drinking and you need to lash out at the guy trying to help you?
        or are you Peele?

        1. Last I checked your ‘sober’ buddy of 21 years called Peele a complete fool who purveys nonsense when in fact Peele is presenting alternative thought which obviously ruffles the feathers of thin-skinned and tense ‘sobers’ who are quick to label their opposition as alcoholics.

      2. fail to see the tension in his comment cyborg. if by self righteous, you mean sharing the aggregate of over 2 decades worth of experience– maybe your attempt to shit on that is whats really self righteous and tense

    2. This is the typical one-size-fits-all philosophy that AA preaches. Everyone is different, and for people struggling with alcohol, there are other options apart from the psychologically destructive cult of Bill W.

      1. please tell me…
        one thing that is psychologically destructive?
        how a cult has no denominations?
        and who the hell at AA said one size fits all?

        1. Well, Vic, for one thing the first step is pretty straightforward. Instead of telling a newcomer that they have power to overcome an inanimate substance, AA tries to get them to admit they a powerless. That is the most evil you could ever tell someone who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction.
          Tell me something, Vic. Are any AA meetings presided over by a licensed therapist, or is it just a bunch of wannabes trying to show how self-righteous they are because they got their one-year, five-year, or ten-year coins?

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  44. As a result, imprisonment for drug use might actually lead to a higher recidivism rate because it removes the things from your life that could have had a stabilizing influence.

  45. 12 step programs, including AA, are bullshit:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUG9dr6SZSY

    1. because I’m not walking example of how it works?
      Please tell me if it is bullshit, how did I stay sober by adhering to those principals, or is that my imagination?
      reality is so weird

      1. Telling someone that they are going to end up in the gutter, in jail, or dead because they quit attending meetings is even more weird…

  46. If you’d like to hear my radio show interview with Dr. Peele please check it out here: http://webtalkradio.net/intern…..vival-101/

  47. Life is short and snappy. My philosophy is if you can get drunk safely and on chosen occasions go for it.

    1. great for you, but if someone can’t than maybe they shouldn’t.

      1. Shonuff.

  48. This article verifies what the Orange Papers site (www.orange-papers.org) has been saying for years. It’s no surprise that die-hard AA adherents have been viciously attacking it on Reason’s Facebook page.

    1. it verifies nothing, some people get sober using AA, some get sober other ways
      If you have a drinking problem and you can’t quit by yourself AA is a good free solution that worked for my life, if it doesn’t work then you can go on one hell of a bender after saving up for a month or so. so its a win win either way and you’re out no money
      if you do it peeles way you bought a book and paid for a program that most likely has a large failure rate since it relies on the addict or alcoholic to police themselves, and to stick with reading the entire program and applying it to their life on their own
      if said person is capable of such a feat, they are most likely not alcoholic anyways and were capable of the same actions without a book written and solicited by Peele.
      AA is for those who couldn’t do it any other way, or for those who don’t want to suffer alone any longer.
      I can guarantee you if you take the 12 steps in honesty you will have a very good chance of staying sober, or at least alleviating the problems you were once self medicating for.

      1. Vic, I have heard the “It works if you work it” and “If you get sober on your own, then you weren’t an alcoholic to begin with” BS before. It’s just two of the many slogans that AA disciples like to pound over the heads of naive newcomers. AA zombies simply can’t handle it when anyone is critical of their cult or their precious guru, Bill W., who was still a chain-smoking womanizer even though he quit drinking. In addition, if anyone leaves, they’re labeled as a “dry drunk” who will end up in the gutter, in jail, or dead. It is my hope that, one day, the general public will wake up to what a worthless organization this psychobabbling, slogan-spewing cult really is.

      2. To suggest that someone “go on a bender” if AA doesn’t work for them is something only a demented S.O.B. would come up with. It further shows how destructive this cult is, especially if someone has underlying psychological issues that need to be worked through with a therapist.

  49. “The focus on abstinence is the alpha and omega of the 12 steps. But it requires people in recovery to decide that their lives revolve around an empty space”
    What a load of horseshit. Abstinence is required only to commence with the step process. Only the first step is about drinking. The rest of the process is about becoming aware of, then accountable for bad choices which were spawned by fearful, selfish motives. By understanding, then amending these wrongs a person can become right within themselves and then the world around them. Having a purpose in life is an organic result of this process, rather than a contrived ideal.

  50. AA’s OPINION (according to the book alcoholics anonymous) is that there are 3 types of drinkers:
    1. moderates- can take it or leave it
    2. hard drinkers- their drinking may look alcoholic and will likely cause health concerns and other life problems. However if a serious consequence (spouse threatens to leave, boss threatens to terminate job, doctor warns of severe health problems) a hard drinker can, by their own devices stop or moderate by their own devices.
    3. an alcoholic is someone who, regardless of consequence or desire will not be able to stop or moderate on their own. this group makes up a small percentage of problem drinkers. the 12 step process is geared for this group.

    The literature clearly articulates that its up to the individual to determine, based on their own experience, which category they are in. Anyone who believes they can control their drinking on their own are encouraged to do so, and informed that if it doesn’t work out there are other measures that can be taken and people willing to help.

  51. There’s perhaps as much misinformation about AA within the meetings as there exists in forums such as these. Its a shame as the success rate has deteriorated along with the actual message of AA. Much of the sloganeering, labeling people as dry drunks or claiming that AA is the only way sadly tends to come from ignorant assholes within the fellowship itself

  52. Well, in the documentary Stritch says she allows herself 1 drink a day….but then at other points in it she says the number’s 2, and then later 3. So, don’t know how clear her disclosure was about WHAT exactly was going on with her drinking after she started up again.

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