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Twelve Step – Recovering-from-Recovery https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com An Alcoholism and Addiction recovery blog. Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:54:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 61103246 Unhelpful AA sponsors https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/unhelpful-aa-sponsors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unhelpful-aa-sponsors https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/unhelpful-aa-sponsors/#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:54:32 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=13033 I try not to be critical of other people’s recovery solutions. I feel is a private matter for the individual to decide which solution is best for them. I have been critical of those who call themselves anti-AA. I feel that they often exaggerate the problems in the fellowship. However, I chose to leave the […]

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I try not to be critical of other people’s recovery solutions. I feel is a private matter for the individual to decide which solution is best for them. I have been critical of those who call themselves anti-AA. I feel that they often exaggerate the problems in the fellowship. However, I chose to leave the 12-step world, because I did not feel it was the best solution for my recovery, and also because I was wary of some of the members. It is certainly not perfect.

Today I was sitting in a cafe in London and I witnessed both the good side and the bad side of the fellowship from my table. I was reminded why I left AA, and felt sorry for one of the group, I could overhear, who clearly had issues with working the steps.

I was sitting on my own, when three middle-aged women sat at the table next to mine. They seemed in good spirits and it became apparent that they had come from and AA meeting. Two of the group had obviously been members for sometime and seem to have done well. They were offering encouragement to the third member, who had not completed the steps, and had some concerns about step six. They were talking about this in a low-key way, and not attracting attention. I would not have heard their conversation unless I was sitting right next to them. They were helping each other, which is what the fellowship should be about.

cafe

 

Their little chat, and privacy, was broken when two men sat down next is them. One was obviously the Sponsor of the other. The Sponsor type instantly butted into the ladies conversation and offered his wisdom. Despite the fact that the ladies were obviously not impressed by his intrusion, he offered to drive them to another meeting. When they declined, he carried on, and suggested they attend a different meeting in another area later in the week that he thought would be good for them. This meeting was one of the cult type meetings that I remembered from my time in the fellowship, where are people go to impress others, rather than help them. He seemed to think going to one meeting after another was the norm.

They were saved by Mr Sponsor’s phone ringing. He answered it very loudly, and it was obviously a call from another sponsee. This gave him a chance to show off. He certainly took the opportunity. Instead of being subtle, he answered as loudly as possible, and made it’s obvious he was talking about AA. The whole cafe could hear him including the waitresses who are pointing at him, making comments in Romanian and laughing. He started talking about the steps and God, as if they were the only solution to alcoholism, which is often what devout members of AA actually think. He was making no attempt to emphasise with the other person on the phone, but just talking to impress the other members of AA in the cafe.

He was precisely the type of person that annoyed me during the period I went to 12-step meetings. He was somebody that likes to perform to a group, but does not have the sensitivity to really help others. All he can do is quote the big book, and tell people to go to meetings. He is critical of anyone who does not work the AA program in a strict way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like this in London meetings. He had completely ruined the ladies conversation with his intrusion. They were the ones helping each other and it was ironic, that it was the hard-core stepper that ruined things.

I certainly don’t think recovery groups are for everyone, but many do benefit from membership of a sober community. Unfortunately it is important to be on guard for people who want to dominate and control others, in these groups. I think this type of behaviour is more common in AA due to the sponsorship part of the program. I certainly felt a relief at not having to deal with the self-righteous critical types, who are often horrific gossips, after leaving AA. I valued my privacy, but people such as the man in the cafe, do not. For them AA has become a way of life, and they love to tell others that they are members, even anonymous people sitting in a cafe. They feel blessed to be members of AA.

This brought back a memory for me, as the first time I was embarrassed by a member of AA in public, was in this very cafe over a decade ago. That person was my sponsor, and I realised he was very similar to the man in there today. He would have used the same phrases, and was equally tactless. I had chosen him as my sponsor, as he had latched onto me at meetings and told me about other meetings that he felt were good. I realise now that I was being guided to hard-core 12-step meetings, rather than the more laid back meetings that I later found helpful. It was odd to experience this again. It made me realise how far I have come. I realise now that I was never going to fully fit in to AA. I’m not religious and I’m not spiritual. It suits some people, but is not the only way and as I value my privacy, I am better off not doing recovery in a group any more.

