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The AA program of recovery in six words
Trust God, clean house, help others.
But it is really simpler than that.
Help others? Put that on hold for a minute, it’s really more of a result than a commandment. Now we are down to four words.
Trust God? I don’t need to blindly believe in some supernatural force. I can see, read about, listen to and question as many successful examples of people, like me, who have tried it and had it work. I can try it, test it, see if it works.
Clean house. The big one. If I don’t do it, it’s because I’m putting my defective judgment that got me into this mess above that of all those who are doing what I can’t and I’m really not trusting God, am I? If I don’t do it then I don’t have a message to carry. If I follow the first four words then I am so please with outcome then I can’t stop myself from sharing the result with those who are still suffering in the disaster I was allowed to escape from.
Six words. I think about all of us have tried to ignore them, work around them, modify them, improve on them. I am grateful to be one of those who failed all of those and finally just followed them. The results were delivered, as promised.
It may be difficult to believe that you can fix your life with a six word instruction sheet. Isn't it more unbelievable that you can fix your life with less?
You got it. We do not ask the new person to pay anything,
to believe anything, or to do anything. We allow any and all
to sit in our rooms freely and welcome. We are grateful to
them for their time and attention. If they like what they
hear and see, maybe they will "keep coming". We are grateful
to AA for our new lives and are anxious to share it with
all who may need it. If they have questions we try to
answer them, but if a prospect listens closely the answers
They say that "Faith Without Works is Dead." I have
come to believe that Works without Faith is just as dead.
We gain Faith by listening, by hearing.
I base my beliefs on Bill W.'s experience. Bill did
not approach Dr. Bob with any kind of pride or arrogance.
Bill had been exhibiting pride and arrogance in those
first six months of sobriety. Not one alcoholic responded
to that approach. The humble approach worked. ANONYMOUS
The slogans and how members use them as tools in sobriety.
I am a writing instructor looking for a way to implement my skills and experience into a creative writing workshop. I am fairly new to the fellowship, and was recently thinking of volunteering with my sponsor at the local women's penitentiary. If possible, I'd like to create a safe space for the women there to heal and connect with others through the shared experience of writing. I was wondering if there are similar writing workshops or groups currently circulating that I could connect with . . . any other ideas and/or feedback is greatly appreciated.
Missed your post a month ago, just noted most recent response, and I gather no one directly responded to what I think you were inquiring about.
There are several forums "out there" like this one on which people post their missives, some intelligible, some not so much. I recently discovered one out of Canada, I think, frequented by non-believers ("free thinkers," if you will). I think these can be an anonymous and relatively safe place for people to post, though obviously anyone can post anything.
But to your thought, that healing and a sense of belonging through writing would be good for those in recovery, I agree whole-heartedly. I probably wrote thousands of pages early in sobriety as I tried to make sense of this program, sort out the newly uncovered emotions, and generally try to develop a way of living sans alcohol. It was very therapeutic. In the setting you describe, I wonder if people would be helped by writing, or journaling, or whatever, about their struggles, about their triumphs, in sobriety, and given the opportunity to share what they have written with the larger group, kind of like a writing seminar I had in college - voluntary, but a good way to get feedback and insight.
Anyway, good idea, thanks for your post, good luck with it. Unless of course I too misunderstood what you were proposing...
take a look at page 64 in our book of experience "alcoholics anonymous." that is were the writing begins as far as our founders were concerned.
one of the greatest services I think you can do is sit down with another alcoholic and help them write a 4th step inventory. If you haven't done so yourself, start with that. Have your sponsor show you how they did it in AA. keeping in mind that 9 of the 12 steps are directly related to the 4th step inventory.
Good luck, I greatly appreciate you willingness to help others!!!
I have been here for several decades. I have never sat
down with another alcoholic to help them write a 4th step
inventory. I have pointed out to many that Bill W. tells
us how to go about doing the fourth step on page 50 in
the Twelve and Twelve. Bill gives us about 30 questions
to answer when doing the inventory. Remember, Bill wrote
this after fifteen years further experience in working
to develop our fellowship. I am grateful that no one
pushed me into "doing" the steps before I was ready. The
pushing may have sent me back out into the darkness.
