Burning Desire to Share
Our Annual General Service Conference will take place next week. Bern Smith's "why do we need a
conference" will be read. When Bern Smith gave that talk, much of alcoholic population may not have
heard of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is simply not true today. Practically everyone in the world
has heard of A.A. Is a conference still necessary? I think yes. I believe this conference to be
even more important than past conferences. Our area representatives (delegates) have a vital
decision to make regarding our tradition of self support. We are further away from obedience to
Tradition Seven than we have ever been. We have always had a goal of being self-supporting at all
levels. Group and individual contributions are to be our only source of income. Todays GSB has
added profits from our book and literature business as a legitimate source of income. The
"In 1986" paragraph has been removed from the current service manual. Page S74 in the 2009-2010 manual.
I am deeply concerned that this is one step closer to accepting contributions from all sources. Most
of todays A.A. members do not understand the value of Tradition Seven. And this ignorance will not
cause any immediate danger. The danger is to future generations. Future generations of suffering
alcoholics will pay dearly for our mistakes.
To shorten this message I will give three reasons for our policy of poverty. To prevent any
interference with our affairs. Selling books and literature at the cost of printing makes information
about our fellowship affordable to everyone. We want the general public to look at our fellowship
favorably. They say "The irresponsible have become responsible". These alcoholics insist on paying
their own expenses out of their own pockets. They won't even take outside money when it is offered.
In the 12 & 12 Bill wrote that many members wanted to "take that ten thousand dollars" Let's take
it and take all donations in the future. "The groups may never send enough to support our Headquarters".
Tradition Seven came out of that discussion. Today we don't even talk about it. The future of our
precious fellowship is in the hands of our General Service Conference. It is still needed even if
it does cost close to two million dollars for the week. A.A.'s future is in your hands. ANONYMOUS
Note: If we sell books and literature without profit, new and unecessary material will not be published.
We do not want to print new material just to make money.
I attended a regional forum in about 1980 in Kansas City. Much talk about literature sales supporting AA. Same concern you are expressing today. I haven’t seen one iota of evidence that any outsiders “contributing” by purchasing AA literature have had any influence on its content. Have you?
I accept that it is an important concept; I don’t want outsiders influencing our organization either. I just don’t see that anybody outside of AA has much interest in our literature and the few that do certainly haven’t attacked like corporate takeover raiders.
"I accept that it is an important concept"? It is not a
concept. It is our Tradition Seven that I am writing
about. We have twelve steps, twelve traditions and twelve
concepts. The traditions and concepts are more important
than the steps. The steps are suggestions. But if we
continue to ignore the traditions and concepts, our
recovery fellowship is in danger of collapse.
We have been selling about a million books a year
for the past few years. The price of a Big Book contains
considerable profit. An individual who wants to donate
an excessive amount to A.A. could just buy, say a thousand
books, and just give them away or burn them.
You really have to fully understand the history of
our tradition of self-support. I believe that most A.A.
members today could care less where the money comes from,
to run our headquarters, as long as it is out of someone
We need to sell Books and Literature at the cost of
printing, and fully fund operations from group and member's
donations. It is nearly impossible to alter the Tradition.
It is fairly easy to ignore it. ANONYMOUS
OK you supplied us with a rant about the poster using the word “concept” generically, which according to my dictionary, fits the idea:
A broad abstract idea or a guiding general principle, e.g. one that determines how a person or culture behaves.
Other than that, you didn’t supply anything additional to dispel the idea that the organization has stayed and is likely to stay free of outside influence because it keeps all of its money in one pocket. AA and our little budget and publishing efforts are such small peanuts, why would anyone bother trying to influence it? Wasn’t happening in 1980 and isn’t happening today unless you have some new facts you would like to share. The chief operating officer of some silly enterprise called Facebook pulled in $821 million last year. Somebody wants to buy influence? There’s somebody to target.
Worry is the interest you pay on problems you don’t even have.
I hope im doing this righ I just got a question: its truth that aa members used to go to bars to help members stay sober?
I doubt if there was ANYTHING that some members didn't do, and still do, and will continue to. On the other hand, if we want to be effective in helping others stay sober, the "how to" is spelled out in great detail in our literature, particularly the chapter "Working With Others" in the Big Book.
