One of the more destructive beliefs in Alcoholics Anonymous is that of the “dry drunk”. AA founder Bill Wilson came up with this idea to explain his own abhorrent behavior while sober, and to expand the definition of alcoholic to include people who never drank to excess or consequence. Because he insisted ” the bottle was only a symptom ” and that alcoholism was truly a “spiritual disease”, then anyone who ” sinned” in “alcoholic ways” could be declared an alcoholic, regardless of their drinking habits.
In fact, AA literature written by Bill Wilson accuses a famous prohibitionist Carrie Nation of being “obsessed” with alcohol, of being a dry drunk who just happened to never drink. All her efforts, inspired by her own experience being married to an abusive alcoholic, are reduced to nothing more than a drunk questing after his next drink. Bill Wilson absolutely loved to say battered wives really carried the sins of their husbands. Al-Anon exists for that sole purpose.
AA members are encouraged to see the world in false dichotomies. Everyone around them is either a saintly virtuous AA alcoholic, or they are an evil bad sinful non AA alcoholic. Everyone in the whole damn world is “acting alcoholically” to true believers, so it’s not uncommon to hear an alcoholic adult in AA blame their toddler for “acting alcoholically” and throwing a tantrum. Any behavior an AA doesn’t like is alcoholic or dry drunk behavior.
This dry drunk concept was key to establishing the various spin off twelve step groups: everyone, whether they drink too much or not, should use the twelve steps because everyone who ever smoked a joint or had a beer or didn’t is equally “spiritually diseasesd.” In order to make his snake oil a cure-all, Bill W. had to convince people they all had the same sickness. And it worked. Twelve step groups are worldwide and cover every imaginable addiction and abuse. Surviving incest and drinking to excess are treated as equal, identical, sins.
This is nonsense. Being married to an alcoholic or raised by one is not the same as being one, yet to AA the “treatment plan” is exactly the same: Admit you are powerless, confess your sins, grovel before the group God. There’s no good reason to think this is effective addiction treatment but it is downright abusive when pushed on the familial victims of abusive alcoholics. Al-Anon and Alateen exist to blame victims, and recruit them into a cult. They are not support groups. They are cons.