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Joined: 2012-05-27
Self-Supporting means more than $$$

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?

RE: $$$

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 need advice

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

try going to meetings regular....and listen while you're there.....this is a WE program

Already here in A.A ?

Advice - "Go to Al-Anon"

Re: advice on helping friend who is in AA

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...

Joined: 2012-03-04
The Last Mile Foundation Inc.

Giving advice on Medication is dangerous.

It might be well to tip off Rochester Area Intergroup New York, 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: They might want to cancel this outside enterprise event and protect their newcomers.

Joined: 2012-11-10
advice on medication

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.

The facts

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.

Joined: 2012-03-04
The Last Mile Foundation Inc. Re: The Facts

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:

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).

A Program of Action

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.
Mike B.
Oliver, BC.


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.


RE: A Program Of Action

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!

Counting Days

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.

RE: Counting Days

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.

re: counting sobriety time

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.

Joined: 2012-01-18
Re: Counting Sobriety Time

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?
Jim S.

re: counting - late rising longtimer

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.

Counting Time.

"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
my locale.
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
in rehab.
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.

counting & coins

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.

"Cute," but not consistent with AA

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.

Joined: 2011-07-29
One Day At A Time

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.

Joined: 2013-02-05
one day at a time is how one lives.

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.

RE: counting and coins

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

Counting Sobriety Time

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.

Joined: 2012-09-28
If you had six months to live

If you had six months to live would you remain sober - if so why? If not why not?

RE: If you had six months to live

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.

re: 6th mos to go

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."

Group Concious Meeting?

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

Joined: 2012-05-27
Perhaps its time for a 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.

RE Group conscience

It was suggested to me to read the aa pamphlet the group. it can be found in an aa liturature rack or at 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.


12 Steps and 12 Traditions

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

Our lack of growth.

In the past three years our membership has increased about 15,000 members per year. That
is an average of 41 alcoholics per day. Some A.A. members may see this as satisfactory, about
all we can expect. But look at it this way: We have approximately 60,000 groups in the U.S.
and Canada. Only one group out of four gained one member in a whole year. That is just dismal.
We have an army of two million A.A. members whose primary purpose is to help other alcoholics
to gain sobriety. When the membership numbers are examined, it can be seen that we had
almost two and a half million members in 1992. We should have continued to grow at a steady
rate. We did that for over fifty years, actually doubling about every ten years. What has
happened to cause our stagnation. Many A.A. members and others have reasons which may
make some sense. I think they are mostly rationalizations, although may contain some
truth. I believe most of the reasons are posted on I-SAY. If A.A. is going to be here
for the suffering alcoholic in future generations, we must get involved and make
corrections where mistakes have been made. Bill W. had absolute faith that faults
in Alcoholics Anonymous would be self-correcting. That self is us. ANONYMOUS

The birdcage and religious fundamentalism in AA

Reading this letter in the aa grapevine 9/12 titled "the birdcage" perfectly shows the intolerance in AA as well as our society as a whole, of which AA is just a microcosm. We have a Primary purpose, helping the still sick and suffering alcoholic. Doesn't matter if they believe in god, or are atheist, straight or gay, black or white, youung or old. This writer probably didn't complain when the grapevine focused on white, Christian heterosexuals, but as soon as their is difference the anger boils to the surface. In my home group, an agnostic group, the area chair came and spied on our group, to see if they could throw us out of the meeting list for "breaking tradition". Our society as well as AA is I n a scared, reactive phase, and anyone who is not mainstream gets hurt. Sad but. True

Religious Fundamentalism.

Alcohol is the enemy of the alcoholic. Sprititual Pride
is the enemy of A.A. If we keep religion and our fellowship
separate, everyone wins. When we combine the two, few come
out as winners. That seems to be the conundrum. Enough
alcoholic recoveries come out of the combination, that it appears successful. If no one recovered from the combination of the two, failure would be evident. But some alcoholics
do recover by using religion. I believe in history that
has always been true.
Alcoholics Anonymous was never supposed to become a
PROGRAM over the course of about thirty years. As such
some alcoholics do recover. As a fellowship of men and
women (as our preamble still reads) we offer a solution
to the multitudes. We are supposed to be using the
twelve steps as an adjunct, not the main course. They
are but suggestions. It was very difficult to unlearn
something that I had personally taught for 35 long
years. It was almost like trying to unring a bell.
Today I understand what Dr. Silkworth's advice to
Bill W. really meant. Bill Wrote many times that
without that advice A.A. could never have been born.
I was forced to investigate. I ask you to do this
investigation on your own. Read page 199 in "As Bill
sees it", as well as the rest of A.A. history.
To conclude, the reading of How It Works aloud
at meetings, and the acceptance of the 24hr book
into A.A. Tradition have almost destroyed our
fellowship. (not Fellowship). ANONYMOUS

RE Fundamentalism

I agree with much of what you post. The 24hr book should be read at home and not at our meetings. An AA advisory action suggest that our groups only sell and display AA conference approved liturature at our meetings.

