Magazine Discussion Topic

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Joined: 2009-08-28

Each issue of the Grapevine magazine includes a suggested discussion topic. Please share your thoughts here.

Joined: 2014-11-28
Celebration of 1 yr Sobriety

I have a lot to learn and I take the lessons learned thus far seriously. My sponsor has showed me that this truly is THE way of life physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. I've learned the first step is the only one you have to do perfectly and the rest will follow with a lot of hard work and should be taken on a continuous basis. I love AA and look forward to the life I have chosen and I firmly believe I will never be alone as long as I am in the AA fellowship.

Joined: 2014-08-16
How we count time and milestones in A.A.

Yesterday I celebrated 38 years of continuous sobriety. To someone with 8 years I am a rock-star, to someone with 50 years I am still a punk, to a newcomer, what am I still doing here?

Every town has a different ritual for recognizing milestones in continuous sobriety. I am not suggesting the way we do it is wrong but I wonder sometimes what do we gain and what do we lose by honoring this achievement? We are, after all, a fellowship of "progress rather than perfection". Not that long-term sobriety is evidence in itself of perfection--my sobriety is not a perfect record of moderate, sane and righteous living.

What am I getting at? Al-Anon borrows from A.A. so what if we borrowed from them for a change? Al-Anon members recognize total time in the fellowship. I don't even know what would constitute a "slip" in Al-Anon terms but I am sure if I was 38 years in Al-Anon and I got all bossy or codependent or nursed the victim role in my relationship(s) at home, I wouldn't start all over again, would I? I think Al-Anon embraces the "progress rather than perfection" spirit better that us. We all have emotional relapses no matter what fellowship we are in. It's part of the deal with being an imperfect human in a chaotic world.

I see the shame members feel when they lose a stint of continuous sobriety that was meaningful to them; it could be six months, it could be 25 years. I for one don't agree that this means that they did something wrong or the "recovery" they previously had was meaningless or that their live was some forgery of "real recovery". I also wonder about the humiliation of starting all over again. Sure, something went wrong. I would want to retrace my steps and look for a pattern or identify what blind-sided me. But would I treat everything I knew as inauthentic? Would I dismiss or invalidate any good I had done or accomplishments I had achieved as half-measures? I don't know because I have never walked a mile (or kilometer) in those shoes.

More and more, people like to embrace the disease-model to label addiction. I am not married to it, but okay, sure, as a metaphor "disease" is as good as allergy, behavioral disorder, malady, illness or symptom of an underlying problem. I hear all of these terms being bandied around and I guess any of them are scientifically suspect. So, if we use the disease-model then relapse is part of disease. When someone who relapse's back into cancer - we don't say, "Well that person must not have wanted it enough or they wouldn't have relapsed from their remission from cancer."

Maybe we undermine others who relapse on booze because we are uneasy about the chaotic nature of our own alcoholism. Maybe we'd like to think that we can control our "disease" and it helps us believe in the steadiness of our path by blaming the victim when someone else relapses. I know the "sobriety is a gift from God but sometimes we take our will back" argument, too. I wonder if that's a simplification of a more complicated problem.

If we followed the Al-Anon measurement of time-in, someone like me would be recognized as being a 38 year veteran even it the had a lost-weekend of drinking in the middle of it all, or if there had been three or four slips. The point is that they (we) are all here now. We all have experience to share that is valuable and it's not as if it effects how many votes we get in the business meeting anyway - we all get one, the newcomer and the longest standing member.

My point is this: Is there a better way to recognize time? Is celebrating milestones really for the newcomer in the first place like we say it is? Does this currency of long-term sobriety or the loss of it, make it harder for our members to come back? Sure, ego-deflation has a role, but is it more a form of humiliation than right-sizing? We don't want to put barriers up to recovering from relapse.

I can't say exactly how I stay sober any more than I can say exactly why I am an alcoholic. Some have more faith than me, some do more good than me and some have more discipline than me; and some of these better people relapse. So I am uncomfortable being paraded out as a symbol of A.A. righteousness. If it is a team effort (partly fellowship, partly personal honesty and tenacity and partly spiritual), then, at least in part all of us take the credit for continuous sobriety and all of us are to blame for relapses.

It should be clear that I have mixed feelings about this ritual of ours. I would really like to hear other people's experiences and feelings about measuring total time in (regardless of the track record), vs. continuous sobriety.

