Magazine Discussion Topic
From my perpective, the trouble is this misunderstanding that a person who is alcoholic is addicted to alcohol. That is not always the case and it isn't/wasn't for me.
Alcohol effects me differently than it does a lot of other people I know. I was a blackout drinker from the beginning. I was more of a binge drinker overall, but was never physically addicted to it.
This whole misunderstanding about the nature of alcoholism is one of the most important things that AA has worked tirelessly to communicate to those who are still suffering. Read the Doctor's Opinion and you will find out that alcoholism is not necessarily about being "addicted" to a particular substance.
The answer can be true if your a drug addict but the answer is NO if your an Alcoholic.
A fruit is a fruit right, there is a huge difference between an APPLE and an ORANGE just like the huge difference between a wanna be Alcoholic and an alcoholic
As has been said again and again. Alcoholics Anonymous is for alcohlics. It's so simple It is a principle that has been with us since the beginning. I don't recall anything in the Big Book where alcoholics "reach out" to drug addicts. Should we welcome compulsive gamblers, sex addicts, "shopaholics" into the meetings of AA? We cannot, nor should we try, to be all things to all people. AA has been watered down so much, it has ceased to grow. We're at a standstill because we've been so "inclusive" and arrogant in thinking we can help any suffering person. To recover, non-alcoholics should be attending other 12-step groups. This is a selfish program
I hope the editors and readers will forgive me for such long post.
This was shared by a member of an on line group in Sept. 'o3,
I post it here with thanks to Dan K.
"Consider for a moment your first meeting?
If yours was like mine, you probably stumbled into a small AA hall somewhere.... full of fear, angry at almost everything, and yet with that vague hope that maybe there was an answer inside. You were half-eager to be there, and half-eager to bolt for the bar at the first opportunity. Maybe you were there against your will.... 'cause somebody sent you.
What would your response have been had somebody walked up to you and said, "Welcome to Anything Anonymous! I'm Gloria and as you probably noticed I'm way overweight... that's why I come. What are you, anyway? You look a little thin and emaciated. Are you a druggie? We got lots of those. Oh, so you're an alcoholic, huh? Well, don't worry about that.... we've a bunch of those here, too.
"Now, don't worry about what you hear.... you'll hear all sorts of strange things here. It's up to you to sort it out, so every time you hear the word drugs, think alcohol, and every time you hear the word over-eating, think alcohol. You'll get the hang of it after awhile. Obviously, when one of us tells the newcomer not to eat so much, that won't apply to you.... you need to eat. And if one of our gamblers asks you for a stake on a hot tip, I would recommend you not give him or her any money! Avoid the crying ones who will lean on your shoulder and tell you about their alcoholic parents.... they have there own sub-group in here, too."
I don't know what you would have done. I'll tell you what I would have done..... I'd have turned and run for the door just as fast as my feet would carry me. And if AA was like that.... I'd still be running.... if I was still alive, that is.
This matter of singleness of purpose, primary purpose and the only requirement is not, in my mind, a case to be discussed on the moral merits.... those vague and lofty pronouncements we all feel that our principles are so wonderful and work so well, we ought to be willing to share them with all God's children. They can't be discussed on that level because it's true.... our principles ARE wonderful, and they work well for a whole host of other problems that don't have anything to do with alcohol.
Nor should we discuss this from the viewpoint of an addict is an addict is an addict. Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't. It hasn't been proven scientifically, that I know for a fact. In each case, alcoholic, addict, overeater or gambler... I find the scientific evidence clear... different areas of the brain are responding to stimuli in different ways, through the manufacture of different body chemicals. To me, similarities don't mean so much as that one difference.... that one unknown... and that is simply this: I don't know FOR SURE they are the same.... and since I don't know FOR SURE.... then I need to be keeping my big mouth shut, because my pronouncements might well kill one of them if my advice were followed.
What we need to do is clearly understand the tiger in the cage. Alcoholics. Alcoholism.
My experience was, is and likely will be this: This disease that I have is so devastating in its impact, so terrifying in its many forms, and so relentless in its cunning, baffling and powerful nature.... that it takes all my energy, almost, to stay in recovery from this one thing. I, as an alcoholic, am high maintenance. I need a lot of directed effort, and I need a lot of directed attention. I need constant focus. I need a structure in which to function devoted exclusively to what I suffer from.... alcoholism.
My denial system is a fact. It is huge. So is yours, probably, if you are an alcoholic. My delusional and fact-twisting nature is well known in the alcoholic literature. My alibi-system can do double back flips, blindfolded, and land on its feet every single time. If I let up, or change my focus, even for a very short time.... I start to deteriorate. So do we all, if common experience can be believed.
So, you see, it isn't that the ideas of sharing aren't good ones. And it isn't that many different kinds of conditions can profit from what we have. It isn't a moral question, and it isn't an issue of what would be right and what might be wrong.
It is an issue of life or death. This tiger in this cage will kill me or you if it gets loose. Let us concentrate on this one thing. That's more than enough for all of us. You see, for all the high-faluting morality and high-minded talk..... simply put.... alcoholics die until and unless there's a specific place FOR ALCOHOLICS.
One last thought: The mission statement and the traditions have never once told me what you have to do.... all they've ever done is tell me what I need to be doing. Period.
God Bless, Ya'll, and have a great week
A.A. HAS been flexible and it has almost destroyed us.
By trying to be all things to all sufferers we have not only
hurt ourselves, but have failed those we have tried to help.
Sure. we could just lump all those who suffer from addiction
into one pile. But then all we have is a pile of crap. And, in my opinion, that is what we have done slowly over the
past three decades. Drug addicts are dying. Alcoholics are
suffering and dying. Drug addicts don't suffer as much. They
just die in their sleep.
