Magazine

From the September 2013 magazine.

September 2013: There Are No Musts

A member feels uneasy about those who tell him he's not doing AA the right way

Recently, I’ve noticed a different tone, content and message from some members of the Fellowship than I recall hearing in my early sobriety. There seems to be a growing undercurrent of intolerance toward members who are working the AA program “the wrong way.” There seems to be a call for such people to return to the “original program” that these folks profess is outlined in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. There are also differences of opinion with regard to whether one should refer to oneself as “recovered” or “in recovery” and controversy around the “singleness of purpose” concept and whether those who also have drug problems should be allowed to share honestly about them at our AA meetings without self-censorship.

I have been verbally attacked for using common AA phrases such as “Take what you like and leave the rest” and even for informing newcomers that they are free to choose their own conception of God. But the one phrase that really seems to incite those on a mission to reform AA is the phrase “There are no musts.” I frequently have been told the precise number of times the word “must” appears in the Big Book. And I have even been accused of “killing people” by saying that the AA program is one of suggestions only. In addition I’ve been told my brand of AA is “watered down” and full of “treatment concepts.”

-- Jim F.

Dallas, Texas

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