Burning Desire to Share
Many members believe the only way to carry the message is by attending meeting. Step Twelve says we "...tried to CARRY THIS MESSAGE TO alcoholics..." not sit in a meeting room and wait for the alcoholic to come to us. We can, and do, sponsor alcoholics outside the meting rooms.
Yes, three individuals who are sober over twenty years.
It's not necessary to be sitting in a meeting room to pass on AA wisdom.
I am almost six years sober and I confess that in my city there are meetings everyday and the same group of rotating people. MOstly you know what they will share before they open their mounths. I like the people there very much, but frankly you can see who are alcoholics of my type, who are hard drinkers who found in AA a social club and those rest who are not working the program. usually the old timers who had the balls to raise against this environment got scared away, mobbed. the head cases (I'm-an-alcoholic-and-an- addict kind of person / my-case-is-different kind of person) are cherished like little enfants who are not aware of what they are saying. There is an inversion of values, I think. There are also those (mostly never had a sponsor) who goes to therapy and analysis every little thing that goes on, a boring talk with nothing to do with the AA program.
Fact is that many oldtimers, recovered people, leave the meeting eventually.
We once had an open discussion type of meeting, book based, very topic oriented which was really a tipping point in my recovery. but meeting got closed due to lack of attendance. people prefered the psychotalk and to hear those shares that you'd rather only share with your sponsor.
The ultimate oldtimer we had (God bless her) once heard my complaints and said: "I think, it will never change in this city. It's something in the water from here".
As far as I know a PHD is not offered in sobriety. I was sick enough when I came in that I needed to repeat the first grade for several years. It worked for me. I got sober because alcohol was interfering with what I wanted/needed to do in life. Replacing drinking with meetings was not what I was after. When I subtract from twenty four the number of hours I need to spend sleeping, eating, driving, working, household chores, family responsibilities, recreation etc there is only a small amount of time left. I need to prioritise how I use it. AA meetings/online is part of it. Now that I am retired I get to choose more of it and I enjoy it and it improves the quality of my life still after a number of years sober. On the other hand if I have been to two meetings in a week and am bored and thinking about another, I'm going for the wrong reason and am doing more for myself and others to visit someone in a nursing home instead.
I'm grateful for those who choose to commit to a lifetime of AA service to keep the doors open and I've done some but AA works just fine without every member spending every day at it.
If there is anyone who hasn't noticed, alcoholics, drunk or sober do a good job of doing what they please and label it as selfless giving.
Thanks for the topic and your honesty. This would be a great topic for an actual AA meeting. In 27 years, I don't think I've ever heard this discussed.
When I was new in AA (unemployed, unmarried, uneverything), I was on fire for the program and sometimes attended 2-3 meetings per day, went to AA social functions and spent lots of time with AA people. As my life filled up with jobs, wife, kids, school, hobbies, sports, recreation...I had to take a more balanced approach to AA.
My home group hosts a noon meeting 6 days per week but I am lucky if I can make one or two. I rarely miss our Saturday meeting, always hold a service position and attend our monthly business meeting. That seems to keep me pretty well connected and keeps meetings fresh for me. I also try to remember why I am there (because I am an alcoholic who needs help and so I can be of help to others).
I totally understand what you are saying, though, and have struggled at times with this issue, especially when I lived in a small town and saw the same 10 people at meetings every night.
You stir a lot of thoughts. I will jot them down. As a
matter of information, I have been sober for 43 years, and
have averaged about five meetings a week for all those years. In years before I had a family, my meetings were more. Today my children are grown and I am retired. I
still attend a meeting almost every day.
I am glad that you are not depressed, angry or thinking
about drinking. I ,too, can personally say that "Sobriety has been the best."
I have loved A.A. from my first meeting and still have
a passion for it today. The gift of sobriety to Bill W.
was God's greatest gift to the alcoholic sufferer. I have
seen this disease up close. I lived with alcoholism as a child and then became an alcoholic myself.
I chair a discussion meeting on Monday Morning. It is
sometimes difficult to get up early, so I accepted the
coffee and chair commitment. We have a meeting Mon-Fri.
and they are just awesome.
Do you sort of indicate that those who come to A.A.
and keep coming after years of sobriety have not really
grown up. Or have you trained your sponsees so well that
you feel that your presence is not necessary? Do you
consider AA a stepping stone?
