American Gulag: The Five Ways Hundreds of Thousands of People Are Coerced Into Rehab and AA

court-ordered-rehab
Dec 14 2016

American Gulag: The Five Ways Hundreds of Thousands of People Are Coerced Into Rehab and AA

December 14th, 2016

The myth is that 12-step programs and their associated treatment industry thrive simply because Americans love them. In fact, both are substantially built on and maintained by force. This contradiction necessitated the invention of the idea of denial.

In my recent column on the essential similarities between the neurobiological version of the disease theory of addiction and AA’s version, I noted the refusal of distinguished critics of the neurobiological brain disease theory of addiction to sound the alarm on the 12 Steps. One famous anti-neurocentric psychiatrist in particular told me: “Look how many people AA helps!”

Among the problems with this Pollyanna view is that the overwhelming majority of referrals to 12-step treatment and AA are coercive—and as AA’s own 2014 North American membership survey indicates, referrals form the bulk of the fellowship’s membership. Regardless of Americans’ views of AA’s effectiveness, if they believe in freedom and individual agency, these facts ought to trouble them very much indeed.

Coercion into the 12 Steps comes from five main sources: criminal courts, family courts and family services, health care systems, families and employers. After we run through these, we’ll consider the implications for the current political debate.

 

1. Criminal Courts

Throughout the United States, people are routinely forced to go to AA or 12-step rehab either in order to avoid prison, to get out of prison, or to maintain or to restore their driver’s licenses.

While it is impossible to compare precisely the prevalence of each form of coercion, DUI and other criminal and administrative court orders that people attend AA are ubiquitous and far-reaching.

According to AA’s figures (of course, these don’t include NA and the other 12-step groups), of 1,383,848 US and Canada members in January 2016, 12 percent were introduced by the judicial system, 2 percent were introduced inside a correctional facility, and 32 percent by treatment facilities. But these figures vastly understate the extent to which courts of all descriptions routinely require AA and or treatment attendance—including, along with drug courts, municipal and family courts.  

According to SAMHSA’s now quite dated DASIS report*—well before the present heyday of drug courts—the criminal justice system was the principal source of referral for 36 percent of all treatment admissions in 2002 alone (655,000 referrals out of a total of 1.9 million admissions).

So even by dated and conservative estimates, hundreds of thousands of Americans per year are forced into AA and 12-step-oriented treatment. Yet a steady stream of legal decisions confirms that such court-ordered treatment is illegal.

Every Federal Circuit Court (federal appeals court) and state supreme court that has ruled on such coercion has declared that the 12 Steps are religious in nature, and that it violates a parolee’s or probationer’s First Amendment rights for a court to require AA attendance when the 12-step philosophy violates the individual’s belief system. (Here is a detailed list of these cases provided by Claire Saenz, Esq., on behalf of SMART Recovery.)

The Ninth Circuit (federal appeals) Court upped the ante on such government coercion in the case of Ricky Inouye, after the Hawaiian parole board and Inouye’s parole officer required Inouye to attend AA when Inouye, a Buddhist, had objected to participating in AA in prison. Both the Hawaiian Paroling Authority and Inouye’s parole officer were held liable in 2007 for violating Inouye’s civil rights, even though government actors ordinarily have legal immunity.

I have been tracking these cases for some time (I was an attorney) with Archie Brodsky and Charles Bufe, as represented by our 2001 book, Resisting 12-Step Coercion. That year, Archie and I reviewed coerced 12-step treatment for the libertarian magazine Reason, based on the original Southern District of New York Federal Court’s decision in the case of Robert Warner, an atheist who was ”sentenced” to AA for his DUIs.

That court—like every court that has assessed the AA program since—declared that AA and the 12 Steps are essentially religious, no matter how loudly AA advocates proclaim that their “higher power” is a door knob, since “God” or an equivalent pronoun appears in a majority of the Steps.  

Given such liability, you might expect parole authorities and agents to stand up and take notice. You would be wrong. Take the case of Barry Hazle in California. Hazle, despite his constant objections as an atheist, was forced to attend AA. (His conviction was for methamphetamine possession, for which he would no longer be imprisoned due to California’s Proposition 47, Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, including possession of most illegal drugs, which was passed in 2014.)

