Burning Desire to Share
I’m not so sure Jim B was sober 30 years with no belief in God. Please read some excerpts from his story, “the vicious cycle” in the big book.
“My brilliant agnosticism vanished, and I saw for the first time that those who really believed, or at least honestly tried to find a Power greater than themselves, were much more composed and contented than I had ever been, and they seemed to have a degree of happiness which I had never known.”
“Around this time our big A.A. book was being written and it all became much simpler; we had a
definite formula which some sixty of us agreed was the middle course for all alcoholics who wanted
sobriety, and that formula has not been changed one iota down through the years.”
“When I started to tell the boys how we did it in New York and all about the spiritual part of the program, I found they would not believe me unless I was practicing what I preached. Then I found that as I gave in to this spiritual or personality change I was getting a little more serenity.”
“And I still say that as long as I remember that January 8th in Washington, that is how long, by the grace of God as I understand Him, I will retain a happy sobriety.”
You can read more about Jim B in the 12x12 on pages 143-145. He is Ed in the 12x12. I have heard Jim B speak and have read about him in the big book and 12x12. After gathering all the information I would say Jim was against theology throughout his sobriety, not agnostic. How could he stay agnostic while his brilliant agnosticism vanished, giving in to the spiritual side of the program, working the program as written in the big book, practicing what he preached, and stating by the grace of God? Do agnostics say “By the grace of God as I understand Him”? No, they do not.
The founding Jim B that I am familiar with lobbied for the words "as we understood him". He resisted the God business until he tried to start a new group in Philadelphia, early on. "When I started to tell the boys ...about the spiritual part of the program, I found that they would not believe me if unless I was practicing what I preached. Then when I found that as I gave in to spiritual or personality change, I was getting a little more serenity."
He closes his story crediting "God as I understand him" for maintaining a happy sobriety.
That doesn't sound like an atheist to me.
A person doesn't need to chase down a forty some year old Grapevine to find Jim's story. It's entitled the Vicious Cycle in the Big Book.
Mr 1969 Grapevine, looks like you got tripped up again. Have you heard the suggestion "When you are trapped in a hole, first stop digging"?
Sounds like you are doing all you can.
Other than the Chapter to the Agnostic, I do not know of anything in AA literature that specifically addresses this issue. In my experience, the message in the BB and from members has always been pretty clear regarding god and HP. I learned that I was free to choose my own concept; and I did. No one in AA, including sponsors, has ever questioned my concept of a HP or tried to convince me I should believe differently. Nor have I done so to others.
Atheists and agnostics in our area started a group named "Atheists, Agnostics and All Others". The group is going strong and group members have been very active in service. You might search your local meeting schedule to see if such a group is available in your area.
You could suggest to the agnostic newcomers that they get a copy of the AA conference approved book Living Sober and use it. It's chock full of AA experience on how to live sober, without the emphasis on coming to believe in God that is in the Big Book. You could be up-front and honest that the 12 Steps and the Big Book do show a path to God. The Chapter to the Agnostic does try to convince the agnostic to believe in God. I am not surprised that they were offended when you directed them to that chapter, especially when they were seeking reassurance that they would not have to convert to a belief in God. Agnostics have always been welcome in AA, but please acknowledge to the agnostics that the 12 Step program is a God based program. If or when they are ready, the 12 Steps and the Big Book will be there for them. They can certainly work Step One and use the Living Sober book until they are ready to work the rest of the Steps. But they can take what they want and leave the rest until that day.
I Have heard from AA & Big Book Historians that the Atheist & God talk isn't new and has been around since the writing of the Big Book and to please, quiet the Atheist crowd the We Agnostics chapter was put in the Big Book.
I think reading page 47 and the line "Choose your own conception of God/HP/Mother Nature or the AA group"
To me this is the beauty of the AA program, had AA been a Go to this church or adopt this belief I am not sure I would have made it.
I just Googled AA atheists and there are lists of meetings for just that belief.
Isn't it ironic that a belief that there is No God is in itself a belief in something?
Perfectly understandable. They just want something called Alcoholics Anonymous to solve their alcohol problem but want the specifications rewritten to something completely different than what has been found to work.
