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An excerpt from page 13 of AA conference approved literature “the group” might help, it says, Closed meetings are for AA members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and have a desire to stop drinking
Open meetings are available to anyone interested in AA’s program of recovery from alcoholism. Nonalcoholics may attend open meetings as observers.
I know a lot of AA members think open meetings are open for everyone to share, but as our literature states, nonalcoholics may attend only as observers, they should not be participating in our meetings. If they are allowed to share the nonalcoholics dilute our message of recovery.
If you have time read the AA pamphlet “problems other than alcohol”. I keep a copy in my big book to refer to in AA meetings where this comes up. It has some more language as to why nonalcoholics cannot be members. Nonalcoholics cannot identify with alcoholic newcomers as alcoholics and nonalcoholics cannot give straight AA talks or carry on continuous 12 step work. If a group chooses to allow nonalcoholics to participate in the meetings, they simply should not call themselves an AA group. They can be a special purpose group that is not identified as or affiliated with an AA group.
There are 200 other 12 step programs that nonalcoholics may choose from to attend with full participation rights. The alcoholic has only one, AA. If a nonalcoholic continues to fully participate in AA meetings they are denying newcomers to AA of the opportunity for sobriety through identifying with alcoholics.
I am not saying that we should not help these people in any way we can. If my neighbor asks me for help, I don’t say,”no you’re not an alcoholic”. I help him however I can, just not at the AA meeting.
Also a meeting with tradition 1,3,and 5 for a topic usually clears up the matter as well. Tradition 3 long form found in the back of the big book says our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Not other substances or addictions. When this tradition came about it was to protect alcoholics with other problems from being denied their opportunity to recover in AA. I don’t think anyone ever dreamed nonalcoholics would try to sneak into AA. We can’t even get most alcoholics to join us!
I hope our experience helps, good luck to you and God bless you
Corey, thanks for the laugh. ANONYMOUS
I have become totally disgusted by the profaning of God, the churches most meetings are held in, the newcomer and the divinely inspired program of AA. It wasn't like this when I first became a member in the 1970's. People still had respect and were responsible to the newcomer.
Since most members think it is funny when some self proclaimed spiritual and serene member is using God and the 'F' bomb in the same sentence I have an ultimatum. Address the problem in the meetings and if I don't see a change I will contact every Minister of the churches you are profaning as guests and have them address the issue for you. Starting in my local area and fanning out in an ever widening circle 'til you all get the message or are asked to leave the churches who you are guests in. What you do in your Alano clubs is your business. I choose not to attend these bastions of profanity.
I will no longer tolerate this behavior which does not reflect on recovery but turns people like newcomers and myself and many others away from the place we expect to not hear the language of the street, the bars and gutters.
Clean it up AA because this is no idle threat. I will not be forced away from the program that I love any longer because you are too wishy washy to clean up your act.
Thank you for your comments on profanity in meetings. I appreciate your honesty and respect your opinion. I also have a strong opinion about this topic and hope you can keep an open mind in what I'm about to share with you.
Nowhere in any of the conference approved literature (including the AA "Big Book") does it mention profanity.I understand that you don't like it and I agree with your choosing to find a group that feels the same about it. What I would object to however, is the idea that you would actually do anything to abolish an established meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Contacting churches and directing them that your will be done affects AA as a whole. I am wondering how many people you've killed with that kind of intolerance. Isn't love and tolerance supposed to be the code in which we live by?
Justifying this opinion by saying that newcomers are being turned away is may be true in some cases, but so is reciting the Lord's prayer at the conclusion of the meeting. The attitude of spiritual superiority also makes the newcomer feel that they could never live up to this ideal. The problem of course, as most of are problems are, is with you. Why does this rile you up? It's find to have an opinion on something but working toward closing meetings because you don't like the way people talk shows me that you really have missed the point. I believe page 417 of the Big Book addresses this. If there is something that upsets you it is most likely something in YOU that you are not accepting.
Personally, if I heard this kind of rant at a meeting I would surely find some other meeting where the members weren't so wishy washy.
I sincerely hope that you find what you're looking for. Maybe you should quit going to meetings where alcoholism is discussed and start going to your local church. It seems to me that you haven't had the spiritual awakening step 12 talks about.
For more information, read the appendix on spiritual experiences in the Big Book.
