I work on the fourth & fifth slowly by writing in my iphone that's w/me anytime anywhere so not to carry a big journal....& discuss w/my sponsor or puesdo sponsers as need be...I feel all the Steps blend together & hear at times that people do the Steps over & over..to me that means daily , a new way of life. As far as carrying a message..16 mths sober now..I think I have a message to carry & w/a grateful smile....I get it slowly but surely & am very aware of the cunning baffling part of the disease.I try & set some REAl goals like become a counselor after 2 yrs of sobriety sometimes..if only truely on Step 9 for example does that mean I should NOT go to school to become a counselor?? I think not. I want to live life & not sit on the side getting upset that I haven't finished the Steps w/my sponsor...as long as I strive for progress not perfection I think I will be Ok & always pray to God for another sober day & tahnk him at the end of my day,too.
You asked, "Is there anything wrong w/moving this slowly thru the Steps." No, I've been sober since the eighties and never worked the steps. They are suggestions. Don't drink over them. We aren't clones in AA. The steps help some people and to others they are not important. Put, the cork in the bottle, seek goodness and love and you will be okay. The 12-Step program doesn't own the market on spirituality. Remember the path is easy but our minds are difficult.
You are saying quite clearly that you have mastery over alcohol. Lots of people do. Everything about Alcoholics Anonymous is about us people who are powerless over alcohol.
AA is a fellowship of every kind of person imaginable who has tried every possible method to simply stop drinking and stay stopped and failed without the program of recovery spelled out in perfect detail in all of our literature. Since you are not one of us please don't offer your advice here to those who's lives depend on AA's message.
You stated, "Since you are not one of us please don't offer your advice here to those who's lives depend on AA's message."
The only thing I can ascertain from this is you are a newcomer and your program lacks open-mindedness. Its never a sober statement or an appropriate message to tell another alcoholic that they are not one of us. I'm a member if I say I am. Because my message does not fit into your simplistic view of recovery you assume too much. Please respect others on this site especially people who do not think like you. Live and Let Live
well said, well said. If you can put the plug in the jug on your own,then obviously you are not an alcoholic. The AA program is simple, 12 steps.
You said, "If you can put the plug in the jug on your own,then obviously you are not an alcoholic" This is not true at all. We should never give this advice to another person. What logic is that? Some alcoholics can and do quit on their own. Not every alcoholic needs AA because of our moralistic approach to treatment. Being in AA is not the tell-tale sign of an addict. There are people in AA who aren't alcoholic but have a desire to stop drinking. I seen people go through heavy withdrawals with the DT's and just stop on their own. I personally like AA but, many people don't. In the same sense, I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 17 years and just stopped one day about 28 years ago. Does this mean I wasn't addicted to nicotine?
The alcoholic who carried the A.A. message to me was not
sober and never did get sober. The message is simple. There
is a Way Out. Don't drink and get to work. Read the Big
Book and the 12 & 12. Study the history of how this
solution was found. Get a real understanding of How A.A.
Works. You won't find it in chapter five. A better
explanation can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of
Age, Page 70. Or study "Rules dangerous but unity vital"
in Language of the Heart. Around page 8. ANONYMOUS
"A better explanation can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Page 70."
"Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age" tells some of the history of AA, similar to "Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers," "Pass it On," or Robert Thomsen's "Bill W."
The Big Book is our textbook.
No one ever learned auto mechanics from Henry Ford's biography. They learned from textbooks.
No one ever learned mathematics by studying the biographies of Archimedes or Pythagoras. They learned from textbooks.
No one ever became an electrician by studying about Ben Franklin's kite experiments. They learned from textbooks.
"Get a real understanding of How A.A. Works. You won't find it in chapter five."
Oh? In case you haven't noticed, the title of Chapter Five is "How It Works."
Studying Bill's explanation of Step three in the Big Book, it appears that the step is actually
being taken. In the 12&12 ten years later Bill has reduced it to simply a decision to take the step.
I see this as a willingness to consider taking the step. Bill has opened the door wide open
for any alcoholic to join us. As in Step two a newcomer is allowed to "come to believe". Some
alcoholics may come in already "believing", but IMO they are very few. Most of us "come to believe",
but even that is not a requirement for membership in A.A. Bill wrote in "Three Talks" that
the only thing we require for membership in our fellowship is a desire on Her/His part to
get well. Bill and Dr. Bob worked with thousands of alcoholics in the ten years after the
Big Book was written. Surely, more was revealed "on the anvils of experience", after the Big
Book was written. Those revelations made A.A. more inclusive, closing any loopholes found
by the rationalizing mind of the alcoholic. ANONYMOUS
I dragged my feet for years. I was so afraid to look at the 4th. I had no assets to counter the negatives in my life. It wasn't till I was in therapy for the last time, that the good things about this alcoholic came into view. The person I worked with on this step now had a whole person who could hold her head up high and look at the wreckage of her past. It was then that I was ready to clean house.
Living in constant fear, kept me from looking at my defects and sharing me with that person.