There is no conflict. Simply tell them, if you have a desire to stop drinking, come in, sit down, drink coffee, put a dollar in the basket if you can afford it. Listen, share, read, whatever the format is for the meeting. If you don’t want to believe in God, don’t. If you don’t want to pray, don’t. Although I have never seen anyone need to do it in over thirty years, if someone tells you have to leave, point to tradition three and tell them you are a member and aren’t leaving. If they want to believe in something you don’t, extend the same courtesy to them that they have to you. If you feel uncomfortable with their beliefs and prayers, put on a pair of big boy pants and get over it. No one guaranteed me that I could change virtually everything in my life and be comfortable doing it.
If there is a pamphlet such as you describe it will be in the literature catalog at AA.org. If there isn’t, feel free to write one for them and post it here. I’d like to see what’s in it.
I believe that it is a conversion story. If we allow each
newcomer to choose without any pushing or prodding, many, if
not most, will become "converts". We prod and push new members out of our rooms by the demands we make of them.
It may take six months to achieve the spiritual awakening, which Bill W. experienced in his hospital bed.
The "quality" of the awakening doesn't appear to be
Telling a newcomer who may be truly agnostic or atheist,
they have to find God and find Him NOW, would be offensive,
especially when we have just read the preamble stating that
we are not allied with any sect. I know it reads: May you
find Him now. It sounds like a demand to me.
About four years ago an article "Without a Higher Power"
appeared in the AA Grapevine. With a little effort you
can find it. I believe you will find it helpful. ANONYMOUS
Read the singleness of purpose...
Is there anyone else tired of hearing about drugs in AA meetings? To me, all addictions are not the same. The cultures of alcohol, narcotics, food, sex or shopping are different.
Why not change the name to Addictions Anonymous then? I don’t want to hear chatter about dealers, diets, dopamine, Demerol, donuts, dollars or derrieres. I want to hear about what drunks have to say. Sometimes I’m sitting in a meeting and wonder if I walked into the wrong room. A few times I’ve gone through the whole meeting and not one person mentioned alcoholism. The meetings in my area have been run over by the drug crowd and the older generation alkies don’t feel safe. You don’t have to steal a lot crap to get a cheap bottle of wine. The criminal element drug addicts bring into the group cannot be taken lightly. I’d trust a drunk over a drug addict any day. Is anyone else tired too?
I was of the understanding AA was about finding are similarities not are differences. That we're supposed to love each other including are enemies. I find it distasteful when someone talks hate about one group of people, isn't that a form of racism. Someone that's an alcoholic and probably had to deal with the stigma of alcoholism should know better. If you can't say something nice then maybe you shouldn't say anything. I got addicted to pain killers that I was prescribed after an accident then relapsed and started drinking again after years of not drinking. So stop saying addicts are criminals. Alcohol or drugs are not the problem they are but a symptom. So this talk about alcohol or drugs is pointless. There are people that break the law that have never done drugs or drank. Spread love not hate.
I find AA much more helpful with my addiction...and if talking about drugs in AA keeps a person from going back "Out there" who are we to judge what substance is greater...Praise your higher power you have never had a drug problem...How many people do you know that have overdosed on alcohol? That being said not all drug addicts are thieves...I thought we were all here for the same reason? To get well by working steps...How judgemental...you should be ashamed and i reccomend calling your sponsor
Had the same experience several times at several meetings. My group decided in a business meeting to read the blue card at the begining of every meeting. Alcohol is our problem. I have abused other things but never woke up having to have a pill, drug, food etc but woke up for years having to have a drink. Our primerary purpose says it clearly. Bring it to your groups attentionand remind them AA is here to save alcoholic and nothing else.Any departure from that is harmfull to the people and group. Although we may be cousins with those of other addictions AA is for alcoholice. The differance between the addact and alcoholic is night and day. We are just two different breads of cat.
Look at the definition of the word drug. I think alcohol would fall into that definition. So I think there's something else that's fuelling this ever lasting debate. Anyone have any opinions as to what it is.
