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Old 02-04-2010, 11:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Some Common Misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonmymous

It's been awhile since we had a new sticky, lets see if we can come up with a thread so good it begs to be stickied

So, in this thread lets try to debunk some common myths about AA, not discuss our pet peeves, but actual misconceptions new people may have so we can refer new people to it when they have questions.

Please be clear about what is your opinion and cite your sources about why you have it.

1. The Only Requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking

Misconception: You don't need to be an alcoholic to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, you just need to not want to drink.

This I believe is the most common misconception, because that is what the short form of the third tradition states, when in fact the long form states:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

This is covered in masterful detail in 12 steps and 12 traditions, and is in my opinion required reading as to why we have tradition three.

OK, my opinion is that it was phrased that way in the short form in order not to scare newcomers out of the room before they had admitted to themselves they were alcoholic, as it has been noted, we are a sensitive people, and it has been said that alcoholics are the only people that can be laying in a gutter and still look down on other people.

2. Meeting Makers Make it and 90 in 90

Another common misconception is people begin to think the "program" of AA consists of attending meetings. I have seen debates about whether attending meetings is even actually helpful here.

Well what is the primary purpose of a meeting?

5.) Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

So the alcoholic who is still suffering goes to meeting to learn about AA, and those those that have "recovered" go to carry the message. What is "the message"? There is a solution and it consists of having a spiritual experience as the result of working the steps.
Quote:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
So what is "our path"?

Our Path is having had a spiritual awakening as the result of the steps.

Meetings aren't group therapy, nor are they self help, they are a venue where still suffering alcoholics can come find out about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is contained in the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous and consists of working the steps listed in that book.

Quote:
it became customary to set apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life. Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems.
So then people wonder how many meetings did they attend in the "old days"

Quote:
Seeing much of each other, scarce an evening passed that someone's home did not shelter a little gathering of men and women*, happy in their release, and constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer.
*sounds like they had meetings every night

3. It's inappropriate to talk about drugs in your share or while telling your story at a meeting of AA.

Bill's Story:

Quote:
A doctor came with a heavy sedative. Next day found me drinking both gin and sedative. This combination soon landed me on the rocks.
Dr Bob's Story:

Quote:
I did not take the morning drink which I craved so badly, but instead would fill up on large doses of sedatives to quiet the jitters, which distressed me terribly.
The Big Book itself is filled with other examples in it's stories.

My opinion: We follow the guideline that says:
Quote:
We share in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.
4. It's a waste of time to twelve step someone while they are still drinking or relapsing:

Dr Bob's Story:
Quote:
About this time a lady called up my wife one Saturday afternoon, saying she wanted me to come over that
evening to meet a friend of hers who might help me. It was the day before Mother's Day and I had come home plastered, carrying a big potted plant which I set down on the table and forthwith went upstairs and passed out. The next day she called again. Wishing to be polite, though I felt very badly, I said, "Let's make the call," and extracted from my wife a promise that we would not stay over fifteen minutes.

We entered her house at exactly five o' clock and it was eleven fifteen when we left. I had a couple of shorter talks with this man afterward, and stopped drinking abruptly. This dry spell lasted for about three weeks; Then I went to Atlantic City to attend several days' meeting of a National Society of which I was a member. I drank all the Scotch they had on the train and bought several quarts on my way to the hotel. This was on Sunday. I got tight that night, stayed sober Monday till after the dinner and then proceeded to get tight again. I drank all I dared in the bar, and then went to my room to finish the job. Tuesday I started in the morning, getting well organized by noon. I did not want to disgrace myself, so I then checked out. I bought some more liquor on the way to the depot. I had to wait some time for the train. I remember nothing from then on until I woke up at a friend's house, in a town near home. These good people notified my wife, who sent my newly-made friend over to get me. He came and got me home and to bed, gave me a few drinks that night, and one bottle of beer the next morning. That was June 10, 1935, and that was my last drink. As I write nearly six years have passed.
Bill's Story:

Quote:
My musing was interrupted by the telephone. The cheery voice of an old school friend asked if he might come over. He was sober. It was years since I could remember his coming to New York in that condition. I was amazed. Rumor had it that he had been committed for alcoholic insanity. I wondered how he had escaped. Of course he would have dinner, and then I could drink openly with him. Unmindful of his welfare, I thought only of recapturing the spirit of other days. There was that time we had chartered an airplane to complete a jag! His coming was an oasis in this dreary desert of futility. The very thing an oasis! Drinkers are like that.

