AA: Alive and Well At 75


I was out to dinner the other night with a friend I have sponsored for many years and he said, “Why don’t you write an article about how the program has changed over the last twenty- five years?” I knew right away what he meant. Recently I have heard many “oldtimers” complain about the “watering down” of our program by the combined influences of treatment centers, pop psychology and television gurus like Dr. Phil and Oprah.

People often complain about the use of our meeting rooms as “baby sitting services” for treatment centers and inexpensive group therapy for those who don’t understand what our meetings are about. While all of the above may be true to some degree or other I still firmly believe that the basic principles and practices of our program have not changed one bit.

I was told early in my sobriety to look for a way in to the program and not for a way out. This meant that if my focus was on the negative aspects of people or the program I could find many reasons to find fault and to leave. By focusing on the positive, and overlooking the defects of others and perceived weaknesses of the group and the program, I would find the true healing power of the program and become successful in learning how to stay sober one day at a time. When I am looking for AA the way it was when I got sober in 1977 I find it in every single meeting I attend. It is in the hearts and minds and eyes of the people I see there.

The past several years I have become very interested in AA’s history. I have had the opportunity to study and attend seminars with Dick B., a great AA scholar. I have read with interest AA Comes of Age and Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers. I have had the opportunity to visit Bill Wilson’s birthplace in Vermont and read old AA documents and Bills writings in his library there. All of this has led me to the understanding that the meeting between Bill and Dr. Bob and their subsequent work with AA #3 contain all the principles and the foundation for the Big Book and the Steps. These principles are alive and well today at AA meetings around the world.

The basic principle that I see at every meeting is “one drunk helping another”. The key to Bill’s sobriety was a visit by a fellow drunk and drinking buddy named Ebby who was able to reach Bill with the spiritual solution because Ebby was a drunk like Bill. Bill would never have heard a word if the message was coming from someone who didn’t suffer from the disease of alcoholism. This was the key.

Dr. Bob was set on the course of recovery in the same way when Bill was able to relate to him as one alcoholic to another. As Dr Bob says of Bill, “(he) was a man ..who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say, the spiritual approach. He gave me information about the subject of alcoholism which was undoubtedly helpful. Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language. He knew all the answers and certainly not because he had picked them up in his reading.”

Throughout my own years of active alcoholism many people tried to help me. They approached me with spiritual, intellectual and psychological approaches. The wisdom fell on deaf ears. My friends and family all wished to see me stop drinking and offered to help but they “didn’t understand” and were unable to lead me to sobriety. It was only when I attended my first meeting and a complete stranger who was a fellow alcoholic offered me a welcoming hand that I was able to hear the solution. It was the first time another alcoholic had tried to help me. It was the beginning of a new way of life. I see the welcoming hand of AA at every meeting. At some meetings there are so many acts of kindness that I begin to take them for granted.

In 1965 a huge throng of Alcoholics at the International Convention stood and recited these words: “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

Forty years later this personal responsibility is alive and well and the hand of AA is still there. It is the hand of kindness, a welcoming hand, extended from one fellow sufferer to another. In every meeting and at every gathering the healing spirit of our program is carried out just like is was with Bob and Bill. As hands are held at the Big Meeting at the International Convention in San Antonio know that AA is “Alive and Well At Seventy-Five”.

Nineteen Laws

1. Law of Mechanical Repair – After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you’ll have to pee.

2. Law of Gravity – Any tool, nut, bolt, screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

3. Law of Probability -The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

4. Law of Random Numbers – If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.

5. Law of the Alibi – If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

6. Variation Law – If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

7. Law of the Bath – When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

8. Law of Close Encounters -The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with.

9. Law of the Result – When you try to prove to someone that a machine won’t work, it will.

10. Law of Biomechanics – The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

11. Law of the Theater & Hockey Arena – At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle, always arrive last. They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the performance or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay to the bitter end of the performance. The aisle people also are very surly folk.

12. The Coffee Law – As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

13. Murphy’s Law of Lockers – If there are only 2 people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

14. Law of Physical Surfaces – The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor, are directly correlated to the newness & cost of the carpet or rug.

15. Law of Logical Argument – Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.

16. Brown’s Law of Physical Appearance – If the clothes fit, they’re ugly.

17. Oliver’s Law of Public Speaking – A closed mouth gathers no feet.

18. Wilson’s Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy – As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

19, Doctors’ Law – If you don’t feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you’ll feel better.. But don’t make an appointment, and you’ll stay sick.

