How important are our Twelve Traditions? They were written by Bill. When Bill first began mention of
them to his friends and at meetings, The idea of what looks like rules, was not well received. But
Bill persisted and at AA's First International Convention July 1950 at Cleveland the Twelve Traditions
were adopted unanimously by the fellowship. Our General Service Board of Trustees became guardians of
the Twelve Traditions.
It seems to have become fashionable to be a member of A.A. Are we applauding ourselves for escaping
from a building that we burnt down? How well are we informing new members of the importance and value
of Anonymity? Our Tradition of self support has been ignored for thirty years now. Profit from the
sale of books and literature has become a accepted income by our Trustees. We are supposed to be
selling books and literature at the cost of printing. It is not even a goal any more.
We really need to get back on the track which Bill left. Bill's character may have been defective, but
he had terrific insight. ANONYMOUS
Tradition (noun) a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.
Any time a group of people use a word differently from the generally accepted definition they are inviting problems. The twelve suggested rules posted on the wall of most AA meeting rooms apparently were indeed traditions at one time. If they haven’t been used for a long period they don’t meet Webster’s definition any more. We can’t make a thing a tradition by simply calling it one. It appears to me that some are no longer traditions. I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for thirty four years and have attended hundreds of meetings at home and across the US. From the first meeting to the last and most in between some attending claimed problem with addiction to something besides alcohol. If I follow Webster’s definition, I would have to say their inclusion in membership has become traditional.
If the group conscience of my group chooses to exclude any talk of addiction to drugs other than alcohol, I will support it. It is the group’s call. Not me, not you, not GSO. I think there are easily enough recovering addicts to support a group of their own and if there aren’t, they have an organization to help them start one. I would encourage some kind of soft transition because excluding talk of drugs would be breaking with the tradition (according to the dictionary) we have experienced for at least three decades. In the mean time, I am going to accept* them as my peers.
*Accept (transitive verb) to receive willingly, to give admittance or approval to, to endure without protest or reaction, to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable.
Both Bill W. and Doctor Bob talk about using "sedatives" daily and the Big Book mentions sedatives on page 7 and again on page 22 for starters. I have had to look at my intolerance for people who used drugs and come to AA to get help. With the current "rules", would either of them be able to tell their story in meetings?
They did not know that the opium sedation was just as much if not more addictive than alcohol. The book does not say whether the desire for the sedatives was removed at the same time as the desire for alcohol.
When a drug addict wants help, I ask for guidance to help them. AA was started by a couple of addicts.
Bill and Dr.Bob never identified as addicts.
When I came to AA I had a history of drug abuse as long as your arm. I did not know anything about anything. I didn't even know what questions to ask to get help because I didn't understand the problem.
Thank God the members of AA patiently waited and allowed me to bungle and fumble my first few months without running me out of the rooms. They allowed me sufficient time to first detox, and learn to listen; so I could listen to learn.
Today I understand the importance of our singleness of purpose; why I need to focus on the "common problem" and the common solution. Our 3rd tradition clearly encourages "inclusion" of all who suffer from the disease of alcoholism.
Regardless of my differences I am bound with you people because like you; if I put even a teaspoon of beer in my mouth I am subject to the physical craving of more; and when I'm not drinking the thought of a drink in time will always get so strong that I may not be able to resist the temptation. That fact alone has little if anything to do with my 20+ year addictions to other substances.
Today I realize that it is more important for the society of AA as a whole to survive than even me. Because if there is no AA then there is no where for people like me to go to get help. That being said; Love and Tolerance of others should always be our code. I would rather err on the side of tolerance than take a chance and run someone out the door to fend for themselves. All of us in recovery are sensitive people I do my best to help the new guy "define HIS problem" and if he's not an alky, then I try to gently push him to a group of people he an readily identify with. After all, its all about "Recovery".
"AA was started by a couple of addicts."
Show me where Bill W. or Dr. Bob identified themselves as addicts. Our Big Book says, on page 31, "We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself." Addicts seem to like nothing better than to pronounce other individuals as addicts.
You You use a few words on two pages to rationalize your position, yet you totally ignore the Traditions and the pamphlet, "Problems Other than Alcohol." That pamphlet, by the way, was written by one of the individuals you so freely diagnose as an addict.
