What do you consider an outside issue?

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What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Ken_the_Geordie » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:42 am

I read with some surprise, in another post, about how a member thought that anxiety was an outside issue and its given me pause for thought about what exactly is an outside issue?

I mean stuff like anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand with alcoholism (in my humble opinion), so for anxiety to be classed as an outside issue is a bit like having a cold and someone saying a 'runny nose' is an outside issue. But surely wouldn't it be better to help that person with some tissue, if its something that's very common to everyone who suffers with a cold? (I hope that analogy worked :mrgreen: ).

I also do understand - and believe 110% that the root cause of our alcoholism is a spiritual malady - and if we treat that, our alcohol related problems will resolve themselves, unless there's a physiological cause to them; for example a certain type of depression that requires medical treatment. But I can't help thinking that sharing about depression or anxiety does not compromise the programme of AA what-so-ever. It may even help for the purposes of identification. I do also understand that we're not about group therapy, but if someone shared they suffered with depression or anxiety (or another negative mental condition), and shared in what ways the programme helped them with that, then that sounds like a win-win situation to me. For example, meditation helped me with my anxiety, and since I only suffered with real depression when I was drinking, the mental defence against the first drink has meant I haven't drank since I started the programme of AA, and therefore this has prevented my depression which was heading towards suicide.

Now I've posted on this forum about a 'sick chicken' discussion meeting I've attended, and sick chickens are definitely an outside issue, and I agree that drugs are an outside issue too; we have other fellowships to treat them, so I can't see the need to 'bother' an ALCOHOLICS Anonymous meeting with anymore than a cursory mention of them if they are part of your alcoholism story.

But I would be interested to hear your views on what an outside issue is, and if I am way off the mark with my opinion, please feel free to state that; I'm here to learn from my AA family.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby mebill » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:00 am

In the meetings I attend, I think we are pretty inclusive of outside issues as they relate to our alcoholism. That includes anxiety and depression disorders and "other" substance abuse issues. As in my case, I rarely "only" abused alcohol. I've found that to be the case in many of the people who share their ESH.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Chris S. » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:58 am

Outside issues:

"I can't seem to housebreak my dog"
"It's too cold outside"
"I'm having a hard time finding a job"
"My wife/girlfriend is driving me nuts"
"I am a Demcrat/Repbulican"

These are all outside issues, except for how they affect our alcoholism and our recovery. If the alcoholic in a meeting says something like "I can't get my dog to go outside" that's an outside issue until they add, "and it makes me want to drink" then it becomes a topic for discussion.

The thing about my alcoholism, is that it has strings into every aspect of my life. To say that this or that is an outside issue is like saying all I need to do is stay away from alcohol. But that is not enough, my sobriety is about spiritual growth, about how to live life on life's terms. Sometimes I need help from someone whos been there, done that. I need to learn to past those "bumps in the road" without drinking. At this point, those "bumps in the road of life" stop being an outside issue. Especially those ones that baffle me. My drinking was but a symptom, what I have is a living problem.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Blue Moon » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:27 am

I also want to know how it relates to alcoholism. So it's really about context.

IMO the "outside issue" thing is a symptom of too many "open" meetings, and too-few "closed" ones. If I was chair of AA Inc, "open" meetings would be for identification as an alcoholic, and "closed" meetings would be for recovery including these other issues that need to be addressed to treat the alcoholism. "open" - first aid, "closed" - treatment.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby ann2 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:18 am

For me, the biggest, almost the only, outside issue is religion. There was a time during the past election when politics also was a huge outside issue. But that was kind of like religion as well, not unlike the treatment industry discussion,.


Tradition 10 short form:

10.) Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

Tradition 10 long form:

10.) No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues-particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.


I will occasionally hear about meetings where someone waves a Bible around, or insists on proclaiming their church or brand of higher power because it's the right one and why can't they talk about it if other people are talking about trees and doorknobs? But you see, a tree or a doorknob is a way *to* a higher power. Once you've found yours, for Pete's sake don't interfere with another's journey to their own.

Huffily :-)

Ann
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Veronique1 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:42 am

I agree with Ann... religion and the definition of how God is to be percieved are outside issues... They can even harm a group. If I'm a devote Catholic, well good for me and I may even state it in a meeting, but just for the sake of being complete... not to convince anyone else of my opinion. Ofcourse, not being a devote Catholic I would never say this :wink: .