They were truly suggestions, and I think we ought
to return to that method. ANONYMOUS
It’s too bad you have never had the experience of passing on how you inventory to others or had a sponsor take you through the steps the way Dr. Bob did. Bill does do a nice job with his questionnaire in the 12x12, especially about the instincts of life. I think it closely follows the inventory in the big book. If you read page 17 of the 12x12, it says something to the effect that the book alcoholics anonymous became the basic text of the fellowship, and it still is. The 12x12 proposes to broaden and deepen the understanding of the 12 steps. I feel the 12x12 ought to be used in addition to the big book, NOT INSTEAD OF and I think that is what Bill meant by the writing on page 17. I recently read in AA comes of age that as late as the 1950’s those who worked the steps had a better than 3 to 1 chance of recovery. Also try to keep in mind that Bill W was the only author of the 12x12 and was written after Dr. Bob’s death to promote the 12 traditions. The big book however was written with input from the New York and the Akron group including Dr. Bob, with around 40 members having input.
Back to Dr. Bob, if you look at page 180 in the big book- last paragraph, Dr. Bob says he spends a great deal of time passing on what he learned to others who want it and need it badly. It is said that Bob worked with over 5,000 drunks in the 15 years he was sober (prior to the 12x12 being written). In the big book story “ He sold himself short” the author describes how on Dr. Bobs afternoon off he spent 3 or 4 hours formally going through the programs 6 steps at that time, including the moral inventory. Please read it for yourself on page 262 and 263 of the 4th edition of the big book.
As far as the steps being suggestions, of course they are. Since the beginning of time, nobody has ever been able to get an alcoholic to do something they don’t want to do. That being said, since the sole purpose of an AA group is the teaching and practicing of the 12 steps, we shouldn’t refrain from talking about how we work the steps on the theory that it will hurt alcoholics. Alcoholics in denial don’t want to talk about alcoholism or working the steps. We are hurting them if we don’t by further enabling them.
Did those who worked the steps recover? Or did those few
who recovered work the steps? I see "working" the steps as the dessert, not the main course. We have to hold the interest of members long enough for them to become encouraged in practicing the steps. Bill W. explains this
in The Language of the Heart beginning on page 6.
We reach the heart of the suffering alcoholic by
sharing our experience, strength and most important our
hope. We crush them when we try to pile the steps on them.
Is 12 a pile?
Read step 12- having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps (steps 1-11) we carried this message to other alcoholics (working steps 1-11 will bring a spiritual answer to alcoholism) and practiced these principles in all our affairs ( continously work steps 1-12).
This message is hope. If your hopeless try our 12 steps. If you can stay sober without them, your not hopeless. Why would you work the steps if you can stay sober without them?
Thanks for an intelligent response. In the past few years
I have come to believe that it is indeed the sole purpose
of the group to teach and practice the twelve
steps. I am further convinced that only the group ought to
be doing the teaching. One person just does not offer the
wide variety of religious experiences which opens the door
wide enough for any alcoholic who wishes to recover. I
believe this limited one person's opinion is one of the
main causes for our stagnation in recent years. It is just
too limiting. Thanks again for the message which seems to
be arrogance free. My concern is really for the future
of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our growth for the past two
decades has been dismal. Let us keep the research going.
"My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic. I am here
looking for help". That is the first step in its simplest
form. Why complicate it. ANONYMOUS
It seems like more and more, I end up sitting next to someone in a meeting who is checking emails, sending texts, surfing the net.....and NOT present in the meeting. I think if you need to be on your phone, go outside. It is distracting to the people who want to stay sober, to sit by somebody who is multi tasking and not really paying attention to the meeting.
Anybody have any suggestions on how to accept or get rid of smart phones in meetings?
