Your mistake,Mike.You should have brought him to a group you are comfortable with where you could introduced him to others.
Not sure Mustafa how I made a mistake as a newcomer asked me to take him to a meeting and that is exactly what I did. It was the only meeting available here that night as we generally have only one meetng a day in our region.
I have been to that meeting before and it has been pretty good AA. I'm afraid it was just a case of bad luck of the draw.
I wanted to share this experience with others so we don't keep making the same mistakes. That is one of the reasons why the traditions were established.
Anyways thanks for your feedback.
you say that this meeting violated traditions by 'chanting', singing happy birthday and other various behavior you find unacceptable. How interesting that people celebrating their sobriety upsets you. Even more interesting is that you had a newcomer with you and I am pretty sure that even if you did not say so out loud the newcomer was fully aware of how upset you were.
I have been to meetings in different places all over the States and Canada. Groups hold meetings in their own manner and have their own customs (not traditions). You need to lighten up and be less critical. Did you listen for any similarities? Did you try and find the message of hope that AA offers?
I will acknowledge that singing by a speaker is more than a little odd but their are worse things that could have happened.
In my opinion, all A.A. meetings ought to be similar.
Any alcoholic entering the doors of A.A. needs to be
exposed to the same message. We are not here to entertain
or to be entertained.
Any alcoholic coming to a meeting ought to hear the
preamble, and be exposed to the rest of the traditions which the preamble does not explain. The group ought to
adhere to the material in the preamble and the traditions.
When we read the preamble stating that we are not
allied with any sect, and than read That one is God,
May you find Him Now, the newcomer is confused. Manny Q.
Thanks Mike. It brings me comfort that other A.A. members
share my concerns. I am convinced that the type of A.A.
which you describe does more harm than good. This is an
example of the temporary good being the deadly enemy of the
permanent best. Where an alcoholics life is concerned, only the very best is good enough.
I too would have been ashamed to take a new person to
the meeting you described, and many of the meetings of
today's A.A. The incessant chanting and the hold hands and
pray closing would prevent many from returning. After hearing all the requirements for membership and sobriety,
most say "what an order", "let me out of here".
We have a method, technique which Bill even called a
gadget, which rarely fails when working with other alcoholics. Stop telling alcoholics what to do or what
they have to do. Let the Big Book give them the needed
information. If we share our own story truthfully, honestly
we will rarely fail. Stop reading HIW at meetings. Remove
the 24hr book from the meeting rooms. Stop the stupid
chanting. Stop praying at meetings. We are not prayer
groups. Pray elsewhere on your own time. Separate the
drug addict from A.A. Both fellowships work best side
by side. Together we all lose. A.A. seldom works for
other addictions. Each can only identify with their own.
We all know there are plenty of both around to fill
both rooms, A.A. and N.A. The things I mention are just
reversals of changes at the group level in the past
three decades. They were serious blunders and have all
but destroyed our fellowship. And yes, all from
Bill W. wrote an article for the January 1955 issue of the A.A.Grapevine, title: Why Alcoholics Anonymous is
Anonymous. See page 209 in the book "Language of the Heart". With 20 years of working with alcoholics
and the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, I believe Bill gave us the perfect message
about anonymity and the many reasons why Alcoholics Anonymous is anonymous. We only need
to read, understand and obey. Manny Q.
Wow! There is certainly alot of personality mixed up in this principle as you read down through all the posts. The traditions have already laid out for us the proper use of the 'anonymity', so why so much discussion? If you think it is EGO driven, we have a step for that and Keep Coming Back! AA has been 'watered down' over the last several years and I am sick of it. Go to meetings, work with a sponsor and 'their interpretation' of the traditions/steps or pick a new one, stay sober and work with another alcoholic! Thats how I stay sober. BTW, in case your wondering, I was taught to absolutely identify myself with my last name, if I truely was to be of maximum service, otherwise, how would they know who to look for...the newcomer, a lady struggling that didnt have to courage to talk with me after the meeting, etc. We have over 100 groups in our area. Since, I have joined an 'anonymous' organization, I have to take a leap of faith that YOU will stick to the traditions, also, so that I do not have to worry of any workplace drama. Really, it is kinda egotistical NOT to share completely (including your full name), it is out of spite and resentment....and you know what they say about our #1 offender. I do have a question...my area has LIVE volunteers for our answering service 24 hours a day....are some of you really paying people to do service work??? Thanks, Michelle, Greenville, SC
With great shame,I'll reveal that my District 7-1(11)Hartford,Corrupticut,USA's biggest expense is the paid answering service. We have 1,000's of members & cannot cover 168 hours in a week.