You are right. We are failing a generation of young
people. We fail them by letting them think that we of A.A.
can help them recover from drug addiction. We can indeed help them, by helping them to help themselves. As sober
members of Alcoholics Anonymous, we have a method which worked for us. We have a fellowship of men and women. We can help drug addicts to form the same type of fellowship for themselves.
An alcoholic can help an alcoholic. A drug addict
can help a drug addict. A food addict can help a food
addict. I can identify with the alcoholic and the overeater, but I have never used drugs. I have had a
crash course in drug addiction in the past few years,
and now understand why the fellowships must be separated
and kept separate, if any of them are going to survive.
If you are truely dually addicted, "doubly blessed".
form a drug addicts meeting and focus on drug use and
what goes along with drug addiction. Pattern it after
the A.A. method of the 1970's, not today's A.A. Today's
A.A. is just a twelve step program, only one of many
such programs, and has very limited success. We need
wholsale recovery methods today. Our country has an
epidemic of alcoholism and drug addiction. Bill
W. and Dr. Silkworth left us a solution many years
ago. That solution came in the form of a simple IDEA.
I have one question, how do you react to alcohol? if you find you cannot quit entirely or if when drinking you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably an alcoholic.
If you cannot relate to that simple question, In my opinion you are in the wrong fellowship. In AA we relate to each other at first by our mental obsession with alcohol and our physical allergy. we also have strange mental blank spots when we think drinking will somehow be different this time.
I am more than willing to help anyone. I am also trying not to hurt anyone any more as well.
It has been my experience that allowing someone who is not an alcoholic belong to an aa group is hurting them, the group, and any newcomer that only has an alcohol problem. When it comes time to do aa 12 step work, the nonalcoholic cannot relate their experience to the newcomer. At each aa meeting the nonalcoholic cannot give a straight aa talk pertaining to alcoholism. When someone comes to an aa meeting to find out more about their alcohol problem they will here all about problems other than alcohol from the nonalcoholic.
In AA our ego has been reduced to the level where we feel as a society that we cannot be everything to everyone. So AA as I understand it came to the conclusion long ago to do one thing well. That is to carry the message of aa to the still suffering alcoholic.
I am an expert in one area alone, MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH ALCOHOL. When I share my experience with alcohol with another alcoholic, they may come to believe this program may work for them. That might give them just enough willingness to try the aa program of action. Until such an undersanding is reached, usually little can be done for them.
Please take the time to read the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcohlis". It is as timely today as it was when Bill wrote it in 1958. AA. Love Mike
I can't speak for everyone but I believe the issue isn't whether or not they, (drug addicts), are allowed, (as long as they have a desire to quit drinking), it is how much time during an AA meeting should be allowed to drug talk. If a person has a desire to quit drinking they are a member if they say so, regardless of any other addictions they have. But can a drug addict who never drank or who does not want to give up drinking be an AA member. The answer of course is no. The 3rd tradition states the only requirment for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. Some folks put the emphasis on "ONLY", I would put the emphasis on "REQUIRMENT". That means you have to have it!! If you never drank or do not want to quit, (like someone I once heard in a meeting say, " alcohol is not my problem, cocaine is my problem, I like drinking, in fact I can't wait until New Years Eve so I can get wasted"), you cannot fulfill the requirement,(again MUST HAVE), so you cannot be an AA member. I believe if you are telling your story and you mention a brief thing about drugs that is fine. It is YOUR STORY. People talk about AA dying, what about NA. everyone bitches NA isn't available or isn't as good as AA. Who's fault is that?? Take your 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 good years of sobriety and go start a good NA meeting!
Ten years ago I could have written your message word for
word, and with the same passion. But I see too many drug
addicts today who are just not "making it" in the AA
fellowship. I believe it is the lack of identification.
I have attended probably 25 N/A meetings over the
past ten years. I have not been impressed. There are few
members with any length of clean time. I have seen drug
dealers at the meetings, although I have never seen a
transaction. I doubted if they were there for the right
purpose. ( yes I am judgemental). I just believe that
both fellowships can be much more effective working
side by side. There are certainly enough of each to
fill the rooms. I am personally trying to get a local
group together to form an Addicts Anonymous closed
meeting. Maybe they can best help themselves by
helping each other. Singleness of purpose. ANONYMOUS
in my experience of using the computer in the amends process, i have had nothing but positive experiences! i am up front as to the reason i am contacting them via computer.i got this from reading the book, "a new pair of glasses" i am an alcoholic, but i have found a way to live 1 day @ a time without having to drink. that condition is that i make amends.(these were made to my past girlfriends) When we were together i treated you in a manner in which you did not deserve to be treated. I WAS WRONG ! what can i do to make this right? i pray before i press the send button, that this is my HP's will for me. i go into this amends process without having any expectations. i thank my HP, my sponsor & his sponsor & this line of wise men for their guidance in me making my amends via computer. also, i thank ALL of you for my sobriety. 10-Mar-12 will be 3 yrs of being clean & sober...i cant do it, but WE can. Ha-ho
I am convinced that almost nothing good is accomplished by
contacting old girlfriends whether by phone, email or snail
mail. If you clearly owe her money, just send her a check
with a note of explanation. The chances of doing more harm
than good is too great. These names belong on our eight
step list. If the opportunity is to come, it will come.
Turn that outcome to your higher power. The possibility
of causing further harm is just not worth the risk.
Suck it up! Share it in your fifth step and let it go.
I try not to give AA advice so directly, but I am
concerned that others may make the same serious mistake.
I am also a wise man, with probably more sober experience than your sponsor's sponsor. ANONYMOUS
Are there any plans to create an I-Pad application?
