Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Is Being Revealed.....

Just thought I'd throw this into the mix. It's something I came across a while back and it applies to a lot of stuff we've been batting around.
I especially like the analogy to the cancer ward. It's from a Guy named Floyd Henderson,and I think he says it all.

We in AA have signs posted everywhere, each with slogans, such as: “Think” (as if my thinking didn’t get me here and still can’t kill me, even to this day); or “One Day At A Time” (like I can make it without total commitment allowing for some future “reservation”); and “Easy Does It,” (which is advice offered in the Book to wife/husband whose spouse is beginning recovery, not to the alcoholic). None of those pieces of advice are in the original program of recovery. Yet we do not post the signs we should, such as (“The eye of the adulterer...disguises his face”); or (Beware: Hard Drinkers Inside”). Indeed, if you are a real alcoholic, the hard drinker may be a greater danger to you than alcohol itself.

I base that thesis on two comments from Bill Wilson himself. First, Bill said, in response to the rising rate of recovery failures that he began to see as a result of the message in the Book being warped through poor oral communication: “We cannot well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomer. Perhaps a great many did not receive the kind and amount of sponsorship that they so sorely needed. We did not communicate when we might have done so. So we AA’s failed them.” He also said that we must be ever vigilant to maintain the purity of our message, noting that “if AA is ever destroyed, it will be from within.” Bill also warned us that the Washingtonian recovery program, which was quite successful long before AA ever existed, was ultimately destroyed from within because they had neither rules (Traditions) nor a basic text (“The Big Book”) that could prevent the message from being twisted through oral communication.

So what problem can the hard drinkers cause us real alcoholics? Why can the killing things that are happening in AA be traced either to them or to alcoholics suffering from untreated alcoholism? First, early AA’s, like Earl T. and Paul M., report that the 75% success rate reported in the Big Book continues throughout their early years as well. So why do fewer than 6% of real alcoholics stay around long enough to get a 10 year chip nowadays? Research shows that 20% of the American population suffer from serious drinking problems, but only about half of those problem drinkers are real alcoholics. That means that we in America have as many hard drinkers as we have real alcoholics, and since it is easier for them to “stop or moderate”, we may well have more of them surviving in the fellowship than we have real alcoholics in recovery (program). And they offer opinions (instead of Book-based facts) and their opinions will kill us if we listen to them and follow their advice instead of the Book’s. They do not have to adhere to the “rules” (as we must) in order to live. Their strain of the disease is not necessarily fatal--as is ours--if we do not follow the rules precisely. With our fellows dying at such high rates and with the fellowship suffering such a low rate of success, isn’t it time we pay attention to our Traditions and the teachings of our program so that hard drinkers and alcoholics suffering the spiritual malady do not dominate our meetings with their lies?

Some drinkers can stay sober by choice (pages 20-21 for the “moderate drinker” and the “hard drinker”).Furthermore, the Book says that a moderate or hard drinker “can quit upon a non-spiritual basis”, depending upon “the extent to which he has lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not”. So I ask: if they can do it on their own; and if they are not here to work the steps; and if they are not helping guide others to a spiritual experience, what the heck are they doing hanging our around us? I don’t have cancer, so I don’t hang out on a cancer ward. If I did, I might be sicker, in fact, than the people there with cancer who don’t have a choice. Why would I want to associate with sick people in a cancer recovery program if I don’t have a fatal form of cancer?

Several possibilities exist to explain why I’m on that ward if I’m not dying of cancer. Maybe I overcame a mild form of cancer and now I want to tell them how they should treat their severe, fatal form --maybe I like the “expert” role that I think that allows me. Maybe my social skills have been so poorly developed that I am not welcome among the well people in our society--I need a captive audience of sick people who won’t walk out on me, no matter how obnoxious I might be. Maybe I sincerely think I can do them some good, though my mild form of the disease gives me no real understanding of their illness and what they really need to get well. Maybe I’m hanging out on the cancer ward because I just can’t handle life’s daily issues and I need someone to talk to. Maybe they even have free therapy sessions that I like to sit in on rather than pay a therapist myself. Maybe I’m even looking for someone to get into a relationship with, and it seems like a good place to look (now that is really a strange belief system, isn’t it? I’m going to go where people are dying to find me a life-long relationship! Man--I’m sicker than I thought, if I’m doing that.)

