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Important information pertaining to the use of AA:

Important information pertaining to the use of AA:

AA is an allergy relief program commonly used to treat and inhibit the use of alcohol and the common defects caused by alcoholism.

AA is designed to reduce the symptoms commonly associated with alcoholism.

When taken as directed AA is known to substantially reduce the negative side effects associated with alcoholism such as :
• Misery
• Depression
• Despair
• Remorse
• Guilt
• Shame
• Physical
• Mental and Spiritual maladies
• Mental obsession
• Physical allergy commonly known as alcoholism

We do not recommend that you use AA unless you are capable of being honest and completely willing to give yourself to this simple program. AA is available for use by those who have a sincere desire to stop drinking.

CAUTION: AA will impair your ability to consume alcohol. If you are using any other substance such as alcohol or any other mind-altering substance we suggest that you discontinue use immediately, as this will cause a substantial reduction in the effect caused by AA.

Some of the most common side effects associated with AA are:
• Honesty
• Hope
• Faith
• Courage
• Integrity
• Willingness
• Humility
• Brotherly love
• Justice
• Perseverance
• Spirituality
• Service

A spiritual awakening and a psychic change have been reported in most cases.

If you are experiencing a resurrection lasting more than four hours, you needn’t seek medical attention, as you may be experiencing the initial effects of AA.

AA has no negative side effects on pregnant women or women who are nursing.

To reduce your risk of chronic relapse, a lifestyle change may be recommended. In 9 out of 10 cases practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.

An increased risk of recovery and long-term spiritual effects have been associated with AA. Consult your Sponsor immediately when changes do occur.

AA should be taken with plenty of open-mindedness and willingness. Do not take AA alone. Independent studies have shown that AA is most effective when working with others.

Always remember it is important that you use AA only as prescribed:

  1. Trust in God
  2. Clean House
  3. Help others

WARNING: Do not skip doses or discontinue use as severe reoccurrence of fatal allergy symptoms may occur.

AA is recommended for long-term daily use. Prodigious results have been found in those who continue long-term use of AA. As with all allergy relief medications, some results may vary, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly.

For more information and to learn more about the AA 12-step program of recovery and alcoholism we suggest you contact your local AA community directly, retain a sponsor, and read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gordon R.

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12 Warnings of Alcoholism from the Big Book

The book Alcoholics Anonymous contains a series of propositions and proposals, the successful outcome of these depends upon the actions of the reader.
The book directs us as to what we must start doing, what we must stop doing, what happens when we fulfill the propositions and proposals and what will happen if we fail to fulfill them.
These are the Twelve Warnings as to what will happen if we fail to heed the directions.

  1. For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. (p14)
  2. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. (p17)
  3. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness, we must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. (p62)
  4. Though our decision (Step 3) was a vital and crucial Step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face and be rid of, the things in our lives which had been blocking us. (p64)
  5. It is plain that a life, which includes deep resentment, leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and with us to drink is to die. (p66)
  6. Concerning sex. Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned a lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts about our experience. (p70)
  7. If we skip this vital Step (5), we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. (p.72)
  8. We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them. (p78)
  9. We feel that a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. (p.82)
  10. It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. (p.85)
  11. Our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence , but it isn’t. You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, “Have I a good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?” If you have answered these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead! (p.101)
  12. The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime. But he must see the danger of over-concentration on financial success. Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress, it never preceded. (p127)

Ronny H.

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Spirituality in Recovery

Chemical dependency has long been a misunderstood and harshly judged condition. Alcoholics have been stereotyped as down in the gutter, wino’s who have nothing, nobody and no place to go. They are thought to be the homeless and seedy of our society. Recovering alcoholics know these accusations to be untrue. Walk into any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and you will find doctors, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, housewives, students, or any number of career paths and personalities. These are not the rooms of the degenerate. In the Dr’s opinion, (AA Big Book, 2001): “Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect alcohol has upon them. They are often able, intelligent, friendly people.” (pg. xxx). These are the rooms of the individuals, who, like Bill, (AA Big Book, 2001) thought they were destined for death or insanity. There was no hope. They had a moral disease that consumed them. They had not the willpower to beat it. It couldn’t be done. Then, they discovered the AA way. They worked the twelve steps after finding a Power greater than themselves. The AA Big Book (2001) recounts several stories of how this God of their own understanding could restore them to sanity. Bill, one of the co-founders of AA states (AA Big Book, 2001), “…I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.” (pg. 13). Steps one through three of the program tell you God can if you let Him, then the rest of the steps help you “clean house” in order to serve others with God’s help. Serving others is what most people feel keeps them sober (Larsen, 2007). Faith put into action. Essence first, action follows (Larsen, 2007). Thousands of individuals who have found their Higher Power are the testament to the Power of spirituality in recovery (AA Big Book, 2001). This report will show that people are more likely to maintain sobriety when spirituality is the foundation of their program of recovery.