The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and glowing. There was something about his eyes. He was inexplicably different. What had happened?

I pushed a drink across the table. He refused it.
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the fellow. He wasn't himself.

"Come, what's all this about? I queried. He looked straight at me. Simply, but smilingly, he said, "I've got religion."

I was aghast. So that was it last summer an alcoholic crackpot; now, I suspected, a little cracked about religion. He had that starry-eyed look. Yes, the old boy was on fire all right. But bless his heart, let him rant! Besides, my gin would last longer than his preaching.
What the book says is:

Quote:
We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you.
not: We find it a waste of time to work with someone who keeps relapsing, there are many specifics and qualifications about it in chapter 7 "Working with Others"

There are no "musts" in the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, the program is suggestive only:

Well a recipe is suggestive only, if I follow a recipe and pick and choose what I put in and what I leave out, I am not going to end up with the same thing the author does.

You don't have to like it, you don't have to understand it, you just have to do it to get what the book offers.

there are 103 "musts" in the Big Book, you can find them here:

A.A. Recovery - 103 "MUSTS" IN THE BIG BOOK.

So there is a start, remember, this is NOT about your pet peeves, if you are so inclined feel free to start a thread about pet peeves and things that irritate you in meetings, and I will be happy to weigh in there.

Lets use this thread to clear up misconceptions that new people have about AA

All quoted text is from the first edition of the Book Alcoholics Anonymous
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Old 02-04-2010, 01:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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6. AA is religious

Quote:
re⋅li⋅gion  [ri-lij-uhn]
–noun
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
AA is a spiritual program, not religion

Quote:
spir⋅it⋅u⋅al  [spir-i-choo-uhl]
–adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.
2. of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.
(Definitions taken from Dictionary.com)

From page 46 of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous

Quote:
Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding, to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.
'nough said

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Old 02-04-2010, 02:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm embarrassed to post this. I had an incredibly stupid misconception of AA.

All my life, my only experience with AA was through friends and family. The only reason any of them went to AA was because the courts sent them there for drinking and driving. It was described to me as a court-run drunk drivers program.

So when my alcoholism progressed and I hit my most desperate point, AA never crossed my mind.

Before putting a bullet in my head, I wanted to make sure I tried everything. I didn't want to put my family through that grief unless it was truly the only way out.

I found the Big Book online at AA's website. Skipped the Doctor's Opinion because doctors are full of ****, and "opinions" are worthless. Bill's Story was difficult for a college-aged single chick to identify with, until this part:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Book 1st Ed
No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.
OMG. Someone finally understood me! I read on and found out that I didn't have to die. There is a solution. For the first time, I wasn't alone anymore. And I've never been alone since.

Again, it was an incredibly stupid misconception of AA, but a misconception nonetheless.

I'm not sure if the courts' use of AA may cause misconceptions for other people.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ago View Post

5.) Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Here lies the crux of the problem in modern day AA meetings. Back in the 40's & 50's there was one AA message, that which is contained in the first 164 pages of the Big Book (see 3rd Edition inside jacket).

Now thanks to thousands of rehab facilities and other recovery programs there are literally hundreds of different messages floating around. Some aimed at the guy on page 20-21 and still only one aimed at the guy on page 21-34.
__________________


>>> If it makes sense - It ain't spiritual!

- All Big Book quotes are from first Edition -
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Old 02-04-2010, 04:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=Ago;2506138]It's been awhile since we had a new sticky, lets see if we can come up with a thread so good it begs to be stickied



1. The Only Requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking

Misconception: You don't need to be an alcoholic to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, you just need to not want to drink.