My Home Group has about a dozen year round members and 8 to 20 seasonal "visitors". Everyone has a cell phone with about 75% being smart phones along with a few tablets. We start each meeting with a simple request that all portable electronic devices be turned off during the meeting. If someone forgets and the device goes off, the [daily] group leader stops the meeting and reminds the offender of Rule 62. After a couple of reminders, everyone seems to get it and phone and tablets are not a problem.
Though I agree with what people are saying about cell phones and the distraction: Smart phones can be a handy tool.
During meetings I often use my phone to look up a concept, tradition or get information on a pamphlet at aa.org website to validate what I hear in meetings. I also, access the Big Book on my phone so I can read from it as part of my share. Not to mention the cell phone dictionary comes in handy during a literature meeting. Definitions of certain words in the reading help give me a new perspective & understanding of the reading and what the author is trying to say.
An A.A. meeting is not a workshop. We are there to share
and to listen to each other. If there are 12 members present
and one person is speaking, eleven should be listening. Leave
these gadgets in the car, or at least concealed. ANONYMOUS
Most meetings I attend ask members to silence phones and respect others by not texting during meetings. Most members, including me, respect that request. I see more phone use (texting) among younger members at "green card" meetings where there is probably a higher percentage of folks who really don't want to be there.
If this was a problem in my home group, I would bring it up as a topic in our business meeting and ask my group to come up with ways to deal with the issue. If I encounter this in other groups, I figure it's their problem.
That said, I have an electronic Big Book on my phone, keep a page of notes of my favorite AA passages from the BB and have a link to an online searchable BB. I am hesitant to use these tools in a meeting but sometimes do as discreetly as possible. I say this only to point out that a smart phone can be used for more than texting, email and surfing the web.
great point! I had a freind that was following along with a reading on his phone. one of the less tech savy members was upset until he was shown the technology.
At a retreat a few years ago, the retreat master told us to turn our cellphones OFF, reminding us all that "You're not that important." I think that the best the person facilitating the meeting can do is remind people to turn cellphones off, on vibrate or "stun," and that if they get a call, to take it outside. The texting might be pointed out as being as rude as talking while someone else is sharing, or perhaps suggest that "If you don't need to listen, maybe you don't need to be here," though that may be a little harsh with the newcomer (for the veteran AA, it is not). Frankly, I think there are a lot of people that might benefit from a first step on their electronic device addiction, but of course that is just my opinion.
get up and move
After 13 yrs of anti-depressants and 1 year of sobriety, I came off the meds with a doctors guidance. Through working the steps with a sponsor I had found moments of serenity and peace that I had never felt even before alcohol became my solution. I thought my depression was "cured." 5 months later w/o meds, I am in a deep depression and wondering is it the lack of meds, do I need to go back through the steps, am I "cheating" with the meds and not digging as deep as I need to,etc. I am emotionally and mentally back at Step 1. The good news is I haven't drank and know drinking is not the solution. I am definitely not living happy, joyous, and free.
Thank you for your experience, strength, and hope with this issue. I know we have no outside opinions on medical advice but would like to hear from someone who has been through a similar experience. I am not unique :)
Many of us have mental disorders in addition to alcoholism.
The good thing about antidepressants is that they are not addictive. Treating mental illness as well as our alcoholism is the best way to stay sober. Most of us can not stand the unmedicated symptoms of the mental illness while sober.
I do think it is important to let the Doc know that I do not want anything addictive. I can not take those things according to directions. I would drink the whole bottle of cough syrup if it had alcohol in it. My Doc is sober too and he gets it.
I would never risk telling a member what they should do about anti depressants and other medications and always leave that to the member & doctor. I do, however, share my experience.
Like many in AA, I learned early in sobriety that I struggled with depression & anxiety. I did not even know what these things were or that they had a name. As a drinker, depression was just the emotional low part of a hangover that occurred in between binges. Anxiety was that uptight feeling that was immediately removed by a few drinks. As a sober member of AA, these afflictions were on me and I didn't know how to shake them. Also, the finely tuned anti depressants available today were not around when I sobered up 27 years ago. I had to find another way.