I took that Chair a few years ago & found the service cheated us & the District would not let me fire them & establish our own.
Regarding "their intrepretation of the traditions/steps".
How would the new member know if the "sponsor" has an
accurate understanding of the traditions/steps. Are any
of us experts? I believe the best way to develop a
working understanding of the steps and traditions is
in a group setting. The book, Twelve steps and Twelve
Traditions, is what I believe to be the best source of
information available. I think Bill W. had the best
understanding of the steps/traditions. Bill wrote:
"And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that
the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual
significance, that we are to practice a genuine
humility. Today we preach humility but no longer
practice it. ANONYMOUS
You wrote that you are sick of A.A. being "watered
down", over the last several years. Could you be more
specific? Exactly what do you see that has changed?
Are you talking years or decades?
I have seen about ten significant changes in Alcoholics
Anonymous in the past four decades, and today I consider
these changes as being harmful.
I consider the "hold hands and pray" closing as being
harmful to our fellowship. I am being presumptous, but
I would guess that you would have the groups pray at the
beginning of the meeting and the closing.
I do not state my full name when I share at an A.A.
meeting. I do use my last initial due to the fact that
so many members are "Joe". I certainly do not feel any
"spite or resentment".
What do you think of reading "How It Works" aloud at
meetings? I have a friend from Texas who says that they
no longer read it at meetings, simply because it is time
consuming. I consider this reading from the podium at
meetings to be one of the worst mistakes we have ever
made in A.A. I am not a "counselor" but "How does that
make you feel?".
Welcome to "What's on Your Mind FORUM. I hope you
have the time to continue writing.
In closing, do you know that your area 62 contributed
$60,827.90. to the General Service Office last year to
"pay people to do service work"?
Again, please explain exactly what you mean by A.A.
being "watered down". Previous messages have been written
about A.A. being "watered down".
My greatest concern is our lack of growth since the
early 1990's. Stagnation has been a concern by our
chairman of the General Service Board of Trustees. What
do you think the problem is? Or do you have the opinion
that A.A. is "alive and well"? Your area gained 1164
members in the three year period 2007-2010. That is a gain of 388 per year. With an army of 8,000 soldiers whose
primary purpose is to save suffering alcoholics, is this
the best your area can do? Now I WILL close. for now. ANONYMOUS
Many A.A. members use the term, "watered down" when they are speaking of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you look at the context of their point, what they are saying is there is a diminished force or effect in our message of the program of recovery as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
HIW is heavy preaching when read from the podium & should be done away with-it has driven away many more than it saved.
I kinda like holding hands,but would like to close all meetings with the"Responsibility Declaration"like they do in Lima,Peru.
mustafa-GSO is overpaid & under worked & is doing things for the groups that we should be doing for ourselves.
I find holding hands with men repulsive. Before I
finally just stopped joining in the, what I now call the
ring around the rosy circle, I would try to position
myself between females.
My concern is the newcomer, who may find holding hands
with strangers uncomfortable or off-putting. I see this
ritual as a cult or religious activity.
In the 1970's, when A.A. was effective and growing,
we simply stood by our chairs for the closing, usually
The Lords Prayer. It was always: for those who wish to join.
You wrote, "My greatest concern is our lack of growth since the early 1990's. Stagnation has been a concern by our
chairman of the General Service Board of Trustees. What
do you think the problem is?"
I have no idea what the problem is, however AA is alive, well and growing locally.
One possibility is that newcomers are discouraged by being constantly reminded of what's wrong with AA. Money being wasted, religious ceremonies, chanting, etc. Who would want to be a part of something so terrible?
I don't hear a lot of griping about AA's problems at our local meetings, but I do hear a lot of gratitude for the improvement AA has made in members' lives. Maybe if we all started showing more gratitude and doing less complaining more folks would stick around long enough to get sober.
Jim S. This forum is not an A.A. meeting or an A.A.
group. I consider this forum to be a world wide conscience
meeting where anyone who is interested can have a voice.
I don't hear a lot of complaints at the meetings in
my local meetings. Have you been to meetings where a lot
of griping is done? I haven't.
