Saturday, February 12, 2011

David T., Part Three:

I am an alcoholic. I have a drug history as long as my alcoholism, but I am not an addict. The
stories I have heard of addicts, gamblers, and so on elicit sympathy from me, but do not reach
that place in me of identification that I find in the story of another alcoholic- that place where I
actually begin to feel the pain experienced by the speaker and relate his experience to my own.
Thank God you had alcoholics speak to me of alcoholism when I came into AA. Because
identification is so vital to the recovery of alcoholics like myself, I do not wish to risk weakening
my effectiveness by speaking of my drug use in an AA meeting.

We alcoholics come with many “related disorders” of drugs, gambling, overeating, sex,
depression, anxiety, and so on, but by choosing to join AA we have chosen a common ground
on which to relate to one another- alcoholism and recovery from alcoholism. Given the diversity
of people and problems in AA, the unity necessary to function as a group would be impossible
and our effectiveness with newcomers diminished if we did not keep our focus on our common
problem. I have to relate myself to the group as a whole for my own recovery and the recovery
of those I would help. I would hate to see the day in AA where an alcoholic’s chance to recover
was dependent upon whether we had the “right” person for him that day on the answering
service, 12 Step call, and so on. I would hate to see the day when an alcoholic finds himself
unable to relate to a speaker or discussion due to too much talk of addictions and other
problems he does not have. I want every alcoholic to have the chance I had to enter an AA
meeting and come to realize that those people are like him and maybe if he does what they did
it will work for him too.

I’m sorry to inform those who don’t know it already, but AA is not all-inclusive, nor was it ever
intended to be. We developed from a narrowing of the broad objectives of the Oxford Group to
focus on helping alcoholics only. We are still strong, the Oxford Group is not. Many fine
organizations have come and gone because of their inability to stick to one thing they do well.
Many organizations have failed because they lacked the humility to realize their limitations.

Many fine Twelve Step programs have developed out of our program because their members
new the importance of identification in recovery and sought to create a place where maximum
identification, and therefore maximum recovery, was possible. In this day and age, anyone
seeking help can find a group to deal with his particular problem. Our job is not to try to expand
our program to fit all situations or persons, but to grow in effectiveness at the one simple thing
that we do well. It is not always the easy path to stand on this principle, but I am learning that
we can do this with kindness and concern for all involved. It is by so doing that AA has become
the single most effective treatment for alcoholism in recorded history.

David T., Primary Purpose Group, Spartanburg, SC

Reprinted from the K.I.T. Newsletter

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