The13th Step film in London – Monica Richardson

I am pleased that Monica Richardson who has produced the 13th Step Film, which shows problems in the 12 step AA world has been in contact to say that she is showing her film in Cannes at the huge international Film Festival on May 17th and 19th, and in London on May 27th at 7.00pm in the Mayfair hotel 2015.
13th step


There will be a question with Monica and her Director, who I met when I was in Los Angeles nearly two years ago at a documentary convention. I have seen a rough cut of the film last year, when Monica wanted to know what I thought about it and am looking forward to seeing the finished product in London. I really respect what Monica has done here, as she is not an experienced film maker and has done so much work to get this project finished. She has raised all the money for production herself and travelled all over America to interview people. She was criticised rather predictably by some of the very staunch AA fans that treat the 12 steps as their religion, and who are often the people who turn a blind eye to problems in AA. She was also criticised by a couple of the more idiotic people who have moved on from AA, that call themselves “Anti AA”, who presumably prefer the more lunatic type videos that you sometimes see on YouTube, where some Nutter rants about AA and Hitler etc, which are generally ignored. I am glad to say this film is nothing like that, and should not be confused with an amateurish production. The 13th Step, is well put together and is balanced, with high production values, which is important as Monica is presenting serious issues here, that need to be taken seriously, especially in USA. There are a lot of people there, who end up in a recovery programme that may well not suit them and at worst, may harm them.

Best Documentary at the Beverly Hills Film Festival!

The film certainly went down well when it was shown at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and won the best Documentary Award. This is an amazing achievement for a new filmmaker award and I hope that this will help give the film some extra credibility with broadcasters. I recently talked about “The Culture High” which is a film about the legalisation of marijuana in USA and the drug wars, which has been distributed world-wide by Netflix and it would be great if Monica’s film had this type of exposure. The Film has sections from people who have been abused by people in AA, as well as addiction experts such as Lance Dodes and Stanton Peele. There are also some quotes from people still in AA, which is important as it shows the contrast between those who look to science for solutions and those who rely on faith.

Here is Monica Richardson with her award.

Monica _Richardson_Beverly_Hills

I am not sure quite how to get tickets for the show and will update this page as soon as Monica gets back to me, but hopefully some of you can make it. here is a trailer for the film which gives you a taste.

Here is a link to Monica’s website that will also give information about other chances to watch her film.

I also have a small film section on this site  it includes a mention of the CBS documentary about the tragic murder of Karla Brada by her boyfriend who she met at AA. Monica Richardson has done a lot for the Brada family in publicising what happened, in an attempt to protect other young women. She is featured in this documentary as well.



Commenting area

  1. Great news. Thanks for the update. Can’t wait to see this. Jon S.

  2. GirlScout May 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm · · Reply

    Hey guys

    I’m also going to be there, and can’t wait to hopefully meet you all and to meet Monica who has worked so hard in the face of a lot of criticism.


  3. I’m going to see it in London and meet Monica even though I saw it online like most other people I know.

    • Probably see you there! She certainly was not to pleased about it being put online and it could have really screwed things up for her. I noticed it on Facebook and let her know but am not suprised it was on the orange papers as well. I suppose the normal muppets are to blame!

  4. The usual muppets are out in full force and have chosen this precise moment to air their grievances on Massive’s site, whilst she’s at the cannes film festival! You really couldn’t make it up. Their sense of timing is astonishing. Like she hasn’t got enough to contend with! But fortunately, whilst she has a heart of gold, she’s also made of granite so sure she won’t let it deter her. These are exciting times, I can’t wait to meet you all. Will drop you a line xx