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Rehab Doc and Jon https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/rehab-doc-jon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rehab-doc-jon https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/rehab-doc-jon/#comments Sat, 10 Jun 2017 09:48:33 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11419 Rehab: Lives Addicted Here is a quick post about a couple of interesting things in the last week you may have missed. I watched a fairly good documentary on BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p053f013/rehab-lives-addicted called Rehab: Lives Addicted. It showed the state of treatment in the UK, for addicts suffering serious addiction issues, where there is not much funding. There […]

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Rehab: Lives Addicted

Here is a quick post about a couple of interesting things in the last week you may have missed. I watched a fairly good documentary on BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p053f013/rehab-lives-addicted called Rehab: Lives Addicted. It showed the state of treatment in the UK, for addicts suffering serious addiction issues, where there is not much funding. There is not much on offer except 12 step and a detox. I felt very sorry for the people involved and it certainly showed the need for a more modern and effective system rather than what is on offer here. It is either comply with abstinence or you are out, and this can lead to overdose for those who have been through a detox as soon as they get outside. There did not seem to be much CBT or other counselling taking place.

addiction picture

This is from the BBC site

Going behind the doors of the private world of a residential rehabilitation centre in Somerset, this powerful documentary uncovers what is done to help people beat their addictions and start rebuilding their lives, through a series of intimate encounters at Broadway Lodge.

From Phillip Wood, the film maker behind the acclaimed documentary Chasing Dad: A Lifelong Addiction, we meet people who come from different situations and parts of the UK who all have one thing in common: to seek a new beginning here. Observing the relationships formed between staff, clients and their families, the film explores how desperate and difficult it is for people to transform themselves when funding is scarce and emotions are running high.

Jon Stewart

Jon has been busy as ever and has an interview here http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/cmutge-2017-tackling-addiction-in-the-music-community-jon-stewart/  

Here is a quote from the piece

Explaining how he ended up in AA himself, Stewart said: “The thing that led me to seek help was the same thing that leads any alcoholic or addict to seek help. It’s that you’re broken in your core. I went to a meeting and got help, I met a lot of nice people, some of whom had had much much bigger records than I had ever had with Sleeper. You know, we had one platinum album, at my first AA meeting there was a guy there who had seven. So that was pretty impressive. I realised I was no longer special and different. And that saved my life”.

With AA he eventually got sober, and also found God through the spiritual side of the organisation. Becoming something of an evangelist for the group – an “AA Taliban”, as he described it – Stewart attended meetings for fourteen years before deciding to leave, after questioning his faith and becoming and Atheist again.

“After fourteen years, I started to feel like I was in what seemed to be a cult”, he said. “Of course AA is not a cult, I want to be very clear about that. But it uses methods that parallel with the ‘thought reform’ methods that have been studied by sociologists. And they work, so AA uses that for good outcomes. I had a fairly spiritual sponsor who encouraged me to pray, so I did it and I had a spiritual experience as the result of working the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Which is the point”.

“I stopped going to AA meetings and started attending some CBT [Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy] groups instead, which were similar, but also different in some ways”, he continued. “I wanted a different kind of recovery based on real world experiences. So while I’m very supportive of AA – I really believe in it – but at the same time the narrative is that a lot of people leave it and move on and I wanted to understand that phenomenon”.

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The Thinking Atheist 12 Step Episode: https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/thinking-atheist-12-step-episode/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thinking-atheist-12-step-episode https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/thinking-atheist-12-step-episode/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:34:13 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11396 Here is a quick post to link to an excellent podcast about recovery. It is by The Thinking Atheist  and the topic is 12 Step Recovery. Many who go to AA etc, are put off by the religious side of the programme. It did not appeal to me, and so I just accepted that AA came […]

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Here is a quick post to link to an excellent podcast about recovery. It is by The Thinking Atheist  and the topic is 12 Step Recovery. Many who go to AA etc, are put off by the religious side of the programme. It did not appeal to me, and so I just accepted that AA came from the Midwest of America and ignored that side of it. Eventually, I got fed up with hearing about “Higher Powers” and moved on. I had made use of AA as a sober group to be part of, and found being with people with multiple years of sobriety in my early days was inspiring. If they could beat alcoholism, then I felt that I had a chance.

The podcast features Jon who often contributes to my own podcasts.

Here is a quote from the podcast Youtube page

Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs often invoke (or require) a “Higher Power.” How effective is this, and are there better alternatives for beating addiction and overcoming ? We explore 12-step programs, the often religious language they use, and some secular alternatives.