Weil (2004) defines alcoholism as a person’s habitual and excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, involving many unsuccessful attempts to stop. It describes their continued drinking despite adverse consequences to health, responsibilities, and personal values.He sums it up by saying it is not a psychological or pharmacological problem. He believes it cannot be solved with psychology or the use of pharmaceuticals. Its root is a spiritual concern. It is the misdirected attempt to achieve wholeness, inner completeness and personal satisfaction.

Alcoholics Anonymous (2001) states:
“But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink. Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control.” (pg. 21).

AA is founded on spirituality. Spirituality is different from religion. Religion is based on a specific organized faith. Brown, et al, (2006), Collins (2006), Okundaye, et al (2001), Larsen (2007), and Kurtz & Ketcham (2002) all agree that spirituality has a broader belief base pertaining to higher purpose, meaning and value. Trustful prayer and meditation to a guiding higher power plus connection to others who have the same beliefs is fundamental to twelve step programs. Most individuals need help developing these behaviors to participate fully in the program. Okendaye, et al (2001) liken the “coming to believe” to a journey. Not all those in recovery come by it quickly. “Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly”, the alcoholic forms this spirituality (AA, 2001). Covington (1994) and Collins (2006) state that religion, without true spirituality, is about beliefs, structure and rules. It often involves adopting someone else’s idea of spirituality. Covington (1994) states that many women have said they would not know spirituality if it weren’t for their addictions.
The AA big book (2001), states the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is necessary, in fact, vital, to recovery from alcoholism. They go on to say that they found they could not manage their own lives; no human power could relieve their alcoholism. “God could, and would if He were sought” (pg. 60). That takes you through step 3. The following nine steps lead the alcoholic through “cleaning house” with identifying character defects, humbly asking God to remove them, making amends to those offended by the alcoholic, and asking God to continue working in our lives. Then, the alcoholic seeks to maintain sobriety by passing these messages onto others in need of sobriety. The program’s components of fellowship and storytelling, with guidance from the 12 step process and the key element of spirituality are the key ingredients that make the program a success. (Green, et al, 1998)

Brown, et al (2007) conducted a study of using spiritual intervention in a seven week project titled “Knowing Your Higher Power.” They found that the individuals who were part of the program had a much higher incidence of maintaining sobriety than those who were not included. This behavioral study was applied along with the twelve step program and then followed up after 12-weeks to assess the longevity. It led the authors to believe clinicians should apply these behavioral concepts in treatment.

Green, et al (1998) observed AA and NA groups during fellowship and also in the halls and interactions at the clinic. Spirituality was a primary focus of the witnessing that occurred with AA/NA participants. It was noted that those who had not come to believe in a power greater than themselves did not have as much success with sobriety. Group members pointed out to these individuals that incidents were not co-incidences. More often than not, they were God’s way of sending a message. Some new-comers to the program could not relinquish his or her own will and accept that a spiritual being was more powerful. Fellow AA’ers saw the reluctance toward spiritual principals as a block to recovery success. The AA Big Book (2001) refers to “stinkin’ thinkin’”; this terminology is known in the rooms of AA as what led to the members’ issues with chemical use and what kept them from being freed from its power. This, in turn, kept the addict apart from God and others, including the addict him/herself (DiLorenzo, et al, 2001). Non-recovering alcoholics or active addicts are said to have negative spirituality and strive for the positive through chemical use (Warfield and Goldstein, 1996).

When we look at controlled vs. uncontrolled drinking, we can go to the AA Big Book (2001) which states, “We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking.” “All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief—were inevitably followed by still less control.” (pg. 30).

