Magazine Discussion Topic
THIS IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY. AA IS THE HAPPIEST PLACE I HAVE EVER KNOWN.
My husband whom I met in AA, and we were married for 17 years, committed suicide in January 2007. He went through what I call a mid-life crisis. I did get very busy in AA to when I did not know what end was up and what end was down. Bottom line - I did not get drunk and I stayed sane.
Just when I thought I was getting on with my life, I was riding the motorcycle that my late husband left behind this June 2011 and a person hit me. I lost my left leg, went through 7 surgeries, and spent 42 days in the hospital. I am now learning how to walk with the prosthesis.
I have seen so many gifts from this tragedy. My son 38 years old now calls me his hero. My mother, who did not talk with me for the last 4.5 years, took care of me when I got out of the hospital and we have a great time together. My son and mother who have not talked for about 18 years - both enjoy each others company and my mom was invited to my granddaughters 2nd birthday party. I received over 38 cards, so many plants, candy, and stuffed animals. I truly have so many friends in the 12 step programs. And I ask myself - "Why Me"...WHY NOT ME! I get to show how we walk through life and don't drink (or use) no matter what...
My life is great. I am learning how to walk all over again, and I am learning how to ask for help. And this is at 22 years of sobriety.
ALL WAYS LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE IN EVERY SITUATION
I had no idea that there was a pamphlet about this issue. I appreciate your post more than you know. I have had the worst time trying to get the "loving, unjudgemental, helpful support" that was the original purpose of AA.
One woman wanted to know my Dr's name 'cause she accused me of not being honest with him about alcohol use. I am in pain treatment, it is from a work related injury, this busybody, know it all has no idea how quickly the DOL would cut off my benefits and stereotype me as abusing drugs, if they got wind of this. My Dr. knows that I don't abuse the drugs because they test me every month to see what I'm taking. What happened to anonymity? Do the busybodies not see the harm they do by driving people away that need AA for more than a "Social Club".
The only sponser I ever tried to have was more screwed up than I am. She said I had to call her everyday and all she talked about was how good she was at getting men to give her money. There are some sick people in AA no doubt, not just sick as in alcoholism, but sick as in manipulative and depraved.
I used to smoke cigarettes. I struggled with cravings for several years, got addicted to nicorette gum, I know it was God that set me free from that, I prayed and begged to be set free from nicotine, finally it came to pass 21 years ago, way to go, me! I have been through the same struggle with pot, I've been pot-free as of 7 or 8 years, yea, again! I didn't go to meetings I just quit buying it. Fear of being arrested or being around possibly dangerous people. I no longer have any desire for it. That is a true miracle because I never knew how to quit. I need that same miracle again. I want to be totally free of any and all compulsive behavior.
I know that miracles happen, I just need another one.
I am really glad to have picked up the OCT 2011 issue of the grapevine...I have been on depression/anxiety meds for about 3 yrs, and probably should have been for the last 20 but couldn't get myself to do it (I've found that many people view you as a weak if you need meds, I guess I have an ego problem, ha ha) It made a huge difference in my life...I drank on and off since I was 16 or so, usually sporadically and to excess. When I started the meds, I quit the booze until I found what a great effect it had when I mixed them. I ended up in treatment this past summer and stayed sober for almost 90 days (apparently I like to mess things up right before a big date). After 2 slips, I talked to my doctor and he said without a doubt that I needed to get on an anti-craving medication. Since I've spent some time with "old timers", I automatically feel like I'm cheating the program a little, because it works pretty good for me - my cravings for coffee, pop, etc are knocked way down as well and I feel "normal" without feeling high. Doesn't the Big Book say "whatever it takes, and going to any lengths?" I've only been on it for 3 weeks but I can really tell the difference. I've read through all the posts that are on here about meds and AA and it's sad to hear some of the stories, and good to hear some of the others. If you have an illness, it needs to be treated...I think the worst thing you can do is drive someone away from AA with a black and white attitude towards meds. Of course I'm very happy that my cravings are pretty much gone, but also worried about what it will be like when I go off the anti-craving med in 6 to 12 months. I pray that my brain chemicals will be in balance more, and that I will stay sober with the help of an understanding sponsor and AA. Quite honestly, I think I have had anxiety/dep since I was a kid way before I took the first drink....or have I always had an "alcholic/addictive" mind? Either way, I'm going to do what it takes to treat the conditions I have, and be grateful for each day and do what I need to do to stay sober.
We are not doctors and if one is they surly would not practice in a meeting Lol - There is a good pamphlet on medications and want to thank you for being here, Be true to thy own self and every thing will be alright if you can run from chronic conditioned people that thinks they know how to save your life as they sit in the same room, lol
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. It reminds me of our general purpose, "to stay sober and to help others achieve sobriety."
