12 step program criticism

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

  • Suggested Resources

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    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
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    Aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative's suicide attempt. Describes the emergency department treatment process, lists questions to ask about follow-up treatment, and describes how to reduce risk and ensure safety at home.

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    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

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Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. NSDUH estimates allow researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and the general public to better understand and improve the nation’s behavioral health. These reports and detailed tables present estimates from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).



  • Among the 133.1 million current alcohol users aged 12 or older in 2021, 60.0 million people (or 45.1%) were past month binge drinkers. The percentage of people who were past month binge drinkers was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (29.2% or 9.8 million people), followed by adults aged 26 or older (22.4% or 49.3 million people), then by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (3.8% or 995,000 people). (2021 NSDUH)
  • Among people aged 12 to 20 in 2021, 15.1% (or 5.9 million people) were past month alcohol users. Estimates of binge alcohol use and heavy alcohol use in the past month among underage people were 8.3% (or 3.2 million people) and 1.6% (or 613,000 people), respectively. (2021 NSDUH)
  • In 2020, 50.0% of people aged 12 or older (or 138.5 million people) used alcohol in the past month (i.e., current alcohol users) (2020 NSDUH)
  • Among the 138.5 million people who were current alcohol users, 61.6 million people (or 44.4%) were classified as binge drinkers and 17.7 million people (28.8% of current binge drinkers and 12.8% of current alcohol users) were classified as heavy drinkers (2020 NSDUH)
  • The percentage of people who were past month binge alcohol users was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (31. 4%) compared with 22.9% of adults aged 26 or older and 4.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (2020 NSDUH)
  • Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of stroke, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, and other serious health conditions
  • Excessive alcohol use can also lead to risk-taking behavior, including driving while impaired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver daily


  • STOP Underage Drinking interagency portal - Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking
  • Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking
  • Talk. They Hear You.
  • Underage Drinking: Myths vs. Facts
  • Talking with your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol

Relevant links:

  • National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
  • Department of Transportation Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance
  • Alcohol Policy Information Systems Database (APIS)
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism



  • In 2020, 20. 7% of people aged 12 or older (or 57.3 million people) used nicotine products (i.e., used tobacco products or vaped nicotine) in the past month (2020 NSDUH)
  • Among past month users of nicotine products, nearly two thirds of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (63.1%) vaped nicotine but did not use tobacco products. In contrast, 88.9% of past month nicotine product users aged 26 or older used only tobacco products (2020 NSDUH)
  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, often leading to lung cancer, respiratory disorders, heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses. The CDC reports that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States
  • The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health reports that more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking cigarettes

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use data:

  • In 2021, 13.2 million people aged 12 or older (or 4.7%) used an e-cigarette or other vaping device to vape nicotine in the past month. The percentage of people who vaped nicotine was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (14.1% or 4.7 million people), followed by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (5.2% or 1.4 million people), then by adults aged 26 or older (3.2% or 7.1 million people).
  • Among people aged 12 to 20 in 2021, 11.0% (or 4.3 million people) used tobacco products or used an e-cigarette or other vaping device to vape nicotine in the past month. Among people in this age group, 8.1% (or 3.1 million people) vaped nicotine, 5.4% (or 2.1 million people) used tobacco products, and 3.4% (or 1.3 million people) smoked cigarettes in the past month. (2021 NSDUH)
  • Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Among both middle and high school students, current use of e-cigarettes declined from 2019 to 2020, reversing previous trends and returning current e-cigarette use to levels similar to those observed in 2018
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, or pregnant women, especially because they contain nicotine and other chemicals


  • Tips for Teens: Tobacco
  • Tips for Teens: E-cigarettes
  • Implementing Tobacco Cessation Programs in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Settings
  • Synar Amendment Program


  • Truth Initiative
  • FDA Center for Tobacco Products
  • CDC Office on Smoking and Health
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: E-Cigarettes



