Burning Desire to Share
Thanks for reaching out. I can remember driving to AA meetings and sitting in my car afraid to go in. Truth was, I'd always used alcohol to overcome my shyness or what folks today might call "social anxiety disorder". I needed a couple of drinks to enter a room of strangers and that didn't seem to fit with AA so I'd drive away.
Finally, the pain of alcoholism and the need for recovery became greater than my shyness and I entered. What I found was a room full of people like me. The People in those rooms shared our common problem of alcoholism but they also had a common solution (that I needed) based on the steps of AA.
AA is a program built on love & service. We love each other, we understand each other and we are there to help each other. Now that I know that, I wish I'd have entered the rooms sooner.
Come on in. We are waiting for you with warm hearts and a hot cup of coffee.
AA works for some alcoholics. You have nothing to lose
by trying it. Finding an AA meeting and going through the
doors seems routine to those of us who are familiar with
meetings. I doubt that I would ever have picked up the
phone to find a meeting. A co-worker took me to my first
meeting after a day of drinking.
I really encourage you to make every effort to find
and attend a meeting. It changed my life and helps many
others. Make up your mind to attend six meetings. You
have been to rehab so you must have been exposed to AA.
You have the signs and symptoms of being an alcoholic.
You probably are one of us. Alcohol is a poison for us.
Our bodies cannot tolerate alcohol in any form. Stay
away from it. We will try to show you how we got sober.
Maybe the method will work for you. ANONYMOUS
It sounds like you have a neon sign over your head showing that you have a problem but you are afraid someone might see you getting help for it.
I've been in AA for 34 years and I've never seen anyone interested in who goes to meetings. Lots read the court reports and see those who need to go but don't. Other people have their own problems and their own lives, they really have other things to think about besides us. AA is only for us that have a drinking problem. You think people say "I was in AA the other night and saw so and so?" How do they explain being there?
Most of us had a dozen reasons for not going but the real one was "This is a step toward giving up alcohol". That's what we are afraid of. AA doesn't work because we learn to go through the rest of life with white knuckles to keep from drinking. It helps build a life free from alcohol that we like.
Since you asked - some churches have started recovery groups. I don't know what their track record is. I bet my life on something that's proven to work and I'm glad I did. Good Luck.
On prayer, I will say I don’t pray because for me I have to stay sober whether I pray or not. I came to learn that I was not unique in this because I had met others who shared that prayer never worked for them neither. So prayer is not one of my go-to-gadgets in the recovery toolbox but, some day it might be. We have to be flexible and open-minded in the rooms. I don’t recall being told I had to pray in recovery or that prayer was a requirement for membership anyway. While the majority of AA members pray and find it helpful I had to find other tools. There is no shortage of loving support in AA. No one seems to make a big deal out of it but, there were a few misguided and unspiritual bully types that tried. Today, with the help of AA, I’ve learned to live my life with dignity and respect and to treat others the same way. I was told recovery is not rocket science. “You drink, you destroy life”
One other helpful thing I did was to stop attending Step and Big Book study meetings because they had a negative effect on me. This might sound harsh but, those meetings seemed to be overrun with either whiners or bullies. Today, I just attend speaker meetings. I don’t have to hear 30 people proclaim their version of the truth at meetings; just one sincere lead from the heart will perform the daily magic trick I need to stay sober and I always enjoy introducing myself and thanking the speaker after the meeting.
I first went to rehab in 2005. The outside world is so scary. Living with a mental illness on top of being an addict and alcoholic, I deal with deep depression. I've been to the psych ward three times in the last three weeks. I want the pain to stop. That's what we all want, right?
I just don't know what to do anymore. I don't know if I want to be committed inpatient so I absolutely cannot drink or what.
any ideas appreciated
Stinking thinking leads to drinking. That is a common saying in my AA circle. We all must start with the thinking because that is the will that you take back when you start to think that you "feel" like drinking. Believe me when I tell you that there is nothing you cannot do if you simply DO NOT DRINK. Bill knew what he was saying when he said, "keep it simple, we just don't drink". How perfect is that? It is not complicated. Everything will fall into place if you just don't drink. I'm sure you know that alcohol is a depressant, so it doesn't take a intellect to know that using a depressant is only going to make you more depressed. On the other hand, if you find a meeting, you may save your life or someone elses. Find another alcoholic and you will find someone who feels just like you. This is a "we" program. You do not have to do this alone. Start with the thinking, and chose a better topic. Start with "hi, my name is ...and I am an alcoholic." Wow, I feel better already....
I don't recall ever hearing or reading that Bill W said "keep it simple, just don't drink" please post where you found this information.
On the other hand, Bill did write that an alcoholic is someone who has lost the ability to control his drinking and at times has no mental defense against the 1st drink. Hard drinkers can "just not drink" alcoholics must drink, otherwise they aren't alcoholic......