As I read this article I could not help see the the similarities between the auther and myself. My parents died before I was able to get sober, but when they were alive, drinking problems were never talked about. Even today my siblings do not talk about my drinking and it is sometimes very uncomfortable for me to be with them knowing that I am on a path that they do not agree with. The point is that this article has let me know that I am not the only one with this problem. Thank you for giving me the insperation to continue to live my life as I'm sure God wants me to live. Mike R. Innisfil ON
I was driven away from AA (or so I thought) by my first sponsor and first home group. I was taking a desperately needed antidepressant, without which I had already been hospitalized. My sponsor "fired" me and my home group said I couldn't do service work.
Despite this abrupt dismissal, I searched for AA's ideas about prescribed medications. To my relief, I learned AA had no policy against these medications; in fact, they allowed their use if used as prescribed. Only my doctor and counselor can advise me on medication use -- AA groups who prohibit participation in AA when the only requirement is a "desire to stop drinking" can do harm and -- sometimes -- force depressed individuals into suicide. This is not what AA is about ... AA should help and accept those who try to maintain sobriety.
I found most other groups I visited had no prohibition against antidepressants. In fact, when directly and honestly addressed, other members say they use them but are reluctant to admit it in AA rooms.
I have been sober and actively participated in AA meetings, speaking in hospital settings, and taking my medication as prescribed for more than 2 years now. I think my greatest service to AA is to declare my thanks for the AA stance on these medications. I do that, making no secret of my antidepressant use. I do a lot of service work and sponsor people, some of whom need medications to stay sober.
What could have happened to me when I was fired by my first home group and sponsor could have had a much different ending. If I had stopped my medication (as demanded by that sponsor), I don't know if I could have continued in AA, or if I would be alive today, for that matter.
We in AA should apsire to help other alcoholics. We are not there to dabble in matters that don't concern us. We shouldn't negatively affect others' sobriety with our laymen's "wisdom" on medications. People with treated depression can be productive members of AA; others who try to meddle in our lives do so at their own peril. If a life is lost because of meddling, I hope there is room enough in your amends -- and in God's heaven -- for you. Rejoice in having a sober AA brother or sister, regardless of the circumstances that brought them their sobriety.
Thank you for your impacting comment.
I will never forget the woman with 30+ years of sobriety who would always tell newcomers at the table - who spoke of their hospitalizations and or doctor prescribed medications - "to stop taking all your medications at once. All you need is AA." You see, her non-AA husband was a physician, so apparently she knew better. Not. After a second or third time of her bs, I spoke to her after the meeting and told her she had no right to give medical advice to a newcomer or anyone for that matter. She was shocked to hear this.
If someone who is not YOUR M.D. tries to give you medical advice before, during or after your AA meeting, or any other twelve step group for that matter, DO NOT LISTEN to them.
Driven away by AA and my sponsor. How disalugening for a new comer!!! "I am responsible, When anyone anywhere reaches out for help I want the hand of AA to be there and for that I am responsible." An elderly member that I "had" admired and whom had provided me with much support and guidence was recently re-arrested for violation of his parole. He was one of the first to make realize that Iam powerless over alcohol. He will likely be sent back to Kingston for what will likely be the rest of his life. I was sadened and alarmed by the gravity of his charges and crimes. I was angry that I had called him a friend. Finally I heard that he had stopped taking his prescription drugs that were designed to subdue his deviant side. A dramatic example however the medications are to quell his deviant emotions. The Alcohol enhansed these desires. AA protected him and others. As long as he stayed away from alcohol, he was able to controll the dark side and continued to take his medication. He is going back to jail, and back to AA. Let me quote " how it works" There are those who suffer from grave emotional disorders" What about the manic depressive who cannot survive without medications. Then again there is the poor soul who suffers from fibermilasia (sic) or cancer. They have no option except to take narcotic pain killers and in turn suffer
NARCOTIC addiction. Where is the compasion. Well thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to go back and review the big book as I understand the big book and understanding why we have the twelve traditions.
Two months before I got sober I was hospitalized for two weeks, diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder/manic depression. I convinced my doctors that I was just an ACOA blowing off steam and got off of medication. I went on a wild bender and soon wound up in AA.
About 18 months into sobriety I was hospitalized again, this time for six weeks. Thank God for the support of my AA friends through that ordeal. My then sponsor accused me of 'chewing my booze'. I put her name on the "do not want to see list' and she wasn't allowed in to see me. I later fired her and got another sponsor.
I was discharged and have been on Lithium ever since (22 years). For me, managing my mental illness is crucial to my sobriety and staying sober is crucial to managing my manic depression. I have had only one hospitalization since and that was after breast cancer surgery. I was hospitalized for one week and had a second surgery, to clear the margins, during that stay.
My doctors, especially my psychiatrist, are wholly supportive of my sobriety and we work together to keep me healthy.
I used to carry around the pamphlet, 'AA Members Medication and other Drugs'. I'd read the section about AA having no opinion, that it's between the member and their doctors, at meetings, when so called old-timers would bash people for taking prescribed medications, painkillers, psych drugs etc. I know it was helpful to the confused member on medication. They came up to me after the meeting and thanked me. I have sponsored a few of them.
I have been sober for over 24 years and have been on medication for 22 of those years. I know that without my medication, my sobriety would be nonexistent today. And, staying sober allows me to manage my mental illness.