California falls within the same Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals jurisdiction as Hawaii. Yet the California Department of Corrections simply ignored the Inouye decision in its treatment of Hazle and other inmates.

Although Hazle won his original lawsuit on this basis, the trial court provided no damages for the department’s violation of his civil rights. However, the Ninth Circuit, just as it had with Inouye, ruled that the lower court must award damages to Hazle, including possibly punitive damages. Ultimately, the State of California and the 12-step treatment program were ordered in 2014 to pay him nearly $2 million.  

Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that in states outside the Ninth Circuit, parolees and probationers are regularly sentenced or obligated to attend AA. Even for California, I see no reference to the case or protocols for handling AA referrals at the California Department of Corrections website. When I emailed the department’s director of external affairs about his department’s new rules, he referred me to a colleague who has yet to send me this information. It seems that California’s regulations restricting coercion into 12-step programs, if they really do exist, are extraordinarily difficult to access.

Here is one example from another state. A woman posted this on my Facebook page last week:

Drug court has taught me to not ask questions, and to shove my opinions and feelings somewhere deep inside—and to smile and do whatever it takes to get through this.I’m halfway through a year-long drug court in Dallas, TX. I’m court-ordered to attend four AA meetings a week, and I am also mandated to actively have a sponsor and “work” the 12 steps.  There is an AA meeting close to where I live, hence my attending AA, even though I have a heroin charge.

Stanton Peele, I wish I could take you to court with me! Last week the Judge told us that if the 12-steps didn’t keep us sober, we were “defective.”

Perhaps you didn’t believe that in a major American city in 2016, a court—nay, a drug court—could force people into AA against their belief system, with no sense that this was illegal, inappropriate, or ignorant of other options?

In fact, it remains standard practice.

(I offered to write a letter to this woman’s court and parole officer asking that, if they allowed no alternatives to AA, they state that policy explicitly in a written response. In the past, I have often gained permission for finding alternatives that way.)

 

2. Family Court and Family Services

Another major source for AA and treatment referrals are state family courts and family service divisions. I worked as a public defender in the Morris County, NJ family court, where the state regularly forced parents into AA to maintain or regain child custody. (Teens also were regularly sent to AA, although that mainly occurred in drug and traffic courts.)

I also represented parents like Eloise in divorce proceedings. Eloise worked in bars as a young woman, where she usually drank all night. She was put in treatment in her early 20s, went to AA and lived in a sober house. She went back to college, then to business school where she excelled—eventually getting a high-powered job in the financial industry.

Meanwhile, she married her older AA boyfriend and they had a child. Eloise eventually quit AA and started going out for drinks with her coworkers. This caused a split in her marriage, with her husband seeking custody of their child.

The Morris County district court family division judge wanted Eloise to have treatment, which her husband demanded involve AA and the county’s intensive 12-step outpatient program. I gained the court’s acceptance for alternative treatment by harm reduction psychotherapist Andrew Tatarsky in New York, where Eloise worked, and she retained joint custody of her son.

No one keeps track of AA referrals like the one Eloise would have received. Why would they? Such referrals are so customary and commonplace that they rarely raise an eyebrow. Although I hesitate to offer a number, the family court where I practiced was an extremely active court agency, and I have no doubt that these referrals substantially inflate the numbers on AA and treatment rolls.

 

3 & 4.  Medical Services and Family

I received this email recently:

I have a sister who has cirrhosis with Hep C and needs a liver transplant. I have another sister who is an AA fanatic. [Sister 1] is a patient at the [—–] Liver Transplant Center. Her team includes an alcohol/drug counselor. This counselor informed [Sis. 1] she must attend 3-5 AA meetings a week as a condition for a liver transplant.

After she got out of the hospital last year, she went to 12-step rehab and outpatient AA meetings. She was never informed of other types of support groups. She stated she did not like the meetings, felt like it was a cult and that it made her want to drink afterwards. She is also an atheist. Since she found out about her liver cirrhosis one year ago, she has never had a drink or an urge to drink. Despite this she is being coerced into AA.

[Sister 2] is an AA fanatic who has a lot of control issues. During [Sis. 1]’s inpatient treatment, [Sis. 2] was calling the counselor telling her what to do. [Sis. 2] contacted the current counselor at —– Liver Transplant Center and told him that since [Sis. 1] is resistant to AA she is a high relapse risk.