After the 4th and 5th step, I felt that I flew out of the cocoon of fear and became a butterfly. Every fiber of my being was lightened and the weight of fear lifted.
As the NIKE commercial say "Just Do It" you will not regret it.
Ann Marie C.
After my morning meditation today, I felt led to read this part of an article Bill W wrote for the grapevine in March 1960 titled “After Twenty-Five Years”. It can now be found in the book “Language of the Heart” under the same title or in the grapevine digital archives.
Our recovery Step Number One reads thus: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol . . .that our lives had become unmanageable." This simply means that all of us have to hit bottom and hit it hard and lastingly. But we can seldom make this sweeping admission of personal hopelessness until we fully realize that alcoholism is a grievous and often fatal malady of the mind and body--an obsession that condemns us to drink joined to a physical allergy that condemns us to madness or death.
So, then, how did we first learn that alcoholism is such a fearful sickness as this? Who gave us this priceless piece of information on which the effectiveness of Step One of our program so much depends? Well, it came from my own doctor, "the little doctor who loved drunks," William Duncan Silkworth. More than twenty-five years ago at Towns Hospital, New York, he told Lois and me what the disease of alcoholism actually is.
Of course we have since found that these awful conditions of mind and body invariably bring on the third phase of our malady. This is the sickness of the spirit; a sickness for which there must necessarily be a spiritual remedy. We AAs recognize this in the first five words of Step Twelve of the recovery program. Those words are: "Having had a spiritual awakening . . ." Here we name the remedy for our three-fold sickness of body, mind and soul. Here we declare the necessity for that all-important spiritual awakening.
If you can, read the rest of the article. I find myself re-reading these three paragraphs over and over.
Step 1, hit bottom and hit it hard and lastingly, often fatal malady of the mind and body—obsession to drink coupled with a physical allergy that condemns us to madness or death.
Then recognition of who gave AA our definition of Alcoholism, Dr. Silkworth and how that cart before the horse idea is entirely in step 1. Then Bills recognition that alcoholism is really a three fold sickness of body, mind, and soul and the necessity for that all-important spiritual awakening.
I especially noticed how Bill (the lawyer) wrote, “We AAs recognize this in the first five words of Step Twelve of the recovery program. I keep coming back to the “the” in the recovery program. What did Bill mean by “the” recovery program? Why didn’t he say the suggested, or one of the many ways to work “a” recovery program? I Get the sense that in 1960, the 12 steps “where” THE recovery program. What comes to my mind is what he wrote on the bottom of page 85 of the big book, “if we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His spirit into us”. Those are Bill W’s words, not mine.
If you feel you are suffering from a hopeless condition of mind (mental obsession with alcohol while your not drinking that convinces you to take the first drink) a physical allergy to alcohol (you can’t stop once you start drinking) and a spiritual malady (increasingly restless, irritable, and discontent while sober), Try following the “directions” in the big book instead of the suggestions heard so often in AA meetings. It’s working for me the same way it worked for Bill W.
Hi Corey, after reading through the posts the past week, I noticed your name appears a lot and the tone of your writing seems to be one of the expert variety. Although they seem to be long winded, there is a degree of sincerity to them which can't be denied. You also have a specific point of view in regards to what AA is. This is find by me but, try at least to have a little love and compassion for others who may think differently. Most of you comments come with quotes and page numbers and you seem to be defending yourself. Who is attacking you that you feel so passionately against to defend? I like different points of view in AA as I gather others do as well by the posts I've read. It helps me define what recovery means. I also grew up in AA and I don't have to defend postions out of insecurity. We all have the freedom and the right to discover the meaning of sobriety and ways of getting there. Who am I to force my beliefs on anyone even in recovery. My home group is cool because we treat all members equally whether they read the literature and books or find sobriety in eastern meditation and yoga. One woman in our group claims changing her diet has cleared her mind so much so, she is able to enjoy sobriety and has gotten active in AA again. I never met Bill W. and I don't know if I would like him if I did meet him however, I would accept his ideas of recovery even though mine are not exactly the same. AA is not his program it belongs to the living. Not all of us need directions and rules. Some just need the time and space to let alcohol leave our system and our minds to clear up in a way we can start making good choices on our own again. Thanks Corey, Its good you found what helps you. Sincerely, from John who cares about the new person as much as you.
Let me get this straight if I change my diet I too can recover from a helpless state of mind and body: alcoholism. I am sure no expert at anything but I know one thing: I am a real alcohoic as discribed in our basic text book and the only purpose any AA group is recovery from Alcoholism through the study and application of the 12 steps. There are no rules in AA because if I do not follow the "rules" I die! Yes John you can believe and say just about anything you want to in AA and it sounds as if you would like to see a more open-minded, free thinking, multi-faceted type of fellowship........Then go start one, leave this one as you found it. It saved my life. Don't muff it up. Virgil
I appreciate your comments. If I or anyone else has given you the impression we are experts on AA or anything in this forum, I am sorry, as that is not my intention. None of us are AA experts. I usually post a thought or quote with a page number and reference to some AA conference approved literature, so anyone who reads the posts can easily research the posted information. I appreciate it when someone posts or shares and gives the citations or reasons for their beliefs, so I try to do the same.
