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Why Alcoholics Anonymous Is A Cult

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Addiction treatment as we now know it today, originated in the US when the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, began promoting his unproven theory that heavy drinking was an illness in 1935. There were others before him that mentioned the addiction disease theory, but Bill was the first person to systematize that idea into a model of “addiction-help.” He coined his disease-based model, the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps of AA have remained the most commonly used form of disease-based “treatment” for substance use problems in Western society for more than 8 decades, regardless of the fact that its rate of success is the lowest of all methods commonly used to help substance users overcome their problems. (Miller, 2001) That fact didn’t stop Bill from relentlessly promoting his flawed theory, as there was money to be made and power to grab.

Bill’s disease theory was based on his proposal that there is a line that gets crossed within certain people (called alcoholics or addicts) where the individual is unable to control their substance use habit. “Once they start they can’t stop,” is how it’s portrayed in AA literature and folklore. However, this loss of control idea is objectively untrue; it’s a myth. Yet, in most circles the theory goes completely unchallenged and is taken as fact. Numerous carefully controlled experiments have disproven the loss of control theory (Heather 1983). Half of former “alcoholics” become moderate drinkers (Dawson, 1996). The treatment industry simply ignores the experimental evidence, while dismissing those who’ve successfully achieved moderation as “not real alcoholics.” While it is true some people almost always go overboard when they drink, this doesn’t mean they can’t control themselves. It means they currently prefer heavy drinking. To say they’ve “lost control” is to carry on a charade.

As a society, we assume based on how prolific the 12 steps are in our culture, and how often AA meetings are mentioned in theatre, the news, and common discourse, that it’s all proof of its inherent effectiveness. And so the commonly heard mistruth – “AA is the most effective program for recovery” – has evolved into our universal truth. Meanwhile addiction rates have not gone down, while overdose rates have risen over the 81 year span that the 12 steps have dominated as the goto “solution” to substance use problems.

Bill’s folly also stands on a second equally false claim; that substances themselves are “cunning, baffling, powerful,” and are entities to be battled. (A common statement we hear all the time, “He/She lost their battle with alcohol” is a good example of this oft heard myth.) This personified image of substances where Bill imbued them with humanlike qualities, motives and magical powers, is equally damaging to substance users. Regardless of the absurdity of Bill’s claims, our culture eventually took these ideas as fact, promoted them, and ran with them.

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The Foundation of an Argument Matters

If you have a premise, or a foundation of an argument that is inaccurate or wrong, most of what happens downstream from that argument gets tainted with the falseness of the original premise. In other words, Bill’s now popularized false claims of addiction being a disease and his view of personified and magical substances carries with it certain consequences. The need to “treat” people for a disease that in reality, does not exist, and the need to wage a personal battle against substances that don’t have a mind of their own nor any inherent power, pathology or “addictiveness” are two trends that have grown out of Bill’s original fantasy of addiction being a disease. We have now been treating a condition that is not a condition at all, and we have been doing this charade for decades. This is important to understand – Bill’s false premise has spawned an entire 36 billion dollar per year industry that is totally unnecessary, and worse, is counterproductive with a population that is already in serious peril!

By creating a distraction from the truth that addiction is actually a preferred habit of the individual, those who are trapped within the mythology of disease and loss of control are never able to move past those false constructs. They are provided endless recovery methods to stop killing themselves, but never reach the answer to their struggle. It’s a never-ending battle with a mythical foe. By never allowing the idea of choice or individual-centered solutions to substance use issues to be explored or tried, the disease theories and endless battle narrative keeps the person embroiled in a constant struggle with themselves and what they want. Simply put, it distracts them from the truth that could free them permanently.

So how did all this mythology gain a foothold in our society? How did the cult of AA become a staple in Western culture?

(Note to reader: The only portion of the addiction treatment complex that has real life saving value is the physical detoxification process that helps people safely get through physical withdrawal. What we are discussing in this article is not detox, but rather the portion of the treatment industry that deals with matters of the emotions, heart, and mind of the individual, not their physical needs.)

Bill Wilson’s Charade – How TREATMENT and RECOVERY were born

In order to understand how counterproductive treatment and recovery are for drinking and drugging habits, it’s important to understand the man who created the disease and recovery charades. Bill was a failed stockbroker who became a lost, drunken mess in the late 20’s and early 1930’s. He was nearly homeless, and was a daily drinker in his last days of heavy use.