They are focused on the android app right now and should be out soon, the next to be released will be the iPad app
This is from the march trustees meeting under publishing, ask your Gsr or dcm.
This month's discussion topic is based upon the story, "Pause Before You Send." www.aagrapevine.org/feature/2867 In this story, a woman discusses how she realized that her computer was not the best place to do a Ninth Step. Here is the discussion topic text:
God gave me the moment to pause before I clicked 'Friend.' And I did not listen," says the author of "Pause Before You Send." And even though she discussed the upcoming Ninth Step amend to an old friend with her sponsor, the author still had problems making it using her computer. "I should have paused. I was left with a hole in the pit of my stomach," she writes. She learned from her experience and would like to help others. "Try to get an address and a phone number," she suggests.
Have you ever made or set up up a Ninth Step amend on your computer? How did it go? Was it helpful? Would you do it again?
I was very happy to see the article written by Mimi M. of Ridgecrest, CA on the subject of Tradition Three...singleness of purpose. I seems that we have lost what the traditions mean in many meetings...open and closed. The idea that a chemical is a chemical and an addiction is an addiction is simply crazy. I don't recall every going to a restaurant and ordering a Line of Coke before dinner. Nor can I go in to a store and buy heroin.
A chemical is a chemical is of course a true statement. A
duck is a duck is equally true. I am beginning to understand
what my Texas friend means when he says that welcoming drug addicts into AA has harmed Alcoholics Anonymous. Until a few years ago, I had never seen a drug addict up close. I have come to see why AA and NA must be kept separate. There are certainly enough of each to fill the rooms.
Alcoholics Anonymous has compromised its principles,
in an attempt to be all things to all people. I believe
that most AA members understand that drug addicts cannot
become members of AA, unless they have a desire to stop
drinking. But in open meetings they have become members.
I find that they are often the first to have a hand up
to talk. They defend their right to be there. They are
often the loudest chanters, hooters and hollerers.
What are the answers? I have often considered forming
a "private meeting" by invitation only, but that would
be a last resort.
Our attempt to be all things to all people, allowing
drug addicts to become AA members, has harmed the fellowship
which could better help them. NA and AA can each be mighty
effective if they work parallel, side by side. Everyone
wins. Joined together the effectiveness of both is diminished. Severely diminished. I just do not identify
with the drug addict who gathers his friends together in
a motel room and spends thousands of dollars of someone
else's money. Or the prolonged sickness of withdrawal.
Heroin addiction is a monster in itself. Bill W. wrote
that we alcoholics are pikers, when compared to the heroin
addict. We seldom help them. I believe in Massachusetts,
over three thousand addicts died in the five year period
2002-2007. The belief that we of AA can help them is
just causing more harm. Let them help each other in NA,
where they can really identify. Stop watering down both
fellowships. This posting is what I would call pure
opinion, just my observation. ANONYMOUS
Which program do you suggest I attend since I am an alcoholic who did drugs, gambled and overate? How do I honestly share my experience without mentioning these things?
I am an alcohilic because when I honestly want to I cant quit entirely(mental obsession)and while drinking I have little control over the amount I take(physical allergy). Left to my own thinking at some point I will think it's ok to drink just before I drink or will drink for whatever reason.
I know I can't drink as much as a thimble of alcohol without setting the cycle in motion. so obviously I can't safely use other substances.
Now that know I am an alcoholic, I have been beaten down enough by alcohol to accept the program of AA. To do 12 step work I carry the message of how I recovered to other alcoholics. That helps me with my daily reprieve from alcohhol.
I'm not sure how the other programs work, but obviously I wouldn't relate to an over eater, so why would I attend meetings of that society to help my Alcoholism.
In the AA pamphlet "problems other than alcohol" is states "Sobriety-freedom from alcohol-through the teaching and practice of teh 12 steps is the sole purpose of an AA group.
So I would suggest you find out what your primary problems are and attend that fellowship to the fullest, meaning begin to practice it's 12 steps.
Good Luck :)
"Which program do you suggest I attend since I am an alcoholic who did drugs, gambled and overate? How do I honestly share my experience without mentioning these things?"
Why not do what many others do? Attend all four programs. Share your experience with alcohol at AA meetings and your other experiences at the other meetings?
My experience has shown me that those who insist on sharing their drug use at AA do so for several reasons;
Sharing about drug use in an AA meeting is a subtle way to deny one's alcoholism. And by identifying as an alcoholic one can deny one's addiction.
To show others that one is different or special.
The person sharing is an addict who drank, but not really an alcoholic according to the descriptions given in "The Doctor's Opinion" and Chapter Three.
And in case you're interested, I sponsor a gent who belongs to AA, NA, OA and GA. I found out about his other problems over coffee, not during a meeting.
I suggest reading the anecdote which begins in the last paragraph on page 141 of the "12 & 12." The final sentence is "Never did he trouble anyone with his other difficulty."
When you to a AA meeting You are a Alcoholic period.
My inability to look you in the eye when I got to aa was very apparent, but not to me. I didn"t believe it when a prospective employer mentioned that fault in a followup share. When I got sober, and an aa with several years sober talked to me, he looked me in the eye. I found myself looking back. And that made a difference in my confidence. I have also learned to move through relationships with coworkers especially, by praying a lot. When I had conflicts with people before I got sober, I could only see their mistakes...and that made me feel bad. Somehow responsible. But now I have the tools to pray for the other person, and look at my part. That way I have been blessed with having stuck with the same job for 25 years, and the same relationship with a woman for over 22 years. Now I am seeing how the 6th and 7th steps are so important. I have been sober for 27 years, but am just now seeing myself with enough confidence to stay strong and carry on. I love aa.
