Speaking The Truth About Alcoholic Women and Elizabeth Pena

ANother excellent article by Gabrielle Glaser exposing the failed systems in place for women with alcohol addiction, and just unsafe 12 step programs like AA really are.



Elizabeth Peña and the Truth About Alcoholic Women

Alcoholism and abuse is on the rise among women. Why they drink, and why the traditional treatment methods like A.A. don’t work for them.
When Elizabeth Peña died last week, her family said she died after a brief illness. We now know that the Cuban-American actress’s untimely demise was the result ofdue to alcohol abuse, in addition to acute gastrointestinal bleeding, cardiopulmonary arrest, and cardiogenic shock. NA and AA Daytona meetings in Holly Hill Florida.It’s understandable that her family would not wish to disclose the circumstances. To be a woman suffering from a drinking problem in America is a lonely enterprise, defined by stigma and judgment. And that’s tragic. Women in America are drinking more than ever before, and they are suffering the consequences in sharply rising numbers.I spent three years researching the topic of women and drinking for a 2013 book, and I turned up some pretty arresting statistics. Gallup pollsters have consistently found that the more wealthy and educated a woman is, the more likely she is to drink. Federal studies show that the number of white, black, and Hispanic women who classified themselves as regular drinkers jumped significantly between the 1990s and early 2000s. They’re also the chief consumers of wine. According to the Wine Institute, they buy—and consume—the lion’s share of the 800 million gallons of wine sold in the U.S. each year.

On one hand, the rising drinking among women is a sign of parity. But unfortunately, this is one realm in which identical treatment has disparate outcomes. That is because women are more vulnerable than men to the toxic effects of alcohol: their bodies have more fat, and less water, than men’s. Fat retains alcohol, and water dilutes it, so women drinking the same amount as men who are evenly matched in size and weight become drunk more quickly, and stay intoxicated longer. Women also make less of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol before it hits the bloodstream.

This may be why serious alcohol-related deaths and illnesses are on the rise. Peña’s death, it turns out, is part of a dismaying trend: Between 2002 and 2012, the number of U.S. females women who died from cirrhosis rose 13 percent. (Among men, the rate for that same period rose 7 percent.) Between 1999 and 2008, the number of severely intoxicated young women who wound up in E.R.s rose by 52 percent. From 1992 and 2007, the number of middle-aged women who checked into rehab nearly tripled.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of U.S. females women who died from cirrhosis rose 13 percent.

We don’t know whether Peña, known for her roles in “Modern Family,” “La Bamba,” and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” sought help for her alcohol use. But if she did, it’s likely she was treated with one of a myriad 12-step programs derived from the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. The program, developed in the 1930s, demands that it members abstain from drinking, cede their egos, and accept their “powerlessness” over alcohol.

And that’s a problem.

My research showed that the majority people do not get better—or worse, are harmed through what often amounts to unsupervised group therapy. Anonymity rules help obscure people with criminal records, and many new members, especially women, report being the targets of unwanted sexual advances. A.A. members euphemistically call this “the 13th Step.” After my book appeared, dozens of women wrote to tell me what one study already showed, that a majority are harassed. Many are groped and some are raped. Some are even murdered. In 2011, Karla Brada Mendez was strangled to death by Eric Allen Earle, a man she met at a 12-step meeting. (He was convicted last month.) Unlike Brada Mendez, Earle, who had a violent past, was not attending A.A. voluntarily. A series of judges and parole officers had ordered him to go as an alternative to jail. Because of anonymity rules, none of Earle’s extremely violent past was made known to other attendees, and Brada Mendez’s family recently filed a civil suit against A.A. for wrongful death.

Monica Richardson, a Los Angeles actress and singer, was a longtime A.A. member who became so disturbed by what she found to be growing cases of violence in the group that she left, and has made a documentary about A.A.’s dangers.

Dozens of women wrote to tell me what one study already showed, that a majority of women in A.A. are harassed, groped, or raped. Some are even murdered.

