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April 1965

Carrying the Message

More on 'Senile Sobriety'

Having had over twenty-two years of unbroken sobriety, I was quite interested in the article: "Senile Sobriety" in the January Grapevine. It seems to me that keeping up enthusiasm for AA in the old-timer is one of the greatest problems in AA today. This article makes several good suggestions to this end, but I would like to add a few more thoughts on this problem.

The old-timer has much more at stake than just sobriety. I do not agree with the statement made at the end of the article: ". . . all we really have, our sobriety." Of course, our sobriety is fundamentally the basis on which all we have depends, but the other statement the author makes is much nearer the truth: "AA has merely been an entrance hall for us into the ballroom of a significant life." We old-timers know from our experience with the AA way of life that sobriety is only the door through which we enter this new way of living. This new life we find in AA is obviously far more than just sobriety. So-called 'senile sobriety' can be fatal to one's sobriety, but it is not necessarily totally fatal. Slippees do return to sobriety in most cases. For the old-timer, the thing that is totally fatal is to lose enthusiasm for the AA way of life, so that he fails to attend AA meetings; fails to try to help other alcoholics, and fails to keep his thinking in the right condition by following the mental and spiritual principles of AA in his daily life.

Senile sobriety will not be such a problem for old-timers if we are continually trying to make progress in the AA way of life. There is very little progress to be made in just sobriety. But there is great progress possible in practicing the principles of AA in our daily lives: progress in acceptance, in fellowship, in faith in God, in inventory of our defects of character, in living one day at a time and in service to our fellow men.

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