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.

32. Martin
Trouble With the Spiritual Path

I have had a total of about 12 years experience with AA, and I also work in a youth treatment center. I am beginning to fear for my health and safety. Not from the clients, but from the staff, and the AA way of life.

My first bad experience was when a girl I knew had gone out to dinner on her AA birthday and someone had seen her use wine vinegar on her salad. When she went to the meeting to get her sobriety chip, this asshole showed up and filibustered the meeting until nearly the whole group had come down on her and she had to leave in shame. (There is no alcohol in wine vinegar.) Two days later, when members of the group went to save her from her evil ways and bring her back into the fold, she was found dead: suicide.

Another time we had a 16-year-old girl in treatment who was "having trouble" getting the spiritual part of treatment. (The treatment center has a way of shunning kids who aren't getting it by giving them very little time with counselors. This shunning goes on despite the fact that the state requires two hours of one-on-one counseling per week with a certified counselor.)

The neglect of this particular girl went on for about three weeks, and she was becoming acutely depressed. I went to her counselor and asked what was going on. She told me that the reason the young girl was not getting any time was that she was so much healthier than others and didn't need so much time.

But after a couple of more weeks, when she still hadn't cracked in group, they decided that the only thing that could possibly be keeping her from breaking down was that there was something in her past that was so bad that she must be burying it deep enough to go catatonic when these things were brought up. Of course, none of this was the problem -- the girl was depressed, uncomfortable in group, and not getting any one-on-one help.

Two weeks later her saviors decided she was just being stubborn. They decide to use a very strange form of psychology. They thought if they called her probation officer and told him she had confessed to a murder, that she would finally break down and talk about her real problems.

When she found out about this, the poor girl decided she'd had enough. She escaped from "treatment," and through the help of a good lawyer is now safe and doing well.

(PLEASE DON'T USE MY E-MAIL OR NAME. The treatment center I work for gives all their employees free Internet access. But we've found out that everything we do on the net is being saved at the main office for the employee's convenience in case they lose something. Right.)