This counselor has been telling [Sis. 1] things like “what are you going to do to maintain your sobriety,” and “you need to work at your sobriety.” [Sis. 2] told [Sis. 1] that “you need to change your attitude, if you don’t, they will take you off the transplant list.” She says, “you don’t take your Sobriety seriously.”

I’m afraid that they will put more pressure on [Sis. 1] to do things she doesn’t want to do. Already, [Sis. 1] has to provide the counselor with phone numbers of AA members. What if these members report things like “she’s not working the program enough,” or “she’s in denial because she thinks she quit drinking on her own.” [Sis. 1] WAS able to quit on her own, but AA people don’t want to hear that.

I’m afraid things will spiral out of control if they perceive my sister is “not working on her sobriety” because she really doesn’t buy into the whole AA thing. The counselor could rate her a high relapse risk and take her off the transplant list.

I put the woman in touch with a local harm reduction activist who is involved in hospital programs in her city. But the practices the email writer describes are standard for liver transplants around the country. The belief is: How else could the providers make sure that people stay off alcohol?

The situation around liver transplants is just an extreme example of how both medical providers and families—quite often working together—commonly coerce people into AA membership and 12-step treatment. Refusing to provide medical care is the usual lever for doctors; denial of family residence or acceptance (aka “tough love”) is the typical threat from families.

According to the AA survey, 27 percent of North American members were introduced by family, and 17 percent by medical or mental health professionals. That again would add up to hundreds of thousands. While again it’s impossible to say just how many of them were coerced, it’s clear that the number is significant.

 

5. Employers

Workplace Employee Assistance Programs are nearly always staffed by “recovering alcoholics“ who direct their fellow employees strictly to AA and 12-step treatment.  According to AA”s survey, 4 percent of AA members were referred there by an “employer or fellow worker.”  This is surely a gross underestimate.

As a private attorney, I was actively involved in a series of such cases with impaired physician programs, where doctors were sent for a variety of reasons (DUIs, self-medication, complaints by a divorcing spouse of heavy drinking), after which they were sent to an approved rehab (which in my experience was always 12-step-based), and then forced to sign a contract with their medical board to abstain from alcohol and drugs and to attend AA and work with a sponsor for a number of years—all in order to continue to practice medicine.

I worked with other employers and federal licensing groups including New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). My goal was usually to allow the doctor or federally licensed or transportation worker to seek alternative treatments. I generally succeeded with the medical boards; the FAA, however, was completely intransigent and never negotiated with me or with my clients.  

As to the MTA, I worked with one woman who displayed a .2 BAL at a random test after drinking a beer at lunch (she was a small woman). This is well short of intoxication, but is a prohibited level for transportation workers. (At Rutgers Law School, I wrote an article with Professor Doug Husak about how the Supreme Court relied on hysteria in order to justify random testing of transportation workers.)

My client was sent to 12-step treatment, then required to report to the MTA’s EAP program to be tested weekly and where, since she refused to declare she was an alcoholic, the recovering EAP supervisors never certified her successful completion of the program. She thus operated under their regime for six-years, until she maxed out her “sentence.”

I argued her case before a three-judge panel in the Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. I couldn’t make the judges, who were laughing, understand that the woman wasn’t an alcoholic.  

When they asked the MTA attorney how long the woman had been out of work, the attorney said she had been working all along as a train router, the most safety-sensitive job in the system, and had never tested anything but .0 BAL at work for six years.

No one considered her an “alcoholic” but the EAP recovery nuts, who unfortunately controlled her life.

 

The Real Treatment Gap

We must realize that the American 12-step-treatment monolith, thought to be so facilitative and appealing to millions of people—and I have often lamented its cultural dominance—couldn’t operate to anything like its current extent without constant threats of denial or withdrawal of legal freedom, of custody of children, of licensure or employment, of medical care, of family support.

Admittedly, AA and the 12-step rehab industry also have many voluntary participants. But the 12-step monolith could not exist as a fundamental institution in American society in a truly voluntary environment.

Am I exaggerating? On the contrary. Consider the SAMHSA data and AA survey figures, extrapolate them over years and include criminal and civil courts, family agencies, medical boards and other employee assistance programs, medical providers, disgruntled families, et al.  Saying that hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost autonomy over their identities and lives in this way is wildly insufficient. The true figure is in the millions.