Sounds like a man with a plan. In my opinion, all meetings
should have this clause. "Please try to avoid the use of
profanity at this meeting." Personally I would add before
and after the meeting. Thanks Boise, Idaho. Rose
I remember reading "somewhere" that a speaker was critized
by Dr. Bob, for using vulgar language during his talk.
Many of our formats read: Please try to avoid the use
of profanity at this meeting. But NO ONE mentions it again,
even when it happens. Again, love and tolerance is the
theme. And we never cross-talk the cross-talker.
I am 4 years sober this past Oct. 13, 2012..By the grace of God , 2 great sponsors and working the steps, I am grateful and have achieved goals beyond my wildest dreams in sobiety.
I have a son,(19 yrs old) freshly out of rehab, I was told by his counselor to "not push him" to let my son work his own program and find his own way. That I need to keep my recovery and my son's seperate. Ok, that's all fine however, my son is unmotivated, miserable and has no motivation without some encouragment . The counselor said not to impose myself on my son with recovery, and how "he should" do things. It would be one thing if my son asked me for help, that would be alright, but the counselor said let my son develop his own way..basically "let him fall"..if necessary.
Well, since following this advise, my son has relpsed, and actually before entering rehab my son tried to commit suicide with a opiate overdose. It was very frightening to come to the emergency room and see my son in 4 point restraints, on a respirator, convulsing arching his body invoulntary like the letter "c".
How can I sit back and watch my son fall?..how can I not try to help my son with what had been freely given to me?...I frankly see this as a matter of life and death
He has no sober friends, he wont go to meetings (alone). I am supposed to "stay out of it".
He disappears for a day or so at a time lately with no explaination, and I'm just not supposed to do anything about it?
I would rather not wait to receive the phone call that my son is in the emergency room again, or worse, dead.
What can I do?
Dear fellow AA member,
I have been in recovery for 3 years now and next week I pick up a 60 day chip showing that I, too, have had bouts of relapse. I bring this up because I, honestly, am trying to stay sober one-day-at-a-time. I have just finished my 4th Step and am working on my 5th with my sponsor.
On the opposite side is my younger sister (43...I'm 46). She is a habitual cocaine user diagnosed with bi-polar issues as well. She has hit rock bottoms I've never myself seen, however, she is still alive but her 'cycles' of moving back in with my elderly parents, manipulating them to 'get back on her feet' and then they throw her out when she stops going to meetings or working her program. Then she's manipulates people outside my parents' walls, uses them to 'try' to 'get back on her feet' until THEY eventually throw her out. Then it's BACK TO MOM AND DAD's (with new criminal charges of shoplifting, theft, etc.) and they take her back in to 'get back on her feet'. I have two sons, 16 and 8 who DO NOT have (thank God!) substance issues so I don't have pain to share in that respect. I am about to go to Al-Anon myself as I'm noticing I'm slowly slipping into HER ADDICTION why trying to intervene to help my parents who are so deeply affected by her addiction that they've been robbed of a quality retirement. My father has just had a quadruple bypass surgery this past March and he was called at 3am because my sister was attacked by these two 'roommates' she lives with (obviously probably a crack house she's habitated in the past). She's been to jail a couple of times (just a few month's sentence here and there), has lived in crackhouses, half-way houses, etc. In short...SHE WILL NOT GET THE HELP SHE NEEDS. I strongly believe my sister will DIE one day from this horrific addition. I only write to you to share my parents' experience of them NOT DOING what other's are suggesting to you...you work on your program, your son his. You CANNOT or WILL NOT be able to CONTROL your son's addiction!!! You MUST understand you are POWERLESS over your son the same that you are POWERLESS (if you're an alcoholic like me) over alcohol.
I will say a prayer for you and your son today and may God's Mercy be shed on your son.
Dan T. in Wake Forest, NC
Whenever this subject comes up, I always suggest reading the chapter "to the wives" from the the book alcoholics anonymous. most of the information you seek is there.
I had to let my father "fall". when we all quit giving him money and shelter in a loving way, he had to change or die. He eventually chose to change although it took awhile.
It's tough as a parent. I don't think I could detach with my children. Just don't kill them with your love. meaning don't give them fuel for the fire or money to buy it.
Good luck to you and God bless.