I try to stick to the message as outlined in AA literature for a few reasons. When I first met my sponsor, he said the big book would protect me from him. It sounds funny, but I know what he meant. The AA program in the big book is what worked best for the most alcoholics since the inception of AA and variations of that program may work for some but maybe not the masses of chronic alcoholics.
We are obviously two different types of drunks. I am an alcoholic who left to my own devices has strange mental blank spots when it comes to alcohol. While sober, without the 12 step program of AA, my mind tells me alcohol won’t hurt me no matter what I know about myself as an alcoholic. It sounds as if you’re the type who needs a little time to detox and can continue to run the show with no problems. I wish it was that easy for me. I have found continued sobriety through persistently working the 12 steps of AA as best I can.
This reminds me of the old farmer eating a ham and egg breakfast. The chicken and pig were outside and the chicken was talking about how great it is to contribute on the farm. The pig had a different point of view!
Good luck and may God bless you in your recovery
Sincerely put, thanks!
You just taught me something about humility and
proved once again that actions speak louder than words!
I just picked up a new copy of a 12 and 12. Took the dust jacket off to throw it away and stopped when I saw across the top in red “A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tells how members recover and how the society functions.”
Say a young guy walks into a Boy Scout troop meeting, likes what he sees and starts going regularly but he has a little different idea about scouting. He doesn’t want to pitch a tent or learn how to tie knots. He doesn’t want to buy a scout manual or learn the oath. Cooking over an open fire and taking a chance on getting lost if he doesn’t pay attention to map reading don’t really appeal to him. He just wants to tag along and let somebody else carry the weight. Can you see where this is going?
I would be delighted if a group started using Yoga and diet or the power of positive thinking or psycho-cybernetics or anything else and cured more alcoholics than AA ever thought about. I really would and I don’t think it’s impossible at all. I don’t know the bits and pieces but I bet someone will figure it out. Unfortunately for a couple million of us, we tried everything else we could think of and couldn’t make them work for us so we’re AA members. So if anybody has a different idea, publishing a book today is as close to your keyboard. Write a book. Start a website. Spread the joy. Make up some rules. Rent meeting halls or talk church boards into borrowing their basement rooms and most importantly of all, think up a clever name for it because “Alcoholics Anonymous” has already been taken just like “Boy Scouts”.
The "cart before the horse "IDEA" Has absolutely NOTHING
to do with step one. The IDEA is to stop preaching the
"program" and become a living example of the solution.
without the preaching. ANONYMOUS
I could be wrong, in fact I often am, it sounds to me that you are preaching about not preaching?
Right on Brother! There are three things an AA meeting could live without and they are, PREACHERS, TEACHERS AND LEECHERS. In my observations, these are the most unhealthiest people in the rooms because they are using the program for selfish reasons and are masking their shadow side. Eventually the shadow will work its way into consciousness and this usually ends up in a psychic crack-up and relapse is not far away. For me to live in recovery I have to continue to face my demons which is the side of me most likely to succeed in destroying my peace of mind. I've never settled for the surface in life and I don't want a surface recovery. Fake will lead me to the bottle straightaway every time.
From what I have researched, the cart before the horse was Bill at about 6 months sober emphasizing the spiritual experience he had in towns hospital. That approch resulted in only Bill staying sober. Silkworth told Bill to give them the hard medical facts first, like Silworth had done with him, and then give them the spiritual business.
Within a couple of weeks, Bill found himself in Akron, Ohio about to get drunk himself. He found Dr. Bob and described his own hopeless case of alcoholism and the answer he had found.Then after about 3 years or so of trial and error with a six step word of mouth program they decided to put the formula that was working for the 40 sober, once hopeless alcoholics down on paper. Bill saw too many loopholes the alcoholic could rationalize in the six step program. He got more specific and wound up with the origional 12 steps.
I think the issue we have today is that even casual reference to the big book, steps, or higher power is misconceived as preaching. In AA,we ought to feel free to discuss the big book, steps, and our higher power as we understand them. If we find we are not free to talk of these three things in AA, we are not in AA any longer. We are in what used to be AA.
In my homegroup, we use the big book as the format for the meeting, so obviously we discuss steps and so forth. Alcoholics that have a desire to stop drinking come to our group, hear steps and traditions, and within a few weeks start on the steps in the big book with a sponsor. We have an incredible recovery rate. It works, it really does.
"The IDEA is to stop preaching the"program" and become a living example of the solution.without the preaching."
Perhaps you would enlighten this poor ignorant alcoholic. If I show by example that I have found the solution to my alcoholism and someone asks me how I did it, how do I tell him without 'preaching' (your term, not mine) the steps I took? Telepathy?
I can't direct him to a meeting because they might pray, hug, chant, hold hands, read or pass out tokens.
If his illness is like mine, telling him to 'put the plug in the jug' or 'just don't drink' won't help him at all.