This I believe is the most common misconception, because that is what the short form of the third tradition states, when in fact the long form states:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

What a bunch of bunk. If you can interpret the English language you will realize your argument does not make the tradition void. There is not requirement to be an alcoholic and nowhere does it say that. The only statement that is valid is "The ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." Period.
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
1. The Only Requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking

Misconception: You don't need to be an alcoholic to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, you just need to not want to drink.

This I believe is the most common misconception, because that is what the short form of the third tradition states, when in fact the long form states:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

What a bunch of bunk. If you can interpret the English language you will realize your argument does not make the tradition void. There is not requirement to be an alcoholic and nowhere does it say that. The only statement that is valid is "The ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." Period.
Thank You for your input

There is information that actually supports both sides of this "argument" (meant as in making an argument in court or a debate)

However the one I return to is the Long form of Tradition Three:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

OPEN MEETING DEFINITION

This is an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are glad you are all here-especially the newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking, "we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol. (The 1987 General Service Conference made this statement available as an A.A. service piece for those groups who wish to use it.)

CLOSED MEETING DEFINITION

This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In support of A.A.'s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meeting 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.)

These two statements seem to be ambivalent as well, what is AA's "singleness of purpose" ?

Here is a letter sent out and published by The General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous it's not copywrighted
Quote:
Singleness of Purpose

From Box 459, published bimonthly the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous, Februaru/March 2003

by George E. Valiant, M. D. Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee A.A. General Service Board

"Singleness of purpose" is essential to the effective treatment of alcoholism. The reason for such exaggerated focus is to overcome denial. The denial associated with alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful and affects the patient, helper, and the community. Unless alcoholism is kept relentlessly in the foreground, other issues will usurp everybody's attention.

Mental health workers, however, have great difficulty with A.A.'s Fifth Tradition: "Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers." Since mental health workers often admire the success and geographic availability of Alcoholics Anonymous, they understandably wish to broaden its membership to include other substance abusers. They also note that pure alcohol abuse is becoming less frequent, and polydrug abuse more common. In addition, mental health workers sometimes view singleness of purpose as outmoded and exclusionary. They worry that the Tradition is a holdover from the early days of A.A. and that the young, the poor and the minority with a criminal record will be barred. Besides, when there is no professional drug treatment center or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group easily available, mental health workers find it hard to understand why A.A., with its tradition of Twelfth Step work, won't step in and fill the breach.

As both a mental health worker and a researcher, it seems to me that there are two arguments that trump these concerns. First, the Third Tradition of A.A., "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking," renders A.A. nonexclusionary. Each year A.A. welcomes many thousands of minorities, many thousands of poor, many thousands of alcoholics with coexistent drug problems and tens of thousands of convicts into its membership. Nobody with a desire to stop drinking is excluded.

The second argument, that "Singleness of Purpose" is necessary to overcome denial, is even more compelling. Given a choice, nobody wants to talk about alcoholism. In contrast, drug addiction commands newspaper headlines, research funding and the attention of clinical audiences. After two years of work at the Lexington, Kentucky Federal Narcotics Treatment Center, I, a mere assistant professor, was invited around the world to lecture on heroin addiction. In the late 1990s, as a full professor and after 25 years of research on alcoholism and its enormous morbidity, I was finally asked to give a medical grand rounds on alcohol in my home city. My assigned topic, "Why alcohol is good for your health." In short, the greatest single obstacle to the proper treatment of alcoholism is denial.

I first began my psychiatric career at a deeply dedicated community health center. The community had voted alcohol abuse as their biggest problem. After its first ten years of operation the center was still confming itself to addressing the community's most pressing second, third, and fourth problems. No resources at all were devoted to alcohol treatment.

I moved to another community mental health center that had listened to its citizens and had opened an alcohol treatment center. In being asked to fill the position of co-director of the clinic I was the last staff psychiatrist hired by the mental health center. Significantly, I had had no experience with alcoholism, but no one else wanted the job.

Put differently, the experimentally documented success of A.A. in the treatment of alcoholism is in part because A.A. groups are the only place in the world where the focus is on alcoholism and nothing but alcoholism. There is simply no other way to overcome the denial.

Reprinted to Box 459 from About A.A., Fall/Winter 2002.
What is the purpose of a meeting?