Don't. you have taken that fall. alcohol does in 20 years as drugs can do in 2-5. talk with him, at a best time. you were in addiction(for reasons not of your making) when your son was going through puberty and earlier. his foundation of life was poor.not your choice. talk to him as you never talked to a person before.addiction is difficult, with or without serious drugs. be ready to lance the boil, let emotions cry, let yourself cry from your core. it will let him ; difficult for you with outside environment. talk about his talents, . wish you well
I recently submitted a topic and issue I am experincing under "Let him fall" I want to report that , my son has had a complete turn around. He has completely changed people, places and things,..He has moved from my home and away from many many consistant bad influences . My son is Liveing with his mother now , 40 miles away.. This part geographical cure has had success. My son in clean from opiates, attends 2 meetings a day,Has a higher power. has a home group, is in out-patient counseling and even has a job..
This is truly a miracle..I strongly belive God is behind this..and the carriers of the message of AA, the writers , and readers here on this forum.God bless you all, I am truly grateful
Steve S. Cortland ny
This message touches me deeply. What can we do? Love
him as much and as long as you can. There are hundreds
of thousands of us in the same boat. Bill wrote that we alcoholics are "pikers" when compared to the drug addict.
It is a monster and growing every day. My short advice
is to try to starve the addiction financially. Give him
no money. As long as he has money or access to money,
his drug dealing "friends" will not leave him alone.
Sometimes a stint in prison, giving him some clean
time may help. He is not that way by choice. He may
be as powerless over drugs as you are over your son.
My son has been fighting the addiction for over
five years, and still fights it. He tells me that
money is a real trigger. When he sees a $20.00 bill
he thinks only of how much drugs he can buy. Never
mind that the rent is due tomorrow.
I personally feel that if drug addicts who are
clean and sober through A.A. would form their own
groups, with a sole purpose of helping the addict,
your son and mine could recover. Alcoholics Anonymous
is not the solution for drug addicts. Sure it works
sometimes. But I believe it takes a drug addict to
help a drug addict. Welcome to the FORUM. ANONYMOUS
I work with alot people who have addictions problems and they behavior drives me crazy .. It is because I know where they are coming from and I do not not want to be a part of it.. Sometimes I feel lonely because because I do not want to be a part of the insantaity, it does not want to make me drink but I feel like a building is falling in me on me.....
Dealing with the active addict/alcoholic who does not want sobriety is challenging. Alanon is a good place to find support.
From my experience very few addict/alcoholics recover. As
long as there is a money source they will continue. It is
almost impossible for the addict to get away from the
drug dealer or "friends" who still use and have drugs
available. The government handouts to the addict prevents
them from getting desperate enough to accept the help
offered by N/A. It allows addicts to keep using drugs
and go to soup kitchens and shelters and food banks for
themselves and their families. Drug addiction is powerful
and so is the greed of the drug dealers for money. But
it will never be stopped.
You can try Alanon. My advice would be to separate
yourself from the addict and never look back. To continue
will be too heartbreaking. Save yourself. ANONYMOUS
addicts whatever their drug are like me trying to fill a hole. in our heart, in our soul? NO, it is in our head. IQ, intelligence quotient dosen't matter. It is about EQ, emotional quotient: i am trying to deal with past pains, while working with the causers. "government handouts" should be directed towards proper rehab; very little chance of that as in USA,rehab is a business worldwide, mostly for profit. . "government handouts" and soup kitchens keep people living! till they "find the cure":rather till get the opportunity to fill that difficult emotional space.
I am almost seven years sober this time. I noticed after ninety days I did not sit on my hands and attempt to run out the door. After that period, the urges and anxiety did not come every day, especially while I sat in the meetings. The meetings were the most important thing in my life and I attended them much more frequently as I still resided in fear about relapsing and had the fear of death as a reminder. After two years sobriety, I lost my gratitude and started to have pride and an ego! After three years, I was a little confused, gave up cigarette smoking and gained some weight. I was interested in everything and everyone. I loved everybody...today that has change a little, also I fell in love, with the same person again after a reunion; my first love! I was on my way as I felt more successful in relationships, was in contact with most of the old beaus I had as friends. I did not get along with many women because my early and not so early experiences with them were not the greatest, it remains with me seven years into sobriety as well. Four,...five years, the fog lifted, now six to seven years later I find I can tolerate, be more patient, and have more life expereiences with which to understand what makes me and others tick!
Because, I listen to learn and learn to listen, I would like to understand, what the future holds for me through year ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, and fourty...as stages in sobriety?????? :-)!