You feel like drinking? That’s quite an ordinary feeling. We all felt that way especially during withdrawal or when our futures looked ominous due to financial ruin, car crashes, depressions, isolations, DWI’s, domestic abuse, jails, bills and etc. Alcoholism is a brain disorder. We have an illness in which, the majority of us will die for a drink literally. A better life is around the corner if you put the cork in the bottle and fix your brain. The founders of AA initially started the solution ball rolling outlined in a book which is heavily depended on Judeo-Christian values but, this does not make AA religious. Many members had to adjust the founder’s initial visions and some don’t feel they are necessary at all. If you are an alcoholic then you have a responsibility to find out where you fit along the recovery spectrum. The good thing is the spectrum can reach around the world and the solution is never fixed in one place. Drinking will never solve anything but add to the madness. It’s your choice obviously. We can’t, the state can’t, the family can’t and even the god’s can’t make you stop drinking. Recovery is not easy. In the end only a fierce but kind warrior will survive the disease of alcoholism.
I can relate, my drinking "was a solution" to my complete
inability to cope with life, so for years I couldn't
relate to folks sharing that their drinking "was a problem"
for them. I had to reach a point of complete demoralization
when an inner shift happened and I found myself going to AA meetings with a different attitude. The best way I can put it was that it wasn't about going to AA to quit drinking, it
was more that I found AA to be the only place (for me)
where I found hope and people had gone through what I was
experiencing and come out the other side. I started
saying sober one day at a time and doing the things
that were "suggested" (as its "suggested" that folks
pull the parachute cord when jumping out of an airplane)
found that when not drinking I was suffering from untreated
alcoholism which "was the crux of my problem" and that
when we heal on the inside, the desire to drink leaves..
My suggestion is to go to an AA meeting as soon as possible and tell the folks you feel like drinking. Best of luck to you
In the beginning, withdrawal is overwhelming especially if there is an underlying mental illness issue in which alcohol was used as a self-medicating agent. If this will help, the rooms are full of duel diagnosed individuals recovering from alcoholism. Many professionals estimate that 75%-80% of alcoholics have an additional mental health factor which requires outside help. The founder of AA suffered from chronic depressions which required outside treatment and this is all documented and should demonstrate clearly that you are not alone. The physical aspects of withdrawal are awful but, the mental fallout can even be worse especially if a mental illness is piggybacking on top of it. Drinking won’t help at all. When I entered the rooms I had extreme social anxiety and depression coupled with PTSD and childhood trauma. I didn’t know the extent of my mental illness until I was sober 12 years. At that time, I was barely showing up in life and failing at everything. Although I was not drinking and active in my home group inside was this quiet desperation. While others accepted their mental illness and received proper help I was in denial. I finally faced the truth and in my experience prayer and the steps weren’t going to cure me from the madness inside my head. I needed professional help outside of AA in combination with meetings. I guarantee you will experience a new freedom and happiness but, as in my case it won’t happen overnight. You are not unique but, a typical alcohol on the road to a sober and fulfilling life. Join the fellowship and save a life.
I am a young man, and most of the people my age are still heavily into their drinking and party phases. I however, have taken it upon myself to give up alcohol. Not because I was a person who couldn't live a day without it, my condolences to those of you who struggle with that. Although, with that being said, I was never a person who could drink normally and without incidents occurring.
I am constantly baffled with the question of what I am going to do with my time and where I am going to spend my friday nights. My friends harass me all the time about my sobriety, telling me that 1 drink is not going to hurt anything; but it will. I have taken it upon myself to embrace this sobriety, to expand my horizons and fill my life with new hobbies and activities that don't revolve around the bar scene or alcohol in general.
Since I have started to do these new things, I have made new friends and even found myself involved in a nice new relationship. I have began to become involved more so with the program of AA, making friends with old timers, and not being so stubborn about taking some advice and guidance.
With the absence of alcohol, my mind is much clearer. No, not all of the problems in my life are solved, and there are still things that I have to deal with on a daily basis. It is amazing how much easier these day-to-day problems become to handle when you aren't hungover and trying to deal with them.
That's all I have to share today! Wishing everyone another 24, one day at a time.
I started drinking in college and by the end
of the 4 year period, I believe I had crossed the
"invisible line" into active alcoholism i.e. I could
not predict with any degree of certainty when or how
much I would drink. In hindsight, I'm very grateful
for the DUIs u got when I was in early 20's which
caused me to look at my drinking and get into the
program 3 months before age 30 (saving me
"from 20 or 30 years of literal hell")
Welcome. You're in the right place. I often say that if I'd have known how great life could be sober I'd have done it a lot sooner.
I was not a daily drinker either. In between drunks I managed to run long distance races, serve in the military and get advanced degrees. When I did drink,though, I found I had little control over how much took. As a runner focused on health, my weekend binges troubled me and the hangovers got longer and more painful and prevented me from doing the things I loved. That would cause me to "quit" which I could manage for a week or two at the most before a nice cold Bud would call out to me after a run and I'd be off again.
