How do I get a 12-stepper to stop harassing me?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on June 3rd, 2009 - Last updated: September 19th, 2019
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Dear Stanton:

I know it is wrong for one to proselytize one’s religious beliefs in the workplace, but what of someone who is proselytizing 12-step dogma at work?

I neither drink or use drugs. I did however lose a close friend recently, and have difficulty avoiding crying jags at times. This person has taken me aside and pushed a lot of 12-step slogans, suggestions of support groups (12 step of course). I have politely told her that I am not interested. What recourse would I have, should she continue?


PS. Loved your “Dr. Strangelove” editorial.



You’re my kind of people.

Here’s my five step approach to shutting a 12-stepper up:

  1. Start by politely stating, “I disagree with the 12-step philosophy. And I don’t really want to debate it while I’m at work. Could you show me the respect of keeping your views on this subject to yourself?”
  2. “If you want to argue with someone, read The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, the Rational Recovery Web Site, the Moderation Management Web Site, Charles Bufe’s book, ‘AA: Cult or Cure?”‘, and any other number of works by people who think the 12-step philosophy does more harm than good.”
  3. “I don’t really feel I need to argue with someone or defend my views on a topic unrelated to my work while I’m at work. Is there some reason you need to convince everyone you’re correct? Is this the kind of compulsivity that many of the authors/groups in the previous paragraph think shows that AA is just a substitute dependence? Can’t you control yourself when it comes to this topic?”
  4. You are doing something to deal with your crying jags, or should be doing something. When I say something, I mean a pretty broad range of things. Taking walks, being nice to your remaining friends, reading your Kama Sutra, making sure to have a glass of wine to calm you at night, etc.
  5. Then tell this person, like you might a Seventh Day Adventist who comes to your house — “I have a life and a way of dealing with my problems. I don’t need you to tell me how to do so. Obviously, you have many problems, and I’d like to tell you how to deal with them. But I will resist that temptation, unless you force me to do so.”

Let me know how it goes.

Best wishes,

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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