  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 3. 3% (or 9.2 million people) misused opioids (heroin or prescription pain relievers) in the past year. Among the 9.2 million people who misused opioids in the past year, 8.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers compared with 1.1 million people who used heroin. These numbers include 574,000 people who both misused prescription pain relievers and used heroin in the past year. (2021 NSDUH)
  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 3.4% (or 9.5 million people) misused opioids in the past year. Among the 9.5 million people who misused opioids in the past year, 9.3 million people misused prescription pain relievers and 902,000 people used heroin (2020 NSDUH)
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Understanding the Epidemic, an average of 128 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose


  • Medication-Assisted Treatment
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit
  • TIP 63: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Criminal Justice Settings
  • Opioid Use Disorder and Pregnancy
  • Clinical Guidance for Treating Pregnant and Parenting Women With Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants
  • The Facts about Buprenorphine for Treatment of Opioid Addiction
  • Pregnancy Planning for Women Being Treated for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Tips for Teens: Opioids
  • Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Grants
  • Tribal Opioid Response Grants
  • Provider’s Clinical Support System - Medication Assisted Treatment Grant Program


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Opioids
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Heroin
  • HHS Prevent Opioid Abuse
  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
  • Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network
  • Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) Network



  • In 2021, marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug, with 18. 7% of people aged 12 or older (or 52.5 million people) using it in the past year. The percentage was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (35.4% or 11.8 million people), followed by adults aged 26 or older (17.2% or 37.9 million people), then by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (10.5% or 2.7 million people).
  • The percentage of people who used marijuana in the past year was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (34.5%) compared with 16.3% of adults aged 26 or older and 10.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (2020 NSDUH)
  • Marijuana can impair judgment and distort perception in the short term and can lead to memory impairment in the long term
  • Marijuana can have significant health effects on youth and pregnant women.


  • Know the Risks of Marijuana
  • Marijuana and Pregnancy
  • Tips for Teens: Marijuana

Relevant links:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: Marijuana
  • Addiction Technology Transfer Centers on Marijuana
  • CDC Marijuana and Public Health

Emerging Trends in Substance Misuse:

  • Methamphetamine—In 2019, NSDUH data show that approximately 2 million people used methamphetamine in the past year. Approximately 1 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder, which was higher than the percentage in 2016, but similar to the percentages in 2015 and 2018. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Data shows that overdose death rates involving methamphetamine have quadrupled from 2011 to 2017. Frequent meth use is associated with mood disturbances, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • Cocaine—In 2019, NSDUH data show an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. The CDC reports that overdose deaths involving have increased by one-third from 2016 to 2017. In the short term, cocaine use can result in increased blood pressure, restlessness, and irritability. In the long term, severe medical complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, seizures, and abdominal pain.
  • Kratom—In 2019, NSDUH data show that about 825,000 people had used Kratom in the past month. Kratom is a tropical plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia with leaves that can have psychotropic effects by affecting opioid brain receptors. It is currently unregulated and has risk of abuse and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that health effects of Kratom can include nausea, itching, seizures, and hallucinations.


  • Tips for Teens: Methamphetamine
  • Tips for Teens: Cocaine
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse

More SAMHSA publications on substance use prevention and treatment.

Last Updated: 01/05/2023

What do you think of the 12 Step communities!?

What do you think of the 12 Step communities!?
I often hear statements on the forums that the best place a person with an addiction problem can go is in anonymous "AA" "AN" groups. AI, etc.
When asked about statistics and asked to prove these statements, they send me to find these proofs myself or simply ignore the question.

