Please feel free to copy and use any portions of the below readings for yourself and or a group but giving credit to the sources that supplied/copyrighted the material.
DAILY REFLECTIONS: GO TO WEBSITE HERE_______________________________ _______________________________ WE DRANK FOR HAPPINESS, AND BECAME UNHAPPY. WE DRANK FOR JOY, AND BECAME MISERABLE. WE DRANK FOR SOCIABILITY, AND BECAME ARGUMENTATIVE. WE DRANK FOR FRIENDSHIP, AND MADE ENEMIES. WE DRANK FOR SOPHISTICATION, AND BECAME OBNOXIOUS. WE DRANK FOR SLEEP, AND BECAME UNRESTED. WE DRANK FOR STRENGTH, AND FELT WEAK. WE DRANK FOR “MEDICINALLY,” AND ACQUIRED HEALTH PROBLEMS. WE DRANK FOR RELAXATION, AND GOT THE SHAKES. WE DRANK FOR BRAVERY, AND BECAME AFRAID. WE DRANK FOR CONFIDENCE, AND BECAME DOUBTFUL. WE DRANK TO MAKE CONVERSATION EASIER, AND SLURRED OUR SPEECH. WE DRANK TO FEEL HEAVENLY, AND ENDED UP FEELING LIKE HELL. WE DRANK TO FORGET, AND WERE FOREVER HAUNTED. WE DRANK FOR FREEDOM, AND BECAME SLAVES. WE DRANK TO ERASE PROBLEMS, AND SAW THEM MULTIPLY. WE DRANK TO COPE WITH LIFE, AND INVITED DEATH. #128 _________________________________ BIG BOOK FACTS AND TRIVIA 1. THE ORIGINAL COST OF THE BIG BOOK IN 1939 WAS $3.50. 2 THE FIRST EDITION WAS PUBLISHED BY WORKS PUBLISHING, A COMPANY STARTED BY BILL W. AND HANK P. SOLELY FOR THE PUBLICATION OF THE BIG BOOK. 3. ANN SMITH SUGGESTED THE NAME “WORKS PUBLISHING” FROM THE LINE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD.” 4. IT TOOK 16 YEARS TO SELL THE FIRST 300,000 PRINTED COPIES. 5. THE ONE-MILLIONTH BIG BOOK WAS GIVEN TO PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON IN A WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY IN 1973. 6. THERE ARE OVER 20,000,000 BIG BOOKS IN PRINT. 7. OVER ONE MILLION BIG BOOKS ARE SOLD YEARLY. 8. LOANS FROM FRIENDS OF JOHN D ROCKEFELLER JR. HELPED FUND THE EARLY PRINTING OF THE BIG BOOK. 9. THE FIRST PAPERBACK OF THE BIG BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 1986. 10. EARLY CONSIDERED TITLES INCLUDED ONE HUNDRED MEN, THE EMPTY GLASS, AND THE WAY OUT. 11. FIRST EDITION DISTRIBUTION–300,426, 2ND EDITION 1,090,416, 3RD EDITION 19,843,221, AND 4TH EDITION STILL IN PRINT BUT EXCEEDS 20,000,000. SOURCES OF INFORMATION: VARIOUS WEBSITES ________________________________
Bill’s Last Message
Bill was one of A.A.’s two cofounders.
My dear friends,
Recently an A.A. member sent me an unusual greeting which I would like to extend to you. He told me it was an ancient Arabian salutation. Perhaps we have no Arabian groups, but it still seems a fitting expression of how I feel for each of you. It says, “I salute you and thank you for your life.”
My thoughts are much occupied these days with gratitude to our Fellowship and for the myriad blessings bestowed upon us by God’s Grace.
If I were asked which of these blessings I felt was most responsible for our growth as a fellowship and most vital to our continuity, I would say, the “Concept of Anonymity.”
Anonymity has two attributes essential to our individual and collective survival; the spiritual and the practical.
On the spiritual level, anonymity demands the greatest discipline of which we are capable; on the practical level, anonymity has brought protection for the newcomer, respect and support of the world outside, and security from those of us who would use A.A. for sick and selfish purposes.