Joined: 2013-10-23
Magazine (GV) Subscritions

With the ever rising costs of GV annual subscription. I would like to ask if it would be possible to make the following changes:
1/2 years subscription at 1/2 cost. The subscription could be spread out over an entire year with the subscriber receiving an issue every other month. The neat possibly "could be" that the subscriber could choose odd or even months for receipt of GV.
Case scenario: Sponsor could purchase 2 subscriptions for 2 sponsees and the could share issues making a complete set per year. The possibility of cost savings, increased sales, and sharing among members. The value od sharing is priceless.
Mac. M DCM District 40 Area 64

Emotional Sobriety --the last frontier

How would you define this for yourself? Does it involve a Higher Power?

to all of the above

Alcohol is a mood altering drug unlike tobacco. We are all equal. Honesty open-mindedness and willingness are key to humility. If you haven't humility you haven't a spiritual connection. I don't care how long you have been between your last 'drug use.' Its not my business. I care that you are here to grow spiritually. Not teach or preach but share and learn. The sickness reeks especially from those that think they have more sobriety than this moment. You can't quantify sobriety. But you can sickness!

My friend Danny - Marking Time with Chips

The question asked on page 54 is:
How do you fill about he way members mark time in AA?
I just picked up a 23 year chip and have not taken a drink of alcohol is 23 years, but does that mean I have been sober for 23 years?
I guess that depends on how you define sober.
In the Little Big Book Dictionary:
Sober is defined as: Being sober in AA implies most fundamentally that ones has not consumed an alcoholic beverages what so ever. It may also be assumed to include at least some of the characteristics listed below which are examples of traditional dictionary definitions for the word sober- not drunk or intoxicated, reasonable, rational, realistic, practical, down to earth, without excess or exaggeration, showing no extreme qualities of fantasy emotion or prejudice, without indifference where seriousness and attention are needed, having no illusions and facing reality in a straightforward way, characterized by self-control, or sanity.
Over the years as I pick up chips some years I am more sober than other, it all depends on conscious contact with my higher power.
The more I work the steps and apply the principles behind the steps the more sober I am on a daily bases.
I will never settle on my sobriety being defined as not consuming any alcoholic beverage.
Michael P. Riverview, FL

"my friend danny'

It is my Ego that would like to flash my badge of time between drinks so i may have a '1up" on others around me in a meeting, sort of like winning an argument that never existed, sometimes i wish there was a better way to display to the hopeless newcomer that this program does work, but i don't think there is. My 5yr chip(after more than a dozen desire chips) plus the fact that I honestly still want to go to AA, even when my destructive obsession has loosened the knoose. . . A generous sense of Peace & love glowing from my heart and actions is what I think attracts 'chronic- progressive- fatal drunks'(just like me).

Joined: 2014-11-01

Alcohol is a mind/perception altering drug. Tobacco is a mood altering drug.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: to all of the above

"Alcohol is a mood altering drug unlike tobacco."
Apparently you've never tried to quit smoking. If you had you'd know that tobacco is definitely a mood altering drug
Before the chemicals in tobacco were known to cause cancer the US Government packed cigarettes in with the combat rations of the troops. It was well known that it had a calming effect.
Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs on the market today, Much more addictive than alcohol. And much harder to stop using.
Your post shows there are at least three things you know little about: Tobacco, alcohol and humility.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re unlike tobacco?

I used tobacco for 20 years. From my experience tobacco is absolutely mood altering! if tobacco didn't alter my mood, why did I smoke?
I also love the lecture and sermon on humility!!!! An oldtimer told me once that "humility is what we have right up to the moment we think we have it" another oldtimer told me he knows his humility is gone when he gets concerned about others humility.....
I read a joke about humility, I think it's from an old grapevind. "my homegroup gave me a lappel pin that said I AM HUMBLE. I wore it to the next meeting and they took it back!"

What About Drugs.....

The simplest answer is: respect the house you are in. If you need to talk about drugs, go to a NA meeting because without singleness of purpose, AA will die. It has happened in the past, it could happen again. The Washingtonians were a group in the early 1900's that were just like us (Alcoholics trying to stay sober). Unfortunately they also talked about politics, drugs, alcohol reform and such. Consequently they died. I believe it could happen again. Also, some newcomers cannot relate to drugs so they may feel lost and there is nowhere else to go.

Monica N.

Joined: 2014-11-01

I think Bill waited till page 7 in the BB to mention his drug use, and Dr Paul (Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict - now Acceptance is the Answer) had a whole page describing shooting up in the garage. Please.

what about drugs?

People that share this same idea about people with drug problems in A.A. are completely ignorant. This ego driven attitude pushes many people out of the rooms. Most people I encounter in the rooms have either had a drug problem or have done there fair share of experimenting with drugs. People that say " you are not welcome if you had a drug problem" are truely saying we're better... The Big Book mentions the use of sedatives and several other substances. I terrible for people for the people that suffer from both a drug addiction as well as an alcohol addiction, especially when they are greeted to the rooms with comments like this... They are both addiction and both deadly. This is no longer the 1940's.

Drugs in rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous....

