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Saturday, 20 December 2014

For the attention of the Big Book 'Thumpers' (or 'Nutters' as we prefer to call them)....

The sections they always seem to miss (including Joe and Charlie in their so-called “Big Book study"!)

We quote:

AA Big Book

Chapter 7 - Working With Others

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when other fail. Remember they are very ill.
Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.
Perhaps you are not acquainted with any drinkers who want to recover. You can easily find some by asking a few doctors, ministers, priests or hospitals. They will be only too glad to assist you. Don't start out as an evangelist or reformer. Unfortunately a lot of prejudice exists. You will be handicapped if you arouse it. Ministers and doctors are competent and you can learn much from them if you wish, but it happens that because of your own drinking experience you can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics. So cooperate; never criticize. To be helpful is our only aim.
When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don't waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity. This advice is given for his family also. They should be patient, realizing they are dealing with a sick person.
If there is any indication that he wants to stop, have a good talk with the person most interested in him —usually his wife. Get an idea of his behavior, his problems, his background, the seriousness of his condition, and his religious leanings. You need this information to put yourself in his place, to see how you would like him to approach you if the tables were turned.
Sometimes it is wise to wait till he goes on a binge. The family may object to this, but unless he is in a dangerous physical condition, it is better to risk it. Don't deal with him when he is very drunk, unless he is ugly and the family needs your help. Wait for the end of the spree, or at least for a lucid interval. Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you.
If he does not want to see you, never force yourself upon him. Neither should the family hysterically plead with him to do anything, nor should they tell him much about you. They should wait for the end of his next drinking bout. You might place this book where he can see it in the interval. Here no specific rule can be given. The family must decide these things. But urge them not to be over-anxious, for that might spoil matters.
Usually the family should not try to tell your story. When possible, avoid meeting a man through his family. Approach through a doctor or an institution is a better bet. If your man needs hospitalization, he should have it, but not forcibly unless he is violent. Let the doctor, if he will, tell him he has something in the way of a solution.
When your man is better, the doctor might suggest a visit from you. Though you have talked with the family, leave them out of the first discussion. Under these conditions your prospect will see he is under not pressure. He will feel he can deal with you without being nagged by his family. Call on him while he is still jittery. He may be more receptive when depressed.
See your man alone, if possible. At first engage in general conversation. After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking. Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself. If he wishes to talk, let him do so. You will thus get a better idea of how you ought to proceed. If he is not communicative, give him a sketch or your drinking career up to the time you quit. But say nothing, for the moment, of how that was accomplished. If he is in a serious mood dwell on the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture. If his mood is light, tell him humorous stories of your escapades. Get him to tell some of his.
When he sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic. Tell him how baffled you were, how you finally learned that you were sick. Give him an account of the struggles you made to stop. Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism. If he is alcoholic, he will understand you at once. He will match you mental inconsistencies with some of his own.
If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. Show him, from your own experience, how the queer mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power. Don't, at this stage, refer to this book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it. And be careful not to brand him as an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion. If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can — if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself.
Continue to speak of alcoholism as an illness, a fatal malady. Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany it. Keep his attention focused mainly on your personal experience. Explain that many are doomed who never realize their predicament. Doctors are rightly loath to tell alcoholic patients the whole story unless it will serve some good purpose. But you may talk to him about the hopelessness of alcoholism because you offer a solution. You will soon have you friend admitting he has many, if not all, of the traits of the alcoholic. If his own doctor is willing to tell him that he is alcoholic, so much the better. Even though your protege may not have entirely admitted his condition, he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question, if he will. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.
When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are.
Your prospect may belong to a religious denomination. His religious education and training may be far superior to yours. In that case he is going to wonder how you can add anything to what he already knows. But he well be curious to learn why his own convictions have not worked and why yours seem to work so well. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. Let him see that you are not there to instruct him in religion. Admit that he probably knows more about it than you do, but call to his attention the fact that however deep his faith and knowledge, he could not have applied it or he would not drink, Perhaps your story will help him see where he has failed to practice the very precepts he knows so well. We represent no particular faith or denomination. We are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations.
Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. Make it plain he is under no obligation to you, that you hope only that he will try to help other alcoholics when he escapes his own difficulties. Suggest how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own. Make it clear that he is not under pressure, that he needn't see you again if he doesn't want to. You should not be offended if he wants to call it off, for he has helped you more than you have helped him. If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have perhaps made a friend. Maybe you have disturbed him about the question of alcoholism. This is all to the good. The more hopeless he feels, the better. he will be more likely to follow your suggestions.
Your candidate may give reasons why he need not follow all of the program. He may rebel at the thought of a drastic housecleaning which requires discussion with other people. Do not contradict such views. Tell him you once felt as he does, but you doubt whether you would have made much progress had you not taken action. On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book.
