The other day I was looking at the Amazon reviews of "A Million Little Pieces" (James Frey). These avid AAers were writing things like 'If James had been in AA he would have been honest'; 'if James would have been in the program he would not have exaggerated his story'; 'If James had followed the principles of AA he would have been a better person.
These comments signified what is so scary and crazy-making about the program: People saying one thing yet doing the opposite…and the poor new comer in the middle being told that he is sick and should doubt his perceptions of reality.
In my 12 years of meetings I have seen people exaggerate, lie and take advantage of the power given to them within the hierarchical structure of the program. (Just a little aside here: does it not seem a little crazy to expect somebody to know a damn thing about life SIMPLY because he is sober longer than you???!)
I have seen sponsors convince their sponsees to break up with spouses/lovers for no other discernable reason than the spouse was questioning the the power imbalance of the sponsor relationship. The sponsor convinced the sponsee if they stayed with the spouse they would surely relapse.
I have seen people's 'drunkalogues' get more and more fantastic throughout the years. One that comes to mind is a fellow that in his early years of sobriety said that he had once lived in an apartment near a bridge in a bad part of town. Lo and behold!!! Throughout the years it morphed into he had once lived under a bridge!! The apartment conveniently disappeared. Sort of a my bottom was better than your bottom game often played in AA.
I have seen countless examples throughout the years of old-timers (the ones in the rooms longest are usually the sickest BTW, beware)taking advantage of those with less time. If a newbie dares to stick up for themselves, the old-timer makes sure s/he will be shunned. Or the new person is told 'look for your part' or that 'anger will cause relapse'.
This is sick stuff. AA apologists will come back with "It is the people, not the program that is in the wrong." OK, sure, the people. But what is conveniently glossed over is that it is the whole structure of the program, the hierarchy and the power structure that ALLOWS for this to happen.
My name is Sam and I have been sober for 15 years. If you are feeling crazy in AA, pay attention. Leave. Do you need to put up with that craziness to stay sober? No, god no. You may feel a lot better,lighter .… who knows, maybe joyous and FREE!!!!