A.A. must and will continue to change with the passing years. We cannot, nor should we, turn back the clock. However, I deeply believe that the principle of anonymity must remain our primary and enduring safeguard. As long as we accept our sobriety in our traditional spirit of anonymity we will continue to receive God’s Grace.
And so—once more, I salute you in that spirit and again I thank you for your lives.
May God bless us all now, and forever.
*Read by Lois at the annual dinner given by the New York Intergroup Association in honor of Bill’s 36th anniversary—October 10, 1970.
HOW IT WORKS
(From Chapter V – Pages 58-60 – the ‘Big Book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous)
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. We 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.
Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – That One is God. May you find Him now!
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a Program of Recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(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.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Copyright © 1939, 1955, 1976, 2001
I am responsible…
When anyone, anywhere,
reaches out for help, I want
the hand of AA always to be there.
And for that: I am responsible.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
(Copyright © The AA Grapevine, January, 1950.)
Serenity Prayer (Long Version)
GOD, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
The Third Step Prayer
“God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
AA Big Book
God forgive me where I have been resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid today. Help me to not keep anything to myself but to discuss it all openly with another person – show me where I owe an apology and help me make it. Help me to be kind and loving to all people. Use me in the mainstream of life God. Remove worry, remorse or morbid (sick) reflections that I may be of usefulness to others. AMEN (p. 86 BB)
God direct my thinking today so that it be divorced of self pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking and fear. God inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions. Help me to relax and take it easy. Free me from doubt and indecision. Guide me through this day and show me my next step. God give me what I need to take care of any problems. I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and my fellow man in the name of the Steps I pray. AMEN (p. 86 BB)
AA Big Book
The Prayer of St Francis
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
The 12 Steps
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Traditions
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in conjunction with a series on the Twelve Traditions that began in November 1969 and ran through September 1971. While they were originally intended primarily for individual use, many AA groups have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.
Practice These Principles . . .
Tradition One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
▪ Am I in my group a healing, mending, integrating person, or am I divisive? What about gossip and taking other member’s inventories?
▪ Am I a peacemaker? Or do I, with pious preludes such as “just for the sake of discussion,” plunge into argument?
▪ Am I gentle with those who rub me the wrong way, or am I abrasive?
▪ Do I make competitive AA remarks, such as comparing one group with another or contrasting AA in one place with AA in another?
▪ Do I put down some AA activities as if I were superior for not participating in this or that aspect of AA?
▪ Am I informed about AA as a whole? Do I support, in every way I can, AA as a whole, or just the parts I understand and approve of?
▪ Am I as considerate of AA members as I want them to be of me?
▪ Do I spout platitudes about love while indulging in and secretly justifying behavior that bristles with hostility?
▪ Do I go to enough AA meetings or read enough AA literature to really keep in touch?
▪ Do I share with AA all of me, the bad and the good, accepting as well as giving the help of the fellowship?
Tradition Two: For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving GOD as HE may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
▪ Do I criticize or do I trust and support my group officers, AA committees, and office workers? Newcomers? Old-timers?
▪ Am I absolutely trustworthy, even in secret, with AA Twelfth Step jobs or other AA responsibility?
▪ Do I look for credit in my AA jobs? Praise for my AA ideas?
▪ Do I have to save face in group discussion, or can I yield in good spirit to the group conscience and work cheerfully along with it?
▪ Although I have been sober a few years, am I willing to serve my turn at AA chores?
▪ In group discussions, do I sound off about matters on which I have no experience and little knowledge?
Tradition Three: The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
▪ In my mind, do I prejudge some new AA members as losers?
▪ Is there some kind of alcoholic whom I privately do not want in my AA group?
▪ Do I set myself up as a judge of whether a newcomer is sincere or phony?
▪ Do I let language, religion (or lack of it), race, education, age, or other such things interfere with my carrying the message?
▪ Am I over impressed by a celebrity? By a doctor, a clergyman, and ex-convict? Or can I just treat this new member simply and naturally as one more sick human, like the rest of us?
▪ When someone turns up at AA needing information or help (even if he can’t ask for it aloud), does it really matter to me what he does for a living? Where he lives? What his domestic arrangements are? Whether he had been to AA before? What his other problems are?