I have yet to hear a legitimate reason (not excuse) for addicts to attend AA rather than NA. Perhaps in NA they don't feel special.
Much of the time people with a variety of symptoms come to AA for answers. When I got to AA I did not know what I was; I did not understand anything about the disease or recovery. Thank God I was allowed to sit in a meeting and listen to you people talk about your disease and recovery long enough so I could make an informed decision as to whether I should stay or look for other solutions to my "problems". Today I realize that I easily qualify as an addict; but I also realize that I'm an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. For me it is imperative that I FOCUS ON MY RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOLISM; I must remember that it is not AA that needs to change; its me. So it is for selfish reasons that I "get with the program". AA does not need me, I need AA. I don't ever want to try to live a sober life without AA; for me it would be impossible.
"I have yet to hear a legitimate reason (not excuse) for addicts to attend AA rather than NA. Perhaps in NA they don't feel special."
How about because they have a desire to stop drinking?
Bill W & Dr. Bob worshippers always have struggle when their drug use is mentioned. I cannot say whether they were or were not addicts other than alcohol (oh, and nicotine) addicts. Doesn't matter, as they found a solution to alcoholism (the fellowship and the 12 steps) that surprisingly enough seems to work for other addictions as well. So I gladly welcome brethren who identify themselves more as addicts than alcoholics at meetings, and will continue to do so, as their experience living life on life's terms may be what keeps me from picking up a drink tomorrow.
Im happy they help you stay sober. what about the newcomer who may have an alcohol problem. he comes to your meeting and hears all the addict talk. he cannot identify with the addicts. he is not convinced he is even an alcoholic. the drug talk separates him even more. since he cannot relate to the addicts at the AA meetings, he turns his head to the wall and dies.
you might say that most newcomers are crossaddicted. so what? come to AA and talk about alcoholism, go to NA and talk about addictions. Please stop killing newcomer alcoholics in AA. this is the only place they have where the focus is on alcohol alone to overcome our denial of alcoholism. Addicts have hundreds of fellowships they can be part of, in fact a lot of them use our big book anyway.
I think the message of the bleeding deacon, how he spilled more booze than the newcomer ever drank, how the person who drank listerine or Nyquil is not a "real alcoholic," foaming at the mouth while telling the newcomer he had better find a higher power, get a sponsor, read the big book, and work the steps because "that is the only way to get sober" (i.e., that is how he did it), is more harmful to newcomer than an addict describing how he or she was able to get through a day without picking up whatever substance they used to turn to. The latter helps me, while the former scares me.
hey, listerine and nyquil is full of alcohol, that's why alcoholics drink it.
your absolutely right about the sobriety talk. the difference is after you've been sober awhile, sobriety seems like sobriety. the issue with newcomers is this, when a newcomer comes to AA in search of recovery from alcohol, we should be talking about recovery form alcohol or we are disregarding tradition 1,3,and 5. the reason we want to stick to alcohol is to help the newcomer get over his feeling of being different and how can we help him get over being different if we are talking about substances other than alcohol that he has no experience with. why don't we just keep with tradtion 1,3,and 5 so that all can at least relate to alcoholism? why should an alcoholic feel out of place in an AA meeting? why don't the addicts just start an NA or All addicts anonymous meeting?
My party started in the 60's and didn't end until 1992. I would do just about anything short of sticking a needle in my arm to change the way I felt. I came in to AA with a lot of symptoms. But after relating to the disease of alcoholism I soon understood why it is important to focus on recovery from drinking. The reason I believe is this; when I say I'm an alcoholic and an "anda" I am some how separating myself from the fellowship causing controversy. Controversy leads to division, which leads to extinction. For me its all about our common welfare. Because if AA disappears then I'm back trying to get and keep myself sober. That never worked; so it is for selfish reasons that I focus on our common problem and our common solution. Its me that needs to change, not AA. I need AA. AA does not need me.
Why don't the addicts just start an NA or All addicts
anonymous meeting? I will try to answer that question.
