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Joined: 2012-02-25
Tradition or is it?

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.
Oliver, BC.

RE: Tradition or is it?

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.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re public

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.

RE: re public

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

What are you doing to improve the meetings?

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.

re tradition

original poster of dictionary quote here.

"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."

That has not been my experience at all in AA. I am sorry if it actually is in your area.

I continue to attend and am frequently surprised by the acceptance that elderly newcomers have of "drug talk" by younger members. I really don't have any first hand knowledge of talk by those with addictions other than alcohol having any negative affect on the rest. As long as I seek out meetings with the focus on recovery there isn't much talk of drinking or drugging either one. The only speaker's meetings I attend is to learn something about newcomers an offer support. I've learned to expect ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING said at these meetings. I just cringe and assume I was just as bad.

Addicts telling their Stories at Speaker Meetings

For some time now, addicts who introduce themselves as 'alcoholics AND addicts' (because their many-sided life may have included a bottle or two when they tried to kick a drug jag) have been at the podium telling us what it was like, etc. After a brief recounting of a few drinks they had --the story launches always into the horrors of using street drugs, prostitution, children being left to die so they could shoot up drugs, it goes on and on until I for one 'wish' that alcohol had been their problem. I also sometimes feel that "I am only a drunk, what am I even doing here at ALL?"
I can only dimly relate to these wrecks of humanity who delight in their superior level of degradation and moral decay after selling their souls to hard drugs like crack and heroin, methamphetamines and prescription painkillers. In my own long drinking career, I avoided those sorts of people as best I could because they were the ones most likely to wait until I was drunk, and then roll me or go through my pockets after I passed out. (The pickpocket who helps you look for your wallet)
I'm not alone when I wish they would consort with their own 'kind' and stop conning alcoholics into feeling sorry for them in AA.

Joined: 2013-01-08

Dear Friends,

I am not seeing the kinds of problems you describe at my home group that offers a daily discussion meeting and Saturday speaker meeting. There is hardly a person in the room, including me, who did not at least dabble with drugs during active alcoholism. However, our attendees seem to "get it" that this is AA and we do not dwell on problems with drugs, food, tobacco, relationships. That doesn't mean people don't mention such things.We just don't dwell on them.

How did our attendees learn this norm? It is modeled by our solid group members. I took a meeting into our local jail and found that it was completely out of control with drug and cross talk. It was 40 inmates and me and try as I might, the inmates set the tone. It was so bad that I actually wrote up some guidelines to help educate the attendees.

On the outside,group members with solid sobriety and regulars set the tone of our meetings. Attendees learn fast about singleness of purpose, cross talk and other group norms. We have a strong group and our members take responsibility. When issues come up, we deal with them immediately or at the next business meeting.

I realize there are meetings in my area that are a bit more like the jail meeting I described. Unfortunately, I can't take responsibility for every AA meeting. I put a lot of energy into my group and try to make sure attendees know they attended an AA meeting where there is a solution.

RE: Addicts telling their stories.

We have the drug addict, food addict, sex addict, etc.
attending AA meetings for help with their addictions
because they have been advised to do so. This is what has to change. We have made them feel welcomed and wanted.
This also has to change. We are at a point now if we
don't separate the fellowships we are all going to be
losers. It has become clear to me that we seldom help
the drug addict. We are doing them an injustice by
allowing them to think they are AA members.
Side by side we offer a solution. There are plenty
addicts and alcoholics. Have your own meetings. Allow
us to have ours.
N/A meetings are not that effective in my area. Addicts
prefer AA meetings where they get tender loving care. This
has to change, no matter how difficult. Stop making them
welcome at AA meetings. AA members who are really dual
addicted must help the N/A meetings in their area. This
problem will always exist but must be diminished as much
as possible. It will take work and intestinal fortitude.
We must save ourselves. We can't save everybody no matter
how great we think we are. ANONYMOUS

Re: Addicts telling their stories

Regarding addicts' preference for AA meetings, I've been told that drug dealers often frequent NA meetings as a sales opportunity, so those serious about recovery avoid them.
But I think part of the problem is courts requiring attendance at AA meetings, and part I infer is due to drug and alcohol counselors view that "a drug is a drug." I've never been to treatment, but was told that once by someone soliciting sponsors for addicts she worked with.

re addicts

I'm disappointed that the moderator of this forum didn't trash this malicious gossip the author doesn't even claim any experience with.