I feel this podcast is very fair to AA, and illustrates many of the pros and cons of this support group, for the Atheist. AA divides opinion, and you can see many pro and anti comments on the youtube page, although I do wonder if many of the people commenting had actually listened to it!

 

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Anti AA forums and blogs. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/anti-aa-forums-and-blogs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=anti-aa-forums-and-blogs https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/anti-aa-forums-and-blogs/#comments Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:14:38 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11358 Old Post about Anti AA sites Back when I started this blog in 2013, I wrote a post about the Anti AA world https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/anti-aa-sites/  which generally gets about 20 views a day, despite being quite old. I suppose this is because it mentions the Orange Papers forum and site, which was often viewed by AA […]

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Old Post about Anti AA sites

Back when I started this blog in 2013, I wrote a post about the Anti AA world https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/anti-aa-sites/  which generally gets about 20 views a day, despite being quite old. I suppose this is because it mentions the Orange Papers forum and site, which was often viewed by AA members, who wanted to laugh at the “Dry Drunks” who had left AA. I intended this post to make it clear I did not want the trolls that make up the membership of that thankfully defunct forum, posting their rubbish on this blog. In fact I had considered not bothering with comments at all here, especially as I rarely read comments on other people’s blogs. People behave with less inhibition online, and too many are prone to aggression, especially when they have become part of a small, extreme group that echo their views. This is sometimes called a social media echo chamber.

Leaving AA

I can see why many people leave AA, I left myself after a year. I found the religious side conflicted with my own views and I was fed up with hearing from people going on about miracles and sharing the same old thing, every time I went to a meeting. Some people love that, but it is not for me, although being in a sober community certainly helped me in my first year. I felt some of the groups were cult like and that many members had a very narrow view of recovery.

Back then,there was not much online about leaving AA, but thanks to Amazon being in existence, I was able to buy some decent books on alternatives to AA, and some were really good. I had found a great therapist, who asked me to read Stanton Peele’s writing as I was not enjoying certain aspects of AA, and I then discussed his books with her. I found Stanton’s ideas really resonated with me and was able to do work on my self esteem and other issues in an effective manner, now that I had the tools to stay sober. I often wonder if I would have stayed sober if Stanton’s books had not been available to me, as I read them at a critical time, and they certainly helped. I was having issues with gossip in AA, and certainly had no faith in praying myself well.

There were nothing like the number of recovery blogs out there, or alternative to AA websites that interested me, and there were no suitable podcasts. Monica Richardson who made the film “The 13th step” about issues in AA made the first one that I listened to, but this came a while later. I was really doing recovery on my own for a while, until I came across the “Stinkin-Thinkin” blog by Friend the Girl and MA. Here is the original blog https://donewithaa.wordpress.com and here is the later blog archive http://stinkin-thinkin.com .Bill Wilson AAThis was the best online recovery community I have been part of. It was was very fast moving, and had good writers, who mixed humour with serious issues, and this meant it attracted some equally amusing contributors, many of whom have sadly left the online recovery scene, once it turned toxic.

 

At that time the Orange papers site was seen as extreme and thankfully did not have its repellant forum, which attracted “trolls” from both sides of the recovery world. Some people seem to believe everything that was written on this site. It is possible that they are the easily influenced types who took everything in AA literally. They would often form petty rivalries and would follow each-other to other forums such as the Fix, and the arguing would carry on there as well. This resulted with comments sections filled with hate, which reflected really badly on those who had moved on from AA. It was impossible to have any form of sensible debate without some idiot spewing their bile. This was the type of behaviour that had lead to the Stinkin Thinkin site being closed. They had assumed that the “Big Book thumpers” from AA would make themselves look stupid, which they did. What they did not anticipate, is that those on the Anti AA side, were even more crazy and there was no limit to their stupidity. It was due to the actions of the Anti AA side, that the best blog questioning the lack of effectiveness of the 12 step world, was shut down. The attempt of running an online community, for those who had left AA, was ruined by people, who would have been ignored, if they had built their own site. This is a real shame as I feel there is a need for this type of community online, but people will not take part if they are going to be attacked by fools, with a narrow point of view.

Here is a piece I wrote for Addiction.com https://www.addiction.com/expert-blogs/why-i-dont-go-to-aa/ which is hardly a pro AA piece, although it gives AA credit where credit is due. It is simply me sharing my experience of recovery, in the hope that somebody else in a similar position may read it, and look at some of the solutions that have helped me. The comments underneath are bizzare and generally show the Anti AA brigade up for being the bigots that they are. I am actually defended by those who still attend AA and others who have no history with the “Orange Papers brigade”. This is on a piece about leaving AA, so you can imagine how they react when somebody writes in favour of that fellowship.

