Why AA is paradise for those looking to exploit the vulnerable

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AA die-hards bemoan rehab centers, which they say simply roll out their free 12-step programs in glitzy envrions and then charge a bundle.

You can get the same treatment for free, they say, in church basements with folding chairs.

It’s all about money, money, money, AA says of the rehab centers.

AA is fooling no one.

In June, the mammoth, powerful organization that pretends to be just a bunch of humble little alcoholics decided to take someone to court.

The AA “Big Book” proclaims, “We have ceased fighting anything or anyone.”

So much for that.

They claimed that the original “Big Book” of co-founder Bill Wilson, which is expected to fetch millions at auction, belongs to them.

They later dropped the suit when their own members called them out on their hypocrisy.

Read more: Behavioral health professionals pumping addicts full of the very substances they are addicted to, but scoffing at medical cannabis

AA is an organization steeped in hypocrisy. They talk about service to others, yet encourage anonymity in sobriety. The best way to end addiction and alcoholism is to stamp out stigma by standing up, not remaining anonymous.

But even more dangerous, allowing alcoholics and drug addicts to remain “anonymous” in “the rooms,” and encouraging other members to keep them “anonymous,” is a recipe for exploitation.

And people get exploited in AA meetings all the time.

You can say whatever you want about AA; don’t be intimidated

There is no law that says you have to keep anything about AA anonymous, so do not ever be fooled or threatened by that nonsensical “rule.”

I sure haven’t, and I make no apologies at all for that.

I hope this blog and all other others detailing the dangers of AA at least gives people signs of when to run.

Or when to say, “Screw this, my sobriety is too important to me to put up with harassment from angry alcoholics who claim to be happy, joyous and free.”

Read more: Check out my report for Universal Health Services/Foundations Recovery Network on when it’s time to throw in the towel on AA

Among themselves, maybe. It’s often a grotesque little clique when you go to various groups.

The genie is out of the bottle: AA increasingly is viewed upon as an arcane, ineffective, exploitative organization that is handing out snake oil while Americans are dropping like flies from opioid addiction.

Yes, the program works well for the people it works for: Extremely sick alcoholics who want to drink vodka first thing when they get up in the morning.

An overgeneralization and hyperbole? Of course. But to my point, AA was not designed by Bill W. to treat the masses who are forced into the program. AA’s own rhetoric says the only requirement for AA is a desire to get sober.

Go to Central Discussion on a Sunday afternoon. Ha! Those court-ordered meetings are lucky to have even one person in them with a commitment to getting sober. I am concerned for the safety of the people running those Sunday afternoon groups, quite frankly.

The truth is, AA’s program is just not a good fit for most of us, even though our addictions and what causes them are no better or no worse than the people who find relief in AA.

Read more: Was I almost trafficked right out of the Rock Island County Jail after being held two days there, naked and tortured, on no charges at all?

Those of us who have been the victim of violent crimes or political corruption in the Quad-Cities are hamburger on a meat tray in a room of circling vultures at AA meetings.

Vulnerable people need to be treated by clinicians; not bullies in cliques in church basements with no medical training whatsoever.

I’m quite adamant about this.

And yes, I’m angry.

AA sponsor says the ultimate wrong thing

When my sponsor, who sits on the Rock Island County Board, told me to “let go” and “forgive” I rolled my eyes at him. That was more than two years ago.

Now, with what has transpired since then, I’m REALLY rolling my eyes. He actually told me to apologize to my brother.

I’m not even going to go there.

No apologies from this man — yet. His lack of concern and inaction in reference to my human rights being violated by the county he represents, and serves as chief apologist for, is nothing short of alarming.

Nuff said.

“Letting go” is bullsh*t when you’re a reporter who was stripped naked and tortured in the county jail for being a snitch and exposing corruption. My serenity now comes from exposing every little detail of my shocking story, which continues to be proven true through the MSM, albeit with a lag, as I go along.

Read more: Chapter 1 of my book: Dad and I reclaim the property

So, with that, the anonymity of my AA experience goes right out the window. To me, it’s nothing less than a creepy coincidence that my sponsor sits on the board of the county that jailed me. And probably nothing more than that either, but a human being with any intestinal fortitude at all would have apologized, or at least demanded an internal investigation of the sheriff’s department.

My dad was taking his final breaths when they jailed me and I almost never saw him again because of this nonsense.