Eight Gifts That Don’t Cost A Thing

~THE GIFT OF LISTENING ~ But, you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

~THE GIFT OF AFFECTION ~ Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

~THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER ~ Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

~THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE ~It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note, or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

~THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT ~ A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job,” or “That was a wonderful meal”, can make someone’s day.

~THE GIFT OF A FAVOR ~ Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

~THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE ~ There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

~THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION ~ The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it’s not that hard to say, “Hello” or “Thank You.”

And Don’t Forget :
LOVE is A Gift We Can Give Every Day!!!

Dr. Bob’s Third Step

Step 3
As outlined in a flyer from Dr. Bob’s house

*( Step One ) – Yes or No:

Have you learned and have you fully conceded to your innermost self that you are an alcoholic?

* ( Step Two ) – Yes or No:

Do you believe, or are you even willing to believe. that there is a power greater than you?

* ( Step Three ) – Yes or No:

( a ) Are you convinced about steps one and two?

( b ) Are you convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success?

( c ) Are you convinced that your troubles are basically of your own making, and that they arise out of you and that you are an extreme example of self will run riot?

( d ) Are you convinced that you must be rid of this selfishness
( e ) Are you convinced that your selfishness is killing you?
( f ) Are you convinced that there is often no way of entirely getting rid of self without a Higher Power’s aid?

( g ) Are you convinced that you have to have a Higher Power’s help?

( h ) Are you convinced that you have to quit playing the role of a Higher Power – that it never worked?

( i ) Are you convinced that a Higher Power is going to be your director, principle, father and employer?

( j ) Are you convinced that you have thought well about taking this step?

( k ) Are you convinced that you can at last abandon yourself utterly to a Higher Power?

Are You Ready To Take Step Three ?

God I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always!

May We All Be Coffee

Something to think about in these uncertain times . . .

Carrots, Eggs & Coffee!

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee. You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see?’ ‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich flavor. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!!

There Are No Rules in AA But…..

There is only one rule in AA and it appears in Traditions Four. It is Rule 62 and states: “Don’t take yourself to damn seriously!”

But there are many suggestions: Many of the suggestions concerning behavior at AA meetings have evolved over the years and are passed down to us from the earliest days of AA. They basically deal with the concept of respecting the program and respecting each other and teach us to keep the rooms of AA safe and comfortable for all who wish to recover. Some generally accepted suggestions include:

1) Arrive at meetings early and stay late. Engage in the fellowship before and after meetings.

2) Be attentive and respectful to those who are speaking.

3) Be in your seat before the start of the meeting and stay in your seat unless there is an emergency. Try to limit coffee runs and bathroom breaks to the meeting break or after the meeting.

4) Do not engage in conversation during the meeting.

5) Turn off cell phone or better yet leave it at home or in the car.

6) Texting, computers, headphones, reading newspapers or other books are all disrespectful to the meeting process.

7) “Sit up front and listen” has always been an unofficial slogan. The old timers call the back of the room the “denial aisle”.

8) At speaker meetings always thank the speakers. You will really understand this one when you get to speak at a speakers meeting.

9) At closed meetings it is a good idea to identify as “Joe an alcoholic” or “Joe and I have a desire to stop drinking”. “Joe an addict” is not forbidden as there are no rules, however in order to be respectful of the house you are in it is thoughtful of others if you identify in one of the two ways suggested.

10) Clean up after yourself and help put chairs away and with other closing chores. I always say “this group has a clean up committee and you are all on it.”

11) Put something in the basket. AA has no dues or fees but needs to pay its expenses and we are the guests of the group hosting the meeting so we can help them continue to provide it to us.

12) AA is not group therapy. Sharing of experience strength and hope as it relates to alcoholism is the focus of all AA meetings. Intimate details of one’s life and problems are best left to sponsors and/or professionals.

13. Finally remember always that “love and tolerance is our code” which means that we should always treat others as we would like to be treated and in so doing miraculous events can and will occur.

Maintaining Our Recovery

Dave’s Page

There are many roads to recovery but by far the one most practiced is the 12 step approach. The Twelve Steps were written by Bill Wilson and became the basis of the book Alcoholics Anonymous which has become known as “The Big Book”. The twelve steps outline a program of action which takes its practitioners through the process of change felt necessary to maintain continuous sobriety. Over the years the 12 steps have been used as the basis for over one hundred programs of recovery from a variety of addictions and behavioral problems.