I dove into meetings and steps with a vengeance as they provided some relief. It was wonderful to be able to share with others and realize I was not alone with this malady. The honesty in AA helped me be honest about me and the steps helped me unravel what was at the root of my problems. Developing a relationship with a Higher Power gave me somewhere to go with my agony. Being of service helped me get out of myself.
I was also fortunate to have been an athlete. Despite the craziness of my drinking, I'd been a runner and had gone through periods where I was careful about exercise & diet. I found that exercise took the edge off my condition and allowed me to sleep. I bought a bike that I called "valium" and rode it to meetings near and far. I also learned that I had to be careful about my caffeine intake and use of tobacco (chew). As a sober person, I could now FEEL the impact of these things.
I struggled with meditation and found it difficult to sit still. I stumbled into a yoga class 7 years ago to help my daughter with a spine issue and developed a regular practice that has become another pillar in my sober life where I find it easier to breath, relax and meditate.
Over the years, I developed a balanced life that includes lots of the things a human being needs to thrive in this world. At 3 years sober I met a therapist who said the human body is the most powerful pharmaceutical lab on the planet and that we can learn how to tap in to its drug cabinet. I never forgot that tidbit and have tried to make use of it.
Be careful about seeking and accepting medical advice from non-professional laypersons within A.A. You should consider going to your doctor and getting a professional medical opinion on your depression. Here is what A.A. has to say on this matter.
The A.A. Member – Medications and Other Drugs (This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature)
No A.A. member should “play doctor”; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified physician.
Some alcoholics require medication.
We recognize that alcoholics are not immune to other diseases. Some of us have had to cope with depressions that can be suicidal; schizophrenia that sometimes requires hospitalization; bipolar disorder, and other mental and biological illnesses. Also among us are diabetics, epileptics, members with heart trouble, cancer, allergies, hypertension, and many other serious physical conditions.
Because of the difficulties that many alcoholics have with drugs, some members have taken the position that no one in A A. should take any medication. While this position has undoubtedly prevented relapses for some, it has meant disaster for others.
A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide.
We have heard, too, from members with other conditions, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, epilepsy and others requiring medication, that well-meaning A.A. friends discourage them from taking any prescribed medication.
Unfortunately, by following a layperson’s advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity. On top of that, they feel guilty because they are convinced that “A.A. is against pills.”
It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become re-addicted to any drug, it’s equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication, which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems.
A very good friend and mentor in AA did the same thing after about 18 or so years of sobriety (and 12 years on antidepressants) at the suggestion of his doctor. He lapsed into major depression, and ultimately needed to go back on his meds. A couple of years later he is doing great - and still taking his meds. He tells his story at meetings so others know that going back on meds is not a failure, rather it just means that AA is not a cure for clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
I became severely depressed when I gave up cigarettes after ten years of sobriety. I was extremely reluctant to try anti-depressant medication based on information from all the amateur pharmacists in AA. I had nothing to lose to I ignored them. Turned my life around completely. My doctor followed the normal course of treatment taking me off them periodically to see whether I needed them. I always did. Twenty three years later I still use anti-depressant medication and am happy with life and sobriety. A common misconception is that these meds are a drug that makes people feel good. For me they allow ne to feel. The way I feel tracks with what is going on in my life. Believe me when a pet dies they don't make me feel good. I feel sad just like other people but I don't jump off a bridge.
I have a number of long term AA friends that share my experience. A found a doctor knowledgeable about alcoholism. I think that's important in any case.
What would be a good topic to
I would suggest sharing about what our lives were like
while we were still drinking, how we felt in those last
few days, weeks, months, or years. Maybe about how wonderful
it was when we first found alcohol. Then share about finding
a solution here in Alcoholics Anonymous. That is the great
hope that we wish for everyone. Note: GO EASY ON THE GOD
STUFF. We learned that lesson long ago. ANONYMOUS
I am heading into uncharted territory. When my late sponsor passed she explained that the reason old sponsors need old sponsees is because someday you will be older than everyone else, but, that if I have been a good sponsor I will have old sponsees who know enough about me and are confident enough in their sobriety that we can become what Bill and Bob and the rest of the 1st group of 10 or so apparently became.