Unless your friend wants to talk further about himself, do not wear out your welcome. Give him a chance to think it over. If you do stay , let him steer the conversation in any direction he like. Sometimes a new man is anxious to proceed at once, and you may be tempted to let him do so. This is sometimes a mistake. If he has trouble later, he is likely to say you rushed him. You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform. Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you. Offer him friendship and fellowship. Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help.
If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or a nurse for his sprees, you may have to drop him until he changes his mind. This he may do after he gets hurts some more.
If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within.
If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us. But point out that we alcoholics have much in common and that you would like, in any case, to be friendly. Let it go at that. Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy. One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance.
Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery. Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice. Let him know you are available if he wishes to make a decision and tell his story, but do not insist upon it if he prefers to consult someone else.
He may be broke and homeless. If he is, you might try to help him about getting a job, or give him a little financial assistance. But you should not deprive your family or creditors of money they should have. Perhaps you will want to take the man into your home for a few days. But be sure you use discretion. Be certain he will be welcomed by your family, and that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him. You will be making it possible for him to be insincere. You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery.
Never avoid these responsibilities, but be sure you are doing the right thing if you assume them. Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights' sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night. Your wife may sometimes say she is neglected. A drunk may smash the furniture in your home, or burn a mattress. You may have to fight with him if he is violent. Sometimes you will have to call a doctor and administer sedatives under his direction. Another time you may have to send for the police or an ambulance. Occasionally you will have to meet such conditions.
We seldom allow an alcoholic to live in our homes for long at a time. It is not good for him, and it sometimes creates serious complications in a family.
Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family. You should continue to be friendly to them. The family should be offered your way of life. Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better change that the head of the family will recover. And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable.
For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is need or wanted. The men who cry for money and shelter before conquering alcohol, are on the wrong track. Yet we do go to great extremes to provide each other with these very things, when such action is warranted. This may seem inconsistent, but we think it is not.
It is not the matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give. That often makes the difference between failure and success. The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job — wife or no wife — we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.
Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.
Now, the domestic problem: There may be divorce, separation, or just strained relations. When your prospect has made such reparation as he can to his family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principles by which he is living, he should proceed to put those principles into action at home. That is, if he is lucky enough to have a home. Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague. In many homes this is a difficult thing to do, but it must be done if any results are to be expected. If persisted in for a few months, the effect on a man's family is sure to be great. The most incompatible people discover they have a basis upon which they can meet. Little by little the family may see their own defects and admit them. These can then be discussed in an atmosphere of helpfulness and friendliness.
After they have seen tangible results, the family will perhaps want to go along. These things will come to pass naturally and in good time provided, however, the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree.
If there be divorce or separation, there should be no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his recovery. The wife should fully understand his new way of life. If their old relationship is to be resumed it must be on a better basis, since the former did not work. This means a new attitude and spirit all around. Sometimes it is to the best interests of all concerned that a couple remain apart. Obviously, no rule can be laid down. Let the alcoholic continue his program day by day. When the time for living together has come, it will be apparent to both parties.
Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back. This just isn't so. In some cases the wife will never come back for one reason or another. Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. We have seen men get well whose families have not returned at all. We have seen others slip when the family came back too soon.
Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God's hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!
When working with a man and his family, you should take care not to participate in their quarrels. You may spoil your chance of being helpful if you do. But urge upon a man's family that he has been a very sick person and should be treated accordingly. You should warn against arousing resentment or jealousy. You should point out that his defects of character are not going to disappear over night. Show them that he has entered upon a period of growth. Ask them to remember, when they are impatient, the blessed fact of his sobriety.
If you have been successful in solving your own domestic problems, tell the newcomer's family how that was accomplished. In this way you can set them on the right track without becoming critical of them. The story of how you and your wife settled your difficulties is worth any amount of criticism.
Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.
We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem.
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed.
So 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 and important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, "Have I any 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 answer 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!
Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days. If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, few people will ask you to drink. While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don't start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor.
Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.
Many of us keep liquor in our homes. We often need it to carry green recruits through a severe hangover. Some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic. But some of us think we should not serve liquor to anyone. We never argue this question. We feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves.
We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witchburners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it.
Some day we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the alcoholic problem, but we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility. Drinkers will not stand for it.
After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous) 

