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The 13th step Film – Monica Richardson

Today I met up again with Monica Richardson who has made The 13th Step film, which is a documentary about issues in AA. it is well worth watching and if you are in the UK, it is being shown for free at The Crown Plaza Hotel on Wednesday 15th February. Monica will do a question and answer session afterwards.

The last screening was great and a few of us who had met online on various recovery forums got together afterwards for a great chat.

I did a quick podcast with her talking about how we met years ago and how things have changed. She was still in AA and trying to make it safer back in those days, but when she could not make much progress she studied Film Making and decided to make this documentary. It  took a couple of years and has been streamed on Amazon Prime and is available on Vimeo as well.

Here is a link to the film website. and here is her more general Blog. which are worth a look. I hope to see some of you at the Film.

Giving up Alcohol in 2017

Happy new year 2017 to anyone reading this today, but especially those who have found this page as they want help stopping drinking. This podcast is with Jon, who has many years of sobriety and myself, who gave up the booze decade ago.

How to stop Drinking

Stopping drinking when you have a problem is hard, but luckily things are advancing, compared to when we stopped. More people are making use of the Sinclair Method which deals with the horrible cravings that us Alcoholics face when we first attempt to stop drinking. I was not aware of this solution when I was first trying to stop, which is a great shame, as it would have been the method that I would have chosen.


You can of course try and stop on your own, and most people try to do this. We both did and failed which is sadly rather common. We only managed to stop when we joined a support group which in our case was AA, which everyone has heard of. The success rate in AA is not high, but people who really commit to the program and enjoy being part of AA, often do well. Others are put off by the religious side of AA, and there are some other hazards that should be addressed. I generally tell people to just go to meetings at first and not to worry about the religious side when they are new. Your background and beliefs will influence how you react to this side of AA.

There are smaller groups such as Smart Recovery and Lifering which also have online meetings which offer a more modern approach, which you may find helpful. There are also harm reduction groups such as moderation management for those not looking to be abstinent. I would advise people to look into all these methods and see what will work for them.

Amazon is a great resource and there are many books on the subject, which are not available in your local bookstore. I would advise to read as much as possible. I learnt a lot this way, and was able to plan my own recovery in a way that would not have been possible in the past.

There is always rehab, but be careful what you choose. Some people do need medical attention and a proper detox. Stopping drinking if you have been drinking heavily can be really dangerous and some will need help to cut down. If you have any doubts, go and see a doctor. They can give the best source of advice for you, and offer counselling and medication. They can also discuss the different types of rehabs available and other solutions.

Life without Alcohol

I certainly do not regret stopping drinking and view myself in a completely different way these days. I started to exercise and now tend to mix with healthy people. It takes time to adjust and the first few weeks and months can be tough, but it well worth it.

Most people do not manage to stop first time and so try not to beat yourself up, if this happens to you. This part of the process proved to me that I had a problem! It was only when I finally had enough and made a commitment to myself, that I managed to stop. I also learnt a lot from what people shared in meetings and from reading about the experiences of others. I joined online groups although some of those are best avoided, especially those that attract members with extreme views. You should not be surprised that there are some crazy people in recovery groups so be careful what you share and perhaps set up a recovery account on things such as Facebook if you want to keep some privacy.

Anyway best wishes to anyone starting recovery today and good luck in 2017!

Bob K lives in Ontario, Canada, and has been sober in AA for 25 years.  He is a well-known AA historian and published author.  His book “Key Players in AA History” is a revealing account of the true stories behind the people who founded and developed Alcoholics Anonymous.
As an atheist activist in AA Bob as also a prolific contributor to the websites “AA Agnostica” and “AA Beyond Belief”.  He is well informed about the controversial developments in Toronto, where the local AA Inter Group threw out some atheist meetings who had revised the 12 steps by taking out all references to God.

Podcast with Bob K

Changing the 12 steps

Changing the 12 steps is something you just don’t do in Alcoholics Anonymous — but if the programme discriminates against atheists, how will the fellowship accommodate this?

I ask Bob what is it like as an atheist in North American AA meetings.  These are conspicuously more religious than the ones people attend here in the UK.  Most Canadian AA meetings begin with the Serenity Prayer and end with the Lord’s Prayer, for example, much like those in the United States.
We discuss the latest developments in the Toronto legal action and how it has, ironically, motivated a surge in atheist meetings in the area and given birth to important online resources that are now helping atheists in AA world wide.  This suit has real potential to cause resentment among AA traditionalists over the mounting legal costs, and its outcome may have longstanding international implications for the fellowship and it’s traditions.