I have heard that AA will only destroy itself with in. Saving money is a good thing but not our Singleness of purpose. Getting folks to change there Subscription from paper to online is a mistake. I for one take my read copy's to the County Jail, City Jail, Hospital, Clinic, Substance Abuse Clinic and County Health Dept.Hard to do with one copy a month so I encourage others to pass the Grapevine on. When the online was first introduced it was in addition too, and now it's being put out there as a cost saving device. what happened to saving lives? Oh, that's right saving lives is less important than saving money...Way to come up with a great idea Grapevine committee.
Interesting. I prefer online. It is more expensive than print. Call AA and they will revert online to print for you.
I prefer online because of the archives, more topics covered, searching for a particular issue, etc. Also, if I want to distribute an article to somebody it is easy to print it or e-mail it.
I have changed my paper one for the one on computor and i miss my paper one for the same reason not the same. Don't have compuor where ever i go. Mark B
THIS IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY. AA IS THE HAPPIEST PLACE I HAVE EVER KNOWN.
My husband whom I met in AA, and we were married for 17 years, committed suicide in January 2007. He went through what I call a mid-life crisis. I did get very busy in AA to when I did not know what end was up and what end was down. Bottom line - I did not get drunk and I stayed sane.
Just when I thought I was getting on with my life, I was riding the motorcycle that my late husband left behind this June 2011 and a person hit me. I lost my left leg, went through 7 surgeries, and spent 42 days in the hospital. I am now learning how to walk with the prosthesis.
I have seen so many gifts from this tragedy. My son 38 years old now calls me his hero. My mother, who did not talk with me for the last 4.5 years, took care of me when I got out of the hospital and we have a great time together. My son and mother who have not talked for about 18 years - both enjoy each others company and my mom was invited to my granddaughters 2nd birthday party. I received over 38 cards, so many plants, candy, and stuffed animals. I truly have so many friends in the 12 step programs. And I ask myself - "Why Me"...WHY NOT ME! I get to show how we walk through life and don't drink (or use) no matter what...
My life is great. I am learning how to walk all over again, and I am learning how to ask for help. And this is at 22 years of sobriety.
ALL WAYS LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE IN EVERY SITUATION
I had no idea that there was a pamphlet about this issue. I appreciate your post more than you know. I have had the worst time trying to get the "loving, unjudgemental, helpful support" that was the original purpose of AA.
One woman wanted to know my Dr's name 'cause she accused me of not being honest with him about alcohol use. I am in pain treatment, it is from a work related injury, this busybody, know it all has no idea how quickly the DOL would cut off my benefits and stereotype me as abusing drugs, if they got wind of this. My Dr. knows that I don't abuse the drugs because they test me every month to see what I'm taking. What happened to anonymity? Do the busybodies not see the harm they do by driving people away that need AA for more than a "Social Club".
The only sponser I ever tried to have was more screwed up than I am. She said I had to call her everyday and all she talked about was how good she was at getting men to give her money. There are some sick people in AA no doubt, not just sick as in alcoholism, but sick as in manipulative and depraved.
I used to smoke cigarettes. I struggled with cravings for several years, got addicted to nicorette gum, I know it was God that set me free from that, I prayed and begged to be set free from nicotine, finally it came to pass 21 years ago, way to go, me! I have been through the same struggle with pot, I've been pot-free as of 7 or 8 years, yea, again! I didn't go to meetings I just quit buying it. Fear of being arrested or being around possibly dangerous people. I no longer have any desire for it. That is a true miracle because I never knew how to quit. I need that same miracle again. I want to be totally free of any and all compulsive behavior.
I know that miracles happen, I just need another one.
I am really glad to have picked up the OCT 2011 issue of the grapevine...I have been on depression/anxiety meds for about 3 yrs, and probably should have been for the last 20 but couldn't get myself to do it (I've found that many people view you as a weak if you need meds, I guess I have an ego problem, ha ha) It made a huge difference in my life...I drank on and off since I was 16 or so, usually sporadically and to excess. When I started the meds, I quit the booze until I found what a great effect it had when I mixed them. I ended up in treatment this past summer and stayed sober for almost 90 days (apparently I like to mess things up right before a big date). After 2 slips, I talked to my doctor and he said without a doubt that I needed to get on an anti-craving medication. Since I've spent some time with "old timers", I automatically feel like I'm cheating the program a little, because it works pretty good for me - my cravings for coffee, pop, etc are knocked way down as well and I feel "normal" without feeling high. Doesn't the Big Book say "whatever it takes, and going to any lengths?" I've only been on it for 3 weeks but I can really tell the difference. I've read through all the posts that are on here about meds and AA and it's sad to hear some of the stories, and good to hear some of the others. If you have an illness, it needs to be treated...I think the worst thing you can do is drive someone away from AA with a black and white attitude towards meds. Of course I'm very happy that my cravings are pretty much gone, but also worried about what it will be like when I go off the anti-craving med in 6 to 12 months. I pray that my brain chemicals will be in balance more, and that I will stay sober with the help of an understanding sponsor and AA. Quite honestly, I think I have had anxiety/dep since I was a kid way before I took the first drink....or have I always had an "alcholic/addictive" mind? Either way, I'm going to do what it takes to treat the conditions I have, and be grateful for each day and do what I need to do to stay sober.
We are not doctors and if one is they surly would not practice in a meeting Lol - There is a good pamphlet on medications and want to thank you for being here, Be true to thy own self and every thing will be alright if you can run from chronic conditioned people that thinks they know how to save your life as they sit in the same room, lol
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. It reminds me of our general purpose, "to stay sober and to help others achieve sobriety."