Working the program of AA not only removed the obsession to drink, it helped me learn how to live a happy sober life. I began a journey of becoming who I was truly meant to be. My first job sober was at a ski resort where I made a host of healthy new friends and built a life around outdoor activities and health. I could fill a page with all the fun things I learned to do sober including ski and mountain bike racing. I volunteered to write an article for the mountain newspaper and within a year was editor. I found that I loved to write and to create. I had a dream of working at a university and at 10 years sober landed at one with nearly no effort on my part. I am still there many years later.
Again, I could go on about this wonderful journey. Let's just say alcohol was taking me down a road of destruction, decay and death. AA and sobriety took me down a different road of health, recovery and service where my spirit was allowed to flower and grow.
Welcome. Enjoy the journey.
Does anyone, (I am not casting aspersions on you),read the big book anymore? In this case maybe page 19?
The book also says finding a Higher Power is the exact purpose of this book, it doesn't say find God.
I personally am uncomfortable with other things in AA today such as the chanting. People want that defined
so I am talking about responding in unison to things that are read. We are not allied with any sect so why
are we trying so hard to become a sect? It's like being in church and the pastor speaks and the congregation responds! Or the argument about talking about drugs. If you are an alcoholic and drugs are part of you story
you can talk about them. "Next day found me taking both Gin and sedative". (That shouldn't be in quotations marks as I am paraphrasing). There is a lot of BS in meetings but there is truth in the Big Book. I know it isn't the Bible but it is certainly a guide book for me. "Whoever got up earliest this morning has the most sobriety". Who came up with this? A chronic slipper? I am definitely not in the same place I was in when I
came into the program. "Ninety meetings in ninety days". Then what? You graduate? "Get a temporary sponsor".
What? For temporary sobriety? "Don't drink and go to meetings?". But what I do in between living with the dry drunk in my head? "A drug is a drug". Probably quoted by a treatment center with only one van.
I could go on of course as I have a "magic magnifying mind". If I could implore people in AA to do one thing I think it would be to please read and study the book, (and stop chanting). If I could give the newcomer one
gift it would be willingness. Twenty four years of not always fun and games sobriety but it is better than
what I had and each day I learn more.
I love you all and there is nothing you can do about it. Ray C.
I believed in God when I came into AA, so the “God thing” was not a problem; however around my sixth year in sobriety I became an atheist or to use a gentler word “non-believer.” I had a spiritual un-awakening as my AA friends jokingly call it and today a belief in God is not necessary for me to obtain a happy and joy filled sober life. I see alcoholism as more of a physical and mental ailment coupled with a social component. I came to not believe that there was a religious or moral aspect to addiction although the benefits of such practices can make someone a better human being. The great thing is no one cares at the meetings and members love me nonetheless. I have a total understanding that I have an incurable disease and therefore I have to stay sober no matter what kind of person I become. I like to be unselfish and loving opposed to controlling and arrogant simply because I sleep better at night and my family and friends enjoy my company more. And with all this being said I would like to add that I am not against prayer and God or do I find fault or weakness in the people that do. In fact, I sponsor two believers and the third is agnostic. The traditions remind us that we are all equal no matter what our ideas of recovery appear like to others. I want to thank AA for providing an open-minded place full of unconditional loving members that continue to support my evolution through sobriety. There is nothing better than true AA friends, honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.
I think the chanting, rituals and advice just grows out of our common experience in AA. One person or a few people feel moved to try something and it catches on or doesn't.
I attended a speaker meeting at a Young People in AA conference and saw and heard lots of things that eventually made it back to AA meetings in our area. For example, when the chair asked for a show of hands of those available to be sponsors, the group said, "thank you sponsors?" At the end of reading How it Works, the entire group recited, "could and would if he were sought". At the end of the traditions the entire group said, "and practice these principles in all our affairs". At the end of the promises they all yelled, "we think not" and "work work work".
It appeared that most of the young people knew exactly when to pipe up and they were having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. It looked like the kids were being kids. They were having fun, being creative and bonding over common sayings and rituals. We see young people do this all the time. I have three in college and can't keep up with the sayings and rituals.
I don't know if this is good or bad for the young people or AA but who am I to decide? No one elected me to be the AA enforcer. If someone thought something was becoming destructive or distracting at our home group, we might add it to our agenda and discuss it at our monthly biz meeting. In the mean time I'll practice these principles in all my affairs and continue to work work work.
Your post made me smile...thank you for your sobriety. I am working on my own.....just finished my first 90 days in fact and don't feel like I've graduated yet lol....still wet behind the ears, eager, earnest, humble and grateful for my decision for sobriety.