Wasn’t “the the?” a band from the late eighties? But all kidding aside, well, you asked a valid question. You first shared, “Perhaps you would enlighten this poor ignorant alcoholic.” Why put yourself down or is this sarcasm? You also mentioned, “If I show by example that I have found the solution to my alcoholism and someone asks me how I did it, how do I tell him without 'preaching' (your term, not mine) the steps I took?, Telepathy?” My response would be there is a big difference between sharing your experience, strength and hope and preaching. Sharing ESH usually deals with humility and love. Preaching is ego-driven and selfish. It comes in the form of AA dogma, rules without logic and it serves only the bullies trying to define the AA pulpit. If the 12-step and big book variety of AA saved your life than that is your experience, strength and hope and if you share that, this is not preaching. But suppose you threaten me by telling me your way is the only way than that falls in the line of preaching. I know a guy that swears Jesus saved him in recovery and I respect that but, if he starts telling me that I must follow Jesus than this falls in line with preaching. Most of the preachers mean well in AA but, many of them are not healthy because they spend too much time studying the books instead of pounding the sobriety pavement. By telling others what to do is a way of avoiding problems in their own recovery. Anyone who acts holier-than-thou is usually the unhealthiest person in the room to me. Don’t you think there is more to recovery than reading books and preaching to people? I do. Thanks by the way.
Thanks for your imput.....I like having directions for recovery. I personally call it the ONLY highly suggested directions. SO...
my higher power directed me today to read alot on Grapevine online after going to my 1st yoga class after several months of not. I feel great now, but...I admit...
I don't take as much directions on some days as others. I try though. Progress not perfection, RIGHT?
15 1/2 mth recovering alcoholic here. Now ...
think I'll go follow the brownie mix directions. LOL. Keep it Simple everyone...DON'T DRINK!
hi everone i'm about to do my 4th step and have been told about a list of questions i can answer before i do the step. can anyone shed some light on this as most people i ask in the rooms have heard of them. those who have heard have no idea about where to get them
ive been a member of aa for 7 years 11 months 2weeks and have my first sponser so i want this to be the best time iv'e done the steps
dave thank you
You may be talking about 4th step worksheets and you can find these questions by doing an Internet search for "4th step worksheet." Many different sites offer them.
Ask your sponsor about his recommendation on the worksheets. Some people find them helpful, some do not.
My sponsor had to keep it simple for me and I did not use the worksheets, but followed the outline on pages 64 and 65 of the big book using the instructions there and through the end of that chapter. My sponsor had me do an inventory in the four following areas: 1) Resentments 2) Fears 3) Harm To Others 4) Sex Conduct.
He had me put four columns on the top of a page then make lists for each of the four areas above, beginning with resentments. For example, the columns for resentments were labeled: 1) I'm resentful at 2) the cause 3) it affects my 4) my part in it.
I first listed all my resentments in column one. Then I went down and did column two, then three, then four. I did the same for fears, harm to others, and sex conduct.
Finally, there are many opinions on how to do this and my opinion is just one. You will never do it perfectly. Just do the best you can and be honest and sincere. If you do that, more things may come up later. The fact that you are doing it is huge.
Not sure what folks in your locale are referring to. There were some 4th step "workbooks," for lack of a better description, that probably emanated from a treatment center (perhaps Minnesota's storied facility), that some of those with a couple of decades of sobriety recalled using. I found something similar online. It too obtuse for me, and I probably would have needed a psychologist to explain what the hell it was that was being asked, a regression hypnotist to uncover all the old stuff I really did not remember at the time, and about 3-4 years to uncover and process the rest. I do not personally believe that is what step 4 as outlined in the big book, or the 12 x 12, is all about. The 4 column list outlined in the big book, and the discussion in the 12 x 12 of what "character defects" means as a term of art, was sufficient to allow me to get a handle on my grosser defects and what behavior they elicited, and move on to the 5th step. Uncovering all the rest, including the minutiae, is part of the work of the rest of my lifetime. Happy trails.
The questions you need are around page 50 in the 12&12 book.
There are about thirty questions in all. Bill W. tells us
exactly how to take a personal inventory. There are some
tough questions. Some may not apply to you but many ought
to be answered honestly and throughly. If you are going to
do the step, you may as well do it as outlined by our
cofounder. I hold the opinion that the steps are done
because we choose to do them; not to appease or satisfy
a "sponsor". Manny Q.
the format I use is on pages 64-71 in the basic text for AA, the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I would start with that, and if your sponsor is not familiar with the 4th step as outlined in our book alcoholics anonymous, find one that is. This is only my opinion, if you are in AA and are willing to work the steps of AA, wouldn't you want to do them as outlined in the AA book? I know I do.
good luck to you in your sobriety.
Don't beat yourself up over slips; they are simply data- taking episodes to prove Step One. My very best got me to the doors of AA.