While it is sadly too late for Ms. Peña, there is hope beyond these dismal facts. A growing number of U.S. practitioners are using what therapists and doctors in Europe have been using to treat alcohol use disorder for decades: evidence-based practice. Some, like Manhattan psychologist Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, embrace harm reduction, which seeks to reduce the negative consequences of alcohol or drug use. Others, such as the Centers for Motivation and Change in Manhattan, employ a variety of tools, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, a goal-oriented form of therapy, with their patients. A growing number embrace the use of anti-craving medications long approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the use of alcohol dependence.

And some specialize in treating women, who have different risk factors for excess drinking. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders as men, and they are more likely than men to treat their symptoms withalcohol. Other risk factors include a history of sexual abuse and bulimia, both of which also affect more women than men. Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes, co-director of an alcohol treatment program offering science-based treatments in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., says A.A.’s message of “powerlessness” is not helpful to most women—and is likely harmful. “Most women are not drinking to excess because they feel ‘powerful’ in the first place,” she says. “Women need to feel powerful, not like victims. If women go to treatment that tells them to embrace being powerless and diseased, how is that going to help?” Barnes uses cognitive behavioral therapy and assertiveness training, a skill she thinks is crucial for women who are problem drinkers.

“Many of the reasons women drink too much have to do with not asking for what they want and need in their personal relationships and the frustrations that come from that,” Barnes says. “When women learn to be assertive, their needs start getting met, they feel happier and more powerful. The reasons for their problem drinking start to go away.”

As a fan of Elizabeth Peña’s performances for decades, it saddens me that her career has been cut short. Almost certainly, it didn’t have to happen.


AA Member Eric Earle Convicted of First Degree Murder Of Karla Brada That He Met in AA


Clarita Valley man found guilty in murder of girlfriend

September 18 2014  Jim Holt

A Santa Clarita Valley man whose girlfriend was found dead in their shared condominium in Saugus three years ago was found guilty of first-degree murder today, a San Fernando Superior Court jury found.

Eric Earle, whose defense included a claim that his girlfriend, Karla Brada, was on drugs and fell down the stairs the night of Aug. 31, 2011, was found guilty of her murder after a trial that took about a week.

The jury passed a note to the judge at 11:40 a.m. saying it had reached a verdict after a little more than two hours of deliberation.

Saugus Man Convicted of Girlfriend’s Murder

Uploaded: 6:50 pm, Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

earle-barda[District Attorney] – A 43-year-old Saugus man with a history of domestic violence was found guilty Thursday of murdering his girlfriend, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Eric Allen Earle (dob 5/27/71) guilty of killing his 31-year-old girlfriend, Karla Brada, two days before her birthday.

Sentencing for case PA072411 has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in Department N of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, San Fernando Branch.

Earle faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.

On Sept. 1, 2011, the victim was found dead inside her condo, which she shared with Earle. Evidence presented at trial showed she was asphyxiated after being beaten by the defendant during a violent argument.

Earle had assaulted the victim on prior occasions and had also beaten his ex-wife, according to trial testimony.

The assigned prosecutor is Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

 From a previous KHTS story:

In the opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson described Earle as an abusive, controlling boyfriend who beat his girlfriend in an argument ending with Brada’s death Sept. 1, 2011.

Eric Allen Earle

Earle’s attorney, David Arredondo, said the pair engaged in their “bad conduct” – methadone, amphetamines and alcohol were found in Brada’s system at the time of her death — and Brada’s death was caused by a lethal amount of methadone in her system.

Abramson opened with a picture of Brada, noting the victim would have turned 35 on Sept. 3, the day before jurors were to get their notice for service.

In early 2011, Brada and Earle met in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where both were struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. Within a few months, the two were living together in Brada’s two-bedroom condo in Saugus.

Karla Brada

The relationship quickly turned violent, Abramson contended, explaining in her opening remarks how Earle allegedly isolated Brada from her friends, while manipulating her and physically abusing her.

Arredondo declined to say whether Earle would testify on his own behalf during the trial.

