The future of our fellowship

From that ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee to AA's General Service Office. What's your take on service?

Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Jim 725 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 6:59 am

"Recovery rates" is a term important only in the treatment industry, as proven when insurance companies cut back on benefit payments for 5% success of their treatment. Singleness of purpose isn't aimed at recovery rates, but to the survival of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our literature is full of references to the importance of this tradition,( the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcohol", "anguage of the Heart, page 223, for example) yet one section of the population continues to insist on turning AA into Alcadictions Anonymous. The Fall/Winter issue of "About A. A." (http://aa.org/default/en_about_aa.cfm?pageid=8)
contains a very good article by Dr. George E. Vaillant, M. D., Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee, telling why singleness of puopose is so important to AA, and why the treatment industry is so determined to force AA to become something it isn't.
Perhaps I personally can't get anyone sober. I can, however, show him that he doesn't fit into AA by spending all my time talking of other issues besides staying away from a drink one day at a time. There is a world of differenc between mentioning previous drug use as a part of ones story and turning an AA meeting into an NA or CA meeting.
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Dean C » Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:22 am

Here's another way of saying the same thing I said earlier.

I have never seen a person with "a desire to stop drinking" not recover when they do the AA program, the 12 Steps. It's possible, I suppose, but I've never seen it, and my guess is that it occurs only "Rarely."

Furthermore, even some of those who don't have a desire to stop drinking when they walk through the doors do recover.

In addition, even some who don't immediately work the Steps do recover, just by hanging out in the Fellowship.

And, I'd love to hear any evidence that the above is incorrect.
"Whatever can be said can be said clearly."
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby PamW » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:46 pm

Hi Jim S,
The article you listed:

"The Fall/Winter issue of "About A. A." (http://aa.org/default/en_about_aa.cfm?pageid=8)
contains a very good article by Dr. George E. Vaillant, M. D., Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee, telling why singleness of puopose is so important to AA, and why the treatment industry is so determined to force AA to become something it isn't."

---is posted in the Golden Years Forum if you would all like to read it right here in the forums. It is excellent.
Thanks,
PamW
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<small>[ 09-08-2004, 02:54 PM: Message edited by: PamW ]</small>
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby jvboden » Thu Sep 09, 2004 10:00 am

Hi to all here, I really chewed on the original post in this thread, and like so many other times, something came up in a meeting right away that gave me some clarity. Someone rememinded me in a share that Bill and Bob worked with several alcoholics before they finally "got one sober". 17 "failed" attempts, I think it was. In that light our "recovery rate" today is not too much different than it was in the beginning! I still really appreciate the singleness of purpose message in that letter however. It has changed the way I think and share, and I didn't walk in here yesterday. Another blessing of the program--beginner's mind! I am so grateful to be sober today, to have found AA when I was desperate. That gift of desperation and the program exactly as laid out in the Big Book saved my life. I found other avenues to spiritual understanding outside of AA, but from now on I pray I don't blend that stuff in to what I present to newcomers.
Keep comin' back!
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby dennis » Sat Sep 11, 2004 7:50 am

dennis alcoholic.

I'm not sure AA is really about recovery rates - is it? In order to have a recovery rate, you have to keep records - something AA doesn't do.

I first read the letter that started this tread many years ago. It's conjectures about AA's "recovery rate" seem to be based on this bit from a foreword to the big book:
"Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement. Other thousands came to a few A.A. meetings and at first decided they didn't want the program. But great numbers of these - about two out of three - began to return as time passed." From the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" copyright AAWS Inc.

Isn't the key phrase from the bit above "really tried"? Can someone who attends a few open meetings be considered someone who "really tried"? Can someone who attends meetings unwillingly be considered to have "really tried"?

I visited AA for a bit before my drinking got really bad. I would have a beer in the parking lot (just 1!:-) before the meeting to tide me over. Was I really trying then?

My personal take on the quote above is that it is not a brag of some sort on AA's success, but rather a grim warning that alcoholism is a very powerful progressive deadly condition.

Even of those that really tried, 25% could hope only for limited improvement in their drinking.

This is a theme that is repeated over and over in the big book. That the alcoholic is beyond his own power of help, in fact, beyond the aid of any human power.

Thanks,

dennis
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Jim 725 » Fri Dec 17, 2004 7:14 am

I agre with Dennis that AA isn't about numbers. Who counts those who come to AA, get and stay sober using the 12 Step program from the Big Book, and don't go to meetings? And how can we define "really tried?" Do we count the number of meetings per week? Or the distance driven to meetings? I personally feel the PROGRAM is every bit as effective today as it ever was. Substituting the FELLOWSHIP for the program is the reason so many keep slipping. (Notice I said 'slipping.' "Relapse" is a treatment industry word that takes the responsibility away from the alcoholic and places it on the "disease.")
When we quit telling newer members that it's OK to drink again, you can always come back; quit telling them that they can work the Steps at their own pace; start stressing the importance of the Steps AND the Traditions; then we may see in improvement in the numbers.
Jim S.
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Clark » Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:13 pm

See,

"THEY STOPPED IN TIME"
(pg 279 Big Book)

This refers to the hundreds of thousands actual or potential "hight bottom" alcoholics who join A.A.
Clark E.
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Blue Moon » Sun Dec 19, 2004 10:20 am

It would be extremely arrogant of me to turn around to anyone else and say "you're alcoholic, you can stay - you're not, you don't really belong here - you might be, so hang around whilst I make up my mind".

