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Alcoholism & Alcoholics Anonymous: Willpower or Disease?

Sunday, April 6th, 2008
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

I realize that my discussion of alcoholism, Alcoholics Anonymous groups and personal responsibility may offend some people. All I ask is that you read it with an open mind and consider the ideas presented and the science behind them. If you have a problem with alcoholism, you need to get treatment and take control of your life- just do it the right way.

Alcoholism is a confusing condition, even for those who are intimately familiar with it or perhaps even suffer from it. Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous claim that alcoholism is a disease and that humans are powerless to deal with it without the assistance of supernatural forces. The generally accepted definition for alcoholism is “people who continue to consume alcoholic beverages even when it negatively affects their health and the health of those around them.” My life has been affected by alcoholism; my mother was an alcoholic and drug addict, though she has been successfully clean and sober for several years. She has said that being free of drugs and alcohol is due to the supernatural assistance of God and God’s earthly messengers (Alcoholics Anonymous). I know many other people who consume alcohol with and without problems and I myself consume alcohol. Based on my observation, experiences and review of scientific studies, I have come to the conclusion that:

Alcoholism is almost NEVER a disease, but is caused by a lack of self control and will power. Alcoholics Anonymous success rate shows it is not as effective a form of treatment as others available.

I know that that is a big statement and a lot of readers probably are angry, but I simply ask you to listen to what I have to say to back up such a strong claim.

My first statement, that alcoholism is almost never a disease but demonstrates a lack of discipline is probably the most controversial idea. The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, even stated that alcoholism is more comparable to a malady than a disease. Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous used the idea that alcoholism is a disease to fight the commonly held belief that obsessive consumption of alcohol can be cessated by willpower alone. Success combating alcohol, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, can only be achieved through absolute abstinence from booze through the power of God. So what makes me say alcoholism is not a disease?

Alcoholism is not a disease. Cancer, HIV, herpes, smallpox and Alzeimers are diseases. Going to a bar and ordering a martini is not a disease. A person must make a conscious decision to go buy alcohol and then lift that glass or bottle of alcohol to their lips and drink. Nor does that fact that it can become habitual make it a disease. The fact that I make picking my nose a habit does not make nose picking a disease. Even the fact that alcohol is a drug and can be physically addicting does not make it a disease. Unless there is a universally recognized mental health condition causing the person to be unable to control their consumption of alcohol (mental retardation, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.), that person can apply their willpower, discipline and self control to simply not drink to excess or not drink at all.

People that I have met who claim to “alcoholics” suffering from “alcoholism” all suffer from a distinct lack of will power in other areas of their lives. Usually alcoholism is not their root problem; their lack of self control is. Learning to discipline oneself is the hardest thing for any human to do, but it is a big part of what makes us human. To blow off your social responsibility and make conscious decisions to do wrong and claim that those decisions are a disease is cowardice. I am a flawed person, but when I consciously make a decision to do wrong, I will take responsibility for it. People who claim to be alcoholics unable to control themselves are the same people who don’t take responsibility when they hurt people.

Since people who refuse to take responsibility for their drinking blame it on a disease, what do these “alcoholics” claim is the cure? Something else that can’t be measured and is off limits to criticism in society- RELIGION. “Alcoholics” have banded together to form a religious cult so they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. This cult is called Alcoholics Anonymous. Although, perhaps cult is the wrong word for a group over two million people strong… I think it has reached the hallowed status of socially accepted Religion.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult of Cowardice

Ok, ok, I am exaggerating when I call Alcoholics Anonymous a cult. Alcoholics Anonymous is a national organization of informal groups that try to get alcoholics to abstain from alcohol consumption. Alcoholics Anonymous bases it’s philosophy on 12 steps rooted in religion. Alcoholics Anonymous twelve steps are listed below:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable. Surrendering responsibility for ones own actions is a fundamental act of cowardice.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Claiming that religion can save us from something they don’t want to take responsibility for.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Except for the most basic moral check: Recognizing ones owns action and taking ownership of them.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. By asking God to get rid of your problems, you are saying that it is not your fault… and if you fail again, you couldn’t help it. God just didn’t help out enough.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Finally some responsibility taken.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. SPREAD THE FAITH!!! Just like every other religion, this one holds a clause to propagate it’s own numbers.