Many of things that do not make sense to me in the rooms make sense to others. I never meddle with another’s recovery. I never feel I have to correct someone or defend my point of view. “Live and Let Live” is a tremendously helpful slogan. “Take what you need and leave the rest” After each meeting I bring home about .05% of what I have heard and that is enough to keep me sober for one day. The rest of the stuff is for the other members and none of my business. I can only keep myself sober so I embrace the things that make sense to me. When I hear pseudo-psychology, fundamentalist rants or religious flavored lectures, I don’t worry too much because if these people continue to stay sober they will wake up one day and think, “I was really full of myself back then. None of my preaching helped my sobriety but only kept me from growing spirituality.” Sponsorship is helpful in the beginning for a newcomer because it’s not easy for them to distinguish Clown AA from Wisdom AA and that’s why a guide is helpful. My sponsor helped me to filter out the ego-driven noise while assisting me in discovering the spiritual medicine of the day. Thanks everyone.
Have you considered going to different meetings at difference times to get some different feels of other groups?
Im a newbie but truly enjoy getting a perspective from a different group.
In my thoughts. the chant together shows me the strength in numbers to stay sober, that I am not isolated with the disease and the crazy pull of the alcoholism. Like we are stronger than the alcohol as a group.
P.S . Never heard the thought the one who gets up is the most sober. It's not a contest ya know?
My name is Mike, alcoholic, sober since March 1990.
I am writing to express the opinion that group prayer in meetings cross the line from a personal spiritual journey to a religious practice. I pray and meditate on my own time and in my own space outside AA meetings. When group prayer and prayer circles are conducted they are perceived by many as religious. It is offensive to atheists, agnostics and many non-religious members. When prayer circles and group prayer begin I do not participate and often just leave the room. If enough members did likewise group prayer might soon become a thing of the past.
Prayer and religion in AA has been controversial for 80 years. The Christian, “Lord’s Prayer”, is used to close the vast majority of AA meetings. I believe this practice has been wrong from the start. Rather than replacing The Lord’s Prayer with the less religious Serenity Prayer most groups chose to utilize both at their meetings making the prayer controversy worse.
I am neither atheist nor agnostic. I do not attend church but I’m ok with those who do. I am opposed to members preaching, evangelizing or trying to converting others to their God. Our 10th tradition states AA has no opinion on outside issues which includes sectarian religion. Therefore our meetings ought to be free of all forms of religious or cult practices.
Many newcomers come to AA wanting nothing to do with God or religion but that is what they find. What do we think goes through their minds when they see and hear the following; prayer circles, group prayer, religious prayers, chanting, reading from the Bible or other religious books and singing religious songs? All this happens inside churches where many of our meetings are held. Although we state AA is a spiritual program and not religious our meetings are overwhelmed with religious aspecs that I believe destroys the attraction and public relations of AA.
Our meetings ought to be free of all outside issues. Eliminating group prayer and prayer circles are a good start. Group prayer in meetings should, in theory, have nothing to do with my personal spiritual journey. The solution to this problem begins and ends at the individual and group levels. Closing on a positive note, we recently started a men’s closed discussion group here that follows all 12 Traditions. We open and close with a moment of silence (for personal prayer and meditation) and end with a message of hope from A Vision for You (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 164). So far it is working well and attendance is growing. I am extremely grateful and proud of my new AA home group.
Oliver, BC, Canada
Our group voted to cease prayer and hug circles years ago at a group conscious meeting and the room continues to be full. We open with the “AA Preamble” and close with the “AA Responsibility Statement” because it cuts to the chase when informing the newcomer what we are all about without instilling in them false associations with religion or dictations of gods and methods. These are special tenets and were developed from within. Yes, the founders were religious but, that doesn’t mean I have to be religious. We share our experience strength and hope and reach out to the new person. That is all we are asked to do in the rooms. Dictating anything else is purely ego and self serving arrogance. Our group provides all the literature and books and the new person is welcome to take them home without cost. Our meeting is based on true sharing. We do not have study meetings because study meetings tend to produce gurus, preachers, inequalities and condescending positions towards the new person, which creates separatist attitudes and a very unspiritual environment. In my belief, any member who thinks they are higher and mightier than the newcomer is not a very sober person at all.
The topic of prayer brought up a lot of memories for me,
I was so beat down and dying on the inside that I'm grateful
I experienced an "inner shift" I think when I starting coming to
meetings on August 8, '88. Basically, without any conscious
effort on my part, I found myself being willing to suspend
judgement regarding whatever was going on at meetings. I experienced
hope and caring (or love as I recognized later on) for the first time
in quite a while which let me to keep coming back and not take
a drink between meetings. I recall a member coming up and (noticing
my being of South Asian origin) asking if I had problems saying the
Lords Prayer. Till that time, I had not even known that the Lords
Prayer was a religious prayer (I had thought it was an AA prayer!)
My experience with prayer is that it helps me and my attitude.