He said his client had no reason to kill Brada and that he loved her, Arredondo said.

“Much of the case here will depend upon expert testimony,” Arredondo said, but adding if the justice system relied on experts alone, there would be no need for the jury.

“The conclusion here is death by asphyxiation,” Arredondo said. “The problem here is that, there’s also methadone.”



UPDATE–  September 18th 2014
SAN FERNANDO — Eric Earle wilfully and deliberately smothered and killed his girlfriend, Karla Brada, between the night of Aug. 31 and the morning of Sept. 1, 2011, a jury decided Thursday after brief deliberations.

San Fernando Superior Court jurors considered Earle’s guilt for about two and a half hours before they delivered a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder in the trial of the 43-year-old Saugus man.

Brada, 32, was found dead inside the couple’s Saugus condominium on the morning of Sept. 1, 2011. A medical examiner determined she died of asphyxiation.

Earle, who has been in custody on $1 million bail since his arrest on Jan. 25, 2012, faces a possible sentence of 25 years to life in prison, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Earle was arrested the same day Brada was found not breathing on the couple’s bed. However, deputies released him a few days later, saying they needed additional evidence to present the case to the District Attorney.

Deputies in Lomita re-arrested Earle in January 2012. In May 2012 a judge ruled there was enough evidence to hold him for trial.

Following eight days of testimony, jurors began deliberating at 9:15 a.m. Thursday. At 11:40 a.m., less than two and a half hours later, jurors handed a note to the judge saying they had reached a verdict, the court clerk said.

“We were so excited,” Brada’s mother, Jaroslava Mendez, told The Signal.

“We applauded the prosecutor (Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson) and the jurors,” she said. “The jury was crying. I couldn’t believe it.”

For more than three years the Brada family has been waiting for the day Earle would be held accountable for taking Karla Brada’s life.

“I am so exhausted,” her mother said.

“I feel relieved. There was constant tension listening to all those lies,” she said, referring to Earle’s claim that Brada suffered her fatal injuries in a fall down the stairs.

“I actually walked out of the courtroom Wednesday because I couldn’t listen to any more,” she said. “We’ve been waiting three years and two weeks for this.”

Jurors herd testimony describing how Brada and Earle met at a Alcoholics Anonymous as each struggled with addiction.

They heard from Brada’s friends how Earle quickly moved to control his new girlfriend’s life and how the “charming man” she had fallen in love with transformed into an aggressive and abusive man when he was drunk.

In her closing address to the jury Wednesday, Abramson said: “He had to hold her neck and a pillow over her face for three to four minutes before she died.”

“Three to four minutes is a long time,” she said, noting “premeditation means you decided to kill before completing the act.”

“When you’re talking three to four minutes of mouth and neck compression, there is plenty of time to think about what you’re doing.”

Brada’s mother said the most painful part of the trial was looking at the battered body of her daughter in poster-sized photographs prepared by prosecutors.

“It was horrible,” she said. “It was the first time I had seen those photos. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but it was exceptionally painful.”

Sentencing is set for Oct. 27.

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt





Jim Holt September 8th 2014

SAN FERNANDO — The man accused of killing his girlfriend three years ago inside the Saugus condo they shared was described in San Fernando Superior Court Monday as charming when sober but abusive and belligerent when drunk.

Opening statements were made Monday in the long-anticipated murder trial of Eric Allen Earle, accused of killing Karla Brada. She died in the couple’s home between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sept. 1, 2011. NA Daytona Meetings Holly Hill Sunrise Park Complaints.

Earle, wearing black-rimmed glasses and a light blue shirt, was wheeled into the courtroom in a pink wheelchair in front of more than a dozen of Brada’s family and friends attending the first day of the trial.

Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson told members of the jury she would call to the stand forensic experts to describe how Brada was killed by asphyxiation but would also call Earle’s ex-wife to talk about the abuse she suffered from Earle.

“She will tell you how he is a person who is charming when he’s sober, but as someone aggressive and completely different when drunk,” she told the jury.