Numbers in the Anti AA world

I actually don’t think there are that many people, involved in the Anti AA world. An indication is when they start a petition, which is rarely well supported. They do this often, but rarely reach more than a couple of hundred signatures. Even the crowd funding for Monica’s film, did not raise much from the Anti AA people. Indeed they hampered her efforts and even hacked her website, so they could distribute the film before it was released, which meant she was left out of pocket. Most people simply drift away from AA after a while if they are disillusioned, and wish those that remain well. We are lucky that there are books such as the excellent “The Sober Truth” by Lance Dodes, which illustrate problems in the AA and 12 step recovery world. to make his point, he does not have to rely on wild conspiracy theories, or trying to link the founder of AA to Hitler etc which are ofen found online. Of course, it is the outlandish ideas that the Anti AA people often point to, so they are disappointed in the lack of exaggeration. It does not appeal to their sense of drama.

Damage to other recovery groups by Anti AA Trolls.

Although I ignore the views of the trolls that based themselves on the Orange Papers Forum, I do worry about the damage they do to other groups that are trying to provide alternatives to AA. They often talk about the advantages of groups such as Smart, although very few of them actually attend its meetings or bother to qualify to setup new meetings. Instead their aggression probably puts reasonable people off trying these alternatives to AA. They are more interested in telling people what did not work for them, rather than rationally discussing the wide range of solutions out there. Would you want to sit next to one of these idiots in a recovery meeting, especially those who have no respect for other people’s privacy.

troll

I have certainly been critical of AA on my own sites but have always given AA credit, where I feel it deserves it. I am certainly not a fan of those who sell the 12 steps in rehab as a form of treatment as I don’t see this as an effective solution. The steps certainly not a medical treatment. Although I no longer attend AA, I realise that many do find it helpful and would hate to deprive them of a free support group, that they find beneficial. I don’t really care about the DUI people that get sent there, who I view as irresponsible, although I don’t think sending them to AA does them or AA much good. They would probably benefit from another form of education and punishment.

Failure of the Anti AA movement.

As far as I know, the Anti AA people have not managed to close a single 12 step meeting or have any effect on the numbers attending. All they have achieved is to divide part of the online recovery community. They often attack eachother. Being Anti something, generally does not achieve much. Being pro another solution and seeking to build it and make it something worth belonging to and worth being part of is completely different!

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Key Players in AA history https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/key-players-in-aa-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=key-players-in-aa-history https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/key-players-in-aa-history/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:44:34 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11347 Just before Christmas, Jon did a great podcast for this site with Bob K about AA history and the issues that atheists have in 12 step fellowships. I thought it was really good and decided to read Bob’s book on the history of AA called “Key Players in AA history”. I thought it was an excellent […]

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Just before Christmas, Jon did a great podcast for this site with Bob K about AA history and the issues that atheists have in 12 step fellowships. I thought it was really good and decided to read Bob’s book on the history of AA called “Key Players in AA history”. I thought it was an excellent read and would recommend it to anyone who wishes to look at the origins of AA. I think it is important that you do, if you are going to use AA as the basis for your recovery.

Key Players in AA History

It is ironic that this book is not sold in AA meetings as it is not official AA literature. In fact one of the worse places to learn about the origins of AA is in a 12 step meeting. It is a shame it cannot be sold there as I am sure many members would be interested and it puts the origins of AA in a historical context. Some of the information has been published before, but this is all referenced and is probably the only book that puts this in one place. Some online accounts about AA seem to be very biased either for and against AA and are inaccurate as a result. This is not the case here and deals some of the AA controversies in a sensible way such as Bill Wilson taking LSD in an effort to find a solution for alcoholism as well as womanising etc. It also talks about how AA grew using publicity which is certainly something that smaller recovery groups could learn from today.

In my early days of recovery, I tried to read as much as possible on the subject, and am grateful that I was doing this at a time when online sellers gave me access to titles I would otherwise have missed. I wish I had been able to have read this book back then as it would have given me a good background to the people that I heard about in meetings, yet knew little about their lives and backgrounds other than what was in the Big Book.