GV admin, as this appears to be the thread for suggesting new topics, I have one for you. It appears, at least in my area (Rochester, NY, within Area 47), that there's a propensity for SOME meetings and groups to permit non-members (see 3rd tradition) to support their meetings in a number of ways: making coffee, sponsoring alcoholics, greeting, sharing @ open meetings and lately even chairing open meetings. While many will holler 2nd tradition here -- it's the conscience of the group -- I think otherwise. Just like the steps, the traditions are in order for a reason -- so many members and groups fail to keep the 1st tradition (See long form 1st Tradition) in mind when they say...let the Al-Anon or Addict chair/share: in the meantime some suffering alcoholic who was sitting in the back of the room contemplating their next drink is dying inside because they sooo can't relate to the non-alcoholic! ...And yes, there is a very good chance that for the first time in my 28 years of sobriety, I will be putting "pen to paper" to voice my thoughts on this matter because, as Rosemary P. stated in Box 4-5-9, Feb-Mar 1997: Most of us..."have heard it said that if A.A. is ever destroyed, it will be destroyed from within. In my opinion, apathy, cloaked often in the guise of 'live and let live,' is one of our greatest enemies. But the destructive force is not those members who introduce themselves as 'cross addicted alcoholics' [or Al-Anon] - it is the attitude of those members who sit back and say, 'So what!'" I refuse to sit back and say SO WHAT -- how about the rest of the fellowship?
This is a good topic. It has been discussed ad-nauseam
in past readings on the I-SAY FORUM. The sad truth is that
the suffering alcoholic who was sitting in the back
of the room, has quietly left the room through the back
door. The drug addict and those A.A. members who
welcome them (a drug is a drug) have remained to take over the group, room, and most of A.A.
Drug addicts should honor the fellowship of the meeting
they attend. If a person cannot admit that they are
alcoholic, they should observe only, and not be allowed to share.
What exact actions would you recommend? A clear cut
format stating this would help. But good luck passing
that format in a group conscience meeting. Good luck
even establishing a true group conscience. It is too bad
that our Trustees will not speak out. I have had no luck
even reaching them. Maybe someone else can give that a try.
It seems to me that our General Service Board of trustees, led by a non-alcoholic chairmen Episcopal Priest, is no
longer in touch of our A.A. membership.
Yes, stand up and speak out. Insist on being heard.
IT WILL NOT BE EASY! We are being destroyed from within
by our own members. Our effectiveness has declined severely
in the past two decades. GSO records show this. ANONYMOUS
I have a friend in AA facing a crisis. I don't know how to help and want feedback from AA members. Is there a particular place that I could ask a question and get input from members?
try going to meetings regular....and listen while you're there.....this is a WE program
Advice - "Go to Al-Anon"
I gather you are not an alcoholic, or not a member of AA. In AA, generally we help one another through sharing of our own struggles with alcohol, and our own struggles at dealing with life without alcohol. Thus, your friend is better served by addressing his/her issues with someone in program, assuming it is an alcohol-related problem. On the other hand, many in AA after getting sober find they have other issues to address not directly related to alcoholism, such as depression, other addictions, etc. They may need to seek outside medical or other 12-step program help for those problems. Friends and family of alcoholics often find answers on how best to help (or not help) their addicted friend/family member in Alanon. Not sure that directly addresses your question...
Giving advice on Medication is dangerous.
It might be well to tip off Rochester Area Intergroup New York, http://www.rochester-ny-aa.org/ concerning their forthcoming ‘Emotional Sobriety’ workshop 13th,14th October, involving Wayne B. and Sean D. They might appreciate knowing about the happenings in Perth, Australia. Wayne D. is the executive director, and Sean D. is on the Global Council of The Last Mile Foundation Inc., These are extracts from an Australian AA members’ post on an AA member’s website:
“It was wonderful to find your article on this Wayne B. and his company!
I live in Perth, Western Australia and I am a very concerned member of AA because of the same reasons written in your concerns!
You're correct …. he has been here often, got to the young members, how I have seen them change under him. They teach his words, follow like sheep!!
One of the most dangerous issues is they are preaching NO medication!!!!! I have had a young newcomer on the phone to me crying after his "Spons" had told him he was not to take any medication while coming off alcohol, this poor sweet young man had not one but two alcoholic seizures ending up in hospital, he could have died and almost did! The doctor treating him wanted the name of this sponsor from AA , this looks bad for the fellowship!!...”
