Thirty+ years ago I heard a speaker at an AA conference say, "Teaching what you've never learned is like coming back from where you've never been."
You say, "Alcoholic"is an adjective,not a noun.
An online dictionary says,
"al·co·hol·ic (lk-hôlk, -hlk) KEY
Related to or resulting from alcohol.
Containing or preserved in alcohol.
Suffering from alcoholism.
A person who drinks alcoholic substances habitually and to excess or who suffers from alcoholism."
Tradition Five: "Each group has but one primary purpose -to carry its message to the ALCOHOLIC who still suffers."
When churches say alcoholism is a sin we call them stupid and argue that it's an illness.
When law enforcement says alcoholism is a crime we call them stupid and argue that it's an illness.
When the treatment industry says alcoholism is an addiction we say the AA traditions are out of date and we should call ourselves Assorted Ailments.
From the pamphlet, "Problems Other Than Alcohol,"
Experience says loudly that we can admit no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort." First cousins, not identical twins.
In most states it's illegal for first cousins to marry because of the probability of their offspring having disabilities of one sort or another. Bringing NA into AA is the same as trying to bake apple pies using apples and tomatoes. They are both fruit, usually red, usually round, juicy and healthful. A fruit is a fruit is a fruit, right?
The treatment industry also says relapse is a part of recovery. (Drinking is a part of sobriety?) Apparently you believe that, based on your "first 20 white chips."
If "a drug is a drug is a drug" and an alcoholic using any addictive substance must change his/her sobriety date, why don't the alcoholic/andas pick up a chip whenever they drink a cup of coffee or smoke a cigarette?
Let me try to explain: When we say to a non-alcoholic, who has come to AA for recovery, that we cannot help we are not saying we do not care. Non-alcoholics in AA exhaust their recovery energy comparing their particular addiction with our alcoholism. Strongly suggesting that non-alcohlics find recovery where they can relate is the kindest most loving thing we do. To do otherwise is to risk their lives. AA Tolerance, M.
I am a new Grapevine chairperson for my district. I am having my first district Grapevine meeting this week. In developing various choices in which to carry the word of the Grapevine to meetings around town, I thought of using the idea of having local home groups hold a raffle. Both the winner and a new member of AA could earn a Grapevine subscription. I gave it a test run by bringing the idea to my own home group at a business meeting. I was immediately set upon by some of the members of the group who believed that holding raffles at an AA meeting were a violation of the 7th tradition. I asked that the motion be tabled until the next meeting, allowing me the time to look into GSO's interpretation of selling raffle tickets for the explicit purpose of carrying the message through the Voice of AA. What I found out did little to placate my dilemma. GSO’s consensus was as follows.
"The General Service Conference, the closest thing we have to a group conscience for A.A. as a whole in the U.S. and Canada, considered raffles several times, but no Conference recommendations regarding raffles have been made. Some service people at the General Service Conference have tended to voice their dislike of raffles. Others shared their areas’ acceptance of raffles. The final decision about raffles lies with the informed group conscience."
Striving ahead I looked for a more definitive answer. I was not content in going back to my home group and informing them that it was their decision as to whether passing this motion may possibly be a violation of one of the traditions. Nor could I in good conscious be the catalyst in steering them into approving a resolution which would sit badly with any knowledgeable outside members who attend our meetings.
There was one item that I found that brought it home for me. It was the following statement.
"Fundraising activities conducted in the group setting change our group to a "business" activity rather than a "spiritual entity". Our founders of the traditions cautioned in the creation of Tradition Five that business and spirituality should not be mixed, that discussions of money should be kept to a minimum, that we embrace the notion of corporate poverty and that we be ever vigilant in matters of money. Beware. They are seldom as emphatic as when discussing the subject of money and the 12 step fellowship.”
What this said to me was that by turning our spiritual AA meeting into a "Vegas style" night was not what the founders envisioned. It illustrated that my attempted endeavor of goodwill for both newcomer and Grapevine was not as well thought out as it could have been. But more important, it showed me that the Traditions have an unanticipated way of keeping AA on the proper path. I now have the correct incites to take back to my home group. And with the informed group conscience; we will come up with a better plan which I am certain will be more in line with the founders’ vision of AA.