PS Our thanks to the US member for sending in this piece

Friday, 19 December 2014

Alcohol research – Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Centre

A collaborative and multidisciplinary research venture to understand the functional and neural effects of alcohol exposure throughout brain development – including the key developmental transitions of adolescence”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here

Alcohol research – National Institute on Drug Abuse

NIDA's mission is to lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.

This charge has two critical components. The first is the strategic support and conduct of research across a broad range of disciplines. The second is ensuring the rapid and effective dissemination and use of the results of that research to significantly improve prevention and treatment and to inform policy as it relates to drug abuse and addiction.”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Court mandated AA attendance - “chit” system – a perspective from the US

We quote:

“…... As to your continued efforts to keep the chit or any other system that involves the courts out of your meetings........ I say fight like the dickens to keep it out because once it is in it is hard to get out.

I know we have discussed before, but another good Tradition is the sixth 'long form'. In fact, in the 12 and 12 the discussion on the Sixth Tradition pages 154-156 expressly presents such a scheme as one they rejected and presumably we should too.


I have attached a document inspired [see below], in part, by your anti-cult writings. I simply went through the Big Book and juxtaposed how our simple program differed from the courts belief about how to coerce a recovery. I have done this with a different attitude than the cult influences. I have looked at how open and non controlling the process is as laid out in the big book. Hopefully the only musts are the must of a degree of self-diagnosis and not court or even established AA member diagnosis.

As you could well guess the difference is as stark as night and day. There are over 30 examples, while some are weaker the majority do contrast in a clear fashion how the two approaches are not even the least bit similar. I will be producing a more concise edition that features only the most blatant differences......”

(our edits)

Again we quote:


But we saw that it had really worked in others, AND we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. BB Page 25 “There is a Solution”.

The court does not seem to understand that the second part of the equation in the first line is more important than the first.

If you were as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no-middle-of- the-road solution. Then it speaks of two very bitter alternatives other than accepting spiritual help. BB Page 25 “There is a Solution”.

Courts seem to believe that you can catch recovery without the admission of being seriously alcoholic.

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics………………. We learned that we had to fully concede to inner most selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. BB Page 30 “More About Alcoholism”.

The courts only ask that you admit that you would rather chose to attend AA rather than go to jail.

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnosis yourself, step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. ……………………It may be worth a bad case of the jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition. BB Page 31-32 “More about Alcoholism”

The Courts say if you drink you will go to jail. In fact if you go to the nearest barroom you will go to jail.

If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year. If he is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success…………………..We think few whom this book will appeal, can stay dry anything like a year. BB Page 34 “More about Alcoholism”

The court says you will stay sober for a year and that is how you’ll know that you are an alcoholic? AA repeatedly asks ‘John Barleycorn’ to be the teacher”. Not the threat of Jail.

For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop all together. We are assuming, of course that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not.BB Page 34 “More about Alcoholism”

Obviously the court is assuming that the defendant can’t control his drinking and they are assuming that AA is for them. Finally they are assuming that AA can produce the desire to stop. Please see the pamphlet “What AA does and Doesn’t Do”

In the preceding chapters you have learned something of alcoholism. (note: The courts used to do this). We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic. IF WHEN YOU HONESTLY WANT TO, YOU FIND YOU CANNOT QUIT ENTIRELY OR WHEN DRINKING YOU HAVE LITTLE CONTROL OVER THE AMOUNT YOU TAKE, YOU ARE PROBABLY ALCOHOLIC. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. BB Page 44 “We Agnostics”

The courts seem to think that they can make this determination for the defendant. They are afraid that if he is posed this question he won’t make up his own mind and chose to seek a spiritual solution. AA seems to have the opinion that he will if he is seriously alcoholic and can relate to us.