History of AA and Bill Wilson

We also do some myth-busting about AA history.  There are many unchallenged falsehoods you still hear in meetings today.
AA’s founder Bill Wilson was a dedicated spiritualist who ran regular seances at his home and believed he could talk to ghosts.  He also experimented frequently with LSD, campaigned strongly for the use of niacin,  and was a huge support of other chemical assists in recovery.  Bill wrote about the need for “a methadone for alcoholics” and I’m sure he would have loved The Sinclair Method, but you won’t ever hear that shared in an AA meeting.
Another fellowship myth is that there was no help for alcoholics prior to foundation of AA.  That’s just not true. There were hundreds of successful sobriety groups, of all kinds, and Bob’s doing some great research on this.
Nor do you hear about some of the non-spiritual sources that inspired AA’s famous core text, “The Big Book”.  These include Richard Peabody’s one-time best-seller “The Common Sense of Drinking”, a huge inspiration on AA’s founders that has been entirely forgotten today.
This is not an “anti-AA” discussion. Bob and I both got sober in the fellowship and we’re both grateful for that.  Bob still attends regular meetings and believes strongly in the value of an active recovery programme.
However it remains a fact that AA membership numbers have flat-lined since 1992, during which time the population of North America has increased by over 30%.
Meanwhile secular AA is growing rapidly.  How will change come about? Is it just a matter of time and demographics?
“Key Players in AA History” is available via Amazon:
This episode was guest hosted by Jon Stewart. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

I have not had much of a chance to do any podcasts for the past few months due to being really busy but I hope to do a few more  soon. This is the first podcast for a while and we decided to do one about “the good things in AA”. This may surprise some people, as I have been quite critical of aspects of AA in the past, and left the fellowship over 8 years ago. However, I still feel that there were parts of AA membership that helped me, even though I was not a fan of everything there including the 12 steps, and the concept of “Higher Powers”.

I find quite a lot that is written about AA these days by the “anti AA” brigade rather embarrassing these days. I would call myself “pro choice” and I am not a fan of protest movements. I rather prefer to support people who are actually doing something positive and helping others by forming new groups and promoting good medical solutions.

Anyway here are the points that Jon came up with that were good about AA and which we talk about in the podcast.

Good things about AA:

(1) It exists, the singleness of purpose works, few organisations survive so long
(2) It works. Probably 10+ millions people have been helped
(3) It’s simple. Anyone willing to try it can get it.
(4) It’s a broad church. You meet all types. It’s very inclusive.
(5) It’s free.
(6) It’s anonymous, so no medical records to worry about
(7) It’s everywhere. You can go to meetings all over the world.
(8) It has a good self development programme. Encourages people to take a good honest look at their attitudes and behaviours.
(9) It’s friendly and welcoming, and a great place to meet people.
(10) It’s altruistic. You have to help others for it to work for you.
(11) It’s non-judgemental. You can share whatever you like and get things off your chest
(12) It’s flexible, and has spawned other groups that help people with all kinds of problems.
Did I miss anything? What else is worth celebrating about AA..?

Another Sinclair Method Podcast.

Here is the latest podcast on and about The Sinclair Method and it features Ben who has used the method to beat his alcoholism for about a year now and has improved his life as result. We we discuss his background and how he tried many solutions before finding out about the Sinclair Method which uses Naltrexone or another opioid blocker to chemically extinguish the cravings for alcohol online.

Successfully using The Sinclair Method for a year.

It is great to hear from somebody who has used this excellent method to beat alcohol problems and compare it to my own and other people’s experience. It does seem that people who comply with the Sinclair Method and take their tablet one hour before drinking alcohol do really well compared to people using traditional faith-based solutions such as AA. Many people in AA who are about a year into their recovery are still stressed by the thought of drinking and are still craving alcohol badly. This does not seem to be the case with those who make use of the medication in the Sinclair Method.



Medication for the Sinclair Method.

We discuss how hard it was for Ben to get hold of the tablets, which seems to be a common problem with using the Sinclair Method. We also talk about the book “A cure for Alcoholism” by Dr Roy Eskapa which has helped so many people understand the research done by Dr David Sinclair, after whom this method is named. We also mention some of the minor side effects that Ben has experienced.

The Sinclair Method Tablets

Sinclair Method Online.

We dicuss how to find out information about using the Sinclair Method online, which seems to be where most people find out about the solution, and mention some online communities that are worth looking at. We also talk a bit about my own recovery and how I beat my own issues with alcoholism. I sadly did not use the Sinclair Method because I had not heard of it and as a result spent 10 difficult years stopping and starting which I believe could have been avoided. This is something I regret.