Finally, this discussion leads us to the current virulent political debate over health care. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. One of the major arguments against repeal is the loss of its mandate for mental health and substance misuse coverage. In this view, there is a tremendous current unmet need—the addiction “treatment gap”—that will be exacerbated by repeal.    

I oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But not because I want to force insurers to provide more of the traditional 12-step addiction care for which an inflated, artificial marketplace already exists.

The real treatment gap is something different: The US needs to address the gap in the usefulness and appeal of available addiction services for people who could be helped by effective public health measures—a gap I have shown that the Surgeon General et al. don’t begin to comprehend.

In the meantime, drinking problems, drug addiction and drug deaths in America continue to grow unabated, with our only response being more of the same.


* The DASIS Report: Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Referred by the Criminal Justice System: 2002. Washington, DC: Office of Applied Studies, SAMHSA, July 30, 2004.


Stanton Peele is a columnist for The Influence. His latest book, with Ilse Thompson, is Recover!: An Empowering Program to Help You Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life.  He has been at the cutting-edge of addiction theory and practice since writing, with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction in 1975. He has since written numerous other books and developed the online Life Process Program. His website is Peele.net. Dr. Peele has won career achievement awards from the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance. He is currently working on his memoir. You can follow him on Twitter: @speele5.

  • LOL. A day late and a dollar short.

  • Rujax

    I am really, really sick of articles like this. If you are being ‘forced’ to go to AA, just don’t go. Sign the slips yourself, bring suit against your DA, get an exemption for ‘conscience’,…whatever. I don’t care. As a 30 year AA member I am sick of seeing ‘court-slip’ people pretending to be interested in recovery, disrupting meetings, rambling on with their incoherent bullshit. You want to get drunk? Drink. Snort, smoke…do what you do. If you are ever serious about recovery, AA is one of the many options that may work. Until then, stay the fuck away.

    • There’s that “happy, joyous, and free” chant in full bloom! No one is forcing your powerless ass into reading the truth. But you brainwashed steppers cannot even consider the truth. You are in a dangerous cult religion. For those with their brains still intact, stay the fuck away is right! As evidenced by this idiots 30 years of mind-Fuck disempowering crap.

      • Rujax

        Oh stop. Don’t like AA, don’t go. Bad mouth AA? Fine. No one is stopping you. I got to get sober an I have AA to thank for it. What cult? What ‘religion?’ I know no one who thinks like that. Seriously…no one. You’ll be the one who hates on everything anyway. Glad I won’t be referring clients to the likes of you.

        • Tom

          Anybody referring clients to AA and ignoring facts should have their licenses revoked.

        • makeaasafer

          If you dont comply you dont fly – Its more then that . Its in violation of our 1st amendment rights .

    • g75401

      Except it doesn’t work. There is absolutely no medical research it works better than sham therapy.

    • makeaasafer

      I am sorry to tell you how wrong you are. Pilots and Nurses and Doctors are illegally extorted to attend attend from 3-5 years . They are FORCED to JOIN an ORGANIZATION against their will unlike a normal person just walking into AA. IN fact

      Pilots – Doctors and Nurses are treated worse then criminals. It must be and will be stopped. Google HIMS program- contract- read it and tell me if you would agree to this .

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      Signing the slips yourself might be illegal since you agreed with the court to get real signatures.
      Your advice is bad and it is probably illegal.

  • Thank you Dr. Peele! The people who stay long term are completely coerced into believing they cannot possibly manage their own lives without this horrible cult. Mix that with the criminals who abuse and exploit these “powerless” people and you have the perfect set-up for sick people to get away with their abuse and assaults… with members excusing their criminal behavior as “character defects.” The number of people who have told me horror stories of rape and reporting to the “fellowship” to be told to ‘find their part’ and ‘pray’ for their rapist… is staggering.

    Everyone is coerced to attend. The founders plagiarized the steps directly from the fundamental Christian cult the Oxford Group. They then quickly found that if they did not disempower people into devoting “their will and life” to the cult, they wouldn’t have died out a long time ago. Thins diabolical cult religion coerces everyone, especially the culture in general, into believing “it works if you work it” only to keep the “rooms” full in spite of the wellness of members and their families.

    The statics are clear. This cult helps those who experience spontaneous remission. Get out and stay out.