In my experience people go into bars to start drinking. AA is for those of us who want to stop drinking. I'm not helpful for those who don't want help.
"In my experience people go into bars to start drinking."
Normal drinkers and untreated alcoholics, yes. Alcoholics who are actually using the program and not just the fellowship, no. Read the Big Book, beginning with the last paragraph on page 100.
When I stopped drinking, I thought I needed to stop going to drinking places. Car races, ball games, class reunions. Later I found that I could, using the simple guidelines outlined in the Big Book and a couple of suggestions added by my group. When I did go, I found that they weren’t drinking places. They were car races, ball games, class reunions.
I am currently two days sober, and I am trying very hard. I plan to go to a meeting tonite and maybe tomorrow if I need to. I also have some AA materials that I read earlier that helped me stop thinking about having a beer. I said a prayer to God to help me to not want a drink. I felt better after doing some reading and I know I will feel better after a meeting. Just wanted to let it out.
Well done Amber!
Hi Amber, we're glad you reached out! I've been in the program Sinai 1993. It does get better. Go to a meeting today and tomorrow and don't drink, and everything will be just fine.
I'm Aly's dad,years ago you were all there for my daughter when she needed you. she found so much strength
in herself she went back to collage in boston and will graduate in june with her masters in psychology.
yesterday she was to meet her friends at the race,instead,she felt she had to go to a meeting. they were to meet were the first bomb went off. they saw it all,and are very upset,but thanks to you all, she will be there to help them and others.
you have helped us so much,I wanted to let you know, and say THANK YOU from my heart and soul
with all my love;
God Bless you Aly's dad, and God Bless Aly. We are so grateful that Aly is ok and able to continue to reach out with the hand of AA to those want this simple program.
Congratulations Aly on getting your Masters in Psychology, what a Powerful example you are to any alcoholic who wants to move forward in their life!
Yours in Recovery :)
I have struggled with alcohol for almost 9 years. I think it has always been a problem for me. I quit when I was 19 for almost 6 years then decided I was okay and started again. Since then I have been on and off. Quit for a while then think I'm healed and drink again. I black out when I drink. I do things I would never even think of when sober. It's like a whole other person comes out. I have been arrested, admitted to the hospital more then I can count because I try and kill myself or threaten suicide. I have ruined relationships and I have no control. All I want to do is drink but I'm so afraid of what happens when I do. Being still somewhat young (27) I feel like drinking is the only thing to do. Quitting scares me because I feel like I will never have fun again and never enjoy life. How backwards is that? I have been to 2 aa meetings before because a therapist I had set me up with someone in the group. I have since moved across the country and don't know where to go or what meeting or how to start. Any help would he appreciated.
yeah I can see why you wouldn't want to quit having all that
fun and enjoying life the way you are!
Seriously now, all you need to do is make a decision.
Are you willing to concede to your inner most self you are an alcoholic? This is the first step in recovery!
If you are not willing then nothing will change. My cousin just died from this illness. If you could have seen him the
last week you would puke. I have been trying to be his friend and offer any help I could but he told me about a year ago that he, "is just going to drink and I guess die".
I said that is exactly what is going to happen.
I lost my own son to this illness. He was 25.
If it were possible for me to give you one thing it would
be the WILLINGNESS. But it is up to you. RC
I pray that you have found a meeting and are sober today. I always call 411 and ask for Alcoholics Anonymous and a member calls me back. God be with you in your journey. K
I am 27 years old as well, and i have been sober for 14months!! It is the best accomplishment i have ever done!! I have a wonderful life! A life i have always dreamed about! When i came into AA last February i thought the same thing, my life was over, and my life was going to be so boring from here on out. That is so not true in my life! I have experienced so much pleasure and so much fun these last 14 months! I have friends in AA that actually care about me and don't just want something out of me. They want my company! AA has taught me how to love myself again and how to laugh, smile, and be ok in my own skin!! I really want to help you, and show you that there is life in sobriety! If i can stay sober for 14months you can do it too!!! Just go online and find a Meeting. Even if you feel like you don't want to go or are nervous about going for the first time. Do it! The people there will understand. Everybody in that room has been where you are now. They will love you till you know how to love yourself! Goodluck, and ill be praying for you!!