Are you sure that A.A. membership in your area (state)
is increasing? My brother who is an A.A. member in the
Washington D.C. area, tells me that A.A. is "booming"
in his area. Membership numbers are posted in the
FINAL REPORT from the General Service Conference. We
have fewer members in A.A. (worldwide) than we had
twenty years ago. Does that not concern you? A little
investigation might show you what the problem is. There
is a problem, whether you acknowledge it or not. My head was pulled out of the sand about five years ago. ANONYMOUS
Thanks ADO,I,too,have been awakened to the plight of AA.
I searched the 61st General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous Delegate’s Conference Report and could find no membership numbers. Perhaps you'll point out exactly where I can find them?
I did find this under “Group Services” on page 31:
"A net total of 1,896 new A.A. groups were listed at G.S.O. last year."
In July, 1972, a one year chip was hand carried halfway around the world to me along with a note which said, in part, "AA is really growing here in -----. We now have forty-three meetings." Today there are three hundred. Stagnant?
Yes, I agree this is a forum rather than a group or a meeting. But isn't the Grapevine our "Meeting in Print"? This forum has a section called "New to AA." I'm sure many of those who post to that section also read the others. How many read the posts complaining about all that is wrong with AA are turned off by the negativity posted? Does a list of supposed failings really attract newcomers to the fellowship?
Strangely enough, I don't hear these complaints in live meetings. I only find them in forums like these where the complainers can hide behind the anonymity of their computer monitors.
I have a copy of the 2011 FINAL REPORT from the 61st
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE OF
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS in front of me. Membership numbers
can be found on pages 78 and 79. At the end of 2009 we
had 1,358,879 members (US and Canada). The groups numbered
61,613. At the end of 2010 we had 1,373,681 members and
62,873 groups. In the year of 2010 we gained 1,260 groups
and 14,802 members. Only one group out of four (approximately) gained one member for the entire year.
That is just not acceptable. If I have made a mistake,
please point it out to me. If every A.A. member helped
one alcoholic into A.A. in a year's time we would
double in membership every year.
Let me read your mind. You are thinking up excuses.
The easiest excuse is that the numbers mean nothing. How
could anyone count members of an anonymous fellowship.
The facts are that we are failing so many suffering
alcoholics today that it is too tragic to even think
about. Denial is rampant.
Very few new A.A. have any idea that this forum exists.
How could my complaints about the chanting, the reading of
HIW, holding hands and praying, the reading of the 24hr
book, here on the FORUM turn any suffering alcoholic
away from A.A. It is the practice of these blunders in
the A.A. meeting which drives them away.
A.A. membership grow at the rate of doubling about
every ten years until 1992 reaching almost two and a
half million members. We have less than that today.
Something is terribly wrong, and I do not think my
hiding behind a computer has anything to do with it.
it works if you work it, God could and would if he were sought, holding hands, The Lord's prayer, ad infinitum. Many people associate these rituals as us being either a cult or affliated with religion. An informed group conscience by the taking of a group inventory may perhaps help. Depends on the geographic location of the group meeting. I want AA to be left the way I found it, for the next suffering alcoholic.
I also want A.A. to be left the way I found it. The
Program/Fellowship of today barely resembles the fellowship
I found in 1970. I observed as changes were being made at
the Group level. I did not feel comfortable with the changes
as they were happening, but I knew so little about the
history of the fellowship I had no ground to stand on. I
tried to prevent the reading of HIW at my home group. It
was like trying to hold back the tide.I finally accepted the
reading and read it many times saying "This is how it works.
Even Bill W. wrote in Three Talks to Medical Societies that
he could not fully explain how A.A. works.
About ten significant changes ocurred at the Group
Level in the past three decades. The introduction of
chanting was one of the blunders. The reading of HIW aloud
at meetings, and the acceptance of the 24hr book have
made Alcoholics Anonymous into a strange type of religion.
Chanting and praying at meetings makes us look like a
cult or sect. Our "hold hands and pray closing" confirmes
the religion concept. Today's "sponsor" requirement makes
us a cult. This is true, no matter how much we deny it.
I, personally will not leave A.A. the way I found it. But
hopefully the next generation will do a better job. My
generation has all but destroyed it. ANONYMOUS
There may be some truth to the idea that North America A.A. membership numbers have been stagnant for several years, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are doing anything wrong. However, it's a great opportunity for a group inventory to see how we can better carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
By the way, A.A. membership is exploding in India right now. I'm guessing some members may hold hands when they pray and may even read "How It Works."