Most alcoholics felt they were the exception to the rule; they could control this and they denied the disease had taken that control from them. Inevitably, the chemical use got worse and worse. One drink and they were sunk. Stopping after one as many people are able to do was not within the grasp of the alcoholic, as hard as he tried.

Instead of quitting, the addict starts to bargain. As the Big Book (2001) states, he tries switching to beer or wine, only drinks on the weekend or at special occasions. He deludes himself into thinking he can manage. It’s the fault of others that his life is in shambles. He is not the reason things have gotten so out of control.

Eventually, the disease proves too powerful to ignore. Addicts say the moment they realized their lives had become unmanageable was when they “hit bottom” (Kurtz & Ketcham,1992). Everyone’s bottom is different but what is similar is it is a turning point. The admission is made of being powerless over alcohol or drugs or whatever the source of their addiction is; at that point, a willingness to accept the need for a power greater than oneself is needed to overcome what seems hopeless. The AA Big Book (2001), outlines the steps in which this acceptance takes place. “I can’t”, “God can”, “if I let Him” sum up steps one through three and often the new comer to recovery is told to come back to these three steps often throughout recovery. They truly form the base of recovery.

A surrender of one’s will to the God of their understanding is sometimes a long process. Okundaye, et al, (2001), state that many treatment programs don’t emphasize the spiritual side of recovery enough. They outline the strength’s perspective and how enabling the recovering alcoholic should include helping them gain spirituality. As outlined earlier, many individuals early in the recovery process struggle with “letting go” and “letting God” (AA, 2001). Okundaye, et al (2001) discuss six strengths concepts including empowerment, suspension of disbelief, dialogue and collaboration; membership; synergy, and regeneration. They state that the spiritual disease of addiction has led to separateness, emptiness, meaninglessness, and a lack of purpose in one’s life. The result is moral compromise leading to decreased self-esteem and a lack of self-worth. They propose that using a holistic approach, the addict can address coping patterns, interpersonal perceptions, and social environments. Painful experiences have led to growth and the desire to change. By empowering and stressing a client’s potential, clinicians can help clients overcome stigmas and break patterns learned in dysfunctional atmospheres. By walking with the client through the process of learning spirituality, we are able to help them steer an otherwise rudderless ship. Ethically, helping professionals can, and should, encourage spirituality. Especially since spirituality is a personal understanding, clinicians can help individuals find their own perception of a Higher Power.

Larsen (2007), Dayton (2007), and Kurtz & Ketchum (1992), all point to the brain’s role in chemical dependency, a disease of mind, body and spirit. Many individuals with chemical dependency “come by it honestly”. Growing up in families with generations of addiction has caused the “tree to become bent” (Larsen, 2007). Larsen (2007) also points out that we all have a core need for love. We strive for that fulfillment. We grow in the direction we are nurtured. We begin our using habits based on what we’ve learned or by what we feel we need to put a band aide on our emotions and the quest for love. Our limbic brains control our emotions and survival mechanisms. These are the primitive parts of our neurological system (Dayton, 2007). Just as the body needs food and water to sustain itself, the body that uses chemicals begins to think that’s what it needs to survive. The dependence occurs when the brain starts to crave the substance more than the food and water. Support of the habit is what drives the dependent individual. Even when the addict/alcoholic quits drinking, the need continues. Abstinence is the key to keeping the lion asleep; that lion continues to grow even though the person in recovery does not feed it. Awaken it, and it is mightier than ever (personal communication with AA groups).

The AA Big Book (2001) tells us that when the addict is successfully in recovery, he learns what is needed to reconcile the emotions that once pushed him to put the band aide on. Through the twelve step process, he recognizes his character defects with the help of his Higher Power who is then humbly asked to remove them. This healing occurs through a process of self-forgiveness and seeking forgiveness from those harmed through the addiction’s downward spiral.

Once the “junk” is removed, the individual has room to be filled with the spirit. It is a “hoop” (Larsen, 2007) in that it comes full circle: By asking a God of our understanding to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, achieve abstinence, we are able to use that power to make more room for Him to be part of our lives. By reconciling our conflicting emotions, we are able to return to functionality.

