At Stockport's July Meeting Stefan Cooper gave us a very interesting talk partly based on his own experiences. Most of us have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and maybe Narcotics Anonymous but I wonder how many of us have realised that there are more than 200 different Anonymous Groups.
The Anonymous philosophy is based on the 12 step principle http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/The-12-Steps-of-AA and was originally a model of seeking spiritual enlightenment. Groups are available not just for various addictions but also for bad habits such as overeating, for behavioural problems and involuntary problems such as diabetes.
Anonymous is Big Business. 90% of treatment centres in the US are 12 step based. There are no figures for the UK but it is a multimillion pound business using benefits, council tax etc. Some very well paid people are making a lot of money selling 12 steps to vulnerable people.
Many perceive AA groups to be a benign group of people and AA portrays itself as a self-help or mutual aid organisation. There is no mention of God on the web site but the message of the 12-steps is that you have to give yourself to God. And 12-steps is the only way if you go to meetings.
Stefan met and worked with 1000s of addicts, some of the most vulnerable people in society. Detoxing only takes a couple of weeks but underneath is a lifetime of chaos. Sex abuse and crime also play a part in the equation.
If you open your door as a meeting and offer a solution this becomes the definitive solution. People can end up worse than they started. If the 12-steps don’t work for you it is your fault. This can create real fear in vulnerable people. Fear can work in rehab but not when you return to the real world. Therefore people become dependent on anonymous.
The anonymous movement developed from the Oxford Group, founded by the American Christian Missionary Frank Buchman, which later became known as Moral Rearmament.
One of the founders of AA, Bill Wilson, went through a number of courses of the Belladonna cure which was being used to treat alcoholism in the 1930s. He had a revelation whilst under treatment and believed that becoming a Christian would stop his drinking. He converted and never drank again but he was a chain smoker who died of emphysema. The 12-steps came to him whilst he was tripping in a hospital bed but people were told they were divinely inspired. The basic text for AA known as the Big Book mentions God 200 times in 167 pages.
Non-believers are pushed to believe in God and if they have a problem with this they are given a tract against agnosticism.
Anyone can set up an Anonymous meeting. All you need is a ring of chairs and a kettle. This is potentially dangerous as there is nothing to stop sexual predators forming groups under the guise of helping people, who are at their most vulnerable.