To be doomed to as alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face. BB Page 44 “We Agnostics”

The court knows that choosing between going to jail and going through the rigors of sobriety court is an easy choice to make for most people. One they will accept a conviction.

Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol. BB Page 76 “Into Action” (about the 8-9th steps).

The court says it was agreed that you would go to 3-5 meetings a week for up to 2 years and submit to random PBT’s. The Courts punishment is jail. Relapse is the punishment for the party trying to recover who does not follow through on the agreement.

Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask to be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. BB Page 79 “Into Action”

The courts are supplying the direction and the motivation is not to find a spiritual experience but rather to avoid an earthly consequence. The defendant has made a decision to follow the path of Sobriety Court.

When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don’t waste your time to persuade him. YOU MAY SPOIL A LATER OPPORTUNITY. BB Page 90. “Working with Others”.

The Courts want us to work with these parties. Please see the Pamphlet “What AA Does and Doesn’t Do”. Secondly those that are in favor of us “Cooperating with Courts” constantly are telling us to be careful to not ‘Judge’ the court mandated because they won’t feel welcome. However the experience in the groups seems to be our welcoming is covered in the passing around of a newcomer packet. I believe that most people assume that the defendants do not want to stop drinking so they don’t waste their time with them. There is certainly no comments about if you want to stop you will have to take some drastic steps.

Sometimes it is wise to wait till he goes on a binge…..it goes on to say if he is ugly you must back the advice by helping the family (not very convenient eh). Wait for the end of Spree, or at least for a lucid interval. Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit FOR GOOD and if he would go TO ANY EXTREME TO DO SO. BB Page 90. “Working with Others”.

Because the courts are not concerned with the recovery but the recidivism they want no part of such a plan. They do not want the question posed by them or anyone else as an entry qualifier into AA. The only question they are willing to ask is will you accept Sobriety Court in exchange for a guilty plea and a suspension of Jail time.

If he does not want to see you, never force yourself upon him. Neither should the family hysterically plead with him to do ANYTHING. BB Page 90. “Working with Others”.

The Court refuses to follow this course of action.

The family should wait for the end of his next drinking bout. You might place this book where he can see it in the interval. Here no specific rule can be given. The family must decide these things. But urge them not to be over anxious, for that might spoil matters. BB Pages 90-91. “Working with Others”.

The Court wants to decide and the court wants to create anxiety and the court wants to have specific rules i.e. jail.

Tell him how baffled you were, how you finally learned that you were sick. Give him an account of the struggles you made to stop. Show him the mental twists which lead to the first Drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it the chapter on alcoholism. If he is alcoholic, he will understand you AT ONCE. He will match your mental inconsistencies with some of his own. BB Page 92. “Working with Others”.

The court seems to think this process will take 3-5 meetings a week for up to 2 years. This also seems to indicate that if he has related he will “share” his mental twist that signal he is an alcoholic.

If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. BB Page 92. “Working with Others”.

The court wastes little or no time determining if he is an alcoholic real or otherwise. But to the extent that they do they have taken this tool out of our hands. By sending the defendant to AA they have pronounced them alcoholic. Closed meetings of AA long term are for Alcoholics who have a desire to stop drinking. In many cases they have done an assessment. By a paid professional who has determine that they need to go to AA “X” times a week.

And be careful not to brand him as an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusions. If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can—if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself. BB Page 92. “Working with Others”.