Here are some useful links about The Sinclair Method.

Here is the most accurate forum for the Sinclair Method

There is also a category on site about The Sinclair Method

Starting using the Sinclair Method to beat alcoholism.

This weeks podcast on and features a conversation with Jo, who lives in the UK and who has decided to start the Sinclair Method. She is really very positive about using medication to help beat a her problems with alcohol,and has made use of many online resources to find out about this underused solution. I was pleased to find out she had listened to some of the podcasts here!

Like many people she has tried to stop drinking a few times, and went to AA and in fact still attends meetings to be part of a sober community. She has managed a period of abstinence but found some of the ideas in AA did not really help. She has also made use of counselling services to deal with problem issues from the past which is something that really helped me. I was not comfortable with talking about all my issues with a sponsor in AA and felt it was better to deal with those types of problems in a controlled environment, especially as I had experienced issues with confidentiality in the AA world.

We talk about what Jo hopes to gain from the Sinclair method and why she chose it over other solutions such as AA. We discuss how it feels to start the treatment and the effects of the medication. Jo seems to be doing well straight away with this solution, which does not normally work instantly for many people. For most heavy drinkers the effects of extinction are felt after a few months and they often taper off to complete abstinence.

I have certainly seen The Sinclair Method work well for many different people who comply with taking their tablet one hour before drinking alcohol. Some people do have problems getting hold of the medication, despite it being available on the NHS. Not all GP’s are willing to prescribe Nalmefene, and some health authorities insist that people go to a specialist alcohol clinic before being treated this way. This prevents some from getting the help they need and is a great shame, especially as the tablets are available over the counter in many other countries.

I really enjoyed chatting to Jo who I met in an online recovery group on Facebook and I hope to do more podcasts with her in the future to see how she is getting on in a few months. I think it will be interesting to see how things have changed for her, and how the solution is helping her.

Here are some useful links about The Sinclair Method

Discussing My “Online Recovery” from Alcoholism

Here is the latest Podcast that I have done for my podcast site as well as and it is about how being online has helped me beat alcoholism and other addictions. We talk about some of the sites that helped me when I was looking for information such as which was the first online recovery community that I took any notice of, and which I consider groundbreaking at the time. It was sadly spoilt by a few idiots, who tend to cause problems online in the recovery community.


We also discuss different ways to build a WordPress recovery blog and how to get it noticed. We explain the importance of choosing a good domain name, the various ways of hosting a blog and the pros and cons including the costs of the various approaches.

We also talk about meeting people online and this leads to a discussion about the recent impressive Ted Talk by Claudia Christian which I will post here when it becomes available as an individual talk.  At the moment it can be viewed here and Claudia’s section starts at about 02.51.00 and is well worth a look.

We talk about how blogs can help people find out about great methods such as The Sinclair Method and meeting other people in recovery online, and how this can add to your support.

The bad side of online alcoholism discussion – the trolls!

There is also a bad side to taking part in the online recovery world. There are those, who will behave in an aggressive way towards others in recovery, and be critical of the way they are trying to beat alcoholism. Some sites such as the Orange Papers Forum are poorly moderated and are simply venues for people to sling mud at each other, and this tends to spill onto other sites. A small number of people from this or similar “Anti AA sites” seem to feel they are fighting some kind of cause, and will attempt to take over any online comment section that is open to them. This can lead to more intelligent, moderate and sensible people withdrawing from discussions. I tend not to read any comment sections on Recovery magazine sites as a result of the poor behaviour, as they are usually full of the same few loudmouthed idiots having a go at each other. You do need to be a bit thick-skinned if you want to take part in some online discussions and this is obviously a shame, as normal boundaries are often not observed.

Anyway I hope some of you find the podcast helpful especially if you are thinking of producing your own blog, which can be very worthwhile, and I hope to be doing some more podcasts in the near future, including people who are at various stages of using The Sinclair Method and also discussing how meditation can help in recovery from addiction.

This weeks podcast on a casual approach to AA

Here is this weeks new podcast for and . The alcoholism recovery podcasts have been doing well and I have had over 10 000 listens so far which is pretty good as I only started this site towards the end of last year.

This week I am talking with Adrian from London who has been a member of AA for many years and who has a successful recovery from alcoholism. He still attends AA but takes a more casual approach than many to AA membership. He still takes recovery seriously but his life does not revolve around meetings which is something we both did in our early days.

