Burning Desire to Share
Why not change your work schedule, or get another job, even if you have to relocate? I sobered up at 27, and I had to make some really radical changes to stay sober.
When we start looking for solutions instead of obstacles we find them. Depression? Panic attacks? See a doctor. Many of have found that many problems go away when we stop drinking and the medical profession can't do much for a diagnosis until the alcohol and other drugs are taken out of the formula.
Looks like you are down to work -drink- live where you don't want to and don't have access to help. Thousands of people starting with nothing are living in halfway houses or better, working, not drinking, making sober friends, getting their lives straightened out and accessing any kind of help they need. What do you have to lose except alcoholism's progressive misery?
You say that alcohol has taken away almost everything important in your life. You have adapted to all the changes so far. So as long as your alcoholism is calling the shots you can adapt. One way or another we have found when our recovery starts calling the shots we can adapt. We don't see the outcome ahead of time, we just do it anyway and for millions of us we made it. If we don't make the changes we need to alcohol will do it for us.
Young eagles hang on to their nest for dear life so they don't fall. Then one day they are ready for a change. They let go and soar. That's what AA does. You are ready to change or you wouldn't have come here.
It’s often heard in the rooms that AA is spiritual not religious, but what does that mean exactly? The only thing that makes sense to me is this statement must be referring to the “AA Fellowship” as defined by the AA Preamble. Its common knowledge the “AA Program” we offer as a suggestion was inspired by religious ideas, which is overtly evident in its main teachings, the big book and the twelve and twelve, however our identity should always be presented as the “AA Fellowship” and not as the “AA Program.” In other words, the fellowship is spiritual and the program tends to appear to look religious especially to the person walking through the doors for the first time. I believe all the confusion for the newcomer lies within this misunderstanding. What is more spiritual than “A fellowship of a men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism” There is no confusion in that statement because it’s easy to understand the spiritual essence in community built on equality and love. But, when people wrongly and aggressively promote AA as a program; this is where the newcomer obtains a dose full of anxiety. Religious elements are intertwined throughout the twelve steps and the big book and in any meeting you hear religious themes such as, divine intervention, miracles, confession, penance and redemption, not to mention, many groups have rituals and rules to obey. So when we are presented in this way, I feel it is unfair to criticize or condemn any newcomer who points out these religious elements which make them uneasy, especially when it is presented as a rule and not an option. When we inflict this on a newcomer it can set them up to fail. The AA Preamble and Traditions are very clear about what our organization is; the problem lies with a few of its members who do not possess the ability to understand that AA is a Fellowship which is spiritual in nature but also for the more religious members offers a “Program.” When I sponsor people, the first thing I do is clarify this to them so, there are not any misunderstandings that may lead to severe consequences. I personally am religious but, I go to church for that need. The “AA Fellowship” especially through home group and speaker meetings provides me a community of social mirrors in my daily reprieve from alcoholism. Grateful in Recovery
Your share and perspective on AA and its spiritual base in fellowship helped me to understand the separateness from spirituality and religion. Although I already had an understanding of this your way of describing and defining this has given me comfort from feelings of guilt and fraudulent character. They are no longer large in my thinking, practice and study but I have struggled with this in the past.
I was not raised in a family that identified with religion or went to church although I went to Sunday School I'm sure because all good Mothers in the sixties sent their children along should they be deemed unfit.
In my late thirties and forties my late husband and I embraced Tibetan Buddhism and meditation to help us in his death from brain cancer.
After his death I continued to study and meditate to a small degree. Eventually this practice left me as I began to drink more each day to cope.
I came to AA nearly 3 months ago with an understanding of a higher power as I had gone to Al Anon in my twenties. Some understanding of the fellowship of AA and its program of recovery also helped me but I still felt very uncomfortable trying to pray each day. I felt like a fraud!
I stumbled each morning as I tried to pray asking God for help and guidance, strength and peace.
A few weeks into my recovery I spoke with my new friend from AA about this and she gave me the best advise - " Some people just say please."
This freed me in a way I cannot describe until I became more comfortable with my early journey, AA, my understanding and daily prayer.
I begin my prayer now with thanks and then I ask please help me .......
I end my prayer with thanks.
Something so simple has helped me so much and I don't feel fake or fraudulent.
I give thanks to the spirit of my universe and then I ask for its continued help. And of course I offer my thanks again.
I wish every recovering alcoholic a beautiful peaceful day.
Be gentle and kind with your spirit.
I struggled mightily with the 3rd step until an older woman passed me a note in a meeting on which was written "I don't have to understand spirituality to accept its benefit." That was very freeing. A Thich Nhat Hanh interview on prayer was very enlightening as well. I still have more questions than answers, but I accept that as part of the gift of seeking, without which I might become stagnant/complacent and start the road back to the bottle.
Dear Grateful in Recovery, Thanks for a clear message.
