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Old 07-29-2007, 06:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Who can share at meetings?

I could use some advice and experience about who can share at an open meeting, in terms of accumulated tradition. Apparently there is a person who has stopped attending the AA meeting I go to because she is not an alcoholic. She is an Al-Anon person, and I am given to understand she was in the habit of "preaching" to the alcoholics, and something happened - she was asked not to come or something.

Now, ostensibly, ours is an "open meeting".

What is people's experience and what is your advice about handling people who attend AA meetings but are not alcoholics themselves? Are they told in some way; is something read or included in the introductory section of meetings, or are there rules about the topics one can share about?

We were going around and around about this at the business meeting today, and we left it at "We'll do some research about AA traditions and experience, and reconsider the matter at the next meeting".

I'll be happy to consider what anyone has to say about this. Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-29-2007, 07:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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As far as I know there is nothing in the Traditions about "open meetings".

"Open meetings" are part of many group's format because it is a way for friends and families in the community to get a chance to have a better understanding of how meetings work and what AA is about. At my home group we even have a question and answers period where visitors are encouraged to ask questions.

I know that because of our Third Tradition, nobody can expel another member, regardless of how disruptive he may be, however I do not know what conditions would apply to someone who is NOT a member.

All things considered I believe that we as AA members must always remember to show a higher level of tolerance for others, even in the face of some harsh criticism
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Old 07-29-2007, 07:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A group conscience can decide that "all are welcome, but please, only alcoholics share."

At our open meeting, we give all alcoholics a chance to share, and if there's time at the end of the meeting, friends and family are asked if they have anything they'd like to add.

Peace & Love,
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Old 07-29-2007, 07:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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World Services describes Open Meetings as:

Anyone may attend but only alcoholics share.

Closed meetings are:

Only alcoholics attend and share.

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Old 07-29-2007, 08:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/...D=2&SubPage=57

A.A. Meetings


The two most common kinds of A.A. meetings are:

OPEN MEETINGS: As the term suggests, meetings of this type are open to alcoholics and their families and to anyone interested in solving a personal drinking problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem.

During the meeting there is usually a period for local A.A. announcements, and a treasurer passes the hat to defray costs of the meeting hall, literature, and incidental expenses. The meeting adjourns, often followed by informal visiting over coffee or other light refreshments.

Guests at A.A. open meetings are reminded that any opinions or interpretations they may hear are solely those of the speaker involved. All members are free to interpret the recovery program in their own terms, but none can speak for the local group or for A.A. as a whole.

CLOSED MEETINGS: These meetings are limited to alcoholics. They provide an opportunity for members to share with one another on problems related to drinking patterns and attempts to achieve stable sobriety. They also permit detailed discussion of various elements in the recovery programme.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
The third tradition only spells out who can be a member of AA, now taking that to an extreme if a non-alcoholic had a desire to not drink even if it was just for that day, they could be a member and share.

That is taking it to an extreme, as Sugah says, a group conscience can decide that "all are welcome, but please, only alcoholics share."
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sugah View Post
A group conscience can decide that "all are welcome, but please, only alcoholics share."

At our open meeting, we give all alcoholics a chance to share, and if there's time at the end of the meeting, friends and family are asked if they have anything they'd like to add.
Thanks for sharing, Sugah, some simple and fair thoughts.

The open meetings I attend are, well, open! We have nurses, students, etc. in attendance and it's not uncommon for Al-Anon's, addicts, codies, and gamblers to join in on our discussion groups. Speaking for myself, I appreciate hearing their experience, strength, and hope, and I know that I can trust them to respect our Traditions.

To share something funny, when we remind our members at the beginning of a meeting that non-alcoholics may be in attendance, we follow it with the thought "although we have no idea why" ;-) Lol
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The Al-Anon person should go to an Al-Anon meeting to preach.
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Old 07-31-2007, 05:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The third tradition only spells out who can be a member of AA, now taking that to an extreme if a non-alcoholic had a desire to not drink even if it was just for that day, they could be a member and share.

That is taking it to an extreme, as Sugah says, a group conscience can decide that "all are welcome, but please, only alcoholics share."

The long form of the tradition states that AA membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Only alcoholics suffer from alcoholism. However AA does not decide who is and who isn't alcoholic. Only the individual can decide for him/herself.

Personally, I am not in favor of non-alcoholics sharing in an open AA meeting. We don't have that problem in my home group, as our meeting is closed. However, an autonomous group can decide according to its own conscience who can participate.
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Only alcoholics suffer from alcoholism.
??? I had to read that a couple times... it just makes me cringe...

Like... I know what you are trying to say... but still the words just sound so wrong.
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The long form of the tradition states that AA membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Only alcoholics suffer from alcoholism.
Jim

Not so sure I would agree with that statement there Jim, I am sure there are many traumatized wives and children out there who suffer daily from the alcoholism. Also I thank God for the "autonomous" Tradition. I don't know how "open" an "open meeting" is if visitors are not allowed to even ask questions.What are we afraid of anyway?
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Perhaps I should clarify that statement. What the tradition says is that our membership ought to include alcoholics. Only alcoholics have alcoholism.

