Women, Alcohol and AA

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Gabrielle Glaser, journalist and author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control (Simon & Schuster, 2013), discusses her reporting on judges ordering criminals to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and how one violent offender took advantage of the organization to target vulnerable women within the community.



Gabrielle Glaser

Comments [110]

Ian S from NJ

This blog and the book it promotes are a logical falacy. If you have a problem with violent offenders being "sentenced" to AA, blame the courts and lobby to have yoir taxes appropriately increased to pay the price. If there's a dereliction of duty, surely that is on whichever system fails to keep violent criminals off the streets and getting the behavior correction they deserve. Sending them to AA is much, much cheaper for your taxes ... and then the misinformed want to blame AA for the result.

Yes, AA goes into jails - specifically to bring a program of recovery to alcoholics there. AA doesn't have any say in if or when to release the offender.

Is AA perfect? Hell no. But this particular profit-motive really is barking up the wrong tree.

Oct. 22 2013 06:28 AM
Joe from Palo Alto CA

Is AA a cult? Cults are easy to join and hard to leave. AA is the opposite. To really join the program takes a lot of personal effort, and you can leave anytime you want.
Yes, there is a lot of peer pressure to stay, based upon the fact that a lot of people feel it has saved their lives, and are threatened by those who chose other paths. They are human after all, not saints. The only official stance AA takes on those who want to try other means is to go ahead and do it, as written by Bill W.

Aug. 20 2013 11:00 PM
Mona Lisa

I've been sober 15 years now and spent the first 9 in AA after being told in rehab that there was no other way to get sober. During those 9 years I either personally experienced or witnessed everything Ms. Glaser reveals in her book. Well, not everything: as far as I know, no one was murdered. But plenty of people were 13th stepped by sexual predators. Plenty of people who'd been abused as children were told to "look at their part". Plenty of people were taken advantage of emotionally or financially.

And as far as whether or not the program works: of course my observations are unscientific, but by far, most people who come to AA do not get sober. Most find it distasteful and don't stick around. Usually it's the religiousity that gets to them. But even those who stay, often don't get sober--because the program of AA is not about getting sober. It is about finding God. In AA, sobriety is supposed to be a by-product of one's relationship with God. So people who don't get sober are accused of not being sufficiently spiritual! It's such a crock.

Anyway, after 9 years I'd seen enough and left. After that last meeting I literally ran to my car muttering "NO MORE! NEVER AGAIN!" I'm still sober, 6 years later. And have never been happier.

Some may say I got sober in AA and am now complaining about it. Well, I don't see it that way at all. Frankly, I got sober IN SPITE OF AA and all its crazy ideas. I stayed on my antidepressants even though I was told I wasn't "really sober" if I took them. I saw a therapist and took her advice over my sponsor's advice. And I left, even though I was told that by doing so I was "signing my own death warrant".

I am very thankful that Gabrielle, who doesn't even have a dog in this hunt, for bringing all of this to light.

Jul. 14 2013 01:32 PM
Isabella from Seattle, WA

I was forced into AA at a young age and labeled alcoholic. I now can drink with no problems.

I was preyed on by male chemical dependency counselors and when I refused their advances they made my life hell. My sponsors blamed me for it because in AA there are no victims only volunteers.

The women were catty and cruel making up stories about me. I felt like a p piece of meat in AA and the women made light of it and were jealous wishing they had all those sick old-timer men hitting on them. I tried many different meetings but it was always the same.

I was blamed for sexual abuse that happened to me when I was a child. In short I was emotionally, spiritually, and sexually abused. It happened to friends of mine and they are so screwed up. I have had to do intense therapy regarding this. It is atrocious that AA will not create safety guidelines. It is not safe period. And doesn't even work....

Jul. 13 2013 03:04 AM

she [the author],really stepped into stupid; when she accused callers of "blaming" the victim.

Jul. 11 2013 04:25 PM

it's a bit like church- just because a person goes to a house of worship,does not make him/her a good person. I've always felt that some people at AA, hide under the cloak of "anonymity". be wary of people,irrespective of where they happen to be,and what they may say.

Jul. 11 2013 03:15 PM
Sally from Akron

No hierarchy? AA groups get their steps and traditions from the GSO along with other news/events which all = rules in the form of reading material. None involve safety features. They are read at the beginning of each meeting. There are also occasional requests read, expressing the need for more donations. If they can do that they surely can and should read safety measures and not leave it up to members to give "suggestions". Many of which are either not feasible or are lacking later support.


The entire program was built on greed, control, and religion. Recovery from substance abuse was only the publicizing they used to gain membership.

The no hierarchy stance which is advertised is another way of saying that THE BIGGEST BULLIES CONTROL THE MEETING. It is the old-timers that speak the loudest and regard their sober time as superior (humble ?), and they essentially control the groups. They become "leaders" and since there is nobody watching over groups, any low-life criminal that anonymously enters the fellowship can lie about their sobriety and bully their way into old-timer (prophet) status and lecture the groups. See the Midtown Group news stories: dozens of young people were abused sexually and made to "work" for the elder male members.

Each group is potentially a predator's playground because of the lack of rules and oversight. There is absolutely no reason that AA shouldn't start warning members and changing their policies to protect the vulnerable people that they invite into their fellowship. People that protect AAs traditions and support a structure that criminals target while knowing that abuse occurs are just as morally responsible when a crime occurs. They are thinking only of themselves and the reputation of AA.

AA and off-shoots can start changing or they will start to crumble. It's their choice and it is their own lack of action that led to people speaking out.

Jul. 09 2013 01:07 PM

AA has plenty of company in getting rich off of the people who donate and only help themselves. AA is one of them. Then there are non profits unlike AA that actually use the donations to help people. AA does not give people anything from the money it receives, except their greedy selves.

Jul. 09 2013 12:15 AM

Was that an answer or answering my question with a question? Sounds familiar!

Jul. 09 2013 12:11 AM

No Scott- I certainly would never suggest people go to AA or NA. It is a very dangerous cult.
" by Lawrence Wright.
There are members that swear Scientology helped them as well. They too are a cult. I would never suggest that anyone go to Scientology and become a lifelong member.

The truth about Scientology is coming out as well. Read the new book called "Going Clear" by Lawrence Wright. Now Scientology is seeing a decrease in membership. Knowledge is power.

Jul. 09 2013 12:10 AM

Sue,AntiDenial,are you prepared to compare the financials of AA World Service to other nonprofits?

Feel like I should give up on a fair and balanced analysis here.

Jul. 09 2013 12:05 AM

AntiDenial, Form 990, line 21.

Jul. 08 2013 11:59 PM


What does the 19 million in liabilities that you claim AA holds; consist of?

Jul. 08 2013 11:57 PM

Scott where in the world did you get the crazy idea that AA has 19 million in liabilities? Nice try in trying to minimize their very healthy financial situation. Maybe to deter future lawsuits? Nice try.......

Jul. 08 2013 11:34 PM

Faith, AntiDenial, others, would you agree that a great many people claim to have found a happy recovery in AA, and so someone making a first effort at recovery should try AA in conjunction with whatever other treatments they can afford? To be sure, one should certainly be careful. I’ll suggest a few things for a newcomer to consider (based only on my personal experience):

Feel free to have someone accompany you to a meeting. “Open” meetings are not limited to those with a desire to stop drinking.

You should go to a meeting that has people of your gender, who have years in recovery, and are willing to explain how AA works to you.

You should try multiple meetings and find ones that you are comfortable with. You will find that meetings in the same town (even at different times in the same room) can be very different.

AA is very heavy on suggestions. (We have suggestions that contradict other suggestions.) But AA is very light on rules. No one you meet in AA has any authority over other members or the meetings themselves. The information they share is based only on their own personal experience.

You should get a sponsor that you can trust (same gender as you). The first thing a sponsor will do is answer your questions about AA. You can stop using someone as your sponsor whenever you want.

You should develop a sober network of people in AA, preferably of the same gender, and look out for each other.

It is suggested that women stick with women and men stick with men. This is especially important in the first year of recovery, but many practice it even through long term recovery. This could mean attending gender-specific meetings or restricting your interactions with AA’ers of the opposite sex before and after meetings. You will find that not all groups/individuals treat this suggestion with the same seriousness, but you will have little to lose if you take that suggestion seriously. If you keep trying meetings and introducing yourself to people, it will not be hard to find a network of people that will help you follow that suggestion. (The point of the gender boundaries suggested above is to mitigate the risk of sexual attraction interfering with recovery. If you are gay, some of these gender boundaries may apply differently. Sorry, I couldn’t quite figure out how to write this more broadly.)

If someone in the meeting bothers you, tell people.