The Last Mile Foundation Inc. is not Alcoholics Anonymous but a separately incorporated 501(C)(3) not-for-profit, corporation. The global council has members in USA, Japan, Australia and England. According to its website, fundraising efforts include accepting donations of “amends money.” You can contact Rochester Area Intergroup New York (585) 232-6720 Fax Number: (585) 454-3949
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org They might want to cancel this outside enterprise event and protect their newcomers.
I struggled with folk who'd say "no mood altering substances" or who would berate me should I dare mention I was still on anti-depressants after coming into sobriety. Saying I wasn't really sober if I was on mood altering substances - geeze of course I was.
So - i went cold turkey. It was a disaster. I went from loving AA, enjoying my new found life to sitting in my living room with a knife. Struggling to get up. I thought that if I was working my steps properly, or if I did more service other than GSR and opening meeting and on, and eating friggin organic food and more exercise I could be like the people who didnt need meds any more.
I was so wrong. It almost killed me.
I'm not on anti-depressants anymore - but still on "mood altering" substances by the standards of those folk who berated me. I struggled for years in sobriety - how is it that they could stop theirs and be ok? Why wasnt I doing my step work and service work well enough that I didn't need to take the meds?
Then I gave up. They are not doctors. My doctors are very well informed on my alcoholism. Even though its been years and I'm almost 30 years old now I refuse to listen to that nonsense. It is deadly when folk start that nonsense. We AA'ers have always worked with professionals. We are not professionals ourselves (well the sober doctors are I guess!) but giving advice on medication regardless is deadly. It is not what AA is about at all.
My sponsor says... this is ALCOHOLICS anonymous.... not "WELL PEOPLES'" anonymous. Sometimes you gotta take what you like and leave the rest. If its not in the literature - dont take opinions and other peoples' medical experiences as your own. I don't recommend that my sponsees or friends in the fellowship take pills, or not take them, or whatever. I have twice had to ask questions to help bring out the real motivation behind what they want to do - but always its up to the individual and their medical professional.
there are folk in the fellowship who are in my "inner" support circle - they do know that i am on some meds. A few of them have seen just how devastating it was to listen to AA'rs who "knew" better. I will never share in a meeting about medications. Its inappropriate. I've shared that I've struggled with mental health problems even in sobriety (although NEVER to the extent as before AA!). If they wish to speak privately or in detail then sure. But i cannot and will not give advice on these things. Its not my place. But I have and will ask questions if I have a feeling they may be seeking medication - or just to help them ask themselves what the motivation is.
I was the sponsor of this young gentleman and the facts are - we do not tell anyone to come off medication or to go on them, I am not a doctor and have no intention being one... Instead of spreading rumours get the facts ... I took this young man to hospital the first night I met him as he was physically addicted to alcohol and proceeded to try to get him into a rehab as he needed medical attention to come off alcohol as written in the big book.. We recommend hospitalisation for the man who is still foggy... He had an alcoholic seizure after stopping drinking and would not go to a detox.. He actually advised me he wasn't on medication and therefore I sponsored him.. I have no experience with medication but many friends of the fellowship that do and have and always pass people onto them that ask me for help as the book suggests we stick to our experience.. I try to do that.
Thanks for spreading more lies and anytime you would like to know the facts we are always happy to assist in anyway.
In love and service happy, joyous and free.
Thanks for your reply, its good to get different points of view. Here is mine. Wayne B. gave one of his “Emotional Sobriety” workshops in London (Great Britain) in 2009. Some of the promotional flyers for the workshop were distributed in AA meetings in my area. I was given a copy of his book which had been purchased from an AA meeting in a neighbouring intergroup. Since 2009 there have been numerous claims by newcomers in my area that they have been told to stop taking prescribed medication by their sponsors in groups which some of us call cult groups. This issue has been brought up at intergroup. In a neighbouring intergroup AA meetings have been asked to move out of hospital premises by the health authority. This report is recorded in the regional assembly minutes. I have heard AA meetings have been asked to move out of hospitals in another intergroup area. According to the G.S.O. website in Great Britain one of the most frequent questions asked about A.A. by professionals is “Is it a cult?” Item (c) on this link: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/professionals/?PageID=84
I think the exploitation of AA by a number of individuals and outside organizations is perverting the idea of AA sponsorship, causing cult-like behaviour and damaging overall A.A. public relations. The public questioning whether AA is a cult should be a serious concern for all AA members. If this perception becomes widespread it will be even more damaging to AA as a whole. We need to question how and why this situation has come about and keep outside enterprises like the Last Mile Foundation Inc. outside A.A. (Tradition Six).