Sobriety---Freedom from ALCOHOL--- through the Teaching and Practice of the 12 Steps is the SOLE PURPOSE of ANY AA GROUP.
BILL W---problems other than alcohol
Why do you suppose that Bill wrote that the teaching
and practice of the 12 steps is the purpose of the GROUP?
Why didn't he write that we are to be teachers of the steps
as individual members of Alcoholics Anonymous? I believe
it is because none of us are qualified, as individuals, to
be teachers of the steps. It is not guaranteed that the group is qualified, but the chances are much greater than the individual A.A. member. This way no one member becomes
an A.A. big shot. Every alcoholic approaching A.A. can
be set free, if we let the group function properly. ANONYMOUS
I have been doing some reflecting on AA’s tradition of anonymity, specifically in regards to using our full names in AA meetings. I am torn on the subject. I no longer introduce myself with my full name in closed AA meetings. The reason is this, everyone that attends the closed meetings I attend already know my last name and have my phone number. When a newcomer attends, they get my number and other member’s numbers. If you have ever gone to the hospital to visit a sick or dying member and did not have their last name, you cannot find them and they die without you, so that is part of the reason we do it.
The AA who took me through the steps got sober in 1970. According to GSO there where about 311,000 AA members then. He always introduces himself with his full name so you can look him up in the phone book or visit him in the hospital when he is dying.
I think most of us in AA would agree that Dr. Bob S. had a pretty good grasp on humility and anonymity. If you look on page 264 of “Dr Bob and the Goodoldtimers”, (AA conference approved literature of course) there is some good recollections of Dr Bob’s views on anonymity.
An AA member recalls Dr. Bob saying there were two ways to break the anonymity tradition: (1) by giving your name at the public level of press and radio: (2) by being so anonymous that you can’t be reached by other drunks.
Another member recollected that Dr. Bob commented as follows: “Since our tradition on anonymity designates the exact level where the line should be held, it must be obvious to everyone who can read and understand the English language that to maintain anonymity at any other level is definitely a violation of this tradition.
“The AA who hides his identity from his fellow AA by using only a given name violates the tradition just as much as the AA who permits his name to appear in the press in connection with matters pertaining to AA.
“The former is maintaining he anonymity ABOVE the level of press, radio, and films, and the latter is maintaining his anonymity BELOW the level of press, radio, and films-whereas the tradition states we should maintain our anonymity AT the level of press, radio, and films.”
I hope this helps clarify the issue of using full names in conjunction with AA meetings. As always, don’t take my word for it. Get yourself a copy of “Dr. Bob and the Goodoldtimers” and read it for yourself. Especially pages 264 & 265.
Thanks for reading,
That is all fine and well, and reasonable. however lately some AA members took pictures of someone in a meeting hall without there consent, do I really want people like this around me?
Thanks for the comments. I sincerely believe that you
are as concerned as the rest of us on Alcoholics Anonymous
being "the best we can be". I personally am not "torn
on the subject" any longer. I am convinced, as of today,
that it is best not to use full names when sharing at
an A.A. group meeting. We are anonymous. We are Alcoholics
Anonymous. Anonymous means "without any name acknowledged"
according to my dictionary.
Most of us do not hide our identity from our fellow
A.A. member. But any member ought to have the right to
do so for whatever reason. When I came into the fellowship
I held a job as an armed security officer. For years my
membership in A.A. was not known to my employer. As time
passed, sober years, my A.A. membership became less than
top secret. I was approached for information and help.
It can be disconcerting to try to visit someone in
the hospital without knowing their last name. But in
most cases, the name can be found. If not, "so be it".
Personally I agree with Dr. Bob. I want to enter
into the next world (heaven) without any fanfare. If
you can't find my last name, go out to an A.A. meeting
and try to help some other suffering alcoholic.
I have read most of the conference approved books. I
love the definition of humility, which Dr. Bob kept on
a plaque on his desk. It is written on page 222 in Dr.
Bob and the Good Oldtimers. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes
of Age and The Language of the Heart are gold mines
of information. I believe these books ought to be
"required reading" by the tenth year of sobriety.
You see that in 1970 A.A membership was 311,000.