Sounds like you are about ready for the wildest, most fun ride of life, sobriety.
I sobered up at 32 and often say today, if I'd known how fun life could be without alcohol, I'd have sobered up sooner. ALL of the best and most wonderful things in life have happened for me in these past 26 years.
When I was ready, I found AA in my area, started hitting meetings, got a big book and read it,looked for folks with good sobriety (happy active members) and ask how they were doing it, found someone with good sobriety who worked the steps and asked for help working the steps, joined a home group, took a service position...Somewhere in all the above, I found my Higher Power, my humanity, other people and myself and started to become the person I was meant to be.
In larger towns today there are active YPAA groups (young people in AA)that offer lots of fun social events.
RARELY (NEVER) have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path! As the old timers said to me, If you do these things and do not find recovery, we will gladly refund your misery.
Best wishes. Enjoy the ride.
I really took heart when I read your comments. When you wrote, "I feel like drinking is the only thing to do," I thought, that's the best definition of alcoholism that I have ever heard. Alcoholism tells you that it's a good idea to drink, even when you know in your heart that it isn't. And when you wrote, "I feel like I will never have fun again and never enjoy life" without alcohol, I remember that feeling well. But here's the good news. You can leave the hell of your situation and turn it around quite quickly. I say that because of my own situation. One day I was a woman, drunk in my house, on the road to dying of alcoholism, and the next day I was in a meeting where people told me, Patty, you never have to drink again, one day at a time." And in that moment I was on the road to a life that has given me a lot of joy, and a lot of learning, a life I never dreamed of, one day at a time. I encourage you to look up the meeting schedule online for your area, and go to some meetings. Listen to what the people have to say, and talk if you want to. A women's meeting is always a nice meeting to attend too. See if you relate to anything that you hear. I tell you, when I compare my life before and what it is now, I don't even think about drinking. It's a great freedom. I was so relieved when they told me, You never have to take another drink, one day at a time. Good luck to you.
If you found this site you can easily find, online, a meeting contact near you.
Please look up AA in your local phone directory or search your city with AA using the seach enging of your choice. If none are available, go to your local library and check out the book "alcoholics Anonymous" there are directions in the appedicies to get in touch with AA. If no AA members are available, an aa member from our general service office will begin a correspondence with you.
Good luck to you and your sobriety!
My first sponsor, acting according to the principles of our group, believed that part of his job was to help keep my ego in check. He and the other members of our men's step meeting were not shy about telling me if they thought I was off the beam a bit. We affectionately called this "getting nailed". It required humility and open mindedness to listen to the feedback and decide to make changes.
One risk in this style of AA is that it can lead to ego problems of another sort;in those who are delivering the message. That is way it was always done with love. I heard my sponsor's sponsor say on many occasions, "deliver your message with love".
This type of AA is not for everyone. My sponsor and I also attended a kinder/gentler AA meeting and would invite guys to the men's group. Not too many stuck around. The success rate of the men's group was very high. I wondered for years if it was because of their tough love methods or because the membership was composed of those who had a high degree of willingness. For the past 15 years I've been a member of a more easy going but loving group. We too have a lot of long term sobriety and help many newcomers make it. Maybe the common ingredient is love.
"They piled on me heaps of evidence to the effect an alcoholic mentality..." Alcoholics Anonymous p42. Doesn't sound like they used kid gloves does it? Worked for me too. Thanks for sharing.
Our group recently moved ...to a nicer space. Our old space was on the 3rd floor of a flat roofed church and the heat in the summer was near unbearable...to the point where our membership dropped off significantly during these months.