Participation in AA is part of the reconciliation process. A unique combination of storytelling, group support, responsibility to a membership and one another sets the healing in motion (AA Big Book, 2001). Green, et al, (1998) speak of the stories of humiliation, loss and abuse shared at meetings and between recovering chemically dependents. Although they have histories that would make the strongest weak, they express a depth of gratitude for the changes in their lives. They acknowledge how this Power outside of themselves has restored them to sanity and provided them with the resources they needed to become sober. The addicts may have been loners in the past, preferring solitude to the company of others. They may have spent time as children buried in books instead of outside playing with other children. They may have endured high school without lots of dates. They may now feel more comfortable with people in one on one rather than in large groups. A meeting is an ideal place to learn how to interact with others. They don’t have to act a certain way or hide feelings because the group will understand them no matter what. They can give as much as they choose and trust that the group will neither harm nor ask for more.

Warfield and Goldstein (1996), explain that groups exist because people are working together in unison. Someone “opens up,” others make coffee, one chairs and another speaks; some will clean up at the end. The strength of the group lies in the ability of each member to do what is comfortable for him or her. Such coexistence helps one learn that strength is gathered from numbers. The sharing of strength, hope and gratitude reinforces that strength.

Warfield and Goldstein (1996) go on to say that sponsorship is a key ingredient in the process, another support gathered for the sponsor as well as the sponsee. Mutual responsibility supports the relationship; learning to have strong relationships is the benefit to all. An addict’s ability to form and keep relationships has been damaged through his addiction. These helping bonds form out of a sense of “we’re in this together”, “been there, done that”, “ I have walked a mile in your shoes and know where you’re coming from.” Because a person has filled him/herself with the spirit, he/she is not doing this on his/her own. Group members tend to believe that God puts people in their lives to send His message. Circumstances have a purpose and how the recovering addict responds is a gift and comes from learning humility from the God of their understanding. These individuals come to have a spiritual desire to be in touch, to be involved with what is good. Perfection is not the goal; a healthy individual comes of a program that facilitates personality growth and separation of oneself from a narcissistic ego. Through these healing encounters with a Power greater than oneself and the other members of AA/NA, and new community supports, the person in recovery learns to love themselves. They realize that they are lovable and deserve the unconditional love of another. These things no longer are withheld from them. This in itself is empowering, fosters belief, promotes self-worth and creates a sense of well being.

“One day at a time” is a slogan well used in AA circles (AA Big Book, 2001) The Big Book (2001) recounts the stories of several founders of the program and the acceptance of a God of one’s understanding has helped millions of people. By taking life on life’s terms, knowing that all you have to do is “show up” (Larsen, 2007), and God will take care of the rest if you let Him, many recovering addict/alcoholics have found the ability to maintain abstinence. Through personal communication with this author, one AA member, Jim, states he partakes of daily inspirational readings to help him on his journey. He goes on to say:
We are in a simple program described in thousands of ways. Sadly, or fortunately, what we describe cannot be explained. An emotion is not a thought. Emotions are our internal compass. The gift of our addiction is that it brings us to a simple instructional outline to follow which changes our self-made “hell on earth” [into] a virtual heaven on earth. The simple instructional program, when followed as a way of life, yields a solid connection between our emotional self and our thinking self. The result is euphoric if the connection is perfect. Morning meditations serve as anchors to our emotional reality as our thinking self has been running loose during our sleep. Simple. Each of us emotionally interprets words differently at various times. Therefore, it is helpful to have the simplicity communicated to us in thousands of ways. One of the ways will be more easily understood at a moment in time than another.

Jim’s eloquent statements echo the thoughts of many in the rooms of AA. They speak of the strength found in the spirituality of the program. Daily meetings with the God of their understanding, keeps them on the path to recovery. Attendance at meetings reinforces this relationship, and the stories of their fellows reinforces that they are indeed commencing on the journey of a healthy lifetime.

Serenity is the ultimate reward for following the road to recovery. Many new members of AA have been heard saying, “I want what they have.” The truly recovering person with chemical dependency has an air of peace about them. They have made peace with themselves, their God, and their fellows. They use the serenity prayer as a guide:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Covington, 1994, pg. 114).

Relapse happens to the best of those in recovery. When a person has truly found the God of their understanding, they know the way back. The unconditional love of that God and their friends in the program are a beacon that leads them back into the light. If the program is followed to the best of their ability, the promises will come true (AA Big Book, 2001):
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will chang. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them (pg. 83 – 84).