I am grateful that our Preamble has remained intact. At least that definition of Alcoholics Anonymous has not
changed. The preamble still says that we are a fellowship.
It is one of the few places fellowship has not been
changed to Fellowship.
A newcomer is not going to point out religious elements
which make them uneasy. They may think "this is just another
religious group and religion has not helped me before".
They don't voice their objection. What they see is what it
is. They just don't keep coming back although we chant
"Keep Coming Back! It works if you work it!".
It is really up to us seasoned old timers to speak up
for the newcomer; they still come even though they may
have heard about our religious nature. They are desperate,
but not that desperate. "Let me out of here".
Even churches I attend offer more grace than today's
A.A. At least they wait until the end of the service
to do the alter call. We tell the newcomer right up front
That One Is God! May you find Him Now!. Sure, this works
for some, but the multitudes are pushed away.
We must develop an understanding of Dr. Silkworth's
"cart before the horse IDEA" and apply same. Most A.A.
members today have no idea what this IDEA is. ANONYMOUS
"We tell the newcomer right up front That One Is God! May you find Him Now!. Sure, this works for some, but the multitudes are pushed away."
First off, I get the impression that your only familiarity with the Big Book is the portion of Chapter 5 read at many meetings. Just to set the record straight, your quotation is on page 59, not 'right up front' as you claim.
Second, how do you know what pushes the multitudes away? Have you conducted a survey? Or are you still clinging to the mantra of the untreated alcoholic, "I feel this way, therefore everyone else feels this way, too"?
I don’t remember anyone telling me the purpose of AA was to endorse religion and to dictate to its members that “God” was the only way to salvation and freedom from alcoholism. The earlier members and the founders may have believed that but, it doesn’t make it true for everyone even though it may have been true for them. As a newcomer and an agnostic, the older members told me, I did not have to believe in God to get sober but, just had to believe that it was possible. We provide that space of possibility in the rooms; it’s up to each person to define what that means to them. AA provides hope to every new person but, I believe it’s not helpful to mislead them into thinking that the only possibility for recovery is God and unbelief equals death. In any AA meeting, there are members that prove the erroneousness in that false assertion every night.
There is no reason to try to make Doctor Silkworth's quote about The cart before the horse some big mystery unless you are trying to use it for a smokescreen. Ebbie T told Bill W that he "Got religion" and was happily sober. In his umpteenth detox Bill W had some kind of Un-earthly experience which resulted in his compulsion to drink being removed. Bill tried to pass this on this Conversion with no results. Silkworth told him it wasn't working because Bill wasn't laying any foundation.
If you bother to look, the Spiritual Awakening is now at the end, not the beginning of the program of recovery of AA.
I would suggest reading the Foreword to the 12x12, especially the 3rd full paragraph which says,” AA’s 12 steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.” I have found nothing religious in the 12 steps.
Maybe read the foreword to the second edition of the big book on page xx, “Other thousands came to a few AA meetings and at first decided they didn’t want the program” I think the meetings are where we display the AA program for newcomers to decide if they want it or not, but you decide for yourself.
Also page 39 in the 12 x 12 has a great comment on meetings, “More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life
My favorite example of the steps being the program of AA is in the 3rd or 4th page of the pamphlet “problems other than alcohol”, “Sobriety- freedom form alcohol- through the teaching and practice of the 12 steps is the sole purpose of an AA group.” This tells us what the purpose of our AA groups are. On page 15 of Bill’s story in the big book he says” we meet frequently so newcomers can find the fellowship they seek” I really think the fellowship is the meetings we have with each other and the program is the 12 steps we work for our individual sobriety. You can look on page 107 of the 12x12, it says “AA’s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the 12 steps in our program.”
There are around 40 spots in the big book and 12x12 that talk about the “program” please look for yourself. There is a web site called 164andmore that you can search the big book and 12x12 with key words such as “program”
I hope this helps and good luck!
Thank you very much for your well researched response. The only thing I can add is that AA is governed by democratic principals. Every year our elected representatives have the opportunity make changes or put proposed changes before the entire membership. Every year they appear to be satisfied with the first 154 pages of the Big Book and the 12 and 12 and have not changed anything.
Hi, you are missing the point of the discussion. Everything you are quoting from is taken from "Program oriented" materials. These are wonderful suggestions and an important part of recovery which the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship offers but, they are not Alcoholics Anonymous. The Preamble does not read, "Alcoholics Anonymous is a program where people read the big book work the steps and gets a sponsor..." No it states that we are a fellowship. Because AA is a fellowship it is open for anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. Whether they follow the suggested path or not is their right. People who choose not to follow the program are still members of the fellowship. One's sobriety is not judged on what they read, follow or preach but, who they are and what they do. Keep coming back!
I know you like the preamble. can you explain why the preamble is not in AA conferenced approved lit and only in Grapevine material?