In 1980 we had 907,575 members. This rate of growth
continued for another twelve years. Something has
happened. What happened? In 1992 we had almost two
and a half million A.A. members: 2,489,541, according
to GSO. Today we are "spinning our wheels", churning
at about 2,250,000 members. I don't have the exact
estimates in front of me.
There are numerous excuses, reasons for our lack
of growth. Some of them make some sense. But the reason
for our stagnation is that we have lost most of our
effectiveness in working with alcoholics. Our fellowship
has all but destroyed itself from within. The ship can
be turned around, but not without a lot of persistant
study and work. I believe most of the answers can be
found on the I-SAY FORUM. Thanks for the posting. ANONYMOUS
At the room where I have been attending meetings for the past two years or so, there are two or three collections of photos posted in the room. The majority of the photos are of members as they receive their anniversary medallions, others are of members or visitors posing around the room. I see this as personalities before principles, ego inflation, self recognition, and generally all the things that I have learned that this program is not about. Your thoughts, please.
From Box 459 Vol. 53, No. 1 / February-March 2007
Taking Pictures at A.A. Events
Think Before You Push, Pull or Click
Today, when photographing friends at an A.A. event is
as easy as whipping out a cell phone and taking aim, it is
just as easy to brush aside A.A.’s Eleventh Tradition,
which states, “Our public relations policy is based on
attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain
personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and
films.” And, in fact, this Tradition has stood many tests
At the 1974 General Service Conference, then delegate
Ruth H. of Southeast New York, said, “Recently a local
member took a picture of all tables at a personal anniversary
meeting, not asking if anyone wished to be photographed.
The celebrant (with many years in A.A.) was
snapped with the speakers and cutting the cake, like at a
wedding. The photographer, when asked if he had permission
from those present to take their pictures, said,
‘This is my group and my camera!’ ” In another instance,
Ruth related, a member caught on camera celebrating his
anniversary “innocently left the picture on his home coffee
table. A neighbor came in, pointed to someone else in the
picture and said, ‘I didn’t know he was in A.A.’ ”
Because of such instances, Ruth reported, “the topic was
brought to our area assembly. Some people said, ‘Everybody
saw me drunk, so why should I hide in A.A.?” Many
thought, she noted, that newcomers might be scared away
or else decide it was all right to come to the next anniversary
meeting with camera in hand. After discussion, Ruth said,
“the assembly passed a motion that our area committee‘very strongly suggests’ no pictures be taken at any A.A.
meeting—to protect the anonymity of all present and not
frighten away newcomers, since picture-taking violates ‘the
spirit of the First, Eleventh and Twelfth Traditions.’ ”
Today, deciding whether or not to photograph members
at A.A. events is overall a matter of group conscience. For
instance, before and after the closing brunch of the annual
General Service Conference, there is much picture-taking—
but not during any of the general sessions. The collective
experience of A.A. indicates, says a General Service Office
staff member, that such a decision be reached only after
taking a group consensus. If the group conscience nixes picture-
taking, it would be wise to announce the decision, not
just once but periodically, to the group as a whole. And in
all cases, before a picture is taken of one or more members,
it is suggested that permission from them, as well as from
the appropriate group officer, be sought first.
Time and again experience has shown that for A.A.s,
being in the public eye is hazardous to our personal sobriety—
and to our collective survival if we break our
anonymity at the public level and then get drunk. Yet “A.A.
had to be publicized somehow,” as co-founder Bill W.
pointed out (A.A. Comes of Age, p. 129), “so we resorted to
the idea that it would be far better to let our friends do this
for us”—our seven nonalcoholic trustees among them.
They can face the camera head on or use their last names
without threat to themselves or the Fellowship. Thus they
reach many a suffering alcoholic with the A.A. message,
along with the professionals who counsel and treat them.
A section of the Public Information Workbook offers
guidelines on “Carrying the Message Through the Media:
Interviews and Anonymity.” It suggests that an A.A.
member who appears on radio, TV or the Internet and is
identified as such “will find it safer to carefully arrange
with the interviewer to use only his or her first name, and
to appear in such a way that identification is impossible.
The 1968 General Service Conference motioned that a
‘full-face appearance on TV is an anonymity break, even
though the name is withheld.’ ” However, it notes, if an
A.A. appears publicly just as a recovering alcoholic, without
disclosing A.A. membership, “no question of
anonymity arises. The A.A. appears like any other guest,
using full name and full-face picture.”
