Burning Desire to Share
Big book, bottom of page 44 - if a mere code of morals or better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago………Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Obviously! That’s one of my favorite sentences in the big book.
My interpretation of an alcoholic from AA is if you find you cannot quit entirely (mental obsession) and cannot control the amount you drink (physical allergy) and when sober are restless, irritable, and discontent (spiritual malady) you are probably alcoholic. If you are not sure, step over to the nearest bar and try some controlled drinking. Drink and stop abruptly. If you try this several times, you will determine if you have the physical allergy to alcohol that our program describes. If that doesn’t convince you, we suggest you leave alcohol alone for one year, keeping in mind what we believe an alcoholic is. That will test if you have the mental obsession to alcohol. The strange mental blank spots where we think alcohol will affect us differently. Let’s remember that some potential alcoholics can stay dry for many years from time to time, becoming true alcoholics later in life.
If we don’t take the first drink, we don’t have to worry about the physical allergy to alcohol. Our real problem is the mental obsession with alcohol. That’s when we think it’s ok to drink just before we drink while sober. We can’t bring to mind with sufficient force the suffering alcohol causes us. That’s why alcoholics are powerless over alcohol. That’s why we drink when we are stone cold sober. My mind tells me alcohol is not going to affect me the way it always does. I am insane when it comes to alcohol. I am powerless over alcohol! I have lost the choice in whether I will drink or not. I have drunk myself to a condition that is beyond human aid, while sober. That is why I need AA’s suggested spiritual program of action. It enables me to stay sober one day at a time through the grace of a Higher Power.
Alcoholics of my type cannot stay sober through self knowledge. If I could stay sober through self knowledge I would have been spared the last 4 years of alcoholic hell.
I believe AA is full of moderate or hard drinkers that can avoid alcohol without working the program of AA. My hat is off to them. God knows I had tried long and hard to stay sober the way they do. What I have to concede is that if I was able to “choose” not to drink, I would never have needed the program of AA as outlined in our book “alcoholics anonymous”. The idea that I am like those hard drinkers in AA has to be smashed! I am like the “alcoholics” in AA.
If you find you cannot leave alcohol alone and have no control over how much you drink, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience (not religion) will conquer. The clear cut directions to that spiritual experience are laid out in the first 164 pages of our book “Alcoholics Anonymous”.
If our meetings help the hard drinkers stay away from alcohol, you are welcome to join us, just don’t confuse hard drinking with being alcoholic. Alcoholics have lost the ability to choose if we drink or not,especially while sober.
It really disturbs me that people will defend what they see as the absolute necessity of the program *as they work it* by labelling people who recover by working their program differently as "not alcoholic." I'm an alcoholic. I do not believe in God. I don't believe in a Higher Power per se. I believe in the grace, wisdom and love of the people in and out of the fellowship who help me to stay sober, in my own innate capacity to recover, and in my connection to this great and beautiful world, of which I am but a small part. I am also sober in AA.
I am sorry, but it is not your place to say that I am not an alcoholic because my recovery is different from yours. You are wrong. Avoiding the truth that there are many varieties of recovery experience by simply pretending that the people who don't agree with you cannot be alcoholics in recovery is breathtakingly arrogant.
In no way or manner am I trying to be contrary. Our objective is the same: to help as many suffering human
beings, whether in my family, or alcoholics in general.
If hard drinkers want to stop drinking and are able to
do so by joining us, they can become A.A. members just the
same as you and me: The only requirement...
Could you explain the difference between a spiritual
experience and a religious experience. I see them as exactly the same. I would consider most of my A.A. friends to be the most religious people on earth.
Only a few members of Alcoholics Anonymous have the
type (variety) of religious (spiritual)experience that Bill W. had.
Most of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" was written while
Bill was close to his own spiritual awakening. At first,
during his first few months of sobriety, Bill thought that
all the alcoholics he was trying to help ought to have
a spiritual awakening similar to his own. A.A. history
points this out. Bill found out that the approach he
was using was pushing prospects away.
But Bill found a method to reach the suffering alcoholic
in a way that had not been attempted. A method of reaching
down and touching the soul of the suffering alcoholic. This
is explained in A.A.C.A. page 70. It is basically the
cart before the horse IDEA offerred by Dr. Silkworth. Bill
wrote this explanation in 1957 after 22 years of working
with other alcoholics. Surely more had been revealed
in the years between 1939 and 1957.
If Bill had not changed his approach, Alcoholics Anonymous could not have been born. Maybe a few could
have been saved. Throughout history some alcoholics have
been saved by this religious/spiritual approach. Bill was
one of them. Bill's grandfather also sobered up in the
Alcoholics Anonymous offers help to all drinkers who
want to stop and can't; not just those of us who are
willing to get on our knees and beg for help. ANONYMOUS
the answer to your question is on page 567 of the fourth edtion of Aa's basic text Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe appendix II spiritual experience was added in 1955 with the publication of the second edition of the book Alcoholics anonymous.