Hi clu 1992, You kindly asked, "Can you explain why the preamble is not in AA conferenced approved lit and only in Grapevine material?" Yes I can, but I think it would be beneficial for you to research this on your own. In that way, your recovery world will be taken to a new level of love and compassion as well as, tolerance and open-mindedness. Happy Twenty-four.
Life is a lot easier when I stop pointing fingers at other peoples faults and just look at my own. Why waste my time looking at stuff that doesn't involve me? Sometimes I forget, but when I remember my weight is lifted off. Life's easier when I only deal with my own problems. If there's something that comes up that I don't have any problems within myself, then I let go. Those who have done wrong usually don't want to hear that they did fault. I find this everywhere I go in and out of the AA rooms. Unless someone asks me what my opinion is on the matter I would say something. But for the greatest part no one likes to be told, so I do no different than what people have done to me, just shut up and who cares? I had to find out myself the difficult way that I'm an alcoholic, so I let others find their own. In the AA rooms, it gives us all an opportunity to hear something that might nudge us in our little minds to do something. But faith without works is dead.
Ah yes, pointing fingers we love to do this in AA. What would AA be without judgment and self-righteousness? It would mirror the AA Preamble and our Traditions. The rooms are full of individuals suffering from alcoholism trying to get better. The more humble members accept their illness. The majority realize it is just a symptom of fundamental and essential problems which drive an alcoholic back to the drink. And with this, the majority takes the responsibility necessary to address their damage and work honestly to change. In my thinking, it’s the narcissistic and ego driven bullies who exist on the surface of recovery and are too weak to look at their problems. One strategy of avoidance is to quickly assume the position of leader and authority. Pointing the finger, quoting pages and hiding behind the talk, assuming big status are all techniques of weakness. I believe the entire finger pointing phenomena evolved when the bogus belief that AA is program came into fashion and dominate the scene. With this came inequality and the invention of hierarchical organizations, self-appointed gurus, recovery despots, dogmas, rigidness, condescension, rituals and arrogance. “I can quote pages and you can’t, therefore I have superiority over you” “I have 10 years and you have 1 year, therefore I am more sober than you” It’s all false of course because having just time doesn’t equate to being returned to sanity and quoting pages only means a person has the skill to quote pages. I’ve often heard, “Whenever I point my finger there is three pointing back at me.” There is nothing wrong with AA if you understand the Preamble and Traditions. These are solid. But to me, the soul of its members and our primary purpose has been compromised by people that have no soul but only lust for position and status in the rooms. We need more understatement and humility again in AA and much less hyperbole.
Sober 16 years today...April fools day ... Go figure
Ok I need to share this with the world anonymously so I can get many opinions on this matter. I have told my aunt and my friends about this, its not a huge deal or anything but I just want to know if I am making a big deal out of nothing or if I do have the right to be hurt. Ok so my mom died when I was 10, and it hurt but not in the way that most kids cry and weep everyday and have a hole in their heart because they lost their mom. My pain was just my mom died, like I wasn't sad that my mom died because I never really connected with her, but hearing everyone say they are sorry for me and seeing my dad cry so much, caused me to have a little tears to get off my chest but that is all. Now I am 15 and I don't feel sad that my mom is gone, of course I miss her but only at some times. My problem is, starting from the age of 5 my mom used to lock me in the garage/ bathroom for 10-15 minutes as punishments. This really really hurt me deep inside that my own mother who should be the person who loves me endlessly and cares for me so much would lock me in a room even though its just for 10 minutes it hurts! She used to pinch me while sitting in the front of car hill i was in the back seat. I didn't understand how amazing moms were until I grew up. As I grew older and I heard all my friends saying oh my god I can tell my mom anything I love her soo much, she is amazing she is my best friend, I thought to myself why didn't god give me a mother like that? To be honest life has gotten better since my mom left and omg it kills me to say that and I feel like a horrible horrible person and I'm not saying thank god she is dead I don't want to be disrespectful but my life has been better after she died. :( After she died, all the family friends that were really busy and that we couldn't see that often they arranged barbecues every weekend and I was able to develop relationships with my aunts and I got 4 aunts who were like my dream mom. They treated me and talked to me like I had hoped my mom would talk to me. In school I had no friends but all of a sudden I had friends but they were pity friends but at least I wasn't alone with no one to talk to. Then I moved to India( I'm Indian lol) and things became so much better only because I finally made friends so many of them too and I had so much fun and then we moved back to the USA. My dad's brother's wife and I became very close. Me and my aunt were like mother and daughter. She already has two daughters but she considers me as her third daughter. I can literally tell er everything and I do, even about boys. If i were to talk to my mom about boys she would get mad and say at this age everything is just some dang attraction. What my question is, is it ok that I feel pain that my mom locked me in those rooms even though it was just for a few minutes? Or am I making a big deal of nothing? She was very mean to me, she would promise to buy things and then when I asked her for them again she would say Oh did I say that I must have made a mistake. One time when I was five she said she would buy me burger king after school and she didn't when I got theree so I was like mommy!? Why didn't you buy me burger king? and she locked me in the garage and said i can stay hungry she doesn't care cus she though I got an attitude. Whenever I cried in front of people like my grandparents instead of hugging me and kissing my tears away she said why are you crying you are going to make me look bad in front of your grandparents. They were so in love with each other that just because she told him that he should have hit me one day because I didn't go and sit with my brother when he was a baby and woke up and started crying, he hit me! Like not a bad hit or anything but across my chin, it was still a hit and my dad has never layed a hand on me ever before or after that. I was so angry and when i went to a corner and cried but i acted like i was reading, my mom was like your just going to sit on that chair because he hit you and i swear my blood boils when I think about all of this! This hurts me so bad and all I can think is why did my mom hate me? What did I do to not deserve a loving mother? Like she was a normal mom as I grew up, but I don't recall having much fun with her or giggling or talking about boys or anything like that. I was just in a normal mood......... So what are your thoughts? Am I blowing things way out of proportion? Is being locked in a garage for 10 mins not that a big deal?
