Is Alcoholics Anonymous a cult?

I have a short story to tell.

I grew up in a really small town and hadn’t been exposed to anything stronger than Lucky Beer. When I was a young man (18) I moved to the big city in my parts to go to university. My parents tried to find me a place to live and got me a room in a block house near the school. I started off in the basement of this place sharing a kitchen, and bathroom with some messed up people. A wife beater, an ex-child molester(is there such a thing?), and this really wired electrician named Jim. The landlord knew I didn’t fit in, so she moved me upstairs after a couple of weeks. But I couldn’t avoid Jim. He was witty, and so I thought, full of energy.

I had a small Nissan Micra, and he needed someone to drive him around to job sites as he didn’t have a car (that should have been the first clue, a contractor without transportation!). So, he paid me $10/hour to drive him around(good money back then) and even help him on the job sites installing security systems in my spare time. But something wasn’t quite right. Sometimes he would come up with these odd stories. Like, he needed to pick up some parts later in the evening for an upcoming job, and wanted me to drive him there. I would park on some back street, while he went into a house. I would wait around listening to music and he would come out with nothing, but he would be wired! I had no fucking idea that he was high.

Turns out that Jim was an IV cocaine addict. To me, it was like he had just drank 10 cups of coffee. I really had no clue. He would ask to borrow money off me to get supplies for an upcoming job, and would promise to pay me back when the job got finished. I was too nice to say no. He of course was using the money to shoot up and keep his habit going. I guess not having a car to get to work, and doing drugs a lot kind of makes a steady income difficult. I can see now why he saw me as an opportunity! Gullible guy with car & money…Jackpot.

He would give me big hunks of hash as a bonus, but I rarely got paid real money. I didn’t know what to do with the hash, so I threw it out…

This went on for a couple of months til Xmas break, and off I went to see the folks. When I got back in the New Year, I had a call from Jim’s brother. Jim was in the hospital. That was when he told me that Jim had OD’d on coke. I was floored. Jim had felt really bad about screwing me over, and wanted me to visit him in the facility. I was just too nice to say no(see a trend?). So, off I went to this rehab place. It turned out that Jim had considered me a codependent(in other words, I was a naive idiot), and had me attend meetings at alcoholic anonymous, and narcotics anonymous. That is where I got exposed to the weird cult of AA and NA and some messed up people. They were all smoking like chimneys, and drinking tons of coffee at the meetings. Moving from one addiction to the next…

A lot of their stories were pretty fucked up, and everyone’s conversations sounded scripted. “Hi, my name is Jim, and I’ve been sober for 14 days.” “Hi Jim.” And so on. I really felt like I was in some back woods church, or they were all secretly robots or aliens about to spring a surprise on me. Lots of god talk, and reciting passages from the bible and some other books, and people confessing their sins. I politely stayed to the end of the group of meetings, and left fairly freaked out. I never saw Jim again.

A few weeks later, I got a call from Jim’s brother again. Jim was dead. I guess the group therapy didn’t help him. Jim’s brother felt bad that I had been screwed out of a bunch of money, so he let me take Jim’s TV as back payment. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I could have been hurt or killed hanging out with this guy. Driving around Vancouver with some high coke head, dropping him off at crack houses, and Jim probably carried around a stash on the way home.

That is part of getting life experience I guess, so since then I have been quite cynical when meeting people, and I suppose I have Jim to thank for those times when I don’t take crooks at face value. It probably helps me in my job as a lender! Thank you Jim.

The lessons I learned going into my 20s have made me realize that hard drugs are to be avoided at all costs, and that I must never become addicted to alcohol. I would be in deep trouble! AA and NA are too churchy for me, I couldn’t give myself to a higher power. Looks like it didn’t work for Jim either…

I don’t know if they are cults in the traditional sense, and I am sure that they work for some people. But it gets me to think that maybe there needs to be better programs out there for addicts to get help. Are there any other addiction programs that have a better success rate? Must it be that you have to pledge yourself to an imaginary friend to get through, or can you make it if you are well taken care of?

To end, here is a link to an article on the 12 steps of AA, and why AA may just be a cult. Cheers.

Mohr exposes the AA movement for what it really is: “a religious cult masquerading as a self-help group”. Like most people, I was generally aware of AA’s 12 step program but I had never actually read what the 12 steps entailed. They are as follows:

(Click through for the article!)