"The terms spiritual experience, spiritual awakening, personality changes, and religious experience, to me are all synonyms meaning a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. read it, it's only two paragraphs of page 567.
Yes anyone who has a problem with alcohol is a member of AA if they say so. My point is as an alcoholic of my type who is unable to stay sober by self-knowledge and a nonspiritual basis has to be careful not to slip into alcoholic rationalizations that I can stay sober and happy without the program of AA as laid out in the big book.
Bill died in 1971, I have a hard time believing that the correct method is anything other than what was origionally printed in the big book. Seriously, don't you think Bill would have pushed hard to change the book or add to it? Even in the 12x12 which Bill was the sole author states on page 17 that the book alcoholics anonymous is AA's basic text and still is. That's one of the reasons I feel we need to give the big book the attention it deserves. It works! It works for me, my sponsor, his sponsor, and the guys I sponsor ranging from year 19,17,7,5,4,1 1/2,10 months,3 months, and two months, and as of Feb 14th 6 days.
You said, "Alcoholics of my type cannot stay sober through self knowledge. If I could stay sober through self knowledge I would have been spared the last 4 years of alcoholic hell." "Cannot?" I would like to suggest it’s important to speak for ourselves and not take on bigger roles and make statements such as this. It really misleads the new person and sets them up to fail. In my experience, I was a homeless drunk and suffered from DT's and hallucinations. I couldn't hold a job and had alcohol induced psychosis. A good meal for me was waiting for the supermarket to throw the old breads out in the dumpster. After endless, rehabs, drunkard tanks and state hospitals I ended up in AA. I went in and out of this one state-hospital so much the guard thought I was working there. I can laugh at that today. If you were lower than that than I salute you and you are my guru. I was not raised with religion or God so the language dis-interests me. My recovery has been mainly on self-knowledge. I often hear, "My best thinking got me here" I disagree with that, "My worst thinking got me here." In other words, it was alcoholic thinking dictating my life. Any self-knowledge was being blocked. My mind was fried. I was not capable of making wise choices because I was a sick person. After I went through withdrawal in a Doctors care, I went to meetings 2 times a week. I heard lots of things. 95 percent of the things I heard were baloney to me. However, the 5 percent of things kept me coming back. I believe sef-knowledge can be helpful. When my mind started to clear up I realized it was time to reach inside and see what was in there. One place I regularly traveled was my childhood especially memories of my mother. She was pure love. She instilled this in me but, I had to push it away to survive. It was too soft and I had to be tough-fibered. In my early days I was not popular in my group but, I was used to being on the outside of things. About my fifth year around 1985, the goodness in her started to seep through me and I started to grow not spiritually or religiously but maturely. I don't have to fly around with angels or kiss the feet of holy men or feel valued by a system that just wants my money to feel like a good person. I gradually became the person I always wanted to be and that is just a loyal husband, a loving father and grandfather, an average co-worker and kind friend. As many people have said already on this site the rooms can hold anybody. Charles O’C.
Thanks Charles, I remember coming into the rooms about 21 years ago off the streets. I remember some kid preaching to me about the steps and telling me I had to buy a big book because everything I needed to know about sobriety is in the book. I thought what does this punk know about life? He seemed obsessed and spiritually dead and saying things he possibly couldn’t understand. I said I wasn’t interested and he said my chances of recovery were zero if I didn’t read this book and walked away. The first few months, I went through the entire local list of big book and twelve and twelve meetings. They seemed strange. No one was sharing from their heart but they instead seemed to be playing the children’s game King of the Hill. I remember this guy with the gift of the gab and feared by all talked in a very angry, controlling voice. After he finished he would rush out and smoke. Nothing in this town was doing it for me, so I journeyed out to find a group I could relate to. Drinking was not an option anymore and this thought was reinforced by my wife and doctor. I found an open-speaker meeting in a few towns over and that did the trick. I listened once a week to all the leads and eventually found guy I could talk with. I joined the group and volunteered for things. I looked forward to each week. After I was sober a year, the group asked me to speak. I really found a place I belonged to. I have nothing against those other groups but, they weren’t for me. My group has a real sense about alcoholism and they live the principals. And today the proudest day of my life is seeing my daughter at the podium celebrating her one year.
Hey thanks for your honest share man. I love my home group too! Big Book and Twelve Step meeting didn't work for me either. I'm not a guy who likes to be preached to or condecended to by a bunch of people who have nothing better to do then hide out in the rooms and become know-it-alls.
My wife and kids don't care how much I know about AA, they want to see my actions in sobriety. People in my open speaker group have a life outside the rooms. We come in each week and celebrate the joys of sobriety instead of sitting around the table slicing and dicing the writings like the monks who used to sit around a roundtable arguing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. Keep on Keepin on!
please elaborate on the 5% that kept you coming back.