Translation: Alcoholics Anonymous, a sect?! nine0006
“For several years, [my wife] Louise and I were very aggressive critics of Alcoholics Anonymous and their group health movement, because we firmly believed that A. A. was the main driver of mass addiction in America. We know that public criticism of the 12-step program is a huge help to people who are struggling with slavish dependence on therapeutic groups, and we are just as sure that the therapeutic group movement is harmful to society. nine0004 It is understandable that this has given us a reputation for being vehemently anti-AA. Many consider Louise to be a pleasant, delicate woman, more restrained in attacking the addiction system, and me as a grouchy old rascal with secret goals. Personally speaking, she and I have equally dedicated ourselves to destructive criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous, the therapeutic group movement they created, and the business that spawned them, the huge addiction treatment industry. nine0004 Oddly enough, we still have not publicly stated our position on many emerging issues. Instead of an open statement, we avoided the word with the letter "s", i.e. - "sect". It seemed to us prematurely provocative to declare that Alcoholics Anonymous is a real sect.
"Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?" is the title of a book by Chaz Bufe[2] that traces the history, development, and current practice of A.A. from the point of view of the question posed. Bufe considers 17 criteria that are commonly used to define a sect with from a scientific point of view, but he is noncommittal, meaning that he says nothing more than that "AA" involves people in some (but not all) of the typical cult practices. He concludes that "AA" are religious in some way. , but still don't deserve the label "sect".0004 Scientific research on the possibility of religious identification of "Alcoholics Anonymous" - it is only scientific. This is the main weakness of Bufe's book. For decades, millions of people suspected, believed, or knew that Alcoholics Anonymous was a religious organization. Everyone can see that this is so, although the whole nation accepts the immature-superficial formulation of the rejection of this: "Not religious, but only spiritual." More recently, however, federal courts have ruled that A. A. is an openly religious organization."[3] They have merely looked at A.A. literature and their doctrines, and have not hesitated to declare what is clear to everyone. Not academics have determined that " AA is a religious community, it is not the professors who are going to redirect the flow of public funds away from group addiction treatment to more worthy projects. It will not be the academics who will lead the nation away from its sad union with AA, nor will they help resolve the crisis in the rise of a far beyond group dependencies
Our official position is: “Without a doubt, AA is a sect! AA is not just a religious cult, it is a radical cult, a malignant cult, a widespread cult, and it is a dangerous cult. "AA", producing a socially corrupting attitude, pretended to be a noble, altruistic community. His perverse philosophy of sin-sickness and salvation by belief in some heterogeneous deity is contrary to the fundamental values ​​of a free society, but is addressed to people who are addicted to a substance that causes both chemical addiction and a feeling of pleasure. "AA" is a cancerous tumor of the soul of a nation that does not cause pain in its people, but eats away at the foundation of society. The victims are members of the community who are grateful to their oppressors. AA creates problems by saying it helps. Its 12-step programs don't teach people how to kick an addiction, short of stopping substance use, and its regular members love the cult more than newcomers. Each member of the cult community shares their best view of the world, based on their work on the steps, and not the result of a sober life in society. The AA cult has infiltrated our federal and state bureaucracy and is now nestling in every social institution, using techniques that suck newcomers into its mouth. It expands for its own sake and cannot change from within. Therefore, it must be destroyed by open public exposure and enlightenment of the people. nine0004 Louise and I rarely tell people who call us that AA is a sect: they tell us that themselves. We are looking through a kind of window into America's soul, a window that few people can access. In the office of a nationwide organization ( which is Rational Recovery - ed. ) the phone rings continuously, a huge number of people try to get through to us all day long. It seems that our telephone line is overloaded 2-3 times more than any other, although we cannot determine how many people are trying to call us at any given moment. The calls come mainly from readers of the journal of my book Rational Recovery: A New Treatment for Chemical Dependence"[4].
... Below are some excerpts from conversations with callers from various locations ( talking about subscribers attending 12-step programs - ed. ):
"I felt from the very beginning that there was something unpleasant about these people ".
"They are not of this world, they have left it."
"I shuddered when, during one of the AA meetings, they literally 'lowered' one guy who was arguing against the concept of his own powerlessness."
"When they said that my family was also sick, I felt that something was wrong here. " nine0004 "When they started their song about something , which was the Higher Power over me, a feeling of protest grew in me, as if it was about something very important in my soul."
"After I stopped attending these meetings, no one I knew from the groups wanted to deal with me anymore, although I no longer drank."
“My brother stopped drinking when he went to AA, but he became so strange… I hardly recognized him and almost missed how he was when he drank. At least he was sincere and could talk about anything that didn't concern himself." nine0004 "Our son went to a drug treatment specialist, and now he claims that we are inhuman violators of the rights of the child."