AA is also not a 12 step program, it IS the original 12 step program. As I think about the book Alcoholics Anonymous, I go back to page 58 If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lenght to get it then you are ready to take certain steps
76- Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lenghts for victory over alcohol (for me that includes working 12 steps)
page 79-Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lenghts to find a spiritual experience.....

In the forward to the first addition it says "to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book".

We have an entire book that lays out what works best. not neccesarily a line or two from AA comes of age, although I do agree with the cart before the horse. That same idea is laid out in chapter 2 and 3 of the big book

I feel our whole program is a suggestion, not suggesting to cut it up in pieces. work all 12 steps or none at all, it's up to you. page 59 says half measures availed us nothing! If anyone ever says take what you want and leave the rest, they didn't get that from AA conferenced approved books. The got it from Narcotics Anonymous. I know because I read it in their book! Don't take my word for it, look for yourself

Corey; Suggestion

Please take a look at page 8 in The Language of the
Heart book. Bill writes about the most powerful authority
known, the authority of his full consent, willingly
given. Read the entire article pages 6-9.
The foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous is allowing
the member approaching us to "Take what you want and
leave the rest".
A man or woman, who is concerned about their drinking,
is encouraged to attend an A.A. meeting. It may be
mandated by a spouse, doctor, friend or the courts.
They are allowed to attend an open A.A. meeting to
observe. They may admit that they are alcoholic at the
first meeting, but it is not necessary, if they just
choose to observe.
The new person is allowed absolute complete freedom
to stay or to go. If we make no demands of them and if
they like what they see, hopefully they will stay:
Attraction, not promotion. If we just share what
we were like, what happened to us, and what we are
like now, how can we possibly fail? Sounds a bit
self-centered but if we remain humble, we will not
fail. Humility is what is missing in today's
A.A. "program". Spiritual pride is killing A.A.
Your enthusiasm for our fellowship is admirable.
I also ask you to try to develop a full understanding
of the " CART BEFORE THE HORSE IDEA" offered to Bill by Dr. Silkworth. Study Bill's approach to Dr. Bob. Page 70 A.A.C.A.
On page 222 in Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers offers
one definition of Humility. I keep searching for it.

RE: RE: Fundamentalism

As a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, we are saving about 15,000
alcoholics each year. As a fellowship of men and women,
I believe we can save at least 150,000 every year. Can
you fully understand what that means to the alcoholic
and the family and friends of the alcoholic.
I am convinced that hundreds of thousands of alcoholics
are still approaching A.A. every year. As a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM we help and hold a few. The rest are turned away
by the way our groups are conducted. Many more do not even
approach us because of our reputation as a cult/religion.
We read the preamble detailing what Alcoholics Anonymous
is. And then we give new members our own demands and requirements ignoring what we have just read. Not
allied with any sect, but reading: That One is God!
May you find Him NOW! We have only one requirement for
membership, but you had better get a sponsor and do 90
meetings in 90 days. Else you are not going to make it.
Half measures will avail you nothing! Relax, Easy Does
It? Not for today's steps crammers and Big Book thumpers.
Study the technique which worked when Bill W. approached
Dr Bob. Read page 70 in A.A.C.A. Bill tells us how A.A.
really worked. Our membership doubled that day and
continued to double about every ten years until
the early 1990's, when the presence of fundamentalists
and cults finally took hold of A.A. ANONYMOUS


Maybe this will help in trying to explain. Why do you
think the 24 hr book is not appropriate to use in the A.A.
rooms? Is it because of an advisory action rejecting it
by our conference? Suppose our next conference approves
the book? It was brought to the conference in 1972. It
was rejected for the second time. I would not be
surprised if the conference approves it although we
do not own it. I cringe when I think of the fact that I
would have voted for approval until five years ago. This
was discussed ad nauseam on I-SAY.
It is commonly agreed that Bill W. and his friends
rejected the 24 hr book because of its strong religious
nature. Using the book pushes God on newcomers. True,
some may be ready for this approach, but I believe
we lose many members by combining the 24hr book and
"How It Works". What an order! Let me out of here!
I believe many alcoholics approaching A.A. have
already tried religion. And religion has failed them.
Most sober members today are sober due to a belief
in God (I believe). But not because it is crammed
down their throats. Little by slowly they see that
life is just better with A.A. and God. We literally
give them enough rope to convince themselves.
Page 199 in "As Bill Sees It" and the related
stories in Language of the Heart, offer much in
explaining this. I try to keep an open mind. But
I am convinced that the reading of HIW combined
with the 24 hr book (aloud at meetings) has
turned our fellowship into a Fellowship. At least
try to understand. We are all looking for the
best way to help the most. I am sure that is
something we all agree on. ANONYMOUS