I am an alcoholic of the hopeless variety.Sober twenty years,I really enjoyed your message.As an iconoclast also,I thought I noticed a mischievous humor about taking-on "bigger roles"."Big shot,little shot:one shot and we're all shot"
Subversive and free thinkers always appear to free institutions from the internal rot of dogma, rituals and controllers. AA is no different. As far back as I can remember, there has always been a tug of war going on between the controllers who are fueled by narcissism and insecurity tugging the rope against the iconoclasts who are fueled by their love of AA and its principals. The iconoclast desire is always unselfish while the controllers aim is only to maintain power with selfish motivations. I'm not well liked in my group by the older members but, the newcomers like to hear refreshing perspectives. Unfortuantely, my way of seeeing things brings about too many newcomers asking me to sponsor them. I turn down people regularly because sponsorship is a priviledge for all members. I'm not the guy who has to sponsor 15 people to feel big in AA.
When I said alcoholic of my type, I was writing about my type. That’s the only type of alcoholic I have personal experience with.
In the Dr.’s opinion in AA’s book of experience, page xxx, Dr. Silkworth lists 6 types of alcoholics. Please read your book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, it is the basic text of AA regardless of what our opinions are.
As far as self knowledge as a way of sobriety, there are 4 precise examples of self knowledge being insufficient as a means of recovery.
The first is Bill W. himself, page 7 big book. He knew he was alcoholic and had Silkworth’s definition of alcoholic.
The second is Rolland H on page 26 of the big book. Rolland actually was under the care of one of the top 3 psychiatrists in the world for over 1 year yet found self knowledge insufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.
The third is Jim on page 35 of the big book (maybe Ralf F). “he had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside………
The fourth is Fred on page 39 of the big book (maybe Harry B). he appreciated their ideas about the subtle insanity that precedes the first drink ( self knowledge)
Then the paragraph before Fred on page 39 states “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.”
So Charles as you can see, you must be the hardly an exception Bill was talking about. Or maybe not, I don’t know. What I know for sure is the Four examples of how self knowledge will not be enough to overcome drinking must have been very important to the first 100 members of AA and the millions after.
Thanks for the reminder of the importance of using our literature so the word of mouth program doesn’t get garbled. Actually that was the motivation to write the big book in the first place.
Thanks so much for your honest share Charles. None-believers get pushed to the margins in AA. Not by the design but, by members who want AA to align itself with 12-Step thinking. I can't tell you how many times I was attacked in AA for not following the god path. My sponsor let me go after a month and told me recovery and sobriety was up to me. He introduced me to various meetings, literature, history and popular controversies and explained the 12 steps. He said I didn't have to follow that suggested path of the earlier members because I told him it seemed too holy for me. I came from a similar side of the street as you; enjoying free donuts thrown away in the dumpsters. I believe this made me tougher and no lightweight holier-than thou person who has nothing better to do but, study AA and preach to people is going to chase me out of the rooms. For my sobriety, I have to live in reality and face life on life’s terms. I don’t believe there is someone in the heavens that loves me and will make everything okay one day. I had to learn to love myself and after that I learned to love others. And for someone to suggest all self-knowledge is wrong seems foolish because it lacks a degree of maturity that one needs to stay sober one day at a time. One last thing, I was called a loser when I came into the rooms by a group of people who described themselves as the winners because they were working the 12 steps and I was just sweeping the floors and cleaning the ashtrays. Not one of them is sober today, two have died and then there is me an old guy, sober since the 80’s. If I drink again, I will die. And today I want to live. To this very day, I sweep the floors, make coffee and well, there are no ashtrays to clean. Thanks from Wally J.
Thanks for the concise Big Book summary.
I attend a speaker meeting weekly here in town, and most AA's who stay sober a year or two are tapped to share their story at length. While many stories are complicated by other substances, which results in blank spots, by far the greatest majority reflect the progression of alcoholism. I hear often of the dilemma we know all too well - suffering drinking or dry.
I think most around here who stick in AA are, in fact, alcoholic. AA is like a self-cleaning oven, there are outliers, but the vast majority of members are real alcoholics. I also believe AA is not "broken". I am thriving with 2 million other sober alcoholics, thanks to our program of recovery.
My sponsor said I would have to change my sobriety date from 5/3/08 to zero because I started smoking cigarettes again. He also said I was never really sober because I switched addictions to sugar, caffeine and diet drinks. He said I am no better now than when I was when drinking alcohol. This disturbs me. I think I'm going to fire him and the reason why, I think he is nuts. From this logic the founders of AA were never sober because they chain-smoked until their deaths and relied on heavy coffee drinking. Is anyone really sober today? When I look around the rooms half my group is on anti-depressants and there are at least 5 guys who now weight close to 300 pounds, yes and my belly is headed in that direction too. And also, our meeting breaks up half way so people can have a smoke break. Its confusing to me but, I can tell you I am not going to pick up the first drink no matter what. I feel ashamed and keep praying but, I don't think the prayers are working. I know if I drink again I will surely be on the wrong side of the grave as the saying goes. Trying to keep it simple with an unsimple addiction.