“I told my husband that these meetings did not help him in any way, that now he calls his drinking “relapses” and feels less and less guilty after them. He increasingly agrees that he is a drinker, but says that "relapses" are a normal part of the recovery process. Although, when he goes to the meeting after another 'relapse', he feels ashamed and depressed. " nine0004 “A year after I stopped drinking, my wife came to Al-Anon[5] with a friend. Now she refuses to communicate with me until I start going to AA.
"The counselors at the rehabilitation center were poorly educated and acted like robots, repeating learned words."
"I heard a man say, 'I pray to God every day that I don't have the idea that I can control my own life.' These words made me feel bad, but I did not find the strength to leave the group. nine0004 These comments, and sometimes the long stories they tell us, convince us by concrete examples that Alcoholics Anonymous is a sect. The AA community is spreading a sectarian spirit around them. It looks like a sect, acts like a sect, and sounds like a sect. This is a sect that grew out of the same root as another radical religious movement - the "Oxford Group" [6] and instantly spun off into an independent entity. Its members settled in the dark niches of society: prisons, hospitals, slums, to declare drunkards sick, unable to stop drinking or abusing other chemicals. sobriety, guiding them along the way. They are constantly focused on finding new members to justify their own attachment to the sect. nine0004 "AA" is not a sect because it doesn't meet some of the criteria invented by academic science, but it is a sect because it looks like one. Scientists in the social and behavioral sciences do not often make new discoveries, usually they use what is already discovered, counting, describing, comparing, and analyzing discoveries made by ordinary people. As a rule, they know very little about the real phenomena they speak about, each time relying on the ignorance of their respected colleagues. AA thrives on human timidity: people are embarrassed to say what they really see - remember the fairy tale "The King's New Clothes". Therefore, it is time to call "AA" a sect and wait for scientists to understand this. nine0004 To help them, I will use Bufe's seventeen scientific criteria for sect and draw a direct and clear conclusion based on my daily experience in the Rational Recovery national office.
1. Religious orientation, belief in the supernatural.
As predicted in The Little Book (my 1980 book)[7], federal courts now refer to literature containing "AA" teachings, as well as "steps" per se, as "Evidence #1" showing that the AA movement is "overtly religious". "AA" - intensively religious community; What other religion requires 90 meetings in 90 days? What is the urgency here?
The "Big Book"[8] is considered within the 12 step cult as a sacred text given from above. Any disputes that arise are resolved by quoting one or another passage from it. A comprehensive and ongoing study by Gaetano Solomon in the journal Rational Recovery reveals a purely religious identity and the roots of A.A. One of his unique writings is his comparison of the surface and deep structures of a 12 step religious conversion program (what you see and what you actually get). nine0004 Splits in families that originate in A.A. membership, as well as conflicts on religious grounds, often break family ties. At least one Methodist church opposed "those people who hold meetings in basements", against holding Sunday services with a teddy bear above the altar - where the image of Christ was. The Tranquility Church[9], as they call themselves, conducts a cult using a special Bible written specifically for alcoholics.
[One woman who called us] … flustered, never wanting to return to AA again, had this to say about the group: “Now I understand why I always felt uncomfortable at meetings. They say that the program of "steps" is not religious, but spiritual, and at the same time they do not recognize the value of any religious rites. nine0004 They claim to respect all religions, but they are sure that there is no such religion that would help to solve the problems of alcohol or drug addiction. In my opinion, this means that "AA" put their understanding above the Christian when they diagnose the "disease" of addiction in the whole family. They defined my entire family as a family of co-dependents or indulgents who must deal with the plan of their salvation, as if they were suddenly ill. This frustrated me, but I continued to attend meetings and gradually membership in the group replaced my association with the church. Although they claim that there is no conflict between the church and the program, in reality it is impossible to support both. In A.A., I learned to relate to God differently from what my church teaches. After attending 12 step meetings, I began to spiritually separate from everyone in worship at my church, because in my vision of Jesus Christ in church, it is fundamentally different from the “Higher Power” that I worshiped, in essence, in group meetings. I couldn't express this problem in AA meetings or in church, but now Rational Recovery has reunited me with my religion, showing me that drinking is not a disease, it's a sin... "
2. Irrationality, rigidity (immutability), anti-intellectuality.
According to the adherents of "AA", the teachings of "AA" are always correct, in the form in which it was written. No one can talk about the inconsistency of the teachings of "AA", and group interaction is structured in such a way as to protect it from criticism. “Your best thoughts are taken from here”, “There is no such stupid person who would not understand the program, just many are too smart”, “Wait for a miracle”.
3. Charismatic leader. nine0006
Few would dispute the fact that [AA's co-founder] Bill W.[10] became a popularly revered "saint," an idol idolized by the 12 Step community. His home became a place of pilgrimage, and his personal things into sacred objects He was considered by some to be the reincarnation of Christ, leading the world into the Age of Sobriety, a millennium comparable to the Kingdom of God spoken of in the Bible. backers, and proudly proclaim in discussions, “Bill W. was a great sponsor of my sponsor.” Indigenous A.A. members refer to themselves as “trusted servants” despite claims that A.A. has no leaders. moral authority as they actually represent the "AA" genealogy going to Bill W. and ultimately to the "loving god" "AA" whom they "obediently serve".0004 4. Hierarchical authoritarian structure.