Here is the contents of the book so you can see who he writes about. I found all this really interesting even though I moved on from AA nine years ago and I feel it would interest people from all parts of the recovery community, as it gives a good account of the people who are behind what is the biggest recovery community. I think members of other recovery groups could also learn a lot from the way AA grew through members reaching out to others, and by positive endorsement by the media. If it worked for AA, it could work for your group.

 

Dedication

Foreword by Ernest Kurtz and William L. White

Introduction

SECTION I THE FOUNDERS

Chapter 1 Bill Wilson’s Vermont Roots (Prequel to a Prequel)

Chapter 2 Young Bill Wilson (Prequel to Bill’s Story)

Chapter 3 The LSD Experiments

Chapter 4 Bill and Rumors of Other Women

Chapter 5 Doctor Bob – Part One (1879-1935)

Chapter 6 Doctor Bob – Part Two (1935-1950)

SECTION II PRE-HISTORY

Chapter 7 Dr. Benjamin Rush

Chapter 8 The Washingtonian Society

Chapter 9 What is “New Thought”?

Chapter 10 Jerry McAuley and The Water Street Mission

Chapter 11 20th Century Influences on AA

Chapter 12 Charles Towns

Chapter 13 Frank Buchman and The Oxford Group

Chapter 14 Sam Shoemaker

SECTION III THE PROFESSIONALS

Chapter 15 William James

Chapter 16 Carl Jung

Chapter 17 William D. Silkworth

SECTION IV NOTABLE DRUNKS

Chapter 18 Rowland Hazard

Chapter 19 Ebby Thacher

Chapter 20 Henry Parkhurst

Chapter 21 Clarence Snyder

Chapter 22 Jim Burwell

Chapter 23 Richmond Walker

SECTION V WOMEN PIONEERS

Chapter 24 Lois Wilson

Chapter 25 Anne Ripley Smith

Chapter 26 Florence R.

Chapter 27 Sylvia K.

Chapter 28 Marty Mann and the Early Women of AA

Chapter 29 Henrietta Seiberling

SECTION VI PUBLICITY

Chapter 30 Willard Richardson and the Rockefellers

Chapter 31 Selling AA – Early Publicity

Chapter 32 Anonymity in the 21st Century

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Monica Richardson 13th Step Film 2017 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/monica-richardson-13th-step-film-2017/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=monica-richardson-13th-step-film-2017 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/monica-richardson-13th-step-film-2017/#comments Sat, 04 Feb 2017 14:33:30 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11275 Monica Richardson 13th step film A few of you who ave followed this blog will remember me supporting Monica Richardson for making her film the 13th Step. Some of us met up at a preview show in London over a year ago. Since then the film has been cut down and been released on Amazon […]

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Monica Richardson 13th step film

A few of you who ave followed this blog will remember me supporting Monica Richardson for making her film the 13th Step. Some of us met up at a preview show in London over a year ago. Since then the film has been cut down and been released on Amazon Prime where it will reach a world wide audience. This is an amazing achievement as when I first met Monica online she had never been involved in film making and was about to do a course on the subject. Making documentaries is hard work (I have worked on a few), so making something like this after experiencing problems in AA should be applauded. These issues are real and should not be swept under the carpet.

The 13th step film in London 2017.

International Filmmaker Festival of World cinema

Screening on Wednesday, February 15th at 6:30 PM. The Screening will take place at The Crown Plaza Hotel in Screening Room 1.

http://filmfestinternational.com/february-15th-room-1-london-iff-2017/

The last screening was great and a few of us who had met online on various recovery forums got together afterwards for a great chat. I hope to be there this time as well, and I hope to catch up with Monica while she is in the UK.

 

Safety In AA.

Monica has devoted a lot of time to speaking out about safety in AA meetings. Other’s such as the Journalist Gabrielle Glasser have questioned if AA is a safe place for women and there has been some media coverage on the subject as well.

AA was designed for low bottom middle aged drunks in the 1930’s and its religious traditions do not make it easy to update without protests from fanatical BigBook thumpers. This results in many issues being covered up or brushed aside as an outside issue. This looks like it could be changing and AA has published this PDF which talks about safety and responsibility in meetings. It should not surprise anyone that there are some criminals in AA or other 12 step groups, that goes with substance abuse. This can cause problems when they mix with the vulnerable people who make up another part of the recovery community. I hope this is the first step to stopping some of the unacceptable predatory type behaviour in AA.
Monica Richardson_Mayfair_Hotel

 

 

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The 13th Step film on Amazon. https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/the-13th-step-film-on-amazon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-13th-step-film-on-amazon https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/the-13th-step-film-on-amazon/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 09:39:21 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11201 The 13th Step film on Amazon. I thought this was a good time to mention the 13th step film by Monica Richardson, which is now available to watch on Amazon, which will make it available to a much wider audience. Amazon has also released “One Little Pill” by Claudia Christian and sells a huge number […]

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The 13th Step film on Amazon.