The danger in my roaming the cancer ward rests in the false information I might spread. I might say, since I had a mild form of cancer, “Hey--you really don’t have to do everything the doctor says. And you don’t have to do everything precisely or specifically the way he tells you to do it. In fact, let me share with you my opinions about treatment because this is all I had to do to get well, and it’s an easier, softer way than the way the doctors are telling you”. I might even tell them: “And forget this holistic approach to recovery--I did not have to pray. I did not have to turn to God. That part if their recovery program is really not needed--I’m living proof of that. Just treat the physical aspect of the disease.” My gosh. Simply by what I’m saying, simply by virtue of the words coming out of my mouth, I would be doing killing things on that ward, wouldn’t I? And don’t you think the people in charge would run my butt out of there in seconds? They would not sit by idly and let me spread information that will kill the people who are there seeking recovery.

The fact is that our hard drinkers (and some of our alcoholics suffering from untreated alcoholism) do all of that--they often use AA for social or self-serving purposes rather than for the purpose of working steps to “continued spiritual growth”. Like us real alcoholics, they, too, were told in their old drinking days to “Get out!”. Then they find AA (by some route) and we say, “Come back”. Wow--that’s new...that’s neat. So they also use AA as a Lonely Hearts Club, or for $1/hour therapy instead of $150/hour therapy, or for a place “to vent--to share--to air their issues”. They can live without evidencing a spiritual experience (they do not have to--they are not real alcoholics) and they do not extend true compassion for the struggle to do what they were able to do in a much easier fashion. Their attitude: “Hey, it was easy for me--so the heck with you. But keep coming back, O sick alky. It’ll get better”. (So what is the sign to those judgmental, pompous asses when I get better? Do I become like them? Are they the model? The prototype? I’m starting to feel the need for a new Fourth Step just thinking about them!).

Though we real alcoholics at first glance might look just like the hard drinkers, we are, in truth, very different. We must meet “requirements”--hard drinkers do not have to. We real alcoholics must do the work “precisely” and “specifically” and “Thoroughly”--hard drinkers do not have to. We must have a “psychic change”--they do not. We must undergo a “revolutionary change”--they do not have to. We are told that we have a “necessary element; namely, we are “required” to follow a “few simple rules”--they don’t have to. We are on a “life and death errand”--they aren’t. We must seek it “like a drowning man”--they do not have to. Thus comes the danger of being in a meeting with them: we hear from them the exact opposite of what we need to hear, the opposite of what our Book tells us. We hear statements and opinions that may be the truth for them but are fatal lies for us.

Who, therefore, needs to be wary of the hard drinkers, the “adulterers of AA?” Anyone who is a real alcoholic, for these wolves in sheep’s clothing are indeed the ones telling real alcoholics the lies, the myths, the fiction, the “middle-of-the-road-solutions” that we hear around the tables. And too often, we real alcoholics who (when sober) were withdrawn, were loners, were not comfortable speaking before crowds, find ourselves taking a back seat in AA to those more vocal, more self-assured, more authoritative hard drinkers who, though they may mean well, are really a danger to your chances at recovery and the very existence of our fellowship, too. If hard drinkers are not a part of the “common welfare”, carrying the common message--the “common solution”, then they have not met the requirements for AA membership. How long shall we sit by and forfeit ownership of our program through inaction?

So if we need to be wary of them, how do we identify the hard drinkers? Actually, they can help us identify them, if we are observant. First, the hard drinker often presents himself as the “Model AA”. (In reality, he is, because a “model” is defined as “an imitation of the real thing”. He will say to the newcomer, “I feel your pain”, but he will not roll up his sleeves and offer the many hours of service called for to sit-one-on-one with that newcomer and take him through the Book page by page. He is the guy in his second decade of sobriety who recently scoffed at those of us who get up earlier that usual each day for prayer and meditation. He is the one who I heard say recently to a real alcoholic: “I’m sick of your relapsing, and I’m sick of hearing you say you need more help than you’re getting. I don’t even want to be around you”. He is the one who I heard say recently: “I have double-digit sobriety, I worked the steps once when I came in 17 years ago, and my sponsor had me take it slow and easy, working the steps when I was comfortable”. (The hard drinker can do that--we real alcoholics, on the other hand, will die if we wait until we get comfortable before taking action). The hard drinker is the one with advanced years in the fellowship who says he “chose not to drink this morning”. He may be telling the truth. We, on the other hand, don’t have that privilege.