I knew that statement would raise eyebrows, but I'm not trying to stir up controversy.

As for "what are we afraid of?" What we are afraid of is that one alcoholic might not hear the AA message in an AA meeting. In the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcoholism," Bill tells us how the early members wanted to give membership to their non-alcoholic spouses and some of our great early friends and benefactors. It was decided that it couldn't be done because the non-alcoholics couldn't give straight AA talks nor engage in real Twelfth-Step work. If an alcoholic can't identify with other alcoholics in an AA meeting, where else could he go?
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Old 08-01-2007, 03:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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We cant be everything to everyone.
Only alcholics suffer from alcoholism.
Family,friends,co-workers,,etc,,etc,suffer the "effects" of anothers alcoholism.They suffer also their own disease,but not the disease of alcoholism itself.
An alcoholic needs to be with other alcoholics,to be able to share openly,have,that fellowship,with those who have---walked--this walk---for healing.
Open meetings all are welcome,but only alcoholics share,is how we do it.
Each group must decide for themselves.
My opinion...thanks!!!
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:39 AM   #14 (permalink)
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there's the chapters..the family after and the letter to the wives.
Okay..somewhere in my thick skull...I'm guessing that was writen
for family members or al-anon, or codi.

So where do alkis draw the line..it's okay for non-alki to read the BB
and not share in an open meeting..Well the alki has to read the too..ya know.lol
So do alkis just accept things when it's convient for the alki ?
When we deem our family members don't understand us..we can just
throw the BB at them.lol
I didn't write the BB..BW did. Why did he deem it important to put those
chapters in ?

Everybody that lives with an alki suffers from alcoholism.
Gee whizz man..what kind of FX are we talking about ? Or is it just
another one of those life on life's term living with an alki.
Can an alki comprehend the amount of pain and suffering cuased by the alki.
Oh yeah..gotta read the book first inorder to work the 12 steps.
yes..yes..i know we feel depressed as heck when we're not numb out of
our freaken mind
Can an alki gain compassion after the whining stage..lol
Can a codi gain compassion for an alki..

I'm alki, i'm codi , I'm acoa.
i don't know...I got stupid drunked and high with my ex-wife.
She thought I was an alki, but she drank me under the table half of the time.lol

I hate alcoholism. Maybe there's other AA members in your group that
can relate to me and can that woman.
Just becuase i attending AA, dosn't mean i don't attend other fellowships
or church.lol Or don't read non-AA literatures.lol

I don't know..maybe the women got pionted in the right direction to
attend an al-anon meeting, where she can share freely about all
her pain and suffering without being judge and heal.

mmm..principles before personalities.
in other words ..a kettle calling a crack pot "black"
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Old 08-01-2007, 11:42 AM   #15 (permalink)
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In the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcoholism," Bill tells us how the early members wanted to give membership to their non-alcoholic spouses Jim
Ah, but we are not talking "membership" we are talking about "open meetings".

If you want to exercise your right to autonomy and have a meeting that disallows sharing from visitors I can respect that, however we find that allowing visitors at our home group the freedom to ask questions during the open meeting works better for our community.
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Old 08-01-2007, 05:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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And I too respect your right to autonomy, Peter.

I can see where giving non-alcoholic visitors the chance to ask questions could be a good thing. However, I see a difference between asking a question and sharing.

What Bill is saying in the pamphlet I referred to is non-alcoholics sharing in AA meetings can dilute the message to the still suffering alcoholic. Just sit in any open meeting where the sharing sounds more like an NA meeting (Please note that I am not slamming NA) dominates the tone of the meeting.
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Old 08-01-2007, 05:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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why was al-anon started?Who is it for?The co-founders apparently[i wasnt there,,lol]saw there was a need for those,recovery programs for the ,family/friends of alcoholics.Although the family afterwards is in the BB,and,letter to the wives,Lois i believe started Al-anon,for non-alocholics.And BW,did not say hey come with us alcoholics,ya dont need your own program....
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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However, I see a difference between asking a question and sharing.Jim
I agree with that , Jim. I can also agree with the idea that allowing non AA's to have a voice at an open meeting may carry some element of risk, however I (homegroup) believes that the risk factor is low and that the benefits outweigh the risk.

We have always had a strong meeting format and visitors are alwys reminded that just a brief question about alcoholism and recovery is permissible.
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Old 08-01-2007, 10:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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We also have 'open discussion' meetings.
There's also closed meetings. I attend both.

And, I admit that some of the 'open nature' sharing has been 'getting to' me lately, as well. I think any non-alcoholic should share at their al-anon meetings. Period.
Unless of course, they've been INVITED to be a speaker, they should maybe find another place for their preachments.
We occasionally have to interrupt someone who is clearly only 'sharing' because they are preaching, or have gone on too long ... it's understood that it's preferred to do so staying within the sharing baoundaries and suggestions mentioned in the preamble of the meetings. Usually it's the chair who does that job.

I'll be keeping up with this thread with interest.
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Old 08-02-2007, 03:30 AM   #20 (permalink)
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The only preaching I hear at meetings are from alcoholics.
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