5.) Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Here is what Bill W wrote about it that has become a non-copyrighted pamphlet:

Quote:
Problems Other Than Alcohol:
What Can Be Done About Them?
by Bill W. -- A.A. Grapevine, February, 1958

[Any time is a good time to review our relations with each other and with the world outside. In the following article Bill has done this with the accent on special groups which seek to handle drug addiction. At the moment this problem is under a great amount of discussion in many AA areas -- Ed.]

PERHAPS THERE IS NO SUFFERING more horrible than drug addiction, especially that kind which is produced by morphine, heroin, and other narcotics. Such drugs twist the mind and the awful process of withdrawal racks the sufferer's body. Compared with the addict and his woes, we alcoholics are pikers. Barbiturates, carried to extremes, can be almost as bad. In AA we have members who have made great recoveries from both the bottle and the needle. We also have a great many others who were -- or still are -- victimized by "goof balls" and even by the new tranquilizers.

Consequently, this problem of drug addiction in its several forms lies close to us all. It stirs our deepest interest and sympathy. In the world around us we see legions of men and women who are trying to cure or to escape their problems by this means. Many AAs, especially those who have suffered these particular addictions, are now asking, "What can we do about drugs -- within our fellowship, and without?"

Because several projects to help pill and drug takers are already afloat -- projects which use AA's Twelve Steps and in which AA members are active -- there has arisen a whole series of questions as to how these efforts, already meeting with not a little success, can be rightly related to the AA groups and to AA as a whole.

Specifically, here is a list of questions:
(1) Can a non-alcoholic pill or drug addict become an AA member?
(2) Can such a person be brought, as a visitor, to an "open" AA meeting for help and inspiration?
(3) Can a pill or drug taker, who also has a genuine alcoholic history, become a member of AA?
(4) Can AAs who have suffered both alcoholism and addiction form themselves into "special purpose" groups to help other AAs who are having drug trouble?
(5) Could such, a "special purpose;" group call itself an AA group?
(6) Could such a group also include non-alcoholic drug users?
(7) If so, should these non-alcoholic pill or drug users be led to believe that they have become AA members?
(8) Is there any objection if AAs who have had the "dual problem" join such outside groups, such as Addicts Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous?

While some of these questions almost answer themselves, others do not. But all of them, I think, can readily be resolved to the satisfaction of everyone if we have a good look at the AA Traditions which apply, and another look at our long experience with the special purpose groups in which AAs are active today -- both within and without our society.

Now there are certain things that AA cannot do for anybody, regardless of what our several desires or sympathies may be.

Our first duty, as a society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore we have to avoid distractions and multi-purpose activity. An AA group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world.

Sobriety -- freedom from alcohol -- through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make non-alcoholics into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.

To illustrate, let's review some typical experiences. Years ago, we hoped to give AA membership to our families and to certain non-alcoholic friends who had been greatly helpful. They had their problems, too, and we wanted them in our fold. Regretfully, we found that this was impossible. They couldn't make straight AA talks; nor, save a few exceptions, could they identify with new AA members. Hence, they couldn't do continuous Twelfth Step work. Close to us as these good folks were, we had to deny them membership. We could only welcome them at our open meetings.

Therefore I see no way of making non-alcoholic addicts into AA members. Experience says loudly that we can admit no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort. If we persist in trying this, I'm afraid it will be hard on the drug user himself, as well as on AA. We must accept the fact that no non-alcoholic, whatever his affliction, can be converted into an alcoholic AA member.

Suppose, though, that we are approached by a drug addict who nevertheless has had a genuine alcoholic history. There was a time when such a person would have been rejected. Many early AAs had the almost comical notion that they were "pure alcoholics" -- guzzlers only, no other serious problems at all. When alcoholic "ex-cons" and drug users first turned up there was much pious indignation. "What will people think?" chanted the pure alcoholics. Happily, this foolishness has long since evaporated.

One of the best AAs I know is a man who had been seven years on the needle before he joined up with us. But prior to that, he had been a terrific alcoholic and his history proved it. Therefore he could qualify for AA and this he certainly did. Since then, he has helped many AAs and some non-AAs with their pill and drug troubles. Of course, that is strictly his affair and is no way the business of the AA group to which he belongs. In his group he is a member because, in actual fact, he is an alcoholic.