I am so grateful for the tools of the program, especially the Grapevine. Several years ago there was in issue called The Forgotten Chapter with stories about members with mental illness. I still have that issue and read it when I need to be reminded that I am not unique in AA.
Keep up the good work.
The sponsorship concept today, addded to the incessant chanting, is one of the main reasons AA has become viewed by many as a cult. The general public sees us as a cult because that is what we have become. There are groups
where members are told to get a sponsor before you leave the
meeting today. Some groups actually assign sponsors to newcomers. Imagine an alcoholic telling another alcoholic what to do!. And we have AA members who take a few classes
and become AA guru's both in and outside the meetings. One of the very first impressions I had of AA was the sense of freedom I felt. There were no demands, no requirements at
all. I was not even ordered to "keep coming back". I was
allowed to listen and and become a sober member of AA
without any fanfare. In Alcoholics Anonymous we all come
together as absolute equals, newcomers, and oldtimers.
We need the newcomer as much as he needs us. There is no system of hierarchy or patriarchy. But anyone who attends
the AA meeting of today knows that this is only a theory.
Today's AA is a system of preachers, teachers, advisors,
councelers and guides. Many are under the umbrella of
sponsorship. Let's lost that title. ANONYMOUS
Your comment really spoke to me, thank you. I used to cringe when I'd read that some AA's or the public thought AA to be a cult or cult like.
In my community there such meetings where a perceived AA guru or two literally tell their sponsees to sponsor certain people or tell others who they don't sponsor to sponsor clients of the treatment facility where they work. And away they do. As a result, newcomers of these meetings tend to perceive these AA's as gods of AA and more. AA's even refer these two to be replacements for Dr. Bob and Bill W. It's ridiculous. Of course, this is my opinion. It's also ridiculous when any one of these gods of AA tell their sponsees that having only 5, 8, 10, etc., sponsees of their own is not enough.
Then there are the AA's who preach away at tables who love hearing themselves go on and on. They preach the program to others so they don't have to do their own program. It's pathetic. And the chanting after certain parts of "How it Works" and "The Promises" are read, STOP IT! The one that takes it all, is the asinine AA who inserts or changes words and phrases within these readings with their own bs.
Solution: don't attend those types of meetings.
That may be one solution, but what about the new member who may be at her/his very first meeting. They may think this is the way all AA meetings are held.(and today most of them ARE). Most AA members think this has always been the way meetings have always been held. But they have NOT! The
real solution is to stand up and speak out. Insist on group
conscience meetings where many may share your concern. No,
it will not be easy. "Kill the messenger" may be the initial
response. We have many strong personalities in AA today,
sometimes it seems that all common sense members have
simply walked away. And most have done just that, hopefully
to other AA meetings, if they can find one. ANONYMOUS
There is no place for labels in A.A.
The outside sponsorship system around A.A. lacks humility and there victims are keep away from A.A friends of the whole a true fellowship not a followsit.
submitted by Mary
I was on drugs when I joined AA and knew folks who talked like taking any drug, even aspirin, was tantamount to not staying sober. I did not feel I had to agree. I think that part of why AA worked for me was AA people are ordinary folks and non professional and because of this I felt free to only worry about what I could grasp as being true and/or helpful that they shared about such as the 12 steps and all that.
I already knew from experience that it was a very bad idea to take any homespun advice about going off my psychiatric drugs.
I did eventually taper off of the drugs with the help and support of several doctors. I was criticized for that because gossip had it I did not have the support of a doctor. It was true that the idea was controversial among my doctors and the busybodies who knew that were supposed to stay out of that outside controversary too.
I just read this article in this month's Grapevine. It always scares me when AA's are told to go off their medications. I am a dual diagnosis with a diagnosis that, like my alcoholism, there is no cure for and will never go away. Thank God I have a sponsor who knows that this is an outside issue, and the tradition that states we have no opinions on outside issues, and always tells me to talk to my doctor.
I, too, have a bipolar type II depression and anxiety disorders in addition to my alcoholism. I once had a member of AA tell me that Step 2 was my problem. That God was all or nothing and hinted that I needed medication because I hadn't fully "come to believe." I was devastated but admittedly I was also living in fear of my mental disorders. This fear proved that I did need to focus on steps 2 and 3 more than I was but I do not think that it means I don't need my meds.
The most confusing part of have a dual-diagnosis is that both of them share the same symptoms (anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking, highs and lows of mood, problems with interpersonal and work relationships, etc.) I used to find myself confused and asking "Is this my alcoholism or my bipolar?"
Fortunately, I now have a sponsor who understands what I am going through (my last one did not and told me I didn't need to go to counseling because I was too focused on myself as it was. Her answer was more service work at a time that I couldn't even get myself to take a shower on most days. I no longer resent her - she just didn't get it and she also didn't adhere to the Tradition of having no opinions on outside issues.)
I have learned that if I know I am practiciing the principles of the program in all of my affairs and I still feel depressed or anxious then it is my bipolar and I need to call my doctor about my meds. And honestly, I can't work my program very well unless my meds are working well first.