First do not blame the addict who appears in our meeting
room. Most are sincerely desperate and are looking for
help. Some are drug dealers looking for prospects. The
drug dealer has great success. But the drug addict who
approaches us is seldom helped. There is little identification if any.
Blame the solid A.A. member who says "Welcome". "All
programs are the same". True the Program is the same.
But the fellowships are different. The solution lies in
the hands of those AA members who are indeed drug addicts.
Help start meetings for the drug addict. We can nudge the
addict your way. It would be heartless to "expel" a
suffering addict and not offer a place for her/him to go.
Parallel, working side by side, both fellowships offer
the greatest hope for the alcoholic and the drug addict. Combined (as they are now) continue to expect failure.
Combined we may save a few, but if each fellowship
remains on course, there can be help for the multitudes
of sufferers. There is an epidemic out there.
Bill wrote that we alcoholics are "pikers" compared with
the struggle of those who are drug addicted. We must offer
them the best possible solution. It is far more than
offering them our twelve steps. ANONYMOUS
In 1939, very little was known about the disease of addiction. Ditto in 1951 when the 12 x 12 was published. Only in the last 20 years have great breakthrough been made in understanding the chemistry of addiction. Educate yourself before you continue to suggest that everything we need to know about alcoholism and how to get sober is in the big book. Otherwise, you sadly remind me of my grandfather, who when he found out I needed glasses gave me a book published in 1937 entitled "Sight Without Glasses." I asked whether the book might not be a little dated (our conversation was in 1980). He replied, "What do they know now that they didn't know then?"
please enlighten us with these discoveries on alcoholism over the past 20 years. is it different from a physical allergy that compells us to drink more once we start coupled with a mental obsession that convinces us to start drinking while sober?
I guess I am blessed to go to meetings in a locale where people share the solution rather than their using stories. Thus, alcoholic and addict alike share how they get through the day without getting drunk or high. I would estimate that the meeting I walked into off the street had more people who might be considered druggies rather that alc'ies. Your suggestion that allowing addicts to share in meetings is "killing newcomers" is as baseless as my suggestion that your rigidity is sending more alcoholics and addicts back to the street.
Is the AA Preamble read at your meetings?
"Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of 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."
"Our primary purpose is to stay SOBER and help other ALCOHOLICS to achieve SOBRIETY.
There is no mention of addicts, addiction, or cleanliness in the Preamble.
An addict who drinks only when his drug isn't available is no more an alcoholic than the person who takes a drink or several to ease the pain of a toothache while waiting to see a dentist.
I stay sober with AA, I get clean with soap and water.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop DRINKING!!!!! I don't want to listen to people who have eating disorders, sex disorders, drug disorders, etc.... I am an alcoholic with a desire to stop DRINKING and I want others to identify with me and vice versa.
I echo those who feel that if this Fellowship ever falters or fails, it will not be because of any outside cause. No, it will not be because of treatment centers or professionals in the field, or non-Conference-approved literature, or young people, or the dually-addicted, or even the “druggies” trying to come to our closed meetings. If we stick close to our Traditions, Concepts, and Warranties, and if we keep an open mind and an open heart, we can deal with these and any other problems that we have or ever will have. If we ever falter and fail, it will be simply because of us. It will be because we can’t control our own egos or get along well enough with each other. It will be because we have too much fear and rigidity and not enough trust and common sense.
If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity — the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for G.S.O. to “enforce” our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., “banning books;” laying more and more rules on groups and members. And in this trend toward rigidity, we are drifting farther and farther away from our co- founders. Bill, in particular, must be spinning in his grave, for he was perhaps the most permissive person I ever met. One of his favourite sayings was, “Every group has the right to be wrong.” He was maddeningly tolerant of his critics, and he had absolute faith that faults in A.A. were self-correcting.
This was written by Bob P. (1917-2008). Bob was General Manager of the General Service Office from 1974 to 1984, and then served as Senior Advisor to the G.S.O. from 1985 until his retirement. His story is in the Big Book as “AA Taught Him to Handle Sobriety.”