Importantly, “when appearing on interview programs,
as an A.A. member and with anonymity protected, explain
to the interviewer in advance that A.A.s traditionally confine
such discussions to the A.A. program. The member
does not speak on or qualify as an expert on the disease of
alcoholism, drugs, suicide rates, and so on.” Traditionally,
the P.I. Workbook adds, “A.A.s preface their remarks by
saying that they speak for themselves, not for the entire
Fellowship.” Generally, they stress that “the sole concern of
A.A. is the recovery and continued sobriety” of alcoholics
who turn to us for help. And “when we speak as A.A.s, we
are careful to say that A.A. has no opinion on other issues.”1948 issue of the Grapevine, Bill expressed, candidly yet
tongue-in-cheek, a thought that resonates now: “…we
have good friends both wet and dry, right and left. Like
most societies, we are sometimes scandalous—but never
yet in public. … Our friends of the press and radio have
outdone themselves. Anyone can see that we are in a fair
way to be spoiled. Our reputation is already so much better
than our actual character!”
Cameras of any kind have no place in an A.A. room
or at an A.A. event. Humility, expressed by anonymity,
is our most important safeguard. Rose
It is a two fold safeguard, for the group and for the individual.
I agree 1000%. In today's world of tell all the last thing I want is a video of a private moment. Closed meetings are just that closed. For a reason. When I go into a meeting I am just another drunk. Someone trying to be sober. No better or no less than anyone else.
Please read the tradition on anonymity: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films."
Are these photos place in a public building or in an AA club? If in a club, is it open to the general public? Is the club visited by members of the media?
Do you and the other members hide your faces at the meetings you attend?
Clubhouses are traditionally open to the public, including open meetings occasionly. Photos of group members taken with or without their permission has no place in public view. Perhaps a physician wants to come to that group? Or another person who wanted to or needed to keep his/her attendence at the meeting private? I've seen students required to attend open meetings come to our home group. A photograph on the wall would be a travesty of the traditions.
I think it's a 12th tradition related comment, not so much 11th--unless the photos are in a location televised or involved in some other fashion related to the media. These photos are in a 12 Step Room of Alcoholics Anonymous.
My thoughts are that photos of members should not be posted in the room--nor should any other non-Conference approved items, for that matter. The posting of photos seems to smack of self promotion/recognition, pride, ego, etc. Doesn't it lack humility? Doesn't it place personalities before principles? What if a particular member's photo appeared many times among the photos? Couldn't it lead to big shotism? Would a newcomer tend to think that guy who is in so many photos is in charge of AA? I could be wrong, but I don't believe photos of our founders appeared in any rooms until after their death (and those wonderful men were not in charge of AA either). Guess who is?
I have been attending meetings at a group in another country that has pictures of members posted in the room (most, as they receive their anniversary medallions). From what you have taught me in the Rooms of AA, I don't think these pictures have a place in an AA room--I feel they represent issues with our 12th Tradition and anonymity/humility (all very closely related). Thoughts, please.
I am 2 years so into meetings, and 3 months sober, my bottom was 2008 , which was really a top because I graduated both college and rehab!!! I guess I had too much knowledge. Anyway I like what I am getting and I will keep coming back. I have a sponsor and thinking about making the my noon group my home home group even though my first meeting was somewhere else!!
Listed below are some facts on AA’s view on anonymity, in this case using last names in meetings, as written in the AA conference approved pamphlet understanding anonymity:
At the personal level, anonymity provides protection for all members from identification as alcoholics, a safeguard often of special importance to newcomers.
…….such a disclosure, however, is always their own choice: AA as a whole seeks to ensure that individual members stay as private and protected as they wish, or as open as they wish, about belonging to the fellowship; but always with the understanding that anonymity a the level of press, radio, tv, films and other media technologies such as the internet is crucial to our continuing sobriety and growth.
On the bottom of page 11 in the same pamphlet it says, “Use last names within the fellowship, especially for election of group officers and other service jobs.
On page 6 and 7 of the AA conference approved pamphlet “The AA Group,” in the paragraph understanding anonymity at the AA group level, it says, “We may use last names within our group. At the same time, we respect the right of other members to maintain their own anonymity however they wish, and as closely as they wish.