Such is the sum of what AA Cannot do -- for narcotics addicts or for anybody else.

Now, then, what can be done? Very effective answers to problems other than freedom from alcohol have always been found through "special purpose" groups, some of them operating within AA and some on the outside.

Our first special-purpose group was created 'way back in 1938. AA needed a world service office and some literature. It had a service problem that could not be met by an AA group, as such. Therefore, we formed a Board of Trustees (The Alcoholic Foundation) to look after these matters. Some of the Trustees were alcoholics, and some were non-alcoholics. Obviously, this was not an "AA group." Instead, it was a group of AAs and non-AAs who devoted themselves to a special task.

Another example: in 1940, the New York AAs got lonesome and installed themselves in a club. The club had directors and dues-paying AA members. For a long time, the club members and directors thought that they were an AA group. But after awhile, it was found that lots of AAs who attended meetings at "Old 24th" didn't care one hoot for the club, as such. Hence, the management of the club (for its social purpose) had to be completely separated from the management of the AA group that came there to hold its meetings. It took years of hassling to prove that you couldn't put an AA group into the club business and make it stick. Everywhere today, club managements and their dues-paying members are seen as "special purpose" groups, not as AA groups.

The same thing has happened with drying-out places and "Twelfth Step Houses" managed by AAs. We never think of these activities as "AA groups." They are clearly seen as the functions of interested individuals who are doing helpful and often very valuable jobs.

Some years ago, numbers of AAs formed themselves in "retreat groups" having a religious purpose. At first, they wanted to call themselves "AA groups" of various descriptions. But they soon realized this could not be done because their groups had a dual purpose: both AA and religion.

At another time a number of us AAs wanted to enter the field of alcohol education. I was one of them. We associated ourselves with some non-alcoholics, likewise interested. The non-alcoholics wanted AAs because they needed our experience, philosophy, and general slant. Things were fine until some of us AAs publicly disclosed our membership in the educational group. Right away, the public got the idea that this particular brand of alcoholic education and Alcoholics Anonymous were one and the same thing. It took years to change this impression. But now that this correction has been made, plenty of AA members work with this fine group and we are glad that they do.

It was thus proven that, as individuals, we can carry the AA experience and ideas into any outside field whatever, provided that we guard anonymity and refuse to use the AA name for money-raising or publicity purposes.

I'm very sure that these experiences of yesterday can be the basis of resolving today's confusions about the narcotic problem. This problem is new, but the AA experience and Tradition which can solve it is already old and time-tested. I think we might sum it up like this:

We cannot give AA membership to non-alcoholic narcotics-addicts. But like anyone else, they should be able to attend certain open AA meetings, provided, of course, that the groups themselves are willing.

AA members who are so inclined should be encouraged to band together in groups to deal with sedative and drug problems. But they ought to refrain from calling themselves AA groups.

There seems to be no reason why several AAs cannot join, if they wish, with a group of straight addicts to solve the alcohol and the drug problem together. But, obviously, such a "dual purpose" group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title. Neither should its "straight addict" contingent be led to believe that they have become AA members by reason of such an association.

Certainly there is every good reason for interested AAs to join with "outside" groups, working on the narcotic problem, provided the Traditions of anonymity and of "no endorsements" are respected.

In conclusion, I want to say that throughout AA's history, most of our special-purpose groups have accomplished very wonderful things. There is great reason to hope that those AAs who are now working in the grim regions of narcotic addiction will achieve equal success.

In AA, the group has strict limitations, but the individual has scarcely any. Remembering to observe the Traditions of anonymity and non-endorsement, he can carry AA's message into every troubled area of this very troubled world.

Bill W.
So while I respect your opinion and interpretation, I believe only alcoholics can be "members" of alcoholics anonymous but welcome anyone to attend open meetings
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
You forgot one. "Sobriety" per AA definition.
Freedom from "Alcohol" through the practice and teaching of the 12 steps.

Another one worth pointing out since we're speaking of steps
Step #1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanagable.