Since I had a spiritual awakening it is my experience that prayers always work if you are praying not for yourself. I do pray for God's will for me and that He will show me the way. Since coming to AA I have had many small blessings happen and I have found that God works through others and through coincidence. My only question would be, what are you praying for? I pray for all those in AA, in my local AA and for all thoose still suffering. St Francis prayer is right on the mark to. I am still a rookie but I have faith in God and that the promisses will come true if I work for them. That means serving others in and out of AA.
I also pray for the wisdom to know the difference, I changed by not drinking, after a year I started working on my health and thanked God every day for what I have. In the end I still have faith that AA works if you do the steps and practice these principle in all our affairs. God bless and keep on praying, praying means you have some faith, some prayers just take a long time to be answered if we are praying for the right things. I'll say a prayer for you tonight.
Prayers never fail. They cannot. I ask God for guidance and he frequently answers "Do what you want to do. The most boring thing I can imagine are seven billion of you marching to the same tune and thanking me for every breath you take. If you were me wouldn't you like to see seven billion bottle rockets of every description making every possible color, sound and maneuver possible?"
Through AA I have been taught that being self centered, impatient and having a low tolerance for frustration always fails. Drinking and other self destructive behavior fails. I stopped asking for them.
I continued to smoke tobacco for ten years after I got sober. The words "Who wants to be gluttonous enough to ruin their health?" from the 12 and 12 kept running through my head. I decided that two packs a day for decades fit that description - gluttonous. The kind of character defect that steps 4, 5, 6, and 7 deal with. Sounds like your sponsor is another character defect that needs to be removed. I did. Of course I picked a nut case when I came in. I was nuts or I wouldn't have come here. What else could I pick?
You say "I can tell you I am not going to pick up the first drink no matter what." That says that you are powerful over alcohol. That's exactly what it says. More power to you. I'll soon be 64 years old and sober for the last half of it and I sure can't say that. But I can tell you that the promises have come true for me over and over and over.
Wow! Prayer really worked for you. Thanks for sharing that. And being the age you are it must be comforting to know this. In my experience, prayer never worked for me. I didn't have the magic to get the Gods to come to my house. Year after year I prayed and my life continued to spiral down into places angels fear to tread. After waking up in the hospital from a drunken car crash and hooked to machines with my family standing around me I had a white light experience. I heard a voice say "You shall love" I thought if I ever come out of this alive I would learn to love. That was 18 years ago and love has turned my life around. Since that awful day I stopped praying but instead replaced prayer with action; that is love. My whole life turned around. I'm not a perfect AA member because my recovery is all wrong but, I can love today. My wife and kids love me. I've repaired my relationship with my father.
My mother died years ago but, I believe she has forgiven me.
Sometimes I have to sit through meetings and listen to people insult people like me because my recovery doesn't sound like a broken record but, I don't care because I can love. I am grateful there is a site like so I can share my experience with others. Thanks Grapevine
Sponsors are good for a while and sometimes you outgrow them.
This advice is maybe good for him, but not inkeeping with my understanding of AA
I have a desire to stop drinking...I can smoke cigarettes, drink soda coffee and eat donuts...
good luck, find someone who is enjoying their sobriety
Resentments are supposedly our number one enemy in AA. It is my opinion that being positive is being sober. I picked my sponsor because he had want I wanted. Obviously your sponsor does not have what you want. Get a new sponsor. You don't have to make drama about it either. I would simply tell him "things are just not working out and I think I need to head in another direction. I hope we can still be friends." Again this is my opinion, however, if I want to be happy, I pick someone that appears to be happy sponsor. If I want to be healthier, I would ask someone who is in good shape what they eat, how many and what type of exercise they do, etc. I would caution anyone on playing doctor. Personally I have been on anti depressants and I know many that are on them as well. It is none of our business bottom line and who is to say they don't NEED to be on whatever it is they are on to function. We as a group are prone to having depression and anxiety. Hang with the winners and you will become one. If possible go to NEW meetings until you find positive, successful, friendly people who you can talk to. SMILE, SMILE, SMILE....and be the one who sticks out your hand as we sometimes think people don't talk to us. I have to ask myself, am I reaching out and do I appear approachable????????
Phil W. (Connecticut)sobriety date 10/15/1993
SMILE, SMILE, SMILE. I have heard that anyone who always
goes around smiling is either on something or up to something. Rose
It does not matter if you smoke like you said. Your sobriety date is the same. Look for another sponsor
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say yes you are still sober. Unless you think this is smokers anonymous or you’ve been smoking marijuana cigarettes? Anyway I would suggest that you and your sponsor read page 135 in our book “alcoholics anonymous”. It talks about smoking.
As far as meetings go, everyone is an example at the meeting. Like it or not we are all examples of what to do and what not to do. Sometimes the examples of what not to do are more helpful. Sober alcoholics who suffer from untreated alcoholism (not alcoholwasm) are restless, irritable, and discontented unless they can drink.
