Thursday, March 29, 2012

Twelve Step Failures?

Of course, 12-Step groups have numerous anecdotes about their successes, but the data is skewed in favor of success - failures aren't heard from again.  I am told that I have to take the "high road" when it comes to promoting secular recovery - to avoid disparaging AA and NA or their accomplishments. But where do we go to hear about their failures? The code of silence keeps the dysfunction within their secret societies. In some ways, I feel like I'm being asked to "enable" an abusive family.

From my own personal experiences in AA, these are some of the highlights of what might be considered AA failures. You may argue that these are aberrations, but I feel that these incidents are direct products of AA's Steps.

  • A man I knew from Marin who attended our Berkeley noon meetings shared about how painful it was to share some of his secrets with his sponsor, that he didn't get the relief promised by the Fifth Step. A week later, he had committed suicide.
  • After two of my own Fifth Steps (confessing all my dirty secrets), I immediately began drinking and stopped going to meetings.
  • One of my girlfriends was told by her sponsor that she was probably one of the numerous over-diagnoses of bipolar disorder - that her medication was unnecessary and that the Steps were enough to take care of her moods. Two weeks later, she was 5150'd because of an attempted suicide.
  • As part of her amends, a friend of mine went secretly to the police to inform them of an organized crime group that she had been involved with. The police got her to get her old associates to admit their crimes over the phone. Then the police wanted her to move somewhere the criminals didn't know about. She moved in with her sponsor. I think she had a minor "slip" on pain pills because of the stress. Her sponsor started telling her boyfriend and close friends that she was using her apartment to hide out. My friend was deeply frightened by these disclosures and had to move again. This time she didn't go back to AA, and she fired her sponsor.
  • One of my old sponsors in Oakland convinced his sponsee to confess to embezzling a great deal of money from a large corporation. The story made into several Bay Area newspapers. The sponsee went to prison for several years as a result of his confession. I saw him rummaging through garbage cans two years ago while I was attending a seminar training in San Francisco.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the call a guy with 30 years a guru, cos not having a job a place to live means he's a bum. waiting for new comers to sponge off, the old timers that hug every single new woman in the program, sexual predators,

11:57 AM  

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