It seems to me that since the paragraph noted above this one says to judge him as to whether or not he is a real alcoholic and this one says to be ‘careful not to brand him one” the emphasis is that we shouldn’t bother going forward if he isn’t a “real alcoholic” in the first one and in this paragraph the emphasis is on the prospect admitting personal powerlessness over the malady. Personally… not the judge, not you, not his family but him. I believe the seed you plant is the last sentence. The difference between the Book’s seed and the court’s is that the book consistently plants a seed of hopelessness “if” he is an alcoholic and then lets him go to be alone with his thoughts on the matter. The courts sends him to a place where to join he has to make such an admission to qualify to attend more meetings AND they demand that he keeps coming back until he does it in spite of his own truths in the matter. The Courts method of planting a seed is like someone who plants a seed and waters and fertilizes until it is drowned and chemically burned and does not sprout at all.

Stress the spiritual feature freely. BB Page 93. “Working with Others”.

The Courts have lost 22 cases on appeal for sending defendants to “spiritually based 12 step programs. They loath that we would do this because is a huge fly in the Sobriety Court system.

If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or nurse for his sprees you may have to drop him until he changes his mind. This he may do after he gets hurts some more. BB Page 95. “Working with Others”.

Is it really a large leap to place “if he only wants you to supply a signature on his to court slip” to the list of reasons to drop him that Bill supplied in the 30’s?

If he is sincerely interested (their Bill goes telling us to make a judgment on his willingness) and WANTS to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that he MUST decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife or his friends. If he is to find God the desire must come from within. BB Page 95. “Working with Others”.

The difference between the Big Book and the courts approach is so dramatic I am afraid I will be insulting by comment. The main point is that Bill makes the point continually that it is truly the voluntary nature of making a decision to follow the AA way of life that is mandatory to success and any diminishing of this will result in failure. The NY GSO guideline minimizes the original lack of self-motivation in most members. What this passage seems to say to me is that the way to overcome that is to repeatedly place the decision firmly in the lap of the prospect. Otherwise he will not go through with harsh measures that the twelve steps dictate.

If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, ENCOURAGE HIM to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us. But point out that we alcoholics have much in common and that you would like, in any case, to be friendly. LET IT GO AT THAT. BB Page 95. “Working with Others”.

The court does not believe in “letting it go at that”. The court does not believe in being friendly they believe in jail if you follow your conscience. The court does not accept any other spiritual approach and society does not offer non-spiritual approaches in sufficient numbers to satisfy the heavy demands of Sobriety courts. Demands so heavy that even drug addicts, wife beaters, shoplifters and assorted other petty and violent criminals need to be sent to AA.

In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have ALWAYS failed. BB Page 101. “Working with Others”.

Sobriety Court demands that you not frequent bars and worse it tries to shield you from drinking by PBT’s on both regular and random basis. Trying to place a technological shield against the first drink. The point Bill is trying to re-enforce that the prospect must have the motivation from within. Not get that motivation within AA and AA cannot overcome this external motivation to “control” access to alcohol.

Suppose, however, that your husband fits the description of number two. The same principles which apply to husband number one should be practiced. But after his next binge, ask him if he would really like to get over drinking for good. Don not ask that he do it for you or anyone else. Just would he like to? BB Page 112 “To Wives”.

Note that it says or anyone else. Bill seems to always drive home the personal decision nature of committing the prospect to the program.

If he is lukewarm or thinks he is not an alcoholic, we suggest you leave him alone. Avoid urging him to follow our program. The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. But don’t remind him of this after he’s been drinking, for he may be angry. Sooner or later you are likely to find him reading the book once more. Wait until repeated stumbling convinces him he must act, for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery may be delayed. BB Page 113 “To Wives”.

If this advice that is given to a wife of the husband who is type 2. If this is sound advice for a wife who has to live with the problem 24-7 why it isn’t sound advice for the courts?

About the number three husband who already has a desire to quit the book says: Being certain he wants to stop you can go to him with this volume as joyfully as though you had struck oil. He may not share your enthusiasm, but he is practically certain to read the book and he may go for the program at once. If he does not, you will probably not have long to wait. Again, you should not crowd him. Let him decide for himself. BB Page 113 “To Wives”.

Wow what difference wanting to quit makes. The courts actions are the exact opposite of how to handle even a prospect who has a desire to quit. In fact, according to this passage the courts actions may sabotage this excellent opportunity. The theme of let him decide for himself continues. Even for wives who are dealing with the difficulty first hand. I would think it would apply to the Court if they are truly interested in his recovery.