Look around your meeting. The members who can’t sit still, fidgeting, can’t sit in a chair for only one hour but can sit on a couch for hours on end show a lack of serenity or restlessness. Listen to what they share. If the meeting sounds like group therapy and it’s I’m mad at this or that, there not treating me right, you’re not doing it right, this is how you should run a meeting, and quick to anger at differences of opinion are some examples of irritability. If the speakers say as soon as I get that job, married, children, divorced, kids move out, when winter comes, when summer comes, I will be alright. To me that is what discontented sounds like. I have personal experience with restlessness, irritability, and discontentment.
What an AA group that sounds like this is really saying is “ I am not doing a good job of working the program of AA”. Find a group that is mostly happy, joyous, and free. It may be hard to find but easy to recognize. You can hear it before you see it. They laugh a lot! When you see them, they smile a lot! When you walk in the door they give you a hug or shake your hand. When you’re around them you feel better because they were in your shoes once, but now they have serenity and purpose and if you’re like me you begin to feel hope. When your hopeless, that’s all you need to start.
i hope you have already gotten a new sponsor. your sponsor, bless his/her heart, is off track.
If you feel you need to give up cigarettes as a part of your road to happy destiny (or strictly for health reasons), then do it. "The true rule of poverty [humility] consists in giving up those things which enchain the spirit, divide its interests, and deflect it on its [spiritual journey] - whether these things be riches, habits, religious observances, friends, interests, distastes, or desires - not in mere outward destitution for its own sake." I have had to figure out for myself what those things are. Like the fellow whose story is in the first 164 pages whose wife insisted he quit cigarettes and coffee, early in my sobriety I reached a point one night where I was either going to smoke or drink. I smoked and stayed sober (notwithstanding whatever your sponsor would say). I did quit later. My sobriety date has not changed.
Why would you rely on an untreated alcoholic? Obviously your so called sponsor, like far too many who attend AA meetings, knows little or nothing about Alcoholics Anonymous. You might do him a favor by pointing him in the direction of a pamphlet called, "Problems Other Than Alcohol," especially the part which reads, "Sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the Twelve steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group"
I know I've read in AA literature somewhere a Doctor (Tebot?) stated that after working with thousands of alcoholics that he found that they had three traits in common; self centered, impatient, and a low tolerance for frustration.
Can anybody tell me where I saw this? I really need to know right away because I'm frustrated and it's very important to me.
I suggest you might find what you are looking for in "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age", Appendix E:b, pages 309-319 "THERAPEUTIC MECHANISM OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS" by Harry M. Tiebout,M.D. "..Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic ego-centric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity. While these characteristics are found in other maladjustments, they appear in relatively pure culture in alcoholic after alcoholic. In a careful study of a series of cases, Sillman recently reported that he felt he could discern the outlines of a common character structure among problem drinkers and that the best terms he could find for the group of qualities noted was "defiant individuality" and "grandiosity.." How right the doctors are, we should listen to them more.
The three words you are searching for are childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose. Look at the bottom of pg 122 and top of 123 in your 12x12 to find this.
Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, M.D. was a psychiatrict who worked at Blythewood Mental Hospital. Please read Appendix E in the book AA comes of Age and purchase the pamphlet King Baby that was also written by him. It is obvious he understands the alcoholic and was paramount in our recovery. Truly a remarkable man who is an important part of AA's history.
Hope this helps you and always keep asking questions.
in service and appreciation,
Please read p. 311 in "AA Comes of Age" for the doctor's exact - and scathing - definition of an alcoholic.
Alcoholics are very strange people. Their activities and
symptoms are indeed baffling. What is even more strange is
the method with which they can recover. The remedy is
almost impossible to understand. Even more incredible is
that it does not have to be understood to be effective.
All we need to do is follow some simple rules. One is never
to talk down to an prospect from any spiritual plateau. Another is never tell an alcoholic what to do. Let the book tell him/her what they can do . We, who are recovered/recovering
simply tell the next alcoholic our own story, exactly what
has happened to us, without saying: well, if you want
what I have, then you will have to do what I did. Or
even worse, you will have to do what I tell you to
do, ie. follow my instructions/directions.
Study and understand the preceeding paragraph. It will
be a step in returning A.A. to an acceptable success
Like some of the other pleasurable things in life,
if we do not know what we are doing (do not know
the proper technique). we will seldom get the desired
results. Sometimes, maybe, but usually we fail. If
we know the proper technique, and follow it to the
letter and the spirit, we will rarely fail to get
the desired results. ANONYMOUS
And please buy the book: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes
of Age, a brief history of A.A. And The Language of The
Heart. Buy them and read them. They are loaded with
vital information. Important then and now. Rose
A few years ago I moved from the NYC area to a new state far away. I was sad to leave my home group being a member for 9 years. I went on speaking commitments, made coffee, volunteered for chairing, and took meetings into treatment centers and jails. I was looking forward to going to AA in a new place and becoming active again. After attending all the meetings in this small town, I noticed there seemed to be a social hierarchy among the members. Where I got sober everyone was considered an equal and the members with the most time didn’t separate themselves from the newcomers.