The first nine steps concern the admission of the problem, the belief that a higher power can alleviate the problem, taking inventory of ourselves, sharing the inventory, looking at our personal character defects, turning the defects over to a higher power for removal, and the making of amends to persons we have harmed. This is the hard work necessary to bring us to the point where the promises of the program can and will be realized. The Promises can only be realized on a daily basis through the constant vigilance and effort required in Steps 10, 11, and 12. These steps have come to be called TheMaintenance Steps and are the key to continuous recovery and the peace of mind that we all desire.

One of Webster’s definitions for the word maintain is “provide with the necessities for life or existence” and its hard to believe that our founders weren’t aware of this when they defined these steps as Maintenance Steps. My sponsor taught me in the early days of my recovery to keep a dictionary next to the Big Book so I could look up words as I went along. I think Bill must have made great use of the dictionary when he wrote.

Using this definition it is easy to draw the parallel between the twelve steps providing the necessities for life and existence for those in recovery. This is especially true of these three steps for without them we are unable to hold on to the progress we have made in the earlier steps and our very life becomes threatened. The last three steps of the twelve step program are applicable to all those wanting to hold on to the progress and promises received from the first nine steps as well as anyone who wants to enhance the quality of their life.

So what are these maintenance steps?

Step Ten suggests that we “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” As with all of the steps there are spiritual principles attached to each step. The spiritual principles associated with this step are Acceptance, Patience, Perseverance and Vigilance. The step reminds us that selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear are still daily problems that can be dealt with effectively by taking a daily inventory. By promptly admitting our mistakes and harmful thoughts and actions we do not let them fester and carry over and accumulate. The step is like a pressure relief valve keeping us right sized.

Step Eleven says that “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” The spiritual principles behind this step include Knowledge, Attunement and Awareness. The step becomes an anchor for our continued recovery by assuring our reliance on and deepening our relation- ship with a higher power. As this relationship grows we become more and more aware of our Higher Power’s will for us. We become more aware of the fact that we do the steps not so much for us as to be of maximum service to our Higher Power.

Step Twelve tells us “having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. The spiritual principles behind this step are Service and Gratitude. Having brought about a personality change sufficient to remain in recovery we are empowered to demonstrate the new principles by which we live, in our daily life through example. We seek out and are available to help others in need.

We often hear it said that we cannot keep our recovery unless we give it away. By the daily practice of these very important maintenance steps we manage through constant vigilance to keep ourselves in right spiritual condition. When we are in right spiritual condition we can give back what has been so freely given to us. By doing this we are able to maintain our recovery. The maintenance steps truly provide us with the necessities for a rewarding and meaningful life as well our very existence.

——– Dave F.

Recovery Month: What Have We Learned?

Dave”s Page

{I wrote this in 2010. How much has really changed in 12 years?}

Recovery Month is an annual observance that takes place during the month of September.The Recovery Month observance highlights the societal benefits of substance abuse treatment, lauds the contributions of treatment providers and promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse in all its forms is possible. The observance also encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective substance abuse treatment for those in need.

Recovery Month also serves to educate the public on substance abuse as a national health crisis, that addiction is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible. Recovery Month highlights the benefits of treatment for not only the affected individual, but for their family, friends, workplace, and society as a whole. Educating the public reduces the stigma associated with addiction and treatment. Accurate knowledge of the disease helps people to understand the importance of supporting treatment programs, those who work within the treatment field, and those in need of treatment.

What have we learned about recovery since the sixties? I think we have learned that 12 step programs work. We have learned that there are so many addicts and alcoholics that NA and AA combined could not have begin to handle all those whose new awareness of their problem needs to be addressed. In my lifetime the words “alcoholic” and “addict” have become less negative. We are perceived as people with a treatable disease rather than low life reprobates. The new awareness through the seventies, eighties and nineties has been due to education. So we know that education works.

Hence the advent of treatment centers, half way houses and sober living environments. The combination of the best medical, psychological, clinical and spiritual information in treatment has created a wide ranging industry devoted to edu- cation and recovery. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been given the opportunity to spend quality time developing a foundation for recovery in treatment centers.. These centers have become the launching pad for thousands of individuals who have been wise enough to follow-up their treatment with daily adherence to a 12 step program.

We have learned that treatment and 12 step programs provide the best possible prognosis for recovery for sick and suffering alcoholics and addicts. It it widely known that individuals who leave treatment and immediately involve themselves in a 12 step program have a much better chance of maintaining sobriety. We have learned that people coming out of treatment, in early recovery, do better in a structured sober living environment than living on their own.

We have learned that treatment can be costly.