RE: re addicts

It may be gossip, but it is true. I would hardly call
it malicious. Discussion is vital and we need all the
information available.

re addicts

I have no problem with an addict in AA as long as they have a problem with alcohol. that being said, I believe whenever someone introduces themselves as anything other than alcoholic or having a desire to not to use alcohol they are in conflict with traditions 1,3,and 5.
our unity in tradition 1 is that we all are at least alcoholics, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, and we have but one primary purpose. my home group added that language to our meeting format to help newcomers understand that AA is for alcohol. below is a from letter GSO sends out to respond to groups addressing alcohol and drug addiction. please read.

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 (the bold highlight is mine). 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 :

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: .

Joined: 2012-02-25
Re addicts

Thank you for such an inspiring and well written article. When I read your story it gave me hope that there are other like minded AA members who still want to keep the AA ship from capsizing.

I once (March 1990) introduced myself at my home AA group (my sponsor was present); "my name is Mike alcoholic/addict." I can assure all I only made that mistake once. It was quickly pointed out to me by my sponsor and other group members how I was breaking with the traditions. It was suggested I try and get rid of my bad case of terminal uniqueness before it killed me, attend another 12 step program if needed or get a new sponsor and join different AA group.

Regardless of what my other problems are there is only on way I introduce myself; "My name is Mike and I am an alcoholic."

Thanks for the part you play in my sobriety.

Mike B.
Oliver, BC.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Addicts telling their Stories at Speaker Meetings

Using "recreational" substances knowing they are illegal, proves that addicts have no regard for the law of the land. Why then should we expect them to pay any attention to AA's Traditions?


My fourth step told that I had been drunk, behind the wheel of a car, at least five hundred times. Where does that put me in your expectations?

re: addicts

These comments remind me of the 3rd tradition discussion of groups trying to limit themselves to "pure and respectable" alcoholics. Um, when you were drinking, were you obeying "the law of the land" when you drove home from wherever you were, and woke up the next morning wondering if your car made it home with you? Show me a "pure and respectable" alcoholic and I'll show you someone who has not yet grasped the concept of anonymity. Having said that, I can always "vote with my feet" if a speaker's message it something I do not care for, just as I can vote with my feet if a particular meeting has too many whiners stuck in the problem rather than seeking the solution.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: re: addicts

Sure I drove drunk. And did a lot of other antisocial things drunk. But I never said to myself, "Driving drunk gives me a high, so I'm going to get drunk and drive."
alcohol dulled my inhibitions so that I did things I wouldn't do sober. I've never been arrested for being sober in or about an automobile. I've never been pulled over for safe driving. I broke the law after I darank, not before.
And whether or not I respected laws, rules or regulations before I got sober, I respect and obey them today. I also respect the Traditions Of AA, whether I like them or not. addicts who insist on changing AA can't say that. Nor can they give a legitimate reason for attendign AA meetings instead of NA. Only a bunch of lame excuses.

Joined: 2012-10-31
singleness of purpose

During a recent Regional Forum I heard a comment, " If AA is an addiction center, then where am I supposed to go as an alcoholic" ?

Joined: 2012-10-31
3 tradition

I hear all the time the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. It is quite different in the long form, you can read it for yourself. These traditions were approved around 1946 and put in the short form which we see on the shades on the walls along with the 12 Steps at meetings. This idea of the short form came from Ernie T. to make groups Tradition conscience. Ernie T. whom started A.A. in Chicago, ( Dr. Bob was his Sponsor )You can read this for yourself in AA Comes of Age on page 213. Hopefully being better informed we can stick to our Primary Purpose in Tradition 5.

Representing the Traditions

I was recently elected Assistant Coordinator for my home group. My first priority is going to be to try to better represent the Traditions. We are a large group in a major metro area and have 23 meetings a week.

The only time that a Tradition is read as part of regular business is once a month at our Group Conscience meeting; at which, we read the long form of the corresponding tradition for the month (Tradition One in January and so on).