Amazingly, the complaints over the move were fast and furious!..which only goes to lend credence to the observation that "alcoholics only hate two things....everything different....and everything the same". Lol
Now to the problem....one of our members (30yrs sober) is so upset over the move that he has taken to peeing on the bathroom floor....missing the urinal on purpose, plugging up the head with whatever he can find and flushing the lever until there is flooding. Needless to say, this activity is not making our group popular with the church elders since we share this space with numerous other church group activities. He has also been using the fire door which is clearly marked "to be used only in emergencies" and sets off an alarm causing the fire department to be called. (Sigh)
Has anyone ever had a member of their group act like this..?.and what did you do to resolve it? We have tried talking to the gentleman to no avail...and so has the pastor of the church. It has gotten to the point where we may be getting the boot and our frustration is overflowing. No one wants to act like the so called "AA police" and bar someone from what may be lifesaving meetings...so what else is there?
Laurie (frustrated in Indiana)
Dementia in older members happens. Whatever level of of control that is necessary to stop vandalism (which is what you just described) is in order. I have been in more than one group conscience meeting where the decision was to use the police if needed. Haven't seen it come to following through with that but it needs to be ironed out ahead of time.
It's tough. Good luck.
If the group has already confronted him and informed him of tradition 1 that the group comes first, next time this happens, call the police so he can get the mental help he deserves. If your group doesn't want to go that far, simply have a male menber use the facilities whenever this person is. It is possible that someone else is commiting these offenses.
Remember that the group comes first, the individual members second.
On at least two occasions the group had the church legally prohibit the offenders from being on church property.
The matter of the offender's anonymity since his behavior was definitely not that expected of an AA member, in fact is a demonstration of his contempt for both the host church, the group and AA in general.
For years it has been said 'you dont have to hit rock bottom' to come in these rooms. Thats true, but the longest lasting decent sobriety has been from those who DID hit such a bottom. I watched another member die last week because he was arrogant and self important. Another big shot who was unteachable due to a super ego. In/out for years -then dead. There is altogether too much treatment center and not enough AA in the rooms today- but dont say anything or your jumped on
I'm Mike, alcoholic.
I don't like applying the term low or high bottom to others as it is very judgemental, IMO. It took what it took for me to get here and to stay here. If I go back out and drink again I am sure I will hit a lower bottom than the last one... sooner or later!
I have heard many times we don't have to ride the garbage truck all the way to the dump. I can get off any time. The person living in a mansion with an unlimited bank account can be just as sick as the one on skid row. I always believed I couldn't be an alki because I wasn't living on skid row. The idea kept me in denial for 32 years. I truly believe skid row is more a state of mind (bankrupt mentally, spiritually and emotionally).The only thing missing for me was sleeping in back alleys,eating out of garbage cans, etc. I would have surely ended up there with a little more drinking, If I was unlucky to live so long.
I try to meditate on step 1 every day so I never forget my last drunk. When and if the obsession to dring returns I play the tape through to the end to remember what I will surely lose if I pick up again.
Thanks for my sobriety.
Not in Houston TX we tell the gult level truth work the steps on die. Or live the rest o
f your life like a rouche.
I had had the wrecks, tickets, thousands of hangovers, work problems bombed relationships like everyone else from the beginning. I walked into Alcoholics Anonymous when I was thirty years old and couldn’t break the habit of going home from work thinking I could drink a beer, turning it into at least six or eight and falling asleep in front of the TV. No family pressure, no crisis. A good inventory using the steps showed me I was as sick as anybody on skid row. The drinking is only a symptom it says somewhere. I had plenty of others.
Trying to predict a member’s success or failure based on his or her bottom (or anything else for that matter) has been a fool’s errand for me any time I tried. Alcoholics Anonymous offers a solution for anyone who wants it any time they want to stop. That’s all that’s important.
I have found quite the opposite, that many who long-term quality sobriety did not hit "rock bottom" as you suggest. On that point, I heartily agree with Dr. Jung, that some kind of "emotional rearrangement" is necessary, which for some does not require skid-row membership before being possible. If my bottom allows me to recognize that I cannot and did not get sober by myself and need help to stay sober, and I have a little bit of gratitude for my sobriety and the help I have gotten in achieving it, I think I have a pretty good chance of staying sober today, whether my bottom was low or high.