I've grown to be comfortable with a Higher Power in my life
who I view as my best friend and my prayers are in the form
of talking to him. I find that talking to my higher power relieves
me of self-centered fear that I can easily get into on problems
big or small and helps me to realize that I am in his care and
that he has carried me through all kinds of life's challenges
and given me an opportunity for a beautiful life in which I
have everything I need (which is different from having everything
Pray don't pray. Look to the Big Book for all the answers. People have as many opinions on what it takes to stay sober as Carter has - well, little liver pills. There are no rules in AA. You are a member if you say you are. There is no requirement to pray. Isn't that just the neatest thing. There is also no requirement that a person not tell another that they need to pray. Someone once told me that if I could stay sober in AA, I could stay sober anywhere. I think they were making reference to the many personalities and conflicts and opportunities to develop resentments about what I am told by other members. I do not pray the lords prayer because it is Christian and for me AA must stay non-religeous. Half the time I know there must be a God and the other half I am sure we are deluded. Who cares - not the members of AA if they are tending to the business of their own recovery. I am just not that important. AA can take me or leave me but I must find a way to be with AA or I will drink and to drink again, for me, is to die. Faith is not required. Willingness, honesty, and open mindedness are and they can be developed slowly over time. The key seems to be to be seeking. To be wanting to find a way out. To yearn for something better and to never be closed minded toward spiritual principles. Pray don't pray. Don't drink and go to meetings and read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and perhaps we will see each other at a meeting some day.
Yesterday I learned that my father died a week ago. I had years without dealing with him. My parents are separated for a gambling problem. He died alone, utterly alone, all for a gambling problem, he didn’t to accept, he didn’t accept that he had a gambling problem, not wanting to stop playing. I forgive my father, I had not dealings with him but forgive.
Does anyone feel uncomfortable praying? I wasn’t raised in religion and I don’t see why I have to believe in God and pray to obtain sobriety or to be a member of AA as I was told recently. Some guy informed me AA is really about finding God and obeying his will. I identify with being an alcoholic and having an addiction because I screwed up my life considerably but, I don’t identify with the religious elements in the rooms. I respect the religious and spiritual members but, I wish members in my group would return the favor and respect me. I’m starting to feel exceptive and not accepted. My doctor told me that alcoholism is a medical health issue and not a lack of religion issue. If the founders were atheists would the Fellowship accept religious people? I think they would. I don’t want to drink anymore. My life has never felt a lack of a loving creator or a need for mysticism. I feel connected when people talk about alcoholism and all its waste products and when the God talk begins I try not to close up and listen sincerely because I know that this topic is so important to the majority. Once I shared my feelings at a discussion meeting and some cranky old guy told me I will drink again. Why would he say that to me? I share that same desire to stop drinking as he does and maybe even more because I’m closer to the fire then he is. Can anyone relate?
AA is for everyone. Don't let 1 person put a sour taste in your mouth. You do not need to believe in god to be sober. You can achieve it using your own will, an old timer that attends the meetings I go to likes to use God as an acronym. G-ood O-rderly D-irection. So, when you hear god at the meetings, just think about it as being more morally conscious. Choosing the right path, and making the right decisions. You have definitely started in the right direction, keep coming back!
The rude answer is is to tell 'em to keep drinking until prayer begins to look like a better option. However I understand the frustration because I had it when I got here. I believed in God almighty with all my heart but I couldn't stay sober more than about 4 or 5 days. We say A.A. is a spiritual program, not a religious program meaning we focus on changing the way we look at things rather than practicing a particular faith. That way even an atheist can get sober using a higher power. The basic difference between religion and spirituality is with religion they tell you who god is and how to worship him etc. With spirituality, we learn to practice spiritual principles (patience, tolerance kindliness and love to name a few) with the help of a god of "our own understanding". The way to get help is to ask for it and that is where prayer comes in. I must remember that it is not God that needs to hear my prayers it is ME. It is the experience of feeling free from the obsession that that helps us to define our "Higher Power"'; mine not yours. And over time we come to realize that it has been weeks since we even thought about drinking. How could that happen? Never could do it on my own......
I was no fan of religion either. I’m still not. There is nothing unusual about us. Step Two does not say “Bring the Higher Power you already have to AA along with you”. It says find one. If we already had one that was getting the job done we wouldn’t need to be here, would we? I followed the suggestions in the chapter to the agnostic and found that there was indeed a Power that could solve my problem. This power pointed out to me that there are about a hundred words following the third step prayer, expanding on it, and then “Next we launched out on a vigorous course of action…”p63. It is perfectly obvious to anyone who reads it that this “course of action” is the God’s will business that we made a decision to carry out. The course of action is not to get religion. It is also perfectly clear to me that we are to turn our will over to the “care” of God not the “control” of God. It’s a one way street. God, who by my definition has everything, wants nothing from us but proves to be willing to give us what we need to solve our problem. There is nothing written about “obeying”, it’s about seeking answers to solve our problem and using them. When the course of action gets to “shortcomings” or “character defects” in steps four through ten, it’s not about sins against an angry God; it’s about ferreting out behaviors that simply don’t work. Behavior that puts us at odds with others. Behavior that in the long run make us so miserable that we need to turn off the pain with increasing doses of alcohol. The result is total devastation. I encourage you to go to the source, get the information straight, and continue attending meetings armed with this knowledge. Perhaps you will begin to see that the discomfort you feel is not coming from others, discomfort you can do nothing about, and begin to see the pain is generated by your own alcoholism which AA has a formula to banish from your life.