I like Dr. Phil's question to someone going-it-alone: "How's that working out for you?"
my first meeting i barely heard let alone understood them when they read how it works..i was too distraught. but i knew i was in the right place, my gut told me. i knew i was done drinking and i was in a place where people all around me went through what i went through. that was the most important thing to me. just knowing i wasnt alone. i havent had a drink since that first meeting just over a year ago. i have a friend though, who started coming to meetings with me but couldnt swallow any of the AA rhetoric. he continues to drink. not like he did before, but he does. he says its the ''God thing'' that puts him off, and since the 12 steps are spiritual in essence, i think that the steps dont appeal to him. but to me A.A is the 12 steps. if it doesnt appeal to a newcomer, it doesnt appeal to them. they can and should go back out there and keep drinking. eventually they'll be back when they dont know what to do with themselves...besides if its Gods will that a newcomer should find a place in A.A they will be back. i dont think that not letting on what a newcomer is really in for is the wisest approach. if A.A lays its cards out on the table a person can choose for themselves, knowing what will be asked of them. if they dont want, they dont want, my hunch is eventually they will be back. its not up to us to play God with the newcomer. we talk about rigorous honesty, well lets be honest with the newcomer...this is the program, this is how it works...the ball is in your court. period.
Hi, you shared, “but to me A.A is the 12 steps. if it doesnt appeal to a newcomer, it doesnt appeal to them. they can and should go back out there and keep drinking.” Huh? You said “Should Go?” This kind of thinking is detrimental to AA as a whole. We are not in the business of telling someone to keep drinking. The next drink could be their last. The next drink could lead them into a hostile rage where they come back and take it out on you or your group members. I’ve seen it happen. Just because you may feel or think AA is the 12 steps, doesn’t make that thought right. AA is a Fellowship. AA is not a 12-Step Program which is a common false belief that many people have even at the media level. We offer a 12-Step Solution but, not all members in recovery choose that solution. The members that work the steps aren’t more sober or better than the ones that do. Some fine other ways. If a newcomer is not interested in the 12-Step Program we should tell them its fine, it’s not necessary to work the steps for sobriety. I never heard the only requirement for membership is to obey the order to work the 12-Steps.
Well said. To me AA is, first a Fellowship, and the 12 steps are a part of the fellowship that I chose to follow (do) at my own rate of speed. Never have I felt that it is something that I must accomplish to be a part of the fellowship. For me sobriety was and is my driving force. Easy does it and one day at a time. When a new member is ready there are plenty of good sponsor ready and available to take them through the steps.
Thanks for a great share.
Thanks for the message. Most of today's A.A. members
have heard and read the first two and a half pages of
chapter five so many times that they do believe that
Alcoholics Anonymous is a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM. And they
are correct. Alcoholics Anonymous today is a Twelve
Step Program, only one of many such programs. But
Alcoholics Anonymous was never intended to become a
TWELVE STEP PROGRAM. A.A. began as a fellowship and
the fellowship was very successful in helping other
alcoholics and their families. Our membership doubled
in number about every ten years. "Each one reach one"
was the theme of A.A. Today's A.A. members, help each
other and themselves, but fail to help those approaching
us. They simply do not know how to help them. Most A.A.
members today do not know how the A.A. message is
transferred from a sober alcoholic to an alcoholic who
is looking desperately for help. Most members think they
know how to carry the message. It is a common false
Bill W. describes how this message is carried from
one alcoholic to another. The attitude of the carrier
of the message is of paramount importance. If we respond
to those approaching us with spiritual pride and arragance
we push them away. If we present humility, weakness,
and gratitude we gain another sober A.A. member.
If our TWELVE STEP PROGRAM failed everyone it would
be obvious that it is not working. But it does work for
some alcoholics and seems to work very well. That accounts
for the one group out of four which gains one member each
year. That is our average for the past three years. We
gain about 15,000 new members each year in the US and
Canada. I am convinced that as a "fellowship of men and
women", we could/should/would save 150,000 a year, minimum.
Generally the fellowship invites them in;, the TWELVE STEP
PROGRAM we present pushes them away. You seem very close
to an understanding of how the message is carried successfully. Bill W. explains it further in our A.A. history book "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age Page 70.
Any A.A. member who is truly concerned with how to help
his brother or sister sufferer ought to read it, and the
related material. ANONYMOUS
I appreciate your comments on what AA is and isn’t. The original AA was the text book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. Until the book was published the Fellowship was a nameless group of drunks, sometimes called the alcoholic squad of the oxford groups.
To show others precisely how they recovered is the purpose of the big book, as the forward to the first edition states on page xiii in the fourth edition. On page xxiv it says “While our literature has preserved the integrity of the AA message……” To me this is why using the big book is so important. We all have our own ideas of what AA is and isn’t. If we don’t suggest using our basic text, how can we expect newcomers to know what AA is and isn’t?
The comment of “we are not in the business to tell someone to continue drinking”, leads me to believe you have been misled as to what the program of AA suggests. On page 31 of the big book it says, “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.”
So YES, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous does suggest you try some controlled drinking. And yes the big book is the basic text for our society and the first portion of the book does describe the AA recovery program (see page xi in the 4th edition).