Fortunately or unfortunately I got sober at 26 and I am outliving all my old sponsees. The last one I have is 65 years old with 27 years and has entered hospice.
My next sponsee has a month under 10 years and still has me on a pedestal but she is older than I am and has many health problems. My experience was that I didn't let my sponsor completely off the pedestal until I had about 20 years so I don't think she will let me off the pedestal before she passes.
I think HP is giving me a solution, but I know that even after all these years I can still get garbled information without someone else to help me see the truth.
The solution appears to be a sudden acquisition of several retreads. People that have had as much as 8 years and went out and/or have been in and out for 17-18 years and as we are working up 4th Steps and doing 5th Steps I am having to stay in the basics and getting to hear all the things NOT to do to stay sober.
If there are others out there in similar straits or have either been successful or even failed to stay sober and sane thru intensive work with people such as HP has given me, I would be interested in your experience.
Does anyone know when the label "sponsee" first appeared?
I am not sure if sponsee is even a word. Some of the first
prospects were called "pigeons" or prospects. New members
were sometimes hard to pin down and sometimes flew away.
Today's AA "sponsor" does not appear to fit any of
the definitions of sponsor. I personally feel that today's
concept of sponsor/sponsee ought to be deleted, and soon.
Then maybe the "real" sponsor will reappear. ANONYMOUS
Does anyone know what "the road gets narrower" mean?
I was reading through the AA conference approved pamphlet "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship." A PDF of the pamphlet is provided online courtesy of AAWS and can be found here.
I didn't see much to object to in the way sponsorship is described in the pamphlet. Perhaps I've overlooked something in the pamphlet. Perhaps there are sponsors who've never read the pamphlet and don't know what the AA conference recommends as sponsorship practices.
You're right, I think we should look back to 2 BCE when a guy could get a real sponsor.
Great topic. Here is my experience. I had placed a few men on a pedestal, including my sponsor, in early recovery. Since one of the reasons that I came to AA was to develop some meaningful friendships, I mustered up the courage to call these men. But with many of them it was a one way relationship; they never called me back. I soon had a resentment list and talked to my sponsor about it. He helped me to realize that I was putting them on a pedestal.
I also developed a resentment for my sponsor. But he knew me better than myself, so as soon as I stopped resisting and started listening, I was able to have a spiritual awakening; others had been where I was and had a better understanding than I did. I love them for the patience and tolerance that they had with me. I am closer than I have ever been to knowing who I am and for the first time feel comfortable in my own skin!
I listened to a 5th step last Saturday from a new sponsee who has been in treatment 4 times and in/out of AA for 17 years. He said nobody had ever showed him how to work the steps in the big book. On Friday, I was asked to take some inmates at our county jail through the steps and I did. I have been active and sober in AA for a couple decades (I know it’s ego, but still, it’s fun to say decades), Like you said, I have seen over and over what not to do. Every Thursday night, we take a meeting into our local detox. I have yet to meet anyone at the detox who hasn’t already been to AA. Someone keeps telling them to not drink and go to meetings instead of work the steps and they keep drinking and thinking they have worked the AA program when all they really did was attend a few meetings. All my AA heroes were working with alcoholics like you described in sober year 40,50, and one 60 years sober. I know that works. I have met drunks in detox who had been sober 5,15,18,28, and one 30 plus who had stopped working with others.
Keep working with others and showing them how to do likewise with still others.
The "just don't drink" advice I hear at some meetings always bugs me a bit. If I could just "not drink" I wouldn't be in AA. I tried that approach every day before AA and alway ended up drinking.
I needed a "spiritual awakening/Higher Power" that I got through working the steps of AA to overcome the insanity (mental obsession) of the first drink. Even after I came to AA, read the book and went to meetings, the insanity came back on me. It was removed when I got a sponsor and worked the steps with him.
If alcohol is causing problems, stay away from it. This
advice, "just don't drink", is the advice from friends,
employer, and probably a spouse. This is quite different
from advice given in A.A. meetings. The receiver of the
message is already at a meeting.