Kathy M.

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For Those Who Say “A.A. Doesn’t Work”

One of the saddest statements I have ever heard is, “I’ve been to A.A. and it doesn’t work.” There is no way I can count the number of times over the past couple of decades I have found an alcoholic coming off a drunk who made that statement. Just today, one of my protégés called to tell me of a man, holed up in a cheap motel room, he was asked to locate and see if he could help him.

My protégé was successful in locating the suffering alcoholic and did what he had been instructed to do on a Twelve Step call. He told him some of the story of his drinking and how he had come to know it to be an illness over which he had no control nor did the medical profession have a solution.

The suffering alcoholic finally said, “You’re going to try to tell me about A.A. aren’t you?” Jake said, “That is where I found my solution. “The sick one said, “I have gone to A.A. meetings for the last eight 8 months and did what they told me to do. It doesn’t work for me.”

Jake asked, “Did you take the Steps with a sponsor who had been blessed with a spiritual experience as the result of having taken the Steps?” The sick one said, “I think I did but the main thing they told me was just keep coming back and you’ll be OK. When I asked what else I should do, I was told, Don’t drink and keep on going to more meetings. I did what they told me to do and A.A. just doesn’t work.”

A member of Alcoholics Anonymous found me near death in 1964 and told me he could help me. He said to me, “I understand. I have been where you are and I want to help you if you will let me.” I was willing to do anything. He took me to his A.A. club and began sobering me up on orange juice with some honey mixed in it. When I began having delirium tremens, they added some Bay Rum to the mixture. There were no treatment centers in our area at that time and hospitals would not admit us for alcoholism. We either shook and sweat it out in jail or at an A.A. club. By far, most of them made it to the end sober or they still are. I wasn’t one of them. I saw an opportunity to return my ego to its earlier level by getting involved in a new and exciting profession and so I went for it. Sixteen years after my last drink; 11 years after my last meeting, on a day without a cloud in the sky, I thought having a beer would be a good idea, so being in a very dry county, I drove 70 miles for a six-pack. It took me 2 years to make it back to Alcoholics Anonymous very, very drunk.

But what a difference 13 years can make! There were no alcoholics laying around the club with dry heaves. There were no blood shot eyes, sweating faces, no vibrating bodies, the aroma of alcoholism was missing. There was no orange juice in the refrigerator nor honey near the coffee pot. There was no Bay Rum in the file cabinet. It was no longer needed because almost everyone had gone to treatment and been medicated through the process of what is termed de-tox. They had missed those wonderful golden moments of the misery, suffering and pain of sobering up. At first, I thought the new approach was good but then I began to see the results. There was less and less commitment to the group and the action necessary for long term emotional sobriety was being ignored.

There were very few Big Book study or speaker meetings but a large number of discussion/participation meetings where everyone was given an opportunity to talk about whatever was on their mind whether on not they knew anything about alcoholism or recovery from alcoholism. There were even non-alcoholics participating in these meetings. This newer approach of learning to live with alcoholism was beginning to prove to be a dismal failure.

I heard a tape of Joe McQ. and later attended a weekend of Joe McQ. and Charlie P. presenting their Big Book Comes Alive program. It then became very clear why so many were returning to the bottle. Not only were we without sick alcoholics laying around the meeting places, there was so little program in our meetings, it was almost hidden from the newcomers. No wonder so few were finding more than a few months of physical sobriety. They were denied what is required for long term emotional sobriety.

Without the sick alcoholics laying round the meeting place, I had to find a place where I could again see and smell alcoholism. I needed a frequent reminder of where I came from and what was waiting for me if I didn‘t continue to pay the price for emotional sobriety. Over the years since I have been blessed to have been given another opportunity to survive the deadliest disease known to mankind, I have volunteered in many wind-up places where those coming off a drunk are present and available to talk with. Again and again, I heard that sickening, statement”I went to A.A. and it doesn’t work.”