Tradition Four: Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
▪ Do I insist that there are only a few right ways of doing things in AA?
▪ Does my group always consider the welfare of the rest of AA? Of nearby groups? Of loners in Alaska? Of internationalists miles from port? Of a group in Rome or El Salvador?
▪ Do I put down other members’ behavior when it is different from mine, or do I learn from it?
▪ Do I always bear in mind that, to those outsiders who know I am in AA, I may to some extent represent our entire beloved Fellowship?
▪ Am I willing to help a newcomer go to any lengths – his lengths, not mine – to stay sober?
▪ Do I share my knowledge of AA tools with other members who may not have heard of them?
Tradition Five: Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
▪ Do I ever cop out by saying, “I’m not a group, so this or that Tradition doesn’t apply to me”?
▪ Am I willing to explain firmly to a newcomer the limitations of AA help, even if he gets mad at me for not giving him a loan?
▪ Have I today imposed on any AA member for a special favor or consideration simply because I am a fellow alcoholic?
▪ Am I willing to twelfth-step the next newcomer without regard to who or what is in it for me?
▪ Do I help my group in every way I can to fulfill our primary purpose?
▪ Do I remember that AA old-timers, too, can be alcoholics who still suffer? Do I try both to help them and to learn from them?
Tradition Six: An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
▪ Should my fellow group members and I go out and raise money to endow several AA beds in our local hospital?
▪ Is it good for a group to lease a small building?
▪ Are all the officers and members of our local club for AAs familiar with “Guidelines on Clubs” (which is available free from GSO)?
▪ Should the secretary of our group serve on the mayor’s advisory committee on alcoholism?
▪ Some alcoholics will stay around AA only if we have a TV and card room. If this is what is required to carry the message to them, should we have these facilities?
Tradition Seven: Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
▪ Honestly now, do I do all I can to help AA (my group, my central office, my GSO) remain self-supporting? Could I put a little more into the basket on behalf of the new guy who can’t afford it yet? How generous was I when tanked in a barroom?
▪ Should the Grapevine sell advertising space to book publishers and drug companies, so it could make a big profit and become a bigger magazine, in full color, at a cheaper price per copy?
▪ If GSO runs short of funds some year, wouldn’t it be okay to let the government subsidize AA groups in hospitals and prisons?
▪ Is it more important to get a big AA collection from a few people, or a smaller collection in which more members participate?
▪ Is a group treasurer’s report unimportant AA business? How does the treasurer feel about it?
▪ How important in my recovery is the feeling of self-respect, rather than the feeling of being always under obligation for charity received?
Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
▪ Is my own behavior accurately described by the Traditions? If not, what needs changing?
▪ When I chafe about any particular Tradition, do I realize how it affects others?
▪ Do I sometimes try to get some reward – even if not money – for my personal AA efforts?
▪ Do I try to sound in AA like an expert on alcoholism? On recovery? On medicine? On sociology? On AA itself? On psychology? On spiritual matters? Or, heaven help me, even on humility?
▪ Do I make an effort to understand what AA employees do? What workers in other alcoholism agencies do? Can I distinguish clearly among them?
▪ In my own AA life, have I any experiences which illustrate the wisdom of this Tradition.
▪ Have I paid enough attention to the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions? To the pamphlet AA Tradition – How It Developed?
Tradition Nine: AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
▪ Do I still try to boss things in AA?
▪ Do I resist formal aspects of AA because I fear them as authoritative?
▪ Am I mature enough to understand and use all elements of the AA program – even if no one makes me do so – with a sense of personal responsibility?
▪ Do I exercise patience and humility in any AA job I take?
▪ Am I aware of all those to whom I am responsible in any AA job?
▪ Why doesn’t every AA group need a constitution and bylaws?
▪ Have I learned to step out of an AA job gracefully – and profit thereby – when the time comes?
▪ What has rotation to do with anonymity? With humility?
Tradition Ten: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
▪ Do I ever give the impression that there really is an “AA opinion” on Antabuse? Tranquilizers? Doctors? Psychiatrists? Churches? Hospitals? Jails? Alcohol? The federal government? Legalizing marijuana? Vitamins? Al-Anon? Alateen?