In some areas of the world, maybe some AA groups have gotten away from the program of AA, but many have not. The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” has sold over 30 million copies and averages about 1 million copies per year. What is amazing still is that the book is 100% free online and still sells 1 million copies per year!
Thank you for distinguishing for me the difference between opinion and fact. Opinions are what we think we know about this program and are often spoken about in meetings, the facts are stated in our literature, especially the big book!
Good luck and God, as you understand him, bless you
A million copies of the Big book are sold annually. Plus
the book is free to anyone who has a computer. Yet our
membership has increased than less than two percent per
year for the past three years.
I don't believe that many people buy the BB for
casual reading. These books are in the hands of alcoholics and those individuals who care for them.
We see an increase of about 15,000 members annually.
Are we to be content with that small increase, when
alcoholism is at an epidemic in the world today?
Why did Bill W. write that the book Alcoholics
Anonymous was meant to be suggestive only? Don't you
think in all the following years more has been
I personally feel that the Big Book, Alcoholics
Anonymous, is the work of a genius. But the rest of
the solution was hammered out over the following
25 years. If we ignore the "anvils of experience"
of that quarter of a century, the future of A.A. is doomed.
I just do not believe that any caring member of A.A.
would point out the sentence in the Big Book which tells
them to drink some more. Let the newcomer find that and
read it himself. We don't have to convince him/her to
come to A.A. They are already here. ANONYMOUS
"If the steps don't appeal to them, they can and should
go back out there and keep drinking." That is just bad
advice. The steps are offered, and are suggestions. You
are making them requirements. We take the steps when we
are ready, not when someone tells us we have to take them.
Attraction, not promotion. If our own lives are in order,
and the newcomer sees that that steps have helped us,
maybe they will be encouraged to study and practice them.
None of the steps are done because another member tells
us we have to do them. We do them of our own volition.
Bill W. explains in a grapevine article Sept 1945,
Page 8 in The Language of the Heart, that Rules are
Dangerous but Unity is Vital.
Making the steps rules, and cramming them down other
members throats is a violation of our first tradition
of Unity. I do ask you to reconsider. ANONYMOUS
"If the steps don't appeal to them, they can and should
go back out there and keep drinking."
That's pretty close to the text in step one.
"Why don't you try some more controlled drinking, keeping in mind bearing in mind what we have told you about alcoholism".
Or the Big Book - More About Alcoholism
"Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking."
I finally read carefully. The twelve steps are one suggestion for a program of recovery not twelve suggestions.
I have heard members at meetings say they were told this
when they came into A.A. (in the good-old days): If you
don't want what we offer, take this five dollar bill and
go drink some more. Note: no one ever offered me $5.00.
There is a big difference in reading this in a book and
telling a newcomer at a meeting to go out and do more research. If they haven't read it in the book, offer them
a copy of the book. Let the text give them the bad news.
I've been living a sober life since the mid-seventies. When I came to AA, not one person threatened me with reading the Big Book or working the steps. The rooms were packed with hopeful people driven to stay sober for one day and to help others. I received handshakes, smiles and a warm cup of coffee. The hostile ego-driven age of the dogmatic big book and 12-step guru, which dominates the AA discourse today in so many areas, had not come into fruition. The majority of AA meetings were speaker meetings which focused on the fellowship as described by the Preamble. I think I was sober 8 months before I new what the big book was. I asked my sponsor about it and he quickly down played the book. He said something to the effect, "It’s a recorded history of the earlier members. If you read it, take it with a grain of salt. It was written years ago and it doesn’t truly reflect the broad range of alcoholics in recovery today.” He supported me when I said I wasn’t interested in finding God. He said something like “God is not for everyone in AA. A handful of principals will suit you find. Follow some of those and you’ll see a change.” Today, I sit through meetings quietly. AA does not look like the AA of my early days. I’ve moved to different states and all my close AA friends have died. Despite the lack of tolerance I feel and the extreme nature of many members inside the AA rooms; it’s the AA principals living inside me which gave me the opportunity to live in that place where I’ve always wanted to get to. Thanks for you open mind.
Bill W. wrote in a message to the membership via the
AA GRAPEVINE September 1945, about the danger of rules.
The "few simple rules" mentioned by Dr. Silkworth had
nothing to do with the 12 steps. The "little doctor who
loved drunks" was talking about the the A.A. principles
of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love.
I don't believe there is any way I could have gotten
sober in today's A.A. As much as I wanted to stop
drinking and stay stopped, I was not desperate enough to follow
the requirements made of newcomers today. Thank God I
was given the freedom and opportunity you write about.
We were the fortunate ones. I don't know about you,
but I was very much a part of the destruction of our
fellowship. Some of it was apathy, not wanting to get
involved but I was a pusher of the steps, and a pounder
of the Big Book. I simply did not know that this was the
approach that did not work for Bill W. in his first
six months of sobriety. He pushed drunks away, just
like we do today. Spiritual pride is nauseating to
drinking alcoholics. It makes me sick today, now that
I recognize it.
The sad truth is apparent in our membership numbers,
our lack of growth over the past two decades.