    • I look forward to meeting you as well. What has happened is stupid and shows a complete lack of respect for Massives years of work. It was obvious to anyone who has followed any of this that the film is not released other than a few festivals. There are no links to an online version on any of her sites, yet a certain group of people who you would think would support her work think it is ok to put links up on facebook, which is where it eventually got to me when somebody sent the link to their entire friends list. I amazed that none of the people that received a link in the past week or so bothered to check with Massive or questioned what was being done. This does show why the so called anti AA movement has achieved pretty much nothing over the years. I remember being told by somebody who had made a lot of videos and run a site to be careful about the antis when I had my forum, as they are more crazy. This is certainly true, and the Stinkin Thinkin site suffered as a result of arguing and stupidity as well. I keep well away from those types these days, they will sabotage any cause they are involved in, and nobody takes them seriously.
      This could have resulted in Monica being thrown out of festivals and has resulted in a loss of revenue as people who have watched the film already are unlikely to go and see it at a festival or download it when it is formally released. The one little pill film charged a small amount for a download and this would help recover some of the production costs. Monica has invested a huge amount of her own money and time into this and has had to pay professional staff to work for her, and they do not come cheap! What has happened shows a complete lack of respect for somebody who is trying to highlight serious issues in the recovery world and has actually done something that could make a difference. Sadly I am not surprised this has happened! Lets face it, if this had been a film praising AA and the 12 step world, members of AA would have got behind it as a community. This has not happened here, what you see are a few extremists, who link up on the web and argue with anyone who they feel is a target for their pack mentality. One of the reasons they could not do well in a support group such as AA is that they lack even basic social skills.They don’t care about anyone else as long, as they can have a rant somewhere and get a couple of seconds of attention. That is what you get from an unmoderated internet community that views itself “anti” a cause. Anyone with any sense stays away from them and the community becomes more unbalanced as time goes on.

  5. GirlScout May 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm · · Reply

    I totally agree, I am relatively new to this leaving aa online world and I’m astonished! It’s really shitty and totally unnecessary and totally undermining. I mean if they don’t like it they could always give up the day job, put themselves through film school, raise the finance and go and make a flippin’ film! Instead I imagine them in a darkened room hunched over a keyboard!

    People who have not blogged on her site for YEARS suddenly decide today is the day? It’s really cruel. Like she really has the time to be dealing with it. I love that blog, its safe, friendly, kind, supportive, and has been a big help to me over the last year. As has Monica herself. What a dynamo she is and my hat is off to her.

    I agree, it’s like a crazy AA meeting in most of these Anti groups and I don’t even look at most of them anymore. It’s weird, I’m part of a few groups for a health condition that is very poorly and unfairly treated by mainstream medicine. The science supports our argument, several doctors support our argument, but they have the same issue, it’s almost professional suicide to associate with some patient groups as they are so hysterical it just scuppers any chance of being taken seriously. A bit like the whole ME /CFS arena, some psychiatrists really unfairly say it’s a somatoform disorder, when increasing evidence says its not. But some extreme ‘activists’ are sending death threats to doctors! Yeah that’s really going to convince them you are not a bunch of crazy loons!

    Anyway, only an idiot would have thought being sent a link to a film that has taken three years to get the festival stage was supposed to be online. Bootlegging a film is THEFT. Tragic.

    Anyway, that aside, it doesn’t take away from the project itself, which will stand on its own merits I’m sure. I’ll drop you a line this week and we can make a plan. I’m down south from next weekend and will be staying with a friend Mon and Tues so I’m around before the film is screened. What do we do about tickets do you know?



    • Sorry you got caught in the Spam trap again. Thanks for your comment, I had not seen it when I sent the email earlier. I think I am working on the Monday and Tuesday before the film, but that often changes. I will be around on the Wednesday and the weekend before. I hopefully going to be able to do a piece on Monica for . My first page went up there today – I have been made into an American! Hopefully I can reach a few people that would not normally read about the Sinclair method and Smart.They are really great people running the site, I can tell you more when we meet up.

  6. GirlScout May 17, 2015 at 9:59 pm · · Reply

    Hey thanks

    I haven’t had a new email from you, just the one from the other day? but yes that’s fine, let’s play it by ear and see how it works out. Saw your article, very good, well done.

    Chat soon


    • Hi Gs,
      I seem to have had a few email issues using my phone over the weekend as I was working away, but most of what I said was covered here!It was about supporting Monica while the mess gets sorted! Glad you like the other piece – I hope I can reach a few people who would not normally look at alternatives to AA. I would actually like to reach people who still go to meetings who may tell members who are struggling about alternatives. We can make a change in attitudes but it won’t happen over night and will take a long time. I would like to talk about this more when we meet up, as I had some very interesting feedback from a treatment center doctor that has really made me think about how to do this.