That it is difficult for the indigent, low bottom, poor and hungry addict and alcoholic to receive treatment unless they are mentally ill. We have learned that there is a tremendous need for gov- ernment subsidized treatment programs for the poor and the more than 25% of all Americans who do not have health insurance. So we have learned that the solution is education, treatment, 12 step program attendance and sober living environments.

What we haven’t learned is that the war on drugs is a failure. That locking up pot smokers is an expensive, jail and court clogging joke on nature and our society. By spending the money we spend on the war on drugs and on locking up minor drug offenders on education and treatment, all Americans would have the option of the treatment, 12 step, sober living solution.

As members of 12 step fellowships we are encouraged, (or actually our organization is encouraged) not to engage in controversy. But as the responsible members of society we have become as a result of our recovery it is our responsibility to speak out on policies that are literally killing our friends and fellow sufferers. Instead of a “war on drugs” we should start our own “war on institutional ignorance” and begin to educate our leaders on the true nature of addiction and recovery. After all we are the experts on this subject. Let us think of positive ways to pass this message on to our national leaders. Let us understand that anonymity does not conflict with advocacy. We are all examples of recovery in action and acknowledging this can only help future suffers find the solution. Bill Wilson asked us to “pass it on” and here is a good way to do just that.

Let Me Tell You About Anne Smith

“My husband [Clarence Snyder] was 34 and an alcoholic. Other people drank normally. My husband just got drunk.I was eternally on the defensive. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t listen to good music. I couldn’t enjoy anything.

I tried to appear busy. I tried to avoid crowds. Put us at a party and either Joe [Clarence] would get drunk and pass out, which was preferable, or he’d start pawing the women, which was humiliating. I felt as if I was 200 years old. All 200 years were weighing me down when a friend of ours — this was 12 years ago, and A.A. hadn’t gained much reputation — persuaded Joe to attend a meeting of alcoholics in Akron.

To myself I said between gritted teeth “I’ll be hanged if I want to associate with a bunch of drunks and their broken-down, haggard wives.”

Then that first meeting.

I had lived on the surface for years. I could show a surface kindliness, but I was bitter and resentful inside.The meeting was in somebody’s home. I halted on the threshold that first evening, hesitant, fearful, not knowing what might be ahead. I doubted the whole occasion. This was Joe’s affair. If it would bring about his sobriety, OK — but it was not for me. I felt I didn’t need it. Further, I rather enjoyed the hard shell I had built around myself. No one could hurt me any further. I had been shamed and ostracized and pitied. I was proof against further hurts.

And then this greeting. “Come in, my dear.”

It was Anne Smith. As gracious, as friendly, as charming as any woman I had ever met or known. If she had pitied me I would have fled in anger and disgrace. She was wise enough to know that. She understood. She knew that most wives of alcoholics feel fear. But you couldn’t be afraid with Anne.

That love of Anne’s changed things. For me it was like the miracle coming to Paul on the road to Damascus. That night when I reached home I got down on my knees and prayed. I wanted to be different. My parents had always been normally religious. I had never been anything other than religious. But this was different. When anything of a memorial tribute is printed about Anne I hope it emphasizes this big point: She didn’t want glorification for glory’s sake. She would have hoped only to tell other wives how to carry on.

She knew how to handle the wife of an alcoholic. She knew the days and nights full of despair, the poverty-stricken effort to keep up appearances, the unsatisfactory blending of shabbiness and pride. Time after time I saw her melt some other person’s heart.

A proud woman, a hard-shelled woman walked in belligerently. She had her speech all prepared: “Well, Mrs. Smith,” she began belligerently. “Call me Anne, my dear.” That love cracked the proud one, won her over.

Anne was a good listener. She knew the therapy of getting things off your chest. Things might have grown into an old story. But not with her. Every meeting with a newcomer was a fresh experience. She greeted strangers and listened for their names. Next time she’d be able to call them by name. In those early days there were no women alcoholics in the group. They were just wives — those who still had wives.

Bill W. emphasizes that in those early days — 1935, 1936, 1937 — we few people were clinging together, like a little group of persons saved from a shipwreck. In those early days most of us didn’t have telephones. We were handed a little address book. We were told “All our homes are open to you. Drop in any time.” We did.

Many a time Joe and I dropped in on Dr. Bob and Anne for a potluck meal. We might have bread and milk for supper. We might have corned beef hash for Sunday. There were no apologies. Everybody was honest and genuine. We gave potluck dinners as we were all too poor to furnish much food. Those were the days when with many people at the table we might have 11 kinds of potato salad, because we were all too poor to buy wieners. Everyone brought food. I wonder if A.A.’s today appreciate how pitifully poor most of us were in those struggling days. It makes me sick to attend some A.A. groups today. I’ve visited A.A.’s from Ohio to California — and see the wives sitting together, in a clique. They don’t step out and meet the new ones.