Although "AA" appears to the outside observer as a non-profit corporation of independent tutors, and communities are made up of equal group cells, there is also another higher level of organization. Its members, defending themselves by anonymity and presenting themselves as experts who know the problems of addictions, infiltrate the federal and state bureaucracy, where they manipulate social policy and financial structures, influencing America's social service system. Hundreds of non-profit organizations have the sole purpose of planting disease-cure advocacy and building a network of communities to support the highest levels of 12-step programs described in the A.A. teaching literature. At present, with the American social system, including the courts and prisons, professional correctional and licensed institutions, social and medical charitable programs, the military healthcare system, "AA" can be seen as a powerful hierarchy of professional employees who are in positions of responsibility in society. "AA" is a sect that has infiltrated the bureaucracy, which I call "sectocracy" for lack of another term to describe this anomaly. The funds to finance this sectocracy are not created through the voluntary donations of grateful alcoholics, but are taken from every taxpayer as a result of the violent change of state tax laws. The sectocracy expands its membership, using the authority of social organizations to squeeze vulnerable people into their groups, where they are indoctrinated under certain conditions, and which could be of interest to Amnesty International[11]. Punishment for those who resist participation in "AA" can be imprisonment, death from lack of donor organs for transplantation, imprisonment instead of parole or parole, loss of social security and health care benefits, loss of parental rights instead of family court, loss disability livelihoods instead of vocational programs; and job loss instead of employment assistance programs. nine0004 It's no longer a secret that people who score high on tests of authoritarianism are the most rigorous in the 12-step program and are more likely to become committed, long-term members. The mentoring system makes possible stratification within groups, belittling and satisfying the lust for power and control over other people.
In addition, 'AA' members achieve their status and the credibility of others based on the time since their last drink, so someone five years sober should feel superior to someone ten days sober. The result is the core of the group - "true adherents", whose personalities are one with the "AA". nine0004 5. Suppression of individuality by "God's will."
Stop drinking not enough to meet the requirements of the 12 step program. One must accept the god "AA", the "Higher Power" as one's personal savior. Almost all cults are based on the control of a god. Jim Jones[12], David Koresh[13] and the Gates of Heaven[14] have a common feature for all sectarians - they chose what they liked from legitimate religious systems and discarded everything else.
Usually sects are religious communities that interpret the word "god" in some special way, always destroying critical thinking and forcing their members to gradually become more and more submissive to the "will of God" . ..
6. Dogmatism, the exclusive right to the ultimate truth.
Reading the founding document of "AA" - the "Big Book" will reveal the fact that "AA", beyond any doubt, despite some diplomatic subterfuges, declares its possession of the ultimate truth. Anyone who tried to speak out against "AA" doctrine during the meetings quickly found out that they were wrong and that the "steps" were absolutely correct, and supporting oppositional beliefs was tantamount to a death sentence. [One person] called and said, “As soon as I announced to the group that I was reading the new book, Rational Recovery, they shunned me like I had the plague. It was as if I had betrayed everyone present or introduced seeds of discord." nine0004 7. Separatism
No other sect has been more successful in endowing its members with distinctive features than "AA". Even the Heaven's Gate sect, which required uniforms and castration, could not garner enough support from the scientific community to defend the bizarre concept of a savior UFO hidden in the tail of Hale-Bopp's comet. "AA" hypothesized the existence of a sacred disease and found strong support. Ti and Do, the leaders of the Gates, did not receive support from the official religions for their ideas of salvation and paradise. When 39members of the sect voluntarily killed themselves, as the doctrine prescribed, they were not considered as victims of a hypothetical disease, but, to a greater extent, were attributed to the victims of a dangerous cult.
It is not necessary to strain the imagination too much to imagine a sect of the "Gate of Paradise" type, only more highly developed and organized, in which a significant number of medical scientists and psychologists become dedicated members ...
"Journal of Rational Recovery", N 9, issue 5, May- June 1997 ( The Journal of Rational Recovery , Volume 9, Issue 5, May-June, 1997).
[1] The word "cult", which is used by the author of the article, is translated by most dictionaries as "religious cult". Galperina (M., Russian language, 1979) gives the following translation of the word "cult": "1. cult, worship (deity) ... 2. religious rites 3. trans. admiration, deification ... ". However, the more modern Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (Cambridge University Press 2005) defines "cult" as follows: 1. a religious group whose members may live together and whose beliefs are considered extreme or strange by most people. A dictionary published in Oxford (Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English, Third Edition, Oxford Dictionaries, 2005) gives a similar definition “…2. a small religious group that is considered strange or that has excessive control over its members…”. We think there is no need to make further comparisons to prove the admissibility of using the word "sect" to translate the English word "cult" in this context. Moreover, this is exactly what happens in most European languages: the equivalent of the word “cult” in them is secte (French), secta (Spanish), Sekte (German). — Approx. ed. nine0004 [2] Chaz Bufe, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or