Most of us find a caring fellowship in AA. Everyone has to keep a look out to keep it that way.

This is just my own experience. has a lot of informational pamphlets if you would like to know more.

Jul. 08 2013 11:29 PM

I don’t see what this bickering serves. Naturally, those of us who feel that active participation in AA has saved our lives would suggest that others stick with the program as well. I don’t know anyone who claims AA is the only way for everyone. The AA’ers that I know get along fine with people outside the program. I believe this is as much a matter of personal choice as it is a matter of life or death, so I do not think we should propagandize one way or the other. We should take care to present information in a balanced way.

For the sake of balance, AntiDenial, with all due respect, I feel I should make a few points in response to your comments.

AA is a nonprofit entity. It had $20M of assets as of 12/31/2011, but it also had liabilities of $19M. I do not think it is fair to say AA is hoarding money based on greed.

What role did the organization of AA actually state that it has in completed suicides? I know that there are a lot of people that do not believe in psychiatric medication (inside of AA and out). As far as I know, AA has no position on the subject.

Jul. 08 2013 11:24 PM

I don’t see what this bickering serves. Naturally, those of us who feel that active participation in AA has saved our lives would suggest that others stick with the program as well. I don’t know anyone who claims AA is the only way for everyone. The AA’ers that I know get along fine with people outside the program. I believe this is as much a matter of personal choice as it is a matter of life or death, so I do not think we should propagandize one way or the other. We should take care to present information in a balanced way.

For the sake of balance, AntiDenial, with all due respect, I feel I should make a few points in response to your comments.

AA is a nonprofit entity. It had $20M of assets as of 12/31/2011, but it also had liabilities of $19M. I do not think it is fair to say AA is hoarding money based on greed.

What role did the organization of AA actually state that it has in completed suicides? I know that there are a lot of people that do not believe in psychiatric medication (inside of AA and out). As far as I know, AA has no position on the subject.

Jul. 08 2013 11:24 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

To civicmedia - I guess then your answer is "no".

Jul. 08 2013 04:45 PM

Thanks for this topic. Gabrielle is a brave woman, as she will surely be bashed by 12-steppers everywhere. AA is a well-established, cultish religion that has won the approval of society and has been beyond questioning until recently. I was in it for many years and it has taken two years to deprogram and get myself back. "Group think" is hard to escape but can be done. I see good in AA, but the bad began to outweigh the good, as I regained my critical thinking and began to question. Questioning is not encouraged and I was quickly labeled a "dry drunk", "in denial" and on and on with the usual jargon. I was 13th stepped numerous times and mostly by married men who rationalized that it was okay as long as they weren't drinking (and "hey- Bill W. did it!"). No organization or religion is beyond scrutiny. The "rehab" system that labeled me "alcoholic" at age 21 did a real number on me, b/c I labeled myself for many years. I truly believed all the fear-mongering. I believed the "us" vs. them" mentality ("normies" can't understand alcoholics- what hogwash!). This is an important topic. The dangers of AA re: thirteenth stepping and many of the fear-mongering beliefs.

Jul. 08 2013 03:25 PM

Hey Scott- did you know that AA has admitted it has a role in completed suicides because of the actions of it's members? It is sadly true. AA states that because many AA members tell people not to take their meds, that it has ended in tragedy.

Also even though AA says they do not believe in this common practice or condone it, they will do nothing to stop it. So AA members that become sponsors and those that lead meetings can tell people to STOP TAKING meds- and AA will do NOTHING about it.

Jul. 08 2013 10:43 AM

It is how AA is set up that makes it so unsafe as well as the mandating.
Other alternatives do not ask or encourage anyone to be a lifelong member and have no exit strategy. AA tells new comers to give out their phone number to strangers- also get every one's phone number, pick a sponsor, accept rides from strangers etc. They have no safety guidelines at all.

Meetings in Daytona Florida for Narcotics Anonymous are having current problems with disruptive behavior, guns in meetings and drug dealing. NA Members are scared. Attendance is down. One meeting was recently closed because of the behavior at the meetings and were asked to leave.

So this story is hardly an isolated incident, it is becoming a nationwide story. In fact we have reports of these problems globally as well.

Jul. 08 2013 10:31 AM

Scott- you are clearly misinformed. AA profits tremendously from all the money they get from all of the groups and area. That is why they have around 20 million on hand and pay huge salaries and pensions. There is no reason to hoard that money for themselves except for greed. They could be giving it back to the addicts and alcoholics by helping them with REAL help. AA gives nothing. All AA does is take, take and take some more. Then they create a perfect storm for predators of all kinds to take advantage of other members and look the other way. Let's not forget too, they will also ask you what your part in it was!

Jul. 08 2013 10:18 AM

There are enough preconceptions of AA that prevent people that might be helped from joining. As I was reflecting on this segment, I thought of my friend’s wife, an alcoholic who told him that she would kill herself before she ever went to an AA meeting. She made good on this threat and left behind five children. I just got home from a meeting where a man talked about how his father, an alcoholic who happened to be one of our city’s finest, killed himself before he ever tried AA.

AA does not profit from the desperation of alcoholics, but authors who feed these preconceptions do. I doubt that AA has ever asked “The Brian Leher Show” to speak about the benefits of its program, but on behalf of the many people that might benefit from the information, this humble participant pleads with you to try to bring the other side to this discussion. Please keep my email private, but if you contact me, I will be happy to help in any way I can.

Jul. 08 2013 02:00 AM

The show was obviously trying to find a caller to talk about a “disastrous relationship”. Mr. Leher interrupted a caller named Jane to ask her whether she had such a story. Instead, Jane questioned whether Ms. Mendez’s murder had more to do with her own behavior regarding selecting romantic partners. Ms. Glaser seems to avoid having to respond to this analytical point by playing an emotional card in saying, “We’re talking about a woman who was murdered here.” But Ms. Glaser is not talking about Ms. Mendez. She is also not talking specifically about the all-male sober living facility that allowed Ms. Mendez to attend their meetings or the rehab that repeatedly brought Ms. Mendez to the all-male facility. For some reason, in this interview, Ms. Glaser is skipping all of the nearest factors, and criticizing AA.

Jul. 08 2013 01:59 AM

Ms. Glaser says there are “many other treatment options for people who are looking to stop drinking… drugs, cognitive/behavioral therapy”. I don’t think we can consider an evaluation of alternatives to be legitimate if it does not consider the accessibility/ affordability of these alternatives. I did not write a book, but where I come from, one can attend meetings for free and as often as one could want. These meetings support themselves by passing a basket. The average contribution is probably less than $2 per person per meeting. What would alcoholics/taxpayers have to pay for the alternatives Ms. Glaser mentions?

Ms. Glaser mentions that AA was founded by “two white men”. I will not attempt to guess at what meaning that was meant to have, but it seemed to keep very well to the interviewee’s theme of careless criticism of AA.

Jul. 08 2013 01:58 AM

Ms. Glaser says that the “13th step” is “certainly tolerated.” The support she provided for this conclusion is pathetic. When AA’s General Service Office says “our organization doesn’t have a hierarchy…,” how does that equate tolerance? Just what type of infrastructure does she think could possibly be put in place by an institution that “has no dues or fees”, “is not aligned with any sect, denomination, politics, or institution”, and “is self-supporting through (its) own contributions”? The slightest amount of research into AA makes it clear that AA, by its clearly described traditions, is not organized in such a way as to rule its meetings. One could call this quality a double edged sword, but to say that the 13th step is “certainly tolerated” is ridiculous.

Predators are everywhere, including AA meetings. I am sure not all meetings are as vigilant as the few that I attend regularly, but where I come from, the women and men alike are vigilant regarding potential predators and take all kinds of steps to keep people safe.

Though I would be interested to know more about Ms. Glaser’s data on sexual predation in AA, it is of course ridiculous to dispute that it happens. That being said, why does she not have comparative data for other alternatives? Do participants in AA face more violence than if they do not seek recovery? How much violence or sexual predation to people face in other treatment alternatives? A real analysis would at least be considering this type of comparison.

Jul. 08 2013 01:57 AM

I think the analysis on the segment “Women, Alcohol, and AA” was pretty poor and that the show should endeavor to quickly sponsor better analysis on this subject. For the sake of disclosure, I should note that I have enthusiastically participated in AA for over 8 years and have been sober as long. I listened to the segment on a podcast, so I could not call in. While I feel some of the comments from callers were interesting, they were not adequate to put Ms. Glaser’s rhetoric in some much needed context.