In regard to husband number 4 who is or has been in an institution the book says: If he is already committed to an institution, but can convince you and his doctor that he means business, give him a chance to try our method, unless the doctor thinks his mental condition too abnormal or dangerous. BB Page 114 “To Wives”.

Even someone who is obviously an alcoholic of the worst kind has to prove that he is sincere in believing not only is that his condition but that he means business.

In the chapter “To Employers” it tells the employer to say: Say that you believe he is a gravely-ill person, with this qualification—being perhaps fatally ill does he want to get well? You ask because alcoholics being warped and drugged, do not want to quit. But does want to get well? Will he take every necessary step, submit to anything to get well, to stop drinking forever? If he says yes, does he really mean it, or down inside does he think he is fooling you, and that after rest and treatment he will be able to get away with a few drinks now and then? We believe a man should be thoroughly probed on these points. Be satisfied he is not deceiving himself or you. BB Page 142 “To Employers”.

Sound advice for outside agency who has their own “stick” firing not jail as in the case of the Court. The court poses a much different question to the defendant. Do you really want to go to up to 250 meetings a year for up to 2 years so you won’t have to go to jail? Are you will to accept a conviction? For this deal? If you fall short you agree to go to jail? And by the way the court spends little time determining if he is deceiving himself if he says he really wants to get well.

Either you are dealing with a man who can and will get well or you are not. If not, why waste time with him? BB Page 142 “To Employers”.

The court is not worried about wasting our time with him.

The Employer is further educated that physical treatment is but a small part and that his man must undergo a change of heart. To get over drinking will require a transformation of thought and attitude. We had to place recovery above everything, for without recovery we would have lost both home and business. BB Page 143 “To employers”.

The court seems to think that the probationer must place getting to his sobriety court requirements above everything else. Because without freedom from jail he will lose everything else. Unfortunately by this thinking the threat of jail ends and then the motivation for both developing spiritually and staying sober ends. The Book continues to demonstrate that the motivation must come from within early in the recovery and those associated with the process should insure that this is happening.

We hope the doctor will tell him the truth about his condition, whatever that happens to be. When the man is presented with this volume it is best that no tell him he must abide by its suggestions. The man must decide for himself. BB Page 144 “To Employers”.

whatever that happens to be” does anyone really believe that the court mandated Alcohol Assessor (who isn’t a doctor for this disease situation) is really telling these people who drank and drove one time and blew a .07 that they probably just need to moderate on their own? No they are being told that they need a minimum of 3 meetings a week for 6 months. What about the kids that get an M.I.P. and get sent to AA for ten sessions? Are they really being told the truth? What is up with different levels of AA participation for differ levels of criminal activity? Doesn’t the Book say that to achieve recovery you need to go to any lengths? So by definition if you say you need to go to AA even for one meeting shouldn’t you as an assessor be saying they need to really mean business? Should they be probed on the issue of personal surrender? By the way in some instances the Assessor actually gets a forced paying client if the Probationer scores high enough on the test. Not only that, if the probationer fails to pay his bill the court acts as the therapist’s collection agency. What ever happened to absence of profit motive being a key to working with and assessing their conditions. Remember we are constantly called to assess their willingness before letting them into AA and we do it for free. Not the other way around where lack of willingness is a sign you need more AA.

Do you want to quit drinking or not? Page 147 “To Employers”.

This advice is given to the outside agency i.e. Employer. Does it not apply to the Court as well? The key of course is the freedom to answer truthfully and not in a dishonest manner to gain access to the less harsh penalties that Sobriety court that taints every interchange for the Prospect.

If he wants to stop, he should be afforded a real chance. If cannot or does not want to stop he should be discharged. Page 144 “To Employers”.

The court is only interested in if he wants to strike the deal that Sobriety court offers. Then they send them to AA where they don’t belong because they haven’t passed the acid test of wanting to stop.

Of course, this chapter refers to alcoholics, sick people, deranged men. What are friend the Vice President, had in mind was the habitual or whoopee drinker. As to them, his policy (just firing them if it interfered with their job) is undoubtedly sound but he did not distinguish between such people and the alcoholic. Page 149 “To Employers”.