What I saw at a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous who are being treated according to the American system

In St. Petersburg, approximately 1,200 people attend Narcotics Anonymous community groups, which bring together recovering people under the 12 Step program. There are 25 such groups in the city, and 8 more in the Leningrad region.

I came to Vasilyevsky Island on time for the meeting of the group of anonymous drug addicts "Bricks". On the way, she scolded herself: why did you decide to go there on Saturday evening? No one will gather there - why on earth will people go there on a day off? I was wrong: I got the last seat in the hall for sixty people. Latecomers stood. nine0082

The society gathered was rather motley - both in terms of age and, so to speak, in terms of class composition. Here is a man of an absolutely terrifying appearance - a real living corpse. Here is a pretty girl with dimples whispering something to her neighbor. The girl with dimples instead of teeth has black fragments. Here's a decent looking guy - well dressed. Here is a woman of about thirty-five in an expensive leather jacket. ..

The majority of men - seventy percent.

The meeting starts. The leader - this role is taken by the group members in turn - reads out the Twelve Steps program.

For me, these steps are not much different from each other.

Then they suggest topics for discussion. They are written on the board:

- What prevents you from recovering.

- How to help others.

- What pleases...

Then the host gives the floor to those who raise their hand. The speeches of the speakers do not always correspond to the stated topics. A girl I would never mistake for a drug addict says she had other plans for Saturday night. But she felt such a craving for the drug that here she is. Cries. nine0082

A terrifying-looking man complains about problems with his personal life.

A young man complains that he does not know how he will look for a job after he feels better. I was taught from childhood: solve problems as they come. ..

But no one comments here. Here they listen.

Before the beginning of the story, they identify themselves:

- I'm Lesha, I'm a drug addict, I've been sober for five years of pure time ...