      • GirlScout May 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm · · Reply


        No worries. Yeah, she sounds on top of it. The trolls are now squabbling amongst themselves as one of them claimed to have contacted the festival to disqualify the film to tell them it was already ‘released’ – I believe he was the one who forwarded the link around when it mysteriously turned up in his facebook inbox! Whether he did or did not do this is moot really as its such a spiteful thing to say and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Which of course, since they were all cheering on his ‘defending myself from scurrilous accusations’ routine (although OPF is such a mess of squabbling it’s hard to even decipher what the heck they are talking about most of the time) this came as somewhat of a surprise to them all as we’ve now gone from ‘I’m angry that I’m being ‘blamed’ (?) to ‘I’m so angry I’m going to try to ruin this opportunity’. Seriously, the mind boggles. Muppets!

        And this is all despite Monica posting on OPF on 6th May clearly outlining her plans for release and distribution of the film and in what order, even saying Europe and then the States, theatres, DVD and pay per view streaming which is consistently what she’s always said since she started on this project. So the ‘oh I didn’t know I was doing anything unhelpful, I thought it’d HELP more people if it was FREE’ is starting to ring a little hollow, partic as the person in question posted publicly on OPF a while back apologising to the forum for hacking it and redirecting all the links to the AA website! Which is when I left OPF never to return. It’s scarily unsafe there and whilst Orange might be a nice chap, it needs shutting down as it’s profoundly damaged the whole debate around alternatives to AA. Any medic who felt like supporting our argument would run a mile if they saw it. It’s very frustrating.

        But then again the nutter count in AA is very high, so a bit like the AA joke about ‘what do you get if you take the booze out of a fruitcake?, we could say ‘What do you get if you take the nutter out of AA? A nutter!’. I’m so cross, it’s so disrepectful to the families who were brave enough to go on camera and the professionals who were courageous enough to go on the record. And its disrespectful of all of us who have been waiting a long time.

        Anyway, I digress. I’d love to talk to you, and great news about the treatment centre doctor. I think the release of the film ‘Amy’ about Amy Winehouse will present more opportunities to discuss, as at present the debate seems to be ‘she should have gone to rehab’ and as we know ‘what kind of rehab, and what kind of help’ is equally important. Hopefully the coinciding of the two films should also help push this into the media.

        I have more problems with AA than you do (or maybe I’m still working out my anger or see it differently?) but I do think we need a sane debate about addiction.


  7. I think that the orange site is useless and never look at it. I don’t think much of the main site to be honest as although there is some truth in some of what he says on certain sections, a lot of it is exaggerated and distorted. I don’t think many people take it seriously although those who do, are almost fanatical. I have only ever blocked 4 people on this site and they are all from that site.
    It can take a while to get over AA if it has been a major part of your life. I found that having a good break away from it all helped and I have had several periods where I have been away from any blogs or any form of meetings. I did see some bad things there, including 13th stepping and a financial predator, who I reported to the police. To be honest I was angry with myself for believing some of the stuff I was told rather than at AA. I used to go on Stinkin Thinkin a lot a few years ago when it was a fast moving blog and although talking things through with others who had experienced similar issues helped at first,I became a bit obsessed with it and decided to take a step back and left it for a bit. I first met Massive there. when she still went to AA. In those days orange did not have a forum and his site was considered quite extreme but it did have some fans. Unfortunately Stinkin Thinkin got wrecked after the owners got fed up with all the stupid behaviour especially by 2 op regulars, which was a shame. I had my own forum which was a disaster for similar reasons and I lost all respect for the hard core antis at that point. I realised they were mainly nutters and there was no point attempting to reason with them. They put people off trying alternative solutions and are simply trolls. They are a tiny minority of the recovery world, but are loud on any venue that gives them access. They have built up a them and us situation on sites such as the orange site, which has no effective moderation and is a mess as a result. All the good writers such as mona lisa or humanspirit moved on a long time ago. I wrote a fairly aggressive piece about the anti movement and also talked about the incidents and worse that you mentioned, to make it clear that I do not share those kind of extreme views. It is easy to get caught in the pack mentality of a group and I suppose that is how AA works to be honest. I find a lot of people are still obsessed about it even though they left years ago and that is actually causing them problems. Sometimes you do have to just let go of stuff in the past and simply move on.