As you can see above, Alcoholics Anonymous groups purposely shunt responsibility for their drinking away from themselves and on to a supernatural being. Once their accountability for what they have done is gone, “alcoholics” can feel better about themselves and what they have done. After all, getting drunk or high and hurting people isn’t my responsibility… My DISEASE made me do it! Right? The obvious flaws in such thinking lead to further harm to the person and society since they still have not taken personal responsibility for their consumption of alcohol.

Below is a video discussing the Alcoholics Anonymous groups and their fundamental problems.

To be fair, here is a video advertisement for Alcoholics Anonymous groups below:

What are some other problems with the success of Alcoholics Anonymous groups?

An internal report done by Alcoholics Anonymous itself in 1989 discovered that of “alcoholics” who attended Alcoholics Anonymous groups for the first time, only 19% stayed for one month and a shockingly low 5% stayed after 12 months. That means that 95% of people who have problems with their alcohol consumption, did not bother sticking with Alcoholics Anonymous groups.

Alcoholics Anonymous groups also have a very significant issue with abuse among their ranks. Alcoholics Anonymous works by pairing a newly joined “alcoholic” with a sober veteran mentor. However, Alcoholics Anonymous uses no criminal screening, restrictions or vetting in determining who get paired with who. As a result, “Thirteenth-stepping” has become a major problem; it is the practice of targeting new Alcoholics Anonymous members for sex and dating. Based on surveys that have shown wide abuse of these relationships, chemical dependency treatment providers now recommend that vulnerable people with histories of sex abuse join single-gender only support groups.

Watch this video interview of Dr. Stanton Peele on the disease theory of alcoholism. He points out fundamental problems with the basic ideas forced down drunks throats by Alcoholics Anonymous groups.

Court Rulings on Alcoholics Anonymous Groups

in 1996, the United States Supreme Court ruled that inmates parolees and probationers cannot be forced to attend religious based programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous groups or others. Forcing prisoners to attend such programs is forcing those same prisoners into a religious cult. Thank God for the separation of Church and State.

Another very important court ruling has found that internal communications between members of Alcoholics Anonymous groups is NOT covered under client, patient or clergy privileges and AA members can be forced to testify against one another in court. Although Alcoholics Anonymous members promise not to share a confidence, the courts do not honor that promise.

Alcohol Calculator: How to tell your Blood Alcohol Content Level:

My criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous groups and their philosophy of not taking responsibility or using self control does not mean that I do not advocate safe and responsible use of alcohol.

When drinking, you should always follow these rules:

  • NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DRINK AND DRIVE.
  • Do not drink more than you know you can handle.
  • Always take full responsibility for your actions, drunk or sober.
  • Do not mix alcoholic beverages and any other drugs, even caffeine. Doing so can be hazardous for your health.
  • A person who is drunk CANNOT give consent to have sex. You can go to jail if you have sex with someone who is incapacitated because of alcohol intoxication.

Please use the two alcohol calculator charts below as a rule of thumb only. Alcohol affects different people in different ways and having any alcohol in your system when operating a car has the potential to be dangerous.

MALES ALCOHOL CHART

APPROXIMATE BLOOD ALCOHOL PERCENTAGE
Drinks
*
BODY WEIGHT IN POUNDS EFFECT ON PERSON
100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240
0 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 ONLY SAFE DRIVING LIMIT
1 .04 .03 .03 .02 .02 .02 .02 .02 IMPAIRMENT BEGINS.
2 .08 .06 .05 .05 .04 .04 .03 .03
3 .11 .09 .08 .07 .06 .06 .05 .05 DRIVING SKILLS SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTED.
4 .15 .12 .11 .09 .08 .08 .07 .06
5 .19 .16 .13 .12 .11 .09 .09 .08 LEGALLY INTOXICATED.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES IN ALL STATES
**
6 .23 .19 .16 .14 .13 .11 .10 .09
7 .26 .22 .19 .16 .15 .13 .12 .11
8 .30 .25 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14 .13
9 .34 .28 .24 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14
10 .38 .31 .27 .23 .21 .19 .17 .16

Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.
* One drink is equal to 1¼ oz. of 80-proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 4 oz. of table wine.
**ALL states have a .08 BAC per se law
The final one took effect in August of 2005.

