Horror Stories
True Tales of Misery, Betrayal and Abuse in NA, AA and 12-Step Treatment

Rebecca Fransway
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This book is here courtesy of See Sharp Press and Rebecca Fransway, Ed.

39. Carrie
The Disease

I am an ex-AA member. For the past two years, I have been trying to get fully and permanently sober again. I'm willing to try any means, except AA. Although I've occasionally known reasonably sane AA members, they're hard to find. It seems the mentally, emotionally, or spiritually healthier members stop going to meetings. I found the meeting goers to be controlling, condescending, and into unwanted and inappropriate self-disclosure. Many use alcoholism as an excuse for their behavior -- Oh, it's my disease talking. They seem to be in this state most of the time -- staying in the disease, not getting healthier. Just sober, that's all. I got so tired of the brain-dumping in AA meetings, and the sickness of the thinking, that I eventually stopped going to meetings. It's too bad, because a small percentage of AA members are sane, lucid, and really nice to be around.

Five years ago, my ex-sponsor told me to start dating at seven months sober, so we would have something to work on. She said she found me boring when I got sober, because I had no big hangups, no major problems, and was grateful and happy almost every day. I was competent at work and was getting promotions and raises. I did all my steps in about four months, so she thought I should start dating.

Of all people, the chosen "nice guy" was her husband's sponsee with 15 or so years sober, a shame-filled manic depressive. He saw a psychologist and took his medication in secret because his sponsor didn't approve. I've heard many AA members say their sponsors were pushing them to get off their medications. It's commonly thought in AA that prescribed medication is just another addiction or is masking problems, and is therefore standing in the way of being able to do real step work and achieve true sobriety.

Some women cried in the meetings over the guilt and fear and confusion as to what to do, who to listen to -- doctor, or sponsor. The attitude was that if you did your steps and your inventory regularly, you wouldn't need any such "non-spiritual" help.