So the fact is it is OK to use your first and last name within an AA group. Anonymity is broken when I say my full name and that I am a member of AA in the press, radio, films, and digital media.
I live in a small town. Everyone in the meeting already knows everyone else’s full name, where they work, and who their last 3 or 4 generations of their family are. So introducing yourself with your last name in a closed AA meeting here doesn’t make much sense anyway. My point is that in a closed meeting anonymity is not broken by introducing yourself with first and last name. I think at an open meeting that is open to the public only first names should be used, but I have no facts to support that, just the forward to the first addition of the big books suggestion for speaking publicly.
Thanks for reading
When Bill W. wrote Tradition Twelve, he concluded with
this paragraph: We are sure that HUMILITY, EXPRESSED BY
ANONYMITY, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have.
Most of the reasons for us, as members of A.A. to
remain anonymous are covered in Tradition Eleven.
Tradition Twelve is mostly about humility. I see
not using last names when sharing at A.A. meetings,
as part of the sacrifice Bill writes about. We give
up our desire for personal distinction and prestige.
I am convinced, at least for today, that no good
reason can be given for using last names when
sharing at an A.A. meeting, open or closed. But my feelings are obviously in conflict with the latest pamphlet on
The pamphlet reads, you are correct, on page 11,
"Experience suggests that A.A. members: Use last names
within the Fellowship, especially for election of group officers and other service jobs. That is a conference
approved A.A. pamphlet.
I believe this is just another indication of
how far we have strayed as a fellowship (not Fellowship)
from the true meaning of Tradition Twelve. Humility is
mentioned only once in the new pamphlet.
I believe that today's movement only preaches humility.
It is time for us to put true humility back into practice.
A friend who came into A.A. in the 1960's said he
went to A.A. meetings where no names at all was used.
Our A.A. membership has been "stagnant" for two
decades. All of these blunders have taken its toll.
What a price is paid for our stubborn pride. Human
beings are suffering and dying, while we ignore the
truth. "As Joe Sees It". ANONYMOUS
Quote: "A friend who came into A.A. in the 1960's said he
went to A.A. meetings where no names at all was used."
I have a library of several hundred AA speakers mostly from Conventions and/or conferences. Sobriety dates go back to the thirties.
In those cases where the speaker didn't give his name, no one shouted, "Who are you?" I guess the audience paid attention when the speaker was introduced by name. In some cases the person introduced the speaker by first and last name. And in many cases the speakers used their full names
Anonymity has been important to members long before the Traditions were written and accepted, as shown in the forward to the first edition of the Big Book and the broohaha over Rollie H.'s publicity in May of 1940.
At the Central Atlantic REgional assembly in Washington, DC on Jan. 31. 1948, Both Bill W. and Dr. Bob were introduced by their full names.
Just my opinion, but it seems that some are so ashamed of their alcoholism they use humility as a convenient excuse for secrecy.
Followships need last names and lables like sponsor thank only God A.A. was anonomous not your ?
I have no absolute facts to support a lot of my feelings.
But I have become more attentive to the way I feel about
things. Intuition has a purpose. You think that A.A.
members ought not give their full names at open meetings.
Do you ever ask yourself why you feel that way? What difference does make? Should we state last names or
ought we stay Anonymous? One way must be better than the
other. We should strive for the very best we know how,
or can learn. For our fellowship, only the very best is
acceptable. If Bill W. states in Three Talks to American
Societies, that even he cannot explain fully how A.A.
works, why do we say to almost every newcomer, "This
is "How It Works". Keep Thinking, and stop chanting. ANONYMOUS
An open meeting is open to anyone interested in aa. that means drinkers, nonalcoholic family and freinds, doctors, lawers, students, writers, filmakers, private investigators, police, clergy,and members of other anonymous groups.
Closed mtgs are for alcoholics or potential alcoholics only. to me there is less chance of my name ending up in a college students paper or local newspaper, or ending up in a courtroom from what was said during a closed aa mtg.
I have lived in larger communities where i was able to make 12step calls because they where able to look me up in the local phone book through using my last name in closed mtgs.
I know live in a small community where we already know everyones last names anyway. the only way to truly be anonymous is to take a cab to the local mtgs so the locals wont recognize your car at the mtg parking lot.
I believe anyone who is trying to contact Alcoholics
Anonymous ought to easily be able to do so. They should not have to know my last name to find A.A. Manny Q.