Additionally, out of almost 1200 meetings a year only 10 are dedicated to the Traditions - that’s less than 1%! (For those of you who are curious, the break down is less than 4.5% to BB study, NO 12/12 Study, 10.7% Speaker, and the remaining 83.8% Discussion).

So here is what I need from you... I am looking for suggestions - how do you guys represent the Traditions in your meetings?

So far all I have come up with is adding the recitation of the tradition(s) after How It Works &/or exchange one of our 19 discussion meetings for some sort of dedicated Tradition Study.


Keep it simple....At the discussion meetings the topic can be a Tradition

RE: Representing the Traditions.

If I had the "power", I would delete the reading of HIW,
and replace it with the reading of the Twelve Traditions at every meeting.
The Reading of How It Works aloud at meetings is a tragic
mistake. The ignorance of our Traditions is one major cause of our
decline in effectiveness. We haven't changed the Traditions; we just ignore them. Good luck at changing anything. ANONYMOUS

ew Traditions

I believe that we are elected to Serve, not lead. The group conscience leads.

Much can be learned reading the pamphlets "Question and answers on sponsorship" and "The AA Group". Study those and "The AA Service Manual" and whatever else you can find and approach the group conscience with your informed recommendations.

Understanding the Traditions is really simple for most. Reading them off the wall explains most of it. A few more words should clarify anything left. That's likely why tradition meetings go over about like the plague.

Don't get me wrong, the Traditions are terribly important but that doesn't make them a popular topic. The history behind them in the 12 x 12 and other literature shows their importance and makes us more willing to practice them. An important part of every sponsor's job.

Joined: 2012-02-25
Tradition meetings

I think you are absolutely correct in writing that most tradition meetings go over like a plague.

IMO the reasons for this are mainly due to the basic nature of alcoholics. Without doing an in-depth 5th step it goes without saying that we/I are rebellious, selfish and self serving in the extreme. I like people to do things my way or there is the highway.

I don't like being told what to do, never mind how to do it. Many will seek doing it their way even at the risk of destroying our life-saving and life-giving fellowship.

I happen to be a step, tradition and Big Book thumper. I rarely find these topics at meetings and therefore rarely attend other than 1 or 2 birthday meetings every couple of months).

I got tired of leaving meetings feeling more frustrated, resentful, angry and depressed than when I arrived. I would join a home group (if I could find one)that did more than pay lip service to the traditions.

I still work the steps and traditions daily to the best of my ability and have much more serenity today than when I was attending meetings 3-4 times per week.

It is my experience that I can maintain good sobriety without going to meetings; ask thousands of loners who can't attend. To do so I must continue to keep my higher power, steps and traditions foremost in my life one day at a time.

Thanks for listening/ reading.

Mike B.

Oliver, BC.

Oliver, BC

Mike B. I have attended various AA meetings almost on a daily basis for over four decades. I never for a moment
thought that I would leave a meeting frustrated, resentful,
angry and depressed. But it has happened.
I just refuse to accept and support what AA in its entirety has become. I honestly question whether today's Alcoholics Anonymous does more harm than good.
I have become tired of listening to HIW and the 24hr book,
when I know they are harming AA. I cannot tolerate the
chanting. Hi Joe! is a chant when it is a group response to
the first part of the first step. But there is only one
way to stop it. The group has to take action.
Although I believe the BB to be the second greatest
book ever written, I do not consider myself to be a
BB thumper. I believe Bill wrote it in simple language.
I don't think it needs to be taught. Bill himself explains
the BB in his further writings.
Please stay with us on the Forum. Could you point out
some things that bother you? I have a list of my own, the
less than 5,000 new members in 2012 tops this list. That
is appalling. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2012-02-25
What bothers me?

Thanks for letting us know what bothers you about AA practices. I couldn’t agree more with your comments; readings, chanting, non- AA approved literature and loss of informed (tradition driven) group conscience are serious issues.Some other pet peeves include group prayer, prayer circles (spirituality yes religion no), and all outside issues including drugs, smoking, food, sex, sectarian religion, politics and sexual orientation.

The traditions are the cornerstone of our fellowship; failing to uphold them will be the downfall of our society. The traditions were forged on the anvil of experience so that we would not repeat our mistakes. From my perspective we have not learned much from those mistakes. I believe Bill W. was thinking traditions when he stated, “if AA disintegrates it will do so from within”.

