Is Alcoholics Anonymous A Cult?


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I was doing some research on cults and found several opinions that Alcoholics’ Anonymous is one of the gang. I had no idea that people hated AA as much as they do.

I found one web page that was particularly critical. I was going to link to it but why the heck would I want to give that cat even more link juice? He already has the top listing in Google.

AA is a Cult Highlights

  • It’s religious (Like all cults) and disrespects “real” religions
  • Anti “smart people” – It’s literature prevents “skepticism”
  • Super Leader –  is considered a “reincarnated Christ”
  • Members are untrained “addiction experts” self proclaimed.
  • Political involvement by the use of taxes to support it’s agenda
  • There is no way to stop drinking except the “God of AA”
  • Gives stigma to a person by promoting a false disease.
  • Amount of “sober time” promotes respect and clout in the community.
  • Violence, harassment, guilt, ETC etc…

Well, I’m getting tired of typing this list.  I could continue writing  for quite awhile,  but I want to watch the Dallas Cowboys game… You dig?

One comment I saw on a blog talks about how a guy’s wife had a drinking problem, started going to AA, met somebody else and had an affair. It’s AA’s fault of course.

“Those people” condone that sort of thing. He said.

AA’s Position

I decided to check out what alcoholics anonymous had to say. What are they all about? I found this “preamble” that is apparently read at the beginning of most meetings worldwide.

I am taking the liberty to highlight some of the words that tend to refute these cult criticisms.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Uh… Well, I guess I rest my case. I saw on Nova one night that AA is the most successful organization at battling the problem of alcoholism/addiction. More success than any other programs combined.

I heard Bill Mar on his TV show one night saying that Christianity is a cult.. “Just a bigger one”

So what? Some cults are better than others  :)

Jeez what can a hipster do?

Like they say….Keep commin’ back :)

20 Responses to “Is Alcoholics Anonymous A Cult?”

  • Brian Slack:

    By definition, sure. Is that a bad thing?

  • Brian Slack:

    Groups of people intensely devoted to a person, idea, or movement.

  • chifox:

    I believe so any views that ar not AA’s are not accepted the member can even be chastised in this case, punished by being told they will drink & die etc, The co founders are both viewed as deities/Guru’s. The people are brainwashed into believing the AA way is not only the only way to stop drinking but how to act in society. Sacred matirial is the basic text of the movement the alcoholics bibble with all the answers to lifes problems allegedly. God is the only higher people are accepted by having as it comes from hard core christianity originaly. Personaly i would never take away from what people need to stay sober however i like to know what id be gettin myself into before i got involved

  • Kathy:

    If you dont require AA then dont get involved. Take yourself along to an “Open Meeting” and find out for yourself. You should not post comments on “hear say,” although your comments are simmilar o that of my partners!!

    Struggling Alcoholic

  • Amy B.:

    In response to something that Chifox said….”God is the only higher people are accepted by having as it comes from hard core christianity originaly.” God is not defined in AA. YOU choose a God of your OWN understanding. It can be the door knob for all we care. It is a lesson teaching you that there is a power greater than yourself that can help you. Someone else to lean on in your times of need. Someone to give thanks to. My God is loving, graceful and forgiving. But, that doesn’t mean it is a religious view. I am a spiritual person.

  • ex NA member:

    I was forced years ago by the legal system to attend NA meetings –which follow all the same precepts as AA– for the horrible crime of smoking marijuana. They told me that I had to believe I was powerless over my “addiction” and needed to accept a higher power than myself to stop.

    Being an atheist, this posed several problems for me. They told me this didn’t matter, I could just use a door knob as my higher power. WOW, what a relief, all I have to do is worship a door knob and I could be cured!!!! Alas all my prayers to the almighty door knob went unanswered, well, other than my prayers to have my front door opened…..

    If I had actually believed this load of hogwash I would either be:

    a) A totally bonkers door knob worshiping cultist *or*

    b) A hopelessly addicted homeless leech on society. After all, I was
    completely powerless over my addiction and the door knob failed to
    guide me in any way. I would have no reason to even attempt to not
    to use drugs.

    AA and NA are completely useless unless you are religious, specifically christian. It is designed to transpose peoples addictions to an addiction to christian beliefs. AA claims it is not a christian organization. It’s just as non-christian as “In god we trust” doesn’t mean “In Jesus we trust”.

    Of course there is another it works; if you are the type person who can honestly worship a door knob. These kind of people have WAAAAY bigger problems then their addictions.

    Oh and by the way, I no longer do drugs at all. Not because it’s wrong, or some door opening technology led the way. Simply because it was no longer worth the risk of my going to jail for.

  • ex NA member:

    Oh, and one more point, ever wonder way the vast majority of places that hold AA/NA meetings are christian churches?

  • Tradition 10 States: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

    Again, I rest my case. But to each their own. Whatever works, right?

  • Wow…this one was brought back from 2 years ago! Personally, I notice that the comments slamming AA are all misspelled and pretty much illiterate. Alcoholics Anonymous has saved millions of lives. ‘Nuff said.

    • Thanks, yes I know…What’s the all the mess about. There are good and bad cults. I was amazed at how much negativity I found about 12 step programs on the internet. Dam folks lighten up huh?

  • Thanks for sharing your opinion on this matter… It’s worth the read…

  • mjmagic:

    “Alcoholics Anonymous has saved millions of lives. ‘Nuff said”.