In AA, and specifically in my 4th step, I had the opportunity for the first time to deal honestly with my mother. It was a miraculous experience. Speaking to other AA members and working the 4th helped me see I was not alone and that it was ok to talk and write about everything surrounding my mother. This was not an exercise in blame but one of cataloging my resentments and fears and feelings and what I was going to do about them. It was also about working the rest of the steps where I built a relationship with a higher power that helped me change. It became about practicing the principles of AA in all my affairs - especially with my mother. I was able to become much more understanding of her and realize she was a product of the alcoholic culture she'd grown up in.
I sobered up at my mother's death bed. Then, we both recovered and she lived another 10 years. During those years, thanks to AA, I got to learn much about compassion, understanding, boundaries, acceptance, keeping my mouth shut, not pouring gas on a fire....When she finally passed, I was able to be a sober, responsible family member who helped my family with the wake and funeral. Clear eyed and sober, I was there to shake the hand of and thank the kind and caring cardiologist who had nurtured her for those last 10 years.
My mother was far from perfect and some things she did or didn't do affected me in many ways. AA gives me the freedom to open up about it all and deal with it. Even when I have sought outside help, my ability to be honest and open about such things has been very helpful.
I have heard a lot of people in the rooms of AA who sobered up and finally confronted for the first time their feelings towards various people in their lives. Many had raging alcoholic parents, step-parents, etc. Some were sexually or otherwise physically abused. Some seem to be able to come to terms with these old resentments without professional help, others need counseling/psychiatric help. Never hurts to talk to a counselor or therapist, especially if after repeated efforts to accept the past and no longer be consumed by it have failed.
I celebrated 30 years of continuous sobriety this year. I have talked to sponsors, councilors, in meetings. I have JOURNALED , I DO THE STEPS, and pray all the time. I still have these resentments, not half as bad. when do they go so I can be at peace with my past life. I am almost 70 years old. I have lost a lot of people who mean a lot to me too!! Grieving LOT. TOO!! CATHERINE g
Look if what you are saying is for reals, you are dealing with serious trauma. Your psyche is broken and your inner core sounds like it has almost been destroyed. A psychopathology exists in you that needs attention outside the rooms. AA can help with the drink but the trauma issues need to be handled by a professional. Hopefully the two will lead you to a better place. In this brokenness of your spirit do not let blindness creep in and numb you out to the world.
This forum is about alcoholism but since you are here I'll share with you something that we alcoholics frequently need to deal with - frustration over trying to control other people places and things that are impossible to control. I have no control over what people did or didn't do to or for me in the past. If I can't let go of it I get help with it. I do not try to get help from nameless faceless non-professional members of the internet. Also I see a well qualified psychiatrist sometimes and he NEVER gives advice. He steers me to solutions by sometimes asking questions. My solutions may be quite different than others. That's why I want a pro.
It was easy for me to embrace the god factor in AA because I already had a belief in god. The transition from God to Higher Power was not a difficult move at all. But in my 12th year in recovery, I became an atheist. I couldn’t tell you why because AA and my sobriety gave me the best life anyone could imagine. Lightning bolts didn’t strike me dead and I remain gratefully sober. I’ve always held the belief that the most important thing I could ever do in my life, if I was left to do one thing was to not pick up the first drink. The next best thing I could do today is to continually welcome the new person. I’m glad there is flexibility in AA because we grow and change as the years go on. If I was entrenched in rigid beliefs and inflexible dogma I might be dead. So, today, my sobriety is not centered on finding God, but becoming a better person and changing. I don’t know anyone who wants to be the same person they were when they came through the door. We all know about Bill W’s recovery but, what about all the other recoveries that happened throughout the years which were different than his? They were equally important and valued but, tragically less documented. However, their stories live through the people they sponsored and the people they sponsored. So many lives were transformed and saved in AA just because they heard a different perspective then Bill W’s. I never felt recovery in AA was not a cookie-cutter experience. My life was dramatically affected after hearing an atheist old timer share one day at our group. When someone made a comment about “There are no atheists in foxholes” he laughed out loud and said, “I was in plenty of foxholes in WW2 and never said one prayer. I tried to save myself and the guy next to me” That statement alone set my recovery in a new direction. He is dead and gone now like Bill W. There are no books written about him however, he influenced my recovery significantly for the better as did countless other members whose ideas weren’t contained within the official position.