Earle’s ex-wife will testify, she said, that Earle tried to strangle her and suffocate her with a pillow

“She will tell you that his response to this was that pillows won’t leave bruises,” Abramson said. AA Daytona Beach Meeting schedule Holly Hill Controversy Continues.

Earle’s defense lawyer, David Arredondo, argued, however, that “there will come a point where you will disagree with the experts.” He told jurors they must sift through that testimony.

“Eric Earle did not kill Karla Brada,” he told them.

He told jurors that much of the prosecution’s case depends on expert testimony.

He said methadone can also cause asphyxiation and that methadone was found in Brada’s body at the time of her death.

“You need to rely on common sense,” he said, painting a picture of Brada and Earle as a couple in love, engaged to be married but who shared a lifestyle of bad choices, each struggling with addiction.

Abramson told jurors that Brada and Earle met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and that she found him charming.

“It’s that charm that attracted her to Earle,” he said.

Brada friend Mayra Aguilar told the court that Earle controlled Brada’s life shortly after the two had met.

“I would see her every day,” she said on the witness stand, describing Brada as outgoing and very happy. “Either she would come over to my house or I would visit her.”

Brada changed dramatically when she met Earle, she said.

“I phoned her many times, but you could hear him in the background and he would answer all the questions I asked her,” Aguilar said.

She recalled receiving a phone call from Brada less than a month prior to her death.

“She called me that morning when she was going to bail him out of jail,” Aguilar said. “She said, ‘I’m going to pick up Eric. He almost killed me last night.’

“I told her, ‘Don’t go.’”


The Playground for Dangerous Felons and Sex Predators in Alcoholics Anonymous

Twelve Steps to Danger: How Alcoholics Anonymous Can Be a Playground for Violence-Prone Members

by Gabrielle Glaser, Special to ProPublica, June 24, 2013, 8 a.m.

In the spring of 2011, Karla Brada Mendez finally seemed happy. She was 31 and in love, eager to move ahead on the path to maturity – marriage, a family, stability.  She had a good job in the customer-service department of a large medical supply firm, and was settling into a condo she had recently bought near her childhood home in California’s San Fernando Valley.

Her 20s had been rough, a struggle with depression, anxiety, alcohol and drugs. But early that spring two years ago, she told her parents and younger sister that she had met a charming, kind and handsome man who understood what she had been through.

 Their relationship blossomed as the couple attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings several times a week. But there was much Karla didn’t know about the tall blond man who said he was an AA old-timer.

Court records show that Eric Allen Earle repeatedly relapsed and turned violent when drunk, lashing out at family members, his ex-wife and people close to him. By the time he and Karla crossed paths, judges had granted six restraining orders against him.  The 40-year-old sometime electrician had been convicted on dozens of criminal charges, mostly involving assault and driving under the influence. He had served more than two years in prison.

Unlike Karla, Earle was not attending AA meetings voluntarily. A succession of judges and parole officers had ordered him to go as an alternative to jail.

In that regard, Earle was part of a national trend. Each year, the legal system coerces more than 150,000 people to join AA, according to AA’s own membership surveys. Many are drunken drivers ordered to attend a few months of meetings. Others are felons whose records include sexual offenses and domestic violence and who choose AA over longer prison sentences. They mingle with AA’s traditional clientele, ordinary citizens who are voluntarily seeking help with their drinking problems from a group whose main tenets is anonymity. (When telling often-harrowing stories of their alcoholism, the recovering drinkers introduce themselves only by their first names.)

Forced attendance seems at odds with the original traditions of the organization, which state that the “only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” So far, AA has declined to caution members about potentially dangerous peers or to create separate meetings for convicted criminals. “We do not discriminate against any prospective AA member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency,” the public information officer at New York’s central office wrote in a June email. “We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.”

Friends and family members say that Earle gained little lasting medical or spiritual benefit from AA. “On the way home from meetings, he’d stop at the liquor store and buy a pint of vodka,” said his father, Ronald Earle. “He’d finish that thing in an hour.” His estranged wife, Jennifer Mertell, said Earle frequently told her that he never had any intention of stopping drinking. “He had no desire to ever get sober,” Mertell said.

