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Old 03-17-2014, 09:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Does AA have the potential to kill people....

when members allow the fellowship to become something it is not supposed to be? I recently visited the town where I got sober. I spoke at my old home group. AA in that town is very different from where I currently live. The fellowship is huge but the rate of recovery is not good. The people I met in the fellowship there were charismatic and AA was much more exciting than it is where I currently live. However, "old sobriety" was not common there. I was dismayed to see that many of the people I knew there had gone back out. One even passed away from an overdose after celebrating a year. It seems like the fellowship in that area has become a popularity contest and a dating service. When I moved back to the town I grew up in I was amazed to see that the rooms were filled with long term sobriety. Having 10, 20, and 30 years in sobriety is the trend in my current area. With 2 years sober I am just a silly new comer. AA in my current area is about sharing a solution and nothing else. I think it is easy for people to get side tracked in AA in the town where I got sober. I think that's why so many relapse in that area. I feel that the members of the fellowship in that town have allowed AA to become something it is not meant to be and it is killing people. AA is not supposed to be about how charismatic a person can be at the podium or how popular you can become among the fellowship as it is in that area. AA is about sharing a solution which is what we do my current area. Any thoughts on the matter?
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It seems like the fellowship in that area has become a popularity contest and a dating service.
It's not AA, it's the people who attend AA in this area and allow their home groups to turn into that.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If it is as you say, than that has strayed quite a bit and is not healthy. However, to generalize I feel like the agenda is somewhat disingenuous. I have not found anything to support your claims and have visited meetings in the East Coast, Canada, West Coast, Singapore, Germany, London, and Korea.

I have found "bad apples" in many meetings however, but never a whole meeting built around a rouge member. I am not saying this is not possible though. You should feel lucky you are not in that town 4th.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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No, it's not AA that is causing the harm, it is the alcoholism. I'm glad they wrote a book to help keep things on track.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Don't get me wrong I met some really great people in that area who did share a solution. It was there if you wanted it. However, I can understand why so many people don't last very long in that area. I'll admit that when I first came to the rooms in that town I thought sobriety was about having a nice car, career, big house, and a charismatic life story. I know better now. I think new comers in that area are given a bad first impression of what the fellowship is about. People get a year or two in and think they are an AA "super star." It is time for them to sponsor 30 people and turn the rooms into their personal play ground. I'll admit that I thought a year was a lot when I was there. When I moved home with a year and a half I was humbled by the long term sobriety in my area and realized that I was just beginning my journey.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Cycles of Change

Great topic and congrats on your sobriety and loving concern for the AA program. It is amazing how AA changes from town to town and region to region like that. I finally learned how to get sober by going to old timer meetings and listening to them instead of getting "social". So much was learned and obsorbed from them. I guess my life depended on that. These elder statesmen and women had a keen sense of the ebb and flow of AA and many had seen clubs rise fall and groups get huge and then small again.
Life changes happen and I had to move. In other states I have found the same thing that you have: a giant party in one, will not mention the town, one city where the treatment centers have literally taken over a once thriving grass roots AA with history, and another where heavy drug dealing and prostitution abounded. The same quality that was in my original home group I cannot seem to find. It is concerning to me as well!!
For us to "Stay true to Oneself" is a very important pass down from members past. All we can do is carry our message and know that certain group consciences are exactly that. I have faith that many problem groups will heal given the application of the principles of the program. That is all little ole me can do.

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Old 03-17-2014, 09:38 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Does AA have the power to kill people?

What a thread title.

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Old 03-17-2014, 10:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Does AA have the power to kill people?

What a thread title.

Well, if members aren't there to share the solution than they must be sharing something that will not help keep people sober. If new comers are given a false impression of what the fellowship is about than they likely aren't going to stay sober.
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So in the spirit of staying in the solution... what can you do to help when you visit the town where you got sober?
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:23 AM   #10 (permalink)
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That is why it is so important for our future existence for us to adhere to the traditions as much as we can. When we let our groups become the way you described, we are denying future alcoholics the opportunities that we have had.
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:25 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, if members aren't there to share the solution than they must be sharing something that will not help keep people sober. If new comers are given a false impression of what the fellowship is about than they likely aren't going to stay sober.
The solution is there for the taking for everyone. The thing is, not every member wants the suggested AA solution. AA nonetheless will welcome these members too. We don't judge who has desire and who doesn't. Doing the program is not a requirement to be a member in AA. Ironically, this does not sit well with some members. It doesn't bother me what people do or don't do in AA, unless they start to tell me my experiences must include their understanding of their own experiences.