I thought this was a good time to mention the 13th step film by Monica Richardson, which is now available to watch on Amazon, which will make it available to a much wider audience. Amazon has also released “One Little Pill” by Claudia Christian and sells a huge number of great books on the subject. I feel the existance of Amazon has really helped me get well, as it was impossible to find helpful literature on “recovery” in most shops when I started my journey a decade ago. Last year I went to a screening of the film in London and it went down well with the audience. I wrote a review of the night on Addiction.com and have copied it here. I would urge you to watch this video, whatever side of the fence you are on with regard to AA. The world has changed since the structure of AA was devised and safety is in issue that should not be ignored.

Monica Richardson_Mayfair_Hotel

13th step review after London screening.

“This is a film that had to be made.” That was the verdict of a long-time AA member as he congratulated filmmaker Monica Richardson following the recent London screening of Richardson’ s film, “The 13th Step”. That seemed to be the reaction from most of those who attended the screening, including myself; both active members of AA and those who have moved on from the fellowship seemed to feel this documentary was one that was a long time in coming.

Members of the British press, film and television industry, many of whom are not in any way directly part of recovery from addiction, were also impressed, and the film has already won “Best Documentary” accolades at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. I hope “The 13th Step” goes on to win more awards and to be distributed to a wider audience. The message it conveys is important, although uncomfortable for some. For those who don’t know, “13th stepping” refers to the practice of long-term members of Alcoholics Anonymous preying sexually on newcomers or those in early sobriety.

I’d been aware of Richardson for a few years now and have seen her determination to bring attention to the potential dangers faced by vulnerable people in the 12-step recovery world. When I first met her she was still an active member of AA and had been running workshops to stop 13th-stepping in LA after becoming aware of these problems within the fellowship. She attempted to make changes from within AA, but frustrated by a lack of progress, she left the organization. Richardson went on to set up several websites aimed at ending 13th-stepping and has actively campaigned against the lack of safeguards in AA. She has appeared on TV shows such as Katie Couric’s talk show and CBS’ “48 Hours: The Sober Truth.”

What ‘The 13th Step’ Is About

“The 13th Step” contains dreadful stories from those who have been abused after meeting men in AA meetings. Some will say that this is rare in AA, and that it could happen anywhere, but they are missing the point. People are often vulnerable when they join the fellowship, making them a natural target of predatory behavior. We have seen this happen in other venues, for sure, most notably the Catholic Church, which have had to finally make changes and acknowledge difficult truths. I feel the 12-step world needs to do the same. AA is no longer a fellowship of middle-aged, male, low-bottom drunks, as it was in the 1930s. But it has not updated its traditions or literature to reflect this.

The film also contains interviews with experts in non-12-step recovery who talk about some more modern solutions, as well as interviews with an AA member who admits that most people leave the program quite early. These parts of the film could be especially useful to people who don’t know much about alternatives to AA in recovery. AA seems to have become stuck in that past and too resistant to change. Many long-time members who could influence change are more interested in discussing dogma rather than the safety of newcomers; this could lead to even bigger problems in the future if action is not taken. I would like to see Richardson’s film shown at AA conventions, where current members can discuss the issues raised. It would also provoke discussion at the local level, in meetings, and this could have an effect in improving safety as well.

Some say the film is simply AA-bashing, but Richardson told me that the AA head office was given a chance to give their point of view, but declined, saying it was an issue the organization. The film does feature interviews with current AA members who seemed, based on my experience, fairly typical of long-term members of the fellowship, and this gives the film balance.

After seeing the London screening, many of us who came stayed on for a couple of hours to discuss what we’d seen. I spent quite a lot of time talking with UK members of AA who’d come to see the film. I respect them all, knowing they’re trying to help others beat alcoholism. I told them why I left AA and discussed some alternatives. There were also people from SMART Recovery(R) and others who had left formal support groups, having found the strength to live life without needing a program. Bringing people together is so important in recovery, as there’s no lack of petty rivalries, especially in online discussions. It was a powerful experience and one I have not felt since my early days of getting sober, when I felt a sense of power and belonging when I went to certain AA meetings. After Richardson’s film I again felt that same feeling of identification with others in recovery, but this time everybody — from all kinds of recovery solutions — was united and that was new and special. It was good to see people meeting together and respecting each other’s views and trying to support the changes that others are trying to make in their lives.

