I just wanted to add a few points to the story I posted—because more important than the expose of one more jerk in AA, is the message that these groups can be very, very dangerous to one's health.
I saw many, many people attend meetings through the proverbial "revolving door"—they used, they came back the next day, etc. etc. Usually, the longer this went on, the more earnest they were to work the program, to figure out what THEY were doing wrong. It was heartbreaking. You could see they felt there were no other options. ALWAYS, the blame was laid at their feet.
I felt the answer for one guy I knew was to ask God for help, every day. I was truly sincere, because this aligns with my personal spiritual beliefs, but I know now that that advice was completely inappropriate and perhaps damaging. Religion should never be a part of this thing, unless by someone's personal, private choice. The guy came through the doors to quit his substance abuse, not to hear about God. Especially a micro-managing God who could do for him what he was far too lame-o to even contemplate doing for himself.
Now I realize that the revolving door is built in to AA—it ain't no accident. When you tell people over and over again that they WILL "relapse", or that, in the very least, they should PLAN for relapse, of course, they're gonna "relapse".
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy—especially, I believe, for vulnerable, frightened newcomers and for the long timers who stopped independent thinking a long time ago. It's like AA/NA breaks your legs and then says, "Go on, see if you can walk now". So you use again—after all, you've got no power over this thing, you're "diseased" and permanently different from "normal" people—and you go back through the door to the wise people you knew this would happen, since you didn't "give yourself completely to the program". "Are you back?", I've heard people say, "Are you back for good?" Have you learned your lesson?
Besides crippling people, AA promotes terribly destructive "medicine". I recall a woman talking about her depression after a meeting. This old-timer, who was a sincere, caring lady, told her, "Just remember what it says in the Big Book, depression is the biggest pity-pot there is". I knew that was ludicrous, but said nothing. She had more Time.
Shortly before I left AA, a member with 25 years died. Riddled with cancer, knowing she had weeks to live, she was afraid of getting addicted to her morphine tablets. This should have been the furthest thing from her mind. At the last meeting I saw her at, she told me that she felt her drinking (of 25 years before, no less) probably caused her cancer. That this was the price she was paying. She could only have got that message from AA indoctrination: that cunning alcohol will get you in the end . I tried to assure her otherwise, but could not. But my thinking was twisted as well—months later, I wondered if she was going to AA meetings up in the Sky.
Another woman often seen in the clubhouse passed away. People tend to do that, but in AA there is always a cloud of suspicion attached to it—-the gossip was, of course, that she had died as a result of a relapse. God forbid "drunks" go tits up and say goodbye to the world—surely alcohol had something to do with it. It's like AA is trying to lay claim to you to your dying moment.
But wait! Isn't this a program that eschews fear? We alkies simply cannot afford it. Yet I have never been around such fearful people. You better sit on that booze volcano every single day so it doesn't blow. Steppers are afraid of being afraid, which is the biggest afraid I can think of. A friend of mine spent time with the woman dying of cancer. He "confessed" in meetings that his resultant fear of dying showed what a "character defect" he had. At least I had sense enough to tell him that he was probably only afraid of dying because he's HUMAN. I don't think it worked 'cause he talked about his fear again later. This is how warped the Program can make your thinking. You just can't be a normal human being—as an "alcoholic" you are incredibly pathologized.
The dangers of AA last long after leaving it. Over a year after my last meeting, I still have a head crammed full of AA think—but my ANGER is helping me get better. I bump into people still in the program, who at best don't believe I'm doing well (a feeling that's very easy to read). At worst I'm snubbed—but they would think the hurt I feel over that is a sign of MY lack of "spiritual conditioning". It's a crazy, fearful, selfish place to be in when you snub someone out of your own spiritual enlightenment.
Wait, what does this have to with quitting drinking, again?