We once had the same problem in the town I live in. For years the local rehab was sending everyone to AA on the theory that a drug is a drug. It’s taken a couple years and now the addicts have a respect for the AA meetings they attend and the alcoholics have respect for the local NA. We now work together but separately. We talk about only having to have a problem with alcohol to attend AA meetings that we don’t care what other problems you have and if you have other problems please attend a group that specifically addresses those problems. We read from the group and problems other than alcohol pamphlets so newcomers know that nonalcoholics are not to speak at our closed meetings and that a nonalcoholic cannot be an AA member. There were a few growing pains, but that’s mostly ironed out now. The groups that wanted to continue the alcoholic/ drug addict meetings have been removed from the AA meeting list and have been told they are not an AA group. Our formats for the AA meetings have been updated to keep everyone informed of the traditions. We even joke that it you have to put a dollar in the basket for every “and a” you have. You know, I am an alcoholic and a-drug addict/gambler/what ever.
Remember, if you don’t like the meetings you are going to, start your own.
Is anyone else tired too? If I did not enjoy time
spent in an AA room with my friends, I would just stop
attending. No one does a roll call. I believe that alcoholics, newcomers and old timers, drift away from
meetings you describe. I just do not identify with the
But don't fault the drug addict. We are the ones who
have welcomed them into our rooms. IMO, they have no
better place to go. Our own alcoholic members insist
that "a drug is a drug", and after all the solution
is the same i.e. the twelve steps.
The opinion seems to be that the solution to alcoholism
and drug addiction is the same Twelve Step Program. Our
fellowship has become a Twelve Step Program. A.A. does
not work very well as a Twelve Step Program. The trial
and error period is over. True, some alcoholics and addicts
recover in the "Program". Today's AA is a Program. The
AA of the seventies was a fellowship. Our preamble still
says that we are a fellowship. It took about 20
years for our fellowship to morph into a Twelve Step Program
The solution is to separate A.A. from N.A. and allow and
encourage the fellowships to work side by side. It will be
a long and difficult process, but to continue "status quo"
is just not acceptable. Our loved ones, addicts and alcoholics, are dying while we accept and rest on our
laurels. We must develop wisdom and courage. ANONYMOUS
i'm a drug addict who was introduced to AA through a rehab program i attended. i identify myself as an alcoholic and when sharing say stuff in a way that if you didn't already know i was a heroin addict, you would just think i was talking about alcohol. THE MAIN REASON i stay in AA vs. NA or HA or any other (besides the fellowship i have in there with the people) is because of the literature. i'm what you might call a THUMPER but i don't like the fact that NA has their own book. to me , the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is THE answer. its not hard to relate anything in there to heroin addiction. to me, reading the basic text of NA is like reading a version of the BIBLE written by somebody else, that basically says the same thing. i guess you can, but WHY? just my 2 cents. god bless!
"Acceptance is the answer" was titled "Dr. Addict Alcoholic" in the 3rd Edition Book.
See Grapevine July 1995 for interview with "Dr. Paul", the author;
More will be revealed
"AA of the seventies was a fellowship."
I can't say about the seventies but I was a GSR in the early eighties which put me in contact with reps from half a state regularly and AA followed the program of recovery outlined in "Alcoholics Anonymous". Members of the social clubs that you talk about likely weren't interested in AA's service structure and weren't there to learn about it.
I'm sure that there are those who can keep from drinking merely leaning on those who have invested the effort needed for recovery. Does the word "Fellowship" even sound like any thing therapeutic, permanent or portable? I didn't spend the last thirty years tethered to meetings like a diabetic to insulin. I joined those first hundred who recovered and wrote a book about it. I know many others who did too. After busy, successful lives and careers we have some time to return to AA, share what we have and enjoy doing it.
Please stop trying to pass off some niche you claimed to have found as a way to recover. Two hundred a day are being killed by alcoholism and likely double that being imprisoned daily in the US alone.
I do not claim to have found some niche as a way of
recovery. That method was discovered by Bill W. when
he was compelled to use the technique when he (Bill W.)
searched out another alcoholic. The other alcoholic was
Dr. Bob. It was a simple idea of carrying (transferring) sobriety to other alcoholic. It was a
process which rarely fails, when the path is followed
thoroughly. Stop prodding or pushing new prospects.
Stop preaching. Alcoholics want to get well but you are
pushing them away by all the God talk. Leave HIW for
the prospect to eventually find when the time is right.
It has to do with Attraction not promotion, principles
One of our noted pioneers Bernard included a
definition of fellowship delivered by Canon.