In my experience, clinical depression affects my mental and physical abilities to take the action needed to work my program. If I had diabetes and didn't take insulin when needed and went into a diabetic coma, guess what? I wouldn't be able to take the action needed to work my program either.
I can no more "will" myself out of depression than I could "will" my body to produce the proper amount of insulin. Who would tell a diabetic, "Well, if you really had faith in God then you wouldn't need those insulin shots." That is ludicrous!
Ah, but now I feel I am treading on giving my opinion on outside issues so I will end my comment here :)
Thank you for your post, it's well said and comprehensive. I can't stay sober if I don't treat my bipolar disorder and the hardest part is that some days the symptoms of bipolar disorder mimic that of alcoholism. Let's not even talk about how I react to trigger's of trauma. I've spent 12 years without a drink, switching meds, therapists, doctors and sponsors. But I always come back to my sponsor that understands about mental issues, and I now have a therapist who helps me look at MY BARRIERS to the step in the Big Book. He actually pulls it off the shelf and makes me read it outloud and then we discuss what that means to me today. I am so grateful for him. I gave my Psychiatrist the AA Phamplet 11 - Medication and Other Drugs, as it suggests right in the pamphlet to do, and she was surprised, as none of her patients who she saw had ever done so. I had a major breakdown 6 months ago, but I didn't drink and I didn't drive my car off the road, because AA taught me how to ask for help. I have been in a dual diagnosis treatment center 3-5 days a week at a daytime outpatient program and often find myself educating the staff and other dual-diagnosed people about the principles of the AA program they like to write down on our treatment plans as treatment for alcoholism. It seems most of the clinicians I come across do not have too much knowledge about the true spiritual nature of alcoholism. Many clinicians still talk about medicating the other disorders with alcohol and drugs but don't really understand the spiritual depravity that alcoholics are experiencing because of the alcoholism, drinking or dry. The issue is a very important one that needs to continue to be discussed in forum's just like this. The founder's wrote the very prophetic "more will be revealed" and "we only know a little". The reason this topic is so hot is because there are better medicines to help the "manic-depressive, type of alcoholic, about whom a whole chapter could be written" It was the Grapevine that helped to form the traditions and be a cohesive voice for the fellowship and it seems that this is EXACTLY the forum we should continue to have this type of discussions.
Thank you and all of AA,
I too just listened to this story and found myself getting concerned that the author was taking himself off meds. This is my experience: I suffer from both depression and anxiety. Someone told me as I was coming into recovery that my symptoms were likely caused by alcohol. This always sat under my consciousness and as I came closer to my 2nd year of recovery I decided that I should get off my meds as "they were a crutch" and "of course I could be sober on them but could I do sobriety without relying on them?" Dangerous thinking. I asked my doctor to move me toward stopping the medication. She put me on a program of decreasing doses. I got down to lowest dose and found myself getting depressed and anxious contemplating the next step: nothing. I talked to my sponsor who assured me that many people face need for medications in sobriety for diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other ailments-- did I now think that depression wasn't a valid ailment? I asked Higher Power to direct my thinking. I "remembered" that I come from a lineage of depression and that my paternal grandmother killed herself while committed to mental institution and my father had suffered from deep depression and numerous suicide attempts. So I called mydoctor and relayed my fears and discomfort. I went back to the next to last dose. So yes, my dose is lower but I still take a medication that helps me keep my brain chemicals in balance. That was almost four years ago. Acing any diseases in addition to alcoholism doesn't mean we are not doing sobriety right. I am grateful for AA and that I am taking care ofmybody that I had abused for years before recovery.
It is 3:10 am and I cannot sleep. My father passed away quite unexpectedly four days ago, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. That day and my life since feels surreal, there is the reality I keep thinking I'm in which is no longer quite real, and the reality that is still too hard to believe. I've been in AA a few 24-hours, and I know that a lot of what I'm feeling is natural to anyone. But as an AA I also know that how I choose to respond to how I feel takes a certain vigilance, because I am an alcoholic, and my natural response is to pick up a drink.
My father was my drinking model growing up, and my drinking buddy as I came of age. He also became the man I reviled and resented the most strongly right on through my first fourth step and beyond. His hypocrisy, his manipulations, his betrayals became a burden that weighed me down and kept me small and a victim. For a long time it didn't seem to matter how much I prayed on it, wrote about it, went to meetings, talked it over with my sponsor, changed my behavior around my father, nothing seemed to help. I came to accept these feelings as simply another "thing" I was just going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, like so many "things."
Six years ago, something shifted. I was in a workshop, unrelated to AA, on relationships. In the space of about 15 minutes, the leader explained the nature of father-daughter relationships in a way that completely lifted the burden of how I felt about my father. I came to understand that my father had done exactly what he was supposed to do, which was to become a grown, mature, self-sufficient woman who could succeed in her life and her relationships, including with her own husband. That was his only obligation to me, and he had done it very well. There was nothing more he could say or give to me that would ever make me feel different about him. The feeling of seeing my father for the incredible gift he had given me was truly joyous and freeing. My feelings for my father moved from "mere" acceptance to gratitude. And the only thing I needed to give him in return was to go on to live a really good life. That is all he wants for me.