But inside, Bill always had an unrelenting drive to be something bigger and more powerful than the sorry drinker he’d become. As he put it, he wanted to be “a number one man.” He was hungry for fame and fortune, and as history would record, he achieved his status as a millionaire, and as one of the 20th century’s largest cult leaders. As an example of his desire to control the masses, when he first published his book, Alcoholics Anonymous, he tried to name the organization and the book “The Bill W. Movement.” The people around him at the time would not have it, and demanded a less Bill-centered name, and the title Alcoholics Anonymous won out. But this little piece of history just shows how desperate Bill was for fame and control.

Bill created the foundation of the entire treatment complex we now see being spread throughout the world. Those who see the treatment/recovery system as a benefit to users call Bill a prophet, while the researchers and millions of others who see the truth, see Bill for the power hungry man he actually was.
Bill Wilson understood how to wield control. He was a master manipulator, and the current treatment and recovery model has the fingerprints of that skill all over it. So how did Bill go from a wandering drunk in the streets of NYC, to one of the largest and richest personalities in American health at the time?

It all started when Bill became a member of the first-century Christian organization, The Oxford Group, in the homeless shelters of Manhattan in the late 20’s. It’s there that he saw his opportunity to get rich. He founded his own Oxford Group meetings and began evangelizing his own brand of Christ and salvation to the drunks within those meetings. Because he knew the typical customs and language of the drinking and drugging culture, he was able to easily create what was called the “alcoholic squad” within the overall Oxford Group’s mixed bag population. His group quickly became a contentious subgroup of the Oxford Group organization and eventually Bill and the squad went full rogue from the parent Oxford Group organization.
Bill and his followers then morphed the Christian ideals of the Oxford Group into his own bastardized self-serving version – his cult of personality was taking shape.

After the split took place, and his position as the leader of the alcoholic squad was cemented, Bill began making it his mission to collect what he called “the erstwhile erratic alcoholics” from the various homeless shelters throughout NYC and beyond. He then co-opted a back room in Towns Hospital where he convinced Dr. Silkworth, the managing doctor at the time, to allow him access to the “drunks” that would be detoxing in the new detox bed. This small step was actually a leap in the foundation of the disease-based treatment system we see today. Both Bill and Dr. Silkworth were promoting the new “disease concept” in the hospital, and pushed their theory on anyone who listened, including the drinkers now lying, vulnerable and desperate, in their detox bed.

The System

Bill knew how to organize and get what he wanted. He knew if he could instill enough fear into the detoxing patient, that he and his alcoholic squad would be able to wield influence in their life and get them to buy-in to going to their meetings (which eventually became AA meetings). By using scare tactics like “If you don’t do God’s will, surely John Barleycorn will make you do it!” Bill was able to manipulate entire families. The mission of these detox sessions was to break down the emotional state of the person detoxing, and create a desire within that individual to want to attend the AA meetings as the only solution. He made up the idea that “only one alcoholic could effectively work with another alcoholic.” This unfounded theory was his way of separating the new member from the love of their family. It’s a common cult tactic, and he used it brilliantly. We see the remnants of this idea every time a rehab says, “You need to make recovery the most important thing in your life. You will die drunk and alone if you don’t!” This makes treatment, rehab, AA meetings, therapy and sponsorship in 12 step modalities more important than family, friend and careers.

In the early days of detoxing these people at Towns Hospital, they would spend a week scaring the patient into needing support. Then they would explain that the individual needed to be “sponsored” into the AA meetings. In order for a current member to sponsor them into the meetings, the detox patient was required to get down on their knees and surrender their will over to God and the people there. If they did this satisfactorily, they were “sponsored” into the meetings. While this official cult manifestation is gone, the idea that a person “in recovery” requires a “sponsor to get sober” is still used today.

Bill knew he needed as many people as possible to buy-in to his movement, as without people, there would be no captured audience to buy his books and place the dollar or two in the donation basket at each meeting. By using fear and the recruitment tactics explained above, Bill masterminded the entire 36 billion dollar treatment industry we see today. He did die a millionaire, and AA is a multi-million dollar enterprise today. He achieved his goal by spreading a false disease, a religion of his own making, and a pyramid scheme that rolls on to this day. They still sell fear, along with Bill’s bastardized form of a Santa Claus God who only grants sobriety to those who recruit and give themselves to Bill’s “simple program.”

The Answer

It is time to let this destructive paradigm die. Here are the facts:

The disease concept is a myth.

Addiction is a choice.

