Moment of Clarity

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Joined: 2009-08-28

Ever had an "ah-ha" moment in your recovery in which something suddenly become clear? Share it here!


Light Bulb moment

My first moment of stunning enlightenment came 37 years ago this past September, when I sat in my first meeting and someone spoke out loud and matter of factly about my most horrid secret - being a drunk. In that instant, I knew I could stay with these amazing people and I never have left.

Ah-ha Moment

I recently had an ah-ha moment. This is embarrassing to admit, but after twelve years of sobriety, I didn't understand what asking my Higher Power, Whom I choose to call Jesus, for protection and care with "complete abandon" meant. Then, a couple of days ago, I was petting my cat, Grace. As I was doing that, she rolled over on her back for a belly rub while looking at me with total trust in her eyes. As I rubbed my cat's belly a light bulb came on! I realized that my cat was surrendering to me with complete abandon, and that is how I need to surrender to my Higher Power :-) Thank you for letting me share and may God Bless all of you!

Iris B.


When I identify myself as a Buddhist I am risking off-putting the newcomer who may, and probably does in NC, not identify. It is dear to me that room is made for all. We don't use Higher Power for nothing. So many who are dying (as I was) come through the door and across that threshold fearful of this being just another religious, cultish clan seeking to increase its' numbers by the one of me.
I know what you mean by your choice and that is so great in the church of your choice- think what you might have done to me had I thought I had to believe in your Higher Power as Christians seem to say.

When I came to AA no one

When I came to AA no one demanded no requirement to belong to the community, was the only desire to stop drinking. No one had to pay dues or fees, was not required to stay until the end, it was not required when the local opened; no one caught my attention does all these things.
After years and read all the literature of the group and make a small number of services, I found that there isn’t any obligation in AA. The words "must" or not showing "You have to do." do not appear in the AA literature. In traditions, in steps, in concepts, expression appears always did. We are an anarchist association, a benign anarchy. We don’t have a government order what we do. We have a guide in literature. It was born from the experience of thousands of people who have used the AA program for recovery and achievers. The AA program has been helpful to thousands of people of all races, cultures and 70 different languages.
I've heard a fellow say that a mate has a moral obligation to share, to come to the group shortly before the meeting to discuss with fellows. Do not say you have moral obligations in AA, because AA does not impose any obligation. All these obligations are really a poor excuse to unleash my role and my paternalism.
I have no obligation to share; I share because sharing I feel good, relieved my pain a little. "You learn more by listening than hearing." More important than speaking is listening to people, I feel more identified with hearing fellows had experiences similar to mine. I have no obligation to come to the meetings, I come because I like coming because I get bored at home, because the group I feel like a second home. When I do share by releasing ballast, the moral burden that hurts so much. When I services I do for my recovery, having busy time to think of other things, to get things done.
For months without getting to the end of the meeting for personal reasons, but I have no moral obligation to do so, but when he did it was to be with my friends, to share, to listen to my colleagues. For months I have not done any service. It is inconsistent to order now or to require another person to do services. I've spent years living in a blue moon, is inconsistent to require people to come and ask them for coming or not coming, to come before the meeting to release my paternalistic discourse that is for what I want you to come before Meeting.
When I leave the group have a number of obligations at home, at work, in my studies and I meet them as best I can. If I want to be grateful for what the group can do is play in my house, in my work, obviously before the group. The only obligation which I lay me is to not act like drunken, useless and incompetent; I went for seven years of my life.

I always have an "ah" moment

I always have an "ah" moment when I do work with my sponsor and my sponsees. I get to see that I am not as unique as I think I am.

I going to allow two examples

I going to allow two examples of arrogance and pride as an example of what I was and as an example of what I want to avoid. The doctor of ENSIDESA speaks on the first anniversary of the group that I went. A partner who was three months in the community when he moderate the meeting explained what he had heard on the anniversary. He misunderstood it and explain it even worse. A partner, who always speaks of humility, said that we knew more than the doctors and this was no presumption. Not only is not true but it is also a tremendous presumption.

alcoholism is the best teacher

Sobriety date: Sept 1978

We alkies DO know better than the Docs unless the Docs are allies. No brag. Just fact.