5 Replies to “Is Alcoholics Anonymous a cult?”

  1. Hi. I’m always sorry to hear when someone’s addiction claims their life. And as an aloholic, I hope I won’t be next. I have recently joined AA. A cult? Hardly! There is no “leader”. There is no “worship”. There is no kind of hierarchy of behaviour or organisation. There is not even any religious persuasion or experience. It is just people trying not to drink because they don’t want to die. I guess it is easy for others to scoff or doubt because their lives are not at stake. The idea of a Higher Power is a spiritual one. But it seems to be often confused with religion, as it has been in this article. I know many people who do not believe in God as such, but believe in something greater than our own minds and bodies. If you don’t, that’s down to you. But some of us have to believe. Because that keeps us away from alcohol and, hopefully, away from an early grave. It is a great shame your friend could not find that belief. But I and millions of other addicts have no wish to end up like him. And if imagination were all that we required, we all would have kicked the habit years ago.

    1. Thank you for this well thought out comment. The best reply I’ve had in a long time. I really do wish you well with kicking this horrible addiction. It affects the lives of many people close to us. I am very fortunate that I have not had the same struggle as others. I just wish there was more of a community based program that offered support. There must be more than one way for a person to kick addiction out there.
      Thanks again!

  2. This is a reply to “cult,hardly”. I was glad to read the story of larrinski. I’m an alcoholic too. I was in AA for 20 years less a week. The NARCISSISTIC members of the my “home group” just couldnt get over the fact that I was about to take a 20 year cake. I’d actually been so stupid that I volunteered for every service position that came down the pike, all while the “gurus” all sat there on their hands with one purpose in mind, to criticize EVERYTHING anyone ever did. I’d witnessed many punch outs in AA, guess thats what happens whenever you take a bunch of low life bottom feeders with a massiah complex and let them believe that they are “ALL SPIRITUAL” So when I was phoned up by a seemingly harmless old woman that I thought was my friend, and she informed me that at the meeting last night (that I wasn’t even at) that they had nominated and voted me in as intergroup rep. Thats when all the lying backstabbing and douch baggery started. When I called a couple of these old FREAKS on their lying and poisoning every one from every meeting I liked to go to. Theres nothing like sitting in some meeting and having people (that I didn’t even know come up to me and threaten to kick my ass or KILL me. Mean while i n my “home group” the LYIN REDNECK SACK OF SHIT that started all the lies about me steeling money from central office went off the deep end. So the multi black belt kick boxing champion got up, started swinging his fist in my face and screaming/chanting “FUCK OFF”. He was trying to get every one else screaming too. I call it “Honing the harmony of hatred. I’ve seen AA from every angle top to bottom. Not only is it a full fledged CULT but is run by the ENFORCERS mostly like a BIKER GANG with MOFIOSO ties. I’v seen AA from every angle top to bottom, CORRUPT TO THE CORE. So when any one mentions the wonder nature of AA, I just have to mentoin, I’ve been researching for two and a half years to write a warning book. Lots of great anti-AA stuff on the net. I’m coming up on 23 years sobriety with/and now WITHOUT the soul sucking, living, breathing DOUCH BAG called AA. Thanks for listening, Gary

  3. Thanks Gary.

    I have been exposed to sides of AA that I’m not too comfortable with, but as well, I have been around members that are loving and caring. Some of the nicest people I know in fact. I just hope that people get the help they need. It looks like whatever you’re doing is working. 20 years being sober. You should be proud of this milestone.

    I have been through a divorce(having been married for 14 years) and have recently learned to recognize(thanks to a close friend) that some of my current behaviours and moods are a result of my past relationship. We are all learning about ourselves. I hope your group improves! It sure sounds dis-functional! Good luck and thanks for sharing your story!

  4. I was in AA for a whole total of 36 days. I’d be a liar to say that it didn’t get me to realize a few things about my self. I started doing some research of my own a week ago and I saw all this nasty stuff about the “ugly side” of AA. Being a concerned newcomer, I asked my sponsor about these things, and he told me and I quote, “you are new, you don’t know anything.” Being 27 years old and a veteran of a foreign war I didn’t really like that comment, and I asked him again, I got a really bad ass chewing and I got “kicked out” of AA just for asking questions. I’m thankful that the good things I picked out and it has helped me stay sober for 41 days so far, and there’s no urge to drink. I’m glad I found this out before I found out the hard way or wasted years on that cult, but overall, I wouldn’t recommend it unless someone was desperate, then take what you need and get the fuck out.

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