People move past their addictions without AA or any formal treatment by the tens of thousands every year, and so can you.

If you want a more detailed explanation of all the addiction mythology that Bill and his followers created and how to move on from it, you can read The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap. Then you can finally be free from the fantasy of a man that never had you or anyone else’s best interests in mind, but instead, was fully invested in himself.

If you want to know more about becoming free whether that’s through abstinence or moderate use, you can get your free abridged copy of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap at The Freedom Model’s website here www.thefreedommodel.org

Call 888-424-2626 to talk with us.

If you would like to get away and learn the Freedom Model with a certified FM Instructor in a residential retreat setting at The Saint Jude Retreat, call the number above, or go to www.soberforever.net
If you want to learn about The Freedom Model Private Instruction Program, a program you take from the safety and comfort of home, go to www.leaveaddictionbehind.com

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

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Miller, W. R., Walters, S. T., & Bennett, M. E. (2001). How effective is alcoholism treatment in the United States? Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62(2), 211–220.

Heather, N., & Robertson, I. (1983). Controlled drinking (Rev. ed). Methuen. Dawson, D. A. (1996). Correlates of Past-Year Status Among Treated and Untreated Persons with Former Alcohol Dependence: United States, 1992. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 20(4), 771–779. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1996.tb01685.x

Freedom Model

You CAN Move Past an Addiction

…a message to those who feel hopeless

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There is a difference between struggling “one day at a time” in recovery and moving on from an addiction; there’s a big difference. We’ve been taught that once you’re an addict, you’ll always be an addict. This is not true. However, should you believe this, it becomes your truth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So called addicts and alcoholics moderate their use with surprising frequency (for example, 50% of all “alcoholics” eventually moderate their drinking to non-problematic levels whether they’ve been treated or not – NESARC, 2005). While the facts are what they are – and they are very encouraging – people are woefully ignorant of these hopeful and empowering facts.

Here’s the truth; beliefs can change; and lives change when our beliefs do. Once I realized I’d been lied to and I found that alcohol and drugs were not the “cunning, baffling, powerful” agents they were said to be, I could easily choose better for myself. I didn’t need extra willpower, more strength, or any kind of special recovery formula once I realized that drugs were substances, not living, breathing, motivated entities bent on my destruction.

This bizarre and fictitious personified view of drugs as an all-powerful entity was one of the myths that caused me to fear them, and in turn, I feared the inevitable “triggered relapse” as well. That’s what fear based mythology can do. It keeps you trapped in the relapse loop. Even the word “relapse” makes a connotation to the “disease of addiction” myth. There are dozens of ways the treatment and recovery models have instilled this myth based fear throughout its messaging. The question is why?

Treatment and Recovery are about Control

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It’s all about control. A free thinking, freely choosing individual cannot be controlled because the center of that individual’s problem solving capability lies directly inside of them. As humans, our autonomous nature makes us immune to being manipulated, as long as you have the facts. In order for treatment and/or recovery to be necessary, the idea of self-efficacy needs to be extinguished. That can only be done by creating a straw man called the disease of addiction. A disease is, by its very definition, out of one’s control. And because of this defining characteristic, that same afflicted individual must find an outside power, force or method to combat the disease; much like chemotherapy in a cancer victim’s scenario.

The autonomous individual with full knowledge that addiction IS NOT a disease can therefore move past their “addiction” (we call it more accurately, a preference for heavy use) with seeming ease. They can make an internal choice to moderate or abstain that does not require an outside treatment of any kind to be made or supported. No need for recovery either, because without a disease present, there is nothing to recover from.

Now, we are not saying people don’t have serious issues with heavy use. This is why we call it problematic use. We also do not miss the fact that some people might even need to be physically detoxed from their drug of choice. These facts however, sit outside the scope of what we are talking about in this article. The “disease of addiction” we are referencing here is the idea that a person is compelled beyond their mindful will to use drugs and alcohol, and that an outside force called treatment is needed to solve that lack of will. That definition of addiction – as a disease of the mind – is absolutely incorrect. And, if we correct that definition to the following: addiction is a preference for heavy use as determined by the powers of reason in the mind of the individual, and only the individual can change that preference internally, then we bring the solution back where it belongs, inside the mind of the individual. Free will either exists or it doesn’t. Either you are a being capable of choosing or you are not. The treatment world wants you to believe you can choose certain aspects of your life (like the choice to go to treatment) but not have the power of choice in regards to the use of drugs and alcohol. But here is the problem with that – you cannot have it both ways. Either free will exists or it doesn’t. When you think about it, you know that the existence of free will is self evident – you are choosing to read this article right now. You’re a chooser.