My name is Mike and I am an alcoholic; sober since March 1990.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a program of action. When I stop doing what is suggested in the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, I am quickly on that slippery slope we often talk about.
Many members say there are no musts in AA. Having studied my Big Book I have found, highlighted and numbered at least 57 musts. All require some degree of acceptance and/or action. Nobody can force me to do the work but the consequences are insanity, jail or death. There are only 2 authorities in AA; God telling me he is waiting for me to do His will and king alcohol, John Barleycorn, saying I had better do God’s will or he is going to kill me!
AA is a simple program. When I stop doing the suggestions I get restless, irritable and discontent. I can also get very thirsty as alcohol is a subtle foe; cunning, baffling and powerful. What I have is a daily reprieve from my alcohol obsession and the insanity of the first drink, contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition, every single day! I can’t stay sober today on yesterday’s sobriety.
How do I maintain my spiritual condition? When I wake each morning I meditate, pray and read my literature. I meditate on step 1 so I never forget my last drunk and reaffirm I am an alcoholic; powerless over alcohol and that my life is unmanageable. I recite the serenity, 3rd, 7th and 11th step prayers as well as a few others. I ask for help to stay sober, keep in emotional balance, live to good purpose under all conditions and to know, understand and do His will for me each day. Daily prayer, meditation and inventory allow me to keep an open channel for my higher power to do His work. Each night I review my gratitude list and give thanks for another sober day and the many blessings I have received. I can’t be depressed and feeling sorry for myself when I am truly grateful. I practice the steps, attend meetings, sponsor newcomers, consult my sponsor, do service work and study AA literature. I make time for the things necessary to maintain contented sobriety. My program does work well when I work it.
I was a daily drinker for 30 years and I need to put as much effort staying sober every day as I did drinking. Twenty-two years ago I made AA the most important thing in my life; ahead of family, friends and job. It still is today. I believe, without AA, I would not have stayed sober and I would have lost everything. For me it remains a case of first things first every day. I have tried to keep my AA program as simple as possible; don’t drink, trust God and help others.
Thank you for the part you play in my sobriety and for letting me share my experience strength and hope.
Yes there are quite a few must. My sponsor made me highlight them. A good assignment. Thank you for the part you play in my sobriety. I'm six and a half months sober and reading/hearing something like you wrote gives me hope.
Yes there are quite a few must. My sponsor made me highlight them. A good assignment. Thank you for the part you play in my sobriety. I'm six and a half months sober and reading/hearing something like you wrote gives me hope.
Thanks Mike B. Wish your post had a "like" button. I also have to follow the program of Alcoholics Anonymous as outlined in the Big Book. That's the only "program" that has worked for me. Today I get to experience the freedom that comes with the spiritual awakening as a result of these steps!
I heard in a meeting that not counting days is not a "good practice". This comment was followed by the persons many "thousands of days". I have been in our Blessed Fellowship for nearly 18 months. I honestly did stop counting days ater my first year or so. I have been guided through the steps, and try by the Grace of God and the Program to live in the solution daily. I can find nothing in all my AA literature, and my sponsor doesn't count days either. I would love some feed back from other members who have more time than I do. Thank you and God Bless.
I have been sober well over 17 years. I bring that up because it is possible to stay sober for an extended period of time and be happy while doing it. I celebrate every year and use that as an opportunity to thank my group members for keeping me sober another year. When I celebrate, I acknowledge that I did not stay sober on my own. Even after all this time, I ask God to keep me sober when I rise and thank him for another day of sobriety when I go to bed. The celebration is a time for me to reflect and take inventory for the previous year. The tears that I shed are tears of humility. It is during my anniversary that I most poignantly feel the meaning of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. I am thankful that I am alive, because each day that I wake up on the green side of the grass is a gift from God.
There is a big difference in my sobriety from when I first came around, especially if I compare it to my first day of sobriety. I am happy, joyous and free. THAT comes with time and working the steps. Drinking safely is the last thing on my mind. I never want to feel the way that I did when I first came into the rooms. Because of the grace of God and the rooms of AA, I no longer have to.