Since AA attracts only very sick people and membership is open to anyone with a desire to stop drinking, those attending meetings or writing here are capable of telling you almost anything. How it Works cautions us about who we can expect to find in the membership. The only credible source of information is in AA’s literature starting with “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”. They contain hundreds of references to God, prayer and AA being a spiritual program of recovery. The Big Book, “Alcoholics Anonymous”, has a chapter specifically written for atheists and agnostics. The twelve and twelve expands on the subject.
There is a ridiculous notion that AA’s Tradition Three “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking” is a license to dream up any kind of behavior, pass it off as a program of recovery and call it AA. That doesn’t work in the rest of the world and it doesn’t work here.
I imagine the requirement for membership to Harvard is something like a high scholastic standing and about fifty thousand dollars tuition. If an applicant meets these requirements and is accepted do they get to step in and do as they please or do they need to attend classes, do their homework and do everything else Harvard students do? The requirement for membership to the Boy Scouts is to be a boy and at least eleven years old. Does an eleven year old boy sign up and stop there? Not in my experience. If I was to be a Scout, then I needed to pitch tents, build campfires, tie knots, attend scout meetings and carry out dozens of other activities. They didn’t change the organization to my specifications or what I was comfortable with and I doubt if Harvard or anyone else would either. That is the difference between a requirement for membership and what membership entails. For a description of what AA membership entails read “Alcoholics Anonymous”.
I'm not uncomfortable with prayer on a personal level and always join in with the Serenity and end of meeting prayers. I was raised Catholic & altar boy and prayed a lot during my drinking years. (God help me!) My concern about prayer & ritual in AA is how it might affect the newcomer. Do the prayers & rituals and hand holding narrow the door and raise the bar? Are they necessary? Might we begin and end our meetings with a simple moment of silence?
There is NO DOUBT that AA is a spiritual program. But, our founders were careful to give members wide latitude in finding a personal spiritual path.
The pinnacle of our step work is Love in action as we carry the message of AA to others and practice the principles of AA in all of our affairs. This tends to make our AA meetings and interactions full of love and compassion. Do we narrow the doorway and raise the bar to AA with formulaic prayers & rituals?
Do we narrow the doorway and raise the bar to A.A. with
formulaic prayers and rituals? You asked the question.
The answer is YES!. In the 1970s and 1980s we opened our
meetings with the preamble and the serenity prayer and
closed with The Lords Prayer. It was always "for those
who wish to join". No one was coerced to participate.
Our A.A. membership doubled in each of those decades
at a reasonable rate of effectiveness.
With the publication of the fourth edition of the BB
came the acceptance of the "hold hands and pray" closing.
The evidence is in. My question to you is this: What
are you doing about it, except posting the message here?
Are you willing to get your hands dirty and work for
reversal of our mistakes. Bill warned us of the
blunders we might make. IMO, we have made all or them.
Believe me, it won't be easy. ANONYMOUS
You asked the question, "What are you doing about it?" I'm staying sober one day at a time like you. I'm doing the next right thing by not picking up the first drink and reaching out to others by sharing my thoughts. To me, the next right thing besides being true to myself and honest is to continue showing up to work, as well as, trying to be present for my wife and kids. Currently besides meetings, every other week I volunteer my carpentry skills with Habitat of Humanity. That's enough for now because focusing on keeping sober is the most important thing I can do. What are you doing about your sobriety except preaching? You forgot to add wisdom in your delivery. Sobriety is hidden in what we do and not what we tell others what to do. It doesn't take an old timer to understand that one and it doesn't take years in AA to live in goodness and to be kind to others.
First I would like to share that I'm somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic; I love AA, haven't had a drink in 20 years, and have a life beyond my wildest imagination. Stick with AA and you will be surprised what your life will become. I can guarantee that.
Most AA meetings end with either the Lord's Prayer (more traditional groups) or the Serenity Prayer. Although I'm not a Christian I am fond of the Lord's Prayer. It's ancient and very simple. I like the fact that we ask for our daily bread. We live in a fabulously wealthy society, historically speaking and also compared to many countries in the world. We forget that most people in history and many people living today have to think about where their daily meal is coming from. It also is about forgiveness for ourselves and others. If there's a simpler, better way to happiness than that, I don't know what it is.
All that being said, there will be a minority of people in AA who are nervous that you don't believe in their God. It might make them question their own faith, and they don't want to do that. I try to show compassion for those people. They can't actually do you any harm.
Always remember Tradition 3: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking." The sentence is only 12 words long, it's remarkable how many people forget it, again and again.
The amazing part of AA is that it requires a spiritual change for success. There is no where in AA literature that says just come and sit and you will be ok. It does say tho that I must set aside my old ideas for new ones. When you do this you o longer have to struggle with others experiences. We give up the fight.The people i my life that helped me to my experience also told me that if you did not wish to follow our path you may feel free to start your ow form of recovery. Just don't call it AA. There is o right and wrong only slow painful death for the alcoholic that uless you fid a path that works. So we allow people to stay until they find our path or they are free to leave. We just hate to see you suffer. God bless and may your journey be peacefilled.
