According to addiction expert Stanton Peele, there’s a dangerous organization that has the entire world’s safety in jeopardy. This organization is comprised of men and women from all races and creeds, rich and poor and is coming to a town near you! In fact, you may already be living right next door to one of their secret meeting hide outs. Their goals are to be happy joyous and free, to help those in trouble, and to mend relationships from the past in order to live a full and happy life free from drugs and alcohol. The organization costs no money and has no rules or regulations, and no leader. What’s even more frightening is that you may work with a member or even have one in your family! They like to remain anonymous to practice humility. Yes, the thing that Stanton Peele believes to be the end of civilization is none other than Alcoholics Anonymous.
In the spirit of the AA program I wish to remain anonymous. I am not a spokesperson nor do I have a personal vendetta against Mr. Peele, I just wish to share my opinion as it relates to my real life experience in AA. Recently Stanton Peele posted an article on The Huffington Post explaining his top four reasons Alcoholics Anonymous is dangerous for societies. Again, just so were clear, were talking about an organization that costs the government no money and works to practice love and tolerance.
The first argument that Peele makes is that “AA denies reality”. What he means is that AA falsely promotes the idea that alcoholism is a fatal, progressive disease and that abstinence is the only way for alcoholics to recover. According to Stanton from a previous Huffington Post article entitled On Campus Recovery Programs: Friend or Foe, this program of recovery is harmful to young people as “they busy themselves with sober activities and surround themselves with fellow recovering students.” We all know how much parents hate when their kids aren’t binge drinking and stealing from Mom’s purse to buy more crack!
In the same article Peele goes on to liken the fellowship of AA to the 1953 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, comparing us to a group of emotionless pods “programmed to the same source”. I’m pretty confident my emotions were intact the last time I got my period and felt like lighting my boyfriend’s hair on fire. Peele’s ominous warning of AA’s becoming reliant on the same “source” aka Higher Power sure is funny, considering that the Higher Power I chose wears a pink feather boa and is basically a Drag Queen. That’s right, the group that’s “ruining the world” lets you pick any Higher Power you want.
In Peele’s Huffington Post article titled AA is Ruining the World, his second argument states that AA has a distorted sense of our success rate. I don’t know about numbers, but from what I’ve seen in the several years I’ve been sober are happy, healthy people with decades of sobriety. I have also seen the hopeless dope fiends wander in and find themselves one year later, fresh faced, smiling and helping crops of newly sober addicts and alcoholics. I’ve seen relationships healed, inner demons confronted, debts paid and plenty of laughter and late night coffee. That seems pretty successful doesn’t it? Peele goes on to say that AA’s alienate those that relapse or choose to leave the program, that we even wish for their failure and demise. I would like Mr. Peele to know that when one of my girlfriends died of an alcohol and drug overdose after her relapse last year, that it was the last thing myself, or any of our friends had wished for while we were crying at her funeral. In terms of the lucky ones, the returnees, I have never once seen an AA member shame them for relapsing. In fact, returnees to the program are always met with hugs, coffee, and a “we’re glad you’re here”.
Stanton Peele’s third argument against AA is its apparent refusal to accept other approaches of recovery from alcoholism. If Peele had taken the time to read the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous he might find that our literature does not wish to hammer opinions into anyone’s head and even says in Chapter Three that “if any alcoholic can do the right about face and control his drinking than our hats are off to him”. The AA program also believes in seeking outside help from doctors and therapists if it will help us with our recovery. Our literature emphasizes and reemphasizes our separation from radical zealous thinking. All we wish to offer is experience, strength and hope.
Peele’s fourth argument makes the assumption that Alcoholics Anonymous believes alcohol to be evil and that no one can control their drinking. He disagrees with complete abstinence of drugs and alcohol and even goes on to say that this “black and white thinking” leads to more alcohol abuse. Again, if Peele had read some of our literature before writing his article he may have a more clear understanding of the difference between alcoholics, hard drinkers and normal drinkers. Alcoholics have lost the ability to control their drinking and through experience of trying to stop or moderate on our own we have found that complete abstinence is the most effective method of recovery. Why physical sobriety is a threat to Peele is beyond me. There are plenty of people in the world that don’t need AA in order to quit drinking, we don’t necessarily qualify all people that drink to excess as alcoholics. It is simply designed for the problem drinker that finds he or she cannot stop on their own. There are also plenty of people that never have alcohol abuse problems and can drink socially without any problems. We in AA are very aware of these types of drinkers. We have no grudge against them and do not wish to make the world sober. Our only “job” here in AA is to get honest with ourselves and with others, repair the damage we have done and accept the help of the generous loving hand of the fellowship to ensure sobriety one day at a time. Is that so much to ask for, Mr. Peele?
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