The segment was introduced as a discussion on whether violent criminals should be sent to AA, but all I heard was a poorly supported argument that AA is relatively unsafe and ineffective. I do not expect any journalistic enterprise to proactively advocate for AA, but if one imagines that alcoholism kills, and that AA is a common force for recovery, we should be more careful than to give relatively unchallenged airtime to irresponsible analysis from the cottage industry of anti-AA literature.

Jul. 08 2013 01:55 AM
sally from wakefield

i was 12 years into aa before i was told about the guide lines. I was told men for men women for women on entering AA. however the women kept away from me the only woman at that time who did talk or give me time were also abusive.and for years only a man would sponsor me., women refused to in AA when a man sexually harrased me and i complained to a woman. i was told "Dont take it so seriously and be friends with him, hes like that with all the women you should be friends with him you have to make new friends and since the women didnt want my friendship i did at times fall into friendships with men. When i was sexaully abused by any and i complained to a woman i was told to keep my f...n mouth shut. your f...all special, , and not take it so seriously it happend to them when they came to AA but they kept there mouth shut. I did not at any time have sex with any man in AA. I told them in meetings and out of meetings i dont go to AA for a boyfriend or sex.not long before i left AA i was threatned on the street in the sub way by a violent offender and wife beater. i had to go to the police. My sponsor and others in AA all blamed me, they sat in meetings blameing me, while they comforted the man i got the police to. As i sat terrafied in meetings and haveing panic attacks in my home. That man ,i got police to, i was told by AA women that i should be friends with him. There were no womens only meetings in my area if anyone thinks i am lieing about what i have wrote well im willing to take a lie detector test around it.I left AA after a string of such events. A safe place my arse. yes you can meet the same kind in bars.I married 2 of them, and i away from them pre aa. I was supported and helped to get away from them.because women like me need help to get away from men like them. I was helpd by one group called support and survival. A group that most of AA including women in aa told me to get rid of stop going to when i entered aa.,i am a survivor of severe sexual,physical abuse that i had just got out of prior to going to AA and was being helped to recover from .By support and survival and other outside help , that on enetering AA i was told to get rid of.The last thing i wanted or needed at the time of me entering AA was to be made to form friendships with sexualy abusive men and violent abusive men. AA told me to be friends with them.told me they were okay.
AA don't care about the person who has been hurt they dont care whats happening with them if they are okay or not, they only care that that person who has been hurt dont blame the other person the person who did it and don't blame AA

Jul. 07 2013 04:13 PM

Sally from Akron- Well said! You brought up many goods points.

Why not offer help to the 95% of people AA does not help for what ever reason? I still just cannot believe this is happening in 2013. Maybe 2014 will start looking different.

Jul. 06 2013 09:47 PM
Sally from Akron

Unfortunately I couldn't tune in on the show but I would have liked to since the topic is very interesting. I cannot comment on Ms. Glaser's comments but can fully support her efforts in trying to raise awareness about AA criminal activity and lack of successes.

I've been researching and studying this topic for over two years now, this after many years in AA trying to "work it". My opinions on the matter:

1) This isn't about hurting AA/NA members, it is about helping them and people that don't "fit" the model. AA is the go-to, number one, treatment within an industry that is failing patients/clients. Without virtually any alternatives offered, if a person doesn't like or holds offense at the 12 step model they are too often left without any help.

2) Ms. Brada's death is not an isolated incident. There are too many to count and without enough people listening. Why not? If alternatives are offered and AA changes positively (warning members officially, updating their text, etc.), how is that bad?

3) For every 5 people that AA "helps", some of which have posted here, there are 95 that get left unaided. Yes, there are many reasons for this and some are due to the individual's lack of effort. However, those numbers show that there is a tremendous amount of people leaving due to dissatisfaction (many reasons) of the program. The more alternatives there are, the more people will get well.

4) Although I can go on all day, i just want to point out that pushing faith healing onto vulnerable people is a crime in my book. AA does exactly this, regardless of how many say it has helped them. 12 Step promotes a dependence onto others (God, HP, other members) which is not healthy for persons that are very vulnerable and often time mentally unstable. This without guidance from authoritative people watching over will always potentially produce victims. In the case of AA it historically always has. We need to listen and not lecture inflicted people. If they meet a closed door, as has happened int he past, the less unlikely any victim or dissatisfied person will be to open up.

Jul. 06 2013 08:37 PM

Again, for those that doubt crime and multiple type of predatory behavior is a problem, please keep in mind that AA has already reduced in writing that it is a problem. In fact some areas for NA Florida are doing " Predatory Workshops" because violence and other disturbing disruptive behavior is becoming an increased problem.

Most advice that is given on how to deal with this growing problem is just a joke, as it is not effective. AA and NA want it both ways. No matter what, they want everyone invited to all meetings- no exceptions. The truth is you just cannot have it both ways, especially with how the program of AA works encouraging everyone to share private information.

At the the top even though AA and NA admit these problems they take no responsibility to prevent rapes, murder, financial scams, 13 stepping, emotional abuse or members giving medical advice.

When members withing a group complain about their peers they are told to keep their side of the sidewalk clean. Basically telling them to shut up and look the other way. Even when they complain about the abuse happening to them they are told to look at their part in it and minimize the abuse.

Jul. 06 2013 09:38 AM
jeffo from California

Most of these comments cite to research, or cite studies that are 18 months or shorter. There is a large number, 16 year study here:

Jul. 06 2013 06:58 AM
susan from White Plains, ny

I was stalked by a guy in Al-Anon and had to go to the Police. It was difficult because I did not know this guy's last name or anything about him.

I agree with the author and commend her for addressing this unspoken problem in 12 Step groups.

Thank you.

Jul. 06 2013 12:43 AM

Jul. 06 2013 12:35 AM

Can someone please cite some of this research everyone keeps mentioning?

Jul. 05 2013 05:43 PM
massive from Hollywood

I think it doesn't matter anymore what the steppers say. They do not know they are talking about. They are caught up in cult thinking. pity the poor fool.

Its about murder. Its never the victims fault if on is murdered. What about Krisine Cass and her 13 year old daughter Clayborne Conely killed them He was court ordered. SO sad . The time has come. Finally there is a person , her name is Gabrielle Glaser who wrote a book , Simon & Schuster published it, The Wall Street Journal oped a piece from her book, Propunblica reported Karla 's story, when The LA times didnt because an AA stepper runs it.

Now she is on this radio show! So, the truth is finally getting out. Then my film will come out. Then more news magazine formats will tell all different aspects of this AA wacko program. I'm so happy to have left the nut house of alcoholics Anonymous.

Jul. 05 2013 12:55 AM

I recently read a comment on another site. I have a tenancy at this time to completely agree.

Chances are, had Karla not encountered a psychopath who was trolling AA looking for his next mark, she would be alive. She would be alive if she had gotten together with a guy in her first year who came to AA because he just wanted to quit drinking, she would be alive if she had dated a guy who came to AA because his workplace told him to, she would be alive if she had met any number of guys and dated them IN HER FIRST YEAR. But she is dead because she met up with a guy masquerading as one of these other guys who are otherwise normal, but have a drinking problem. But since no one in AA tells guys (or gals) not to murder someone in their first year; "just don’t date", I guess she is the one to blame after-all.

Now is murder a crime and a serious personality disorder having nothing to do with addiction? Is it a symptom of the alcoholic disease; just a character defect?? Is turning your back on these issues a serious character defect? The size and power of AA means nothing when it comes to these individuals. For some reason society deposits them in AA. Is AA really equipped professionally to reform these people? "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference". Im sure your familiar with that (prayer) AA uses at the beginning of the meeting; along with the "Lords Prayer" at the end.

My point is; there is something that could be done. However AA and the powers that be is set up so that no one is responsible. Maybe whomever receives the donations from the members have some obligation to do something? Seems logical to me. Shouldnt be this complicated.

Jul. 04 2013 11:25 PM

Kevin from New York said:

"Does anyone really think AA is a more dangerous place for a great many woman than the marriages, bars, after-hour clubs, crack houses, alleys and jails where they used to spend most all their time?"

First of all; I was exposed to AA on and off for 30 yrs. I dont know where you attend meetings but what you stated was not the case with the majority of the women I knew. Thats a very bold statement and not true; as far as Im concerned. When most women I met came to AA; they questioned their drinking on different levels and severity of their habits varied greatly; that was it. Some were sure they had a problem and some were not. Unfortunately, they were encouraged to label themselves as alcoholic (by dogma like;) "you didnt get here by accident, you may not be a normie (for those not familiar with that term; anyone outside of the program). Whether they were certain or not; If they chose not to label themselves they were made to feel uncomfortable and not a part of the "WE" group and the fellowship. Forget being an individual. You gave up that priviledge. Let us not forget the chapter 5 preamble read at every meeting without fail. They are brainwashed to believe they must completely give themselves to this simple program and trust the fellowship. After all; dont they say that your best thinking got you there.