I agree that most of the meetings in my region are
indeed "off the wall". One early timer quietly said to
me "The meetings seem to be empty." Most of them are
hour meeting and are what I would call a waste of my
time. Usually I don't stay for the ending, to listen
to the promises and hold hands and pray.
Alcoholics Anonymous today is not the AA of the 1970's.
We were quiet, reverent and respectful. There was no hand
raising. Everyone was encouraged to share when their turn
came. No one was made a spectacle of, nor were they allowed
to make a spectacle of themselves. We did not coerce all
members to hold hands with us as we closed with the Lords
Prayer. Sponsors were servants, not masters or teachers.
We told newcomers the Truth. "You Drink, You Die". But
most of them already knew that. So we offer that Truth
with an equal amount of Grace: I was just like you and
today I am sober. I got sober here and so can you. Together
we can do what we can do alone.
I am just wondering: Did you just get bored with the
redundant reading of "How It Works? We could replace that
reading with some of Bill's other works. ANONYMOUS
The answer to your question, as far as I'm concerned, a resounding YES!!!
When i was new I was told that I had to make the program the most important thing in my life. I argued that if I went to a meeting every night I was ignoring my family the way I did when I drank, the only difference being I smelled better. They told me I wasn't listening, I had to make the program the most important thing in my life, not the fellowship. Most of us need many meetings in the beginning, but as we work the Steps and attain some real sobriety we need fewer.
There seems to be a trend among AAs to place all their dependence on meetings and a sponsor rather than on a Higher Power.
Thanks for your reply. I am not the same person who walked through the doors years ago. I’m healthier today than ever thanks to in part AA. It’s no mystery the rooms are full of unhealthy people trying to get better and yes some are sicker than others as they say, but to be honest I’m not crazy anymore. The energy in the rooms disturbs me and I don’t like to be around damaged people. It is not necessary to be in an AA room to keep the memory green. I come across reminders every day. Although I am totally grateful for AA and I recommend it to anyone seeking help, my life is surrounded by non-addicts. I do practice the principals in all my affairs and this to me means outside of AA. My life is so rich today, something I could never have imagined. Thanks to you it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
On AA meetings- I will say I was initially attracted by the human hand of AA but years later I don’t feel safe in the rooms and I don’t attend meetings at the moment. I am a huge proponent of AA philosophy but, do not like the current meeting environment. I enjoyed AA when the meetings were more humanistic (The Hand of AA) but, the rooms for my taste have become too quasi-religious- (The Hand of God). It’s unfortunate but, I am in no position to change the course the current AA is moving towards. I will certainly come around again when people realize the misleading nature contained within the over marketing of Gods involvement. I tried the agnostic meetings and I surprised to discover how wonderful the men and women were however, I felt out of place because I have a faith in God and that relationship is private and special. I attend mass before work in the morning. I always felt AA is best when people are involved-one drunk talking to another- but at least in my area God is the big player in the rooms and I disagree with giving the creator too much importance. I never once felt the hand of God in the rooms but plenty of hands of grateful alcoholics giving back. Hope this helps.
At a meeting years ago someone with 30 plus years attending AA meetings said "I'm bored with meetings" Then someone with 40 plus years in the AA program (working steps) said "your bored because YOUR boring'
A few weeks ago I bought 6 t-bone steaks for an event. The event fell through and I had t-bone for 3 meals that week. I love t-bone but it's gonna be a while before I have another.
Also when I was new I went to meetings for me. After about 3 months and having had worked the steps, I began attending meetings to carry the message clearly stated in step 12. To this day I haven't been bored at my home group and look forward to my hope group.
Last Saturday the person immediately to my left celebrated 51 years and the person to my right was about 48 hours sober. I'm thankful they were both there.
Being bored with meetings has nothing to do with being a boring person. Even old timers are not immune from saying ridiculous things exemplified by that common cutting remark. The statement you are referring to “you are bored because, you are boring” is usually spoken by members who are going to too many meetings and have selfishly turned AA into a social club. Although there is a social aspect to AA, we are not a lonely hearts club, a baby bottle or an employment service. So yes, anyone would get bored going to AA meetings one, two or three times a day. In my case, the elders who assisted me in sobriety only went to one meeting a week, which is what I believe Bill W. felt was sufficient for recovery. The members who came before me reinforced the idea that recovery was not in the rooms but out in the real world. In my first year, I went to less than forty meetings. Instead, I got a job, repaid my debts and faced life on life’s terms. It is my belief members can stunt their emotional and spiritual growth by hiding in the rooms and going to too many meetings.
