Podcast with Jon about AA

One of the great things about having this blog is that I have met many people who have managed to move on from the 12 step world, yet who still have a great recovery and have not relapsed, which is normally what you are told will happen in AA meetings. One of these people is Jon S who has a great blog  and talks on the subject regularly. I am not saying everyone should leave AA or any other support group, especially without other options. However, I feel it is important to keep an open mind in recovery and deal with problems as they occur and this may be best achieved by looking for solutions away from your spiritual support group. There seem to be a lot of us who have moved on from AA, yet are still grateful for some of the support we received in our early recovery, although we realise it is not a complete solution for all problems. I mention this, as there are a small minority who are quite loud on a couple of recovery forums, who have extreme views about AA, and who think it is a good idea to attack others who use it as a recovery method. This has led to a whole load of pathetic online arguments from both sides and probably puts people off trying alternatives to AA, when they see the aggression and stupidity of some of the people involved.

I am glad to see that there are websites starting to appear, that are simply providing information for alcoholics to use to get well, without getting involved with arguments. These are written by free thinkers who do not get caught up in the pack mentality of certain unsavoury online groups.

Jon S

Jon is certainly somebody who is doing a lot to promote alternatives to AA, in an attempt to help people.  He left AA about a year and a half ago after about 15 years, and although he now feels that many other solutions have a lot of merit, he realises that the group dynamic of AA can be useful. Below is a short interview with Jon where he talks about why AA cannot improve as it is “Divinely Inspired”. He points out that AA tends to dominate the recovery world to the detriment of other solutions such as Smart Recovery which is based on CBT. He also talks about The Sinclair Method and the film “One Little Pill”. He talks about how people are emotionally invested in AA and refers to the recent Atlantic piece by Gabrielle Glaser, that got around 13000 comments in a week, which I mentioned here.

He does regular talks which are well worth attending if you have the chance as part of the Skeptics in the Pub, which is a group of people that meet all over the UK to discuss issues. He gives a good background about how AA was formed from the Oxford group, and how this spiritual solution has grown, but also been held back by its heritage. He does not attack AA, but urges caution that it may not be suitable for certain people. He does not believe AA is a cult which I also agree with, although there are some cult like groups, and some cult like practices.

Skeptics in the Pub Dates

Here are the upcoming Skeptics talks:

Edinburgh Skeptics, Thurs 11th June http://www.meetup.com/EdinburghSkeptics/events/221400607/ Bristol Skeptics, Weds 24th June http://bristol.skepticsinthepub.org/Event.aspx/2467/Inside-Alcoholic-Anonymous-

Later in the year he will be at North London Humanists (September) Tunbridge Wells Skeptics (October), Merseyside Skeptics (November) and Dorset Humanists (December).


The interview below starts at about 3’30” and will give you an idea about what you would get in a full talk. He also mentions this site, so thanks for that!

Jon has his own blog here which is well worth a look https://jonsleeper.wordpress.com which is a great read and links to many resources.

and was on BBC radio Scotland https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/bbc-radio-scotland/

I have also mentioned him in these posts https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/jonsleeper-wordpress-com/ and here https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/skeptics-pub-aa-god/

I also talk about the “One Little Pill” film here https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/pill/



Commenting area

  1. Some good points there. Whilst I do believe that it is important to expose the myriad problems with the 12 step model, I think solutions should always come before polemics… because if that is pretty much all anyone indulges in 25/7 (polemics, that is), then it makes me suspect that such a person is pretty hollow… and is probably trying to divert people’s attention away from their glaring lack of knowledge in many areas.

    (…Mentioning no names, obviously!)

    • *** d’Uuuurrrh! “24/7” (I meant). Obviously. 🙂

    • There is certainly a lot certainly alot of hysterical shrieking from certain people (mentioning no names)! Most people just click away from any thread with those people on it and don’t read any comments or leave a response. They are just talking to themselves. None of that stuff get listed by google much anyway so nobody will ever find it!

    • Hi Gary. I hope I don’t come over as overly negative about AA in that chat. I’d done a very balanced talk at the event, which Myles the presenter acknowledges after my podcast segment, and this was an improvised conversation that occurred some time after that. I was pretty tired and the discussion was quite freewheeling. We were interrupted several times by people going up and down the stairs in the hotel where we were talking and I’ve no control over how that was edited, although in this case I think Myles did an entirely fair job. He was also gracious to acknowledge that I was very positive about AA in the actual talk, as I was in the BBC Scotland interview on this site from a few weeks ago. I’ve never positioned myself as an “anti-AA”, as I state on my blog essay I’m firmly pro-choice. I’ll try to make sure that comes across in future. I’ve no ambitions to be a media spokesperson on the issue, unrehearsed interviews just aren’t my thing, these were both conversations where I was approached and not something that I sought out. Thanks for the feedback, it’s all very welcome. JS

      • No problem, Jon. I would say that yours is quite a well-balanced outlook, actually… so I wasn’t really referencing you or your podcast. Mea culpa for going off-thread slightly.

      • P.S. Just regarding the Oxford Group/Moral Rearmament… here’s an interesting piece of historical trivia for you, Jon. Did you know that MI5 kept a file on them during World War 2? And that this file along with another one kept during the 1950s is now available from the National Archives?

        I purchased the 1940s file a few years ago and it made for really interesting reading… evidently a number of people in British intelligence weren’t fussed on the emphasis on the confessional style of the Oxford Group’s meetings AT ALL (saw it as a very real security risk given how it could compromise some high profile/influential members and make them very susceptible to blackmail during that period of international conflict) and most definitely weren’t too enamoured of Frank Buchman given his previous “I thank God for a man like Adolph Hitler” proclamation.

        It makes for fascinating reading, actually.

        Here’s the link for the file I ordered… as I say, I only bought this first one that covered the wartime period, not the 1950s file (cost me just over £50 I seem to recall):

        discovery.national archives.gov.uk/details/r/C11377296

        • *** Sorry, that link I just wrote had a space in it that shouldn’t have had… here’s the link now amended accordingly! 🙂


          • It is an interesting subject and the “thank God for Adolf Hitler” was something of a PR disaster to put it mildly. I don’t think he would have been able to publicly retract that at the time as it would have endangered the Oxford Group members in Germany. This was a bit similar to the Pope not coming out hard against Hitler.
            Any group would certainly been assessed during the war for Nazi sympathy, but Oxford Group members were not rounded up in the UK and the theatre in Westminster is a memorial to Oxford Group war dead from the people of London. A lot of people said things back then that were unwise!

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