Anna David vents her frustration about recent distortions of 12 step groups in coverage of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death:
…I grow concerned about factually inaccurate information being spread in ways that are truly dangerous. That happened when I stumbled upon this io9 post which states, about 12-step, both that “the problem is that the sponsor system doesn’t fit with current scientific understandings of how addiction recovery works” and that “most NA groups frown on taking meds and forbid sponsors from doing it or advocating for it.”
I’m no expert but here’s what I understand:
- The “sponsor system” has nothing to do with “scientific understandings”
- A 12-step group doesn’t “frown on taking meds.” The literature directly states, in fact that “some A.A. members must take prescribed medication for serious medical problems.”
- Sponsors are not “forbidden” from doing anything. Sponsors are not, in fact, mentioned in the Big Book. As the literature about medication says: “No A.A. member should ‘play doctor’; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified physician.”
Here’s what I don’t understand:
- Why people blatantly lie when arguing against something when the facts are so clearly easy to find.
Here’s what I think helps:
- Articles that offer unbiased explanations of alternatives to standard AA, like this one from yesterday’s Times.
10 thoughts on “The Misconceptions Go Round”
“Here’s what I don’t understand: Why people blatantly lie when arguing against something when the facts are so clearly easy to find.”
I often wonder about this too. I think some folk have a powerful aversion to the evidence when it clashes with their world view, particularly around spirituality. In these cases folk will often argue that 12-step is ‘not scientific’ despite the fact that studies using rigorous scientific methodology support positive outcomes.
I think also there is a small but vocal group of people who have an axe to grind with 12-step for their own personal reasons, but are not always honest about their motives.
I had to look up what ‘word’ means! We are indeed two nations separated by a common language.
BTW – You’re in Scotland, right? Have you ever heard the expression “hogan’s goat”? It came up in conversation and we looked it up (nsfw) and it said the origin was Scottish.
Never head of Hogan’s goat. It sounded Irish rather than Scottish; so I looked it up and it said it was originally Cornish which is as far away from Scotland as you can get in the UK. Not an everyday phrase…
I think we’re missing one obvious point here–many of these attacks are generated out of the New Atheist movement, which sees AA/NA as dangerous religious cults. At which point they feel free to say just about anything about the program.
There are, of course, atheists in AA, but I’m guessing those of the ‘New Atheist Movement’ are of the fundamentalist, our way or no way, type.
That’s a very interesting observation and I’d never considered it.
I’m a long time long time 12 step member and though I don’t label myself as an atheist, most people do. I’m not sure why I felt the need to offer that, but there it is.
It’s also interesting that meditation and mindfulness doesn’t seem to offer a bridge.
You’ve got my gears moving. I’ve often observed things like a hard materialism, libertarianism and faith in utilitarianism, but never atheism playing a role. Hmmm.
I think you are right Dirk, when lurking on anti-12 step sites I have found there are often influences to the militant new atheism which asserts that religious and spiritual people and their ideas deserve no respect only ridicule.
One thing the new atheists like to do, like their fellow fundamentalists, is simplify the world down into neat black and white dichotomies – us and them, black and white. Which is why they will only focus on the mirror opposites of themselves, and insist that all Christians are like the Westboro Church or that all Muslims are like al-Qaeda.
As you say Jason, 12-step offends many idolatries of the dying modernist age to which you could add individualism, rationalism and atheism.
Oy vey! Atheists waging a culture war in addiction treatment and recovery.
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