I have found AA to be quite open and welcoming to a wide range of spiritual beliefs. We have a strong group in our town called "Atheists, Agnostics and All Others". I have not been able to hit the meeting yet, which - ironically - meets in a church, but some of my favorite AA people attend.
I met all of them in mainstream AA meetings and found that they are quite philosophical and spend a lot of time thinking and talking about spiritual matters. It's not like they come to this decision lightly. They tend to be deep thinkers who are willing to explore many avenues and possibilities.
They also show deep authenticity by laying it all out there and being honest about their beliefs. It can't be easy to be in a program that saved your life and to struggle with a tenet that is central to the program.
At 27 years sober, I find the concept of "God" more mysterious today than ever. Throughout the years, I have seen a power at work in AA and in myself that produces miracles. I remain honest, open minded and willing to search for and explore this power. AA gives us that freedom.
By definition atheists only dealing with spiritual maters is to claim that they can be disproved. I astonished by those claiming to be atheist or agnostic hanging around AA believing in those who do believe in some Higher Power. It's like claiming that I don't believe in riding in cars but I will accompany someone who does.
Agnostics, Atheists, and All others. It seems to me that
all meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous ought to welcome
Atheists , Agnostics and all others. There ought not be
any need for the type of meeting you describe.
My concern is the newcomer whom I believe to pay
little or no attention of the name of the meeting. They
have exhausted all other sources and finally turn to A.A.
Whatever they find, will be considered A.A.
"It can't be easy to be in a program that saved your
life and to struggle with a tenet that is central to the
to the program". I was a "THAT ONE IS GOD, MAY YOU FIND
HIM" Big Book Thumper, crammer of the steps A.A. member
for over three decades. I had asked God to help me (I have
to say I asked in the name of Christ). He gave me the
help I needed which turned out to be the fellowship
of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is difficult to offer that
message when I share and only offer it in a suggestive
manner. I was a "Steps Are Damned- Well- Betters" member.
Today I understand what is meant by a suggestion.
I gave all of this very little thought. I thought A.A.
was "alive and well". When I saw that near collapse in
the early 1990's, and our virtual lack of growth for
two decades I did the investigation. I found out that
I was a big part of the problem. It did not come easy.
It came after the death of another loved one, and the
near death of another.
We can't fix everything that is wrong, at least not
today. But we can begin to restore the effectiveness of
A.A. at the group level. Back to my old "stop reading HIW
aloud at meetings", and develop an understanding of why
Bill W. and his friends rejected the 24hr. Book. That is
when my eyes started to open. Ib2013, welcome to the
Forum. Thanks for a refreshing message. ANONYMOUS
AA absolutely offers hope. How much of it is debatable but, for the ones who are able to stay sober with the help of a higher power or without that help, I have the highest respect and gratitude for them. My belief in God and the principals of AA make me feel secure but, they can’t necessary keep me away from the next drink without my participation. In regards to the subject heading, were the founders being objective and realistic or recklessly optimistic when they wrote that? Because I see members failing all the time, which in a bizarre way keeps me sober. It’s difficult to think my recovery depends on someone else’s ruin. In many of the groups I’ve attended, there are a smaller percentage of alcoholics staying sober opposed to the larger percentage, which continues to relapse. Some I see once, twice or three times and others I never see again. Why anyone would choose to return to that life of active alcoholism is beyond me, unless they are not getting the proper treatment. My drinking was like that horrible nightmare where you think you wake up but, soon discover you just woke up into another nightmare. I used to believe members who relapsed were weak, inferior, or had the wrong higher power. Now I know they are just plain sick and sometimes the treatment required for many people struggling is far more multifaceted than memorizing pages of a book and repeating them back at meetings. There are many other circumstances and pressures involved that return the alcoholic to the drink. No one seems to talk about in my group, such as, effects of the social environment, stress, family history, and physiology, bio-chemical and mental health. When I’ve tried to bring up these “outside” issues in the past, I was interrupted rudely, usually by the ego-appointed Big Book police, loyal protectors of the holy creed “It’s not in the book, it’s not AA.” It’s common to hear alcohol described as cunning, baffling and powerful, but why? Why can’t I ask, “Why?” Why do people say to me, “don’t ask why?” We should investigate deeper into the nature of alcoholism and be able to talk about it. There are so many factors that have a detrimental effect and impair the judgment of the alcoholic to make that healthy choice. We should discuss these things in meetings, instead of beating people of the head with rituals and clichés. Grateful and Concerned Member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I love and agree 100% on what you said -"There are many other circumstances and pressures involved that return the alcoholic to the drink."