  8. Hey

    I agree. I haven’t looked at OPF in over a year, but did have a quick look once it all kicked off. They are best left to implode. I’ve also looked at the article you posted and have commented a couple of times, but it turns my stomach, I just can’t engage with people who say that the rape of a four year old in an AA club house toilet (the mother is in the 13th Step Film, the rapist was mandated back to AA, and AA HQ said he had a ‘desire to stop drinking’) is a failure of the mother for ‘not watching him properly’. There is no reasoning with people who will say stuff like that, I think ‘give em enough rope and they will hang themselves’.

    Anyway, still no news on tickets. Let me know if you hear anything.



    • I agree with you on extreme cases and have always said that AA was designed for low bottom male drunks, and has not modified its approach to deal with modern times. There are certainly issues with 13 stepping and people are going to mixing with some criminals – that goes with substance abuse.
      On the other hand, Most people who attend AA long term are there to help others and although there are some nutters, AA is probably safer than the seedy bars many of its members have come from. Safety could be improved and just some simple readings at the start of a meeting would help, but their seems little inclination to do this. In the recent CBS 48 hours which was about the Karla Brada case the pro AA judge said things need to change, and I agree with him. I do find some people are hysterical about the issue and that goes for people on both sides. I think it is important that people are taught to be a bit careful and use some common sense when interacting with people in the recovery world.

  9. GirlScout May 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm · · Reply

    I do agree with you, but I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about some issues that we’ve got so much better at handling in mainstream society. For e.g. i think society has a much more sympathetic understanding of ‘grooming’ and is less likely to blame teenage girls as ‘sluts’ or ‘jailbait’ these days, who at the time of the abuse, appear willing, or ‘in love with’ abusive men who are taking advantage. I’ve been watching the BBC 2 series ‘The detectives’ this week, a fly on the wall documentary about a specialist sex crimes police unit in Manchester, dealing with the fallout from the Jimmy Saville case and various other cases. How they handle victims is a far, far, far cry from the handling most victims get in AA.

    From the little work I’ve done in the area of domestic abuse, and trauma, I think that ‘common sense’ is the preserve of people who don’t have profound damage, and are less likely to be victimised anyway. It’s very hard to exercise ‘common sense’ when you are in that state, that’s what makes people like that vulnerable in the first place and a target for predators. I think there is a higher than likely chance that these damaged people end up in AA – there is a close correlation with trauma and abuse (partic past sexual abuse or domestic violence) and alcohol abuse, especially in women.

    Therefore I do really think it is incumbant on AA to get some training and guidelines in place for ‘trusted servants’ – AA in the UK already apparently has guidelines – I didn’t know of their existence until after I left – and yet the general AA population does seem to collectively still blame and shame the victim (it goes on alot up here where i live now, serial 13th steppers). I think the ‘change’ is so root and branch that I’m not sure how it’s ever going to happen.

    For e.g. I once saw a woman attend her first meeting up here, she was clearly drunk (in that sort of ‘sober’ way) and was shaking very badly, she was also in a domestic violence situation that she spoke of in detail. Part of the shaking was alcohol induced, but she was also climbing out of her skin with anxiety. I witnessed (and tired to intervene on) a collective bashing of the poor woman, you know, that ‘in my experience I had to stop feeling sorry for myself’ type sharing that was actually quite aggressive, and they absolutely demolished her. I think the dynamic is so complex that I’m not sure how you sort it out. And I think this is partly due to the fact that the steps, don’t actually ‘treat’ anything, so you have a whole bunch of people who consider themselves ‘well’ but who in reality have a big heap of their own baggage, reacting to all the other unresolved ‘junk’ in the room.

    Facilitating ‘group therapy’ is a highly skilled task, as any good therapist will tell you, as there is such a complex dynamic at work, including the therapist working very hard to keep their own unresolved material out of it. I think if the focus in AA came off ‘recovery’ i,e. here you will find a ‘treatment’ and was more on mutual aid, perhaps it could be managed better.