So I guess the "alcoholic-addict," meaning the person who is not a pure and respectable alcoholic, who is also addicted to marijuana, has no business using AA to stay clean? I suppose the same is true for those with co-occurring disorders (aka "grave emotional and mental disorders")? Personally, I would rather sit in meetings with godless alcoholics and addicts who are struggling not to use than intolerant dry AA fundamentalists who have their own and everyone else's programs figured out. But that is just what works for me these days.
Well said. and very sensible. keeping it simple. If we aren't a program of tolerance then what are we?
Soft Transition? As long as we let drug addicts feel
that they are welcome in Alcoholics Anonymous, they
will come and some will stay. Some will get well, but
I believe most will not. To accept them is kind of us.
But we are not doing them or their organizations any
favors. We are weakening our own fellowship and preventing
the formation and growth of the other Programs/fellowships.
I, personally, have stopped accepting them as my peers.
I have little in common with the drug addict.
Alcoholics outnumber addicts at the meetings I attend.
Part of the problem is that we share by a "show of hands"
instead of going around the room. The drug addict, fresh
out of rehab is the first one to put a hand up. This is
what he was told to do when he/she left treatment.
The addict may say, "well, I like AA better, and
you can't keep me out".
We have been "accepting" much too long, and now must
encourage and allow N/A to "do its thing".
Both fellowships can be effective working parallel,
side by side. There is no lack of participants. This
experiment of combining AA with NA has failed.
I see drug addicts often. Most are "just coming back".
The others are dead. We harm them by believing that we
can help them "better than N/A." That may be true for
some. But for every one that we have helped, we have
failed hundreds by not staying with our single purpose.
I am so glad to see these posts and how many others agree with what the traditions are REALLY about. I lived in a remote area of the country for a number of years, and we had a "12 step" meeting due to the remoteness of area. We had folks from many other 12 step programs attend....they mostly sat quietly and listened to comments from our mostly recovering alcoholics and if they had a question or comment they respected tradition 3 by asking to speak. I returned to a large community in the last few years and was shocked to see and hear drug leads in meetings, psych med discussion and biblical references. ALL breaking traditions. Unfortunately, I was reprimanded at a meeting for telling a drug addict (before the meeting started) that the term "a drug is a drug" is treatment talk and not in our literature. I was told that I was full of "crap". When I tried to speak to other old timers in the area, they seemed to be very passive about this issue. Unfortunately, they go to a local treatment center,where drug addicts are told to attend AA meetings and tell them to call themselves alcoholics! Whatever happened to honesty? I have found that most of the folks with over 20 years in this area, don't even read or understand the traditions. My home group is closed to alcoholics only and yet we recently had a drug addict lead the meeting. I intend to call a group conscience meeting concerning this, and if they shoot down my concerns, I will look elsewhere for a meeting to call home. I have been sober for over 30 years, and owe my life to AA. To see this happening, the lack of respect for our traditions, is just sickening to me.
Singleness of purpose and identification are two key pillars upon which AA is built. When an alcoholic shares at depth with other alcoholics, you see the smiles of understanding and the heads nodding. This person gets it, he understands. We can't ignore the importance of this fundamental principle. On the other hand, it is rare that a person coming in to AA today has not had some serious go rounds with drugs, legal and or street.
In my area, the fairly recent meth epidemic added a new twist to some meetings; especially of the jail and court ordered variety. I meet many who want to get well and have a desire to not drink because they know that a drink will lead back to the needle or pipe. The severity of their problems with meth, prevents them from knowing if they have a problem with alcohol - other than that it lead back to meth.
I really don't identify with them nor they with me. They probably belong in NA but I don't see a strong NA presence in our community. They tend to drift in and out of "green card" AA meetings where there tends to be more mess than message. It's a tough situation.
I can't say we have a problem in my home group where there is a strong contingent of solid AA's with many years of sobriety who are not afraid to enforce, with love, the rules of our meeting place (church) or the traditions of AA. One thing that is important to our group is to give a person options. Instead of just asking someone to leave, we'll approach after the meeting to explain the rules and to inform them of other meetings or groups that might better meet their needs.
Well said. You took the words right out of my mouth!
Perhaps in the future, you could come up with some words
or ideas of your own. Why waste the space? ANONYMOUS
Yes a soft transition.
This is what I would provide if our group conscience ever decided to uphold Traditions Three and Five.