If anyone is unable or unwilling to take all 12 steps, as they are written, perhaps AA is not the place for you.

I do like the idea of a sticky for this thread. If a sticky is granted I would hope all 3rd tradition debate is deleted
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I stole this from somewhere else.
All quoted text is from the first edition of the Book Alcoholics Anonymous

Don't drink and go to meetings


Page 59, paragraph 3: "Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery: ..."

Just do the next right thing

Page 86, paragraph 4: "We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision."

Page 87, paragraph 1: "Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas."

Remember your last drunk

Page 24, Paragraph 2: "We are unable, at times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink."

I haven't had a drink today, so I'm a complete success today

Page 19, paragraph 1: "The elimination of drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs."


This is a selfish program

Page 14-15: "For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead."

Page 20, paragraph 1: "Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs."

Page 62, paragraph 2: "Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."

Page 62, paragraph 3: "So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kill us!"

Page 97, paragraph 2: "Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights' sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night."


Don't drink, even if your ass falls off.

Page 34, paragraph 2: "Many of us felt we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it—this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish."

If an alcoholic wants to get sober, nothing you say can make him drink.

Page 103, paragraph 2: "A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it."

We are all just an arms length away from a drink

Page 84, paragraph 4: "And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us."

I choose not to drink today

Page 24 Paragraph 2: "The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink."

Play the tape all the way through

Page 24, paragraph 3: "The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts do occur, they are hazy and readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove."


I will always be recovering, never recovered.

Title Page: "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism"

Page 20, paragraph 2: "Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body."

Foreword to the First Edition: "We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body."

Page 29, paragraph 2: "Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered."

Page 132, paragraph 3: "We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others."

I don't have an alcohol problem, I have a living problem

Page xxiv, paragraph 2: "In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete."

I'm powerless over people, places and things

Page 132, paragraph 3: "We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others."

Page 122, paragraph 3: "Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic."

Page 82, paragraph 4: "The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough."

Page 89, paragraph 2: "You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail."


You're in the right place

Page 20-21: "Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason - ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor - becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention."

Page 31, paragraph 2: "If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him."

Page 31-32: "We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition."

Page 108-109: "Your husband may be only a heavy drinker. His drinking may be constant or it may be heavy only on certain occasions. Perhaps he spends too much money for liquor. It may be slowing him up mentally and physically, but he does not see it. Sometimes he is a source of embarrassment to you and his friends. He is positive he can handle his liquor, that it does him no harm, that drinking is necessary in his business. He would probably be insulted if he were called an alcoholic. This world is full of people like him. Some will moderate or stop altogether, and some will not. Of those who keep on, a good number will become true alcoholics after a while."


Page 92, paragraph 2: "If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, ..."


Page 95, paragraph 4: "If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience."

We must change playmates, playgrounds, and playthings

Page 100-101: "Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.
We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything!"

I'm a people pleaser. I need to learn to take care of myself

Page 61, paragraph 2: "Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind?"


It's my opinion that... or I don't know anything about the Big Book, but this is the way I do it...


Page 19, paragraph 1: "We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem."

Don't drink, no matter what.

Page 34, paragraph 2: "Many of us felt we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it—this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish."

Page 31, paragraph 4: "We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition."

We need to give up planning, it doesn't work.

Page 86, paragraphs 3-4: "On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while."

I have a choice to not drink today.

Page 30, paragraph 3: "We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better."

If all I do is stay sober today, then it's been a good day.

Page 82, paragraph 3: "Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober. Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn't. But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated."

Page 82 paragraph 4: "We feel a man is unthinking when he says sobriety is enough."

You don't need a shrink. You have an alcoholic personality. All you will ever need is in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

Page 133, 2nd paragraph: "But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward."

AA is the only way to stay sober.

Page 95, paragraph 4: "If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us."

Page 164, paragraph 3: "Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little."

My sponsor told me that, if in making an amends I would be harmed, I could consider myself as one of the ‘others’ in Step Nine.
Page 79, paragraph 2 "Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences might be."

I need to forgive myself first or You need to be good to yourself

Page 74, paragraph 2 "The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others."