As I read this article I could not help see the the similarities between the auther and myself. My parents died before I was able to get sober, but when they were alive, drinking problems were never talked about. Even today my siblings do not talk about my drinking and it is sometimes very uncomfortable for me to be with them knowing that I am on a path that they do not agree with. The point is that this article has let me know that I am not the only one with this problem. Thank you for giving me the insperation to continue to live my life as I'm sure God wants me to live. Mike R. Innisfil ON
I was driven away from AA (or so I thought) by my first sponsor and first home group. I was taking a desperately needed antidepressant, without which I had already been hospitalized. My sponsor "fired" me and my home group said I couldn't do service work.
Despite this abrupt dismissal, I searched for AA's ideas about prescribed medications. To my relief, I learned AA had no policy against these medications; in fact, they allowed their use if used as prescribed. Only my doctor and counselor can advise me on medication use -- AA groups who prohibit participation in AA when the only requirement is a "desire to stop drinking" can do harm and -- sometimes -- force depressed individuals into suicide. This is not what AA is about ... AA should help and accept those who try to maintain sobriety.
I found most other groups I visited had no prohibition against antidepressants. In fact, when directly and honestly addressed, other members say they use them but are reluctant to admit it in AA rooms.
I have been sober and actively participated in AA meetings, speaking in hospital settings, and taking my medication as prescribed for more than 2 years now. I think my greatest service to AA is to declare my thanks for the AA stance on these medications. I do that, making no secret of my antidepressant use. I do a lot of service work and sponsor people, some of whom need medications to stay sober.
What could have happened to me when I was fired by my first home group and sponsor could have had a much different ending. If I had stopped my medication (as demanded by that sponsor), I don't know if I could have continued in AA, or if I would be alive today, for that matter.
We in AA should apsire to help other alcoholics. We are not there to dabble in matters that don't concern us. We shouldn't negatively affect others' sobriety with our laymen's "wisdom" on medications. People with treated depression can be productive members of AA; others who try to meddle in our lives do so at their own peril. If a life is lost because of meddling, I hope there is room enough in your amends -- and in God's heaven -- for you. Rejoice in having a sober AA brother or sister, regardless of the circumstances that brought them their sobriety.
Thank you for your impacting comment.
I will never forget the woman with 30+ years of sobriety who would always tell newcomers at the table - who spoke of their hospitalizations and or doctor prescribed medications - "to stop taking all your medications at once. All you need is AA." You see, her non-AA husband was a physician, so apparently she knew better. Not. After a second or third time of her bs, I spoke to her after the meeting and told her she had no right to give medical advice to a newcomer or anyone for that matter. She was shocked to hear this.
If someone who is not YOUR M.D. tries to give you medical advice before, during or after your AA meeting, or any other twelve step group for that matter, DO NOT LISTEN to them.
Driven away by AA and my sponsor. How disalugening for a new comer!!! "I am responsible, When anyone anywhere reaches out for help I want the hand of AA to be there and for that I am responsible." An elderly member that I "had" admired and whom had provided me with much support and guidence was recently re-arrested for violation of his parole. He was one of the first to make realize that Iam powerless over alcohol. He will likely be sent back to Kingston for what will likely be the rest of his life. I was sadened and alarmed by the gravity of his charges and crimes. I was angry that I had called him a friend. Finally I heard that he had stopped taking his prescription drugs that were designed to subdue his deviant side. A dramatic example however the medications are to quell his deviant emotions. The Alcohol enhansed these desires. AA protected him and others. As long as he stayed away from alcohol, he was able to controll the dark side and continued to take his medication. He is going back to jail, and back to AA. Let me quote " how it works" There are those who suffer from grave emotional disorders" What about the manic depressive who cannot survive without medications. Then again there is the poor soul who suffers from fibermilasia (sic) or cancer. They have no option except to take narcotic pain killers and in turn suffer
NARCOTIC addiction. Where is the compasion. Well thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to go back and review the big book as I understand the big book and understanding why we have the twelve traditions.
Two months before I got sober I was hospitalized for two weeks, diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder/manic depression. I convinced my doctors that I was just an ACOA blowing off steam and got off of medication. I went on a wild bender and soon wound up in AA.
About 18 months into sobriety I was hospitalized again, this time for six weeks. Thank God for the support of my AA friends through that ordeal. My then sponsor accused me of 'chewing my booze'. I put her name on the "do not want to see list' and she wasn't allowed in to see me. I later fired her and got another sponsor.
I was discharged and have been on Lithium ever since (22 years). For me, managing my mental illness is crucial to my sobriety and staying sober is crucial to managing my manic depression. I have had only one hospitalization since and that was after breast cancer surgery. I was hospitalized for one week and had a second surgery, to clear the margins, during that stay.
My doctors, especially my psychiatrist, are wholly supportive of my sobriety and we work together to keep me healthy.
I used to carry around the pamphlet, 'AA Members Medication and other Drugs'. I'd read the section about AA having no opinion, that it's between the member and their doctors, at meetings, when so called old-timers would bash people for taking prescribed medications, painkillers, psych drugs etc. I know it was helpful to the confused member on medication. They came up to me after the meeting and thanked me. I have sponsored a few of them.
I have been sober for over 24 years and have been on medication for 22 of those years. I know that without my medication, my sobriety would be nonexistent today. And, staying sober allows me to manage my mental illness.
I am so grateful for the tools of the program, especially the Grapevine. Several years ago there was in issue called The Forgotten Chapter with stories about members with mental illness. I still have that issue and read it when I need to be reminded that I am not unique in AA.
Keep up the good work.