The effort by some members to form athestic and
agnostic groups is just as harmful as the religious
groups. Without unity, future generations of suffering
humans hold very little hope in us. ANONYMOUS
Thanks so much for talking about your experience. I wish I got sober in your AA era. I can't find a sponsor like yours who is open minded so right now I am staying sober alone. No one in my area will sponsor me because I do not believe in God and because of thsi other members follow suit and treat my like I have the plague. I get told repeatly I will drink again and I'm a punk. I was yelled at once by a guy "Its God or the Highway" And I thought, I know I'm new but, what a sick thing to say. I've learned to sit quietly and not fight them. My heart tells me they're wrong. I've read about and heard stories of other people like me on this site and this tells me I belong. I'm here to stay sober with or without the help of the members. So far its lonely but, in a strange way being not liked has ignited a part of me that wants whats good in life and that to me is sobriety. With no help from anyone accept myself I am sober 9 months.
You aren't alone! There are lots of agnostics and atheists who have struggled with this sort of thing. There are agnostic and atheist groups in a number of cities and there are resources online. Google and you'll find some, including a really great site run by some folks from Toronto, aaagnostica.org. I don't have a sponsor yet for the same reasons you do, and I use the God-pushing and Big Book thumping as an opportunity to practice serenity. You're right that the guy who yelled at you was being sick -- I find that a lot of people are a lot less serene in their sobriety than you'd think, and that defensiveness is where some of that behaviour comes from. Other people really believe that the way they got sober is the only way because it's the only way it worked for them, and they're trying to help the only way they know how. Take care, breathe, stay centred, reach out for the help that's out there. You don't have to do this alone.
The following is an excerpt from the big book, page 44 the chapter We Agnostics-
You may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death (step 1) or to live on a spiritual basis (step 2)are not always easy alternative to face.
But it isn’t so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life-or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted.
In 1939 there was one AA. It was the book Alcoholics Anonymous. There was a nameless group of drunks that some called the alcoholic squad of the oxford groups.
In 1938 when these drunks numbered about 40 recovered hopeless cases, the group thought it was time to put the formula for sobriety down in book form to reach more drunks and to prevent their message from being garbled.
In 1939 when the book was published the groups began to call themselves Alcoholics Anonymous after the book that showed precisely how those first 100 maintained sobriety.
In 1944 Dr. Collier noted that AA had a proven recovery rate of 50-60%
In 1955 the forward to the second edition of the big book has a recovery rate of 50% for those who came and really tried and 25% got sober after some relapses. So even in 1955 AA had a 75% recovery rate! In 1955 the fellowship was also pyramiding at a rate of 20% a year.
That pyramiding process as stopped! I believe in 1992 AA worldwide had 2.4 million members. In 2011 AA worldwide had 2.4 million members.
I think from 1939 to 1970 or so the program of AA as described in our basic text Alcoholics Anonymous and the fellowship was one and the same. Those members of AA practiced the program of AA. Today the fellowship of AA is far from the program of AA. So far that if you know or mention the big book of AA you are labeled a big book thumper. It’s too bad. When we used the book as a program of recovery we had a 75% recovery rate. Today if 1 in 100 that came to AA found sobriety we would break our arms patting ourselves on the back. It is a shame what we have done to this wonderful program.
Let’s remember our alcoholic problem is 3 fold. We have a mental obsession with alcohol (mental), a physical allergy to alcohol (physical), and a spiritual malady. On page 64 of AA’s basic text, the original AA, it says when the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. How do we straighten out spiritually? We apply the 12 steps of the AA recovery program to our lives.
If you don’t believe in the twelve steps, please don’t come to our AA meetings with your own program under the disguise that it is the AA program. I almost died because I was willing to work the program of AA but when I came to the fellowship of AA it was nothing close to the AA as described in the big book. Thank God as I understand him for giving our founders the vision to put the AA message of recovery in book form so as to keep it from being distorted beyond recognition and so a hopeless alcoholic like me could pick up a book and follow it’s suggestions and recover.
I would like to thank all who post comments. The more I read, the more I am convinced of the need to practice the AA program as outlined in the big book to the best of my ability, which at times is not very good, but I continue to trust God, clean house, and live happy, joyous, and free!
Good luck to you all and God bless you!
Corey, I, too believe that the 1939 A.A. was still
intact in 1970. I am grateful that I got sober in 1970.
But A.A. started slowly to change. We continued to
grow on the momentum of the first great years of success.
In 1992 we had almost two and a half million members worldwide Our membership had doubled about every ten years.
We have fewer members today than we had two decades ago.
Why do you think that is? Did something happen? What
happened? I saw what happened. I lived through the
mistakes as we were making them. I was very much a part
of the distortion of the fellowship of 1970. I watched
it take place. I watched from the sidelines. Like most
A.A. members I thought Alcoholics Anonymous was "alive
You are aware that something is wrong. When only one
group out of four (US and Canada) could claim ONE new
member in years 2010, 2011 and 2012 (each year), there
is something horribly wrong.