I found having this discussion really interesting as Adrian has made good use of being in the fellowship, but is certainly not a Big Book thumper and takes a more common sense approach to recovery than some people.

We discuss why we feel AA helps people but also mention things that we feel are out of date. We talk about the literature and why that puts some people off going to AA and miss out on recovery. People like Adrian were the ones that actually helped me in my days in the rooms of AA rather than the Big Book thumpers and members of the cult type meetings.

It is important that people are not put off recovery by people who are over zealous about wanting to sponsor them, or by an old fashioned approach to issues such as taking antidepressants. Some meetings are great and have broad minded members, while others are really more like a religious group where there is more talk about God and Higher Powers, than actual recovery.

I think it is important in recovery to try and get some independence and not simply rely on a sponsor for every big decision in your life. I am not saying you should take chances with recovery but at the same time I think it is a good idea to try and live a normal life that does not revolve around having a fear of drinking.

Does AA use thought control and fit the Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

During the latest podcast that I have done with Jon Stewart on who blogs at we discuss the idea of thought control being part of AA. Many people will be surprised by this. However, should you look at some of the things that are written about Alcoholics Anonymous on some “Anti – AA” sites you will discover that some critics of AA and the steps feel, AA is a religious cult that uses thought control.

I personally don’t think AA is a cult although I accept there are some cultish aspects to it, especially in some big city meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous does not attempt to take all your money and people can leave when they want, although they maybe discouraged from doing so by certain members unlike many cults. Nobody told me to come back when I left, they assumed I would relapse and return on my own, but thankfully this was not the case.

Podcast about Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform.

We decided to look at how AA compares to Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform. You read more about this  at

Here are the Eight criteria.

  1. Milieu (Environmental) Control – Control over the members’ flow of information and social interaction. In many groups, there is a “no gossip” rule that keeps people from expressing their doubts or misgivings about what is going on. Members are taught to report those that break the rule, a practice that increases dependence on the leadership. They are sometimes told not to believe anything they see or hear reported by the media.

2. Mystical Manipulation – The group attributes supernatural influences where none are present–attributing an accident to a member that left to be “God’s punishment”–or manipulates situations so they appear spontaneous–members believing that their new feelings and behavior has arisen spontaneously because of joining their new group. The effect is enhanced by the milieu control because dissenting or alternative ideas are not present.

3. Demand for Purity – Unreasonable rules and unreachable standards are imposed upon the members. The critical, shaming essence of the cult environment is gradually internalized by the members, which builds lots of guilt and shame, further magnifying their dependence on the group. Individuals easily feel inadequate, but are more willing to submit to this because the milieu control limits critical questioning, and the mystical manipulation validates the group’s rules.

4. Confession – Past and present behavior, undesirable feelings are to be confessed. However, the information gained about you can be used against you to make you feel more guilty, powerless, fearful and ultimately in need of the group and the leader’s goodness. This environment is set up by the unreasonable demand for purity.

5. Sacred Science – The teachings of the group are viewed as the ultimate, unquestionable truth. The leader of the group is likewise above criticism as the spokesperson for God on earth, whose Truth should be applied to all humankind and anyone who disagrees or has alternative ideas is not only irreverent, but also unscientific. Mystical manipulation often lends credence to the group’s doctrine.

6. Loading the Language – The group’s language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. “Groupspeak” forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as “of Satan,” “unconverted,” etc.

6. Loading the Language – The group’s language serves the purpose of constructing their thinking and shutting down critical thinking abilities. “Groupspeak” forces members to censor, edit and slow down spontaneous bursts of criticism or opposite ideas. Soon members find it easier to talk among themselves than with outsiders, who are given derogatory names such as “of Satan,” “unconverted,” etc.

8. Dispensing of Existence – The group’s totalistic environment emphasizes that the members are part of an elite or special group. Outsiders are considered unworthy or unenlightened. This thinking leads to the thinking that their whole existence centers on being in the group. If you leave, you join nothingness. This is an extension of doctrine over person. Existence comes to depend on creed (I believe, therefore, I am), submission (I obey, therefore, I am) and total merger with the group’s ideology. This is the final step in creating members’ dependence on the group.

AA does fit Lifton’s Eight Criteria.

It is interesting to see how AA fits into the Eight criteria quite well! You also apply them to most religions and many other spiritual groups as well. I do think that this can help people understand how AA works, and what is really going on in the fellowship. Many people accept everything they are told in a group and do not explore much outside it. This is a big problem for people attempting to recover from Alcoholism or Addiction, as they may benefit from a more modern approach, or something completely different to the AA spiritual solution. AA is right when it says you have take recovery seriously, but it is not always the best way to actually achieve this.

