Penn and Teller call BULLSHIT! on 12 Step recovery

12 step is a cult? Addiction is not a disease? HERESY! And who wants to be shouted at by blowhard buttface Penn – or mimed at by creepy dwarf Teller? Why excoriate something that has saved countless lives? Science evangelists can be just as boring as the let-me-save-you-while-oversharing meeting junkies you get ‘in these rooms’.

DISCLAIMER Penn and Teller are smart, very accomplished performers who raise many important issues in eight series of tearing apart received wisdom. Just sharing the tough love… They do give space to opposing views, with some merciless editing. Very entertaining in a contrarian-just-to-be-cunty, televisual clickbait way. Well, pardon them for being interesting. And informative. And funny.Despite being an addict for over forty years I didn’t know there is a network of rational recovery groups ( or that recovery rate is 5% if you do the programme or if you don’t. Hang on, statistics can be BULLSHIT! and in any case some do learn moderate drinking – if they do a long enough stretch with 12 step, use it during the initial crisis, or come to prefer clean and sober to prison, violence, crime, illness, homelessness, family breakdown, the agony of missing your children, poverty, incontinence and death. (Although I was never degenerate enough to wear long hair in a pony tail. While not noticing that the hippy look might balance a fat, self-satisfied, ever-shouting face. Thank me later.)

Whatever works.

I got eight and a half years sobriety once with the help of AA or was it because I was asked to give up while we awaited the birth of our son? In that time there were just two relapses: one beer to redirect a bad acid trip – alone with toothache, at New Year in a dark house, what could go wrong? – and another during a grueling family Christmas. Someone said: ‘just ONE beer with the in laws?’
Only two drinks so far this year: one very moderate despite the extreme provocation of my Mother’s visit – a female Basil Fawlty who once gave Michael Heseltine a bollocking despite herself being a Tory – and the other a disastrous attempt to slowly sip Lidl’s as-good-as-a-£100 whisky. As if I care about ‘superb mouth-watering gristy sugars’. Six hours of wild hilarity later…the whisky had vanished. Then a day of doom. So it’s back to the 13 Step Satanic recovery – hedonist self-interest, rational choices – without crawling to the cross or using a higher power. Step One on its own can work. Just stop. Stay stopped (the hard part).

I had already learned the fat one’s conclusion: ‘If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t drink. Your choice.’  This fascinating programme will help those riled by the bleating of slogans and preachers who don’t respect your space. It shows there is another way. Excellent work, Penn and Teller.


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