Fellow here with 42 plus years of continuous sobriety always says: "whoever got up the earliest this morning has been sober the longest." About the time I think I have "got something" because of many days,weeks, months, or years of sobriety may be when I decide I can drink safely. However, we observe anniversaries because it gives the newer person hope. At my first meeting, someone got their 30 day coin, which seemed an eternity to me. Another got 6 months. These were people I felt I could go to to ask how to get through today without drinking, because they were doing just that and it was very real, very fresh for them. Each year I struggle with acknowledging another year of sobriety because I do not like being in the limelight even for a few seconds. And each year I am reminded that we do not celebrate my anniversary for my benefit.
As a frequent guest of drunk tank I and fellow guests were awakened early, usually around six AM. Now, with forty-one uninterrupted years in AA I don't spend my nights in the tank. And being totally retired, I usually sleep until seven or eight AM. Since the drunks in the tank got up at six, have they been sober longer than me?
If all we have is today, the answer may be yes, that the drunk in the drunk tank has more sobriety than you do - assuming he woke up sober. I do not recall being sober when I woke up in the drunk tank -- I was still drunk. For me, quality of sobriety/life is more important that quantity, as I know folks with 40+ years who are more judgmental, more arrogant than I was when I was drinking, while others with far less time demonstrate the love and service with humility/anonymity I aspire to. I did inquire as to whether getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom counted in terms of who has been sober the longest, but apparently it doesn't. Damn.
"Whoever got up the earliest this morning has been sober the longest", is one of the numerous quotes repeated because
they sound cute. I am a fellow with 42 plus years sobriety
and I question the value, or lack of it, of most of those
cute sayings. In my area in the 1970's, medallions and
coins had not yet appeared on the scene. We observed
anniversaries with a cake, shared with the group. Only
yearly anniversaries were "celebrated". The red, white
and blue coins appeared much later, around 1990 in
I personally feel that the monthly observations do
more harm than good. A fellow member with four months
proudly and graciously accepted a four month coin. The
following week she relapsed, and she later stated that
she was just too ashamed to come back.
I also feel that it is harmful to make a spectacle
of any member, or to let any member make a spectacle
of themselves. We do that when we ask, as part of the
format: "Anyone new or just coming back?" The newcomer
has his hand up: that is what he has been told to do
I avoided my anniversary for the first two years
because I did not want to be in the "limelight". On
the third year, I was the speaker and I really enjoyed
it. I still speak on my yearly anniversary and still
enjoy and look forward to it.
Note: Our A.A. membership increased about 600,000
in the decade of the 1970's. Anyone look at the growth,
or lack of it, for the past two decades? We have made
a lot of blunders. I think the coin system ought to
be deleted from A.A. Manny Q.
I never found that particular saying (whoever got up earliest) cute, rather to me it embraces the concept that sobriety is a day at a time, just as life is a day at a time. I have seen people with 20 consecutive annual coins go back out along with folks with a pocket full of one month coins. My sponsor does not give monthly coins, noting as he does that after 6 months, what usually happens is that his sponsee is drunk, while he is out $12.00 for the coins. I don't think the coins have anything to do with relapse or lack of growth. In fact, I know several people with many years who recount the struggles of their first year, and recall squeezing the "One Day at a Time" coin in their pocket as they said a silent prayer to get them through the day. When I get my coin, I have to remind myself that my staying sober has had little to do with me and more to do with the series of fortunate events that got me into the rooms and made me willing to listen.
Interesting that those who use the cute phrase "Who ever got up the earliest," poo-poo length of sobriety in months or years as a yardstick, then use duration of sobriety in minutes or hours as the mark. True, the BIg Book doesn't mark by time, but for me to practice the program, time takes TIME (or, as my sponsor says, Things I Must Earn). As the result of practicing the AA way of life, I am more spiritually healthy than I was last year, and certainly more healthy than I was 15 years ago. Most of the people who make the quality vs. quantity argument don't have much quantity.
I'm so grateful that the phrase "One Day At A Time" does not appear in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I've had a spiritual awakening as a result of the 12 steps and experienced a new freedom and a new happiness.
I like "a daily reprieve" better. "One Day At A Time" seems like the kind of thing a white-knuckling meeting-maker would say.
I can appreciated that you use the BB of AA and your positive outlook of spiritual awakening and the 12 steps but as I see it we do and can only live today because no one has ever lived in tomorrow. Therefore our sobriety must be dealt with in the present not tomorrow or yesterday but always today. That is the prescribed way I was taught and it has worked for 27 years and it dose not mean there will be no tomorrow it simply points out you can't live there.