You can find it on page 276 in AACA. ANONYMOUS
AA is a Fellowship as it states in the Preamble. The Program is offered as a solution but not the only solution. Our group is diverse when it comes to what people do to stay sober. In my first decade of recovery, I wasn’t always tolerant of others but, after much embarrassment and failure trying to convert members to my way of getting sober, I decided to keep quiet. I had to accept the fact I was a program bully. I had to lower my ego enough to listen to others when they shared their experience, strength, and hope and not criticize them if they didn’t talk like me. There was a happiness and joy in the rooms that escaped me. I was dead inside because I spent too much time defending the surface. When someone’s recovery didn’t look like mine I felt threatened and this is because I was insecure about my own program. By looking beyond the surface I was able to see the beauty and wisdom underneath it, which comes when people try to escape the ruins to seek respectability and dignity. These are two qualities I cannot take away from any member. Today, I don’t talk much. I listen especially to those who aren’t stuck repeating the party-line because believe I know all about that.
I don't talk much at meetings. Meeting time is limited.
Most meetings are only an hour. I personally prefer the
hour and a half meetings. It seems a lot of energy is spent
making the coffee and setting up, and then we rush out
for various reasons.
If a meeting is 60 minutes and there are twelve members
present, I feel I should limit my sharing to five minutes,
allowing every member a chance to share, if they choose to.
If one member is sharing, eleven members ought be
listening. But please do not ask me to raise my hand to
ask permission to share. I always have a "desire to share"
but I detest raising my hand as though I am still in sixth
grade. Simple solution: Round Robin. Go around the room.
Listening has an ingredient more precious than gold.
It is a means of reducing my own EGO. And listening to
others without comment, or any kind of critiquing or
criticism is a way of showing love and tolerance. Bob H
Two hundred a day are dying from alcoholism. Four hundred
imprisoned daily in the US. I believe those numbers are
reasonably accurate. Alcoholics are dying and their families
are suffering while we debate whether we are a fellowship
or a Fellowship. We have a method to recovery for any alcoholic who has a desire to get well. Dr. Silkworth and
Bill W. left us a simple method which rarely fails. This
method has nothing to do with cramming the steps down
Today's "Two Million Strong" are the product of the
Fellowship and working a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM. The other
eight million have been pushed away by the "TWO MILLION".
The doors which were open in the 1970's have been closed.
Rigidity has taken its toll. I was one of those who
helped close the doors. Today I am trying to reopen
them, but I am afraid that they are nailed shut. It may
indeed be too late.
Attraction not promotion, principles before personalities, humility and equality. These are difficult
for today's prideful members to comprehend.
My eyes were opened when I finally understood why Bill
W. and his friends rejected the 24 hour book when it was
offered to AA. That gave me the background to understand
why reading HIW aloud at meetings has been so harmful.
Our membership doubled about every ten years until
1992, reaching almost two and a half million members.
Two decades later we ought to have at least ten million
sober members in AA. We made some tragic mistakes in the
1980s decade. There are few members left who know what
those mistakes were. I suspect that most just gave up
and walked away.
I got sober in the seventies. I've got mine. But I
have a special interest in the future of AA. Bill W.
wrote that nothing could be so unfortunate for AA's future, as for us to become a religion. We have done just that.
AA has a few words to offer on the on the only requirement for membership and our primary purpose. It has a large library of words telling us how to deal with situations we don’t like and the danger of not using them. They leave it to us to choose which brings us joy.
I'm sure Tired of Hearing about Drugs is going to get lots and lots of responses on this forum. It's a perennial topic.....I don't agree with the writer, and I strongly object when people with drug use in their backgrounds (almost any alcoholic under 35 has also used illegal drugs) are made to feel unwelcome at AA meetings.
BUT I appreciated this writer's honesty when he said that he "doesn't feel safe" around "the criminal element drug addicts bring into the group...I'd trust a drunk over a drug addict any day." I think he put his finger on the strong reactions some people have. Sometimes people say "Drug talk undermines my recovery" or "Drug talk undermines the newcomer's recovery" or "Drug talk is a distraction" or "Drug talk violates the Traditions." They rarely complain that the addicts are criminal or not respectable (unlike us alcoholics). Yet that underlies a lot of the discomfort, I think. I don't think this writer believes he is going to be robbed *during* the meeting. I think that some people genuinely believe that being an alcoholic is better (more respectable, more law abiding) than being a drug addict. I may have drank for many years and ruined my life and my family's life, but by God I never broke the law!