I would like to know more about the chemical reaction of THIQ which is as or more addictive like morphine. do doctors still want to study this further?
Have you noticed that the program of recovery put together by Alcoholics Anonymous is written the past tense starting with “We admitted…”? “Rarely have we seen a person who has thoroughly followed our path…” was an observation they made, not a prediction. The word relapse gets thrown around often in AA discussions. Is it appropriate? With other diseases a patient needs to be assessed as recovered before it is possible for him to relapse. If the disease is never interrupted it isn’t called relapse. Just because someone walks through the door of AA or Walter Reed Hospital does not mean that they are on the road to recovery from whatever disease they have. Their participation is required. Alcoholics Anonymous spells out one program of recovery. Those who do not follow it are charting their own path not following AA’s. That’s fine if they choose to, I hope it works for them, but whatever the outcome AA has not failed them if they have been given AA’s simple message and chose not to use it.
If we don’t know or forget why people return to drinking despite all the horrors they have experienced in the past we need not look farther than the Doctors opinion. "They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks…”. Second, we have a mental twist that deludes us of the perceived pleasure of drinking along with denial of our history of disaster. As time passes the memory of disaster diminishes and the restless, irritable, and discontent increases. Untreated, time is not on our side. Sobriety does not cause more sobriety. Before we try to shift or expand AA focus to take on “effects of the social environment, stress, family history, and physiology, bio-chemical and mental health” we need to get this simple message delivered and keep delivering it. The third symptom, the devistation resulting from our inability to control our drinking once we take the first drink doesn’t come into play if we treat the first two. If we don’t treat the first two symptoms we’re set on a course for the third which we are powerless to do anything about.
You wrote, “Alcoholics Anonymous spells out one program of recovery.” This is not correct. It is very clear what Alcoholics Anonymous spells out and I suggest you read the Preamble because this defines the AA Fellowship and our primary purpose wonderfully. You have forgotten that the “Program” in which you are referring to is suggested. There is no official position in AA that a member must follow a “one program” The Big Book is not AA, but an important tool available in AA. Many find the brief history, the guide for living and all the inspirational testimonies helpful. If someone is not interested in this, only the pompous and arrogant would regard them as potential failures with hopes of relapse. AA does not force a “Program” on people. It’s certain members who lack true sobriety and do not have a real understanding of our principals and traditions who are the guilty ones. You also are incorrect in assuming that everyone who relapses in AA is not working this “one program.” That is very close minded and a faulty belief. To have such thoughts is not helpful to anyone and to really think that if someone is not getting sober your way then they will relapse is lousy AA. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have been a grateful member of AA for many years and I will tell you that not everyone gets sober the suggested way or in the same way for that matter. If someone has a desire to stop drinking they will find all the support they need in the Fellowship. What they need will be different then what you or I need even though there will be many commonalities to which we can relate. I always felt we should support people’s recoveries in AA and not rip them apart because of appearances.
You are correct in saying, "....not everyone gets sober the suggested way or in the same way for that matter."
But your assesment of the Preamble is wrong. The Preamble spells out the FELLOWSHIP of AA, not the AA program of recovery. And while you may have little regard for the Big Book, it is still the basic text of AA and has been used for seventy-five years by millions of alcoholics to get and stay sober.
I have also been sober for a great many years and have seen more alcoholics get drunk using your 'hit or miss, do what you want to do' program than get drunk using the steps.
You said, "And while you may have little regard for the Big Book" Huh? What gave you that idea because I love the big book and have studied it thoroughly while obtaining many years of recovery through the suggested program. I just happen to subscribe to our code, "Love and Tolerance." Shouldn't you? It's just silly AA to be a fortune teller and make buffoon predictions about who makes it or who doesn't. We can't assume the only way for everyone is this "one program" because its not. If someone does not choose the suggested route, I am still responsible to be available. It never pays to be a recovery snob because we are a family in a sense; all equal. And to reply to your "hit and miss" comment, I've seen just as many people relapse using this "one program" Try and keep an open mind because we don't want to walk around with egg on our faces.
The AA preamble clearly defines what AA is. It is first of
all, a fellowship. It amazes me that it has not been changed
to Fellowship. It will be capitalized soon. Our fellowship
is not the Big Book. Bill describes the BB as our basic text, but it is really a story book to be read and considered, not a "work" book. I have great regard for the Big Book.