The sponsorship concept today, addded to the incessant chanting, is one of the main reasons AA has become viewed by many as a cult. The general public sees us as a cult because that is what we have become. There are groups
where members are told to get a sponsor before you leave the
meeting today. Some groups actually assign sponsors to newcomers. Imagine an alcoholic telling another alcoholic what to do!. And we have AA members who take a few classes
and become AA guru's both in and outside the meetings. One of the very first impressions I had of AA was the sense of freedom I felt. There were no demands, no requirements at
all. I was not even ordered to "keep coming back". I was
allowed to listen and and become a sober member of AA
without any fanfare. In Alcoholics Anonymous we all come
together as absolute equals, newcomers, and oldtimers.
We need the newcomer as much as he needs us. There is no system of hierarchy or patriarchy. But anyone who attends
the AA meeting of today knows that this is only a theory.
Today's AA is a system of preachers, teachers, advisors,
councelers and guides. Many are under the umbrella of
sponsorship. Let's lost that title. ANONYMOUS
Your comment really spoke to me, thank you. I used to cringe when I'd read that some AA's or the public thought AA to be a cult or cult like.
In my community there such meetings where a perceived AA guru or two literally tell their sponsees to sponsor certain people or tell others who they don't sponsor to sponsor clients of the treatment facility where they work. And away they do. As a result, newcomers of these meetings tend to perceive these AA's as gods of AA and more. AA's even refer these two to be replacements for Dr. Bob and Bill W. It's ridiculous. Of course, this is my opinion. It's also ridiculous when any one of these gods of AA tell their sponsees that having only 5, 8, 10, etc., sponsees of their own is not enough.
Then there are the AA's who preach away at tables who love hearing themselves go on and on. They preach the program to others so they don't have to do their own program. It's pathetic. And the chanting after certain parts of "How it Works" and "The Promises" are read, STOP IT! The one that takes it all, is the asinine AA who inserts or changes words and phrases within these readings with their own bs.
Solution: don't attend those types of meetings.
That may be one solution, but what about the new member who may be at her/his very first meeting. They may think this is the way all AA meetings are held.(and today most of them ARE). Most AA members think this has always been the way meetings have always been held. But they have NOT! The
real solution is to stand up and speak out. Insist on group
conscience meetings where many may share your concern. No,
it will not be easy. "Kill the messenger" may be the initial
response. We have many strong personalities in AA today,
sometimes it seems that all common sense members have
simply walked away. And most have done just that, hopefully
to other AA meetings, if they can find one. ANONYMOUS
There is no place for labels in A.A.
The outside sponsorship system around A.A. lacks humility and there victims are keep away from A.A friends of the whole a true fellowship not a followsit.
submitted by Mary
I was on drugs when I joined AA and knew folks who talked like taking any drug, even aspirin, was tantamount to not staying sober. I did not feel I had to agree. I think that part of why AA worked for me was AA people are ordinary folks and non professional and because of this I felt free to only worry about what I could grasp as being true and/or helpful that they shared about such as the 12 steps and all that.
I already knew from experience that it was a very bad idea to take any homespun advice about going off my psychiatric drugs.
I did eventually taper off of the drugs with the help and support of several doctors. I was criticized for that because gossip had it I did not have the support of a doctor. It was true that the idea was controversial among my doctors and the busybodies who knew that were supposed to stay out of that outside controversary too.
I just read this article in this month's Grapevine. It always scares me when AA's are told to go off their medications. I am a dual diagnosis with a diagnosis that, like my alcoholism, there is no cure for and will never go away. Thank God I have a sponsor who knows that this is an outside issue, and the tradition that states we have no opinions on outside issues, and always tells me to talk to my doctor.
I, too, have a bipolar type II depression and anxiety disorders in addition to my alcoholism. I once had a member of AA tell me that Step 2 was my problem. That God was all or nothing and hinted that I needed medication because I hadn't fully "come to believe." I was devastated but admittedly I was also living in fear of my mental disorders. This fear proved that I did need to focus on steps 2 and 3 more than I was but I do not think that it means I don't need my meds.
The most confusing part of have a dual-diagnosis is that both of them share the same symptoms (anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking, highs and lows of mood, problems with interpersonal and work relationships, etc.) I used to find myself confused and asking "Is this my alcoholism or my bipolar?"
Fortunately, I now have a sponsor who understands what I am going through (my last one did not and told me I didn't need to go to counseling because I was too focused on myself as it was. Her answer was more service work at a time that I couldn't even get myself to take a shower on most days. I no longer resent her - she just didn't get it and she also didn't adhere to the Tradition of having no opinions on outside issues.)
I have learned that if I know I am practiciing the principles of the program in all of my affairs and I still feel depressed or anxious then it is my bipolar and I need to call my doctor about my meds. And honestly, I can't work my program very well unless my meds are working well first.
In my experience, clinical depression affects my mental and physical abilities to take the action needed to work my program. If I had diabetes and didn't take insulin when needed and went into a diabetic coma, guess what? I wouldn't be able to take the action needed to work my program either.
I can no more "will" myself out of depression than I could "will" my body to produce the proper amount of insulin. Who would tell a diabetic, "Well, if you really had faith in God then you wouldn't need those insulin shots." That is ludicrous!