Talking about drug use in an Alcoholics Anonymous is not approved by the World Conference which votes on topics. To protect future Alcoholics coming to their first meeting who would be confused if they heard other issues mentioned and not come back and go out and die alone. WE help alcoholics. There are other 12 step groups for other addictions. Our open meetings are for anyone interested in our 12 step programme and my opinion is if someone is there with a problem other than Alcohol they decline to speak if asked to share. Listen and learn. We read the BLUE CARD at every meeting in my district. This card is available from the Literature Department Catalogue. Anonymous

Joined: 2014-03-31

Agree. Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict...a classic AA story from the Big Book has been read and quoted for years. I doubt there's a single AA who has not had a brush with drugs(street & legal) at some time. Yet, most AA's understand the importance of singleness of purpose and keep drug talk to a minimum.

I understand the sensitivity about drug talk in AA. It first hit me hard when I took a meeting to our local jail where many of the inmates were so annihilated by meth they didn't know which end was up. Their addiction to meth and the dreadful consequences were so terrible that many didn't know if they had an alcohol problem or not. They just knew they couldn't drink because it would lead to meth; not because they could not control their drinking.

The proper recovery forum for most of those guys in a perfect world would probably be NA. But, NA is not as widespread as AA in our community. Courts, PO's and treatment centers just want folks to get to meetings, any meeting.

We have not had much of a problem with this issue in my home group. People mostly talk recovery based on the steps. They don't dwell much on their drinking or using past. We have a strong core of recovering people who provide leadership and guidance and keep the focus on recovery.

Joined: 2014-08-16
More from Agnostics & Atheists

November 6 to 8 will be the first We Agnostics and Freethinkers International Conference of AA in Santa Monica. The World Directory of AA groups for atheists and agnostics is very small compared the AA as a whole but from 2010 to 2014 we saw a jump from under 100 to nearly 200 agnostic/atheist AA groups.

Atheist and agnostic are a growing population in and out of the rooms - especially among young people. In the early days this was seen as an intellectual hold out by many members or a sign of a closed mind. But when we open our eyes we see a wealth of AA success stories of people who don't believe in a prayer answering, sobriety granting higher power. Some of our members are sober two, three and four decades and either never believed in an intervening God and made AA work for themselves. Others (in their particular spiritual journey) outgrew their belief in a traditional supernatural force that is such a popular worldview among AAs. So let's hear from today's atheists. Yes I am one but I don't like that word. I don't spend my day identifying myself with the things I don't believe in. I don't believe in horoscopes either but I don't identify as a-horiscopal, I just go about my live without checking what a Virgo (or Rat on the Chinese Horoscope) should do, today.

I am fairly unabashed about my secular approach to AA life. There is lots to keep me busy in AA without praying and waiting. I am especially hopeful that if a call goes out to nonbelievers to tell their stories, that closet-atheist/agnostics will find the courage to tell their story, candidly. Some members get rather fundamental on newer members that confess they have doubt about any God that intervenes in our lives. I think a number of members keep their real feelings to themselves, fearing they'll be proselytized to or dismissed as exercising half-measures.

I know Dr. Bob says he feels sorry for me because I am an atheist. But how old was AA then. If he knew me he wouldn't feel sorry for me. He wouldn't see me any less or more than any other member. He didn't have any fellow AAs 30 and 40 years sober who are happy, joyous and (God)free. I know there is talk of maybe collecting the history of atheist/agnostic Grapevine articles for one book; before we do that, let's get a fresh crop. Today's nonbeliever come by many labels - humanist, Buddhist, Taoist, secular AA member, Zen-AA, apatheist, freethinker, Deist, realists, skeptics, doubters and Pantheist. Believers are invited to use their imagination to create or conceive anything that works. Well non-believers come is a wide variety today too.

Unbelievers are on the rise, especially with young people. A new Grapevine magazine by and for our non-believing population would offer all readers an eye-opening invitation into the life of our members inner-powers, higher purposes and various secular applications of the Steps and/or AA way of life.

Thanks for your consideration.

How would this group work?

Would this group read "How it works", the traditions, the promises, the preamble at the beginning of the meeting? What program would be used in written form so that "one" has the ability to recover without a Higher Power? I know from reading the book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the 12 steps and 12 traditions that "open-mindedness and willingness" are essential to recovery.
Is this breaking into a sect of its own making. I would hate to see AA break off into fragments, when the common bond is not just not drinking, but coming to terms with our lives and trying to amend them.
Many of us had a resentment with our concept of God, and this shows up when honestly done in our fourth step inventory. But if the mind is closed, we have shut down any thought of a Higher Power. If the AA group is your Higher Power, it will ultimately fail you, because we are human.
I ask that you read the quote by Herbert Spencer at the end of Spiritual Experience in the appendex of the Big Book.
Through the process of the steps, I came to believe only because I became willing to believe with an open mind.
This is after all, a 12 Step Program.
"Either God is or isn't, what was our choice to be"
Ray H.

Joined: 2014-09-17

The AA Program is spiritual. There's simply no way around that. All one need do is read the Big Book to confirm this statement.