If my "sponsee" is usually drunk by six months
I would ask myself some serious questions. Why am I so
ineffective? Am I doing something wrong? "Rarely have we
seen a person fail". Who is failing, me or the newcomer?
And don't try to comfort yourself by saying "Well they
were just not ready". Bull! It is up to us to allow them
to become ready. Stop telling them what they have to do.
Bill W wrote in the 1947 Grapevine that "Alcoholics
Anonymous has no "musts". ANONYMOUS
Thank you so much for clarifying that for me. From your very honest comments I feel such a sense of relief. I was feeling very inferior, or that I didn't belong because I wasn't counting my days. However in fairness it has been only 1 individual consistantly. I don't like being focused on either. I try to listen to everything very intently during the meetings. I want to be able to identify where what little I have to date to offer will help. I remember the suffering in the beginning. I don't want to feel compelled to keep track everyday of my count, I just want to be grateful for my sobriety one day at a time. God Bless you and thank you again.
If you had six months to live would you remain sober - if so why? If not why not?
Had a friend that the doctors gave six months to live he had a dream that he drank and the next day the doctor came back apologizing that a mistake was made and they had the wrong person !!!! My friend is gone now passed away sober, Love you Ed M for who you were not what alcohol is.
Why would I not want to experience fully and remember my experience of the last 6 months of my life? There has already been so much I either missed or do not remember from my many years of drinking. And so many missed opportunities. If life is a precious gift, then death is too, and I certainly wouldn't want to miss my own death, which may well present "another growth opportunity."
My home group that I have been a member of for over 20 years and have seen the rise and fall of members, which I have come to understand is a natural occurrence of many groups is once again in a flux and has called a group meeting to discuss some issues? I was raised around this wonderful live giving program with a father who has now 55 years sobriety. I was privileged to be a member of alateen and a very confused Al-anon member until I finally figured out maybe I had the problem and joined AA. My question out there is concerning this group consciousness meeting is that I have been involved with them before but mainly as an observer and I am no longer able at this time able to take a back seat and am in need of some guidance so no damage is done in addressing some of the issues that are needing to be discussed. Some matters are small and can be handle well such as one person is always wanting to chair and the rest of the members just find it easier to let it happen that way, interruptions when others are talking. Bigger issues concerning being addressed is that people are being told they cannot attend unless certain conditions are meet and I am a big believer in the traditions since I was raised hanging around with a lot of the old timers and their way of working things. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
Small town group
Perhaps its time for a group inventory? Check out the pamphlet, The A.A. Group, for the questions raised in the inventory. In addition a member well versed in the traditions and concepts is key to act as the moderator of the inventory -- you don't want to get caught up in the ISM: I-Sponsor-Myself.
It was suggested to me to read the aa pamphlet the group. it can be found in an aa liturature rack or at http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-16_theaagroup.pdf in pdf form.
You will find most of the answers you seek there. If you are like me, you will also be surpised by some of the content. for example is states non alcoholics may attend "open" meetings as observers. Go back to your group and see how many people think they can participate in your closed meetings, much less open meetings as non alcoholics.
I should also mention that each group has a right to be wrong. AA groups are meant to be self correcting. If an AA group is not practicing the 12 steps and 12 traditions, it eventually dies. That's what I think makes AA work.
There is no reason for the group to practice the steps.
We practice the steps as individuals. If a group does not
understand the Traditions and does not practice them, the
group does not necessairly die. It just loses its effectiveness. It does not grow, because new mwmbers
are pushed away by the way the group is conducted. That is
why A.A. is no longer working the way it should. Sure,
we gain a few but the masses are turned away, many before
they even approach us.
A group has the right to be wrong. It has the legal
right to be wrong. No one can punish or expell anyone.
We have a moral obligation to investigate to determine if
anything is wrong, and the responsibility to make
corrections. We do this through a properly conducted
group conscience meeting. I described a group conscience
meeting earlier in another category, but I will cover it
again soon. We use some of Robert's rules of Order, and
Bill W.'s advice concerning the value of the minority
Thanks for the information about the non-alcoholic
attending open A.A. meetings as an observer. They ought
not be invited to participate, only observe. It is
really that simple. If someone states my name is Joe
and I am an addict, "someone" should "say something". It
ought to be part of the format, read loud and clear.
Groups will not correct themselves if "self"
remains silent. Stand up and speak out. ANONYMOUS