Thank you thank you thank you. The spiritual principle of self-support is alive and well thank you very much! Ray
Ray, How can you say that the spiritual principle of
self-support is alive and well? More than half of the
funds used to support our General Service Office is derived
from the profit from our book and literature business. I
believe more than half of that profit comes from sources
outside of our fellowship. Alcoholics Anonymous has never
been self-supporting and will never be self-supporting.
Even the goal of becoming self-supporting is being ignored.
The "in 1986" paragraph has been removed from the service
manual. Today's management at GSO has accepted that we
will never be self-supporting. They consider member's contributions and profit from our Book and Literature
business to be legitimate sources of income. ANONYMOUS
Could u please post where u found the furt
her info on Raffles? I would like to read it
An AA Minority report can be read online using the search terms: AA Minority Report 2013. The report and appendices cover many topics of concern raised on this forum. The report represents a minority opinion covering the breadth and depth of AA as a whole; via conference, board and regional reports, forums, AA Grapevine; from countries including USA/Canada, Great Britain, Israel and Australia. The report also draws on A.A. experience dating back to the meeting of AA’s co-founders. Contributors to the report from this AA Grapevine “What’s on Your Mind” forum need no further acknowledgement. The revised minority report was invited for consideration for the General Service Conference (Great Britain) 2013 (AA Service News, 149, winter 2011 (pp 16-17) http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/members/index.cfm?PageID=98&Docum... but has since been not accepted by the current Conference Steering Committee because now, in their view “…the principle of the report was based on “issues outside of AA GB”. Because the subject of the report includes AA as a whole as well as Great Britain, some AA members using these AA Grapevine forums might appreciate the information contained in the report. The purpose of filing a minority report is given in Concept V.
“In the light of the principle of the ‘Right of Appeal,’ all minorities – whether in our staffs, committees, corporate boards, or among the Trustees – should be encouraged to file minority reports whenever they feel a majority to be in considerable error. And when a minority considers an issue to be such a grave one that a mistaken decision could seriously affect A.A. as a whole, it should charge itself with the actual duty of presenting a minority report to the Conference.
In granting this traditional ‘Right of Appeal’ we recognize that minorities frequently can be right; that even when they are partly or wholly in error they still perform a most valuable service when, by asserting their ‘Right of Appeal,’ they compel a thorough-going debate on important issues. The well-heard minority, therefore, is our chief protection against an uninformed, misinformed, hasty or angry majority.”(Extract, Concept V) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
The following is a newsletter to profesionals from about aa in 2002
Singleness of Purpose
George E. Vaillant, M. D.
Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee
A.A. General Service Board
“Singleness of purpose” is essential to the effective treatment of
alcoholism. The reason for such exaggerated focus is to overcome
denial. The denial associated with alcoholism is cunning,
baffling, and powerful and affects the patient, helper, and the
community. Unless alcoholism is kept relentlessly in the foreground,
other issues will usurp everybody’s attention.
Mental health workers, however, have great difficulty with
A.A.’s Fifth Tradition: “Each group has but one primary purpose—
to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
Since mental health workers often admire the success and geographic
availability of Alcoholics Anonymous, they understandably
wish to broaden its membership to include other substance
abusers. They also note that pure alcohol abuse is becoming less
frequent, and polydrug abuse more common. In addition, mental
health workers sometimes view singleness of purpose as outmoded
and exclusionary. They worry that the Tradition is a holdover
from the early days of A.A. and that the young, the poor and the
minority with a criminal record will be barred. Besides, when
there is no professional drug treatment center or Narcotics
Anonymous (NA) group easily available, mental health workers
find it hard to understand why A.A., with its tradition of Twelfth
Step work, won’t step in and fill the breach.
As both a mental health worker and a researcher, it seems to
me that there are two arguments that trump these concerns. First,
the Third Tradition of A.A., “The only requirement for A.A. membership
is a desire to stop drinking,” renders A.A. nonexclusionary.