Of course, our credo is one of love and tolerance. And, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

So the issue is how does AA treat atheists who want to attend meetings because they have a desire to stop drinking and find that association with AA helps them to do that?

The answer to me is quite simple. We allow them to attend open meetings. The same way that we allow drug addicts to attend open meetings. Although they cannot share at open meetings, they are welcome to attend.

We do not allow them to attend closed meetings. Closed meetings are limited to those who want to stop drinking by using the Principles of the Program.

RE: Atheism

"We do not allow them to attend closed meetings. Closed
meetings are limited to those who want to stop drinking
by using the Principles of the Program."
This is the type of thinking which has all but
destroyed A.A. It is obvious that you have no understanding of the basic principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. You
have heard "How It Works" read one too many times. ANONYMOUS

Why call agnostic or atheist groups AA when it’s not?

Personally, I have no problem with atheist groups, however I do have a problem with atheist groups insisting on calling themselves AA groups.
First lets look at AA’s 12 steps. Steps 2,3,5,6,7,11, and 12 directly refer to God as we understand him or spirituality. The suggested directions for working steps 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, and 12 have a prayer or multiple prayers that go along with each step. Look for yourself. There is only 1 step that doesn’t refer to God or have a prayer in the step and that is step 1(at least in the big book). How can a group of people call themselves an AA group if they only practice 1 out of 12 steps? How long will a group last if they are not working the steps? In the pamphlet “the aa group” it is written that the sole purpose of an aa group is the teaching and practicing of AA’s 12 steps.
Now, let’s look at AA’s 12 traditions. Tradition 1 talks of our unity and how our common welfare comes 1st followed by individual welfare. I think our unity in AA comes first from us all being at least alcoholic and second from us having a common answer to alcoholism. That common answer is our spiritual program of action.
Tradition 2 refers to God in our group conscience. Now how can an atheist group have a loving God in there group consciences
Tradition 4 has to do with group autonomy and that each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole. Now let’s say you have a group of people calling themselves an AA group that doesn’t have a program of action for sobriety. I come to your group, you have no answer, I die. Now that I am dead, my family says AA doesn’t work because a group on non step working people where advertised as AA.
Tradition 5 – how could this group have a primary purpose of carrying it’s message if it doesn’t have a message? Aside from not working steps and half the traditions, what is the message?
Tradition 10 long form says no AA group or member should ever, is such a way as to implicate AA, express any opinion on outside issues, particularly politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The AA groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever. How can an atheist AA group have no opinion on sectarian religion when it has atheist in its name?
Tradition 12 long form talks of anonymity of having an immense spiritual significance and that we shall forever live in thank full contemplation of Him who presides over us all. Now how do you that if there is no God in the group?
So there it is…. An atheist AA group (if there can be such a thing) cannot practice steps 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, and 12 or traditions 1,2,4,5,10, and 12.
Why insist on being called an AA group? Why not call yourselves something completely unrelated to AA and see how that works ?
Lastly, how could an AA group last working 1 of 12 steps and half the traditions? I could see an individual doing that once in awhile while being around others that were working the steps and traditions, but not a whole group. If that formula really worked there wouldn’t be 100 atheist groups out of 115,358 AA groups. there would be more than 0.08% atheist groups right?
Again, why insist on being called an AA group? Really, why call it AA when it is a fraction of what an AA group is.

Joined: 2014-08-16
Why call agnostic or atheist groups AA when it’s not?

If the God that my fellow member speaks of, was seeking an advocate, I couldn't blame such a creator God for feeling ashamed for such a show of bigotry towards nonbelievers. If there is such a God, I expect that He feels no threat nor contempt for those who do not worship Him. In AA we don't dismiss our fellow members; we ought not be intolerant of any fellow AA, be they atheist, ignorant or hateful. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But we don't get to each "create" our own facts. AA has just one history.

Our traditions were born - not so much from wisdom as - from bad experiences. We would be ashamed of these miss-steps, now. To suggest that any member of AA ought not call themselves a member or that a group ought not be "insisting on calling themselves AA groups," is an example of what George Santayana warned us of: "Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes."

Who's read the pamphlet P-17, "A.A. Traditions How it Developed"? Bill W writes, "We who condemn them are the Pharisees whose false righteousness does our group the deeper spiritual damage." This "past," recorded in this pamphlet is the "past" that members who are in agreement with my fellow anti-atheist member are "condemned to repeat." We are reminded that before the Traditions, fallen women ought not be AA members, "Negros" in AA meetings would turn off "respectable" members. The children of these sexist, racists "stewards" of AA would be ashamed of their parents, today - and rightly so. So why would we now marginalize our unbeliever members?