Additionally, he is the one who stays sober even as he contradicts the information in the Book. He says the Book is subject to “interpretation” (what he really means is “mis-interpretation”). He may be the one who has ordained himself the group’s elder statesman. He is the one who does not take his proteges from the cover to page 164, explaining every sentence and doing everything that the Book says exactly as prescribed in the Book’s “precise, specific, clear-cut directions”. He is the one who said recently, “That is not the way I work my program”. (Interesting...since when did he create a program? Can his program guarantee fulfillment of promises to us real alcoholics as the program of AA can?) Note: if any who are making those statements above happen to be real alcoholics, they are suffering untreated alcoholism again and need to get back to working the steps so that God’s love can be seen through their service and through their comments. So if we hear those same comments from a real alcoholic, he is back to suffering from untreated alcoholism, from the spiritual malady, from allowing unmanageability to creep back into his life because he stopped working the steps in a circular fashion, as was intended originally.

How, then, can we tell the two groups apart? Know that we need to, because if the real alcoholic is suffering from untreated alcoholism, we can help him. The hard drinker, on the other hand, can hurt us. We need to tell them apart. The alcoholic not working the steps will eventually separate himself from the hard drinker in several ways: (1) he will meet the description of the untreated alcoholic in the middle paragraph of page 52; (2) he will eventual go out and drink; or (3) he will commit suicide, that event occurring at a rate among us that is 75 times higher than among the general population. Remember: the hard drinker is the one who can stay sober while contradicting (through thought, word and deed) the instructions presented in the Book.

Why do I think I know so much about them? Because their advice dang near killed me. I listened to them long enough that I got “comfortable” at 7-1/2 years. In truth, I was the most uncomfortable since coming in, because I let them convince me to let up on the work. I heard so many of them pontificating about how they were doing it in their double-digit years (without having to do the work continuously) that I fell for it. Heck, if they can do it that way, I can too. They appealed to my “softer-easier-way-mentality”. I no longer worried about those contingencies required for my daily reprieve. They helped reconstruct my ego (“We can do it on our own”) and I stopped looking at them honestly and failed to realize that I don’t want what they have, even if it is easier. I was at fault for I allowed them to influence me, and I DAMN NEAR DIED!!!

Today, I know that because I am a real alcoholic, the continuous working of the steps is “vital” (that is, “necessary for life”)--not for them, but definitely for me. And since that is my experience, please let me share: please stay vigilant, for I have learned the hard way that the enemy who brings a false message is as cunning and baffling and powerful as the disease itself. So, if you are a real alcoholic, know the criteria; watch out for the overblown war stories they use to convince you they are one of us; look out for the statements that are truth for the hard drinkers but are lies for the real alcoholics. Know that we real alcoholics have no choice--we have no control and never will. Know that the only hope for us--continued work and spiritual growth--is not required for those vocal hard drinkers. Know that only by working the steps vigorously can we continue to have the renewed spiritual experience that we must have on a daily basis in order to remain sober and happy and joyous and free. And always beware the message coming from the mouth of the hard drinker (or any non-alcoholic in our groups), for he “disguises his face”. He is seated next to you, and though what he shares is really the truth as he sees it, he will unconsciously try to kill you when you’re least suspecting. That is my experience, so if you are a real alcoholic, I urge you to beware. If you are a real alcoholic, do it the way the Book says; do it the way the Book says; do it the way the Book says!

Copyright 1997 Floyd Henderson

Can be copied only by alcoholics and distributed without profit.


  1. Goddamn right! reading this post was much more enjoyable than the last hour I spent in "just for today land".

    I am so fucking sick of what passes for AA in my neck of the woods I am seriously considering becoming a loner.

    I'd like to hear from folks who have had long term periods of recovery without attending meetings. What did that look like, experience etc?

  2. I'm working so much and studying in the interim... that I'm pretty much down to one meeting a week.

    One a week ain't much. I'm seeing the average to be about 2 or 3 a week. I'd like to go to two or even three other really pretty good meetings if I had time and pushed it to go.

    Funny thing though; my one meeting I do go to is a good one. My wife enjoys my company and misses me when I go to the other meetings.

    Heck, there's even a few bad meetings that I once attended and I miss now. I don't miss the format, the content, or the experience of the meeting so much. I miss the folks themselves... and the occasional newcomers that I meet as they come through.