Anne never forgot the newcomers. She knew the wives need hospitalization as much as the man. The alcoholic gets lots of attention — the man’s sponsor takes care of that. The other wives should look after the newcomer wife. Nowadays when many A.A.’s are back on their feet again and are fairly prosperous I am struck with the fact that at Christmas parties many A.A. women are gayly dressed. But the poor ones, the new ones, still too deep in debt to be nicely dressed, and with nothing to be gay about, they hang around the edges, feeling cold and lonely and forgotten. Anne Smith hated to wear a new dress. I remember one party we were all going to. I had my first new dress, the first bought since my husband had stayed sober long enough to hold down a decent job. I asked Anne which dress she was going to wear, because I knew she had two new ones.She answered, “I hate to wear a new dress. So many people will be there who can’t afford a new one. I hate to embarrass them.”

It was a bigness of heart, this continual thinking of others besides herself, that enabled Anne to shape a formless group into what was presently to become A.A. in Akron. I hope we never lose sight of Anne’s use of religion in building her own life and rebuilding the lives of the fearful wrecks who looked to her for guidance and strength. I hope we never forget her humility, her courage, her cheerfulness, her unsparing use of herself. Anne made me realize that all my years of misery have been of some account, because I have been able to translate them into usefulness; into helpfulness for other people.

I have known women who, for instance, lost sons in the war, and ever since they live in the past, constantly bemoaning their loss and curdling every life they come in contact with. Why don’t these lonesome and heartbroken women go and visit sick boys in the veterans’ hospitals and try to bring a little cheer into the world? Anne didn’t harm other people because she had suffered. Rather, her life was rich because she was able to help people. Anne never stopped living. She went on to reach out and touch other lives.

I think of her every time I hear that familiar but little understood verse: “He that loseth his life shall save it.” Anne lost herself in her work for A.A. Thereby she gained a new and bigger life. A Cleveland minister in writing about A.A. summed up in this sentence – “Freedom is the ability to get outside yourself and lose yourself in the thought and activities of others.” That’s what Anne did.

Asking Bill

If an alcoholic comes to an A.A. meeting under the influence of alcohol, how do you treat him or handle him during the meeting?

Groups will usually run amuck on that sort of question. At first we are likely to say that we are going to be supermen and save every drunk in town. The fact is that a great many of them just don’t want to stop. They come, but they interfere very greatly with the meeting. Then, being still rather intolerant, the group will swing way over in the other direction and say, “No drunks around these meetings.” We get forcible and put them out of the meeting, saying, “You’re welcome here if your sober.” But the general rule in most places is that if a person comes for the first or second time and can sit quietly in the meeting, without creating an uproar, nobody bothers him. On the other hand, if he’s a chronic “slipper” and interferes with the meetings, we lead him out gently, or maybe not so gently, on the theory that one man cannot be permitted to hold up the recovery of others. The theory is “the greatest good for the greatest number.” (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945)

What is AA’s relationship with the community?

Alcoholics Anonymous once stood in no-mans land between medicine and religion. Religionists thought we were unorthodox; medicine thought we were totally unscientific. The last decade brought a great change in this respect. Clerics of every denomination declare that, while A.A. contains no shred of dogma, it has an impeccable spiritual basis, quite acceptable to men of all creeds, even the agnostic himself. You gentlemen of medicine also observe that AA is psychiatrically sound so far as it goes and that A.A. refers all bodily ills of its membership to your profession. Therefore, it is now clear that Alcoholics Anonymous is a synthetic construct which draws upon three sources, namely, medical sci- ence, religion and its own particular experience. Withdraw one of these supports and its platform of stability falls to earth as a farmer’s three-legged milk stool with one leg chopped off. That you have invited me, an A.A. member, to sit in your councils today is a happy token of that fact, for which our society is deeply grateful.

That, then, has Alcoholics Anonymous contributed as third partner of the recovery synthesis which promises so much to sufferers everywhere? Does Alcoholics Anonymous contain any new principles? Strictly speaking it does not. A.A. merely relates the alcoholic to the tested truths in a brand new way. He is now able to accept them where he couldn’t before. Now he has a concrete program of action and the understanding support of a successful society of his fellows in which he carries that out. In all probability, these are the long missing links in the recovery chain. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol. 50, July 1950)