The tenth step became a new way of life just in itself. Who I am became less important to me than how I was being. My sponsor suggested I simply focus on noticing how I respond internally to anything that comes up during the day, and make my next move or action based on having a choice. As I practiced that awareness, and living my life according to my choices as a result, my relationships, including with my father, changed. All I had to do was listen for what the other person was bringing, listen to how I reacted internally, decide what I wanted to bring in return, and respond in kind. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have been practicing this since, and I can sit here in the wee hours of the morning at peace with my father and his passing. He did not pass in a way that was timely or convenient for anyone else, which is typical of him. But he passed in a way that was perfect for him. Although he had stopped drinking alcoholically, he never went to AA. But he lived a rich life. At 80 years old, with no evidence of poor health or illness, he rode his mountain bike over a long hilly course in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He then loaded his bike into his truck, got in the cab, and was later found with the keys to the ignition in his hand. His heart simply gave out, like the force of nature death is, and it is exactly how he would have wanted to go. I see the beauty of his passing, but I also get to feel the beauty of knowing that I had no outstanding issues with my father. My relationship with him was complete when the day came where I could simply call him up and ask, "How are you doing, Pop?" without any expectation or needs from him, except to simply enjoy the chat we were about to have. That is the power and beauty of this program and for that I am grateful.
It is now 3:40 am, and I can go back to sleep, knowing that others have heard and understood. The cover of the September 2011 issue, titled "Dealing with Loss" reminds me that yes, I can feel the pain of my father's passing, but my suffering is optional. It is my choice. Thanks for listening.
This is in response to the article in the August Grapevine submitted by an anonymous atheist about the nature of our primary purpose. He or she writes that they are troubled that our Big Book “is clearly written in a moral tone, more Christian than anything”. No surprise there. Before there was a Big Book, Bill and Dr. Bob searched for answers in select Bible readings. Alcoholics Anonymous in Ohio split off from the Oxford meetings (a modern attempt to mimic first century Christianity). Our Big Book describes how the first 100 sobered up after that split from purely religious philosophy. I hope you are not suggesting that we rewrite history. I fully agree with the writer that an AA meeting is not the place for sharing personal religious beliefs. I also cringe when someone makes any reference to a personal creed or deity. Nor is cross talking a good idea, yet that happens too. Sharing at length about family problems or work issues without reference to recovery is also inappropriate. Many meeting formats suggest that “we take what we need and leave the rest”. You might try that my anonymous friend. You might also take a look at page 90 of the Twelve and Twelve. “It is a spiritual axiom” (whoops, there is that word again) “that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us”. If you cannot lay aside your prejudice against spiritual terms such as these, perhaps you can take your resentment and a coffee pot and start an Atheists Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Personally, I hope you don’t. I fully believe that our strength comes from others in the group. We have much to learn from each other. Victor K, St. Louis, MO
Talk about passive aggressive.
You suggest "If you cannot lay aside your prejudice against spiritual terms such as these, perhaps you can take your resentment and a coffee pot and start an Atheists Alcoholics Anonymous meeting."
And then you rescind "Personally, I hope you don’t. I fully believe that our strength comes from others in the group. We have much to learn from each other."
Why suggest s/he start an Atheists AA mtg and then tell s/he not to?
So much to read between your lines.
What I don't get is that if you are an atheist and therefore, obviously think that you don't need a higher power to stay sober then why in the heck are you even interested in coming to AA? What do you need in AA to stay sober? Fellowship? You can find that is many other social and civic groups. Sharing with other drunks? There are plenty of dry drunks out there who choose to not use AA as a tool to stay sober. The coffee? Pleeeeease! ;)
To me, this is like going to an Italian restaurant and throwing a fit/making a scene because you want them to serve you Mexican cuisine. That would be insane! If you want Mexican food don't walk into an Italian restaurant, Silly!
This article makes it a little more clear just why our fellowship is dying. Most AA members have never read our AA
history. Obviously this writer has never even read our AA
preamble. The sad part is that so many of today's AA's
agree with this distorted view of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics do not approach AA looking for a higher power.
I think I can correctly say that if I were looking for God, I would look to the churches. The last place I would look, if I were looking for a higher power, would be Alcoholics Anonymous. I still find the AA coffee the
best in the world, a quality never before tasted. But I am
from the old days and have not shifted to the fancy expensive cup of coffee. A buck or two for a great cup
of coffee and the world's greatest fellowship. What a
wonderful gift! ANONYMOUS
I apologize for any mistakes as I am writing this from what
I remember reading. Bill W. split off from the Oxford Groups
in 1937-1938 (New York AA). Dr. Bob and the Akron, Ohio groups did not separate from O.G. until around 1940. Dr.