Dear Sirs: (judges, councilors, treatment centers, AA central office, halfway houses, NA, VA, etc.
The XYZ AA group located at 123 Main Street will no longer accept those claiming drug problems rather than a desire to stop drinking into our meetings after March 1, 2014. Although we are not affiliated with any other organization we are willing to direct those with drug problems to groups who provide us with contact information.
and for that I am grateful, as posts here regarding the "addict problem" and court ordered attendees reflect a degree of intolerance that accompanies a complete lack of humility. Remember, each group has the right to be wrong, and can theoretically opt to exclude whomever they want, including the godless, communists, treehuggers, gun control advocates, and so on. It is not for the GSO or conference to dictate whether groups embrace or exclude those identifying themselves addicts rather than alcoholics. In our community, we embrace them all, and our recovery community is as solid as that in any city I have been to. Some of our best examples of a good program are those who were court-ordered, and some of them considered themselves addicts before alcoholic. What is the difference between being court ordered to AA, being spouse ordered, being treatment center ordered? Sometimes something works to induce willingness, and it is a miracle when it does.
I will share some experience form our General Service Office. This a part of a letter I received in regards to groups that address problems other than alcohol:
Regarding a group addressing both alcoholism and drug addiction, we can turn to our literature for guidance. In the pamphlet entitled, Problems Other Than Alcohol, it states that: “We cannot give membership to nonalcoholic addicts.”
It goes on to read: “Our first duty, as a society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore, we have to avoid distractions and multipurpose activity. An A.A. group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world. Sobriety — freedom from alcohol — through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group Groups have repeatedly tried other activities, and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholics into A.A. members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics, and we have to confine our A.A. groups to a single purpose. If we don’t stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.”
Here is the link to this pamphlet : http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-35_ProOtherThanAlcohol.pdf
The A.A. Steps and Traditions have successfully served millions of people for decades. We do our best not find loopholes to the Traditions. Experience shows that we don’t just use one Tradition and toss the others out. Tradition Four is positioned after One, Two and Three for a reason. Our Unity comes first! A.A. was created to address alcoholism; not all other problems. If the A.A. program helps us in other areas that is terrific but that doesn’t change the Primary Purpose of A.A.
We are asked as recovering alcoholics to change ourselves; we ought to be careful about trying to impose changes to A.A. in order to suit any other individual problems we might have. As stated in The A.A. Group pamphlet, “Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism.” Any other message does have the potential to affect A.A. as a whole and, more importantly, to possibly confuse newcomers to our Fellowship. One may have a history of addictions other than alcoholism, but as can be read on Page 13 of the pamphlet, The A.A. Group: “The purpose of all A.A. group meetings, as the Preamble states, is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Here is the link to this pamphlet: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-16_theaagroup.pdf .
I’ll have to admit, I first came to AA through a counselor, then a treatment center, then another treatment center, then through the courts. I didn’t stay sober much during those 4 years. I went to meetings and talked about everything but the 12 steps and recovery. I wonder how many real alcoholics that died because they came to AA and heard everything but AA?
I just listened to an old tape of sister Ignatia. She worked with Dr. Bob. She described how Dr. Bob would “pick” who was ready to be admitted into the hospital after the 12 step call. She talked about how important it was for the newcomer to be “ready” to accept the program. She said they were only admitted once. They had one chance, if they blew it they couldn’t come back to the hospital. Dr.Bob worked with over 5,000 alcoholics. She also mentioned that Dr. Bob talked to Bill W almost every other day during the last year or so of his life. She said Bill W ran everything by Dr. Bob.
Now think about this, why would Bill W and Dr. Bob agree to traditions 1,3,5? I think it was because they were familiar with the Washingtonian society, Oxford group, Emmanual movement, and Jacoby club. Alcoholics had been staying sober in all 4 of those groups. All four groups no longer exist, partly because they didn’t have traditions or a singlness of purpose.
All that being said, If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend AA meetings. If you don't have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend open meetings as an observer (see the AA pamphlet "the Group".
What a well stated and informative response. Thank you so much!