"We have ceased fighting anyone or anything including alcohol". Big Book
My first awakening from a long, long, sleep was when I realized I had not thought about a drink for almost four days. That awareness came in the very early days and I attribute it directly to walking into a meeting and then doing it again and again. There are so many clues in the Big Book that took many readings to unlock for me, and one of them has to do with seeing that over and over again in the stories the writer references being freed from the obsession to drink the moment he/she surrendered completely to the program. Not the moment she/he completed a step or joined a group or got a sponsor but the moment the surrender was made. I surrendered filled with a sense of resignation. "So this is it. Like it or not I am stuck with whatever this thing is about". It did not matter how I threw in the towel. It mattered only that I committed to "seek" one day at a time just for today. And that commitment came because I had a rear end on fire and AA was the only bucket of water in town. Ego collapse, not war is the ticket to freedom. sober since Sept 1978

Other moments of clarity

Admiting that there was something wrong with my drinking, and then doing something about it was the real aha moment that got me into AA, in January 1983. I had known for a long time that my drinking as not normal. I don't remember if it was serious argument 12 or 18 with my knew wife that convinced me.
It was the start of the journey, and I have been sober since.

Fortunately there have been many other "aha" moments. Recovery is not a single serious realization event.

Recently, in the last 4 years, my wife has experienced serious health issues, she was close to death at least once. The illness, combined with the daily struggles of work and almost adult kids has been a serious strain on our life, and our relationship. Yes there is the program, but you stil have to walk the walk, and experience the pain, the weeks of fear, the insecurity. You still need to cry sometimes, and laugh!

I recently walked part of the Saint Francis trail in Italy. Secretly I was hoping for some miracelous insight when touching the tomb of the Saint, or lighting a candle at the many Maria chapels I visited.

What happened is that it was the walking, the climbing, and the good conversations with my travel companions (siblings) that lifted me up. Being outdoors all day, experiencing the magnificent views across the valley, talking about serious things, or just the color of a flower was the miracle.

Which confirms my old believe that I received when new in AA. The most important thing to do in life, in AA, is to keep searching. You may not find what you expect, but you will find something good.

If anybody has walked the Camino to Santiago the Compostella and wants to share that exprience I would love to hear about that.



My father, and alcoholic who died when I was in my 30's, talked about the woods being his church. I found that to be the case for me also. The outdoors makes my ego right sized. Thanks for your share on the importance being outside.

Reading of "How It Works"

The custom of reading HIW began in the New England area around 1980. It was the final result
of a custom begun by Mort J. in Los Angeles 1940. Mort insisted on a reading from Chapter Five
at every session. He was the boss. He paid the rent. I do not believe that the first two and
a half pages were read. The preamble had not been accepted and Mort simply used a reading from
chapter five as part of the meeting format.
This custom of reading HIW aloud at meetings has severely diminished the effectiveness of our
fellowship. We would not feed a newborn infant a meal of steak and potatoes. We give them a much
different formula which they can digest. Mostly we give them love and tolerance, and breast milk
if they are lucky. We save the Truth for later on. And we offer it with Grace. The fact that Bill
placed HIW in Chapter Five ought to qualify this as more than just my opinion.
Numerous messages have been posted concerning this issue. An article appeared in the AA Grapevine
about three years ago. Has anyone had any experience or success at deleting this reading from
meeting formats? ANONYMOUS

swinging door

If hearing "How It Works" at the start of the meeting drives them out then they are not ready. HP is in charge of my sobriety. When it was time for me to get sober it was HP's idea not mine. It didn't matter what I heard or how I heard it or how twisted up I thought about what I heard. It was HP's idea and I was stuck with it and have been since I first stepped over the threshold Sept 17, 1078.

silly me

September 17, 1978

Joined: 2014-03-31

Have heard groups use a few paragraphs of "Agnostics", "How We Drank" (take a trip,not take a trip), Doctors Opinion and Spiritual Experience. In one group the chair can pick what will be read. As someone who has gone to meetings for years, I like that approach as it keeps things fresh. I pay attention.

I think groups are drawn to reading HIW because it is titled HOw it Works. It seems to make sense. There are plenty of other fantastic sections of the BB that probably would work just as well.