    I also found it extremely hard to park my feminist feelings at the door of AA when attending a meeting, as I think females are still quite disempowered in AA, which is all supported by parts of the literature (I agree its really for big-ego’d, low bottom, male drunks). I’m still sorting out what I think about it all. I think actually, a big part of the issue is many of the really nice and good AA members, are sort of toddling along in a pollyanna-ish unawareness, and if that portion of the membership could be made more aware, perhaps there’d be more hope of changing it from the inside. As they certainly aren’t the demographic trolling online articles like true disciples …

    Not sure how or what kind of change can be achieved, I guess it remains to be seen. But my major reason for leaving (laying aside the fact that I don’t actually believe I am or ever was an alcoholic really) was the increasing disquiet I felt about what I saw going on there. I just couldn’t be part of it anymore.

    • I really value your opinion on all this and would like to ask you a few questions after we have both seen the film as I would like a female point of view other than Massive, and we also went to some of the same meetings so will have common experience.

      I agree common sense can go out the window when somebody is confused, a victim of domestic violence or other abuse, but other people in the room should have their wits about them and advise people when they are hanging out with the wrong person. This is what did not happen with Karla Brada. Also most men with a bit of time in AA know how to impress a newcomer, with a bit of knowledge about the programme, and a few big book quotes. They may appear to be working a good programme but are not. Some will also be sexually frustrated after being told to not have relationships for a year, and others will not be able to form relationships outside AA.

      The Saville thing is a big wake up call for the UK. My old history teacher was recently sentenced to five years after people came forward after Saville. His activity was covered up at the time and he went to another school and did the same thing.

      The literature in AA is rubbish all round! It is totally out of date and the pamphlets are poor. The one for atheists took them about twenty years and is a joke. I don’t think AA will change much while people still turn up in numbers. However I do see quite a lot of people simply leaving after a while.

      It is hard to run a group, especially when the members are probably suffering from mental illness to a degree. This is not restricted to AA, and abuse certainly happens with people who call themselves anti AA online.

      Something like the Soberistas group is really what will change things as they are simply a group of people supporting eachother online and not getting involved with the steps and all that stuff. They are probably like early AA where people were just talking and sharing and not too worried about the steps. Hopefully the NHS will push the Sinclair method and over the next couple of decades that will become the way people begin their recovery. Most of the recent self help books on recovery are not AA based so things are changing. I tend not to get involved with online arguments about the pros and cons of AA, especially on comments sections of magazine sites as it ends up a waste of time. Most people simply do not read all that stuff, only the few that are emotionally involved or those that get a kick out of attacking others.

      Anyway time for Dinner!

  10. GirlScout May 19, 2015 at 7:44 pm · · Reply

    Enjoy your dinner!

    I can see we are going to have a good old chat when we meet! Look forward to it.

    There’s much that you say that I totally agree with. Maybe it’s a bit like buying a house, a ‘do-er upper’ and saying, well the roof and the walls are OK, it’s STRUCTURALLY sound, but it needs gutting? I do agree with you that what AA has going for it, is its reach, its community (with some major qualifications), the fact it provides structure for those that need it, that there’s no shame in talking about struggling with alcohol (except when you ‘relapse’ and then you are put on the ‘naughty step’ lol), that it does have an incredible network, that it provides somewhere to go with people in the same boat etc. Quality control is a major problem as are the other things we’ve talked about. Quite what will happen I don’t know. I suspect they’ll resist change until it gets to Jimmy Saville proportions, if I was a gambler, that’s what I’d put my money on, sad to say.

    The other thing that I think happens, is people get into therapy but like I did, most people who are committed to AA are advised to go and find a therapist that is either 12 step based, or supportive of AA (you were quite lucky in that regard I think) – I remember hearing frequent disparaging shares about therapists that ‘didn’t get it’. And these people then side step the increasing discomfort they are feeling in AAby getting into Al Anon, CODA, SLAA, WA, SA etc (Ken Ragge talks about this in his book). Definitely in Surrey and Hants (which is quite a wealthy middle class area) this starts to happen – plus the area was dominated by one particular therapist who was very firmly of this view. You were either one of B______’s clients or you were not!