Jul. 04 2013 11:21 PM

Civic Media- You did not mention though that AA is to blame as well because they go into the prisons and invite violent felons and sexual predators to these meetings. They work closely with the courts and give presentations to judges and lawyers etc. So let's not leave AA out of the equation here. It is not just a parole/court problem.

Jul. 04 2013 11:14 PM

Was my comment rejected or awaiting moderation. Thankyou

Jul. 04 2013 11:05 PM

I think the author, despite being very frustrated initially with her premise, is on the right track. I've changed my mind about this. However, the state is at issue here, not the convict. Prison has never been about rehabilitation: mostly about punishment. What little treatment that a man gets in prison today is usually watered down and focuses on moral teachings. Today's understanding of addiction is predicated on the understanding that habits come from the primal area of the brain. To change bad habits you must redirect them - morality and decision making have little to do with such initially. This is likely why AA alone will not do the trick.

I can't believe it's a leap to suggest that years of dysfunctional behaviors and cognitive distortions that lead to violence or predation, take an enormous amount of focused time to affect change. So if nothing is going on substantive in prison (for most), then think of the mess that falls on parole. The recidivism rate amongst convicts for murder is the lowest of all. And when it comes to sex offenses? Statistics indicate that non-sex offenders are more likely to offend sexually upon release. Huh? Yep, it's true. Look at the data.

It's also well known that because we put so much money in to prisons, parole is understaffed and underfunded. We "talk" of rehabilitation and re-integration, but that's all we do for now.

Some convicts may get some pharmaceutical care - but prison, despite progress, is a hell hole for rehabilitation and restitution. Anyone with narcissistic, violent or predatory behaviors likely leaves in the same mess as they entered.

So when it comes to predatory or violent convicts attending AA and running amok - I lay the blame on parole and lack of substantive treatment. Parole is no longer - it's now called "community supervision". Rather than banning convicts from AA, pressure should be put on parole to screen who goes and who does not. However, once a man is off parole, then what do you do?

I think women have every right to be concerned about safety at AA. Clearly AA, like the rest of society, has its issues - some want to face them, some want to hide from them. But don't forget that we have the largest incarceration rate in the world - why is that? Tackle that, and we'll all be safer.

Jul. 04 2013 10:03 PM

@Mr. Bad from NYC

I am a "fraud expert"? Because I speak with conviction does not make me an expert or suspect. I never presented myself as an "expert". I read, I think, I analyze, I participate in treatment, I participated in AA...
Why is it necessary for you to attack me personally? Why would you do that? This is exactly the type of nasty predatory-like behavior that many of these women are complaining about.

You conflated my comments about the placebo effect and 12 step - that was entirely a mistake on your part.

Reputable science has been reporting for some time that placebos score as successfully as the actual drugs that are being tested to treat mental health issues. Because of that, many scientists wonder if the act of seeking treatment is what's really behind improvement or remission. So it would not be a leap to say that for the people that manage to turn their lives around - their commitment or "conviction" may be at the root of their success.

So what you did - typical of a bully (aka predator) - was attack someone when you didn't understand their position. You also accused me of other things like holding AA accountable for a murder which I never did.

I think that AA provides many a start down the path to a better life. When things work well, people can get support, face their demons openly, and develop a routine for tackling addiction. But like the church, shul, or public radio comment sections things can go wrong, bad influences are everywhere, and it can get tiresome (even be deadly) dealing with predators and jerks.

Yes - it took me all of 2 seconds on the internet to produce the studies you "requested". But I already knew of those studies. I noticed in your reply to me - well, you had none... all you did was attack and mix up stuff.

This kind of conduct is not allowed at the NYTimes, thank heavens. Your reply would never have seen the light of day.

I would urge you and others to take issue with or rebut a person's "idea" - but not disparage a persons intent or literacy. That is not allowed at the NYTimes and it should not be allowed at WNYC.

I did notice that you generalized about studies that suggest AA is a success story for treatment of addiction. In fact, the only success story "studies" are those published by AA. That's not science. I take notice that you jumped all over me, but failed to produce the slightest bit of evidence for your pushback. Sad but predictable.

Jul. 04 2013 09:33 PM
Peter from USA

AA fallacies and urban myths

2. No one "runs" AA. Their leaders are called trusted servants. AA groups are autonomous. Nobody can order anyone to do anything, or even kick anyone out of AA. (Thanks Kevin from New York)

More misinformation and obfuscation from AA and its members. Tell a lie often enough and, well, ………………

The FACT is that the Trustees of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc. (GSBAA) have final say in all matters financial and of overall worldwide AA policy. This is so stated in the corporate bylaws of the GSBAA (see the most recent AA Service Manual).

The GSBAA, often referred to as the General Service Office (GSO), did authorize lawsuits to be undertaken by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS).

The purpose of these lawsuits, in Germany and Mexico, were to shut down AA groups and members that were giving away free versions of an un-copyrighted Big Book. These lawsuits were successful in controlling the members and groups in Germany & Mexico. In fact, AAWS even went so far as to shut down the website and email accounts of the German group. The German lawsuits are here and the Mexico lawsuits are here

The GSBAA also, unsuccessfully, tried to shut down a group in upstate New York from giving away, or selling cheap, un-copyrighted, Big Books to the drunks that could not afford them. The group was then known as Intergroup World Services, Inc. (IWS) of Croton Falls, New York. IWS stood on its legal grounds and eventually AAWS was forced to cease their actions because AAWS did not have a legal course of action. The letters back & for the between IWS & AAWS can be seen here

The GSBAA can, and has, exercised control over groups and members, as seen above. AA and its members denying this fact are either unaware of this FACT or are employing obfuscation and misinformation tactics.


Jul. 04 2013 12:05 PM
Peter from USA

AA fallacies and urban myths

1. AA is saving lives – There is no proof this is the case. NONE!

This is pure hyperbole and misinformation put out by AA and its members.
AA claims a current world-wide membership of around 2 million. The continued attendance rate of AA newcomers is reported to be around 5%., therefore, tens of millions have gone to AA and said, No Thanks!

This urban myth that AA is saving lives is based on the FACT that AA tells its adherents they will die if AA & the 12 Steps are not followed. Pure hyperbole!

Stephanie Roberts from New York City states, and I quote “AA is the only thing saving lives, the only thing that works.” Further quotes from Stephanie” “Treatment options that work?”. “The level of irresponsibility here is reprehensible.”

I say to Stephanie, the AA organization in its program tells the drinker that if they don’t accept the 12 steps they surely sign their death warrant. Such fear mongering from AA; they attempt to put the fear of life into the newcomer to AA.

I would call that irresponsibility and reprehensible on AA’s part, as well as anyone stating that AA is the only way, a once size fits all program. Silly nonsense.

Jul. 04 2013 11:27 AM
Kevin from New York

Does anyone really think AA is a more dangerous place for a great many woman than the marriages, bars, after-hour clubs, crack houses, alleys and jails where they used to spend most all their time?

There are a number of misconceptions about AA I wish were addressed. It's understandable as AA has a TOTALLY UNIQUE organizational structure. A "Fellowship" actually.

1) No one "runs" AA. Their leaders are called trusted servants.

2) AA groups are autonomous. Nobody can order anyone to do anything, or even kick anyone out of AA.

3) AA is deliberately unorganized.

4) Every AA group I've been to (hundreds over 25 years ) STRONGLY advocated "The men with the men and the women with the women". Also "NO MAJOR CHANGES (INCLUDING HAVING A RELATIONSHIP) FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF CONTINUOUS SOBRIETY!

5) Of COURSE some men in AA are dangerous. Some WOMEN in AA are dangerous too. Very. They are very damaged, very sick people. AA is a fellowship of very sick men and women.

That said, I can assure you that AA VASTLY REDUCES the number of assaults on women by helping millions of men and women obtain sobriety and out out of very dangerous places and become healthier people, over time.

Jul. 04 2013 11:25 AM
Pam Spiegel from Evanston, IL

The main point here is that dangerous and violent men should not be allowed into coed AA meetings where vulnerable women don't have the information they need to stay safe. Frankly, it's idiotic for the courts to send these men to regular AA meetings. Obviously there should be special meetings solely for those men who are remanded there by the courts.

To blame Karla for her own murder, or delegitimize this guest for bringing up this issue is a real statement on our society. Women are always blamed for the bad things that happen to them (she should have known better, she shouldn't have worn that).

And professional women like Ms. Glaser are always marginalized by people trying to discredit their credentials or their views.

She had a perfectly valid point people: AA should do something about men preying on the women in their meetings!! It's as simple as that!