I think this is a group thing. If I wanted to do away with HIW, I'd bring it up at my group business meeting. There would be a lively discussion but this might pass in my group. The next business meeting would be PACKED with those who opposed the change! What fun.

RE: HIW, HOw it Works.

Groups read HIW aloud at their meetings for many reasons.
At first glance, it does seem to make sense. In most cases,
it is because "it has always been done this way. If it works, don't try to fix it." But it has not always been
this way and it is NOT working (in most cases). The evidence is in our diminished membership numbers.
Another obvious reason is that our leaders in New York
publish it as a stand alone item.
Bill W. wrote in "Three Talks to Medical Societies" that
he could not fully explain how AA works. But we pridefully
boast that we know How It Works. Some of us have heard
it read so many times that we can recite it from memory.
When I ask new prospects if they are pushed away by
this reading, they say "of course not". But we never
see them again.
We have made several severe mistakes in A.A. during
the past decades. The reading of HIW is the worst of
the worst. I would add "in my opinion", but our co-founder
warned us about most of our blunders. He was aware of
what alcoholics are capable of, even sober. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2012-11-03
How It Works

My defective brain kept getting stuck on the "constitutionality incapable of being honest" part and used it as my excuse to not try any step work.
I love the literature in AA but must agree with an earlier reply that this particular one is a little much for open meetings or beginners meetings.

RE: How It Works

Vinnie62, I read HIW aloud at meetings for about twenty
years. When we first started reading it, intuition told me
that something was going wrong, But I finally accepted it
as part of the format at meetings. I would actually stand
up and read it loud and clear. After several years of
research, I have come to understand what an awful mistake
it is to read these first 2 and 1/2 pages of Chapter Five
at AA meetings to all and sundry. Yes, it is a bit much for
open meetings or beginners meetings.
Initially, I questioned whether reading HIW was the best
use of meeting time. As time passed I concluded that it
was a waste of my time and just went to meetings late. But
then I missed the Preamble and Serenity Prayer. I finally
followed the herd and accepted it.
It was only when I was informed that our effectiveness
was diminishing and that AA membership had become stagnant,
that I began to take a deeper look.
Try to understand the "cart before the horse idea".
Reading HIW to newcomers is scoffing at the IDEA. Bill W.
wrote several times that without this idea AA may have
been born. If we keep ignoring this IDEA AA is doomed.
Alcoholics will indeed be back in their caves wondering
what happened.
Have you attempted to have the reading of HIW deleted
from a group format? Expect fierce opposition. It is
almost like trying to change someone's religion. But,
as difficult as it is to explain we have to stop
that reading if AA is going to recover. ANONYMOUS

how it works

"Damn good" "AA needs no defense" each group decides, in light of its' own members how to open a meeting and how to conduct a meeting and how to close a meeting. Isn't that grand! Newcomers are deaf. It really wouldn't matter if we read 5 stanzas of "Old McDonald". HP is in charge of their sticking capacity. Hitting bottom keeps them here, not what we read or don't read. We just ain't that powerful. AA meetings are full of people who say things that could drive newcomers away - it matters not so much what we say but what drunkenness has already said before they got to the meeting. God, I love this program. Keep on com in' back.
Carol E date of sobriety 09/17/78

cart and horse

The cart before the horse was Bill harping about his spiritual awakening (flash of light experience under the influence of the powerful hallucinogenic belladonna) in Townes Hospital as a requisite for recovery. The steps, as spelled out in How it Works, describe the groundwork for a genuine Spiritual Awakening.

I've witnessed those who share what it was like and what it was like and what it was like and didn't learn anything about how to get to what it is like now. I'll stick with my AA that includes "what happened".

RE: cart and horse

Bill wrote an account of his religious experience for
"The AA Way of Life", renamed "As Bill Sees It" Page 2.
Bill wrote it. I believe it. I consider it genuine,
the real thing. Dr. Silkworth's advice to Bill, and to
us, is to offer "what happened" with an attitude of
gratitude and humility. Bill also included an article (ABSI)
"Arrogance and its Opposite". These two articles changed
my beliefs on how to carry the message of recovery. In
the second article Bill tells us how to push prospects
away. We do that much too often. ANONYMOUS

Hugging at meetings

I'm not a hugger, but lots of people sort of expect it so I used to just go along with the others. As time went on I became old and fragile. I worry about catching colds from folks who like to kiss on the mouth. At the last meeting in my home group, I got so many enthusiastic hugs and kisses that I became dizzy and felt slightly bruised. I never went back. That was over a year ago. Now , I go to meetings where no one knows me, so I won't get hugged. If there are old folks in your group, please be gentle.