– I’m Katya, I’m a drug addict, sixty-eight days of sobriety sobriety…

– I’m Andrey, I’m a drug addict, I’ve been clean since the day before yesterday…

After mentioning sobriety periods, the group applauds. The meeting lasts about an hour. Then a hat is passed around the circle. Most throw change at her. At the end, everyone stands in a circle, hugs each other by the shoulders and says a prayer:

- God, give me the mind to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other. nine0082

I feel strange when strangers hug me from both sides.

Everyone disperses through the dark courtyard…

Anatolia is thirty-five. He says that he is an artist by profession.

– It all started normally: at the age of 14 I started drinking. Then smoke weed. Years since 1995, I switched to drug injections. I made acquaintances with artists: it seemed to me that I joined the bohemian circle ... Since 1998, I lived in the basement: my parents kicked me out, unable to bear my art. In 2003, a friend took me to a meeting of a Narcotics Anonymous group. There I was frightened: I was shocked by so many sober people gathered together. Decided: this is a sect. When at the end of the meeting everyone stood in a circle and hugged, he ran away. Then I didn’t understand one more thing: many of my brothers in misfortune smiled and looked more or less satisfied with life (one of the symptoms of drug addiction is the inability to enjoy simple things. - M.K.). The next time I came to a group meeting was two years later. I just didn't know where to go. I have been in the community since 2005. I'm sure it's the only thing that helps me. All my friends are also from here. nine0082

Victor is currently engaged in psychotherapy of chemically addicts. He is a well-known figure in the Narcotics Anonymous community. Victor is in his sixties. He calls his "pure time" without hesitation:

- Twenty-three years, nine months and twenty-three days.

Victor says:

- The first community of Narcotics Anonymous appeared in the USA in 1953. Alcoholics began to gather across the ocean earlier - back in 1930s. The first meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in St. Petersburg took place in 1990. At first we got together with alcoholics. Then the alcoholics drove the drug addicts away: alcoholics are more likely to be in a more decent shape and adequate condition than drug addicts. So we began to gather separately. The first group appeared - "Vertical". For five years there were five or seven of us. I went regularly: I did not want to die, and the group helped me in this ... The rumor about the community spread. Gradually there were more of us… Why does the group help? Its main function is to improve the emotional background, and due to this, to improve the quality of life. Here a person who wants to help himself sees that getting rid of addiction is possible. He observes other people's successful examples of recovery. He can find himself a so-called sponsor - a person with a long record of "pure time", to whom you can always turn for advice. Even those who have long since quit using drugs are encouraged to attend group meetings twice a week. And for the first months without "dope" there is a rule: "Ninety days - ninety meetings." We honestly admit to ourselves that the situation is out of control, we are ready to change and make efforts for this. nine0082

The group is a model of a friendly and diverse society. I ask Victor:

- Drug addicts know each other by last names. They communicate on social networks. So anonymity is a sham? And anyway, why is it needed?

- First, not to use the "brand" of the community for their own purposes - business, for example. We are a spiritual, non-religious and non-commercial organization. Second, anonymity warns against demonstrating social status. Here after all different people come across. The main thing here is principles, not personalities. nine0082

– How does a person find a group for himself?

– Principles are, of course, more important. But we are not blind: of course, somewhere we will see those who are closer to us in spirit, in terms of education and material wealth, in age. Everyone finds a group for themselves. All events - from friendly parties to congresses of community representatives from different cities and countries - are free of charge, they are organized by voluntary organizers and voluntary donations. You know, I went to group meetings in different countries and felt at home everywhere. Even without knowing the language. nine0082

It is difficult to judge what percentage of drug addicts achieve lifelong remission: there are breakdowns even after thirty years of abstinence. But the biggest optimists do not name a figure above 70%.

What should a mother do with her son who is a drug addict?

In addition to the Narcotics Anonymous community, the Azaria organization has been operating in St. Petersburg for more than two decades. Mothers against drugs. (Azaria is a teenager from the Book of Daniel who walked through the fire alive.) Azaria also does not take money from those who contact them. nine0082

When parents find out that their child is taking drugs, they usually control his every step. Scandal, sob, read morals, threaten.

After Olga realized that her son was taking drugs, she went through all the usual circles of parental hell. Someone advised her to come to Azaria.