Of course, they are right. Alcoholics Anonymous does not work! We must work it! But they were not told the truth. My basic text reads, “Rarely, have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” The path being the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as outlined in a book titled Alcoholics Anonymous. My basic text does not read, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of don’t drink and go to meetings.” It reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Our real problem is ego driven sponsorship with very little if any real concern for the welfare of the newcomer. Proclaimed members of our fellowship who have never taken the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous will assume the responsibility for the life of a newcomer and will proudly announce the number of sponsees they have. As one of my dear friends said, “The manner in which we now fail our responsibility to the newcomer borders on slaughter.” The demise of our sense of responsibility to those seeking help for alcoholism is one of the greatest tragedies of our time in history. It works only if we work it (working all 12 Steps, meetings/fellowship, and being of service expecting nothing in return)!

Cliff B.

Posted in Sharing

If They Have the Capacity To Be Honest…

“We buried him yesterday. The County Coroner had published the required notices for next of kin and nobody had claimed the body. It was just myself and his sponsor, no preacher even, the county doesn’t pay for those.

Not much of a send-off, and not the one David had asked for. A cheap coffin, a backhoe dug a hole, and that was it – another old AA has gone.

He had been sober for over 20 years and in AA over 30, a stern and rigid man who tried to soften his edges and never could.

He was a loner, a fringe-er, an isolated man at the edge of life’s good things. He hung in there… and in the end, hung himself. I don’t know why; I can’t know.
I know there had been a diagnosis of senile dementia, and I know that the doctor had added cancer to the list. But, I’ve seen AAs deal with such things before…I don’t know why David decided he couldn’t.

It isn’t the first time I’ve been through this in Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve known several over the years who just up and walked out life’s door one day. Sober, but not happy. Sober, but not at peace. Sober, but they died of alcoholism.
Our disease doesn’t need us to drink in order to kill us. I wish more folks knew that and appreciated it.

Alcoholism is the only disease that is entirely capable of fighting back, of taking care of itself, and of emerging in new places and new forms when it isn’t properly treated. That’s because of the spiritual malady.

Most people think that has something to do with prayer or with God. It doesn’t. It has to do with ‘our spirit – that force which animates, motivates, and propels us.
As an alcoholic, my spirit is ill. It is flawed. My character, or basic nature, doesn’t work right. At its root, it is fundamental and unresolvable insecurity – a hole that can’t ever be filled.

It is an instinct run rampant, a desperate need for acceptance and love that cannot be met. It hurts. It fills one with fear. The selfishness and self-centeredness of the alcoholic lie here – we are totally preoccupied with what is going on with ourselves on the inside.

The slings and arrows of experience warped by this need to drive us to the fringe, and the voices of the committee in our head keep us there.

We are obsessed with ourselves, and from this condition of mind…. the insanity of feelings gone haywire, we become self-medicators eventually.

We discover alcohol or something else… and the stuff quiets the voices, provides the relief we’ve never been able to find in any other way. It isn’t any wonder we drink, or drug the way we do.

And some of us don’t develop an addiction… in attempting to meet these crying demands of our spirit become ill, we develop other malformations of behavior, and suffer in a hundred different ways.

God broke David’s obsession to drink. But, I don’t think David ever truly understood his disease. I say that because I watched him struggle with those old unresolved issues of his heart for years. His rigidity, coldness, aloofness, isolation, and difficulty with other people were a reflection of the pain in his heart…. of the disease of alcoholism gone deep inside, and still active.

Alcoholism didn’t need David to drink in order to continue trying to kill him, and in the end… it succeeded. In the end, instead of self-abandonment… David abandoned hope.. and discovered a bitter end.

Our recovery from alcoholism through the Steps must be a three-fold process. It is not one-dimensional. When we say in AA, that we have a triangle… recovery, unity, service… we mean it.

In working the Steps, I clear a pathway for two purposes… first, to come into a group of human people and away from the fringe of society where I have spent most of my emotional life.

Secondly, to discover ‘belonging’ through service to the people within that group. It is only this entire, threefold process that heals. It is especially true for those of us who suffer from the spiritual malady to a great degree.

Perhaps the 12th Step says it best: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps (recovery), we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics (service) and practice these principles in all our affairs (unity).

You see… I cannot hold back. I must not continue to suffer that shyness, aloneness, that overwhelming sense of self in my affairs. I must get involved in a group of people to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Only the total approach is healing. Anything less is little more than driving my disease deep, and, if I do that, it will continue to eat away, trying to destroy me.
It destroyed David. This is a memorial to an old AA who gave his best shot, and I think David ended up on the plus side. It wasn’t his fault; he seemed to have been born that way.