If I could have stopped drinking on my own, I would have had no need for A.A. I tried for two or three years before
I was introduced to A.A. I tried everything I knew, to no
avail. The need/desire to drink would become overwhelming,
and I would drink regardless of the price I knew I would
I am grateful that your insanity/mental obsession
was lifted when you got a sponsor and worked the steps with him. That is what worked for you.
My compulsion/obsession to drink was lifted when I
asked God to help me. Admittedly, I was desperate, as only
the drowning can be. He helped me, as He came to Bill
in his hospital bed in mid Dec. 1934. I saw no white light
and did not feel any wind of spirit flowing. But I felt
the Presence of God or a Higher Power if you like. I was
alone in the front seat of my car.
Someone brought Bill a copy of "Varieties of Religious
Experiences" by William James. Each alcoholic ought to
be allowed to have his own personal experience. It does not have to be the same as mine, or yours. That would be
closing the door on multitudes of sufferers. Maybe "don't
drink" would be better advice than "just don't drink".
In AA I learned how to stay from the first drink. I need
to apply what I learn. ANONYMOUS
"In treatment four times and in/out AA for 17 years."
Chalk up another failure for AA. These failures continue
to haunt me. Something is missing. The main ingredient
of the whole AA fellowship/program, humility, has been
pushed aside. The Big Book is so simply written that
many alcoholics have gotten sober just reading/using it.
We certainly do not need some Big Shot AA leader to tell
us what it means. If further explanation is necessary,
we have the 12 & 12 to turn to. It is the responsibility
of the AA GROUP to carry the message or to teach the 12
steps. An AA group offers many options for the newcomer.
You only offer one, your own opinion.
I believe that any alcoholic entering the door of our
AA rooms ought to find permanent recovery. Rarely have we
seen a person fail who has followed our PATH. Our pioneers
changed the word "directions" to PATH, just prior to
publication. It is obvious that you are still offering
I have an AA friend who has a low paying job in alcoholism
and drug addiction. He works with skid-row drunks. He tells
me that without exception every one of his clients has been
to AA meetings. I believe that telling them they have to
work those steps has been the problem. Along with all the
other requirements: Get a sponsor, 90 in 90, and holding
hands and praying with us. Bill W. warned us about cramming
the steps down anyone's throat. See The Language of the
Heart (LOTH) middle of page 8. For example,... Bill writes
that the individual AA is under NO human coercion. and is
at almost perfect personal liberty. We close the door in the face
of those who need us most. We push them away by the
demands/requirements we make of them. ANONYMOUS
AA’s message is quite simple. If these alcoholic men and women have been to AA they have received AA’s message, layed at their feet if you wish. They have chosen not to use AA’s program of recovery yet. They have every right to do that just as I had the right to take every drink that I did. Hopefully they will choose to embrace our solution soon. If not, perhaps they will find a different path that works for them.
Most of us that have been around for any length of time have packed up our resentments, found a coffee pot and started a new meting more to our liking. If you think you know some drunks that just need the message packaged to your specifications, nothing is stopping you.
AA's message IS quite simple. Don't pick up that first
drink. Join us in AA to learn how to do that.
It is the passing the message on to other alcoholics
which is not so simple. This passing of the message on to
others is quite complicated. It took Doctor Silkworth
20 years to figure it out. I have met very few alcoholics
in AA who understand it. Less than five of the messages
on this entire forum indicate that the technique is understood. I am grateful for those few.
But the light will come on for many others soon. I
believe if our fellowship can develop an understanding
of why the 24 hour is not proper AA material we can also
understand why the Reading of "How It Works" from the
podium is so harmful to AA as a whole. These practices
can and must be reversed. ANONYMOUS
I have recently seemed to keep seeing and hearing that reading How it Works from the podium is harmful to AA as a whole. Could someone explain why to me other than it is time consuming and people do not pay attention to the reading of it ? Please, I am sincere in this question.