Of course boring people are bored. If they weren't boring, they would never bored. Pretty simple. If they were excited about recovery and carrying the message, boredom would not be an issue.
I also don’t see the logic in that statement “The people who are bored with meetings are boring people.” Now if it was stated, “Some people who are bored with meetings could have a boring personality.” I would agree with that. In my experience, I have found some meetings are extremely boring while others are full of wisdom and sincerity and some yet a mixture of the two. I think it’s good to keep a balance in recovery and everyone’s balance is different. The times in the past where I felt bored was when I was going to too many meetings and not doing enough life on life’s terms stuff. Hiding out in the rooms was the best I could do early on but it eventually became boring and I knew it was time to learn how to live outside the rooms. Now one meeting every two weeks is perfect for me. My life is anything but boring thanks to AA. It’s a dream come true. As the old saying goes, “What keeps one person sober might get another drunk.” Every member is responsible for their own sobriety. I can only keep myself sober and share the things that work for me with others. And one final comment. Yes, I am in contact with people who stopped attending meetings. I don’t see why I should discontinue my friendship with them and by our conversations their gratitude for AA is completing reflected in their actions. Just because a person stops attending meetings doesn’t mean they will
leave their sobriety and gratitude for AA at the door.
I feel there is too much emphasis on promotion in the rooms today instead of attracting newcomers with our personal experiences in recovery. Last night in my group only one person actually said what they were doing to stay sober today, while the other members were consumed with quoting pages and rushing out non-stop adoration for the big book and the twelve steps without actually explaining specifics within these passionate pontifications. Bill W. talked about the language of the heart not the language of page numbers and clichés. Sure there is a purpose to surface AA, but without the deeper elements in the rooms the recovery equation is out of balance and this can be detrimental to us as we try and carry out our primary purpose. Recovery to me is in our actions and not, in the glossy veneers we can put on recovery. Too much promoting can indicate a roadblock in our drive to repossess sanity therefore; I feel it’s important to not play and hide behind the promotion game but, to share our authentic recovery experiences. Does this concern anyone?
I remember clearly what drew me in to AA was that people shared personal experiences at a deep level. They were talking about things I had lived and experienced but that I was hiding. They said things like, "you're only as sick as your secrets" and then shared their secrets making it OK for me to open up and share mine.
Luckily, people that have some long term sobriety keep going to meetings. Imagine if everyone that had ten years or more said yeah I'm bored with this. To the newcomer we will say keep coming back it works, but, after ten years you'll be bored.
Boredom is something that happens when judgement is being passed. Sober. Not sober. Doesn't matter. To be bored is to apply a judgement on a condition. I think. I don't know. Too complicated really.
Someone above said that they were at a meeting the other night and one person had like 30 years and one person had 48 hours.
I was at a meeting last night. 19 years in. I'm still an alcoholic. I'm just sober. Thanks to AA. And the people new and not new that keep showing up.
The only deep level secret that I shared at my first
meetings was that I was/am an alcoholic. Others shared that
they were alcoholics and I felt comfortable sharing that I
am alcoholic also. I believe that statements like "you're
only as sick as your secrets" are harmful and border on
stupidity. Confession of deep dark secrets in an A.A. group
or to other members (sponsors) can be dangerous. I certainly
would not want the person next to me at an AA meeting to
know the details of my sins. That is not part of AA recovery. It is no wonder that the A.A. critics today have such a field day.
People talking about their drinking experiences without
exhibitionism, and that they found a way out by Faith is,
was what attracted me. There were no conditions. No one
said "Show me yours, and I will show you mine". There
were no conditions. ANONYMOUS
Yes, always going to the same meeting does make the sharing become more trite to me also. Changing meetings now and then does help, but I find that MY sharing as well as others loses color over time. What gives me perspective is spiritual growth, which comes to me through helping others. I find my connection to H P and others only grows from actively working the program, helping others reconnect is the only way I can reconnect. Also known as unconditional love, it requires work, but the rewards are a life on earth. Anonymous.