Ah, but now I feel I am treading on giving my opinion on outside issues so I will end my comment here :)
Thank you for your post, it's well said and comprehensive. I can't stay sober if I don't treat my bipolar disorder and the hardest part is that some days the symptoms of bipolar disorder mimic that of alcoholism. Let's not even talk about how I react to trigger's of trauma. I've spent 12 years without a drink, switching meds, therapists, doctors and sponsors. But I always come back to my sponsor that understands about mental issues, and I now have a therapist who helps me look at MY BARRIERS to the step in the Big Book. He actually pulls it off the shelf and makes me read it outloud and then we discuss what that means to me today. I am so grateful for him. I gave my Psychiatrist the AA Phamplet 11 - Medication and Other Drugs, as it suggests right in the pamphlet to do, and she was surprised, as none of her patients who she saw had ever done so. I had a major breakdown 6 months ago, but I didn't drink and I didn't drive my car off the road, because AA taught me how to ask for help. I have been in a dual diagnosis treatment center 3-5 days a week at a daytime outpatient program and often find myself educating the staff and other dual-diagnosed people about the principles of the AA program they like to write down on our treatment plans as treatment for alcoholism. It seems most of the clinicians I come across do not have too much knowledge about the true spiritual nature of alcoholism. Many clinicians still talk about medicating the other disorders with alcohol and drugs but don't really understand the spiritual depravity that alcoholics are experiencing because of the alcoholism, drinking or dry. The issue is a very important one that needs to continue to be discussed in forum's just like this. The founder's wrote the very prophetic "more will be revealed" and "we only know a little". The reason this topic is so hot is because there are better medicines to help the "manic-depressive, type of alcoholic, about whom a whole chapter could be written" It was the Grapevine that helped to form the traditions and be a cohesive voice for the fellowship and it seems that this is EXACTLY the forum we should continue to have this type of discussions.
Thank you and all of AA,
I too just listened to this story and found myself getting concerned that the author was taking himself off meds. This is my experience: I suffer from both depression and anxiety. Someone told me as I was coming into recovery that my symptoms were likely caused by alcohol. This always sat under my consciousness and as I came closer to my 2nd year of recovery I decided that I should get off my meds as "they were a crutch" and "of course I could be sober on them but could I do sobriety without relying on them?" Dangerous thinking. I asked my doctor to move me toward stopping the medication. She put me on a program of decreasing doses. I got down to lowest dose and found myself getting depressed and anxious contemplating the next step: nothing. I talked to my sponsor who assured me that many people face need for medications in sobriety for diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other ailments-- did I now think that depression wasn't a valid ailment? I asked Higher Power to direct my thinking. I "remembered" that I come from a lineage of depression and that my paternal grandmother killed herself while committed to mental institution and my father had suffered from deep depression and numerous suicide attempts. So I called mydoctor and relayed my fears and discomfort. I went back to the next to last dose. So yes, my dose is lower but I still take a medication that helps me keep my brain chemicals in balance. That was almost four years ago. Acing any diseases in addition to alcoholism doesn't mean we are not doing sobriety right. I am grateful for AA and that I am taking care ofmybody that I had abused for years before recovery.
It is 3:10 am and I cannot sleep. My father passed away quite unexpectedly four days ago, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. That day and my life since feels surreal, there is the reality I keep thinking I'm in which is no longer quite real, and the reality that is still too hard to believe. I've been in AA a few 24-hours, and I know that a lot of what I'm feeling is natural to anyone. But as an AA I also know that how I choose to respond to how I feel takes a certain vigilance, because I am an alcoholic, and my natural response is to pick up a drink.
My father was my drinking model growing up, and my drinking buddy as I came of age. He also became the man I reviled and resented the most strongly right on through my first fourth step and beyond. His hypocrisy, his manipulations, his betrayals became a burden that weighed me down and kept me small and a victim. For a long time it didn't seem to matter how much I prayed on it, wrote about it, went to meetings, talked it over with my sponsor, changed my behavior around my father, nothing seemed to help. I came to accept these feelings as simply another "thing" I was just going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, like so many "things."
Six years ago, something shifted. I was in a workshop, unrelated to AA, on relationships. In the space of about 15 minutes, the leader explained the nature of father-daughter relationships in a way that completely lifted the burden of how I felt about my father. I came to understand that my father had done exactly what he was supposed to do, which was to become a grown, mature, self-sufficient woman who could succeed in her life and her relationships, including with her own husband. That was his only obligation to me, and he had done it very well. There was nothing more he could say or give to me that would ever make me feel different about him. The feeling of seeing my father for the incredible gift he had given me was truly joyous and freeing. My feelings for my father moved from "mere" acceptance to gratitude. And the only thing I needed to give him in return was to go on to live a really good life. That is all he wants for me.
The tenth step became a new way of life just in itself. Who I am became less important to me than how I was being. My sponsor suggested I simply focus on noticing how I respond internally to anything that comes up during the day, and make my next move or action based on having a choice. As I practiced that awareness, and living my life according to my choices as a result, my relationships, including with my father, changed. All I had to do was listen for what the other person was bringing, listen to how I reacted internally, decide what I wanted to bring in return, and respond in kind. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have been practicing this since, and I can sit here in the wee hours of the morning at peace with my father and his passing. He did not pass in a way that was timely or convenient for anyone else, which is typical of him. But he passed in a way that was perfect for him. Although he had stopped drinking alcoholically, he never went to AA. But he lived a rich life. At 80 years old, with no evidence of poor health or illness, he rode his mountain bike over a long hilly course in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He then loaded his bike into his truck, got in the cab, and was later found with the keys to the ignition in his hand. His heart simply gave out, like the force of nature death is, and it is exactly how he would have wanted to go. I see the beauty of his passing, but I also get to feel the beauty of knowing that I had no outstanding issues with my father. My relationship with him was complete when the day came where I could simply call him up and ask, "How are you doing, Pop?" without any expectation or needs from him, except to simply enjoy the chat we were about to have. That is the power and beauty of this program and for that I am grateful.
It is now 3:40 am, and I can go back to sleep, knowing that others have heard and understood. The cover of the September 2011 issue, titled "Dealing with Loss" reminds me that yes, I can feel the pain of my father's passing, but my suffering is optional. It is my choice. Thanks for listening.