How to carry AA’s message is no big secret. It is spelled out in the chapter Working With Others in the Big Book. The character defect that my Higher Power hasn’t removed yet still team up to point me in the direction of doing things my way so I read that chapter often to remind me of the right way instead of mine. The only thing from my personal experience that I would add is that many alcoholics in need of AA’s message are already sitting in meetings. Our Public Relations, Cooperation with the Professional Community, the courts, VA and others get them to us so we don’t look like the men beside the bed picture hanging in many AA rooms much any more. Read and follow label directions.
From what I have read, Dr. Silkworth had only been primarily working with alcoholics at towns hospital in New York, maybe 3 of 4 years when he treated Bill W. He worked with alcoholics at towns hospital approximately 19 years, when he died in 1951. I haven't read anything about Silkworh taking 20 years.
This is what I found at http://silkworth.net/silkworth/silkworth_bio.html
"Pass It On," (p. 101) reports Silkworth became a specialist in neurology, a domain that sometimes overlaps psychiatry, and entered private practice in the 1920's. It says Silkworth invested his savings in a stock subscription for a new, private hospital. "Pass It On" says Silkworth's investment came with the promise of a staff position when the hospital was built. But, the report says Silkworth lost everything in the stock market collapse of 1929. And,"Pass It On" quotes Bill Wilson as saying that Silkworth, in desperation, went to Towns in 1930 for compensation of about forty dollars a week, plus board.
I also have heard an old tape of Sister Ignatia and Ed Towns, Charlie Towns son. Ed talked about his dad running into Dr. Silkworth and offering him a job at towns hospital. This was sometime after Silworth had lost his position and lifes savings in 1929.
It has been very interesting to me when I hit 30 and my last older than me sponsor passed,, because all of a sudden, right around my birthday every year I would be traveling and stop into a meeting in some little one gas station town, introduce myself and give my sobriety date and after the meeting someone would come up an tell me that they once had whatever years I was getting ready to have and tell me that they had gone back out.
The 30 year one was clear about it that his downfall started at about year 25 when he stopped trying to sponsor people because they were all "too young and they were drug addicts". He didn't think he had anything to give them because he couldn't relate to the drug usage. So he had kept going to meetings, stopped sharing and started spending a lot of time fishing so he could meditate. Then one day, right next to his favorite bait was his favorite vodka. He went fishing without any bait but with a bottle and got his first ever DUI and night in jail on the way home.
When he talked to me he had 12 years again and while he still couldn't relate to the drug stories, he was spending a lot of time teaching the druggies how to meditate and said that his life was better than it had ever been.
The story at 33 years was a fellow that had stopped sponsoring because he had gotten a bunch of degrees in counseling and treatment and was the head of a treatment center. He now has 4 years again, has several pigeons and given up counseling.
The 36 year one was a lady that retired and hit the road to be a full time traveling grandma. Somewhere in the wine country of California a grand daughter left a box of wine in the camper and before that lady got back to AA she had lost the camper and spent a year living on the street.
My local AA Convention is coming up (Coastal Bend Jamboree) and they do an Old Timers (30+) Meeting. There will likely be 1000+ attendees and less than 40 30+ oldsters. I plan to try an talk to everyone over 35 years.
Don't drink. Go to meetings. How can an alcoholic fail
if he/she doesn't drink and goes to AA meetings?
Don't drink alcohol. Go to AA meetings. Do whatever
you need to do to accomplish this. Try to help others
as they struggle. Listen when they share. Listen, Listen,
Listen. Learn how others stay sober. Try some of the
methods used by others.
I believe that most patients in detox and inmates in
prison have been to AA meetings. We have failed them
and pushed them further down by pushing the steps on
them and telling them to Find God and Find Him Now!