During my 23 years of

During my 23 years of drinking I was isolated from people in general as my husband never allowed me to have friends so I became a loner. He was a very controlling and mentally abusive man. When I started going to meetings a couple years ago after leaving the cruel and abusive marriage I was in, I had a very hard time with getting close to anyone, let alone being hugged. The hand shakes even made me wonder why anyone would like a drunk like me and want to welcome me with such open arms. Now I have a circle of friends that are just unbelievably wonderful. Always there with a kind word, a cup of coffee and just a listening ear. I am in my 60s now and have a very good life and once again a very confident woman and not living a sheltered life anymore.

A greatfull recovering alcoholic

RE: Hugging at meetings

Through the 1970s decade there was very little hugging
as far as I remember. We did a lot of hand shaking. We
shook hands with members we saw every day. The hugging and
hand holding became common in the 1980s. When I look at
the 1990's decline in membership, I believe this is one
of the reasons. I believe that we can be firmly bound by
the spirit of unity, without the physical holding on to each other.. All of the changes combined has diminished AA's effectiveness to near the point of collapse.

hugging at meetings

Not only was there no hugging in meetings years ago, there was little public hugging in the USA. The change in hugging is not limited to AA.

As far as I am concerned I do not want to try to hug someone who does not want it, nor do I want to make them feel uncomfortable. I ask, "Can I hug you?" the first time and whenever someone previously hugged looks standoffish.

If I don't want to hug someone, I don't want them shaming me or making me uncomfortable and I certainly am not kissing anybody on the mouth.

Most of us have not been mannerly or sensitive of others feelings while drinking. We can only learn by being teachable.

hugging and kissing

Certainly, no kissing on the mouth!!!! and don't try to kiss me PERIOD. I think the treatment centers back in the 70's started the physical contact to force the allies not to isolate. I worked in one of those centers and I did not want to hug the residents but they said I had to. Where I go to meetings now they do not try to hug me. There are some really weird types with mental disorders and hugging is not cool. And there are members who were physically molested who fear touch. And there is just me who likes handshaking because it feels kind and respectful.

I am not quite sure the rules to post?

please let me know. thank you

re not quite

Something tells me you are the same guy that posted at
6:14 6:21 6:25. If you are - good. And welcome.

Usual format is question and answers, sometimes somebody gets on a soap box and give us a stern lecture. Perhaps they try to herd cat too.

All posts are reviewed by GV staff (not me) and I guess really objectionable material is not posted but they are really flexible.

There is a lot of good material here. You can read back a long time. Sometimes I think "this post is really old" but alcoholism and recovery from it hasn't changed much since the Big Book Was written so information is still current.

It can take up to 3 or four days to get a response so not a good place for 911 emergencies. Some other online forums are as fast as a tennis game back and forth but I think this one has some unique ideas. Try several. Use several if you want.

Click under messages you want to reply to or start a new thread by clicking at the top of the page. Sometimes we see a post "I couldn't agree more" but it isn't clear what they are responding to so it's important to spell it out.

Welcome and enjoy.

No More Drama...

Life is going really good but I find myself...........almost going to put far to much on myself and i know where that goes why do we do that? thank you

no more drama

My greed and unthinking ambition to work and do had me loading myself up beyond the beyond. I had to treat overloading myself as any other character defect that the higher power could remove if I did the step work honestly.

why do i cause drama in my life when....

things are going so good do i want to put more on my plate and become overwhelmed??

re why

I can't speak for anyone else but here's my experience. I'm an alcoholic. I like to FEEL GOOD RIGHT NOW. Alcohol used to do that for me until it didn't. Progression. Had horrible consequences for the solution I chose but denial kept me coming back still demanding to FEEL GOOD RIGHT NOW. Joined AA and learned how not to drink. Feelings got worse. I was the same guy with the same empty feeling that demanded that I FEEL GOOD RIGHT NOW. Food, sex, SPENDING, goofing off, what ever I could replace it with. Those have their own consequences. I needed to be somebody without that empty need demanding to be filled. The twelve steps have done that like all those who shared the program with me. I hope you give it a try and enjoy the same results.