Take what you want and leave the rest

Page 17, paragraph 3: "The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism."

Don't make any major decisions for the first year

Page 60, paragraph 4:

"(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him."

Page 59, step 3: "Made a decision to turn our lives and will over to the care of God as we understood him."



Page 76, paragraph 2: "When ready, we say something like this: My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. We have then completed Step Seven."

Stay out of relationships for the first year!

Page 69, paragraph 1: "We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone's sex conduct."

Page 69, paragraph 3: "In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come if we want it."

Page 69, paragraph 4: "God alone can judge our sex situation."

Page 69-70: "Counsel with other persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge."

Page 70, Paragraph 2: "We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing."

Alcohol was my drug of choice

Page 24, paragraph 2: "The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink."

Keep coming back, eventually it will rub off on you

Page 64, Paragraph 1: "Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us."

Ninety Meetings in Ninety Days

Page 15, paragraph 2: "We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek."

Page 19, paragraph 2: "None of us makes a sole vocation of this work, nor do we think its effectiveness would be increased if we did."

Page 59, paragraph 3: "Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:... "

You only work one step a year / Take your time to work the steps

Page 569, paragraph 3: "What often takes place in a few months can hardly be brought about by himself alone."

Page 63, paragraph3: "Next we launched on a course of vigorous action."

Page 74, paragraph 3: "If that is so, this step may be postponed, only, however, if we hold ourselves in complete readiness to go through with it at the first opportunity."

Page 75, paragraph 3: "Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for AN HOUR, carefully reviewing what we have done."

Make sure to put something good about yourself in your 4th step inventory

Page 64, paragraph 3: "First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure."

Page 67, paragraph 3: "The inventory was ours, not the other man's. When we saw our faults we listed them."


Page 71, paragraph 1: "If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning."


You need to stay in those feelings and really feel them

Page 84, paragraph 2: "When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them."

Page 125, paragraph 1: "So we think that unless some good and useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences should not be discussed."

Last edited by CarolD; 02-04-2010 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Added Source per SR guideline
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hello All,
my book says "our way of living has its advantages for all". our 3rd tradition directs that we "ought to include" that is inclusive statement not exclusive.

if we start to set requirements for our membership (based on what delusoinal folks tell us) we might miss a few real alcoholics whose lives will depend on membership.

peace and tolerance,
Mike
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Old 02-04-2010, 05:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This seems to be going quickly downhill as to who not only has the big book memorized, but the big book definitions as well. I don't think it was the intended idea of this thread. it was started to be helpful. It's gotten a little off track.
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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"our way of living has its advantages for all".
And roughly 230 groups use the 12 steps as a way of living.
"Alcoholics" Anonymous is the one that "Alcoholics" use.

Please delete this one too when the sticky is granted.


All quoted text is from the first edition of the Book Alcoholics Anonymous

Last edited by CarolD; 02-04-2010 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Added Source per SR guideline
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Personally I think it's important all views are heard from, as long as we can disagree without being disagreeable

I read many of my posts and see how "blunt" and "confrontational" they can appear, and this a good way venue to have discussions for me to learn how to soften my message

The truth is I accept my truth needn't be yours, that we can all have different experiences, just because I don't agree with someone doesn't mean I don't respect their right to their opinions.

I can just think it's wrong lol but that is OK

Something I hear in meetings frequently is how terrified alcoholics are of confrontation, that is not my experience, I really enjoy healthy debates and always learn something, and when I have these debates in Real Life always end with a hug and agreement to agree to disagree and we respect the others opinion.

That is true tolerance to me

Love and Tolerance of others is our code after all.

I also think that is why the format of we share our experience, strength and hope is, I can't "argue" with someone's experience, in that "this is what happened". I can "argue" with their interpretation of those events, but not the event itself, but I have to remember that experience is exactly that, something that I have experienced, not something I watched someone else do, that is an observation, which is important, but not the same thing.