Each year A.A. welcomes many thousands of minorities,
many thousands of poor, many thousands of alcoholics with coexistent
drug problems and tens of thousands of convicts into its
membership. Nobody with a desire to stop drinking is excluded.
The second argument, that “Singleness of Purpose” is necessary
to overcome denial, is even more compelling. Given a
choice, nobody wants to talk about alcoholism. In contrast, drug
addiction commands newspaper headlines, research funding and
the attention of clinical audiences. After two years of work at the
Lexington, Kentucky Federal Narcotics Treatment Center, I, a
mere assistant professor, was invited around the world to lecture
on heroin addiction. In the late 1990s, as a full professor and after
25 years of research on alcoholism and its enormous morbidity, I
was finally asked to give a medical grand rounds on alcohol in
my home city. My assigned topic, “Why alcohol is good for your
health.” In short, the greatest single obstacle to the proper treatment
of alcoholism is denial.
I first began my psychiatric career at a deeply dedicated community
health center. The community had voted alcohol abuse as
their biggest problem. After its first ten years of operation the
center was still confining itself to addressing the community’s
most pressing second, third, and fourth problems. No resources at
all were devoted to alcohol treatment.
I moved to another community mental health center that had
listened to its citizens and had opened an alcohol treatment center.
In being asked to fill the position of co-director of the clinic I
was the last staff psychiatrist hired by the mental health center.
Significantly, I had had no experience with alcoholism, but no
one else wanted the job.
With the exception of cigarettes, alcoholism is a bigger health
problem and family problem than all other drugs of abuse.
Alcohol abuse costs the nation more than all lung diseases and
cancers combined. After smoking and obesity, alcohol abuse is
perhaps the nation’s third largest killer. But it is terribly difficult
to hold this danger in mind. Alcohol abuse claims 100,000 lives a
year, and on medical and surgical wards it costs two to six times,
as much to treat the 25% of patients with coexistent alcoholism
as to treat the other patients. Yet cost conscious 21st century
medical and surgical residencies steadfastly exclude alcoholism
from their curricula.There is not enough time, they argue, to pay
attention to alcoholism. To combat such denial the principle of
singleness of purpose becomes a necessity.
Put differently, the experimentally documented success of
A.A. in the treatment of alcoholism is in part because A.A.
groups are the only place in the world where the focus is on alcoholism
and nothing but alcoholism. There is simply no other way
to overcome the denial.
I found this article gives great insight to why AA must continue to have a singleness of purpose.
My group started a weekly "step study" and after we'd made it through the 12 steps, my sponsor encouraged us to continue on with the 12 traditions. At first, I was disappointed. I loved the steps and was experiencing how they impacted my life. Like many fellow AA's, I was not overly enthused about the traditions and found that meetings about the traditions sometimes strayed from personal experience and devolved into opinions and arguments. My sponsor had a twist though that made this work for us...he asked us to relate each tradition to our own lives. This changed everything. "Self supporting through our own contributions" and "principles before personalities" took on a whole new meaning. By trying to work traditions in my own life it made it easier to see how to work them in our group and vice versa.
I do not think it is a good idea to alternate between
the Step meeting and the Traditions meeting. I am easily
confused and appreciate structure. Keep the Step meeting
as a step meeting. Add a separate Traditions. The Twelve
Traditions are for the protection of our fellowship. Of
course they are in the same book, but I feel that the
meetings ought to be separate. I find the Traditions
interesting and almost exciting. ANONYMOUS
In my experience, members won't support traditions meetings. No people attending = no learning traditions.
Our group opens every meeting (14 per week) reading among other things the tradition corresponding to the month. Month one - tradition one. In addition to the one read it draws a newcomer's attention to the sign with all twelve. The message - there is stuff on this sign that I'm supposed to know about. There's not much information that needs to be conveyed to provide the basic information. The short form hanging on the wall gives just about anybody enough information to protect anonymity, not seek outside donations etc.
Should move it up to a one week rotation. Eleven months is too long to cover all twelve. Wish me luck selling something with math that tough.
The group I go to does not read traditions at meetings.
If i bring up a tradition subject gets changed.
Been at this group 4 years now, it does not attract newcomers.
Wonder why that is.