Joined: 2013-11-19
putting down the. drink is a start

I put down the drink and i did not have a solution anymore. It was so hard in the beginning. It wasnt hard to not puck up because i knew that solution had stopped working; it was hard not to feel crazier than ever, less competent, no energy and unable to do the smallest of tasks. My therapist said after I attended my first couple of AA meetings that just like an alcoholic,"you want what you want when you want it" I thought, that was the most profound statement EVER. Yet, I couldn't even remember it so I asked her to fax it to my office. When I saw it in black and white I read it over an over. Saying to myself...that is me.

Joined: 2013-11-25
serious and saddening conflict in my group

my ah-ha moment came as I journaled (4th stepped) a resentment. A long respected member of my home group has gone rogue. Instead of drinking, he is character assassinating my best friends. I am trying to bring my HP into my awareness with this. But a man who I previously respected is hurting my friends. Last night he yelled through a business meeting. He looked and acted drunk but I think what he has is worse than drinking.

So my ah-hah is that we have the opportunity to pray for a brother that is lost. At the same time, I get to see up close what happens when someone chooses a lower power over a higher power. At the meeting he was clearly being powered by his rage. He stepped on all of us, this man I have loved for 20 years as a trusted servant in AA, and as a friend. It is heart breaking to see a long time sober person descend into this terrible, rageful, hurtful, mean spirited person. We had to abort the meeting because he wouldn't stop shouting. I have been searching for articles but can't find any on this topic. HELP!

angry man

He could be suffering dementia.

friend's illness

My best refuge for the painful changes in other's behavior is first that prayer on the top of page 67, and the prayer suggestion on page 552 of the Big Book. I can also say "Thank you that isn't me today! Thank you for the serenity you give me!" And I can reach out to others in the group in agreement that each of us will pray for God's will and highest blessings possible for the person....taking care not to tell God what those blessings should be,
I always have to do my own inventory and make sure somebody else's behavior isn't an excuse for me to act on one of my character defects.
At the very least, when this episode has run it's course, I may get to welcome the person back.
I want to remain watchful for opportunities to do God's will and help others. I pray "What would you have me do now?"

I went through the same thing

I went through the same thing as the person you're describing. The most widespread response from my fellows, in the homegroup and out, was to scorn, judge, and ostracize me. There's a lot of really young people in my area. And they tend to respond to life with a "personalities before principals" approach. Somehow they don't even realize it.
At any rate, what happened for me was that I continued to decline until, with no desire to drink, until I attempted suicide. I'm 2 weeks from my 43rd birthday, and 3 weeks from my 9 year sober anniversary. And this last year has been the loneliest, most self-pitying year of my entire life. And ice not had an easy go of it prior to aa. My sponsor likes to refer to me as a "chronic last gasper".
All of this could very well have been avoided by my fellows responding with compassion ... I don't blame them for the way they did respond...but if the experience is worth anything, its right here in sharing it with you!

Joined: 2013-01-08

Thanks for bringing up this issue. It made me think. I am in no position to diagnose this person but wanted to share a thought. Former athletes are opening up about problems with CTE or brain injury due to repeated head trauma. The symptoms include changes in memory, anger, mood swings, depression...

During my active alcoholic and athletic life, my brain took a pretty good beating. I doubt I'm the only one. In addition to CTE, there could be issues with meds, mental illness, dementia and, of course, plain old dry drunk.

Whatever the reasons for this person's change, you and your group are left to deal with the behavior and set some boundaries. My home group business meeting can be tense enough when we're all on our best behavior.