I have been informed via PM that it is extremely unlikely this will be made a sticky as stickies in this forum are based on fact and not opinion

If it is I would also ask that all "debates" are removed
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It kills me... You want to make something desirable for everybody? Make it exclusive, then everyone wants in! A restaurant, club, society... Who'd have thought people would be breaking down traditions just so they could be a member of AA!! So here we go with this third tradition argument, again.

The basis of AA, the reason it works, is that it is about one drunk talking to another. That's it, the whole idea... Dr. Bob understood that immediately after that 6 hour "15 minute" first meeting he had with Bill W. Without the requirement of membership, there is no AA. A person may benefit from the spiritual principles contained in the steps, but if they are not an alcoholic, they cannot carryon the primary purpose of AA... to help the alcoholic who still suffers.

Mark

You can delete this one too...
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Here lies the crux of the problem in modern day AA meetings. Back in the 40's & 50's there was one AA message, that which is contained in the first 164 pages of the Big Book (see 3rd Edition inside jacket).
This is the problem of the revisionist. The notion that at one time AA's were carrying "THE" message. Read some AA history other than Dick B or Wally P. One thing is constant in AA:

There are no new problems- All of the nonsense that goes on in meetings today went on very early in many groups. And just like today, there were strong groups and loose confederacies. The evolution of the 12 traditions is evidence of the facts about AA not having one message. The traditions were not incorporated by the fellowship until the 50's. Why was that????

Acknowledging that we did not have a golden age where all was well is not AA bashing . The message has been getting twisted around since its inception. The evidence of our loving and powerful God is that through all of our BS it still gets through!


Quote:
if we start to set requirements for our membership (based on what delusoinal folks tell us) we might miss a few real alcoholics whose lives will depend on membership.
Amen! And if we trust that God really is everything ( Yeah its in the book) then we don't have to worry about those non-real-alcoholics watering down our watered down Oxford Group message ( that was watered down Christianity itself)
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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well it was worth a shot
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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yea it was, I thought it was a great idea! I guess we have to agree on the concepts before we can even start in on the misconceptions, uh?

Mark
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:50 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by mdean View Post
Hello All,
my book says "our way of living has its advantages for all". our 3rd tradition directs that we "ought to include" that is inclusive statement not exclusive.

if we start to set requirements for our membership (based on what delusoinal folks tell us) we might miss a few real alcoholics whose lives will depend on membership.

peace and tolerance,
Mike
I can appreciate that point of view, and it had it's merits. The problem comes when we have people in our meetings that are not alcoholics, have no idea of the scope of this disease and still feel qualified to offer their "Oprah" solutions around our tables.

I'm in a situation right now with some cat that had a medical episode that concerned small amounts of alcohol and has joined the program and has decided to call himself an alcoholic. He came here because he had a desire to stop drinking. We both have equal access to a noob struggling through their first days of sobriety. Mr."two drinks and I have a problem" may have the best of intentions, but he has no idea what this noob is going through or how much they are hurting right now. More than that he has no respect for the dynamic that occurs in the recovery from alcoholism. It has no value to him because he doesn't need it.

I care about that noobs life. I care nothing about anyones feelings, ego, or sensibilities when it comes to this program. Pretty easy to see that he is going open his mouth and get crossways with me in the near future. Tolerance will be in short supply as he finds that Bad Company isn't just an internet moniker for me.
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:01 PM   #18 (permalink)
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mdean....

Welcome to SR and to our Alcoholism 12 Step Support Forum
I see you joined months ago....
glad you decided to share with us.
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Each Day Sober Is A Victory!!
Joy In AA Recovery!

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Old 02-04-2010, 07:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BadCompany View Post

... The problem comes when we have people in our meetings that are not alcoholics, have no idea of the scope of this disease and still feel qualified to offer their "Oprah" solutions around our tables.
I often run into the same thing. After sharing that it is the spiritual principles, the 12 steps and God that keeps me sober, some old-timer will pull out his big token and flash it like a badge and then say:

"Don't listen to that kook. All that spiritual crap is optional. Just do what I do. Don't drink & go to meetings".
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Glad that this won't be turning into a sticky to 'help the newcomer', if any newcomers come across this thread here is some information on AA, meetings and what they are about:

Alcoholics Anonymous : A Newcomer Asks
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