Statistics published (GSO and Grapevine)show AA has experienced reduced growth and recovery rates. From 1935-1990 membership doubled every decade; from 2 (Bob & Bill) to over 2 million.Membership has remained stagnant for the past 20+ years. Had our initial growth rates continued today’s membership would exceed 8 million. In 1955, 50% of all newcomers stayed sober immediately and another 25% succeeded after some relapses (Big Book- 2nd edition). A 2010 GSO survey of central offices in major North American cities concluded less than 5% of newcomers stayed sober more than 5 years.

These numbers suggest serious problems threatening AA unity, growth, recovery rates and our very survival. I believe there are many reasons for AA’s present dilemma but our failure to follow the traditions leads them all.

Thanks for the part you play in my sobriety.

Mike B.
Oliver, BC.

re Oliver, BC

"frustrated, resentful,"
"angry and depressed"
"I just refuse to accept"
"more harm than good."
"I have become tired of listening"
"I cannot tolerate"

"The group has to take action."

With your own words, you put yourself squarely on page 52 of the Big Book and conclude that the group needs to change to solve your problem. There are only thirty one pages between where you are and the promises. Fifteen pages later, on page 83 Bill condenses the solution into twenty nine words.

“Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.”

“There is one who has all power, may you find Him now.”

Joined: 2013-11-25
Acceptance is the Answer--Change is Possible

Big Book, page 417, works for me in these situations: "And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment."

While I can agree what you and others are saying about reading "How it Works," saying the prayers, and AA's singleness of purpose, I can also look around the room of my home group of 70 men who I know and love dearly. Three years ago, these men helped me to get sober and recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

We know who the newcomer is, and we practically knock each other over trying to get to him. He does not leave without an exchange of phone numbers. We have found a way that works despite all the doom and gloom that is prophesied in these forum pages by a few alleged alarmists.

I offer a message of hope. Despite all the apparent failings of AA as a whole, we seem to continue on. I think that there are ways to achieve change that don't entail so much upheaval and controversy. Also, keep in mind that change takes time; especially with a large organization that is governed by servants instead of dictators or leaders.

If positive change is to take place, I believe it will happen with us all working together, just as we have worked together to stay spiritually fit and sober. One renegade coming off half cocked proclaiming that we are unknowingly scaring away many of the newcomers obviously does not go over too well. On the other hand, an AA group that is doing something different and having better results and then sharing this with others is a much more welcoming discussion.

Look at the upside down triangle of the A.A. Structure of the Conference and see who has more say in making changes. (go to: Groups and Members-Getting Involved in General Service-Structure of the Conference) Now granted your group cannot dictate how other groups run their meetings, you do have an argument that things that they are doing are affecting AA as a whole. Or, at the very minimum, you have a platform to get the message out to other groups that use the Traditions and Concepts to help the still suffering alcoholic. This platform will have a much larger audience than you will ever see on these forums and I believe that this change will have a higher chance of succeeding. We also have another advantage. The minority opinion is always allowed to be heard.

Let's work together on this instead of against each other. In my own experience, change has not happened the way that I thought it would!

Joined: 2012-10-31

One way to stay in the literature is use the 12 & 12. One meeting a step, next meeting a tradition.
Step 1 at a meeting, Tradition 1 next meeting.( Long Form )
Works for us.

anonymity online?

Does anyone know the proper procedure online for anonymity breaks? I know GSO sends a letter explaining anonymity to AA members that have been broadcast or been on the news and said they were AA members.

according to AA pamphlet "understanding anonymity", it say's to treat basically any online forum that does not require a password to be treated the same as a public broadcast.

I have been following this app called the recoveryapp. Even though it is an app, it also has a web version where all the posts are available to read online without having the app. Everytime i mention that someone has broken their anonymity by full name, or full face photo along with a reference to being a member of AA, they get uptight. Sometimes they say live and let live, rule 62, ect. I only mention the anonymity break if someone has their full name or picture and metions being a member of AA. I feel it's part of my responsibility to safeguard our program. I now have started to screen save the anonymity breaks and attach it in an email to GSO, hoping a letter from GSO will help end the daily anonymity breaks.

