From the August 2011 magazine. First printed in August 1990.

August 2011: The Professional

A sober "expert" takes on Tradition Eight with the bluster of a politician

"I no longer play doctor or therapist, and I don't give legal advice."

The intellectual arrogance and grandiosity that I brought with me when I first came into Alcoholics Anonymous were quickly and expertly enlisted into what was to become a ferocious, ongoing battle: Me vs. the Eighth Tradition. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the royal rumble.

The word “nonprofessional,” in AA parlance, means that I ought to act in a way that neither affirms nor implies that I am anything other than a recovering alcoholic in a fellowship of other recovering alcoholics. If professional help is what I need, I should go where such help is available, outside AA. Seems clear enough. Yet, before I was 90 days sober, I had become legal advisor to a newcomer who was in divorce court; instructed another to stop taking his medication that a qualified doctor had prescribed; and counseled two AAs in a lover’s quarrel.

-- W.H.

New York, New York

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