    Thanks Joe for that compelling and interesting post. I've read the thing and been inspired by it and some of its alarming stats. I'd agree that about 10% of our population is alcoholic and another 10% is potential hard drinkers. I'm not so quick to believe that we real alcoholics are such poor victims and the hard drinkers are such perps.

    How the fuck does it happen that these perps come to be all up in our grills for so many years? Because we let them chair these otherwise limp-dick meetings? We call on these MOTRs to speak in our meetings when we know full well the beloved fuzz-butts are going to say stupid shit like "Just don't drink... NO MATTER WHAT!"? Because we don't have the balls to go to the closed A.A. meeting? Because we don't like meetings where the chair person calls on people to share?

    Ask yourself how often your group discusses topics involving all 12 steps throughout the year... all 12 traditions... etc. Do you know when/if each and every member in the group has done a 4th step inventory, 5th stepped it, made amends, does prayer and meditation? Done some kind of 12 step work?

    I belong to a group that does this. What's the problem? Only about 4 of us now. Problem? Well... I guess. Not a problem for me. I'm there. I'm fed spiritually. I think it's a great meeting. New people who come staggering in are astounded at our format... tell us they love our meeting and will be back. But do they come back? Not so much.

    Now... this taking a newcomer through the book one page at a time... not. I'm sorry, but for me, I think that's bullshit. Read your own fucking book. I will sit down with you and discuss my drinking with you... and I'll listen to you discuss your drinking. I'll sit with you and question, discuss, and help you learn to consider... going back into that book on your own time... and direct you to the path of consideration... as to whether you belong or not. If you belong, are you ready and willing?

    How hard is it to ask somebody, "How are you with the first step?" Now, you can go into the book and read this stuff, but where does identification really happen? It happens on the very first visit with a new drunk that agrees to meet you at the IHOP for a cup of coffee. After a few cups of coffee, you've discussed your drinking, they discuss a bit of what brought them to you and their current life situation... and hopefully a bit of how, when,where,etc. they drink. I start to focus in on how I drank and how that squares with the physical craving and the mental obsession. But somewhere in there... right in the middle of my despair and desparation, there was a sense of fredom and peace in that ... then I was given hope... "Get in, be open to your 1st Step, be open to your 2nd Step... decide." Sometimes this decision is made quickly.. and you can put a chronic relapser right back into inventory. Sometimes not.

  3. part 2 ( sorry for long-winded rant )

    I can take you... many folks... through a set of steps. Fuck, I'll do them with you. But I won't read your book for you and I won't let you read mine for me. If you're not alky, you won't do what we do. It's pretty much that fucking simple.

    And guess what? I can go sit with MOTRs and get by just fine. I can speak my peace, or not. I don't have to chop anybody's head off anymore. I cringe a bit when I see someone else do it. This meeting I describe is a nooner I used to go to, but can't now due to work.

    In our Monday Night meeting, we have crossfire. This is the time of pushing someone... of quesitoning their program, share, experience. But it has to be in the form of a question. We don't just go telling folks what they ought/ought not do. Unless it's pertanent and if they're receptive to the advice. We are usually hard on longtimers and easy on new folks. We only ask them to share from where they are at. If they get away from recovery or ramble, we nip that in the bud. If there's 6 or more of us, we use a 5 minute timer. Discipline is good.

    I don't see any good to casting out the MOTRers. Good luck with that. I believe that many of the anti/XAers are in this category. They will either weed themselves out... leaving in a huff... or will go nuts and just blow out. But unfortunately, some will get comfortable and just sort of blend in. They may even become some kind of service lemming. What are you gonna do? Kick em' out? If you've got an open meeting and/or an open format, good luck with that.

    If I could have Central Office set me up with a 12 Step call about once a week and if I could sit across from a new potential alcoholic at Denneys, IHOP, etc., I may not even need that one meeting. But that one meeting is a nice place to send this new prospect to if they identify ... or think they might be willing to be open to the possibility, and if they seem like they're ready to act... to do something about it... aka do the program of action as outlined in the book... aka all 12 Steps.

    Going through the book with a new prospect line by line, page by page, reminds me of these folks who have more shit written into the margins of their book as what Bill and his buddies put into the book. You get someone else's past thoughts and nifty slogans that have been passed down one too many times.