Jul. 04 2013 10:52 AM

Wow the response from the 12 steppers are so predictable. I think it shows how AA is a cult that members can be so blinded by the crime and emotional abuse inflicted on it's own members. Instead they only wantto protect the name of AA and throw all caution to the wind when it comes to protecting those they serve.

The National Center for Safety Initatives at
could help 12 step organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous make their rooms safer. They are just a phone call away. AA and NA have no interest in calling them or implementing any of their risk management strategies, though.

Jul. 04 2013 09:56 AM

You can see lot's of articles where crimes were committed by AA and NA members and those dangerous violent criminals mandated to 12 step programs at-

This is hardly an isolated incident. It is just newspapers have been asked by AA not to print stories for decades. Now because of social media and pressure from those of us wanting to expose AA for dangers of AA. There are psychological dangers too because of the mind games that AA and NA members play. Some people get so mind F&^%$% they commit suicide. AA has admitted that AA members play apart in suicides as well. Mainly because they are notorious for telling people to go off their meds. Yet AA will do nothing to stop this practice.

Jul. 04 2013 09:42 AM
Counselorchick from California

She's not talking about ONE criminal who has been mandated to "the rooms" only to perpetrate his sick violent nature on vulnerable people ... She talking about the hundreds of thousand of them.

Earle was sent over and over again to AA when he should have been incarcerated. Read his rap sheet. It's abhorrent. His own father had a restraining order against him after Earle beat him to a pulp. His own father. This is one representative of the sick people the cult religion of AA attracts ... And covers up for them when they commit crimes. Earle's sponsor talked Karla out of pressing charges after he beat the crap out of her a few weeks before he murdered her. It was just a matter of time before Earle murdered someone. This is not an isolate problem. Most of the rapes go unreported because people are told to forgive and LOOK AT THEIR PART in the rape. I wish I were kidding. It's a dangerous cult religion.

The only reason this infuriates people is that they are brainwashed to actually believe that this dangerous cult religion saved their lives. Malarkey. Research proves that AA does more harm than good. Besides not being safe trusting the criminals roaming the meetings, you must think of yourself as powerless and learn that you cannot trust your own thinking. They lie by saying, "you're best thinking got you here." NO ... You're WORST thinking got you there and you should get out before they have convinced you of all the lies and negative labeling you are required to adopt for yourself. You can never graduate, you can never move on, you can never be truly happy, joyous and free. It's all lies.

You are NOT POWERLESS and you are NOT a CHARACTER DEFECTIVE. You do not need AA ... AA needs you and all the mandated criminals ... otherwisenthe cult would die. At best they can claim 5% success. This is merely taking credit for spontaneous remission. You do NOT have a DISEASE. What rubbish.

Thank you Gabrielle. Your difficulty in understand why steppers have such a big problem can be answered with two answers. 1) they are indoctrinated int a dangerous cult religion
2) they are terrified because they have been convinced that they cannot trust their own thinking, their only salvation is the program and if they ever leave they will end up in three, and ONLY three places: jail, an Institution, or Dead.

Hogwash. AA IS an institution ... you have placed yourself in jail by allowing their dogma to infiltrate your brain ... and you are dead in your heart if you cannot take fair criticism of your group. Get out. Get some real help.

Jul. 04 2013 05:05 AM
maui girl from Hawaii

ANti D and Counselor chick you are so right. SO many sick posters here. Foul language and all. I know many who went into AA young, I did too. There was a whole group of us from Hawaii. There was this one guy named Doug who hit on anything that walked. He was a rampant 13 stepper. It went on for years. Only on eHawaiian woman confronted him. She was great! She is long gone. I heard a woman's boobs were grabbed in a meeting in Kailua. Same thing happened in ohio.

Thank to this radio guy and Gabby for her good work.

Jul. 04 2013 03:14 AM

Thanks Counselorchick- I agree with what you say, but I really appreciate you warning people about not sending your child to AA.

Both AA and NA go into our high schools preying on our youth for new lifelong members to keep the money coming in to pay their fat salaries and pensions.

AA could care less about minors.

Alateen that is run by Alanon has safety guidelines and do background checks for all sponsors. They are a 12 step program. If they can do it AA can and should do it. AA flat out refuses to protect minors and instead has increased their advertising luring them in. It is sick.

Who in their right mind invites pedophiles and minors to the same meetings? It is criminal. It is Child abuse and child endangerment.

Jul. 03 2013 11:53 PM

This book will save lives for women. For people who have stated on this blog that AA is the only thing that works is a big fat huge lie that AA loyalists like to say as part of their propaganda campaign.

The FACTS are most people deal with quitting or moderating on their own without AA or other support. What do you think happens to the 95% of people who leave AA? Die? Yes that is what they want you to think that it is AA or you will die. It is a lie. The majority that leave AA find another way.

The other fact is AA has admitted that there are problems of children being sexually abused as well as women and other vulnerable members of society. They just said it was up to the groups to handle these issues. Again it has already been confirmed by AA as a PROBLEM. If it was a rare occurrence they would be admitting to it. They admitted to it because it is a fact that they recieve many complaints about.

Thanks for the great book and opening the eyes of the vulnerable and ignorant.

Jul. 03 2013 11:45 PM
Counselorchick from cali

ONE violent offender. REALLY? No, thousands. The others are vulnerable and/or lulled into a state of idiocy from religious cult these 12 step programs really are.

This truth is only infuriating to those mentioned above. They lie and have slogans like 'live and let live, easy does it, and have promises like 'happy, joyous and free' but when their cult is fairly criticized, they go ballistic.

It's quite sad really. You are NOT powerless and you do NOT have a disease. Your best thinking did NOT get you there ... your WORST thinking did!!!! Statistics show that the 12 steps do more harm than good.

Try the Sinclair Method, Stanton Peele's Life Process, Harm Reduction ... anything other than the cult religion commonly known as the 12 steps.

And whatever you do, do NOT send your child there. They're worse than the catholic Church and the Boy Scouts put together!

Jul. 03 2013 11:09 PM

It is about time we are starting to see the truth about the dangers to women in Alcoholics Anonymous. Enough sweeping sex abuse, financial abuse and even murders under the rug to protect the AA name. Let's start protecting the people first! AA why don't you release some of that 20 million you have in your account and help people get REAL help, instead of going to more funerals of members.

Jul. 03 2013 10:58 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Mrs Bad from los angeles

Also, I have a blog that proves I am a genius. So you'd better take me seriously. I also have a 6 inch thick folder of very complimentary TPS reports that highlight my dashing character and devil-may-care wit. So there.

Jul. 03 2013 10:48 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Mrs Bad from los angeles

I agree, AA is BS. But that's just my opinion, I am, in the view of AA, a "sober drunk", whatever that means.

But if you stayed for 3 decades how bad could it be? And really, who goes to AA @ 18? Taking your story at face value that makes you 38? So that means you entered AA about 1994? So you've been sober longer than you've been drunk (presumably you started drinking at 1 day old) but you're NOT an attention seeking loser with an axe to grind.

Listen baby, I believe you've been inside, as a matter of fact I'd bet half of LA has been inside you too if you know what I mean. So what's you're problem, did they fail to cannonize you or what? Also, since you're so fond of my handle how about making it official @ City Hall ? I like your sick, demented style.

Jul. 03 2013 10:44 PM
Mrs Bad from los angeles

Mr Bad- You don't know anything about me. I was in AA at 18, and stayed for over 3 decades. I know everything about how bad AA is today. We are all taking. The light is gonna show the truth about AA. There are 7 anti AA blogs. There is an anti AA radio show. I was inside. So many people are taking to me about whats REALLY going on in AA. LOL all the way to the 12 million a year that AA gets for its 6 million for selling books to rehab and jail.
SHe did her research.

Jul. 03 2013 10:33 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Monica from Los Angeles

You were in AA when you were 18? You are a tourist. When did you start drinking, when you were in utero? You child. You company woman. How much were you paid by Glaser for this post?

Monica is part of the problem in determining how to diagnose drinkers and employ harm reduction strategys because when you put a lot of fake attention seekers into treatment you get a lot of fake "recoveries" LOL.

Jul. 03 2013 10:17 PM
Monica from Los Angeles

This is one of the best shows I have ever heard on the air. I was harassed all the time. I was sexually harassed alot when I was 18 & 19. I have a blog that shows that Gabrielle is right. I have folders that are filled with etters that are 2 inches thick with horror stories that are so sick it would spin your head. Thank you for having Gabrielle on your show! Thank you Gabrielle for writing this book! There are so many ex-steppers that are cheering you on.