Are you ready to move on from an adfdiction for good? Are you ready to moderate or abstain? Are you ready to own your use and its trade-offs? Are you ready to seek the truth to make these kinds of decisions? If so, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap is the book to read and study. In it, all the addiction myths are exposed, and the researched truth provided. Moving on from an addiction is a wonderful and amazing event. I hope you take the time to learn the truth as I did. My life is amazing, and yours can be too!

If you or someone you love are ready to break free from the addiction and recovery trap and move on, call us at 888-424-2626.

For more information about The Freedom Model go to TheFreedomModel.org

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

There is a difference between struggling “one day at a time” in recovery and moving on from an addiction; there’s a big difference. We’ve been taught that once you’re an addict, you’ll always be an addict. This is not true. However, should you believe this, it becomes your truth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So called addicts and alcoholics moderate their use with surprising frequency (for example, 50% of all “alcoholics” eventually moderate their drinking to non-problematic levels whether they’ve been treated or not – NESARC, 2005). While the facts are what they are – and they are very encouraging – people are woefully ignorant of these hopeful and empowering facts. Here’s the truth; beliefs can change; and lives change when our beliefs do. Once I realized I’d been lied to and I found that alcohol and drugs were not the “cunning, baffling, powerful” agents they were said to be, I could easily choose better for myself. I didn’t need extra willpower, more strength, or any kind of special recovery formula once I realized that drugs were substances, not living, breathing, motivated entities bent on my destruction. This bizarre and fictitious personified view of drugs as an all-powerful entity was one of the myths that caused me to fear them, and in turn, I feared the inevitable “triggered relapse” as well. That’s what fear based mythology can do. It keeps you trapped in the relapse loop. Even the word “relapse” makes a connotation to the “disease of addiction” myth. There are dozens of ways the treatment and recovery models have instilled this myth based fear throughout its messaging. The question is why? Treatment and Recovery are about Control It’s all about control. A free thinking, freely choosing individual cannot be controlled because the center of that individual’s…

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Freedom Model

Am I An Addict?

Objective Truth vs. Subjective ‘Truth’

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With so much talk about heavy substance use increasing as a result of the pandemic lockdowns, there are many people wondering if they may have crossed the line from reasonable substance use to “addiction”. Rates of serious emotional problems such as depression and anxiety are skyrocketing across the country as a result of people being locked in their homes and many are using alcohol and other drugs to try and get some relief. But is this increasing demographic now officially suffering from addiction? Are these millions of people now doomed to lifetime of addiction treatment, meetings, and perpetual struggle? Let me answer this straight – absolutely not.

In the book, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, we discuss the concept of addiction as the following:

The very concept of addiction – whether it’s called a disease, a disorder, or something else – says that some people (i.e. “addicts & alcoholics”) are enslaved to the behavior of substance use in some way. That is, they cross some line where they are no longer actively choosing to use substances of their own free will, but instead are compelled to use substances. It’s also said that they are unable to stop themselves from using once they start (they experience a loss of control); that they are unable to stop wanting to use substances (they experience craving); that all of this just happens without their consent (that they’re triggered by various things and feelings); and finally, that they’re in for a lifetime of struggling with their demons (the “chronic relapsing disease” and “ongoing recovery.”)

This definition is a construct of the treatment industry – in other words, it’s made up. But because it has been repeated for nearly eight decades, it has become truth to believers. I was once a believer myself. I felt compelled to drink and drug. I believed addiction was something that happened to me. I felt that I was “powerless”. I felt that I would lose control after the first beer, hit or shot. I felt addicted, and I’ve since met tens of thousands who do as well.

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Objective Truth vs. Subjective “Truth”

There is a difference between an objective truth and a subjective “truth”. An objective truth is the kind of reality that takes human opinion and feelings and throws them out the window. It just looks at the merits of the facts and we determine what the truth is based on that foundation. A subjective perception is just that, a perception or opinion-laden perspective. The concept of addiction, as defined above, is fully subjective, it is not grounded in fact. But because the idea that people are addicted – that addiction happens to them – is so oft repeated in our society today, it seems as if it is an objective truth. This definition of addiction is then taken as fact, and so the fear of becoming addicted becomes very real. It might even feel real to you personally or someone you know. The good news is once you know the facts, you can let go of this powerlessness narrative, and move on with your life without an “addiction.” In essence you can become truly objective about the subject.