    From my experience what then happens is a slightly superior separation away from AA: ‘those people have really bad boundaries, those people are so codependent, those people need to sort out their trauma issues, those people really lack awareness, God forgive them they know what they do [ie they are still ‘sick’]’ and on and on without any meaningful challenging of the status quo. This is then countered by the rather aggressive AA purists, ‘Your inner child needs a good slap and to go and do a step 10!’ (been on the end of that also, not pleasant!!).

    So the SLAA, CODA brigade consider themselves more ‘evolved’ 12 steppers who are now getting down to the ‘core of the onion’ to coin a phrase. Many people I knew in Surrey had been to rehab in the States – usually the Meadows or Tuscon or the Bridge in Kentucky – and came back, now of the belief they were working on their ‘core stuff’ but all framed through the 12 step model.

    These treatment centres mixed in some good methodologies such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming) and some good PTSD support, with standard TSF. This is where the mindf**k gets really bad (and this is my story, but chuck in a hideous undiagnosed endocrine illness into the mix). Actually some of what i learned was immensely helpful, but a lot of it was not. But by the end I didn’t really go to AA much, say once a week, but I spent the last 7 years in Al Anon, ACOA, and CODA. By the end I felt so pathologised and confused I could barely move. Leaving aside the fact that I didn’t need to really read Eckhart flippin’ Tolle, I needed a skilled doctor, pronto!

    With hindsight I’m not sure how ethical it is to tell disempowered people they are powerless, or ‘if you have this symptom there is no other way you could have got it apart from child abuse’ (actually most of my symptoms were later fully explained by my actual, real illness)… and because my brother also followed me down this route, it’s created havoc with my parents and the rest of my family. A mess we are only just beginning to sort out. John Bradshaw and his ilk had a lot to do with this growing ‘family systems’ side to 12 step recovery.

    I still have friends who go to SLAA and some of what I hear is a bit stomach churning …. with sometimes criminal behaviour being called ‘an illness’ (although they do have guidelines about that).

    I could go on but episode three of the Detectives beckons ….

  11. Agreed! I forgot to mention the ‘food fellowships’ but that’s a whole other post on its own, particularly GA (greysheeters anonymous) – the breakaway hardline group that came out of OA HOW (think Vision for You but for food, they use the AA big book, and ‘don’t eat anything you could make alcohol out of’ – which is a pretty limited list!). That was the last nail in the coffin for me … will tell you when I see you.

  12. GirlScout May 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm · · Reply

    They are really crazy! There’s a hell of a lot of abuse going on in these ‘process addiction’ fellowships … plus with the little I know about good nutrition now, what they are telling people about ‘food addiction’ isn’t even true. For e.g. candida (systemic yeast infection) I think will be a big innovation in both helping people with addiction and food issues, it’s where your gut is so overrun with pathogenic yeasts, it ferments food to alcohol and sets up wicked, wicked cravings for sugary, sweet food and drink (like alcohol). A much more holistic approach to each individual is needed, not all these crazy rules about what does and does not = ‘abstinence’ or ‘success’.

  13. I think a lot of people go too far with in these groups! I see Monica has a page about tickets for next wednesday. I will put a proper post on here over the weekend.!contact/c16fm My lunatic blocker on this site is certainly doing its work today! Over 600 threats so far today.

  14. 600! Blimey, that’s a lot of threats. Haven’t they got a meeting to go to? 🙂

    And yes that’s true but I think there’s a whole 12 step therapy industry that’s sprung up around it, encouraging it. People go to AA, work the steps, don’t get better (they might not be drinking but they don’t FEEL better, despite doing it all ‘right’ – see my earlier post about severe damage – many even feel worse) and they then go hunting for answers, and the Melody Beattie’s and Pia Melody’s (two different well known people in the whole ‘codpendency is the root of your addiction, and codependency is caused by child abuse schizzle ….) of this world have a lot of dominance in a lot of 12 step groups. Its got out of hand I think.

  15. Oh I don’t think it is AA people trying to break in here – just nutters, it happens when people link to you a lot! Certainly parts of the 12 step industry are very dubious, with little skill.

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