The Twelve Traditions are a protection to groups of people like me conflicted. The first tradition reminds me that I am only a part of the group, not the most important, only a part of the community. Tradition Two reminds me I'm not the boss of the group, make me handsome, I must hear the views of the group members and respect their decisions. The third tradition protects the group of my pride, forcing me to admit to anyone and forcing me to not turn anyone away who wants to stop drinking. Tradition Four tells me to respect the decisions of the other groups, even those that disagree with my views, except for activities affecting other groups or AA as a whole, should also seek advice from other groups when I perform activities affect them. The fifth reminds me that I am smarter than I am and not seek more goals than I can find. Tradition Six reminds me that I should not lend the AA name to other companies to avoid power struggles that I like both. The seventh reminds me that I have to adjust expenses as income and not try to pretend a social category that I have, both as a person as a member of the group. Tradition Eight reminds me that I am not a great professional, but I am a server group. Tradition Nine reminds me that I am not the leader, I must ask the opinion of the members of the group. Tradition Ten reminds me that I should not comment on what is not. eleven and twelve traditions remind me that I must not indulge my pride and vanity and trying to be a celebrity or important leading to dreams of grandeur that I really might not be fulfilled.
My District meeting has started a Traditions meeting immediately before it. So GSR's(who must have a working knowledge)to perform their duties &(DCM's the same)& hopefully others can learn what it is that holds our fellowship intact.
GREAT idea ! Will bring this up at my next district meeting.
After re-reading some of our history, it became even more important to remember the 3rd Tradition. How many thousands of times have I hear people say "I'm an alcoholic and a ......." We learned from the Washingtonians and the Oxford Group that to split ourselves into exceptions is to lead to the death of a movement. I feel very frustrated to hear these "and a's." We're AA. Not AA and a. Thanks. Michael F., Pharr, TX
"And a's" are usually just uneducated. It's our job to educate them about the 12 Traditions in a kind a loving way. Our district has just decided to invite a past delegate to lead a Traditions workshop.
Recently at a discussion/closed meeting I was asked to share. I started by saying that I wanted to read, "The Dash." This is a poem written by Linda Ellis. I explained that I wanted to share this poem as it has been a wonderful poem that (to me), has put into words what the 12 Steps of A.A. mean to me. I also said that I would welcome individuals to share their thoughts on the poem or any topic that they wish to discuss. After completing my reading of the poem an individual stated (with intrusion on my time), that what I just did is against the Traditions of A.A. He said that I can not start my sharing by reading a poem. He also said the particular poem was not A.A. approved, thus not allowed to be read. Well, I have since gone back to the traditions with a fine toothed comb and can not locate these two objections he raised. I was under the impression that an individual may share anything they want. I also do not understand where this verbiage comes from about A.A. approved literature. I also looked in the 12 Concepts book and found no clear indicator that I did anything wrong or against A.A. I would really like to hear from others.
The member was quite correct Quoting from unapproved literature has no place in a meeting, If we stick to our experience strength and hope we wont go to far wrong.
The place for renditions of Poems is not a AA meeting.
And as I always hear in meetings when something like this happens....if you are bent out of shape by it talk to your sponsor.
The silly notion that nothing other than AA material can be read by a speaker (not the meeting the speaker) doesn't even acknowledge AA's earliest days when Bill and Bob would be meeting with the Oxford group telling their stories. Often times the Bible would be read at these meetings. Today that would be unacceptable unless specifically voted on by the group.
i might also point out the Tradition Four has some really good advice for allof you bleeding deacons out there
"I was under the impression that an individual may share anything they want." Well, within reason. We share our experience, strength and hope, and say what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. We don't discuss politics or religion, for example: we "quit the debating society". To say you have found a poem etc helpful seems fine but to read it in its entirety would not be sharing your experience, but the poet's/
A living example is not good enough ? Show it don't poet
You were right,it would have been better if you did not reveal the source of the poem. But she is not an"outside enterprise"unlike the "24 Hour Book" which is a Hazelden publication.
Kris Kristofferson's song, "Why Me?" puts into words what I've felt may times in sobriety.