The last 2 sentences sums it up. Well said. I would rather err on the side of letting a non alcoholic attend a meeting as opposed to chasing a potential alcoholic out of the room because of rigid principles. "If you think you have a problem with alcohol or if you think you may have a problem with alcohol and are not sure; welcome to AA......."
"If you don't have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend open meetings as an observer." This
opinion is the reason this problem continues after
fifty years of debate. We have made the drug addicts
feel welcome at our AA meetings. Individuals ought to
be allowed to attend open meetings to find out if
they might be alcoholic. They should not be welcomed
into our rooms if alcohol is not a problem. ANONYMOUS
Just so newcomers understand, this is exactly what GSO is supposed to do, provide the official AA line. They don't hold any rank or provide any enforcement. They are simply restating and enlarging on the traditions that are hanging on all of our walls. Looks like they are doing a good job, it just doesn't change anything. Most groups I've attended or visited, being autonomous, have ignored the drug exclusion for decades. Groups make up their own mind if the solution we offer should be open to those with problems with drugs other than alcohol.
There are two opposite ideas deeply ingrained on this issue and groups decide which they want.
Our General Service Office (GSO) simply serves us. They
answer questions and fill orders for books and literature.
Our General Service Board of Trustees are the guardians
of our Traditions.
Groups are autonomous, but that is only one third of
our Fourth Tradition. This issue has greatly affected AA as a whole. The Traditions do us little good just hanging
on the wall. We must learn why they were written, what
they mean, and why we must obey them if our fellowship
is going to survive. ANONYMOUS
I could not help but notice that our founders were also addicts who first mentioned their drug use on page 7 of the Big Book and again on page 22. They had no idea or concept of addiction aside from "the phenomenon of craving" . When they were withdrawing from alcohol, they may or may not have been withdrawing from the narcotics-opium and cocaine which was legally availble to them.
In our town, the drug courts order everyone to AA meetings!
They promote AA! They overwhelm the core of sober alcoholics and street values run the groups. The traditions are seen as something to get around. Infomercial is the way to share rather than experience strength and hope. Step work is rare, but 2 step preachers rule. It is very hard to go there and not safe either. Your wallet may be stolen right out of your pocket. The court ordered do not want to be there but it is better than jail so they agree to go.
I no longer go to meetings in my town. I go online or drive to areas or meetings that do not sign court slips.
I have sponsored some sincere humbled alcoholics and addicts through the steps into long sobriety and clean time.,,,though I am a real alcoholic. But in my town, many who attend and run meetings are not interested in the program of 12 Steps, but their own program, and how good they sound talking about their program
"I could not help but notice that our founders were also addicts who first mentioned their drug use on page 7 of the Big Book and again on page 22."
And I can't help but notice how addicts take a sentence or two out of context to use as permission to trash AA's Traditions.
In one case a doctor gave the patient a sedative which he took along with his liquor. In the other he uses sedatives to stop the shakes. Naturally, an addict who sees another addict behind every pill bottle diagnoses them as addicts.
Before AA found me I was given prescriptions for Valium by a medical doctor, and again by a psychiatrist. They were supposed to quiet the shakes so I wouldn't drink. The pills didn't stop the shakes so I drank. I have not had a desire for another Valium since then. But in your wisdom you would diagnose me as an addict.
In treatment were were required to take Antabuse every day and told to continue taking it for a year after discharge. I can't count the number of people who took the Antabuse and still drank. In your expert opinion they were addicts.
I have not been able to find any documented evidence where Bill W. or Dr. Bob identified themselves as addicts. On the contrary, as soon as they got sober their use of drugs stopped, apparently without any effort on their part.
Yes, on page 32 of "Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers" it mentions a pill problem. However, most folks notice it says, "He contacted what in later years WOULD BE CALLED a pill problem." Not what was, but what would be called, a pll problem.
Finally, no matter who is, was or will become addicted to another substance, Aa's traditions and literature make it perfectly clear that our focuse is on alcoholism.
Comp[ulsive gambles go to GA, overeaters go to OA, it's only addicts who insist on going to AA. Most likely because (a) they cam prove they're special and (b) it makes their denial of their real problem easier.
Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. You make some good points.
