Why Arianna Huffington "Lost Her Mind" and Tried to Crush a Piece That Criticized 12-Step Programs

Sep 09 2016

Why Arianna Huffington “Lost Her Mind” and Tried to Crush a Piece That Criticized 12-Step Programs

September 9th, 2016

Last month, Ariana Huffington stepped down as editor-in-chief of her eponymous publication to start Thrive Global, a site devoted to “health and wellness.” And one factor behind her decision to leave the Huffington Post may have been a disagreement over abstinence-only vs. harm reduction approaches to addiction, reports Vanity Fair.

Investigative reporter Jason Cherkis spent a year working on a special piece for the Huffington Post about treatment for heroin addiction in northern Kentucky. After the article had been edited, Huffington reviewed the near-final draft, which questioned why the 12-step abstinence-only model was still so dominant in the face of Suboxone‘s proven efficacy.

Huffington read it and “lost her mind, because it criticized 12-step programs,” a former Huffington Post editor tells Vanity Fair. “And she put a screeching halt to it.”

She reportedly handed the article over to a different editor, who “removed many of the references that questioned the effectiveness of abstinence[-only approaches].”

Cherkis’s piece, “Dying to Be Free,” was eventually published in January 2015 after “considerable struggle;” it won a Polk Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

If Vanity Fair‘s story is true, why did Huffington flip out?

One reason that debates about different approaches to addiction are so emotionally loaded is that people tend to be profoundly influenced by their personal and family experiences. Huffington’s daughter, Christina, has written about her cocaine addiction in Glamour and discussed it on the Today show; she credits 12-step programs for her recovery.

Huffington denies that she was biased by her daughter’s experiences, however. She tells Vanity Fair that her experience with her daughter, “who has dealt with drug addiction and has now been sober for four and a half years, only meant that I had studied the subject of addiction very deeply, and wanted to make sure that the piece . . . reflected all the latest science on the subject.”

It will be interesting to see if Huffington’s new venture reflects “all the latest science“—including the long-ago-proven effectiveness of maintenance medications at reducing mortality—when it comes to covering addiction. Abstinence works well for many people; abstinence-only dogma is a source of great harm.

  • winsomeRefusenik

    The media is saturated with 12-Steppers. When Huffington’s daughter wrote one of those typical testimonials upon completing rehab a few years ago I thought that either Ariana Huffington will be brainwashed into 12-Steppism (the rehabs usually try to indoctrinate the entire family into their ideology), or she’ll see what charlatans and fanatics the rehab 12-Steppers are. It looks like she was successfully 12-Stepped.

    When I read that Cherkis article, “Dying to Be Free” last year, I thought that Ariana must be fed up with the 12-Step frauds and will be exposing them on Huffington Post. I guess that was the wrong conclusion. Even if her daughter is abstaining from drugs, the rehabs are like the Wizard of Oz who dupe people into thinking they must be beholden to the Wizard (AA) to lead a worthwhile life.

    If 12-Step is so effective, why hasn’t Ariana enrolled her ex-husband at Exodus for 12-Step gay conversion therapy? Because 12-Step is cold-turkey, they don’t allow *any* Greek sex, even with Greek women.

    Seriously, though, why is it still socially acceptable to subject drinkers and drug users to 12-Step religious brainwashing since it’s generally been acknowledged to be uncivilized to treat homosexuality? It’s a religious movement that targets social outcasts, so it’s in the 12-Step rehabs’ interest for drinkers and drug users to be pariahs.

    • Thank you! Finally Arianna Huffington has been busted for her censorship of anything even hinting at the truth regarding the dangerous 12 step cult religion! Finally.

  • Dana Hall

    During the 10 years I was using, I was voluntarily in and out of the 12-steps. Because I have witnessed it working for many people, I will never knock it. BUT it is NOT the be-all, end-all. It is not for everyone. It wasn’t for me. But some of the things I learned within the 12-step program, did help me to overcome on my own.

    The system doesn’t have any other solution other than the 12-steps. That is what one of the drug counselors outlined in the 10 day rehab I checked myself into in Michigan (2007). They were there to help me get clean and then teach me how to go to a 12-step meeting on my own… that was it. They said that statistically, 4 out 5 of us would go back to using.

    I’ll add… the one time I could have been court ordered into the 12-steps, it wasn’t an option. In 2012 in the state of Tennessee, drug courts and rehab wasn’t an option for meth users. But the registry and lockup was! At 41 years old… first time offender… they wanted me locked up for 11 years. I pled to 2… served 7 months and moved my parole out of state. (No meth state registry for me!) Growing up and finding a life worth living is what I credit to being clean today. The current system did nothing for me except cause more harm.

    • winsomeRefusenik

      You wrote, “The system doesn’t have any other solutions other than the 12-steps. That is what one of the drug counselors outlined in the 10 day rehab I checked myself into in Michigan (2007).”

      Actually, there are other non-12-Step approaches and methods, but since the vast majority of rehabs in the U.S. are based on AA/12-Step, and those rehabs are generally networked with the court system (including 12-Stepping judges), they actively suppress non-12-Step alternatives. Approximately 80-90% of U.S. rehabs are 12-Step-based. It’s 100% in many areas depending on how large you define an area in which someone must travel for non-12-Step alternatives. It’s like having just a few abortion providers in Texas and having to travel hours or living in Ireland and having to travel out of country.

      As you’ve almost certainly experienced, most drug counselors are themselves die-hard 12-Steppers, and they likely wouldn’t have even been hired as counselors if they weren’t because many of the rehab owners and administrators are either 12-Steppers or other form of religious fundamentalist.

      12-Step is also a more lucrative business model because it’s zero-tolerance for drug/alcohol use, so any little slip can be used as a pretext for another expensive round of rehab to treat the “relapse” of the “disease” of addiction.