Jul. 03 2013 10:12 PM
Anna from Brooklyn

I am a woman who is 10 years sober and I love AA! It's not perfect, but nothing is and there are various ways to cope w/ addiction. I felt as if Ms. Glaser seemed to have it "out" for AA as a whole, which is unfortunate.

AA works for many and i wish she had spent more time making suggestions on how to fix the challenges with predatory men (which are very real) rather than simply asserting it doesn't work for most.

does anyone have an ACTUAL SOURCED STUDY FOR the efficacy of AA or other treatments?

I found this:

Jul. 03 2013 09:55 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ civicmedia

You're a phony expert. A fraud. When you write:

"Studies on AA efficacy? On the placebo effect?"

You reveal yourself to be a "google expert". Nobody with a B.S. in any science, even a behavioral science, would ever characterize AA membership as the "placebo effect". Your pseudo scientific critique of AA is totally laughable. Here is the FDA position on Naltrexone, and the same wording is used on most psychoactive preparations:

"The mechanism of action of Naltrexone hydrochloride in alcoholism is not understood"

Pretty simple math, huh? It keeps a person from getting high (opioid antagonist) but that's basically all they know? Well, sign me up!

Look, I'm not defending AA, I don't like AA, but there is plenty of scientific evidence that AA is effective in adjusting drunks to sobriety, especially when they are real down and out types with few or no other social connections (which is usually a factor in their alcohol abuse anyway). You just can't generalize about probability, it's illogical, people drink for all sorts of reasons. Some treatments may work while others fail.

At the very least AA doesn't claim to be a panacea for "addiction" like this guest thinks pharmacological psychiatry is, apparently. Leave the AA drunks alone and stop blaming AA for a murderer's actions.

Jul. 03 2013 08:26 PM
Timothy from London

For all of you AA Trolls Bashing this woman. Do a bit of Homework I suggest

Jul. 03 2013 07:47 PM
Tania from Los Angeles, CA

Listening to this podcast, I also am very disappointed the Brian Lehrer show for allowing this woman on the show to sell her book, push drugs, and scare women away from a program that can literally save their lives. Nothing in this world is perfect or guarantees 100% safety. This program saves literally 1000s of lives on a daily basis. Why shame the program because of a few anomalies? Even if men try to date the women, they sure don't murder them typically.

As a young woman, who attended AA, with many female friends and relatives, who were also saved by this program, I am dumbfounded as to how anyone can blame this tragic event (and others) on the program itself. It provides a place to go and identify with others and to seek help. From the beginning women are advised to seek out a female sponsor and not to begin a relationship with ANYONE in the first year of sobriety. We all need to also have some sense of personal and individual responsibility. The murderer is to blame here. Women also need to use common sense in ensuring their own safety because we live in a dangerous world. That doesn't mean blame the victim, but don't blame the program that benefits many when individual circumstances explain what happened.

Jul. 03 2013 05:00 PM

Here's two studies on the efficacy of 12 step.

Ferri, Marica; Amato, Laura; Davoli, Marina (2006). "Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes for alcohol dependence". Cochrane Database System Review

Emrick, C. (1989). "Alcoholics Anonymous: Membership characteristics and effectiveness as treatment" in Recent developments in alcoholism, Vol. 7: Treatment research M. Galanter, ed.

Other Studies: National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey (NLAES)

In general - scientists today have confirmed that addiction is habit run amok - habits are formed in the primitive area of the brain. Although some elements of emotional conviction and stability are crucial to successful remission or extinction - we now know (in the last 5 years or so) that habit does not involve the decision making process of the brain.

12 step, despite the good things that it can provide, delivers un-scientific answers with sole emphasis on "surrendering", spirituality, etc.

That's why the author is right about cognitive therapy. I don't support "drugging up" to solve a mental health issue. Even 12-steppers know that it's efficacy is suspect. They just take the childish approach that the reason it doesn't work is because the addict didn't follow the steps. Science has now confirmed this is a bunch of moral rubbish.

I would suggest the "Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg (NY Times) for a basic explanation of the latest scientific knowledge on habit and it's nastier side.

And to reinforce the "magical thinking" behind AA, they have their own studies. The Bible is also a good source of magical thinking, too. And comic books.

Jul. 03 2013 04:13 PM

Studies on AA efficacy? On the placebo effect?

The placebo effect efficacy is mainstream science. I would have to check on the AA efficacy study(s). Should give me something to do to fend against blind obedience by some die-hards in the future. After I attended 12 step I ran in to writings that quoted such a case study, and my therapist was well aware of 12 steps limitations. And anyone who truly knows anything about 12 step knows that its efficacy is factually in doubt when trying to determine cause and effect in relation to remission or extinction. Some people think "Jesus", "Moses", and "Allah", work for a lot of people in trouble too. Can you show me the studies on its efficacy?

I'm not sure if your question is genuine interest or a ruse to support your own critical opinion of my position. Probably the latter.

Can you quote a study that illustrates AA efficacy? Probably not. Otherwise you would have brought it to everyone's attention, no? Of course, that's because there are none.

Jul. 03 2013 03:59 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

Dear Civicmedia - can you please cite the studies you are referencing so that I can look them up?

Jul. 03 2013 03:47 PM

WAIT JUST A MINUTE!!!Is this New York or a Baptist Convention in Dothan, Alabama?

I was very critical of the guests premise, but in NO WAY do I believe she is misguided and all of the other personal attacks I just read. Jeez, people. It's one thing to vehemently disagree with someone but that doesn't give anyone the right to de-legitimize a person, their education or their advocacy. Unless she's Sarah Palin. That's totally different.

Like every aspect of society - some things work, some things don't. Last time I checked studies indicate that AA has an abysmal overall success rate. Hell, studies indicate the placebo effect is more successful than actual treatment. And yes, there are elements of 12 step that give predatory behavior an outlet. Last time I checked so does derivative trading. If the author is raising attention for the dark side of 12 step - well, deal with it.

Give the author/advocate a break. Disagree with her, fine. I do. But dispensing with her altogether is downright juvenile. I've spent time in 12 step. It can be a deplorable place for anyone - hmmmmm, so can church, shul or LGBT centers.

And yes - being white, aged and male myself - I'm VERY VERY suspicious of white males!!!!!!!!!

Jul. 03 2013 03:11 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

Your guest's argument in a nutshell: Support groups are bad, pharmaceuticals are good. I agree that this murder was tragic, but unless this woman was kidnapped or forced to date this guy against her will, you cannot take her decision making process out of the equation. Part of the goal of any type of therapy is to get the individual to take responsibility for her own decisions. To blame this tragedy on AA is very unfair. Another big red flag I noticed was when your guest referred to "peer-reviewed studies", but never cited them. Saying that "studies show..." without referencing them is always questionable. This woman obviously has an agenda and her book should be boycotted.

Jul. 03 2013 02:55 PM

Me thinks AA doth protest too much. The organized Reaction of "NGOs" and "Non-Profits' continues. Glaser was extremely impressive on the defensive, having been backed into an extremely small corner, in what was an uncharacteristically unbalanced segment of the show, and one which was given far to little time. I hope Leonard Lopate will be given the chance to do a proper interview.

Her main issue remained unanswered however. A self-help group that now allows judicially mandated "members", goes beyond a contradiction in terms to an outright absurdity, and a harmful one at that. The motivation for this development in AA hardly needs speculation, and the obvious potential risks have been borne out.

The writer does the public a great service in bringing this unreported issue to light. Families and friends need to be aware of these risks, as all areas of our mental health services become increasingly compromised, and have virtually no competent oversight and review systems.

Jul. 03 2013 02:52 PM
Henry L. O'Brien from Summit,NJ

I tuned into today's show just in time to hear this author say " AA was invented in the thirties by two white men".
Moreover,she said it in a distinctly sarcastic tone of voice.
Is she saying AA is negated because its inventors were White ? Or Male ? Or nothing good came out of the Thirties? Or All Of The Above?
This kind of mindless hostility destroyed whatever credibility her book might have had for me.

Jul. 03 2013 02:09 PM
Ann March from NYC

AA is not a hotbed of mental health; everyone is welcome. Nonetheless,it continues to work for large part because of the disseminated structure and absence of rules & hierarchy. Psychodramas play out here as they do in more regulated programs like accredited rehabs, etc. No one condones manipulation and abuse of the vulnerable.

I am saddened by Ms. Glaser's efforts to discredit AA. I hear resentment in her words and see it in her writing and suspect something more than public service is motivating her. At it's best AA is an ever-deepening spiritual experience that unfolds when a person opens her/his heart...and it's free in the most profound sense of the word.