But, here it was obvious the ones at the bottom feared the ones at the top. Of course the ones at the top had the alpha-dog mentality. They would intimidate people and correct them after their shares. Many of the groups also chanted the 12-steps out loud which seemed creepy to me. I was waiting for everyone to hold hands and sway to a round of Kumbaya. Over the next couple of months, as I continued to share my experience, the ones at the top started a subtle hostility campaign against me. Thank goodness I could call my old sponsor back east. The same group of guys would make comments under their breaths while I talked and some would laugh out loud after I shared something sincere. At one meeting these two guys would make odd Para-language sounds trying to disrupt my train of thought. Once a guy yelled, “You aren’t really sober; I haven’t heard you mention God or prayer. Don’t come here and waste our time with that east coast therapy psycho-babble.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had never been in therapy. Just when I was going to give up and stop going to meetings here, an older gentleman approached me and said, “Look, don’t take them seriously. Those guys in there hate you and do you know why? You remind them their pontifications are full of hot air and have no substance. When it comes down to it, they can’t negotiate the split in their heads between “We’ve been giants of sobriety in this area for 25-40 years but, how’d it come to be we live in hated.” This guy was so helpful. He moved from California. We eventually formed a men’s group and people started showing up. I guess those dinosaurs had their day in the sun but times have changed. The men who started coming to our group wanted substance and not endless preaching and cornball rituals.
Sorry you are experincing the dificluties with your relocation. This is a very common problem I have heard with moving into and out of the NY area. Keep looking for a "Great" group that you are comfortable with and is worthy of your membership. Join, get a sponsor, get a job and get involved.
Chillin in Costa Rica
Why does Alcoholic Anonymous say we are beyond human aid over and over as stated in chapter 5's- 3 pertinent ideas, Doctors opinion, Bills story and most of all live then we run to sponsors to help us? Is this the insanity or death they speak of sober ?
Because they didn't know any better at the time. We have more insight about addiction and recovery today and more evidence to support the assertion that belief in a religious god is not necessary to bring about sobriety and a new way of life. I personally have seen people get sober without god and live fruitful lives in AA, so I feel that statement is irrevelant in today's recovery world. Because AA was created in a Christian dominated society, it can't escape the trappings of that thinking. I was raised in a Buddhist society and my recovery reflects that philosophy.
I believe anyone can recovery in AA with or without god as long as they apply spiritual principals in their lives.
Sponsor's job is to help the sponsee work the 12 steps.
The 12 steps are designed "to help you find a power greater than yourself that will solve your problem".
Good question thanx for asking.
Hi, You forgot to write the word "probably" before "no human power" From my experience, there is plenty of human power in the rooms today. The earlier members would change their position on that statement because we know thousands of people are getting sober today purely on human power within the rooms of AA. I am one of them. People who rely on human power will find the same quality sobriety as those whose power comes from outer space or other dimensions.
Also, I think you might find the sponsorship pamphlet helpful. Thanks
I've seen only one avowed atheist in the rooms I go to, and he claims to have many years sober, which I have no right or reason to dispute. But the few times I've heard this man share, there is one thing that stands out to more than one person. There is no sparkle in his eyes like many of the rest of us have. There is no joy or happiness in his voice or demeanor. There is standoffish-ness on his part, not wanting to be a part of the group. There's others who don't want to be a part of a group, but they don't seem to have a troubled and tormented soul or inner spirit as this person outwardly projects. He just always seems in a sad state. So maybe you can get sober and stay sober without acknowledging a power greater than yourself, but at what cost?
Whether a person has the light in their eyes has nothing to do with whether they believe or not believe. Some of the most spiritual and happiest people I have met in AA have been people who don't believe in a formal god but, apply the principals to their lives. We should pay attention to the lack of light in our own eyes. Judging every single non-believer based on this one guy is not good science. This kind of thinking just doesn't fly well. I was taught that we are all equal alcoholics in AA and to respect others beliefs or non-beliefs. When I walk on water than I will judge the person who can't. Anonymous
I agree with that share. What would AA look like if the word "Probably" was not attached to "..no human power?"
AA would be a totalitarian outfit of religious zealots.
Instead we are a diverse group of suffering alcoholics trying to stay sober. I learned from my sponsor by watching his actions. He was open-minded and was friends with everyone in our group despite their religious preferences. He even liked the new-agers and atheists. I remember him saying which, some other posts have said that sobriety will come from our actions not our sermonizing. Thanks Anonymous
I don’t know because I never read it and honestly, there’s plenty of other kinds of wisdom in the rooms which has brought about the good life for me and something I’ve always wanted. Our sponsors may have too much influence over us in our infant AA days and mine told me not to read it. He said something like, “There's not much in that book except outdated language, Christian morals and conversion philosophy."