Any experience or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Joined: 2013-11-25
Anonymity Breaks

If you know that the person is in your AA Area, you can contact your Area Conference Delegate. Otherwise you may have to contact the GSO.

At there is a "Internet Guideline," under A.A. Literature, that is helpful and you could forward it to the offending parties.

I would agree that it is part of all our responsibility to respect the traditions, but ultimately we have no individual power over others of course. The Traditions, Steps, and Concepts are all suggested guides, not laws. I just hope that you don't get caught in a mental twist over this.

Alcohol, drugs and young people

Where I live there are two neighboring communities. One has flourishing NA meetings and the AA there has relatively few young people in it. The other has very few NA meetings and the AA there has lots of young people in it. My impression I have from speaking with the young people in these meetings is that nearly all of them have had problem with both drugs and alcohol. They say they will attend whatever meeting is available and will tailor their stories accordingly.

I wonder whether this whole drugs vs alcohol discussion will simply fade in coming years as nearly all of the people in both fellowships will have the same experience of having problems with both drugs and alcohol, and realizing that abstinence from both was and is needed.

I'm actually surprised now at the persistence of the discussion. I'm over 60 and my story involved both drugs and alcohol. Seriously, who is left who needs to have a pure, alcohol-only message to identify with?

Reply: Who is left who needs to have a pure alcohol-only message

Me ! I am starting to hear that question and comment more and more. I am 40 years old, came to AA at 33 with «only» an alcohol problem. You question means « people comming to AA with «only» an alcoholic problem are weird and their insistance about sticking to their alcohol problem is anoying». Many people people did not take drugs! Many newcomers will not stay in AA if they can't relate. I caught a newcommer in the door, leaving, because she was offended at a drug message and asked me : is AA always like that?.
The traditions work very well, they were meant for a reason, let's trust them.

Alcohol, drugs and young people

I, too, am surprised at the persistence of this discussion! Well said. Where I go to meetings (in a big city) AA is absolutely thriving, especially among young people. I go to lots of meetings and meet hundreds of newcomers under 30 every year. There are also many old timers (including myself with 20 years). I don't feel threatened by discussion of drugs other than alcohol. I don't think many of the other old timers do either. When drugs are part of people's stories, people share about them. I hear the circumlocutions sometimes ("I also had another addiction", "my drinking led to other things") but they seem pointless to me. As our friends in NA say, alcohol is a drug, period.

I do think that the anxiety about the "singleness of purpose" has to do with generation and maybe social class. As I understand it, in the 1950s and 1960s when the "singleness of purpose" statement started to become a big deal, there were tremendous social changes going on. Drug use was associated with youth culture, counterculture, disreputable black jazz musicians, protesting the Vietnam War, etc. etc. Moreover, scientists didn't understand the common biochemical roots of both alcohol and other drug addiction like they do now.

I find that even though the "singleness of purpose" statement, as printed, says "...we confine our discussion to our problems with alcohol..." a lot of meeting chairs change it, unconsciously or consciously, to "problems with alcoholism." People take that to mean they can talk about all their addictions to drugs, including alcohol. That makes sense from a biological point of view.

But if someone is uncomfortable with others talking about drugs, for whatever reason, there are meetings here where such talk is frowned on, so they can attend those. To me and nearly everyone else I know in the program, it's a non issue.

Alcohol versus drugs

I also am a duly addicted person-over 60-In my community AA is very strong-well supported-yet we do have NA-I in the past have attended NA meetings and have found them not as structured as my AA meetings-which I need-they are both important for the recovery process-yet I attend AA meetings and my homegroup is an open AA meeting. We welcome people from both sides yet try to restrict our conversations to that of alcoholism-and then we try to steer people in the direction that might work best for them.I try to keep an open mind about these matters and still uphold our traditions. What came first-the chicken or the egg?

re drugs

Read Dr. Bob’s nightmare, he “briefly” mentions taking sedatives to make it through work. Read Bill’s story, he “briefly” mentions morphine or sedatives. AA’s cofounders both mention drugs “briefly”. Bill W. wrote our traditions. He’s the author of AA’s singleness of purpose. If your at least an alcoholic, we don’t care what your other problems are. You are welcome in AA, but you have to at least have an alcohol problem. If you are in AA without an alcohol problem, you can’t give a straight alcoholic talk from the podium or around a table. When talking to newcomers, you can’t through your own experience share how you drank and how you recovered from alcohol. No matter how open and loving it may be to allow everyone in, it is also very selfish and dishonest. By letting nonalcoholic drug addicts in AA, we are robbing NA of their chance to grow and help other nonalcoholic drug addicts.
The addicts that should be able to relate to other addicts, are sitting in AA meetings. They could be sharing their experience, strength, and hope with other addicts, but insist on attending AA meetings because they don’t have the willingness to start their own NA meetings. How selfish is that?