Personally, I consider it to be the second greatest book
ever written. But Alcoholics Anonymous in its distilled
form is a fellowship, not a book. Confused enough? ANONYMOUS
In the original manuscript this read: thoroughly followed
our directions. A path is easy to follow. Directions push
alcoholics away from a valuable source of relief. Our
pioneers changed it from directions to path. We have
reversed that change in today's AA. ANONYMOUS
In my opinion, there are too many "other" factors that play in on an alcoholic in AA's decision to drink again to be discussing them in meetings, otherwise the meeting may morph into a "street psychology" discussion (the reason treatment centers insist on no cross talk?). There are a number of pamphlets discussing "other issues." I do know that a few members have shared on their struggles with such issues as depression, and of the need to get outside help for medical problems besides alcoholism. Not sure what the percentage is of folks with mental health issues that have a co-occurring substance abuse problem, but I am sure it is pretty high. There is research into chemical dependency going on globally. That is best left to the mental health and other experts involved, leaving us to work on going a day without a drink or a drug and encouraging others to do so as well. Read the chapter in the 12 x 12 regarding the tradition dealing with our primary purpose - it helped dispel me of some of my more grand ideas for AA.
Because my wife is a health professional, I've been exposed to lots of new material regarding alcoholism. There have been some fascinating studies done using modern medical tools and techniques that flesh out the Big Book's "obsession of the mind, allergy of the body" explanation. Modern studies show brain changes that explain why that obsession develops in some people and how we are different.
That said, having a better understanding of how I am different and what makes me an alcoholic does nothing for my alcoholism. "Self knowledge avails us nothing". Knowing about the brain changes that caused my obsession and having a better medical explanation for "allergy of the body" does not remove these things from me.
I still need what I found in AA to deal with the disease. Something happened in AA to remove my obsession to drink. Something happened in AA to help me get and stay sober and develop a life that is happy, joyous and free. And it happens for thousands of others.
The thing about AA is that we all KNOW what we mean when we say "obsession of the mind, allergy of the body". It might not be the most scientific explanation but we all get it because we all experienced it. And, recovering people KNOW what I mean when I talk about how the obsession was removed from me in AA. I see the heads nod of my brothers and sisters who have shared this journey.
"Now I know they are just plain sick and sometimes the treatment required for many people struggling is far more multifaceted than memorizing pages of a book and repeating them back at meetings."
I believe that memorizing pages of a book and repeating them back at meetings is not treatment at all. For example, when I was very young I, like most boys in parochial school, wanted to be an altar boy. That was back in prehistoric times when Latin was the standard language in the Roman Catholic Church. Altar boys memorized the Latin sentences, we could repeat the proper response at the proper time, but not a one of knew what the words meant.
When I was very new in AA I happened to be located in an area where there were no meetings and no known sober alcoholics. It was suggested that I use my Big Book and a Higher Power, which I did and have stayed sober ever since. Note, te suggestio was that I USE the Big Book, not read it, or study it, or memorise it.
Perhaps we have so many study guides and study meetings that we are too busy studying to actually use the Big Book
Im finding the loneliness unbearable. I fill my spare time with work or working out or anything to keep my hands and mind busy. I have multiple sign posts since I picked up at 14. Multiple DWI along with cracked up cars and near death accidents. A woman came into my life at what I thouhgt to be my worst. I was lost with no way out, she came out of nowhere and I fell in love. I honestly thought this was the one, god sent. After 5 years she left. I was at the worst point of my life. My friends who were getting married and having kids were absent because they were busy in some of there greatest points of their own lives. I was stuck with no license that I lost for 12 years. I started to abuse sleeping pills and pain meds. I got clean swore off alcohol and began my road to recovery. I never could get into sharing, even doing this makes me anxious. After 4 years on marijuana maintence with no booze she came back. This whole scenario I had played out in my mind a million times along with that story I could tell about the strides I have made in my life and the hope to go on like we never left off. I didnt cause i was stoned... i was at a party and went outside with friends came back in and there she was out of nowhere. came to me and started talking after we hugged each other. nothing came out i felt like a fraud everything i played in my mind was invalid. I now sit in this disparity but too afraid to voice it. I become close to going on a bender to end this thought process. i now have 5 months no subs doing it the best way possible but afraid of the 4th step. I dont want to move on, I want to drink until im dead. my sponsor says go to meetings do step work help another alcoholic out.. Im lost and alone
The 201 word instruction sheet for AA’s program of recovery from alcoholism contains the word alcohol twice, reference to a Higher Power eight times and no incidences of the word “I”.
Your outline of your problems contains the word “I” almost thirty times and God once.
Your post looks like a good start of a moral inventory, why not continue?
You said, "... but afraid of the 4th step" C'mon friend, you are tougher than that, I read your post. Don't drink over it. No matter how rotten your life appears, drinking will never make it better; it just gives you more problems. You are actually in a great place-you just don't see it but, we can. The magic in the rooms didn't happen to me overnight. I had to have faith in the process. Anyway, you only have to stay sober for one day. Stay in that day with the concerns that go with and it life will turn for you in ways you would have never guessed. Living in the future or the past will drive anyone crazy.