This is in response to the article in the August Grapevine submitted by an anonymous atheist about the nature of our primary purpose. He or she writes that they are troubled that our Big Book “is clearly written in a moral tone, more Christian than anything”. No surprise there. Before there was a Big Book, Bill and Dr. Bob searched for answers in select Bible readings. Alcoholics Anonymous in Ohio split off from the Oxford meetings (a modern attempt to mimic first century Christianity). Our Big Book describes how the first 100 sobered up after that split from purely religious philosophy. I hope you are not suggesting that we rewrite history. I fully agree with the writer that an AA meeting is not the place for sharing personal religious beliefs. I also cringe when someone makes any reference to a personal creed or deity. Nor is cross talking a good idea, yet that happens too. Sharing at length about family problems or work issues without reference to recovery is also inappropriate. Many meeting formats suggest that “we take what we need and leave the rest”. You might try that my anonymous friend. You might also take a look at page 90 of the Twelve and Twelve. “It is a spiritual axiom” (whoops, there is that word again) “that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us”. If you cannot lay aside your prejudice against spiritual terms such as these, perhaps you can take your resentment and a coffee pot and start an Atheists Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Personally, I hope you don’t. I fully believe that our strength comes from others in the group. We have much to learn from each other. Victor K, St. Louis, MO
Talk about passive aggressive.
You suggest "If you cannot lay aside your prejudice against spiritual terms such as these, perhaps you can take your resentment and a coffee pot and start an Atheists Alcoholics Anonymous meeting."
And then you rescind "Personally, I hope you don’t. I fully believe that our strength comes from others in the group. We have much to learn from each other."
Why suggest s/he start an Atheists AA mtg and then tell s/he not to?
So much to read between your lines.
What I don't get is that if you are an atheist and therefore, obviously think that you don't need a higher power to stay sober then why in the heck are you even interested in coming to AA? What do you need in AA to stay sober? Fellowship? You can find that is many other social and civic groups. Sharing with other drunks? There are plenty of dry drunks out there who choose to not use AA as a tool to stay sober. The coffee? Pleeeeease! ;)
To me, this is like going to an Italian restaurant and throwing a fit/making a scene because you want them to serve you Mexican cuisine. That would be insane! If you want Mexican food don't walk into an Italian restaurant, Silly!
This article makes it a little more clear just why our fellowship is dying. Most AA members have never read our AA
history. Obviously this writer has never even read our AA
preamble. The sad part is that so many of today's AA's
agree with this distorted view of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics do not approach AA looking for a higher power.
I think I can correctly say that if I were looking for God, I would look to the churches. The last place I would look, if I were looking for a higher power, would be Alcoholics Anonymous. I still find the AA coffee the
best in the world, a quality never before tasted. But I am
from the old days and have not shifted to the fancy expensive cup of coffee. A buck or two for a great cup
of coffee and the world's greatest fellowship. What a
wonderful gift! ANONYMOUS
I apologize for any mistakes as I am writing this from what
I remember reading. Bill W. split off from the Oxford Groups
in 1937-1938 (New York AA). Dr. Bob and the Akron, Ohio groups did not separate from O.G. until around 1940. Dr.
Bob was told by Henrietta Siberling "you'll be sorry".(for
listening to Bill and leaving O.G.). Heni, you will recall,
introduced Bill and Dr. Bob in May of 1935, and was an
important part of the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob wanted to help alcoholics exclusively. O.G. wanted to save the world. Although Bill
and Bob had gotten sober in the Oxford Groups, they
discovered that most of the suffering alcoholics they
worked with did not respond to the intense religious
approach. They found that most of them wanted desperately
to get well, but could not swallow large doses of what
we call the God Stuff. But Bill and Dr Bob, using that
"IDEA" developed by Dr. Silkworth worked when other
methods failed. Simply, feed the newcomer with teaspoons
That is why reading How It Works, and the 24 hour
book at meetings aloud as part of the format, has been
so devestating to our fellowship. That was the approach
initially used by Bill W. and the Oxford Groups. It
did not work back then and is clearly (or maybe not so
clearly) not working for us today. Some alcoholics do
respond to that approach, as did Bill and Dr. Bob. But
there is a technique which worked for me and I believe
will still work today for the wholesale recovery of
alcoholics worldwide. We must study it; understand it;
and follow it. In fact we do not have to study it or
understand it. We only have to follow the technique.
Do not tell any alcoholic at an AA meeting what to do.
I tell them EXACTLY how I got sober, expressing the
spiritual feature freely. I do not demand, imply, or
even suggest that anyone else has to do what I did.
Of course the Big Book was written in a religious
tone. That was all they had. It was written while, what
was to become AA, was very much still connected to the
O.G. movement. Bill, who was sober less than five years,
wrote that the book was meant to be suggestive only.
I think Bill said that more would be revealed. I estimate
that by ignoring the "more will be revealed", we have
failed six million alcoholics, plus their friends and
families, in the last two decades. I am using conservative
estimates, using our membership numbers from 1990.
For the first half century, we doubled in membership
about every ten years. If we had continued what I would
consider an acceptable rate of growth, we would have
eight million members in AA today. We have two million.
What really happened in the 1980's to cause our stagnation
in the 1990's? Most members in AA today consider Alcoholics
Anonymous is alive and well. It appears to be. Actually
we are on "life support", spinning our wheels, churning.
I began with an apology and will end the same way.
I really try to be brief, because I find long writings
difficult to follow, maybe a little attention deficit
disorder. But I was awake at 2:00 AM and up at 3:00,
unable to sleep. I have had this obsession for about
four years now, since the death of my friend and neighbor,
a 24 year old AA member. It was further fueled by the
near death of my son from addiction. He was turned off
by the cult religious nature of today's AA. I found
that the reasons were the same concerns that I have
found. The blunders we have made in AA in the past three
decades can and must be reversed. Anonymous