What is Addiction Really?

Objectively speaking, what we think of as an addiction is a habitual preference for heavy use. We use heavily based on our perception that drugs and alcohol provide certain personal benefits. In the COVID scare, these benefits might include the belief that substances cure boredom, anxiety, depression and trauma. If we believe drugs can provide this relief, we will habitually prefer them and crave them.

But a subjective want (or a craving) is different than an objective need. In the conventional subjective definition of addiction as a disease or disorder, the “addict” is told they will always crave and need the substance for these magical qualities of relief. They are further told that they will always need substances to solve these human problems. Further still, the addiction model says that the COVID scare causes them to feel this way, and that their need for the substances becomes enormous and only intense treatment can stop the cravings and the desires for consistent use.

Moving Past the Lies

So how does someone get past the lies? What is the objective truth? Is addiction an unstoppable disease that requires lifelong treatment and struggle? Or is it a preference that can change – even in an environment defined by a pandemic?

The answer is the latter. You do not have a disease of addiction – the disease model of addiction was created to make an efficient path for third party reimbursement of drug and alcohol related medical and psychiatric needs. In other words the disease concept created a way for health insurance providers to pay the treatment and rehab industry for its services, it’s creation had nothing to do with whether, in fact, a disease existed. What you have is not a disease, but rather a preference for heavy use that you might choose to call “addiction.” That preference is based on the perception that drinking and drugging can somehow help you cope with the COVID scare and shutdowns. Substances can’t do that of course, but if you belief they can, then the belief will drive further heavy use.

Know this – you are not powerless. You are not compelled to use substances by an outside force called addiction. Your feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness are learned. You have reasons for your belief that substances provide benefits to you. But equally important is the truth that you can change your point of view and see that stopping or moderating your use might have more benefits than trying to cope by using drugs and alcohol heavily.

In short, addiction is what you make it. You can choose to see it as an unstoppable outside force that creates havoc in your life. You can even see it as a solution to boredom, worry, depression, trauma and anxiety, making heavy use seem so much more necessary than it actually is. Or, you can see it as a temporary habit you’ve created yourself. You can challenge the benefits you see in heavy use. You can challenge the idea that heavy use solves depression, anxiety and trauma. You can decide to deal with your human struggles without the idea that substances need to be front and center in solving them.

Let Go of the Construct of Addiction

Addiction, seen as a powerless state of mind is a construct meant to lead you to endless treatment. Let go of these myths! It is time to move on from this narrative, and challenge all the benefits you see in using. The benefits of not using or moderating far outweigh believing you are powerless and addicted. Once you come to grips with this objective truth, you will never use heavily again – even in the COVID era.

If you or someone you love are ready to break free from the addiction and recovery trap and move on, call us at 888-424-2626.

For more information about The Freedom Model go to TheFreedomModel.org

Mr. Mark Scheeren is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the St. Jude Retreat, as is co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, the original Non-12-Step approach for people who struggle with serious substance use issues. Mr. Scheeren and his staff of Researchers and Instructors have helped many thousands find permanent solutions to their drug and alcohol problems.

With so much talk about heavy substance use increasing as a result of the pandemic lockdowns, there are many people wondering if they may have crossed the line from reasonable substance use to “addiction”. Rates of serious emotional problems such as depression and anxiety are skyrocketing across the country as a result of people being locked in their homes and many are using alcohol and other drugs to try and get some relief. But is this increasing demographic now officially suffering from addiction? Are these millions of people now doomed to lifetime of addiction treatment, meetings, and perpetual struggle? Let me answer this straight – absolutely not. In the book, The Freedom Model for Addictions, Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, we discuss the concept of addiction as the following: The very concept of addiction – whether it’s called a disease, a disorder, or something else – says that some people (i.e. “addicts & alcoholics”) are enslaved to the behavior of substance use in some way. That is, they cross some line where they are no longer actively choosing to use substances of their own free will, but instead are compelled to use substances. It’s also said that they are unable to stop themselves from using once they start (they experience a loss of control); that they are unable to stop wanting to use substances (they experience craving); that all of this just happens without their consent (that they’re triggered by various things and feelings); and finally, that they’re in for a lifetime of struggling with their demons (the “chronic relapsing disease” and “ongoing recovery.”) This definition is a construct of the treatment industry – in other words, it’s made up. But because it has been repeated for nearly eight decades, it has become truth to believers. I was once…

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