▪ Can I honestly share my own personal experience concerning any of those without giving the impression I am stating the “AA opinion”?
▪ What in AA history gave rise to our Tenth Tradition?
▪ Have I had a similar experience in my own AA life?
▪ What would AA be without this Tradition? Where would I be?
▪ Do I breach this or any of its supporting Traditions in subtle, perhaps unconscious, ways?
▪ How can I manifest the spirit of this Tradition in my personal life outside AA? Inside AA?
Tradition Eleven: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
▪ Do I sometimes promote AA so fanatically that I make it seem unattractive?
▪ Am I always careful to keep the confidences reposed in me as an AA member?
▪ Am I careful about throwing AA names around – even within the Fellowship?
▪ Am I ashamed of being a recovered, or recovering, alcoholic?
▪ What would AA be like if we were not guided by the ideas in Tradition Eleven? Where would I be?
▪ Is my sobriety attractive enough that a sick drunk would want such a quality for himself?
Tradition Twelve: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
▪ Why is it a good idea for me to place the common welfare of all AA members before individual welfare? What would happen to me if AA as a whole disappeared?
▪ When I do not trust AA’s current servants, who do I wish had the authority to straighten them out?
▪ In my opinions of and remarks about other AAs, am I implying membership requirements other than a desire to stay sober?
▪ Do I ever try to get a certain AA group to conform to my standards, not its own?
▪ Have I a personal responsibility in helping an AA group fulfill its primary purpose? What is my part?
▪ Does my personal behavior reflect the Sixth Tradition – or belie it?
▪ Do I do all I can to support AA financially? When is the last time I anonymously gave away a Grapevine subscription?
▪ Do I complain about certain AAs’ behavior – especially if they are paid to work for AA? Who made me so smart?
▪ Do I fulfill all AA responsibilities in such a way as to please privately even my own conscience? Really?
▪ Do my utterances always reflect the Tenth Tradition, or do I give AA critics real ammunition?
▪ Should I keep my AA membership a secret, or reveal it in private conversation when that may help another alcoholic (and therefore me)? Is my brand of AA so attractive that other drunks want it?
▪ What is the real importance of me among more than a million AAs?
Copyright © The AA GRAPEVINE
The Twelve Rewards of the Twelve Step Program
Ann C. wrote these “a number of years before” the 1985 International Convention in Montreal, Canada where she set it to tape at the Oldtimer’s Meeting. She wrote it to show the contrast that can take place in any of our lives if we will try to follow the AA principles.
We can all have Hope, instead of desperation;
Faith, instead of despair;
Courage, instead of fear;
Peace of Mind, instead of confusion;
Self-respect, instead of self-contempt;
Self-confidence, instead of helplessness;
The respect of others, instead of their pity and contempt;
A clean conscience, instead of a sense of guilt;
Real friendships, instead of loneliness;
A clean pattern of life, instead of a purposeless existence;
the love and understanding of our families, instead of their doubts and fears;
and the freedom of a happy life, instead of the bondage of an alcoholic obsession.
All this and more through AA, are we grateful enough?
Gratitude will continue the miracle of your sobriety, I found that out.
as written by Ann C. of Niles, Ohio – sober date: April 1, 1948
Traditionally, AA members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the “public” level: press, radio, television, and films. In the early days of AA, when more stigma was attached to the term “alcoholic” than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified-and publicized-was easy to understand. As the Fellowship of AA grew, the positive values of anonymity soon became apparent. First, we know from experience than many problem drinkers might hesitate to turn to AA for help if they thought their problem might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with complete assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship. Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us-that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition. While each member of AA is free to make his or her own interpretations of AA tradition, no individual is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself. AA is indebted to all media for their assistance in strengthening the Tradition of anonymity over the years. From time to time, the General Service Office contacts all major media in the United States and Canada, describing the Tradition and asking for cooperation in its observance. An AA member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since this is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole obviously has no control over such deviations from tradition. It is clear, however, that such individuals do not have the approval of the overwhelming majority of members.
Reprinted with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.
FOR ANYONE NEW COMING TO A.A.,
FOR ANYONE REFERRING PEOPLE TO A.A.