    Where is this data? Anyone can spew out numbers, it doesn’t make it true. I see a number of people, AA or not, say that it “helps so man”, “millions have been helped”. I’ts just a guestimation, since there are no numbers to back it up. Perhaps millions have walked through the front door of AA. But, perhaps millions just kept on walking.

  • patti:

    AA unfortunately is ungoverned by the wealthy GSO, the top dogs who run AA & whose salaries are 6 figures. The rest of AA’s employee’s are volunteers, “giving back”. Bill W., a stone cold addict, smoked himself to death, too bad a nicotine addiction is not a “spiritual”addiction, such as alcohol is according to Bill. Bill, also was the original “13th Stepper”, a well known past time of seasoned male AA members, like Bill they prey on new, vulnerable, young females who are in despair & attend AA. Powerless. submission, these AA conditions create an environment ripe for abuse, manipulation, coercion, read some books about former abused AA members, “Horror Stories of AA” & others. AA is sad stop for most people who are forced to attend or attend in despair, one is brainwashed by unqualified sponsors, surrounded by the narcissism that long time AA membership creates, surrounded by the untreated mentally ill, the lonely, the predators. It is an ungoverned cult, like all cults a dangerous environment. Would recommend that no one ever attend & also that the government stops mandating attendance.

  • Jack:

    When deciding how cult-like a group or group of groups is, you look at what actually happens in the group and what people experiennce, not what they say about themselves. You rest you case based on their preamble and now let’s go watch football? You’re a lazy idiot. Try again, fail.

  • matt:

    It’s very interesting to hear all these different view points. I guess at the end of the day for me it comes down to this. Before AA my drinking was destroying my life and all my relationships.

    After being in AA for 3 years I no longer drink aGnd haven’t for 2.5 years. My relationships are good and my life is in a much better place. AA helped me get sober and stay sober and along the way helped me deal with some issues I’ve ignored. For all this help

    I’ve been asked for nothing except to pass on a message of hope to the next man that walks in, that he can turn his life around as well and show him how I did. I don’t sell this or try to persuade someone in fact totally the opposite. Many people might need AA but its only those that want it will use it. As a “sponsor” now I don’t advise anyone on their lives or relationships I simply show them how I stayed sober.

    I hear a lot of ignorance and the concept of it being a cult and you have to worship a Christian God. I personally know many atheists in AA and it dosen’t stop them, and as for myself.

    I choose to have a faith that something that I can’t touch, explain or define is there within me that can be called upon to help when I need it. AA helped me get in touch with myself. Call it whatever you want, but I believe its within all of us and were all aware of it on some level. I’m not religious at all.

    Anyway just thought id put something down.



  • Ben:

    I have been going to AA for 4.5 months, sober also. I am on my third sponsor. My parter thinks AA is a cult. He says I am a strong person, not week or powerless. It’s been easy for me to stop drinking. I just keep saying to myself… I don’t want to be that drunk person anymore. The meetings depress me most of the time. I haves wonderful positive relationship for 23 years. I am a painter ( artist) very social. When I go to a party I bring my Pelligrino. I don’t go to bars, they bore me.

    I am still going to AA but having a hard time with all the rules, like attending meetings everyday. Reading the Big Book., calling my sponsor everyday, meeting with him to read for and hour and still not understanding the steps .

    Thankfully Sober

  • justin:

    To reply to the person above me, I am in AA, and I know that one thing is certain, nothing is certain. Moreover, there are no rules in AA, if you don’t want to work the steps, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to show up to a meeting every single day, you DON’T HAVE TO. If you don’t want to read from the big book, you don’t have to. The only purpose of having a sponsor is that you have someone who guides you through the steps the way THEY got through the steps. The truth of the matter is the effectiveness of the program really doesn’t matter, so much as the principles which are DE FACTO not DE JURE that are what makes AA distinct and important. What I like about this program is that I take SUGGESTIONS and I don’t follow orders and they seem to work well for me.
    I don’t agree with everyone’s way of doing the program. I think Bill W. was a bit of a misogynistic asshole but his purpose in this program is that he created it the way he did. Sigmund Freud created many concepts of modern day psychoanalysis, and I highly respect that he grandfathered this school of thought but at the same time some of his beliefs are bizarre and outdated and sexist. Some of them are also valid
    The point I am making is that Alcoholics Anonymous is as strict, orderly, and religious as YOU want it to be. The only thing we care about is your definition of sobriety, and how you hold yourself accountable to that promulgation. But like any other organization, there will be plenty of people who will also be a part of it who will disagree with how you work your program. There are the Tom Cruise type of characters who interpret sobriety as living off of psyche meds and living with your mental disorders, then there are others who believe for AA the only thing you should stop is drinking, and if you want help quitting other substances, you can join other 12 step programs for that. Everyone’s story in AA is different. In my personal opinion it seems to be what works for me, but the beauty of it all is that if one day I decide that this is a “cult” or that it’s not for me, and it only seems to make my life worse, then I can always leave. Moreover, I can blog about how much of a cult it is, and they won’t stop me!! Which I think ultimately makes this program my choice instead of joining some expensive religion like the Church of Scientology. There is a bit of a differentiation between an organization and a cult when you know that you don’t have to fear the possibility of getting sued or experiencing backlash voicing your dissenting views. I am not trying to vindicate anyone’s belief for or against AA, I’m just saying as a person who has time with the program it seems at the very least to be helping me quite a lot.

  • Anonymous:

    It’s a cult. Period.

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