Thanks for the comments. I just wish that more A.A.
members could find this forum. I consider I-SAY as a
worldwide Group conscience meeting where everyone gets
to express their beliefs, and sometimes facts.
To show alcoholics precisely how we have recovered
is the main purpose of this book. It does not read: To
tell other alcoholics how THEY can recover. These do
not mean the same thing.
Several monumental changes were made just before
the Big Book went to the publishers. How "we" have recovered
was origionally How "they" can recover. The "follow our
directions" was changed to "follow our path". The 12
steps became the 12 suggested steps. The entire Big
Book was described as suggestive only. Personally
much more has been revealed to me. I spent 35 years
with many of your beliefs, and and called the
steps Damned-Well-Betters. It was not until 2007, when
I discovered
that our effectiveness in helping other alcoholics
to recover was diminishing. My first reaction is that
we need to pound harder on the Big Book and push harder
on the steps, cramming them if necessary. The 24 hr
book had become a fixture at meetings I attended.
I have discovered that these were the very
things which are killing us. You are as concerned
about suffering alcoholics, as most of us are.
Consider this without getting angry. The 12
Steps are an adjunct to our A.A. fellowship. Bill
W. was not the originator of the princples contained
in the twelve steps. These have been around for
centuries. Bill just devised a method of administrating
them to the alcoholic that reaches the suffering man
or woman at great depth. That is attraction, not
I know how difficult this is to understand. It has
taken me another five years to really get a grasp on
my convictions. Most of them are posted here. ANONYMOUS

The birdcage and religious fundamentalism in AA

Reading this letter in the aa grapevine 9/12 titled "the birdcage" perfectly shows the intolerance in AA as well as our society as a whole, of which AA is just a microcosm. We have a Primary purpose, helping the still sick and suffering alcoholic. Doesn't matter if they believe in god, or are atheist, straight or gay, black or white, youung or old. This writer probably didn't complain when the grapevine focused on white, Christian heterosexuals, but as soon as their is difference the anger boils to the surface. In my home group, an agnostic group, the area chair came and spied on our group, to see if they could throw us out of the meeting list for "breaking tradition". Our society as well as AA is I n a scared, reactive phase, and anyone who is not mainstream gets hurt. Sad but. True

Joined: 2012-08-30
Chap 5

I got sober in the San Francisco Bay area in the 70's. Chapt 5 HIW was read from the first meeting I attended. Over the years I have seen small changes in meetings. I travelled over the US for work and attended meetings on both coasts. Yes there were some minor differences but HIW was read at all meetings. Gone are the smoke filled rooms that I remember and there were some changes when Fr. Martin became popular, alcoholism wasn't as "back room" as it had been and people who had spilled some white wine on a Saturday night cocktail party started showing up at some of the most popular meetings. It was disturbing to some but as with all things in AA we tolerated everyone who attended and tried to extend AA to all. Then the religious (not spiritual) movement appeared and many of us were again asked to be tolerant. Then came the "thank you" after someone spoke which never happened that I can remember in the early days, you just spoke and then passed and that was it. I think the one thing that has been consistent over the years is AA groups ability to stay true to the principles and move through the trends. I still attend 4+ meetings a week and have AA to thank for my life.

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: Chap 5 / Fr. Martin

I assume the Fr. Martin mentioned in the above post is Father Martin®, the chap who claimed he was an alcoholic and dressed up as a priest to give 'AA'? video lectures. These videos are now posted on the internet as a public face of Alcoholics Anonymous, along with an online store selling a variety of products. I wonder how many AA members know Fr. Martin® is an outside enterprise; a registered trademark of Ashley Inc. This information can be found on the Hazelden website and Father Martin’s Ashley website. I think AA has a problem with a number of outside enterprises interfering in AA affairs. The claim made on the Father Martin’s Ashley website that Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. granted permission to refer to the Twelve Steps of A.A. in these films concerns me. Because I understand this to be a misuse of the AA name which gives an implied endorsement to an outside enterprise. It seems to me the root cause of the concerns about cult like behaviour and religious fundamentalism in AA can be traced to a number individuals and organizations who have exploited AA in order to gain money, power, or prestige.