There were a lot of old ideas about self that David could never muster the willingness to let go of. He is at rest now.

But it says somewhere that “no matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”

David cannot speak to his experience any longer; I am speaking in his memory. And I think that if David could talk to us today, he’d say “Understand your disease thoroughly, and work the complete program of recovery!”

God bless you as you Trudge The Road!

Ted R. of Gainesville, FL

Posted in Sharing

The Gorilla In The Room

Most of us tried to just pretend that there was nothing wrong
We tried our best to hide what had been building for so long
That drinking had a hold on us, we found we could not quit
We had to drink, we’d lost control, this we would not admit

Then comes the day when we’re exposed, ignoring time is through
The big gorilla in the room that everybody knew
Had finally been acknowledged and revealed for all to see
An alcoholic needing help, a harsh reality

I heard a member say he felt relief when that day came
The lie that he’d been living took its toll in grief and shame
But I had not experienced that feeling as he had
I tried to make the best of it but really, I was sad

I’d know the grip that alcohol had on me was insane
But how to live without it was a thought filled with disdain
John Barleycorn had been my friend for nearly fifty years
And though I sometimes hated him, to lose him fueled my fears

When my turn came to face the truth, I knew not to debate
The jig was up, it was no use, it would not resonate
So, I agreed to get some help although I’d rather flee
The problem was I acquiesced for them instead of me

The center they had chosen made me feel so out of place
Most of the people there were young and drugs were their embrace
I only stayed in there five nights, convinced that I’d been wronged
My problem’s drink, I don’t use drugs, it’s time I said so long

As a condition for release, I had to join AA
They gave me a small book that listed meetings, times, and days
I said that I would do the deal and started to attend
And in about a month or two, my fences start to mend

But I was not convinced that my past problem was that bad
The stories I heard others tell made me an undergrad
These people had a Ph.D. in drinking 101
So maybe I could grab a drink, one cocktail and be done

It did not work out like I thought, the one turned into six
And like before, I’d sneak around, was back to my old tricks
I hid it well for quite a while but as I always did
I lost control, got very drunk and I began to skid

Away again to get some help, this time for 30 days
And for a while I did not drink, was in the pink cloud phase
But it wore off and sure enough, I heard the Siren’s call
She told me it would be ok, you’ve mastered alcohol

I still attended meetings, most times in but sometimes out
My sponsor told me I could make it, but I still had my doubts
He said if we were to persist, a change had to occur
Stay as you are or do the deal, which one would I prefer

The deal, he said, consisted of a meeting every day
A phone call to a friend or two and kneel and start to pray
And find a Higher Power, one you need not understand
Then join with other members as you carry out this plan

That last thing was the turning point, the piece I had neglected
I’d always tried to right myself, and ended up dejected
I started to do outside things to help avoid a slip
By joining with some new-found friends, this AA Fellowship

When I picked up my last white chip, I did not know for sure
That it would be my final one, I knew there was no cure
But being with this group of men has shown me there’s a way
To live life free of alcohol, stay sober one more day

As years have passed, I seldom think about how it had been
To have to hide and sneak around, alone with my chagrin
Back then I would have never thought or consciously assume
The benefit of facing the gorilla in the room

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing

16 relapse symptoms to watch out for

For any time, any place, anywhere!