My experience with addicts is that some go to AA because they truly want to recover and do not want to drink. They have a desire to not drink because drinking leads directly to their drug of choice.
I suppose there are OA and GA people for whom drinking might trigger their primary addiction. However, the link for the drug addict is much more direct.
I'm not saying this makes it right for addicts to choose AA as a primary means of recovery. I just don't see many in my town who attend AA to prove they are special or to deny their problem. Some really DON'T want to drink and see AA as the place to deal with that. Others attend AA just to get a green card signed.
The Big Book was published in April 1939. There were no Traditions at the time as they were not adopted until July 1950 at the 1st AA International convention in Cleveland. That was 11 years after the 1st edition of the Big Book.
Yes you are correct that our co-founders admittedly did have issues with drugs other than alcohol.The Traditions were based on the first 15 years of AA experience (1935-1950) and that experience strongly suggested that AA should have one single purpose; to carry the message to the ALCOHOLIC who still suffers.
Sounds pretty simple to me but the solution rests with each AA member and the conscience of each group. If the majority of members and groups see no problem then nothing will change.
Kind of reminds me of my drinking days. I get drunk; I fall down- no problem!
Thanks for your article.
Thanks for your messages. I once fell off a barstool.
But I fell less often then, than I do now, after growing
old. Yes the group conscience is very important. Some
meetings actually have group conscience/business meetings;
Mike B. Thanks for your articles. I find them quite
interesting and informative. It saddens me when members
limit their study to only the Big Book. Bob H. Seymour Ct.
Drug use and Drug Addiction are 2 separate items. I feel safe in saying that because we have a singleness of purpose. A.A. Comes of Age might shed some light on that for you and the Court system. Almost any alcoholic who enters treatment will be detoxed with a medication or narcotic of some kind. That does not make them an addict. An alcoholic will do what he has to do to get to the next drink....not to the next drug....makes a world of difference.
Please make have a talk with your local judge. ask him to court order people to treatment or counselors and not AA. it's our responsibility to ensure AA is there for future alcoholics who want and need sobriety. not to ensure our doors are open so judges can sentence to AA instead of jail!
In recent years we had a judge as a class A non-alcoholic member of the General Service Board of Trustees.
I wonder what his opinion was on requiring parolees to
attend AA meetings. Manny
I agree with this suggestion. I wonder if your District or Area CPC/PI (Cooperation with Professional Community/Public Information) folks could be asked to approach the judge with some information and ideas. Maybe the judge could be asked to refer people to a specific open meeting run by AA's who want to do that kind of work.
There are certain meetings in my area where there are more green cards than greenbacks in the 7th tradition basket. Some AA's avoid those meetings and others target them as a place to do "front line" work. I attended such a meeting for a couple of years. With enough sobriety and experience in the room, it seems to work out ok. Other times, it can feel like the inmates are running the asylum.
We have absolutely no way of preventing judges from the
practice of referring their clients to Alcoholics Anonymous.
We have no means of screening alcoholics from other criminals. But we do have some leverage. Stop signing
attendance slips. Our General Service Board of Trustees
needs to get involved. They could collectively send out
an advisory to groups that the practice needs to be
stopped. The GSB has no means to enforce this, but
coming from our Trustees, hopefully, groups would listen.
Each Group is autonomous but there are two other parts to
Tradition Four. This practice of signing attendance slips
is affecting AA as a whole. Our safety is being compromised.
ANONYMOUS Can you imagine an AA member approaching a judge
and giving him/her advice? Really?
You are exactly right. The problem of court slips is so prevelent in my area that MOST meetings have more slip holders than slip signers. The GSO's guideline on "cooperating with the courts" clearly states that it should take the form of "special meetings" where we supply several speakers to see if probationers would like what we have to offer. Failing that course of action it clearly states that AA experience has shown that they ought best be sent to OPEN meetings. The ego's of leadership at the local level has misused the phrase autonomous to the detriment of the phrase "except as it effects AA as a whole". Once we are affiliated with the court and the Judge's huge egos then it is a devil of a problem to extricate ourselves. Judges now send pot smokers, first time Minor in Possession of alcohol violators, wife beaters and everyone else who was involved in alcohol in any form to closed meetings of AA. Google Maryland AA "Call for Unity" and you will see how wise and proactive those folks were.