You shared, "The amazing part of AA is that it requires a spiritual change for success. There is nowhere in AA literature that says just come and sit and you will be ok."
I respectfully disagree because the only requirement which AA asks of us is that we have a desire to stop drinking and the other part of your statement is incorrect as well. It’s typical AA to tell the new person to just sit there and listen and that everything will be okay. We do that to provide hope. Telling them they have to obtain spirituality or die is bully AA. We are not bullies. Identifying and hearing a similar story through another AA member is a crucial component in the healing process of sobriety and this will lead to further success down the road. Ones quest for spirituality or change is something that we recommend but certainly never enforced or is it necessary for sobriety. AA does not have judges who monitor individual degrees of spirituality and then send the data back to a central command for further evaluation. Who are we to determine or define what spiritual progression means in another? Spiritual progress is different and not the same for everyone. And to be honest if spiritual change was necessary for sobriety, the rooms would be a bit scarcer than they are at times because we are not saints. To me, people that are truly spiritual don’t even know it nor do they waste time trying to determine if they are or not and if others are spiritual or not.
Uncomfortable with prayer? So don't pray. I have quite a few friends in AA who don't join in the prayers, none have been asked to leave meetings.
In my experience the ones who get the most attention about not praying or not believing in a Higher Power are the ones who make the biggest public issue about it.
Your doctor told you, "that alcoholism is a medical health issue and not a lack of religion issue." Do you want to get sober with AA or with your doctor?
Out of respect, your post does not make much sense and is a bit close-minded and arrogant. You said, “Do you want to get sober with AA or with your doctor?” From that statement I can only ascertain you believe AA is a religious program? I don’t believe it is and that is why when I was told I wouldn’t get sober because I am a non-believer at this time I felt dejected. Why put down the medical professional? I am sober today with the help of both AA and my doctor. We are asked to share are experience, strength and hope. What you added was judgment and ego. I came to this post to ask if any one felt the same way or had a similar personal experience with the topic. Your comment was not necessary and grandstanding. If you read correctly, you would find that I absolutely have total respect for believers in AA. I was not attacking AA in any way. I like meetings but feel uncomfortable and all I was asking for was to find out if I was not alone or if others had struggled with this issue at one time. If they had I wanted to learn how to feel comfortable and accepted at meetings. You see I do want to stay sober and that is why I asked this question. Now can you see how you comment was like a lead balloon? I want to thank some of the other comments which were helpful and compassionate.
The biggest problem with mail, whether it be email or snail mail, is that only the words are seen, not expressions and vocal tone is not heard.
That said, let me ask you a question. Are you comfortable with everything your doctor tells you to do? I'm certainly not, yet I do what he say because I want to recover from whatever it is he's treating me for.
In my early days I was very uncomfortable with the idea of depending on a Higher Power but I did it because I believed what I was told, that "God could and would if He were sought."
I was uncomfortable with my fifth and ninth step but did them because I wanted to recover from alcoholism.
So I repeat, don't pray if you don't want to. But don't expect everybody to stop praying because it makes you uncomfortable.
You said, "So I repeat, don't pray if you don't want to. But don't expect everybody to stop praying because it makes you uncomfortable." It's uncanny how you comments miss the mark. What on earth made you think I expect others to stop praying? Please get your "I-just-want-to-believe-what-I-just-want-to-believe" glasses checked. In fact, I'm sincerely happy for the prayer people in the rooms although that magic world is beyond my understanding of how the universe works. Anything that helps another member stay sober will have my 100% support and praise. Its extremely inspiring to me when people find the combinations of things that keep them sober because it gives me hope that I too shall find the things that I need to find to stay sober, even if prayer will not end up in that sobriety equation.
I can certainly understand your concern. I do not think
we ought to pray at AA meetings. We are not a prayer group.
Pray on your own time, at home or church, not here.
This did not seem to be an issue, until the "hold hands
and pray" ritual began. Anyone who was not comfortable with
the opening and closing prayer simply did not join in. They
were not coerced to join the herd. If the group decides to
open with the serenity prayer, and close with the Lords
Prayer, it ought to do so. If the truly informed group
conscience decided to close in a different way, it should
do so. Bill W's "Dear Russ" letter explains this much
better than I can. ANONYMOUS
When I was new I felt as you do. What I was missing is the spiritual experience as a result of the steps. It's our experience that real alcoholics rarely permanently recover without addressing the alcoholics spiritual malady. Your doctor was partly correct. Alcoholism is a 3 fold disease. Mental - mental obsession,while sober awhile we think it's ok to drink. Physical - once we drink we can't control how much we drink. And spiritual - the real alcoholic, left to his own devices doesn't feel right in his own skin. When the spiritual malady is repaired through working the 12 steps, we straighten out mentally and physically. That's why every good AA focuses on the spiritual program of action. Without those steps, AA would be just another rotary club.
like I said, I relate with you. After my last drink while going about this my way, I finally began working the steps as an experiment. That was 9/13/1992
Don’t know if people share positive experiences on this site but, I would like to share mine.