Jim Reeves' "Why Do I Love You?" lists a few the many reasons I love AA and AA members.
Neither of these are proper topics for discussion at a closed AA meeting, regardless of how I feel about them.
This response is pure opinion: If you were the speaker at
a speaker meeting, if I had been present I would have just
let it go. If it were a discussion meeting and you were
just a member sharing, I would have objected to the
reading, as not being appropriate.
A proper group conscience meeting is where this ought
to be brought up and discussed. The format could read that
only conference material is to be used at this meeting.
The solution would have already been in place, and
made by the group, not one individual.
Personally I feel that the only thing which out to be
read at an A.A. meeting is the preamble. We are there to
share/talk, not to read to each other. Several traditions
may have been violated, mostly Tradition Two. ANONYMOUS
Good subject and good points. The group you attend may have a custom that they only read from AA material. If the group conscience has come to a decision to only read aa material then they are following tradition 2 (you are breaking it by not following that groups conscience). Tradition 5 may come into effect also. Is the group getting away form it’s primary purpose by reading this material? We may want to consider tradition 1 concerning our unity. Our common welfare comes first, individual comes second.
If you really want to look further, go to the AA web page, find your area and send an email stating you are an alcoholic and a member of AA and would like some information regarding outside material being read or used in AA meetings. AA groups have strict limitations, but individuals have none. You can personally read anything you wish.
GSO will inform you that our general service conference suggests we use only AA conference approved materials in conjunction with our meetings and other books should not be on display or sold at AA meetings.
GSO will then remind you of tradition 4 and how each group can run it’s affairs how they see fit. Each group therefore has the right to be wrong.
I personally have no problem with you discussing a poem that means a lot to you during an AA meeting. I think the line is crossed when it is read from a book with newcomers that may think AA is about poetry and not be exposed to the mental obsession and physical allergy to alcohol, which might help them surrender and work the program.
You can also look into the AA pamphlet “the group”. It’s online or in literature racks in AA meetings. It states the sole purpose of an AA group is the teaching and practicing of AA’s 12 steps. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and have always failed.
Please don’t just take my word for this information, do some research and bring it back to your group.
Good luck to you and God bless you,
Corey writes: "GSO will inform you that our general service conference suggests we use only AA conference approved materials in conjunction with our meetings and other books should not be on display or sold at AA meetings."
Please provide a citation or link to where the GS conference has suggested only using "approved" literature at meetings. This has been debated a lot on the forum and in the rooms, but no one seems to be able to point to any such GSO decree, and I would like to read it for myself.
AA Guidelines can be found on the G.S.O./A.A.W.S. website http://aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=36
Conference recommendations for A.A. groups regarding literature displays 1968-1986, are on pages 3-4 of the literature guideline. The 1986 General Service Conference gave this recommendation: “The spirit of the 1977 Conference action regarding group literature displays be reaffirmed, and recommended the suggestion that A.A. groups be encouraged to display or sell only literature published and distributed by the General Service Office, the A.A. Grapevine and other A.A. entities.” (A.A. Guidelines Literature Committees p 4) http://www.aa.org/lang/en/en_pdfs/mg-09_literaturecommittees.pdf
Summer issues of Box 4-5-9-News and Notes from G.S.O. report Conference recommendations each year. Previous recommendations can be traced back to 1980 http://aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=27
It is a duty for those serving in AA groups and intergroups to develop a working knowledge of AA guidelines and Traditions and to use these to guide group decisions.
Not to be contrary, but I read this to be a suggestion that groups only display and sell aa published and distributed literature. What I was asking is where or when has the GS conference ever suggested that groups only read from these sources?
".....but no one seems to be able to point to any such GSO decree, and I would like to read it for myself."
Why not write GSO yourself and get the answer straight from the source?
".....but no one seems to be able to point to any such GSO decree..."
Because they don't have one because they can't have one because Tradition Four puts each group in charge.
Thanks for bringing it up.
Please read posts 30&31 and email gso with your questions. Then you will have an informed answer.
Read a few posts down
If u r still confused please write or email GSOand they will respond directly to you.