    • Rujax

      Thanks for making a fool of yourself, lady. Nice.

  • Walter Von Ahn

    This is jeeberish dressed up as scholarship. Gulag? No one even knows your name in AA. Amazon knows more about you than AA. Statistics about AA are all guesstimates. No records are kept. People come and go all the time. No one signs in. ( If you chose to celebrate your clean time you can give your first name and clean date so they know when to order a cake. ) Did I mention that no one asks for your insurance card or even if you have any? That it’s free? You don’t even have to be sober to attend. Most meetings are open so anyone can attend and no one would really know if you went to a closed one. I doubt the author of this piece actually spent any time at AA meetings. He seems to have no understanding how they work.

    As for institutions that require AA attendance ( usually as some bureaucratic check mark) that can be problematic I agree. AA groups have been arguing for years about whether they should sign slips. But that is completely a function of those institutions and should never ever be conflated with AA where attendance in completely voluntary.

  • Alan Schultz

    As an agnostic formerly incarcerated individual who was a binge drinker I can certainly tell you that AA never worked for me and that I concur with this article.

    As someone who has an Associates degree in Human Services with a specialty in “Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse” (AODA) with honors and well over 800 clinical hours doing drug assessments I’ll also tell you it doesn’t work and these practices are common place.

    I’ve been sober for 7 years now “cold turkey.”

    I never wanted to go to AA when I was made to do so in Residential Treatment Centers, was mandated by my Probation/Parole/Extended Supervision officers, was mandated to go to a non profit for an assessment and a referral to an AA program or elsewhere, The numbers of people cured by AA are extremely small when you consider how large the drinking population is and just how many aren’t receptive to AA’s praxis.

    If you fundamentally don’t have a “higher power” which their entire system is based off of it doesn’t work. If you are agnostic and are questioning the existence of a higher power -it doesn’t work because you don’t really know if there is one. If you are atheist you don’t believe there is a higher power. And if you were a satanist it could be yourself that is the higher power and you’ve already been drinking to be referred to an AA often times so how would trusting yourself work for solving your addiction issue.

    Alcoholism should be treated like a biological disorder/disease -because it is one. If people need a support group and it needs to have some “higher power” then let them find it on their own. This mandating of people to programs they don’t want or are unprepared to do is only wasting funding and stressing out people by conflicting with their personal beliefs and choices.

    On average people tend to relapse roughly 11 times before deciding they’ve had enough. Some learn sooner and some don’t learn at all. It isn’t a God that is solving their problems it is their belief in a God or a high power that supposedly does it. This last point is only semi-truthful though, it is merely the same phenomena that occurs when one takes a placebo and feels they’ve gotten better.

    I don’t believe people who the program does work for and who choose to go into the program of their own volition should stop going. I just don’t believe people should be mandated or referred through publicly funded programs and institutions especially if it is violating someone’s religious beliefs. The mental and emotional damage that gets done when this is repeated is nothing less than a form of brainwashing when repeated nearly every time you wind up back in the system.

    AA works for some -a small proportion of the population. Cognitive Behavioral therapy and Rapid Emotive Behavioral Therapy are the most commonly used here in Milwaukee. I’m not very fond of those either though since they often times can cause anxiety in those who are in those types of sessions. There has to be better way then sending people to a place to go find a “higher power” they may have never had, don’t want, and refuse to believe in to stop a very real problem like alcoholism.

  • SMART Recovery Spain

    Mr Rujax you may have 30 years of abstinence but if you stop attending AA then you will be right back where you started. That’s the dogma that you preach,no? that is not recovery, you have no Idea what true recovery is and never will as you can only abstain if you keep up your transferred addiction – AA!
    Leave the rest of the world alone and we won’t care about your irrational beliefs, leave recovery to the people that understand it – those who have found it.

  • makeaasafer

    Thank you for the work you have done Stanton Peele and are doing. 2017 will be a year of great change as we come together to unseat the AA monopoly in many American professional societies.