I’m a loner and don’t like being around people in AA meetings. I sense underneath all the laughter is anger and sadness. It bothers me. I know everyone is trying to change but, its difficult being around alcoholics with repressed mental conditions. I like the “Living Sober” book and the “This is AA” pamphlet. I read those at home. My sponsor also gave me the “Sponsorship” pamphlet. The big book at this time is too bizarre for my tastes. I call my sponsor once a week. He encourages me to do what’s best for me and to forget about what everyone else is doing. When we talk he asks me about my week and how I’m feeling. He doesn’t care if I pray or read the big book. He’s concerned more with what’s going on at work, at home and with relevant things like my feelings or what am I doing to change today. AA is great for me in that way. I found a sponsor who I can connect with and so far he’s instilled in me valuable insight to addiction and recovery in addition to my responsibilities for living sober one day at a time. I like the fact he has boundaries. I don’t know where he lives or where he works. He doesn’t get involved with AA politics and I’ve never heard him say anything negative about AA. About the only thing I know is that he is Christian and gay which I found odd at first but, not once has he mentioned God, religion or his lifestyle. My sponsor never preaches to me. He talks more humanistic stuff and I feel safe with him. He reinforces the idea I’ve heard before that the only person who can keep me sober is me and that I am responsible to find the things I need to learn to stay sober. Our talks are about what’s in my brain. He doesn’t pressure me to attend meetings but, told me to keep an open mind because one day I might want to try them out again. So far AA has been great for my recovery and I wanted to share it with people. Because I feel uncomfortable at meetings, he mentioned this site as a way of telling others my experience. So thanks
Welcome. Glad you are here. AA started with one alcoholic sharing with another alcoholic. They had no big book, no meetings, no conference approved literature, no conferences or conventions. All they had was their shared disease, desperation and hope.
It's nice to hear that you are doing so well. As you consider whether or not to go to meetings, you might consider that it's a way not to help yourself (since you are doing well with your sponsor) but to help others.
I quickly discovered that it wasn’t easy having a devout faith at mainstream meetings because members openly made jabs at organized religion. A friend told me about an agnostic meeting which I thought was a peculiar recommendation but, he said it was the most tolerant and understanding group in the area.
I soon found that to be a wise suggestion. The chairperson reminded us to respect others beliefs or non-beliefs and when articulating our message we were asked to do so from our own experience with consideration that others might not share our point of view. Essentially, don’t preach and tell others what to believe in or do. Members openly talked about what they felt and what helped them without catcalls, jeers and taunts. No one got bent out of shape if there was a casual mention of drugs, medications, God, anarchy, or ideas taken from therapists or humanist philosophies. I found a place where true fellowship existed without the supercilious stands of the self-righteous. Everyone was accepted and valued no matter what their take on living sober in the modern world was held to be. Today, I’ve moved away and there is not an agnostic meeting in the area. I do not have the time to start one with family and work responsibilities. I have a strong foundation today thanks to that group and am less sensitive to the religious critics at the meetings I attend. Sometimes the true power of AA is hidden where you least suspect it to be found.
They are using aa, for punshing others that don't share thier believes! The right extremist! They love thier own! And would bully others thur manipulation! And being unfair! Only thier right wing buddies are right! Everbody else should die! To them and thier ego! Very sick people western md.
This old saying is true, “Whenever you make an enemy, you become the enemy.” If you are an alcoholic then you have a disease. Therefore you need treatment for this medical condition. Yes, it’s true a few alcoholics spontaneous quit drinking without treatment but, I wasn’t able to do that. AA was and is the one treatment option that works for me. Many alcoholics couple their meetings with other outside supports, such as, church, medications, and therapy. It doesn’t matter if you are Mr. Popular in your group or the guy that no one talks to. You need to stay sober. Try and remember you are in a room full of sick people. It’s often said that recovery is about change. For the majority in the rooms talking about change is more important than living the change. When people don’t have anything valuable to offer they get tackled down with wings, sports teams, celebrities in recovery, hunting, etc. You want more than that and perhaps that is behind your anger. When I was new in AA, I was voted “Most Likely to Relapse and Die Drunk” by a group of snobs who called themselves the “Winners.” Every one of those so called “Winners” eventually relapsed. Gradually they disappeared and a few had died. I’m still here after 30 years. Alcoholism is serious business; if you truly understand that then you will stay sober. Understanding Step One will lead to a better life even if you don’t see eye to eye with the other rungs.
All you need to start a new meeting is a Big Book, a coffee pot, and a resentment. That’s how many get going. Give it a shot. It’ll help you stay sober. Certain people with a few years have a tendency to put their personality above the principles. The 2nd Tradition tells us who is in charge. Best of luck.