Sharing our experience, strength and hope is not the same thing as confessing our sins or revealing our deepest secrets. That is an extreme reply to an authentic concern. Sharing what it was like then and now in general terms will suffice. The field of recovery experiences that can be visible to the newcomer is a lot broader then someone revealing their darkest secrets to a room full of people.
I suggest switching to some different meetings. Sometimes mixing things up helps.... Sometimes a set of people will dominate a meeting for a while so i take a break and when i come back there has been enough changeover that the personality of the meeting has changed/improved.
Hello- I am new to AA and am attending different meetings. Each meeting has their own "personality" I do not have a sponsor yet. it is in my plan but I haven't found the right person to ask. All in good time...one day at a time.
Hi. I see the same thing at many meetings. I am aware though that people are thankful for AA in their sharing as AA is helping them recover. But listening to others continually patting AA on the back at each meeting can get pretty tiring. I don't think I've ever seen anyone promote AA "purposely" in a meeting. I think some members may be promoting it without realizing that their doing it. After all, we are recovering alcoholics. We are there to share our own experience, strength and hope. Is promoting AA within the rooms a bad thing? Maybe not. But like you stated, It doesn't get to the root of things. Anything is bound to happen. I also see people who get frustrated and have control issues they need to deal with. They are still trying to make others mind. We deal with these by working step 11 over and over and over.
I was doing ok until I drank a bottle of whiskey last night. I have not drunk today and went to a meeting but i feel so sick . I am burning up. I am terrified I am going to drink again. Help!!!
How do you feel after drinking? So sick right? I heard a comment the other day
that stuck with me, "how much did that bottle of whiskey cost you emotionally?"
It's not just the $15.00 (or however much they cost now) it takes a big chunk of us emotionally as well as physically (you don't really don't want to die before your time) and of course spiritually.
I have been sick and totally shamed because of alcohol. I saw my mother die of liver disease, caused by those many whiskey bottles. It sure wasn't pretty.
Today you still have the choice and the sincere support of those in the program.
Keep reaching out and you will grab on to the many hands of those in Recovery.
Lots of luck and God's blessing as you begin an exciting and sober journey in AA.
Love Debra (from Alberta, Canada)
Fina as many meetings as you can get to and dont drink in between. Hang at clubhouses if available. It is a safe haven and all you have to do is sit there. The craving will eventually stop - just keep dragging yourself to meetings. When i relapsed my sponsor told me not to worry about anything in the steps etc just go to meetings until things started to calm down. She was wonderful. Doing that was hard enough and what a blessing she was to realize that was all i could handle for a bit.
Go to a meeting. Get a sponsor. Choose a home group. Get a service position if you want to stay sober. Get involved in the process of AA.
I can relate. Ive been good for 3 months and drank a mickey of rum while at work. Everyone is mad at me. Ive disappointed my family and myself. im very depresed and sad. i guess we just need to remember one day at a time and keep going to meetings. im calling my sponsor. Do you have anyone you can call?
Do you have a sponsor? If not get one !!!! Work the steps they work! Do not worry if you will drink again just do not drink this hour this day! Keep going to meetings.
I am doing just two meetings per week and very low contact with fellowship.but I am contended by my recovery because going through what programme suggest me
We must not rest on our laurels. For we are headed for trouble if we do. What are you doing to help the newcomer to AA? To keep something, remember that you have to give it away.
Every morning. I say thank you for the 12 step program. My family needs recovery and bad. I. Hope to give my recovery. to someone
Else before I enter the next life. I am so happy with myself.
I am 3 years soulber but I keep getting kicked out of meeting because I have a two year old and I have no family I have cut my meetings to the point of feeling like using and then when I go to a meeting I feel wores because I get kicked out I am thankingof starting a parents with kides meeting but how do I do this
thanks michele w
my sponsor told me that when all else fails, follow the instructions. stop trying to figure out what to do and ask God to direct my thoughts and actions. if i'm honest with myself, i can never go wrong. read how it works in the 'big book' and follow the instructions. louie
My wife was a single mom with 3 little kids when she sobered up. She has some amazing stories of how she managed go to meetings and stay sober with those youngsters. Most of her stories include some level of praying for help and trusting her Higher Power that things would work out if she were willing to do what was necessary.
