I tried to gently suggest she go to more
> of a discussion type meeting, but she told me she
> was told that those meetings are full of people
> with untreated alcoholism who just share about
> their problems but don't turn to God or do the
> step work correctly.
> The first tip off that your friend was being mind
> controlled by her sponsor
> was the sponsor instilling fear and contempt for
> 12 Step groups outside of the one the sponsor
> recommended. That's classic cult behavior.
> As in all social groups, the 12 Step world has
> some dictatorial types who can and do become
> dictators and abuse their sponsees. They give
> the entire enterprise a bad name.
> An AA sponsor should NEVER be your jailer, no more
> than your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife should become ones jailor.
> Yes, there are some AA people who will push their
> own religious recipe on their sponsees. They need to be called out.
> Unfortunately, sponsees are exquisitely vulnerable
> and a dictatorial sponsor can do terrible harm.
> After years of difficult experiences, the 12 Step
> communities came up with
> the 12 Traditions as a precaution against a
oming isolated and cultic.
> If one follows proper procedure, a meeting should
> never be antagonistic or contemptuous of other
> meetings. And there should be regular, scheduled
> elections so that no one member becomes
> excessively domineering.
> A person should be able to leave or fire his or
> her sponsor at any time. For a sponsor to become
> as domineering as what you describe here -- that
> is dangerous.
> There are authoritarian types who can turn
> anything beneficial into a
> psychospiritual cult bondage situation.
> Your friend's sponsor sounds like a control freak
> and a dictator.
> The whole point of genuine recovery work is to
> emerge from fear and isolation, not to become an
> inmate of just one meeting and avoid everything
> The point of recovery is to become more and more
> able to to enjoy a wide variety of social
> There are legions of people in AA who identify as
> atheist, as agnostic, who put in years of solid
> sobriety who do not ID God as their higher power.