Your dictionary definition of tradition is correct. You are also correct stating group conscience and autonomy (traditions 2 & 4) determine whether meetings accept or encourage sharing about drugs (other than alcohol) or addictions such as food, sex or smoking.
Somewhere in all this discussion common sense should have prevailed. Unfortunately in the past 20-30 years it hasn't because the one thing AA members had in common, alcoholism and the solution, has been lost or diluted. Uninformed group conscience has allowed meetings to run on the principle of anything goes. It seems that common sense has been lost because we no longer have anything in common. When groups allow AA membership to those who don’t have a drinking problem or a desire to stop drinking the credibility, unity and effectiveness of the group and AA as a whole are irreparably damaged (IMO).
I believe most newcomers now arrive at AA on everything but roller skates. I also had problems other than alcohol. I was taught by my sponsors and old timers to seek professional help or attend other 12 step programs for outside issues. Come to AA to deal with my drinking problem; nothing else. When I did I found solutions to my living problems through the practice of the steps and traditions.
I no longer have a home group because I can’t find one in my area that closely follows the traditions. I attend very few meetings because I am no longer attracted with much of what I see and hear. I often feel worse leaving meetings than when I arrived. My solution was to just stop attending. Please don’t tell me to take what I want and leave the rest. That doesn’t work for this alcoholic. Sounds too much like going through a cafeteria line up. For me it is more of a cop out than a solution.
So the question, “When is a tradition no longer a tradition?” continues to raise its ugly head. It appears the tradition/trend of Alcoholics Anonymous today is to cater to the needs of all addictions and be open to discussion of all topics, including sectarian religion, sexual orientation and politics. If we no longer want to follow the old traditions perhaps we should consider changing our name to Anything Anonymous (AA) or (EA) Everything Anonymous. A new name would be more pertinent to present practices.
IMO personalities have become more important than our principles and promotion more prominent than attraction. The last thing Doctor Bob said to Bill W. before he died was, “Let`s not louse this thing up Bill; let`s keep it simple.”
I’m sure our co-founders would be horrified to see and hear our present meeting practices. Today's traditions are anything but simple; in fact we have complicated the hell out of things.
What other 12 step program can an alcoholic attend for help other than AA? Unable to identify at meetings many leave and die and many others just leave.
Thanks for the part you play in my sobriety and I wish all a sober holiday season!
Mike B. What is your understanding of Traditions eleven
and Twelve? They are both about anonymity. We are not to
appear in public as members of Alcoholics Anonymous: If
we publicly declare our membership and later appear drunk
that casts a doubt whether AA works. Anyone who works with
the public would be under constant scrutiny, which in itself could drive an alcoholic to drink. If a celebrity
does go public and appears to be successful year after
year, how could that be harmful?
Tradition Twelve is about humility. It is humility,
expressed by anonymity, which is the foundation of all
our traditions/principles. It is not anonymity of itself.
But how much humility is needed to remain sober and a
productive member of society. Bill wrote that absolute
humility is probably not going to be available for
us as human beings.
Yes, we need more exposure to all of the Traditions.
They are detailed in the 12 & 12, The Language of the
Heart, and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age. We need
to follow the spirit and the letter of the traditions.
when you posted "public" and anonymity I am assuming you mean anonymity at the level of press, radio, film & internet. I ha e spoken at the public level - open meeting, school, churches, ect. we are asked to omit our last names when speaking at the public level.
An AA member stated that he had spoken at his son's
school and had been well received. Many there knew him
by his full name. I believe that speaking before a
public gathering ought to be done by someone outside
the area, someone who would remain anonymous.
Did you speak at the public level for public recognition
or to promote AA? It is humility, expressed by anonymity,
which is our safeguard, not anonymity in itself. ANONYMOUS
If you no longer attend meetings in your area because you can't find one that follows the Traditions, perhaps you should start a meeting that does follow the Traditions. I do not think your reasons for not attending meetings are valid. I tell all of my sponsees this - if you don't like the meetings you're attending, what are you doing to improve them? If you stop going, you are not part of the solution and if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.