Joined: 2012-10-04
Integrating alcohol and drug problems

Good question! I'm no longer surprised to hear those old-timers get excited about listening to young folks talk about their drug history. My experience is similar to yours, in that recovering druggies learn to tailor their stories to the meeting topic and they generally don't dwell on their drug of choice.

I agree that many of us have had both alcohol and drug problems and "that abstinence from both was and is needed." However, I get concerned about diluting and/or confusing the experience, strength, and hope offerred by so many alcoholics that have gone before us.

Further, the word "exactly" appears 7 times in the main Big Book text and throughout AA literature. Whenever I read that word, I need to study the context and message for me. Seeking advice from self-help experts during the drinking days only made the hole I was in deeper.

Giving up doing things "MY WAY," meetings, my sponsor, the Big Book (my text book) , AA Comes of Age, As Bill Sees It, Came to Believe, and other conference approved pieces have kept me from drinking for many years. I easily tolerate reading and talk about drug related issues; I'm not so sure about combined meetings, especially for newcomers.


hi everyone, my name is sarah and I am an alcoholic. alcohol? drugs? sex? food? does not matter what the problem is... as long as I live one day at a time doing my Higher Power's will, by the steps and traditions, our code of love and tolerance may grow. thank you.

Bad motive under a good one...

That is a lovely sentiment for you to live by as you choose. Unfortunately, it is not the message of AA and a member of AA is not living by the Traditions if they choose to ignore what they say and do it "their way". "We alcoholics are undisciplined. So, we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined." Pg 88 Big Book
Breaking traditions using our own code of love and tolerance is hiding a bad motive under a "seemingly" good one. The desire to be rebellious, undisciplined, do things your way not God's way, and use love and tolerance to justify selfish, self-centered, dishonest behavior is exactly why we have the traditions in place. As spiritual safeguards to the cunning, baffling, nature of alcoholism. Try living the AA way and not your way and you will know a new happiness and freedom; the true from the false.


Can't speak for N/A but the AA I've attended from the first meeting over three decades ago to the one last Saturday included those with problems with drugs other than alcohol.

So no one misses the subtlety, I just called alcohol a drug. It is just in a unique category since it has always been so easy to make almost everywhere on the planet for thousands of years. Anybody think it wouldn't be a controlled substance if it was just discovered today?

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: A&D

"So no one misses the subtlety, I just called alcohol a drug. It is just in a unique category since it has always been so easy to make almost everywhere on the planet for thousands of years. Anybody think it wouldn't be a controlled substance if it was just discovered today?"
Caffeine is a drug. Would coffee, tea, cocoa or soda pop be controlled substances if they were invented today? And make no mistake, caffeine is just as addictive as alcohol.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs known - ask anyone who is trying to quit smoking. I would love to have a dollar for every time I've heard someone insist he or she is 'clean' and sober, then drink his coffee and/or light a cigarette.
Addicts ignore several documented facts when comparing alcoholics to addicts.
Nine out of ten drinkers never have a problem with alcohol. One in ten is or will be alcoholic.
Nine out of ten drinkers seldom if ever get drunk. They don't drink simply to get drunk or get high, or get a buzz. There is only one reason to use drugs, to get high.
I know several AA members who are also compulsive gamblers. In over forty years I have never heard a compulsive gambler insist that AA change the traditions to allow non-alcoholic gamblers to become members.
I have yet to hear a legitimate reason for addicts to avoid NA meetings in favor of AA meetings.

re anonymous

my sponsor is 40 yrs sober and never did drugs. my newest sponsee is 9 months sober and did no drugs. 3 members of my homegroup are 1 year sober or less and have never done drugs. they all say the same thing " when problems other than alcohol are discussed at AA meetings, none can relate through personal experience. the main reason AA has lasted this long is groups continue to follow traditions 1,3,&5. if you need to discuss problems other than alcohol, talk to your sponsor after the meeting.