Bob was told by Henrietta Siberling "you'll be sorry".(for
listening to Bill and leaving O.G.). Heni, you will recall,
introduced Bill and Dr. Bob in May of 1935, and was an
important part of the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob wanted to help alcoholics exclusively. O.G. wanted to save the world. Although Bill
and Bob had gotten sober in the Oxford Groups, they
discovered that most of the suffering alcoholics they
worked with did not respond to the intense religious
approach. They found that most of them wanted desperately
to get well, but could not swallow large doses of what
we call the God Stuff. But Bill and Dr Bob, using that
"IDEA" developed by Dr. Silkworth worked when other
methods failed. Simply, feed the newcomer with teaspoons
That is why reading How It Works, and the 24 hour
book at meetings aloud as part of the format, has been
so devestating to our fellowship. That was the approach
initially used by Bill W. and the Oxford Groups. It
did not work back then and is clearly (or maybe not so
clearly) not working for us today. Some alcoholics do
respond to that approach, as did Bill and Dr. Bob. But
there is a technique which worked for me and I believe
will still work today for the wholesale recovery of
alcoholics worldwide. We must study it; understand it;
and follow it. In fact we do not have to study it or
understand it. We only have to follow the technique.
Do not tell any alcoholic at an AA meeting what to do.
I tell them EXACTLY how I got sober, expressing the
spiritual feature freely. I do not demand, imply, or
even suggest that anyone else has to do what I did.
Of course the Big Book was written in a religious
tone. That was all they had. It was written while, what
was to become AA, was very much still connected to the
O.G. movement. Bill, who was sober less than five years,
wrote that the book was meant to be suggestive only.
I think Bill said that more would be revealed. I estimate
that by ignoring the "more will be revealed", we have
failed six million alcoholics, plus their friends and
families, in the last two decades. I am using conservative
estimates, using our membership numbers from 1990.
For the first half century, we doubled in membership
about every ten years. If we had continued what I would
consider an acceptable rate of growth, we would have
eight million members in AA today. We have two million.
What really happened in the 1980's to cause our stagnation
in the 1990's? Most members in AA today consider Alcoholics
Anonymous is alive and well. It appears to be. Actually
we are on "life support", spinning our wheels, churning.
I began with an apology and will end the same way.
I really try to be brief, because I find long writings
difficult to follow, maybe a little attention deficit
disorder. But I was awake at 2:00 AM and up at 3:00,
unable to sleep. I have had this obsession for about
four years now, since the death of my friend and neighbor,
a 24 year old AA member. It was further fueled by the
near death of my son from addiction. He was turned off
by the cult religious nature of today's AA. I found
that the reasons were the same concerns that I have
found. The blunders we have made in AA in the past three
decades can and must be reversed. Anonymous
Great questions and thanks for being here. I see you did a lot of research there is a few missing pieces you can find.
When Bob went to meet Bill he was going to give him 15 minutes due to Bob's guilt thinking Bill is going to tell him what he should be doing, this didn't happen to Dr Bobs surprise - For the first time two alcoholics met and both were in a dilemma and needed someone to talk to - Not tell not show but to talk to. Today it's a tell and show game called sponsors who help more people out tan in the door. Conditions always limit Gods free gifts.
I really believe that Dr Bobs visit to Bill was much like the Dr's visit of the old days when doctors made house calls. Bob was very hung over and was only willing to give
this rumhound from New York 15 minutes of his time. I recently listened to an audio of one of Dr. Bob's last taiks
and he mentioned his fondness for Henrietta Siberling as
part of the reason he agreed to go to see Bill. Dr Bob was
not aware that he needed someone to talk to. Bill W had realized for the first that he REALLY needed another alcoholic in order to stay sober himself. Henrietta was the one who had the idea that they may be of help to each other.
I certainly don't mean to be critical. Lately very few say
"thanks for being here". It is usually "why are you being so negative." I truly believe that we ought to have eight
million members in AA today. When I think of the six million
we have failed, plus their families and friends I grieve.
No, Bill did not tell Dr. Bob what he had to do. Bill only
shared his own story and ended it there. Our merciful higher power, greater power, GOD did the rest. Or maybe
just a miracle of science??? ANONYMOUS
Any one who has read the big book and the 12 and 12 cannot escape the fact that Bill Wilson clearly had a spiritual experience to which he clearly accounted his release from the bondage of his obsession and compulsion with alcohol.
Why should he or we who also had no other option than trying a spiritual surrender that ended up actually working not pass EXACTLY THAT on?. We have been freed of the desire to drink because of EXACTLY that type of surrender when ALL ELSE had failed,. We would be lying to say something else saved our butts, and remiss to not tell the whole truth just because someone doesn’t agree with OUR EXPERIENCE, doesn’t LIKE it or doesn’t “APPROVE” of the solution that worked for us. Hey. No problem. Do it your way. But don’t tell me there is something wrong with my story or experience and to not pass it on.
I question whether any one who can stop permanently from drinking (all the way to the day that one dies, by the way, not for one or four or twenty-five years). If they are able to not pick up that first drink then they just maybe are one of those problem drinkers or heavy drinkers mentioned in the big book that are NOT alcoholics and give true alcoholics a bad name--because they can stop without a spiritual intervention, and are able to control their consumption of alcohol by their own will power and can maintain permanent control.