Happy New year 2016.

I thought I would talk about stopping  drinking for New Year,for those who are still struggling with Alcoholism and who wish to stop drinking alcohol. It is New Years Day, the  most popular day to quit, and many attempt to make stopping drinking, their resolution for the coming year, but most with a problem will not make it. Others will attempt a dry January and find out how hard it is, and come to the grim conclusion that they have a problem. I have recorded a short 25 min podcast on the subject, on my own.

Podcast about stopping drinking for New Year.

My experiences stopping drinking for New Year.

I speak from my own experience, as I have stopped drinking alcohol many times on January 1st. I knew I had a problem when I was in my early twenties, but drink and drugs were an important part of my life, and I was not ready to stop. I knew I was harming myself but could not see that life would be bearable without being able to blot parts of it out. I was very ill when I was thirty, but only stopped for a while and then had a decade of stopping and starting before I finally gave in at 40. I have stayed sober since then and prefer to be completely abstinent. That is the easiest way for me, but not for everyone.

The years between 30 and 40 were not good and I tried to solve all my issues without support. I did have some Counselling when I was 30 but did not do what I was told or make significant changes to my lifestyle. I did not stay sober for much more than a year as a result and always felt dreadful shame when I gave in and went back to the bottle. When I was forty I did attempt to stop on New Years Day but it went wrong pretty fast and it was only when I got really desperate and accepted I needed help that I made progress a few months later.

The way I stopped Drinking Alcohol.

I finally decided to stop, and made the decision to go to AA, which was huge for me. I had not wanted to go, and was worried about the stigma. It felt very strange going to meetings at first, and being a newcomer amongst people with multiple years of sobriety. I was not sure about the God Stuff but went along with other things and admitted that the members there did have what I wanted and that was sobriety.

I did also realise that I was really going to have to work at this to succeed as it was obvious that there were not that many in meetings with multiple years who were classed as old timers. Most were quite new and there were a significant number of people who were between one and five years sober. I did not realise that many people simply use AA for a while and then move on, I just thought you would die if you left, as that was what I was told.

I made use of the AA community, much more than the religious side such as the steps, in my time in the fellowship. It was being around sober people with a common aim that helped me and not praying. I am glad I went for 18 months, as it certainly helped motivate me to recover (although this is not the case for everyone). However I felt I needed some other help and went for counselling and moved away from AA. I realised AA would be there if I wanted it, but for me it was time to explore other solutions. I needed to deal with issues such as depression and this needed proper professional help, which I got.

There are plenty of solutions available, but I had not researched them or looked for any alternatives to AA, as that was the group that I had heard about and the one that some famous rock stars had belonged to. With hindsight this was a mistake and could have cost me dearly. I regret not finding out about methods such as the Sinclair Method when I was much younger as this could have saved me so much pain. I regret not looking at Smart Recovery early on as it’s CBT approach is what really worked for me later on. There were not that many meetings in those days but this has changed. There are also groups such as Lifering which is growing and looks like it can really help.

It is a good time to try and beat alcoholism. There are many good books on the subject and I have listed some on my book section. The new groups such as Smart are growing and have online meetings as well. The Sinclair method is supported by the which has a European site as well . Lifering also has online meetings. There are other online groups such as Soberistas which you can join for a small fee and be part of an online support group for mainly women. They offer blogs and chatrooms, as well as good professional advice.

I was told in AA to make recovery my priority and put it before everything else. This was good advice at the time although I am a bit more relaxed about it now. I find that a healthy lifestyle is really what keeps me straight today. I look forward to exercise and healthy meals and many people in recovery who do well, do make radical changes such as taking up running. Looking back at the old me from decade ago and before seems slightly surreal. I am so glad that I made the changes I did and have had many rewards as a result. Some people can’t seem to make the changes and don’t progress, while others have many stops and starts. That seems quite normal, very few people seem to give up straight away and often need time to find support that helps them, especially if they have problems in their environment. There is not one sure 100% way to do this and we are all different.

Best wishes to anyone trying to stop problem drinking in 2016.

Good luck to all who are setting out on an alcohol or drug free journey today. I hope it goes well for you, but please don’t give up if you have setbacks. Most people in the Harm Reduction community accept that few will be able to stop straight away and try to help people who are going to use, even though they may not want to, to be able to do so in a safe manner. Stopping is a very hard thing to do and I admire anyone who tries. I have met many amazing people in recovery from all kinds of backgrounds and they all had to work at it. If they didn’t, they probably did not have much of a problem to start with!