But Earle figured out something at AA. Friends and his former wife say he learned to troll the meetings for emotionally fragile women whom he impressed with his smooth mastery of the movement’s jargon and principles. Mertell says he met four of his most recent girlfriends by doing just that. “He has no place to live. He has no job. He goes to AA and finds these women who will take him in. He can be very sweet-talking and convincing,” she said. “He weasels himself into these girls’ lives, and just does what he has to do to have a living situation.”

In recent years, some critics have pressed AA to do more about the combustible mix of violent ex-felons and newcomers who assume that others “in the rooms” are there voluntarily. “It’s like letting a wolf into the sheep’s den,” said Dee-Dee Stout, an Emeryville, California alcohol and drug counselor who offers alternatives to traditional 12-step treatment. Twelve-step adherents accept the notion of alcohol dependency as a disease that can be remedied by abstinence and attending meetings with others who are trying to stop drinking. Stout has been an outspoken critic of what she views as the medical and judicial overreliance on AA and its offshoots.

Internal AA documents show that when questioned about the sexual abuse of young women by other members, the organization’s leadership decided in 2009 that it could not do anything to screen potential members.  AA, which is a nonprofit, considers each of the nearly 60,000 U.S. AA groups autonomous and responsible for supervising themselves. Board members argued that a group organized around anonymity could do nothing to monitor members without undercutting its basic principles. Continue reading


Why should parents be careful about letting their teens associate with AA members from the Santa Clarita Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous?

JR Harris's picture

Courtesy of JR Harris on Mon, 12/31/2012

The Santa Clarita Valley (SVC) Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous is located at 26951 Ruether Ave., Suite B-6, Santa Clarita, CA 91351 and acts as the central focal point of Alcoholics Anonymous claiming no control over the events they coordinate, promote and advertise in that area of Los Angeles County (http://www.aascv.org/). Alcoholics Anonymous actively recruits from jails and prison for members under their “Correction Committees”, from mental institutions under their “Hospital & Institution” (H&I) committees and from the probation, parole and court systems under their “Cooperation with the Professional Community” (CPC) committees. The members of AA will tell you that the majority of the members do not come from these outlets and through the last survey they published, which only polled around 7,000 members, only 11% of the members came from these outlets. Depending upon outside sources this number is actually between 45-55%.

Why should this be important information for parents to know if they allow their children to go to AA meetings, Al-Anon or Alateen in Santa Clarita Valley (SVC)? The simple reason is because this particular Intergroup co-mingles Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Alateen members and if a teen is attacked physically, financially or sexually they will be made to blame for the attack. Use Google and find the physical, financial or sexual attacks in Alcoholics Anonymous and you will find that the Victim is almost always made to be the reason for the attack and the AA Intergroup or group will be called blameless and they will blame your teen. You and your teen will be told repeatedly that your teen was at fault and that you can’t hold the people holding the event responsible for what happened. Here is an example that happens every year that co-mingles all three groups that happened this year, luckily without any incidents that are known and reported. Continue reading

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Sued By Parents of Murder Victim Karla Brada

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services and Santa Clarita Alcoholics Anonymous has been sued by the parents of murder victim Karla Brada.

Parents Accuse AA of Harboring a Predator

Grieving parents say in court that their daughter was murdered by her sociopathic addict boyfriend because Alcoholics Anonymous concealed his history of domestic violence.

”  The Mendezes say that AA showed a “reckless disregard for, and deliberate indifference … to the safety and security of victims attending AA meetings who are repeatedly preyed on at these meetings by financial, violent, and sexual predators like Earle.” AA has known for years that meetings “are repeatedly used by financial, sexual, and violent predators as a means to locate victims,” according to the lawsuit in Superior Court.
But nevertheless the organization has no “specific policies and guidelines concerning conduct of so-called ‘sponsors'” and does little to supervise them.”

Continue reading