RE: Alcohol, drugs and young people

Me! And millions of other alcoholics. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2013-09-05
Religion Based AA Meetings

I think we all agree that an AA group or meeting calling itself "Christian" would be in violation of the Traditions. The same goes for one calling itself Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. Why then do we not say the same for Atheist groups? If you believe that Atheism isn't a religion, search "Atheism Megachurches" and see how many articles come up.


I have never heard of a Atheism meeting. I have, of course, heard of A & A meetings. (Agnostics and Atheists). With 38 years of sobriety in AA, and still agnostic, I see a great need for meetings like these. The first time I admitted in a meeting to my lack of belief in God, I was roundly condemned and severely chastised. The only reason I am still alive today was the very kind man who stopped me from running out and told me he had recently heard a speaker with 18 years who was an agnostic so not to let the rabid crowd keep me from AA. Just this last week, when I spoke of my agnosticism, I was, again, roundly chastised by the meeting leader. From my 38 years perspective, I just inwardly smiled, and felt no need to argue or run. But if I had been a newcomer, I'm not so sure I would ever have returned.

tell us more

I'd like to hear more about your agnosticism.

I just read that an astronomer estimated that there are 8.8 billion planets in our solar system that have a mass and temperature similar to earth's. Multiply that by billions of solar systems. Do you suppose us geniuses here on earth are by ourselves? I don't. I think that information puts a strain on our religions. Abraham, Jesus, Mohamed, the Buda exercised free will to become who they were. Were they robots with billions of clones with the exact messages on the other planets? I doubt it and I'm skeptical of anyone telling me that any one of them has THE ONE TRUE MESSAGE.

On the other hand, anyone from a small child to a Cambridge professor can see an incredible clockwork of nature in the universe. Interacting, unvarying laws powering the engine of the universe. From that enormity to my tiny experience of trying Step two as suggested by Alcoholics Anonymous shows me over and over that my senses coupled with my reasoning reveal not only the existence of a Higher Power but the nature of that Force.

Can you really look at a hummingbird, and elephant, the Milky Way and honestly say "I don't have any idea whether anything designed all this? Seriously, I'd like to hear an explanation.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: Agnosticism

"I have never heard of a Atheism meeting. I have, of course, heard of A & A meetings. (Agnostics and Atheists). With 38 years of sobriety in AA, and still agnostic, I see a great need for meetings like these."
If that is truly the case, you should also see a great need for Christian AA meetings. Many newcomers coming to AA today are still active church members. When they talk of their religion they are pounced upon just as strongly as the Atheists and/or Agnostics.
For what it's worth, I turned my back on organized religion in October of 1954 and have't turned back. I don't believe AA meetings are the place to preach any religion, whether it be Christianity, Judaism. Budhhis,. Islamism, Atheism or Agnosticism. Nor are meetings the place to put down any religion.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re agnostic

To me an agnostic is someone without knoweledge of God. An athiest says there is no GOD. Could you please take a moment and elaborate on your agnostic belief?
To me AA is very agnostice in nature. Even though I had no relationship with any GOD (besides myself and alcohol), I was willing to work the steps using the higher power of my understanding. I said prayers to a higher power that I did not know, I asked direction from a higher power I did not know. Over time as I worked the steps I was given many spiritual awakenings. I could see the God of my understanding in nature,drunks, and children. in fact just this winter i was walking down the hallway of a large ice arena with my kids, finding our section for the hockey game. a 4 year old girl with downs syndrome held out her arms and said "hold me!" I picked her up, she gave me the tightest hug I ever had. I think God felt I needed a hug and maybe the girl did to.
It's hard for my to deny the existance of a higher power when I have had these experiences over and over again.
I found a higher power as soon as I was willing to try, that's all.
I have had many conversations with agnostics only to find they are more spiritual than most religious people I know. they called themselves agnostics, I see them as the children of an all powerful loving creator.

gods will for us

Threw a practce of praye meditation and prayer on any problems, desires, or directions, the will of god is in my life in the most surprising ways further telling me that THE WILL OF GOD WILLNEVER

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