This information is both for people who may have a drinking problem and for those in contact with people who have, or are suspected of having, a problem. Most of the information is available in more detail in literature published by A.A. World Services, Inc. This tells what to expect from Alcoholics Anonymous. It describes what A.A. is, what A.A. does, and what A.A. does not do.
WHAT IS A.A.? Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, nondenominational, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
WHAT DOES A.A. DO?
1. A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source.
2. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.
3. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings.
a. Open speaker meetings—open to alcoholics and nonalcoholics. (Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way to learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A. members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of A.A.
b. Open discussion meetings—one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on A.A. recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. (Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone who may have a drinking problem.)
c. Closed discussion meetings—conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only.
d. Step meetings (usually closed)—discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.
e. A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.
f. A.A. members may be asked to conduct the informational meetings about A.A. as a part of A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety Action Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings.
MEMBERS FROM COURT PROGRAMS AND TREATMENT FACILITIES
In the last years, A.A. groups have welcomed many new members from court programs and treatment facilities. Some have come to A.A. voluntarily; others, under a degree of pressure. In our pamphlet “How A.A. Members Cooperate,” the following appears:
We cannot discriminate against any prospective A.A. member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency. Although the strength of our program lies in the voluntary nature of membership in A.A., many of us first attended meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by inner discomfort. But continual exposure to A.A. educated us to the true nature of the illness… Who made the referral to A.A. is not what A.A. is interested in. It is the problem drinker who is our concern… We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.
PROOF OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
Sometimes, courts ask for proof of attendance at A.A. meetings. Some groups, with the consent of the prospective member, have the A.A. group secretary sign or initial a slip that has been furnished by the court together with a self-addressed court envelope. The referred person supplies identification and mails the slip back to the court as proof of attendance. Other groups cooperate in different ways. There is no set procedure. The nature and extent of any group’s involvement in this process is entirely up to the individual group. This proof of attendance at meetings is not part of A.A.’s procedure. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign court slips. In some areas the attendees report on themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking A.A. members’ anonymity.
SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE AND PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL
Alcoholism and drug addiction are often referred to as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Alcoholics and nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A. meetings. But only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings or become A.A. members. People with problems other than alcoholism are eligible for A.A. membership only if they have a drinking problem. Dr. Vincent Dole, a pioneer in methadone treatment for heroin addicts and for several years a trustee on the General Service Board of A.A., made the following statement: “The source of strength in A.A. is its single-mindedness. The mission of A.A. is to help alcoholics. A.A. limits what it is demanding of itself and its associates, and its success lies in its limited target. To believe that the process that is successful in one line guarantees success for another would be a very serious mistake.” Consequently, we welcome the opportunity to share A.A. experience with those who would like to develop Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition programs for the nonalcoholic addict by using A.A. methods.
WHAT A.A. DOES NOT DO
A.A. does not:
1. Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover
2. Solicit members
3. Engage in or sponsor research
4. Keep attendance records or case histories
5. Join “councils” of social agencies
6. Follow up or try to control its members
7. Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses
8. Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment
9. Offer religious services
10. Engage in education about alcohol
11. Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services
12. Provide domestic or vocational counseling
13. Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources
14. Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
The primary purpose of A.A. is to carry our message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help. Almost every alcoholism treatment tries to help the alcoholic maintain sobriety. Regardless of the road we follow, we all head for the same destination, recovery of the alcoholic person. Together, we can do what none of us could accomplish alone. We can serve as a source of personal experience and be an ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.
RECOMMENDED MATERIAL AVAILABLE FROM A.A. WORLD SERVICES, INC. Pamphlets:
“A Member’s-Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous” “How A.A. Members Cooperate” “If You Are a Professional, A.A. Wants to Work With You” “Problems Other Than Alcohol” “Understanding Anonymity” “Let’s Be Friendly With Our Friends” “Is A.A. For You?” “A.A. in Treatment Facilities” “Is There An Alcoholic in the Workplace?” “A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care Professional”
For A.A. Members Employed in the Alcoholism Field Cooperation With the Professional Community Public Information Cooperating With Court, A.S.A.P., and Similar Programs
Conference-approved Literature and Other Service Material A.A. Literature and Audiovisual Material For Special Needs
Alcoholics Anonymous—An Inside View Young People and A.A. Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous A.A.—Rap with Us It Sure Beats Sitting in a Cell Your A.A. General Service Office, The Grapevine and the General Service Structure Carrying the Message Behind These Walls Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous (American Sign Language) Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (American Sign Language)
For additional copies of this paper, or our literature catalogs write to: A.A. World Services, Inc., Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163.