      12-Step rehab staff and administration often suppress non-12-Step alternatives like CBT and MET, then claim there simply aren’t any other options. Some rehabs will not allow a participant to substitute SMART Recovery meetings for mandatory AA meetings. If that rehab is performing services pursuant to government action (eg. court-mandated treatment), that is unconstitutional and illegal per other federal laws since 12-Step is inherently religious.

      You mentioned you went to rehab in 2007. In that year, in the case of Inouye v. Kemna, a meth user successfully sued state officials for coercing him into 12-Step treatment against his Buddhist beliefs (he died by the time of that court victory; his son took over the case). The parole officer(s) involved in that case were denied *qualified immunity* in that civil case because even by 2007, there were already so many court cases which established that government coercion of 12-Step is unconstitutional, so government officials were already expected to know that coerced 12-Step is illegal by that time. (See Warner v. Orange County Dept. of Probation; Griffin v. Coughlin; among many others). Stanton Peele wrote a book, “Resisting 12-Step Coercion,” several years ago, and there have been many court decisions since that book, too.

      So why does illegal 12-Step coercion continue? Because the $35 billion treatment industry is so lucrative, and AA facilitates a slippery *anonymous* network of 12-Stepper business cronies, even reaching into the legal system, including judges, attorneys, staff and owners of rehabs which defendants must complete as part of deferred sentencing or plea agreements, drug testing companies, and other professional contacts.

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) have been shown to be about effectives as AA/12-Step in some research studies, though they are rarely used. It’s a trend for 12-Step programs, like Hazelden, to *claim* to implement CBT, but their version of “CBT” is not genuine CBT, it’s a perversion of CBT where people with drug and other addiction problems are told they’re inherently damaged, diseased “criminal thinkers,” “addicts,” or other form of deviant person, rather than encouraged to analyze their counterproductive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors like actual CBT teaches. Of course, analyzing your erroneous or counterproductive beliefs or thoughts doesn’t always solve your problem, but at least CBT doesn’t demand that people develop a self-identity as a permanently damaged person.

      • ILoveChis

        Based on the research I’ve reviewed, CBT is MORE effective, not just “as effective” as AA. And this is with people caught up in the correctional system. I point this out bc all of the research saying AA works is based on weak methodology. The 12 steps work for people who stay in the program which amounts to a self-selected sample. It’s just as likely that something about the person who stays with AA accounts for their sobriety rather than the program itself. Maybe they’re more susceptible to the message. Maybe they’re not apt to question the supposed experts. Maybe the hugs and handshakes and a place to fit in helped them get clean. Point is no AA study to date that I’m aware of has used a randomized design to assess effectiveness so there really isn’t any evidence to support saying AA works. CBT, on the other hand, has been subjected to rigorous methodology and found beneficial. Also, the most sound science shows that methadone maintenance is the BEST option for people addicted to opiates. That’s one of my biggest complaints with the treatment industry – the majority of what’s available is based on principles that haven’t proven effective but rather than changing the program they blame the client and tell them they didn’t take suggestions or they were “constitutionally incapable” of getting clean. Can you imagine a scenario in which a cancer patient receives treatment that doesn’t help and rather than blaming that particular drug as being ineffective they tell the patient it’s her fault bc she isn’t doing everything necessary to get better? Only people with drug addiction are treated so poorly.

        • winsomeRefusenik

          I agree the “research” touting the effectiveness of 12-Step is usually rigged. They either don’t account for the self-selection bias and/or coercion. If they’d use the same threats of prosecution that usually accompany mandated 12-Step treatment along with mandated abstinence, the “researchers” that conduct addiction treatment studies could cook up a study showing that holding puppet shows about not drinking/drugging is an effective treatment method.

          Then, as long as they include the command, “Never drink or use drugs again,” if the person ever resumes drinking/drugging, the puppet show treatment frauds could say that they “didn’t work the program,” since never drinking/drugging is part of the puppet show program.

      • SusanJones2007

        I love it when people use their religion to justify not being sent to AA. I mean, where in his religion was Inouye told to take drugs and break into places to support his habit? He also died an addiction death so perhaps going to AA might have been something to try instead of rejecting Salvation Army and what it offered.

    • What you witnessed was brainwashing. And it “works” as evidenced by your need to ‘never knock it’ when what follows is indeed the truth.

      What this article points out is the extreme brainwashing, even for ‘journalists’ like Huffington. That you are so afraid to ‘knock’ this hoffible cult religion is further proof of how harmful these disempowering steps are to everyone and the culture as a whole.

      You might enjoy my blog where I directly ‘knock’ it since it needs to be knocked. Down.


      • SusanJones2007

        But it worked for you for seven years, CC. You wrote in a number of places how excited you were to be getting your seven year chip. If Ariana was writing from the standpoint of personal experience with her daughter, how does that differ from the many of us who have seen success? Your sister was an example of sobriety, too. Why is it difficult to accept that it works for some people?

      • F(u)dxdydzdt

        wilsom was not ethically trained and now enablers make vulnerable people – with no choice but the aa monopoly – take ethical abuse beatings such as 1 if you leave you will die and 2 your are dishonest for not accepting aa mind traps and staying in aa all because it worked for them or their family so don’t knock it just because aa hurts others? professionals would be sued if they were ethiclly abusive like that.

        a bus takes my family to work so don’t knock it if monoxide in the back kills a few, don’t ruin it for the few who ride the front of the bus everyday. by getting a new better bus by proving to accounting it is deadly and we all can live better. the bus compamy woiuld be sued out of service and a new bus company that acted would be born. keep the zombie banks and zombie aa. what an unethical selfish sht society.


  • LOL