RE: Sad and Serious

Alcoholics Anonymous has been declining in effectiveness
for two decades. Many of todays early timers see our failure
and lose hope for AA's future. We are sober, and somewhat
safe in our own recovery, but why are we not attracting and
holding new members? It is very easy to just rebel and walk
away. Denying the truth that we have become a failure in
helping others is common. Most of today's members think AA
is "alive and well". But we are really just "churning", only
holding enough members to replace those who walk away.
Personally I became "rogue" about five years ago when I
discovered our decline in membership. It has been agony to
have become that terrible, rage full, hurtful, mean spirited
person you describe. My relief came when I finally researched our history and found the causes for our failure.
Bill W. warned us of mistakes that we might make. IMO,
we have made all of them. Bill called them blunders. These
mistakes will not be found in the Big Book or the 12 & 12.
The blunders I found have been listed here. They are only
understood by those members who open-mindedly try to
understand them. I am truly grateful for the forum as
a vehicle to post my concerns and observations. ANONYMOUS

Sad and serious

Mr(s) Sad: this is the first time I've been in the forums.
I don't know what failures and blunders U are seeing.
This is day 709 for me. AA and God are AMAZING!
I had absolutely NO IDEA life could be this good for this long.
I had moments , days, even a few weeks when life would be good.
But not this good. Today, I thank God for His Process and Progress.

One crucial part of the process for me was when I gave up my EGO - Driven role as "Concerned Citizen". In that role, it was my God - Given Responsibility to point out (and correct) the defects of others.

"OTHERS" included everything and everyone. Friends, Family, CoWorkers, Church, Waiters, other Drivers!!!!, my Boss, Leaders, my Kids, my Wife!, the Government, Etc, Etc, Etc, Etc..... "LISTEN to ME, EVERYBODY! I know what's wrong!!!" "We gotta fix this thing, or we're gonna crash and burn." "Why won't anyone listen to me?"

One day, God put a 2x4 in my sisters' hands and hit me right smack dab in the face of my ego. Best thing that ever happened to me. It drove me to AA. I found Serenity. I found Acceptance. I found out this journey through life is a Process. I found out "I'm not in charge".

I found out I was in denial - not about my alcohol use, but that life was better than I thought it was. If life is better than I think it is, what do "I" do? "I'm" suppose to be the one who makes it(you) better. Now what?

Today, I THANK GOD I'm not that person anymore!!! I no longer want to be in charge. We're here to SUPPORT one another, not FIX another. When I say "I Love You", that doesn't mean I have to fix you.

RE: Sad and serious

I am sincerely happy for you. Thank God for your sister(s).
At 709 days I could have written your message. At thirty
years I was happy with A.A. I considered A.A. to be the
best thing since sliced bread- and boy, do I love bread.
I lived a life that I never thought possible.
Today's A.A. works great for some alcoholic sufferers.
Their families are happy and life is good. Be grateful that
you are one of those lucky ones. It is obvious that you are. Alcoholics Anonymous in its Oxford Group form was too restrictive. It worked for Bill W. But it didn't work for
Dr. Bob. Study Dr. Bobs story. Using advice from Dr.
Silkworth, Bill W. was able to share his sobriety with
Dr. Bob, and the sum became greater than the total of
its parts.
A technique (method) was developed of spreading the
message to other alcoholics on a wholesale basis. It
has very little to do with sponsoring or twelve stepping.
The method may sound strange. It has to do with attraction
not promotion. We don't cram the steps down anyone's
throat. Bill once wrote that the only thing that we
require of the alcoholic approaching us is the desire
to get well. We have no other requirement for AA
membership. We make no demands.
At meetings I attend, demands are constantly being
made by members. Get a sponsor, 90 in 90 and work those
steps. Your message does not come across as anything
but attraction. You are not promoting anything or
telling anyone what to do. You are only sharing your
experience, strength and hope. Welcome to the Forum.
I will continue to "sound the alarm" as long as I
possibly can. I doubt that I will ever see any
correction of mistakes we have made in the past thirty
years. I would like to see one correction in my
lifetime. I would like to see the reading of "How It Works"
deleted from meeting formats. This was a tragic blunder.

Joined: 2013-11-25
Re Re Sad And Serious

I don't know how your comment relates to a Moment of Clarity. I see you posting the same information on all of the other forums. You have been shot down on each occasion, especially on the forum "Burning Desire to Share," 9-30-2013. Membership estimates from the G.S.O. are not the tell-all for A.A.'s effectiveness.