After 36 years in AA I still don't like to hold hands, but I do. As I recall, I held worse things drunk.
You don't like to hold hands? But you continue to
attend A.A. Do you think you are so different than many
others? I believe there are many A.A. members who don't
approve/like the ritual of holding hands in the ring around
the rosy circle, but just do it because they think it
has always been done. This custom began when AA was 45 years old (in my area).
Yes, when I was drinking I held worse things. I just
did not have much common sense when drinking.
I believe there are some alcoholics who do not return
to A.A. meetings because of the holding hands ritual. I
believe some alcoholics do not approach us because they
have seen the ritual on TV and the movies.
Do you think any newcomer to A.A. would not return
if we do not hold hands? I believe this is a time when
the seeming good is the deadly enemy of the best.
I believe we ought to leave holding hands to the
romantics and return to closing our meetings in the
manner of the first 45 years, standing by our chairs.
All of the changes (dogma and distortion) collectively
have severely diminished the effectiveness of A.A.
The membership numbers show it. Ignore the numbers
and this means nothing. ANONYMOUS
I agree with your comment that one reason some people don't come back to an A.A. meeting is because of the hand holding. And the ritualistic hand holding is portrayed on TV, giving the meetings a cultish public image. People see these portrayals and form a negative image of the meetings in their minds.
I don't think the majority of AA members really care about the public image of AA or whether newcomers feel comfortable in a meeting. I think they are more concerned with their own self-soothing and what's comforting to them. Or they are afraid to not participate in the hand holding because they are afraid they will be ostracized by the group or not feel like a part of the group. There is a lot of peer pressure in AA to conform.
I don't hold hands. I simply remain seated at the end of the meeting and fold my hands in my lap. It is not mandatory to participate in the hand holding. I am glad to provide an example to newcomers that the ritual is not mandatory. No one has shunned me or treated me poorly in the group I regularly attend. I think I am respected and liked. If anything, I've noticed that some of the other group members now seem uncomfortable with the ritual because of my lack of participation. It hasn't caused them to change their behavior though. They seem much too concerned with their own self-soothing and comfort in conforming to the group behavior.
We started a new meeting about seven years ago. The
format read that "holding hands is optional". For the
first couple of years, I was the only one outside the
prayer circle. One other member joined me and stopped
holding hands. Within a few weeks the praying in the
ring around the rosy circle ended. The past few years
have been like the 1970's. We stand by our chairs and
close the meeting citing the Lords Prayer "for those
who wish to join." Our Jewish members are more
comfortable, not being coerced to join in. ANONYMOUS
There was a discussion on another AA web site of someone making up stories about AA like you see posted here. He said he used to drink with a guy whose wife was always trying to get him stop drinking and to go to AA. He would pretend to go and tell her big lies about what went on. Since he was always drunk when he got home from one of these so called meetings the stories all had to do with AA making him drink, on the edge of a cliff, or on a bridge railing or chugging a fifth or anything else he could dream up in hopes she wouldn’t want him to go back. It looks like the one posting fake messages here must have a wife that is scared to death of chanting, dancing cults.
It’s not difficult to sort out whether anyone is lying about what goes on in meetings. By the way, we don’t drink at them. One, you could attend a meeting. Two, you could simply park near one and listen to see if any of the screaming and chanting and yelling you read here goes on, if it does you could hear it out in the street. Pick one that’s at midnight or on the beach, if there’s any cult activity, that’s where it would be, wouldn’t it? Or maybe it’s on Wall Street with lots of chicken blood slung around before the bell rings. Three, ask a real AA member. There’s one thing we all have in common, there is nothing they would do to discourage a newcomer from trying AA, unlike what’s being done here.
In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, Bill writes about the
Richmond A.A.'s who believed in getting away from wives
and drinking only beer. In this particular passage Bill
does not say that the men drank beer at the meeting. Maybe
in their personal lives, they had switched to fermented
drinks rather than distilled liquor.
Of course not all groups chant. A friend went to
meetings in Peru and reported that the meetings there were
serious and reverent.
From its beginning our membership grew at a rate of
doubling about every ten years, reaching almost two and a half million members in 1992. If we had continued to grow
at what I would consider an expected rate, we would have
at least eight million members in Alcoholics Anonymous
today. Today we have about the same head count as we
had in 1992. Something is horribly wrong. Instead of
trying to ridicule me, why not do your own investigation.
One writer writes about the ingredients in a recipe.
Do we have the proper ingredients in today's A.A.
message? The answer is no. We have left out the most
important ingredient, humility. There is too much pride
in the mix.
I really do not see made-up stories on this web site.
I have read practically all of them. ANONYMOUS
If anyone was serious about changing the membership numbers by several million, would they do so by kicking the same dead horse on this website month in and month out? It sounds like you have one reader who agrees with you and zero converts for your efforts.
Maybe its time to get out your 12 and 12 and see if you can find out what your real motive is.