13th Step Trailer.

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Podcast – Good Things about AA https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/podcast-good-things-about-aa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=podcast-good-things-about-aa https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/podcast-good-things-about-aa/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:26:22 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11181 Another Podcast on Alcoholics Anonymous. I have not had much of a chance to do much on the blogs for the past few months due to being really busy but I hope to do a few more things soon. This is the first podcast for a while and we decided to do one about “the good […]

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Another Podcast on Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have not had much of a chance to do much on the blogs for the past few months due to being really busy but I hope to do a few more things soon. This is the first podcast for a while and we decided to do one about “the good things in AA”. This may surprise some people, as I have been quite critical of aspects of AA in the past, and left the fellowship over 8 years ago. However, I still feel that there were parts of AA membership that helped me, even though I was not a fan of everything there including the 12 steps, and the concept of “higher powers”.

I find quite a lot that is written about AA these days by the “anti AA” brigade rather embarrassing these days. I would call myself “pro-choice” and I am not a fan of cult like, protest movements. I rather prefer to support people who are actually doing something positive and helping others by forming new groups as well as promoting good medical solutions.

Recovery meetings

Anyway here are the points that Jon came up with that were good about AA and which we talk about in the podcast.

Good things about AA:

(1) It exists, the singleness of purpose works, few organisations survive so long
(2) It works. Probably 10+ millions people have been helped
(3) It’s simple. Anyone willing to try it can get it.
(4) It’s a broad church. You meet all types. It’s very inclusive.
(5) It’s free.
(6) It’s anonymous, so no medical records to worry about
(7) It’s everywhere. You can go to meetings all over the world.
(8) It has a good self-development programme. Encourages people to take a good honest look at their attitudes and behaviours.
(9) It’s friendly and welcoming, and a great place to meet people.
(10) It’s altruistic. You have to help others for it to work for you.
(11) It’s non-judgemental. You can share whatever you like and get things off your chest
(12) It’s flexible, and has spawned other groups that help people with all kinds of problems.
Did I miss anything? What else is worth celebrating about AA..?

Anyway here is the podcast

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Recovery Meetings https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/recovery-meetings/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=recovery-meetings https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/recovery-meetings/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 14:12:19 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11131 This piece on Recovery Meetings was written by Jay.  I think this a really good, balanced piece, which talks about the good and not so good side of attending recovery meetings. He also looks at the idea of moving on from recovery meetings which many find terrifying as well as outside therapy. I feel this accurately reflects the present […]

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This piece on Recovery Meetings was written by Jay.  I think this a really good, balanced piece, which talks about the good and not so good side of attending recovery meetings. He also looks at the idea of moving on from recovery meetings which many find terrifying as well as outside therapy. I feel this accurately reflects the present recovery movement, where the 12 step type of meeting is still the type of group most people attend, at least for a while.

He also wrote this piece for my blog https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/left-for-deaad/ I hope we do a podcast together soon.

Recovery Meetings

I attend recovery meetings much like I attend anything else. Particularly because it gives me a sense of committing to my own sobriety– even if I’m on my phone playing Tetris or texting somebody, my body is present and I sometimes do hear worthwhile things from the shares. The other reason I attend recovery meetings is to be present in the event where somebody else much like myself is looking to stay clean but isn’t exactly sure that the steps are for them. The newcomer was the most important person in the room for a while. Until the most important person in the room became whoever had the floor at the moment.

Recovery meetings

I’ve heard the steps called, “work.” Los Angeles is fond of saying, “doing the work,” which sounds a lot like a chore. It can be discouraging when you’re at your wits end and the only rescue raft you see is to “do the work,” or to be asked, “did you have enough yet? Are you willing to go to any lengths to stay sober?” It’s not a fair question as it puts anybody in a position where their back is against the wall and it creates an upper hand advantage to the person asking to more or less border abusive in their demands. Much like the child mind of the active alcoholic, the sponsor now demands assignments be done on time to show willingness. This is a great theory and “my hat is off to you,” if this works for you, because it didn’t work for me.