GSO will simply give you their suggestions on the issue you ask about
Good topic and good replies. Good to have the benefit of all this considerable wisdom before I post. I have experienced similar conflicts in meetings. Who hasn’t? I don’t see these problems coming from collisions of great philosophical concepts and conference-generated-in-the-footnote-of-the-1956….. They come from the things alcoholics didn’t get or forgot in kindergarten. Don’t be rude. Don’t let your little feelings get hurt. Plan ahead. Dr Tebot distinguishes us from the general population by our being noticeably self centered, impatient, and having a low tolerence for frustration. Not a good toolkit for smooth interactions with others. He doesn’t say anything about our leaving it behind when we walk in AA’s door. If you’re like me, God hasn’t seen fit to remove all of it yet. You’re walking into a room full of it. Don’t be surprised, he warned you.
But my audience here are alcoholics so you don’t (or can’t) be influenced by any amount of information regardless of its source or quality. So I share my experience.
I changed groups. At the first group conscience meeting I asked “Does this group limit literature used to conference approved?” I got looks like I had two heads but there was discussion and the answer was no. I chair a meeting now. If someone shares from the Gideon Bible, Psychology Today or the Egyptian Book of the Dead it’s my job to limit the time of their share to a reasonable amount, same as anybody else, say thank you and move on. (Note to self: When the tilt-whirl in my head and the cement mixer in my gut start up because I’m not getting WHAT I WANT, remember to count backwards from 500 slowly and it will soon be over). It hasn’t happened. It probably won’t. I’m ready if it does. If I don’t like it, I’ll go back to the group conscience.
read part of the letter I received from GSO a couple of posts down. also here is a paragraph from that post:The understanding of this office is that the Conference had the intention of keeping the focus of the A.A. meeting on the A.A. message as expressed in our literature rather than outside material. However, we know of A.A. groups that use literature such as Twenty-Four Hours a Day that has not been published by A.A
I would suggest you go right to the source. email the GSO rep for your area and ask about non-conference approved liturature used in AA meetings. Then you will get an email like I did.
I would suggest you email GSO for your area. If you state your are a member of AA, they will be sure to get back to you.
The following paragraph was sent to me after asking GSO about outside liturature:
The group conscience of each A.A. group determines what literature is appropriate to have in its meetings, keeping in mind our A.A. Traditions and experience. The pamphlet “The A.A. Group” shares about the informed group conscience on pages 28-29 and is attached and available at the following link: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-16_theaagroup.pdf on G.S.O.’s A.A. Web site.
The General Service Conference, the closest thing we have to a group conscience for A.A. throughout the U.S. and Canada, has suggested “that A.A. groups be encouraged to display or sell only literature published and distributed by the General Service Office, the A.A. Grapevine, and other A.A. entities.” Attached please find a service piece that describes A.A. literature and the Conference-approval process. Individual members, of course, have always had the personal choice of using whatever materials they feel best enhances their spiritual lives, including religious books and periodicals.
The understanding of this office is that the Conference had the intention of keeping the focus of the A.A. meeting on the A.A. message as expressed in our literature rather than outside material. However, we know of A.A. groups that use literature such as Twenty-Four Hours a Day that has not been published by A.A.
I hope this helps
The article shared by Carol K, Sarasota, Florida is a very interesting topic that seems to plaguing our AA Groups. When this alcoholic came to the doors of AA in Charlotte NC in 1986 and found my first sponsor, Harry W. He told me that there were thirty-six principles to our recovery. That I would have to work our 12 Steps of Recovery to find a concept of God of my understanding through our First Three Steps, find how God has always worked in my life despite my self-will riot and selfishish behaviors that kept me in the bottle, and find the pathways that my given past experiences could be used one day at a time to help others. Then I would have to work our 12 Traditions in the same fashion on a sponsor-pidgeon basis with the help of studying our 12 & 12 on a regular daily basis. When this pathway was completed and we had an understanding how our 12 Traditions kept our AA Groups sober, we were ready to study our 12 Concepts that keeps AA sober worldwide.