Like you, she sometimes took the kids to meetings and had them wait in the hall where AA members took turns watching them and playing with them. She sometimes felt guilty about leaving the children at home with a neighbor girl babysitter . She worried that the kids would feel abandoned and about how they'd turn out. But she knew she had to make sobriety and meetings a priority if she'd be of any use to the family.
Today, my wife is 25 years sober and my step children are happy and successful college graduates who are a joy to be around. We sometimes see that neighbor girl baby sitter in AA. She is a single mom with multiple years of sobriety.
Congratulations on 3 years!
I think we are confusing the AA program with AA meetings. You can work the AA program 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week and be happy and sober. The meetings make it easier to stay sober but are not essential. If u really need more fellowship, come early and leave during mtg, get a babysitter, or start a meeting that provides daycare. You can contact GSO for appropriate meeting guidelines also sponsorship is greatly helpful.
I am a single parent I have no family and it seems that because I have no one to whach my child I get kicked out of meetings also I only go to meetings about once a month now and I am rely strugleing to stay soulber what can I do I thank about starting a meeting for kides and parents but how can I do this
thanks michele w
HI MY NAME IS CHUCK. IM A ALCOHOLIC AND AM NEW TO THE AREA , COULD USE SOME HELP PLEASE!
my name is chuck and im an alcoholic. new to this town need help
This is an AA Grapevine site and not a town. Where do you live? Provide us that and you should get plenty of responses. In the mean time, don't pick up the first drink no matter what happens. Thanks
Today, June 10th we celebrate the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. The real birth of
A.A. was in mid December 1934. Bill W. asked God for help, and God helped him. We
are all familiar with the story, which was later reduced to a bedtime story. Bill's
spiritual awakening can be found on page 2 in "As Bill See's It". That was the Gift
from God, to the suffering alcoholic. It took Bill almost six months to figure out
how to pass this solution to another suffering alcoholic. Dr. Silkworth was Bill's
advisor. "You've got the cart before the horse," the little doctor told Bill,
describing Bill's approach in trying to help others. Bill gives an example of this
on page 199 A.B.S.I. We have had the cart in front of the horse for so long that it
has been accepted as normal. "That One is God, may you find him now", we tell the
newcomer. Let us give credit where credit is due. Speak the Truth with an equal
amount of Grace. Examine arrogance and its opposite. Make sure our own house is
in order. ANONYMOUS
One thing I have learned in AA is not to let the power of my words override the power of my example.
AA wasn't "born" until one alcoholic helped another stay sober. Bill W.'s white light conversion experience got him sober again (he had gotten sober before) . . . but it couldn't keep him sober. Six months later he was pacing back and forth in front of the entrance to the bar at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron. What kept him sober that day was his effort to find another alcoholic he could talk with, not his religious experience of six months earlier.
When Dr. Silkworth told Bill "you've got the cart before the horse," he specifically meant that Bill's preaching about god was driving people away. Silkworth suggested that Bill talk instead about alcoholism being a progressive, fatal disease. This is clearly laid out in chapter 6 of "Pass It On."
As a newcomer AA is telling me a lot more than may you find god. You need to find another meeting. I travel for a living and they aren't like yours.
My home group is a 7-8 morning meeting. I believe it to be
the best meeting/group in A.A. We meet Mon-Friday. We have
about a hundred members total, with about fifteen in attendance on most mornings. It is a structured reverent meeting and is growing slowly, continuously.
We do no chanting. "My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic"
is considered the first step, a statement, not a greeting
or salutation. The group does not chant "Hi Joe". This
chant makes A.A. look foolish.
We do not read HIW. I believe this to be the most tragic
mistake we have made over the past three decades. I have
explained this repeatedly for three-four years, here and
on the I-Say forum. My warning was published in the
Grapevine some years ago.
We do not do the "hold hands and pray" closing. Our
format reads "holding hands is optional". We leave the
handholding to the romantics.
We do not share by "show of hands". This has also been
explained repeatedly in previous articles. This custom
creates all kinds of problems. Mostly to do with EGO
and self esteem, or the lack of it. We simply go around
in an orderly fashion, sometimes called "round robin".
These are some of the reasons why I love my morning
meeting. Nothing really new; just the way all meetings
were in the decade of the 1970's, at least the thousands
of meetings I attended. ANONYMOUS
"We have about a hundred members total, with about fifteen in attendance on most mornings."