Early on in my recovery there was a sense of unease when I decided I would be staying clean without any program of recovery. I was disillusioned with alternative recovery programs because I recognized that many are in fact for profit when they claim not to be. The word, “self supporting,” is thrown around very loosely and unless there is a bit of investigation, which these days is readily available thanks to the internet– you might actually believe your dollar is keeping your building open. This is true. However there are many other things your money is going to that we won’t get into.

Leaving a recovery program.

The feeling of leaving a recovery program can be terrifying. You’re conditioned to believe that if you miss meetings you will drink or use again which ultimately means death. You are taught that if you don’t listen to your sponsor you’re going to drink or use again. And you are taught that your best thinking got you into the predicament you found yourself in when you asked for help. So what alternatives do you have?

First, your sponsor at best is somebody with an elementary understanding of the true natures of addiction. Trauma being the frontrunner followed closely by neglect, can be worked out with a qualified therapist, medication, meditation and a sense of connection. Meetings are an excellent way to make sober friends who have similar interests and encourage you to do better in your life. Secondly, the word God gets thrown around with the word “Higher Power,” which if you read the chapter to the Agnostics, it is a direct attack on the principles of disbelief. If you aren’t persuaded to convert to a believer many times you may feel isolated or shunned from the community. The perfect part about believing is that you can choose whatever you want to believe in. You can choose to believe that therapy is going to help you. You can choose to believe that you’re never going to drink or use again. You can choose to believe that everything that happened in your past happened for a reason and you’d like to make the best of things moving forward. Or you could choose to believe not to believe in anything and to get better in spite of. There’s no law on earth that says man needs to believe in anything.

The steps.

Lastly, the steps are a great tool to becoming a better person. But they aren’t for everybody, and more importantly they shouldn’t be recognized as the be all end all of addiction recovery. There are many people who are abstinent and happy who have never looked at the steps a day in their lives. If you do decide to take the steps, you should do it at a pace where you feel comfortable with someone you feel comfortable with, not the first lunatic who approaches you in a meeting asking if you have a sponsor and if you’re “done yet.” This is your life. If your best wishes are to grow into a healthier version, then trust that your decisions are leading you into that, not somebody elses demands.

I’ve been off of drugs and alcohol for over a year now through the help of myself and the people in my life whom I’ve chosen to include in this process. I see a therapist on a weekly basis and in the beginning went to therapy several times a week. I’ve realized that relapse isn’t a monster that hides in the closet waiting to pounce on me when I’m not expecting it. Relapse is the last decision I make to leave my responsibilities when my life reaches a point I’m unhappy with. Life to me is life, it has many good and bad days to it, however there are moments I can embrace every day with people I love and feel lucky to be able to be involved with in any capacity. It isn’t about “doing the work,” or “giving up control,” its about filling your life with as many positive moments and experiences as you can have so the decision to go back to using seems disgusting and your mind creates an aversion to it accordingly.

Whatever your decision, so long as it leads to you becoming the best version of yourself that you wish to be, embrace it.

Jay

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A more Casual Approach to AA https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/a-more-casual-approach-to-aa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-more-casual-approach-to-aa https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/a-more-casual-approach-to-aa/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:09:53 +0000 https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/?p=11045 Why a more casual approach to AA can help! Here is the latest podcast for www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovering.com . This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual […]

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Why a more casual approach to AA can help!

Here is the latest podcast for www.alcoholism-recovery-radio.com and www.recoveringfromrecovering.com . This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual approach than many to AA membership. He still takes recovery seriously but his life does not revolve around meetings which is something we both did in our early days.

I found having this discussion really interesting as Adrian has made good use of being in the fellowship, but is certainly not a Big Book thumper and takes a more common sense approach to recovery than some people.

We discuss why we feel AA helps people but also mention things that we feel are out of date. We talk about the literature and why that puts some people off going to AA and miss out on recovery. People like Adrian were the ones that actually helped me in my days in the rooms of AA rather than the Big Book thumpers and members of the cult type meetings.

It is important that people are not put off recovery by people who are over zealous about wanting to sponsor them, or by an old fashioned approach to issues such as taking antidepressants. Some meetings are great and have broad minded members, while others are really more like a religious group where there is more talk about God and Higher Powers, than actual recovery.

I think it is important in recovery to try and get some independence and not simply rely on a sponsor for every big decision in your life. I am not saying you should take chances with recovery but at the same time I think it is a good idea to try and live a normal life that does not revolve around having a fear of drinking.

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