SHERRIE, ALCOHOLIC ADDICT I'LL HAVE 24 hours in 2 hours. Can't sleep. I've been in the program since 1997. Best time of my life. SO HAPPY TO BE BACK. LOST MY READING GLASSES OUT THERE DRINKING, CAN't wait untill tomorrow to go to another meeting. See you at St. Joe's It's nice to be back with my real family. Love ya, Sherrie
24 Hours is FANTASTIC. That's all we have to do. Keep lining up those 24 hours at a time. Sometimes it one moment to the next, one minute at a time. Surround yourself with AA Materials, it helped me.
Dave B. Sober Day: 8/23/12
Life as I know it is an extremely comlex work of art. Far frail from those who simply adapt and fit in there are those who ponder and question. I have been an alcoholic all my life....how I made it this far is a mystery to me. In a "perfect" world one may shed light on the "brighter" things... I however swim deeper. In "my" mind there is a far greater presence at work orchastrating. And at the end of the day all I surmise is a wanting to simply commune with like minded individuals. I have so many stories and experienes to share in due time.
I'll do my best to resist dying from alcoholism until due time arrives.
I once had a cake in an Italian restaurant and felt a bit odd. Then the people I was with told me that they add a little bit of alcohol to the cake. I got scared - esp since I had just come back from a relapse and was only 4 months into recovery. I checked with my sponsor and he said it was perfectly alright, I hadn't relapsed and I don't need to change my date of sobriety and then he also said that all that don't mean I can drink alcohol in small quantities.
You didn't willingly and knowingly take a drink. You also didn't ingest an alcoholic beverage. You're fine. Word of caution, however: check aftershave lotions, cough & cold meds, deserts, etc., as a continual diet of any of these will definately change your body chemistry, mental well-being, and increase your vulnerabiluty to relapse. If any member other than your sponsor tries to instill guilt into your psyche, tell him to 'live and let live', call his own sponsor, say the serenity prayer, work the third step, or better yet, read page 449. It's ok today, you're ok today, and you're exactly where you are supposed to be, in this moment in time, doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing...now go help someone else! http://www.aagrapevine.org/
Thanks for the comments about aftershaves. I no longer
use them, or any hand sanitizer containing alcohol. I do
not want that poison absorbed in through my skin.
But I do question the power and authority you place
in the hands of a "sponsor". His or her "best thinking
got him/her here". I question the reliability of advice
coming from any ONE A.A. member. We all have "clay feet".
God gave us a brain. I believe He expects us to use it.
"Now, go help someone else! Yes Sir!! Manny Q.
I believe the tragedy in our rooms is many members think recovery is a "One Size Fits All" experience. Just do what we say, "Read this, work that." Recovery needs to be individualized. From my experience, throughout the years, the groups that have the highest success our groups that promote diversity and open-mindedness when it comes to members discovering strategies that work for them in their recovery. Militant 12-steps groups tend to scare people away and rush others to relapse. Sobriety out of fear from group pressure is not a good strategy. The medical community has made terrific advances and have more of a compassion for the addict than many AA groups which are stuck in the last century. Are we not the experts anymore? I always remember when approaching a new person that they have an illness or brain disorder and not someone whose sins or weak morals caused their alcoholism. Their recovery needs might not be the same as Bill or Bobs. But does this mean we kick them out or mistreat them into submission until they surrender to the Big Book or 12-Steps. The hoop that Bill talked about as being big enough for everyone is shrinking to the eye of a needle. I try and remember the beauty of AA is it is a diverse fellowship of its members and not a "One Size Fits All" program of fundamentalist clones.
I don't know where you guys all live but here in the Midwest we read "How it Works" in its entirety before every meeting. You know the one that has phrases like "thoroughly followed our path" and "People who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program" "if you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths" "Half measures availed us nothing" Then it goes on to say here are the steps we took and lists all 12 steps. I will grant that Bill did speak of some latitude but the phrase you allude to is in regard to the choice of a God. I also remember a section of literature that says nothing but rigorous action will bring about the much desired results. What I will grant you is that we all need to be diplomatic about how we encourage members to continue on this path that will bring about not only the much desired result but all 12 Promises which come after the 9th step. For Bill advised us that no one likes to be lectured to nor is there any room for shaming in our meetings or fellowship. The traditions more than adequately cover whether or not we should be kicking anyone out and sincerely hope that your groups are following those traditions to the fullest.
Well said and I couldn't agree more.