Only fifteen percent attendance? Doesn't sound like your members aren't very enthusiastic about the group.
"Nothing really new; just the way all meetings
were in the decade of the 1970's, at least the thousands
of meetings I attended."
I also attended thousands of meetings in the seventies, in five states and three foreign countries. Nearly all read "How It Works," 'chanted "Hi, Joe!" and held hands during the closing (Lord's) prayer, which to my knowledge has always been optional.
We had thirty-one meetings a week locally when I got sober in 1971, today there are over three hundred. AA, at least in this local area, must be doing something right.
"We have about a hundred members total, with about fifteen in attendance on most mornings."
Only fifteen percent attendance? Doesn't sound like your members aren't very enthusiastic about the group."
Perhaps those hundred members are too enthusiastic about life to live in AA meetings. Usually easy to spot Mr AA or Queen AA outside of meetings. Their house hasn't seen a paintbrush in thirty years, their kids show up in the arrest reports regularly, brag about their long sobriety but haven't kicked cigarettes, junk food or bothered to get their teeth fixed.
Of course they have so much face time in meetings and practiced patter that naive newcomers assume they are ideal members and sponsors so the beat goes on. 90 in 90 turns into 365 in 365 and a new generation of Mr AA's are sworn in.
My yardstick to measure the quality of sobriety or a group isn't calibrated in years or filled chairs. If I have been to two meetings in a week and am thinking about a third, it's time to get out of myself and visit somebody in a nursing home.
I do wonder in which five states you attended meetings in the 1970's. It was in the year 1980 when the HIW reading
was introduced at my home group. I questioned whether it
was the best use of meeting time. I always felt that we
were at meetings to share with each other, not to read
to each other. I really thought that was the only harm.
How could reading something from the Big Book possibly
be harmful to new members and A.A. as a whole? I know
today, that it is harmful, why it is harmful and what
we can do about it. STOP READING IT ALOUD AT MEETINGS!
Bill W. warned us about trying to cram the steps down
anyone's throat: LOTH page 8. Read the whole article.
Our morning group meets Mon thru Fri. Not many of
us attend every day. We don't require the "90 in 90",
which also appeared in the 1980's, along with the
"hold hands and pray" closing and today's concept of
I read HIW hundreds of times, aloud at meetings, for
over two decades before I spotted the error. ANONUMOUS
"I do wonder in which five states you attended meetings in the 1970's."
Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Virginia, North Carolina. Seven cities in Virginia, two cities in each of the other states. Also, the Phillipine Islands, Singapore and Hong Kong.
I read the article. Bill didn't warn us not to cram the steps down anyone's throat, he stated that AA doesn't cram them down our throats. "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps." Those who aren't willing to go to any lengths don't have to take them.
I'm curious about your meeting. What do you share if not your experience of recovery? War stories of your drinking? How you day is going so far? I've been to meetings that were more like group therapy sessions, is that your idea of passing it on?
Please, enlighten this poor soul, how is reading How It Works harmful?
I did not include the most important fact: that AA
membership (souls saved) doubled in the decade of the
1970's and doubled again in the 1980's, reaching almost
two and a half million members worldwide in 1992. What
happened to cause our stagnation? There are numerous
excuses, but only a few reasons. We started reading HIW.
aloud at meetings. The steps became rules.
We welcomed drug addicts to join us. We started chanting,
which makes us look foolish. We moved our headquarters
into a Rockefeller subsidized building, ignoring our
seventh tradition. We dropped our goal of selling books
and literature at cost. Other reasons have repeatedly
been covered here.
Aa membership estimates (yes only estimates) in 1970 were about 300k. It actually tripled to around 900k by 1980, then to around 2 million by 1990. So you can see in spite of reading how it works, aa still doubled from 1980-1990. I think the biggest contributor to AA booming in the 70's and 80's was the Hughes act requiring insurance companies to pay for alcohol treatment. Treatments then bused thousands, willing or unwilling to aa meetings. The Hughes act coincidently ended in 1992 when estimated membership began to stagnate.
I think we should look to 1940-50 when AA boomed from 1,400 to 100k. During that time they used personal sponsorship coupled with the big book.
if you want to study the estimated membership #'s, search smf-132 for estimated membership through 2013.