    Read the black on the white. Take the path of consideration. Locate yourself and decide. This needs to be done freely and without coersion. Don't hustle anybody into A.A. Hustle them out. Nothing wrong with that. Problem is, when they leave our meeting, they sometimes wind up in those MOTR meetings.

    Where do we send the MOTRs? Where do we send these non-alcoholic hard drinkers? Where would we refer them to, if we could? Back to the bar? The gym? To church? To their therapist?

    Maybe we just let them have A.A. and go underground. Just send a few of those chronic relapsers our way. Send them over to the Assoholics Anonymous meeting.

  4. Rob,

    I get asked all the time why I don't go to more meetings. I try to explain, but most don't get it. Some say I'm bitter and resentful. I admit that I have been in the past, and have written much inventory on contemporary MOTR A.A., but I am not resentful anymore. Just not attached.

    My roommate feels the same way that I do. In fact he's probably less attached than I am. He does fine without meetings. A guy I sponsored at one time left A.A. five or six years ago because he got tired of all of the self-defeating platitudes getting thrown around. He is in ministerial school through Science of Mind (The Church of Religious Science), a New Thought Church. He is doing fine as well, although I heard from him not long ago and he is back to reading the book to alcoholics again.

    The first guy I sponsored almost nineteen years ago is still sober and not in A.A. anymore. Early on he jumped in with both feet and was working with people. He's returned to his church as far as I know. I haven't talked to him in a long time, but last time I spoke with him he was doing good.

  5. Dowg, How do these perps hijack the program? Probably because we let them. That's the whole premise of Henderson's thesis. We let these folks join the home group, allow them to chair meetings, pontificate their bullshit without calling them on it, and after it's all over we sit around saying WTF??? By then, it's too late. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

    I don't see many hard drinkers as a threat as I do unrecovered alcoholics. The two step people who wear their years in AA on their sleeves. he < than, > that you referred to, Dowg. We all see those folks, they say the same damn thing in every meeting as they only have one spiel. Doesn't matter as to the topic, they'll still say the same stuff.

    But what to do about them? Ah, there's the rub. We certainly can't kick them out, but there such a thing as nudging them to the door. If we hear crap from one of these "I've been in the program a few 24 hours now" folks, the warning signs go up. We'll question the accuracy of what they say, ask how it relates to the topic at hand, anything to shut them up. Maybe let them think that maybe this meeting isn't for them. It doesn't always work, but it sure wrecks their credibility in the group. I'm not ready to go underground yet, turning the program over to those who pervert it. I'd rather work at driving them underground.

  6. Continuing on, damn the 4000 character warning!!

    As far as sponsoring people, Patrick, we agree to disagree. Once I take on a sponsee I'll sit down with him and listen to his whole story, asking questions as he goes along. Trying to get a feel for bullshit or glaring omissions. Then I tell him my story. He then gets his first assignment - a part of the Big Book to read. 'Cause the next time we meet we're gonna read that section line by line. He has a reading assignment for every session.

    Sure, I could tell him to read it by himself, but he's a fuckin' alcoholic! Offer him an easier way at that point, he'll take it and never read the Book. So we go through the 164. I'll ask him questions at several points, seeing if he can relate his miserable fuckin' experience to what he's reading. I'll also explain the significance of certain passages. I don't interpret as the Big Book doesn't need interpretation nor no I define. He needs things defined, buy a dictionary. I also encourage him to question everything and to keep an open mind.Don't believe all the shit you hear in meetings. Learn to think for yourself.

    I do this because I think it's essential that an alcoholic who comes to the rooms thoroughly understands the program. That has to come from an understanding the Big Book, of where AA came from and some of the underlying principles behind it. And that, I feel, comes from reading the 164 with someone who understands what it means. Someone who's been there, done that. I could have never gotten all that by reading the Book in isolation.

    And if, with all that, the guy's successful, and sadly few are, in working the 12 steps with me then I'm comfortable that he'll be able to carry the message, the right message, to someone else. I cut him loose then, the relationship changes. He'll go on to sponsor others and the program will live on.

  7. Jim and Rob, I think a lot of folks with 10 years or more just drop out, probably most of them. Why they stop going to meetings? I dunno. Maybe, as you both said, just tired of the bullshit. No decent meeting to attend anymore. My brother-in-law stopped after 18 years. Just stopped getting anything out of it. Still has good sobriety. You can see he lives the program, just doesn't go to meetings. Nor does he work with other alcoholics.