The bottom line is that the AA program only works for those who want it and are willing to work for it. By far, most newcomers I encounter do not work the program because they either don't want whatever it seems to offer, or simply can't be bothered. It makes no difference whether they think they're alcoholic or simply joining a lonely-hearts club. Most drunks I encounter would really rather drink than choose a spiritual mode of living, although they'd still like to be thought of as living as good people, and ignore all the chaos.

I didn't want it in the early days either. I worked the program not because I have any interest in what I think you've got - I specifically didn't want the dose of religion that many seem to portray and then lie about by calling it "spirituality". I worked the Steps because I wanted to STOP feeling the way I felt, and for that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I later came to realise that I am alcoholic, not because of how much I drank or what it did TO me, but for what booze once did FOR me and the fact I couldn't handle life whether drunk or sober.

If you don't fit into that latter category, you can sit in AA meetings for years without working the program, because you may have hit the lowest physical bottom with booze but not yet an emotional one without.

I am convinced my sponsor is alcoholic, and was certainly physically more hopeless when he first encountered AA than most newcomers who appear here. Yet he survived for 7 or 8 years without working anything but, perhaps, Steps 1 and 12... he did lots of AA service. It was only when he was emotionally back on his knees whilst sober that he worked the remaining Steps, and recovered from the insanity that is called "alcoholism". Some old-timers describe him as one of the angriest, most miserable SOBs they'd encountered, but that's not the description of someone I recognise.

I once asked him, if you were sober for so long already, why did you then work the Steps? His answer was simple, he had a choice between that or drinking again. At 7-8 years sober, he was as emotionally hopeless as any newcomer just in off the streets.

Hands up anyone who'd have had the gumption to chuck him out just because he wasn't working the Steps in the time and manner YOU think they should be worked? If you had, you'd have killed him, and possibly me as well.
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby dennis » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:11 am

dennis alcoholic.

Just a notion, I don't think there is a thing wrong with AA that a little 12 step work won't fix.

dennis :coffeecup:
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Blue Moon » Tue Dec 21, 2004 2:46 pm

Originally posted by dennis:
dennis alcoholic.

Just a notion, I don't think there is a thing wrong with AA that a little 12 step work won't fix.

dennis
Where I live, the treatment industry seems to have taken over that role. It's extremely difficult to find a newcomer who isn't either locked into one of the local treatment businesses and going to AA as part of group therapy, or Court-forced into AA meetings as part of staying out of jail.
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby ArtK » Tue Dec 21, 2004 11:28 pm

"Just a notion, I don't think there is a thing wrong with AA that a little 12 step work won't fix."

Couldn't agree more with that statement. Problem is that I often hear older members tell newcomers to relax, find a sponsor and go to lots of meetings before they start to tackle the steps. They seem to forget that we do the steps to recover, not recover and then do the steps. IMO, if newcomers are not motivated to start working the steps immediately upon walking in the doors of AA, the chances of them staying, drop dramatically.
Sadly the 12 Steps have taken a back seat to the Fellowship in the AA recovery process.
If I seem a little hot about this topic, it is because I had a conversation with a family member last night. He told me that when his probation was over in another week that although he didn't want to drink, he wouldn't likely continue going to AA since it wasn't doing anything for him anyway.
2 years ago when he hit bottom we had a few conversations at which point he was ready to do the Steps and had even started studying the first 3. It was mutually agreed that it would be best if he found a good sponsor to help him through his fourth. He chose a sponsor who is quite active in our area, has over 30 years of sobriety, and has and had many sponsees. My brother told him he wanted to get started on his fourth step ASAP. The reply he got was to wait a year or two. Unfortunately he is not able to bury the issues he needs to deal with for that long. The longer he is made to wait the more interest he loses to do anything in AA...

(I have one hellava resentment to deal with I think) :(
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Re: The future of our fellowship

Postby Jim 725 » Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:18 am

"The reply he got was to wait a year or two. Unfortunately he is not able to bury the issues he needs to deal with for that long. The longer he is made to wait the more interest he loses to do anything in AA...
(I have one hellava resentment to deal with I think) [Frown]"
Are you saying it's the sponsor's fault? Why didn't he ask someone else for help? Or get a Big Book and get started himself? Why didn't you help him get started?
I agree that we aren't motivating newcomers the way we should be, but blaming the sponsor isn't the answer. Every Big Book I've read (2nd, 3rd, and 4th Editions) all said the same thing, "If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then YOU are ready to take certain steps. I haven't found the place where it says a sponsor tells me when to take them. In fact, I still haven't found the place where it says I must have a sponsor. I have found where it says that no human power can relieve my alcoholism.
I'll end this rant with one more thing: Our "Responsibility Statement" says, "I am responsible." It doesn't say, "They are responsible."
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