I encourage you to share something relevant to recovery on any of these forums. I wonder if your comments are helping anyone at all other than your own ego. Stop fighting and join us as we trudge the road of happy destiny!

If you truly believe what you say, then go out and make a change: reach out to the still sick and suffering alcoholic; then share your results with us.

RE: Re Re Sad and Serious

iefft 1962. I ask you to read Message #155 and #156 in
this category: "Moment of Clarity". At least one poster
agrees with me and my concerns. ANONYMOUS


My "Moment of Clarity" came about five years ago when
I first saw the membership list which I had requested
from GSO. I had suspected that our fellowship was failing
when I noticed that the meetings I attended were diminishing. It seemed that the same chairs were filled
but the faces were constantly changing. Few seemed to
stay with us for long. Then there were more and more empty
chairs. The membership list shows the sad truth. We lost
about 600,000 members in the mid nineties. We have fewer
members in AA today worldwide, than we had twenty years
ago. Something is horribly wrong. We ought to have at
least eight million AA members today. We have just over
two million. I fear greatly that the solution by our
trusted servants will be to stop counting. They have
already deleted historical numbers from the list. The
membership list has been revised to give us the current
numbers only. Thus there is no way of comparing one
time period to another. We should always grow. There
is no lack of suffering alcoholics to help. Today,
we are only helping ourselves, as Bill did in his first
six months of sobriety. Bill stayed sober, by TRYING to
help other alcoholics. He was using what I call the
"How It Works" approach. Using Bill's words, he was
spectacularly unsuccessful, although he used "violent
exertion". Bill worked with others for almost six
months. Dr. Silkworth chastised Bill for the way he
was working with others. Bill approached Dr. Bob with
a complete change of mind and heart. There was no spiritual
arrogance or pride. Bill was there to save his own skin.
That is the method which worked. That method will work
today, "IF WE WORK IT". We have forgotten that method,
or never learned it in the first place.
In 2007 when I learned about AA's failure, I felt that
I had been betrayed. Why didn't someone say "something".
I had my head in the sand thinking "all is well". Nothing
wrong here. Then I found that many others had been aware
of our failings for years.
It is very late; maybe too late. But we have to try to
restore Alcoholics Anonymous to an acceptable rate of
effectiveness. These are reversals which must be done at
the group level: Stop reading "How It Works" aloud at meetings; Stop all chanting, completely; Remove the 24hr.
book from AA rooms; Lose today's concept of "sponsorship";
Stop making a spectacle of newcomers; Stop allowing
newcomers (and old timers) to make spectacles of themselves
(allow equal time for everyone to share); complete our
original goal of supporting AA at all levels with funds
from our own pockets.
These are my own observations over the past four decades,
"as Joe sees it". Details and additional opinions are
posted all over this Forum. I am truly grateful to have
been able to share them. Becoming an alcoholic and finding
Alcoholics Anonymous was by far the greatest thing that
ever happened to me.
If you consider that "AA is alive and well", please
reconsider. If you have ideas for improving our effectiveness, please share them here. Be specific.
My suggestions are only reversal of changes I have seen
taking place since 1970. ANONYMOUS

re iefft

So you think the big mean Big Book thumpers are such meenies that the fragile little newcomers are scared away? They didn’t scare me away. The life of a drunk is a hard one. I was used to hard. I wasn’t used to the love that they showed me but I sure didn’t mind that. But it was tough love. It went something like this: “You’ve spent a lifetime avoiding anything that caused you any pain. We did too, until it nearly killed us. The AA program is simple but it is not always easy. We love you enough to give you what you need instead of what you want. Get frustrated by us, get angry with us, stomp out. We think alcohol will drive you back; or you may die. It’s unfortunate but we’re dealing with life and death here. Keeping an appetite for feeling good satisfied didn’t fix our alcoholism and we don’t think it will yours. Come back, warm a chair. We aren’t going to jamb anything down your throat but what separates the winners from the losers is written on that sign hanging on the wall. If you want to be one of us, you are looking at the price of admission.”