For the rest : I know that my whole being had/has been effected by my drinking.. so it's only natural that we can talk about everything that had/has an influence on our being... depression, anxiety, anger, ... all being things that have something to do with my addiction to alcohol.... Don't find many off limits...

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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Joleen » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:06 am

This is interesting. I sense that an 'outside issue' to some is something which they consider shouldn't be shared at meetings. Whereas to me an 'outside issue' means something I have no opninion about as an AA member, with the intent of not getting engaged into any controversy. That doesn't mean I think people shouldn't share about these issues. It just means I won't give them my opinion on that issue unless they ask for it.
I guess discussions can be confusing stuff when we have different interpretations of the same topic. :)

Anyway, I only have an unasked for opinion on the issue of what a newcomer should do when he is new to the fellowship: read the Big Book, find a sponsor, work the steps.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Ken_the_Geordie » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:08 am

Hey, thanks all, this has been a really interesting topic for me so far; I've learnt a lot from it. I'm lucky enough never to have been at a meeting where a specific religion has been brought up by someone as a topic, but I've heard a story of where this happened repeatedly at one group which drove certain members away.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Mike O » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:03 pm

I don't think that anxiety/depression and similar mental problems can be classed as "outside issues". They are very much tied in with our disease of alcoholism.

However, I don't feel it's appropriate for anyone to suggest that working the steps will almost certainly "cure" these mental conditions. That's just my opinion.

This is where the line between what's an issue directly related to a persons alcoholism and what's an issue which should be treated as separate from that persons alcoholism is a little blurred.
:)
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Bright Spot » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:10 pm

Tradition 10. "Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues: hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy." Tradition 10, the long form. "No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues-particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
These are the outside issues. We as an AA group or an AA member don't every express an opinion on sexual preference, politics, any type off religion, abortion, etc. Any type of "outside issue". It is outside the walls of AA and we have no opinion. As an individual person, I can voice my opinion on any subject. But not if I identify myself as a member of AA and/or speak as if I represent AA as an organization. An AA groups cannot do the same. We oppose no one. We have quit fighting.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby BB Kate » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:16 pm

Whilst not assuming it is all about me, i think i may have been the person who made teh post which inspired this thread.

Mike, your point is what i was getting at in my own thread:

[i]However, I don't feel it's appropriate for anyone to suggest that working the steps will almost certainly "cure" these mental conditions. That's just my opinion.[/i]

I think that it is highly relevant to share our recovery experiences, however when we get into generalisations about medical matters (for those of us not qualified in medicine), we are treading dangerous ground.

I guess that doesn't technically make aniety/depression an outside issue, but we are still responsible for what we share...

But further questions i would pose is:
Should the causes of and solutions to Medicine/Medical Conditions (e.g. anxiety)be topics for discussion in meetings?
How do we know what is a result of our alcoholism and what is not?
Should we share about other addictions, even if we feel them relevant to our story, given the primary purpose?
~ I see no reason to believe; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence ~
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby BB Kate » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:53 pm

Furthermore, in terms of the comparison to a runny nose/cold - if we were to comment on the treatment for a physical ailment, we might be delving into inappropriate territory, given that the majority of us are not medical professionals...

I'm not sure that "outside issue" is the appropriate term, but my point remains.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Layne » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:11 pm

I believe the program of AA to be about recovery. Alcohol is only mentioned in the first step (unless you count alcoholics in step 12), not the remaining 11. To me that seems to give a lot of leeway to things I want to talk about as long as I don't get title specific and instead stick to how I work the 12 steps and recover. I can easily talk about 11 steps and never mention alcohol. So what exactly is my topic, is it alcohol, or is it honesty, or is it hope, or is it faith, or etc. etc. etc.
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby BB Kate » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:49 pm

Good point Layne - and in many respects i agree with you.

But how does this apply to the singleness of purpose - if it were all about recovery, hope, faith etc, does the nature of our addiction really matter.

e.g. i have heard friends share about their recovery struggle from a general perspective, but because i know the subject matter they are referring to, i am aware they are actually talking bout other addictions (food, relationships, alcoholic family members).

If recovery meetings can focus on any life issue, why do we have separate fellowships...?
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Re: What do you consider an outside issue?

Postby Blue Moon » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:55 pm

BB Kate wrote:If recovery meetings can focus on any life issue, why do we have separate fellowships...?


Because the problems are different, and identification with the problem is the first step in moving toward the solution.

I'm an alcoholic. I am not an overeater. So going to OA for my alcoholism would have been futile because I could never have taken Step 1.
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