    I think its gotta be a personal decision. Maybe one day I'll feel that way - just not getting anything out of it anymore. Tired of fighting a losing battle. But before I jump ship I'll have to be certain that my sobriety is strong enough to do without AA. Or maybe I'll look at what Patrick's thinking about. Screw the meetings and just work with hard core drunks one on one.

  8. I belonged to a group where you do steps or you pretty much go.

    They started small and grew to about 60+. They pitched new drunks and they did sponsorship. Imagine being in a meeting where nobody has to pontificate nor preach.

    If you're sponsoring someone, you can't hide your pigeon from the group. Everybody is accountable to everybody.

    That's what we're trying to get to with our current group.

  9. @Patrick: I belonged to a group like that. You were sponsored into the group. You didn't get to talk in the meeting until you'd taken your 5th Step with your sponsor. You couldn't hold a service position in the group until you'd taken the steps and been sober a year and a member of the group for a year. Sponsors worked with the people they sponsor not only in the steps, but Traditions and Concepts as well.

    That's what we are trying to get to with our current group.

    As for working with drunks or going to a MOTR meeting, I'll take working with the drunk anyday. I tend the get either the person who's hit the wall with MOTR or the chronic relapser who has a head full of shit and knows just enough to be dangerous to himself and everybody else. In order to find these types, I do go to a few MOTR meetings or to the jitter joints. Like Joe, I read the book with them.

    Joe, A.A. is not a place I go, it is a way that I live. I can do without the meetings, but I do need community of like-minded people. That seems to take place for me outside the meetings. We have a lot of meetings in this town of just over 100,000 people, too many. Most mistake the meetings for real fellowship. Go to the meeting for an hour or so and see your "friends" (really casual acquaintances) and then everybody goes their separate ways until the next meeting. O do my A.A. in between meetings. I was talking to an old guy who got sober here in the early seventies. He said back then there weren't a lot of meetings, but the fellowship was real and stronger and based in having shared in a common peril and in a common solution. Nowadays it's hard to find a common problem, much less a common solution. By the way, the old guy doesn't do meetings much anymore. His words are "They drive me up the fuckin' wall and besides they don't want anything I have to offer." I like to go and visit these old-timers and spend time with them. In a way it's a form of 12th Step work.

  10. A fairly recent GrapeVine article:

    Is This Really AA?
    I am an alcoholic with a sobriety date of November 19, 1986, not addicted to mood-altering drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana. (I am addicted to caffeine and am a formerly heavy smoker.) I'll be sixty-seven years old soon, and although I have been exposed to drugs most of my adult life, I did not "pick up and use." I cannot identify with those who do.
    I've been attending open and closed AA meetings in Canada, Minnesota, Washington state, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia pretty much on a regular schedule for over ten years since I travel all year to visit my children and grandchildren.
    More and more, I've noticed that the lingo is changing at what is termed AA meetings. I hear people saying things like, "Although my drug of choice is crack cocaine, I drink booze when I can't get drugs." I used to hear, "My name is Joe and I'm an alcoholic." Then it became, "I am Joe and I am an alcoholic/dependent." Then just "addict." I've also heard, "I am chemically dependent." I've heard, "If I don't keep up my spiritual maintenance I will go back to using."
    It appears that more than half the membership of the meetings I attend has become oriented to alcoholic/addicts, and the drug scene is overtaking the predominance of alcohol at AA meetings. I am beginning to feel like an outsider at some AA meetings. When I mention my feelings, I am labeled as rigid or intolerant.
    Frankly, if I have to attend mixed AA/NA meetings to stay sober, I will but I believe we should call them what they really are. My fear is that I may not be able to maintain a comfortable level of sobriety at those mixed meetings.
    Real AA meetings are becoming harder to find. After all, the Third Tradition states that "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." It does not say "desire to stop shooting up, smoking pot or using."
    Is the modern AA meeting really AA?

  11. One of the things we're doing wrong is taking a Sponsee through the steps and then doing whatever. I was at one time of the belief that a Sponsor should take a newcomer through the steps and sever ties as far as sponsorship goes. Women, and some men, sponsor for life. Some with ten years need to check with their sponsor if they're invited to a baseball game.
    It's all bullshit.