I am sorry for any one who cannot stand the "cult" atmosphere and rejects AA and goes on with their addiction and dies. Maybe a spiritual solution for that person would have brought a different outcome.
I feel that anyone who doesn’t like AA can go get sober your own way and start your own groups and live happily ever after. I will not pick any fight with you. Yay! Rock on! You are sober. Great! What works for you and your friends--Go for it! But courtesy and respect are due those of us who are maintaining sobriety in our separate, autonomous groups as we continue to pursue a joyous happy free life with other sober drunks who sit around weekly and read the books and say prayers in our meetings and go home happy and sober,
In reference to your article posted Tue, 2011-09-13 19:41, I
really don't understand how the title relates to the article. I would ask you why you are angry, but I have felt the same anger when I just don't understand something.
Your first paragraph is absolutely correct, and is
documented in the Big Book and in the 12&12. Bill's
spiritual experience is described in even more detail on
page 2 in the A.A. way of Life a reader by Bill, which was
changed to "As Bill Sees It". His God given (I believe)
release from the obsession for alcohol was also written on
page 63 in AACA, AA Comes of Age.
I think it is significant that Bill's description of
his spiritual awakening in the Big Book is less intense
than that which Bill wrote later on. I believe that all through history some men and women have stopped drinking and have remained sober "to the end of their lives" by
a religious conversion. Maybe they were true alcoholics,
maybe just problem drinkers or heavy drinkers.
Do you think that Bill remembered his spiritual
experience differently in later years? I believe Bill
"watered down" his discription of his spiritual awakening
in the Big Book. He obviously did not want to scare any
alcoholic away. In many cases the Big Book would be the
alcoholics first introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill W's grandfather experienced a spiritual conversion
and remained sober for eight years before his death.
Ebby "got religion" but I believe he was drinking within
a few months. I understand he did have long periods of
sobriety, and was dry his last two years.
Why would anyone not like AA? If alcoholics are turned
off by the chanting, let's stop chanting. Chanting is a cult
ritual. If alcoholics are turned away by the praying at
meetings, let's stop praying at meetings. Attend a prayer
group separate from AA. Don't turn AA into a prayer group.
Bill W and Dr Silkworth developed a technique which was
proven effective for alcoholics with a desire to get well.
Share with suffering alcoholics EXACTLY how you got well.
Don't tell them what to do. We just tell them what we did
and what happened to us. We don't even imply that they have
to do the same. Let the alcoholic make his own decision,
as Bill W describes on page 8 of AACA.
Study the history where Bill writes about his six
months of "violent exertion", in his unsuccessful attempt
to help other alcoholics. What was the advice given to
Bill by Dr Silkworth. Bill writes several times that
without this advice AA could never have been born. That
approach worked with Dr Bob, who incidentally never had
the white light experience, but stayed sober for the rest
of his life. I believe Dr. Bob was a true alcoholic.
Alcoholics Anonymous is failing. We have been
spinning our wheels, churning, for two decades. I did not
know this until after 2005. No one told me. We must
reverse the blunders we have made. The evidence is in
our membership numbers, down over half a million in the
past two decades and still stagnant. ANONYMOUS
I have heard many reasons offered for AA's lack of growth
over the past three decades. The basic reason is that we
have lost the technique which was suggested to Bill W.
by Dr. Silkworth, and Bill's own personal experience. Bill
met with Dr. Bob as an equal. Bill deeply knew that he
needed another alcoholic to talk to, in order to
preserve his own sobriety. There was no sense of hierarchy.
They came together as absolute equals. That solution
hardly resembles the sponsor, teacher, preacher AA
member of today. We must return to that approach. We
owe this to the future generations of alcoholics. Are
we willing to give up our personal desires to preach,
pray at meetings, and chant. These rituals make us look
like some kind of strange religious cult. ANONYMOUS
When I first started posting on this new forum, I stated that I would write in one sentence the reason Alcoholics
Anonymous has lost its effectiveness. Here it is: Over
the past three decades Alcoholics Anonymous has morphed
into a strange religious cult. Praying at meetings makes
us look like a religion. If it looks like a duck, it must
be a duck. Chanting makes us look like a cult. The
hierarchy in today's AA makes us a cult, in my opinion.
I have covered most of my concerns in the past couple
of months, since I found the new I SAY FORUM. I wrote
hundreds of messages for the old forum site. I have
repeated myself many times, and have heard many ENOUGH
ALREADYS's. And I will end this today with the same message. Alcoholics Anonymous is pushing hundreds of
thousands of alcoholics out of our rooms every year.
Alcoholics who could recover and be restored. We fail
them by these rituals: The reading of HIW at meetings is our worst
most tragic blunder. Bill W. and Dr Silkworth explain
this many times in our literature. Simply, it is the
cart before the horse idea. The introduction of chanting
in AA gatherings around 1980, was a tragic mistake.
What may have begun with some kind of purpose, today
makes AA look like some kind of freakish joke. Sure,
new members jump right into the nonsense. The much
needed serious member is driven away by this ritual.