He also explained it couldn’t keep me sober but, I could sure impress the babes in our home group.” He was just that way. Today, I laugh out loud when some people in my group wave the big book in the air when sharing. They resemble preachers on Sunday quoting pages spitting out fire and brimstone sermons. I find this approach bizarre and totally inappropriate for AA. I can see the newcomers are freaked out as well. Despite my lack of feeling towards the big book, I’m not blind. I see it’s a security blanket for many and I always offer the book to newcomer if asked. One of the three people I sponsor likes it and I support him. The others are unassuming agnostics. The one that reads it understands the big book is not the end all of recovery but, just a start. The earlier members where humble enough to admit they knew just a little.
Do whatever you want to do. I think that's why God gave us free will. I chose the tools spelled out in the Big Book and have had every single one of the promises fulfilled. If you join the Boy Scouts be a scout. If you join the Marine Corp be a Marine. If you join a photography club be a photographer. If you join AA read and follow label directions just like any other endeavor. You can sit in our chairs, drink our coffee but you aren't one of us if you don't, are you? Eagles don't flock. AA chairs are full of chickens who won't take the risk it takes to soar. What have you got to lose?
I sponsored an atheist for 2 years and I must say I am so grateful for him. What I had learned was my recovery was built on a house of cards while he was developing a solid foundation in his own terms. I was bogged down with AA rules, dogma, and rituals.
I was trying to be the “big man” in my group and he was sincerely searching for truth. I spent my whole recovery memorizing books and studying everything to death.
One day, I listened to him share at a meeting and realized his recovery had flown right by mine. It was time to let him go. Eventually we became close friends. We are in our sober teens now. He’s found a support group of non-believer AA members and I’ve learned to tone down my act and listen to the minority opinion. My life is so much better today because of that sponsorship experience. Greg O.
Awesome share, Greg. Am new to the program, and currently going through the "foundation of the program" with my new sponsor. I've learned a great lesson from you. By the way, I did not know there could be AA group who are composed of non-believers? It's my understanding that there's "a" solution, not 2 or 3 or 344 etc. - God or Higher Power of one's understanding. Best wishes to that group, and your teen group! ~ Deo K.
1. phrase spoken repeatedly by crowd: a phrase or slogan repeatedly and rhythmically spoken, often with a simple singsong intonation, especially in unison by a crowd or group
2. something spoken monotonously or repetitiously: a monotonous or repetitive song or intonation of the voice
3. music for religious text: a set of words or syllables sung on the same note, or a single word or syllable sung on a series of notes. Chants are used in psalms, canticles, and other parts of some religious services.
4. hymn or prayer sung as chant: a psalm, prayer, or other religious text sung as a chant
* I like saying my name and having the 'response' of 'Hello' by the group. I never thought of that as a chant. It's my way of introducing myself and of having the group acknowledge my presence. I do see how it could be seen in a negative way, however.
* What I do not like that two of the small local groups that I have attended is the practice of 'chanting' out loud the 12 steps along with the person who is saying those steps at the beginning of the meeting. I appreciate what has been said here and will bring this issue to our group business meeting to do what it takes to discourage this practice. I can think of a dozen reasons to not do this. Thank you for your thought provoking comments.
When I make this statement: "My name is Joe and I am an
alcoholic", I am doing the first half of the first step. The
silly Hi Joe! chant appeared in the Northeast around 1980.
My friend calls it silly; I call it stupid. It makes us look
like idiots in the eyes of the public, and harms A.A. as
The statement is also part of the fifth step, admitting
to other human beings that I am an alcoholic. It never
was meant to be a greeting or salutation.
Chanting in any form must be removed from A.A.
activities. Leave this ritual to cults and religious sects.
I'm an AA "loner" for half the year. Work 3 weeks every day 12hour (often longer!) shifts then fly down south home for 3 weeks off. Almost 2 years ago I was working same rotation but in Nunavut. Very remote project. I had asked the mine manager if I could use a room for an AA meeting and he let me know. I put posters up around camp. Every Wednesday I was in camp I'd sit with my literature and Grapevine on my ipad. I'd sit there from 8-930ish then leave. No one ever came but it was ok. I heard folk joking around work about the AA meeting. About AA being a cult or whatever but that wasn't bothering me. In fact, I really enjoyed having the time to sit and read.
I'm at a different mine now. Northwest Territories. 3 weeks in. 3 weeks out. A very different set up. Even though technically I am working 12 hour shifts - I'm salary and often I will have to go underground on night shift - for at least a couple of hours. My sponsor suggested that I start a meeting here like I did at my last job but there are a lot of things that I'm struggling with.
One: the only room that I would be able to use is locked at night - it would be very difficult to get a key - not impossible - but would involve a LOT of people knowing why and needing to know who (i.e. me) has the key etc.
Two: even though I technically work 5am to 5pm - really it can vary up to 11pm and not in regular predictable ways. I also have to get up for work at 345am so staying up late is extremely hard but the room I might be able to use would only be free after 630pm.