I'm glad that people that have broke the law can join AA. Didn't Bill W and Dr Bob both drink during prohibition.
I am an alcoholic who later became addicted to prescription pain killers that was prescribed by a doctor. I'm not a criminal I pay taxes and I love my country. So don't put all addicts in that category. How many alcoholics drink and drive?,but I don't say they all do. Someone who is working and living the program should know better then to judge others. Love don't judge.
Never drove too work in the morning still impaired or just drove drunk.Never been drunk in a public place? Come on some people need to get off there high horses.
I was the one who wrote that statement, "I may have drank for years and ruined my life and my family's life, but by God I never broke the law!"
I meant it to be sarcastic. I am very sorry about the misunderstanding! I wrote that statement to point out how ridiculous it is for some alcoholics to believe they are superior to drug addicts. My belief is that some of the old timers, who object to people talking about drugs in AA meetings, secretly (or not so secretly) have disdain for drug addicts because drug addicts are from "the wrong side of the tracks." The original writer I was responding to really spelled it out. He talked about how drug addicts are the "criminal element" and how he would "trust an alcoholic over an addict any day."
Sometimes these old timers talk about how "drug talk dilutes the message" or "drug talk distracts the newcomer." That may be the motive for some, but I believe that for many that's just a cover for what they really object to. What they really can't stand is that drug addicts are different from them. Never mind that it would be impossible to find an alcoholic under 35 who did not use drugs.
I have 3 sponsees under 35 that are alcoholic and did no drugs. They had a hard time relating at AA meetings that broke our 5th tradition of singleness of purpose. Can you imagine, an alcoholic coming to AA to find recovery from alcohol who is not sure he is alcoholic hearing about meth, coke, crack, speed, and lsd? He is already looking for a reason to be different and when we talk about other addictions in AA, we are giving him a reason to leave and die. That’s why there are around 200 twelve step groups, for identification for the newcomer.
I do believe there is a difference in the mind of an alcoholic and an addict. If you took 10 normal adults and had each shoot heroin every day for 1 year, at the end of the year you would have 10 drug addicts. If you took 10 normal adults and gave them a drink every day for 1 year, at the end of that year 1 would be an alcoholic and he would deny he had a problem with alcohol.
Your making assumptions about opiat users there's lots of people who take pain killers (heroin) every day for years and are not addicts. Stop making judgements about people. Stop judging and start loving these resentments towards people is not the way for us alcoholics in AA, we can't afford it.
Thanks for your explanation I have been a little sensitive lately about feeling not as good as pure alcoholics. After meetings I've been told more then once not to introduce myself as alcoholic addict. I got the impression that if I have other problems then take it to the other fellowship. The problem is the other fellowship is not very well established in my area and my sponsor who I really admire is in AA. I think your right almost all young alcoholics are cross addicted. If the old timers keep making the young crowd feel like they are less then, the numbers who join AA will become less and less. I've heard that the city next to us the AA meetings attendances are dropping off and the other fellowship is growing. Coincidence I think not. What gets me is in Dr Bob and the old timers it says that Dr Bob had a pill problem. I myself don't want to go to the other fellowship. I think my best chance for survival is with AA and it is a life or death situation. So I'm not going anywhere I'm here to stay and long live AA.
In the big book on page 7 and page 22, drugs are mentioned. In those days, sedative=opium and was was available over the counter. Cocaine, in a famous soft drink, was available at a soda fountain or the grocery store. Some people introduce themselves by saying they are Doctor Bob's alcoholic addicts.
I'm starting to realize AA is a living thing. As a living thing it is subject to evolution. If a living thing doesn't evolve it will slowly die out. As a group conscience I think we're evolving with the times. Without change we can't grow. I'm starting to also realize some people are still fear driven they think that if there is any change, AA will die out when in reality it's the opposite. Thanks for your making me feel loved and like one not different then. Love can conquer over fear every time THANKS for your love.
If you think you are on the same track as Doctor Bob, great, just stay on it. Open your home as a free halfway house for those like yourself with drug problems as well as alcoholism. You'll likely get the wonderful results he did after a few years.
Don't worry sorry some people take longer then others to get the program.
Maybe I should it's what Dr Bob would have done and look what he accomplished. Remember what he said in his last speech love and service.