Dr. Bob was quoted as saying "Don't applaud me! Don't
applaud any alcoholic! Yet today, in some parts of
the country, everyone who shares is applauded. This
in not EGO deflation. EGO deflation at depth is the
solution to addiction as explained by Dr Silkworth.
Today at many meetings we make a spectacle of new
members or members returning after absence or relapse.
This is harmful to the AA member, personally, and to
AA as a whole. We ought not make a spectacle of the
newcomer, nor should we allow them to make spectacles
of themselves. The "Hold Hands and Pray" closing also
adds to confirming that we have become a religion.
This religious ritual was accepted as tradition in
one of the stories in the fourth edition of the
Big Book. A serious blunder in my opinion. There were
several other serious mistakes made in the past three
decades. They have been covered in the I SAY FORUMS
and in our AA Grapevine. I have had this obsession for
almost four years now and will again try to "cease and
desist". My computer is old and faltering. I fall into
that category myself. The "Kill the Messenger" response
to my many concerns, has also taken its toll. I suspect
that I should not write further, as it may possibly
prevent this article from being posted. I personally
don't believe that Alcoholics Anonymous will ever
recover its effectiveness. We will stumble along for
several more decades spinning our wheels, pushing
suffering alcoholics away from our rooms by the way
our meetings are conducted. Sad, appalling, tragic!
Don't give up!
I realized several years ago, that human nature has a tendency to follow the leader-by the way sheep, also fall into this category. About the same time as this realization, I stopped holding hands and chanting. My moment of silence at the beginning of most meetings is to quickly remind myself that this meeting is not about me-it's about us, so hopefully if I choose to share, it will be helpful not only to myself but to others.
I believe in the Preamble. I think it pretty much says it all.
As for the drug issue, I'm a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, I'm 55 years old and have remained sober for the past 28 years by practicing the 12 steps of AA.
I don't own AA, don't have any right to tell others how to recover and hope that I never feel the need.
One thing that I do know, is that I am who I am, it works if I work it, and it doesn't if I don't. But please don't hold hands and quote me on that:)
Holding hand seems to promote some emotion bond among us.But the Lord's Prayer is surely Christian,I prefer the Serenity Prayer & it is often used,like last night at my Big Book Study group.
I believe this is one of the times that Bill W. is talking
about when he says that "Sometimes the temporary seeming
good can be the deadly enemy of the permanent best". Holding
hands with friends is indeed warming. What about the newcomer, nervous, sweating, shaking who is forced into
holding hands with strangers. And I suspect that many non-
believers find holding hands with us Christians repulsive.
Why take the chance of excluding any alcoholic, regardless
of her/his beliefs. Can we of AA sacrifice our need for
the warm fuzzy closing in order to be all inclusive.
Everybody wins and nobody loses. Leave the holding hands
for the romantics. ANONYMOUS
Our first tradition of unity has nothing to do with our standing around in our "ring around the rosy" circle praying
and chanting. Unity is the sacrifice of our own clamors and
desires for the benefit of those who may be new. I personally do not like to hold hands with strangers. I have
met others who feel the same way. For years I conformed
because I did not have the courage to resist. I no longer
"hold hands and pray" although this custom was accepted
by our conference when they accepted the fourth edition of the big book.
There are probably historians out there who have
information as to when the meetings were first closed with
the Lords prayer. I believe that initally when they
met in homes, they simply ended the meeting after the
last member shared their story. And had more coffee and
I prefer the Lords Prayer for closing the meeting.
The choice should be made by the group's fully informed
group conscience. To announce that we close the meeting
with a certain prayer, and anyone who wishes can join in
is welcome to do so, is acceptable. To coerce any member
to join in holding hands actually harms our public
relations. SAY WHAT?
The "hold hands and pray" closing began in the
northeast in the early 1980's, along with a decade of
other evolutionary changes at the group level. How
well have these changes served us? Our membership
numbers reveal the sad truth. ANONYMOUS If anyone needs
an emotional bond, how about a handshake?
Bill W. was our cofounder who led Alcoholics Anonymous through its first three and a half decades. I believe he
made some errors in the last years of his life. Instead of
actually stepping down after the formation of the
conference service structure, Bill remained in charge
too long and remained the head of AA. His reputation
as a womanizer harmed our reputation. I understand that
the membership just refused to let him step down. But I
have studied enough of AA's history, to believe today
that Bill had God given insight. He saw that AA was being
led into being a religion. Bill warned us of the danger of
this in AACA, bottom of page 232. He repeated this
warning in Language of the Heart in an article to the
AA Grapevine in April 1963. We failed to heed these
warnings. Even the courts today have labled AA as
being a religion. AA history is a vital asset, yet
most AAs have never read the information left for us.
I remember stumbling home with a corned beef sandwich and 2 tall beers after a hard night. I guess I figured I wasn't drunk enough. Then, 4 tylenols and 2 tall glasses of water. Maybe a scotch for dessert if I didn't pass out. I also thought this was a perfectly normal way to live.