Three: I work with folk who are - mostly good guys (some girls!). But a lot who are really just like 5 year olds. I've only been here 7months but its shocking how much gossip and rumours fly around and affect people. Hearing people judge others based on rumours.
Three Part B: If I was to put up a poster where I work now I GUARANTEE people would show up - but not to participate - they'd just want to see who is there then the rumour mill would go.
Four: Since I know it will be IMPOSSIBLE (if you'd met our mine manager you'd understand why) to keep my anonymity as an AA member. Its not that I would mind the medic or managers knowing. Not really. Its that I've experienced and seen the inability of many of them to not talk about people and peoples' problems which in turn ends up all over.
Five: I would like to remain fairly anonymous. Not just for myself and my work relationships - but also because there are days - well usually moments - when I'm not 100% spiritual. Luckily I can go through the steps - you know the daily step 10 and deal with the situations quickly without making a mess but having no anonymity concerns me because I dont want AA to look bad.
I know some of these reasons are selfish and self-centred. I know there are many nights when I can barely keep my eyes open or body moving past 6pm! Or when I quit at 5pm and I'm so exhausted I dont even eat. How do I force myself to stay awake long enough to be responsible for opening a meeting every week that I am here? I dont want people I work with directly or indirectly knowing I'm an AA member. There are some that it really wouldn't bother me at all. Many that it would not be ok. Judgement, taunting, blah, blah that I just dont think I want to have to deal with.
Then my sponsor suggested that I am not willing to go to any lengths. Maybe he is right. But the word "any" means good and bad - right? I've brought in back issues of AA Grapevines and put them in common areas. Some never move - some have - some have "disappeared".
I've spoken one on one with some folk who are trying to get sober or have been sober. Its tough to find a private area to talk so conversations are brief. There are many who know I dont drink which I dont care if they know or not.
By not finding some way to set up and commit to an AA meeting (even if its only during the 3 weeks I'm in camp) - does that mean that I am not willing to go to any lengths?
I would say don't do it all yourself, if you have others who want to attend the meeting then the group should be working on starting a meeting. If you are at a work site then security can unlock doors at certain times. Again it sounds like you are directing the show. It will happen if it is supposed to. I'm not saying it will be easy or alot of work or effort, but the group should be doing it not just one person. I wish you lots of luck and I hope it all works out for the group. The meetings should take place with or without you, you are just another AA member. I would think the company's interest is served by supporting your efforts. God Bless and thank you!
I'm coming up on 33 years sobriety, many of them overseas without meetings to go to or any interest by others to attend. When I came back to the States I was usually surrounded by people who had 20 or 30 meetings to choose from that were attended by 20 to 60 people -- and because of this limited experience of theirs they would insist it was the only way.
I think attending meetings online, participating in the 'Loner' program, and being attentive to any opportunity to have a conversation with anyone in trouble with drinking is the way you can stay sober in such circumstances. 'Any two persons joined together in sobriety constitute a meeting' is what it says in foundational AA material. Genuine effort is what matters -- not mindless banging your head against the wall.
The biggest danger is to make sure you're not 'sponsoring yourself' and staying in contact with your higher power. Humility seems to be the first thing to go so you must guard it.
It sounds to me like you made more than a reasonable effort. Sometimes the landscape is truly empty of those needing 12-step attention. In cases such as that, remember the other part of the 12th step that calls upon us to 'practice these principals in all our affairs' and seek to help others in more general ways by being a 'worker among workers' and similar.
I can think of plenty of times where there were no alcoholics to work with (and none that I should 'insist' were alcoholics) -- but I can say that I continued seeking to help others. I shoveled snow, stacked crates, took care of pets, ran messages and other things and they all helped me live every day the way I think is spoken of in the 12th step.
I have been in and out of these rooms for 15+ plus years. This last time around I lost my job and decided to go back into treatment on my own and really listen to what was being said. For some reason GOD has allowed it to click in my mind this time around. I was told to do what the program and the treatment center suggest that I do, go to meetings, get a sponser, and do service work. Well I feel I have and will keep doing these things to the best of my ability for today. One day at a time. Not only has God and this program help me get my sanity back, but has allowed me to get back on my feet. No I have not been able to find a job, but God has provided for me. And for that I am grateful. What I dont understand is that it should not be this easy for me I feel sometimes. and I am scared. I have been able to deal with life on life terms, it has not been all roses, but I have not had to drink or use over anything. I dont know what to do about these feelings, so I am just putting them out there. I was told to KISS it (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID). And that works for me. Im just scared that all. I was told that you get out of this program what you put into it, but it does not seem I am putting enough into it,because it is so easy. I talk to my sponser daily, go to 1 to 2 meetings a day, help out where ever I can, and call people or answer the phone hoping it is someone on the other end that can help me or I can help them.I feel sometimes that there is something else that I need to be doing. Hopefully it is just a feeling that shall pass.