What's your point sounds like a jab. Where did they say anything about what your talking about.
I guess you've already opened your house to people in the program since you suggested it. Stop with the negative innuendos towards people. Why don't you say what you mean or would that put in in an unfavourable light. I'll say a prayer for you love not hate.
I recently hit my 365 day mark in the program. I have been feeling very isolated though. I have not been contacting my sponsor due to resentment I am having. I have not been going to meetings. I feel more alone and scared than my first day. I know that I am feeling this way as a result of not going to meetings, being of service and working the program but every time I feel like I should get up and go to a meeting I just make an excuse or crawl back into bed. I realize I have to be the driving force behind my own sobriety but I just don't where my willingness went and how to get it back. At the end of the day I am not drinking which I know is what I need to be doing but I just want to find some peace and serenity. I don't just want to be "dry"
If you are able to pray, you might want to consider asking God to be the driving force behind your sobriety. You also can ask for willingness to do whatever is necessary to stay sober.
I get to feeling the same way every 6 - 18 months, and I have been sober for over 25+ years. It somewhat natural to go through this feeling at the one and give year point, and I base that on what I have heard share at meetings or from the fellows I have sponsored.
I can only tell you my experience. Once I have found myself feeling that way, I think what were the things I did when I felt great in this program. Then I start doing those same things again. Like going to enough meetings, or spending time with my sponsor, or making a set time each night to read the B B or 12 + 12 or back issues of the Grapevine .......or when all else fails, start working with a newcomer. Like Dr. Bob would say, "You have to keep in touch with those fellows on the ward" (that being the ward in the hospital)
Now after 365 days, you have most of the tools, you just have to use them.
I'm patrick, I've been sober for 22yrs, I understand what you are saying, just know that you are dealing with fatal and progressive disease that is out to kill you and you are supplying the ammunition by isolating, get busy by getting involved in a home group, resentments are a waste of time that we can't afford, stop hiding out, there is nothing to fear, I had to pray for willingness to have a sponsor that would tell me what I need to here, not what I want too hear, get out of that bad neighborhood Your Mind, Do Not Isolate! Easy does it ! Get up Now
Congrats on achieving a year sober and for being honest about your situation Thankfully there is a forum such as this where you can get some help. I've seen lots of great comments here. I'd just say we all struggle with ups and downs in regards to meetings, sponsors, work, relationships, life...The key for me is to do what you've done here and be honest about what's going on and share that with my Higher Power and with others. There is tremendous power in that act and it tends to relieve the isolation. I learn that I am not alone; that many others have experienced what I'm going through.
It sounds like you know what you need to be doing but are having trouble doing it. Early sobriety for me was full of mood swings, depression, anxiety...I had to learn to use every tool available to navigate the minefield. This included everything in AA...prayer, meditation, Big Book, meetings, steps, sponsor, service.
I also had to learn how to live with a new body/mind that was no longer anesthetized. I could actually feel things again in an unfiltered way. This presented new challenges. Diet and exercise began to play a critical role in how I felt. SLEEP became and remains hugely important. I treasure a good night's sleep and how it revitalizes me and clears my mind.
There are tremendous gifts in sobriety. But I need to keep walking one step at a time hand hand with my brothers & sisters on the road to happy destiny to discover them.
Thanks again for sharing so honestly.
Muster all the strength you have, call your sponsor and tell them what you told us. If the resentment is about your sponsor, don't worry, they have enough sobriety to be your sponsor so they can handle whatever you have to say, it's about you anyway, right?! :-) Getting humble gives me the energy I need to ask for help...
Maybe a little depressed?
There have been many times when I have had to pray for the willingness to do the next right thing in my AA step and meeting life.
Resentments got velcro on them. They stick in my head and mess up my thinking. The old timers told me that 3 things lead to a drink...resentment, fear, and insane thinking about relationships. The only time I have wanted a drink since I got sober, was on a blazing resentment....on top of a bunch of old blazing resentments.
Doing steps 4-9 repeatedly is necessary for me to deal with my angry way of life. It made me feel very crazy to try to change my ways. But my life settled down quite a bit. At 24 years sober, I have mostly stopped shooting myself in the behind with my behavior. But, I'm a rascal, and have to be vigilant. I have wanted that daily reprieve from the insanity, and have been given the willingness that I ask for.