There really is no such thing as a false impression of AA anymore then there is a false impression of society. People see and hear what they want, same as everywhere else. AA being open to the public is actually as real as it gets. Sure enough people have a need for help, but then again, AA is not a fellowship of students and teachers, as much as people may want it to be. Its a fellowship of people who have a collective desire to quit drinking. People want it to be more, and so they will be disappointed wanting what can not be. There are individuals in the membership who are great examples, and as well members who are not so great as examples of what is AA.

As soon as we de-construct AA as a means to get a better AA, we also lose the very thing that makes AA work so well ie the freedom to have our own understanding in a fellowship of others who also have their own understanding.
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:33 AM   #12 (permalink)
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So in the spirit of staying in the solution... what can you do to help when you visit the town where you got sober?
Share the solution. I tried to do that when I told my life story. I didn't brag about the material things I have acquired in sobriety. My sponsor down there was a good guy who shared the solution. Unfortunately, people like him are few and far between in that town. It is the inner city meetings that are a circus. Meetings outside that town are solution based.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Heres a thought exercise...would no AA in that town be 'safer' than the AA that survives?

P
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Plain and simple No one held me down and forced me to drink.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:06 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I would never had believed this myself until....

A person I work with who is in AA asked me if I wanted to got to this "great meeting". I don't normally attend AA but, I have nothing against it and was kind-of in a bad way that night (depressed not drunk). Anyway, we get there and it is a click-ish little bunch of people trying to out do each other with 'my program is better than yours". Not to mention I was hit on by a member.

Anyway, I was like "man, why did you bring me to this meeting. Everyone here seems to know each other really well and I feel so out of place." Then he says "I love this meeting. At least half the people here I was in treatment with."

To me this was a pointless way to spend an hour and I definitely would not have shared there. I was incredibly uncomfortable.

The other meeting I have gone to a few times is very nice and normal but, anyway... I get ya.

P.S. It did not make me want to harm myself or go drink though...
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:36 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I lived in a small town like that for several years. They had one meeting that
I attended for a few months and dubbed the 13th. Step Club. My solution was
to start another meeting. The format was 12 Step based. For nearly six months,
we had about 3 attendees. Slowly the membership increased, many new people
were from the old meeting after they had relapsed. When I moved away a few
years later the average attendance was around 25. The old meeting was fading fast
as word got around.
That's one way to get into "The Solution." There are many other ways, I'm sure.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:37 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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No,but of course there are areas where the depth of recovery isn't as impressive.
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Where I come from there is something of a schism within AA as a whole and this is not intended in any way as an attack.
The newcomers-high tech, into barbeques, dances, picnics,visiting AAs from overseas, speciality groups etc opposed to the old guard of more seemingly serious alcoholics.
While the two groups sort of tolerate one another, there seems little effort at some meaningful compromise.
The relative new group seems very genuine, along with being quite innovative and creative in their approach. Indeed, even the conservatives have loosened up a little bit.
As for me I attend meeting conducted by both, and avoid cheap disputes.

The Big Book does state that change is apt to occur. AA is not set in "Perfection".
As to the extent and cost of such change, relevant to the very real dangers from an ever grasping corporate world,we all need to be sober in our assessments.......
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Old 03-17-2014, 03:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
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AA is no different than anything else out there in the respect that there are varying qualities of it. You can buy a box of popcorn from one manufacturer and it might be the best stuff you have ever eaten then buy a box from a different manufacturer and feel like throwing it away after the first bite then buy another box from another manufacturer and find it somewhere in between the two. AA is the same way there are excellent meetings, there are horrible meetings, and there are average meetings.

AA itself, not even a bad meeting, does not kill people, alcoholism kills people.

If someone is truly looking for a solution they can easily pick up the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and find the solution, in fact there is a chapter called "How It Works" which spells out the solution. There are millions of meetings across the world which means there are many too choose from even though it might mean a person may have to drive a bit or ride a bus to find one that carries the message of AA but one can be found most anywhere anymore.

I have been to some of the social group meetings, one that even sells t-shirts, like you have described and truly feel they do not represent AA. In my opinion the social group meetings really should stop calling themselves AA as they are truly not AA based but social group based. But if one reads the Traditions then it is clear that one group can not control what another group does but each of us as individuals has a choice of whether or not we attend or support that type of meeting. So I actively seek out meetings that carry the message of the solution to alcoholism rather than waste my time and energy focusing on what is wrong with those groups. I put my energy into what is in my power to control and that is my actions rather than other people's or groups actions.
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