And I better not EVER be told to take personal responsibility for what happened at the memory care hellhole that day. I have said all along I had been poisoned and I was not myself that morning. My story has never changed, as St. John Lutheran Church Pastor Stacie Fidlar can verify.

Check out my portfolio of paid addiction/recovery content

Pastor Fidlar can verify everything. That’s why nobody ever has contacted her about it.

AA horror stories more common than you think

In a 2013 ProPublica piece, the website already reported exactly what I know to be true:

“Each year, the legal system coerces more than 150,000 people to join AA, according to AA’s own membership surveys. Many are drunken drivers ordered to attend a few months of meetings. Others are felons whose records include sexual offenses and domestic violence and who choose AA over longer prison sentences. They mingle with AA’s traditional clientele, ordinary citizens who are voluntarily seeking help with their drinking problems from a group whose main tenets is anonymity. (When telling often-harrowing stories of their alcoholism, the recovering drinkers introduce themselves only by their first names.)”

AA cost Karla Brada Mendez her life. In the ProPublica piece, a chilling story of narcissism by a man who knew the Big Book backward and forward leaves readers feeling ill about AA.

 And with good reason.

To quote ProPublica:

“To Victor Vieth, a former Minnesota prosecutor who now heads the National Child Protection Training Center in Minneapolis, none of these developments is surprising. Vieth has been involved in sexual abuse cases and prevention for 25 years and has become a nationally recognized expert in developing protective mechanisms for volunteers in service organizations.

 “It’s predictable that if you put violent offenders in the company of those who are vulnerable, this is going to happen. This is exactly where they want to be, and who they want to target,” Vieth said.

Sentencing a man who has repeatedly been physically violent to women to attend AA meetings, he said, is akin to sentencing a pedophile to be a middle-school hall monitor. “Predators find the company of who they want and violate them,” he said. “If you are a woman in AA and you have social factors intervening in your life and you need someone to understand you, offenders know that. They can demonstrate compassion and kindness. This is exactly where they want to be. It’s 100 percent predictable that violence or sex offenses will occur because this is their target.”

Judges, he said, should consider the possibility of predatory behavior.”

I already have been threatened for telling the truth

After I fired the sponsor, I still stayed sober on my own for 2 ½ years until relapsing, a full year and a half after the jail incident.

AA attendees from throughout the Quad-Cities have been reaching out to me for several years now since I began to write about addiction. Two have told me that when young new members arrive at a Moline AA group, one person, a woman, sponsors them almost every time. These people said that usually a Moline squad car also shows up to talk to these new members sponsored by this woman.

I passed that information along to Braking Traffick last year, but I suspect it went nowhere. Yesterday we learned that Family Resources had a counselor at its Annie Wittenmyer Youth Complex who allegedly gave a 16-year-old resident marijuana, had sex with a resident and even gave a resident money to buy a gun.

This investigation began in June, according to news reports.

I met with Braking Traffick last year and it was a profoundly appalling, discouraging and disturbing experience. All they were worried about was telling me to shut up because if I tell them my story, “I might get subpoenaed!”

Oh. Sorry. I thought you existed so I could tell my story. If not, what are you there for?

I’ll be writing about it in the days ahead, if I am able to get over the fear of retaliation. I already have been threatened once and called a liar for telling the truth.

It’s scary as hell. None of you have any idea whatsoever what I am going through. Penniless. Wondering how I’m going to buy toilet paper. All because I am now blackballed and viewed as “trouble” for telling the truth.

This is the classic example of what happens to people who are victims of political corruption and/or human trafficking. The good news is, I own my home, I’m getting help with my bills, and I have a MacBook Pro and, for now, an internet connection.

The stories will continue. I know I’m going to be vindicated. And I have no doubt job offers will pour in at that time, not to mention the book will be that much closer to the publish date.

So, I’ll trust in the Lord and be patient.

The AA cloud of anonymity gives members anonymity in court, too. A convicted killer’s testimony recently was thrown out, for example.

I can’t even believe a judge would do that.

AA also creates a place where volatile people can come together in a setting where nobody can be sued – there is no payor-sponsored clinician present.

In light of the seriousness of addiction, and the very few (and very fragile) chances you get to give someone a true way out, I believe these meetings are wholly inappropriate in the early days of recovery. And yet, they remain the only thing offered in many communities.

This is disgraceful and beyond outrageous.

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You can find me on Twitter @DavidHeitz

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