The Legacy of Recovery Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. Many of us, upon first seeing those words, asked ourselves the question, “Can it be just that simple?” — and then heard a voice inside us answer, “Yes.” Bill’s application of AA principles to ever-changing circumstances was another of his remarkable talents. Day in and day out, letters would arrive at his desk asking for his “last word” on a matter of AA policy. And, in answer after answer Bill would fall back upon the basic principles of AA’s three Legacies, tempered by wisdom, humor, perspective, and regard for the feelings of others. One warm example occurred in 1968 when a well-meaning AA wrote to Bill, in deep concern, about an influx of youthful hippies or flower children to local AA groups, along with their distinctive manner of dress, sexual mores, and other unorthodox behavior, including the use of drugs. The writer feared that this particular invasion might be “a very real threat to our wonderful, God-given program.” Bill’s reply was typical of his use of AA principles to meet new challenges, ”Your letter about the hippie problem, so-called, was mighty interesting to me. I doubt that we need to be alarmed about this situation, because there have been precedents out of the past. All sorts of outfits have tried to move in on us, including communists and heroin addicts, prohibitionists and do-gooders of other persuasions. ”Nearly all of these people, who happened to have an individual problem with alcohol, not only failed to change AA, but, in the long run, AA changed them. I have a number of them among my closest friends today, and they are among the best AA’s I know. ”You also have some people who are not alcoholics, but are addicts of other kinds. A great many AAs have taken pity on these people, and have actually tried to make them full-fledged AA’s. Of course, their identification with alcoholics is no good at all, and the groups themselves easily stop this practice in the normal course of AA affairs. ”Thoughtful AAs, however, encourage these sponsors to bring addicts to open meetings, just as they would any other interested people. In the end, these addicts usually gravitate to other forms of therapy. They are not received on the platform in open meetings unless they have an alcohol problem, and closed meetings are, of course, denied them. We know that we cannot do everything for everybody with an addiction problem. ”There has also occurred lately a new development centering upon hippies who have LSD or marijuana troubles — not so much stronger stuff. Many of these kids appear to be alcoholics also, and they are flocking into AA, often with excellent results. ”Some weeks ago, there was a young people’s convention of AAs. Shortly thereafter, four of these kids visited the office. I saw one young gal prancing down the hall, hair flying, in a mini-skirt, wearing love beads and the works. I thought, ‘Holy smoke, what now!’ She told me she was the oldest member of the young people’s group in her area — age twenty-two! They had kids as young as sixteen. I was curious and took the whole party out to lunch. ”Well, they were absolutely wonderful. They talked (and acted) just about as good a kind of AA as I’ve seen anywhere. I think all of them said they had had some kind of drug problem, but had kicked that, too. When they first came around, they had insisted on their own ideas of AA, but in the end they found AA plenty good enough as it was. Though they needed their own meetings, they found interest and inspiration in the meetings of much older folks as well. ”Perhaps, as younger people come into AA, we shall have to put up with some unconventional nonsense — with patience and good humor, let’s hope. But it should be well worth the attempt. And also, if various hippie addicts want to form their own sort of fellowship along AA lines, by all means let us encourage them. We need deny them only the AA name, and assure them that the rest of our program is theirs for the taking and using — any part or all of it. ”For these reasons, I feel hopeful and not a bit scared by this trend. Of course, I’m no prophet. I may be mistaken, so please keep me posted. This is a highly interesting and perhaps significant development. I certainly do not think it ought to be fought. Instead, it ought to be encouraged in what we already know to be workable channels.”
In affection … Bill” © AA Grapevine, March, 1971 reprinted with permission of the AA Grapevine, Inc.