Evidently some people get mighty upset that I dare to suggest that AA and it's "learned helplessness" approach causes more harm than good! Or they feel that my articles don't meet their expectations of what "alcoholism articles" should be. Here are a few of the more interesting comments and/or emails I've received. Please note that typo's are not corrected.
It is unconscionable that your site recommends avoiding 12 step programs. By definition if you have an addiction you are powerless over a substance. The 12 steps empower one in other ways - you obviously don't understand how AA, etc, empowers members in other ways. I know many people whose lives have been saved by those 12 steps. I know others who have died believing they could be in control. The 12 steps may not be for everyone, but to advise visitors to this site to avoid the 12 steps is uninformed and unconscionable. - Kathleen from Potsdam, email
My Answer: No, Kathleen, addiction is NOT defined as being powerless over a substance. I'm not sure where you might have learned that definition, but it is in error. Addiction is defined as having a dependence on a substance which, once ingested, temporarily alters the chemistry of the brain. An addiction has NOTHING to do with being powerless. Teaching someone that they are powerless over alcohol - or any other addiction in their life - is what is TRULY unconscionable. Alcoholism is a bad habit, not a disease, not something one is powerless before, and certainly not something that a person must kneel before in humility as if it were a god. The 12 steps may help some people in some ways (which is good) but to teach learned helplessness (the very definition of uninformed and unconscionable) hurts many, many more people than it helps. And it hurts them every day of the rest of their lives.
Can I have back the hour of my life I just wasted reading your articles? There is absolutely nothing on this website that makes me want to stop drinking! - Joe Blow, guest book comment
My Answer: Joe Blow, no one or no thing is going to MAKE you stop drinking. It's up to YOU to do it, not me or anyone else. But first, YOU have to WANT to quit or cut back. Once YOU WANT to do it, and you take responsibility for your actions, you'll find the road to sobriety is much easier than you've ever imagined.
Your web site talks about many of the ways to stop drinking - nothing I cant get in AA - Step 1 in AA - The Alcoholic has to realize in their heart and soul that they are " POWERLESS over ALCOHOL " - you are preaching a very dangerous message, whats my expertise 50 years around Alcoholics and almost 30 years in AA. All of you who really want to STOP drinking , get off your Butt and go to an 8pm AA meeting and stay out of the Bars , that is step ONE on your journey to sobriety. - Why is it so hard to stay SOBER - because you are an ALCOHOLIC - and Booze is one tough thing to beat , until you realize that it is a " LIFE or DEATH " choice , you will always be drinking, and you will never attain Sobriety. p- " GO TO A MEETING !!!! " - HTG1961, guest book comment
My Answer: HTG1961, you are sadly mistaken. You wrote: "The Alcoholic has to realize in their heart and soul that they are " POWERLESS over ALCOHOL ", but this is LEARNED HELPLESSNESS and HURTS more people than it helps. You will never completely GET OVER something as long as you consider yourself POWERLESS before it!