Well said, but I couldn't disagree more. Reading "How it
Works" aloud at A.A. meetings is the most tragic blunder
we of Alcoholics Anonymous have ever made. You may say,
"that is just your opinion", but an opinion is based on
feelings. Bill W. tried using the "How it Works" approach
in his first six monthe of what he called "violent exertion". That approach did not work for Bill W. and
seldom works for us today. Sure, some alcoholics do get
sober and stay sober using this religious method. They
did that before A.A. was born.
But for the multitudes of suffering alcoholics in
our world today we have at our fingertips a method much
more effective. Dr. Silkworth's "cart before the horse" IDEA
explains this method. It is further explained by Bill W.
when he wrote AACA Page 70.
Bill was the designer of the Big Book. He placed HIW
in chapter five for a specific timed effect. If HIW were
to be the first thing meant for the new prospect to hear,
see or read, Bill would have presented HIW as chapter one.
I guess that is an opinion. That reading has to be returned
to chapter where Bill placed it. ANONYMOUS
I guess I'm not seeing the "One Size Fits All" approach in my AA community. There are meetings of all kinds and many different approaches to recovery. I'd say that MOST meetings in my area and approaches to recovery are very easy going. There's no cross talk or confrontation but lots of hands out ready to help.
I sobered up in a VERY strict men's step meeting in the Midwest that gave me a solid foundation in the steps.I needed that. But, of every 10 men introduced to that group maybe 1 or 2 would stick around. And that was fine. Others would go back to groups where they felt more comfortable.
When I moved to the Western US, my old hard core sponsor was wise enough to caution me to go easy in my new groups and not try to push the hard core way of doing things. He was so right. Members of my new group were very easy going and it took me a while to learn how they were doing things.
Today, I'm a member of an easy going lunch group that is full of professionals with lots of sobriety. My old hard core buddies might think this group is too wimpy and that's ok. If I want to belong to a rigid group, I know where to go.
I guess I still don't see any method of "treatment" that works as well as AA. In my experience treatment was a great place to learn about the disease and recovery but it was not recovery itself. AA gave me actual steps I could take that give me a way to live without needing or even wanting alcohol or other mind altering chemicals. I always have to remember that AA is not for those who need it but for those who want it.
If the proven program of recovery developed by Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t appeal to newcomers and they prefer to try Hatha yoga, health food and vitamin therapy, Alcoholics Victorious, or Pilates, more power to them. I’ll be more than happy to look up their address in the phone book for them. As far as working with others in AA the instructions are contained in (of all places) the chapter “Working With Others” in the Big Book.
If you do not have anything to contribute, why take up
the space? Really, we are not in church. Rose
Sometimes I'm discouraged by the rude comments and argumentative nature of these posts. If I were a newcomer looking to AA for guidance, I'd certainly have by doubts about AA unity if these posts were any example.
Proven? Not for everyone. To me, recovery is a bit more complicated then say, the cookie-cutter approach you claim is proven. Our recovery rates are 7-10%. If I was a doctor and developed a medicine that only helped 7-10% than I would look at it as a failure. We know there are so many factors involved in addiction today. Alcoholism is a complicated illness and the majority of alcoholics have other mental challenges as well. The moralistic approach that we have today was our father's recovery plan that bullied its way into the 21st century and does not work for everyone. I personally believe AA should adapt and rethink its recovery philosophy to embrace and reflect all its members. Today, its barbaric to say, "Our way or the highway!" You mentioned, "Hatha yoga, health food and vitamin therapy, Alcoholics Victorious, or Pilates, more power to them." The happiest members of my group couple their recovery with these alternatives. I personally rock climb and became a vegan. Why are you against someone exercising or eating healthy. I'd rather sit next to a person talking about the joys of sobriety like hiking than sitting next to someone complaining about the price of cigarettes or obsessing why the donuts are stale at a meeting.
I don’t see how anyone could get the idea that healthy living and using the AA program are mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite is detailed in the 12 X 12 as I recall, “…who wants to be gluttonous to ruin their health? I'm sure complaining is also covered in the house cleaning steps. One of many reasons that I go to the literature instead of listening to a guy that thought he heard a guy say….