Everyone is a member of AA if they say so. Any two or more alcoholics who band together for sobriety can call themselves a group no matter how unpopular their rituals or creed may be. The reason this is our AA credo is because of the mistakes of our past. And today, just because theists are the vast majority of AA doesn't mean that humanists, Buddhists, unbelievers etc. need to beg for approval or speak of our AA recovery in G.O.D. acronyms.

As has already been mentioned, there is only one requirement for membership - and it isn't a belief in God. While my fellow member is entitled to practice as rigid an interpretation of our Step as she or he wishes, let's not forget that the Twelve Step's author saw our Steps as suggested, not sacred.

Check the Grapevine digital archives for this quote from Bill W., in 1965: "In A.A. we are supposed to be bound together in the kinship of a common suffering. Consequently, the full individual liberty to practice any creed or principle or therapy whatever should be a first consideration for us all. Let us not, therefore, pressure anyone with our individual or even our collective views.”

This is why such a Grapevine issue, devoted to agnostic/atheist views, is a good idea. While we can't deter bigotry born of hate, we can stem bigotry born of ignorance. Stories of a secular view of AA recovery will be eye-opining to the open-minded, willing and honest. Otherwise, doubters will continue to keep their true feeling to themselves for fear of bullies telling them they ought not be AA members if they don't obey God. AA ought not be taken hostage by either an angry, apathetic or hasty majority nor by our minority members - AA is for everyone who wants it. Everyone has the right to speak their truth candidly without having their membership challenged for uncommon or unpopular views.

Joined: 2012-05-30
Re Joe

Please read tradition 3 long form, big book 4th edition page 563.
You wrote “Everyone is a member of AA if they say so. Any two or more alcoholics who band together for sobriety can call themselves a group no matter how unpopular their rituals or creed may be.” You forgot the rest of tradition 3 which states “Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation” Obviously an atheist/agnostic group has other affiliations.
I’m not picking on atheist, I feel we shouldn’t have men’s, women’s, young people’s, gay, native American, black, or white groups. If we truly have a singleness of purpose, why would we need any of these special purpose groups? And why would a special purpose group want to be called an AA group anyway? Why not call the group something non related to AA and let it stand on it’s own merits if its such a great idea. Overeaters, cocaine, and addiction anonymous all use the big book of AA but don’t call themselves AA groups.
The only reason I can see for a special purpose group to want to hide under the name of AA is that if they didn’t have AA in the name, they couldn’t use AA’s proven track record of recovery to attract newcomers. Those special purpose groups would have to do their own 12 step work to find newcomers. How can an atheist/agnostic group do 12 step work when step 12 says “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps(steps 1-11 where only steps 1 and 8 don’t have God or prayer in them) we carried this message to other alcoholics (how we work steps 1-12 and how can an atheist do that if they can’t work steps 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11, and 12) and practice these principles in all our affairs (how does an atheist practice the principles of steps 2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11 and 12 without prayer or a higher power)
I don’t care what individual members of AA believe or don’t believe. The issue is when a group of individuals band together with a belief or nonbelief and want to call it an AA group.

Joined: 2014-08-16
Joe? Seeing as you asked, Clu1992

If you are asking sincerely about how nonbelievers practice our Steps, that would be just the thing such a Grapevine edition would answer. Our Steps are suggested - not sacred. Maybe some take a pass on some or all of the Steps; that's a member's prerogative. Maybe they interpret them in a secular, humanist or atheistic ways. I expect many Grapevine readers would find the ES&H in these Grapevine stories helpful, informative and maybe even inspiring.

We've been here before. In the mid 1950s, Bill was quite clear about liberty for individual groups and members in his "Unity” chapter in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. On page 81 he talks about Buddhists who said they enjoy A.A. but have replaced the word “god” with “good.” That's how they mine the value that we fellow A.A.s glean from the Steps while being integral with their beliefs, which don't include any God of any understanding. In 1957, Bill writes:

“To some of us, the idea of substituting ‘good’ for ‘God’ in the Twelve Steps will seem like a watering down of A.A.’s message. But here we must remember that A.A.’s Steps are suggestions only. A belief in them, as they stand, is not at all a requirement for membership among us. This liberty has made A.A. available to thousands who never would have tried at all had we insisted on the Twelve Steps just as written.”

You share, "Obviously an atheist/agnostic group has other affiliations." What affiliation does an atheist have? And as for an affiliated agnostic, I can't imagine her or him deciding on which agnostic affiliation to join if there were such a club.

There is a movie that's always a good giggle called, THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Maybe you've seen it. A character called Indego Montoya, a Spanish swordsman says, "This word - you keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means?" Again, a Grapevine issue about A.A.'s unbelievers would help shed the "narcissism of small differences" that we all harbor. While we are all alcoholics, at times, we appear to be a society divided by a common language. That's why I like the title, Language of the Heart. I think we can always hear each other when our hearts and minds are open. Agreed?

Why call agnostic or atheist groups aa when they're not??