    What needs to happen in my opinion as well as others is to immediately jump into traditions with the new man.

    "Traditions" are the integrity of AA. So say us all.
    When "Traditions" are emphasized and the importance is placed upon them for the survival of AA much as The Steps are important for the survival of the individual. Dang! Seems I've read this before. Somewhere. Also per Tradition #1, I am a small part of a great whole. Since I am a small part of a great whole I have a primary purpose. To carry "My" message to the alcoholic who still suffers. "My" message is starting to lean towards traditions more and more. It's the only thing I have the power to do.

  12. I've been leaning in that direction for quite a few years now Karl. One thing I do with sponsees above and beyond Steps is Traditions. And our group is looking at both Traditions and Concepts as a group.

  13. Jim, I probably didn't word it clearly enough when I said that AA meetings don't keep me sober. In a previous comment somewhere I emphasized the importance of the fellowship And as you said, that's something other than the meetings.

    I have a large group of friends in the program who meet away from the normal meetings for our own purposes. Each Saturday night we get together and hit meetings 50 - 75 miles away. Sometimes we do the Cuda thing and go fishing for newbies being led astray. But mostly it's just to get out of town and hear other folks give other perspectives. That sort of thing, being with those like-minded guys, is indeed fellowship. And that keeps me sober.

    And Cuda, I wholeheartedly agree with you on the traditions. Can't emphasize them enough. I cover them with each sponsee, as well as the Spiritual Experience in the back of the Big Book. I spend at least an hour on the subject of spirituality in our daily lives. A good reference there is "The Spirituality of Imperfection" by Kurtz and Ketcham. I also go to a Friday 12 and 12 meeting which breaks into 2 meetings to cover the steps - one for newcomers for the first 3 steps; the other covers the remaining steps for the rest of us. Once a month everyone gets together to discuss a tradition.

    Like Jim and Patrick alluded to, my sponsees are out there for all to see. Most people in the meetings know me and know the guys I'm sponsoring. They would never interfere with what I do, but they can see for themselves if the sponsee is making any progress. It's all pretty transparent, and if it's obvious someone's not getting it, they may be taken aside for a little talk. But they know me, they know how I operate, so they may ask a question about the sponsee but never question how I operate. And I do them same. Once in a while one or two of us will get together and compare notes, asking for or making suggestions about an individual.

    I'm amazed that article appeared in Grapevine. It's hardly the warm fuzzy shit you normally see. I canceled my subscription a while back for that reason. I submitted a similar piece a few years ago and it was returned as "not suitable for publication at this time." Lord have Mercy? Are they beginning to see what we see?

    And God help me but I was at a meeting last night and lost it. One guy I've known for a while has all of 18 mos and is a classic thumper. He started to rant about how living one day at a time is bullshit, how he did the steps in 18 hours with his sponsor 'cause the Big Book says to not delay and how he doesn't need anything else 'cause he has the Big Book that tells him what to do and on and on.

    I began with my 4th step experience and said how it had taken me weeks to get it right, but perhaps I had more experience and thus a few more character defects than a 23 year old who's spent the past 3 years in jail and whose license has been suspended for 6 years.(everyone in the meeting knew this, so I wasn't breaking any part of his anonymity) It went downhill from there. I made made amends after the meeting for ripping him apart in public but he wouldn't accept them. Oh well.....

  14. From the late Don Pritts, GrapeVine article, 1988, Part One:

    If Our Message Is Clear. . .
    In working with professionals, let us keep in mind that for our friends to recommend us, they must understand us. And for that, we are responsible.
    As AA grows, cooperating with members of the professional community becomes one of the most important activities we can engage in. We are experiencing a growth beyond our wildest dreams, but with that growth come some problems. Most groups are finding that many of the new people coming to us are not alcoholics, but suffer from many other maladies. The people who refer them have seen the true miracles that happen in AA and, having no other resource, they lovingly send everyone to us.
    While I believe that our recovery program, the Twelve Steps, will work for any problem, our Fellowship of alcoholics does not seem to provide the same service for others as it does for us. Fellowship is a gathering of people of like mind, and while there are many similar behaviors among alcoholics and others suffering from obsessions of many kinds, the alcoholic mind and body are different. According to Dr. Silkworth, in "The Doctor's Opinion" in the Big Book, "This phenomenon [of craving], as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity." So, as we are experiencing, nonalcoholics coming to our Fellowship cause us to be uncomfortable because we do not really understand them. We cause them to be uncomfortable because we demonstrate that we don't understand them. We know when our principles are applied to problems other than alcohol, in fellowships designed for each problem, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, or Overeaters Anonymous, the results are the same.