Bill W. explains this in an article to the AAGrapevine
in the 1945 issue. On page 4 in the book The Language of the Heart, Bill talks about personal glorification,
overweening pride, consuming ambition, exhibitionism ,
intolerant smugness, money or power madness, refusal to
admit mistakes and learn from them, self-satisfaction,
lazy complacency- these and many more are the garden variety of ills which so often beset movements as well
You and your early timer heroes are sober. You've
got yours. How successful have you been at helping
other alcoholics to recover? The rehabs and prisons
are full of failures. If your method is so successful,
why are they in detox, after 5,15,18,28 or 30 years
from what I gather the relapsers where not drinking and going to meetings. the 18 year relapse was active for about 16 years, then stopped working "her" program and was soon drunk. I have yet to meet anyone in the jail or detox that had been to AA, worked the steps as directed in the big book as a daily program. I have met many that thought the AA program was don't drink and go to meetings(where would they get that idea?). I think the don't drink and go to meetings method works for the cetain type of hard drinker in the big book page 20.
what I have found for myself is a real alcoholic at times has no mental defense against the first drink. my last drink was in 1992, 2 hours removed from my home group meeting. I had been to meetings daily for weeks. I felt like a million bucks. no problems, no arguments, nothing but feeling good. someone passed a drink my way and I drank it like water. 9 months of not drinking and going to meetings didn't work. I experienced what the big book describes at the bottom of page 43.
If you can simply not drink and go to meetings, you still have a mental defense, therefore you may only be a certain type of hard drinker. alcoholics have a mental obsession, physical allergy, and spiritual malady. alcoholics have a subtle insanity that precedes the first drink.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad that the hard drinkers are staying sober in AA. Please keep in mind us real alcoholics will eventually drink if we don't drink and go to meetings.
I do not understand how any alcoholic (or any drinker)
could get drunk if they don't drink and go to meetings.
Do both: "DON'T DRINK ALCOHOL AND ATTEND MEETINGS" and
sobriety is guaranteed. Half measures avail us nothing.
I guess we see it differently. When we come to AA, we
stop using alcohol. We attend meetings to learn how
to stay stopped. But in today's meeting we seem to learn
very little, not because of a lack of sponsors, teachers,
Normally, to teach someone something we tell them how
to do it. In AA we don't teach that way. (in reality
we do, but the message doesn't get passed on). In AA we
have a unique technique of passing the recovery message
from one alcoholic to another. In the "Three Talks"
pamphlet Bill calls it a gadget. What we have lost
is humility. Spiritual Pride and arrogance rule AA
today. We place too many conditions on sobriety. If
you do this, or if you do that, you can have what I
Why don't we use that sledge hammer tool that Dr.
Silkworth discovered, and offered to Bill, and left
for us. It worked better than anything he had ever found,
and will work for us today "If we work it". This
approach to helping alcoholics recover has little to do with the twelve steps. It centers on gratitude and
humility, not cramming the steps down their throats.
If you can't understand the subtle insanity of the first drink, obviously you are a different type of alcoholic than the real alcoholic described in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” the real alcoholic will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on their own power. That’s why there is no need for any authority over an alcoholic. If the real alcoholic fails to work the steps and grow spiritual through helping others, he is sure to drink. The problem in AA today, is the fellowship is full of nonalcoholic hard drinkers who can quit on their own power and continue to tell real alcoholics that the steps that lead to a spiritual experience are unnecessary. These hard drinkers have no need for the steps and traditions that keep the real alcoholics alive and happy.
I have been in the program for three years now seeing success from people who don't work the whole program and seeing failure from people who do work the whole program. So I am not going to even comment on that.
What I will comment on is this throwing around of labels like "real alcoholic" vs. "only a hard drinker". All it takes is the wrong AA member to read this comment and think oh, maybe I am not an alcoholic after all, maybe I am just a hard drinker as this experienced AA person is speaking of. You gave them the perfect out. And guess what comes next.
Everyone is different and manages their own way with the help of the literature and other AA's. One of the biggest dangers that I encounter in meeting are the big egos that want everyone to do it their own way. Sure it's better if you go to meetings and work the steps. But for some people it takes time to get there.
My best advice... Stay Sober Today.
the book "alcoholics anonymous" uses the term "real alcoholic" 9 times in the first 164 pages. that's 5% of the first 164. I can't expect you to know what you don't know. If you read big book pages 21,23,30 (it' there twice, 31,34, 35, 92, and 109. please read those pages and consider why would the authors use a label like "real alcoholic"?