FEMALES ALCOHOL CHART

APPROXIMATE BLOOD ALCOHOL PERCENTAGE
Drinks
*
BODY WEIGHT IN POUNDS EFFECT ON PERSON
90 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240
0 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 ONLY SAFE DRIVING LIMIT
1 .05 .05 .04 .03 .03 .03 .02 .02 .02 IMPAIRMENT BEGINS.
2 .10 .09 .08 .07 .06 .05 .05 .04 .04 DRIVING SKILLS SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTED.
3 .15 .14 .11 .11 .09 .08 .07 .06 .06
4 .20 .18 .15 .13 .11 .10 .09 .08 .08 LEGALLY INTOXICATED.CRIMINAL PENALTIES IN ALL STATES
**
5 .25 .23 .19 .16 .14 .13 .11 .10 .09
6 .30 .27 .23 .19 .17 .15 .14 .12 .11
7 .35 .32 .27 .23 .20 .18 .16 .14 .13
8 .40 .36 .30 .26 .23 .20 .18 .17 .15
9 .45 .41 .34 .29 .26 .23 .20 .19 .17
10 .51 .45 .38 .32 .28 .25 .23 .21 .19

Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.
* One drink is equal to 1¼ oz. of 80-proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 4 oz. of table wine.

REMEMBER: Alcohol consumption affects different people in VASTLY different ways. One person could be fully functional after many drinks while another could be incapacitated by just one. BE CAREFUL when consuming alcohol!!!!
Alcoholism demotivational poster

64 thoughts on “Alcoholism & Alcoholics Anonymous: Willpower or Disease?

  1. I agree with Ariel 100% and the creator of this blog. After three decades in AA I left. It has become a ridiculous cult that is full of sexual and financial predators. I would not even send an enemy there. AA is a 1936 antiquated unproven unresearched for 75 wacko program. Its not even a fellowship anymore. People call it a “program” what program? When I got sober people “shared what they did. PERIOD> No body walked you through the steps. WHat am I some sort of F#####king baby. Teenagers are now being sent to AA. Imagine telling your child , a teen they are powerless. Giving them a book from a depressed, sexually sick man Bill WIlson for my child to be guided by> I don’t think so . Try Smart REcovery or Rational REcovery or SOS or Women in Sobriety. Bill WIlson was taking LSD during the 1950′s looking for a cure to Alcoholism and looking for GOD. This is when the 12 traditions were written. WHen he was taking LSD ALL THE TIME! WAKE UP FOLKS!!! ALso calling AA a spiritual program is a joke and a lie. It is most certainly has all the components of a religion. The Supreme Court is not stupid. It ruled this. AA does not get to say that “WE are different.” AA is similar to the KKK and The Catholic Church. AA is not above the law. Young men and woman have been getting 13 stepping , sexual harassed and raped by old AA members for years now. Old timers know this , see it and do nothing. The Media is full of AA prophets who tell stories of how great AA is. However I have yet to see these reporters or movie stars at The Marina Center or the 502 Club in West Covina where the predators lurk in great numbers waiting rape their next victim. I know a woman who was molested by her mothers sober boyfriend when she was 5. She was not the only child subjected to this sickness and criminal behavior. Y9ung peoples conferences are a breading ground for old men to prey on new young teens who are vulnerable. OPEN your eyes folks. Get honest and stop BS yourself. You can not BS me. I am an insider who left. Now I am free. Thank You for making this blog.

  2. I agree with Ariel as well. There are sexual predators mandated to AA meetings every day throughout this country. AA is NOT a microcosm of society! Please dont take your kids or send your teen to AA. If your teen is mandated by the courts ask for an alternative for safety reasons.

  3. I totally agree with your article. My life was ruined by a violent alcoholic father. Also throughout my twenties and thirties I drank heavily and it ruined my life. Only when I realised that drinking heavily and dangerously and that my depression were not diseases and just a symptom of my terrible day to day life things began to change. I put in a lot of work tackling the causes of my depression and dangerous drinking and so far have improved my life completely. I really think that the big drug companies are to blame for all this rubbish about depression and alcoholism being diseases.

  4. For proof that Alcoholism is NOT A DISEASE please look to: http://www.baldwinresearch.com/alcoholism.cfm Alcoholism is suicide in slow motion. Alcoholism is a choice. Not a disease. If it were a disease… why don’t they put cancer patients in jail?

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