  15. Don P., Part Two:

    So how do we help? We do not wish to pretend that we are all things to all people, but of even more importance, we do not wish to miss any alcoholic that wants help. Most folks come to us because a friend or a professional recommends them to us. How can we better help these professionals who are the front-line troops in the battle against alcoholism? For our friends to recommend us, they should understand us; and for that we are responsible. If we don't tell people about AA, someone less knowledgeable will.

  16. Don P., Part Three:

    All too often, we think everyone on earth knows about us. Not so. All too often, we think everyone understands us and what we do. Not so. Sadly, many AA members do not even understand what AA is and what it is not.
    We are very fortunate in AA. We have a rich heritage of experience that dates back to our beginnings. This has been set down on paper and passed on to us in many forms. Our Twelve Traditions are a distillation of experience of things that work and things that don't. Our literature is filled with experience, and our people are a rich resource.
    For years, AAs have been active in public information. Articles, films, and public meetings have given the general public a quick look into our society. We have sent speakers to medical and legal gatherings to carry our message. Some time ago, we realized that our public information effort, while active and good, really had another component. We talked to students, but we missed the teachers who were in daily contact with the kids in trouble. We told the doctors about us, but sometimes we missed the nurses who were dealing with alcoholics daily as they nursed them for other medical problems. We missed the ambulance drivers who picked us up from the streets. We forgot that counselors in treatment centers were not all AA members. The people who were in firsthand contact with our potential members did not know what we were or how to reach us. My wife is a nurse on an infant research unit. The babies up there are not troubled with alcoholism, but the nurses tell me that sometimes the parents are, and they would like to know some things they could do or how to refer them on. The same holds true for lawyers, probation officers, and social workers as well, who deal personally with alcoholics. We owe our lives to our Fellowship, and we owe those people yet to come the same opportunity we had. We need to let the people who care enough to send sick people to us know what it is they are sending their loved ones to, and who and who not to send. This is our cooperation with the professional community (CPC) activity

  17. Don P., Part Four

    When we started a CPC committee in Colorado, we set up a weekly meeting where those interested came to study the CPC Workbook and our Twelve Traditions. We felt that this activity of second generation Twelfth Step work was so important that those doing it should be fully informed. They needed to be able to share their own recovery story, and what AA is and what AA is not. They needed to be able to tell anyone who might ask why we do not accept money, why we have no opinion on outside issues, what kinds of meetings we do have, and the difference between open and closed meetings.
    If our message is clear--that AA is a way for alcoholics to recover from alcoholism--then the professionals who labor to help will know who to send and will be able to find different resources for those who need other help.

    Don P.Aurora, Colorado

    Don's article is probably one of the best written pieces of writing concerning singleness of purpose and our relationship to the professional community. I print it out and give to our local C.P.C. people. I also have given it to a few of the counselors where I work in order to prove a point.

  18. Jim, Now if the counselors in treatment centers would only pay attention to the message and stop with the psychobabble, maybe more alcoholics would get some decent treatment. But you know this already.....I guess I was lucky. My therapist told me to get my ass to AA.

    Hey, Love the new avatar

  19. My therapist chafed me 250.00 per hour, bragged about her 25 years sober, and didn't do shit.

    Our local CDU has their own "12 Step program and preaches that "A drug is a drug is a drug". They also say that they don't discriminate against the drug addict in their "A.A. meetings".

    Just don't attend, right? This is the best source for prospects in town.

    Might have to print those off, Jim.

  20. Surprised the grapevine had the balls to print that.

  21. This is way, way too much stuff to comment on. It's all excellent. All the comments have been great, too. But it's too much of a data dump. Is here some way we can take my original tread and stop it with Rob's Feb 11 comments? Then we could maybe make 5 more new treads out of all the material Jim's provided. It's pretty extensive stuff and each entry should stand alone.

  22. Sorry about that Joe. A lot of it is because of the 4000 word limit or whatever it is. But yeah, do with this stuff what you see fit to do..

  23. Ok Patrick, How do we break this down into separate treads?

  24. I'm on it. I'll try to sort it out into separate posts.