  1. Exhaustion – Allowing oneself to become overly tired; usually associated with work addiction as an excuse for not facing personal frustrations.
  2. Dishonesty – Begins with pattern of little lies; escalated to self-delusion and making excuses for not doing what’s called for.
  3. Impatience – I want what I want NOW. Others aren’t doing what I think they should or living the way I know is right.
  4. Argumentative – No point is too small or insignificant not to be debated to the point of anger and submission.
  5. Depression – All unreasonable, unaccountable despair should be exposed and discussed, not repressed: what is the “exact nature” of those feelings?
  6. Frustration – Controlled anger/resentment when things don’t go according to our plans. Lack of acceptance. See #3.
  7. Self-pity – Feeling victimized, put-upon, used, unappreciated: convinced we are being singled out for bad luck.
  8. Cockiness – Got it made. Know all there is to know. Can go anywhere, including frequent visits just to hang-out at bars, boozy parties.
  9. Complacency – Like #8, no longer sees value of daily program, meetings, contact with other alcoholics, (especially sponsor!), feels healthy, on top of the world, things are going well. Heck may even be cured!
  10. Expecting too much of others – Why can’t they read my mind? I’ve changed, what’s holding them up? If they just do what I know is best for them? Leads to feeling misunderstood, unappreciated. See #6.
  11. Letting up on disciplines – Allowing established habits of recovery – meditations, prayer, spiritual reading, AA contact, daily inventory, meetings – – to slip out of our routines; allowing recovery to get boring and no longer stimulating for growth. Why bother?!
  12. Using mood-altering chemicals – May have a valid medical reason, but misused to help avoid the real problems of impending alcoholic relapse.
  13. Wanting too much – Setting unrealistic goals: not providing for short-term successes; placing too much value on material success, not enough on value of spiritual growth.
  14. Forgetting gratitude – Because of several listed above, may lose sight of the abundant blessings in our everyday lives: too focused on # 13.
  15. “It can’t happen to me.” – Feeling immune; forgetting what we know about the disease of alcoholism and its progressive nature.
  16. Omnipotence – A combination of several attitudes listed above; leads to ignoring danger signs, disregarding warnings and advice from fellow members.

— Akron Intergroup News, December 1998

Posted in Sharing

You’re just a drinking dream…

I had a dream of you last night, and when I woke I paused to think…
Something wasn’t feeling right, did I really have that drink???

It seems so real and vivid…now what am I to do???
For a moment I relived it…my love affair with you.

I swore you’d never touch my lips… but there you were my subtle foe…
You had me in your evil grips… In the sordid places we once would go.

You only stalk me while I sleep, you are not welcomed here…
As I softly slumber in you creep, but soon you’ll disappear

I’m not the man you use to know, you’re just a false illusion… The time has come when you must go, retreat from your intrusion.

Upon awakening it’s plain to see, things aren’t the way they seem…
The slip I had was not to be, thank God you’re just drinking dream.

Gordon R.

Posted in Sharing

One Step Back

Progress, not perfection as is stated in our Book
Is what we must pursue; therefore, we need to take a look
At how we are progressing, use the 10th Step as our guide
Evaluate our actions to insure we don’t backslide

To backslide does not only mean we took another drink
More times than not it happens by the way we sometimes think
Our defects or our shortcomings we prayed to take away
Keep coming back when we relent, our old ways on display

When we attend a meeting, for that hour we’re secure
Surrounded by our fellowship, no hardships to endure
It’s when we travel out that door the challenge will begin
It may be from some stranger or perhaps our next of kin

We go to an appointment that was set to start at nine
It’s nearly 10 and we still sit, we feel we’ve been maligned
Our thoughts become unsettled; agitation now increased
We produce a verbal insult, old behavior’s been released

We’re asked to just be patient since the doctor we’re to see
Was tending to a patient with a real emergency
So, we sit down and start to think about the way we acted
And how we let the teachings from our Program get distracted

We took a small step backwards, did not think or did not care
To use a thing that we’d been taught, the first part of a prayer
To accept this thing we could not change, ‘twas out of our control
So, say the prayer and reconnect with patience as our goal

It matters not how long it’s been since last we had a drink
Impatience, aggravation still can change the way we think
It’s what we do when this occurs, a choice we have to make
One leads back to serenity, the other to mistakes

The one step back can not be change so what we need to do
To compensate for what we’ve done, we need not one but two
Two steps forward to get us back to where we need to be
Back on the journey we began towards our serenity

The first step is to recognize our part in what we did
Discard the though that we’d been wronged, stop acting like a kid
And once we’ve understood our part, our conscience to inspect
We need to take some action for this issue to correct

To promptly say that we were wrong is difficult to do
Ego tells us, “Don’t go there”, a childish point of view
Our program tells us that we must amend for our misdeeds
Acknowledge our misconduct and be willing to proceed

Apologize to those we have offended or aggrieved
Clear the air of tension that our actions had conceived
It takes both steps to rectify the prudence that we lack
Each time we let resentment let us take that one step back

Larry R.