First- the only thing required of someone seeking help through AA is the desire to stop drinking. AA does not recognize race, creed, or religious affiliations. True- believing in a higher power is part of the steps to success in AA. The big book clearly states that the higher power can be ANY higher power that you see fit. It also states that when referencing "God" they are referring to "God as you know him" or "whatever you choose your higher power to be". Even the suggestion that atheist or agnostics should be in a seperate group from AA clearly shows that you haven't paid any attention to the teachings of AA. It does NOT say- have a desire to quit drinking and believe in the same god as everyone else. It also doesn't say anything about segregating groups of people for their beliefs. It does however teach tolerance and acceptance of everyone who enters seeking help or guidance with their illness. Perhaps, since you are so informed of how AA "should" work, you should reevaluate your personal inventory and your amends list, and see if your inability for acceptance of others is our (atheists and agnostics) fault, or if it was your own insecurity that lead you to make such statements. I can say im glad that the several groups i go to have not passed judgement on me and welcomed me with open arms. Holding true to the values that AA teaches.

I will pray for you to my higher power, and I wish you good luck on your serenity and sobriety.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re anonymous

The post is about AA groups, not AA members. AA group's have strict limitations, AA members have none. In not saying atheist and agnostics should be a separate group. The atheist groups are saying the should be separated. I'm saying there shouldn't be atheist and agnostic AA groups. If a bunch of atheists that don't drink wanna get together, I think that's great, just don't call it AA. Why would the want to be called AA anyway if they don't believe in AA's spiritual principles?

For "knowing so much" about AA, you need to perhaps read further

Have u read the twelve steps and twelve traditions? This is a very important, and yes AA, tool. If you haven't, how can you claim that you know so much about the program? It is all about believing in something or some power greater, no matter how limited that may be (refer to the Big Book "We Agnostics", page 45 "we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves; page 46--"much to our relief, we discovered that we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him".), but in the 12 and 12, page 27, it specifically states when discussing step two that many men solve their problems by means of substitution--that if they so wish, AA itself, the Fellowship and Program itself, can be your "higher power"--and that "here is a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you... Even this minimum amount of faith WILL BE ENOUGH." Perhaps before you go on criticizing a large group of, YES AA MEMBERS!, you should truly apply the teachings provided and learn to be accepting and non-judgemental. The ONLY REQUIREMENT FOR AA MEMBERSHIP IS A DESIRE TO QUIT DRINKING. ALL of the many AA groups I attend, every one, makes sure to stress this and that your higher power can even be the group itself, and thank goodness that no one has preached as you have. By the way, I believe in God. But I am tolerant, non-judgemental, and so happy to welcome any member with a desire to quit drinking, regardless of his religious or non-religious orientation. That is what AA is about.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re anonymous

You are correct. You are a member of AA if you say so. AA group's have strict limitations if they want to be listed in the AA directory and call themselves an AA group. Please read "the group & problems other than alcohol. Also contact GSO and ask for new group information

depression/mental illness

with the death of Robin Williams looking for anything on this subject

9th Step

Hi I am seeking different points of views because my sponsor has gone back and forth how to handle my restitutions to stores that I stole from while I was out there drinking and living that lifestyle. What I am thinking about doing is calling the various stores managers and saying hi this is ... I am in a 12 step program and I have taken from your store over 2 years ago I have no idea on that dollar amount I took. How can I make it right?? But quite frankly I feel like they'd say wtf is this girl calling and wouldn't have me pay them back especially since I dk how much I stole money wise. I just want to be as through as possible and willing to go to any length. I plan on paying back my resititions to major chain stores I stole from to a child in need by sponsoring them every month financially. Do I just not call the stores and make restitutions as I have planned? I do not want to get in trouble by calling the store managers but want to see what other people have done in my position.
Thanks! -T

9th step

I haven't gotten to making my amends yet, but I have worked in several places and dealt with recovering alcoholics. In the cases that i dealt with where the dollar amount was unknown or the items stolen were unknown. Since the store likely has no record of your accounts there, and probably no evidence of the crime- I would ask for a member of management and explain your situation. Let them know that you are working the AA program, and would like to make restitution for your past wrong doings. If the manager has a suggestion of a way to make things right, then you have your amends. If the manager has no suggestion- then ask about doing some volunteer work (free labor for a few hours, some cleaning, bathroom scrubbing, etc. ). If there still is nothing they will let you do, then find peace in the fact that you tried. Not all amends will be made. But your higher power will recognize the effort and you will know you did what you could. I hope this helps. Good Luck with your amends, and stay strong with your sobriety!!

PS- it might help a little more if you go there in person instead of calling them to make amends.