I have heard at meetings: In A.A. there are no big
shots and no little shots; One shot and we are all shot.
I honestly see no reason to state one's last name while
sharing at an A.A.meeting.
Our first tradition explains the importance of
unity. There is a separation of sorts when some members
give full names when they share, and others do not. The
newcomer may think some members are notables, if the
last name is given. Some members may consider themselves
so important that their full name ought to be given. But
the first tradition also assures all members the right
to think, talk, and act as he/she wishes. p129 -12+12.
I believe most A.A. members who use last names while
sharing do so because that is the way they grew up in
the fellowship. None of the areas I have lived have
used last names.
The use of last names is necessary in service of course.
If I receive mail addressed to Joe J., instead of Joe
Johnson, it might draw more attention than using my
We are responsible to have the fellowship available
to any alcoholic seeking help. But that does not mean
that I am so important that I need to be "on call". The
answering service is paid to contact an A.A. member.
I help to pay the answering service and make sure it
I am simply not that important, and believe that
an alcoholic's EGO is easily inflated by this feeling
of being special or important.
My concern is the newcomer. Is he/she going to
be confused? I believe that any alcoholic entering
our fellowship, ought to find uniformity. Meetings
ought to be basically the same no matter what the
locale. That may sound like a violation of Tradition
Four, but look at the two storm signals posted.
In this age of communication, is there any GOOD
reason to state full names in an Alcoholics ANONYMOUS
meeting, while sharing? ANONYMOUS
Some might remember Jack Paar on late night TV. He was fired by the network and during his final show he told the audience he was fired because the network thought he wasn't humble enough. He pointed to the tears running down his cheeks and said, "Look how humble I am."
I have flashbacks to that show in many AA meetings when I hear/read members sharing that allowing another AA member to know one's last name is an ego trip, a violation of a tradition, that sharing one's sobriety date is an ego trip, etc., etc., etc.,
If I hide my identity it's not out of humility, it's out of fear that someone might actually find out I'm an alcoholic.
And it's because my inflated ego says I'm so important that if anyone learns I'm an alcoholic it will be on network TV and in all the newspapers by next morning.
I agree that it is no one business to know your last name. There are to many people out there that wants to judge you for what is or what happened to you. I believe that companies would hold that against you as well even if it had nothing to do with your work. You have a enough going on in your like to worry about let along about losing your job.
Allowing another A.A. member to know one's last
name is not the same as stating "My name is Joe
Johnson, and I am an alcoholic, when sharing at an
A.A. meeting. I have no fear that someone might
find out that I am an alcoholic. I did have that
fear when I first came into A.A., because of my
job in security.
I am convinced that stating full names while
sharing at an A.A. meeting is not the best custom
for A.A. In my opinion it serves no purpose. I
personally feel that this topic is more about
humility than anything else. EGO deflation at
depth is vital in recovery from addiction. ANONYMOUS
Do you give your phone number to newcomers?
If you do, do you tell them only your first name,and maybe your last initial?
I have seven Joes in my phone list, three with the same last initial.
Personally, if a member doesn't trust us with his identity I don't put much faith in what he shares.
whats the deal withthesenonalcoholic professors of the bib book. im an alcoholic and can understand the big book because it was written so only an alcoholic can understand it. n
I have not seen or heard of any non-alcoholics
teaching the meaning of the Big Book. I do
agree that it is written so that any alcoholic can
understand it. The book was written by alcoholics
for alcoholics. Bill wrote that the book was meant
to be suggestive and that more would be revealed.
A,A. members, alcoholic and maybe some potential
alcoholics, have become teachers (gurus) of the book,
and have forgotten that it is to be suggestive only.
Many have no idea what suggestion means. In our
fellowship. I believe it to mean the introduction
of an idea, with no further coercion. Not: You had
better do as I did, or even worse, do what I tell
you to do, or you are going to drink.
Offer the Big Book to prospective
members, (a third edition, if you can find one).
Let the Big Book do the teaching. Let the new
member develop Her/His own understanding of the
book and of God. Let the Book and the Group do
I believe that much too often the old alcoholic
EGO rears its ugly head and again drives the alcoholic.
Some drink again. Others remain sober to become teachers,
preachers, advisors, gurus. I believe that this is what
drives most newcomers from our A.A. rooms. ANONYMOUS