Jul. 03 2013 12:13 PM
Emily B. from Maine

I am sober 24.5 years in AA. AA saved my life and the lives of countless others all over the world. contrary to what this woman seems to think, I've tried to sponsor people on seboxone (sp?) and they are completely addicted and unreachable. They aren't able to think clearly, they aren't able to clean house (figuratively speaking), to form a relationship with a higher power, or to form relationships with other human beings. I'm shocked that you would give air time to someone who is apparently so biased in favor of drug companies.

Certainly, men have behaved inappropriately with me in the rooms of AA and the women there have taught me how to deal with that behavior. Men have also behaved inappropriately with me outside the rooms of AA - in my own family, in school, at work, on the street. To target AA is very irresponsible on your part.

I hope that vulnerable women hearing this misguided woman and your will not turn away from AA. There are women's meetings, there are women sponsors, there is friendship, hope and love to be had. You can have a life second to none... I do.

God bless this poor misguided journalist and you too, Mr. Lehrer. I've often heard the stories of people who study alcoholism, become alcoholism counselors or report on alcoholism. In the end, it turns out they themselves were alcoholics and in the end turned to AA for real help to change their lives. Should you or your loved ones ever need help, we'll be waiting with open arms.

Jul. 03 2013 11:53 AM
Jim D from NJ

First, please have a follow-up segment on the drug naltrexone.
I felt the guest did a poor job representing her book and its topic.
In regards to women in AA, increased awareness of the terrible incidents she cited is a positive, provide of course the proper context, which the guest is or was not able or willing to give.
Any improvements in the treatment of alcoholism are welcomed, whether inside or outside AA.
I do wish to repeat my request for a follow-up on the drug naltrexone. I one dealing with alcoholism for 25 years, one day at a time, this was thew first I had heard of it. Apparently it has been around for decades. A summary of the 2002 MJA study cited, "the median time to relapse was 90 days for naltrexone, compared with 42 days for placebo. In absolute numbers, 19 of 56 patients (33.9%) taking naltrexone relapsed, compared with 27 of 51 patients (52.9%)" These are compelling stats.

Jul. 03 2013 11:50 AM
Krista from CT

I am a grateful member of Alanon divorced from a man who was in AA many years who took his own life struggling with this disease.
It seems like a mixture of issues from Ms Glaser.
1. The issue that the court requires people to attend AA is questionable. I think it brings a negative element to mtgs.
2. The example of the murdered woman was such an unclear example of blame on AA. She should have had a stronger example to support this type of argument.
3. She is talking about drugs in stead of AA---seems pretty simplified when we tried to explore every option.
4. The broad brush aspect that could give AA a bad name to AA when so many who could benefit from it and be turned off
5. Is she advocated more women's mtgs. I think if I were in AA I would seek out as many women's mtg as possible.
6. One of my female friends with 20 yrs of sobriety said she is so grateful for AA---what a wonderful program---all she needed was to drink too much and have a little bad behavior to join this wonderful group of people.

Jul. 03 2013 11:45 AM
Friend of Bill and Bob from Astoria

Glaser is using the murder of Karla Brada Mendez to sell her book, and bash Alcoholics Anonymous. The murder of Mendez is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to her family and friends, but it is not A.A.'s fault.

Eric Allen Earle murdered Mendez. Alcoholics Anonymous played no role in his actions.

Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life; it did. And, after 10-years in recovery, I can recognize that the program is far from perfect, but it does work—at least it is working for me.

Jul. 03 2013 11:43 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Chloe from NYC

Yes, there are a lot of peer reviewed studies that show Naltrexone is moderately effective but you have to get into the details to see how limited they actually are. I have not seen one study which included "hard core" alcoholics as evidenced by liver disease or dysfunction, or one that included people with diagnosed psychological problems OTHER than alcoholism or who abused illegal drugs in addition to alcohol and on and on.

The people who are excluded from these studies are PRECISELY the people who are the problem typically, to themselves, to their family and often to society and are probably untreatable. If your only problem in life is that you drink too much (problem drinker) Naltrexone will help, so will just about anything else, including AA or therapy or rehab or what have you.

Those alternate treatment options (AA, therapy, rehab) however don't usually get to exclude hard core drunks or people with psychological problems hence the increased rate of failure.

Jul. 03 2013 11:28 AM

Ms. Glaser lost credibility with her final comments. How about a little nuance? As the caller implied, the victim COULD have had a part in the events that took place. That doesn't make it right at all, but it defies logic to ignore that possibility when looking at the larger picture.

I was dumbfounded when I heard Ms Glaser say "I hear a lot of blame the victim" after the caller suggested that the victim's pattern regarding her choice of a partner outside of AA might not have been healthy either(as is the case with a lot of addicts the caller also noted)...blaming the victim? Holy hyperbole Ms. Glaser.

Jul. 03 2013 11:14 AM

Ms. Glaser lost credibility with her final comments. How about a little nuance? As the caller implied, the victim COULD have had a part in the events that took place. That doesn't make it right at all, but it defies logic to ignore that possibility when looking at the larger picture.

I was dumbfounded when I heard Ms Glaser say "I hear a lot of blame the victim" after the caller suggested that the victim's pattern regarding her choice of a partner outside of AA might not have been healthy either(as is the case with a lot of addicts the caller also noted)...blaming the victim? Holy hyperbole Ms. Glaser.

Jul. 03 2013 11:14 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Certainly this story of a murdered woman who went to AA for help is tragic. I certainly hope the killer received the death sentence for his crime.
But I don’t think the guest knows much about AA recovery method/methods much of which is a group effort not an atomized individual with a “therapist” in a room and drugs. Or once a week therapy sessions as allowed by the limits of an insurance company’s quotas.

Jul. 03 2013 11:13 AM
Chloe from NYC

Listening to this made my blood boil--as a woman in recovery, and as a social worker. For the author to suggest that naltrexone, an opioid-blocking drug, is the most appropriate treatment for recovering alcoholics is absurd, no matter how many peer-reviewed studies say so. Addiction and alcoholism are complex, systemic issues that cannot be solved by a simple neurobiological fix. Even if you don't agree with the principles of AA/NA, it's hard to argue against the fact that the element of social support is ESSENTIAL in recovery from addiction. In my early recovery, I needed people like me to tell me that what I was going through was normal, that I was not alone. To tar AA with this broad brush is damaging and ridiculous; there is enough stigma against addiction and recovery already. I'm disappointed that a show I respect and trust would invite this author on without considering the broad implications of her claims on women who are currently struggling with the idea of seeking help.

Jul. 03 2013 11:10 AM
Ann from Elmhurst

Just another person trying to sell a book. A bad book at that. Wow anything goes today.

Jul. 03 2013 11:10 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I had to laugh.

I don't believe AA works very well for most, and I especially hate that it typically involves religious values (maybe not on the coasts but go to a meeting in the flyover states and you'll hear the lord's prayer for sure)and that it is "prescribed" by court's as part of a treatment program for drug and alcohol offenders


This woman is completely transparent. When she says "AA was created by two WHITE MEN when our knowledge of neuroscience" and blah blah blah she pretty much let the cat out of the bag. Aren't you supposed to keep those biases hidden behind a torrent of tortured verbiage, hun?

Naltrexone and Suboxone are hardly ready for prime time and they only "work" if you don't mind a few suicides along the way. It's funny how this guest is so intent on decrying the medical treatment establishment for avoiding Naltrexone because so many are not "profiting" sufficiently when the disease model of addiction has been such a profitable business for same and continues to be despite no significant progress.

Jul. 03 2013 11:06 AM

Figures. No one is blaming the victim of a murder - or much less anything else. Maybe we're just questioning your premise.

The question is this:

What is the percentage of people who are abused and murdered by non-convicts in such vulnerable arenas as AA? Any numbers on that? Probably not.

In other words, before you go raging against men caught up in a violent society with the largest incarceration rate in the world - consider the source.

How unhealthy or dangerous are convicts compared to society as a whole? Sexual offenses came up in this piece. 9 out of every 10 sex offenses are not committed by convicts. And almost 9 out of 10 sex offenses are committed by family members or someone the victim knows. Sit with this truth for a while - and then I'll consider your argument.

You can rage against "convicts" all you want to - you can quote the extreme cases all you want to - but you are doing nothing about the elephant in the room.

How will we ever get anywhere with such myopia?

On the surface, this type of advocacy does disservice for victims and pushes the ball down the road.

Jul. 03 2013 11:05 AM
Aaron from Manhattan

I agree with Ms. Glaser that there are things AA can do. But, from my personal experience, her claim (apparently supported by the Fed's study) that Naltrexone and cognitive therapy is "by far" the most effective method of recovery is bogus. I'm on Naltrexone and have a cognitive therapist-- these alone will not keep me sober (I have evidence). There are by far more AA members who are in recovery and have maintained continuous sobriety than in Smart Recovery or who take drugs. If it were that simple, we'd all be doing it. It is not. I fear that Ms. Glaser's report and book will drive people away from AA, which is the opposite of what people should do.