A very important step

This is not a step u can skimp on... You must come forth, scary as it may be... Likely they will be more understanding than you think--and will offer you ways in which to pay retributions via charity events, fundraisers, etc. I have been a retail store manager, and have dealt with similar situations believe it or not... We do not track your number and hunt you down ;). You want to make it right, we want to let you... You can not be afraid of getting in trouble--your spiritual healing and sobriety is more important than any trouble you may get into, and as long as you are not involving other people that may have been involved (and if so, ask their permission first before including them), then you must do this for your own good and growth! Good luck!!

Joined: 2014-05-19

Het of the sadest things today is that people skimp on this step...I admire your effort and thoroughness. I myself called a company that i had worked for and take some tools...I told them what I had done and about what the amout was. They told me that while they appreciate my hoesty they had isurance that covered their losses and that i should find a place to donate to that would benefit society and cotinue with my changed attitude. What a blessing just to follow thru...God luck and God bless...Jake


as a teenager I was cleptomanic 2 the 9th, degree. I could never B able 2 find then so I dicided 2 put extra few $ in2 the basket uestntil I felt I had done my best in restitution.

spanke"G" driftwood club, Melbourne, fla.


I apologize 4 the misspelled words i used in my last message. i should go by the rule used by the carpenter. measure twice , cut once ! i do the same with e-mails but i am trying 2 change it.

Spanke"G" of the Driftwood club. Melbourne, Fla.

PS.God Bless A.A.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re 9th step

I followed the directions for amends in the big book pages 76-84, particularly the first paragraph of page 80.

I went to the store in person, asked for the manager. Told them what I had done and why I needed to make direct amends. We estimated an amount and I paid it. I can still hear my sponsor saying "if your smart enough to steal a million dollars, you are smart enough to pay back a million.


mine is "hi, i'm Joe and a child of God, with a problem with alcohol." Would that be accepted? It is the truth. I am first and foremost a child of God. To identify myself as an alcoholic does not fit my beliefs as to who I am.


Only you can identify yourself as an alcoholic....

You are the only one that can decide whether you have a problem with drinking or are an alcoholic... But if you are powerless to alcohol and your life has become unmanageable as a result, alcoholic as a label (although hard to accept) would be befitting of anyone who relates to this... And YES, you can still be a child of God, as so many of us alcoholics are... If anything, admitting to our illness and following this Program of AA only brings us closer to Him, and let's us better do His will, always... Do not let the label shake your beliefs--perhaps it can help u to strengthen them... Good luck and God bless, Joe, child of God, and potential (this is up to you) alcoholic xoxoxo

I'm an Alcoholic

Joe, It helped me to understand exactly what I mean when I introduce myself as an alcoholic. I gained a thorough knowledge of the disease in rehab and through reading the BB, listening at meetings and through other study. Gaining a thorough knowledge of the disease took the shame out of it for me. By participating in AA, I am doing what I need to do to deal with this disease.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Re: introduction

Yeah, I understand, Joe. I refused to believe I was an alcoholic, much less admit it. It was okay to be a drunk, but not an alcoholic, they had to go to all those meetings. And as long as I wasn't an alcoholic I could go on drinking.

Identifying yourself as an alcoholic doesn't fit your beliefs

Well Joe, I understand how truly frightening it is to say "I am an alcoholic". But unless you can say those words, you haven't accepted it completely. History has shown repeatedly that those who reserve a part of their old identity can not giving in completely to the new ideas and concepts that they can learn by regular attendance to AA mtgs and by working the 12 steps and reading and studying the Big Book, and they don't heal enough to stop their disease process.
The first paragraph on page 58 of the Big Book says "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." History has proven again and again that those who tried to heal were unable to do so until they let go absolutely. I was so certain that alcohol was ending my life, that I finally did let go completely. I was drowning in denial, which created an ocean between my much needed evolution into a recovering alcoholic who can cope with life without using alcohol, a person who thinks and responds using a clear "12 Stepped" mind, a new better, healthier way to think, followed by new and wonderful rewards of peace and honesty. I would beg you to change your beliefs, Joe. You're on this site. You have a problem with alcohol. Believe it (most other people you know likely already know the truth), you are an alcoholic, and when you can believe that, you can be helped to a place of wellness that other recovering alcoholics never dreamed possible, but do in fact live. You won't be alone. Recovering alcoholics are wonderful people. Best wishes to you.

RE: introduction

My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic: That is a simple
statement. It was never meant to be a greeting, salutation
or an introduction. It is part of the first step, admitting
that I am an alcoholic. It is also part of step five,
admitting it to other human beings. It became a greeting
when members started chanting "Hi! Joe! around 1980 in
my area. IMO, it makes us look stupid in the public eye.
We join in unity or we die alone. I fear that you are
trying to be unique. "hi, I'm Joe and a child of God, with
a problem with alcohol", will be useful to identify you.
Oh, you know, the guy who identified himself as a
child of God with a problem with alcohol.
Keep it simple: My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic.
(just like everyone else). ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2014-08-16
how we introduce ourselves at an A.A. meeting

The Third Tradition, as everyone here knows defines who is a member of A.A. A person decides for themselves. They don't need another member to vouch for them, they don't need a doctor's note. Once I had a desire to stop drinking, I was a member.

