I stayed sober on my own for a year because I had Hep C and was worried about my liver. Then they came out with a new therapy but one of the requirements (at the VA) was that anyone with a history of alcohol or drug dependency had to go to the ADTP for evaluation and treatment if appropriate. I went there. I figured since I had already cured myself they would sign off on my “real” (hep c) treatment.
They took my history and I explained to them that I had not drunk for a year. The nurse said, “great, which meetings do you go to?” And I said “none, I quit on my own; I don't need any meetings.” She literally went ballistic and started spouting such inanities as “Your best thinking got you here.” and such. I didn't quite know how to react except that they could deny me hep c treatment if they wanted to, so I said, “look, I'll go to your meetings if it will make you happy”, and they signed me up for outpatient treatment.
Much of the treatment was warmed over and regurgitated AA which I felt had nothing to do with me. Their whole ritualized process looked silly (and somewhat bizarre) to me: the reading from the sacred text at every meeting (I can still hear a baritone, preacher-intoned “find Him now!”), the monologues with four usual themes, the self-abnegation and self-deprecating humor implied to apply to all alcoholics (and especially to newcomers), the “I'm so and so and I'm an alcoholic”; “Hi, so and so” and the group prayer and hand-holding/squeezing I found extremely offensive as well as the revival atmosphere, the incessant talk of God and a general attitude (I certainly got this from them) of “you don't know shit, you stupid newcomer and we know everything! Sit down, shut up and listen to us and maybe you'll learn something” (what a laugh)
I didn't learn anything except that I was obviously going through a cult hazing ritual. They even wanted me to cut my long hair at one of the meetings! And I heard advice to stop taking doctor-prescribed medications more than once. I was often asked intrusive questions like “who's your sponsor” and “which step are you on?” (more cult hazing). Answering them honestly (don't have one, don't need one and don't want one; (I didn't want anyone calling me his baby/pigeon or telling me whom I could date or which books I should read)) pissed them off but I found a way to get them off my back. At some of the meetings I went to I told them I was a graduate student at the UCLA school of alcohol studies on a research assignment (and made sure the secretary didn't hear this or I'd have been busted). I looked like a UCLA student and became one later though in Scandinavian linguistics). This guy named Clancy was the local guru. I thought he was a horse's ass. At some of the more tolerant meetings I went to I could be more honest but even there there was some (maybe more subtle) patronizing attitude toward the new recruits or anyone who questioned their dogma.
I jumped through the hoops and finally got cleared and got the real treatment I needed (medical). After that I did a thorough search of the literature on the subject and found out that this bullshit passes for “treatment” for addiction in nearly 90% of treatment centers in America. Then I was fascinated at this success but pissed at the same time. I wanted to find out more about it and maybe one day write about it. I even attended some few meetings in other places to more fully investigate it. I will probably write a book about it one day.