Joined: 2012-01-06

It is great to hear your tolerance :-). I am glad that AA is open to all who have a desire to stop drinking. I did not drink nearly as much as some, but drinking nearly ruined my life and the lives of others many times. I was obsessed and could not always drink without getting drunk despite not intending to. I am not religious, but do not worry about the Christian influence. I just try to learn from it. I am comfortable using God as a shorthand for my own conception of a higher power. Without AA, I was unable to stay sober. With AA, my last drunk is now nearly three years in the past. I understand the concerns about what to include in meetings and agree that keeping it simple is good. I know for me I was desperate and motivated to come back regardless of some of these small things that sometimes cause concern.

Chapter Five.

I believe this to be a topic of great importance and
urgency. Mort J. started an A.A. meeting in Los Angeles'
Cecil Hotel in early 1940. Mort insisted on a reading
from Chapter five at every session. Info. from page 93 A.A.C.A.
The preamble had not yet appeared. Mort used a reading
from Chapter Five to open his meetings. I do not believe
that the first two and a half pages of HIW. was read
at every meeting. I have found nothing in A.A. history
to indicate that he read the HIW of today.
The reading of HIW began at meetings on the East
Coast around 1980. I had attended meetings regularly
for ten years minus the reading. When it was suggested
at my home group, I made a feeble atttempt to prevent
the reading. It was time consuming and after all it
was chapter five, not chapter one. But I accepted it
and probably read it at meetings a hundred times
in the 1980's and the 1990's. I would sometimes stand
saying loud and clear, "This is how it works".
I seldom questioned it or thought much about it
for those 20 years. It is a beautiful reading, one
of the most beautiful readings in our literature.
In 2007 I found out that our fellowship had lost
about half a million members in the 1990's. No one
told me. I had to inquire.
My investigation has revealed about ten changes
at the meeting level since 1980. I believe they are
all mistakes, serious blunders, using one of Bill
W's words. I believe that the reading of HIW from the
podium at meetings is the most horrible mistake we
have ever made. My conclusion came after reading about
Bills first six months of sobriety, and the approach
he was using. I call it the How It Works approach.
That approach did not work for Bill W. and seldom
works for us today. Dr. Silkworth's IDEA offers
further explanation. Read pages 159 and 160 in
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Bill explains
where he placed HIW and why. Reading HIW places
the "cart in front of the horse".
We made many other mistakes in our generation.
The "thanks for sharing" chant is more than just
annoying and distracting. The Hi Joe! chant is
weird and startles newcomers. Chanting makes us
look foolish to the general public.
The sharing by "show of hands" presents many
problems having to do with EGO. We always did the
"Round Robin" until about 1980 in eastern states.
Another serious mistake is the "Hold hands and
Pray" closing, coercing everyone to join in the
ring around the rosy circle. In the 1970's we
simply stood by our chairs, not holding hands.
I suppose when you came into A.A. in California
These rituals had already begun. They slowly
moved through A.A. and now have reached around the
world. Reading HIW turned A.A. into a religion.
Chanting and todays concept of sponsorship have
turned A.A. into a cult. All of these distortions
could be reversed and will have to be reversed if
our fellowship is to survive. We have been
"spinning our wheels" for two decades now, and
could continue for several more decades before
collapsing completely. Thanks for reading. ANONYMOUS

re ch 5

Our group opens with the pre emble, we read pg 30 & 1/2 of 31 from the bb, so we all hear what alcoholism is. then we read a traidition in long form from the back of the big book. finally we read a portion of the first164 pg of th bb and discuss. works great!

Joined: 2012-05-30
introducing yourself as an alcoholic and a......

I just wanted to put it ou there, we are starting a closed mtg and would like a kind and considerate way to express that you only need to qualify as an alcoholic to attend our meeting. any comments or experience would be great.

closed meetings

from website, card/statement that was made available to groups.

This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In
support of A.A.'s singleness of purpose, attendance at
closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire
to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with
alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask
that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves
to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
(The 1987 General Service Conference made this statement available as an A.A. service
piece for those groups who wish to use it.)

RE closed meeting

Thanks for the comment. I was looking more for how groups proceed from that point.

Does the secretary speak up or ask them to leave? Do you quietly approach them after the meeting and explaine this is for alchoholics? Say nothing and wait for them to quit coming?

I recently read in the AA conference approved pamphlet "The AA Group" something that is interesting. It said non alcholics may attend "open" meetings as observers. Look into it. It is there in black and white. Even to participate in "open" meetings you should be at least an alcoholic.

I have observed nonalcoholics fully participating in "closed" meetings. I think it's another sign of us getting away from our primary purpose. Probably a cause of our meetings becoming less effective with helping alcoholics recover from alcoholism. After all, this is "Alcoholics" Anonymous. Better to to one thing good than many poorly!


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