In July 2010, I was asked to lead the monthly homegroup Tradition Discussion Meeting which was on our Seveth Tradition. When I was asked to step forward to chair the meeting, I asked the 60 men and women AAs, how many of you have worked our Traditions on a one-to-one basis with a sponsor. No one raised their hands. This AA knew from from his first four years in recovery that roughly only 22% of our members have honestly and truly worked our Traditions like they worked our Steps. Which means there are approximately 78% of our members have no true sharing knowledge or experience of our Traditions.
Studying and having discussions on our 12 Concepts is very difficult; since less then 1% of our members have any working experience with our 12 Concepts,which keeps AA sober worldwide. The AA member, who offered a monthly closed discussion meeting on our Concepts in the Greater Atlanta passed away in January 2011. Her homegroup was the only one in the Greater Atlanta area that offered a study of our Service Manual.
My first sponsor, Harry W., also walked beside me and continues to walk beside me, told me that an AA who has studied and worked our Steps, Traditions, and Concepts will stay stay sober one day at a time. His sponsor at the time I cam into the program was one of the original 100 AAs from Akron, OH. Harry still resides in the Charlotte, NC area.
I was also that if I was to only identify myself at our meetings as I am Chuck, and I am an alcoholic. That if had problems with solid or eatable alcohols, I was to take this problem to the appropriate recovert fellowship; because if I had a problem with these solid substances and I identified myself with a dual admission that I was maintaining my uniqueness and separating myself from those who came to our rooms with a desire to stop drinking alcohol, our singleness of purpose to carry our message to the still suffering alcoholic, and most importatnt that our common welfare alwats comes first and that our personal recovery depends on upon our AA unity.
A few years ago at a closed discussion homegroup meeting, we had three members of Overeaters Anonymous, who attended the meeting for months. When they shared they always idenified themselves as members of OA. Then one evening, a member approached one the homegroup members about her concern about non-AAs attending our group's meeting, which was affecting the group's autonomy. Since only one member had any working knowledge of how this weekly event was beginning the affect the group as a whole, the sister-in-sobriety approached this knowledgeable homegroup member with her concern and the concern of others. The discussion leader asked the group members' if anyone had a topic that that s/he would like to have discussed. The member, who was approached by the concerned member, raised his hand and asked if we could discuss our First, Third, and Fifth Tradition. The awareness of the God of our understanding surfaced. The three OAs graciously were lead from the closed weekly homegroup meeting over a period of three weeks.
This example is what happens when our principles are placed before our personalities, which if handled spiritually; will maintain our spiritual foundation of our 12 Traditions, which is why AA works for an alcoholic. The process also maintains the anonymity of the group as a whole and each person's anonymity.
All of the sponsors have been entrenched in service work. All have knowledge of our 36 Principles that keep an AA Member sober, AA groups sober, and AA sober worldwide.
In closing, when an AA member identifies him(her)self with a dual tile, open the meeting to a discussion on our 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tradition and let the God of our underatndings take the lead on improving the autonomy of our groups before the group comes apart from within.
Chuck W., Dunwoody, GA
Thanks Chuck for your ideas in dealing with people attending AA meetings who are not AA members i.e. members of overeaters anonymous or drug addicts.
Here are some other suggestions that work well in our area. Always read the Blue Card prior to the start of every meeting. The card covers what needs to be said for both open and closed meetings.
If faced with the problem of non members attending your closed meeting the chairperson could add after reading the Blue Card, "If you are not an alcoholic or don't have a desire to stop drinking you are not welcome to attend closed AA meetings. Please leave our meeting and seek the help you need at a more appropriate 12 step program".
If holding an open AA meeting remind non members," that they are welcome attend as observers but may not share during the meeting. Also remind them of our anonymity principal,"who you see and what you hear at an AA meeting must remain confidential".
Chuck discusses in his post about the lack of knowledge he noticed in the groups he witnessed regarding the Traditions and the Concepts in A.A. groups.
I would agree that there is a problem in many areas of the country today in these areas. My sponsor taught the three fold solution of recovery, and expected me to continue that road with the people I sponsor.