Jul. 03 2013 11:05 AM

kudos and congrats to the author. twelve step programs seem to be quite helpful for many folks, but like all human institutions they also seem to have their problems. AFAICT most folks familiar enough with the programs to understand their problems are in a program and are reluctant to discuss problems publicly due to annonymity concerns or just not wanting to air the dirty laundry in public so the public image of the twelve step world tends to be a bit idealized. this article sounds like a refreshing exception.

Jul. 03 2013 11:04 AM

Super segment - glad to know that Naltrexone is available in generic form and non-addicting - Glaser suggests this along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the new gold-standard for Alcoholics and there are studies backing this up. Her book is much needed - well researched - documented and a breath of fresh air. Thanks @brianlehrer for having her on your show. That poor woman who walked into a meeting for help could be any of us and we need to sit up, take notice, share information and take this issue out of hiding and put it front and center where it belongs.

Jul. 03 2013 11:03 AM
Erica from New York City

Everyone there is STRUGGLING to get sober. She had personal responsibility to herself. She may not have had a choice as per which she facility she was "bussed" but she had a choice as to whether or not and with whom she would engage into a relationship. You might raise concern for the particular meeting with which this particular woman was forced to attend but to blame this on the institution of AA is so dangerous. As is putting blame on state that allows for mandatory rehabilitation, as most do not. It is obvious why you seemed defensive to your callers today. I think your concern is completely misguided.

Jul. 03 2013 11:03 AM
Stephanie Roberts from New York

PS I have 4 sponsees. All women. I talk to all of them about possible predators which for the record exist EVERYWHERE. We talk openly about the problems with the literature being by and for men., We talk about wasiting to date. I tell them all about "13th steppers." As a woman with some sobriety it is my responsiblity to help therse women in every way. WTF. I am so so so so upset by this woman. How dare you frighten people away from something that may their only choice. I am disgusted enough to cry.

Jul. 03 2013 11:02 AM
Matt from New Jersey

I'm disappointed with you, Brian. This author clearly is here to sell her book and is not looking at the big picture. Blaming an entire group for the actions of one person is irresponsible and dangerous to the people who are benefitting from AA. You won't be able to do a follow up to this story because AAs maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film. However, you lost a listener today. Turning off my radio now.

Jul. 03 2013 11:02 AM
Mary from Brooklyn

It is so depressing that the callers were so defensive. Most depressing was the woman caller who outright blamed the victim for her own murder. Thanks for having the author on the show. Can't wait to read her book now.

Jul. 03 2013 11:02 AM
Jenny from NYC

Standing up for the guest here. While I haven't been in AA, I have been in an outpatient program at psych hospital for severe depression and had someone who was a double diagnosis (mental health issue + substance abuse) decide that he wanted a relationship with me (which I did not want). Staff was upfront about telling us that we should not get into relationships with other patients, and I tried that approach with him, but he wouldn't listen. Staff had to intervene. Mind you, I gave him absolutely no reason to think that I would even be his friend, let alone anything more than that. I was not the first person he tried this with. I'm sure I was not the last (I was out of the program before he was). There are a lot of people out there who will try to take advantage of these situations. People entering AA are vulnerable and are not always able to stand up for themselves. They need people who can advocate for them in these situations. Facilitators should be trained to do this so more women don't end up in this sort of situation.

Jul. 03 2013 11:02 AM
Ann from NYC

It is a tragedy that this woman was killed by her boyfriend. It is ridiculous that the author blames AA.

Jul. 03 2013 11:01 AM
Bonnie from Manhattan

This woman has no clue what she is talking about. Shame on you for giving her a voice.

Jul. 03 2013 11:01 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Wow! Some women drink and seek out sex too? What a shocker! I'm shocked, totally shocked!

Jul. 03 2013 11:00 AM
Mashey from Bronx, NY

As a left-winger, even I am amazed at the political correctness purported by Ms. Glaser. AA is reflective of the society from which its members are drawn. There are predators there just as in society at large. One of the first things one hears in meetings are "women with the women and men with the me." I take exception to Ms. Glaser's facts. As the population is anonymous and we can only use anecdotal evidence as to the efficacy of sobriety in AA, so too must any study results be regarded similarly. And one of the addict's great hopes is that normalcy can be achieved the simple way (i.e. with a drug, as Ms. Glaser proffers)

Jul. 03 2013 11:00 AM
John A

My read on this is very much victim mentality.
Aren't adult women more capable than this in this day and age?
On the internet, this would be classified as trolling.

Jul. 03 2013 11:00 AM

This is just a hype book. A vulnerable woman could be preyed upon by her doctor prescribing the drugs the author talks about. Cognitive therapy groups (ie SmartRecovery) have men and women and people are vulnerable.

I agree that judges should stop dictating people go to AA. It waters down the program. But this is simply an author in search of a problem to write about.

Don't let her get you riled up.

Jul. 03 2013 11:00 AM
Felicia from Harlem in NYC

I don't have an investment in this--I am not an addict and have friends who have been helped by AA. But I am APPALLED by the lack of empathy for vulnerable women whose stories she documents. She outlines things that can be FIXED, so why the resistance. The Catholic Church and other institutions have helped tons of people, but that doesn't mean we turn our eyes from manifest problems.

Jul. 03 2013 10:59 AM
Adrienne from Manhattan

In AA for over 20 years. I'm a woman, 13 stepping is warned about in meetings. It's not that common and mostly consists of a harmless guy being a little too friendly. Women in AA are warned about these guys. AA saved my life. This author is just trying to discredit AA in order to sell her book.

Jul. 03 2013 10:59 AM
AliceW from Manhattan

Tragic story ... out of a population of 300 million people I think these sad things WILL happen from time to time is the norm? you would need a LOT more cases to start to argue that ....

Jul. 03 2013 10:59 AM
Amy from Manhattan

AA officials said their structure meant they couldn't address this problem?! The fact they *have* officials, & put out literature, & have a headquarters, means they can tell their groups what they need to do about this, & have a responsibility too.

Jul. 03 2013 10:58 AM

Does the guest know how systemic a problem this is? It looks to me like she's making the crime (as horrific as it is) more prevalent than it is (remember the panic over the non existent link between Autism and immunization?).

Jul. 03 2013 10:57 AM

Does the guest know how systemic a problem this is? It looks to me like she's making the crime (as horrific as it is) more prevalent than it is (remember the panic over the non existent link between Autism and immunization?).

Jul. 03 2013 10:57 AM
Michael from NJ

She's not telling a tall stories. AA and Abortion centers have been in a few movies as places to go to pick up vulnerable women.

Jul. 03 2013 10:55 AM

Here we go - raging against convicts and trying to run them away from one of the only environments open to them. Why not clean up AA? Why not come to terms with the rampant coercive and violent element inherent in our culture? Why not accept that AA may be at issue here? Why not accept that our society is at issue here? Why not rage against parole in not screening who should go and who should not?

No - just rage against the convict. Was George Zimmerman a convict?

AA has about a 20% success rate. AA is a haven for deceptive and coercive mentalities on all levels. America is ripe with deceptive and coercive violent people.

"True" cognitive therapy (Beck) works. But nobody gets to "work it".

Jul. 03 2013 10:55 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I would have expected this to be more of a problem in Al-Anon (& other -Anon groups), which are, in effect, for people who tend to get into relationships w/people who have substance-abuse problems (many of whom are also physically abusive).

Jul. 03 2013 10:54 AM
Stephanie Roberts from New York City

This is infuriating. Yes. Painting with a broad brush. This is SO irresponsible. AA is the only thing saving lives, the only thing that works. I cannot even begin to tell you how angry this makes me. You are doing so much harm. OMG. Treatment options that work? I have a lot of trouble with some of the things those two white men wrote. I am so so so so so angry. Wow. This program has saved the lives of so many people I know. And you bring a few events?????? The level of irresponsibility here is reprehensible.

Jul. 03 2013 10:54 AM
Nora from NYC

I don't have a dog in this fight (never had a problem with drinking, never went to AA), but I do know something about being in a vulnerable state. When people are emotionally vulnerable they can get into relationships they would not otherwise even look at. Thus this is a legit area of inquiry.

Jul. 03 2013 10:54 AM
Ben from Westchester

Glaser is a terrific author and I hope people read this important book!

Jul. 03 2013 10:45 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

What about women and pain-killers?

Jul. 03 2013 09:20 AM

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