I identify as "My name is _________ and I am an alcoholic." However, there is no rule about identifying. No one has to say their name, no one has to call themselves an alcoholic. It's customary at most meetings to say our name and identify as an alcoholic. In the USA and Canada it's customary for others to chant back, "Hi __________!"

It's not a rule or requirement for membership or attendance at an open or closed meeting.

If someone calls themselves "an addict," "someone in long-term recovery" or any other imaginative ways of identifying, I don't mind. It's up to them to determine if they meet the membership requirement. The don't have to prove it to me, they don't need my approval and they don't have to go along to get along if they don't want to. Unity is a tenet of A.A. culture. Uniformity is not a prerequisite. If someone doesn't like it if I or anyone else doesn't follow the custom of the group who's problem is that?

I think we get use to certain customs. We had a discussion at an Area Assembly about rituals and chanting. Prayer, non-AA readings, group customs all got discussed. It seemed that we all approve of the customs we have grown accustomed to and we have grave concern over customs that are new to us.

In my home group tables and chairs have a customary way they are set up. If someone "tried something new" a few of our oldtimers have a bird. As if it's a rule that the group chairperson has to sit in a certain place, the library has to be at the same end of the room each meeting and the chairs and table need to be in a single configuration - as if what? As if the mysterious power of A.A. will become impotent if the rituals are changed?

We're so funny, us alcoholics.

Joined: 2014-03-21

Not that anyone asked, but in my opinion if there weren't an informal discouragement of crosstalk, what we'd end up with would be the sober (or abstinent) equivalent of a barroom brawl. There can be as many personalities or points of view at any AA meeting as there are people present.

"Live and let live" and "Easy does it" can be hard precepts to live by. Well, whatever way people have of staying sober and of not hurting others, whether it's in AA or even outside AA, is fine with me. It's not as if there weren't already enough pain in this world as it is!

March cover

The new issue looks great! And I love the link to AAGV's 70th Anniversary. Thank you

Court Ordered-Sept. 13,2013

The writer thought signing court slips offended the 6th tradition by endorsing the AA name to an outside enterprise. That this practice erodes the AA's " essential structure." I disagree. We are not giving an endorsement saying these members should be judged one way or the other by signing their sheets. What we are doing is saying they were here, at this meeting, period. The show of support we give to the members themselves by doing this may be the only positive recognition they get for coming and may bring them back. Aren't we required to reach out the hand of AA whenever we are called upon to further the sick one's recovery? In this day & age, we should be overjoyed they are reaching out & give them the non judgemental hand of AA support. Signing court sheets is a very personal way to do that & maybe the only chance we get.

Sincerely, Sue B. GR,MI

Court Ordered-Sept. 13,2013

I agree with you Sue. In this day and age anything we can do to reach the still suffering alcoholic, is the right thing to do. We don't stand out side of bars and take names, nor do we drag folks off their bar stools. However, if such people are referred by the courts because of their demonstrated behavior, to AA or our sister fellowship, we should sign the slip, smile, and say "Keep Coming Back".

signing court orderd papers.

I encountered a leader of a meeting how also refused 2 sign a paper 4 someone who was court ordered 2 attend meetings saying it was not AA related. I disagree adamantly. when I sign a paper I tell them 2 come back even when they do not have 2 & 2 try & get as much out of it as they can.

spanke"G" driftwood club. Melbourne, fla.

RE: Court Ordered-Sept. 13, 2013

I have signed many attendance slips, and would continue
to do so for those attending meetings with me. But I really
do not think it is a good practice. Anyone in trouble and
it is evident that alcohol may be part of the problem
ought to be offered information about Alcoholics Anonymous.
The time has come for our General Service Board of
Trustees to address this issue. The issue is that the
courts are sending criminals to our meetings. Our GSB could
simply go public with a general request to the legal
system to stop this practice. That combined with an
advisory to us that this had been done, and that we would
be advised to stop signing slips.
Bill W, often said that sometimes the good can be the
enemy of the best. He further wrote that "Sometimes the
seeming temporary good can be the deadly enemy of the Permanent best.
I think Bill added that when it come to AA, nothing but
the very best will do. ANONYMOUS

Criminals? And judgements?

So many members came to AA as past or current criminals, the only requirement for acceptance being that they have a desire to quit drinking... If AA looked down upon "criminals", well, AA would be a much smaller group!! Isn't the way of AA to be non-judgemental, forgiving, and accepting to ALL who have a desire to quit drinking and want to better themselves?

signing court orderd papers.

a bunch of criminals hugh. what were many of when we came in?

Spanke"G" of the Driftwood Club Melbourrne, Fla.

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