This happened in a different area of the country from where I live today. Today, the A.A. community had decided their needs to be two, possibly three, different types of sponsors. Those who understand how to obtain sobriety and maintain sobriety solely by the use of the 12 steps. If they wish to go into service work, the sponsor leads the sponsee to a "service" sponsor, who will teach them how to live and operate in the broader world of AA using the 12 traditions. If the "service" sponsor ever studies the Service Manual, they may actually be able help their charge understand the third legacy, the 12 Concepts. But I have noticed, that few of the "service" sponsors of today have cared enough to look into the Concepts.
It is the responsibility of the original sponsor to study the legacies, and to pass these along to their sponsees. This is the way the original AA program worked. Why to fix something that isn't broken? Bill W. allowed the African American drug addict into AA because he had a drinking problem, thus making the "only requirement for membership be a desire to stop drinking." The more we learn, the more we pray, the more we listen, the more we grow. Thank you for letting me share.
"It is the responsibility of the original sponsor to study the legacies, and to pass these along to their sponsees. This is the way the original AA program worked. Why to fix something that isn't broken? Bill W. allowed the African American drug addict into AA because he had a drinking problem, thus making the "only requirement for membership be a desire to stop drinking." The more we learn, the more we pray, the more we listen, the more we grow. Thank you for letting me share."
In point of fact, there were no Traditions and concepts in the 'original' program. The Traditions were in 1950 and the Concepts in 1962.
On page 140, 141, 12 & 12, There is an anecdote which begins, "On the A.A. calendar it was Year Two." It ends with, "Never did he trouble anyone with his other difficulty. A.A. had taken its first step in the formation of Tradition Three."
this predates the arrival of the "African American drug addict' by quite a few years.
Just another Meeting?
I went to an AA meeting last night I haven’t attended for some time and took a newcomer with me. I feel somewhat ashamed and angry for exposing him to what occurred during the meeting. In my opinion, the meeting was a prime example of why newcomers don’t want what we have and don’t keep coming back. Why they soon get the wrong impression of what AA is and what it is not. It further solidified my belief that AA is going in the wrong direction and that the majority of AA members simply don’t get it or don’t care!
There was a big turnout with 3 birthdays celebrating 58 years. The crowd was pumped for the occasion; perhaps even a little over exuberant with not a lot of quiet humility to be found in the room. I was ill prepared for what happened and witnessed something I had not experienced in 22+ years of attending AA meetings. I knew that something was up when I arrived to see a laptop computer and speakers set up on a table. There was the usual breaking of traditions including; chanting/shouting, hugging, kissing, the customary prayer circle and the singing of Happy Birthday. Following the presentation of the last medallion we heard the member share on the topic of choices. It was an interesting topic with a good message. At 9 PM the birthday boy indicated he wanted to sing a George Jones song titled, “Choices”; time permitting. Ignoring the Chairperson pointing to her watch we were out of time, many urged the speaker to carry on despite the Chairperson’s wishes. The computer music was turned on and we were serenaded to a rousing rendition of the song. The member had a good voice and sang well. Only one problem; I thought we were at an AA meeting not a Karaoke night at the local pub.
Many thought the singing a nice touch and no harm done. I do not share those sentiments and here is why. Once a precedent/ practice are established at one meeting it can soon become the rule rather than the exception. Many other members and groups want to follow suit because they like the idea and think it cool or neat. With little forethought or consideration of our traditions a new practice soon becomes a ritual. Traditions are put on the back burner and group conscience becomes non-existent.
What could happen next? Will members start bringing their own band or DJ service to impress us with their singing talent? Will we have special AA Karaoke meetings where everyone sings their message? Will this practice be limited to just birthday meetings or whenever we feel the need? Perhaps we could have poetry meetings where members could read their favorite poems about alcoholism written by their favorite alcoholic poet. Are my examples too farfetched? I think not, as present meeting practices tell me anything is possible. I do not question the member’s intentions or motives; I simply maintain the idea was not well thought out. Perhaps a discussion with a sponsor or old timer would have been in order to determine if traditions were being followed and the idea appropriate for an AA meeting.
It is my firm belief that everything we say and do at meetings affects the unity of the group and AA as a whole; in either a positive or negative manner. I believe what happened at this meeting was on the wrong side of our traditions and will have a negative impact on the unity of our fellowship.
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