The mistakes we made have been listed over and over
on this bulletin board, by others and myself. I know
what I observed over the years, and today I see the
results of those mistakes (Bill called them blunders).
Bill warned us of the dangers of spiritual pride, and
the power driven EGO. I see no humility in A.A. today.
We boast of our achievements. We preach humility,
but no longer practice it.
What we have lost is that unique technique of passing
the message to other alcoholics. Alcoholics have a rebellous
nature. "Nobody is going to tell me what to do!" We must
stop telling them what to do, what they must do. If we
just talk about ourselves, how can we go wrong. If we
are attractive enough (have our own house in order),
maybe they will want what we have.
You have been here 20 years. It was at year 35 when
my head was pulled out of the sand. I ask you again to
study Dr. Silkworth's advice to Bill W. in the spring
of 1935. Bill obeyed that advice when he met Dr. Bob.
It was years later when Bill actually realized that he had followed that advice. Bill was there to save himself.
He needed another alcoholic to talk to to keep from
going down the drain. That is just not the way we
try to help newcomers today. We tell them to Find God
and find Him NOW! Thanks for all your work and dedication.
Read again that page 70 in A.A.C.A, please ANONYMOUS
Each AA group follows its group consciousness and as a result, every AA group is a little bit different. Some groups have a narrower spiritual focus than others do. If you have to look farther afield to find a group where you are comfortable, keep looking. There are groups all over the world, there are groups that meet on the internet using chat rooms and e-mail lists, and if you feel like you just can't find a group anywhere, write to Loners and Internationalists Meeting lim @ aa dot org. Staying sober by yourself is very hard, and while it isn't totally impossible, it is really unpleasant. Lots of people get and stay sober in AA, and are happy, too, without having "God" as their higher power. The higher power in Step 3 is not limited to one person's idea or even one religion's. Keep looking for a sponsor, even though your sponsor may live a long way from you. That's what telephones and e-mail are for!!! Don't give up!
Thanks for your message. My last drink was in January 83. I am grateful that someone else's brand of recovery was not crammed down my throat. I was illiterate and could not read. I told my sponsor I was not interested in the god stuff or praying because prayer seemed foreign to me. He made a list of principals and wrote them on cue cards. I memorized each word and discussed what each principal meant. He assured me if I applied them to my life I could stay sober and have a chance at life again. After that I memorized the slogans. I asked him if I could be a member of AA if I did not work the steps or believe in God. He said yes of course. After a few years I went back to school and got a GED. Eventually, I continued and earned a Masters Degree and now am working on a PhD. Without love and tolerance I would of been finished. Without a room full of open minded and kind people I would of been dead. As I learned, AA is big enough for everyone. Sobriety was not handed to me on a silver platter, I had to work for it through my actions and decisions. Even though I did not need the AA program, I support those who feel it has been their saving grace. My faith was trusting in another person and relying on all the accumulative wisdom within the AA fellowship. Thanks again for your experience.
"The steps are offered, and are suggestions."
Is that so?
"Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a PROGRAM OF RECOVERY."
The steps, all twelve of them, are offered as a program, not as a list of suggestions.
"A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if PRACTICED A S WAY OF LIFE, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole." (23&12, page 15.)
Having had a spiritual awakening AS THE RESULT OF THESE STEPS, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
Those who haven't taken steps one through eleven have no business trying to carry a message they never got. As a speaker said many years ago, "Trying to teach what you've never learned is like trying to come back from where you've never been.
It takes real arrogance to devise one's own program and pass it off as AA.
Out of respect, I just want to know why you care so much if someone works the steps or not? Why a need to defend yourself. Will the opposing viewpoint cause you to drink again? The women in my group taught me I am free to choose the things I need to do to stay sober. I was taught to love and not to push God, argue with people or control what other AA friends are doing. I work the steps and pray but, I will never take a superior position because I think I am getting sober the proper way. I sponsor an atheist and her needs are different than mine. She’s been sober nine years now and doing quite well. I have to be flexible in recovery. Rigidity will lead to relapse is what I believe. Quoting pages out of context is a style evangelicals use to try and win discussions about religion. I was taught that AA is a fellowship that offers a suggested program. If someone is not interested in the suggested 12-step program or reading a book written in the 1930’s, I'm okay with that. My faith in God does not guarantee I will suffer in AA or relapse. The women’s group I attend would be boring if all we did was sit around and quote pages from the big book. We are not the “Stepford Wives.” My sponsor said years ago,“If all there was to getting sober was reading the book and praying, I could buy the book, stay at home and never talk to another alcoholic again.” In my experience, the women in my group with the different points of view have helped me the most and I am grateful for them.
yes, if all you did was "read" the big book, at best the seed would be planted. to me the big book is the directions for the AA program. It has been said there are no musts, one requirment, and no directions in AA. I read this morning on page 85 of the big book (I read 84-88 daily to help me do my 10 & 11 steps) " if we have carefully followed directions".......
I do far more than read the big book, I use it as a text book or manual to show me precisely how to work the program of AA.