  • Kimberly Elias

    After my first 9 years of sobriety failed in a hideous crash, I , too, was court-ordered to 90/90( ninety meeting in ninety days). I had adamantly avoided AA because I was under the false impression that it was a religious-based cult as some believe. It is imperative that the distinction between spirituality and religion be clearly understood here.
    AA IS NOT A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION. It’s stated tenets are for spiritual NOT religious growth.
    The 12-Step program works for millions because it works. Period. Fanaticism and the forced coercion are brought into play by the systems and individuals involved–much like fundamentalists and extremists we see everyday. That is the sad, tragic nature of humankind. All the monkeys think they are right and only they have the path.

    I suggest that Dr. Peele and those who agree with his position take a more objective and active position directed at the true sources rather than blame AA as a whole or the 12-Step program. As with any organization or group, there are those whose piety and character defects create problems. However, the basic and fundamental support of a group whose members share their life experiences is unparalleled in its importance and value. Thus the success rate of saving those of us who should be dead by now!

    The court issues and familial issues given in this article are precisely that. They are not AA/12-Step issues.

    • Two short points:
      – AA could limit the damage of mandation. Fe signing DWI and court slipos before meetings.
      – Of millions forced to attend and voluntary visitors some 165,000 members with 5-10 years remain.

    • Law ‘n order

      The difference between “religious” and “spiritual” is about the same as the difference between “ham” and “cured pork”.

  • To ” address the gap in the usefulness and appeal of available addiction services for people who could be helped by effective public health measures “…

    AA’s should implement Motivational Interviewing and Controlled Drinking.

    I don’t see much difference in an ex-alcoholic reduce 5214 drinks per year in AA or “just” 5124 drinks per year.

  • Knog Knebronson

    Yes, Dr. Peele is correct in his explanation of how 12-step programming and the business of recovery have survived and continue to thrive. I would agree with the big coercions mentioned: criminal courts, family courts and family services, health care systems, families and employers.
    What I believe to be an even more important myth: That 12-step programs and their associated treatment industry work in helping people? It has been through my extensive experience and personal journey that they don’t help and I believe do more harm than good.
    The prescription and intended cure is the curse! Crime and malpractice in the name of justice.
    In my opinion, this is the definition of “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”.
    I am fortunate to have survived and now thrive despite coercion into and huge doses of 12-stepping and the big business of recovery.

  • Antichrist Myth

    I agree. Thank you Dr. Peele for this article. Keep up the good work! For those who keep insisting that AA is spiritual and not religious, roughly a couple dozen high U.S. courts have found AA to contain plenty and/or enough religious elements which would make it a violation of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The legal arguments, that many point out, that AA is a spiritual program and not religious lost. Read Resist 12-step Coercion by Peele

  • Walt Garage

    I think we need to make a clear distinction between 12 step groups and 12 step cultists.

    Somewhere along the way, enough people in enough positions of power decided that the 12 steps were the only thing that would work. These 12 step cultists began to implement what we see today where non-12 step programs are unacceptable and people are forced into AA and NA.

    I believe the average voluntary attendee at a 12 step meeting would not support making it mandatory and I’m fairly certain that AA does not approve of what is being done in it’s name.

    I recently went through a driver education program as part of my DUI duties and one of the speakers came from a 12 step program. I informed the person in charge that I found it unacceptable and provided her with some links to some of the cases mentioned in this article. She insisted that the 12 steps are “spiritual” not “religious” but to her credit, she allowed me to leave the room while he spoke.

    Off the topic a little, I am recovering from a concussion and there is a sign in the doctor’s office for a 12 Step program for chronic pain. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking how a searching and fearless moral inventory would do anything for my back pain and wondering who I would have to make amends to.

  • Hannibal

    AA is nonsense for the most part and just a means to get you hooked on something else. Meanwhile “Christianity & the Pharma industry laugh all the way to the bank.

  • OHDisqusNSA666100

    If anyone has read the AA book, you know that the authors of it and the initial founders of AA were all totally against any kind of coercive membership.

  • Lori Valencia

    More than 20 years ago, someone close to me got a DUI and and also wound up with a probation officer; the Salvation Army was in charge of his probation. I was absolutely floored by their stranglehold on the Department of Corrections and the enormous power they wield. Anytime I walk by their kettles during the holidays, I’m just sickened by them and will never, ever donate to them.

  • FranktheMc

    Maybe a better tack for the courts would be to tell the abuser that he or she has to find a way to stay sober, then give access to all the modalities available. Abstinence is the goal. Everyone has to find his or her own way anyway in the end.

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