The court does not distinguish between even problem drinkers and alcoholics and to whatever extent they do distinguish between the two they do not recognize that the probationer’s belief about their condition is key to AA having any positive effect on them.

It is not to be expected that an alcoholic employee will receive a disproportionate amount of time and attention. He should not be made a favorite. The right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not want this sort of thing, He will not impose. Far from it. He will work like the devil and thank you to his dying day. Page 149 “To Employers”.

If you read any of these judge’s writings or view any of the human interests reports on television one thing they all take pride in is how much attention they load on their sobriety court clients. They aren’t even referred to as criminals or probationers. They keep coming back into court and getting PBT’s and talking to’s, they are never trusted to be in charge of their own recovery. They impose on AA to have their slips signed and to be questioned about their where a bouts. The person who is recovering does not need to prove they are on the beam. Living a recovery center life will take care of that. They do not need to give book reports on the steps just as those around are required to discern if they are sincere those parties will be able to discern (dare I say judge) if they are recovering. The courts don’t want the advice of AA. They want the rooms of AA. They think it is a great program just not one they should follow.

Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, “I don’t miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time.” As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly, he would give anything to take a half dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. Page 153 “A Vision for You”.

There goes the book again telling judge the guy in the meeting. Putting it gentler it is admonishing us to not ignore that insight that we have gained about the alcoholic and his chances of recovery. I think it falls under the general category of you can’t BS a BS’er. None the less, we all have heard this phrase or one similar from a Court mandated attendee. Often right before he is about to get of probation. Then what so often happens, happens you never see them again. In hindsight we recognize that he was justifying that he had learned all he needed to learn at AA. Self-knowledge and a week embrace of a sober life-style was enough to convince himself that he didn’t need to “keep coming back”.

On the third day the lawyer gave his life to the care and direction of his creator, and said he was perfectly willing to do anything necessary. His wife came daring to be hopeful, though she thought she saw something different about her husband already. He had begun to have a spiritual experience. That afternoon he put on his close and walked from the hospital a free man. Page 158 “A Vision for You”.

He never drank again. The point is his wife new instantly that he was changing she did not him to prove he had gone to his allotted meetings. Secondly, the planting of the seed had taken two visits from doctor Bob and Bill W. not a sentence of up to 250 meetings a year for up to 2 years.

Talking about the next success the book says: He had three visitors. After a bit, he said, “The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense. I’m ready to do business. I guess the old folks were right after all. So one more was added to the Fellowship. Page 159 “A Vision for You”.

Once again a seed can be planted fairly quickly in a fertile ground and not at all in an unopened mind. Or mind that does not need the seed. The court does not seem to know or care that without the proper receptacle we cannot do anything and with one that does not need our program we should not do anything.

No one is too discredited or has sunk too low to be welcomed cordially—if he means business. Social distinctions, petty rivalries and jealousies—these are laughed out of countenance. Being wrecked in the same vessel, being restored and united under one God, with hearts and minds attuned to the welfare of others, the things which matter so much to some people no longer signify much to them. How could they?

Once again the caveats contained in this passage have little meaning to the Sobriety Court. I will highlight them: The reoccurring theme of “if he means business” he will welcomed cordially. “United” under one God with hearts and minds attuned to welfare of others. If they aren’t attuned to the Principles/Traditions that bring about a recovery they won’t care about AA’s welfare. If they do not have unity of purpose they will not protect the sanctity of a closed meeting.“

Think on that!


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS Our thanks to this AA member for their analysis

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Alcohol research – International Council on Alcohol and Addiction

Welcome to ICAA, one of the oldest non-governmental organisations active in the field of dependenies. Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007, ICAA continues to be dedicated to preventing and reducing the harmful use and effects of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and addictive behaviours on individuals, families, communities and society.

Through a range of acitivites at international, regional and local levels and services provided to its membership and the interested public at large, ICAA sensitises, empowers and educates organisations and individuals in the interest of public health, personal and social well being.

ICAA believes in the exchange of evidence-based knowledge and innovative approaches. It is committed to undertake this in an independant, apolitical, inclusive and transparent manner.”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here