Thank God I didn’t run into ego trippers trying to fill chairs. Those who thought substituting sugar water for the program was the way to make it palatable.

re numbers

“We ought to have at least eight million AA members today.”
And frogs ought to have wings so they wouldn’t bump their little bottoms on the ground, too.
AA has some effectiveness with alcoholics WHO WANT TO STOP DRINKING and are unable to.

There are not eight million alcoholics who want to stop drinking but are avoiding AA like the plague because of some lack in finesse in our sales technique.

Others have gotten in the sobriety business – churches, treatment centers, court programs the VA.
Do they work? I don’t know but they are still getting a lot of recruits that we aren’t.

You are seeing empty chairs? I look at the arrest reports in the local newspaper. Two to three low level drug arrests for every alcohol related arrest. For many the drug of choice for those of us who really need to stay stoned has changed from alcohol.

What about all those who attend AA for a while, get what they need to stay sober and move on? I’ve seen lots of them over the years. Is their success in leaving an empty chair behind counted as a failure for you? It’s good that some feel a need or desire to stick around and carry AA’s message but I haven’t noticed a shortage of them.

Maybe if you availed yourself to AA’s program of recovery and became a good example of the transformation it can accomplish someone might follow you instead of being driven away by your constant gripeing.

re numbers

Amen...............Many Alcoholics do recover - many go on to live life in a full and meaningful way - no failure there!!!!

Along the same lines - look at what is happening in society today - ethics have changed over the years, you do definitely see a younger group of addicts and alcoholics who have not yet experienced much of life - they have so few tools to live life, they have not learned that they can commit to anything. Many of our youth today don't stand much of a chance, there may not exist much hope.
The need for "instant gratification" is dominant and has influenced the increase in addiction in the younger population. The brevity of the disease has not hit home yet. Drugs definitely are more and more prevalent and seem to be the choice today for the younger folks. Many cannot relate to us AA's.

Our AA responsibility lies in modeling a better way of life and setting a good example. We must try to ignite a spark of hope whenever possible. I do not feel that AA is failing - it is still there for those who are willing.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re approximate membership #'s

Service Material from the General Service Office
members groups year
2 1935
1,400 50 1940
12,986 556 1945
96,475 3,527 1950
135,905 6,249 1955
162,037 8,615 1960
232,105 12,444 1965
311,450 16,459 1970
533,590 26,456 1975
574,318 29,352 1976
612,876 31,587 1977
627,456 33,241 1978
868,171 39,964 1979
907,575 42,105 1980
937,705 47,797 1981
1,065,299 53,576 1982
1,191,946 58,576 1983
1,351,793 62,860 1984
1,445,999 67,019 1985
1,556,316 73,192 1986
1,617,296 76,184 1987
1,734,734 85,270 1988
1,793,834 87,696 1989
2,047,469 93,914 1990
2,148,757 96,500 1991
2,489,541 89,215 1992
2,062,380 90,155 1993
1,790,528 89,239 1994
1,726,341 86,449 1995
1,959,829 96,997 1996
1,967,433 97,568 1997
1,989,124 98,710 1998
1,995,804 99,020 1999
2,160,013 100,766 2000
2,215,293 100,131 2001
2,092,460 103,768 2002
2,066,851 104,589 2003
2,082,980 105,294 2004
1,867,212 106,202 2005
1,996,935 106,477 2006
2,044,655 113,168 2007
2,085,125 116,773 2008
2,103,033 115,773 2009
2,057,672 107,976 2010

the numbers didn't copy perfect, but you get the idea. in 2012 AA membership was back to 2.4 million and down some last year. you can see approximate membersip peaked in 1992. if you where around then you will remember many treatment centers closing their doors. I believe it was the end of the hughes act from 1971 or so. you can do a little research, google hughes act or iowa senator hughes and read for yourself. I think the decline over the last 20 years has more to do with insurance copanies not paying treatment centers to had over drunks on a silver platter.

RE: numbers

It seems to me that the closing of treatment centers would
send more alcoholics to AA, not less. I believe that most
alcoholics are introduced to us before they reach the
treatment centers. We push them away and further down by
the way we conduct our AA meetings. ANONYMOUS

re numbers

Sorry, i do have some brain damage! I said 70,000,000 books instead of 40,000,000 books. I mixed up the 70 languages the book has been translated to with the 40,000,000 copies sold.

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