- I was offered to set a condition for my son: do not come home after ten in the evening (if later - do not let him in), be sober at the same time. I was advised to stop paying off debts for him, emotionally separate from the child and enjoy life. I was stunned by such cynicism ... I left and continued to control and exhort. The situation did not improve. Then I stopped looking for my son endlessly - I transferred his life into his own hands. She herself went to the theater, read books, talked with friends. I did not call my son even when he did not come for several days. And one day he said to me: "Mom, let's go to a meeting of a group of anonymous addicts together - they say they help." nine0082

Olga's son has been sober for several years.

The main argument against the "tough love" method - as parents call their way of life with drug addicted children - is: "What if the child dies?" A tough answer is given to this: "If he decided to be a drug addict, it will happen sooner or later."

Sergey Belogurov , narcologist:

– The place of a narcologist with standard qualifications in the drug addict treatment cycle is the solution of biological problems. It is correct to carry out the detox procedure - cleansing the body of harmful substances that have appeared as a result of drug use. Simply put, to make the period of withdrawal from mentally active substances easier. But drug addiction is a disease of four spheres: not only biological, but also spiritual, and psychological, and social. nine0082

The group is the leading tool for overcoming addictions. In it, a person sees himself as in a mirror. She sets positive examples. She gives hope, supports, helps. Here the addict learns to build relationships with people again. Only a group can breathe meaning, content into the patient's life. After all, the problem of a drug addict is precisely the inability to organize a full-fledged, interesting life for himself without chemically active substances.

Why Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous

St. Petersburg psychiatrist Vitaly Osipchuk investigated some of the psychological characteristics of the participants in the Alcoholics Anonymous / Narcotics Anonymous movement. In particular, he came to the following conclusions:

“Obviously, the 12 Step program is aimed at significant, radical changes in the personality of an addict. Over the years of its existence, the 12 Step program has proven its effectiveness as a tool for targeted changes in the personality of a chemically dependent person. nine0082

There are mixed assessments of both the 12 Step program itself and the changes that happen to people who have been working on the program for a long time. What's the matter? After all, an unconditionally positive effect is achieved - a person stops using alcohol or drugs, breaks with the criminal environment, ceases to harm himself and those around him. Let's try to consider some of the psychological characteristics that characterize a person who builds himself and his life in accordance with the 12-step program. nine0082

An alcoholic or a drug addict quickly divides human society into friends and foes - those who use and those who don't. In the future, psychological isolation is aggravated, confidence is formed that a healthy person, in principle, is not able to understand the experiences of a drug addict or alcoholic, which means that he cannot help him in any way.

You can often hear from program participants that without the 12 Steps it is impossible to stay sober for a long time, and if a group member stops visiting, he will soon return to using drugs or alcohol. That is, the program, in their opinion, is the only salvation from the use of drugs and / or alcohol. Naturally, in the presence of such attitudes, any criticism of the program is perceived as a hostile attack and is rejected. nine0082


The American broker Bill Wilson (1895–1971) founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Before that, Wilson had a big problem with alcohol. His daily allowance was two or three bottles of gin. In 1934, the doctor declared him an incurable alcoholic, Wilson decided to pull himself together.

Wilson didn't drink for five months, then broke again. And then it dawned on him that he could replace a glass of whiskey with a conversation, it was only important that his interlocutor was also an alcoholic. As a result, the idea arose to create a society of alcoholics. nine0082

Its essence is simple: only alcoholics can help each other. “My name is Bill Wilson, and I am an alcoholic,” Wilson now greeted guests with these words.

In 1937, John Rockefeller Jr. donated $5,000 to Alcoholics Anonymous. Part of this money went to the publication of the books Alcoholics Anonymous and The 12 Steps.

According to Wilson, the success of the treatment of an alcoholic depends on three factors. First, a person who wants to be cured must admit that he is an alcoholic. The very fact that he came to an A.A. meeting proves it. Secondly, he must admit that he is sick. Other versions are excluded. Thirdly, an alcoholic who has come into society must admit that the main negative feature of his character is selfishness and self-absorption.

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